Volume 1 Chapter 2: Breathtaking
When Chen Nan opened his eyes, he found himself lying on a wooden bed. The cushy mattress gave him a sense of warmth and coziness.
The sky had dimmed long ago, but it continued to rain. An oil lamp gently shone in the middle of the house.
The pitter-patter of rain, the comfortable bedding, the gentle light, Chen Nan’s heart filled with warmth. He felt right at home.
With a light push of the door, a fifty year old woman and a fifty year old man entered the room with friendly faces. The woman said, “You’re awake. Kids these days really don’t know the severity of their actions, running around outside during the rain.”
Chen Nan didn’t understand the modern language of the continent, but understood that the old woman had good intentions. He hurriedly leapt off the bed and greeted the old married couple.
It was only now did he realize he was dressed in a new set of clean, dry clothes.
“Auntie, thank you!”
The woman gave him a blank look, obviously not understanding Chen Nan’s words. The old man thought nothing of it; there were many different kinds of people on the continent, of course there would be some that spoke different languages.
Chen Nan followed the old man out of the house. At the same time, a youth entered. The youth was about eighteen or nineteen years old and had a sturdy build. He flashed Chen Nan a friendly smile.
Chen Nan smiled in return.
After eating dinner, Chen Nan expressed his thanks towards the couple, then returned to his room and slept.
In his dream, the beautiful image of a woman emerged from a sea of flowers and left with another shower of flowers, but not before leaving behind a barely discernible whisper: “I’ll wait for you… Until we meet again…”
Soon afterwards, Chen Nan dreamt of his father, Chen Zhan. Chen Zhan’s expression was wise and abstruse, as if he could see through any worldly illusion. He faintly said, “People who ascend to great heights surely must feel inferior; people far away surely must be near. In this world, what is important is not where you are, but the way in which you approach the direction you move towards!”
Chen Zhan’s image gradually vanished, and Chen Nan’s mother materialized instead.
“Leave behind your ostentatiousness, die ordinarily…”
One after another, the images of those once close to Chen Nan materialized before slowly vanishing.
Early in the morning, Chen Nan woke up and pushed open the door. The rain had since stopped, and a rainbow was suspended up in the sky, offering the world a magnificent scene.
“Ten thousand years. What else can I not surrender? I need to start anew!” Chen Nan cried out loudly.
He decided to face reality and start a new life.
Time was like an arrow, flying like a shuttle. In the blink of an eye, half a year went by.
Chen Nan relied on his martial abilities to become the most outstanding huntsman in the small town. Every day, the number of prey he caught would be several times larger than those of other huntsmen. Relying on the profits from his hunting, he purchased a small courtyard. Other than hunting and cultivating his skills, he mainly spent his time learning and studying the continent’s modern language from the town’s residents. Although he couldn’t directly communicate and speak with others, he could already more or less understand the words of those around him.
In addition, Chen Nan continued to change his mentality, accepting reality. He no longer felt lost or confused, and he already began to blend in with society.
Ever since Chen Nan began to understand the modern language, he began to grasp the changes that flipped the world upside down during the last ten thousand years.
Originally, only a single channel of water separated Xianhuan Continent and Mohuan Continent. A great earthquake had violently occurred at this link and pushed the two together.
Xianhuan Continent in the east and Mohuan Continent in the west each had great, unique civilizations. After the continents joined together, because of differences in culture and religion, the ethnic races of the two former continents experienced daily friction with one another. Along with escalating tensions due to their conflicting views, the two sides broke out into war.
This was a time of catastrophic warfare. The battlefield comprised the entire continent. Nowhere was safe. Blood flowed like rivers. Countless able-bodied men were enlisted into the army, never to return. Several million commoners died tragically. A record number of people perished, and a miserable fog of death clouded the entire continent.
The war grew more and more desperate. In the end, the Holy Western Church dispatched magi and temple horsemen to tip the scales in their favour. Eastern martial arts experts and Daoists—who had originally isolated themselves from worldly affairs—also engaged in warfare. From east to west, a huge confrontation between practitioners began: vital qi against battle qi, flying swords, Daoist magical weapons against magic. On the battlefield, sword qi and battle qi raged haphazardly. The power of Daoist weapons and magic dazzled and flared.
