"Gu is a god of this world, and gods never go back on their words."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
"Gu wants to make a deal with you.
"This transaction, Gu is fairly certain you won't be able to refuse it."
"Who are you exactly?"
"Come. Huanmo Palace has everything you want to know."
While standing on the north bank of the Fei River three months ago, Chiyou's voice had echoed in Xiang Shu's mind. Flocks of crows filled the entire area, and like a tiger watching its prey, they covetously eyed the land west of Luojian. Here in this wide, open plain, as far as the eyes could see, the Qin troops occupied the northern side all the way on the horizon.
1,12 million people... Fu Jian had mobilized the entire country's strength, vowing to vanquish the South as proof that there was nothing he couldn't accomplish in this world.
Yet at the southern side of the river, there was only a quiet, gloomy stronghold. Until the last minute, the Jin troops were still rushing to build fortifications.
In front of Xiang Shu, a crow flew over and landed by the lower stream. Xiang Shu took off his outer garment and jumped into the water. His swimming ability was excellent. Back then, he basically floated just like "water stripes in the waves" in the rivers and lakes of Chi Le Chuan.
The ice-cold water swept across his naked back, and that scene from three months ago appeared once more in front of Xiang Shu's eyes.
The moment they arrived in the yique, a veil of light spread to each and every corner with a buzzing sound.
"I've finally found it," Wang Ziye's clear voice sounded. "Sure enough, this place can only be opened with the power of the dragon pearl."
Caught off guard, Xiang Shu was brought over to a strange world. He tried to use the Heart Lamp's power with all his might, but it quickly dispersed, and he fell to the ground. In a low voice, he asked, "Wang Ziye, is this your design?"
This place was similar in a way to the world inside the Yin Yang Mirror; it had a circular white jade platform covered with strange glowing runes. Embedded in the center was the Taiji Wheel inlaid with yin and yang symbols. Surrounding him on four corners, as if inside a painting, was a verdant landscape shrouded in cloud and mist.
Wang Ziye lowered his head and watched attentively at that high platform. He then stopped above the platform, Xiang Shu's broadsword in his hand.
"Don't worry," Wang Ziye said, tone indifferent. "Unless I forcibly remove the magical artifact supporting this place, the flow of time here is stagnant. Shulü Kong, let's talk."
After receiving his sword back, Xiang Shu said in a deep voice, "At this point, there's no longer any chances for peace, Wang Ziye."
Slowly, Wang Ziye descended and landed on the yin side of the Taiji Wheel, while Xiang Shu stood on the yang side, looking around.
"No need to worry. Don't break it and leave just yet," Wang Ziye replied. "As I said, I can bring this crucial, final magical artifact with me, and you can leave this place without a hitch then."
Xiang Shu said nothing, only staring at Wang Ziye in silence.
"Ah," Wang Ziye murmured, "eight years ago, I saw you in front of the tent in Chi Le Chuan. At that time, you also gave me this kind of look…"
These words immediately aroused Xiang Shu's anger. The death of his father, Che Luofeng losing his life… All the way until now, the one responsible for the death of countless people was this man!
"...eyes that harbor suspicions." Wang Ziye continued, "But eight years ago, I hadn't known that you were the Dinghai Pearl. Strange, how could I be so stupid to make such a mistake…"
In an instant, a loud boom seemingly exploded inside Xiang Shu's mind. It was as if he was struck by lightning; his hand holding the sword trembled non-stop.
"What?" Xiang Shu said in disbelief. "You… what did you say?"
Subconsciously, Xiang Shu took out the pearl that had been snatched from Wang Ziye from his chest.
Wang Ziye said, "That is called the Canglang Pearl. It was the dragon pearl left behind by the dragon that was your father's companion after your mother's Xiang family had suppressed it."
Xiang Shu, "......"
Wang Ziye said, "Looks like you still aren't aware of it, so saying 'father' might not be appropriate at all. However, since you're the transformation of the dragon's internal core, the dragon power Zhuyin has left in your body can be treated as a symbol left behind by your father."
"You…" Countless scenes flashed before Xiang Shu's eyes. The interaction he had with his parents during his childhood, his life in the prairie, the first time he learned how to ride a horse… What Wang Ziye had just said a moment ago had already pierced his view of the world through and through.
