Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 277
Chapter 277: 277
Chapter 277: Consciousness Infection
In the pitch-black night, a loud and clear song echoed from the uninhabited River East . It was as if all danger and difficulties would flow along with the current and disappear into the wind .
Jiang Baimian gently hummed a melody and psyched herself to optimal condition . After singing a stanza, she turned to look at Shang Jianyao and asked with a smile, “Why didn’t you use the small speaker?”
“In such an environment, you have to sing this song yourself to have the feeling . ” The person who replied was the Shang Jianyao who strove for perfection .
He even provided an improved opinion . “It feels better when you’re singing and slapping yourself on the leg . ”
Jiang Baimian imagined it and said, “I’ll give it a try later . ”
In front of the shrine, Zhou Yue—who had mirrors all over her head, waist, and hands—looked at them . She felt like she didn’t fit in .
“Is it really suitable to sing at a time like this?”
“Forget it, forget it . Everything is but a dream . Why so serious?”
These thoughts flashed across Zhou Yue’s mind before finally settling on the way she was most accustomed to handling things .
Just as Shang Jianyao gently patted his thigh again and was about to hum a melody, the entire Nanke Convent suddenly turned pitch black . All the light bulbs seemed to have instantly lost their power .
Soon, Jiang Baimian and the others found themselves in a small area covered by green trees under the illumination of some light .
The buildings here weren’t too tall . Warm light reflected from the glass windows, making the night less quiet and desolate .
Zhou Yue looked around and asked, “The estate where Jiang Xiaoyue jumped off the building?”
“Probably . ” Jiang Baimian gave an affirmative answer .
The three of them seemed to have been teleported . Everything around them felt so real .
“The information that the Superior Heartless wants to provide is hidden in this illusion?” This was the question Zhou Yue was most concerned about .
Shang Jianyao nodded . “Maybe . We probably might have to explore it ourselves . ”
“The more you do, the more mistakes you make…” Zhou Yue still insisted on her philosophy .
Although they looked like they were standing in the middle of the estate, they were actually sitting cross-legged on mats .
Just as she said that, the environment changed . Just like Shang Jianyao, Jiang Baimian, and the others’ previous experience, the three of them didn’t have to do anything before entering the corresponding building and arriving outside Jiang Xiaoyue’s residence .
It was the same crowded door, with people scrambling to peek through the cracks .
Terror, despair, and breakdown echoed in Zhou Yue’s ears .
“Are you bent on wanting me dead… Are you bent on wanting me dead…?”
She then saw the house’s interior, the distorted faces stuck to the floor-to-ceiling windows, and Jiang Xiaoyue sitting on the railing .
The next second, Jiang Xiaoyue jumped out of the window .
Amidst the sound of something heavy falling to the ground, Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and Zhou Yue felt their thoughts being swallowed by a vortex . Their rationality was drowned by darkness, and their consciousness swayed like a falling willow .
After they broke free from this feeling, they realized that they were still in the estate covered by green trees . It was no different from the beginning .
They were already familiar with the subsequent developments . They entered the room again and again, passed through the prying crowd, and entered Jiang Xiaoyue’s home . They watched Jiang Xiaoyue mutter to herself as she committed suicide by jumping off the building . They then experienced the pain of her consciousness turning into a candle in the wind and her thoughts being torn to pieces .
They seemed to be trapped in this period of time, unable to escape or leave .
As she repeatedly experienced this over and over again, Jiang Baimian’s consciousness gradually turned blurry . Her entire body became more and more muddle-headed .
Suddenly, the chip on her left arm gave her a preset signal . This was to remind her that something about her wasn’t right!
What’s wrong… Jiang Baimian’s thoughts partially returned to normal in an instant, and she realized that she was repeating something .
The sentence was: “Are you bent on wanting me dead… Are you bent on wanting me dead…?”
This… Jiang Baimian instantly sobered up and realized that she was standing on a railing . In front of her was an open glass window, and below her was the ground that had shrunk significantly .
She was just about to jump off a building!
The corresponding spot didn’t have a mangled human body .
I became Jiang Xiaoyue? I really entered this illusion? What will happen if I actually jump down? A series of questions flashed through Jiang Baimian’s mind as fear rose in her heart .
She quickly turned her head and looked at where Shang Jianyao was . She then realized that Shang Jianyao—who was wearing a short, dark-blue down jacket—was also standing on the railing, one hand reaching for her head .
During this process, Shang Jianyao endured the night breeze and kept his gaze on the ground as if he were considering jumping down .
“I’m already awake,” Jiang Baimian said when she saw this .
“That’s good . ” Shang Jianyao retracted his right hand .
Jiang Baimian asked curiously, “You weren’t affected? You didn’t become Jiang Xiaoyue?”
“The infected me has already been dragged away . I’m the calm and rational me now,” Shang Jianyao replied calmly .
You can do this? There are benefits to being mentally ill? That’s true . This is different from Qiao Chu’s Forced Bewitchment . He doesn’t succumb to the spell immediately; it requires repeated attempts to be infected . Switching personalities can indeed allow him to effectively escape the effects… Jiang Baimian nodded in enlightenment .
She then thought of another person . Zhou Yue!
