634 A Brush with Death

 Link let out a breath and then turned around. Behind him was a huge, black disc with a diameter of more than 10,000 miles, bigger than the entire Firuman realm itself.

It was a large-scale energy vortex, and it was spewing out powerful energy flares from within. He estimated that the vortex's energy was more than Level-20. Otherwise, his sense of danger would not be making every hair on his body stand on end.

Though he had reached Level-13 with his dragon body and managed to strengthen his scales with the Crystal Essence the game system had rewarded him with a while back, he would still be slowly ground away into dust by the minute if he allowed himself to be sucked in by a vortex of this magnitude.

He had left the Firuman realm far behind. Behind him, Firuman was now no more than an insignificant dot of light. Though the white mist of Mana surrounding it had thinned considerably, it still managed to obscure most of Firuman.

He looked left and right in front of him. He was surrounded by an empty white fog.

Without any reference point anywhere around him, no matter how fast he flew, Link did not feel as if he was making any progress through the Void.

By Firuman's standards, I should be flying at around 10,000 miles per second right now. I'm still able to go even faster, so at most I'll be able to hit 12,000 miles per second. But nothing's changed around me. Flying in the Sea of Void is almost like traveling through the endless void of space back on earth.

Suddenly, his body shook for a moment. Then, he felt himself being pulled to the left by a powerful force.

At the same time, he could also feel a coldness creeping into his body, sharp like a blade. It felt like an unseen claw trying to pull his very soul out of his dragon body.

Not good, it's a negative energy pitfall! thought Link, panicking.

Negative energy was high-level dark energy that could only be found in the Sea of Void. When large amounts of negative energy came together, they would form a singularity, sucking in everything around it, including energy, matter, and even one's soul. Everything would then be compressed into a single compact point.

The frightening thing about a negative energy pitfall was that it would ambush you when you least expected it to.

The pitfall was incredibly dark. It would not give off any kind of aura, making it almost impossible to detect its presence. Anyone or anything caught by it was as good as dead. Even one's soul would be decimated by the singularity.

In the Sea of Void, a dragon's body continually absorbs residual Void energy around itself as fuel. Link swept his wings back, and cold white light began rushing out from them like a pair of afterburners, propelling Link into the dark, empty void in front of him.

Link immediately received an enormous thrust forward. His body was locked in place as he struggled to break free from the pitfall's clutches. Still, his body inched inexorably towards the left.

The pitfall's pull was just too powerful. No matter how desperately Link struggled against it, he still could not break free from it.

Not good. The pitfall's just too powerful. I won't be able to resist it much longer. I'll need to use something else!

Link was still an amateur when it came to navigating the Void. However, before entering the Sea of Void, Link had read through the notebook that Piasce had maintained during his trips in the Void. Incidentally, Piasce had written in it a way to deal with negative energy pitfalls.

Negative energy pitfalls come in all shapes and sizes, but structurally, they all look the same. A pitfall's outer layer is known as the normal region, while its inner layer is called the irreversible layer. Sandwiched between both layers is a thin membrane known as an event horizon. Once you're pulled past the event horizon, the only thing awaiting you there is death. In the history of Omir, there have been accounts of Omirians bold and foolish enough to defy a negative energy pitfall, but no one has ever gone past the event horizon and lived to tell the tale. The moment you sense its pull, break free from it as fast as you can. If you're unable to pull yourself away, execute the spiral burst maneuver immediately. Remember, act immediately. A moment's hesitation may very well be your end.'

These thoughts raced through Link's mind in an instant. His body had already begun picking up speed instinctively.

This time, he stopped pulling away from it in a straight line. Instead, he began accelerating perpendicularly to the direction of the pitfall's pull. With the pitfall still pulling him back, he was now swinging an arc to his left as he pushed forward.

You need to push against it with everything you have. A negative energy field is like a rubber band. Once it's ensnared you, no matter you fast you're going, this rubber band will simply be stretched taut. However, its gravitational pull won't falter one bit. In fact, it may even intensify. You will need to pull back at this rubber band until it snaps, or else it will drag you down into the depths of oblivion!

Link recalled what Piasce had written in his notebook. This thing resembled a black hole in some respects. However, there were still a few major differences between them.

