“Dexsot Teinost?” Shin stared at the wall with a burning passion, hoping to figure out the truth behind the Spirit Immortal last words. Unfortunately, as he continued on observing those letters, Shin felt his mind spin.
Wallowing grief, devastating frustration, and maniacal anger. Shin became overwhelmed with emotions that weren’t his. His vision blurred and he was forced to take a step back. Dropping his head, the youth avoided directly staring at the two words that were delicately carved into the wall. Continuously panting out while he slowly regained his senses, Shin could tell that his friends were in a similar state.
“First time?” A calm and deep voice beckoned out to the teens.
After a minute of heaving out in agony, Shin somehow managed to get his emotions in check before looking up at the behemoth figure that had come to their aid.
‘The couple from the entrance?’ Shin instantly recognised the two individuals. “Yeah, it’s our first time here.”
Star Face smiled and helped the struggling youth to stand up straight. “You should have come with a guide then. Everyone knows that the words Spirit Immortal Dream carved carried some of her spiritual intent. Without significant mental resistance or a high enough cultivation level, glaring straight at it is like entering a staring contest with the sun! You can never win!”
“Thank you for your advice, senior. We were just curious about the Mystery of the Dream, and didn’t care about the consequences.” At that moment, Isadore had also regained his wits and showed his gratitude.
“Buahahaha, I like you! You have guts!” Bellowing out in laughter, the burly man immediately became the centre of attention, much to his partner’s displeasure.
“Wow, you have become more popular than the mysterious writings on the wall… Sta-… Steve, that’s quite the accomplishment!” The middle-aged woman placed her palm on her face as she helped Elrin to regain her posture.
“Thank you, senior…”
“Don’t mention it.” Cyphia laughed as she gently stroked Elrin’s hair. “Just as Steve said, the Mystery of the Dream can’t be viewed for too long if you’re not strong enough. Even though it has been in existence for five centuries, it still carries a minute amount of a Spirit Immortal’s will. Regular cultivators don’t stand a chance against it. Even we don’t dare to look at it for more than a minute.”
Spirit Immortal Dream was a rare mind-elemental user. Be it intentionally or accidentally, the ethereal woman had left a trace amount of her mana into the two words she carved before her ascension. In the beginning, when the Mystery of the Dream was first discovered, even Spirit Emperors would have trouble staring straight at those two words as their minds would break. However, as time flowed by, much of the mind-elemental energies had been dispersed, and now even normal Spirit Practitioners had the chance to view the two words. Naturally, they would experience a severe headache after looking at it for more than two seconds, but at least they were able to view the famed last words of a Spirit Immortal.
“To think that her powers still live on five hundred years after her ascension…” Shin dropped his jaw. “Spirit Immortals are really something out of human comprehension huh?”
“That’s right! Spirit Immortal Dream was ahead of her time!” Cyphia’s eyes sparkled in delight when she heard Shin praise her idol. “Independent in her beliefs, Spirit Immortal Dream charged forward with all her ideas, becoming the greatest cultivator of all time! It’s a pity that her reign was so short-lived…”
“…” Sensing that something was amiss, Shin opted to change the flow of the conversation. “Seniors, thank you for your assistance. Judging from how knowledgable you two are, perhaps you could tell us more about the Mystery of the Dream?”
“Oh, a curious mind I see!” Cyphia clapped her hands in glee. Her approval ratings for the black-haired youth soared higher and higher the more she interacted with him. Compared to the blob of muscle that followed her around, Shin’s fresh face was a joy to the eyes.
“The Mystery of the Dream contains two words. [Dexsot Teinost]. You can look at the plaque at the side there to carefully examine them.” With a jubilant smile, Cyphia brought the trio towards the bronze plate that was constructed just for the tourists. “The administration that controls this heritage site knew that not many could withstand the pain of looking at the original Mystery of the Dream, so they wrote the words down on this bronze plaque.”
Shin, Elrin and Isadore all crowded together around the small metal plate and carefully analysed each letter. Taking millisecond glances at the original carvings on the wall, the trio could tell that the words on the plaque had been replicated in the exact same order so much so that the handwriting was indistinguishable from one another.
“Many historians, researchers, code-breakers all tried their hand at deciphering the Mystery of the Dream. Unfortunately, they weren’t even capable of comprehending a single word, let alone two. In the end, they just concluded that the words [Dexsot Teinost] were part of the language of the Immortals.” Cyphia scoffed at the futile attempts of the world. “How could anyone even hope to comprehend what Spirit Immortal Dream was thinking? Her divine powers made her invincible in the mortal realm, and her superior intellect makes us look like snails in comparison!”
“Senior, are you a fan of the Spirit Immortal?” Shin couldn’t help but ask.
“Yeah… You could say so…” Caught off guard, Cyphia’s face flushed as she realised that she had been rambling on about her idol in front of three teenagers that she barely knew.
“Buahahaha! What a filthy lie, Cy!” Adding salt to the wound, Star Face bellowed out once more, but this time, tears were forming in his eyes. He had finally laughed too hard and was unable to control his body functions. “Calling her a fan is too kind! She’s more of a fanatic, an enthusiast or a radical! If I’m not wrong, this is her twentieth time visiting the Mystery of the Dream, and she…”
“Shut it, Sta-… Steve! One more word from your mouth and I’ll hang you from the window!” Her face fully vermillion, the middle-aged woman choked on her words.
“Fine, fine! I’ll stop teasing you!”
Watching the wondrous interaction between the two couples, the hearts of Shin and his friends warmed. They assumed that it was a squabble between a married couple and thought nothing much of it.
