Chapter 1481: Finale: How Many Cycles of Life and Death Will There Be in Which One Person was Missing, and How Many Cycles of Life and Death Will There Be Until They Return to the Mortal World?
Su Ming brought the fog with him.
He did not care about the passing of time nor about how many cycles of life and death had passed in the vast universe. He only continued searching for the marks belonging to the faces in his memories.
In time, he found his second senior brother. He was in a flower formed by fog, and his state of being had already changed. He was a life form similar to a phantom.
Hu Zi was around too. He seemed to have never been separated from his second senior brother. When second senior brother turned into a phantom and became a different life form, Hu Zi became the endless wind in the vast universe around him.
Later, he saw Xu Hui and Flame Fiends’ Progenitor as well as the marks of other people. As many years passed and the cycles of life and death in the vortex within the vast universe continued rotating, Su Ming found each and every one.
He found Bai Ling, Zi Ruo… and his elder.
In the end, Su Ming also found a tree in the vast universe. It was not Ecang, but an incredibly ordinary tree. Under it, Su Ming saw Arid Triad.
Once he found everyone, Su Ming left the cycles of life and death in the vast universe. In the deepest parts of the vortex was his Feng Shui compass. When he reached it, he chose to sit down and meditate again before casting one final glance at the world.
“Are… you lonely?”
Su Ming was silent for a long time before he slowly sent out that thought. He did not open his mouth to speak, but only sent his divine thought to echo in the air. It lingered in the vast universe, refusing to disappear for a long time.
Only one person could hear it.
“How many years has it been? Are you ever lonely being alone in the universe?”
When Su Ming sent another divine thought out, it echoed in the universe, and a cold harrumph traveled out of the vortex before him. Soon after, an ancient ship appeared out of nowhere, seemingly tearing apart space and bringing with it countless bolts of lightning.
Old Man Extermination sat on top of that ship. When he appeared, he opened his eyes slowly, and when he looked at Su Ming, Su Ming lifted his head and looked at him.
Old Man Extermination was silent for a moment before he answered in a hoarse voice. “Our Daos are different… This is the path I chose. For this path, I can live alone for countless years, and I can sacrifice everything… to complete my Dao!”
“Is that path lonely?” Su Ming asked with his divine thought.
Old Man Extermination fell silent again. Only after a long time had passed did his voice travel into the vast universe with a firm tone. “Saying any more is useless. From the moment you successfully Possessed Xuan Zang, I lost half the battle. On this day, after countless years have passed, you will tell me your request, and I will do everything in my power to fulfill it.”
“Help me… find the bald crane. It’s in a world that might or might not exist. You have to help me find it… then bring it back… No matter what it is doing in that world, no matter what form of life it has turned into, please help me bring it back. Bring it… back home,” Su Ming said softly.
He then lifted his head to look at the vast universe in the distance. Fond remembrance and yearning appeared in his eyes, and melancholy as well as regret showed up as well. He had found everyone, but not the bald crane.
Because… the bald crane was not there.
Su Ming lifted his right hand, and a pearl appeared on his palm. It was the seventh pearl from Xuan Zang’s string of pearls. The bald crane’s shadow was originally contained in it, but it had long since disappeared.
“If even you can’t find it, why should I be able to do it? Why won’t you search for it yourself?” Old Man Extermination scowled at him.
“You will be able to find the bald crane through its tracks… I can no longer find it myself.”
When Su Ming said those words softly, Old Man Extermination fell silent. He cast Su Ming a scrutinizing glance, then a complicated look gradually showed up in his eyes.
“Is it worth it?” he asked softly.
When he looked at Su Ming, he could already see that Su Ming’s body was slowly becoming rigid. His life force was dwindling. He had poured all of his life force into the world in his body to make sure that there would be life born in that world. It was to ensure that the lives he found could wake up from within his Abyss Gate.
“This is my Dao… I no longer… want to continue being alone.”
A smile appeared on Su Ming’s face. He did not answer Old Man Extermination’s question, but his words could be considered to have given his answer.
