Chapter 966: A Tribulation per Character

The sheepskin scroll was several dozens of meters long, and when rolled up, it looked like an ordinary scroll containing text and images that most people would find completely incomprehensible. However, thanks to the deep understanding of hell given to Yang Qi by the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth, he could easily read it and learn of secrets that would normally take years of contemplation.

After his first read-through, he had a basic understanding of the general meaning and knew that he absolutely had to cultivate this technique.

Even if he didn’t succeed in mastering it, he had to unlock some of its mysteries. The benefit to his Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth would be immense. Furthermore, considering that he had no teacher to help him once he acquired the other two parts of the God Legion Seal, this energy art would definitely give him an advantage.

Truth be told the True-Devil Unspoiled-by-Myriad-Kalpas-and-Tribulations Body was the most dramatically important thing he had acquired so far. Even godhood was unimportant compared to it. Godhood would appear here and there in the Great Necropolis, but the True-Devil Unspoiled-by-Myriad-Kalpas-and-Tribulations Body wasn’t something that could randomly be encountered.

As Yang Qi continued to pore over the information in the sheepskin scroll, he forced himself to memorize it, until his nascent divinity slowly began to feel exhausted.

Within his nascent divinity, countless peoples and civilizations appeared. He gained understanding of millions upon millions of energy arts, and conquered billions of knowledge-devils. Yet the technique was just too profound. Each and every character in every line of text contained a tribulation.

There was civilization tribulation, martial tribulation, dao tribulation, heavenly tribulation, earthly tribulation, human tribulation, doomsday tribulation, middle tribulation, early tribulation, grand tribulation, minor tribulation, devil tribulation, immortal tribulation, god tribulation, baneful tribulation, empyrean tribulation, flame tribulation, energy tribulation, ash tribulation....

There were countless types of tribulations, and their ultimate core meaning was wrapped up in the text written on the sheepskin scroll.

A person lived only by passing through a cycle of endless tribulations.

Sometimes there were even tribulations within tribulations. In that sense, the tribulations were like the endless waves on the surface of a sea. When one wave passed, another wave would come along after it.

That was the ultimate meaning of tribulations. [1]

Both tribulations and kalpas were devils. And devils formed the bonds of transmigration. [2] Having vanquished numerous knowledge-devils, Yang Qi could also have been said to have vanquished numerous knowledge tribulations. And his victory over the dependency-devils were victories over dependency tribulations.

In the end, tribulations could be called kalpas, and vice versa. [3]

Tribulations could never be done away with, and were tantamount to fate, being a motivating force for the entire universe. [4]

The sheepskin scroll elevated devils to the same status as tribulations or kalpas. Within the midst of tribulation, one could strive for that which was Deathless. And even heaven-gods could perish eternally within tribulation.

Even the Sovereign Lord.

‘So, that’s how it is. That’s how it is. I would never have been able to guess this myself. Who would’ve explained devils in this fashion? It seems my understanding of devils has been seriously lacking.... I used to think that devils represented darkness and gloom. Wretched evil. And I thought radiance and light were the opposition to that. Yin and yang. I assumed that devils are yin, and gods are yang, and that they exist in opposition to create the universe.

‘But now I see that devils are like tribulations and kalpas. This changes everything. Life is full of all sorts of tribulations, and in fact, every twist and turn you experience could be called that. And even if you successfully pass through all of them, the arrogance you develop as a result could be considered a tribulation of success. Being too successful is a tribulation just as much as being a failure is. Tribulations are everywhere, and so are devils. If this is the true meaning of devils, then what are gods about? If devils are tribulations, what are gods?’

He had no idea how to even begin answering that question. However, he had the feeling that if he did, his cultivation base would advance by leaps and bounds, and he would easily break through to the Terrifying level.

The more he thought about it, the more he felt like the answer was within him, just on the verge of being revealed. In fact, thanks to all of this new understanding, he already felt like his will convergence was just about to become Terrifying.

If the Terrifying level was “one”, then his current psychic scale was at ninety-nine percent. He was just a tiny hair away from that breakthrough. Unfortunately, many valiant and heroic individuals had remained stuck at that level and never been able to progress past it.

Several hours passed before Yang Qi digested the final character in the script. Countless kalpas and tribulations swirled within his nascent divinity, and his head ached. Sitting down cross-legged, he focused on vanquishing the new knowledge-devils.

The process took several days.

The monsters present were all very patient and didn’t interfere with him. As the mahātmā fiend-devil, the scholarly fiend-devil, and Dream Mintdance looked on, their eyes glittered with shock.

Eventually, the mahātmā fiend-devil said, “This kid is incredible. Far more impressive than I’d imagined. Not even I would dare to read the entire sheepskin scroll. Every single character that makes up the text contains a tribulation that the ancient True Devil Great Sage gained enlightenment of. Reading that scroll isn’t like reading an ordinary book; every character you read involves experiencing a tribulation. Most fiend-devils who read even one character would end up dead.”

