Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 897: Bar
Chapter 897: Bar
The beam of light was located in an alley. From afar, it looked like a lonely shop waiting for customers.
It was a shop. It had a thick door embedded with a glass window with frosted glass and carvings.
Shang Jianyao walked over step by step and only sensed human consciousness when he was close.
Ten meters… He stroked his chin.
This was the distance he estimated. He believed that the person in the shop had already discovered his existence.
Shang Jianyao didn’t stop and came to the thick brown wooden door.
A yellowish and warm glow quietly flowed out of the glass embedded at the top of the wooden door.
Shang Jianyao raised his right hand, but he didn’t knock on the wooden door or push it open directly. Instead, he pulled at the wind chime hanging from the door and listened to it make its crisp chimes.
Over and over again, Shang Jianyao seemed to find new entertainment.
Finally, the person inside said, “This place is open to the public. You can enter as you wish.”
It was a slightly hoarse male voice that sounded rather weak.
Shang Jianyao became ‘alert’ and replied loudly, “Have you not eaten for days? Are you so hungry that you don’t have the strength to speak?”
The person inside sighed. “My poor health has nothing to do with hunger.”
“Is that so?” Shang Jianyao had a look of disbelief, but as he spoke, he excitedly pushed open the heavy brown wooden door.
Behind the door was a small bar.
At the bar counter opposite the entrance, someone in a white shirt and black vest stood behind the bar counter, skillfully mixing a cocktail.
Behind the person was a row of wine racks with all kinds of bottled alcohol. They were clearly leaning toward the Red River style.
In front of the bar counter was a row of bar stools. Above them was a chandelier with yellow lights.
Apart from the bar counter area, there were only two sets of sofas elsewhere.
“One, two…” Shang Jianyao counted the seats in the small bar.
Even counting the high chairs, this place could accommodate 16 customers at most.
Shang Jianyao walked to the bar counter and asked, “Why don’t you open a larger bar?”
The bartender weakly replied, “There are few New World residents to begin with, and I have limited alcohol.”
At this moment, Shang Jianyao finally saw the bartender’s appearance clearly. He pointed at him in ‘horror’ and said, “You’re a zombie!”
The bartender was truly skin and bones. He was only slightly better than the sleeping Yama Tiger.
His blue eyes were deeply sunken, and his flaxen hair was dull. He exuded the aura of someone who would die on the spot if anything went wrong. As for his age, it was impossible to tell.
“I’m not in good health,” the bartender repeated.
“Oh, oh.” Shang Jianyao revealed a concerned expression. “Is there a way to treat it?”
The bartender fell silent for a moment before saying, “This is my price.”
Shang Jianyao was ‘horrified’ again. “You told me your price! Could it be that you want to silence me?”
The bartender remained silent for a while. He then took a sip of the emerald-green alcohol and simply said, “My price is too obvious. There’s no need to hide it.”
“That’s right, that’s right.” Shang Jianyao agreed as he sat on a high chair. “You look like a bamboo pole.”
He changed his choice of adjectives.
The bartender wasn’t short and wasn’t much different from Shang Jianyao. Coupled with him being skin and bones, he really looked like a bamboo pole stuck behind the bar counter.
Shang Jianyao then asked, “How may I address you?”
“Jacob,” the bartender replied.
Shang Jianyao casually sighed with emotion. “Why are the names of your Red River people always the same?”
Without waiting for Jacob’s response, he looked at the other party’s emerald-green cocktail and inquired, “Is this a cocktail?”
“Do you want to give it a try?” Jacob asked weakly.
“No, alcohol sucks.” Shang Jianyao expressed his opinion.
Jacob turned around and pointed at a bottle of wine behind him. “Then, I’ll recommend one to you. This is dessert wine; it’s fermented with sugar syrup. The brewing method is also unique, and it has a rather sweet texture. There’s no need to add anything else. Just putting in an ice cube will give you a pleasurable experience.”
Shang Jianyao’s eyes lit up when he heard that it was sweet. He then shook his head. “I’m still too young to drink.”