Once he said them, Su Ming unfurled his right hand. The pearl on his palm turned into a long arc, but it did not fly towards Old Man Extermination. Instead, it left into the distant space as if it wanted to break through the world containing the vast universe and charge… to the world where the bald crane was, even if no one knew how far it was located or whether it even existed.
At the same time, the Feng Shui compass under Su Ming’s body stopped rotating abruptly. It turned into a long arc that charged after the pearl, then gradually shrank. When it caught up to the pearl, it fused with it!
“Perhaps in that world, there will be one person… who will hold onto a white piece in his life,” Su Ming said softly. At the instant he shut his eyes, the pearl, which had fused with the Feng Shui compass, turned white.
Old Man Extermination fell silent. After a long while, he sighed softly. He swung his arm, and the lone ship beneath him swiftly flew in the direction of the Feng Shui compass-pearl. They rushed out of the universe together. When their forms disappeared from the vast universe, they left for the world which may or may not exist. They disappeared… from Su Ming’s vast universe.
“I will bring it back. This is the debt I owe you,” Old Man Extermination had said before leaving.
Su Ming had already shut his eyes, and it was the last time he did so in his life. His body had turned completely rigid. The life force in his body had been completely turned inward. The only thing that spread out of his body right then was an aura of death that was becoming thicker with each passing moment.
His life force fused into the world in his body, into each Brand of life formed by the marks. Only by doing so could he make those Brands of life open their eyes in his world.
When Su Ming’s life force fused into the Brands of life, ripples of emotion rose in his heart towards Yu Xuan, Cang Lan, and Xu Hui.
‘I’ve never been able to give all of you anything… Right now, I can only give you… a child born of my life so that our story can continue…’
His soft voice fused into Yu Xuan, Cang Lan, and Xu Hui’s Brands of life, and in them was not just his life force, but also the conglomeration of his life.
There was no longer any Feng Shui compass under Su Ming’s body while he was in the vast universe. He gradually sank into the cycles of life and death in the vast universe as he sat in place. Slowly, the vortex submerged his body, and then, he slowly sank into the cycles of life and death, and no one… could find him ever again.
A sigh echoed in the vast universe then, and Tian Xie Zi’s figure slowly gained corporeal form from its initial illusory form. He walked out of space at the spot where Su Ming had disappeared into the vortex, and grief appeared on his face.
“Then, I… will keep you company.” As he mumbled softly, Tian Xie Zi walked towards the vortex in which Su Ming had vanished into and disappeared as well.
When Su Ming closed his eyes, the world in his body became abundant with life. The sky was blue, the ground was filled with green, and in the distance was a vast ocean. Mountain ranges rose and fell, and there was a mountain among them called the ninth summit…
Then, a door appeared in the sky.
It was a purple door, and when it slowly opened, the entire world turned purple.
The purple light shone for a very long time. When it vanished, the door vanished without a trace as if it had never existed in the first place.
Hu Zi was the first to open his eyes when he landed in the ninth summit. He stared at the sky in a daze, then shook his head violently. He lifted his right hand and instinctively patted the spot by his side, but he did not manage to find any wine pots.
“Darn it all, why does it feel like I’ve slept for a very long time?”
Hu Zi scratched his head in astonishment. He looked into the distance, where his second senior brother had just opened his eyes from his meditation and quickly went to him.
His second senior brother quietly stared at the ground in the distance with a slightly dazed look in his eyes, but soon, he seemed to have thought of something and lifted his head to look at the sky. As he stared at it, his eyes grew moist.
The sound of footsteps reached his ears when eldest senior brother walked towards them. He had a head and a strong body, but when he arrived behind second senior brother and Hu Zi, he shuddered as if he had been weakened.
“Where is youngest junior brother?” he murmured in a slightly hoarse voice, but no one answered him…
“Where is youngest junior brother?” Second senior brother stared at the sky. After a moment, he bit down on his lip, and anguish appeared on his face.
Hu Zi’s eyes went wide, and he quickly stood up and started shouting. “Stop hiding, youngest junior brother, you’re making me worried! Hurry up and come out!”
