I felt strange but warm and comfortable, as in a type of comfort that I had never felt before. Not the best feeling ever, but just weirdly unfamiliar like how you’d imagine a baby feeling inside of their mother’s womb.
What the heck! Was this really the best time to analyze what type of comfort I was feeling? Where am I? And what happened?
Ok, slowly... I started paying attention to how I was feeling instead of thinking to calm down a bit, this was all too sudden.
First things first, what was the last thing that I remember? Yeah fuck... How could I forget that?
I was at loss for words...
The last thing I remembered was doing a lot of drugs, I knew that it wasn’t the best idea but I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil and didn’t care really. I was not planning on killing myself, but the prospect of death didn’t scare me. Maybe deep down I wanted to kill myself but just didn’t want to admit it to myself?
Sigh... I don’t know.
Where am I, is the question? It felt strange and I could not feel my body at all.
I was silent for a while, just observing this strange limbo state I was in. Maybe it’s a coma?
I only remembered my heart beating at a fast speed and I felt hot all over then I started feeling intense pain in my chest. I tried to stand up I think before I completely blacked out.
It was completely dark, but it felt comfortable actually, I’m not complaining.
Hmm, now what? It has been just a couple of minutes since I first gained consciousness, I could think with absolute clarity just like when I was conscious but there was nothing much I could do there.
I reveled in that state for a while.
It was pleasant, but then I started feeling tired and on the verge of losing consciousness...
After some time has passed.
I did not know how much time has passed since the last time I woke up, I just remembered dozing off and now I woke up.
I felt different, I could move... Wait! Oh my god. I could actually move.
As I started navigating what I was feeling, I was struck by a weird realization.
My body felt different, what in the actual fuck? I started moving and checking my body.
I was dumbstruck by what I found, I was no longer human!
This means that there is actually life after death. I was not surprised as I had no particular belief system before, I saw the fragility or rather how illogical our minds are. Beliefs are merely the by-product of our fears and our inability to comprehend life, so we invent beliefs for security and comfort.
A wise man once said, the desire for an answer is detrimental to the truth, because when there is an emotional investment on our part we’ll cease to see things as they are but merely see what we want. Or something like that!
After all was said and done, I was still pretty sad and chose to just sit in silence for a while and sort out my thoughts.
I was lost for words for a while, I was grieving my own death as ironic as that was.
I started moving my new body once again so that I’d get used to it.
I was definitely a bird, from the body parts that I managed to move that’s what it felt like.
Beak? check. Talons? check. Wings? check.
What the fuck? I’m really a bird, I’m doomed!
Hopefully, a strong bird of prey.
Yeah, from the way my beak felt like it was hooked and I had strong sharp talons which probably meant I’m a predator... maybe.
I felt like I could move and there is was yolk left, so I tired to break through this egg and see what my new life was like. I moved my head up, and bit the roof of my current home, in doing so I managed to make a tiny hole through which a bit of light came in. My heart started beating faster not because I was excited, No. I was scared shitless of what lays before these fragile yet strong eggshells that made me feel secure in this last period.
I continued to remove the eggshells, then I poked my head out of the egg.
And Boom!! Sweet baby Jesus!!
I was looking at a giant eagle, it was either she was fucking huge or I was pretty small. It seemed like she was my mother. She? Hmm, I feel like I instinctively knew the gender.
I got out of the egg, looked up at the giant eagle, and felt an overwhelming feeling of reverence. She was simply a beauty, a gorgeous creature even more from up close. It was a bird that I had never seen before in my life... which meant that this was probably another world.
The eagle that was standing before me was pitch black and she had golden eyes with a tinge of green in the middle. Looking at her eyes they didn’t look like the eyes of a mindless beast that was driven merely by instincts. No, there was an intelligence behind those golden pearls which was scaring the hell out of me.
Her beak was light gold but mostly black with a hook at the end, befitting one of predators of the skies. Her talons were also light gold, scaly with long dark sharp claws protruding from them.
Speaking of instincts, those rough-looking egg shells were looking strangely delicious. I moved my body around and bit on the shells, after they made contact with the insides of mouth they melted as if of their own will and I could feel a strange warm liquid spreading over my body.
The moment I did, I heard a sound.
What the shit? I saw a string of golden words before my eyes.
[Connecting to the Host’s consciousness... System connected.]
Then I heard a majestic and dignified voice speaking directly inside of my head instead of words.
[Hello Zed, this is a system made by ‘The Order of the Endless River’ led by Immortal Emperor Xenyx. You’ve been chosen as a possible candidate to join if you so choose. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?]
