“Cultivation to become an immortal, cultivation to become an immortal. Immortals are heavenly beings in the first place, so who came up with the idea of being able to cultivate Immortality?”
“It turns out that mankind, the so-called superior race, is nothing but an experiment to them. What a joke.”
“Suihan, did you know? The Way…is alive.”
“Ahh!” The young man woke up with a start.
He panted and licked his chapped lips, then downed the cup of tea next to him. His body shuddered as he felt the cold tea go down his throat.
“Young Master, did you have a nightmare again?” The maid sleeping soundly in the adjacent room had been woken up by the young man’s shout, so she had gotten up and walked into his room with a lantern to check on him. When she saw his pale face covered in perspiration, she quickly grabbed a handkerchief to wipe his face.
“I’m fine. It’s an old problem.” The young man pushed the maid aside gently and got up. Color slowly returned to his face. He asked softly, “What time is it now?”
The maid carefully wiped away his perspiration, took a look at the sky, and replied, “It’s somewhere between 3 and 5 am1, so you can still sleep for a while more.”
The young man took the handkerchief from the maid and gave his face a few quick wipes. Then he said calmly, “Never mind, I’m going to get changed and sit in the pavilion for a while. It’s still early, so you can go back to sleep.”
A short while later, the young man strolled towards the pavilion with a bottle of wine in his hand.
The young man’s surname was Gu, and his full name was Gu Suihan. He was seven years away from becoming an adult2. His family had a monopoly over the entire city’s rice supply, so even though they weren’t super-rich and powerful, they were undoubtedly a well-to-do family.
The Gu family had three sons and two daughters. Gu Suihan was number four in the family. The eldest had become a court official three years ago and was now the Executive Secretary of this state. The second son was waiting to take over the family business, while the third sister had already gotten married the year before. The youngest daughter was only seven years old this year, so she was at the height of both innocence and playfulness.
Compared to all of them, Gu Suihan was more accomplished. He could walk at six months, could read at one, and apparently, he was the one who named himself Gu Suihan at two, which earned him a beating from his parents. Several other incidents would have made others deem him a genius. Still, nobody knew that Gu Suihan had merely inadvertently revealed some of his abilities in his quest to understand this world more quickly.
To the people of this world, the name ‘Suihan’ was synonymous with a prodigy. But to the people on Earth, this name was synonymous with a notoriously vicious and coldblooded wicked man.
As for why he was in this world…it wasn’t because of some ridiculous transmigration process or because he had been reborn. It had happened because he was conducting an experiment on Earth.
Suihan had spent 300 years collecting treasures from around the world and was even willing to wipe out families and massacre cities to do so. After that, he spent another hundred-odd year arranging all these things into a formation that covered the entire continent.
He did all this only because he wanted to know if immortals truly existed. The billions of souls that once belonged to a living thing were the energy source for this formation, but all he could see were a few blurry snippets in the long river of history.
Yet, this thing that had no beginning or end turned out to be the thing that quietly awakened the young man’s understanding of the Way of Heaven. But when it came to a mere mortal like Suihan, someone who had barely any power but desired to understand the truth behind history, the Way of Heaven decided to get rid of him without any hesitation.
The result was obvious. The things that Suihan had relied on – those precious treasures and ritual tools that he had taken away by force and the magic weapon3 he had spent close to a thousand years refining – were turned into dust in an instant from the fury of the Way of Heaven.
The fact that he was close to becoming an immortal meant nothing in the face of the Way of Heaven. Suihan had no choice but to use his trump card. He self-imploded, abandoning all his years of cultivation, and even endured a searing pain that was a million times more painful than being skinned alive4 or being tied to a burning pole5 as he forcibly tore his soul into eighty-one parts, hoping that it would be enough to fend off the attack from the Way of Heaven for even just a while.
After that, the remaining consciousness of his soul, which was barely the size of a palm, was wrapped in a strange piece of animal hide as it rushed into a space-dimension teleporting formation.
