“So why would a person purposely go live in the mud?” Li Qiye smiled.
“There must be a reason, some sorts of plans for gains.” The youth’s eyes narrowed.
“Indeed. A mortal world shouldn’t have immortals so when they come, they’re coming with an agenda.” Li Qiye said.
“What you’re saying is truly frightening.” The youth smiled wryly: “All cultivators yearn for immortality. Emperors and progenitors believed that immortality is the true apex.
He paused for a bit before continuing: “But, you are saying that immortality is the wrong and certainly evil path. This perspective offends the whole of society.”
“Not necessarily evil but definitely different. This world doesn’t have immortals - this phrase is certainly true. So when some claim to be immortals, whether true or not, they are not part of this world.” Li Qiye said.
“Why are you so sure, Dao Brother? Why can’t the world have immortals?” The youth asked.
“How many progenitors come out in each generation?” Li Qiye answered with a question.
“Normally one or two, three would be a miracle.” The youth responded.
This has been true across the history of Three Immortals. The appearance of three in a single generation was extremely rare.
“So why is this the case?” Li Qiye smiled.
“The fortunes and creations of heaven and earth. The world is only so big, how can it gestate an immortal!” The youth understood right away.
“Correct, the size of a pond is determined, same with the fish within. A tiny pond can’t produce a golden qilin and definitely not a true dragon. In case a true dragon appears, it will still leap out of the pond and soar above the nine firmaments.” Li Qiye nodded.
“No wonder why the wise sages and the progenitors of the past all enter Uncrossable Expanse. The rumor is true then.”
“Right, that’s why Emperor Sui, Nong, and Xi never appeared again. Remember, it’s a good thing to not have immortals around. Once they descend, it will be the start of a calamity.” Li Qiye said.
“What about you? Do you want to become an immortal?” The youth stared at the ocean for a while before turning back.
“That depends on whether taking the next step is possible. I know what you’re trying to say, it isn’t easy so that’s why I must enter the expanse.” Li Qiye smiled. 
“I see, Dao Brother. The fog has been lifted from my eyes after listening to you. You have been a good teacher.” He bowed deeply towards Li Qiye.
Li Qiye accepted the respectful gesture.
“Teacher, how hard is it to become an immortal?” The youth changed his address from “Dao Brother” to “Teacher” to show more respect. 
“Can be easy or hard depending on your definition of an immortal.” Li Qiye chuckled.
“Then let’s start with the world’s definition first then yours, Teacher.” The youth smiled.
“I can’t speak for everyone else, but maybe in their eyes, what’s above a progenitor is an immortal.” Li Qiye smiled and shook his head.
“Like our ancestors.” The youth said.
“Though I haven’t seen their true forms, maybe you’re right. They can be considered immortals with your definition.” Li Qiye said.
He finished another cup and added: “However, in reality, they’re only pseudo-immortals at best. This includes myself as well even if I manage to take another step.”
“Then what is a true immortal, Teacher? Everlasting life?” The youth respectfully poured another cup then asked.
“Do you think everlasting life and indestructibility are that unobtainable?” Li Qiye looked at the youth.
“How many have done it?” The youth asked.
“Look at the ocean, how many progenitors are still alive now in there?” Li Qiye asked.
“I don’t know.” The youth didn’t dare to answer without being certain.
“Some have lived for a long time without needing to slumber.” Li Qiye revealed.
“Is that considered everlasting life? How about indestructibility?” The youth replied.
“Some have done both.” Li Qiye stared at the ocean and said.
“Really?!” The youth stood up in shock.
“Yes, but you can call it pseudo once again since they require external items.” Li Qiye nodded.
“I see. I understand your definition now - someone who has both everlasting life and indestructibility is a true immortal.” The youth speculated.
“One more thing.” Li Qiye smiled: “Using their own dao! Now that’s not relying on any external factor. Otherwise, right here and now, I can turn back towards Three Immortals and become an immortal!”
“....” The youth was peerless enough to understand Li Qiye’s intent right away.
“You’re still not an immortal.” The youth took a deep breath.
“It’s because I look down on doing so.” Li Qiye smiled: “No one in Three Immortals can touch me right now, not even the three emperors together.”
This casual statement was enough to declare his supremacy.
“Allow me to thank you for being so virtuous on behalf of all living beings in Three Immortals. Your merciful thought blesses all of us.” The youth got on his knees.
“Stand up, I don’t accept this one.” Li Qiye shook his head.
The confused youth stood up but didn’t directly ask.
“This has nothing to do with virtue and mercy. On the contrary, brutality and murder are my themes. One thought of mine will end with a massacre, leaving behind only blood and bones. The only reason why I won’t do it is once again, I look down on doing so.” He spoke with more arrogance and pride than any others.
“Do you know why the disdain is there?” Li Qiye asked.
“I’m all ears, Teacher.” The youth said.
“The dao heart. As I said earlier, all are just pseudo-immortals regardless of how strong they are. They can break the firmament and sweep through the realms, it doesn’t matter. Only an unchanging dao heart will reach the truth and at that point, one will become a true immortal without relying on external help.” Li Qiye elaborated.
“I understand. Becoming a true immortal requires a peerless dao heart more than pure power.” The youth nodded.
“That’s right.” Li Qiye nodded: “A master can create light and dark or save the souls with a single thought. However, this doesn’t stop them from having a heart devil and falling into darkness. Only an unchanging dao heart will reach the ultimate truth.”
“Yes.” The youth replied.
Li Qiye turned towards the ocean and continued: “Some have gone really far but unfortunately, urgency among other things made them fall. It’s too late to try and go back once they have crossed the line, betraying their original purity. Their dao heart would have moved and there’s no putting it back in the right place.”
He paused for a bit before adding: “That’s why the three emperors are quite impressive. They didn’t take the next step and still managed to maintain their pure heart.”
“It is our fortune.” The youth agreed.
“I’m sure you know that Three Immortals have prospered enough after so many years. Very delicious, don’t you think?” Li Qiye said.
“I don’t dare to think about this.” The youth put on a forced smile, feeling a chill running down his spine despite being at the apex of this generation.
“The greatest of delicacies especially for the starving ones. They won’t be able to maintain their dao heart and will see Three Immortals as a delicious steak.” Li Qiye said.
“Teacher, that doesn’t sound optimistic at all.” The youth smiled wryly.
“You have been sitting here for so long to look at the ocean. I know you can sense it.” Li Qiye gave him the side-eye.
“Agitation.” The youth hesitated before admitting.
“Uncrossable Expanse has been the same throughout history, why is it changing now?” Li Qiye asked.
“I do not dare to speculate baselessly.” The youth pondered for a bit before answering.
“I can tell you.” Li Qiye smiled before focusing his eyes towards the horizon.