Chapter 94 - The Art of Capturing Spirits
"Many thanks for Uncle Ju's instructions!" Shi Mu hurriedly expressed his gratitude.
"Almost forgot to ask, do you know the conditions for communicating with another space?" The fat man's gaze had been roaming over Shi Mu when he suddenly changed the subject of their conversation.
To this question, Shi Mu shook his head, at a loss on how to do so.
"Remember! There are three conditions for establishing a communication: first, some mighty animal's remains must be the linking point. Second, you've got to know the space's exact position. Third, you need a strong spatial sensing ability." Uncle Ju held three fingers while making the explanation to his pupil, who pondered over the three details with all that his mental faculties allowed him.
"Now we are going to enter the space of the dead spirits. We've met the first two conditions, but my space sensing ability is not powerful enough to find the location. That's why I've failed three times...and, that's why you're here." Uncle Ju finally revealed the real intention of having asked Shi Mu for help, with no small amount of embarrassment. The youth - who had been overwhelmed by this unexpected favor - gazed at the floor for a long while, and suddenly got the idea. He now knew what he could do to reciprocate his patron's appreciation of his abilities, and his confident expression assured the fat man much, who nodded, satisfied. For the rest time to follow, the fat uncle expounded some further theories concerning the ceremony to his endearing pupil, just in case, and this endearing pupil spared no effort to memorize every minute detail, and was very much enlightened as to how an Adept could trap an animal from another space as his pet, or servant, if he so wished: first, you've got to arrive at that space safe and sound, then you sharpen your eyes to find the most lovable creature your eyes can meet, (which are usually weak in power since mighty creatures would not be tamed so easily ); third, if not stealthily, you plant your spirit power into that chosen animal, i.e., leave your unique smell on it, then after returning to your own world, you can perform some corresponding magic arts to beckon the poor creature from its own world, and by making a mark on it, this creature will be permanently yours.
After rehearsing this capture process in mind, Shi Mu felt he could wait no more, his heart pounding madly at the thought of uncle Ju's Gold-Eroding lizard, or more precisely, its marvelous ability. Tentatively, he asked, "Uncle, could I find an animal for myself in the world of Dead Spirits?"
The fat uncle frowned, confronted by his pupil's over-ambitiousness. After giving the question some thought, he answered, his tone tinged with some reluctance, "Huh...in theory, yes, no problem at all, but considering that you are not an official spirit Adept yet, I worry for you if you can learn this demanding skill of planting your spirit power into a creature of another world. But, against the rules, I can impart to you a basic art of this kind, easier to get the hang of as long as you have strong spirit power."
"Thanks for uncle's generosity!" Knowing that he could learn another art for free, Shi Mu was thrilled, but not forgetting to bow deeply to uncle Ju.
"Spare your thanks. Learn it or not, decide after hearing what I'm gonna say. This art of capturing spirits is easy to remember, hence its downsides. Simple art, simple creatures, got it? You can at best capture a creature tenfold weaker than your spirit power, not to mention that the spatial transgression will counteract the effect of this art to some extent. So, given your scholar level, you'd at best beckon some worms, insects, etc. from another world. Otherwise, there's no way you can plant your sign on a stronger animal."
"Only the insects!" Shi Mu knit his eyebrows, unsatisfied with this prospective result.
"What else can you do? Even a spirit Adept can only stay in a different world for a very limited amount of time, and according to my experience, with my spirit power, I can only stay for less than one hour. And for you, I dare say, only some ten-odd breaths' time, almost a momentary stay! Find a lovely creature pleasant to the eye, then leave your trace on it? Stop dreaming, my child." The fat man shook his head disapprovingly.
Faced with such a cruel reality, Shi Mu's spirits were irreparably dampened.
"Even if you accomplish a happy journey in the world of Dead Spirits, never imagine the beckoning ceremony to be an effortless one! A huge amount of resources are required, as well as luck! It cost me almost every silver I owned to beckon that fucking parrot, and what now? A stupid machine used for mass-producing unbearable noises! Wouldn't that tear your heart if you stood in my shoes? Well, now that I've told you every bit of my misfortune, will you still want to have a try?" His sad memory evoked with vivid sensation, the caring uncle cast a scathing look at Vibrant.
Shi Mu descended into a brooding silence. After some thought he answered resolutely, "Uncle, your humble disciple still wants to try his luck, please help him, uncle!"
"All right, since you've made your mind. I'll spare you one hour to practice this art. If you run into any problems, just ask me." The generous uncle did not argue. He turned his right hand up, and, without warning, a grey slip emerged from his palm. He gently attached it to his forehead and began the copy of the Art of Capturing Spirits.
One hour later, he flicked his right hand and the grey slip appeared in Shi Mu's hand. Without a word, he sat cross-legged in a corner and closed his eyes. Apparently he had sunk into a deep meditation instantly.
Shi Mu did not disrupt him by expressing his thanks again. He found a quiet corner for himself and started learning the contents. The formula of the art was quite a small one, so it did not take him much time to bear it in his mind. Uncle Ju was right, this art was quite easy to get the hang of, so he lost no time practicing it with eyes tightly shut. For the entire time as he rehearsed the process of capturing a creature, magic charms kept emerging and vanishing in his mind, and his lips quivered now and then, his fingers tracing circles in the air. Only once he asked uncle Ju for help, who readily offered the instruction that removed obstruction to his pupil's understanding. After another hour, Shi Mu's eyes opened with sudden enlightenment, and a strange gleam flashed across his pupils. Without delay, his fingers flicked, tracing different shapes and his lips slighted moved as if speaking in hushed tones. The next moment, a milky white magic character flashed from his palm into the air before it vanished instantly into nowhere.
"You really do have some talent for this stuff! You're almost there!" A voice rang in his ears. Looking up he found uncle Ju had already come back from his mind-travel, standing before him.
"It's all thanks to uncle's instruction!" Shi Mu pressed his palms on the floor and sprang up. Smiling heartily, he thanked uncle Ju again.
Uncle said nothing, waving his hand. Then after rummaging in his shirt from a good time, he fished out some stuff including a shining silver paper charm, a dark bone piece the size of a palm, a silver bowl with two one-legged birds imprinted on its surface, and last, five heavenly stones two folder bigger than a low-level heavenly stone, their colors red, yellow, green, blue, and gold respectively.
It was the five heavenly stones that first attracted Shi Mu's eyes and made his heart thump. Judging from their size and the overflowing spirit power emitted from them, they were none other than middle-level heavenly stones!
As for the dark bone piece, its shape resembling some animal's skull, it was hard to tell what its biological owner was, for all the broken details and fissures.
Puzzled by the bone piece, Shi Mu directed his gaze to the silver bowl. Its surface had many tiny characters on it, following some pattern that he did not understand. Thus, the picture of the pair of one-legged birds stood out from the swarm of characters. At least, to his eyes they did.