Chapter 101 Mortal beings like ants
The smoke rose in the air, the white steps stretching endlessly. The young man’s clothes flapped as he tightly held his sword.
The wind swept through his hair. His figure was tall and strong, with energetic curves at his waist and shoulders.
Just standing there, he looked like a tall tree under the moonlight, a sword drawn.
The young girl, standing three steps away, gave a gentle laugh. “Pei Yuzhi, I always wanted to talk to you.”
Pei Jing became more cautious in his mind and asked, “Are you the Heavenly Dao?”
Hearing that, the girl’s fingers twitched a bit, parting the mist as she softly said, “Heavenly Dao, what is it? The laws of Heaven, the will of Heaven? But how can a will have a will? Yet, that’s how people call me.”
Pei Jing’s eyes darkened, and the aura of killing around him suddenly became intense.
The Heavenly Dao clearly sensed it and smiled softly, “Do you want to kill me?”
Pei Jing didn’t speak.
He thought to himself, “If I ever gain the ability to kill you, I will definitely do it.”
The Heavenly Dao spoke softly, “Why? This should be our first meeting.”
The Execution Sword felt cold in his hand. The girl in front of him had an excessively gentle aura, making him feel as if he had returned to the warm embrace of his mother, carefree and relaxed. He had to be cautious, as any carelessness could make him lose focus.
The Transient Jade Lotus hidden within him constantly reminded and restrained him. Its petals were cold and pure white, pulling him away from the influence of the Heavenly Dao.
Pei Jing furrowed his brow but remained silent.
The Heavenly Dao smiled and said, “Doesn’t Yunxiao Sect have a rule against senseless killing of the innocent?”
Pei Jing didn’t know where he was. The surroundings were covered in white mist, and he could only see the stairs beneath his feet. However, he knew that the person appearing before him couldn’t be the real essence of the Heavenly Dao. Perhaps, it was just a tiny fraction of its soul. He didn’t dare to act rashly. Pei Jing calmly said, “But your actions are unkind in the name of the Heavenly Dao.”
“Unkind in the name of the Heavenly Dao?”
The Heavenly Dao softly repeated the words, still gentle, and its smile seemed tinged with helplessness. “Pei Yuzhi, I still want to talk with you.”
Pei Jing wanted to say, “There’s nothing for us to talk about.”
However, he pressed his lips together and chose not to resist.
Perhaps, he also wanted to learn something from her.
Her dress was layered with starry chiffon, and with a wave of her sleeve, her jade-like fingertips made the path on the stone steps clear. Within a pure white light, Pei Jing could only see her flowing skirt and fingers. The girl formed by the Heavenly Dao was neither aloof nor holy, neither gloomy nor arrogant. She was neither light nor dark, but simple and sincere, like a majestic mountain.
The girl’s voice was gentle too, “In the three thousand realms, countless rules exist. You come from another world, and you are the most special being I have ever encountered. I’ve always been curious, what was your original world like? Did you have family or loved ones there?”
She continued walking forward.
Pei Jing paused, his eyes darkened, and he followed along.
Clad in a snow-white garment, she ascended the steps, and the air became deep and fresh.
The Heavenly Dao called out, “Pei Yuzhi… Pei Jing?”
Upon hearing these two words, Pei Jing felt a bit dazed. After all, to him, “Pei Jing” was the true, unchanging name across two worlds. Names were indeed a peculiar bond, entangling past and present, encompassing all love and hate. What was his original world like? It had been so long since he left, so long that he was nearly forgetting his homeland.
However, his heart grew colder inch by inch.
Pei Jing said, “You don’t need to confuse me. I don’t have any attachments in the modern world.”
The Heavenly Dao asked, “Your parents?”
Pei Jing remained silent for a long time, lost in thought, before he replied, “They died pursuing their passions, proud of their chosen paths.” It happened when he was sixteen.
The Heavenly Dao asked again, “Truly no attachments at all? Friends, mentors, after all, you are someone who values relationships.”
After she finished speaking, she paused, her smile carrying a hint of pity and detachment.
