Chapter 1489: Chen Lei
The clone's fourth life also began in winter, on the sixth continent, in a sprawling mansion.
In addition to the cultivators on Planet Vast Expanse, there was also a warrior class. In some ways, warriors also existed on a higher level than mortals, although to cultivators they were little more than ants.
In his fourth life, Meng Hao’s clone was born as the Young Lord of the mansion. The mansion was located in the capital city of the mortal world of the sixth continent. For some years, it had been inhabited by a clan which had been founded by one of the most powerful warriors in the land. In fact, in the mortal world, he was known as an Arch-Warrior.
The Arch-Warrior's surname was Chen. The day Meng Hao was born, a thunderstorm raged outside, and so he came to be known as Chen Lei. [1. Chen is a common surname, the same surname as Meng Hao’s Elder Brother Chen Fan. Lei means thunder or lightning]
On the day the clone's fourth life began, Meng Hao’s true self was speeding through the starry sky of the Vast Expanse, away from the location where the seventh copper mirror shard had been located. Behind him echoed an enraged roar.
A dust storm exploded out, filling the starry sky, transforming into an enormous head. Its face appeared to be enraged, and yet, was too frightened of Meng Hao to go chasing after him. Its roaring caused the starry sky to tremble.
“The day I unseal myself, I’ll come looking for you!” raged the face. “I’ll wipe out your entire bloodline. I’ll eradicate everyone connected to your Karma!”
Meng Hao’s true self smiled and responded in a cold voice: “You won’t have to come looking for me. I’ll come back for you before that seal is unraveled.”
The difficulty in acquiring this mirror shard had exceeded that of all the previous ones. Despite his current level of power, he had experienced many dangerous situations before managing to get his hands on it and make an escape.
He flew along, an excited expression on his face. He now had only one more mirror shard to collect before he could call out to the copper mirror. By this point, he was already able to get a general feeling for where the copper mirror was, although it was impossible to narrow down enough of a direction to search for it directly.
“Once I get that last mirror shard, I’ll be able to call out to the copper mirror!” His eyes shone with anticipation as he shot in the direction of the eighth mirror shard.
Even considering the speed he was capable of, it took him ten years to reach his destination. As he neared the location of the eighth shard, he frowned.
There was no vortex here. Instead, he saw a flower!
It was astonishingly large, about as big as half of Planet Vast Expanse.
It’s roots seemed to meld into the void itself, and as for the flower, it was not in a state of bloom. It was still little more than a bud. However, the aura it emanated caused even Meng Hao to shiver in fear.
He could clearly sense that the eighth copper mirror shard was located within that flower bud. However, no matter what divine abilities he unleashed, he couldn't even scratch the surface of the flower bud.
From what he could sense, the flower was currently in a state of growth, and after some time passed, it would bloom naturally, without any interference or assistance from him.
“I just have to wait until it blooms...?” he thought, frowning. After a moment passed, he tried out a few more divine abilities, but in the end, sighed in defeat.
“I guess it doesn’t matter. My clone is still in his fourth life. He needs a bit more time. I guess... I’ll just wait here and watch the flower grow.” His eyes flickered as he made some augury calculations. “At the fastest, it will probably take a hundred years, and at the slowest, a few hundred. However, once it blooms... I’ll be able to enter. Then, the eighth mirror shard will be mine.” With that, he flickered into motion, appearing on one of the flower’s leaves, where he sat down cross-legged, closed his eyes, and began to meditate quietly.
Time passed. Some years later on the sixth continent of Planet Vast Expanse, his clone’s fourth life, Chen Lei, was no longer an infant. He was now ten years old, and yet was already an important person in the clan mansion.
He had a high status, and was shockingly talented. He had advanced by leaps and bounds in his cultivation of the way of warriors, and already had developed inner qi. He had even come to be called the Junior Arch-Warrior!
Despite his talents, he wasn’t very interested in training, and spent most of his time playing. His parents weren’t happy about that, nor was his grandfather, the Arch-Warrior who had started this whole clan. However, they could do little more than sigh.
In the final analysis, it could be said that Chen Lei grew up quite pampered. In fact, when he finally reached the marrying age, he suddenly became obsessed with traveling. He took his servants all over the country, and by the time he lost interest in that, he was already thirty years old. His parents thought that he had finally reached the point of being ready to settle down, and were about to arrange a marriage....
But then Chen Lei suddenly fell in love with a girl. She was a very important person, being the daughter of the emperor. She was on an outing once when Chen Lei ran into her, and he was instantly smitten. After that, he poured all of his energy into pursuing her.
He lavished her with gifts to gain favor, and did virtually anything she asked him to do. It got to the point that the entire clan was dragged into the matter, and soon everyone began to suffer because of it. Chen Lei’s grandfather was gradually weakening in his old age, and his parents, despite being powerful warriors, were not Arch-Warriors. Because of Chen Lei’s pursuit of this beautiful girl, the entire clan entered a state of clear decline.
