Chapter 1490: Little Mute
In his first life he was a Chosen. In his second life, he reached the pinnacle of the mortal world. His third life ended soaked in blood. His fourth life was, for the most part, a waste.
After dying in the fourth life, his soul flew out, and the fourth of the nine sealing marks glittered radiantly.
The soul entered the cycle of reincarnation, and the fifth life began.
As that happened, Meng Hao’s true self was sitting cross-legged on the leaf of the huge flower, waiting for the flower to bloom.
On the Transcendence Path, Yan’er was struggling forward with gritted teeth. She had passed the third tribulation, and was proceeding toward the fourth. She repeated to herself over and over again that she had to keep going. Based on what she had heard from others who had come back from the Transcendence Path throughout the years, she knew... that her Master was in the fifth tribulation.
And she was getting closer and closer to that very location.
“Master, Yan’er is going to find you.” The intense focus in her eyes grew stronger. Taking a deep breath, she walked on.
The fifth life began amidst winter snowfall, in a town on the fifth continent. The birth of the child brought no happiness to that family, and was in fact met with silence.
A moment or two later, the young father bitterly walked out of the house... and placed the baby down onto the street.
“It’s not that dad and mom don’t want you,” he murmured, “it’s just that you....”
The reason the baby was abandoned was because he was crippled. He was born with only a stump of a tongue, ensuring... that he would never be able to speak. Furthermore, he had a birthmark on his face, making him frighteningly ugly.
The baby’s crying grew more and more hoarse as it echoed out into the freezing cold. Eventually, a middle-aged man appeared, wearing a raincoat and a wide, conical hat. When he heard the crying, he walked up to the baby.
Looking down, he sighed, then picked the baby up into his arms and carried him home. The man lived in a small, cold house, within which swirled a permanent aura of death.
Gradually, a frozen corpse became visible, which apparently the man... had performed an autopsy on.
This man was the town coroner.
“Abandoned, can’t talk, and ugly as a stray dog. I’ll call you Little Mute.” The man looked at the baby and smiled. After taking off his hat, it was revealed that he had a long scar running down his entire face, giving him a very vicious appearance. His smile was somewhat frightening, but his eyes were kind.
Little Mute was raised on the gruel provided him by his father the coroner. He grew slowly; apparently the iciness of winter had seeped into his bones, and he was always weak and fearful of the cold. He never seemed to develop fully, and it always as if a strong enough gust of wind came along, he might be carried away with it.
Because his father was a coroner, he had frequent contact with dead bodies. Any time someone in the area was killed, the corpse would be sent to the coroner for examination. Gradually, Little Mute learned the same skills as his father.
“Remember this type of wound, Little Mute. Usually it indicates that the spleen was punctured.....”
“See, this one was obviously poisoned.”
“Cut the chest open here, Little Mute, and check for tiny white insects. If you see any, make sure not to touch them.”
“Look at this fellow, Little Mute. His head and torso have both been slashed open. What kind of power would do that? Not even warriors could inflict such precise wounds. These injuries were caused by an Immortal. I wonder what he possibly could have done to offend an Immortal.”
At first, Little Mute was afraid. However, thanks to the constant instruction given him, he eventually became quite familiar with examining corpses. By the time he was a teenager, he didn't feel any fear at all, and would sometimes even go behind the coroner’s back to do his own autopsies.
The coroner grew older and weaker. Soon, he wasn’t taking care of Little Mute, instead, Little Mute was taking care of him.
More years passed, and eventually the coroner had trouble seeing, and could no longer perform the duties of his trade. At his recommendation, Little Mute became the new town coroner.
Little Mute was an adult, but was still physically weak, as though he had never fully grown up. The birthmark on his face grew larger, making him unbearably ugly, and he was as mute as ever. Couple that with the fact that he had frequent contact with corpses, and he developed a somewhat sinister air which ensured that no girl would ever want to marry him.
Little Mute didn't really care about that though. He would be like his father, and live single for all his days.
He went about his coroner's work diligently. It was almost as if he were naturally gifted in those arts. Ten years went by in which he came to be known as the best coroner in the area, and was often called out to other towns for consultations.
The old coroner continued to decline. He had no wife to accompany him, only Little Mute. He would often jabber garrulously, whereupon Little Mute would listen quietly and smile.
Although he couldn’t speak, he was able to make some signs with his hands, allowing him to communicate to some degree.
Years passed, and Little Mute became so well-known as a coroner that he came to be frequently summoned to the capital city. The old coroner eventually died. He passed away peacefully, and in no pain. Little Mute wept.
After burying the old man and paying respects, Little Mute left the town and moved to the capital city.
Year after year passed. Before long, Little Mute was fifty years of age, and was famous throughout the empire. A mere look at any corpse, and he could determine all the details about the cause of death. He could even perform such wonders with skeletons that had been dead for many years.