"Nonsense!" Xiang Shu was unable to hold back his anger any longer. He let out a shocking roar before readying his sword once more and rushing forward. Wang Ziye, however, disappeared from the yin side of the Taiji Wheel and reappeared on the yang side, swapping their positions.
The two had exchanged positions all of a sudden. Xiang Shu deeply frowned and tried to invoke Chen Xing's Heart Lamp, wanting to end Wang Ziye in one fell swoop.
"It's the dragon power," Wang Ziye continued talking. "About this dragon power, do you remember what I said when we met last time by the Hong Lake? I know everything you want to know."
"That left-behind dragon power coursing through your meridians," Wang Ziye smiled as he said, "often makes you feel restless. There's a power inside your body that just wants to destroy and wreak havoc, am I right? It lets you become the best in the country, yet it also traps you and makes you suffer. When you're angry, you won't be able to hold back even towards people closest to you."
Xiang Shu, "......"
Xiang Shu slowly calmed down. Wang Ziye scrutinized him and continued, "All these years, I've been looking for the Dinghai Pearl all over the place. Only, I didn't expect that this most precious artifact between heaven and earth, one that has tremendous power to alter cause and effect, had been reborn... into a human."
Xiang Shu looked around, eyes perplexed.
Wang Ziye said, "Let's make a deal, Shulü Kong."
Fei River. In the dark of night, Xiang Shu followed the guidance of that crow as it flew neither too fast nor too slow over the water surface until he came upon a huge rock in the center of the river.
The crow landed on the huge rock. A pitch-black cave entrance could be seen inside the swift current; in that location, there was a distributary, an underground channel branching off from the Fei River.
It's underwater all along, no wonder I couldn't find it… Xiang Shu thought. He popped out of the water and took a deep breath before diving inside that dark, bottomless subterranean stream. At the end of the darkness, something appeared to be emitting light; it resembled the light that flashed across the whole area of Yique region that day.
"I need you to do me a favor." Following his movement, Wang Ziye also looked around at their surroundings, reminiscing. "If we start talking about this from the beginning, it has already been 300 years since the last time I came to this place. Your mother and Zhang Liu had intended to stay in this place and activate the Timeless Tide to travel back to the days long past. Fortunately, I stopped them. Let's just cut to the chase."
Wang Ziye turned serious and in a low voice, and he said, "I can make sure you get whatever you want, you just need to do me a favor."
Xiang Shu looked at Wang Ziye with undivided attention.
"Send me back to 3,000 years ago," Wang Ziye said, tone cold. "Let me change my own destiny with my own hands; I want to become the new Devil God. As long as you agree, I will teach you how to harness the power of the spiritual qi of heaven and earth within your body. Following that, you will…"
Xiang Shu lowered his sword and looked at Wang Ziye skeptically before slowly moving towards him.
Wang Ziye smiled. "Those you permit to live shall live, and those you wish to die will die. The spiritual qi of heaven and earth is all inside your body, and even the so-called Devil God, that Deity of War Chiyou, is no match for you. Of course, since you're a merciful and kind person, I believe you won't just kill people at random. Although, if you wish to lengthen the already-not-so-long lifespan of that little friend of yours, you should not refuse this price."
"And then what?" Xiang Shu asked.
"And then, you shall become a god of this mortal world." Wang Ziye looked up at Xiang Shu who was half a head taller than him and said in a low voice, "From then on, you will have all the time on this earth, a life without death…"
Xiang Shu looked at Wang Ziye in full. Suddenly, his hand moved as fast as lightning, strangling Wang Ziye's throat.
At once, Wang Ziye's eyes flashed out a black beam of light, engulfing both people with a loud rumble. Xiang Shu was hit by that shockwave of black qi and immediately roared, yet his hand still firmly gripped Wang Ziye, refusing to let go. With a speed so fast and relying solely on his own strength, he tightened his grip and would soon break Wang Ziye's neck!
