Those Of The Ghost Tribe Were Not Living Beings, But In That Suspended Moment, He Thought He Heard His Non-existent Heartbeat.
When the floods first settled, it was the holy Shennong that graced the earth to try to save the common people. He disguised himself and preached amongst the people. Lord Kunlun had listened to a bit while he was in the crowd, and as he told the young ghost king all he remembered, but he made up most of what he didn’t remember. It was to kill time for Lord Kunlun, but the confused young ghost king didn’t dare miss a word, treating Lord Kunlun’s every bullshit sentence like gold.
Over time, in such a despair-filled place, they had somehow starting depending on each other.
The teenager’s infatuation toward Lord Kunlun didn’t fade, yet he knew embarrassment. He knew that if he parroted off of Lord Kunlun it wouldn’t be good, and so he never said them, instead finding many ways each day to make Lord Kunlun happy.
It was a pity that what he could make, or pull tricks off with, were very limited. The disrespected lands weren’t fun. Fauna didn’t survive, and so what they could only do to pass time were to catch two low-level beasts and pit them against each other, watching them tear each other apart, until one finally ate the other.
But the young ghost king didn’t like this, so Lord Kunlun would naturally probably not like it either.
So the young ghost king spent all his effort and gathered the teeth of thirty-six beasts, using his own hair to tie them together into a necklace, gifting it to Lord Kunlun.
It was just… when Lord Kunlun received the necklace, his expression was odd, even odder than the necklace. He felt like his teeth hurt, but he still suppressed his feelings, forcing out a smile, thanking the young ghost king with gritted teeth.
The young ghost king realised from this that he didn’t like the necklace–Lord Kunlun hadn’t worn it even once, and everytime he mentioned it Lord Kunlun would avoid the topic.
But he really couldn’t think of anything else. One day, when the young ghost king was sitting on the branch of the Virtue Tree, he suddenly said, “There’s a type of flower. It looks like a bell. It comes in all colours. When one gets close enough to smell it, it is very fragrant.”
Lord Kunlun turned his head to look at him. “En?”
The youth’s expression was full of longing. “It’s very pretty. If I make a necklace from it, would you like it?”
Lord Kunlun was silent for a while, before smiling. “You want to make me happy, so you can leave this place, right?”
The youth paused, before hastily shaking his head.
Lord Kunlun teased, “Then what is it for? I guard this place so that not one of you can leave. Not even one.”
For… the young ghost king stared at him, welcoming Lord Kunlun’s steady gaze. He wanted to speak, yet he didn’t know what to say. Emotions swirled in him, but he could not find a suitable statement to speak up with.
He only thought that those words sounded too rough, and rough words were not necessarily able to express his feelings.
The ghost king was unable to speak up, and sharp claws protruded from his hands, a gloomy frown taking over his face.
Lord Kunlun burst out laughing, gently hooking his lower jaw, bringing the boy over and delivering a kiss to his clean and ethereal forehead.
The young ghost king froze dazedly for a second. The deadly energy radiating from him had disappeared at a point in time, and his face was flushed red; all the way to his jawline and the tips of his ears. He stood up. It felt like he was drunk, even his legs were soft as jelly. He fell from the branch of the Virtue Tree.
The boy, as one of the ghost tribe — even if he was an abomination of the ghost tribe — what he saw every day, were only what the low-level ghosts desired or hoped for. He had never experienced what it was like to be kissed. This was his first time, and it felt like he was covered in a cloak of hot air, gently floating in mid-air.
Even the forgetful waters didn’t give him this sensation of hovering above ground.
The young ghost king wordlessly ran into the seal, jumping straight into the disrespectful lands, to not be seen for decades.
When the young ghost king once again appeared before Lord Kunlun, he seemed to have matured, his body growing leaner and longer. He was about to be as tall as Lord Kunlun, the lines of a youthful and naive boy hardening into sculpted lines. Other than the slight change of his eyebrows, he looked identical to when they first met.
He carefully held a sphere of golden light in his hands, and offered it to Lord Kunlun.
“This is your soul flame on your left shoulder. It was scattered around the seal. It took me fifty years to collect them all.” The young ghost king outstretched his cupped palms carefully, reluctantly handing the orb over. “For you.”
The smile on Lord Kunlun’s lips slowly faded. After a while, he faced the boy and asked, “And what do you want in return?”
“The…” The youth seemed to pause, unable to convey his thoughts. Finally, he pointed at his own forehead. “The… Can you do it again?”