His echoes resounded through the air…
“Haha! I get it know! Youngest junior brother, you’re definitely hiding in your cave abode! Heh heh, I’ll definitely be able to find you.”
Hu Zi’s voice seemed to have come from a distance. It resounded through the ninth summit and lingered in the air, refusing to leave. At the foot of the mountain, Zi Che stared at the woman beside him in a daze. It was Zi Yan, his older sister.
In the distance… Bai Chang Zai stared in front of himself in a daze. He mumbled under his breath, but he seemed as if he could no longer remember exactly what had happened.
Even further into the distance, Chang He woke up on a meadow. He opened his eyes and felt that he seemed to be holding onto a person with his hand. He instinctively turned his head around, and then, a loud rumble shot up in his head. Tears fell from the corners of his eyes as he stared at his wife, who had also woken up at that moment.
Su Ming’s elder sat quietly at the foot of Dark Mountain and stared at the sun setting in the distance. By his side was Bei Ling, Chen Xin, and everyone from Dark Mountain Tribe. Not a single one of them was missing, except Su Ming and Lei Chen.
However, they were all staring around themselves in a daze, as if they did not know where they were in the unfamiliar yet familiar world.
Su Xuan Yi sat quietly beside a lake. He stared at its surface and murmured under his breath, his words unintelligible to everyone else. His expression was occasionally full of complicated emotions, then dejected, and at other times full of madness.
In the distance was snow and Bai Ling, walking gradually into the distance through the snowy plains…
The only sound there was the shrill cry of an ape. It seemed to be echoing in the snow and wind, and it came from a red flash in Dark Mountain.
Standing on a beach was Fang Cang Lan, who watched the waves rise and fall on the sea. She sat down, quietly grabbed a handful of sand, then furled her fingers around it softly, but she could not stop the fine sand from slipping out through her fingers… She simply could not hold onto too much of it.
Tears fell from the corners of her eyes. They slid down her cheeks and fell on the sand. Perhaps when the next tide came, the tears that had fused with the sand would be taken away by the seawater to become part of the sea.
All sorts of lives and all sorts of events happened at the same time in that world…
Yu Xuan hugged her legs while sitting on a cliff. Her had was buried in her knees, and her long hair covered her face, but it could not cover the crystal drops that showed from the slits between her hair. It was already dusk. Evening rays shone on her, elongating her shadow… until it became very long.
Xu Hui’s robes danced in the wind as she stood on top of a mountain. That spot was the closest place to the sky. While standing there, Xu Hui stared into the distance. When dusk faded away, she turned around and left. Her long hair fluttered, and a teardrop left her cheeks, but no one knew where it flew.
“If you continue down that path, you will be the only person left in the entire universe in the end.”
“Then, what about your path? If you continue down with it, you will be the only one who will disappear from the entire universe!”
The words exchanged between Su Ming and Old Man Extermination seemed to echo in the world at that moment. They resounded in the ears of all the people who remembered Su Ming.
There was one person missing from the cycles of life and death, and he would never return to them. That person was Su Ming.
While he was in the thirty-third Sky, he did not choose to sever his past like Old Man Extermination. Instead, he chose to sever his future and keep the beautiful moments in the past with him.
It was just like his path. He walked down the path of pursuit, which was full of hardships and desolation. It was just like his pursuit for Dao throughout his life, which was lonely but full of determination. Or rather… it was what it meant to become the devil, for it was the path to pursue the truth.
He stood before the devil in antiquity and watched Harmonious Morus Alba transform into the world.
He sighed and pursued the truth for tens of thousands of years, and after many cycles of life and death, he returned to Ancient Zang’s side.
Time passed, and aside from the lives Su Ming resurrected, gradually, other lives also appeared on the land. They were lives that belonged to that world. Cities were built. Sects and clans were formed.
Cycles of life and death came and went as if they could bury all the stories of the past in emptiness.
