Up ahead, the Milky Way Sea could no longer be seen. It was as if the ship was passing through a river of time. All that could be seen were endless multicolored shards.
Within those shards existed endless worlds.
Meng Hao watched as the ship entered one of the shard worlds. It was a world of flames, filled with countless cultivators who kowtowed to the ship and offered up tribute.
They cultivated a fire technique that seemed to be linked to their bloodline. It seemed to supersede all of the other flames Meng Hao could see, and he could hear the people saying that their flame was the essence of all flames.
He couldn’t interact with the world; it was as if he were simply an observer. The ship passed through the flames for an indeterminable period of time until finally it pierced into another period of time.
Here, the starry sky looked unfamiliar, completely different from the sky of Planet South Heaven. It seemed like a vast and infinite expanse.
Occasionally strange life forms would pass by. Each one would drop to their knees and offer of bizarre and fantastic objects….
Meng Hao felt like he was a sightseer, a tourist hitching a ride on this ship. He saw a fluttering butterfly that was incredibly enormous. It was far off in the distance, and yet still clearly visible. When it neared, it could be seen that its beauty was actually formed by the combination of countless worlds.
“Are these things that have already happened, the recollections of this ship? Or is it something else…? What is happening?” Meng Hao wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was that he was seeing. The butterfly flew off into the distance, and the ship once again disappeared into the vastness.
When it reappeared, a boundless sea stretched out in front of Meng Hao. In the middle was an enormous tree stretching up into the Heavens. The tree had golden leaves, and was incredibly beautiful….
Down below sat a person, looking up silently at the tree. He stared for a long, long time, and it was impossible to tell what he was thinking. Finally, he smiled, and his body began to glow with a boundless light, as if he had just achieved enlightenment.
Meng Hao did not attempt to disturb him, but rather remained seated on the ship, as if this was simply a journey through life. Eventually, the man was left behind.
Meng Hao saw many, many worlds, and countless cultivators. He saw wars, and once, he even saw someone pointing at the ship and raving madly.
Meng Hao was somewhat at a loss. He had lost track of how many years had passed, and he also forgot that he was hovering on the verge of death. As the ship continued onward, he saw a featherless bird, a weeping crane.
A voice suddenly murmured in his ear, seemingly filled with a sense of time: “So many years. I think of you often….”
Meng Hao looked at the featherless, weeping crane, and for some reason, it seemed familiar.
“Don’t tell me I’ve seen it before?” he thought hesitantly.
Time changed again, and the scenery interweaved. He saw an enormous, cultivating tree, as large as the sky. It swept amongst the stars, running amok. However, when it saw the ship, it trembled.
Meng Hao was confused and at a loss.
He saw many types of cultivation, and countless Daos. He saw the cause and effect of Karma, he saw life and death, he saw the Yellow Springs, he saw eternal life and… he saw true and false. He saw a person walked down a path until he became a world. He buried himself to accompany others. 1
He saw a man who eternally roamed the starry sky, continuing onward, with his destination unknown. That person… appeared to be the armored old man.
A while later he saw another land where a man held the corpse of a woman in his arms. He lifted his head up and wailed, and within his eyes burned an insanity and a stubbornness that Meng Hao found shocking.
“The Heavens allowed you to die, but I WILL bring you back to life!” The man’s echoing voice filled Meng Hao’s heart with unprecedented waves of shock. 2
That shock was not because of the story of the man and woman, but rather, because the determination in the man’s words seemed indestructible. Even if Heaven and Earth collapsed, the steadfastness of his words could not be destroyed.
“I used to think I had determination,” though Meng Hao, “but compared to that, I don’t know….
“I’ve lost my cultivation base, and my life is waning away. However… can I really give up, just like that?” Meng Hao sat on ship, thinking about the question.
His eyes slowly began to burn with a spark of life. The flame was weak, as if it might flicker out at any moment. But right now, that flame… was resplendent. It was almost as if there was a will that burned within the fire.
Even as Meng Hao was lost in thought, the ship suddenly trembled again. The world around changed again, and nine mountains appeared out in the starry sky.
The nine mountains were lofty and ancient, filled with endless time. It was as if they had existed even if the primordial, distant past…. It was impossible to describe exactly how large they were, but they were enormously bigger, exponentially bigger than all of the other worlds he had seen up to this point.
Also in the starry sky were nine seas.
Nine mountains and nine seas, and in the middle of them all was a sea of stars formed by all the nine seas.
The first mountain had four planets. The sun and moon… rotated around the first mountain, sending sunlight and moonlight throughout the starry sky. The light spread out boundlessly, covering each mountain, illuminating all the seas.
It was like a beautiful painting that filled Meng Hao’s heart with intense waves of shock.
After seeing the nine mountains, a fantastic notion welled up within Meng Hao. “Don’t tell me… that these… are the Nine Mountains and Seas? If I can use the Mountain Consuming Incantation to consume these nine mountains, would it restore my cultivation base?”
It was an audacious idea, but as soon as it appeared in his brain it rooted itself in deeply. Meng Hao began to pant as he thought of the scene of the man swearing his oath to the Heavens as he held the woman in his arms. Then he thought of his own path.
“Am I really going to give up?” The flame in his eyes grew more resplendent. His gaze swept over the Nine Mountains and Seas, and eventually fell onto the Ninth Mountain.
He took a deep breath, and then without hesitation… began to employ the Mountain Consuming Incantation!
The incantation actually did not require a cultivation base, only heart. He studied the Ninth Mountain, branding the image of the mountain into his heart and mind. It was as if every aspect of the mountain remained inside of him, and that he could take it with him.
