Chapter 2: A Pearl gifted by the Clam Girl
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: - -
Shi Mu did not pay any attention to the glittering shells. Instead, he swam straight to the rock, raised his arm and with a "bang" sound pounded his hand on it. A blood colored fog came from beneath the boulder; it swirled several times around the young boy with lightning speed and finally seeped into his body. His spirits began to be lifted, and after exhaling a long breath, he was amazingly able to breathe freely in the sea, as if he were a fish.
Then he quickly turned back to the rock and went to its rear side and with lightning speed dug out a rusty iron awl and a chisel, which he had previously hidden there. He cut out a hole at the bottom of the rock.
In the faint white light, he could see a sea clam sized water jar trapped beneath the rock. It was white as jade, and its surface seemed to cast out a color as pure as the moonlight. It was incapable of any movement due to the heavy rock on top of it.
Shi Mu had managed to chisel out a hole on one side of the rock's bottom, which seemed to be moving with the ocean's current.
He painstakingly continued to expand the hole for another hour. However, getting exhausted, he stopped his work to knock three times on the rock again. A signal was communicated to the clam, which began to glow brighter with every knock. After the third knock, a puff of blood colored fog escaped through a slit in the clam. Once again, Shi Mu's body absorbed the fog and he was able to breathe freely in the water.
He picked up his tools and continued digging.
Shi Mu had discovered this huge white clam, trapped beneath the rock, about two years ago. He had accidently inhaled a puff of blood colored fog, and had been surprised to find that he was able to breathe underwater for a short period of time. He was quick to understand that this could be no ordinary clam, so he had brought a chisel and an awl from his home to dig the bottom of the rock to free the clam from its confinement.
It seemed as if the intelligent clam was aware of Shi Mu's presence and intention. Every time it became hard for him to breathe, the clam would release the fog on its own, enabling him to breathe freely again.
Despite the help from the clam, this task had proved to be extremely difficult. Even though he could breathe without problem, the sea made it hard for him to utilize his strength. Due to the density, size and weight of the rock, it had taken two whole years to complete the formidable task.
During this time, Shi Mu had come to understand that the fog from the clam had mysterious features.
When he had first inhaled the fog by accident, he was able to breathe with its help only for a short period of time. But in the past two years, as he inhaled it more and more, he was able to breathe for almost an hour.
There was something else too that intrigued the boy; the strange fog also helped to make his body stronger.
Previously, his growth in the art of Body tempering had been stuck due to the lack of herbs. But since, he had managed to jump three levels to reach level seven. This wasn't all. He was slowly beginning to realize that the fog was also enriching his mind, making him smarter and more mature than his peers.
Otherwise, how could this teenage boy have been able to hold his own in front of the blue-robed man and that too with such composure?
He toiled away under the sea until late at night, and returned home to his village with an exhausted body. He could not afford to rest for days before making another journey to the sea, as he would usually have done. He now had a deadline, which meant he would have to quicken his pace.
So he jumped into the sea on the second day, and continued working on the task all through the third day as well.
A "boom" was heard!
The boulder began to shake, and there was a violent shower of small lumps of stone. It cracked under its own weight and tipped over to the side which had been chiseled out for this very moment. The white clam began its struggle to escape from under the rock, and its luster grew in intensity and girth.
"That's it!" exhaled the boy with excitement, overjoyed at the sight.
He moved his body to the other side of the rock to avoid the falling stones. The creaks and cracks continued for a while, and the boulder had almost collapsed because of the clam's movements. Just then, an undercurrent hit the rock from the direction it was falling apart, making loud explosions as the boulder began collapsing on itself. The white clam was pushed firmly into its place, thus getting trapped once again.
"No!" shouted Shi Mu, exasperated.
Without thinking, he lowered his body into the sand, with his feet digging half an inch deep into the floor. He punched the rock twice in quick succession with the fist technique he had learned.
Two dull sounds were heard as the boy's mighty blows stirred up the water's current.
The rock was about to fall apart when the clam took advantage of the rock's slow movement to escape with a quick wiggle. It disappeared into the sea, shielded from the boy's eyes by a glitter of white light.
Shi Mu stepped back to realize that his fists were in great pain, and that his hands were badly injured. His body was in shock, and he spat out some blood before he fell unconscious to the ground.
