Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 898
A figure appeared at the door; it was a man of medium height. He wore a black trench coat, and he had brown hair, green eyes, and rough skin. He looked to be in his thirties.
He looked like an ordinary person of Red River ethnicity, but his eyes were squinted as if he had severe myopia and had forgotten his glasses.
As soon as this person entered, the chandelier in the bar lit up significantly. He then saw Shang Jianyao.
After a brief daze, he asked in a deep voice, “Who are you?”
The air in the bar froze as this voice echoed, and there were faint electric sparks flickering.
Shang Jianyao didn’t show any weakness. His eyes gradually lit up, becoming brighter and brighter until they finally turned into two balls of lightning.
This action clearly stunned the person who had just entered. He instinctively turned his head and didn’t look at this fellow.””
Jacob finally came to his senses and weakly said, “He has no ill intentions.”
The squinting person nodded.
The frozen air returned to normal as it flowed freely, and the flickering electric sparks disappeared.
Jacob turned to Shang Jianyao and said, “My regular customer, Hendrick.”
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it, retracted his electric eyes, and introduced himself. “My Red River name is Doug.”
Hendrick ignored him, walked to the bar, pulled out a bar stool, and sat on it.
“A glass of lemon margarita,” he said, squinting at Jacob.
Jacob began to mix the drinks skillfully.
Shang Jianyao didn’t sense Hendrick’s aversion to others and asked in a friendly manner, “Are you a regular customer here? Does this mean that you no longer have a physical body?”
With a whoosh, Hendrick turned his head and looked at the fellow. His narrowed green eyes flickered with a dangerous glint.
Shang Jianyao consoled, “Relax. This is only based on deduction, just like how you can infer that I’m a rookie who just entered the New World.”
Such honesty left Hendrick at a loss for words.
Upon seeing this, Shang Jianyao asked with perseverance, “How did you lose your body? Did you naturally die of old age, or did you give up because you were deceived?”
Hendrick’s forehead twitched visibly twice.
At this moment, Jacob replied for him. “Hendrick was the most unfortunate one. He didn’t give up on his body, and it hasn’t been 20 years since he entered the New World. He only became a pure mental lifeform because of a disaster.”
“Disaster?” Shang Jianyao had always been professional when it came to continuing a discussion.
Perhaps because he knew that Jacob was in poor health and weak, Hendrick didn’t rely on him to do it for him and said, “A large earthquake scattered my subjects and buried my body in the ruins.”
“How unfortunate.” Shang Jianyao had an empathetic expression.
This was a natural disaster. Nobody could do anything about it.
Jacob placed a cup of green lemon margarita in front of Hendrick and sighed. “If Hendrick had been in the Ashlands back then, the problem wouldn’t have been that serious. Matter Interference should’ve been able to save his life when the building collapsed.”
“This is fate,” Hendrick and Shang Jianyao said in unison.
The two of them then looked at each other. The former was slightly surprised, and the latter had a look of surprise as if he had found a half-brother.
“I have a question,” Shang Jianyao said in concern. “How do you pay after drinking? With the number of New World residents, there shouldn’t be a mature currency system, right?”
Jacob sighed and said, “You don’t need to pay for the drinks here. It’s just that the number of human consciousnesses I obtain every time is limited. It has to be conserved, so it’s not available all the time.”
Clap! Clap! Clap! Shang Jianyao clapped—
He praised in an aria, “You have a noble sentiment that benefits others without benefiting yourself.”
Jacob chuckled. “There are also benefits for me. If I’m attacked, Hendrick and the others will definitely help me without hesitation. Otherwise, they will lose a stable source of human consciousness.”
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it and honestly said, “Discussing this topic always makes me feel like we’re demons trading human souls.”
“In a sense, that’s right.” Jacob didn’t euphemize it.
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Hendrick narrowed his eyes, took a sip of lemon margarita, and expressionlessly said, “We are demons. We abide by order and rules, but there are devils that act wantonly.”
Shang Jianyao’s thoughts had already jumped to another place. “Is the New World very chaotic? Do all kinds of attacks often happen?”
