Chapter 1: Ye Wuchen
“Wake up, you have slept for far too long… wake up……” An insubstantial voice drifted toward him over the boundless sea of consciousness.
“Who’s that? Who’s calling me?”
He finally opened his eyes, but all he could see was the dark, unmoving world that surrounded him.
Suddenly, his head split open in pain. He clutched it between his hands and shook. Then, he began to look around him.
His eyes were confused, but they recovered quickly and pierced the darkness like a sharpened blade. With his vision returned to him, he was then able to assess his surroundings. He was a slender youth with morbidly pale skin, either seventeen or eighteen years old, and dressed in snow-white clothes. His face was pale and handsome, yet very feminine. His dark black hair hung over his thin shoulders in a natural way, and even under the curtain of darkness, it occasionally gave a faint shimmer with a dark kind of luster. He had slender fingers and thin wrists that looked normal but were weak in reality. His appearance was certainly the type to be looked down upon by others and especially by those of Tianchen Continent, since they valued strength above all else.
“Where am I?”
He had no idea how long he had slept, but his body was as stiff as stone. With great effort, he managed to stand up. To the average person, his surroundings would appear to be dark. To him, this setting was as bright as day. He was in a small, thatched hut. The crisp, fresh air was filled with the flavor of straw. He frowned slightly when the voice of an elderly man drifted into his ears, and pushed his sore body up, and left the hut with stiff steps.
It was a somber night. There was no moon, and there were no stars. An old man was sitting on the ground under the curtain of darkness, surrounded by seven or eight children. Their eyes were fixed on the old man, captivated by the fables he had told countless times before.
“The Devil Kingdom’s attack brought calamity and disaster to the entire continent, and threw its people into an abyss of abject misery. The four countries which had historically coveted each other’s lands were forced to unite and fight the Devil Kingdom’s invasion. However, how could mere humans obtain victory over such strong residents of Hell? Just as the continent was about to be driven off the edge of a cliff, humanity had no other choice but to beg the Godly Kingdom, and at the very last moment, the Godly Kingdom dispatched its saviours. They were the only two daughters of the God. One of them was snow-white from head to toe. Her hair, her clothes, her huge pair of wings were all white. She was called the [White-Winged Angel]. Her sister was all black. Black hair, black eyes. Even her black wings looked like those of a Demon, and so she was called the [Black-Winged Angel].”
“Using their strong powers, the two angels spent a month driving away the demons. Eventually they fought their final battle with the Dreadlord of the Devil Kingdoms in the northern part of the mainland. Although he was only one of the Dreadlords of the Devil Kingdom’s Empire, he was very powerful and it was he who brought his fellow countrymen from the Devil Kingdom’s lands to invade the continent. The battle lasted for three days and three nights, but no one knows who was victorious. All we know is the demons had been driven away, and the Dreadlord and two angels vanished. To this day, no one knows where they went. Some say they perished together, while others believe that the two saviors killed the Dreadlord before returning to the God Kingdom. The truth remains a mysterious riddle, but since the demons never returned, the two angels who saved the continent are now forever remembered as saviours by humans from one generation to the next.”
The old man stopped there and seemed to glance in his direction. The teenager’s heart suddenly began to throb. Even though he saw a mild, old man telling a story, for just a moment, he could see a set of cold eyes that were like lighting in the surrounding darkness.
“Grandpa Chu, the angels from the God Kingdom, so they must have been very beautiful right?” One of the children asked with curiosity. His question perked the others’ curiosities as well, and their eyes focused on the old man.
“They might be, but no one could get a clear view of what they looked like. Humans don’t have the honor to see what angels look like.” The old man spoke with a smile.
The children showed their disappointed faces. Then, the old man smiled. “My children, I will stop here today, so you can all go now. I will let you all know when your brother Da Niu returns.”
Those kids left so quickly, they did not even bid the old man goodbye. The old man stood up and walked towards the teenager with a cane in his hand. His steps were strong and steady, without any sign of weakness at all. And so the cane seemed to be merely a prop for him.
“You woke up.” The old man exclaimed in an aged, peaceful voice, and looked him up and down.
The teenager nodded and then asked, “Where am I?”
The old man narrowed his eyes, and for a moment did not answer the teen’s question. Eventually he responded peacefully. “I saved your life when you were seven or eight years old from a ravine in the west. You remained unconscious even as I used almost every conceivable method to help you recover. You’ve been unconscious for ten whole years. You neither ate nor drank, yet there was no sign of your vitality waning away. I was surprised to see that you were even able to grow taller during that time! I’ve seen a lot during my lifetime, but I have been completely amazed by you over these past ten years. Can you tell me your name and your story?”
The teenager was shocked, but calmed down very quickly. He tried to remember everything, suppressing the waves of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him.
