Upon returning to the Ernst Institute, Linley just got his usual backpack from his room, then directly headed to the mountain behind the Ernst Institute. Within the backpack, there was just his clothes, his magicrystal card, and a straight chisel.
“Second Bro, Fourth Bro, watch after Third Bro.” Yale instructed.
George and Reynolds both nodded. They, too, were worried about Linley.
“Boss, what are you going to do?” Reynolds asked.
Yale’s eyes flashed with a frozen look. “Me?”
“I’m going to investigate and see why Alice, that blind girl, decided to betray Third Bro. And I’m going to see what little bastard dared to steal my bro’s woman.” As he spoke, Yale stood up. “I’m heading to Fenlai City right now. You guys help me take care of Third Bro.”
“Got it.” Reynolds and George nodded.
And then, Yale left, taking with him his clan’s guardsmen, heading directly out of the Ernst Institute to Fenlai City. As for Reynolds and George, in the middle of this icy winter night, they hastened to the mountain behind the Ernst Institute.
Riding a fine stallion, Yale led his guards charging across the snowy plains. Quite soon, they returned to Fenlai City. Upon entering the city, Yale headed directly to one of his clan’s headquarters in Fenlai City.
This was a nine-floor building, a famous hotel in Fenlai City.
Behind the hotel, there were a number of small buildings that were not open to the public. Yale directly charged into a smaller, two-floor tall red building. As he did, five extravagantly dressed middle-aged men came out. Upon seeing Yale, they all respectfully called out in unison, “Young master Yale!”
“Walt [Hua’te], where is my Second Uncle?” Yale immediately asked.
Amongst the five middle-aged men, there was one named Walt. He was the only one of them dressed in long black robes. Walt respectfully replied, “His lordship returned to our main headquarters seven days ago. For now, the affairs in the Holy Union are under my management.”
Walt knew very well that ever since this second young master became a pupil of the Ernst Institute, his position within the clan’s hierarchy had skyrocketed.
Yale was not like one of the ordinary clan members, because Yale was in the direct line of descent. Even Walt’s highest supervisor, the ‘Second Uncle’ in charge of all of the affairs of the Holy Union, wouldn’t dare to be discourteous to Yale.
“Young master Yale, if you have anything you need handled, please just let me know.” Walt said respectfully.
Yale was quiet for a moment, then gave direct instructions. “Go and do some investigations for me. On Fenlai City’s Dry Road, there is a girl called Alice. She should be sixteen years old this year. She’s also a student of the Wellen Institute. Recently, she’s been together with a man. Provide me with all of the information regarding this man.”
“Yes, young master Yale.” Walt smiled slightly. “Young master Yale, do you like this Alice? If you do, then I can…”
“No need.” Yale’s face was cold and dark. “What I need is information, as fast as you can provide it. Understood?”
“Yes.” Walt could sense that this young master Yale seemed to be truly enraged this time.
That same night. Candles flickering.
Yale was sitting at a table, pouring himself a cup of wine, his face unhappy. But clearly, his mind was elsewhere and not on the wine.
Suddenly, urgent footsteps could be heard. Walt suddenly hurried inside, along with a woman in her 20’s who looked as cold as ice. Upon entering the room, Walt bowed respectfully. “Young master Yale, we have clearly investigated this Alice and her male friend.”
“Speak.” Yale said coldly.
Walt looked at that cold woman, who bowed respectfully. “Young master Yale, that Alice has two male friends. The first one is named Linley Baruch, who was born in Wushan Township…”
“Stop. Discuss the second one.” Yale frowned.
“Alice’s current boyfriend is named Kalan Debs. He was born in Fenlai City, and is currently seventeen years old. He’s a student at the Wellen Warrior Academy, a warrior of the fifth rank! This Debs clan is a major clan in the Kingdom of Fenlai, and Kalan Debs will be the direct successor to the clan leader.”
“Kalan Debs…the Debs clan?” Yale frowned. “Just a small clan within a kingdom?”
Walt, seeking to ingratiate himself with Yale, said, “In the Kingdom of Fenlai, the Debs clan can be considered a major clan. But of course, in the Yulan continent as a whole, it can only be considered a very unremarkable little clan.”
