Chapter 567: Ke Jiusi
He stepped onto the stone dais located at the top of the fourth peak. From a distance, this part of the mountain looked sharp and pointed, but in actuality, it was flat.
It was like a large square, surrounded by nine huge cauldrons, all covered with fissures. In the direct center of it all was a wooden coffin. The coffin was lidless, and was carved, not with magical symbols, but with ancient depictions of auspicious clouds and beasts. There were also mountains and rivers, even a vast starry sky.
At first glance, the carvings seemed very complicated, but after closer inspection one could find simplicity within the complexity.
It gave one an indescribable feeling of both contradiction and harmony.
Meng Hao approached the coffin and, nearing the side of, looked down inside. It was empty. There was no corpse. No remains. Nothing.
There was no host body here.
As of this moment, only eighty breaths of time remained until the opening of the Second Plane. Meng Hao stood next to the coffin and looked down silently at the emptiness. Then he sighed.
It would be impossible for him to say that he wasn’t disappointed. He had abandoned the Inner Sect disciple host body provided by Fang Yu. He had stuck with his own ideas, and the brutal reality made it so that he could only sigh and stand there with complex emotions filling his heart.
Silently, he turned his gaze to the scene below the mountain. There were now only seventy breaths of time left. There was no way he would be able to find another suitable corpse now. On his way here, he found that about halfway up the mountain, there were absolutely no corpses to be seen.
From his vantage point atop the mountain, he could now see that the entire mountain was covered with dense restrictive spells. They were so tightly packed that it almost seemed as if the entire mountain were covered with one gigantic restrictive spell that would prevent anyone from reaching the top.
Any one of the various restrictive spells would have completely destroyed Meng Hao had he even touched them. The sight of the densely packed spells caused Meng Hao to feel somewhat confused.
“How did I actually make it up here?” It was the first time he had considered the question. During the journey up the mountain he hadn’t really paid attention. The four hour trip up from the foot of the mountain had seemed relatively easy.
Now that he looked back down, though, the entire mountain seemed like a forbidden zone that no one could even enter.
He could see that it would take astonishing luck to be able to traverse a path successfully and not trigger even a single restrictive spell.
“Unless there was someone that allowed me to come here….” he thought, his eyes glittering. As of this moment, only thirty breaths of time remained. Meng Hao looked away from the fourth peak toward the temple on top of the distant first peak.
According to what he remembered after waking up, he was now standing in the same position as the man he had seen. He looked off in the distance, his hair and robes fluttering gently in the wind.
When only ten breaths of time remained, determination appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes.
“You let me see you,” he said, “and you… allowed me to successfully reach the top of this mountain. Perhaps your identity isn’t even important at this point.” Five breaths of time remained. He turned and strode over to the coffin. After taking a deep breath, he crawled in calmly, laid down, and closed his eyes.
Three breaths. Two breaths. One breath….
A massive rumbling sound suddenly filled the air of the ancient Demon Immortal Sect. It far exceeded the sound of thunder as it rolled about the entire world. Ripples suddenly spread out from the sky, covering everything as far as the eye could see.
With the exception of Meng Hao, everyone else who had come to this world sat closed-eyed and cross-legged next to the various host bodies they had selected. When the ripples reached them, the corpses began to glow. Ghost images of both the host bodies and the Cultivators sprang up and then began to superimpose and merge together.
As for Meng Hao, he lay there with his eyes closed. As the rumbling filled the sky, he lost consciousness. The ripples that spread out throughout the Primordial Demon Immortal Plane did not seem to affect him at all.
However, it was at this moment that a white-robed man appeared, standing in exactly the same spot Meng Hao had just been standing, which was also the same spot Meng Hao had noticed when he awoke in the river of stars.
The man’s hair was disheveled, and his long white robe was spattered with bloodstains. His hair covered his face, making it was impossible to see his facial features. The only thing that was possible to distinguish was that he was not a woman.
As the wind blew, his hair lifted up a bit, revealing two ancient eyes filled with both perplexity and regret.
The aura of decay that rose up from him seemed to fuse with that of the entire Primordial Demon Immortal Plane, making it impossible to distinguish between the two.
The man looked over in the direction of the fifth peak. His eyes awash with memories of the past, he softly said, “Night… let him in, okay?”
As the words left his mouth, the entire ancient Demon Immortal Sect trembled.
A droning voice suddenly echoed out. It sounded almost as if it weren’t awake, like the words were spoken by someone who was dreaming. “That does not conform with the rules.”
“He is the only person to see me after all these years. Perhaps it is some destined Karma. Allow him… to represent me in the past. Allow him to speak those words to the old man… the words that I didn’t understand how to say back then.” The white-robed man’s voice was hoarse, and his eyes were warm. However, within that warmth was an ancient thoughtfulness, a yearning and deep regret that he clearly could not free himself from.
“I’ve been keeping those words buried in my heart for ninety thousand years already,” the old man said softly.
The entire world was quiet for a very long moment. Finally, the droning voice could be heard once again. The sound of the voice rose and fell like the waves of the ocean. “He has no identity.”
