Bai Xiaochun stood there, looking around thoughtfully at the endless hourglasses. Eventually, he remembered what Bai Xiaochi had said about gaining enlightenment of the Essence of time.
“My Time Immemorial Codex definitely has something to do with the Essence of time,” he murmured.
Early on, Bai Xiaochun had heard of Essence, but didn’t understand it much. After encountering the damaged fan, and Bai Xiaochi, his understanding grew. Eventually, he became the owner of the fan, and practiced cultivation in front of the Daoist Tower of Life and Death in the fan face. At that point, his understanding gradually became more complete.
However, he still couldn’t put that understanding into words.
Right now, he felt like he was standing inside of a true treasure, surrounded by Essence. However, his comprehension was still incomplete, and thus he couldn’t grasp its meaning. It was as if he were missing some very important key.
After a moment of silence, he looked up, his eyes flashing with determination and focus.
“If I can’t seek understanding directly, then I’ll just soak it in!” Taking a deep breath, he walked up to one particular hourglass that was about the same height as himself. Not daring to get too close, he examined it with divine sense, and found that the flow of time within it was three times faster than normal. Sitting down cross-legged, he began to meditate.
Although this place didn’t seem inherently dangerous, Bai Xiaochun knew that it was actually filled with potential crises, in the form of the hourglasses themselves!
Some of the most powerful Daoist magics in existence had to do with the flow of time. If he wasn’t careful, he might stumble into an hourglass in which time flowed millions or even of billions of times faster than outside of this world. In that case, a huge amount of time could pass for him, with only a small bit of time passing outside.
A situation like that might not be a big deal. But what about the opposite situation? What if he entered an hourglass for only a breath of time, only to have a year pass on the outside?
For one thing, if he was away from the Eternal Immortal Domains for too long, it could be very dangerous for the Arch-Emperor Dynasty. For another, he had no idea exactly how such an experience would affect his longevity. Was his longevity tied to the existence of the Eternal Immortal Domains? Or would it pass based on his local experience?
For non-living things, it would probably be easier to judge. But Bai Xiaochun was a celestial, and his existence was profoundly tied to the Eternal Immortal Domains. He had no way of knowing whether leaving his own world for a long period of time would affect his Daoseed in some way, or perhaps damage it.
Therefore, he had to be very careful in the choices he made here.
Closing his eyes, he focused on the passage of time. At first it seemed difficult to wrap his mind around how exactly it differed from the flow of time outside. But as time passed, he gradually began to notice what appeared to be flickering vestiges of… something. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure exactly what those vestiges were.
Even worse, there were too few of them. Several days later, he opened his eyes. Although he felt much closer to grasping the key to this world, he was still far from success.
“Were those… vestiges of time?” he thought hesitantly, pondering the seemingly illusory vestiges. For some reason, whenever he looked at them, he felt a sensation of bending or distorting.
By this point, his curiosity was piqued, and he had already forgotten that his main goal in coming into this world was to figure out a way to take ownership of the precious treasure that housed it. Mind filled with thoughts of the vestiges he had seen, he found another hourglass that had a tenfold difference in time, and sat down to meditate.
A few days later, he opened his eyes, and looked a bit confused. There were more vestiges here, and yet, he still couldn’t see them clearly. Frustrated, he gritted his teeth.
“I refuse to believe I can't succeed! Those vestiges are definitely the Essence of time!” This time, he found an hourglass in which time flowed a hundred times faster than normal. Sitting down, he looked at it closely, and then once again sought enlightenment.
This session of enlightenment was one of the most life-changing he had ever experienced. He trembled, and even struggled for breath, as he came to the realization that what he believed to be vestiges of time were far more numerous in this hourglass.
Furthermore, he realized that the space surrounding the vestiges seemed to have distorted and collapsed in some way. It was as if the vestiges themselves were evidence of some form of a unique, strange power!
From what he could tell, that power was what had caused the bending and distorting that he had sensed earlier!
