—Are you willing?
Yu Qiu heard a small voice ask him.
He replied: I am not willing.
He had finally understood where he went wrong and finally found the right path to take, yet all of it was for naught as he no longer had the chance to go any further.
This was the last thought of Yu Qiu’s soul. He didn’t know if the owner of that small voice had heard his answer.
He fell into perpetual darkness.
After wandering in the dark for a long time, Yu Qiu suddenly opened his eyes.
As the blurry patches of color gradually became clear, he saw a dilapidated roof. He was in a shabby little room surrounded by an old and strange smell. There were stains on the walls and the window was broken, letting the wind leak in. A piece of cloth full of holes served as a door separating this room from the one outside.
Yu Qiu was stunned for a long time before jolting up.
He looked at his hands. They were thin, bony, and yellowish from chronic malnutrition. But it was indeed a real hand—a solid, living hand with blood flowing through it!
This thin hand began to tremble. Yu Qiu felt himself shaking.
Yu Qiu knew that his body had turned into a mass of fine powder, so what was this body he had now?
As a cultivator, Yu Qiu’s first thought was that he had seized someone else’s body. Did he unconsciously possess someone? The idea rolled in his mind for a moment but was quickly ruled out. He can clearly feel that the body he had now was a pure one that had not gone under any cultivation
A mere mortal body cannot be possessed for it cannot withstand the spiritual power of a cultivator
Wait, spiritual power? Yu Qiu was shocked to find that not only his body had turned into a mortal one’s, but that his spiritual power had also declined to that of a mortal’s.
In all that Yu Qiu knew, he couldn’t find an explanation behind this outcome.
However, he did not panic.
The world was so big and he was just a cultivator from a humble background. Everything he knew could be merely a drop in the vast ocean.
Then, Yu Qiu noticed something. He pulled down his broken cuffs and there, an inch above his wrist, was a light-colored pattern. It was a small circle, and it was so light that one wouldn’t be able to find it without looking carefully.
Yu Qiu touched the circle, and it felt no different from the rest of his skin. Yet, inexplicably, he felt that it was not something that should belong to this body.
Before he could think any further, there was a sudden noise outside.
“Stinky gambler! It’s been another month, when are you going to pay back the money?” With such a curse, something smashed the door outside.
Yu Qiu jumped down from the bed and opened the curtain. He saw a withered old man being kicked into a house from outside. He knocked over a table and a chair before falling to the ground with a thud.
About three or five strong men immediately burst into the house. One of them grabbed the old man’s hair and bashed him against the wall. “You still haven’t paid back! Haven’t paid back at all!”
“I’ll return it, I will!” The old man pleaded for mercy. “Just wait for a while… When I win, I will pay you all back right away!”
As soon as he opened his mouth, a strong alcoholic smell came out. He was not only a gambler but also an alcoholic.
When Yu Qiu saw this man’s face, it’s like his whole person was suddenly struck by lightning.
Yu Qiu couldn’t explain. The people in front of him seemed strange, but also seemed very familiar. Before he could even understand what he was feeling, he had already rushed out, grabbed the strong man’s hand that was holding up the old man, and tried to save the old man.
However, the other person’s body was too tall… No, it should be that he was too short. Yu Qiu realized that his body was that of a young man who was yet to mature.
“Qiu-er!” The old man exclaimed when he saw his action.
Qiu-er? How did this man know his name?
When the strong men saw him, they snickered. “This silly boy looks very energetic today.”
The man, whose hand he had grabbed, slammed him against the wall. The feeling of being hit hard in the back made Yu Qiu’s eyes see stars, and he couldn’t help but loosen his grip on the man as his legs gave out. But then, another person pulled on his hair, lifted him up, and slammed his head against the wall, making him bleed.
Yu Qiu hurt so much and let out a weak painful cry. He hadn’t done anything, yet the drunk old man was going crazy and suddenly struggled to fight. “You bastards! Let him go! Let Qiu-er go!”
How would these strong men deal with him? Hearing the old man shout only made them punch and kick him more. “Dead old man, you owe us money and you dare fight back against us? See if we don’t kill you today!”
“Let him go!” The old man cried desperately. “Let go of my son!”
Yu Qiu, who was also struggling, was shocked when he heard this sentence.
He quickly reacted; it turned out that this body is the old man’s son. But there was another voice in the depths of his soul telling him that it was more than that.
Yu Qiu began to struggle more. The scene in front of him was strange and familiar as if he had experienced it before, yet it left no trace in his mind.
Yu Qiu couldn’t remember what happened before he entered the Xuanyang Sect.
All he could think about right now was that he wanted to desperately save this person who called him “son.”
But after becoming a mortal, Yu Qiu’s resistance was so weak. With the constant beatings, the old man’s voice became weaker and weaker. Yu Qiu could not get away from the strong men blocking him. Faced with these mortals, he had no way out, because now he is also only a mortal.
Yu Qiu’s eyes turned red.
If only he had even the lowest fire talisman1Pronounced as “fú,” translated as seal or talisman. I may use seals and talismans interchangeably in this novel… well, to be specific, I’ll refer to the symbols/characters being written as “seals,” while the seal + paper (or whatever it is written on) would be called talisman. with him right now.
Wait… Fire talisman?