What in the actual living... Ok ok... deep breaths.
I froze for a while because I was shocked by what I was hearing.
After staring blanky into the void for a while collecting my thoughts.
What was that?
“Screech?” I wanted to say hello but this is what came from my mouth.
[Hello there! You can just think, we’re connected so I can understand you telepathically]
‘Ok, Hi Hello, and what are you?’
[A system made by the Order of the Endless River. If you want the details of what I am then I’d have to disappoint you]
This being seems very intelligent and it can talk inside my head. My heart was beating probably 300 beats per minute due to the sheer insanity of the whole situation.
I started walking around the nest trying to get my shit together once again.
Wait, can it read my thoughts?
I was waiting for it to say yes.
It didn’t respond.
‘Can you read my thoughts?’
[No, those are private nor do I have the power to do so.]
‘But, we’re speaking through thoughts right now??’
[It’s normal, one-word intentions. I know that you came from a world devoid of magic so you’d be limited by your imagination. This is a magical world, you are an intelligent reincarnated monster eagle and I’m a sentient being that is talking inside your head. Point is, you need to drop all of your ideas of what you previously thought is impossible or possible. Anyway, to keep it short when there is an intention of communication behind your thoughts I can pick them.]
Oh yeah, I see. Thank god, imagine if it could read my thoughts it would be a nightmare. There was stuff I did not want to share with anybody not because they were horrifying or something, just privacy I suppose and the freedom to share parts of yourself at your own will.
But, most importantly! A magical world? Holy shit! If that were the case, then it indeed explained a lot.
I did not know how to feel about it, I was both excited and terrified at the notion of a new world.
I calmed down for a bit and started thinking about how to proceed from there.
Ok, Let’s not waste time. Three keywords here, Order of the Endless River, Immortal Emperor Xenyx, and finally an invitation that I could either accept or decline.
‘Alright, How may I address you, Sir?’
[I have no name so it’s irrelevant, I suppose system, you, hey. I don’t care either way. As I said before I pick up your intention to communicate with me so I always know when you’re talking to me.]
Hmm, I like his logic it made sense. Let’s cut right to the chase.
‘Understood, What is the Order of the Endless River?’
[The Order of the Endless River is like an organization you can say, that spans the multi realms founded by the Immortal Emperor Xenyx in order to lessen the suffering of the world to a certain extent. This is all you need to know for now.]
‘When you say to lessen the suffering of the world to a certain extent, what do you mean by that?’
[I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ’If you save a dog it probably won’t change the world, but it will change that dog’s world forever. The purpose of the Order is just that to save people and leave a positive impact on the world]
Damn, so I’m that dog. Lucky, I had never thought I’d be so glad to be called a dog in my life but here we are. However, he was not talking just about me.
‘You mean to save people right?’
‘So where do I fit in this scenario?’
[You will save the people of course, with the help of this system.]
‘Is it more like a specific type of mission to save certain people or just save people I come across in general?’
[There is no grand mission to save anybody. You will receive quests to save people you come across and you will be rewarded accordingly if you so choose to accept them of course.]
Okay okay, I like where this was going.
Just as I wanted to ask another question, I heard cracking sounds. When I turned to look I saw two eggs being open from the inside and two eagle chicks poking their heads out.
It turned out, I had siblings. One male and one female. I did not know know if this was a blessing or a curse, I had heard of certain type of birds that are too competitive when they’re young to the point that only one remains I hope they won’t attack me they look fierce.
They were like the miniature version of the dark eagle just clearly younger and were covered in grey feathers instead of black.
Fortunately, they just looked at their mother then at me, then they began eating their eggshells.
Shit, I forgot. I also started eating the rest of my eggshells, when I finished I felt a cool sensation spreading over my body and I felt my body getting a bit stronger afterwards. Ahh, what a good feeling it was like having an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day.
Just as I was reveling in the taste of my previous home, I felt a push behind me and I fell beak first into the ground with my bum pointing to the sky.
I stood up and looked back only to find my female sibling looking at me in a weird way. Then, she kept following me. She was strangely energetic and strong for someone who has just hatched. I did not know if that was normal, I’m no bird expert but probably no. It seemed like this world was different in a lot of ways.
I needed to think of a name for them, after all, we’ll be spending a while together because I had no feathers on my wings so I could not fly.
Oh my god, I got so caught up being excited about the system that I forgot something very important!
I had no fucking way to defend myself. I was helpless, weak and I could not even fly or run. Was this a joke?
I looked up and saw the mama bird looking at us, there was definitely intelligence behind those eyes which made me feel a bit safe.
