After drowning in disappointment for a few days, Ning Que didn’t have a joyful mood. But he happily disregarded these matters because regardless of his mood, it was a suitable time for drinking and forgetting about his hopelessness. Right at this time, Sang Sang’s illness had resurfaced. Her two little feet were frozen like tree branches in the winter. Even so, they opened a jar of strong liquor and started a drinking festival.
Although the young maid drank most of the large jar of strong liquor, Ning Que was the first one to become drunk. Sang Sang struggled to move him onto a mattress and cover him with a blanket. Afterwards, she went into the cover as well. Out of habit, she squeezed her small feet into his arms.
With the diffused smell of liquor, Ning Que had a sweet dream.
In his dream, he felt the warm ocean appear once again around his body. But this time, he did not reach his arms into the ocean and could not feel anything. The conversation he had with Lu Qing Chen earlier reminded him that he was dreaming. He stood alone in the warm ocean like a stranger or an observer and watched the entire scene calmly.
He smiled and remembered a phrase in the dream, “It’s all an illusion, it won’t scare me.”
Since he was calm, Ning Que was able to observe the details of the ocean in his dream clearly. The vast and boundless ocean wasn’t blue, but rather it was green. The color was dark but also clear, like a graceful jade.
He stood on the surface of the green ocean and rather than reaching into the slow moving water, he just stood there and observed quietly. He guessed where it would flow next and what shape it would transform into.
Suddenly, two white flowers appeared in the green ocean. The petals were snow white and contained no other colors. They did not have stems like other flowers. They were just a simple and boring white.
The sea waves padded on the bottom of the white flowers. As if they had stems, the two white flowers grew rapidly under the nourishment of the green sea water. All the petals fell into the ocean and transformed into new white flowers. The white flowers expanded throughout the entire ocean and toward the sky. As far as Ning Que could see, the surface was covered with white flowers.
Ning Que watched this miraculous sight and could not remain calm. He softly placed his feet onto the flowers and stepped onto the petals to walk towards the sky. His bare feet touched the fresh white flower petals which bounced him upwards. The feeling was soft and splendid.
In the carriage beside the grassfield, Ning Que laid sideways on the mattress. The blanket was already half uncovered and there was sweat all over his forehead. In his arms were two feet. The skin of the young maid’s feet were much smoother than anywhere else on her body. They were white as snow and looked almost like two fragile little flowers.
Ning Que was wrinkling his eyebrows and constantly moving his lips. It was hard to tell what he was thinking of in his dream. He kicked the mattress and touched somewhere. It felt very comfortable. A satisfied expression appeared on his face and he remained still.
Ning Que had already forgotten that he was in a dream. Although he wasn’t concentrated, he walked calmly into the sea of white flowers. As a thought popped into his mind, his entire body began to slowly float away from the petals. Then, he flew rapidly to the space above the sea.
He looked down as he flew to an extremely high altitude. The white flowers on the green sea had already disappeared but he could faintly see a red flat surface deep within the sea. The red surface spreaded out to the sides. He plunged into the sea.
He broke the surface of the sea and dove into the deeper area of the sea.
Without knowing how much time had passed, he eventually reached that red layer — it was a layer composed of viscous, dark red fluid. Though it was red like ketchup, it had a texture of blood almost fully solidified.
The peace was suddenly interrupted and the blood water boiled up. There were many faceless humans repeatedly standing up, and falling down. They struggled and cried but no matter how hard they tried, they could not break free from the the thin film that imprisoned them permanently in this silent, bloody world.
Fear crept into Ning Que’s body. It turned him into a stone sculpture. All he could do was stand senselessly by the bloody red sea and watch the soundless brutal image.
The bloody sea became land and with it, the sky was restored.
Ning Que stood between sky and land. He discovered that he was on the Wild Plains. Underneath his feet were countless corpses. Among these corpses were cavalries from the Tang Empire, warriors from the Yue Lun Kingdom, marksmen from Nan Jin, and many Great Plains barbarian riders. Blood flowed out of these soldiers’ bodies and gave the entire Wild Plain an incarnadine color.
Three black clouds of smoke floated onto the frontline of the Wild Plains and looked coldly at this place as if they were alive.
“The sky is turning dark.”
“I said the sky was turning dark but nobody trusted me.” someone said contemptuously by Ning Que’s ears.
Ning Que suddenly turned around. He saw no one say anything, only a lot of people looking up at the sky. Among them, there were dumbfounded packmans, unwilling officials, scared ladies, and crazily laughing monks. No matter their distinct dresses and emotions, these people were looking up at the sky as if they were fat geese waiting to be fed.
On the Wild Plains, countless people fearfully looked up at the sky. Ning Que subconsciously looked to where their eyes were focused. Though it was still daytime and the sun was still out, for some unknown reason, the temperature in the Wild Plains was extremely low. Even the sun’s rays were gloomy. The entire world was dark and bleak as if night was about to come.
The darkness spread out from the edge of the world. It was absolutely pure black, and like the white flowers he saw in the beginning of the dream, it contained no other colors. This was the darkness in the deepest region of human dreams.
The people who were looking at the sky were very scared. Ning Que was also very scared, but no one knew why they were scared.
Ning Que looked around searching for the person who had talked to him previously. He wanted to ask him what had actually happened and why was the sky turning dark but no matter how hard he searched, he could not find that person. He could only faintly see a tall figure passing through the crowd, walking out of the Wild Plains.
He yelled loudly at the back of the tall figure, “Hey! Is it you? What is this!?”
The tall man did not turn around. He continued to walk away from the crowd until he disappeared. But Ning Que’s yelling disturbed the people in the Great Plain who were looking at the sky. Some of them complained. “The sky is about to turn dark, rather than observe it quietly, you disturb our final moments of peace. You are such an annoying youngster.”
The people who complained were minorities. Most of the people looking at the sky in the Great Plains moved their eyes and looked at Ning Que surprised. The expressions in their pupils changed drastically. Some of them were astonished, some were amazed. The rest of them started to cry and their tears fell slowly. A drunkard and a butcher stood beside Ning Que and looked at him quietly as if they were waiting for him to say something. Their eyes all fell on Ning Que as if he represented some kind of hope.
The feeling of been observed by the entire world was weird and the feeling of been treated as hope was eerie. Ning Que suddenly felt majestic and powerful, almost as if he was divine. But he was just a regular person. He did not know what the deal was with the world that was going to turn dark. He was afraid and his fear induced a heart-tearing pain.