Lord Kunlun assessed the youth in front of him, who started shifting around nervously. Suddenly, Lord Kunlun reached out and held the young ghost king’s lower jaw. This time, he very gently kissed the lips of the youth, folding his hands together lightly, letting the young ghost king hold his soul flame in his grasp.
Lord Kunlun seemed to ponder for a long while, before sighing. “I am rich with the wonders of the world. When you think of it, they are nothing but a few running creeks and lush mountains — nothing to be awed over. Out of everything I have, the only thing worth something is my sincere heart. You want it? Take it.”
In that moment, the youth’s expression instantly brightened. He wasn’t aware that what he had been unable to express could have been a term called “sincere heart”. Merely two words, yet could make a person never recover.
“And this, if you like it, keep it,” Lord Kunlun patted the youth’s palm. “My heart’s blood has formed the Guardian Lamp’s wick, my body the lamp holder. Only my consciousness is here, so wanting it back would be of no use to me. The rib I gave you last time, do you still have it?”
The youth hurriedly nodded.
“Take it out for me to see.”
The boy peeled apart the layers of clothes on him that made him seem like a caveman, taking out the rib.
“I’m made from Kunlun Mountain,” Lord Kunlun lightly touched the rib. “Just a shake could change the weather.
As he spoke, he made a complicated gesture with his fingers, and the rib glowed golden. Following Lord Kunlun’s fingers, it inserted itself into the boy’s forehead. That moment, the youth felt that he had heard the sound of the swell of the sea and the hundred thousands of mountains.
He was speechless. He could see every mountain river, rushing, and rippling.
Lord Kunlun’s voice, though not heavy or sounding, it is extremely penetrating: “From now on, the hundred thousands of mountains will listen to you. Although you cannot rid yourself of your ghost tribe bloodline, at least now half a fairy and half ghost, you can freely travel to the Three Realms in the future. I will no longer care about you.”
The youth intercepted him: “I won’t leave!”
After a while, he added in a polite manner: “You are here, I do not want to go anywhere.”
“I won’t stay longer.” Lord Kunlun said, turned his head and looked at the water that I couldn’t see at the top of the river. “I am just a god, I can’t walk, I haven’t stayed for a long time. I suddenly felt my days.” It’s coming soon.”
The young ghost king hurriedly asked: “Where are you going? Where are you going?”
“Don’t go anywhere, I am going to die.” Kunlun said calmly.
“Impossible, how can a god die?”
“A god can die. Pangu, Fuxi, Nuwa, Shennong, aren’t they all dead?” Lord Kunlun said, “Now it’s my turn.”
After listening, the youth’s expression turned ferocious. “If there wasn’t the seal, if you hadn’t helped Nüwa seal the four pillars, if the Guardian Lamp wasn’t your body, you wouldn’t need to die, right? Then I’ll chop off this tree, I’ll kill this goddamned tree!”
The young ghost king, at times, was like a small, fluffy-haired wolf pup; If one raises their hand and smoothes his hair, he will roll on the ground. However, he will always have fangs in his mouth–not notice for a moment and it will slide out.
Lord Kunlun had long gotten used to it, and patted his head, murmuring, “To not die, and live forever… a stone is immortal, but in the end it is only a stone. Shennong said to not die or to vanish is to not be a god. I used to think it was a load of bullshit, but now I slightly understand.”
The ghost king slapped his hand away, not wanting to know what he understood. “You dare?!”
Lord Kunlun shifted his hand, and saw that his hand was suddenly translucent. The simmering youth was taken aback, and immediately grabbed his hand, flipping it around and over as if to ascertain that Lord Kunlun still existed. He asked, again, “What if I cut down the Virtue Tree?”
Lord Kunlun laughed. “You’ve inherited the authority to do basically anything. You can destroy the forbidden lands; what would the Virtue Tree be?”
The ghost king said, “Then I can cut down this tree, destroy this lady’s goddamned rock!”
Lord Kunlun laughed bitterly. “Yes, of course, but I would likely die faster.”
“I can…” The ghost king hesitated slightly, before saying mercilessly, “I can kill everyone in the world, slaughter every living being, stop the mountains from turning green, the waters from flowing, scatter corpses everywhere, no humans for miles and miles.”
Lord Kunlun raised an eyebrow. “Wow, that powerful?”
The ghost king squeezed his hand. “You can’t die. I can do anything, will do anything!”
