Chapter 202 – Higher Language
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After being reprimanded, Dream got rid of the sombrero galaxy hat. Sort of.

{...You only shrunk it.}

"Hey, I'm compromising!"

Dream shouted as he was found out. However, making the galaxy inconspicuous was as far as he would go. He needed to at least have it there symbolically. For the pun. 

Besides, it wasn't like it went against the look. After examining him, the Keeper just sighed internally. 

{Very well. Now, only when you are finished will I judge you. However, you must personally declare that you are done. I will ask you now. Are you finished with your image?}

The Keeper spoke seriously. Dream had understood the trial, attained the knowledge of the monoliths, and then formed an image. The trial was essentially complete. But the Keeper could only end it once the trial taker was judged, and to judge them required confirmation. 

Dream looked at the Keeper and then thought for a second. 

"What will happen once I say that I'm finished?"

{You will be judged. If you pass, you will return to your body as you are now and retain everything you have gained. If you fail, your memory and soul will be restored to the time before you came here, effectively erasing all knowledge and trace of this place and your interaction with it.}

"Harsh. I'd think you'd just toss me out. At least this would've been for something."

{If you do not at least have the ability and potential to pass this trial, then you do not deserve the boons from the legacy.}

"Hmm, I guess. Now, if I were to give you my answer now, I would be judged and then sent away?"

{That is correct.}

"Huh. Then hang on."

Saying that, Dream went and found one of the monoliths whose script was dark. He then sat down against it, relaxing comfortably. 

{...What are you doing?}

"I'm taking my time. I'm gonna digest everything and then return when I feel I'm ready. After all, it's not very often that you get free time. I'm gonna be on a clock when I go back, and things are gonna be hectic."

{...}

The Keeper went silent at Dream's words. though he understood his thinking.

He understood the need to meditate on the things he learned. Plus, there was a need to adapt to the new body. Above all that though, both he and Dream were thinking the same thing.

'He's already passed.'

The judgment was the Keeper's duty, and it wasn't like there was any special process to it. Obviously he could judge the trial taker whenever he wanted, and he already established that Dream had passed. The confirmation was more of a formality and a safeguard to ensure that the trial taker really was finished. 

If anything, Dream passed with flying colors. 

'Creating an image like that is as difficult as it is rare.'

The Keeper had very rarely seen images like Dream's. Images like his were very abstract, and it was difficult for people to model themselves after abstract concepts. They usually modeled themselves as spirits, retaining many of the features they had as mortals, and the difference wouldn't usually be large. But Dream? A body that looked like a cosmos was anything but normal. 

He was a humanoid comprised of the darkness and light of the universe. This was who Dream was. He was someone who surrounded himself in darkness to see the light. And in the darkness, anything could be imagined, discovered, and created. 

It was similar to his mind that was so accepting of reshaping. In fact, this was probably the rarest aspect of an image. 

'His image can change.'

When one created their image, it represented who they were. Naturally, to change who you were was difficult and sometimes impossible. This aspect was reflected in the rigidity of an image. It wouldn't easily change. However the person modeled their image, it would remain that way, usually indefinitely unless a person went through an earth-shattering change. 

Dream's image though changed with the environment. When he moved, the cosmos reflected in his image would change. It even worked through obstructions. Despite Dream sitting against the monolith, the Keeper could see the cosmos through him, like he was some kind of visual gateway. It was both odd and miraculous. It was also an incredibly rare trait for an image to have. 

So, with all this, there was nothing more for Dream to worry about. He could just relax as he was and take his time.

.........

After sitting down, Dream started going over his body. 

Truth be told, the concept of a 'true image' wasn't rare in the universe. In fact, Luna and Iris had already formed theirs. Their fox spirit bodies were their true image, except instead of forming it by comprehension as Dream did, they received help from their blessings, their species evolution, and the system. 

Depending on the time a true image was formed, a person's talent could usually be gauged. If it happened after one was a class 4 or at class 5, then that meant the person's talent or aptitude was average or low, and they wouldn't advance much farther. If it happened before or during the class 4 evolution, then it meant the person's talent was high, and the class 5 level would definitely be possible for them to reach. At least, that's how things were before the emergence of the system.

Now, Dream wasn't sure how these things worked. All he knew was that forming a true image at the class 4 level represented talent. Forming it around class 5 meant you were likely at the height of your power. 

'Welp, so much for the Old Man. The other class 4's there also wouldn't have one.'

Dream pondered about the people back on the planet for a bit. After building his own image, he came to understand a lot more about it. 

First, there were upsides and downsides to this. An upside to this was the immunity to lower forms of damage. Anybody below the class 4 level couldn't even touch Dream anymore due to not only the absurd strength and physical/magical resilience of his body, but also the fact that it existed on a higher dimension. It was like if someone tried to stab a ghost with a knife. It simply couldn't be done. It had to be done with magic and mana.