“Oh. I want to severely punish this Debs clan. What would you recommend?” Yale looked at Walt.
Walt began to laugh. “Young master Yale, you don’t know this, but this Debs clan is actually the working partner of our Dawson Conglomerate here in Fenlai. In the Kingdom of Fenlai, the Dawson Conglomerate makes the big money, while their Debs clan gets some of our scraps. After all these years though, those scraps have fattened up the Debs clan.”
“Oh, this Debs clan is actually the working partner of our Conglomerate here in the Kingdom of Fenlai?” A hint of a smile appeared on Yale’s face.
Walt nodded. “Yes, young master Yale. You should know very well that our Dawson Conglomerate doesn’t seek to gain all the benefit from every single trade. In the Four Great Empires and in the dozens of various kingdoms, we always have a working partner. Naturally, we have to give them some benefit as well.”
He knew this very well. The Dawson clan controlled the Dawson Conglomerate, which was one of the three titanic trading unions in the Yulan continent. Even the Four Great Empires and the two alliances did not dare to look down on them. This was the reason why Yale was able to enroll in the Ernst Institute.
Behind the Ernst Institute was the Radiant Church. On the surface, they claimed that the enrollment standards were fair and open.
How could an ordinary clan manage to get someone in through the backdoor of the Radiant Church?
The creed of the Dawson Conglomerate was this: “When there’s money to be made, everyone gets a share.”
In the Four Great Empires, the two alliances, and the various other kingdoms and duchies, the Dawson Conglomerate always would have some trading partners, and would allow them to make some profit as well.
To be able to work alongside the Dawson Conglomerate was the same as getting on top of a massive money-making war machine. In the Kingdom of Fenlai, the Debs clan only get a small fraction of what the Dawson Conglomerate made, but it was enough to make them fabulously wealthy by the standards of the Kingdom of Fenlai.
“Young master Yale, there are always many clans in the Kingdom of Fenlai who clamor to replace the Debs clan as our local partner here. The only reason we still work with the Debs clan is because they have been fairly decent partners, which is why we haven’t given any other clans the opportunity.” Walt smiled.
Yale understood Walt’s intentions.
“Immediately change our local partner here in the Kingdom of Fenlai. As for the Debs clan? Suppress them!” Yale’s voice was as cold as ice.
“Yes, young master.” Walt replied respectfully.
This was nothing more than an issue of working partners in a small kingdom. Even Walt, who was just the second-in-command of the Dawson Conglomerate here in Fenlai, had the authority to make this decision. Much less Yale, a clan member who was in the principal family branch.
“Poor Debs clan.” Walt secretly said to himself.
In the mountain behind the Ernst Institute, the snow covered everything with a layer of silvery white clothes. Within the dense trees, there were some large stones. At an empty spot in the mountain, Linley was standing quietly, eyes closed, on top of one of those giant stones.
The Shadowmouse, Bebe, was next to him, standing in the snow, quietly protecting Linley.
George and Reynolds looked at each other with concern.
“George. What is Linley doing? He’s been standing there on that boulder for a full day and night now. When we call out to him, he has no response. And he hasn’t eaten or drank anything. If this continues…” Reynolds was starting to grow frantic.
George slowly shook his head. “Don’t be impatient. Third Bro is a magus of the sixth rank, and a warrior. His body is extremely strong and tough. It has been fortified by the absorption of nature’s elemental essences. Even if he goes several days without food or water, it shouldn’t be a problem. Let’s just watch him for now. I trust that Third Bro isn’t the sort of person who cannot recover from a setback.”
Reynolds nodded slightly.
None of them had any idea as to what Linley’s current condition was like.
In fact, Doehring Cowart was there, by Linley’s side as well. Only Reynolds and George could not, of course, see him. Doehring Cowart quietly watched Linley. In his heart, he was secretly surprised. “This Linley fellow seems to have entered a higher mental realm.” As a grandmaster sculptor, Doehring Cowart was able to guess what sort of state Linley had entered.
Linley was staring at that boulder. This boulder was over two meters tall and three meters wide.
He was staring at the lines on the boulder. The rocky lines and craggy patterns covering this boulder were all extremely complex. But as Linley continued to stare at it, a number of those lines and patterns seemed to drift off from the boulder and rematerialize in Linley’s mind.