Shang Jianyao pointed ahead and said, “We might have to give Abbess Zhou a little stimulation . ”
Jiang Baimian looked over and realized that Zhou Yue was in another similar room . She was also standing on the railing and leaning against the window, prepared to jump down .
Her black hair was disheveled as she muttered to herself with listless eyes, “Are you bent on wanting me dead… Everything is but a dream; why so serious…? Are you bent on wanting me dead… Everything is but a dream; why so serious…?”
She seemed to be struggling and couldn’t make up her mind on whether to jump off the building .
Upon seeing this, Jiang Baimian didn’t care if the other party’s actual spot had been warped by the illusion . She directly stretched out her left hand and spread her fingers in Zhou Yue’s direction .
A silver-white electric arc jumped out and illuminated the surroundings with crackling sounds .
In the blink of an eye, the electric arc landed on Zhou Yue, making her body tremble .
The open window, the faces against the glass, the room with the lights on, and the residential estate covered by green trees became extremely illusory and quickly disappeared .
Shang Jianyao, Jiang Baimian, and Zhou Yue remained sitting on mats . Around them were shrines and pillars .
“The hallucination just now was a little strange…” Zhou Yue shook her numb hand . “I actually still feel like I was electrocuted . ”
“Everything is but a dream . Why so serious?” Shang Jianyao replied .
Jiang Baimian realized a problem from Zhou Yue’s sigh . “It’s indeed a little strange . Why was our consciousness affected to make us feel like we had become Jiang Xiaoyue?” Shouldn’t the Superior Heartless’s illusions focus on distorting environmental information and replicating the target’s condition? When could he directly affect the target’s consciousness?
Upon hearing Jiang Baimian’s question, Zhou Yue widened her eyes . “That’s right! Our domain’s Illusion can’t do this, at least not at the Mind Corridor level…”
As she spoke, she stopped and revealed an awkward smile . I’ve let it slip again!
Jiang Baimian politely ignored this and thought for a moment before saying, “He obtained mystical items from other domains inside the Mind Corridor?”
“That’s possible,” Zhou Yue agreed .
“There’s another possibility,” Jiang Baimian continued . Her expression became rather serious . “The one affecting our consciousness isn’t the Superior Heartless but the illusion itself . ”
“The illusion itself?” Zhou Yue was a little confused .
Jiang Baimian explained, “He should’ve replicated his encounter and created this illusion . Since it’s a replica, he might’ve copied some of the strange aspects of Jiang Xiaoyue’s mind world, and that could’ve produced an effect . ”
“In other words,” Shang Jianyao summarized Jiang Baimian’s words, “the one affecting our consciousness isn’t the Superior Heartless but Jiang Xiaoyue’s mind world . ”
Zhou Yue shrank back . “That sounds a little terrifying…”
She then nodded and said, “In theory, there’s such a possibility . ”
“Jiang Xiaoyue’s mind world is truly a strange place…” Shang Jianyao helped voice out the feelings of the two ladies present . “It’s no wonder that the Superior Heartless developed an obsession . ”
As Zhou Yue secretly agreed, she asked, “Didn’t you say that he wanted to enter Nanke Convent and inform us of important information? Why didn’t he come in and only create an illusion instead?”
“T-this is only a guess . ” Jiang Baimian was a little speechless .
At this moment, Shang Jianyao shook his head and said, “Because you guys are rude . ”
“Huh?” Zhou Yue looked at the tall young man in confusion . “Should I stand up to welcome him?”
Shang Jianyao pointed at the mirror in front of him . “There are too many mirrors here . How do you expect him to come in?”
“That’s right!” Zhou Yue came to a realization .
Jiang Baimian immediately understood the crux of the matter .
She and Zhou Yue looked at each other and took a deep breath . Jiang Baimian then flipped the mirrors around her and turned her body to face outward .
Amidst the howling winds, the tree branches in the convent’s impluvium rustled in the night .
After two to three minutes, Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and Zhou Yue cast their gazes at the hall’s entrance at the same time .
A figure stumbled out of the darkness; he was an old man past his prime . He had messy grayish-white hair and wore all kinds of clothes . His eyes were turbid and bloodshot .
As he walked, he looked back .
In the void, faces appeared . Their expressions were warped, and their eyes were red .
The Superior Heartless walked faster and faster . In the end, he actually ran, but he couldn’t escape the countless faces that appeared in the darkness around him .
Gradually, a half-high railing and an open glass window appeared in front of him .
The Superior Heartless mounted the railing and muttered to himself with a dazed expression, “Are you bent on wanting me dead… Are you bent on wanting me dead…?”
This voice was feminine and ethereal . It didn’t sound like it came from a man at all but a woman from somewhere distant .
At this moment, the Superior Heartless’s pupils reflected Nanke Convent’s shrine, reflecting the dragon symbol made of mirror shards .
He suddenly stretched out his hand, and a hoarse sound came from his throat like a dying beast struggling with all its might .
Shang Jianyao, Zhou Yue, and Jiang Baimian each took a few steps toward the illusion before finally hearing the words that seemed to be squeezed out of the Superior Heartless’s chest .
“Five, zero, three . ”
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