Chapter 26 Book 1: 24: Tengen Puzzle
Book 1: Chapter 24: Tengen Puzzle
White Cloud flying ship:
The flying ship stopped above the vast sea, not going any further.
At this moment, Gu Hai, Long Wanqing, and Venerable Liu Nian were looking at a massive island in the distance.
This island was severalfold larger than Nine-Five Island. Barren with only dilapidated and broken buildings covering it, the place was full of rubble and looked like a long time had passed with no one there. However, some pitch-black areas seemed to have undergone the baptism of heavenly lightning countless times.
“That is Tengen Island?” Gu Hai said, frowning with shock.
Tengen Island itself did not seem too strange. The strange thing was the dark, suppressive sky above the massive island. Endless banks of dark clouds with lightning bolts constantly flashing shrouded the island. The suppressive air made everyone feel heavy-hearted.
It was not like Gu Hai had not seen dark clouds covering the sky before. However, he had never seen this many before. Tengen Island was comparable in size to the Earth. Thus, the scale here would be like countless dark clouds covering the entire Earth.
“That’s right. That is Tengen Island. The dark clouds around the island are heavenly tribulations waiting to be launched.” Long Wanqing nodded.
“Waiting to be launched?” Gu Hai said, feeling surprised.
“That’s right. Heaven’s wrath has yet to abate. If the Heavenly Go Pavilion disciples who entered the Innate Puzzle World come out of the island, the heavenly tribulation will destroy them. Although they managed to survive the calamity eight centuries ago by chance, they can only live in the Innate Puzzle World on the island. They are like prisoners in there, unable to leave Tengen Island,” Long Wanqing explained.
“In that case, how is the Unborn Man that Hall Master is seeking help from going to leave Tengen Island?” Gu Hai asked, feeling curious.
“The Unborn Man is not a Heavenly Go Pavilion disciple,” Long Wanqing replied.
“Oh?” This surprised Gu Hai.
As the flying ship was still far away, Gu Hai could not see who was on Tengen Island. However, he could see many large ships in the surrounding seas heading for the island. Clearly, these carried the various experts rushing over to enter the Innate Puzzle World.
While Gu Hai could not see the entire Tengen Island with his vision, Venerable Liu Nian could. Venerable Liu Nian narrowed his eyes as he said, “It looks like we are one step too late. Most of the people already entered the Innate Puzzle World. Let’s go, then. The Innate Puzzle World only opens for a limited time. The earlier we get in, the more time we have to search for the Unborn Man.”
“Right.” Long Wanqing nodded.
She waved, and a servant not far away piloted the flying ship towards Tengen Island.
Perhaps because flying ships were precious, Gu Hai did not see any other flying ship as they flew over.
Soon, it looked like they would reach Tengen Island.
A crane’s cry rang out, and a large crane flew over from a distance, quickly heading for the flying ship.
“Huh? Grandfather’s messenger crane?” Long Wanqing’s expression changed.
The crane moved exceptionally quickly, approaching in the blink of an eye.
“Let it board!” Long Wanqing waved her hand.
“Yes!” answered the servant operating the flying ship.
The crane immediately landed heavily before everyone, kicking up a strong wind.
The crane was very large, as tall as two people, as it stood there.
“Greetings, Elite Hall Master!” the crane suddenly spoke in human tongue.
“Huh? An animal spirit?” Gu Hai’s expression changed.
[TL Note: Many novels translate the word for animal spirits differently. In the novel I previously translated, Immortal and Martial Dual Cultivation, I translated this as Fiend. This time, I decided that animal spirit would be more accurate. This spirit is not a ghost or a soul. Instead, it is a non-sentient being gaining sentience or being able to cultivate. So such spirits are not limited to animals but even include normally non-living things like mountains; in the latter case, it would be a mountain spirit.]
“Why are you here?” Long Wanqing asked, frowning slightly.
“Hall Master, my master got this servant to come and seek you out. However, as I did not know where you were, I have been waiting for you at Tengen Island, up until I saw your flying ship,” the crane replied.
“What’s the matter?” Long Wanqing asked with some misgivings.
“Master wants you to return immediately. Something happened to your younger sister!”
“What?! What happened? Isn’t Grandfather by her side?” Long Wanqing exclaimed, changing her expression dramatically.
“She consumed a demonic phantom, and it entered her heart. Now, it is trying to merge with her. Master discovered this too late. Although he managed to suppress it from continuing the merger, it appears that she did it willingly. Unless she changes her mind, her three spiritual souls will suffer damage if Master drives out the demonic phantom. Master can only suppress the demonic phantom for now. So, he wants you to return immediately and advise her to give up on turning into a demon. Master said that she listens only to you,” the crane explained.
“That darn lass! I told her not to do it. Why did she?” Long Wanqing felt highly anxious.
“Hall Master, you had better return with me immediately. Master said that the later you returned, the more variables there would be,” the crane said.
Long Wanqing’s expression changed. As she looked at the nearby Tengen Island, she appeared reluctant.
“I’ll immediately return with you. Venerable, it looks like I cannot enter the Innate Puzzle World. Please do me a favor; help me to find the Unborn Man, alright?” Long Wanqing pleaded as she looked at Venerable Liu Nian.
Venerable Liu Nian also appeared reluctant as he looked at the island. However, he endured and shook his head.
