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As soon as he was too close to the tunnel, the concentrated nightmare energy around him abruptly became aggressively active, which then rushed into his right hand.
Angor was rather surprised by this because he just made sure his right hand was “switched off”. Somehow, the hand decided to absorb nightmare energy on its own.
Like always, he couldn't tell where all the surging energy disappeared to. But unlike the previous cases during which drawing nightmare energy didn't leave any noticeable effect on him, he began to feel faint and drowsy as if he was slowly falling asleep inside a dream.
As more and more nightmare energy went inside his right hand, those glowing sigils also grew in number until a large swarm of them danced around his hand like bees protecting their hive.
As they moved, they slowly painted a shining ring in the air, which floated away and reached the plane barrier ahead.
The ring fixed itself onto the barrier, ripping a large hole on it.
Angor was still trying his best to stay “awake”. He felt his mind slowing down while the lucid dream around him was fading away.
A strange figure suddenly appeared at the hoop-shaped tear on the plane barrier.
Angor mustered up the last bit of his consciousness and saw the figure's long, blond hair and a single, crimson eye that showed nothing other than cold impa.s.siveness.
“You… you are…”
Everything in his view turned dark before it was replaced by something he didn't recognize.
He was now floating inside an unlit s.p.a.ce, from where he could see blinking starlight in the great distance.
Immediately ahead of his position was a rectangular mirror-like water film that reflected the stars.
Out of instinct, he reached out a hand to touch the “mirror”.
There was someone displayed in the mirror, but it was not his own reflection. Apart from the impressive blond hair and crimson eye, Angor couldn't tell anything from the strange individual. Not even their gender.
Copying his movement, the one in the mirror also reached a hand back.
Two hands pressed together at the surface of the mirror, causing a circle of ripples to travel outward.
A little bewildered, Angor kept moving his arm until his hand sank into the mirror and grasped the other hand.
“I see…” Angor looked straight ahead. “Are you Shava?”
Back at Witch's Town, Sunders mentioned that there was an unknown individual with blond hair trying to “fuse” their right hand onto Angor's arm. Just like what was happening right now.
Slowly, the stranger stepped out of the mirror and stood quietly in front of Angor.
Instead of being fearful, Angor felt strangely calm for some reason, just like when he went through Maya's prophecy test. Something told him that the person he was encountering could not hurt him.
“Tell me. Are you Shava?” Angor tried again. “Or… Are you me? Are you my projection, from the Nightmare Realm?”
Encroaching nightmare energy suddenly began to enclose him, as everything grew obscured again. He couldn't see the stranger clearly, nor could he think clearly. He was forcefully pulled into a dream he had no control over.
At the last second of his wake, he saw the person moving their lips. Yet he could no longer hear the answer. He felt his mind being stirred up by an unknown force until all logic and sanity were taken away.
The dream repeated.
Once again, he silently floated at the dark s.p.a.ce, gazing at the mirror as well as the reflection of an unknown one.
Before he knew it, his right hand was already inside the mirror.
In his confused mental state, he remembered Sunders' words, that a stranger in Witch's Town replaced his right hand.
He tried pulling his hand back out but failed. His movement only caused the surface of the mirror to shake.
He could only reach further in, but not the other way. In fact, he felt as if the s.p.a.ce inside the mirror was pretty large and even welcoming.
More of his arm was now inside the mirror, until his face was almost upon the surface, causing him to look at the blond reflection up close.
A sudden warning struck his mind.
I must stop!
The awareness cleared up his mind just a little, allowing him to control his actions more properly.
Yet before he could get a good look around the area as well as at the reflection in front of him, the dark s.p.a.ce began to crumble, until nothing was left in his view.
Next, he felt his troubled brain returning to its good condition.
The surroundings grew brighter, albeit just a little.
Looking at the gray and dim sky and the rich nightmare energy still flowing all around, he knew he was back to the dream wasteland.
He quickly got onto his feet and checked the area.
The tunnel was still there, not far from him. There was no blond intruder or stars. Everything looked the same as before.
Or… wait. Did my right hand grow bigger than before?
He pressed two hands together and realized his right hand now surpa.s.sed his left one by a full middle finger.
“When I reached further inside that mirror, did I allow the nightmare projection to put more stuff on my body?!”
While a little panicked, he removed his robe and saw the green sigils had climbed along his right wrist and occupied his elbow. Precisely speaking, the part of his arm he reached inside the mirror was now fully covered by the sigils.
“It's my arm this time… but I'm in a dream. Will this affect my physical body in reality?”
Since he was inside the Nightmare Realm when he “grew” a larger hand last time, he knew he was very likely affected again.
He thought about leaving the dream and checking on his body in reality right away. But when he saw the zoning crystals he prepared and the tunnel nearby still releasing more nightmare energy into the dream wasteland, he decided to calm down for now.
Using his “nightmare vision”, he saw no other intruders in the area. Whoever he just saw or whether that truly happened, he was here alone right now.
He couldn't leave the nightmare tunnel unattended. For now, he made up his mind to finish his work and sever the tunnel first.
Some further tests told him that he could still use his right hand to absorb nightmare energy. If fact, this skill just grew a lot stronger. Both the speed and the precision at which he drew nightmare energy were improved. He could now fully determine how much energy he took or distribute it at different parts as he wished.
Although he didn't feel any happier for gaining the new skill. He just grew more foreign parts on his body. If this kept happening, there would always be a time when most of his body was replaced, by which time he would hardly be himself.
Sunders did tell him to accept the bloodline of a nightmare projection, but he was not sure if this was the right way to do that.
He rocked his head and forced himself to forget all the concerns. For now, he had to secure this piece of nightmare domain first.