At one point in his pursuit of the princess, she manipulated him into killing an important court official, which instigated a huge catastrophe. In order to save Chen Lei’s life, the clan had to part with all of its remaining wealth. In addition, his grandfather ended up serving the emperor and performing all sorts of dangerous tasks, which pushed him closer and closer to the grave.
His grandfather had originally assumed that this would be a wakeup call for Chen Lei. How could he ever have imagined that, despite waking up to reality, Chen Lei would then become entranced with Immortal cultivation? The clan was destitute, and Chen Lei was almost forty years old, and yet he still decided to head out to search for the path to Immortality.
He walked that path for an entire decade, and yet made little progress.
Ten years later, he was half a century old. His hair was graying, and he was growing weaker physically. It was with listless eyes that he finally returned home, only to find an empty and abandoned mansion, as well as numerous gravestones.
Everyone was dead. The second year after he left, his grandfather had passed away. In the eighth year, his parents had been killed by a powerful enemy. All the other members of the clan were slaughtered, and it was only because of the kindness of the surviving servants that anyone had been buried at all.
When Chen Lei saw all of this, his mind went blank. It rained that day, and he ended up standing in the downpour, shivering. Grief filled him, and he began to weep, his tears mixing in with the rainwater as they fell to the ground.
“Dad.... Mom.... Grandpa....” Now he truly awakened. He thought back to his life, and he suddenly wanted to laugh. He recalled the grand aspirations of his youth, how he had developed inner qi at such a young age, and how he had thought his entire life would be simple and easy. He had always thought that as long as he wanted to succeed in something hard enough, he would.
He had loved the finer things in life. He had traveled the world. He had fallen in love with a beautiful princess, and thrown away vast sums of wealth to try to win her heart. In the end, she used him to kill someone, someone he should never have killed. Thus had disaster been wrought.
He dragged his clan into ruin, and then ran off to practice cultivation. Now that he had returned, Chen Lei felt completely useless, a sinner who had killed his entire family and clan.
In his bitterness, he laughed until he coughed up blood, and then collapsed onto the ground, where he lay, pelted by the falling rain.
The next day, the rain stopped. Chen Lei woke up, and looked even older than before. Although he was only fifty, it was as if he had already had one foot in his coffin.
From that day on, a new gravekeeper lived in the mansion, who would often contemplate his life, and his past madness.
Time passed. Ten years later, his back was hunched with age. He could tell that his life was nearing its end. That winter, it was extremely cold. One bright morning, snow began to fall, and he suddenly heard the sound of horse hooves. Off in the distance, a military procession could be seen.
Soldiers rode horses in tight formation around a palanquin. As the procession neared, someone in the palanquin apparently said something to the soldiers, and they all stopped moving. A pretty young woman emerged, dressed in expensive clothing. Next to her was an old lady, who she supported with her arm as they walked toward the mansion.
“Grandmother, why did we stop here?” the young woman asked, sounding a bit puzzled.
“When I saw this place, I thought of an old friend,” replied the old woman. She was an old-timer, but had aged well, and wore expensive clothing just like the young woman. Few wrinkles could be seen on her face, which radiated a healthy glow.
The grandmother and granddaughter stopped outside of the barren mansion. The granddaughter was polite, and didn’t ask any further questions. As for the old woman, mixed emotions could be seen on her face, as though she was thinking about things that had happened once upon a time. There was even a bit of remorse in her eyes.
After a long moment passed, the old woman sighed, and was about to turn and leave, when her granddaughter suddenly said, “Grandmother, someone's there.”
The young woman pointed as the front door of the mansion opened, and Chen Lei appeared, stooped over like an old man.
Almost immediately, soldiers rushed forward protectively. The old woman studied Chen Lei’s face, and a touch of uncertainty appeared in her expression.
“You are...?” she asked.
Chen Lei bowed his head and replied in a raspy voice, “One of the servants here. I watch over the graves.”
“Have you lived here for a long time?” the old woman asked.
“Ten years,” he replied softly.
The old woman didn't respond at first. When she did, she asked, “The Young Lord from this place... did he... ever come back?”
Chen Lei opened his mouth as if to respond, then closed it and simply shook his head.
The old woman stood there in silence for another long moment. Then she called for the soldiers to leave two pieces of silver to help pay for the maintenance of the graves. With that, she returned to the palanquin, and the procession began to move on. As it did, the old woman pulled open the palanquin curtain and looked back at Chen Lei. This time, she could clearly see his profile, and suddenly, a tremor ran through her.
Oh so slowly, her eyes went blank, and she closed the curtain.
The procession disappeared off into the distance.
Chen Lei ignored the two pieces of silver and looked up at the falling snow. How could he not have recognized that old woman? She was the very princess he had fallen in love with all those years ago.
Murmuring to himself in a voice that only he could hear, he walked back into the mansion.
The snow began to fall harder.
Chen Lei straightened up his clothing and walked into the rear courtyard, where the clan graveyard was located. He had long since dug a grave there for himself, which he slowly climbed down into. At the bottom was a coffin, which he entered. After closing the lid, he took a final breath, and then closed his eyes.
“What a waste of a life,” he thought. He never opened his eyes again.
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