The preparation took less time than Shi Mu had expected. Before he could make out the patterns on the bowl, Uncle Ju had placed it at the center of the formula, along with the five middle-level heavenly stones, which were already set in their respective indentations around the circle. All done, uncle Ju passed Shi Mu the black bone pieces and the silver paper charm, warning him seriously, “This formula has recorded the spacial coordinate of the Space of Death, and as soon as I get it started, stick the paper charm to the bone piece and activate it. This way, our ceremony will begin.”
Shi Mu took the peice of bone and the charm with the utmost caution, then he entered the big circle on the floor, the charm in his right hand, and the piece of bone in the other. Facing the silver bowl he sat down on the floor, legs crossed. Uncle Ju also seated himself, at the opposite of Shi Mu. Without delay he began and let loose a flood of incantations which overwhelmed Shi Mu’s ears, bewildering him with their obscurity and complexity. Uncle Ju’s fingers flicked so quickly that the movements eluded Shi Mu’s eyes. He could only see the effect as several streaks of white light flashed from uncle Ju’s palm, flying to the bowl where they subsequently disappeared.
As if lit by the white light, the tiny characters on the bowl’s surface began to shine, with increasing brightness, until the light became so glaringly bright that it stung Shi Mu’s eyes. At the same time, the air was filled with a strange feeling, as though it was undulating, transmitting some great power. The formula of the Roaring Stars echoed, emitting dazzling lights of the same brightness, the air above it circulating so quickly that one could hear a low hum. Some places in the space even looked warped and hazy.
After a few minutes, the lights went out, along with all the torches, and the room was enveloped in darkness. Before Shi Mu could adjust his eyes, an eerie scene took place: the formula came into life! It wriggled on the floor, releasing a multicolored glow that wrapped around Shi Mu and Uncle Ju. Looking from afar, the two seemed to be dressed in cloaks made of rainbows. Next, the glittering bowl ejected a wild gush of silver fog that rose while rotating with increasing speed, as well as growing in size. Amid the fog, many silver light dots kept twinkling, illuminating the room, which now resembled a small world under a broad starlit sky. The splendid sight mesmerized Shi Mu, lulling him into a half-conscious state, until Uncle Ju’s voice thundered, “What are you doing? The charm!”
Uncle Ju’s loud voice dragged him out of his trance, and Shi Mu quickly activated the charm in his hand. A loud sound was heard when the paper charm was slapped onto the black bone piece with a vivid flash of silver light that sliced through the air before it vanished into the bone without a trace.
“Stay close to me as we enter the Space of Chaos!” Uncle Ju threw Shi Mu a warning glance and said loudly.
“I will!” Shi Mu hurriedly answered, suppressing his astonishment.
The fat uncle Ju did not waste time saying any more. He flicked his hand another time. The magic characters imprinted on the silver bowl responded by flashing, then, without warning, the two one-legged birds came into life! They flew from the pattern, and flashed toward Shi Mu and uncle Ju’s forehead respectively. A drowsiness came over Shi Mu, an,d before he knew it, his spirit had left his physical body and got attached to one of the silver birds, flying into the bowl again.
The next moment, he found himself wandering in a strange place, where all the colors of the rainbow flooded his eyes, everything tangled in a chaotic mass. The space seemed boundless, like a vast sea with all kinds of unknown things floating on the surface. Some of the objects where alive with light, others seemed dead and dark. From the indescribable deepness of this chaotic space, Shi Mu vaguely felt an anonymous force that kept drawing him to its side.
“Well, how are you feeling? Have you felt the spatial gravitational force emitted by the Death World?” Just then Uncle Ju’s voice reverberated in Shi Mu’s mind, catching him unprepared. He then found himself to have turned a white dot, accompanied by a bigger light dot, which was Uncle Ju’s incarnation.
“Yes, I can just barely feel it.” Shi Mu answered subconsciously.
“Good! Let’s move to this force, and be sure not to approach those fuzzy objects. I’ll cover you.” The fat uncle released a long sigh, but his voice was full of excitement.
Shi Mu answered and instantly adjusted his direction to follow the force. He floated onward, and the dot incarnated by uncle Ju came after him immediately.
This chaotic space gave a rather odd feeling, by intuition Shi Mu felt a deep emptiness worming its way into his bones - abstruse, vague, and insubstantial. But those weird objects had aroused his interest. According to uncle Ju, each of them was actually a different, independent space.
For the following period, the two advanced in the same direction, and, as time slid by, the unknown force grew increasingly strong and clear. After what seemed an eternity, when Shi Mu was bored by the humdrum views, he suddenly found himself with far less spirit power than before.
“Uncle Ju, does it waste our energy traveling through this Space of Chaos like this?” Shi Mu asked anxiously.
“Of course! Not only this chaotic space, every other space sucks your spirit power! Once you use them up, you’d be forcefully dragged back to your original space.” Uncle Ju dismissed Shi Mu’s naive question with a cursory answer, which gave Shi Mu a jolt of shock. Then he saw that their two light dots were shrouded in a thin layer of multicolored cloud, which, according to what Uncle Ju had said, was their guarantee of getting back home.
“Don’t worry, you’ve got stronger spirit power than I’d expected. We should arrive at the Space of Death safe and sound.” Uncle Ju’s voice resounded again. This came as quite a relief to Shi Mu. But just as Uncle Ju finished speaking, a dazzling light drew near with incredible speed! Shi Mu was shocked to find out that in the short time of the previous dialogue, a shining object, shaped like a dagger, had closed in on them! It sent forth a light so bright that Shi Mu could see nothing but that light.
“Watch out! Stay away from that! Never give yourself to it!” Uncle Ju yelled to warn Shi Mu away from the light, slowing down his speed.
For a moment, Shi Mu was terror-stricken, unable to move. Uncle Ju’s thunderous voice started him out of his paralysis, and he soon drew close to Uncle Ju. But just as he was about to enter uncle Ju’s reach, an irresistible force dragged him away, inch by inch, towards the shining object, and the gravitational force of the Space of Death immediately weakened. Shi Mu exerted the utmost of his strength to fight this horrible force, his heart racing. He also felt Uncle Ju trying to pull him away from the bright object. Though Uncle Ju’s power was not negligible, to counteracting the force of the object was still a seemingly impossible task. Bit by bit, Shi Mu was pulled toward the bright object.
Overcome with fear, Shi Mu braced himself for whatever might happen to him.