Pei Jing said, “I don’t know how you define human emotions. If you measure it by time, the mere twenty years in the modern world are insignificant. After all, I have lived in this world for nearly five hundred years.”
Walking beside him, the Heavenly Dao listened to his words and softly responded, “But shouldn’t the initial memories have the deepest impact on a person? Pei Yuzhi, if I were to send you back to the modern society now, would you be willing?”
Pei Jing smiled a serene and fearless smile in front of the Heavenly Dao. “Are you in a hurry to send me away because you’re afraid I’ll kill you?”
The Heavenly Dao remained emotionally unchanged. With a flick of her finger, the clouds dispersed, revealing the vast blue sky, stretching mountains, rivers, and endless green landscapes. Pei Jing realized that the staircase he had been climbing was suspended high in the air, offering a panoramic view of the entire continent when he lowered his head.
The Heavenly Dao said, “I’m not afraid of you. I simply don’t want things to fall into another cycle of death and repetition. Do you know how you ended up being pulled into this world?”
Pei Jing became intrigued and turned his head to look at her.
The flawless fingertips of the girl emitted a shimmering silver glow as she spoke, “I once used the Execution as the axis, gathering the malice of all things and creating the Celestial Demons. In the battle of the gods, the Heavenly Ladder was severed, plunging the entire world into chaos. Energy broke through the bounds of rules, distorting and even crossing over into your timeline. That’s how you were brought here.”
Pei Jing recalled the golden thunderbolts and vast celestial lights he had seen through the glass window before his transmigration.
So, that was the battle of the gods.
The Heavenly Dao said, “However, I have always been unaware of why you came here. Perhaps there is a reason that I am not aware of.”
Reason. Pei Jing’s heart tightened, a deep intuition telling him that the reason mentioned by the Heavenly Dao might be related to the book.
The Heavenly Dao continued walking upward and said, “For the sake of the Heartless Path—is that what someone told you? The Sword Sovereign of Yunxiao, the Goddesd of Yingzhou, the Phoenix, the Buddha? Or perhaps your ancestor from Yunxiao who reached the Nascent Divinity stage?”
Pei Jing replied with clear and resolute eyes, “By creating the Celestial Demon Clan, you have already acted ruthlessly.”
The Heavenly Dao paused, although veiled in pure white and unable to discern her expression, Pei Jing could still sense that she must be smiling, her gaze fixed on a distant and lofty place, gentle yet distant.
Pei Jing said, “You forced the gods into reincarnation, making it arduous for humanity to cultivate. Isn’t what you did evil?”
The Heavenly Dao asked, “Is that considered evil?”
Pei Jing added in his heart, “And you made my beloved bear the weight of a painful past.” Thus, he empathized, harboring extreme hatred.
The Heavenly Dao’s counter-question was light, whispering softly in Pei Jing’s ears. They had been ascending this ladder for an unknown length of time, and it seemed as if the stars and moon were beneath their feet.
“Pei Yuzhi, look down.”
Pei Jing looked down and was deeply shaken. It was a continent spread out below, with a vast expanse of blue seas and mountains that undulated with exquisite arcs, stretching as far as the eye could see. The sky was vast, and a gentle breeze blew. It felt as though he stood atop the world. Forests, valleys, towering mountains, and oceans, with their rich red soil and pure white clouds, formed a magnificent painting. The colors were vibrant, and the flora and fauna thrived, bustling with life.
This sight struck Pei Jing’s heart, and he felt a chill.
The Heavenly Dao spoke slowly, “I do not even know when I gained consciousness. Perhaps it was when this world once again sought my help, and that’s when I woke up. I opened my eyes and saw a withered flower before me, the ground beneath my feet trembling, and the rivers and lakes I beheld were withering away. I stood up and could sense the continuous flow of spiritual energy dwindling, drying up.
“They all say the Heavenly Dao is ruthless, but what is benevolence? And why should I be benevolent towards them?”
As she spoke, a fragment of her gentle facade fell away, revealing the icy and stern aspect of a ruler of rules. She continued, “You cultivate by drawing upon the spiritual energy of heaven and earth, assimilating it into your own and storing it in your dantian. But have you ever considered that gold, wood, water, fire, and earth, these energies are the source of my power and the very foundation of all plants and creatures? But the spiritual energy that resides within cultivators becomes nothing but impure waste after their deaths. You rely on robbing me of my power to grow stronger, and then… you unleash devastation.”