Hendrick looked at the cocktail in front of him and replied in a deep voice, “Unless there’s large-scale chaos, the Kalendarium won’t bother with what we’re doing. This place is like a place of exile for consciousness. Chaos and disorder are the main themes.”
Jacob then said, “Only by finding suitable companions and joining forces can we obtain a stable life. Otherwise, it’s very likely that we will be defeated and imprisoned by others, becoming batteries that are at the mercy of others.”
As he spoke, he glanced at Shang Jianyao as if he were evaluating if this fellow was suitable to join his team.
“Batteries?” Shang Jianyao clapped again. “That’s a very accurate description!”
He laughed for a few seconds before suddenly becoming indignant. “The rumors regarding the New World in the Ashlands are all fake! They say that the land here is fertile, the sun is bright, that children are happy, and that adults are happy. They say that there are no wastelands, monsters, infections, mutations, or all kinds of dangerous things. They are all fake!”
In fact, every antiquarian, Ruin Hunter, and history researcher who had yet to enter the Mind Corridor believed that the New World was illusory and nonexistent—that it was just a beautiful dream.
“I suspect that the rumors of the New World were spread by the Kalendarium, making it a goal for every Awakened who can enter the Mind Corridor to come here.” Hendrick didn’t look too good.
He gulped down the cup of lemon margarita as if he wanted to forget the pain of the past.
“Then, we are exiled and imprisoned.” Shang Jianyao cooperatively helped him finish his sentence. At this point, he exclaimed, “I almost forgot to ask something. How can we return to the Ashlands? I remember that many people from the New World can occasionally return.”
Hendrick’s expression turned increasingly gloomy. He shut his mouth tightly and didn’t answer.
Jacob glanced at him and slowly said, “With your body still intact, you can obtain a door projection by praying to a Kalendaria and temporarily return.”
“Temporarily?” he asked.
Jacob nodded and weakly explained, “In essence, it’s a complete return, but the Kalendaria that responds to your prayers will mark your consciousness. If you don’t return after the application time is up, you will be forcefully dragged into the New World and become food for that Kalendaria.”
“Then, which Kalendaria should I pray to?” Shang Jianyao revealed a troubled expression.
There were too many choices on the Blessings from all Kalendarium!
Jacob was rather honest. “I personally borrow Subhuti’s power. ‘He’ is the most compassionate and benevolent.”
“Oh, oh.” Shang Jianyao suddenly had an idea. “Then, can we apply to return for five days every week?”
Hendrick almost laughed. He took another sip of his lemon margarita and said, “The premise of the Kalendarium responding to you is that your application has sufficient reason.”
“I thought I could exploit some loophole.” Shang Jianyao sighed, not hiding his disappointment.
Without waiting for Jacob and Hendrick’s response, he asked, “Apart from the missing Cass, who else entered that tower and came out alive?”
Jacob had previously said that he didn’t know, but Hendrick revealed a hesitant expression. After a few seconds, he sized up Shang Jianyao for a while with his narrowed eyes. “I heard that the people living near the tower have entered it many times.”
“You mean?” Jacob seemed to recall something.
Hendrick nodded. “Vice President, Charlie, Professor Li, and Doctor.”
“Old friends!” Shang Jianyao clapped excitedly. “I’ll visit them later.”
“They aren’t friendly,” Jacob warned him.
“Then, I’ll make them friendly.” Shang Jianyao was filled with confidence.
Jacob and Hendrick looked at each other and chose to remain silent.
Shang Jianyao didn’t give them a chance to enjoy the silence and asked, “Do you know Wu Meng?”
“This person…” Jacob hesitated.
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“What about him?” Shang Jianyao asked.
Hendrick finished his cup of lemon margarita and closed his eyes to enjoy it for a few seconds. “He’s very dangerous. He’s more dangerous than normal New World residents like us.”
“I suspect that he has discovered the Kalendarium’s secrets, although he probably has never entered that tower,” Jacob added.
Shang Jianyao gave a terse acknowledgment. “What about Truth? Have you heard of it?”
Jacob and Hendrick’s expressions changed at the same time.