Link continued to accelerate. Soon, he realized that he was now moving in a circular orbit with a diameter of approximately 5,000 miles in the dark expanse.

At first, his orbit was circular. As he sped up, it grew longer and longer until it transformed into an oval.

The Void energy in his body was depleting rapidly. Though his dragon body was still absorbing the energy in the Sea of Void, it became clear that he was not replenishing his body's Void energy as fast as he was spending it.

By the looks of things, he could still hold out for another ten minutes. If he still could not break free within that time, he would have to accept his fate and be pulled into the negative energy pitfall!

With a deep breath, Link cleared his mind and simply focused on accelerating.

Time slowly passed by. One minute, two minutes, three minutes... five, six minutes... Soon, Link was flying at more than 15,000 miles per second. However, the dragon body could barely handle the strain of maintaining such a breakneck speed. The trajectory he had carved out in the Void was now a long ellipse around the vortex.

Still, it was not enough!

The rubber band of negative energy still remained unbroken as it stubbornly held on to Link. He was now at his limit. Despite his resolve, Link began to fear for his life.

Will I really die here? thought Link. The energy in his body was all but spent, and he was now beginning to feel out of breath.

No, just a little bit more. I can do this!

Link let out a roar as he gathered every last bit of power in him. When he was farthest from the pitfall in his elliptical trajectory, he swept his wings back once more. Boom! A powerful burst of Void energy gushed out behind him. Link could feel his body being thrust forward. Then, he began to slow down. His wings were now completely spent.

Sensing that he was about to be pulled back by the negative energy pitfall, Link turned around, opened his mouth wide and spewed out dragon breath back at it.

His wings might not be able to push him forward any longer, but he still had some energy left in him in the form of dragon breath, which was usually reserved for offensive measures.

Boom! Link let out a streak of white Dragon Void Breath behind him, giving himself another forward burst of momentum and allowing himself to continue his struggle with the pitfall.

Link had stretched the pitfall's gravitational rubber band until it was now more than 300,000 miles long. Its pull seemed to have weakened as well.

Just a bit more, just a bit more.... screamed Link inwardly as he sensed that he was slowing down.

There was a click in his mind. The unseen force pulling at his body suddenly vanished. Its icy claw had slackened its grip on his consciousness as well. Link now felt his body floating gently forward at a speed of ten miles per second.

He had finally freed himself from the negative energy pitfall.

Link let out a breath of relief. His ordeal had finally ended.

After bobbing in the Void for a few seconds, Link began to feel his power slowly coming back to him. He then flapped his wings bit by bit.

That was way too close. Link figured that even a divine master would not be able to survive being dragged past the pitfall's event horizon.

This was not an exaggeration.

Link had read something of the sort in other magic books. For example, the Dragon magic book had made mention of the dangers of traveling in the Void a couple of times. The Soul Dominator had also given detailed accounts of his trips into the Sea of Void in the Book of Revelation. In them, he had mentioned how dangerous negative energy pitfalls could be, though not in as much detail as Link would have liked.

A Level-13 Legendary master like Link would be akin to a toddler who had only just learned how to walk in the perilous wasteland that was the Sea of Void. One wrong move would have sent him hurtling to his doom. On the other hand, a divine master could be likened to a grown-up, being much wiser and more powerful than a Level-13 master. However, they would still be no more impervious to the wasteland's dangers than the latter.

Once he was free from the negative energy pitfall's pull, Link was able to regain his composure. After resting for a bit, he continued flying forward. He made his way through the Void slowly and cautiously, giving himself time to restore his full power.

After flying for a length of time, Link's surroundings began to change somewhat. The faint Void mist around him thinned considerably, increasing his visibility. Suddenly, a cloud-like object appeared in front of him.

The thick, seemingly endless layers of cloud seemed to be emanating a dark green light. It resembled the nebulas back in his home world.

As Link drew closer, they began to expand until they basically filled up his field of vision.

These must be the Seaweed Clouds that Piasce mentioned, thought Link happily.

After allying himself with Ferde, Piasce had kept nothing back from Link. Not only did he give Link the mysterious gear's coordinates, but he had also shared with him his experience in the Void, as well as a detailed account of the scenery around the mysterious object.

The cloud before him was one of the landmarks leading up to the mysterious gear. Once he made his way through the labyrinthine layers of cloud, he would be able to reach the mysterious gear at the end of it.