She smiled. “But to me, aren’t mountains and seas also living beings?”
Pei Jing tightly grasped the Cloud Slayer Sword, struggling to steady his breath and focus, not allowing this woman to lead him astray.
The Heavenly Dao’s words were deliberate and her gaze, piercing through the void, was bone-chillingly profound. Her voice remained gentle and calm. “You have constantly deprived me of my power and desecrated the world I protect. Why should you blame me for not being benevolent?”
Born as enemies, there was nothing more to be said. Pei Jing spoke, “You can establish Heavenly Tribulations to strike down those who defy the natural order. So why create the Demon Clan?”
The Heavenly Dao laughed and replied, “Because you cultivators persist in an endless cycle, generation after generation.” Her tone turned cold, “I must bring about a complete end.”
Pei Jing was now certain that the Heavenly Dao had gone mad, or perhaps not mad, but had developed an alternative set of order and rules within her heart.
The Heavenly Dao tilted her head and asked, “Did your predecessors criticize me for being immoral? Did they call me one who treats all mortal beings as ants?” She seemed to smile slightly. “The so-called mortal beings, in fact, solely referred to you cultivators, or to expand the scope a bit, humans.”
She laughed softly, her gown woven with starlight and moonbeams fluttering in the clouds. In the pure white radiance, her ethereal figure appeared faintly, untouched by dust.
“Ants, yes, I regard humans as ants… But in this world, among countless living creatures, humans are insignificant.”
The voice came from the highest sky, from the depths of this world. She didn’t even exert any pressure, but Pei Jing felt his chest tightening. His spiritual energy within his dantian grew restless. He could only tightly grip the Execution Sword to find a shred of clarity.
The Heavenly Dao spoke, “If I don’t exterminate all cultivators under the heavens, one day your selfishness will deplete the spiritual energy here. All living beings will perish together.”
The pure white light dispersed, and the girl stood on high white jade steps. Her attire was simple yet exquisite, exuding extreme coldness. “Thus, I created the Demonic Clan, severed the Heavenly Ladder, and cut off your path to ascension. Nurturing the Nine Hidden Demon Realm, establishing the Celestial Demon Clan, they rely on devouring cultivators to absorb the power within their dantians to grow stronger—I shall make sure that in this world, there are no more cultivators, no more individuals defying the heavens.”
The air grew stagnant.
Pei Jing remained silent for a long time.
The Heavenly Dao retracted her inadvertently revealed emotions and continued speaking, “This would be a good outcome. Without people cultivating immortality, the Demon Clan would not emerge. I seal them within the Nine Hidden Demon Realm, becoming the world’s dark side—how wonderful. The spiritual energy will not deplete, and all living beings will thrive. Peace will prevail.
“But…” The Heavenly Dao paused and said, “Ten thousand years ago, I underestimated the power of those Nascent Divinity cultivators. The Battle of the Gods resulted in mutual destruction, with no one benefiting. Fortunately, half of the Heavenly Ladder collapsed, and the gods, demons, and buddhas entered the cycle of reincarnation. There are only a few Nascent Divinity cultivators left in this world now. I believe that my child…” She referred to the Demon Clan as her child and spoke softly, “My child will awaken again, wielding the Execution Sword to sever the unresolved karma from ten thousand years ago. Everything is part of the plan. I have watched him grow, allowing him to reclaim what is rightfully his. The situation was already reaching its final stage, where he would break through the Nascent Soul stage and shatter the Heavenly Ladder with his ascension. However…
“I was still wrong.” She reached out her hand, slender and immaculate, slowly pointing towards Pei Jing. She smiled, carrying profound exhaustion and helplessness, a compromise between extreme hatred and extreme resentment.
“Ten thousand years later, I underestimated you!”
The voice of the Heavenly Dao sounded almost as if it were shedding tears of blood.
Pei Jing was truly stunned this time. What did it mean… to underestimate him?
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