Greenish light blinked like a spark dying in the winter wind and then vanished into thin air.
Holding his breath, Li Yao extended one of his spiritual threads into the crystal reactor.
However, when it was entering through the hole, it was weirdly blocked by what seemed to be a thin film.
He seemed to have punctured a soap bubble. A long and deep sigh came from inside the hole, followed by an eruption of greenly shining spots that looked like flickering dandelion seeds which danced to the rhythm of the wind under the night sky.
Li Yao was dazed. He had never seen anything as weird before.
They were like translucent fireflies, bunches of flying roses, and ember spirits that had been awaken.
They danced around Li Yao in an unpredictable pattern, sending out mysterious messages.
Li Yao extended more spiritual threads from his spiritual root and pierced into the green fires.
In a moment, hundreds of fireballs of information exploded inside his brain, making him 'see' and 'hear' countless stuff.
He seemed to have been surrounded by thousands of pictures at the same time.
Most of them are obscure and complicated experiments and refining procedures. A few of them were some people exclaiming wildly with joyful tears.
"The Project Mystic Skeleton is finally going to be completed!"
The sentence echoed and echoed in Li Yao's brain, which was followed by rounds of gleeful laughter.
He could even feel intense pride, excitement, and relief himself.
It was not until Li Yao stood still for over an hour to read and absorb all the information that he discovered that a lot of experimental data and refining processes related to Project Mystic Skeleton had been added to his memories.
The concepts and conjectures that had been fuzzy to him were all obvious now. All the details of the Project Mystic Skeleton had been circuited together and formed a coruscating skyscraper inside his brain.
It was as if inspiration from hundreds of people had exploded in his head like brilliant fireworks.
The fireflies in the sky had disappeared without him knowing.
Li Yao rubbed his face hard to ensure that he was not hallucinating.
He extended his spiritual threads into the crystal reactor again.
The light of the translucent fireflies was extremely weak now. The silence of the grave had taken over the place. Li Yao could even feel that the spiritual energy contained in them were dispersing fast.
It wouldn't be long before the fireflies were gone with the wind.
Li Yao's heart was beating fast. He felt that he might be onto a big secret. So, he reached out to his professor hurriedly via the mini crystal processor.
Ten minutes later, Yuan Manqiu arrived.
She took the crystal reactor and sank her telepathic thoughts into it with her eyes closed while she listened to Li Yao talking about everything that had happened.
"I've been fond of meditating beside the statue of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit since more than half a year ago, because I felt that my brain was extremely sharp and my thoughts were well-organized when I was here. Sometimes, the ideas popping up in my head even shocked myself. I felt like countless experts of refining were communicating with me in this place.
"As time went by, the feeling grew more and more intense. I even had the illusion that the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit here was not a statue or a pile of wreckage, but a no hundreds of living human beings!
"In the meeting today, I found that we were stuck on the refinement of the crystal reactor.
"So, while I was sitting here, pondering how to solve the problem, I thought I might as well dismantle the old crystal reactor and study its structure in case I could found something. As it turned out"
Li Yao told her his amazing experience just now.
To his surprise, there was no amazement, delight, or confusion in his professor's face, but only vague grief, as if someone had torn away her scab and freed her painful past that had been caged for a long time.
Li Yao hardly ever saw such an expression on his professor's face.
Yuan Manqiu was always energetic at whatever she was doing. When something unexpected happened, she was always calm enough to cope with it. She never lacked determination, either.
Therefore, although her expertise was not the greatest, many grassroots refiners were still willing to push forward the Project Mystic Skeleton under her leadership.
He had only seen the expression once before, when the floating mountain of the Refining Department exploded, and Professor Mo Xuan sacrificed himself.
"Professor, do you feel it?"
Li Yao was somewhat anxious.
Yuan Manqiu shook her head and replied bitterly, "No."
Li Yao was dazed for a moment. Then he took the crystal reactor over and closed his eyes again.
Although their light was very weak now, the fireflies was still gleaming in the darkness.
If he could sense them as a Refinement Stage Cultivator, there was no reason why his professor, a Building Foundation Stage Cultivator, could not.
"I believe in your feelings. They're not your hallucination. I assume they're Phantom Entities."
