Chapter 19: Anomaly and Rebirth
Wu Qiren was sitting in the classroom, his hands flying across the keyboard, speedily recording the discussion between two other students.
"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturities such as laziness, and cowardice. When Kant described enlightenment, he emphasized that every single person possesses reason—a universal reason."
The other student answered with his pleasant voice, "Universal reason, which stems from enlightenment, has been unearthed and utilized to its maximum potential, which is why our current era was formed. Reason is supreme, limitless, eternal. It can give us unprecedented power—"
Having heard this, Wu Qiren removed his hands from the keyboard and furrowed his brows. Although he was usually gentle and polite, he directly cut the student off. He raised his head and spoke, "You, perhaps you have not read Foucault's view on the relationship between power and truth, and Heidegger's view on technology—"
However, he did not continue speaking, because when he saw the person sitting in front of him clearly, he was so shocked he could not speak.
Sitting opposite Wu Qiren… Was the Air Mystic Asda Sakern, with his long brown hair, blue shirt, and elegant demeanor.
The other party looked at him gently and spoke with a pleasant voice, "If a limitless power and an all-encompassing form of reasoning exists in this world, Thales, do you not… Do you not desire it?
Thales jolted up from his bed.
In the dark, he held onto JC's dagger tightly, which was under his pillow. Drenched in cold sweat, he panted.
Thales turned over and jumped down from his bed. He only remembered where he was when his bare feet touched the expensive, heated tiles, and his nasal cavity filled with pleasant, calming perfume.
The wounds on his chest and other body parts were itchy and painful under the bandages and plasters. This made him a lot more alert and calmed his breathing. He placed JC's dagger under his pillow once more.
Still badly shaken, he laid back down on the huge bed that was enough for twenty Thales-es to sleep in.
Thales was not used to the friction of the silk pajamas against his body. The bed had many springs at the core and its surface was soft and smooth, molding into Thales' framing submissively as he laid down on it. He was wrapped tightly in a Northland, goose-down blanket that was covered in silk. A smooth, silk pillow, imported from the Southern Coast, propped up his head and shoulders.
At that moment, Thales felt like something was squeezing him from top to bottom. It was as though the Air Mystic had wrapped him in a layer of air and was slowly compressing him.
Thales felt worried thinking about this. He pushed back the extremely light, smooth, and comfortable blanket before he stood on the ground again. Fumbling about, he found a corner, curled himself up, and lied down there. The rigid and hard floor, as well as the thick and solid walls, gave him a familiar sense of safety.
Having done this, Thales slowly exhaled and chuckled in resignation.
'I can't believe that this is happening.' He knocked on the solid floor tiles and let out a self-deprecating laugh. 'I miss the little guys in the sixth house so much. I hope Jala is taking good care of them.
'Tomorrow, I have to talk to Gilbert about this. Even if he can't contact them directly, he could at least be able to keep an eye on them in secret.'
However, because of the fragment of memory he just recovered through his dream, his previously relaxed mood immediately became tense again.
Dreams are reflections of the subconscious. These memories of his past life were probably the most deeply hidden fragments within his subconscious. However, this time, even Asda Sakern appeared in his dreams.
"As expected, I still care a lot about what that lunatic said," Thales mumbled in the dark.
His short encounter with the Mystic a few hours ago flashed through his mind. The Mystic's actions, which were sometimes rational and sometimes completely random, his mysterious ability, and immortal body that was almost inhuman made him shiver.
And what he said: "Child. Looks like you do not know your own nature."
This sentence appeared again in his tired mind. Thales forced himself to get rid of additional and unnecessary emotions of worry and fear, then calmed down to analyze the Mystic's words.
'Based on what Asda meant, I am just like him, a Mys- No, just a person who has the potential to become a Mystic.
'Based on Asda's behavior, people with this kind of potential are quite rare. For me, this is a positive thing. But from what I can see currently, Mystics don't seem to be very welcome in this world.
'Asda's words were way too subjective, but if part of what Asda said about the so-called battle between Mystics and humans is true, Mystics would be a hated existence who cannot show their faces to the world.
'Also,' Thales thought worriedly, 'Asda's body. After his heart was pierced through, the wound shone with blue light. Is he really not a human anymore?
'And Yodel Cato. According to what he said, he must have arrived at the Abandoned House very early on, so he must have heard Asda's words.'
