It was a cool and pleasant morning. The sun had just begun to peek from behind the eastern horizon. The sky looked as fresh and clean as a rose that had blossomed after a whole night's rain. The soft, fragile rays of sunlight gleamed faintly and tenderly down on the terraced houses of the grunt disciples.
The mountains, the houses, and the looming trees were swathed in the light of the newborn sun and the cool, fresh morning air. A little away from the residential area of grunt disciples, in a secluded corner of the mountain foot, a small, shabby cottage was situated.
A stumpy young man walked toward a cottage from the forest. He looked about sixteen or seventeen years old. With the steamed buns in each of his hands that had by now turned cold and hard, he strode toward the cottage. When he reached it, he pushed open the door with his foot and stepped in.
The space inside the cottage was minimal. The room was almost empty as the young man owned very little.
A discolored table, a shaky and cracked wooden chair, and a bed were the only furniture in the room.
The sturdy young man put the buns on the table and walked to the bed.
An unconscious young man lay on the bed. His face was pale, his breath was deep and slow, and his clothes were torn and ragged.
His clothes were covered with blood spots from the many fights he had been in. He was also about sixteen or seventeen years old, but there was something about him that made it seem as though he were older. The smell of blood wafted in the air.
The sturdy young man's name was Evan. He was a grunt disciple of the Sun Sect.
Evan shouted as he tried to wake the young man on the bed. However, the man did not respond. His eyes stayed closed as he remained lost in his unconscious world.
Evan was a rather coarse and vulgar fellow. He was the kind of person who would always follow his emotions and would never give any thought or consideration to his actions.
Seeing that his buddy was still not moving, he felt uneasy and worried. Agitated, Evan paced back and forth in the small space of the room. A few moments later, he returned to the bedside and tried to wake the other man once more.
"Tin, please wake up! You are scaring the hell out of me. Today is the third day, and you are still unconscious. Are you just going to die like this? At such a young age when you have so many things to see and when you haven't fulfilled your dream?
Were you ever worried about me? If you die, I will be all alone at Sun Sect. I won't have a single friend to talk to. You cannot be so selfish. Please wake up for my sake, as well as for your own, OK?"
Tears rushed out of his eyes like the surging water from an open sluice. Evan continued in this hoarse, broken voice," Tin, you used to protect me. With you by my side, no one dared to bully me or humiliate me. You were the one who would always stand up and teach those bastards lessons. I always wondered what good things I had done to earn an incredible friend like you.
But when others bullied you, I could do nothing. What a useless friend I am to you! I must have disappointed you so much. I am really sorry, buddy. Please don't die! Please don't leave me alone!"
As the sorrow in his heart intensified, Evan's reaction gradually changed from sobbing to wailing.
The sound of his cry was so loud in the small, confined space of the cottage that the straw ceiling seemed to tremble with his howl.
"Tin, I have no intention to live in this world if you die. It is all because of those bastards. Wait, buddy, I will go and kill them."
After saying that, Evan turned and rushed out to seek revenge.
He had always been like this. Driven by his feelings, Evan would do whatever came to his mind at once.
However, just as he was about to step out, his ears caught the sound of the other man grumbling in discontent.
"What is that noise? Oh, my ears! I feel I am going deaf!
Who is making that awful sound?" The man in the bed knitted his brows at the sound of Evan's cry.
Evan halted at once and turned.
He saw the man in the bed raising his arm faintly in the air and trying to clutch onto something. Evan rushed back to the wooden bed and clasped his raised hand into his own as he exclaimed in excitement," Tin! It is me, Evan. How are you feeling?"
'Tin? It has been so long since anyone called me by that name.'
The name brought back memories of his past life. 'Yes, it was them. Only buddies who played Basketball with me when I was at school knew and called me by this name.'
Austin gradually pulled himself from his memories and focused on the present. He felt a sharp, shooting pain streak across his forehead as he tried to move. He didn't dare to think harder.
He opened his eyes slowly. The sunlight penetrated through the cracks in the straw ceiling and scattered on his face. Austin narrowed his eyes and tried to recall where he was. He looked around the small, shabby room.
Austin was taken aback with surprise. 'Where am I?
How did I end up in such an old cottage? Who brought me here? Am I dreaming? What is this place?' Austin's mind earnestly sought answers to his questions. He winced as the effort worsened the headache.
Austin was an ordinary employee of a company in the beautiful, prosperous, coastal S city, which belonged to Cathay Nation.
After graduating from college, Austin came to S city with his girlfriend. They wished to pursue their careers and start their life together in S city as a new chapter.
After a few years of dedicated work, Austin was promoted from his worker position to Deputy Director of the Sales department. The promotion was a joyous event as it inevitably brought hope and more enthusiasm to his spirit. He worked harder than ever.
However, things were not as smooth as he expected. A sudden, horrible incident struck his soaring career.