Though there was one downside to this as well. Dream's soul now existed throughout and within the bodily image. They were like two parts of a whole. This meant that high amounts of damage to his body would damage to his soul. So while he had much higher resilience, the stakes involved with fighting strong beings were raised higher as well. Getting injured was more costly.

Another thing Dream came to learn about was the Aether component. An essential ingredient to an image was Aether. It was important because it would allow the creation of the body in the 4th dimension. His body would be able to move between the 3rd and 4th dimensions freely, just like the girls who could be both a ghost and have a material body. Dream now had the same thing. 

Aether though was just the foundation. After making the foundation, one would fill it in with other ingredients. For this, Dream simply used the gray fluid in the ground below him. 

The gray fluid in the ground was definitely an extraordinary energy. It held both Aether and Dream's gray mist. However, there was an important property to the gray mist that Dream learned about after going through the monoliths. Because the gray mist was a combination of mana and ruinous mana, it could also be transformed back into those two mana types. Basically, if you had gray mist, you had both types of mana as well as the flux that held everything together. 

With that in mind, Dream was able to easily get any ingredient he needed to form his body. The fluid held Aether, flux, and the gray mist, so he just had to pick out the energy he wanted and went on to form his image. 

This didn't make things super easy though. For one, the energy was hard to control, and it took Dream utilizing all his power to form everything. It wasn't an easy or fast process despite it looking simple. His image was also complicated, and although he looked as if he did it unconsciously, there was actually a meticulous control that went into it. 

The image was formed according to a person's most primal nature, and as Dream thought about his, the form gradually manifested in his mind. His form consisted of four details: darkness, light, discovery, and adaptability. And so, when the form manifested, he led the energies to form his image exactly according to what manifested in his mind. He guided everything and let it fall into place, and he didn't design things off of a planned blueprint. 

And it worked out well. The darkness of his body was ruinous mana, and the light was regular mana. The discovery then added itself to give form to everything, creating colorful stars and galaxies and a universe, and the adaptability made the galaxies and stars a reflection of the universe around him. Aether was, of course, the foundation of all this. Huge amounts of flux were also added in to create the dense stars and nebula, and gray mist was the ever-present fluid that kept his body from annihilating itself.

With that, Dream now had his new image and body. It was definitely incredibly powerful, although he hadn't yet tested it against anything. However, he still wasn't yet finished. 

Dream still liked his material body. And while he could become physical with this universe body, it wasn't the same. So, he decided to make another form for himself, almost like a shell. 

Dream had his three forms just like the girls. He could disappear into the 4th dimension, could manifest as a ghost, or manifest as a physical body. Right now, if he were to manifest as a physical body, he would appear as his universe body. However, after a little messing around, he was able to change his physical form. 

Using his dead body that was still laying on the floor as material, Dream constructed a new physical body and tied it to his universe body. This way, it was like another skin for him. He could appear as both the universe body or his human one. 

The whole construction went smoothly, and soon, Dream had his majestic, muscular body back. While the Keeper didn't agree with his thinking, he just rolled his eyes and let it be. There weren't any significant detriments, and being able to have two different forms was a perk of Dream's adaptability. 

With that, Dream was now back as a 'human' again. For a while, he experimented with changing forms. As he walked around in his human body, the skin would suddenly darken and be sucked down into a void, turning into his universe body. And when he switched back, his universe body would suddenly have a skin creep from within the void and spread out over the surface of his limbs, turning him back. He thought it was a really neat transformation process and giggled like a child as he switched back and forth hundreds of times. 

Unfortunately, after testing out his powers a few times, he found that there actually was a detriment to his power. While in his human form, he would be somewhat restricted. It was like his skin really was a shell, and it held back some power. According to the Keeper, this was because his physical body was limiting. He had shed it, but since he put it back on, naturally he wouldn't be able to unleash all his power. If he forced his human form to output too much, it would break down. 

Even this problem though wasn't a huge downer. 

"If I want to go all out, then I just need to switch to my universe body."

Dream came to this simple conclusion. And after testing things for a bit, he found that everything worked fine. When working on projects or fighting a tough enemy, he would just switch to his universe body. For everything else, he would be in his human form. 

With all that established, Dream finally felt like everything was perfect. He had nothing else to do, and this place couldn't offer him anything else.

Although he wasn't back at his factory to test the limits of his new power and knowledge, he knew that he had jumped once more. His comprehensive capabilities and understanding of the universe was so much deeper than before, and that understanding would lead to the creation of powerful weapons and equipment. He already had many ideas, and at some point, he itched to go back to the factory. 

But he suppressed that itch for a while. For a long time, Dream stayed in the mysterious legacy space with the Keeper. Much of the time, he wouldn't even have anything to do, so he and the Keeper spoke about many things, mainly science. Other times, Dream would just walk around and observe everything while the Keeper stood in his same spot with his apathetic face. 