Only… a sect called Ninth Summit would eternally have a legend that circulated in the world. The legend said that the world was formed by Ninth Summit’s Progenitor, Su Ming. Whenever night fell, he… would watch over the sect and all manner of living.
There was also a similar legend in Dark Mountain. The only thing different about it was that in that legend, the world had daylight because the Su Ming spoken about in the legend could not forget the night, and it had nighttime because when the stars shone, his eyes would sparkle, and he would be able to see his home.
There was also a continent that belonged to the Berserkers in that world, and the legend of the God of Berserkers circulated among them. That legend changed gradually, and slowly, the world became known as the God of Berserkers’ World.
Wind fluttered and snow drifted about.
In a dream, no one knew they would grow old. In a foggy land, who would climb to the top?
In indistinct darkness, smoke curled skywards.
Truth and lies lay on a bridge. Cycles of life and death came and went, but one person was missing.
Many years later, during an evening when it rained, a woman held an oil-paper umbrella in her hand while she stood within a pavilion. Her long hair fell over her shoulders, but only her beautiful back could be seen. Her face was not visible.
Standing by her side was a child of about six or seven years of age. It was a girl with her hair tied up in two pigtails. With one hand, she held the woman’s hand, and with the other, she held a doll. She had rosy cheeks, but she seemed to not be very happy at that moment.
“Ma… I dreamt of pa yesterday. Pipi also dreamed of him. Just where is Pa? This time, you have to tell me…”
The woman lowered her head and gave the girl a tender, loving smile. She patted the girl’s hair, and her gentle voice echoed in the evening rain.
“If you close your eyes, you will find that he is by your side, Tong Tong. You will sense… that he is forever by your side.” While speaking, the woman smiled into the distance.
The girl seemed to not have understood her words. As she listened to her mother speak, she slowly closed her eyes.
When the remaining rays of dusk shone on the ground through the rain, the figure of a man seemed to have appeared to the girl’s right. It gradually became clearer, revealing that he was someone who stood straight. His hair was purple, and there was an air of cordiality about him.
When he lowered his head, he looked at the girl with a gentle smile on his lips.
From a distance, the scene in the pavilion made it seem as if they were a family of three and filled with warmth and happiness…
“Ma, I sensed him!”
The little girl immediately opened her eyes, and with surprised delight, she looked to her right…
“Big brother Su Ming, you have to come back… Once you’re back, I’ll tell you the secret…”
“Big brother Su Ming, this is an amazing secret. Yesterday, I had a dream. Many years later, you became my pa…”
End of Pursuit of the Truth.
Epilogue, Renegade Immortal
“Wan Er, there is no end to the path of cultivation. There is definitely the Fifth Step, the Sixth Step, and even the Seventh Step…”
“Then, I will stay by your side. Even if we cannot reach the end of our Dao, we can enter the cycles of life and death together.
On Celestial Immortal Continent, Wang Lin stared at Li Muwan gently. He held her hand and walked to the distant galaxy, leaving further and further away… Then, in the endless galaxy, he saw an ancient ship.
Sitting on that ship was an old man, and he was smiling while looking at him. Wang Lin was also looking at him. That old man was the person who had played a game of chess with him in the past.
“Meeting you in this world has allowed me to no longer have any regrets. You’ve surpassed me, but in the end… my Dao was not a complete failure. Wang Lin, you still have a long way ahead of you. Continue down your path…”
Wang Lin smiled faintly at the old man on the ship. He did not speak, but held Li Muwan’s hand while walking into the distance…
After a long time, the old man on the ship moved his gaze away and looked at the Celestial Immortal Continent.
“I’ve searched for you for countless years, and you’ve finally woken up. Bald crane, I am Old Man Extermination, and I owe Su Ming a promise… to bring you home!”
“My home… Morning Dao…”
An absent-minded murmur resounded from the air in Celestial Immortal Continent, and a black crane… flew out. Excitement appeared in its eyes, and finally, after it had been lost in countless cycles of life and death… a figure of a person it would never forget no matter how many years had passed and no matter how its appearance changed appeared in its eyes.