His understanding of corpses eventually reached an indescribable level, and he came to be known as the empire’s Grandmaster Coroner.
However, coroners were still coroners, and would always be considered lowly. Despite reaching the pinnacle of his field, it was a position that commanded true respect only from others in that same field.
And yet, Little Mute wasn’t resentful or dissatisfied. He knew that he was nothing more than a mute, incapable of speech. In his later years, he returned to his hometown and began to write a book.
He compiled all his knowledge about corpses, all of his experiences and judgements, into one prolific work. One year, winter came, and as he was looking out of the window at the snow, he thought about a story the old coroner had often told.
He had described finding Little Mute in the street one year as a baby, in the middle of winter.
Little Mute sat there quietly, thinking, and his eyes gradually turned blank. He didn’t have much life left in him, and was still as afraid of the cold as he had always been. He suddenly felt as if his life had no warmth in it at all, as if he were like a corpse.
He knew that he wouldn’t be able to last for much longer. One night, he walked out of his house and, facing the gusts of snowy wind that blew against his face, returned to the spot where the coroner said he had found him.
Looking down at the ground, he sighed softly, then laid down and looked up into the sky. He let the cold embrace him. He allowed the snow to fall onto his face. It didn't melt.
Gradually, a smile appeared on his face, a smile that would never fade....
He went as he had come. In his entire life, he never spoke a single word....
His fifth life ended. It was a bit dull when compared to his fourth life. He had none of the glory he had experienced in his first life, none of the vast power of his second. There was no bloodshed like his third life. If anything, his fifth life had been one of mediocrity.
The only thing he had possessed was peace and quiet, as well as mastery of his field of work.
His soul rose up and seemed to merge into the wind and snow. At the same time, the fifth sealing mark began to shine brightly.
Yet again he was reincarnated, and his sixth life began.
About that same time, Yan’er was trembling as she walked along the Transcendence Path. The mastiff had been with her for the hundreds of years she had been walking along, and by this point, she was reaching the end of the fourth tribulation.
Her cultivation base had risen continuously along her journey, and her enlightenment had grown. She was now at the level of a Dao Lord. The fourth tribulation had been very difficult.
One step after another, she proceeded along, drawing ever closer to the fifth tribulation.
Eventually she reached the border, and her eyes began to shine brightly. At long last, she was able to lay eyes on her Master....
There he was, a corpse sitting in meditation, as he had sat for hundreds of years....
He was covered in dust, but his facial features were clearly distinguishable. Everything about him caused Yan’er’s heart to tremble. She quietly dropped to her knees and kowtowed.
“Master,” she said hoarsely, her cheeks wet with tears. Despite the hundreds of years which had passed, her memories of her Master were as clear as ever.
She would never forget. Could never forget.
This was her focus. Her obsession. It was why she had climbed the Vast Expanse Shrine and walked the Transcendence Path. The reason for everything was her master. She wanted to see for herself whether or not he had truly perished.
As of this moment, she could look at his corpse, but could not approach it. If she took even a step into the fifth tribulation, she would be destroyed in all aspects. She could only stand there, one step away from him, weeping. After a long moment though, her eyes began to shine with a strange light.
“Wait a second....” A tremor ran through her as she looked at Meng Hao’s forehead. After a moment passed, she gritted her teeth and extended her right hand toward his face.
To do that, she had to reach into the fifth tribulation. Pressure exploded onto her arm, which instantly began to transform into a blood mist. However, in the very moment before that happened, she managed to touch his forehead.
Rumbling could be heard as Yan’er coughed up a mouthful of blood. She staggered back, her right arm half destroyed. And yet, she didn't care about that. In that brief moment, she had discovered a secret which no other person would have noticed.
“Master's forehead opened up. This is the Dao of Reincarnation. That magic... was something he passed on to me. His soul... didn't naturally disperse. Other people might think that, but not me. I'm his apprentice, and from what I can sense, Master... isn’t dead!
“But if he didn’t die, then why did his soul fire go out...? Unless....” Yan’er was not the young girl she had been so long ago. She was intelligent to begin with, and because of her understanding of Meng Hao, she had already guessed the truth. However, she didn't want to accept it.
After a long moment, her eyes began to glow, and she began to breathe heavily. The focus in her eyes grew more intense.
“Master... even if you are in the cycle of reincarnation, then I will journey among the masses to find you....” With that, she rose to her feet. By means of medicinal pills, she regrew her right arm, then took a deep breath and gave Meng Hao’s corpse a final, long look. Then, she and the mastiff turned and headed back toward the entrance of the Transcendence Path. Her destination: the nine continents of Planet Vast Expanse, where she would search for her Master.
She understood how the Dao of Reincarnation worked, and from the clues present, she was sure that her master was currently somewhere on Planet Vast Expanse.
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