Link began accelerating towards the clouds.

Soon, he was near the Seaweed Clouds. From afar, the dark green clouds looked compact, almost solid. However, up close, Link realized that the clouds were gaseous and impalpable like smoke. Visibility in them was a mere hundred miles.

The massive cloud wall was perforated with passageways, each with excellent visibility. From afar, the passageways seemed narrow, but in reality, each one was 100,000 miles wide.

Link did not enter the maze just yet. He recalled what Piasce had written in his notebook. Piasce mentioned that he found a square-shaped cloud formation somewhere among the clouds. He then passed through the center of it in order to reach his destination. Where could it be?

Piasce had already given Link the coordinates of his destination. He could fly straight towards it if he wanted to. However, this would mean leaving a trail behind him in the Seaweed Clouds. Also, there might be Void creatures lurking in the clouds, and Link thought it best not to draw any attention from them to himself.

His safest option right now would be to retrace Piasce's route.

After circling around the clouds for a while, Link still could not find the square-shaped cloud formation that Piasce mentioned. As he was about to resume his search, Link saw something flash by behind him from the corner of his eye.

Compared to someone like Piasce, he was still relatively inexperienced in navigating the Sea of Void. He did not see anything resembling life on his way here. The sight of something moving behind him was enough to unnerve him.

With the 360-degree vision afforded to him by his dragon body, he was able to see whatever was behind him without turning around.

Link was soon able to locate the moving object.

It was a black spot. Straining his eyes, Link could see that it was shaped like a disc. It was also giving off a weak light from its surface. As Link stared at it for a moment, a message from the game system popped up in his field of vision, giving him a rundown of the object's details.

Speed: 8000 miles per second.

Diameter: 400 feet

Estimated power level: Level-17

Current distance: 1,000,000 miles

Judging by its appearance, speed, and energy circulation, the object is man-made and appears to be a Void Ferry of unknown origin.

"Void Ferry?" Link was stunned for a moment. Not knowing whether the object was friend or foe, he turned around and plunged into a nearby Seaweed Cloud.

Each Seaweed Cloud was extremely thick. For instance, the one Link was hiding himself in was 20,000,000 miles thick.

At first, Link was afraid that there might be something lurking in the depths of the cloud and so remained floating near its surface, not daring to venture any deeper into it. However, he sensed that something was wrong.

The object seemed to have noticed him, as it swerved around and headed straight for his hiding spot.

Speed: 13,325 miles per second!

His mind was now screaming at him to get out of there.

The object was tearing straight towards Link. It was as if it had recognized him. The way it hurtled menacingly towards him was more than enough to suggest that the object bore him no goodwill.

Moreover, it was moving at breakneck speed, even faster than the highest speed Link was able to maintain. In no more than two seconds, the object would soon reach Link's hiding place. The Void Ferry was Level-17, making it a lot stronger than Link, who was only Level-13. Even with his magically immune dragon scales, Link would not be able to survive a head-on collision with it.

Setting aside whatever dangers might be lurking within the depths of the Seaweed Clouds, Link immediately released a burst of Void energy from his wings and dove into the deeper regions of the clouds at 12,000 miles per second.


Behind Link, inside the Void Ferry

Nozama said to the Dark Tutor Mysin, who was piloting the Void Ferry, "Did you see that? What was that?"

Mysin shook his head. "I couldn't see what it was. It dove into the depths of the cloud before I had a good look at it. It's dangerous to travel into the clouds. Master, should we pursue?

This was not Nozama's first trip in the Sea of Void. He had a good grasp of the dangers in it. After weighing his options, he said commandingly, "Go after it. It looks really familiar. I'm sure I must have seen it somewhere before!"

Nozama was sure that what he saw was not one of his minions since all of them were no more than his soul puppets. He was also certain that it was an enemy, given how familiar it had seemed to him.

What made Nozama even more suspicious was the fact that the other party had appeared in the vicinity of the mysterious presence. This could only mean that they might be after the same thing as him. It would be remiss of Nozama to let the other party flee without clarifying their intentions.

Upon hearing his master's command, the Dark Tutor Mysin nodded at his co-pilot Eilot, and the two drove the Void Ferry into the Seaweed Clouds in pursuit of the black dot in front of them.