Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
The area around him was dark, but it was bright at the same time; it was dim, yet simultaneously dazzling. It appeared empty, but also seemed able to accommodate everything under the sun.
The green grass under the starlight, the waves in front of the reef, the lines on the palace walls, the ruins under the sea; countless scenes flashed before his eyes.
His train of thought paused a little before shifting slowly. He had been here before. Just like in the past, he had forgotten certain things, but he also remembered other things.
He forgot those secondary and unimportant, burdensome things. He remembered the magical, real, and significant presences.
However, this was not the most important matter. What mattered was that he was here. Him.
As his thoughts spun slowly, everything appeared before him, nothing was withheld from him. He saw the end of the world, the power of nature, the scorching sun, the undercurrent, and the deathly stillness.
It was very relaxing, and very liberating. It was as though he had let go of all inhibitions, got free of all his shackles, and lifted all burdens off his heart. There was no gravity, time, or any other thing. There was nothing that could restrict his thoughts anymore.
Only he existed here, like an unbridled horse running wild, a bird soaring in the blue dome of the sky, or a deep-sea fish swimming alone freely.
He wandered free in this world. He was everywhere. He had nothing to worry about.
Then, he became the whole world itself.
A slight discomfort flashed in his mind. However, it did not matter, and hence, he did not care about it, just like how he did not care about the other insignificant matters. There was only a certain feeling that stubbornly clung to him.
It was not enough. This impulse rose suddenly, and it was not possible for it to be stopped. It was not enough. Slight irritation rose in his heart. It was far not enough!
He wanted a lot more. He wanted to know, understand, and receive a lot more!
As this thought came, he began to ascend. It was truly magical. He was like a sun rising in the morning, bringing with him limitless light and heat as he rose in the endless sky.
Higher and higher. Faster and faster. And all that was seen, smelled, watched, and felt grew more and more. The sensations arrived in him faster and faster, until the endless and deep space appeared at the edge of his senses.
Darkness, quietness, and sadness. It was so beautiful and magical that words could not describe it. It was like it was the center of all things on earth. He was enchanted.
But that was not what attracted him the most.
In that moment, he saw fog in that deep space. The fog was dull gray and misty. It obstructed a great many things from view, but numerous glaring white rays of light permeated through the fog. The brilliant rays flowed like moving water, sparkling a little.
‘What was that?’
The thought had only just appeared in his mind when the fog that was permeated by white light moved a little. It was like the fog had a life of its own and spread towards him.
‘Strange.’ He watched the fog that was in the deep dark space and felt the distance between them grow smaller slowly. ‘Why did it feel so close and dear to him?’
It was as if the fog was calling him. As he watched the fog, flowing and coming closer to him, he felt a faint stir of emotions. He wanted… to pass through that layer of white light, enter that layer of fog, and discover what was in it.
When this thought flashed in his mind, it was as though millions of ants had begun crawling in his heart. He could not suppress the urge to get closer to that place, dive into the darkness, and enter the fog and the white light. He felt as though the greatest prize was in there.
The magical feeling rose again. As he got closer to the fog, his senses towards the world became clearer, and he grew more certain about his feelings.
He lowered his eyes and found that all the things he saw before had changed. He saw them at a more microscopic level. His view of the sea had shifted into water droplets. His gaze on the forests was now focused on the veins of leaves. His view of the earth had moved to the soil. Lives were now presented as existences before his eyes. He ordered the world to present itself in front of him again in a novel manner.
The deep space grew nearer and nearer, and so did the fog. As for him, he grew more perfect?
He wanted to laugh, but found that laughter could no longer summarise his feelings; he wanted to sigh, but he had long left the nest of emotions; he even wanted to spread his arms, but the body was no longer important in this place.
He wanted to do it. He wanted to do so.
A few pairs of eyes opened in the deep dark space and cast their gazes on his body from the distance. They watched him as he pressed onward in his journey. But that did not matter, did it?
At this moment, only the fog of the deep space was in his line of sight. He only wanted to brush away the fog and enter it. Nothing else mattered anymore!
He drew nearer and nearer. The deep space seemed to become more of a real existence while the fog was more amiable. He believed that he was very close to them. If he could make it his and discover it, he would become more perfect.
Very close. Soon…
He should have come here earlier, should he not? What took him so long? He should have been here a long time ago, entered the deep dark space, brushed away the fog in the light, and faced a better version of himself. A more powerful, higher, more omnipotent, and more perfect version of himself!
He was approaching the deep space. The looks in the darkness grew fiercer, but he did not care. In that moment, the long-awaited madness, happiness, impulsiveness, and pleasure surged in his heart.
