Chapter 1358 - Dead Inside
The Phoenix’s pupils were the only light source inside the dark space, but its scarlet, fiery glow looked like shadows to Yun Che right now.
The world fell completely silent. He looked like a soulless husk as he stared blankly towards the front with deadened eyes.
The Phoenix Spirit stopped talking. It was well aware that being crippled was a fate worse than death to a profound practitioner, especially when the one before it was a man who had once stood at the top of the continent, enjoyed unparalleled glory, and achieved many great things that might as well be miracles again and again.
However, he had become a cripple after what felt like a journey in one’s dreams.
It was impossible to accept a nightmare like this without warning. Even a profound practitioner from the God Realm, a Divine Sovereign or even a Divine Master would’ve seen their willpower falter... especially considering that this was a nightmare that he would never wake up from.
“Is there a way… to recover from this?” His voice was incredibly weak and slow.
“There’s no such thing as an easy resurrection,” the Phoenix Spirit answered him. “Right now, you’re just a mortal… A weak mortal who needs time to recover. Everything you had before is now in the past.”
“...Can I start over my cultivation after I recover?” Yun Che asked again.
“You cannot.” No matter how cruel the truth was, the Phoenix Spirit wouldn’t hide it from Yun Che. “The evil god’s profound veins are still inside you, but they have passed away from this world. There is no power in the entire world that can awaken the evil god profound veins… unless you can find another drop of Heretic God blood.”
“...” Yun Che stared blankly and emptily towards the front.
The ice phoenix girl at the bottom of the Heavenly Netherfrost Lake had once told him that the Heretic God had ended his own life prematurely in order to leave behind a single drop of Indestructible Blood. This also meant that the Heretic God’s Indestructible Blood Jasmine found at the Southern Divine Region was well and truly the one and only inheritance the Heretic God had left behind for the world. Naturally, there was no such thing as another drop of Heretic God blood.
What this meant was that his power wasn’t the only thing he had lost. He had even lost his ability to cultivate.
He would be a cripple for eternity!
“Heh… hehe…” Yun Che let out an unbelievably withered laugh. “What kind… of a joke is this… this is the price… of my resurrection? This is your so-called… Nirvana…”
Phoenix Spirit, “...”
“This is your so-called Nirvana”, Yun Che had said. His words were without a doubt an affront to the Phoenix Spirit’s dignity, but it wasn’t angry at all. It was because he knew how shocking and cruel this realization was for Yun Che.
“Why didn’t you just let me die…” Yun Che growled in a raspy voice, “At least I’d be able to accompany her in death… I promised her to meet her in the next world… why didn’t you let me die… why…”
These few lines alone had exhausted his breath and made him feel dizzy. The bitter smile on his face grew even bleaker and more terrible than before… Crippled? This was clearly worse than even a sick old man.
He hadn’t thought that he would be able to save Jasmine the day he broke into Star God Realm… but he had thought that he would at least be able to die with her.
Although he had killed many Star Guards and a Star God Elder, it was of no detriment to the “ceremony” at all. Moreover, the ceremony must’ve been completed already considering that he was out for so many days. Jasmine and Caizhi were the sacrifices for the ceremony, so they were undoubtedly dead by now. But he… he had promised to accompany Jasmine to their next lives… yet he was still alive...
Alive as a cripple for eternity...
He slowly made a pair of fists through his shaking. He tried to lift his hands, only to run out of energy before he could even raise them past his waist.
He couldn’t even commit suicide even if he wanted to.
“I understand your feelings.” The Phoenix Spirit said, “But life is the most precious thing the heavens have granted to every living being. No matter how petty and low one’s life has become, it is still something that should be respected and appreciated. Besides, is there really nothing more important to you than death right now?”
“...” For a long time, Yun Che wasn’t able to say anything. As more and more images and faces flashed through his mind, his dim pupils started shaking harder and harder...
He was on the Profound Sky Continent… he had finally come home.
He could finally meet those people that he had missed day and night and tell them that he had returned, but at the same time, he was… afraid.
How am I going to face them like this?...
A very long silence later.
“Thank you for granting me a second life,” Yun Che said slowly. He sounded a little calmer than before, but his hands were still gripped tightly into fists.
“I know you cannot accept things as they are immediately.” The Phoenix Spirit said, “That's not a problem. There’s no need to force yourself to accept it immediately. As time passes, you will eventually find another reason to live, and maybe one day you may even come to realize that returning to normal isn’t a bad thing.”
Right now, this was the only way it could console Yun Che.
Yun Che’s current state was something that could destroy the will of any profound practitioner. However, the Phoenix Spirit was the giver of Yun Che’s current life, which is why it didn’t wish to see Yun Che squander it in an eternal abyss of despair.
“...” Yun Che didn’t answer it.
“Go.” The Phoenix Spirit narrowed its scarlet eyes slightly. “Your second life isn’t just a gift, but a trial. If you can overcome this with your own willpower, you may not just be reborn in the body, but also… the soul.”
Yun Che, “...”
The Phoenix Spirit closed its eyes, and the world returned to darkness one more time before it turned bright.