“Is the scroll really that powerful?” one of the nearby Infernalfolk asked. “Mahātmā, I’m also on the very cusp of breaking through to the Terrifying level. Although that final step is daunting, I've always held hope that I would succeed. Considering that the sheepskin scroll is Devilfolk property, do you think I could take a look at it? I really can’t believe that even one character from the script could be all that dangerous.”

This particular infernal had a power index of three thousand and was considered very formidable. Although he wasn’t on the level of the mahātmā, the scholar, or Dream Mintdance, he was still one of the top experts. He was surrounded by a rather large group of other fiend-devils that formed a powerful faction in the temple.

“Go ahead and take a look,” the mahātmā said. Waving his hand, he sent the sheepskin scroll flying over to the infernal, who opened it and began to read.

However, after reading only the first character, he shivered. It was as if he were experiencing intense pain. After reading the second character, cracks spread out across his skin, which began to ooze with blood.

After reading the third character, popping and cracking sounds were heard as his meridians began to explode.

SNICK!

He finished the fourth character, but upon reaching the fifth character, he couldn’t hold on any longer. Blood and chunks of organs began bursting out from inside of him, and he even began to smoke as though he might explode at any moment.

WHOOSH!

The mahātmā quickly thrust his palm out, sending vital energy into the infernal, stabilizing him. It took a moment, but the infernal finally trembled and recovered his composure, yet a look of terror could be seen in his eyes. “One tribulation per character. I can't believe it. I read five characters and experienced five tribulations. Wind tribulation. Water tribulation. Doom tribulation. Early tribulation. Knowledge tribulation! And I couldn’t last any longer. Forget cultivating this energy art, it’s impossible to even read it!

“Hold on! That kid already read the entire text? What exactly is he? There must be more than ten thousand tribulations within that text. If he read the whole thing, does that mean he's going to master the ultimate energy art of the Devilfolk?”

“Not even I could’ve guessed that this would happen,” the mahātmā said. “He actually read the whole thing. Truth be told, my original intention was just to test him and see how many characters he could get through. Turns out, he read the entire thing through in one sitting. He obviously has some of the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth, otherwise he’d already be dead.” He chuckled darkly. “One tribulation per character. It’s not as simple as it sounds. I can only get through about a hundred characters, and even a god would find it hard to read the whole thing.”

“Don’t end up outsmarting yourself, Mahātmā,” the scholarly fiend-devil said. “What happens if reading the sheepskin scroll makes this kid so strong we can't fight him? What then? That scroll is the signature treasure of the Hell of Sages and Mahātmās.”

“Don’t worry. Anyone who isn’t Devilfolk that reads the entire sheepskin scroll will end up suffering an immense calamity. It's all part of my plan to deal with Proud Heaven. After the kid finishes reading the scroll, it will wipe out the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth within him. After all, the two techniques conform to the principles of mutual augmentation and suppression. The kid doesn’t have a God Legion Seal, so it’s obvious that he doesn’t actually cultivate the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth. Proud Heaven just gave him a bit of it, that’s all.

“Furthermore, now that he's sunken into a trance of cultivation, he can’t hear us talking. As he seeks enlightenment of the initial aspects of the sheepskin scroll, the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth will slowly fade away.”

“So that's how it is,” Dream Mintdance said. “You really live up to your reputation, Mahātmā. I used to doubt that the Hell of Sages and Mahātmās really was the leader of all hells in the ancient past. But considering the show you’re putting on here, I have to hand it to you. I'm impressed.”

“Sadly, we’re all still mortals, not gods,” the mahātmā fiend-devil said. “Given that we’re not Deathless, we're fated to disappear from heaven and earth. My longevity will run out in a few hundred million years, so unless I reach the Deathless Throne before then, I’ll become dust. The sad thing is that, even though I have Terrifying will convergence, I still can’t gain enlightenment of the god world. It’s all the fault of the Executors of the Ancient Road. They block our path to the god world, which is why we need to wipe them out. That's our only path to progress!”


1. Remember that “kalpa” and “tribulation” are essentially interchangeable, although the context makes it obvious which one is being referred to. Later on, “tribulation” is the most commonly used definition in relation to the technique, but the “kalpa” version continues to be referenced as well, and is sort of baked into the character anyway.

2. This contains some more impossible wordplay as “tribulations/kalpas” is a perfect rhyme for the character for “bonds of transmigration”.

3. In this passage, he uses the more complete version of tribulation and kalpa. At this point, I should probably mention that the dictionary definition of “tribulation” is “inexorable doom, predestined fate, inexorable fate”. The more niche “tribulation” definition comes from the way the word has been adapted into xianxia/xuanhuan.

4. Argh. There is more rhyming wordplay in here that, honestly, I think is just supposed to sound cool. Basically, "tribulation” and “fate” (at least this version of fate, there are many others), share that same character of “tribulation/kalpa”. I envision this as being akin to Eminem writing an explanation for a technique that all revolves around wordplay for orange. It would all sound very cool, but wouldn’t necessarily have a profound meaning. Or any meaning, really.

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