Summoned to a World Where the Strong Survive
Arc 1: Beginning of a New Life
Your Average Day! What's Going On?!
What is the one thing in the universe that has always served as one of mankind's greatest weakness? The feeling of self-doubt, the feeling that you will never contribute anything of worth to society. And in the end, as you lay in bed during your final hours, the life fading from your eyes, one thought overtakes your mind. Why struggle when you were nothing but a worthless cog in the immense machine of life? A single cog that failed on leaving in impact on anyone or anything after so many years. Nothing more than a burden on the shoulder of the world. Such thoughts were all too common for one such Mitchel Grayson.
The night had only just begun when he left through the front doors of the supermarket. At the age of 28, he had the simple job of ensuring customers were rung up with a smile. But, if he were honest, that smile was just a lie. Sure, customers were polite enough, but the job itself exuded boredom. Standing in a single spot from 8 A.M to 6 P.M proved more challenging than when he signed up nearly 7 years prior. At this point, he had gone into auto pilot; only to snap out of it when his shift came to an end. At least he could kick back at home until the next morning.
"Ugh. It's finally over. Now to head back and grab a bite before I pass out." he groaned, stretching his arms above his head. All the while his rotund stomach gurgled as he walked down the sidewalk towards home. "Not like it really matters. Everything's frozen." he sighed.
Well, on the plus side, home was not but 10 minutes away on foot. That was something, right? Unfortunately, due to the small amount income earned from his job, his place of residence was not exactly stellar. A single room in a rather cheap apartment complex, complete with a Twin XL bed, a small fridge that barely held the essentials, an oven that sparked when turned on, microwave, an old, wooden table with chairs to match, and a flat screen T.V that picked up a good 60 channels.
Walking inside, he was greeted with the familiar sight of the receptionist who seemed too caught up in her book to take notice of him. A quick trip up the elevator to the third floor and he found himself entering Room 314, a small but useable living quarters. Although, he could have done without the loud duo next door. Apparently, something hilarious was going on.
"Jesus. Again? What's so darn funny that they do this almost every night?" he questioned, tossing his coat off and onto the recliner. "Ignore it, Mitchel. Just drown it out." he told himself while stepping into the small kitchen space.
If he could have changed one aspect of his life for the better, it would have been his lazy lifestyle throughout his childhood. From kindergarten through his 4th year of college, his life revolved around T.V, the internet, and junk food, a terrible combination for any person. And after neglecting his health for many years, he had finally taken it upon himself to make things right. Meals that contained less calories and more nutrition, along with a daily exercise routine of 2 sessions a day for one hour each. Results were somewhat positive, but due to the rent that needed paying, as well as other supplies, purchasing high quality meals each week was not viable, and neither was getting a gym membership. So instead, he opted out for frozen health meals sold at the same store he worked at and his own workout set up consisting of an old exercise bike and a single 10 lbs. dumbbell. Cheap and low in calories, they took up a good portion of space inside the fridge.
"Hmmm. Which one…" he thought to himself, looking over the selection of 5 available. They were not anything special, just your typical vegetable and rice meals. Each had a decent flavor but would need some extra seasoning on the side. In the end, he grabbed the chicken and broccoli dinner and threw it into the microwave for 5 minutes. "So, this'll be 210, plus the piece of bread…the carrots, the Ranch, and the rice cake…Maybe a little over 500?" he pondered, calculating the number of calories he would be taking in.
The way he lived may not have seemed that bad when compared to being homeless but remembering what could have been only left him depressed. It was not so long ago he longed to become an animator in the film industry, creating stories people could sit back and enjoy. The worlds and characters he would introduce, and the potential he had to make it big in the industry. Yet, he could not even do that. College had become too much of an investment to continue, so he pulled out and settled on what he had. Four years later and he had yet to be promoted in any way. Sometimes fate just loved messing with others, but he knew the truth. It was his fault. He had been given 28 years to make something of himself, and he squandered it.
"Think Mitchel, there's got to be something you could do for some extra cash. Oh! Maybe I can go dig up those old toys at storage and get them appraised." he uttered to himself, trying to lift his spirits a bit. Perhaps something of value would turn up. God only knew how many gifts his parents would shower him with for his birthday and Christmas when they were around. Oh right, his parents. "On second thought, maybe not." he said with a heavy sigh.
Well, in the end he had made through another workday and could settle down for a decent meal. Three minutes remained on the timer when suddenly the vibration of his cellphone caught his attention. Now who would be calling him? His boss? It would not have surprised him after falling asleep on the job again. But after pulling it out to check his texts an unfamiliar name popped up.
"Hm? Who's Div?" he wondered, confused by their sudden message. Had someone somehow gotten his number? Or maybe it was just a prank by someone at work. Whatever the case he couldn't not reply, or else there was a chance they would keep messaging him. "Alright, Div, whatcha got to say."
But when he opened the message, he found not a statement, but a question being proposed. A weird question, but a harmless one, nonetheless. It read: "Would you care to restart your life and achieve greatness?" A restart? What in blue blazes were they talking about? And what was this about "Greatness"? Yeah, it had to be someone messing around.
