Records of the Dragon Follower
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 39: Array Core
The moment Master left, everyone was a little listless. Xiaodong didn’t even feel like having dinner that night, but because he did not want Eldest Senior Brother to worry about him again, he forced down two biscuits and a bowl of soup. With a straightened neck, he drank the soup with a gulp and choked, his eyes almost rolling to the back. Mo Chen saw it and did not know if he should laugh or cry. He placed his hand on Xiaodong’s back and helped circulate his airflow.
“Eat slowly. There’s no one here snatching food away from you.” After pausing for a moment, he added, “After you’re done, Senior Brother shall bring you out for a walk.”
Hearing that, Xiaodong did not care about eating anymore. “Where are we going?”
He had been stuck in the room for two days. Aside from meditation, he did even more meditation. Xiaodong felt like he was about to become a flower plate.
Mo Chen quietly smiled.
Xiaodong gulped down another bowl of soup, and he really gulped it down. He was too hasty with his food and he felt like the biscuits were stuck in his throat, unable to go down at all. After drinking another bowl of soup his throat finally felt better, though his belly seemed to have swelled up. Xiaodong stood up and looked at his bloated belly. He drew his breath with all his might, wanting to suck his round belly back in. Mo Chen saw this and wanted to laugh the entire time.
He brought Little Junior Brother out, closed the door, and very naturally held onto one of his hands.
Xiaodong asked again, “Senior Brother, where are we going?”
Mo Chen continued to walk to the back with Xiaodong in tow. Xiaodong watched his steps as he kept up with Mo Chen. The moon today was rather beautiful. The Lantern Festival had just passed after all, and the moon was merely missing a little bit on its edge. It was round and beautiful, like a huge round plate suspended at the corner of a ceiling.
With Little Junior Brother in hand, Mo Chen headed towards the eastern gate. This was an especially flat and spacious part of Returnflow Mountain, even more so outside of the gate. The faraway undulating mountains looked deeper and more vast under the moonlight, as if they were drawn out with faint ink at the bottom of the skyline.
There was a stalagmite outside the eastern gate. According to rumors, it was supposed to be removed while they were renovating the buildings back then. However, for some reason, it was left untouched. The disciples of Returnflow Mountain often jumped and maneuvered on top of the stalagmite to practice their footwork. As time passed, the top of the stalagmite had turned extremely polished from all the stepping, as if a layer of wax had been applied.
Mo Chen led Xiaodong through the stalagmite. The tall stalagmite cast down scattered shadows, making it feel as if they were walking in a dense forest.
The surroundings were especially quiet. Returnflow Mountain was not like other places where there would always be cicadas chirping and birds singing. The entire mountain was quiet and serene, to the point where people might even feel a little afraid.
Xiaodong was also gradually getting used to this silence. As he followed Eldest Senior Brother however, he did not stop with his questions.
“Senior Brother, is Master heading somewhere very far this time?”
“He won’t be nearby, as there’s a good number of places he has to visit. But since Master has already gave his word, he will return quickly.”
“That day, what did Master want to say? After Senior Brother said something, Master didn’t continue.”
Mo Chen softly coughed and did not answer Xiaodong’s question. The moment Eldest Senior Brother straightened, his posture became rather intimidating. Xiaodong did not dare to ask any further.
“Senior Brother, where are we going?” Xiaodong was not afraid with Eldest Senior Brother here. Before he left, Master had instructed them not to leave the mountain gates if nothing had happened, but Xiaodong had a form of blind trust towards Eldest Senior Brother. As long as Eldest Senior Brother was next to him, no matter where they were, he was not afraid at all.
Eldest Senior Brother held his hand and stopped his feet.
Across the stalagmite was a white snow field. Xiaodong had been here before. When he came during autumn, he remembered there was a water stream here. The water was clear and clean, and there were several round rocks at the bottom of the stream. There were also fish, using their tails to chase after each other in the water, giving a sense of spirituality.
There were no birds on the mountain, but there were fish… Could it be that these fish were not afraid of the array because they swam here?
However, this thought merely flashed past his mind. Almost immediately, Xiaodong would no longer care about all these.
Eldest Senior Brother had planned out their time well. He gestured Xiaodong to raise his head.
Xiaodong looked up with a puzzled expression.
The moon was hanging on the sky, eclipsing the glow from the nearby stars. A shooting star sliced through the sky, dragging along a bright stream of light.
Another one immediately followed.
At first, Xiaodong thought it was just a coincidence. He had seen shooting stars before. During autumn nights when he could not sleep, he would stare blankly at the stars like this.
However, Xiaodong immediately discovered something was different.
Shooting stars were not exactly rare. Sights such as stars falling down as if it was raining were things that he had seen before too.
However, those stars in the sky would not change their shapes, intersect or circle around as if they were alive like right now.
One lightstream after another entangled with each other, blooming with a bright radiance. Strange runes one after another flashed in the sky, constantly intersecting and changing. The sight could dazzle anyone’s eyes. Xiaodong was a little dizzy from all the flashes of light, yet he was unwilling to lose sight of it. Eldest Senior Brother was the one who reached out and cover his eyes. “Don’t look at it constantly, else your eyes will be injured.”
Xiaodong took a deep breath. Now that he could not see, he slowly began to regain his senses.
“Senior Brother, what is this?”
“This is Returnflow Mountain’s great mountain-protecting array. Every couple of days, the array would restructure itself and the array core would randomly relocate itself. These runes and marks could only be seen by standing at the correct array core. You can’t see them anywhere else.”
Xiaodong was absolutely curious. “We really wouldn’t be able to see them?”
Mo Chen moved his hand away. “You can try.”
Xiaodong took a deep breath, took a step to the side, and then took another step forward.
As expected, Eldest Senior Brother did not lie to him. Just by moving away a few steps, the brilliant streams of light were all gone in an instant, disappearing completely. It was as if they had never appeared at all and the moon was the only one hanging in the sky.
The array restructuring process was not long. When Xiaodong stood back next to Eldest Senior Brother, the array core relocation was already at its end. The messy and disorganized lightstreams earlier had now intersected to form a round dome. As if it was a large, magnificent net, it enveloped the entirety of the mountaintop and then gradually disappeared.
Xiaodong’s mouth was slightly wide agape, and he did not regain his senses for a short while.
“Was it beautiful?”
He nodded, still a little stunned.
It was beautiful, yet it was not just beautiful to look at.
His eyes and chest were all stuffed full, but he could not express anything.
This view was simply the blessing of heaven and earth, how could he possibly be made to believe that this was done by mankind? In the past he had only heard of the word “array”, but this was the first time he saw the true power of an array, and its countless forms and boundless mysticism.
“Let’s go back.”
Xiaodong was still in a slight daze as he followed Mo Chen a little unwillingly. Along the way, he kicked a stone beneath his feet and the tip of his toes ached a little. This pain finally made him regain his senses.
“Senior Brother… Should we really have come to look at that?”
Mo Chen stopped, turned around and asked, “Why do you say that?”
Actually, Xiaodong was incapable of hiding his thoughts. Whatever thoughts he had, Mo Chen could reasonably guess what they were even if he kept quiet.
As expected, Xiaodong said while feeling a little upset, “An incident occurred on the mountain and there might still be intruders hiding around trying to cause trouble. If they were to see the array and find out the location of the array core, wouldn’t that be bad?”
Mo Chen smiled. Little Junior Brother’s worry was so pure and so innocent. If an array could be seen through with just a glance, would it still be called an array?