Chapter 788: Myriad Abyss Island, Eternal Divine Kingdom
“Huang’er, just what kind of place is the Myriad Abyss Island and Eternal Divine Kingdom?” Jiang Chen continued to ask.
"The Myriad Abyss Island is the true core of the Divine Abyss Continent. It’s said that invaders from another continent attacked the Divine Abyss Continent long ago, causing a great battle to take place. After that great battle, the status quo of the Divine Abyss Continent was forever shattered. The powerful factions were decimated, and the strong hid away in various forgotten corners of the continent. Some left their legacies behind, but others, not even that. But the place that most of those people retreated to was the Myriad Abyss Island."
"The ancient masters all went to the Myriad Abyss Island? What for?" Jiang Chen was startled, suddenly remembering the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect back at Mount Rippling Mirage.
"The Myriad Abyss Island is within an endless ocean, without border or boundary. The great power of the Divine Abyss Continent binds it, essentially preventing any outsiders from discovering its existence. According to legend, the interdimensional invaders weren't able to find the whereabouts of any who entered the Myriad Abyss Island. As long as the island stayed hidden, the Divine Abyss Continent was no longer particularly attractive, not enough to draw the attention of very strong dimensions, anyways."
Jiang Chen frowned. "Did the ancient experts of the Divine Abyss Continent lose all their courage and hot-bloodedness after a single battle? An invasion of a primordial threat… surely, even hiding wouldn’t have been the best method for self-preservation?"
"I've only heard Elder Shun speak of these myths in passing. Whether there were any other motives behind their actions, well, I'm not sure either." Huang'er sighed softly.
Jiang Chen paused, not saying anything more. He had spoken so quickly just now due to indignation. In his past life, worlds had crumbled apart before the cataclysm. However, his father, the Celestial Emperor, had not shrunk from the challenge despite its vastness and difficulty. Thus, Jiang Chen was both surprised and speechless at the ancient cultivators’ choice to hide themselves within the Myriad Abyss Island and never again make an appearance, simply because of an interdimensional invasion. However, he remembered soon after that Huang'er was also from the Myriad Abyss Island. He may have unintentionally troubled her with his words. "Huang'er, I spoke too emotionally. Please don't take it to heart," Jiang Chen said apologetically.
Huang'er smiled sweetly at him in response. "You spoke only the truth. Why would I take that the wrong way? I don't have much worth remembering from my life there, anyway. The past few years away from that place have been much more comfortable. It's helped distance me from those troubles, and forget my illness."
"Since you don't like it there, we'll never go back." Jiang Chen consoled her.
Huang'er's bright eyes dimmed a touch, as if in recollection of something unpleasant. Her delicate face was marred by a faint shadow.
Huang'er sighed quietly once more. "Brother Chen, I don't want to go back at all. But in the Eternal Divine Kingdom, on the Myriad Abyss Island… my destiny lies there. I wonder if I can ever shake off its chains."
"Destiny?" Jiang Chen smiled faintly. As the son of the Celestial Emperor in his previous life, his horizons had been as broad as the heavenly planes themselves. Though he knew of a certain inertia in the heavenly dao, there was no such thing as a fixed, unshakable destiny. The heavenly dao always left the slightest of possibilities so that those constrained by it may cast off its yoke.
The strong practiced martial dao in order to break free from the bonds of fate. The weak were bound by fate, left to struggle eternally in a sea of bitterness. The fate he had been doomed to bear in his previous life was an inability to cultivate. However, it had been forcibly overturned by his father. He had been able to live a million years with the body of a mere mortal. This was a classic example of breaking free of destiny. Thus, Jiang Chen did not believe at all that a place like the Divine Abyss Continent had a destiny that could not be changed.
"Huang'er, destiny is but a trial from fate. There is no destiny that remains endless and unbroken. What of the Myriad Abyss Island? What of the Eternal Divine Kingdom? Even the Eternal Divine Kingdom may not be so everlasting before the heavenly dao. So tell me, what destiny could it impose on you?"
A hint of sadness crept into Huang'er's beautiful eyes. "Brother Chen, do you remember when you diagnosed me with the Generation Binding Curse, and guessed the things that happened in my parents' generation?"
Jiang Chen nodded. The Generation Binding Curse was a curse born out of obsession. Another woman besides Huang'er's mother had loved her father deeply, but was unrequited, and burned her soul away to cast the curse. Huang'er had been afflicted with the curse as an unborn fetus, and carried the curse with her from the day of her birth.
"All those years ago, my father was once betrothed to the woman who cast the curse. Alas, he was rebellious in his youth, unwilling to be held to the engagement. He met my mother after he’d travelled away from the Myriad Abyss Island, and they’d eloped together. They returned when my mother was pregnant, and faced the combined fury of both factions. Because of it, my parents were imprisoned within a prison called the Boundless Prison on the island, doomed to suffer for the rest of their days. As for me, I was seen as living proof of their crime and was promised to a certain genius of that woman's family as a vessel for dual cultivation, in order to compensate them. I was ceaselessly bullied and despised at home. The only one who cared for me was Elder Shun…" Huang'er's eyes reddened despite her usually calm demeanor. It was difficult for her to speak so plainly regarding the injustices in her life.