Yu Qiu was suddenly enlightened. He violently bit the arm of the man constraining him. When the man let go out of pain, Yu Qiu swiped the blood on his head with his hand. Then, he ripped off a part of his ragged clothes and started writing on it using his blood.
The man that was bitten soon caught him again.
Yu Qiu didn’t have enough space to write on, but it was enough. He had painted a hundred years’ worth of seals, from the most common ones back when he was still in the refining stage and to the more complex ones when he became the number one Seal Cultivator in the entire Xuanyang continent. Even if he had now become a mortal, the skills in writing seals were not lost at all. The way his fingers moved was impressive.
When the strong man caught him again, the piece of cloth was now filled with many intricate patterns.
Yu Qiu placed this cloth on the man’s forehead.
It suddenly erupted into flames and burned the man. The strong man screamed and rolled on the ground, but the fire burned all the way through, alarming the others. Soon, the whole house was set ablaze by the raging fire!
Yu Qiu scrambled to the old man. The fire seemed to recognize him as it didn’t burn him at all.
The strong men were rolling around in pain, and then they rushed out of the house.
The effect of this fire talisman was similar to a real one.
And before the men could escape far, the fire suddenly went out.
It was not only the fire on the men that were extinguished but also the flames that razed the room. Even the places that were set afire were now back to normal, leaving no trace of it being burnt. The bodies that were burning were no longer in pain.
The strong men stopped in their tracks and looked back blankly through the broken door at the two men left in the house.
Yu Qiu could not help but reveal a smile.
What he used wasn’t a real fire talisman. How could he draw a real fire seal without three or more layers of white silk, at least nine pieces of white deer paper, or even the common cinnabar? What’s more, even if he was able to draw a real seal, he wouldn’t be able to use it because of his mortal body.
Yu Qiu just made a ghost seal2鬼画符 – Pinyin is “guǐ huà fú,” and literally translated as “ghost character.” It could also refer to indecipherable handwriting or scribbles. by painting the fire character.
This so-called ghost seal, to put it bluntly, was what mortals used to swindle other mortals. It looked frightening, but it was all an illusion. And the illusion would only work on mortals.
Yu Qiu gazed at the strong men still standing outside. Having figured out how ghost seals worked, maybe he could draw something else other than a fake fire seal. Yu Qiu was trying to think of what kind of illusions he can create to achieve the best results.
However, it turned out that he had underestimated the power of ghost seals in this world.
In the eyes of cultivators, it was clearly fake. But in the eyes of mortals, it was the true power of gods and ghosts.
After waking up from the astonishment of seeing the fire suddenly die, the strong men all screamed, and it was several times worse and louder than when they were being “burned.” “Ghost! The ghosts and gods have come down to earth!”
They were easily scared away.
Yu Qiu had been preparing to make a different talisman for a while, so he could not help but pout in frustration. At the same time, he also knew that he shouldn’t push his luck. He squatted beside the drunk old man who had called him “son.” This old man had fainted and was now groaning beside him.
Yu Qiu turned over the house for half a day before finally finding some ointment. He quickly applied it on the old man. While doing so, he carefully observed the old man’s face.
Yu Qiu could tell that the old man’s five senses were very similar to his.
After treating the man’s wounds, Yu Qiu carried him to bed and then covered him with the quilt. Then he drew a bucket of water in the yard. He squatted down and stared at his reflection in the water. It was a young, thin face with sunken cheeks and hollow eyes. The eyes were surprisingly large because of the thin face, making him look like a monkey.
But it was indeed Yu Qiu’s own face. It just looked a lot younger, maybe only twelve or thirteen years of age.
Yu Qiu stood up, closed his eyes, and breathed deeply.
He seemed to have come up with a conjecture. Something that had never been recorded in the entire Xuanyang continent had now happened to him. And whether his guess was correct or not, it would be proven soon.
He walked back to the house and stood at the gate for a while.
Yu Qiu recalled a sentence in his mind: “When I was traveling downhill, I happened to pass by your home. I saw your father being murdered by a group of men, while the murderers were dragging you out to sell you. I couldn’t bear to see it. Then I noticed you had extraordinary roots and bones, so I saved you and brought you into Xuanyang Sect.”
Before Yu Qiu could continue with his thoughts, this very person who had said those words to him was now mixed in the throng of people coming and going as he passed by Yu Qiu’s home. The man suddenly stopped and carefully looked at him.
“Oh,” he said. “Xiao xiongdi3小兄弟 – “Xiao” means little, small, or young, while “xiongdi” means brother. Xiongdi is often used to refer to male peers, but it doesn’t necessarily imply being blood-related., I see you have extraordinary roots. It’s a good foundation for cultivation. Would you be interested in joining Xuanyang sect with me?”
This person standing in front of Yu Qiu’s eyes… Hundreds of years ago, this man had just finished refining his Qi. Yet, on his first trip down the mountain, he was still so tender and green. This man was his shixiong4Older disciple-brother, Xu Hong.
Looking at Xu Hong, Yu Qiu put on a cold smile.
“Thank you for your kindness.” He smiled. “But no.”
“Hey…” Xu Hong still wanted to say something.
Yu Qiu turned sharply and closed the door with his backhand. Xu Hong, unfortunately, had just taken a step forward and almost had his nose broken.