Book 5: The Peak Of Life!
The Wildlands were huge, so huge that few people even knew their true extent. However, most cultivators who understood a thing or two about them were able to guess.
If the entire world were circular, then the Heavenspan Sea would be in the very middle, with four enormous rivers stretching out from it in each of the cardinal directions. The tributaries, streams and even the deltas were all like tree branches that grew out from the rivers.
The areas in which the Heavenspan River existed were the Heavenspan Realm. The places where that river didn’t exist occupied roughly half of the ‘circle’ that made up the world. And those locations were known as... the Wildlands.
There was even a well-known saying: Everything beyond the Great Wall is the Wildlands!
In the areas between the four major rivers were the four major sections of the Great Wall, which acted like gates, keeping the Wildlands locked on the outside, and the Heavenspan Realm sealed on the inside.
If one could look down from high enough, the four sections of the Great Wall would make something like a large circle.
More precisely, there were two circles. The inner circle was the Heavenspan Realm, and the outer circle was the Wildlands. Theoretically speaking, if one kept walking for long enough, they could walk in a huge circle through the Wildlands. As such, it was also possible to reach any of the four major rivers without even setting foot on a boat. 
Somewhere deep in the Wildlands, there was a boundless jungle, dense to the extreme, filled with countless towering trees that formed an enormous canopy overhead. Because of that canopy, only scattered bits of sunlight made it through to the rotting marshlands below.
Enormous jungles like this existed in numerous locations within the Wildlands. Although such areas were devoid of the spiritual power of the Heavenspan River, they still teemed with life. In fact, whether it was the plant life or the local savages, everything seemed to be free of certain constraints that spiritual power brought, and thus were especially large and tough.
One particularly large tree in this jungle had bones littering the ground beneath it, many of which had bite marks on them. There were also the scattered feathers of flying creatures. In the middle of all the bones, leaning up against the tree itself, was a person. His hair was messy and knotted, and he was devouring the carcass of some small creature. The crunching sounds of his chewing were terrifying as they echoed out into the jungle; apparently, he was so hungry that he didn’t care whether or not he was eating the flesh or the bones, or both!
Considering all the bones surrounding this person, it seemed that he had eaten quite a bit during this meal. It was a really frightening scene....
Not too far away, beneath another large tree, was a corpse! Clearly, that corpse had been laying there rotting for many weeks.
It was so withered up that it was difficult to make out its facial features, but based on the clothing, it had been a cultivator in life. There was even a bag of holding laying off to the side next to the corpse.
The living person devouring the raw meat was none other than Bai Xiaochun.
As for the corpse... not even Bai Xiaochun had any idea who it was.
Bai Xiaochun had been teleported to this location on a stormy night roughly two months before. Considering how badly injured he had been, he had struggled just to crawl over to the base of the tree. Using his last scrap of spiritual power, he had pulled out his damaged Eternal Parasol and stabbed it into the ground next to him, relying on the pressure it emanated to protect himself. Having been completely drained of spiritual power, he simply lay there, unmoving.
Eventually, Bai Xiaochun noticed a young man lying on the ground at the base of another nearby tree. At that point, the young man had not been dead. He had stared in disbelief at Bai Xiaochun for a long moment, neither of them talking, until he finally leaned his head down onto the ground and died.
Seeing the young man die had frightened Bai Xiaochun, but at that moment, he had been too weak to even move. The emotion of the moment, combined with his exhaustion, had shoved him into unconsciousness.
He didn’t wake up for almost a week. Unfortunately, he was still too weak to move at that time. His injuries were truly severe, and he had been pushed to the very brink of death, leaving him completely empty of any sort of spiritual power. To recover would definitely require time. After all, he didn’t even have enough spiritual power to open his bag of holding.
He was surrounded by the corpses of various wild animals, which he didn’t remember seeing there when he had passed out earlier. Clearly, the animals had come too close to the Eternal Parasol, and had been killed by the pressure it emitted.
Furthermore, the power of the parasol had also protected the corpse of the young man at the other nearby tree.
“It's a good thing that I ended up pulling the Eternal Parasol out of my bag of holding instead of something else. Otherwise... I would have woken up to find myself eaten.” He sighed bitterly, his heart filled with anger.
“To think that a magnificent major general like myself would fall to this level.... You’ll get what's coming to you one of these days, Granny Red-Dust! I’ll show you how awesome Lord Bai is! And as for you Chen Hetian, you and I are now archenemies!