"Okay…You want an answer? I'll give you one." he huffed, rapidly typing out a reply stating: "You're on. And I'll grab it with my own two hands!" Why not humor them a bit? Sending it out, he waited for their follow up response. "Who am I doing. I've already messed up enough, and the last thing I need is for someone from work pestering me."
Just then, a new message popped up. One which read: "A wise choice, Mr. Mitchel Grayson. Your life has been filled with misfortune sown by your own hands, but now I offer you the opportunity to undo the threads of fate and shape your own desired future once more. Welcome to your new life." How could he respond to that?!
"Um…Okay?" was all he could get out when his phone battery died from out of nowhere. It had a 76% charge on it before. Why did it go out? Only a second later something even stranger began to happen. His body began glowing as cracks began forming along his body. It did not hurt, but it did not feel natural either; it was as if his body was being broken down bit by bit. Panicked, he backed up against the table as every piece of technology began going wild. "What is this? What's going on?!" he exclaimed as darkness swallowed him whole.
What in the hell had happened and why did he feel oddly fine? Glancing around, the room, no, the world around him had disappeared, leaving only a black void. When looking down at his hands though it only got freakier. Gone was his flesh and bones, replaced by a blue glow that took the shape of his body. Though his hands looked thinner than usual. Little by little the void become illuminated by a similar light, as gentle, harmonious music accompanies it. It gave off a very calming sensation as something caught his attention in the distance while falling further into the bright light. A huge, glowing ball of light with six wings that resembled stained glass.
"Rest your mind, young one, for your new life begins soon." the feminine voice softly told him. "Make good choices and plenty of allies, and you will succeed."
"Wha-What are you?" he asked, growing sleepy.
"You needn't worry about such things. Just know that fate has given you a second chance. Do not squander it." it told him.
"Second…chance…" he mumbled before everything went black.
No words could describe what he had just been put through. Who was Div? What was that void? Was that thing talking to him telepathically? Had he somehow died and gone to Heaven? So many questions, and none of which he could answer without sounding insane. It all felt like a dream. Yeah, that's right, it was a dream. It had to be. He must have passed out while waiting for dinner, he tried telling himself. But as he would soon realize, it wasn't to be.
How long had it been since he passed out? An hour or two? How would he know? Nothing made sense anymore. It wasn't until something cold touched his cheek that his eyelids began to open. The air felt cold and the ground, damp and hard.
"Did the building spring a leak?" he pondered while his vision came back into focus.
Not even close. In fact, his room was nowhere to be seen! Whatever had happened had caused him to appear in a cave of some kind; one with glowing, blue crystals scattered around sparsely. On the flood, on the ceiling, on the ground, they were everywhere, each emitting the same glow. And below him, a stone platform with a strange symbol etched in its surface. Feeling a bit dizzy, he stumbled back to his feet while trying to gather info on his new surroundings.
"Okay, Mitchel, calm down. I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for all this. Just think…" he told himself, struggling to deny what had come about. Several theories passed through his mind, each more insane than the last. At this point he had thought of himself as insane, as he stumbled backwards. "No-no. You're perfectly fine. That dinner, it must have had something in it and I'm just tripping out. …The dinner you didn't even eat. Come on, think!" he growled, before hearing a light splash from a large puddle beneath him.
It wasn't until he looked at his reflection in the water that he realized what had happened. His short brown hair, his hazel eyes, and his fat body, it was all gone! And in its place was a much thinner and healthier form, as medium length forest green hair hung from atop his head, a long, swirled ponytail dangling from the back, while both eyes reflected the same color. A simple white tunic adorned his body, accompanied by a pair of long, brown pants and black leather shoes. Nope. He had gone completely insane.
"What is this…? WHAT IS THIS?! This isn't my body! It's…God damn, what's going on?" he whimpered, nearly falling to his knees in disbelief and shock. "What am I going to do…?"
How could one properly comprehend what had happened? One moment he was back in his apartment, ready to partake in a meal, and the next, stuck in some weird cave without any idea how he got there. So, who could blame him for freaking out a bit? Okay, first things first before he could lose his sanity, escape and figure out where the hell he was. From there he would act accordingly. However, there was but one pathway leading up to what appeared to be a second level. "What a pain, but what choice do I have? Sit here and let time do its thing?" he told himself with a deep sigh, following ahead along the path.
A cool breeze flowed all around him, his body trembling while stepping up to the second level. Well, one good thing about this new body, it did not exhaust anywhere near as quickly as before. And because of its thin frame, he felt far lighter than ever before. So, that was too positive, thus far. Still, several questions littered his mind. This place felt strange. Like it kept track of his whereabout with every step. For the next 30 minutes he pressed on before coming across a curious sight: a large, unguarded wooden chest that sat off to the right of the path.
"Hmmm. I'd know a treasure chest anywhere, but this seems a bit too easy. It's probably boobytrapped or something." he thought to himself, curious as to whether he was correct or not. Only one way to find out, right? Snatching a fist sized stone from the ground, he gave it a hard chuck towards the chest, following its trajectory as it fell directly on top. Nothing. Not even a series of hidden arrows or bladed traps. Was it safe to look inside now? "Nope. Best leave it alone." he told himself.
