Chapter 63 - Dreamland Revisited
The white ape felt an overwhelming excitement and it could not help but jump up and down. Then it made a weird posture and turning his hands up, grimacing. The pose seemed to have some extra meaning: immediately after he had made it, a boom resounded in Shi Mu's mind, and suddenly his consciousness took control of his body again. The view had changed, and he was already back to the clearing in the woods.
Looking up at the sky, he found that it was nearing daybreak, the eastern sky covered with white clouds. Shi Mu struggled to his feet and felt the numbness in his knees due to a long time of sitting cross-legged. He had still not recovered from the shock brought by the dream. He did not even feel the wet morning dew all over his shirt. It was incredible that the dream seemed to have only lasted around twenty minutes while in reality a whole night had gone by.
Shi Mu shook his head to drive away the grogginess of just waking up. His closed his eyes and tried to recall the details of the Moon Swallowing Art he saw in his dream. However, to his disappointment, nothing came to his mind except a blank in his memory. Only the name of the art was deeply imprinted on his mind. More bewildering, he was convinced that, in his dream, he had managed to get the hang of this new art. Such contradictory feelings baffled him, making him unable to distinguish dream from reality. [A]
Shaking his head, he tried hard to calm himself down. By now, daylight had begun to fill the awakening woods, and, after a brief thought, Shi Mu set off to his stone house. The last thing that he wanted to happen was to be found after having stayed out all night.
Two days later, on a cloudless night. The full moon looked like a jade plate hung in the sky. Soft and serene moonlight illuminated the entire valley, scattering silver light on trees and grass.
Right at this moment, Shi Mu was sitting still on his stone bed. For a long time, he remained there, motionless.
All of a sudden, he opened his eyes and a trace of excitement flashed across them. This was exactly the chance he had been waiting for - a night with bright moonlight!
After quietly pushing open his door, Shi Mu observed his surroundings with utmost discretion, not forgetting to listen for any suspicious noises and being as carefully as possible. After he was sure all was fine, he swiftly moved through the quiet sect.
The night was very still and not a figure could be seen under the moon. By hiding himself in shadows of some buildings, he moved quickly and quietly, and in a short order, he had found his way out of the residential area and made his way to the clearing where he had the Ape-Dream [B] before. He checked the environment and made sure that nobody was around and then he relaxed and sat on the grass in the same posture as last time, basking in the gentle moonlight, slowly adjusting his breath before attempting to enter the dream-like state.
After an hour, his body stiffened, then, slowly, every muscle relaxed, and he sat there like an old monk in meditation.
The next moment he entered into the dream.
A soft breeze rustled the blades of grass around him, bringing a coolness that swept Shi Mu's drowsiness away. He found himself, once again, in the form of the white ape, and was standing on a strangely shaped boulder with both hands up, grimacing.
The Moon Swallowing Art!
He tried to raise his head, but it would not move an inch, exactly as in his previous dreams. But he did not care about this. Looking up, he saw the night sky thickly dotted with white lights, but what was different from previous experiences was that the white dots, which had previously been infinitesimally small, had now expanded, each light as big as a grain of rice. In Shi Mu's eyes, they had grown from light dots to light balls.
These light balls, as if drawn by a mysterious force, had barely made their presence in the sky when they started plummeting down into the white ape's golden pupils. Then new light balls would appear in the sky before they followed the previous ones to fall into the ape's eyes. This repeated for a long time, and if anyone had overlooked the scene from a high spot, he would have seen a river of white light flowing to the white ape, who was standing in a strange posture, with its hands turned up and body twisted.
But this time, these white light balls did not disperse upon entering the ape's body, as before. Instead, all of the lights were gathering in its brain, turning into white streaks of fog. These streaks of fog were, at first, disorderly, floating here and there in the ape's mind, some thicker and some thinner. But before long, a strange force made them gather together in the center of his mind, the fogs diminishing in size but gradually thickening to form a cloud of milky white, that almost looked like a liquid. Soon, the cloud began to contract while swirling.
New streaks of fog were unceasingly pulled into the swirling cloud and it became increasingly thick. At the same time, Shi Mu felt his brain swelling, as if something had made its way there, but soon, an indescribable sense of comfort began to well up from the depths of his mind, as though it was steeped in some miraculous medicine. Vaguely, he sensed some inexplicable changes taking place in his brain, though he did not know how long it was going to last. While waiting, he started to look around in interest and realized that the boulder under him was situated on a tremendously tall mountain, below which a sea of clouds was surging. Further down the mountain, old and massive pine trees were in great abundance.
Besides the pines, there were also all sorts of strange plants growing all over the mountain. In the distance, a heavenly spring made an ethereal trickling sound, mixed with the roar of tigers and dragons. The mountain was quite steep, rising from the earth like a green sword of extraordinary length, and the point of the sword would be the cliff where the white ape was now.
There were layers upon layers of mountains around this sword-like mountain, some majestic, some beautiful, and some with rolling hills, but none could compete with this one in its height. Looking up at the night sky, from the silver boulder on the mountain's top, it seemed as if the moon and stars were within reach.
One thing Shi Mu was sure of was that this place had never emerged in his dreams before, and the white ape had chosen this mountain to practice the new art for its short distance from the moon.
The observation took a longer time than it seemed. An unknown amount of time had passed when a white crystal capsule finally formed at the bottom of the swirling cloud. And as the cloud continued to rotate, white threads continuously twined round the capsule to make it grow. Gradually, the crystal capsule had grown to the size of a rice grain.
At the same time, a thunderous *boom* exploded in Shi Mu's mind, followed by an overwhelming sense of dizziness.
Shi Mu cried out, and his body fell off onto the ground. The crash woke him up. Shi Mu found himself sweating profusely, his black shirt soaking wet. His face was now ghastly pale, his eyes were bloodshot, and the muscles on his face were twitching slightly. The boom in his dream seemed to have exploded in the depths of his mind so powerfully that it transformed his soul. But the lucky thing was that this was a remote place and it was late at night, so no one would ever find his abnormal state.
[A] - It's Inception. Xianxia edition XD. back
[B] - If any of you have suggestions for what we should call this, I am very welcome to hear it. Ape-Dream seems to fit, but if you have some awesome epiphany, let me know XD. back