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Leylin had a critical decision to make. At one end was heaven, and the other hell. He could enter the third layer of the island to find the legacy of the Nightmare King. On the other hand, the consequences could be dire for entering the hidden memories.
Of course, Leylin was unsure of the way this king thought. Perhaps he wanted to share his memories with other Magi, and wanted to slaughter those who wanted to get the legacy.
‘Most importantly… all detection methods are useless. I have no idea what’s at the end of the paths…’ Leylin’s scalp began to tingle.
He was a fairly conservative person. While he’d braved many dangers, he only did things when he had a 70-80% assurance of success. This half and half situation caused him to hesitate.
“I hate things that are so difficult to grasp like luck. It kills me…” Leylin complained. His luck was average, but he hated having to do things like following the will of the heavens.
Right now, however, the choice wasn’t in his hands. The surrounding dreams began to shatter and would soon affect him. They wouldn’t pull him into another cycle, but rather, twist and crush him into powder without leaving even his truesoul behind.
“What do I do? Do I choose one at random? With this probability, it’s too…” Leylin began to get nervous. This was a rather new feeling, and he was somewhat savouring it.
“Left… I sense large amounts of chaotic concepts and coordinates on the left. This should be the third layer!” After a lot of analysis, Leylin gritted his teeth and made his decision.
*Whoosh!* At this moment, however, something sounded in his body, causing his expression to change. He looked down abruptly to find that it was from his bag of holding.
‘It’s that thing!’ Silver light flashed, and an ancient animal-hide scroll appeared in front of Leylin. Fresh blood still dripped from stains on it, and sound, light, and even the shattered time and space began to distort in front of the scroll.
“This is… the power of distortion! The might of Distorted Shadow!” Leylin muttered, “As ancient Magi or even allies, Distorted Shadow’s remains alarmed the Nightmare King?”
Boundless distorting power took shape, and the two dark red paths were affected as they twisted and fused under this energy.
*Bzzt! Bzzt!* After the light dissipated, the two paths had become one, forming an even larger spatial gate. Blood red dreamforce runes flickered on it.
‘What a sly Nightmare King. He even had this planned!’ Now, Leylin didn’t even have a choice. He rubbed his nose and turned grim, glancing at the scroll before stowing it away.
The surface of the scroll was now very soft. It squeezed under pressure from Leylin’s fingers, no longer having the power it once did. It was like an ordinary magic scroll. However, he did not dare underestimate this thing.
‘This scroll has Distorted Shadow’s strength and even conscient sealed inside?’ Seeing that this item was adamant on following him, Leylin could only roll his shoulders back and accept it.
This body was a mere clone after all. At worst, he could abandon it even if it caused grievous injuries to his main body. With enough strength to protect himself, he naturally feared nothing and had the guts to try everything!
“No matter what it is you want me to do, you have to give me benefits first!” Leylin’s eyes glinted with intelligence as he placed the scroll away, streaking into the spatial gate.
The third layer of Nightmare Island.
“As expected… The extent of dreamforce contamination here is even worse. This place has only the purest intent…” Leylin now found himself unable to sense his own body, only able to exist as the most fundamental form of his soul and conscient.
He was surrounded by a boundless universe, filled with the feeling of weightlessness. Leylin seemed to be a lonesome boat in the turbulent seas.
There was no concept of another existence around, and only nothingness. Leylin had no qualms in believing that he would stay like this until the world was destroyed if he did not make the first move.
Having lost his body, his sense of time began to slow. He had no idea whether seconds had passed or tens of millennia. All he felt was that the sense of self he had was gradually vanishing.
‘No, this won’t do! I have to persevere. Once my sense of self disappears, my truesoul will also disappear…’ Leylin abruptly burst forth with strength, and his willpower took control all his thoughts. His body suddenly condensed and became distinct.
“Hah… How is this third layer of defence constructed? Even the essence of Magus concepts are dissipating…” Having reinforced his sense of self, Leylin glanced fearfully at his arms that had formed once more.