But that attack that seemed able to pierce through the space dimension was only blocked for a moment before it smashed hard onto the formation plate of the teleporting formation, which destabilized the spatial passageway. Suihan could only hope for the best as he squeezed into the nearest crack in the space dimension.
Thanks to that piece of animal hide, Suihan successfully got through that crack and came to this world. It took him a lot of effort to finally find the newborn baby of the Gu family. And just before his consciousness disappeared completely, he took over the baby’s body. As for the animal hide that had gone through so much danger and disaster to protect Suihan’s remaining consciousness, it had slowly disappeared into nothingness when Suihan passed through the crack.
Gu Suihan put the bottle of wine down on the stone table, wiped a finger against the lip of the bottle to wet it, then drew a few strange symbols. These symbols seemed meaningful yet nonsensical simultaneously as if they contained a strange concept within.
These symbols were none other than those on that animal hide that had already disappeared. They were also the reason behind Suihan’s madness.
That piece of animal hide had a few thousand symbols on it, and despite Suihan’s best efforts, he only managed to find out the meaning of a few dozen of them. None of them seemed connected to one another, and he didn’t know what any of them really meant. But when his Master was struggling to survive the heavenly tribulation when he ascended to immortality6, he had clearly seen in his Master’s eyes endless despair and…great sorrow.
In the end, his Master had died. While he was supposedly receiving the aura that only immortals had7, his Master had imploded his own soul to barely make a crack in this aura and threw a jade slip8 at Suihan before being completely destroyed.
Only one sentence was carved onto the jade slip – Heaven is alive!
These three simple words struck terror in Suihan’s heart then, and one might wonder why. Anyone who cultivated knew that one needed to go through many disasters in life and survive tribulations to attain longevity. Only then would one genuinely understand the Way, untangling oneself from the cycle of cause and effect and living for a long time to come.
Longevity did not mean eternal life. But there was no doubt that only the most powerful had the right to pursue a longer life and control more resources. This was a process of endless cycles, yet countless intelligent beings were attracted to it.
But if Heaven were alive and sentient, then did that mean that the Great Way and the Way of Heaven that living creatures pursued with all their life was actually nothing but a joke?
At that time, Suihan had only reached the Five Qi Condensation level and survived one disaster and one affliction, so he hadn't thought too much about this. He only realized what these words truly meant when he was about to understand the Way and was overcoming the tribulation to become an immortal.
The strange animal hide, his Master’s look of despair, that mysterious pair of eyes hidden within the heavenly tribulation, and the few blurry snippets he saw in the long river of history that had cost the lives of countless living creatures.
All of these had made Gu Suihan deeply wary of this so-called Way of Heaven. But even more than that, he was both terrified and curious.
“I don’t care what on Earth you are. But since I escaped your grasp once, then the day will come when I finally reveal what you really are,” murmured Gu Suihan to himself as he subconsciously tapped his finger against the stone table.
“Who’s there?” shouted Gu Suihan in a low voice as he narrowed his eyes and flung the bottle of wine towards the shadow hiding in the corner. At the same time, he reached his left hand into his sleeve and wrapped his hand lightly around his dagger.
Crash! The bottle of wine broke and a black shadow charged towards Gu Suihan as quickly as lightning. A blade came down, accompanied by a whooshing sound as it cut through the air.
“Young man, you’re not bad. I stopped breathing for just one moment and you discovered me.”
Dang! Gu Suihan raised his hand to dodge the attack, turned his wrist and leaped into the other party’s embrace. The dagger in his hand was now about to slice the arm that the other man used to hold his sword.
“Heh heh! You’re really not bad.” The attacker retreated very calmly but quickly, one arm brushing past Gu Suihan’s wrist before sitting down leisurely across from Gu Suihan. He poured himself a cup of wine as if the wine belonged to him in the first place and said quietly, “No need to panic. I don’t mean any harm.”