In the end, neither side emerged victorious. After the great war, the battlefield was littered with countless corpses. On the continent, the pitiful cry of geese1 resounded.
Both parties, now having experienced the gruesome bloodshed, realized the tremendous danger of war. In the end, they signed a ceasefire agreement.
Time can weather anything. After a thousand years, the tensions eased, and the conflicting views of the various ethnic groups slowly faded away. The initial attempts at merging the ethnicities together were successful. Xianhuan Continent and Mohuan Continent were replaced by a single merged continent—Tianyuan.
“So that’s how it is. No wonder this town has so many different ethnicities. So this is due to the merger of Xianhuan Continent and Mohuan Continent. No wonder I came across fire-breathing wolves when I was hunting; turns out, it’s a Magical Beast from the west.”
Chen Nan was incomparably shocked after learning of this, but simultaneously, he felt that many matters were clarified.
After another half year, Chen Nan finally grasped the modern language of the continent. He deeply understood the affairs of Tianyuan Continent and completely assimilated into modern society.
It was only natural that he still found some matters to be hazy; he never understood what had happened to all those gods and how all those formidable deities had died.
He had asked around town, but no one could answer him.
Finally, an old man in the town said to him, “Child, not only you want to know the answer to this question, but many people all over the continent would like to know, but it remains an unsolved riddle.”
Chen Nan said, “It seems like when the war erupted between the two continents, it directly led to the deities fighting one another.” With that said, he felt his heart stop beating. Just how powerful were they? He was floored.
The old man shook his head and said with a smile, “Child, you really are imaginative. In fact, a thousand years before the two big continents broke out into war, Shenmo Cemetery already existed. No one knows when it was actually built, and even fewer know who built it.”
Chen Nan cried out in alarm, “What? Before the two continents merged… the two continents’ deities were already…”
The old man nodded. “Correct. When so many graves of deities were found there, the whole world was shocked. Countless practitioners rushed there. Even Mohuan Continent’s practitioners dangerously crossed the channel to visit. Since then, Shenmo Cemetery has been regarded as sacred. The strongest people throughout history are buried there, showing their prowess.”
“However… Shenmo Cemetery is located at the boundary between the two continents. Why didn’t the earthquake destroy it?”
The old man sighed. “Shenmo Cemetery was a place of riddles all along.”
In this year time, Chen Nan had wished to go pay a visit to that old man guarding the cemetery, but he never went.
“Since I’ve already started a new life, I should forget about going back to Shenmo Cemetery and visiting the old man caretaker and just leave them in my memory.”
The span of one year isn’t too long or too short, but Chen Nan viewed this year as one of great meaning. He learnt the modern language and softened his mentality. From there, he felt that there were no longer any vicissitudes, and he no longer felt a sense of desolation. He had regained his youthful vitality. He decided to leave the small town and travel around the world.
Since Xianhuan Continent and Mohuan Continent were now merged together, a grand, unending mountain range extended forever into the distance at the border. Small towns at the edge of Xianhuan Continent, at the newly formed boundary between the two continents, were not even twenty li east from the endless mountain range.
No one dared to enter the depths of the mountain range because not only were there vicious, ferocious beasts, but also the ancient giants of legends. To ordinary people, that place was without a doubt a land of death. Even the most seasoned huntsmen of nearby towns only dared to hunt near the mountain range’s surroundings; they did not dare to even take one step into the abyssal mountain range.
Gigantic dragons capable of flight, colossal ancient giants… These rumours deeply enticed Chen Nan. When he decided to leave the small town to travel, the first stop he wanted to explore was near this ‘great, fearsome, vicious land’.
Before his departure, Chen Nan gave away his house as a present to that old couple who had took him in when he had first arrived. With that, he took great strides away from the small town.
The wheel of history begins to turn. From here, the legend starts!
By his lonesome, Chen Nan walked into the depths of a large mountain. He had already spent three days travelling through the endless mountains, seeing countless vicious beasts. Unable to defeat those beasts, he actively avoided them.
“There aren’t too many extraordinary beasts here.”
Suddenly, a giant figure flew by, leaving behind a violent gale.
Chen Nan couldn’t help but turn pale in fright. He raised his head to look around and saw a giant, thirty zhang long ‘strange bird’ soaring through the air above him.
