Reynolds, George, and Yale all stared dumbly at the statue. They had been totally awed by this stone sculpture, and to their eyes, the five human shapes in the statue seemed to all have souls.
The image on the left, carried within it a soft, tender, vulnerable air that made anyone who saw it feel pity.
The second image one carried within it a cute, adorable air that stirred the hearts of viewers.
The third image seemed to be just like a real girl, who was blushing with shyness right in front of you.
All five of the figures within this statue carried their own unique aura.
Linley stared at the statue, and as he did, he felt like he was seeing a fantasy. These five figures seemed to be figures from his dreams. But now, he had awoken.
“Linley.” Doehring Cowart walked over to him. His moon-white robe was still spotless, without a speck of dust.
Linley looked at Doehring Cowart.
A look of gratification was on Doehring Cowart’s face. “In terms of stonesculpting ability, you have already reached the level of masters. And this statue of yours that you just created, is totally worthy of being a sterling paragon of an example of our Straight Chisel School’s sculpting. After having experienced this, I believe that your understanding of stonesculpting has also dramatically deepened.
Linley slightly nodded.
Only after completing this sculpture did Linley realize why it was that each master sculptor might perhaps only have a single work of art which would be acclaimed and passed down throughout the ages. It wasn’t due to them not having enough ability; rather, it was because those ‘divine’ sculptures were something which occurred out of nowhere and could not be forced.
For example, Linley had just completed this statue, ‘Awakening From the Dream’. But if you were to ask him to do another one like it, it would perhaps be impossible.
When a ‘divine’ sculpture came into existence in the world, it did so only through a unique combination of exquisite skill, marvelous inspiration, and sudden, all-encompassing emotion. Only when someone was absolutely emotionally moved, 100%, could a ‘divine’ sculpture be born. Because only then would they hold nothing back and produce such a stunning, soul-stirring sculpture.
Linley had completed this sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’. But who could possibly guess as to how long it would be before he might be able to produce another one of this quality?
Throughout those ten days of non-stop carving, Linley’s soul had already clearly keenly attuned with that perfect sensation of being one with the universe. And thus, in terms of sculpting ability, Linley had dramatically improved. If Linley were to carve another sculpture right now, although it wouldn’t be able to match the quality of this ‘Awakening From the Dream’, it would be much better than his previous sculptures which were worth around 5000 gold each.
“Linley, have you felt the change in your spiritual energy?” Doehring Cowart said with a delighted smile.
This sculpture had forced him to exert far more spiritual energy than he normally did, and now, his spiritual energy was far stronger than before. If ten days ago, Linley’s spiritual energy was like a small tree, by now, it was like a gloriously flourishing giant oak.
“How could it have increased this much?” Linley was totally amazed.
Doehring Cowart laughed delightedly. His white beard flourishing, he said, “Ten times! Your spiritual energy increased by ten times! It’s received such an incredible boost; in ten days, it has increased by about ten times! In ten short days, the benefit you gained was equivalent to what others might get after tens of years of training. Your level of spiritual energy directly leapt out of the level of the sixth rank and has reached the level of a magus of the seventh rank at one go.”
Linley, as well, felt that this was inconceivable.
It increased by way too much! Ten times!
“The effect is quite good, right? Hrmph, the effectiveness of Doehring Cowart’s Straight Chisel School is unquestionable and unfathomable. However…I really am jealous of you.” Doehring Cowart was grinning as he looked at Linley. “Linley, you should know that upon entering a state of absolute emotion, where your soul totally becomes one with nature is extremely rare and extremely hard to achieve.”
Linley nodded in agreement.
If that sort of state was easy to enter, then perhaps a ‘divine’ sculpture would be commonplace.
“In the 1300 years of my life, I’ve only entered that state three times, and during those three times, I completed the three sculptures which I am the most proud of.” A look of pride was on Doehring Cowart’s face as he continued. “But the sculptures that I made, each took me two, three, and four days respectively. All together, I only spent nine days in that state, which was less than this one session you had.”
Only upon hearing Doehring Cowart’s words did Linley realize that he had spent ten days and ten nights during this stonesculpting session.