Jacob glanced at the muscular fellow and gave up on persuading him.
Shang Jianyao curiously asked, “Many things in the New World seem to be manifestations of the mind. Your alcohol also comes from your consciousness and is a part of your mind? If I drink it, will it be equivalent to sucking on your mind?”
Jacob calmly listened and replied, “This is a spiritual world to begin with.”
Without waiting for Shang Jianyao to ask, he weakly added, “The essence of this wine comes from different human consciousnesses, but it doesn’t include mine. Their taste comes from the wine I once drank.”
Shang Jianyao suddenly sat up straight and asked in a deep voice, “The human consciousness you extracted from the Ashlands?”
Jacob’s eyes turned sharp. After a few seconds, he sighed and said, “These were all guys who had been sentenced to death—I was in charge of executing them. I extracted their consciousnesses and turned them into the purest mental food.”
“Death row criminals from a certain faction in the Ashlands?” Shang Jianyao asked.
Shang Jianyao’s body relaxed, and he was no longer as tense.
“You don’t suspect me of lying?” Jacob’s voice was very low as if he didn’t want to use too much strength to speak.
Shang Jianyao frankly replied, “I’ve been sensing your thoughts. You have no intention of lying.”
This was the effect of Thought Extraction. It wasn’t like Mind Reading or Heart Reading, which could directly ‘hear’ the other party’s thoughts. It could only obtain the characteristics of thoughts and determine the other party’s thoughts and preferences.
Jacob didn’t ask any further. He took a sip of the emerald-green cocktail and said, “Actually, I don’t especially need to absorb other people’s consciousness because my body is still alive and well taken care of. My mind can always be replenished.
“I opened this bar for Awakened who have lost their bodies so that they have a fixed place to replenish themselves. There’s no need to take risks, give up on themselves, or indiscriminately attack the humans in the Ashlands.”
“If the body still exists, there’s no need to feed on human consciousness?” Shang Jianyao suddenly leaned forward and stared into Jacob’s eyes.
“In theory.” Jacob swirled the emerald-green cocktail. “But our bodies will eventually deteriorate. Besides, my body’s condition is getting worse. I still need a glass occasionally.”
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it. “In other words, having a body is better than not having one?”
“If you hope to survive in the New World for a long time and return to the Ashlands from time to time, that’s definitely the case.” Jacob put down his cup as if carrying such a tiny object for too long would tire him out.
Shang Jianyao excitedly asked, “Then, why do some Awakened abandon their bodies?”
“They were either deceived or didn’t want to survive in the New World for long, nor do they want to return to the Ashlands.” Jacob seemed to recall some of the past and sighed.
Shang Jianyao’s thoughts jumped as he switched to asking, “Then, how do I enter the New World in both body and mind?”
“This is a pure mental world. It’s impossible for the body to enter.” Jacob was a little surprised. “I don’t know where you heard this from. It should’ve come from the group of people who have no understanding of the New World and fantasized without any evidence to base it on.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t retort and curiously probed, “The New World is an illusory paradise built by the Kalendarium using their minds?”
“That’s what I heard, but I can’t guarantee that it’s true.” Jacob smiled bitterly. “Others say that this is actually a mental prison built by the Kalendarium for all high-level Awakened.”
Shang Jianyao clapped. “I knew someone would say that.”
He looked at Jacob and clicked his tongue. “Have you entered the tower where the Kalendarium live?”
“No.” Jacob shook his head gently. “Only a few people have entered, and most of them never came out again.”
“Who came out?” Shang Jianyao asked enviously.
Jacob thought for a moment and said, “I know of only one. He’s First City’s Cass and also the Anti-intellectualism Church’s Pope. However, he seems to have long disappeared from the New World.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t seem to remember who Cass was and asked in shock, “There are also criminal cases in the New World?”
“Yes, but there’s no police station here.” Jacob’s sunken eyes revealed obvious weakness. “The disappearance might’ve been a result of someone secretly eating them.”
Just as he said that, wind chimes sounded at the door.
The door was pushed open; the street lamps outside had lit up at some point in time.
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