Chapter 460: Azure-robed Han Shan!
The instant their gazes met, Meng Hao suddenly couldn’t see the azure-robed man anymore. When he reappeared, he was standing next to Meng Hao.
Meng Hao’s scalp went numb; it was impossible to see the level of the man’s Cultivation base. Trying to do so gave Meng Hao the same feeling you might get when looking into a deep ocean.
He immediately stood up and bowed deeply toward the azure-robed man. “Meng Hao of the junior generation greets senior.”
The man looked over at Meng Hao, then sat down off to the side. He took a sip of alcohol, and, his face as disconsolate as ever, said, “Are you on your way to Sealbreaking Continent?”
“Sealbreaking Continent?” replied Meng Hao, a blank expression on his face. He thought back to the jade slip map, and the description of the place he was headed to. Finally, he nodded.
“So, we happen to be heading in the same direction,” said the man with a slight nod. After that he said nothing more. Leaning up against a protruding rock, he drank and looked off into the blackness of the void.
Meng Hao looked at the man hesitantly for a moment, then made his way some distance off and sat down cross-legged. Unfortunately, he couldn’t slip into a meditative trance. All he could do was sit there as time passed.
One day, two days, three days…. In the blink of an eye half a month had passed.
During that time, the azure-robed man continued to recline there, drinking. It seemed the alcohol in his flagon was endless. He drank and drank, looking out into the blackness, his expression morose. His bleakness continued to grow more and more apparent.
The stubble of a beard could be seen on his face; it seemed as if it had been a very long time since he was inclined to clean up. His robes were wrinkled, and although the man should have cut a sorry figure in his state of disarray, his aura was filled with an indescribable charm. As such, he seemed… lonely, but not a mess.
The alcohol flagon he held in hand was crafted from wood, and the woodgrain was even visible on its surface. It was impossible to determine how much he drank during the half month.
He did not speak, nor did Meng Hao. It seemed that this azure-robed man really was just heading in the same direction and didn’t feel like walking. Therefore, he had decided to share the rock with Meng Hao.
They maintained their mutual silence for another month as they proceeded onward.
Meng Hao was finally able to slip into meditation. However, he left a sliver of will on the outside. He knew that doing so was essentially pointless, but he was used to the practice and it wasn’t something he would stop doing.
One day as the three hundred meter wide rock flew forward, the previously listless and melancholy azure-robed man suddenly sat up and looked off into the distance.
The movement immediately caused Meng Hao to open his eyes. He looked out into the blackness, but saw nothing. The azure-robed man, however, seemed very intent, as if he was completely focused on looking off into the distance.
Meng Hao was puzzled, but didn’t show it, and instead continued to look out into the void. Time passed, three days in which the azure-robed man and Meng Hao both looked out into the blackness.
It was on that third day that the world of blackness around them suddenly turned gray. At the same time, the three hundred meter wide rock they were on suddenly stopped moving. Meng Hao’s mind trembled as a thick mist began to spread out in all directions. Soon, everything was like a sea of mist.
Meng Hao’s scalp prickled as he realized that he couldn’t move a muscle. How could he not understand what was happening? Off in the mists, a group of figures could be seen, shouldering rocks as they marched forward.
They looked frustrated, confused as they approached. Soft voices could be heard echoing out in the mists.
“When will the Bridge of Immortality reappear like new…? Sir, on what day will we again lay eyes on you…?”
Surrounded by the echoing sound, the figures floated through the mist. Men and women, elderly and young, all looked confused. As they neared Meng Hao, he felt a coldness that seemed capable of freezing the soul.
Meng Hao gradually grew colder, until it seemed as if his very life force were about to be extinguished. It was at this point that Meng Hao noticed that this group of people was not the same group that he had encountered on the last land mass, when he was chasing Yi Chenzi.
Next to him, the azure-robed man continued to sit there, occasionally sipping alcohol. As he looked at the group of people, the melancholy in his eyes grew deeper, and the corners of his mouth twisted with bitterness.
He examined them closely, as if he were looking for something. He examined each figure closely, and when he reached the last one, his loneliness seemed to grow deeper. He frowned and took another drink.
The figures moved toward the rock Meng Hao was on, and as they grew close, they suddenly stopped. The blankness and confusion in their faces suddenly turned into viciousness. They looked over at the rock, and the azure-robed man.
The man looked back at them, and then waved his hand. As he did, the figures continued to float on by. They moved off into the distance, their confusion once again restored. Faint voices were again heard.
“When will the Bridge of Immortality reappear like new…? Sir, on what day will we again lay eyes on you…?”
The sound faded off into the distance, and the grayness in the void disappeared. There was no tempest like before. The silence was restored.