It was as though his once unorganized and bewildered train of thought had found their core. His speed as he drew closer to the deep space increased. It was as though all his wishes were fulfilled one by one, and with each step he took, he was approaching the final step which he longed to take. It was as though all his idleness up to this time, and the reason he appeared here was all for this very moment!
Had he not once experienced such a magical moment before?
It was not long ago. He was in a state he did not wish to leave, and he was equipped with a power to be above all things. He felt like a deity of all worlds, the god of all things in the universe, he was the supreme
Suddenly, a vaguely familiar male voice rose from the bottom of his heart. It was graceful, contented, and relaxed.
However, what he experienced next was similar to having a pail of freezing water poured over his head, and the water drenched his entire body!
He stopped moving forward for a while. He was just about to reach his goal. The deep space and the fog which he felt were in the palm of his hand seemed to instantly drift away. The distance between him and those two became as far as the distance between the sky and earth again, even though just a moment ago they were right in front of him.
He let out a disappointed sigh in his heart. ‘No. Don’t. Don’t stop. Do not stop.’
He really He still wanted to… If he had arms, he would reach out to the fog in the deep space with all his might.
“‘What are gods?”‘
That male voice echoed again.
The voice sounded like it belonged to a spirit. It was barely discernible. Sometimes he could hear it, and other times he could not.
He was a little stunned as he ‘reached out’ with all his might.
‘Wh What?’ He suddenly became quite alarmed. This terror which came out of nowhere left him feeling at a loss.
“‘World,”‘ that graceful male voice echoed faintly in his mind again, as if he was mumbling to himself. “‘What is the world?”‘
In that second, he felt like he had been severely hit! His view shook violently, and his senses were shattered altogether; the scenes that once flashed in front of him swiftly, and the almighty power that allowed him to learn all things suddenly disappeared from his senses!
Even the deep dark space that was far away from his reach became a blurry mess.
The gazes fixed on him from the deep space showed puzzlement as he reacted in this abnormal manner. They were just as puzzled as he was.
‘What was it?’
Puzzlement, incomprehension, frustration, a sense of discordance along with the feeling that something was wrong which felt like deja vu, and the bewilderment and fear of losing everything suddenly soared in his mind.
‘God. Sovereign. World. All things.’ More and more words invaded his train of thought. They flashed in his mind.
‘What are all these? Don’t they sound familiar?’ He was distressed and upset.
‘”When you think of gods, what is the first thing you think of?”‘
It was that male voice. It echoed clearly again in his mind, and to him, it sounded no less like a sudden clap of thunder in a quiet night. In that second, his surging and unrestrained train of thought was subdued.
‘Argh!’ If he had voice, he would definitely shriek. ‘What is god?’
He had no idea.
Although another voice in his mind quietly provided the answer for him. “‘He is an existence that is incompatible to us, and stands at a distance from us.”‘
That voice was a little coarse and dry. It sounded like a duck, and a little impatient, like an immature young boy.
As the strange questions-and-answers session rose in his mind, he was suddenly nervous. ‘No, it’s not like this!’
The god he had imagined while in this state, his mind told him that god was supposed to be
“‘A merciful creator? Er… Or is it an omniscient and omnipotent, callous man? Haha. Nothing. I just thought that Well, the Sunset Goddess looks rather callous, Bright Moon though”‘
“‘Could the man controlling the puppets be observing us quietly? By the way, I want to ask: Do the other Mystics like to peep at other people like you… Ahem, I mean, to observe in secret?”‘
“‘Could they be high level organisms from another world? Well, Asda, are you sure you were birthed by local humans? I mean, maybe one day, your mother ran into a flying saucer when she was out taking a stroll, and there was someone who was as handsome as you in the flying saucer Ahhh! I was wrong, teacher… Urk, ai-air, I need air”‘
“‘The Bright Moon Priestesses probably meant to say that the goddess responds to the mortals’ prayers sometimes, and other times, she does not. It got me thinking about whether the gods are a group of scientists doing experiments. I mean they may wear white robes and cultivate samples like us in petri dishes. They may talk over the petri dishes about some horrifying plots like ‘What are we having for lunch today?’…”‘
That loathsome, ignorant and arrogant voice resembling a duck rose in his mind more and more frequently.
‘God What is god?’
He trembled faintly and suddenly realized to his horror that he did not know. This realisation made him feel as if his horse had lost its footing, causing him to fall into a deep abyss as he rode on the cliffside.
The questions-and-answers session was not over.
“‘What does the world mean to you?”‘
The noises that traveled to his ears grew louder, more frequent, and it all became more jumbled up. The elegant male voice and the irritable duck’s voice were heard talking back and forth more frequently.