“This is the lost land… And also the place where the Nightmare King lost his self…” A few black feathers fell, and Leylin found a black crow was ‘flying’ towards him.
In this void with only concepts and no matter, a crow was something very strange. What caused Leylin even more astonishment was that it could move about freely in this void.
“We meet again, Mister!” The black crow combed its feathers and greeted him happily.
“Have we met before?” Leylin asked, confused.
“Hm. To me it’s in the future but for you it’s in your past. My future form is a single-eyed owl.” The crow was a chatterbox.
‘Single-eyed owl!’ Leylin immediately recalled the time after he’d advanced to rank 5, when he’d been afflicted with a Dreamscape curse. He’d obtained a present from the owl within a dream then, allowing him to come into contact with dreamforce.
“My apologies, but may I know who you are?” Leylin asked the question he wanted to.
“Me? I’m just a mass of concepts. I shall exist as long as Dreamscape survives…” Leylin had a feeling that this crow or owl or whatever it was wasn’t speaking the truth, but he did not fixate himself on that.
“You’re saying this is the place the Nightmare King lost his sense of self? What does that mean? Has he fallen? Who did it?”
“As long as the Nightmare King did not want to die, nobody could make it happen. Here, however, he abandoned his sense of self. This means he’s completely dead, without even a fragment of his truesoul left behind…” The crow seemed to know about matters of ancient times very well.
‘If he’s abandoned his sense of self, doesn’t that mean he’s committed suicide? So when the Nightmare King invaded the World of Gods, he was already determined to die?’ Leylin had a feeling that perhaps the Nightmare King Ardin had died long before. After the bloody battle in the pocket dimension, the Ardin that still existed had only been a walking piece of flesh.
However, he was far too powerful, to the point that he could not even kill himself. Was that why he needed help from the gods?
‘As expected… High-ranked Magi mostly have mental issues. It’s too serious with the Nightmare King. I can’t become like him in the future…’ The example this senior set gave Leylin a good warning.
A real peak rank 8 Magus would never be able to fall if they did not want to die. This was the case with Distorted Shadow. He had already died for tens of thousands of years, and yet could still create trouble. The Nightmare King was bent on dying, which is why he had truly died…
“Well then… Magus, tell me your intent in coming here!” The crow opened its beak, its two black beady eyes looking mischievous.
“I…” Leylin gritted his teeth and spoke anyway, “I hope to obtain the legacy of the Nightmare King. At the very least, I want to find a method to evade the weakening of dreamforce!”
“Grasping dreamforce? Caw caw… that’s not very easy. Are you sure you want to do that?” The crow asked.
“I’m very sure.” Leylin answered seriously, eyes filled with resolution from his pursuit of truth. There was no fear of death.
“Caw caw, good! I see Ardin’s shadow on you…” The crow cawed, and its body started changing.
*Whoosh!* It suddenly swelled, turning from the size of a dove to that of a large evil dragon, jet-black neck showing dense black scales. Its beak widened to reveal sharp teeth like those of sharks.
*Ka-cha!* A strike of blood-red lightning fell right on the forehead of the strange black dragon, turning into a bloody third eye!
“This… this…” Such a tremendous change had Leylin stunned.
“Accept it! This is a gift from Dreamscape!” The strange black dragon howled, the bloody third eye turning into a ray of light and disappearing into Leylin’s forehead.
Agony! Leylin felt everything go black as he felt himself being torn into, collapsing into a dead faint. Large amounts of dreamforce flooded into him like a tsunami, enveloping his body completely in a huge crimson cocoon.
When the tide of Dreamscape weakened, the crimson cocoon had disappeared. Only the black crow was still around.
“Old friend… After helping you this time, I’ve repaid all my debts to you…” The crow murmured to the air, its body becoming less corporeal as it disappeared into the vast nothingness.
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