As everything returned to normal, the three hundred meter wide rock that Meng Hao was on once again began to move forward at top speed.
Meng Hao’s body trembled as he recovered. His heart shook because of this second encounter with these bizarre figures. Without thinking about it, he turned to the azure-robed man and asked, “What are they…?”
After asking the question, Meng Hao realized that, considering the man’s Cultivation base, and the days of silence, it was likely that he might not get an answer to the question.
“Bridge Slaves,” said the azure-robed man, his voice soft.
“After the Bridge of Immortal Treading was destroyed by Ancestor Ji, the surviving will of the bridge settled in this spot. People who coveted eternity and sought to extend their lives found their wills dissolved, and they became Bridge Slaves.
“They achieved the eternal life they sought, but the price… was that they became slaves of the bridge. Day and night, throughout their eternal lives, they slave away to rebuild the Bridge of Immortal Treading, which of course, can never be rebuilt.”
Hearing this explanation caused Meng Hao’s mind to spin. He turned to look in the direction the figures had departed in, but all he could see was blackness, as if an enormous screen of darkness were covering over everything.
The man began to mutter bitterly, “Everything in the world comes with a price… a price….” He held the alcohol flagon in front of him, gripping it tightly.
Time passed. Meng Hao asked no further questions, nor did the man say anything further. He reclined there in his silence, staring off into the void, disconsolately drinking his alcohol.
Meng Hao sat there thoughtfully. The term Bridge Slave certainly seemed appropriate. They acquired eternity, but the price they paid was a great one. When he thought of this, it caused Meng Hao to recall the Bridge Slaves’ faint voices.
Two more months passed. Up ahead in the void appeared an enormous rock. This was another Immortality Bridgestone, its vastness virtually indescribable. It appeared to be about ten times larger than the land mass he had just come from.
An incredible pressure radiated out from it, enveloping everything in the area as it floated there in the void. Its edges were irregularly shaped, causing Meng Hao to think of the image of the enormous, broken bridge he had seen stretching boundlessly out in the starry sky.
It was at this moment that the azure-robed man suddenly stood up.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked, turning his head to look at Meng Hao. His eyes were clear and filled with a profundity like that of the stars in the sky. This was the second time the man had taken the initiative to speak. The first time was when he had arrived. Considering this was the second time, Meng Hao understood… that he was about to leave.
Meng Hao stood up, clasped hands and bowed deeply. He looked at the azure-robed man, his eyes glittering. After a moment’s hesitation, he nodded.
The man smiled, then waved his hand, causing the alcohol flagon to fly over to Meng Hao. Meng Hao grabbed it and, without hesitation, drank a mouthful.
As the alcohol flowed down his throat, a burning sensation exploded out. It felt like fire, and caused Meng Hao’s Cultivation base to rotate wildly.
“A bit greedy, aren’t we, boy? Well, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just consider it to be traveling expenses.” The man pointed a finger at Meng Hao, causing his body to tremble. The mouthful of alcohol inside of him instantly formed into something similar to his Gold Core. Strands of Alcohol Qi began to emanate out from it, fusing it with his Perfect Gold Core. He did not experience any growth in Cultivation base, however, he could tell that something inside of him was now different.
“The Alcohol Core within you will enable you to twice wield my Dancing Sword Qi. It can slay anything under the Immortal stage.”
With that, the flagon flew back into the man’s hand. He turned and stepped off of the three hundred meter wide rock, walking toward the enormous land mass formed by the Immortality Bridgestone.
As he stepped into the void, he sighed and said, “You ask when will you lay eyes upon me again…? I’ve searched for you for three thousand years….”
The voice echoed out with unspeakable melancholy and an indescribable loneliness.
Meng Hao’s mind reeled. All of a sudden, he could sense a sword skill within his mind. It was branded onto him in the form of a magical symbol. He didn’t understand it, but he could tell that he could rotate his Cultivation base to unleash the Alcohol Qi within his Gold Core. He could do this twice to cause the brand to explode out.
As the man headed off into the distance, Meng Hao suddenly cried out: “Senior, may I respectfully ask your name?!”
“Han Shan.” 1
His voice echoed out, filled with pensiveness. The man sighed and then disappeared into the void. Meng Hao stood there, bowing deeply in his direction.
After a long time passed, Meng Hao straightened back up. The three hundred meter wide rock he was on slammed through the barrier to enter the enormous land mass formed by the Immortality Bridgestone. There in front of Meng Hao was an enormous world.
- Han Shan’s name in Chinese is 韩山 hán shān – Han is a surname. Shan means “mountain” ↩