The entirety of the strange bird was dark green with sparkling specks. Behind its body, it dragged a ten zhang long tail.
“Holy! A featherless—no—a fully fish-scaled strange bird! Its tail really is too ugly,” he gasped in surprise.
If someone were to walk by, they would surely ridicule Chen Nan’s ignorance for not being able to even recognize one of the most valiant creatures on the continent—a dragon. But at the same time, they would admire his courage; in front of a dragon, this fool would unexpectedly dare to ‘appraise the head and discuss the feet’2.
This green dragon clearly didn’t notice the insignificant creature on the surface of the ground, nor did it hear its ‘idle gossip’. Otherwise, it would undoubtedly dive down and tear that insignificant creature to shreds.
Seeing the green dragon gradually disappear into the distance, Chen Nan awoke from his stupor and said in hindsight, “That can’t possibly be one of those legendary dragons. This… this is just too much. That whole thing was just a long, winged, pregnant lizard! It must have come into existence due to the strange dragons of Mohuan Continent mingling with the divine dragons of Xianhuan Continent. Simply… ai!”
Of course, Chen Nan had never seen Xianhuan Continent’s legendary mythical beast—the dragon—but the legends of divine dragons were really innumerable! From those legends, one could pry a little into the world of dragons. Furthermore, from exquisite sculptures, one could also make out the appearance of the perfect creature that is a dragon.
A Western Gigantic Dragon had flown by before his eyes just a moment ago, leaving him incredibly disappointed. Maybe that green dragon was tyrannical, but he had a feeling that the Western Gigantic Dragon absolutely couldn’t compare with an Eastern Divine Dragon.
Chen Nan said to himself, “If there was a day I could see an Eastern Divine Dragon with my own eyes, that’d be good. Alas, that green dragon just now was really too… ugly.”
He didn’t know how the green dragon would feel after hearing his words, but it probably wouldn’t think ‘racial discrimination’, but rather, it would directly ‘carry out the land’s proper decree at once’ and execute him on the spot.
There were a countless number of extraordinary scenes in the mountains, including clouds and fog coiled around mountain peaks; strange, craggy stone forests; and gushing waterfalls streaming into small ponds.
Chen Nan stopped at the peak of a mountain. Above his head, the blue sky seemingly cleansed him. Below his feet were white clouds rolling like magical breaths. His heart surged endlessly.
“Ten thousand years. Haha~! Who can lament ten thousand years? I, Chen Nan, can! Haha~!”
Chen Nan slowly settled down from his excitement. He looked at the indigo sky and truly felt ethereal.
A pure bluish green brook zigzagged down the mountain side. After Chen Nan descended the summit, he felt his body begin to unusually heat up. He energetically plunged into the brook. After making use of his ancestral profound skill to still his breathing, he drifted along with the current. After an unknown amount of time, he felt the speed of the current begin to slowly relax until it completely stopped. He opened his eyes and saw that the brook kept flowing off into the distance, but he had been flushed into a clear pool at the riverbank.
Suddenly, a splash came from the middle of the pond. An extremely beautiful scene came about in front of Chen Nan. A woman arose from the middle of the pond like a lotus flower breaking into the surface, elegant and refined. Long, jet-black hair was dripping wet on her shoulders. Specks of water droplets rolled down her jade-like cheeks. Maybe she shouldn’t be called a woman; instead, she should be called a girl, as she appeared to be only sixteen or seventeen years old. Along with her incomparable complexion were two quick-witted eyes with long eyelashes, a straight, refined nose, and a small, rosy mouth. She gave off the impression of a fairy, a pure angel.
Looking even further down, what Chen Nan saw made his nose bleed. The proud girl’s elegant twin peaks had just poked out from the surface of the water. The lustre from the floating, puzzled girl caused his most primal desire to flare up.
Meanwhile, this girl also took notice of Chen Nan. Those two big, quick-witted eyes immediately exuded alarm. She shrieked and called out, “Ah! Come guards, a hoodlum!”
Chen Nan was greatly startled. He never expected this cliché situation to happen to him. The accusation of being an obscene, licentious person would undoubtedly be hard to scrub away. In a moment of desperation, he hurriedly leapt forward and embraced the girl to cover her face and her mouth. That tender, slippery nude body in his bosom made him feel like his blood vessels were bursting.
