His dwindling spirit power allowed Shi Mu no more time to dawdle in front of the battle. He quickly scanned the surroundings, and was disappointed to find nothing, except for some some wiggling fat worms and the scattered bones of skeletons. These worms were the size of a tree branch and as thick as the mouth of a bowl. They seemed to have found their way out from the earth, in search of food - the remains of other creatures.
“Do I really have to pick a worm?” Shi Mu thought to himself, despondent about his luck. Just as he was anxiously looking for some other animals, the two giant monsters, that had been entangled in their fight, suddenly got separated, and the three-headed hound was blown away. The black bird struggled to its feet. It turned its head to have a look at the wing that had been torn off, and instantly anger burned in its eyes. It cried, mournful and irate, then opened its beak widely to spout a yellow whirlwind that madly rolled toward the hound.
The fierce whirlwind slammed into the paralyzed hound, blowing its colossal body into the air again. The neighboring skeleton army was also affected. Amid the flying sand and rolling pebbles, numerous skeletons were thrown in all directions, and some ten of them thudded onto the earth not far from Shi Mu. Most of them got crushed to pieces on the spot while one escaped the misfortune by only breaking one of its arms. Slowly, it staggered to its feet, most of its bones still intact.
Shi Mu was delighted with his unexpected good fortune. Without the slightest hesitation, he rushed to the skeleton and worked the Art of Capturing Spirits. A moment later, a white paper charm was stuck onto the skeleton’s skull, and the magic worked its way into the poor survivor’s spirit. It had just experienced a terrible fall, so it practically had no strength to resist. Furthermore, the last flicker of its eyes seemed to have also died out. Therefore, without any difficulty, Shi Mu successfully planted his spirit signal onto the skeleton.
Upon his completion of the task, Shi Mu sank into unconsciousness, and his spirit left the white dot, turning into an almost transparent light ball that left the Death Space at an incredibly fast speed.
The one-armed skeleton’s eyes flickered. All of a sudden, the brutal, murderous smell, that had been around it, left its body and vanished into thin air. It stood there, motionless, like a newborn baby, looking blankly at the fighting armies. After some time, it seemed to have made a decision to leave the battlefield. Turning its body, the skeleton walked away, step-by-step, towards its new “life”.
In Uncle Ju’s secret room.
With a sudden jolt, Shi Mu opened his eyes and found his spirit back in his physical body. He let out a long sigh, adjusting his state of mind. Due to a large consumption of spirit power, his face was pale and weary, but his eyes were sparkling with excitement. For the first time, he had traveled to another space and planted his spirit signal on a creature not of this world. Though it was only a skeleton, it certainly was much stronger than a worm, which far surpassed his expectation. Shi Mu quietly practiced the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power to recover from the fatigue.
After a brief moment, the plump body of Uncle Ju’s also perked up with consciousness. His ruddy face was quite animated, which suggested that his journey was probably a fruitful one.
“It seems Uncle Ju had a successful trip!” Shi Mu stood up and smiled.
“Hehe, not bad! It seems that you are in a good mood too. Could it be that you, in such a short time, also had some success?” Uncle Ju gave one of his rare smiles.
“I planted my signal onto a skeleton.” Shi Mu answered frankly.
“Good, little one! Seems you’ve really got the talent to be a spirit Adept! Though skeletons are only the lowest creatures in the Space of Death, I’ll admit that, for a Scholar, you’ve really done well!” Stroking his jaw, Uncle Ju offered his genuine praise.
“It’s all by luck.” Shi Mu returned a smile.
Uncle Ju did not pursue his questions and ended the conversation with a knowing smile. He began to pick up the magic gadgets on the floor and stored them carefully. The middle-level stones in the indentations had lost much of their luster, indicating that the spirit power in them had been consumed considerably. Shi Mu watched Uncle Ju’s movement quietly, surprised at this large demand of spirit power. Middle-level stones were much more refined than low-level ones, even so, Uncle Ju’s one experiment had depleted almost all of their power. Now he finally understood why it was widely accepted that Adept is a job that costs large sums of money.
“Judging from your face, I guess you’re wanting to beckon that skeleton?” Uncle Ju asked Shi Mu suddenly, a knowing smile on his face
“Yes, I’d never hide things from uncle. Could you please teach me the Art of Beckoning?” Shi Mu was quite embarrassed to be seen through by Uncle Ju.
The fat uncle nodded and led Shi Mu from the secret room to the entrance hall. He then asked Shi Mu to wait for a few minutes and went into an inner room. After some time, he came out with a thin brochure and a translucent bottle, which contained some yellow fluids that were spitting bubbles. A faint sour smell oozed from the lid.
Uncle Ju now wore a serious face. He handed Shi Mu the brochure and the bottle, warning, “The Art of Beckoning is recorded here, and the liquid is the lizard’s poison. Keep it in mind, never touch the poison, or it will eat through your skin and bones in an instant!”
“Thank you for your instruction.” Shi Mu carefully stored the bottle and began leafing through the brochure, where a beckoning formula was recorded. It did not seem to be too complex and Shi Mu could manage to understand every detail. The only issue was that the formula required many materials of high price. At the end of the brochure, there was an incantation called “The Art of Binding Spirits” whose purpose was to establish contracts with creatures from the other world.
Shi Mu intuitively sensed that this incantation was of peculiar significance. He asked, “Uncle Ju, may I know more about this incantation for binding spirits?”
“The formula recorded in the brochure tells how to beckon creatures to our space, but if you want to keep it as a servant, you have to make a contract with it. And that’s when you’ll need this incantation and contract. The signal you planted onto the skeleton has a time limit, after which your spirit power will vanish from its body, and you can never beckon it again. If you make a contract before you beckon it, you can skip the formula part, and can drag this creature to our world directly by the power of this contract. But to keep it by your side will consume your own spirit power. As to how much, that differs from creature to creature. If one day you manage to become a Spirit Grade Adept, you should be able to easily beckon and contract some weaker creatures to be your servants.” Uncle Ju explained to him briefly.
“I see...” Shi Mu was enlightened.
“Mind you, creatures from other spaces are usually hard to tame. It’s not that easy at all to make a contract with them. All right, leave if you are satisfied. I’ve got other errands to do.” Uncle Ju offered his last piece of advice and urged Shi Mu to leave. Without a word, he turned and walked into his inner room.
Shi Mu bowed respectfully, thanked him, and then left with the valuable brochure.