Chapter 108 - Silk, Silk of Smoke
This sight gave Shi Mu hope. Without hesitating, he took a white bottle out from his shirt and pulled the plug, swinging the bottle in the grey fog oozing out of the formula. Its contents - some mysterious black fluid - flowed out of the bottle and disappeared into the fog, which soon turned the small patch of drifting fog into a wildly rolling surge of air. It bellowed like an energetic beast, and, as if under some guidance, began to swirl about at a constant pace, forming a grey vapor vortex that was about three meters wide. In this process, large patches of grey fog fled from the vortex and spread in all directions. Eventually, the entire formula was shrouded in darkness.
Shi Mu gazed at the formula seriously. his lips quivered and his eyes were unblinking. After letting loose some incantations, he thrust his thumb into the formula. A streak of dark light shot from his fingertip and flew into the grey vortex, getting completely swallowed up in the dark swirling mess. A few seconds later, a succession of clear clanks rang out, made by the heavenly stones set around the formula breaking simultaneously. This was followed by a cracking sound, then a black electric arc, as thick as an arm, suddenly appeared in the middle of the vortex! After wriggling in the air for some time, the arc disappeared without warning just as it had come, accompanied by another cracking sound. This time, the entire stone house seemed to be shaking at this great energy!
Immediately, the light of the octagonal formula went out, and the vortex at the center was also gone, replaced by an indistinct, small human figure, around which were some remaining wisps of grey fog that floated like silk bands around the thin body, making it impossible to clearly see its face. Amazed by the sight, Shi Mu subconsciously stood up, his eyes drawn to the blurry silhouette. But he soon came to himself, and, acting quickly, grabbed hold of the meteoric iron blade that he had long placed nearby, just in case, whereas with the other hand he fished out a wad of paper charms from his shirt. He stood, ready and waiting, for a few minutes, but the figure remained glued to where it was, which made Shi Mu relax a little. He waited until the grey fog completely lifted, in which process the figure also grew clearer, until it showed itself as a human skeleton of greyish white color, a bit shorter than himself. It stood in the eye of the formula, its eye sockets flickering with green gleams.
Shi Mu approached it and felt the spirit sign he had planted on the skeleton before. So he was now sure that this skeleton before him was precisely the one he had chosen in the Death Space.
But upon taking a closer look at it, Shi Mu felt a bit of doubt. This skeleton did not tally with the one in his memory, which was a tattered, mutilated, one-armed patchwork of bones! However, this one standing in front of him had not a full equipment of limbs, but more wholesome bones with fewer fissures. Even the color of the bones deepened.
As Shi Mu lost himself in studying the skeleton, it raised its skull, the two beaming sockets directly facing Shi Mu, as if watching the young man in return. Shi Mu remained silent for another moment, and, convinced that this skeleton was not hostile, he spoke up, "Could I ask what your name is? Can you understand my language?"
However the skeleton gave no response. It stood in the same spot, unmoving.
Shi Mu frowned in disappointment. After all, it had cost him an arm and a leg to beckon this skeleton to this world, and it had turned out to be an inert and stupid creature. He suddenly felt a strong sympathy towards uncle Ju, who also used up every last of his penny to bring Vibrant to this space. But Vibrant, however useless it may be, can at least speak, whereas this skeleton cannot even understand human language.
Just as he was lamenting silently his folly, the green gleam in the skeleton's sockets swayed, and slowly the skeleton nodded its head.
Shi Mu was exhilarated, and expectantly he said, "Try and move two steps forward."
The green gleam swayed again, this time twice. After a long while, it seemed to have comprehended Shi Mu's order. Staggering, it did as it was told.
"So you can understand. However, you seem to be a bit... slow." For a moment, Shi Mu was confounded as to how to further communicate with his newly gained servant.
"Can you sit down?" He tried another order.
The skeleton swayed its head, and, like an obedient pet, it seated itself on the floor, its bones making creaking noises as it did so.
Shi Mu was at least satisfied with his pet/servant's meekness, though it seemed a bit weak in the head. At last, he walked up to the skeleton, prepared for any possible sudden attack from it, and said to it slowly, "Alright, so I've brought you to this world, then I should at least show the quality of a responsible master. Now I'm gonna plant a magical contract in your body. Don't be afraid, it's going to be ok." All the time, the skeleton sat facing him, its sockets glowed, and nothing abnormal happened.