It was a man with a smile on his face while he extended his hand to it.
His name… was Su Ming.
“I’ll go home…”
Pursuit of the Truth has ended for six days. Today is the seventh day.
Let me tell you how my life has been for the past few days. Since the book ended, I have become much more irritable. When I moved, I even argued with my wife for several days…
I will admit it. Something has happened to my temper. I am very depressed and sad. I cannot describe this feeling precisely, but when I ended Renegade Immortal, I had this feeling, and now, when Pursuit of the Truth ended, I have the same feeling again.
This is something I have been writing continuously for years, and now, I do not need to continue writing it. The disappointment of it is like a tidal wave that can make a person drown. Pursuit of the Truth has went on for two years, and it is now over in the blink of an eye. I remember that six days ago, it was the first day that marked the end of Pursuit of the Truth.
I am used to booting up my computer, opening up Word, but now, I cannot, by habit, write Su Ming’s name anymore, because when I opened Word, I saw that I had already penned down ‘End of Pursuit of the Truth’ the day before yesterday…
Now, six days have already gone by, but I am still unable to get my mind out of my book. I know that it will take me a month, and only when I get my mind out of Pursuit of the Truth will I be able to create a new book, or else, I will not be a responsible author to all of you, and I will also not be responsible to my new book, and even to my life as a creative writer.
Pursuit of the Truth… Pursuit of the Truth. Pursuit is in itself a manner of living, and it is bound to be filled with hardships and desolation. Seeking the truth is an attitude, and it is bound to make a person cold and determined. This is not something I created, but what a reader wrote down in a forum in Tieba.
At that time, when I saw it, I gained very strong feelings from those words. That person was the first reader who truly understood what Pursuit of the Truth meant.
My skill in writing is limited. My knowledge is limited. My experiences are limited. The things I want to present might not be very clearly presented in my story, but he understood.
I used his words in my story.
In my stories, my words are commonly found and easily understood. They entertain the masses. This is what they are supposed to do, but I am unable to make my words too easily understood, and in that sense, I am a failure, because I always want to write down some of my experiences, my epiphanies, and some words… that I want to say to my daughter in the future. I want to write down the words I want to use to educate her in how to act and how to live in the future.
I remember how many years ago I once said during an interview with Ku6 Media that I love my books very much and that I intend to still be able to enjoy them when I am old, so I hope that they will not appear to be disgusting before my eyes. I also intend to have them be books that my daughter can read when she grows up. I will let her read my books so that I can tell her all my epiphanies and my understanding of the world in the form of my novels.
That is why romantic love is mostly pure in my books. You will not find any hint of indecency, because I do not want to write those things.
People’s schemes against each other, the attitude of the strong preying on the weak, the firm attitude towards friendship, the love for family, the loyalty to love… all these beautiful moments in the book and the understanding towards the world, be it darkness or light, are part of my life.
In Renegade Immortal, I wrote of a nobody who was unwilling to bend his head to fate. He fought against the heavens and destiny. His was a story of a person who walked out of the rough trails in life. In that story was my belief that I was someone special when I was a teenager, my many hardships in life when I was a young man, and my sentiments as well as weariness when I became a middle-aged man.
To achieve success, Wang Lin had to give up on far too much. Hidden under his bright glory was everything that he had given up for his achievements.
And in Pursuit of the Truth, I wrote another story. It was a story of a person who lived but died in the hearts of the others yet survived in their memories.
Su Ming’s story was a story of a person who when he knew who he was, he was no longer himself, and when he no longer knew who he was, only then was he himself.
His was a story of the only person awake when everyone else was drunk… or when everyone else was awake, he was the only one drunk.
What is the devil? If there are some among you who still care about Su Ming becoming the devil, succeeding in becoming the devil, becoming the Devil Paragon, or some of the other words associated with this, and if you still care about not seeing the conflicts of a devil even after you have read the entirety of Pursuit of the Truth, then I have failed.
Because what I wanted to show since the beginning was not a devil, but a person… chasing after an extreme Dao!