These lines and patterns seemed to form into five human images.
Suddenly, those five images transformed themselves in to Alice. All sorts of scenes appeared in Linley’s mind as well. In his mind’s eye, this boulder suddenly transformed itself various sculptures. In the end, it transformed into five female statues.
“George, look! Third Bro is moving!” Reynolds said in surprise.
From within his backpack, Linley retrieved his straight chisel. Wielding it in his right hand, staring at the boulder, Linley suddenly began to move. The straight chisel transformed into a blur, and immediately, excess stone and rubble began to fly off from the boulder.
His soul had become one with the earth, had become one with the wind.
Linley’s soul could clearly sense every single crevice, every single line of that boulder. He wielded the straight chisel as though it were like the wind, blowing pieces of excess stone away from the boulder. Every single chop of his chisel seemed to be perfect in movement, not too much, not too little, accurate to the point of perfection.
Sometimes, the straight chisel would move slowly, while at other times, it would move very quickly. Sometimes, it would leave traces and lines as it flowed through the stone; at other times, it would directly chop off an entire piece of rock.
“I still remember how you looked that year, that pitiable look when you were being attacked by the Bloodthirsty Boar.”
A perfect mental image of that scene and of Alice formed in Linley’s mind. All of his emotions and feelings were concentrated into his chisel. The snow began to settle and coalesce around Linley, and as it did, Linley felt his soul merge with the earth and with the wind as it never had before, as earth elemental essence and wind elemental essence rapidly began to enter Linley’s body.
Linley didn’t think about anything else. Right now, he was focusing on those bygone feelings.
Slowly, the leftmost 20% of the statue began to transform into the image of a woman. The basic structure of the sculpture was beginning to take shape. Linley neither ate nor drank, continuing to carve nonstop. Occasionally, he would wield his chisel several dozen times in a row. At other times, he would spend several minutes carefully carving a single, perfect line.
Linley, having totally subsumed himself and his feelings for Alice within his straight chisel, totally did not notice that this was the first time he had entered such a state since he had first started to learn carving.
In the past, regardless of whether or not it was his early days or his later days, Linley wouldn’t be totally, 100% subsumed into the carving.
At the very least, he would spend several days carving a statue. He could stop at any time and continue the next time.
But this time was different. Linley was totally submerged in those bygone feelings, and totally subsumed into energetically carving. He didn’t even think about stopping, couldn’t even notice that he hadn’t eaten or drank anything. This sort of total immersion and concentration caused Linley to become one with nature as he never had before.
That sort of absolute oneness with nature caused Linley’s spiritual energy to rise at a terrifying, previously unseen speed.
Right now, Linley’s growth in spiritual energy was rising a thousand times more rapidly than an ordinary person’s.
“He’s totally become one with nature, and has reached the level of forgetting oneself. What a wonderful surprise.” Doehring Cowart’s eyes lit up.
One day after another passed, with Linley totally absorbed still in his work. Earth elemental essence and wind elemental essence still continuously poured into his body, replenishing the energy that he had lost.
Like the blink of an eye, ten days passed, with Linley absorbed in sculpting the entire time.
With Linley at the center, the snow suddenly swirled outwards in all directions. Straight chisel in hand, Linley stared quietly at the giant sculpture in front of him. Linley had put all of his effort into making this sculpture. This was the largest sculpture he had ever made, and it was also the most successful one.
This sculpture was made up of five images of a woman. In all five images, the woman was the same. Alice.
There was one showing the pitiable look she had when she faced danger.
There was one showing the adorable look on her face when she was secretly chatting on the balcony.
There was one showing the look of shyness on her face when they first started dating.
There was one showing how mesmerizing she looked when they were in the throes of their love for each other.
And there was one showing that hint of heartlessness on her face when they broke up!
“In a year’s time, everything has passed on, as though it were nothing more than a dream. But now, the dream has come to an end. Let this sculpture, then, be called ‘Awakening From the Dream’.” Staring at his sculpture, Linley felt his spirit was more at peace now than ever before. It was as though all of his previous emotions had been entrusted within this sculpture.
‘Awakening From the Dream’. This sculpture had been brought into the world!