“This sort of state is the fastest way through which members of the Straight Chisel School can increase their spiritual strength. This sort of state usually sees you grow a thousand times faster than normal people! This state is what we dream of. The longer you can remain in this state, the better, and therefore the larger a statue you are inspired to carve, the greater the benefits are to you.”
Linley agreed in his heart.
The ‘Awakening From the Dream’ was a giant work of art, encompassing fully five different figures. This was a statue of a size that was very rarely seen.
Doehring Cowart let out a long sigh. “But when your soul has been moved to produce a certain type of sculpture, you really have no control over it at all.”
Just like how when he saw that giant rock and saw those lines and patterns on it, when combined with his already agitated condition, his mind naturally summoned forth the image of five people. That was a sort of energy and excitement which allowed him to forget everything else in the world, including himself. The only thing remaining was the sculpture!
All of his energy, all of his emotions, were poured into the sculpture.
Upon entering this state, he had no excess energy to think about anything else, such as, ‘I want to work on a large statue’. He couldn’t divide any attention at all. If he had divided his attention, then he would have shattered that perfect state.
“Linley, I want to ask you a question. Does this sculpture have a name?” Doehring Cowart asked.
“Awakening From the Dream.” Linley replied.
Doehring Cowart mused for a while, then nodded slightly. “Well done. Good name.”
That rarely seen blizzard had finally come to an end. The world was blanketed in white, and the entire mountain was covered with a thick layer of snow, as high as one’s knee. This sort of snowstorm was rather rarely seen. After the snow, the temperature dropped further.
Yale, George, and Reynolds had erected a tent to ward off that freezing weather. Yale had ordered some servants to deliver food to them regularly, and they had waited there, watching over Linley.
At this moment, Yale and the other two were still staring speechlessly at Linley’s carving.
“Boss Yale, Third Bro has successfully completed his carving. Why is he still standing there?” Reynolds was getting a bit worried. He had no idea that Linley was mentally chatting with Doehring Cowart, and of course none of them could see Doehring Cowart’s spirit form.
Yale slightly shook his head. “I don’t know either. But this sculpture of Third Bro’s can definitely be considered to be almost on par with the sculptures of Grandmaster Proulx.”
At least in Yale’s eyes, Linley’s sculpture was earthshakingly brilliant, capable of stirring men’s souls.
“Boss Yale. Second Bro. Fourth Bro.”
Linley’s voice suddenly rang out, causing Yale, George, and Reynolds all to be startled. Reynolds immediately shouted back excitedly, “Linley, you finally speak! It’s been eleven days, eleven full days! You haven’t eaten or drank anything for eleven days!”
Linley had first stood there silently in front of the boulder for a full day, and then spent ten more on his carving. This was, in fact, the eleventh day.
An ordinary person who didn’t eat or drink for eleven days would’ve died by now. Even an ordinary magus of the fourth or fifth rank would be extremely weak after not eating or drinking for that long. But right now, Linley only felt slightly thirsty, and he didn’t feel uncomfortable in the slightest.
Because upon entering that special state, upon becoming one with the universe, earth and wind elemental essence had constantly entered his body, nourishing him and replacing all of his spent energy, while strengthening Linley’s body at the same time.
“Eleven days, eh? Yeah, I am a bit hungry.” Linley laughed.
George was the first one to excitedly rush to the nearby tent, where he pulled out two fur-wrapped cases. Those furs were used for temperature control. Removing the furs, he pulled out two metal boxes from inside. Inside those two metal boxes was a sumptuous feast.
“Wait, we can’t eat without having any wine to drink, can we?” Yale laughed loudly.
Watching one of his bros scurry around preparing the food, while another ran around preparing the rice, and a third pour wine, Linley suddenly felt an unspeakably warm feeling.
They had accompanied him for 11 days. How can Linley not be moved?
But Linley hid all of these feelings deep in his heart.
“Boss, Second Bro, Fourth Bro. We will be good brothers for all our lives.” Linley said determinedly.
“Third Bro, come, eat up!” George said warmly.