“Give him my identity,” replied the white-robed man.
The world once again went silent.
“Make time pass back into that year….” The white-robed man closed his eyes, covering over the pain that lay inside. Unfortunately, he was not able to cover the sorrow and longing within in his heart.
Each bit of light in the world suddenly came from all directions to pour into Meng Hao. He gradually grew transparent, and then disappeared. In that instant, a huge sound, like endless thunder, echoed about.
At the same time, a warm glow spread out to fill the entire ancient Demon Immortal Sect. Suddenly, a new world became visible within the glow, a world that was a memory of ancient times!
The manner in which Meng Hao vanished was entirely different from that of the other Cultivators from the lands of South Heaven. All of them fused with host bodies whereas Meng Hao… actually entered the Second Plane with his own body!
The others were merely borrowing the identity of someone else. As for Meng Hao… he was not borrowing another identity. He was acquiring it!
Borrowing and acquiring are two very different things.
As the light spread out to fill the ancient Demon Immortal Sect, the white-haired man stood in place, back toward the first peak, just like before. What he saw in his mind’s eye was an old man, looking at him with a smile on his face.
I can see in your eyes that you will forgive me of anything, forgive for any mistakes I make. It’s as if you are always watching over me, waiting to silently correct all of my blunders.
Back then, if I made a mistake, one word of criticism from you would send me into a rage.
Back then, I ran amok with the silkpants and acted tyrannically. I never saw the wrinkles in the corners of your eyes, nor the look of disappointment in your gaze. [1. “Silkpants” is a term in Chinese similar to “silver spoon” in English. It refers to spoiled rich kids]
Back then, I unhesitatingly gave a precious Sect treasure to a woman, but didn't notice that your once proud head was now bowed in shame toward the rest of the Sect.
Back then, I would polish my sword to flaunt my identity. I never noticed that you had suddenly grown old.
Finally one day, you passed away in meditation. Your body turned into ash. I cried. My heart broke. My world was gone. Heaven and Earth were no more. Father… you were gone.
I can see your aged face, and I can see how you doted upon me. I can see that throughout all the years, it didn’t matter what mistakes I made, you always forgave me. I realize now that… I have always owed you a certain commitment. I have always owed you… some special words.
Those words, have been waiting with me for ninety thousand years.
The sky in ancient times was blue.
When Meng Hao opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was that blue sky. Then he saw white cranes flying about. Auspicious beasts circled about in the air. A din of conversation and activity could be heard everywhere, echoing about.
He saw countless enormous pillars of light rising up into the sky. Everything was bright and colorful.
Beams of light shot through the air in all directions.
Off in the distance was a mountain. It was green and full of life and vigor. It was at this point that Meng Hao suddenly heard an ancient voice ringing out to fill the world.
“I give a sermon regarding the Dao every ten thousand years. This time, I will speak to you of a legend. The legend tells of a true spirit whose name is Night. When he closes his eyes to sleep, the world is his dream. When he opens his eyes, he awakens from the dream. Heaven and Earth are boundless….”
The ancient voice slowly grew softer. It seemed as if it was only a murmuring in the ear, but at the same time, echoing throughout the world.
“Time is like a dream. It’s impossible to tell what is true and what is false. When you dream, you see others. Perhaps in the world of others, the dream version of you appears.
“Or perhaps our lives are like an invisible bubble that could pop at any time, and cause us to awaken. Who dreams of you, and who you dream of… this is truly a difficult riddle to explain….”
The voice of a young woman could suddenly be heard in Meng Hao’s ears. “Eldest Brother?”
The voice sounded both astonished and anxious. “Eldest Brother!”
A tremor ran through Meng Hao’s body, as if his soul were suddenly returning from outside. When it slammed into him, he felt as if he were being torn apart. Pain pulsed through him, and ghost images sprang up everywhere.
He panted as the sensation went on for the space of several breaths. When it vanished, the sky was blue again, and the world… once again appeared.
“Eldest Brother, what are you doing?!” In front of Meng Hao stood a young woman wearing a long, pink garment. Her eyes were wide and filled with confusion. She appeared to be both puzzled and also furious as she looked at Meng Hao.
He looked down at himself. He was wearing a white robe and had long hair, and was seated cross-legged on top of an altar that was located at the peak of a mountain. He was surrounded by nine cauldrons, from which green smoke slowly ascended.
This was the very top of the Fourth Peak!
Meng Hao’s mind trembled. Although his head was filled with splitting pain, his eyes shone brightly. As of this moment he knew that he… had entered the Second Plane. What caused him the most shock, however, was that he actually… had not lost his memories the way Fang Yu said would happen.
Furthermore, a voice suddenly rang out in his mind, announcing his identity as clear as day.
“Ke Jiusi… of the Fourth Peak… one of the seven Elite Apprentices of the Demon Immortal Sect!” [2. Ke Jiusi’s name in Chinese is 柯九思 kē jiǔ sī. Ke is a surname which also means “stem.” Jiu means “nine” and Si means “to think.” Literally it could be interpreted as “Ke Nine Thoughts” or “Ke Think Nine Times.”]
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