Suddenly, great strength rushed forth from the girl’s body and, all of the sudden, Chen Nan was sent flying. At the same time, her body, as graceful as a swallow, fluttered out from the water and landed ashore. She quickly threw her clothes back onto her body.
When that great strength surged at Chen Nan, he knew what had just conspired was far from good. This seemingly beautiful and pure girl was a skilled expert of a martial sect. He felt that this girl’s cultivation was much higher than his own. If he hadn’t soundlessly floated to the girl, it would’ve been impossible to come across her.
A dozen or so silhouettes flew out from the nearby grove. Simultaneously, a brilliant, undulating light shot forward from the trees and a light blue screen appeared before the girl. Those dozen or so flying guards arrived at the girl’s side, protecting her at the center of their formation.
Chen Nan could now be considered a resident of Tianyuan Continent. Just now, that brilliance that he saw should’ve come from the spell of a magus. At the same time, he noticed that the cultivation of those dozen or so guards was not inferior to that of martial experts. He felt his head begin to ache. The protective formation of these guards clearly meant that this girl was absolutely not ordinary. If not a noble girl, then she was the daughter of a prestigious family. He provoked a person that shouldn’t have been provoked.
Three magi emerged from the nearby forest. The three were very young. One of them mumbled a few words to himself. With a wave of his hand, the brilliant protective screen around the girl faded away.
As soon as the magical protective screen was about to disappear, the girl angrily shouted, “Quickly grab that person and let me kill them! Quickly!”
Chen Nan promptly shouted, “This beautiful young lady, please listen to what I have to say…”
“You shut up! What are you guys staring at? Hurry and bring him to me!”
At present, this peerless beauty’s face was covered with murderous intent, itching to slice and dice Chen Nan.
“It’s a misunderstanding…”
Nevertheless, the three magi walked forward and one of them said, “Freed from the world, thy Water Spirit, please heed my summons, Column of Water.”
The air fluctuated. With a crash, a column of water leapt up from the water’s surface and attacked Chen Nan.
Chen Nan originally didn’t pay much mind to it, but when that column of water just came into contact with him, he discovered its tremendous hidden power. He hastily dodged to the side.
The column of water struck the surface of the pond, causing an enormous wave to push Chen Nan towards the girl on the shore.
“What! That girl will rip me apart if I make it to the shore.” Chen Nan hastily swam back.
At this time, that magus who had summoned the column of water once again chanted a spell. The undisturbed water surface once again fluctuated forward and layer after layer of waves rushed towards Chen Nan, stubbornly pushing him towards the shore. Those guards protecting the girl promptly stepped forward, encircling him.
Chen Nan sprang out from the water, flashed an unsightly grin, and said, “This is truly a misunderstanding…”
“Shut up! You guys quickly grab him and lie him down on his stomach,” the girl ordered.
These dozen or so guards contained both men and women. Although they were young, none of them were weak. They all pitifully looked at Chen Nan, as if he were already a piece of meat on the chopping block.
Chen Nan knew that this battle was unavoidable, so he pre-emptively launched his attack. His pair of palms pushed outwards. Layer upon layer of afterimages of his palms struck out. With that, his body soared into the air, intending to leap out from the encirclement. Obviously, the guards didn’t give him the slightest opportunity. Two guards effortlessly neutralized the flapping of his hands and flew up into the air after him, forcing him to descend.
At the instant when his body began to descend towards the ground, he threw a palm technique behind him, suddenly thrusting him forward. Without turning his head, he threw out another palm backward.
Chen Nan shakily blasted forward. Just before he hit the ground, his face flushed red with embarrassment. A fresh spurt of blood filled his mouth, but he swallowed it back down with great difficulty.
Those guards seemed to understand Chen Nan’s situation clearly. Again, they formed a circle with him in the middle. A woman who seemed to be the leader of the guards walked towards him. This female chief was awfully pretty and had the appearance of being unable to withstand the wind. Still, Chen Nan didn’t dare to be careless; he knew this girl was absolutely not weak.
A razor-sharp sword flashed like lightning at Chen Nan. In the blink of an eye, a blade appeared before him. Chen Nan quickly dodged to the side, but a strand of his hair was still cut by the woman’s slash and floated to the ground.