Thales clenched his fists.
'Does he also know that I 'lost control' in front of the Mystic? If Yodel knows, does it mean that Gilbert and King Kessel would know about it too? How would they look upon me?
'There are many other riddles. Such as my neurotic, unusually cold and extremely suspicious father, who is also a king; the fact that although I'm only seven years old, the Bloodline Lamp which is blessed with Divine Art, was from twelve years ago; my origin, surname, and significance towards the kingdom; why the news of my return is treated with such secrecy, so much so that Gilbert and Yodel practically smuggled me back like thieves.
'And what's up with this world? A medieval way of life? A world where magic is common? Steampunk?'
Thales tapped his head. 'No, I can't figure anything out. My basic understanding of this world is still too little. I need a comprehensive course that starts from basic knowledge and would provide a child with rudimentary knowledge!'
Thales exhaled in resignation. His gaze immediately turned solemn.
Things like gaining rudimentary knowledge and learning can be done slowly. But, there was one matter that had to be resolved—the matter related to his life and body.
He recalled the Mystic's words again: "Child. Looks like you do not know your own nature...
"But never mind. Everyone will experience a first in losing control over themselves, and we all start from ignorance."
Thales clasped his hands in the dark and recalled the incidents where he 'lost control'.
'When Asda compressed me inside a layer of air using Mystic energy and prepared to squeeze me into a ball, my whole body boiled as if it was burning. I saw the energy ball in his hand. It must be the so-called 'air wall'. The energy ball became red and suddenly appeared in front of me. And then-
Thales might have found a crucial point in the matter.
'Blood, and the burning sensation!'
Thales slowly sat up.
The name flashed past his mind. He had experienced this blood-boiling sensation before. It was during the two consecutive times Quide abused him and brutally beat him up. The similarity between those two incidents and his encounter with Asda was the fact that he bled!
Before this, Thales thought that the burning sensation within his body was due to the so-called 'Divine Art' that Gilbert mentioned, triggered by his blood falling onto the ground.
Now, it seemed like the incidents where he 'lost control' coincided with the occurrence of the burning sensation.
Thales was suddenly aware that he did not 'lose control' for the first time in front of Asda. In truth, he lost control for the first time in front of Quide.
'When Quide tried to kill Coria, that bastard should have been holding onto JC's dagger!
'How did that dagger suddenly appear in my hand? It was as strange as that energy ball suddenly appearing in front of me!
'Quide. Bleeding. Burning sensation. Dagger. Asda. Energy ball. Yodel and Gilbert. Bloodline Lamp.'
Thales shut his eyes. He realized that he could not sort out these disorderly elements.
'Too messy. Too chaotic.'
However, he was not discouraged. Instead, a surge of excitement that had not appeared within him since a long time ago rose in his heart.
'Classify the chaotic and complicated phenomena, postulate a hypothetical and theoretical framework, eliminate the irrelevant variables, and then sum up the causal logic. Lastly, verify the completeness of the theory.
'And then, there are the 'uncertainties' that can never be authenticated, the 'endogeneity' that can never be eliminated, and the 'quasi-experimental research' method as well as the 'counterfactual analysis' that will never be able to approach perfection.
'Isn't this one of those fascinating social science riddles that can never be explained perfectly? Was that not also once my favorite game?
'Besides, this time, what I'm facing isn't a multi-causal, social phenomenon that I can neither do anything about nor test and verify; it's a single problem happening to me, and I can test and verify it repeatedly!'
When Thales opened his eyes again in the dark, his irises were filled with the desire for a challenge. He tried to calm himself down and sort out the phenomena he was experiencing.
'There are too few samples, too many variables, and the mechanism is too simple. The overly complicated Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) cannot be used.
'I can just use the most basic Mill's Methods of induction. First of all, with 'bleeding' and 'losing control' as the keywords, select relevant cases and events.'
He slowly shut his eyes. The familiar feeling rushed back into his mind. All the disorderly elements and factors were speedily being configured within his consciousness.
'According to the purpose of research and the time sequence, establish different 'conditions' (not 'reasons') for each sample. See if the 'outcome' appears.
'Various incidents appeared past his mind in a flash. Eliminate incident samples with too many missing values, assemble each incident's condition and outcome and then differentiate them based on their level and type.'
A clear and organized table appeared in his mind. Four incident samples that could be observed and compared were arranged inside.