“Ai. I really got hurt badly this time....” Bai Xiaochun wanted to cry, and at the same time, felt his fury building. However, he couldn’t even turn his head, only move his eyes around to examine his unfamiliar surroundings.
Eventually, he forced himself to accept his current situation, and also realized that since there was no spiritual energy, he was obviously not near the Heavenspan River. Clearly, he had been teleported out into the Wildlands.
After a while, he sighed. Feeling bored, he rolled his eyes over to look at the corpse lying beneath the tree.
Earlier, it had been impossible to determine what had caused the young man’s death. But now his skin was pitch black, leading to the obvious conclusion that he had been hit with a poisonous magical technique that had burned his heart and blood vessels until he died.
Suddenly, another wave of exhaustion swept through Bai Xiaochun, and he passed out again. Another week or so went by before we woke up, but this time, he could move his head a bit. Furthermore, he didn’t feel completely numb. In fact, he felt little stabs of pain all over himself, almost like needles. It was a somewhat unbearable feeling, and yet, he could do little more than sigh.
“Well at least I can feel pain. That means I'm slowly recovering.” There were more animal corpses piled up in the area now, and he was so hungry he felt dizzy. Unfortunately, he could only move his head, nothing else. Swallowing, he lay there blankly for a bit before looking back at the corpse to analyze it a bit further.
“It looks like he was in early Foundation Establishment.... Doesn’t look like he was teleported here from the labyrinth. More like a local soul cultivator. Seems like he was fleeing for his life from somebody or something.” Bai Xiaochun wasn’t too worried about that fact. After all, he had already been laying in one place for about half a month without anyone passing by.
As time passed, and Bai Xiaochun continued to watch the corpse rotting away, he picked up on more and more clues.
“Doesn’t seem like a rogue cultivator. Must be from some local cultivator clan....”
“I remember looking at him right before he died. He looked haggard, and defiant. He must have had some aspirations in life that he never fulfilled....”
“Seems pretty young. Smart and good-looking, although not as much as me.”
He often muttered things like this to himself. After all, as he was slowly recovering, he literally had nothing to do except study the corpse.
When he got tired, he would go back to sleep. Eventually, two months later, he was excited to discover that he could move again. The first thing he did was crawl over one of the animals that had been killed because of the Eternal Parasol.
He devoured the entire thing in a single mouthful.
Over the course of the past two months, he had become so hungry he could barely see straight. That was compounded by the fact that his recovery was rapidly emptying him out. Therefore, he ate all of the nearby animals in a single sitting. He even ate the tiny birds, feathers and all.
The more he ate, the warmer he felt, and the more energy he had. In the end, after devouring everything in sight, he rubbed the back of his neck and finally felt alive again.
“I’m back!!” he yelled excitedly. It was a wonderful feeling to escape with one’s life against all odds. As he thought back to everything which had happened in the labyrinth, it truly felt as if he had ended up stepping halfway through the gates of the underworld.
Sighing, he walked over to the corpse.
“Thank you for keeping me company these past two months, my brother,” he said softly. “I guess it was fate that we met here. If I ever have the chance, I’ll do my best to pay you back.” Reaching down, he picked up the bag of holding lying next to the corpse.
Meanwhile, on a barren mountain some distance away from the jungle, someone was sitting cross-legged in meditation, in a cave.
There were seven or eight corpses laid out in front of him, all of them belonging to Foundation Establishment cultivators. They were little more than skin and bones, with their flesh and blood having been absorbed.
Eventually, the cross-legged figure’s eyes opened, although instead of shining brightly, they glimmered with faded life, as if this person had received significant injuries. Ignoring the corpses, he rubbed his forehead and gritted his teeth.
“Even if you’re dead, Bai Xiaochun, one of these days I’ll pay you back for the humiliation you brought upon me. I’ll avenge myself upon your friends and family, a thousand times over!”
He was none other than... Zhou Yixing!
1. Early descriptions of the lands of Heavenspan refer to how the areas between the rivers are devoid of spiritual energy. I think that the idea is that those areas are within the Great Wall, and are more like “dead zones” as opposed to being part of the Wildlands. If anyone remembers any specific passages which seem to contradict this, or contradict the description in this chapter, please let me know so that I can go back to clarify and adjust the narrative.
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