IRNDGL - Chapter 104: Moon Within The Water
The next day.
Having maintained the prayer posture for an entire night, Vincent opened his eyes. His palms that were clasped together came apart, revealing the holy dome emblem that still shimmered with a faint, dwindling moonlight.
He stood up and removed the aetheric boundary set up around him, making the thin layer of aether shrouding his body dissipate in an instant, like a gentle gust of wind.
This simple meditation boundary was composed of three parts.
First was the array beneath his feet that was drawn with holy water. At present, it was starting to evaporate following the conclusion of the meditation session.
The wet spots on the floorboards vanished gradually, leaving behind the faint fragrance of shadow flowers.
The second component was the power source for maintaining the boundary. On more formal occasions, sorcery tools possessing the moon's spirituality such as moonstones would be used.
But now that Vincent had arrived here in a hurry, he could only use the aether he could grasp on his own.
The third component was the holy dome emblem in his hands. This was used to form the bridge between his spirit and the moon.
The design on the silver emblem was a simple waning crescent moon surrounded by wave-like patterns.
These wavy patterns seem simple, but a closer inspection would reveal that these lines were actually a complex incantation.
Every clergyman of the Church of the Dome had their own holy emblem.
It was both an emblem of their status as well as an optimal medium for sorcery and meditation.
Each clergy member's holy emblem was formed by pouring their spiritual power into the link between their consciousness and the moon during their first baptism upon entering the church. Thus, the holy emblem was a perfectly compatible sorcery tool for their respective owners.
"My meditation efficiency has really decreased, and now it takes three times longer to enter a meditative state... Besides the distracting thoughts during meditation, there's some strange chattering and a scene that flashes by?"
Vincent frowned and once more felt that inexplicable irascibility, like a raging fury impatient to burst forth from the constraints of his heart.
“What’s wrong with me?”
He kept away his holy emblem reluctantly, taking out a packet of cigarettes from his chest pocket, and lit one up.
Only when the smoke entered his lungs was he able to calm himself down and rid his mind of all other distracting thoughts.
Even the jittery aether became docile and flowed in accordance to the smoke he exhaled.
This soothing sensation brought him back to the time Vincent had his first baptism.
At that time, the old priest presiding the ceremony had pressed his coarse, warm palms onto Vincent’s head and gently pushed him into the water.
“We are servants of the Moon. We worship, serve, love, and fear the Moon.
"We are one with the Moon. Birth under the bright, death under the dark. Each time, the Moon completes a cycle between light and darkness, the cycle of life and death recurs, and the dead receive new life.
"We receive the blessings and protection of the Moon. At the same time, we can never gaze beyond the dome, till death do we rise into the sky."
The old priest's calm and steady voice reverberated as glimmers of light within the ripples appeared in his young self’s field of vision.
When he was submerged, Vincent had seen the reflected moon in the water.
This memory from his youth was like dipping his fingers into a baptismal pool.
Soft, and warm.
From that day on, Vincent no longer saw the true moonlight again.
When Vincent returned to his senses, he had already finished an entire cigarette. All that remained between his fingers was a smoldering butt.
His eyes widened with shock as a cold shudder crept through his body.
How... is this possible?!
D-d-did I just see the moon from my memory?! How can that be!
After the baptism was complete, every impression of the true moon should have been removed from his memory!
"No, no, no... That was a reflection in the water, not the actual moon!"
Vincent muttered to himself between ragged breaths. Large beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and dripped down as panic, fear, and apprehension gripped his mind.
He knew that he was lying to himself. Everything related to the true moon should have already vanished from within his soul.
Despite how much they loved and longed for the moon, they absolutely couldn't look straight at the moon.
This was just how the clergymen of the Church of the Dome were.
"But... but what's going on now? How could I see the moon within the water? Is my conviction not pious enough? Or is this the moon's punishment?"
Vincent was overcome with a complex mix of emotions...
He stared at the holy emblem in his hands and muttered as if intoxicated, "So that is the true moon."
The priest's body was completely drenched in sweatout of fear. His hand reached shakily for another cigarette.
As a spiral of smoke started to rise, Vincent suddenly threw the cigarette along with its box to the ground and cursed through gritted teeth, "Damn it!"
Bang bang bang!
"Father!“Father! “Father Vincent! Are you alright!"
The banging on the door and the shouts of the audio-visual store boss made Vincent stop in his tracks.
"I've already prepared the things you asked for. What do we do next?" Colin continued to make a ruckus from outside.
Vincent took a deep breath and bent down to pick up the cigarette while trying his best to keep his composure. "I'm fine, I'll be out in a moment."
He opened the door. Colin was still harping on how terrifying the evil spirit next door was, but Vincent didn't feel irritated this time.
He helped Colin set up, checking the boundaries, exorcism arrays, and equipment, and ensuring everything was in order.
In the meantime, he had already tried to probe the bookstore next door via the aether, but he hadn't been able to discover anything significant.
"Are you saying that you have been shouting outside the door for close to a minute?" Vincent asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I swear! I'm certain I'm not making things up!" Colin swore right away. "I was calling you from outside for quite some time and decided to knock on the door when there was no reply."
Vincent exhaled sharply as he squeezed the bridge of his nose. Things were even more serious than he had imagined.
He had completely been unaware that he had been hallucinating just now.
Vincent shook his head. However, the top priority now was to help Colin resolve his problem.
As for his own problem, Vincent would look into it after dealing with the matter at hand.
At nightfall, Vincent put on a black blindfold, equipped his exorcism tools, and headed out.
Under the night sky and moonlight, he pushed open the door of the next-door bookstore.
"Welcome! Would you..." Lin Jie raised his head towards the fated customer that had entered today.
But before he finished his sentence, Lin Jie was momentarily stunned as he noticed the blindfolded man in clergy robes.
A blind man? No, a blind priest?
One that ought to guide others was actually a person that ought to be guided by others.
Lin Jie had to admit that it was a tad ironic.
"Is there anything I can help you with? Feel free to buy, borrow, or read books here, and you can even have a rest if you want to."
Lin Jie's tone was gentler than usual as he smiled warmly.
Mu'en was about to head forward and assist the priest when Lin Jie put up an arm to stop her.
He gestured to Mu'en to keep quiet before asking, "Are you a priest from the Church of the Dome?"