The world around Yun Che had changed soundlessly, and he had been returned to the entrance of the Phoenix’s trial grounds once more.
The barrier behind Yun Che resealed itself, and in front of him he saw Feng Xian’er, Feng Zu’er, Feng Baichuan, and many other Phoenix clansmen… everyone’s face was etched with deep worry and anxiety.
Their expressions immediately turned into care when they saw Yun Che. Feng Zu’er and Feng Xian’er were the first ones to make it to him and support him from both sides.
A warm feeling rose from within Yun Che’s darkened heart. He could see that their care had come from the bottom of their hearts, and they hadn’t looked down on him or put up a pretense just because he had become a cripple. He forced a tiny smile onto his lips and said, “Senior Feng, I’m the one who asked Xian’er to bring me here. Please don’t blame her for this.”
Feng Baichuan shook his head with a smile. “You should focus on recuperating first. Everything else can wait.”
“Big Brother Benefactor, let’s carry you back first.” Feng Zu’er said, “Mother has just finished cooking a pot of bamboo soup. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
The duo carried Yun Che and walked him towards their destination with incredible care. Yun Che resumed staring forward, at nothing in particular.
This was the Phoenix’s ancestral ground, and it was situated at the center of Ten Thousand Beast Mountain Range. Everything except the scarlet sky above his head was practically the same as he remembered… It was probably a barrier the Phoenix Spirit had setup to protect the Phoenix Clan.
Five years ago, the barrier had already existed when he and Feng Xue’er showed up… perhaps it had existed even before that.
“Senior Feng,” Yun Che spoke up suddenly, “You all knew that I was crippled from the beginning, didn’t you?”
The palms that were supporting him tightened a little in unison.
Feng Baichuan’s footsteps slowed a little before he turned around to look at Yun Che amiably, “Lord Phoenix God informed us of this when he delivered you to us ten days ago.”
Yun Che, “...”
“My profound cultivation is pretty mediocre,” Feng Baichuan continued after a pause, “but even I understand that this is something you won’t be able to accept. However, no matter what happens to you now or in the future, you will always be our greatest benefactor… this will never change.”
“Don’t lose heart, Big Brother Benefactor.” Feng Zu’er forced a smile onto his face, “This is all just a temporary thing. Maybe you’ll regain your powers slowly after you’ve recuperated, and, and… even if you can’t recover your lost powers, you can just… cultivate again from the beginning! Right?”
“Mn!” Feng Xian’er nodded firmly, “Big Brother Benefactor is so amazing, you were invincible throughout the world when you were just twenty or so years old. If you want to, you’ll definitely become as great as before… no, you’ll become even greater than before.”
Feng Baichuan looked away and let out a sigh on the inside.
Yun Che smiled bitterly, “Thank you.”
Back when he had first encountered them, the brother and sister were only eight years old. At the time, they had looked up to him with such reverence that their eyes looked like shining stars.
Although they had both grown up since then, they were still looking at him in admiration and reverence.
However, they didn’t know that the man they had been admiring and chasing after since they were eight years old had become a complete cripple, and that he would never recover for eternity. In fact, his current condition was even worse than when his profound veins were crippled before he was sixteen years old.
At the time, he was at least at first level of the Elementary Profound Realm, and was able to generate a spark of profound light.
Some time later, a low, dying tree entered his darkened vision. Its branches were wilted, its crooked trunk looked like it would collapse at any moment, and its few remaining dry leaves groaned with death as a breeze touched them during their final moments. It looked like an old man that was nearing the end of its lifespan.
“I would like to sit there for a moment,” Yun Che pointed at the old tree and whispered.
Feng Xian’er and Feng Zu’er opened their mouths slightly as they stared at Feng Baichuan with a pleading look in their eyes. The latter nodded with conflicted eyes after a moment.
The brother and sister carried Yun Che to the tree and allowed him to lean against its trunk, facing the wind and a nice, long view. Yun Che wanted to calm down and force himself into accepting his current reality, but his willpower and his mind seemed to have sunk into a bottomless abyss with no escape in sight.
“I would like some quiet to myself.” Yun Che stared towards the front and whispered softer than even the mountain breeze blowing towards him.
Feng Baichuan nodded slightly and accepted his request. Unlike the innocent Feng Xian’er and Feng Zu’er, he knew far more about the despair Yun Che was experiencing.
“But… you can’t stay out here for too long, okay? You’ll get cold. Big Brother and I will come over and take you back later.”
Feng Xian’er reminded him in worry before she finally left him. She kept looking back towards him even as she left.
The breeze finally grew slightly stronger, strong enough to carry Yun Che’s messy hair into the air. However, his eyes still remained blank and spiritless, and the bleakness in his heart hadn’t faded in the slightest.
His eyes had returned to normal. The rock bits slightly beyond his vision were a blur to him.
A bird was chirping right beside his ears, but he had no idea when it had became perched next to him.
A dry leaf landed on his shoulder, but he couldn’t sense the trajectory of its fall.
His life would always be like this, now and forever.