Yuan Manqiu's voice was somewhat lonely.
Li Yao blinked.
He had heard about the term before, but he did not know much about it, nor had he ever come across any in his prior Cultivation.
Yuan Manqiu seemed to have lost her strength. Holding the pedestal of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, she sat down slowly and said, "Have you ever seen ghosts?"
Li Yao nodded his head.
"Of course I have. I have several good ghost friends. Besides, aren't there quite a few spectral Cultivators in our school?"
By good ghost friends, he was referring to Ding Yin and Wei Qingqing.
A year and a half ago, on his way to the Grand Desolate War Institution, the crystal train that he was on met a beast tide outbreak. Seven Cultivators sacrificed themselves to protect the ordinary people on the train. Only two of their souls were able to survive and turned into spectral Cultivators, who were Ding Yin and Wei Qingqing.
While Li Yao was studying in the Grand Desolate War Institution, the two of them went to the Undead Academy that the federal government specially established for the spectral Cultivators to learn how to live as ghosts.
They'd kept in touch all that time. Li Yao had been discussing with Ding Yin about the art of refining. Sometimes he read Ding Qingqing's latest literary works too. Their friendship had been growing.
One year after joining the Undead Academy, Ding Yin and Wei Qingqing had graduated and gone their separate ways.
Ding Yin joined the 'Ghost Legion' of the federal army which was a special troop of spectral Cultivators. He became a military refiner and helped the spectral Cultivators of the Ghost Legion maintain their bodies.
Ding Qingqing also realized her dream of being an elementary school teacher.
It was not an ordinary elementary school. All the students of the school were children who had passed away.
When one died, it was like a light that had been shut off. Not everyone had the opportunity to become a ghost.
The Cultivators whose souls were stronger were most likely to turn into ghosts after they died. For ordinary people, their odds of turning into ghosts were little to none.
However, there were certain kinds of ordinary people that were more likely to become ghosts than others were.
For example, those who were born or passed away at a certain time and location; those who were in red when they died; those who were dogged or had a lot of hatred.
Another kind of such people would be children who died too young.
Children's fire of life only just started burning. Their souls were less worn and purer than those of the adults, so it was more likely for their souls to stay intact when they passed away.
In the ancient Cultivation world, souls of the children who died too young had been the best materials for Cultivation.
Some crazy Cultivators even tormented and killed children brutally on purpose to get souls of hatred which they would refine into malicious magical equipment.
Things were completely different in the modern Cultivation world.
The Star Glory Federation had paid as much attention to ghost rights as it did to human rights, if not more.
For the protection of young ghosts who had died before the age of eighteen, the Star Glory Federation issued 'Juvenile Ghosts Protection Act', stating that all adolescents, be they humans or ghosts, had equal rights and obligations to receive education.
The elementary school that Wei Qingqing went to was a special one for the little ghosts.
She had sent a group picture of her students and herself to Li Yao before.
Of course, it was not a picture of hollow clothes. The picture had been taken in a darkroom with the help of phenotypic rune arrays by special crystal cameras.
In the picture, Wei Qingqing and the children looked like diamond statues. They were life-like and smiling happily.
Li Yao felt happy for her from the bottom of his heart.
With two such friends, Li Yao was not a stranger to ghosts, nor did he reject them.
But the translucent fireflies inside the crystal reactor did not look like ghosts from whichever angle.
"Phantom Entities are not normal ghosts. You may understand them as ghosts in a lower dimension, specifically, ghosts that are in the two-dimensional state," Yuan Manqiu said.
Li Yao found himself hardly able to process the information.
"That's correct. Ghosts are not bound by bodies. They still possess their self-awareness. So, they know who they are and most of what happened in their life.
"However, such status can't last long.
"If they can't find a suitable body to reincarnate, or can't digitalize themselves to hide in metal puppets, or don't know any Cultivation techniques of ghosts, they will break down, melt, and collapse like snow under the sun.
"During the process, their self-awareness will be the first thing to disappear. They'll no longer know who they are.
"Then, they'll lose their memories of the past.
"Eventually, they'll lose their perseverance, the thing that they thought to be unforgettable.
"When the perseverance is gone, the force that pushes them to linger on will be no more, and they'll be gone forever."