This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter Eighty One: The Elixir of Life
“The legend is just a legend, I want to hear the complete and true story.” Ding Ning looked at Zhan Moke who was laughing emotionally. He glanced at the enormous purple that was still unharmed and said, “I want to know what is really inside.”
Zhan Moke’s smile faded and he looked oddly at Ding Ning. He said with slight mockery, “Since what you are is not important, why should I tell you the true story?”
“There is a need.” Ding Ning smiled. He did not look at Zhan Moke but at Wu Lianzi who was sitting on the ground, saying, “We may not be a match against you, but we should be able to kill him before you kill us.”
Zhan Moke followed Ding Ning’s gaze to Wu Lianzi and said sarcastically, “Kill him.”
Ding Ning looked at him and said calmly, “While I do not know why you had to bring him here, since you did bring him all the way here and let him live, you must have a reason.”
Li Xixing and Hu Jingjing stilled and could not help but exchange a look.
Wu Lianzi was also stunned. Before this, no one had realized this. Only when Ding Ning had said so did everyone realized Wu Lianzi seemed to be useless in this situation, and a complete outsider.
But secretly working together with the mistress of the Qin Dynasty and opening the ancestral lands was not something that had to be witnessed. Zhan Moke would not be so bored as to bring someone unrelated here. Also, Wu Lianzi was a prince of Wuzhi. Before being completely sure that he could get what was inside the ancestral lands, bringing along someone of Wu Lian’s status was extraneous. There must be a reason for this.
“How old are you?” Zhan Moke coldly shook his head after a moment of silence and then said to Ding Ning, “If I let you live a few more decades, who in the world can win against you?”
Ding Ning’s expression did not change and he said, “You are too complimentary.”
Shen Xuan suddenly became nervous and coughed up blood. He sensed the changes in the primal energies of the universe around Zhan Moke, but then Ding Ning turned and glanced at him. He saw the meaning in Ding Ning’s eyes and stopped.
There was a splitting sound.
There was only one sound, but the odd middle aged man connected with the purple tree by flesh tentacles was suddenly cut up into countless pieces. The purple red blood and pieces of flesh fell to the ground and he was no longer human shaped.
Before the sound had occurred, a flying sword with fine white flowers had silently retreated out of this middle aged man’s body and flown to Ding Ning’s side.
The giant purple tree trembled like it was in pain.
Zhan Moke did not look at the pieces flowing with sticky purple liquid or that giant tree, but expressionlessly at Ding Ning’s flying sword.
Then he spoke: “This person was once the best swordsman of the past Tianliang, the general Tuoba Wuqiu. The Peerless Wind and Rain Sword was once invincible. While you defeated his Peerless Wind and Rain Sword, he is only about seven tenths of what he was at his peak. He has also lost the ability to respond, and cannot compare to the past.”
Ding Ning nodded sincerely. “If he was at his best … this person would have been invincible for a while.”
“During Tianliang’s peak, the city may not have been as large as Changling but would have just as many cultivators. At least, it would not have any fewer cultivators than Changling during the peak of Ba Mountain Sword Field,” Zhan Moke was not in a hurry, and spoke slowly.
Thinking of the stone beasts that were carved with sword manuals, Li Xixing and Hu Jingjing felt that Zhan Moke spoke the truth.
Ding Ning did not speak. He just looked at Zhan Moke and waited for him to continue.
There was a moment of silence, Zhan Moke did not speak and just looked silently at the giant purple tree.
Hu Jingjing gasped.
This was no change in energy but the giant purple tree not far from her, Ding Ning and the others were quickly withering. The purple was fading. The sticky liquid oozed out of the tree.
As the purple fluid came out, the crystal wood became gray and dry, no different from ordinary rotten wood.
“You may assume that it is this strange tree giving him life.” Zhan Moke started. He looked at the giant tree that was quickly becoming rotten wood and shook his head coldly. “But this truth is the opposite. It is he who gives this tree life.”
When everyone else was still shocked and confused, Ding Ning seemed to have guessed the answer already. He looked at the rapidly rotting tree and said, “So to him, this tree is like a prison which keeps him here?”
“If he leaves the tree, both he and the tree will truly die.” A hint of cruelty appeared on Zhan Moke’s lips. He said in a cold voice, “His purpose here is to kill all those who attempt to reach here and gain the final truth.”
Ding Ning naturally followed. “Then what is the truth of Tianliang which goes against the legends?”
Zhan Moke sneered and said, “It was not a rescue from the plague but a slaughter caused by choice.”
Ding Ning looked calmly at him and said, “I would like to hear more.”
Zhan Moke’s face turned down. “Tianliang started from the ancestral mountain. The ancestral mountain had many spirit veins. Naturally, Tianliang slowly rose from the plains and became the top country outside the plains. But it did not prosper for more than a century. One day, a meteor fell from the sky and landed in the ancestral mountain.”
Ding Ning nodded. “Right here?”
Zhan Moke nodded coldly and continued. “The meteors frequently found on the plains contain celestial ore and other treasures. Those are only used for making weapons. But this meteor contained power to heal, reviving bone and growing flesh. When it crashed into the spirit veins, it formed into a Fountain of Eternal Life. But even more shocking was that something strange was born from within this meteor. It can make cultivators advance greatly and increase their longevity like they are immortal.”
“Increase their longevity like they are immortal?”
Hearing these words, even Shen Xuan was shocked speechless, much less Li Xixing, Hu Jingjing and Wu Lianzi.
The Elixir of Life only existed in legends. If a cultivator was truly immortal, then what endless cultivation and accumulated experience would they have, and what would they become?
Yet then, Ding Ning spoke, “So they would become like Tuoba Wuqiu, the master of the Peerless Wind and Rain Sword, and turn into a plant?”
Zhan Moke looked away from the completely rotten giant tree and said, “Similar.”
Ding Ning thought seriously and said, “So some people in Tianliang back then wanted to use what came from the meteor to become immortal but others thought this went against the heavens. Because of their different choices, this created a rebellion and slaughter in the end?”
Even though his opinion of Ding Ning was extremely high already, his shock still grew as he heard Ding Ning easily think through things.
He nodded and said coldly, “Back when the meteor fell and formed the Fountain of Eternal Life, it was a heavenly blessing for Tianliang, but also a great change. The Tianliang king naturally blocked it and did not let just anyone get close. So when something came out of the meteor, the first to be unable to resist and use it was the Tianliang royal family.”
“If there is an elixir of life, even if the body becomes not of flesh and blood, for cultivators, that is not very scary.” Ding Ning looked at Zhan Moke and said, “The king used it and the lower class rebelled. This must be because this elixir was not as wonderful. Is there something wrong with it?”
Zhan Moke looked deeply at Ding Ning. He did not deny it and slowly said, “But that thing seemed to be alive. While by using it, one could live longer, and quickly heal if seriously wounded, some of their own consciousness would disappear and there would be a different consciousness … Simply put, one’s personality will change greatly, like they have become someone different.”
Hu Jingjing sucked in a breath and felt cold all over. She unconsciously drew closer to Li Xixing.
“Becoming a different person, like one’s past completely changed. Their views of their friends, family, and even their feelings towards their lover will change. A familiar person will become a stranger, even an enemy … This really is scary. Of course, most people cannot accept,” Ding Ning took a deep breath and slowly said.
Zhan Moke sneered coldly and said, “But the key is, some people can accept.”
Translator Ramblings: Let me spoil the plot a bit here, there are no aliens, there is no invasion of the body snatchers. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to a story that does mix “historical” cultivators with “real sci-fi” aliens.