Lin Jie's eyes followed the dazzling and brilliant sword blade up to its tip.
Ash-like snow landing gently on the sword melted rapidly.
Naturally, as a folklore researcher that was frequently exposed to occult beliefs, Lin Jie had heard of such a concept before.
Aether, ether, or akasha.
These all referred to space or sky, the first basic element in the creation of all material, and the fifth element alongside earth, air, water, and fire which existed in all things in the material world.
This, of course, was the more mysterious explanation of it.
In Ancient Greece, aether was a kind of matter thought up by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, an imaginary material concept that ancient physicists used to aid them when pondering over certain physics phenomenons.
Later on, scientists came up with a variety of explanations about aether, but with the development of science, the theory of aether was gradually dismissed.
Lin Jie didn't have a great understanding of all these as he didn't have too much interest in physics and merely read such stuff just for the sake of reading.
Under these circumstances, Silver's slightly cryptic question was likely philosophical.
But, it probably was a literal one.
Lin Jie thought for a bit, then replied, "Is this dream... aether?"
Aether was the fifth element, and at the same time, one of the four basic elements of creation, omnipresent and a fundamental of all things.
Perspectively speaking, the place he was at right now wasn’t a dream of his, but a very real space that existed beyond the material world.
And space... Isn’t it aether?
This made Lin Jie come up with a conjecture.
Could it be that in Azir, aether isn’t purely a philosophical concept but a true existing form of energy, or ‘a stream of consciousness’?
Wait a minute. Azir!
Lin Jie was momentarily stunned. The name of this land was Azir, but it was only a transliteration of Chinese characters.
Its actual pronunciation was Azure, meaning sky blue or the heavens. Which represented the aether!
This was no coincidence!
As Lin Jie pondered, a question that had never bothered him before popped up in his mind—Why had Blackie transmigrated him to this world?
Deep down he knew that no one could give him the answer.
Silver was slightly surprised and replied with a smile, “It seems like you have quite a clear understanding.”
“Uhhh…” Lin Jie decided to speak the truth and answered tactfully, “Actually, I’m not especially clear…”
“Let’s go on to the next step,” said Silver gleefully.
I’m really not clear! Lin Jie wailed in silence, frustrated at his own vague answer. However, pressing for more answers wasn’t appropriate now.
Silver noticed the slight tremble in his lips and toned down her slightly crafty smile. She continued on with a hint of seriousness, “The reason you are not very clear about much else besides some swordsmanship isn’t because Candela’s memory is vague. Rather, your current knowledge isn’t sufficient to understand all this so it is automatically blocked off so as to not cause you confusion.”
What a capable memory indeed... Lin Jie didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was the first time he heard of an automatic filter to screen out disharmonious content.
Silver chuckled and gazed deeply in his eye. “Most people don’t have this sort of ability, knowledge, and memory. Such things are closely related to consciousness, flowing from a higher order to lower, just like a flood. If the dam isn’t sturdy enough, it will be swept away easily."
Lin Jie’s guess was Blackie. He didn’t have such ability by himself.
Silence ensued for a moment before he replied with some difficulty, “So if I want to obtain the complete memory, I would first need to understand what this memory is about?”
Wasn’t this akin to the chicken and egg question? A literal endless loop.
Silver shook her head. “All you need is a key...”
While saying that, she held Lin Jie’s hand holding the sword and raised it. “Close your eyes and concentrate on the sword.”
Actually, Lin Jie already guessed that what Silver was trying to teach him would be the key—aether.
He had no way to understand Candela’s memory, for he was just an ordinary man while Candela... It was apt to describe the difference between the two of them as heaven and earth.
The only way to connect the two was by letting Lin Jie understand the only thing linking them—the sword, Candela's soul within it, and his contract of loyalty with Lin Jie.
Lin Jie slowed his breathing and closed his eyes.
Everything went dark but he could still sense Silver shifting beside him, her slender palm resting on the back of his hand.
In this state, his attention was naturally attracted to the ice-cold sword hilt in his hand.
Strangely, even though he could only feel the hilt in his hand, Lin Jie was able to vaguely imagine the entire sword pointing straight ahead, as if it were an extension of his arm.
"Relax, sink your mind into the sword..." Silver's gentle voice sounded as she released Lin Jie's hand.
Lin Jie had still been wondering how to 'sink his mind in' when Silver released his hand in the next moment. He could clearly feel the shift in the sword's center of gravity as it got heavier. That instantaneous sensation of it sinking instantly pulled his consciousness over.
She clearly did it on purpose!
Silver's light laughter lingered in his ears. He had already 'fallen down,' just like stepping on air and falling into a deep and unseen bottomless vortex.
Magnificent sounds that were difficult to describe resounded all around, gradually replacing the soft rustling of leaves and iris flowers in the wind.
Like the wind, like a flood, the entire dream resonated simultaneously.
Swoosh! When Lin Jie returned to his senses and opened his eyes, the same snow and flowers were all around, as was the sword in his hand. However, now, everything before his eyes was filled with a chaotic and cascading dark red tint.
His field of vision was the one Candela's spirit within the sword had.
"Is this... aether?"
"This is aether, but what you see is temporary. You need to first conceptualize a space to store them," Silver said with a smile.
Lin Jie nodded. "Just like how this dream is to you?”
Silver glanced at him and chuckled. "Just like this dream is to me."
"I'll teach you how to use it..."
Lin Jie spent what seemed like a long time in his dream working hard. He felt that if he were to really have a system, his swordsmanship skill would surely be gaining a lot of '+1 +1 +1's...' at a rapid pace.
As for aether, Lin Jie could only keep all of it here for the time being.
Eventually, when he opened his eyes for real, Lin Jie heard the doorknob of his bedroom being turned.
He snapped out from his hazy daze at once.
The door was being opened by someone!
Mu'en would surely knock when she came in, and now, Lin Jie was able to determine that this person was much taller. A man!
After the second floor renovations, Lin Jie's bedroom had gotten much smaller. There was only a gap of about 3 meters between the bed and the door.
Given the desperate circumstances, Lin Jie grabbed the sword by his bedside and rolled in one swift motion, and stopped with the tip of his blade pointed precisely at the neck of the intruder.
This thief wasn't able to react in time and all color left his face a second later.
In the darkness, the glimmer of the sword illuminated half of Lin Jie's face. He squinted as he scrutinized the 'strange outfit' of this intruder. "You thief!"