The silence was spent contemplating. Dream thought about all the things going on back on the planet. He planned things out for the future, like overhauls of the assembly lines, designs for new weapons, and even upgrades for Aegis since he could now properly tamper with the heart, which contained Aether. Other times he contemplated the knowledge that he gained, and he would frequently replay scenes from the thousands of lines of script floating around his mind. 

"Mana, flux, aether, matter, energy, ruinous mana, antimatter, the soul, influence, gray mist... Man, my mind space really is cluttered."

Dream spoke and frowned as he went through a bunch of the script. 

His mind space was like a virtual space. He could enter it, and all his knowledge was held within that space. Although he couldn't 'see' every bit of knowledge, it took up some space and recalling things would produce fragments that he had to go through. As he took a step back though, he found that everything was just kind of jumbled around. It was messy and unorganized.

"We should change this a bit. Although I don't really mind the messiness, it should be more of an organized messiness. How about... we make some monoliths! Alright, I want 42 monoliths, and all lines of script are to go to their monolith."

Saying that, Dream's mind suddenly changed. 42 black monoliths appeared out of nowhere, and they all created a circle around the center of the mind space. All the lines of script that were floating around then rushed over to each monolith and planted themselves on their sides. It recreated the look from the legacy space Dream was in. 

"There. Much better. Of course, I can't forget about you."

Dream looked over to a few lines of script that were still floating around. They were the script from the trial monolith. 

Creating a smaller monolith, he had those lines also plant themselves. With that, all floating script was in its place, and the mind space looked much better. 

"Hmm, I can also do the same for the memory fragments too. Not place them on monoliths, but write them as script..."

Dream pondered as he looked around at the monoliths. Whenever his train of thought spun, bunches of memory fragments would appear and connect themselves in odd ways. It was a chaotic but surprisingly effective way of thinking that Dream had been changed to under the influence of the gray mist. Now though, he was thinking about changing the appearance of the fragments. 

So he did. Dream changed the appearance of the fragments and had all their information appear as golden script. When he did that though, millions of lines of script appeared, and his mind space was quickly filled. 

"Woah there. Not like that."

Startled, Dream started modifying the script. It was trying to describe everything in words, literally displaying information as script. But he was looking to use the language of the monoliths. 

The script from the monoliths didn't follow any set pattern. As the Keeper said, it was a language beyond languages, and its message could be felt and understood with the soul. That's what Dream wanted to change the script to. However, that language wasn't easily spoken or written, and now he was trying to 'decipher' it. 

Luckily, after absorbing so much he understood how it worked quite a bit, and he was able to quickly change the script in his mind. When he did, a much smaller amount of lines appeared. Not only that, but his thought process started to change a bit after using that language to process information. 

His thoughts started moving faster, and it was more coherent. The script could hold information in a different, much denser form. It was also built to be used by souls, so there were no problems with it being used by his soul as a way of thinking. All this led to it greatly increasing the processing and flow of information in his mind. He felt his mind clear up greatly, and he was surprised. 

{So you've understood the language.}

The Keeper spoke up as Dream felt the changes. 

"You can see that?"

{Nothing is hidden from me in this place. Although I can't read absolutely everything about you, I can sense the use of the language in your mind space.}

"Huh. Well I must say, the language truly is effective. My mind is so clear. It feels like my train of thought prior to this was all rusty."

{You'll find that there are many benefits to using this language. The peoples under the Archons all used this language, and it allowed absolute communication. There were never issues about being misunderstood or not understood at all. There was no such thing as language barriers, for this language communicated above all others. Soul to soul.}

"Right. Does that mean I'll be able to communicate with everyone?"

{Yes. So long as they have a soul and a Will, you will be able to understand everyone even when they don't use the script, and everyone will be able to understand you should you use the script.}

"Very nice! Although the planet I'm on doesn't really have many languages, it's still cool. Regardless, it helps with my own mind, so win-win."

{Be careful of your words and the information you pass with this language, though. Like what the golden script of the trial did to you, you do not want to make the mistake of forcing a lower being to comprehend you. You must be aware of their level, and adjust your power accordingly.}

"Oh, right. I guess I will have to watch that. It's weird though. To think words can now hold power."

{This language is only a lower universal language. The monoliths with the silver and black script hold higher languages, as only those languages can contain the power of the knowledge and wisdom within. When you ascend higher, you will be able to comprehend those languages, and your communication will extend toward higher beings as well. Until then, you may find that higher beings are... incomprehensible, if you will. Unless they use a lower language or dampen their higher language, you will not be able to understand them.}

The Keeper spoke, giving Dream valuable information. If he ever decided to use this language openly, understanding the power of his words was important. 

However, as he nodded in understanding, he thought of another question. Looking back to the Keeper, Dream spoke.

"Interesting. That brings up another question though. After I leave here, in the future, when will I be able to come back?"

 

Last prologue chapter of Serum is out.

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