On top of the snow-covered mountain behind the Ernst Institute, Linley and his three bros began to eat and drink, and the laughter and merriment they shared continued unabated. Next to them, the Shadowmouse, Bebe, also happily began to eat and drink.
“Boss Yale, please help me store this sculpture.” Linley stood up, casting his gaze upon the snow white surroundings. “When I was fifteen, I went for training in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Logically speaking, in July and August of my 16th year, I should’ve gone for training again. But because of Alice, I didn’t go. Right now, I’ve made up my mind to go and get some good training done.”
George, Yale, and Reynolds were all stunned.
“Third Bro, you are heading to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts?” Yale grew frantic. Reynolds and George as well.
To them, Linley had just suffered a huge emotional blow, and had gone eleven days without food or water. Just as his mood had improved slightly, he was going to go off to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, one of the three most dangerous places in the entire Yulan continent? How could they not be worried?
Linley laughed. “Alright, don’t be worried. I’m very level-headed right now. If I hadn’t walked past my pain, I would’ve gone ahead and destroyed this ‘Awakening From the Dream’ sculpture.”
As he spoke, he turned his head to ‘Awakening From the Dream’.
Staring at it, Linley felt as though he was staring back at bygone days. Linley felt absolutely calm and peaceful in his heart.
“This is nothing more than a memory, nothing more than setback in my life. Because of Alice, I had already slowed down my pace of training. I can no longer afford to waste any time.” Linley smiled at his three bros, then picked up his backpack. “I’m going to head out immediately. I won’t go back to the Institute.”
“Boss, Second Bro, Fourth Bro.”
Linley stared at his three good friends, smiling slightly. “I really am grateful to all of you. I, Linley, am so fortunate to have three good brothers like you.”
After speaking, Linley put on his backpack, picked up Bebe, and began to walk east, away from the mountain.
Yale, Reynolds, and George all watched as the image of Linley’s back grew more and more distant, until finally it disappeared into the snowy white landscape.
Within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
Tall, majestic trees. Dense vines and rattans. Wild grass and shrubs. Dried leaves. The entire Mountain Range of Magical Beasts was so primeval, so natural. Linley was in the meditative position, absorbing wind and earth elemental essence from the world and transforming it into mageforce.
Linley’s spiritual energy had already reached the level of a magus of the seventh rank, but his mageforce was still only that of a magus of the sixth rank.
Linley had already spent a full month within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
Within the past month, Linley sometimes would kill magical beasts, while at other times he would analyze the seventh level wind-style spell, the Soaring Technique. The rest of the time, he spent in the meditative state gathering mageforce.
The Ernst Institute didn’t teach or train anyone in spells of the seventh rank. But since the Soaring Technique was virtually identical in principle with the Floating Technique, according to the book on magical theory that Linley had found in the library, Linley had constantly been applying wind-magic principles to test out the Soaring Technique using various magical incantations.
After a full month of research and tests, Linley could already easily fly about in the sky.
Although Linley didn’t know if the magical incantation he had puzzled out was identical to the one used in the rest of the world as a whole, Linley was already fairly satisfied with his current speed of flight.
There was a huge gap between the sixth rank and the seventh rank, but the biggest part of that gap lay in increasing one’s spiritual energy. Since Linley had already increased his spiritual energy, all he needed to do was to spend some time refining more mageforce.
As Linley’s elemental affinity was exceptional, his speed of refining mageforce was also extremely quick.
The Shadowmouse, Bebe, was cautiously walking around the area near Linley, protecting him as Linley remained in the meditative position, gathering mageforce.
Within the central dantian in Linley’s body.
Those specks of earth-colored elemental essence and that bluish-jade elemental essence had already reached an astonishing density, but for now, they still remained in a gaseous form within his central dantian. But as the density of particles grew still greater…the density of the gaseous elemental essences had reached a critical point.
A drop of earthen-colored liquid and a drop of bluish-jade liquid suddenly coalesced within Linley’s central dantian.
And then, more and more drops of liquid began to form, as one drop turned to ten, and ten drops turned to a hundred, a thousand…
The biggest difference between a magus of the sixth and the seventh ranks was this – the condensation of mageforce into liquid form!