Now that I think about it, this body of mine was not someone else’s so technically this was my mother in every sense of the word. But I who have lived a different life before could not take the concept of suddenly having a mother seriously. It was about emotions and connections, not a wording technicality. It was different so I did not have any feelings towards her which was a shame.
However, looking at the siblings I actually like them and I feel a certain closeness towards them maybe because they look cute and dumb. A mother is just something that felt way beyond me at that point, not that I was someone who needed any sort of emotion to know what should be done. Just to be safe, this giant gorgeous bird was still the only one who can protect me right now.
I moved towards her, looked her in the eyes, and made a couple of excited sounds.
Then, I moved my head towards her talons and picked them gently like a tickle. When I looked up I saw a bit of surprise in her eyes. I did not know why maybe I acted too intelligent? But I did nothing that would stand up, I think it was the eye contact. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and the way she looked at me was like someone who was having an active inner dialogue and can evaluate what was happening around them just like me.
The mama Eagle made a very low sound as if she was saying something then spread her magnificent wings and flew from the nest.
I again, the idiot that I am, completely forgot to check my surroundings but who could blame me, it was just one thing after another. From the moment I woke up the second time before I hatched, I don’t even think 5 minutes had passed.
The nest was big, the siblings were playing with each other in the corner and I was standing in the middle. From where I was standing all I could see were huge trees seeming like they were able to penetrate the sky. It was very dark but I could see very clearly, I felt powerful having the ability to see in this pitch black darkness. If I was still human I wouldn’t even be able to see my hand in this darkness, but now I could see up to 500 meters approximately.
I could not see far though, because the only thing that filled my vision in every direction were trees.
I moved to the edge of the nest in order to see what was below, but all I saw again were trees. What was strange was that these trees were very close to each other, the nest was built on a big branch that seemed to be connected to several trees at the same time. I could not hear anything, just the sound of the siblings messing around behind me.
The moment I thought of the siblings my heart sank and I directly jumped back only to see them still playing there. Pheew, I was reminded of the last time that crazy chick pushed me and I was scared she’d do it again only to throw me off the nest or something. Now that I think about it, I was hearing them playing so there was no way she was that close to me. I just got scared because the ground was very far if I fell from this height I’d die without a doubt.
After I looked around and checked my surroundings I calmed down a bit, we seem to be very well hidden, or at least that’s what I’d like to think.
I started walking around the nest while flapping my wings just to get used to my new body and build some new muscle memory, when the siblings saw me they started doing exactly the same which I found to be funny.
‘You’re still there right?’
‘Who is this Immortal Emperor Xenyx?’
[A living being who ascended from the lower realms thousands of years ago and is still known to this day as one of the peak geniuses in the path of cultivation. His story is long; you don’t need to know the details now. However, what you need to know is that he’s the founder of this Order, the one who created me, and the one who chose you.]
Choose me? Shit that did not sound good, I feel somewhat intimidated being on the radar of such a powerful being but he seems alright and there was no use point in fretting over stuff I had no control over.
‘Why did he choose me?’
Ouch, this somehow feels like an insult. However, I did not really think I was special in any way. No, the opposite I’m shocked that I was chosen instead of I don’t know how many millions or even billions of souls. I had always been someone who was fascinated by life’s randomness, luck, fate, or coincidences. Call it what you will, so I thought if an opportunity presented itself I’d go for it.
‘You said that I’ve been chosen as a possible candidate, how can I join?’
[I just need your confirmation before merging the host’s soul with the system, right now there’s only a fragment of my being inside your head to communicate. If you say no you will forget everything about the system and the Order and continue your life as an Umbra Storm Eagle.]
The moment he said so, a dark panel appeared before my eyes with golden words written on it.
[The system wishes to merge with your soul. Do you accept it? YES/NO]
[Merging in Progress...]
It seemed like when the system was directly answering me, it spoke inside my head but when there was an operation in progress I see golden words in front of me.
[Congratulations host and welcome to the Order of the Endless River. If you have any more questions please ask.]
[You ate eggshells with magical properties |Experience Points +150|.]
[Congratulations host for leveling up from 1 to 2. +5 Stats Points, +2 Skill Points.]
What? Level up? This looked to be like some sort of a game, Stats and Skill Points, I could tell what everything meant but I decided to slow it down and ask things through step by step.
‘Well, Thank you! First of all, You are an intelligent being, not exactly a programmed system right?’
[To be fair, both statements are correct. I am indeed a system, meaning I have been programmed to help the host grow strong yet I am also aware of my programming, myself, and can think outside of my program thus intelligent.]