Just then, the huge clam slowly reappeared, and began opening its shell to reveal a little girl holding a "blood pearl" in her hands.
The girl looked like a six or seven year old, and was only three inches tall. She had fair skin, with eyes that glittered like tiny stars, and she wore a gauze bellyband. Her delicate face expressed great gratitude as she gazed at the unconscious boy, and his bleeding hands.
She moved her lotus like arms to lift the "blood pearl" with her hands. A circle of silver-light waves burst out of the pearl and flew away to roll up in all directions.
In another moment, shrill sounds were heard as an army of shells flowed-in to lift the boy's body to the surface of the sea, like an unstoppable wave. Soon, the water parted and the boy's body surfaced above.
The shells then disappeared, as quickly as they had come, plummeting back into the sea.
The white clam followed the boy up, emitting silver light. Its shells were wide open, and the little girl was once again visible. She saw that the boy hadn't yet recovered, and hesitated. She looked at the pearl in her hand, and her face told that a decision has been made. She pushed the pearl towards Shi Mu, which swirled above the boy before releasing a huge puff of blood colored fog.
Several days later, the little girl appeared in the sea about ten thousand miles away. She had grown taller and resembled an ordinary girl of her age. She was standing with a beautiful middle-aged woman, who was dressed in a blue court robe.
Both of them were standing on a house sized black turtle that was travelling at a lightning speed on the surface of the sea, surrounded by stirred waves on either side.
The woman held the little girl's hand, her eyes full of tender affection. She expressed her concern by saying repeatedly, "My child, you would not have been this lucky if you hadn't run into me. You are the Heavenly Clam's Spirit Daughter, a born Water Adept. In all of East Sea, this happens only once in ten thousand years. Our East Sea Clan must be destined for greatness. What is your name, my child? Where is your Spirit pearl? It is said that the Heavenly Clam's Spirit Daughters carry a Pearl of Life, which is the ideal material to make an amulet..."
"Ah, ah," was all the little girl could manage.
She made hand gestures at the woman, in an effort to answer some of her questions.
"Oh, so your name is Xiang Zhu. You say you gave the pearl to someone who had saved your life? Well, it is a good thing to express your gratitude. Wait, your savior is a human? A man? You must remember that men are the least reliable creatures on this land. The next time you see any of them, you must strike them dead immediately. Come with me, we must bring back the pearl. What? The Spirit Pearl was corrupted because of some foreign blood at the bottom of the sea and has since then lost its power? Well, in that case, let the human boy have it. But do remember, you must not see him again," the woman said.
The huge turtle took them further away into the sea, and their figures grew smaller in the distance, till they could not be seen or heard anymore.
As he lay unconscious, Shi Mu's body burned with an overwhelming fever. His mouth was dry and his tongue parched. Suddenly, he jerked out of his sleep and sat up abruptly with a shout. It was then that he realized that he was no longer in the sea, and was back at the silent beach. He looked at his hands, and was stunned. A baby smooth skin had replaced the torn skin and the bloody wound on his hands.
He felt a strange feeling inside his body, as if it had undergone some change. He could feel his blood flowing, and after a few moments of deep thought, something crossed his mind. He began fumbling through his clothes. He found a crystal clear ball near his chest which was the size of his thumb, and was taken aback.
"What could this be?" he wondered out loud.
He was sure that he had never seen or touched such a thing as this before.
Shi Mu wasn't aware of the fact that the blood fog that had come out of the clam was foreign in nature.
Only one tenth of the blood fog had been inhaled by Shi Mu to breathe under water, and the girl had forced the rest of it out to help heal his wounds. The pearl had lost its power the moment the girl had stopped suppressing the "strange" blood, and now it was nothing but a rare luminous pearl. This was the reason she had allowed herself to leave it with the boy.
Shi Mu rolled the pearl back and forth in his hand for a while, admiring its texture and size. Its softness led him to believe that it would be worth a treasure, and so he hid it safely in his clothes.
A little while later, he jumped into the sea again to ensure that the clam had in fact escaped from underneath the massive rock. Once he was convinced, he slowly prepared for his departure for the village, his heart heavy with disappointment.
Three days later, the blue robed man was back in the fishing village to talk to Shi Mu. A little later, a black carriage guarded by black robed riders was seen galloping out of the village, heading in the Feng City's direction.