Wang Ziye immediately opened his folding fan and gestured with it. A loud boom ensued, and the entire magical array platform started to collapse. The earth veins soon emitted a bright blue light that swallowed the entire place, causing it to crumble. The runes, however, didn't plunge to the ground and instead flew out one by one.
Xiang Shu's left hand was still strangling Wang Ziye. With one move, his right hand folded and snatched Wang Ziye's folding fan!
"Your condition is pretty good," Xiang Shu said, tone icy.
"But I want your life more to avenge my father and Anda!" Xiang Shu's voice, amidst the resentment that soared to the sky, was laced with a vicious and imposing intent; it was like a dragon issuing a threat targeting the mortals, shaking both heaven and earth. In an instant, even heaven and earth all trembled before him. The illusionary space disappeared, shattering to pieces!
Wang Ziye exhausted all the resentment inside him to fight against Xiang Shu's dragon power but was thrown backward. On the crumbling platform, Xiang Shu swung his broadsword with one hand and used all his strength to charge, slashing down at Wang Ziye!
Fei River, Dark of Night.
A few breaths later, it became bright all around. Xiang Shu left the water surface and stroked his wet hair as he observed the earth veins on the surrounding rock walls. The earth veins were on all sides and spread towards the depths of the secret passage, appearing similar to a massive tree's intertwined roots, and as he walked, these veins blazed in a red light, which became even brighter the deeper he went. By the time he arrived outside the underground, ten-zhang high karst cave, the whole cave had already been filled with earth veins glowing in blood-red light. In the center of the karst cave, a huge heart dangled, looking like some kind of blood vessel.
The organ was emitting a black qi, and as it pulsated, the red light pervaded and illuminated everywhere inside the chamber.
"You've come," Chiyou's voice echoed in his mind. "Dinghai Pearl."
The red light shone in a space between Xiang Shu's eyebrows. "As I said."
"Inside your body, Gu senses the breath of the Dragon God."
Silence befell the whole Huanmo Palace. And then, there was a stranger standing just under that heart.
"Wang Ziye?" Xiang Shu said in a low voice. "You're still alive?"
Wang Ziye wanted to say something but kept hesitating. Chiyou's voice soon interrupted, "Don't mind him. After you took away one of his immortal souls, he has nearly wasted away."
Xiang Shu raised his eyebrows as he looked at Wang Ziye.
The voice of Chiyou continued, "Wang Hai actually coveted Gu's army-killing power and even thought to invite you as a helping hand to seize Gu's body. Fortunately, you weren't convinced."
At once, Wang Ziye retreated behind the devil heart, shaking uncontrollably.
Xiang Shu replied, "He couldn't negotiate any terms with me. However, you actually knew about it?"
Chiyou answered, "I understand the human race the most. Before I woke him up, he struggled, bitterly, in the dirt, though he's no more than a mere mortal."
Xiang Shu walked in the direction of that huge heart while Wang Ziye kept retreating. Chiyou's voice once again echoed, "That is what the Wisdom King handed over to you mortals, the Acala Blade?"
In front of the heart, Xiang Shu tilted his head to glance at the sword on his back, not giving any reply.
Chiyou said, "The legacy sword of Xuanyuan-Shi, cast from the six primordial lights of the world: sunlight, moonbeam, starlight, lightning flash, blaze of flame, and luster of bone, combined with the bronze of the Shou Mountain… You can try to use it to attack me, since that is the reason it was created in the first place.
"But, that sword will only wound, not kill me," Chiyou continued. "The present me is the proof that the Wisdom King and Xuanyuan-Shi had the will but not the strength —— it's precisely because other than the six primordial lights of the world, there is still another kind of light, which is none other than the light of Heart Hun.
"To be able to destroy me for good, you must first take the exorcist's life and refine his immortal and mortal souls together with the Heart Lamp into the sword," Chiyou stated. "This is the truth of the mission you're shouldering. Kill your beloved with your own hands to achieve the final shape of the sword —— that is the only way you can truly be successful."
Xiang Shu replied, "But in that case, Chen Xing will have to die."
The heart of Chiyou let out a burst of strange laughter. "Correct. Naturally, you can also choose to pay no heed to this and abandon your destiny. In that case, a year from now, when Iuppiter returns to heaven, the Heart Lamp will also be extinguished. Not everything in this world happens the way people wish it to be, yet they have their 'obsession.' As long as heaven and earth rotate, obsession and unreconciliation will never cease to exist.
