50 Observation

Translator: CKtalon

Aurore had intended to reassure him that non-spellcasting Sequences usually took several attempts at Cogitation to succeed. Some even had to practice for five or six days or even more than half a month. However, when she saw her brother open his eyes, she noticed that Lumian's forehead was drenched in cold sweat, and fear was evident in his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Aurore asked, concerned.

Lumian took a couple of deep breaths. The more he thought about it, the more frightened he became.

"I successfully Cogitated. My mind seemed to float, surrounded by a myriad of colors and an indescribable faint gray fog. There were a few particularly bright and pure beams of light up above. No, it might not have been the sky. It could have been far away. I can't be certain."

"From your description, it seems like you succeeded," Aurore explained. "What your Astral Projection sees or senses is the spirit world. There, many concepts of reality either don't exist or are intertwined. That's why you feel like you're high in the sky yet far away at the same time.

"Those seven lights are the Seven Lights of the spirit world, mentioned in ancient texts. They're believed to be near-deity level and omniscient. Moreover, they're considered relatively friendly hidden entities. If you can grasp their complete honorific names, you can pray to them. Unfortunately, I don't know them either.

"Those indescribable things that roam everywhere belong to the spirit world, but you didn't seem to see much, nor did you perceive them clearly. This is likely a limitation of the Hunter Sequence. Your spirituality isn't high enough. Hmm… Activating Spirit Vision later will probably prove difficult. The final effect certainly won't be impressive. Still, it's better than nothing."

She had been monitoring her brother's condition, ready to intervene and assist him at any moment.

Seeing Lumian gradually return to normal, she finished what she needed to say in one breath and asked, "But what you saw shouldn't have scared you. Aren't you known as Bold Lumian? Lately, you've experienced a time loop, people turning into sheep, men giving birth, and Madame Night's patrols. How can ordinary spirit world creatures frighten you?"

Lumian's forehead veins twitched at his sister's words. He didn't want to recall anything, especially anything related to Madame Pualis.

He exhaled and said, "I sensed something deep within the spirit world, or rather, extremely high up, observing me. Just being watched by it terrifies me. I couldn't help but exit the Cogitation state."

Aurore's eyelashes flickered as she thoughtfully said, "I suspect that it has something to do with the two strange symbols on your chest you mentioned. They involve some hidden entity. They might point to the source of Cordu's loop, or they might represent the 'special' trait that allows you to maintain your clarity and strength in the dream and the loop. As a Hunter, you succeeded in complete Cogitation on your first attempt. It's highly likely that the two symbols influenced this."

Lumian nodded as he listened, agreeing with his sister.

This realization left him somewhat disheartened.

"In that case, I can't Cogitate. As soon as I succeed, I'll be watched and forced to leave that state. Besides, I don't think being constantly monitored is a good thing."

"Do you think you aren't being watched now?" Aurore couldn't help but laugh. "It's just that you can't sense it without being in a state of Cogitation. Since there's no way to evade it and you're bound to suffer damage, it's better to make more attempts to increase your resistance, allowing you to spend more time in Cogitation. In the future, when facing certain situations, this might give you an edge. Of course, before becoming a Sequence 7 Pyromaniac, Hunters don't need deep Cogitation. It's best to wait for your spirituality to improve before trying again."

"Why does that sound a bit depressing?" Lumian had already composed himself and mocked his predicament. "Since I can't resist, I might as well enjoy it."

Aurore scoffed.

"In our current situation, I'd rather have a unique trait like yours. Even if it means facing numerous unknown dangers and challenges, at least I can retain my memory during the next cycle. I wouldn't need you to remind me, sparing many details."

She then looked out the darkened window.

"It's time to teach you how to activate Spirit Vision.

"Keep sitting and attempt Cogitation again. You don't have to enter a state where your thoughts are floating. Although that would be more conducive to activating your Spirit Vision, aren't there hidden entities watching you?"

"Yeah." Lumian leaned back in his chair, relaxing his body. He first envisioned the Sun in his mind, then swapped it out for the ball his sister had sketched haphazardly.

He didn't repeat the outlining process, stopping only when his body and mind were serene.

Aurore monitored his condition, offering a soothing voice.

"Lift your hands in your current state and place them in front of your eyes. You can open your eyes now."

Lumian kept his cool as he slowly opened his eyes. At some point, his sister had snuffed out the kerosene lamp, casting the first floor into darkness. The crimson moonlight outside the window was the only thing illuminating the outlines of objects.

