Chapter 409: An Ancient Immortal
Translator: SophiaX Editor: Kurisu
“Senior, please give us a chance to meet you!”
Gu Yu waited for a moment after those words, and felt the intimidating pressure easing off gradually. He congratulated himself silently for his good luck.
Despite all those “arrogant youngsters” the other side was addressing him with, Gu Yu thought it all a mere bluff. He might be the inferior one in this battle, but the difference in strength was not all that prominent. Both sides would suffer should he decide to fight to death.
The two sides were not arch-enemies, and the confrontation was a way to demonstrate their strength on their first meeting, which was probably an inevitable step.
By now, Lu Yuanqing and the other two were able to rise to their feet with much difficulty and went up to Gu Yu’s side, looking very pale. They were more surprised then terrified, for outside, they were seeing the disappearance of Taoist skills and the unfolding of a new world, and never did they expect to find an ancient immortal/monster living in this thousand-year-old divine mountain.
They stood together and looked ahead. The misty barrier woven from the mental force receded, revealing the small stone hall as it was. Compared to other grand and magnificent halls, this remote house looked almost pathetic—just look at that tiny stone gate and the decorations on the wall.
The four hesitated a little before Gu Yu moved first. He gave the door a little shove.
The door opened, and the four entered the room. Inside, they found a stone bed, a set of table and chairs, and a simple ancient-styled oil lamp, which seemed to be made of bronze, on the table.
There was nothing else in the room.
They were still looking around when the oil lamp lit up on its own with a faint sound. The thin and long flame was of a green color, and the light struck the stone room, giving off an air of desolation and solitude that had been sealed in this room for thousands of years.
The four of them sensed the strange energy of the oil lamp, but found it inappropriate to ask directly. The other party, however, did not seem to mind at all. A voice then rang out in the air. “That’s right, I am in this lamp. What are your names, those that have set foot in my hall?”
The four introduced themselves right away.
Gu Yu bowed again after that, and said earnestly, “I apologize for my conduct earlier, but my Taoist companion is trapped in the illusion and I was panic-stricken. I beg for your forgiveness.”
“Humph! Obviously I know that woman is still inside. I’ll let it pass since you do have a good reason.”
Since Gu Yu had apologized repeatedly, and the lamp itself was a magnanimous being, the conflict was resolved. It then asked, “Are you the cultivators of the current world?”
“What dynasty is out there now?”
“Um…” The four exchanged a look, and Lu Yuanqing replied, “It is the 95th year of the modern state, 381 years after the Qing Dynasty was established, and 649 years after Ming. Senior, if you would please tell us which year and which dynasty you were born in?”
“…” The voice fell silent after that question. The green lamp flickered after quite a while, and let out a soft sigh. “I am a cultivator of the Hongzhi period of the Ming Dynasty. It was said that one forgot about time deep in the mountains, but I have never expected to sleep for over five hundred years!
“Sigh, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much has happened out there. I seldom have any visitors here, so tell me all about it. Oh, my master was Perfected Man Gao Jiu, and my secular name is Wu Shan.”
Hence, the four bowed again. Gu Yu could not stop worrying about Xiaozhai, so he said, “Senior Wu, I am more than willing to tell you all about the world outside for three days and three nights in a row, but before I could do that, could you let her out first?”
“Haha, I didn’t expect you to be a spoony one!” Wu Shan was intrigued, and asked with a chuckle, “How did you get to your cultivation state with you putting so much weight on your love affair?”
“Cultivation is the training of heart, and that’s where she is. The two are not mutually exclusive.”
“That’s an interesting theory; it’s quite similar to what one of my old acquaintances used to say, sigh…” Maybe he had lived here alone for too long, Wu Shan would sigh and talk about old memories involuntarily quite a lot. The flame of the lamp flickered again, and the voice said, “It’s not that I wouldn’t let her out, but I wasn’t the one setting up that conjuring formation. There is nothing I can do.”
