The Portal of Wonderland
Chapter 2: A Pearl gifted by the Clam Girl
Translator: Novel_Saga Editor: Novel_Saga
Shi Mu didn’t pay any attention to the glittering shells. Instead, he swam straight to the rock and raised his arm. ‘Bang!’ a loud sound was issued as he pounded his hand on the rock. A blood-colored fog emerged from beneath the boulder; it swirled several times around the young boy with lightning speed. It then seeped into his body. Shi Mu’s spirits were lifted. He exhaled a long breath. Surprisingly, he was able to breathe freely in the sea-water; as if he was a fish.
Shi Mu turned to the rock, and went to its rear side. He then dug out a rusty iron awl and a chisel with a lightning speed; he had hidden these things at that place earlier. After that, he made a hole at the bottom of the rock.
He could see a clam trapped beneath the rock in the faint-white light. It was as white as jade; its surface was as pure as the moonlight. It couldn’t make any movement owing to the heavy rock on top of it.
Shi Mu had chiseled out a hole on one side of the rock’s bottom; it seemed to be moving with the ocean’s current.
He continued to expand the hole for another hour. Then, he became exhausted. He stopped his work, and knocked three times on the rock. A signal was communicated to the clam; it began to glow brighter with each knock. A puff of blood-colored fog escaped through a slit in the clam after the third knock. Shi Mu’s body absorbed the fog once again. After that, he was again able to breathe freely in the water.
He then picked-up his tools, and started to dig once again.
Shi Mu had discovered the huge white clam trapped beneath the rock around two years ago. He had accidently inhaled a puff of the blood-colored fog. He had then been surprised to find that he could breathe underwater for a short period of time after having inhaled it. He had understood that it wasn’t an ordinary clam. So, he had brought a chisel and an awl from his home to dig the bottom of the rock in order to free the clam from beneath it.
The clam seemed to be aware of Shi Mu’s presence and intentions. It released fog on its own every time it became hard for Shi Mu to breathe. Then, Shi Mu was able to breathe freely again.
This task had proved to be extremely difficult despite of the help from the clam. Shi Mu could breathe without any problem, but the sea made it hard for him to utilize his entire strength. It had taken two years to complete this task owing to the density, size, and weight of the rock.
Shi Mu had come to understand through these years that the fog from the clam had some mysterious features.
Shi Mu had been able to breathe freely for only a short period of time when he had inhaled the fog for the first time. However, he had inhaled more and more of it in the past two years. So, he could breathe for almost an hour in the sea now.
Shi Mu was also intrigued by the fact that the strange fog had helped to make his body stronger than before.
His growth in the Art of Body Tempering had previously been stuck due to the lack of herbs. But then, he had managed to jump three levels to reach the seventh stage. But, this wasn’t all. He was slowly beginning to realize that the fog was also enriching his mind; it was making him smarter and more mature than his peers.
Otherwise, how could this thirteen-year-old boy hold his own in front of the blue-robed man with such composure?
Shi Mu toiled away under the sea until late at night. After that, he returned to his village; he was extremely exhausted. But, he couldn’t afford to rest before he had made another journey to the sea – as he usually did. Now, he had a deadline. This meant that he needed to quicken his pace.
So, he jumped into the sea the next day. He continued to work on the task all through that and the next day.
‘Boom!’ Suddenly, a loud sound was heard.
The boulder began to shake. Then, there was a violent shower of small lumps of stones. The rock cracked under its own weight, and tipped over to the side. Shi Mu had already chiseled-out that side. The white clam’s luster grew in intensity and girth as it began to struggle in order to escape from under the rock.
“That’s it!” Shi Mu exhaled with excitement; he was overjoyed.
He then moved to the other side of the rock in order to avoid the falling stones. The creaking and cracking sounds continued for a while. The boulder had almost collapsed owing to the movements of the clam. Suddenly, an undercurrent hit the rock from the side that it was falling apart from. A series of loud explosive sounds were heard as the boulder began to collapse on its original spot. The white clam was pushed firmly into its place; it ended-up getting trapped once again.
“No!” Shi Mu shouted in an exasperated manner.
He then lowered his body into the sand without thinking; his feet was digging half-an-inch deep into the sea-floor. He punched the rock twice in quick succession with the fist technique that he had learnt from the martial arts school.
A couple of dull sounds were heard as Shi Mu’s mighty blows stirred-up the water’s current.
The rock was about to fall apart. The clam took advantage of the rock’s slow movement, and escaped with a quick wiggle. It then disappeared into the sea. This action got shielded from the boy’s eyes by a glitter of white light.