It wasn’t the power of time, it was some other type of power that he was actually very familiar with. As he probed further, and the sensation of familiarity grew, his eyes shot open; he almost couldn’t believe what he was feeling!
“Gravity?” he blurted in shock. “How… how is this even possible!?!?”
Although there were no magical techniques he knew of in the cultivation world that were specifically related to gravity, there were many magical items that utilized such power!
Bai Xiaochun had come into contact with gravity many years ago; he had once offered a pill formula to the north bank of the Spirit Stream Sect in trade, gaining a set of magnetic spirit wings and a protomagnetic pearl. The old woman who was the peak lord of Irispetal Peak had told him that if he ever got the chance, he could use those two items to understand protomagnetic power, and thus learn the Spirit Stream Sect’s Arcane Gravitational Repulsion!
It was for that very reason that Bai Xiaochun had spent so much time following that line of research, and had eventually developed a sphere of gravitational repulsion that could tear the clothes of people around him to shreds!
Furthermore, the toxic gas that eventually became his Fantasy Pill was initially controlled by his understanding of the powers of gravity and repulsion!
Unfortunately, his research never went very far, and he eventually gave up. So how could he ever have imagined that, so many years later, and so far away from the Eternal Immortal Domains, out in the middle of the void, he would find the precious treasure of a sovereign, in which the Essence of time existed, as well as the mysterious power of gravity!?
Although there were differences between time and gravity, those differences were small!
After taking a few breaths to get himself under control, he once again closed his eyes to seek enlightenment. Eventually, his eyes opened, and he looked even more shaken than before.
“It really is gravity! I wasn’t wrong!!” He was completely shaken to find that what he had assumed was time, was actually gravity. Never before had he even thought to correlate time with gravity, but now, the two of them seemed to be superimposing right in front of him!
“What exactly is going on here…?” he thought, confused, Eventually, he rose to his feet, determined to understand the connection between time and gravity.
Mere hundredfold flows of time weren’t enough. Therefore, it was with bloodshot eyes that he found an hourglass in which time flowed five hundred times the normal speed. After that was a thousandfold flow of time.
And thus, he continued to move up in his search for answers. From one-thousandfold he moved to three-thousandfold. Five-thousandfold. Eight-thousandfold….
It was at that point that he rose to his feet, his eyes shining brightly.
“Gravity can change the flow of time!!” Although he looked excited, the determination in his eyes was clear. Turning around, he found some hourglasses with tenfold flows of time, where he confirmed some of his research. Soon, he had a complete understanding of the relationship between gravity and time!
“The stronger gravity is, the slower time flows!” It was an exciting realization. By now, he had forgotten about trying to find the ‘key’ to this place, and was back in the same state he often reached when researching medicinal pills. Every question he answered led to new questions.
“But where does gravity come from?” Bai Xiaochun had always been plagued by that question, but now, in this strange world, he was absolutely determined to find an answer. Once again, he began to work with the hourglasses.
As he searched for clues, days passed, until he forgot how many. He was tired, and his eyes were weary, but he continued to search for the source of gravity.
Eventually, he looked over at one of the 300-meter-tall hourglasses, which was where time moved at ten thousand times the normal speed.
Back when he had first arrived in this world, he wouldn’t have dared to research such an hourglass. But now, in his obsessed state, he didn’t hesitate for a moment!
Sitting down cross-legged, he shivered as he realized that he could just barely hear something like a voice speaking to him!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Important note: I occasionally describe how certain objects will create a “gravitational force”, for example, Bai Xiaochun’s Soul Convergence Pills. That “gravitational force” is different from the gravity being described here. The gravity in this chapter is the real, scientific term for gravity. The term I usually translate as “gravitational force” is more like a generic “sucking force”. Generally speaking, I’ll continue to use “gravitational force” for that “sucking force”, but will make a distinction between the two in the context of actual “gravity” when necessary.