His gaze remained locked on the Ninth Mountain. He became lifeless, and even forgot about the passage of time, and everything around him. The only thing that existed was the Ninth Mountain.
Losses come with rewards. He had lost his cultivation base, but in return had received the sublimation of his spirit. Right now, amidst the silence, he slowly gained enlightenment about the Ninth Mountain.
Gradually, the image of the mountain grew clearer and clearer in his mind. One year. Two years….
Perhaps it was a hundred years, or a thousand, or ten thousand…. Meng Hao was in a trance as the Ninth Mountain grew clearer and clearer.
Eventually one day, the image of the Ninth Mountain became completely clear in his mind. A tremor ran through him. The image disappeared, transforming into countless magical symbols, each one of which seemed to contain a multitude of Daos.
He did not understand these Daos. However, from the perspective of the Mountain Consuming Incantation, they could be considered the mountain soul of the Ninth Mountain. Absorbing these Daos could be considered consuming the soul of the Ninth Mountain.
Meng Hao focused on the magical symbols; each one contained infinite profundity and possibility. Meng Hao proceeded onward, losing himself in their midst. As this happened, he didn’t notice that during the process of his observation of the mountain, various auras had appeared on his body that were different from before.
It was at this point that suddenly, a vast, archaic will stirred in the Ninth Mountain.
“Who… is gaining enlightenment of my Ninth Mountain?!
“I am Ji Tian, the Heavens of Ji, the Lord of the Ninth Mountain and Sea!” 3
When the archaic voice thundered out, the entire Ninth Mountain instantly turned blurry. Massive ripples spread out through the world, and Meng Hao’s mind trembled, instantly causing him to regain his senses.
The will swept about, but did not find Meng Hao or the ship.
The ship suddenly began to move forward. It left the Ninth Mountain and proceeded to the Eighth Mountain. Maintaining its speed, it went to the Seventh Mountain, then the Sixth Mountain….
Meng Hao was unable to see each mountain clearly. When the ship arrived at the Fourth Mountain, a gloomy aura suddenly spread out to cover everything.
An ancient voice suddenly could be heard.
“What is life? What is death…?
“If the lives in the underworld do not transcend, then I will not live!
“In the cycles of reincarnation, if laughter does not sound out from the underworld, then I will not die!
“Returning souls, souls leaving to be reborn, your paths go through here…. Why not return?” A rumbling filled the Fourth Mountain, and suddenly an enormous temple soared out toward Meng Hao. 4
From within the temple emerged an ox and a horse, completely pitch black. Massive ripples spread out from them, and their energy surged. An aura of death spread out from them to shoot toward Meng Hao. 5
As soon as he saw the ox and horse, he began to tremble. He felt as if he were about to fall asleep, and his soul were about to fly out….
“What is life? What is death?
However, before the ox and horse could get close, the ship had already moved off into the distance.
From behind Meng Hao, a sigh could be heard from the Fourth Mountain. “Almighty one, you do not wish to rest…. Reincarnation is the end of the Dao. Although you do not wish to rest, why must you take this person along with you on your journey through your life?” 6
When Meng Hao heard this, his mind trembled violently. The ship passed the Third Mountain, then the Second Mountain and finally it reached the First Mountain. As for what happened next, Meng Hao couldn’t see clearly. Everything turned black and white, becoming two spheres of mist. They swirled around, and it looked as if two pearls were forming inside of them.
Meng Hao looked down at his right hand. There on his palm were two pearls, not corporeal, but formed of mist.
The Black White Pearls floated up from his hand and began to rotate, seemingly containing the secrets of Heaven and Earth.
Meng Hao watched on thoughtfully. He could sense that the enlightenment he had received from the armored old man regarding the black and white Pearls embodied a great Dao. Perhaps it was not the path of freedom, like his own Dao, but it could definitely extend that path further.
“Within this black and white exists all of the worlds that I saw, and all the Daos….
“What is life? What is death…?” Meng Hao closed his eyes. It was at this point that he suddenly thought about Ke Jiusi’s shocking… Soul Divergence Incantation! 7
This chapter was sponsored by Tugene Lee, Christopher Choi, Thomas Kho, Nguyen Thanh Tung, Michael Fiddes, and Hoang Nguyen
1. This seems to be a reference Su Ming, the main character of another Er Gen novel, Beseech the Devil ↩
2. This seems to be a reference to Wang Lin, the main character of yet another Er Gen novel, Renegade Immortal ↩
3. Ji Tian in Chinese is 季天. Ji is the name of the Ji Clan, and Tian means “Heaven.” Literally, this could be “Heavens of Ji,” but it is in fact someone’s name. In the past, I translated it as “Heavens of Ji,” and if you go back to some instances where it came up before, it suddenly makes much more sense now that you know it’s a name. At the same time, it could still mean simply the Heavens of Ji. Going forward, will alternate between Ji Tian and “Heavens of Ji,” depending on the context. In Chinese, it would be pretty much impossible, or at least very difficult, to guess that it’s someone’s name, so all previous version will remain as “Heavens of Ji.” Some of the places the term appeared before include chapter 319, 321, 339, 378, 433 ↩
4.These words closely echo the real life Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, a hint that Ksitigarbha is apparently a character in the novel, and has something to do with the Fourth Mountain ↩
5. The ox and horse seem to be a reference to Ox-head and Horse-face, guardians of hell in Chinese mythology ↩
6. It should be noted that in Chinese, the number 4 sounds very similar to the word for “death.” Many elevators in China skip the fourth floor because it could be considered unlucky ↩
7. The Soul Divergence Incantation was mentioned several times throughout the Primordial Demon Immortal Plane arc, and was elaborated on most fully in chapter 577. ↩