'Condition 1.1: Quide beat me up for the first time. Condition 1.2: Bleeding. Outcome 1: There was no anomaly.
'Condition 2.1: Quide beat me up for the second time and was about to kill Coria. Condition 2.2: Bleeding. Outcome 2: Lost control, and the dagger appeared in my hand out of thin air.
'Condition 3.1: Asda was about to kill me. Condition 3.2: Bleeding. Outcome 3: Lost control, and his energy ball appeared before me.
'Condition 4.1: I validated my bloodline in front of Yodel, Gilbert, and the lamp. Condition 4.2: Bleeding. Outcome 4: There was no anomaly.
'Enumeration over, comparison begins. Seek similarities and differences, categorize and conclude.'
The table was slowly simplified and normalized before they were merged together to form a passage of text.
Thales opened his eyes gently.
'Conclusion: When incidents that threaten life happen along with bleeding, there is a chance that the so-called "losing of control" would take place, and surrounding items or energy would be displaced to different extents.
'No, this conclusion is too tentative. Firstly, the sample size is still too small. Next, certain disturbance variables cannot be eliminated. Also, "incidents that threaten life" seem too far-fetched. It might be a false mechanism. Could it be that the incidents that threaten life triggered something else, and thus was the actual trigger to the loss of control?
'I must also think of a way to factor the lamp in.
'Lastly, I have only managed to prove that those incidents are correlated. The grounds for causal reasoning are still inadequate.
'No matter what…' Thales turned over and laid down. …'When it comes to 'losing control', there is at least a tentative conclusion now.
'As for the next step for the direction of the research-'
Thales exhaled, suddenly feeling the fatigue in his mind. 'As expected... He furiously rubbed his temples. It's still too much of a burden for a seven-year-old brain to think about these things, huh?'
However, he immediately realized with surprise that something was wrong.
'All those logical inductions and deductions, they should have at least been jotted down on a piece of draft paper with a pen. But, in actuality, the entire process of implementation for this analysis… had only taken a split second in my mind?'
After a long while, Thales tapped the floor, feeling the pain in his head.
'As expected, from having Mystic abilities and 'losing control', to possessing the so-called bloodline, and this monstrous capacity for cognitive processes… This body and this brain… are abnormal.'
As Thales contemplated, he slowly drifted off into dreamland.
When Thales was woken up politely by Gilbert, he realized that he was back on the bed and was wrapped up neatly in the blanket.
"My esteemed young Sir Thales, good day." Gilbert respectfully drew open the drapes. The afternoon sun shone in through the huge window, brightening up the luxurious and comfortable room.
Magnificent heated tiles with pictures of stars on them, a reclining sofa made of monitor lizard skin, a spacious four-poster bed made of copper, a huge Crystal Drop chandelier hanging from the roof, and a veneer fireplace—all those appeared before Thales' eyes.
All of which constantly reminded him that his life was different now.
It was hard to believe that just a few hours ago, he was a little child beggar in a gang whose life hung on a thread and who lived in constant danger. And now, he was the blood relative of the highest ruler in all of Constellation.
"It is two in the afternoon right now, I sincerely suggest that you wake up and take your meal now as it will effectively boost your body's recovery and maintenance." The middle-aged noble was speaking with a neutral tone, but Thales could sense that he was urging him.
"Also," Gilbert blinked amicably and spoke with a smile, "due to His Majesty's wishes, our first lesson shall begin in the afternoon. I believe that you must have many questions, and I am very willing to answer them for you."
Thales rubbed his eyes and yawned while he stripped the uncomfortable silk pajamas. He fumbled about as he simply put on the informal attire nobles usually wore, which Gilbert had prepared for him.
"Great," he squinted and said lazily, "I love having lessons."
'And…' Thales shut his eyes and thought silently. 'I was having a good sleep. Who got me off the floor and placed me on the bed again?'
"Sir Thales, you must like these pants very much."
"Because you are putting them over your head."
"What? What sort of pants look like these?"
"Sir Thales, you look like you harbor a special affection for this buttoned coat too."
"Oh, this is a coat to be worn outside?"
"Sir Thales, I think you would need the belt to your left."
"Ah, thank you. I was wondering why it kept falling down."
After a long time...
"Please put these damn clothes on for me."
"Gladly, my esteemed young Sir Thales."