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Xu Yangyi’s hand pulled back and patted at his clothes, wiping away at the cold sweat on it. He leaned against a wall and took a few deep breaths, fishing out a cigarette and taking a drag. His fingers were somewhat trembling. Taking a few more drags, he finished and cooled down.
He carefully distinguished his surroundings, but was unable to make sense of his location. However, he could distinctly see the Animus Armament circling the top of his head. An extremely faint screen of golden light was encasing him.
It was very weak, so weak that it could practically be shattered with a bump. Nonetheless, the heart-shaking sensation above couldn’t be faked in the slightest. Xu Yangyi understood rather well that even if he attacked for a century he wouldn’t break open this light shade.
His back was fairly sore, and he straightened out his body. Suddenly, his eyes brightened. This… was the Yellow Springs Path. Among Jiang Shang, Sun Bin, Zhuge Liang, and Liu Bowen… that person’s domain was intermingled!! That story… That person, was concealed in the Yellow Springs Path!
None could see it, but now he could! In the blink of an eye, this thought expelled the awful discomfort of moments ago. Xu Yangyi took a deep breath, still not turning his head. Instead… pulling the iron chain and not turning around, he walked one step back at a time in reverse!
He wanted to see… who in the world was under the painted umbrella! He wanted to study what the meaning of the tale carved here was! One step followed by another, he fell back to the very first area.
Peony had long since left that region. Presently, he could only hope in his heart that his secretary had walked through this terrible road. Without almost any hesitation, he looked at the wall carving that he couldn’t see clearly at first. Under the golden light, hordes of demons seemed to withdraw. In this twinkling, the originally indistinct painting was incredibly clear.
It was a wall carving of the same painting style. However, he absolutely didn’t anticipate the person on it! On the wall carving, there was a fish biting a straight hook that was being suspended by an old man. This old man… was amazingly Jiang Ziya!
Duke Jiang fishes; those who are ready, ascend the hook!
That was because this hook was a straight hook! It fundamentally couldn’t hook a fish! Yet there was an azure carp.
“Azure carp… Azure carp!” Xu Yangyi’s breathing became hurried and short. He called many things to mind, thinking back to the time he’d awakened and the almighty azure carp beneath the water!
He quickly swiped his finger and took out the already-assembled sheepskin scroll from his storage ring. Looking it over once again, he wished that he was mistaken. Nevertheless, without room for objection, the slovenly handwriting informed him that this was the giant fish’s symbol!
Could it be… that fish… was the carp that Duke Jiang had originally hooked yet released? That fish… had witnessed Jiang Ziya and King Wen of Zhou’s meeting?
His heart raced. A dreadful guess emerged in his mind. If… the ground below was truly the lotus sea, and the fish really was the carp hooked by Jiang Ziya, in that case, wouldn’t that be saying… that It… had already lived for a full 3,600 years?!?!?!
Undying for 3,600 years! 3,600 years of suppression… What kind of concept was this?!?!
It had witnessed the birth of China’s civilization! It was even one of the world’s few earliest Archdemons in touch with civilization! To say that It was the demon world’s supremacy was not an exaggeration! A Greater Demon that coexisted in the same period as the Three Demons of Xuan Yuan: Su Daji, Hu Ximei, and Wang Guiren!
It… might even understand the cultivation world’s true creation. Whether or not there was a Desolate Flood legend or… of a thing in cultivator legend...
So long as the carp confirmed the mythical Godseal War, if this legend truly held origin… in that case, the entire modern Cultivation Civilization would be revised!
His heart pounded awfully fast. Xu Yangyi took out another cigarette, took a few deep breaths, and then settled down again. Jiang Ziya… Sun Bin… Zhuge Liang… Liu Bowen. Four reincarnations and this azure carp...
He ceased his diverging thoughts and continued looking, but he second painting struck him completely dumb. For a split second, he even suspected that he was mistaken. The wall carving… was that of a classical tale.
A vast lake, jade waves rippling. The landscape of both shores were picturesque. Under a painted umbrella, there was a woman wearing a white qipao and another woman wearing an azure qipao. They received the umbrella handed over from a scholar! If Xu Yangyi still didn’t understand what this wall carving represented, then he was a cultivator of Cultivation Civilization in vain!
“This is… the Legend of the White Snake…” He stroked the painting in shock. This image was picture-perfect to the Legend of the White Snake in any book! Everything before his eyes was too incredible. He looked at painting after painting until he saw the final one. Even he couldn’t restrain the astonishment in his heart.
Yes, this was the Legend of the White Snake. However, it was completely different from his impression of this legend!
In this version, Bai Suzhen was not benevolent whatsoever! Over nine centuries old, this group of wall carvings illustrated that Bai Suzhen had met Xu Xian at the side of West Lake! Xu Xian indulged himself in lust and became husband and wife with Bai Suzhen. Ultimately, this was seen through by High Monk Fahai, and Xu Xian immediately requested an exorcism. In the end, Fahai drove out the two demons. Xu Xian left home to become a Buddhist monk and begged for alms to build a seven-story pagoda to eternally suppress these two demons. It was known as Leifeng Pagoda.
It was just that among the first and second demons… there was no azure snake! It was replaced by… an azure carp! If this wall carving was true, then the Legend of the White Snake wasn’t one of China’s four great love stories but rather… a true perversion between human and demon! By no striving of the mind was it two snakes, azure and white, but one snake and one fish!
Xu Yangyi’s mind was in partial turmoil. Common things set in special places certainly weren’t ordinary. Especially… since he knew that there was quite possibly a giant azure carp underground as he looked upon these murals!
