Chapter 89 - Thirteen Cuts in One Breath
After finishing his second attempt, Shi Mu compared it with the sample from The Great Sutra of Magical Charms, and the result satisfied him. He put down the brush and began to mutter the incantation, after which he gave the charm a quick shake.
Nothing happened. No magic auras or symbols appeared. The charm stood motionless between his fingers, like a piece of scrap paper. Again he shook it, with more strength, but the result did not change. With a resigned sigh, he tossed the charm aside, and, again, fell into deep contemplation.
An hour passed before he reopened his eyes, which sparkled keenly. For a third time, he put his brush on the paper. After spending another hour drawing the same charm, he tried to instill his spirit power, but this time, the paper ended up burning into ashes once more.
Time slid by like this, the same pattern repeated again and again. Soon half a day had passed, but Shi Mu was nailed to his desk, pupils golden, brush in hand.
He was now on his seventh attempt. The previous trials had failed, either on a certain character or in the last step of instilling spirit power. His nose had been inundated of the burnt smell. Meanwhile, the stone lost its luster, bit by bit, obviously running out of its heavenly energy. This was because Shi Mu had been borrowing its energy the entire time. Each stroke was like a channel, and would be filled with a small amount of energy after he finished drawing the entire charm. This way, he could save lots of time, and would only need to instill his own spirit power into the charm as a whole after completion. All along, he had been suppressing his frustration with his usual coolness, but even this coolness lost its ground when the seventh charm, again, turned out to be a failure.
Shi Mu took a deep, deep breath, then exhaled, then inhaled, and repeated this until his tired mind regained its equanimity. He decided to consult the Great Sutra of Magical Charms once more. Holding the slips against his forehead, his right hand kept rehearsing the strokes in the air.
An incredibly long time passed. Shi Mu's eyes shone excitedly once again as he slowly put down the white jade slip. He finally found the point where he had been making mistakes. To make sure of this, he, once again, recalled the details, and adjusted his state of mind, sitting on the stone bed. Once his spirits recovered, he returned to the desk and picked up the brush, thinking to himself, "Ok, it's composed of twelve magic characters, and even if it cannot constitute a middle-level charm, it's on of the most difficult charm among all low-level charms! The ones I previously drew had, at most, five or six characters. Also, without the wind stone, there would be no source of holy energy needed in this charm. Other Adept scholars will only do worse. After all, there's no way they have eyes like mine!"
Just as he finished his words, his eyes dilated, turning golden again,! Obviously, he had made the most of his eyesight mutation. This time, the blue paper seemed even larger than before, and its texture seemed even finer. Shi Mu held his breath and slowly bent his head, preparing to try for the eighth time. As he concentrated his efforts, he felt strange feeling, which he had never experienced before. The brushed weighed like a heavy lump of iron, but it moved as freely and smoothly, like an agile animal. It took twice the amount of time he had spent on previous trials to finish this one. Upon its accomplishment, a puff of wind came from it with the patterns glowing mildly. The wind traveled around the room like a baby curious about the world, then returned to the charm and began to swirl above it.
"I made it!" Shi Mu was overjoyed seeing that it worked, thus returned his eyes back to its normal state. Then everything before his eyes recovered their normal looks, too. He picked up the fulfilled Body-Lifting Charm which was glittering with blue light to have a close look. On the blue paper, mysterious red lines were weaved together in an odd way, constituting a delicate pattern expressive of a sacred power beyond language. Shi Mu was so fond of it that he could hardly let it out of his hands! His eyes lit up with excitement. He could not wait any longer to try its power.
Holding the charm between his fingers, he worked up his real Qi and in response, the blue paper charm caught fire in the air, a ball of energy emerged amid the flames. Seeing it, Shi Mu unhesitatingly stuck the burning charm onto his skin. Pu! A small noise was heard, and he felt shrouded by an invisible layer of energy which was gentle and warm. Next, it was as if he had lost half of his weight, a gust of wind blew in from the window and almost swept him into the air. More surprisingly, Shi Mu felt he could take off and fly as long as he wanted. He checked his body from head to toe, and was saw that nothing looked different, but he was positive that his arms and legs were much lighter than before, able to be moved effortlessly. It was such a wonderful and free feeling!
He suddenly had a desire to try his Thirteen Series of Gale-Force Blade Art with his newly acquired body. Without thinking, he made a grab for the blade laying by his bed, and the weapon flew to his hand, catching light midway. He concentrated his efforts on the blade, working the Art of the Heavenly Elephant and instilling his real Qi into it. Soon the blade was coated with a thin layer of white light, quivering like an agitated animal yearning to be unleashed, making a sound like the cries of dragons and tigers.
"Ha!" Shi Mu shouted, his eyes glaring. He made a violent cut in the air, and the blade trembled vehemently, throwing out thirteen shadows onto the wall rolling like billows that tinged the air in the room with the force of a landslide and the power of a tidal wave.
"Thirteen cuts!" After the shadows dispersed and faded away, Shi Mu saw thirteen distinct dents on the wall. The result was so overpowering that he was shocked himself. Who could have believed that with the assistance of Body-Lifting Charm, Shi Mu was able to reach the Consummate stage of the Thirteen Series of Gale-Force Blade Art!
The thrill still with him, Shi Mu wielded his blade successively in the air, and the glint and flash of cold steel blossomed around him, like the noble Snowdrop flowers. Bit by bit, his silhouette was submerged in a sea of flowers.
After exercising the Thirteen Series of Gale-Force Blade Art for some time, with the effect of the charm finally dying away, along with the blade shadows that had filled the air, Shi Mu stopped his movements and paused to recall the whole event. The strikes had been successive and unstoppable, the real Qi of the Heavenly Elephant flowing fluently through his body, and a burning energy was simmering in his veins, accumulating momentum. But, somehow, it seemed that the energy was still blocked somewhere, the exact place he could not name. Strangely, even after he had reached the consummate stage in the blade art, a sour aftertaste was left. He suddenly remembered what his former instructor, Li Canghai, had mentioned that the Thirteen Series of Gale-Force Blade Art was actually a Xiantian level art before it was divided into thirteen series. Now Shi Mu had an ambiguous feeling that Li Canghai may have been right.
But he did not ponder on this for long. His current priority was to make more Body-Lifting charms before the holy energy in the wind stone was completely used up. After all, it was the charms that mattered most, given that they greatly increased his strength!
[Translator's Notes:] Dear readers, I'm so happy to see so many kind replies, and they consoled me, truly. Last night I woke up in the morning, 3:00, and made myself a REALLY hearty meal as a treat. With the lamp turned on and the room filled with soft, yellow light, and my favorite soothing music by the ear, I felt nourished by the night. And just because of your warm concern, I plan to write letters to my old friends, picking up that bonds which used to exist between us but were only somewhat decolored by the passage of time, the distance of space. Of course I really want to write to you, to share stories, if only we have opportunities. But you can definitely leave comments and I will reply after I finish today's promised chapters. Thank You again. I wish all of us a happy weekend :).