Chapter 819 – The Depths of the Soul, the Reflections of the Dream
The Clam King of Mirage Sea prodded the Myriad Poison Ancestor’s soul nascence. The enemy that had left Li Qingshan feeling utterly helpless was currently sleeping, as delicate as a real infant.
In this world of the Mirage sea, the Clam King was paramount. Whether it was the poisoned wine or the poisonous smoke, they were all a medium. The thing actually behind this all was still the Clam King of Mirage Sea’s unbelievable power. No matter how vigilant Li Qingshan was, she only needed to blink her eyes to pull him into a dream.
“I’m willing to have this dream for him,” Xiao An clutched Li Qingshan’s head and said to the Clam King of Mirage Sea.
“No matter how close the two of you are, there are some things you can’t replace him in. I originally planned on letting you have a dream too, except your heart is completely empty. I can’t reflect anything, let alone a nightmare.”
“A nightmare!” Xiao An said.
“Oops, slip of the tongue.”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea stuck out her tongue to hide her gentle smile. Her composed, noble, imposing, beautiful image from before suddenly collapsed. She seemed more like a child who had succeeded in a prank now, but her true intentions remained a mystery, like the faces that constantly flowed and changed.
Xiao An understood now. To a very large degree, her appearance and even the way she spoke and acted originated from Li Qingshan’s imaginations. Only now that Li Qingshan was asleep did she gradually show her true side.
Normal people would not be able to see this true side, as when people interacted with one another, first impressions and false imaginations were unavoidable. The very existence of the Clam King of Mirage Sea would be affected as a result. Just like how the Mirage sea was different in everyone’s eyes, the Clam King of Mirage Sea had a thousand different faces too.
Only Xiao An practised the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, with no concept of form or self, so the Clam King of Mirage Sea’s image was not supported by impressions and imagination, which presented her current unstable “true side”.
They both lamented in a similar way inside, What a strange existence!
What a wondrous existence!
“Alright, the dream is complete. Let’s take a look. It can go with the alcohol!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea smiled and pointed at Li Qingshan’s head from afar.
Li Qingshan’s head glowed, and the ceiling suddenly turned into a colourless, transparent gas, fluctuating with colour under the glow. It gradually formed a scene, hanging above.
The endless sand sprawled out into the horizon. The poplars, ruins, vestiges, and remains painted an image of desolation. Li Qingshan stood on a sand dune. “This must be the Mirage sea!”
The “Xiao An” right beside him replied, “It should just be an illusion!”
“This nightmare seems very special!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea watched on in great interest.
“What’s this?” Xiao An raised her head and looked. The nightmare did not seem dangerous.
The Clam King of Mirage Sea answered with a question, “Do you know what the most primitive, deepest, longest lasting, and strongest feeling is?”
That obviously was not Xiao An’s reply. Instead, a young girl leapt out from the Clam King of Mirage Sea’s body, clasping her heart in a yearning manner.
“It burns fiercely, but it doesn’t last.” The Clam King of Mirage Sea shook her head, and the young girl paled.
“Friendship!” A bearded, forthright man leapt out of the Clam King of Mirage Sea.
“Even lifelong friends remain wary of one another!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea waved her hand in contempt. The man fell silent.
“Familial love!” An old granny with white hair emerged this time, speaking amiably.
“Loving mothers are common, but filial children are rare.” The Clam King of Mirage Sea sighed, and the old granny silently shed tears.
“Hatred?” a young man with a twisted face said sunkenly.
“A fabrication of the mind.”
“Thought!” A wise man stroked his long beard.
Figures leapt out one after another, stating various different answers before being rebuked by the Clam King of Mirage Sea and backing down in silence.
She spoke to herself and acted out a performance alone like a madman.
“Dreams!” Xiao An suddenly said.
The Clam King of Mirage Sea paused momentarily. She smiled. “That’s interesting, but still wrong! All people have dreams, but they’re as fragile as bubbles, and they’re just a beautification of desire. This complicated version of desire is nothing compared to the only true answer.”
Xiao An said nothing.
The Clam King of Mirage Sea’s voice trembled, spreading her arms and howling at the sky before hugging her shoulders and collapsing onto her knees. The figures around her all showed fear before vanishing.
“The fear of missing out, the fear of loss, the fear of life, the fear of death. People strive forward valiantly because of fear, and they hesitate and falter because of fear. They cry out because of fear and keep silent because of fear… All creatures feel fear, and behind all of their actions is fear. Failure leads to greater fears, while success brings new fears! Fear, fear, fear!”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea’s voice gradually became feeble. She curled up and collapsed on the ground like a frightened child. She sobbed gently. “So scary!”
“So what?” Xiao An said.
The Clam King of Mirage Sea leapt up as if her performance earlier was merely an illusion. She pointed at the reflection of the dream in the sky. “That’s no regular nightmare. It’s the deepest, darkest fear from the bottom of his heart, free of any unfounded desires and dreams! Hehehehe, do you really think he can survive?”
Xiao An’s face changed.
“Look, even you have fear. I know now. There’s absolutely no need for me to pull you into a dream. It’s too fake anyway. As long as you remain awake and watch what you fear the most unfold right before you, that’ll be enough.”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea rubbed her hands together mischievously and said with her ever-fluctuating voice with an eerie tone.