“Shennong was correct again,” Lord Kunlun’s expression icy, his voice cold. “Should have killed you earlier.”
The youth stubbornly stared at him.
Yet, Lord Kunlun suddenly laughed, gentle as the first thawing during the end of the winter. “From when Shennong borrowed my shoulder’s flame… No, from the war of gods and ghosts, Nüwa’s creation of humans, even from Pangu opening the world, this was destined; destined that at this time, at this place, I would die. Even if you made the heavens close up again, you would only make me die without reason, and not stop anything.
“You don’t understand.” The beautiful god, with a gentle and patient voice he rarely used, said, “The acclaimed fate, it’s not a thousand paths with the same outcome, and there’s nothing in the dark binding you, but at a certain time, you know that there are many paths you can choose, but you will only ever choose that one path. These things, I didn’t understand when I was a child. When you are older, you will understand.”
The young ghost king finally found himself with no words to retaliate. For the first time, he realised how useless he was. All he was capable of was killing, destroying, and fighting. He really could end all life on the world, dead or alive.
But what use would that be?
He still wouldn’t be able to save his most loved person.
Lord Kunlun watched the eyebrows of the wrathful youth slowly press closer to his eyes. After all, he hadn’t learnt what it felt like to bottle up feelings of happiness, sadness, and grief. After a moment of dazed staring, he burst out in tears.
Lord Kunlun seemed to watch him with a mix of love and pity, thinking to himself that he wouldn’t see the little beauty grow into an adult beauty.
A blink of an eye, and five thousand years would pass.
Zhao Yunlan jolted back from the rock as if he had been electrocuted, suddenly sensing a person behind him. The person laughed, and Zhao Yunlan had barely turned before he drew the Guardian whip, moving back two steps, pressing his back against the rock and facing the ghost face ten steps away.
The ghost face looked at him, swaying his head slightly, a smile revealed on the fake ghost face. “I’ve heard that that contains all of Nüwa’s memories. What did you see?”
Zhao Yunlan laughed coldly, his feelings not warming. With a harsh tone, he spat, “Why should I tell you?”
Ghost face imitated Zhao Yunlan in touching the rock, saying, “Five thousand years ago, he and I were clearly twin ghost kings, yet Lord Kunlun held him in favour. Five thousand years later, one of us is trapped inside, the other is outside. One in the prison, one the prisoner.”
The uptilted lips on the ghost mask curved downwards, and he turned, lowering his voice, pausing after every word. “The seal’s about to break, and that’s the only reason why I can walk in and out freely–in the end, everything will die. You, Lord Kunlun, if my foolish brother hadn’t suddenly played his cards, and preserved your spirit, stuffing it into the reincarnation wheel to turn you into a mortal, you would have long been gone like all the gods in the world. Is Shennong a fool? No forcefully taken thing can be long, and if it is long it will only die.”
As he spoke, his ice-cold fingers traced Zhao Yunlan’s cheekbones, sighing. “But ‘death’ was lit by your soul flame, and thus made us… not living, not dead creatures. Is this not a fault in yin and yang?”
Zhao Yunlan scrunched up his eyebrows. What exactly happened to his soul flame? He had heard many versions so far, and wasn’t sure which was correct.
So, he asked, “Was my soul flame not taken by Shennong? How did it appear in the forbidden lands, and why say ‘death’ was lit by my soul flame?”
The ghost face suddenly blanked, his mask seeming to go fully white for a second, as if not understanding what Zhao Yunlan was asking, before rocking back and forth with peals of laughter. “Hahahahaha… and how innocent I thought he, how saintly… really…”
His voice suddenly stopped – because the soul of a knife cleaved through the air, the force able to split his whole person into two halves of hostility, The ghost face quickly dodged, and the remaining wind forced Zhao Yunlan to step backwards.
Zhao Yunlan said, “Shen Wei?”
Shen Wei raised his hand to grab him. “To come alone to this kind of place, you must be mad!”
But before he was able to touch Zhao Yunlan, the ghost face grabbed onto Shen Wei’s arm and warped into black mist, slamming it into Zhao Yunlan’s grasp, effectively stopping the whip in his hand.
After that, the black mist enveloped Zhao Yunlan, and cackles erupted from his lips.
The next moment, his laughter abruptly stopped, and the black mist reformed to become the ghost face. There was no one there anymore.
The ghost face paused, seeming to be shocked as well, murmuring, “Someone took him away, who?”