I could only use one word to describe this Dao, and that was the devil. ‘He kowtowed before the devil during those three thousand years.’ These words were of the moment Su Ming had the choice to sever his future or his past while he was outside Ancient Zang.
That pronoun ‘he’ does not mean a single person. It is a general reference. It refers to all the people Su Ming met in his life and cared about, people whom he could give up everything for.
All of them.
“If you continue down that path, you will be the only person left in the universe in the end.”
“Then, what about your path? If you continue down it, you will be the only one who will disappear from the universe!”
Those who sever their past belong to the former, and those who sever their future are the latter.
This is Pursuit of the Truth. It is a path, a Dao. When you run into different events but come to face the same choice as Su Ming did, what will you choose?
In Pursuit of the Truth, I wrote Su Ming’s choice, and it is also my choice.
Just like the changes of heart in Pursuit of the Truth, I also went through changes of heart. What changed was my writing style and my creativity. If turning to a mortal in Renegade Immortal can be compared to a stage in my writing career, then in that stage, I will say that I have reached Soul Formation.
After experiencing several changes of heart for Pursuit of the Truth, under certain intentional changes in plot, I sometimes found that my writing was too heavy, and sometimes, there would be confusion. At the moment I ended the book and I penned down the words ‘End of Pursuit of the Truth’, I knew that I had experienced a change of heart. If I was to compare this to a level of cultivation, then it would be the beginning, middle, and later stages of Soul Transformation.
And my new book will be my Ascendant Realm!
There are plenty of regrets contained in Pursuit of the Truth. Due to the lack of accomplishments in the early stages of the book, I experienced a change of heart before the expected time. I questioned myself, and I sought change.
When I reached the middle part of the book, I saw many readers saying that the beginning of the book was good, but the later part was only average, but you do not understand that every time I saw those words, I would sigh.
I sighed, because a new book needs plenty of people protecting and cherishing it while it grows, for only then would it be able to grow well, and there are plenty of readers who wait and only start reading a book when it has plenty of chapters on its back. I too do the same, but Pursuit of the Truth has allowed me to understand that those who read must also let the writer know that they are reading the book. You need to subscribe to the book and let the numbers grow so that the writer will have sufficient confidence.
Those who write need support and encouragement. Even if you are only reading, please subscribe during the early stages of the book. Only by doing so will the writer be confident when he sees the numbers and not feel lost while he is writing.
These are all objective reasons. On a subjective reason, when I started Pursuit of the Truth, I wrote about Berserkers, and many people were not used to it, and when my body did not give me the strength, I could not produce a lot of chapters in one go, and my heart grew tired. The tone of the book also caused the entire story to be filled with an oppressed and depressing air. All of these caused me to only feel about seventy percent satisfied with this book, even though I was initially very confident that I would write it well.
That was why I said that writing Pursuit of the Truth for two years was also a period of time when I experienced a change of heart.
Now, I have experienced turning into a mortal, I have experienced a change of heart, and I am now confident in reaching Ascendant Realm! With my new book, I will breakthrough and crush the wall to Ascendant Realm!!!
1st of March will be the date when I, Ergen, will write my third book after Renegade Immortal and Pursuit of the Truth. I will not give it a depressing air. I will fill all of you with passion when you read it. This is the tone I have set for that book!
The next book I want to write is still Xianxia, but the emphasis will be leaning more towards a person reaching a high state. All the hardships contained in that path will contain Wang Lin’s rebellion and Su Ming’s determination!
This will be my creation once I have reached Ascendant Realm after I experienced my change of heart! In fact, my book will no longer only contain two words or four words, but five words!
My fellow Daoists, please look forward to it. I have here a small request. All the readers who are used to reading, if you acknowledge me, then I sincerely hope that when you read, you will subscribe and support me. Please do not waste your recommendation tickets and comment in the review section, because in my next book, I will reach Ascendant Realm, and I will need your help to be able to succeed. Your help is strong enough to change a book’s fate.
30th December 2013.
Written on the seventh day Pursuit of the Truth ended.