He, however, did not feel good. In that moment, it was as if he had hopped onto a horse carriage that got faster and faster; had climbed onto clouds that could no longer hold themselves together and were dispersing; had got onto a skiff that drifted along a powerful current.
Suddenly, he realized that he could no longer control the direction of his advancement. He could no longer sense the feeling of achievement of controlling all things on earth and the world itself.
The darkness in his field of vision drifted further and furtheraway from him as the fog disappeared.
He was falling. He was horrified to notice this. In comparison to how he moved upwards like the rising sun earlier, he now tumbled downwards like an avalanche with an irreversible momentum! He was powerless to stop it and could not think of any way to do so. He could only look up in despair.
He watched the deep dark space, filled with endless secrets and was previously just one step away from him. He stared at the alluring fog and wonderful white light that he could almost touch Now, it were all gone.
Damn it. That blasted duck was still chattering without showing any sign of stopping.
“‘World? Haha. Maybe all things on earth do have some mysterious power, but they don’t know about it, and are indifferent to it. Heaven and earth are not benevolent; they let all substances remain only as substances, and objectiveness remain only as objectiveness
“‘But I suddenly realized that the world we are in and know is not a soulless substance, nor is it a dreary and impartial concept. It is a painting that is made of our understanding and the outside world’s reflection. If we look at it from this angle, it must have colors and temperature. Only then will it be meaningful to us.”‘
‘Argh. So unbearable, that duck voice Why can’t he go kill himself?!’
“‘I saw the world. But I do not know how far it is between what I see and ‘the truth’. If an objective world DOES exist
“‘Or should I put it in this way? The world I see exists because of me Hey, Asda? Mister Sakern? What is the matter with you? Aren’t you the teacher? Do Mystics let their mind wander as well? Hey, it’s raining, we’re about to eat, a beauty just passed by… Come on! Snap out of it! Ah… Don’t, don’t, I didn’t do it on purpose Um, breathe let me breathe”‘
As he fell, the gazes that were originally fixed on him slowly changed. They were no longer fierce, nor were they puzzled. Instead, raging fury spread out from them. They seemed dissatisfied with a particular matter.
He continued to plunge down. It felt like he was falling from the sky. Weightlessness, dizziness, panic, and asphyxiation come invading his senses in no time.
It felt just like the time he and Black Sword fell from the Cliff of the Sky in Dragon Clouds City.
‘Wait a minute.’ His mind was shaken. ‘Who is Black Sword? Where is Dragon Clouds City? Why Why do I know all this?
‘I Who am I anyway? I I’m’
In the next moment, Thales suddenly roused from the strange world!
It was as though a layer of freezing ice had been chiseled to provide a small hole, allowing him to breathe. He could pant heavily.
‘But’ Thales subconsciously looked around. ‘Where am I?’
Everything around him in sight was blurry, as if everything was hidden behind a heavy and thick water screen.
There seemed to be light flowing around the corners of his eyes. Secrets seemed to be hidden there, but when he looked up and searched for it, he could not see anything. All manner of existence was still.
‘Where was I?’ he asked himself in his confused state. However, he could not recall anything. Thales was still falling. This was the only thing he felt. The speed of his fall grew faster and faster.
‘What should I do?’ His heartbeat increased dramatically. The once weakened fear and puzzlement came attacking him in waves. ‘What the hell is going on?’
Thales grew increasingly alarmed. He did not know where he was, neither did he know how he had arrived here. He did not even know what he was doing. He was like a patient who lost his memories and woke up in an unfamiliar hospital bed with a body full of injuries.
‘Damn. What’s a hospital?’
His surroundings remained blurry. He was very lost. He felt just like how he did when he walked alone in the Great Desert in the once arduous journey.
Thales shook his head rigorously. ‘Wait a minute. The Great Desert? Where is it anyway…?’
In that exact moment, Thales felt a chill on his forehead!
Flowing silver light seeped out of his body inch by inch, like the faint flow of fireflies.
His ears heard a light ringing, followed by a whisper that was hardly discernible. ‘”May may you never be lost.”‘
Thales jolted. ‘This is’
The moment he heard the bizarre murmur, the momentum of his descent stopped at once. It was as if he was left hanging in the air. Thales was so shocked that his thoughts halted, like they were frozen.
However, soon, the flowing silver lights dispersed like starlight to form a bright line in the air that led to a spot in the distancelike a path.
Thales stared at the path made of starlight, dazed. Even though he was still deeply puzzled, and there were still some gaps in his memories, he knew somehow that this was the right path.
‘How do I go there?’
As soon as this thought appeared in his mind, Thales shuddered!