“But you have been in this divine mountain all this time, how could that be?”
“Who do you take me for? I’m merely the most unaccomplished disciple of the Perfected Man…” Wu Shan said in a self-mocking tone. It had been a while since he last talked to someone, and he couldn’t help but become a little querulous. “Since you were able to summon the Great Hall and enter this place, you are considered the chosen ones. I think it’s all right for me to tell you a little bit about my sect.
“The founders of my sect were the Immortals of Hua and Yu; both were cultivators of the Yuan Dynasty. They had three pupils: Gao Wu, Gao Liu, and Gao Jiu 1 . Gao Jiu was my master.”
Well, don’t laugh.
If one were to look through the pedigrees of Taoist sects, they could find a lot of disciples named in such as style as if someone could not be bothered to put in any effort to name them. Because of the disparity between social classes in the ancient times, children from poor peasant families were often without a proper name.
Hence, such names would almost certainly indicate someone from the bottom of the social ladder.
“I was lucky enough to become the Perfected Man’s pupil, but unfortunately, my natural endowment was limited. My cultivation state stagnated at about your level. After that, I ignored my master’s advice, and could think about nothing but elevating my level. However, something went terribly wrong, and I was almost obliterated. Finally, my master came to my rescue. He scooped out the last remaining bit of my soul and put it inside this soul-nourishing lamp…”
The four had realized what had happened when the story reached this stage.
Lüshan had been sleeping at the bottom of the river this entire time, and Wu Shan had been using these years to recuperate. By now, his soul was mostly recovered. Despite the lack of a physical body, the strength of his mental force had almost reached his peak level from when he was alive.
That was, the peak of the Human Immortal state, which was approaching the Immortal state.
“Have you discovered the secret of the One Qi?” asked Wu Shan.
“Do you mean the cycle of declining and recovering like the rise and fall of tides?”
“Exactly. Since you’re already familiar with it, I’ll be brief. When the Perfected Men of my sect realized that the One Qi was drying up, they tried to have the entire sect ascend from this world. I only had a fraction of my soul back then, which could not withstand the maneuver. Furthermore, the Great Hall needed a guard. Hence, I was left behind.
“Legend of the mortal world was that the Great Hall was operated by the Lord Master himself, but that was not the case. The Lord Master had ascended as early as in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, so how could he be operating anything? However, this Lüshan was refined by the Lord Master himself with the purpose to educate the people and spread Taoist knowledge.
“My own sect did not have many disciples. From each generation, one disciple was selected to take care of the operation of Lüshan. The one before me was Master Liu Zun, the one before him was Perfected Man Kang Shier, and before that Lord Huangshan himself.
“The illusion was the work of Master Liu Zun. Although the strength has been greatly reduced after several hundred years, it was unique in a way that one could only come out after they see through it themselves. If anyone tries to stop it by force, the one inside will be pulverized.”
“Is she in danger?” asked Gu Yu immediately.
“Nothing life-threatening. But if she could not let go of her obsession, I’m afraid she’ll be trapped inside for the rest of her life.”
“In that case, how much longer can Lüshan hold on?”
“Well…” Wu Shan hesitated a little before saying, “It used to be run by a Perfected Man, who could seal it off and shut all gates after the teaching of the skill. However, with no one else around, I could only offer the minimal adjustments, and I have no idea how much longer I could do this.”
Gu Yu’s face darkened a little, for he trusted Wu Shan had no need to lie to him. If that was the case, Xiaozhai was on her own.
Lu Yuanqing only spoke after Gu Yu finished asking. “Senior, you mentioned that all the immortal cultivators of your sect have ascended. May I ask where have they gone to? Are they still on earth?”
“Earth? What is earth?” Wu Shan was confused.
“Earth is this world we are in,” explained Shi Yunlai.
“Oh, this place between the sky and the land.” Wu Shan understood.