“Hmm? What’s this?” The Clam King of Mirage Sea was slightly surprised, gazing at the sky.
At this moment, the first sandstorm in the dream arrived. The bellow of the black ox rang out from the dream, echoing through the entire world of the Mirage sea.
“What is this shitty dream? Don’t tell me he’s frightened to death by that ox!”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea was perplexed. Even though he could create dreams, he could not necessarily interpret every single detail. He interfered in a hurry to maintain the dream. Very soon, the black ox vanished in the sandstorm. Li Qingshan found the stone pillar again, but Xiao An had already vanished.
“Hmm? Looks like the ox isn’t fear, but some kind of powerful symbol. To him, it’s an extraordinary, miraculous existence. It actually almost burst the dream, but isn’t this a little too surreal?”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea exhaled. She really did find that quite strange coming from her. After all, he had seen the most bizarre illusions and dreams that were possible. Even the modern city Li Qingshan had imagined only left him slightly intrigued.
“Look, the main show is here. Now that he’s lost you, he can only advance through the desert alone. His fear is growing deeper and deeper!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea sat back comfortably, eating melon seeds as she appreciated the dream. She suddenly asked Xiao An, “You want some too?”
Xiao An completely ignored her. She just watched as Li Qingshan passed through sandstorm after sandstorm as the confusion on his face grew heavier and heavier. Her heart condensed through her powers ached slightly.
“This kid’s fears sure are different. Regular people all see some kind of terrifying monster or enemies who’ve come back from the dead. What’s worth mentioning is I’ve taken the stage multiple times too. However, this kid’s surface-level desires are actually fighting monsters and climbing up the building. He’s basically a battle fanatic, so in other words, he’s not afraid of fighting against me? How audacious. Though, just like what I said, fear is the most primitive and deepest feeling in everyone’s hearts. There is no exception, so resign to your fate! Why don’t we gamble on how he’ll die?”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea then took out a bucket of popcorn as if she was watching a new movie with great interest.
Xiao An drew her sword and said, “Wake him up immediately and let us leave, or I’ll kill you!”
“Kill me?” The Clam King of Mirage Sea pointed at himself in the face, and his ever-changing face suddenly stabilised. The faces all overlapped, filled with the same disbelief. “Do you know who I am?”
“I am the Clam! King! Of! Mirage! Sea! Hahahaha! Hack! Cough! Cough! Cough!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea’s voice reverberated through the air, letting out a wild laugh followed by a wild fit of coughing. She choked on the popcorn.
“I have absolutely no hostility towards you,” said Xiao An.
The Clam King of Mirage Sea leaned against her arm and was troubled. “That sure is a problem! Yeah, I’ll just let you hack me to your heart’s content then!”
Xiao An swung down!
The Clam King of Mirage Sea brought her palms together and caught the sword. “Your sword is a little strange. I feel like I shouldn’t let you slash me.”
In the world of the Mirage sea, even if the Myriad Poison Ancestor struck out at full strength when he was at peak condition, he could forget about harming the Clam King of Mirage Sea with her strength. Just being able to escape from the Mirage sea was already a great blessing.
However, the Buddha Slaying sword was no regular arcane treasure. It possessed a unique power that even made the Clam King of Mirage Sea sense hints of danger.
Xiao An pulled her sword hard, but it refused to budge. The pale-white Samādhi Flames of White Bone lit up in her eyes, and the Skull Prayer Beads slid off her hand.
“Give up. If you’d undergone the third heavenly tribulation, then I might have to be wary of you, but right now, you’re nowhere close to being my opponent. If you continue like this, even your heart of emptiness will become filled with true hostility or even killing intent for his sake. By then, even you will be in danger. I don’t want to kill you.”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea said sternly, both resembling a warning and advice. The colour in her eyes changed, revealing the bearing of a supreme Daemon King. She was even more powerful than Li Qingshan imagined her to be.
However, Xiao An did not care. “Release him!”
“Look, he’s almost dead! He’s almost dead! Hurry up and look up! Don’t miss the most fascinating part!” The Clam King of Mirage Sea pointed at the reflection of the dream in the sky and called out like she was experiencing convulsions.
Xiao An suddenly looked up. Li Qingshan collapsed in the white desert and was gradually swallowed by the sand.
At the same time, his aura became extremely weak. He had never sustained any damage, but he was basically on the brink of death.
Xiao An threw herself over and shook him vigorously. She called out, “Qingshan! Wake up! This is just a dream!”
The reflection of the dream completely sank into darkness.
“It’s over. It’s a splendid dream, enough for people to sigh in amazement. It makes those people who conjured monsters and enemies in their nightmares seem like feeble cowards. Now that’s a nightmare truly worth watching, but it’s proven to us yet again that even someone as courageous and fearless as him actually has great fear lurking in his heart, and that fear can kill!”
The Clam King of Mirage Sea stood up and explained to a non-existent crowd. She said words of praise at first before sighing and ending it all with a smile.
But at this moment, the reflection of the dream lit up once again. The Clam King of Mirage Sea suddenly looked back. “Hmm? How is it still not over? Don’t tell me- don’t tell me that’s not his greatest fear just now?”
By the time Li Qingshan woke up in the cowshed, the Clam King of Mirage Sea was utterly dumbfounded. She let her mouth drop without any care for her image, and the melon seeds in her hand scattered on the ground.