In that second, he seemed to have returned to the Path of Shadows. (‘Damn. What is a Path of Shadows again? Why do I find it familiar when I think of it? Why do I feel so anxious?’) The blurry sight before him slowly became indistinct, and then brightened.
No, it was not the outside world that had brightened.It was a bright light that had filled his field of vision. Thales pondered absent-mindedly.
This strange white light which flowed from his body picked him up and flew to the path made of silver light. It moved through the blurry space.
Thales opened his eyes wide. He suddenly recalled that he seemed unable to see his own body. He felt as though his brain could not longer tolerate the strange phenomenon he was facing.
As he was supported by the strange bright light and advanced slowly, he felt a slight pain in his head. When the silver light and the white light disappeared together, Thales finally stopped in the similarly faint, quiet, and colorless space. He went neither up nor down, and neither backward nor forward.
Bitterness rose in Thales’ heart. ‘What exactly is this place?’
An aloof voice suddenly appeared.
“This is the first proximal world of the first threshold. If you take one more step forward, you will arrive at the state where you will have to knock on the Door, and you will enter your basic form. If you take one step backwards, you will return to your physical body.”
Thales had a fright! He immediately looked around and found the source of the voice.
It was a human figure; a similarly blurry, dark, colorless and strange figure where only its contours allowed it to be differentiated from this unusual space. He was like a statue as he stood quietly behind Thales. He did not move a single inch.
‘It’s like he’s censored by mosaic.’ Thales’ brain ached again! ‘What’s mosaic? Damn it.’
The figure with the aloof voice spoke again.
“To this day, very few Mystics could stay here,” he said faintly. “Those who are here move around this place like boats going against the current. They either search for their names of origin using their mystic energy as a guide, shift into their basic forms and knock on the Door, or plunge down, falling from the threshold and leaving the proximal world before returning to their physical forms…”
Thales was stupefied.
‘Mystic? All this?…’
As he reached this point of the conversation, the blurry figure became somewhat serious. Thales felt as if he was being watched by the figure behind the blurry ‘water curtain’.
“…Until you showed up, child.”
Thales watched him in a daze. He did not understand what he meant. “What?” He was like a stupid and foolish child as he watched the figure in front of him with a dumbfounded expression.
The figure paused for a while and seemed to be studying him carefully.
“I can tell that Asda has taught you well.” His voice was still aloof. “What he gave you is just on point; he managed to protect you with the knowledge he gave you. That knowledge hastily brought you back when you were on the verge of knocking on the Door so as to not lose yourself and sink into a situation where you cannot free yourself from it.”
‘Asda?’ Thales’ heart thumped against his chest. He felt as though a cocoon was slowly breaking inside his heart.
The Air Mystic, Asda Sakern.
He suddenly realized that his memories were recovering.
“Who are you?” Thales looked around and failed to recognize even a single thing. The blurry space seemed still, and yet it was filled with flowing lights and colors. He subconsciously asked,
“Are you a Mystic? What is your name of origin? Which faction do you belong to? The Extremists? The Moderators? The Obscurists? The Two Empresses?”
The figure did not answer him directly. He paused a little; he appeared to be pondering something. It was after a while that the figure spoke in a whisper.
“Very good. Asda has taught you much, and in a practical way, too. Even though it’s his first time, he has done his job well as a guide.”
‘A guide.’ Thales’ focus slowly sharpened. He managed to retrieve more and more memories.
‘I was in a dark, underground prison cell.’ Anxiety slowly welled up inside him.
Thales endured his headache and gritted his teeth. “You, you know Asda?”
The figure was quiet for a while. He nodded his head and seemed to have some thoughts running through his mind.
“He could have been a good teacher. Asda was the most prospective and talented wizard apprentice, and learned from the most reputable Master Gogol.” The figure shook his head slowly. His speech was not too fast and not too slow, not too high and not too low.
“His achievements outperformed many of the qualified wizards in comparison. If Asda had continued, he might have become a master one day. The Soul Tower would have been proud of him… Unfortunately”
He did not continue. Thales frowned tightly. Not a single word of what the figure said entered his mind. The ineffable anxiety was continuously torturing him.
It seemed that he had forgotten to do something important. ‘But what could it be?’
“So, who are you exactly? And what is wrong with me?” Thales suppressed the anxiety within him. His tone became increasingly ruder.
At that moment…
A muffled sound was heard. Thales seemed to have sensed it. He quickly lifted his head, but could only see the same blurry space.
Coincidentally, that strange figure also looked up at the same time.
“Did you feel that as well?”
The figure stared into the distance. “When you backed away from knocking on the Door and disappeared, their wishes fell through.”
He paused for a second, and lowered his gaze from the edge of the space. He seemed to be sighing in resignation.
“The girls are very upset.”