Historical records showed that the term ” earth 2 ” was probably taken from “Sichuan Grass: Full Map Sequence of Mountains, Seas and Lands”, which was a book written by Guo Zizhang of the Ming Dynasty for Matteo Ricci, and mentioned, “The sky has a south pole and a north one, and so does the land. The sky can be divided into 360 degrees, and so can the land. Hence, there are the sky sphere, the earth (land sphere), the latitude, the longitude…”
That should be earliest usage of the term.
“I am not at liberty to tell you their whereabouts. As for this earth you mentioned, one could say they’re here, or they could be somewhere else too.”
What Wu Shan meant was obvious: fate brought you here, but that was not enough to have me tell you everything.
“Senior, now that the spiritual essence, I mean, the One Qi has recovered, will the immortals sense it?” asked Shi Yunlai suddenly.
“Hoho…” Wu Shan chuckled knowingly, and hit the nail on the head. “You’re worried that they will come back and take your share?”
“Um…” Shi Yunlai looked embarrassed, and did not know what to say.
“When my sect ascended together back then, they have foreseen this future, and we were not the only ones. The sects of Quanzhen, Maoshan, Longhu Mountain, Sword Immortal, Meishan, etc., all felt the same way.
“You said that 500 years have passed since then. I wonder what the world looks like now. From what I observed, the cultivation states of you all are truely unexceptional. The strongest of you is a mere Human Immortal, which is about the same level as mine. It only proves how much the Taoist skills have declined since my time.”
Wu Shan sighed with sorrow. “While the Taoist skills are disappearing, even your minds have become shallow. The Perfected Men are travelling freely in the Void, not to mention the Great Lord Master himself, who is enjoying immortality, good health, and a splendor as long-lasting as the sun and the moon. Do you think they could be bothered to come back to take away this petty, um, earth?”
Five years ago, the world was “at peace”. The countries were having wars or fun of their own without a single idea of what was Dao and what was an Immortal.
Four years also, an innate state cultivator could take supremacy over all, and an entire country had to look up to him.
This year, the monastery had seven innate state cultivators, Phoenix Mountain had three, and even Shamanism had one; the highest level of the cultivators had extended to the Human Immortal state.
This moment, that upper limit had been raised to a place infinitely high and infinitely far away…
These people had been reclaiming cultivation wasteland for the past few years, competing over resources, status, and fortune. Even the most tranquil person could not stay tranquil in this new world.
Yet to Wu Shan, this was but a “petty earth”.
This stark contrast shook the beliefs of all four. When they thought they were in a world vast enough, they were shown that it could be much vaster—so vast that it could be boundless.
Of course, the situation in the ancient world was different from the current one. Limited by its low productivity, the ancient world had a much smaller population, and even fewer cultivators. Had they been put into this modern world, they would have reacted the same as these four!
Gu Yu settled his mind soon enough, and formed his own reasoning.
First of all, Wu Shan had no physical body, but a soul only, so theoretically, he should crave for a tangible form. However, in the presence of these youngsters, he did not begin with deviant talks such as “mwahahahaha, I have waited for five hundred years! I finally can see the light of the day once more. Gimme your body!”
It meant that Wu Shan was actually a pretty decent man. Or, you could say that taking possession of other people’s bodies was a thing of heretics, and something the Taoist community despised.
Secondly, Wu Shan was at the peak of the Human Immortal state, and was taught by famous masters, so he had to be very knowledgeable.
Last but not least, there was the matter with Xiaozhai…
Gu Yu was a firm believer in the exchange of interests. Apart from his close kin and the pursuit of his heart, he wouldn’t give or take without a proper cause.
Hence, he pondered for a while before saying, “Senior Wu, if you don’t mind me asking, since your soul has recovered, do you have any idea how to rebuild your body?”
The green flame in the lamp waved violently despite the lack of wind, and for the first time since he showed up, Wu Shan sounded disturbed. Even his pitch was lowered a little. “What are you suggesting?”