He inhaled a mouthful of cool air. This woman’s swordplay was like lightning, and he wouldn’t be able to put up any resistance without first advancing in his ancestral profound skill, improving upon his first Chongtian of his Mahayana. While Chen Nan was momentarily distracted in his thoughts, the pretty woman once again attacked. With a longsword in hand, she pierced in a flash towards his vitals.
After the two exchanged thirty or so moves, Chen Nan proved inferior and was struck backward by the woman’s palm strike. Falling over, he spat out three mouthfuls of blood.
The guards held Chen Nan up and brought him in front of the girl he had seen in the water.
“Hmph! You smelly hoodlum trying the same old tricks! I even thought you were something special!” The girl sneered.
A whiff of cool air went through Chen Nan’s heart. The expression of the girl before his eyes was completely different than that of the one he had seen in the water. She was a completely different person. When he had seen her in the water, she had seemed like a small angel. But now, he sensed that a beautiful, small demon was the one standing in front of him.
“This… en! Xiaomeimei, just now, I truly didn’t mean to offend you. I was afraid of you crying out and causing me unnecessary troubles, so I threw myself at you and embraced you…”
“Shut up.” The girl was shooting fire from her eyes. She lifted up her tiny foot and gave him a ferocious kick.
Chen Nan realized that he shouldn’t budge an inch, much less say a word.
The guards protecting the girl had maintained steady, calm attitudes the entire time, but hearing Chen Nan’s words, their faces immediately changed colour and they yelled out in succession, “What? This stupid bastard has the impertinence to humiliate Her Highness the princess? He really should be hacked to pieces.” Then, they hurriedly went down on their knees and shakily said, “Subordinate deserves death! We failed to properly protect Your Highness the princess.” Everybody’s faces were covered with cold sweat.
Now, the princess regretted what just conspired. She regretted giving Chen Nan the chance to open his mouth and ‘speak rubbish’, making her feel beyond ashamed and unable to properly face her subordinates.
The little princess, flustered and exasperated, said, “You guys too! This bastard is spouting off rubbish, how can you believe his crap? I already noticed him when he was far away. Am I supposed to give you guys a chance to show off? I already dealt with him before you came.”
Her fierce gaze arrived on Chen Nan lying on the ground and she said, “Hmph, you dare to slander and insult this princess. I’ll have you viciously beaten to death.”
Chen Nan didn’t move an inch and didn’t say a word. He heard her clearly, but he didn’t expect this girl to be a princess.
The guards clearly didn’t believe the princess’s words either. In their hearts, Chen Nan was a low-class scoundrel without any sense of shame. They advanced towards him and beat him senseless until his body was like a pincushion, bitten by ants, until he hovered between life and death. In just a short span of time, Chen Nan’s body was black and blue with bruises.
“Enough, he’ll die after a few more hits.” Seeing Chen Nan covered in bruises, the little princess happily smiled. She seemed to be satisfied by this outcome. The young bodyguards stopped trampling all over him and moved aside. The princess flashed Chen Nan a charming smile and walked over.
Chen Nan inadvertently disgraced an imperial princess and was almost cruelly beaten to death. His heart relaxed, thinking that his punishment had ended.
The princess giggled sweetly into his ear, “Your kind of fellow’s lust encompasses the heavens, actually wanting to mix yourself with this princess. Luckily, this princess is wise, brilliant, always one step ahead, and figured out what you were trying to do. If you had peeked at me, then what face would this princess still have? I’d be mocked to death.”
Chen Nan stared blankly at her. “Wait a minute, what did she just say? Isn’t she smiling at me? But by the tone of her voice, it doesn’t seem like the situation is very good.” He continued to look at the princess and felt uneasy. Although the princess’s smile was sweet, wickedness crept through it. He couldn’t help but shiver and break out into a cold sweat.
The princess sweetly laughed, “Come men, castrate him.”
A loud ringing rumbled through Chen Nan’s mind and his vision blurred. Now, the princess’s smile was undoubtedly brimming with viciousness. He thoroughly understood: this was a little demon with the outward appearance of an angel.
1 哀鴻遍野/pitiful cry of geese; meaning ‘the land was covered with victims of disaster/famine’.
2 品頭論足/appraise the head and discuss the feet; meaning ‘to find fault in minor details/be overcritical or nitpicky’.