Once his eyes adjusted, he could barely see his hands.

"Point your index fingers at each other without touching. Then, concentrate on the back of your hand, which can be the back of the opposite point," Aurore instructed. "After completing this step, slowly move your fingers to keep them facing each other without touching. And remember, they can't leave your sight."

Lumian followed her guidance, focusing his gaze on the empty space beyond his hands as he moved his fingers.

Despite repeating the process countless times, he saw no changes.

Soon after, he couldn't sustain the Cogitation state and snapped out of it.

"See anything?" Aurore asked.

Lumian shook his head.

"It's harder for Hunters. Don't stress. If it doesn't work now, it'll work later. If it doesn't happen today, it might happen tomorrow," Aurore consoled. "Don't fret. Regular folks with high spirituality can activate their Spirit Vision after professional training, let alone Beyonders. But the results vary."

If this loop fails, I can try again next time, but if that doesn't work, there may not be another chance… Lumian thought to himself.

He was patient and resilient. After resting and regaining some strength, he tried again.

After multiple attempts, he finally saw a fiery red dot emerge from the void between his index fingers.

Success! Lumian was thrilled. He turned to his sister.

But then he saw a red light radiating from Aurore's body, encompassing it entirely.

"Didn't you say you could see the different colors of the Ether Body?" Lumian asked, confused.

Aurore asked excitedly, "Did it work?"

Lumian nodded and recounted his experience.

"It's a success," Aurore breathed a sigh of relief. "You're impressive. It's probably due to your 'special' enhancement. Other Hunters would need at least two weeks of practice, and some might have to reach Sequence 8 before they can activate their Spirit Vision easily. You can only see a vague Ether Body. The red color means I'm healthy. You won't be able to see much else with your Soul Body's current strength as a Hunter."

She pulled out a tiny ink bottle and unscrewed the cap.

"Let's see if you can see White Paper."

Lumian focused and saw a transparent bubble emerge from the bottle.

It was similar to the bubbles he made while blowing soapy water, about the size of a fist and tinted red by the moonlight.

He could barely keep track of it and feared losing sight if he blinked.

The bubble floated towards Aurore's palm, which she scratched with her thumb, causing it to contract and expand.

Lumian composed himself and reported what he saw to his sister.

"It's blurry?" Aurore shook her head. "A Hunter's Spirit Vision is limited. You can only perceive basic Ether Body concepts and creatures like White Paper. Most things are invisible."

"It's better than nothing," Lumian replied with what his sister had just said.

Having never experienced a stronger Spirit Vision, he was rather content with his current situation.

Aurore instructed Lumian to use Cogitation to stop his Spirit Vision from deactivating and to establish simple activation and deactivation triggers.

Lumian practiced repeatedly until he mastered the method but never succeeded in the "express key" Aurore mentioned. He only vaguely understood the concept.

"Take a break. We'll monitor the deputy padre later for any anomalies," Aurore advised, noticing Lumian's pale face from depleted spirituality. She urged him to rest.

They ascended to the second floor and lit the lamp in the study. Lumian dozed off in a recliner while Aurore read, waiting for night to deepen.

Lumian forced himself to remain sleeping instead of exploring the dream world.

Aurore woke him up shortly after.

"We can observe the deputy padre now."

"Okay." Lumian sat up and faced his sister.

Aurore opened a miniature ink bottle and stroked White Paper with her right hand, her eyes darkening.

With the aid of the contract, she recited in Hermes, "My contracted creature, bear the uniqueness of my eyes."

Lumian couldn't understand or see anything without his Spirit Vision. He waited patiently.

In mere seconds, Aurore withdrew her hand and sat down.

"White Paper is on its way to the deputy padre's house."

Lumian inspected the scene and noticed that his sister's eyes reflected trees swaying in the dark, not the study or himself.

The trees were left behind swiftly.

That's what White Paper sees? Lumian realized.

Aurore took out a mirror coated in mercury and sprinkled it with light white powder.

The powder quickly bloomed with light, covering the mirror with an aqueous layer.

In the water, the deputy padre, Michel Garrigue, appeared.

White Paper had reached the target's room and peered through a glass window.

Michel Garrigue slept soundly, his eyes closed and breathing steady.

Aurore and Lumian waited patiently, observing from all angles with White Paper.

Suddenly, Michel opened his mouth slightly, and a blurry, transparent figure emerged.

It was a lizard-like thing.

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