Chapter 96 - The Death World
Shi Mu had almost given up hope when he felt himself seized by an iron grip, which lessened the gravitational force of the approaching object. Instantly, his body felt so light that he was pulled to Uncle Ju's side without any difficulty. The two lost no time accelerating, leaving the dagger object behind as quickly as possible. Until the distance between them grew large enough for Shi Mu to get rid of the last bit of the object's attractive force, he dared to release a long sigh of relief. At the same time, the pull given by the Death World grew much stronger, resuming its original might.
"You got lucky this time, but don't expect me to save you a second time! I don't have enough spirit power that I can just share with you anytime I want!" Uncle Ju was, apparently, irritated by this unexpected accident, as his voice was filled with annoyance.
"Thank you for saving me!" Shi Mu answered, quite embarrassed. Uncle Ju's white dot twinkled in reply, but his anger was not abated. For some time, Uncle Ju remained silent, and if he had not been in the shape of a light dot, he would have had a sullen look on his face. However Shi Mu did not sense this mute exasperation and, after a few minutes, he suddenly broke the silence, pushing Uncle Ju's ill temper to its limit by asking another question, "Uncle, what would happen if I got absorbed into that shining object a moment ago?" Shi Mu's voice overflowed with irresistible curiosity.
"Humph!! Too young! Too naive! Exploring an unknown space? Act your age, not your shoe size! Many spaces can take the magic power away from your spirit, and what can you do then? Use up your spirit power, stuck in an alien space, unable to return to your body, so you'd cry like a baby while waiting for my rescue? No way I shall risk my life saving you again! Now stop acting so stupid and move!" Uncle Ju almost yelled to Shi Mu, venting his anger that had been muffled by then. Shi Mu was struck dumb, losing words for a moment. But deep in his heart, he felt a warmness instead. Uncle Ju must have consumed much of his spirit power to save him at the last minute. This event proved uncle Ju's genuine kindness which was, more often than not, concealed by his surliness.
As they traveled, they encountered a few more shining objects, but they were able to avoid them, and, eventually, they finally saw a fuzzy object emitting dark light. By now, their spirit power was not far from exhaustion. Shi Mu had an extra clear feeling that the previous gravitational force that had led them all the way here undoubtedly came from this light ball.
"Finally!" Uncle Ju's voice resounded by Shi Mu's ear. As joy is often contagious, Shi Mu felt his spirits uplifted too. Their two white dots went directly into the hazy dark ball.
An ear-deafening noise resounded, as if something had slammed against a wall of iron. Shi Mu felt himself enveloped by a soft, black cotton ball, his body overwhelmed by an odd-feeling power. Their spirit dots jostled into the Death World, and soon got separated. Uncle Ju disappeared from Shi Mu's sight, without a trace.
Shi Mu did not know how much time had passed when he reopened his eyes, probably a moment, and equally possibly an eternity. A somber, oppressive world showed itself before his eyes, and he found himself to be a vague, black shadow that floated in midair, like an aimless cloud.
Shi Mu stretched his sight and saw a bottomless, endless grey. The sky did not change a hue for all the time he had stared at it, always turbid and dark. Grey clouds kept tumbling, like surges of the sea. Maybe it was fog?. The only light in the sky came from twelve blood red "moons" that looked like dead eyes that were staring at the earth. The moons did not add any lively color to the world, only rendering everything more hopeless and murky.
Chilly, black gusts cut at Shi Mu's face like a knife, and the grey ground was teeming with swamps, whose black mud would spit a bubble now and then, stirring the countless piles of skeletons left by unknown creatures all the time. The skeletons discharged a stinking smell, the bones stinging Shi Mu's eyes with their glaring whiteness. An overpowering oppression came over him, and he was painfully made aware that this was precisely the Space of Death.
As Uncle Ju was nowhere to be found, Shi Mu did his best to get used to this suffocating heaviness. He surveyed his surroundings, and realized he could hear the noises of people, or something similar, fighting, and, judging by the volume of the noise, there seemed to be a great number of these creatures. But a hill blocked his view. He decided to go have a look, and his shadow form shot up and over the hill, flying towards the source of the noise.
The sight was sensational! On the other side of the hill lay a vast wilderness, where two armies of skeletons were engaging in a fierce fight. The numerous skeletons dazzled Shi Mu's eyes, by his crude calculation there must be fifty to sixty thousand of them. Among the skeleton soldiers, a few had faintly glowing eye sockets, some were wielding giant knives made of bones, while some were fighting without any weapons. Some skeletons were even broken and incomplete, losing some parts of their bones. But all were killing each other ruthlessly.
Among the fighting skeletons, some soldiers stood out with their peculiar equipment. Some were riding skeleton horses in black armours, having wounds that were festering. Even so, their movements were still stiff and slow. The skeletons of tigers, snakes were also harnessed for riding. But Shi Mu's attention was not on these fighting skeletons. He was deeply attracted by the two giant creatures flying above the armies. The two monsters were both the size of mountains and were in a furious battle to kill each other. The slap of their huge wings brought about roaring sinister winds that pierced the air with their shrill cries.
One monster was an enormous skeleton of a hound, its feet as long as a hundred meters, pieces of carrion hung everywhere on its bones, and maggots were having a feast there. The sight was excruciatingly disgusting, but the shocking momentum with which the monster roared into the air was not reduced. Three disparate heads were hung around the monster's neck: the left one was a skull, the middle one a rotting head, while the right one was alive with dense black hair, not the slightest bit of carrion could be seen on it. But the three hound heads were all drooling, emitting the stench of rotting eggs. They kept howling to threaten their enemy, which was an equally giant monster, the skeleton of a black bird, with a scattering of half-rot black feathers hanging all over its body. Large patches of bone beneath the feathers reflected a ghastly and bloodcurdling whiteness. Its wings stirred up gusts of icy wind that cut right through the huge hound. The bird also had a lengthy tail which kept wagging agilely, producing ear-deafening noises. The two monsters were so terrifying that their might surpassed any strong warrior Shi Mu had seen before. Each breath of theirs would destroy hundreds of skeleton soldiers below, grinding them into pieces.
The three-headed hound seized the moment to pounce on its enemy, and its speed was alarmingly fast given its colossal size. It's left head, without warning, gripped one of the bird's wings with its teeth. This happened so fast the bird was left with no time to dodge. It let out a furious cry and thrust its sword-like break into the hound's neck. At the same time, its talons scratched mercilessly at the hound's abdomen, creating several deep wounds. However, the hound seemed to have felt no pain, its two other heads preceding to attack by biting the bird's wing, and its two strong forelegs corresponded by grappling the bird's body. Then the moment came. The three heads exerted their utmost strength to tear the bird's wing off with a clear snap!
The giant bird lost one of its wings, and with the wing its sense of balance. But its beak and talons would not budge, so the two titanic creatures thudded onto the ground from mid-air, tossing and tumbling on the earth. As a consequence, thousands of skeleton soldiers were crushed into pieces in a moment, and this horrifying scene sent the rest of the armies into a panic, each skeleton running for its life desperately. The two monsters did not pay any attention to the escaping skeletons, which, in their eyes, were no more than mole crickets and ants. Without a moment of respite, they continued to fight on the dark earth.
By now Shi Mu had been watching, astounded with open mouth. He did not even notice that his spirit power had been dying away bit by bit. At length, when the dark shadow of his spirit began to drift feebly, his heart was startled. He cursed himself silently that he should have wasted so much of his spirit power watching a fight that did not concern himself at all. Now he must hurry to find himself a prospective animal servant.