“What is my name? Who am I……”
“…..born in Hua Xia… lived in Jinghua……. Jinghua is the capital city of Hua Xia….. My father is…… mother is…… I am……”
Fragments of past memories trickled by, but he failed to remember everything. He could only recall the country he was from and everything about it. He could also remember everything he had learned, but he could not name any one related to himself.
Could it be selective amnesia? He felt his headache worsen from the surrounding chaos. In response he covered his face with his hands until he was able to come to terms with his mind.
Why did I lose my memory? What did I do before losing it?
After a long silence, he sighed and dropped his arms. His soulless eyes looked into the sky. Perhaps only god could give him an answer.
The old man looked at him pensively.
A soft breeze brushed by and brought with it a refreshing coolness. It lifted into the air a single withered leaf, which dropped slowly back towards the ground. Subconsciously, the teenager reached out, and pinched the leaf between two fingers. He looked out again into the cloudy sky with no moon or stars. The old man blinked in confusion at what he was doing.
To have no memories is to have no past. The mind is fated to wander aimlessly like falling leaves in attempt to find its way back. The teenager sighed, brushed the leaf away, and proclaimed loudly, “I am Ye Wuchen!”
The old man smiled. “Is that your real name?”
Ye Wuchen showed a slight grin. “I am Ye Wuchen… at least until I get my memories back.”
“I see. It’s a real pity. But, you are absolutely not an ordinary teenager so you should be able to retrieve your memories very soon.” The old man said.
Judging from his reactions, the old man had been able to surmise that the teenager had lost his memory. In addition there was no trace of the teenager’s past memory. Had it been twelve years ago, the old man would have spared no expense in exploring everything about the mysterious teenager. But he was old now and had been trapped there for decades, and so he was tired.
“What should I call you?” Ye Wuchen looked at the old man.
“What should you call me? For an old man like myself, it’s almost difficult to remember my name. If you don’t mind, you can just call me grandpa Chu like the other children do, or just call me old man” he said with a smile.
Ye Wuchen thought the old man just was not willing to tell him his name, so he said, “Alright, grandpa Chu, I will certainly pay you back for saving my life.”
The old man shook his head and sat next to Ye Wuchen on the grass. He said to him, “You have only slept since I saved your life. It isn’t a big deal. If you were an ordinary teenager, you would have died many times during the past ten years.”
Ye Wuchen also sat. Even though his body was still stiff, he could at least move with some freedom.
“No matter what, I still owe you. Grandpa Chu, where are we now? How far is it from Jinghua?”
“Jinghua? Where is it?” The old man turned to him, confused.
Ye Wuchen frowned slightly and said. “Jinghua city is the capital city of Hua Xia. Isn’t this Hua Xia?”
Despite the confusion, the language they were speaking was definitely that of Hua Xia.
The old man shook his head. “I have never heard of a country named Hua Xia. I walked to almost every corner of the continent when I was younger, and I’ve never heard of the name. When someone loses his memory, some of the fragments that resurface may be imagined. So maybe everything that you’ve remembered isn’t real.”
Ye Wuchen closed his eyes and thought about what the old man said. He asked. “What on earth is this place called then?”
“The world is divided into five continents and five oceans. The continent we humans live on is named Tianchen. Beyond it lies Tianchen Ocean. There are four countries on Tianchen named Dafeng, Tianlong, Kuishui, and Canglan. Each occupies their own corner of the continent. Dafeng is the most powerful of the four. Only by combining their strength can the remaining three countries hope to compete with Dafeng’s strength. Their alliance struck a balance against Dafeng, and it has maintained the peace and stability that exists today.”
The old man seemed to yearn for the old days after recounting this, as if it had been too long since he had seen the world of which he spoke.
Ye Wuchen’s thoughts were chaotic. What were the Hua Xia and the earth that existed in his memories? Where they false memories or ……
He had traveled from his earth to some new unknown world!
He recalled one of the words from his memories—traversal.
“Does everyone here speak a common language?” Ye Wuchen asked.
“Where are we now?”
The old man was silent for a moment and sighed. “This is the extreme north of Tianlong, an area that was forgotten and sealed off. It has existed for a long long time. It is common knowledge in Tianlong that it is impossible to leave this place once you step into its boundaries. But fifteen years ago, I broke through the barrier sealing this place in arrogance, and I have never gone back. I even implicated my own grandson. Now, those fifteen years seem to have passed in the blink of an eye.”
Noticing Ye Wuchen’s surprised face, the old man continued. ”Since I then, I have discovered that there are no natural disasters or monsters here, but there is a strong enchantment that only lets people in but not out. I have attempted many times to break it but every attempt has ended in failure. So, I lived my life here just like the other people that have been trapped here. They have no choice but to settle down and live out their lives.”
Ye Wuchen’s face stiffened in silence.
A sealed place. If there is no way to get out, then how would he recover his memory and explore the course of his life? Perhaps he should just choose to settle here like the other people?