"Now, Gu will give you another way out," Chiyou's voice echoed. "Become Gu's new vessel. Live together with Gu in one body. If your hun is strong enough to devour Gu's hun, Gu will become you.
"If you can't resist, you will become Gu."
Xiang Shu looked carefully at the heart of the devil and said in a low voice, "Chiyou, for a vessel, you're willing to take such a risk?"
Chiyou replied, "If Gu has a chance to be reborn anew in such a way, even if it comes with a possibility to allow you to have control, how could it not be worth it? Once you become aware of Gu's life experience, surely you will also make the same choice Gu did. Everyone knows that Yanhuang is the ancestor of the human race, yet nobody knows that Gu is also the ancestor of human beings. After the Battle of Banquan, Gu's blood seeped into the entire Divine Land. For several millenniums, the spring water that mortals drink, the medicinal herb they take, the food they eat their whole lives, even their offerings for heaven and earth, they are all Gu's essence and blood.
"Gu has long assimilated with the Divine Land. Birds that fly and beasts that walk on the land, plants in both mountains and rivers, everything has Gu's will! Xuanyuan-Shi killed Gu, but he also helped Gu accomplish everything!
"But, no matter who wins or loses in the end, Gu promises to change the cause and effect for you. Gu will go back 20 years ago to remove Iuppiter, which had not yet intertwined with his fate then, from his natal chart.
"The companions you wish to save," Chiyou's voice continued, "Gu will also eliminate the resentment inside their bodies and return them back to you."
Xiang Shu replied, "How can you guarantee you won't go back on your word?"
In a deep and low voice, Chiyou answered, "Gu is a god of this world, and gods never go back on their words. In Gu's eyes, mortals are just ants, and all creatures between heaven and earth, in the end, are also Gu's descendants. Their obsession with life and death, their own unreconciliation and resentment, Gu understands more of their suffering compared to all of you. Wait until you have become Gu or have left behind your trace of mind inside Gu's body, and you will know.
"Come. Fu Jian is about to start a war, resentment is running wild, and the Dinghai Pearl is about to be cultivated. Take out your magical artifacts and we can begin to prepare the Ten Thousand Spirits Array."
Xiang Shu was still as silent as before. Chiyou finally said, "Gu has no interest whatsoever in this current era of yours. Wait until the Ten Thousand Spirits Array has been completed, and after Gu has finished doing all these things for you, Gu will return to Banquan 3,000 years ago. That is where Gu's battlefield is. Dinghai Pearl, what are you still worried about? To fuse with Gu and become the only god of this Divine Land for all eternity is the best ending for you."
At last, Xiang Shu shook open the bundle he brought. The six magical artifacts: Canglang Pearl, Zheng Drum, Luohun Bell, White Tiger Pennant, Zouyu Pennant, and Tianluo Fan, all flew in the direction of the huge heart, each emitting bright light.
"The Tianluo Fan, just like before, will be in the possession of Wang Ziye. You will be in charge of Luoyang's Star of Celestial Balance, adding Senluo Wanxiang and Cangqiong Yilie, the seven po will be whole," Chiyou said. "Wang Ziye, wait until the resentment of the world is at its densest, then start the Ten Thousand Spirits Array to reshape Gu's body."
Wang Ziye stared at the Luohun Bell, which contained faintly discernible glows of the hun and po, in a daze.
South Bank of the Fei River, Fourth Night Period.
Huan Yi and Xie Xuan went galloping at full speed to rendezvous with Xie Yan who had been waiting outside the camp. Quickly, Chen Xing dismounted and said, "Where is Xiang Shu? Has anyone seen Xiang Shu?"
Xie Yan replied, "Martial God-daren passed through the camp earlier. I don't know whether he crossed the river or not, but if he had, he must've gone to the Qin army's side."
Chen Xing became anxious. "Nobody followed him?"