“Alright, we have to get going now! Don’t try to stare at the Mystery of the Dream anymore!” Using her elbow to nudge the burly man’s ribs, Cyphia turned around and briskly walked to the exit. Waving a helpless goodbye, the towering man bitterly smiled and tried his best to keep up with the woman’s rapid pace.
“Hmmm, what a strange couple.” Elrin laughed.
“Well, at least they gave us some advice… I now know why Master wanted me to come here in person.” Shin glanced at the two words carved on the wall for one second before averting his gaze once more.
‘Spirit Immortal Dream truly was powerful… Her mana still remains in a carving of hers to this very day. If I want to chase Yggdrasil, does that mean I have to attain a power that is similar to hers?’ The black-haired teen wondered. Over the past year, Shin had grown complacent. His talents dwarfed many in his area that he started to see himself as an elite. However, when it came to the true juggernauts of the real world, Shin was just a guppy in the vast ocean.
His ultimate goal wasn’t to beat Shizen, Suji or Kanari, but to defeat Junius and bring the Black Masks to justice. Furthermore, he also had the near impossible ambition to become the twentieth Spirit Immortal. Shin couldn’t take it easy and relax just because of a few wins in the small stage.
“Yeah, even her residue mana was able to strike fear into our hearts… What if she herself was standing right in front of us?” Elrin thought out loud.
“We would be dead for sure… Look at that painting.” Beside her, the silver-haired youth sighed and pointed to the portrait of the beautiful woman. “The diamond tiara on her head is called the Crown of Destiny. Legend has it that anyone who given caught the slightest glimpse of the crown would be sent to eternal damnation. No one in this entire world could ever hope to match the might of the Spirit Immortal.”
“Not even the Imperial Ancestor?” Elrin mischievously joked. However, her mindless statement raised the eyebrows of both her companions. After a brief moment of awkward silence, Isadore heaved out a deep sigh. “The Imperial Ancestor would probably die in one hit.”
“Spirit Immortal Dream… One day, I will become as powerful as her.” Shin silently declared. Although he was muttering under his breath, his two friends could roughly make out the ludicrous statement he had just made. It was an absurd claim to make, but no one could fault him for having the drive.
“Well, one step at a time. We still have to resolve the issue we have at hand.” The silver-haired youth smiled in encouragement.
“You’re right… There are more pressing issues at hand.” Shin returned his friend’s kind gesture and headed straight for the exit. “Change of plans. We won’t be resting for the first week… We need to treasure every moment we have.”
Coming to Spirit Immortal Dream’s personal laboratory first was an excellent choice. The flicker of passion that had been pushing him reignited, giving the youth an added drive to pursue his dreams.
“That’s more like the Shin I know…” Isadore grinned and followed the footsteps of his buddy. Trailing behind, Elrin was also undergoing a certain form of mental metamorphosis. Humbled by the power displayed from a few letters on the wall, the white-haired girl was in a state of deep contemplation. Fortunately, when Shin pulled her hand, her feet would move just fine. Dragging the girl out of the laboratory, the trio exited the heritage site and returned to their carriage which whisked them back to the Premier’s office.
The Land of Dreams. Imperial Military Temporary Camp.
The joint training exercise that Shin was participating in was held in a foreign land, which meant that there were many restrictions placed on the brigade that marched on here. Firstly, they were only allowed to do activities that had little impact on their environment. Secondly, they were unable to move within fifty kilometres of the Main Hub. Thirdly, a team of observers would be monitoring their every move. With that many constraints on the training session, it made one question why the Himmel Empire would conduct the exercise here in the first place.
Nonetheless, the Empire remained adamant on working with the restraints placed onto them and continued on with their yearly training exercise. Since they were barred from using excessive force, the students would be undergoing harsh drills that taught them how to behave in a unit, as well as some survival skills.
While the year four, five and sixes were toiling out in the mud, the trio that followed Madam Warulee were sipping on hot tea in the supply line encampments. Flipping through pages of ledgers, the three teens assisted their chaperone with checking the accounts, deep into the heart of the night.
“Shin! I thought you wanted to start investigating the Black Masks immediately! Why are we wasting time here?” Unable to handle the stress anymore, Elrin burst out in anger, sending the papers she had in her hand up into the air.
“We can’t just abandon our posts on the first day. Furthermore, the workload that was given to us could be easily completed in a day or two, if we work hard enough. After which, we would have all the time in the world to begin our hunt.” Shin continued on working as if he had expected his dear friend to scream out.
“Urghhh, sometimes I hate that I can’t reason with you…”
“We can’t let down Madam Warulee after all… She had done us a great favour for bringing us here. The least we could do is ease her burden just a little bit.” The black-haired boy explained. “Also, could you pick up those documents? I don’t want to misplace them later on.”
“Y-You!” Elrin’s eyes turned red, and her nostrils flared up. She was the exalted heiress of the Zedcris Conglomerate and yet, she was reduced the job of a mere bookkeeper. “I shouldn’t have joined this stupid expedition!”
“Hehe, you’ll get used to it.” Isadore laughed at the misfortune of the white-haired girl. Unfortunately, his smile was soon going to be wiped out from his face.
“Isadore, could you get those books on the shelves please?”
“… Shin, didn’t you say that those were for tomorrow?”
“What are you talking about? It’s already ‘tomorrow!’” Shin pointed to the clock that had its minute hand past midnight. Realising what the black-haired youth meant, a nervous bead of sweat flowed down Isadore’s head.
“Shin… What about sleep?”
“The quicker we finish, the quicker we get to go on our missions.”
As the night deepened, two exasperated screams could be heard from the tents of the supply chain. A random student, who just happened to be crossing by on his way to the restroom, thought that there was a ghost tormenting the poor souls in the tents, and shivered his way back to his room. From then on, the legend of the book phantom that plagued innocents at night was born…