‘I see, so tell me the most important question is how do I get stronger? and you said Umbra Storm Eagle I suppose this is what I am?’
I was feeling strangely paranoid looking around and knowing there was no one to protect me.
[Let’s start with the second question. Yes, that is what you are. As for how to get stronger, the beings of this world use mana to strengthen their bodies, cores, souls, and other various methods. You being from this world, of course, can also grow stronger like this but there are system perks such as growing stronger through leveling up by either practice, defeating other beings, and quests. You know the game you played in your high school years? Exactly like that! This system was made especially for you. Look at this.]
Host: Zed - Umbra Storm Eagle(Hatchling).
Experience Points(Exp): 40/540
Cultivation Realm: Body Refinement(Low)
Health Points(HP): 57/57
Magic Power(MP/Mana): 112/112
Spiritual Power(SP): 190/190
Magical Resistance: 11
Physical Resistance: 4
Spiritual Resistance: 19
Available Stats Points: 5
Available Skill Points: 2
Karma Points: 0
A Dark panel appeared in front of me, it looked like it was made of black smoke because I could see smoke flickering at the sides and everything inside of it was written in bold gold characters. It looked very imposing and it had an ancient mystic feel to it.
The moment I saw the status window in front of me, I was shocked and excited!! I understood how big of a cheat this is, the living beings of this world would not have a level or status window to raise their levels, so I imagine getting stronger is difficult, and takes time, and a lot of effort.
As someone who played a lot of games growing up, I also tried an MMORPG and it was to this day my favorite game genre.
I played it for more than 10 years!
Even though I was super excited, I was still thinking logically there were two issues that were bothering me.
‘This is great, I understand the system, or at least what you’ve shown me of it so far. I have a question, you said that you can’t read my thoughts yet you mentioned a game I played before. How does it work?’
[Yes, I cannot read your thoughts but I have access to your memory in order to facilitate our communication. Remember when I said this system was customized for you? It was created with that game in mind, you’ll find some of the previous functionalities from your old game and other things of course.]
I actually did not know how to feel about this, but it was not something I should bother myself with now. What mattered was that I had a way to get stronger, and I can become even more powerful. How crazy is that?
At the top left of the window, there was a picture of me, a baby eagle chick. Besides it were three bars that represent Health, Mana, and Spirit respectively. I could tell just by looking at the colors Dark red, Dark blue, White.
Below them were of course the other details. There were a lot of things that I should pay attention to, so I will ask him later.
The biggest puzzle right now was the cultivation realm Body Refinement(Low), it seemed to be my current stage or rank but how did it relate to leveling up, stats, and what was it exactly?
‘What is this Body Refinement?’
[The power ranking in this world is like this, beings with no mana whatsoever being the lowest of this hierarchy then Body Refinement, Foundation Establishment, and Core Formation each realm has four smaller realms low, mid, high, and peak. There are higher realms beyond Core Formation of course, but all in due time. In the Body Refinement stage, you can use the mana in the world to strengthen and refine your body parts.]
Hmm, sounds reasonable. I could control the energy in the world and use it to train my body in a sense, though I still had other questions.
‘What realm is the Mama bird?’
[She’s at Foundation Establishment(Low) realm.]
Shit, she is? She did seem pretty strong and intimidating as hell plus her body looked very tough.
I still had dozens of questions but I’d rather take it slowly no rush, I was still a flightless defenseless baby there was not much I could do.
‘How do I close and open this status window?’
[You can ask me or just think about what you want it to do.]
I could not keep asking the system for something as small as that of course, so I’d do it myself. I thought about the status window disappearing from my sight. And it did! I thought about it opening up and behold, I feel like a wizard already. It was very simple.
I started to look at my stats again to fully understand my current situation.
‘Why is the gap between my spiritual attributes and physical attributes so big?’
[Your physical attributes are low due to two things, first, you’re still a hatchling and second, your species are more magical than physical. You have an affinity with the power of Wind/Darkness. The spiritual attributes are high due to the host’s soul being older and from another world.]
My spiritual attributes were surprisingly high, I needed to make good use of them.
That is good, wind and darkness huh? I like it, which reminded me of looking at the menus at the bottom of the status window. The skill menu’s icon was surrounded by golden light like an aura slowly moving around it, while the others seemed to be unavailable. There was just the name without any sort of movement.
I thought of how I closed/opened my status window and tried the same thing with the skill icon.
The moment I did, The content inside the window was changed and replaced by seven golden columns each of them representing a skill.
I wanted to explore this on my own so I didn’t ask the system, I needed to get used to this.
I thought about seeing the skills description and they immediately appeared.