Shi Mu stepped back. He realized that his fists were in great pain. In fact, his hands were badly injured. His body was in shock. He spat out some blood. Then, he fell unconscious to the ground.
The huge clam slowly reappeared. Its shell began to open, and revealed a little girl. She held a ‘blood pearl’ in her hands.
The girl seemed to be six or seven years old; but, she was only three inches tall. She had fair skin, and her eyes glittered like tiny stars. She wore a gauze bellyband. She gazed at the unconscious boy and his bleeding hands; there was an expression of gratitude on her delicate face.
She moved her lotus-like arms in order to lift the ‘blood pearl’. A circle of silver-light waves burst out of the pearl, and spread in all directions.
A series of shrill sounds were heard as an army of shells flowed and lifted the boy’s body to the surface of the sea – like an unstoppable wave. Suddenly, the surface of the water parted, and the boy’s body surfaced above it.
Then, the shells disappeared – as quickly as they had come. They seemed to have plummeted back into the sea.
The white clam emitted a silver light, and followed the boy. Its shells were wide open; the little girl could clearly be seen inside it. She saw that the boy hadn’t yet recovered. She hesitated, and looked at the pearl in her hand. Her face revealed an expression of decisiveness. She then pushed the pearl towards Shi Mu. The pearl swirled above him. Then, it released a huge puff of blood-colored fog.
The little girl appeared in the sea about ten-thousand miles away several days later. She had grown taller; she now resembled an ordinary girl of her age. She stood with a beautiful middle-aged woman dressed in a blue robe.
Both of them stood on a black turtle. The black turtle was travelling at a lightning speed on the surface of the sea, and was surrounded by stirring waves; it was as big as a house.
The woman held the little girl’s hand; her eyes were full of affection. She expressed her concern, and said, “My child, you wouldn’t have been so lucky if you hadn’t run into me. You’re the Heavenly Clam’s Spirit Daughter – a born Water Adept. This happens only once in ten-thousand years in the East Sea. Our East Sea Clan must be destined for greatness. What’s your name, my child? Where’s your Spirit pearl? It’s said that the Heavenly Clam’s Spirit Daughters carry a Pearl of Life which is the ideal material to make an amulet…”
“Ah… ah…” the little girl couldn’t say anything else.
She made hand gestures in an effort to answer the woman’s questions.
“Oh, so your name is Xiang Zhu. You’re saying that you gave the pearl to someone who had saved your life? Well… it’s a good thing to express your gratitude. Wait… your savior was a human? A man? You must remember that men are the least reliable creatures on this land. You must kill a man immediately if you see any. Come with me now. We must bring back the pearl. What? The Spirit Pearl was corrupted because of some foreign blood at the bottom of the sea… and has since lost its power? Well… in that case… let the human boy have it. But do remember… you mustn’t see him again,” the woman said.
The huge turtle took them further away into the sea. Their figures gradually grew smaller until they couldn’t be seen or heard.
Shi Mu’s unconscious body burned with an overwhelming fever. His mouth was dry, and his tongue was parched. Suddenly, he jerked out of his sleep, and sat up abruptly with a shout. He realized that he was no longer in the sea, and was back at the silent beach. He was stunned as he looked at his hands. Smooth skin had replaced the torn skin and the bloody wounds on his hands.
He felt some strange changes in his body. He could feel his blood flowing. A thought crossed his mind after a few moments of deep pondering. He then began to fumble through his clothes. He found a crystal ball near his chest; it was as big as his thumb. Shi Mu was taken aback.
“What could this be?” he wondered aloud.
He was sure that he had never seen or touched this thing before.
Shi Mu wasn’t aware of the fact that the blood fog that had come out of the clam was foreign in nature.
Only one-tenth of the blood fog had been inhaled by Shi Mu in order to breathe under the water. The girl had forced the rest of it out to help heal his wounds. The pearl had lost its power the moment the girl had stopped to suppress the ‘strange’ blood. Now, it was nothing more than a rare luminous pearl. Therefore, the girl had left it with Shi Mu.
Shi Mu rolled the pearl in his hand for a while as he admired its texture and size. He felt its softness, and realized that it would be worth a treasure. So, he hid it safely in his clothes.
He jumped into the sea after a little while to ensure that the clam had really escaped from underneath the massive rock. His heart became heavy with disappointment once he was convinced of it. He then left for his village.
The blue-robed man returned to the fishing village to talk to Shi Mu. A black carriage guarded by black-robed riders was seen galloping out of the village after a short while. It was headed in the direction of the Feng City.