Only a second later though did it begin wiggling about violently. Its hatch opened, revealing several rows of razor sharp teeth, as two disgusting, long arms and legs broke free from its sides and bottom; both covered in bloody wounds, with sharpened talons that could shred a grizzly bear into ribbons. Stricken by absolute terror, Mitchel found himself trembling as the beast towered over him, saliva dripping from its mouth.
"Holy shit…" he gasped, taking a step back. But it was too late to sneak away, the thing had already picked up on his presence and was dead set on its next prey. In a howling roar, it began sprinting towards him, its feet clapping against the stone floor as he turned to retreat. However, it was too late. Before taking a single step a strange, stinging sensation flowed through his chest. Eyes widened as they drifted down, noticing a long claw from its hand sticking out of him, as blue energy left through the wound. Because of his late response, it had nailed its target, causing him to let out a loud cry before everything came to a standstill. "Wha…Why'd everything get so quiet? Didn't I die?" he thought to himself, before everything came to a sudden standstill, before being engulfed in a bright light.
This place, it somehow acted by its own rules, ignoring basic laws of reality. The overwhelming light came and went in mere seconds before dissipating, revealing that he had been placed back where he had begun, completely void of injury from the attack. No hole, no wound of any kind, nothing. Time travel, perhaps? Impossible. No way. Then again, what he had experienced so far was far from explainable as well. So, who is he to say what was possible or not? What was going on?!
"How's this possible? I'm still alive…I'M ALIVE!" he exclaimed with a mixture of relief and confusion. Who wouldn't have after having their torso torn wide open? But an even better question sprang to mind: where was the intense pain? You would think suffering from such a wound would leave him with in unimaginable amounts of pain, yet, he felt only a mild stinging sensation. Was he dead and this was the afterlife? "Calm down, Mitchel, don't go losing your sanity, yet. Whatever is going on around here must have a logical explanation. Whatever that may be"
Though, said explanation remained elusive. Now then, how was this going to work? If that thing was still out there, he stood no chance of getting past. Standing much taller and acting much quicker certainly didn't help the situation, but if he stuck around in the same place for long enough it would either find him or starvation would set in. And neither were desired outcomes.
"Damn. Maybe if I throw something in the opposite direction, I can lure it away long enough to sneak past. And with this being a cave, there should be plenty of rocks to go around." he theorized, glancing around the area at the large chunks of stone scattered across the ground. What other choices were there? And so, with an anxious sigh he grabbed three large stones before making way back to his previous location. "This better work."
It was not but a ten-minute walk back, but upon arriving he pressed his back against the wall just around the corner. If it were still there, walking out carelessly would have been a grave mistake. Gripping a rock, he slowly leaned out for a peak, hoping it would not spot him. However, it appeared to have given up and instead retreated to its previous position; its appearance returning to that of a normal treasure chest.
"Is it asleep?" he wondered, quietly stepping out. One wrong move and he would find himself on the receiving end of another attack. No thanks. He liked his body hole free. Yet, when sneaking past the beastie made no such move towards him as the thumping inside his chest grew; a nervous sweat running down his forehead before passing to the other side. "That wasn't…so hard." he told himself, taking a deep breath.
Not even his first ever job interview could compare to the fright he felt back there, but at least it was over with. Knowing the ordeal was over, he continued, hoping to find an exit soon. The cave, however, had other plans. The farther he walked, the more confusing the path became, until it got to a point where it felt as if the path was looping back on itself. A few hours must have passed before he sat on the nearest boulder to rest his legs.
"Christ. Am I ever getting out of here?" he wondered hopelessly, looking down at the ground with an expression of defeat and worry. "I'm gonna die in here…" he whimpered, body shaking from fright.
It had been said in the past the fear of death was what kept the species alive for so long, yet it couldn't save him from this blasted cave system. Sadness and frustration overwhelmed his mind while lifting his head back up, hoping everything that had happened was a mere dream; a fabrication made from a portion of his mind that wanted so desperately to escape reality. Yet, he knew the opposite to be true. This was very real, and he was trapped.
"Damn it. Why me? I just wanted a nice life. Is that too much to ask for?" he question. Only to then hear what sounded like footsteps approaching. For a moment he thought salvation was at hand, but what if it was another creature? He could not take any chances. Jumping up, he grabbed the biggest stone he could find and quickly hid behind a large, stone pillar off to his right. "Tsk. I'm ready for you this time." he told himself. Hands trembling while firmly grasping his makeshift weapon.
What kind of horrid beast would he face? Only one way to find out. Once it drew close enough, he quickly jumped out, readying to chuck that hunk of stone at whatever it was. Only to find his body turn unbelievably stiff, stuck in a throwing position as his body grew unbelievably stuff. What followed only worried him further as a woman dressed in a tattered, half cloak that dropped to the knees, her pale skin visible along her arms, legs, and face while those creepy purple eyes focused on him.
"How curious." she said ominously, casting a devious grin his way.