According to the dynasties of all the wall carvings, the timeline went from the Shang dynasty, to the Warring States period, and then to the Three Kingdoms. Along the way, it went through the Song dynasty’s Legend of the White Snake and culminated with the Ming dynasty’s Liu Bowen at the end. However, the entire group of wall carvings were carved in the Tang dynasty!
In his contemplations, the Animus Armament above his head softly droned, and the golden light enveloping his body disappeared in an instant. A wisp of light illuminated and entered his eyes.
Xu Yangyi raised a brow and looked at the wall carving at the side. It was a man within a lavish imperial slumber palace. The man’s facial features were incomparably ugly. He wore a winged-dragon crown and a nine-dragons gown that was draped over his body. His hand was set on top of a bowl, and he was facing a slim man and saying something.
“One half resembles the sun and the other the moon. A piece has already been bitten off by the golden dragon.” Without almost any consideration, Xu Yangyi read this verse aloud. If his guess was right… this image was the scene of Zhu Yuanzhang having Liu Bowen answer what he ate for breakfast.
“As expected…” Xu Yangyi narrowed his eyes and looked towards a wall carving that extended ahead. “The entire story’s already come to Liu Bowen. Liu Bowen… This is the final segment formed by this thousand-meter-long story.”
As far as the eye reached, the path already seemed to be getting progressively brighter ahead. Yet over yonder, there were evidently quite a few people already. Amidst unwittingness and the Animus Armament’s guide, he had actually studied the wall carvings and walked the entire Yellow Springs Path!
Taking a deep breath, he resolutely walked out from the darkness. The outside was practically alight with lanterns. Out of habit, he lifted his hand to block some light. In his narrowed eyes, however, he saw people lying down on the ground before him.
Everyone was lying down on the floor as if they were sleeping. Their breathing was rather even. The sole person not sleeping was Zhao Fenglai. His eyes were reddened, his expression haggard, and his hair unkempt. He sat at the side of the tunnel, taking drags of cigarette after cigarette.
“How long was I walking for?” Xu Yangyi asked calmly and forced himself as much as he could not to think about the thing he saw in the cave.
“A week.” Zhao Fenglai’s voice was hoarse. Afterwards, he smiled wryly in silence. “This time… no one was hurt, but… they’ve been sleeping for a week.”
“You alright?” Xu Yangyi raised a brow.
Zhao Fenglai didn’t speak but raised up his hand. It was covered in blood. It obviously hadn’t just been cut and injured for long. Furthermore, his hand held a small box. This was the small box that originally held the Earthlistener.
“Before we left, Old Five gave this item to me. Were it not for him… I’m afraid that this old man might be unconscious like them too right now…” Zhao Fenglai took a deep drag. His hand, twisting in smoke, was shivering. “I swear… so long as I’m alive, I’ll never walk that path again! You can’t even imagine what I encountered…” Zhao Fenglai seemingly wanted to laugh, but old, cloudy tears streamed down his face just as a smile perked up on his lips. His tears couldn’t be restrained.
Xu Yangyi didn’t laugh at him. The danger factor of this path far outstripped the livyatan! If said that the latter still had a visible menace, then you wouldn’t even know when you lost your life in the Yellow Springs Path.
Sitting down, Xu Yangyi extended his hand. Zhao Fenglai stared blankly and then intuitively threw over a cigarette. Xu Yangyi calmly lit it and quietly watched the burning cigarette butt. He didn’t inhale the smoke and smiled after a while. “Sometimes, I really admire the intelligence of mortals.”
“An addictive item is a poison that cannot be given up. It’s like a cultivator’s pursuit towards power.” Zhao Fenglai’s expression was sallow as he nodded. His muddy-yellow eyes looked towards Xu Yangyi. “Are you okay?”
“The threat I suffered was pretty direct.” Xu Yangyi took a heavy drag. “You said it right; I won’t walk this path again.”
This time, he had the Animus Armament. Next time, would he still be so lucky? Yet, he also clearly realized that this place… was already getting closer and closer to Danxia Temple’s true entrance! The closer they got… the more dangerous it was! Mortal danger hidden at each corner and bend!
In the passage that he was currently sitting in, he couldn’t even see the honeycomb wall. He also didn’t ask. Instead, he laughed and raised his chin towards the sleeping people. “About how long is it still going to be?”
“Can’t say for sure. The shortest is three more days. The longest…” Zhao Fenglai puffed out smoke, a wisp of sorrow flashing through his eyes. “They’ll just continue to sleep like this…”
It was quiet. The two of them smoked in silent understanding. After a long time passed, and he reached his third cigarette, Xu Yangyi kept the smoke in his mouth. He looked at the top of the cave and said, “Have you guessed what’s down there?”
“No,” Zhao Fenglai replied dully. “Anything I guess about an immortal abode will be wrong.”
1. Jiang Ziya fishes is part of his “myth” so to speak. He is at the side of a lake and fishing without bait with his hook above the water. What he is fishing for is not necessarily fish, but those who are “ready”. This story eventually sets into motion the fall of the Shang dynasty and the rise of the Zhou. Jiang Ziya is waiting for those in need of his services as a master strategist.
2. King Wen of Zhou is the figure that Jiang Ziya helps to establish the Zhou dynasty. His personal name is Ji Chang (姬昌)
3. Legend of the White Snake is a famous Chinese tale. You can read it on wikipedia.
4. To put things into perspective, the Ming dynasty is 1368-1644 CE. Tang dynasty is 618-907 CE.
5. Real line said in history. Background: The Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) wanted to riddle Liu Bowen: “What is inside this bowl?” And Liu Bowen gave this vague response that the emperor apparently really liked and thought was clever. Golden dragon represents the emperor. As for what was inside the bowl, it is said to be a sesame cookie.
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