Xie Yan shrugged and gave Huan Yi an inquiring look. Huan Yi didn't know what to do either; with a national disaster in front of them, he could only let Chen Xing figure out how to find someone on his own. "Exorcist, please have a rest for a moment. Feel free to use the commander-in-chief's tent, I must give some advice for the battle, forgive me for not being able to keep you company."
"You hurry along ba," Chen Xing said.
Xie Xuan and Huan Yi discussed in a low voice, "Should we bring Chen-xiansheng to the battle?"
Huan Yi frowned. "What do you think? Since Iuppiter only blesses him, he's unbeatable, so is it possible to throw him out there to smash people?"
"I heard that!" Chen Xing said angrily from not far away. "Wait until I find Xiang Shu, I'll teach you all a lesson!"
Xie Xuan often heard that Chen Xing had the protection of Iuppiter, turning his misfortune into a blessing. He brought him over to the Fei River also because of his luck.
How about making him the commander-in-chief? If we let him ride head-on first to lead the Beifu Army's charge, it may really cause the Qin Army to fall into chaos and trample on each other. The people on their side will trample and kill their own people, ultimately leading to their army being totally beaten and completely collapsed. What's the scale of the chaos with over a million people in it? Perhaps Fu Jian himself might've been trampled to death first.
However, this overly good situation was only wishful thinking. Huan Yi had set up an extensive defensive perimeter and sent scouts to monitor the situation. Xie Xuan reined his mind and rushed to the commander's tent to attend the meeting. Chen Xing instead climbed the army's watchtower and blankly surveyed the pitch-black scene of the night from above.
Where is Xiang Shu? Where exactly did he go? Chen Xing didn't know why, but he kept getting a sense of foreboding. He activated the Heart Lamp and offered it to the boundless curtain of night, but Xiang Shu didn't give any reply. He pressed one of his hands on his chest and once again lit it up, but still, there was no response from Xiang Shu.
"Go to the Qin camp and ask," Chen Xing said to himself. He became more and more worried about Xiang Shu. Since the moment they left Shouyang for Fei River, it was as if the so-called connection between them that had grown over the past three years had been cut off. Before, even though Xiang Shu wasn't by his side, he could still feel the connection.
At dawn, Chen Xing rode his horse, moving back and forth several times by the Fei River.
On the other side was a vast expanse of whiteness. When Chen Xing went up to an elevation, he saw the Qin troops, which appeared similar to an ocean in the distance, on the plain and merging with the sky.
"Oh god," Chen Xing murmured, "so many?! Why are there so many people here?!"
By contrast, the 100,000 Biefu troops on the south bank, which were lined up on the plain, were only several square formations.
"I can't tell whether they want to fight on the northern or southern shore," a voice sounded behind Chen Xing. "You can't possibly want to charge at an army of 1,12 million people ba."
Chen Xing whipped his head around when he heard the familiar gloomy voice.
Riding on a horse and carrying a long sabre with him, a man dressed in a black martial robe appeared behind Chen Xing.
"Murong Chong?" Chen Xing was shocked.
SOOOOOO WHO WAS ABLE TO GUESS THIS REVELATION? I… the first time I read this I definitely didn’t see this coming T_T
88 will be… fun…… I promise ?
In case anyone needs a refresher: Ten Thousand Spirits Array is activated by gathering resentment in seven locations throughout the Divine Land (also the reason why Wang Ziye and co. made big commotions on specific places), and each location corresponds to one star of the Northern Dipper (same as Ursa Major). Basically what they’re trying to do is cloning the Northern Dipper asterism on earth, substituting the ‘star’ with ‘resentment,’ with each acting as a representation of a po (as mentioned before, there are 7 po in every human) to revive Chiyou.
One more, I think I forgot to explain why we changed our translation regarding Xiang Shu’s weapon name. We first used our usual naming style (pinyin-ed) for Xiang Shu’s weapon name, 不动如山 (Immovable As Mountain), that is, Budong Ru Shan. But later on, we noticed that the ‘Immovable’ there refers to the god who owned the weapon, Acala. Since we translate 不动明王 as Acala, we decided to keep the reference and named it Acala Blade. I hope it clears the confusion.
Also once I’m free I’ll do a read-through from the beginning to make all the terms consistent, but then again it’s probably going to take forever………………
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.