The man had merely brushed past Gu Suihan’s wrist, but that wrist was now weak and aching. But since the other man did not look like he intended to kill him, Gu Suihan kept his dagger away and sat down again. Gu Suihan sized up the man in front of him with only the little light the moon afforded him. “In the 15 minutes you spent hiding here, you didn’t move at all. Also, there’s a lot of bloodstains on you. You don’t look like a good man to me.”
The man was dressed in dark colored fitting clothing, his body covered in several tiny cuts and both his sleeves and shoulders were stained with blood. The man spoke in a nonchalant and calm manner, but Gu Suihan could sense an air of confidence from him.
His numb and achy arm also forced him to become more wary of this man.
“You can stop staring now. I’m on a mission to kill a traitor from my sect and we were engaged in a fight earlier. He injured me pretty badly and got away, but I can’t be bothered to chase after him.” The man’s sharp gaze scanned Gu Suihan’s emotionless face, then laughed quietly as he explained, “I came here because I was hoping to catch a couple of fish to eat, then I spotted you coming out here to drink in the middle of the night instead of sleeping, so I got curious. I thought I’d just hide here and observe you for a while.”
“A traitor in your sect?” Gu Suihan took back the bottle of wine from the other man and asked calmly, “You’re from Seven Kill Sect?”
“You’ve heard of it? You know quite a bit for your age. What else do you know? Tell me everything you know.”
Gu Suihan scoffed and glanced at the other man. “Your chest is emblazoned with a symbol that shows you’re a disciple from Seven Kill Sect’s Disciplinary Hall. Your fingers are long but you don’t have any calluses that most swordsmen would have, which means that you’re not actually an expert in swordplay. On the contrary, the technique you used on my arm earlier and the speed at which you retreated just now are what you’re truly good at. You look young but your eyes hold discernment; your skin is fair but it is tougher than the skin of an ordinary human. All of these things are more than enough to prove who you are.”
“Oh? So you can still tell even if I didn’t have this symbol on myself?” The man’s interest was piqued after hearing Gu Suihan’s analysis.
“There are too many obvious signs. But most importantly, Fenglin Nation is the Seven Kill Sect’s territory. As long as you’ve got a brain, you wouldn’t dare to go against Seven Kill Sect’s law and go around killing another person,” uttered Gu Suihan as he downed a cup of wine. His words dripped with sarcasm.
The other man rubbed his nose embarrassedly for a moment before suddenly asking in a surprised voice, “Since you know that I’m from Seven Kill Sect, why weren’t you afraid at all? All ordinary folk, including even the mayor of this city, would have to treat me extra politely. Aren’t you afraid that I might find you offensive and kill you?”
“It’s true that cultivators are a rank above ordinary humans and they can do great wonders at their whim and fancy. However,” Gu Suihan’s expression grew aloof as he said this, “only those above Foundation Establishment stage or those whose dantian has reached its maximum level can do such things.”
“But you? You’re really fast, but you’ve really only just started to refine your blood and bones and you haven’t even started on your journey to understand the Way, which only makes you a slightly more powerful ordinary person. Why should I be afraid of you?”
In ancient China, a day was split into 12 two-hour intervals, so they only knew roughly which interval it was based on the color of the sky. ↩️
In short, he’s 13 years old. ↩️
Some novels will translate this as Spirit Tool, which is literal, but it usually refers to an item that is used in a ritual/used as a weapon/used for cultivation/used for refining and it has a life of its own of sorts, or in other words, it has Qi. ↩️
This refers to an ancient Chinese punishment where you basically get skin sliced off piece by piece until you’re dead. ↩️
Another ancient Chinese punishment where you’re tied to a hollow brass column that has a roasting fire on the inside and you essentially slow burn to death. ↩️
Because immortal cultivation (generally) goes against the Will of Heaven, the Heavens will send down tribulations to oppress high-level cultivators who make progress towards Immortality, often right when they enter a new cultivation stage. Thanks wuxiaworld for writing this in proper English. ↩️
Presumably referring to all that lightning the Heavens was raining down on the Master as a tribulation for trying to become immortal. ↩️
A small flat piece for writing. ↩️
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