All these years, she and Elder Shun had only each other to depend on. Of course, she had used her disease as a reason for their escape from the island, but wasn’t the root of that flight her desire to escape from destiny's shackles? The years she'd spent drifting around… though much of it was filled with moving here and there, her disposition now was much brighter than it had been back at Myriad Abyss Island.
But Huang'er knew in her heart that this life of escapism had an end, someday. Her ordinary days would be over when the Myriad Abyss Island sent people to investigate her whereabouts. All her happiness, all her longing for a better future... they were as transient as clouds. This was because the might of the Myriad Abyss Island was unimaginable to those residing in the human domain. The experts of the Upper Eight Regions were completely impotent before those of the Myriad Abyss Island.
Jiang Chen was silent for a long while. He had guessed Huang'er to be a distinguished lady because of the way she spoke and the way she carried herself. It was impossible for her mannerisms to have been developed with a commoner's family. But he had never imagined that this gentle, graceful girl, who had always seemed to possess poise and dignity, had such a troubled past. The entrapments that fate had laid for her rivalled those of his past life.
Though he had been cursed with a yin constitution, it had merely prevented him from cultivation. He still had a father who’d spoiled him without limit, who’d extended his lifespan and allowed him to enjoy an existence far above that of many others. He had countless resources from the heavenly planes, countless tomes and experts at his perusal and disposal. Besides his inability to cultivate, he had all of the treatment due the son of the Celestial Emperor.
But, besides the curse itself, Huang'er had such a miserable destiny as well. From birth, she had been designated as a mere vessel for cultivation. But the unfairness in her life had not caused the clever girl to wallow in self-degradation, instead nurturing a pure and noble personality. Much like the lotus, she was someone who’d risen out of the mud, but remained unstained.
Jiang Chen took a deep breath. "Huang'er, how strong is your family? What about the family whose daughter your father was engaged to? Are they strong enough for your family to offer a girl of its direct line as a cultivation vessel?"
The thought highly perplexed Jiang Chen. Regardless of what family Huang'er had come from, it was a family that was willing to place their own son into Boundless Prison, and give away their granddaughter as a mere tool. How hard-hearted did one have to be to go through with those actions? What use was a family like that, even if it grew in might?
Huang'er clearly didn't want to hide any more secrets from Jiang Chen. Hazy teardrops dotted her eyelashes. "In the Myriad Abyss Island, my family is roughly equivalent to House Wei in Veluriyam Capital. The other family, a great clan. There are several top-level rulers within the Myriad Abyss Island above them, and they are reputed to be the true masters of the Divine Abyss Continent."
"True masters? How strong are they; possibly empyrean cultivators?"
"I’ve heard that they are great empyrean experts, but rumors have spoken of them being divine experts instead."
Jiang Chen was a little shocked. "I thought the Divine Abyss Continent was an ordinary dimension, limited to just mortals? How come divine experts also exist here?"
From his previous life, the worlds of the heavenly planes were the divine experts’ stage, hence Jiang Chen's surprise. There were nine ranks of divinity, and beyond them was mastery of the heavenly planes. Lordship over a set of heavens meant commanding a realm. The lord of a group of worlds was an emperor within the heavenly planes. Jiang Chen’s father in his previous life was the master of the Taiyuan Realm, or the Taiyuan Celestial Emperor.
Within the Taiyuan Realm were innumerable mundane dimensions, but their strongest experts held great empyrean as their highest rank. Empyrean experts were experts that had received affirmation from the heavenly dao. They lived extremely long lives, held empyrean decrees, and were accepted by the heavens. But the empyrean rank was only preparation for the divine realm. It was also called demi-divine.
Nevertheless, there was a world of difference between empyrean experts and divine experts. One within the divine realm was someone who had truly passed the heavenly dao's trials, and they lived as long as the heavens and the earth, shining with the brilliance of the celestial bodies. Only in the divine realm could one be said to have broken the bonds of mundanity. Empyrean experts, on the other hand, had only just received their qualification to try for the test. To put it another way, they were apprentices and reservists for the divine realm.
Typically, for a large mundane dimension, empyrean experts were not lacking, but divine experts could not exist.
If one did appear, the walls of the dimension would destabilize. The existence would interfere in the normal operation of the dimension, and the cultivator would be forced to ascend to the world of the heavenly planes. Of course, the worlds of the heavenly planes had many minor heavenly planes as well, different from ordinary dimensions. The dimensional rules for a minor heavenly plane could accommodate divine experts, but even so, the heavenly plane was only a small world within the heavenly planes, and had no right to compete with a set of worlds. One set of worlds in the heavenly planes could only have a single master. The ruler of a minor heavenly plane had to take orders from that master.
Many experts from ordinary dimensions chose to take a gap period within a minor heavenly plane, and only tried to make their way in the greater world of the heavenly planes after their strength had stabilized. A place like the Divine Abyss Continent, however... Jiang Chen had always thought it to be an ordinary dimension, and thus couldn't hold any divine experts. This was the basic knowledge he’d gained from his previous life.
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