Shi Mu relaxed his knit eyebrows, his heart resigning himself to this fate. Maybe it's because he had talked too long this time, so however slowly he pronounced each word, what he said still eluded the skeleton's poor intelligence. He did not waste more time explaining to a skeleton, so he rested his hand on its skull and began muttering the incantations. Instantly, black light shot up from his palm, and the skeleton did not resist at all. The only thing that happened was a slight dimming of the green gleam in its eye sockets. It sat patiently, letting the black light seep into its skull and turn into a black magical character. Shi Mu's spirit power also melted into the skeleton's spirit, along with the contract, and soon the master and the servant's spirit elements blended. With the skeleton's cooperation, the whole process went on extremely smoothly. Shi Mu heaved a sigh of relief, removing his hand.
Now that the contract had officially been made, and this skeleton was his official pet/servant.
For the next few minutes, Shi Mu asked the skeleton to move about freely and try to attack him, and though the results were not out of his expectation, his was still in drooping spirits. This skeleton had been proved to be an average one, with no special abilities except for its high attacking speed. Generally speaking, its strength, at most, equaled that of a beginner Practitioner.
"Alright, I've got no work for you to do right now. If ever I need your help, I shall beckon you here again. By the way, you emerged in our world for the first time amid drifting smoke, which looked like bands of silk, so I'd like to give you a name, 'Silk of Smoke'. Do you like it? Or we can just call you 'Silk', if you prefer." Thinking in his heart that Silk would not be of much use to him, Shi Mu sighed and asked it to leave.
With the magical contract established between the two, the skeleton seemed to have become quicker in understanding Shi Mu's words. It nodded it's head right after Shi Mu finished speaking.
To keep a servant in this world requires a great deal of spirit power, and before this, Shi Mu had used a lot of energy setting up the formula, so he felt completely exhausted after talking to the skeleton for some time. He waved his hand, and muttered an incantation in his heart. Soon a large patch of black smoke appeared around Silk, wrapping around it.
"Be careful, keep yourself safe in the Space of Death." These were the last words Silk heard before it totally disappeared from this world.
At the foot of a giant mountain in the Space of Death, a puff of black smoke suddenly appeared, and out came a grey skeleton, which was precisely Silk. For a few moments, it stood still, somewhat lost in its own world. The green gleam in its eye sockets seemed stronger, and the swaying gleam looked just like a pair of starry, liquid eyes that was lost in thought. A black magical character could be seen vaguely on its body, and the character seemed to link Silk with a distant existence. From the link came wisps of faint but cool energy that made Silk feel consoled, its head becoming somewhat clearer than before.
Silk stood in the same spot for a few more minutes, scanning its surroundings, then began to walk.
Maybe it was because of the black magic embedded in its body, but Silk now moved with a quicker speed. It advanced steadily, and, after a while, heavy footsteps were heard in front of it. Not far from Silk, an ashen skeleton was making its way ahead with tottering steps, and its sockets were also glowing, though not as brightly as Silk's.
Skeletons are the most commonly seen creatures in the Space of Death, or rather, the lowest existence. Equally, there are an alarming amount of them. Just around this giant mountain, the aura of several skeleton armies could be felt, so, before their commander convened them, many skeletons would wander around aimlessly, on the condition that they could not go further than the limits ordered by the commander.
The ashen skeleton had taken notice of Silk too, but it did not show any response. After all, as common low-level creatures, they would not fight each other meaninglessly unless in a large-scale war. Silk blinked its eyes, and did not make any unusual movements either; without slowing down its pace, it kept marching forward.
The two skeletons passed each other at an interval of about half a meter. Just then, without warning, the ashen skeleton heard a swishing sound by its ears, and the next moment its world flipped upside down.
Crack! The ashen skeleton's head fell on the ground. Before it could make out the happenings with its ill-equipped mind, a grey foot became quickly enlarged in its just refocused view, and the next second, its skull was crushed.
A ball of green light shot up from the splintered bone pieces. Silk tilted its head back and drank in the light ball, Its eyes glittered with enjoyment. Next, Silk squatted down near the headless skeleton, picked at some bones that looked relatively firm, then removed them and placed them onto its own body, where the bones were missing. A puff of black smoke emerged floating around it again, and after the smoke vanished, some ribs with an arm bone on its body had turned white, no longer grey.
With this grey-white body, Silk looked odd, but obviously this did not bother it at all. It tried moving its new body, and was delighted, could not help but dance about merrily for a moment, like a small girl that had just gained a new dress at her birthday. After celebrating for a while, Silk resumed its journey ahead.
But where am I going? Silk asked itself. Unfortunately, it did not know. But it had a vague thought forming in its poor mind after meeting a strange man in some distant place. This thought urged it to grow stronger, as soon as possible, while at the same time a sound kept reverberating in its deep heart, goading it to find something it once lost. And time was ticking.
But what am I trying to get back?
Silk could see no light at all in its mind, only a vast murkiness. It abandoned its thoughts, and kept moving forward, somewhat aware that the road ahead of it were as horrible as hell.