“My mission is to protect Hall Master. I promised your mother, so I will only stay by your side. Sorry.” Venerable Liu Nian shook his head again.
“However, the Innate Puzzle World opens only every two centuries. The longest opening lasted only one year; this opening might be shorter. I have only one younger sister, but I have to take revenge for my mother as well. Venerable, I beg you, please. You have to help me!” Long Wanqing pleaded sincerely.
Venerable Liu Nian shook his head and said, “Hall Master, I’m sorry.”
Long Wanqing appeared bitter as she looked at Venerable Liu Nian.
“However, Hall Master does not need to worry. Aside from me, isn’t there still the Water Division’s Mister Gu?” Venerable Liu Nian smiled.
“Right…” Then, Long Wanqing turned to look at Gu Hai.
“Gu Hai, go in on my behalf and search for the Unborn Man. You must find him!” Long Wanqing said anxiously.
Gu Hai frowned slightly as he said, “Hall Master, this subordinate knows nothing about the Unborn Man and the Innate Puzzle World. I also know very little about the cultivation world. I’m afraid this is too difficult for this subordinate!”
“Mister Gu!” Venerable Liu Nian suddenly said with a smile.
“We are asking you for help because we are left without a choice, so please don’t decline. As for the Unborn Man’s location, we are in the same situation as you, as we have not gone into the Innate Puzzle World before. Since the hall master has an urgent family matter to attend to, we will have to trouble you this time. Perhaps this is a form of karma. The hall master helping you reach the Innate Realm is the cause. Then, you helping the hall master find the Unborn Man is the result,” Venerable Liu Nian said gravely.
[TL: Aside from carrying the meaning of fate, karma also has the meaning of cause and effect. These two meanings are tied together. The more accurate meaning of karma refers to a fate brought about by a cause leading to an effect.]
Gu Hai frowned slightly and remained silent for a while before eventually nodding. “Alright. I’ll do my best!”
“Great! Many thanks, Gu Hai.” Long Wanqing squeezed out a smile.
Gu Hai had just joined the cultivation world, after all. Although Long Wanqing had seen Gu Hai’s ability, she still felt somewhat skeptical that he could find the Unborn Man.
“That’s right. Since I’m going to search for the Unborn Man, are there any clues? What does he look like? Does he have any special characteristics?” Gu Hai asked.
Long Wanqing shook her head and replied, “There is none.”
“Huh?” Gu Hai’s face froze.
What do you mean by “there is none”?
“No one has ever seen what the Unborn Man looks like. I’m also not sure of any special characteristics. I only know that he is in there and nothing else,” Long Wanqing said with a bitter smile.
Gu Hai: “…”
How am I to find him with only a name? Am I to go about shouting his name?
Venerable Liu Nian nodded and said, “I know that searching for a person without knowing anything but his name is like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, this matter is as such. Naturally, that Unborn Man has his unique characteristics, but we will need Mister Gu to discover that on your own. Oh, right. After you find him, pass him this keepsake.”
Long Wanqing took out a small box.
Gu Hai received the box and opened it to take a look. There was a simple, unextraordinary hairpin inside.
“Tell him that the Elite Hall Master is dead. I’m the new hall master. He will understand,” Long Wanqing said gravely.
Gu Hai nodded with a bitter smile. He still did not know if he could find the person. What was the point of the keepsake then?
“Don’t worry. The Unborn Man is overly proud and will not change his name. Just search for him slowly using this name. By the way, the hall master sent a batch of people in before this,” Venerable Liu Nian said after some thought.
“The Earth Division Master, Meng Tai, and the Earth Division’s people went in to search for the Unborn Man as well. If you meet them inside, be careful,” Venerable Liu Nian said meaningfully.
“Be careful?” Gu Hai frowned. From Venerable Liu Nian’s meaningful tone, he figured out that there was more to this.
After Gu Hai received his instructions, the flying ship dropped off everyone on a mountain on the island.
“Take care!” Long Wanqing said to the four on the summit while she stood on the flying ship.
“Hall Master, take care. We will do our best!” Gu Hai nodded.
“Let’s go!” Long Wanqing called out.
The flying ship zoomed towards the southwest, reaching the horizon in the blink of an eye, leaving Gu Hai, Chen Tianshan, Song Qingshu, and Gao Xianzhi on the mountain’s summit.
When Song Qingshu saw the flying ship leave, excitement flashed in his eyes. As he stood behind the three and looked at Gu Hai’s back, he revealed a sinister, cold smile.
However, right as Song Qingshu showed that sinister, cold smile in celebration of Long Wanqing’s departure, Gu Hai suddenly turned around and faced him.
This startled Song Qingshu, causing his sinister smile to freeze and making his expression look incredibly unsightly.
After Gu Hai turned around, he stared at Song Qingshu.
Chen Tianshan and Gao Xianzhi also noticed something strange, so they turned around out of curiosity. Song Qingshu’s scary-looking, twisted expression surprised the two.
Gu Hai continued staring at Song Qingshu.
After being startled by Gu Hai, Song Qingshu felt flustered. However, he soon calmed down and stared back at Gu Hai. “Division Master, why are you staring at me?”
Gu Hai suddenly smiled faintly and said, “Now that Hall Master and the rest have left, only the four of us remain. I only just entered Elite Hall and do not know much about it yet. Song Qingshu, Chen Tianshan, you two are sect disciples and should know Elite Hall’s rules, right? I would like to ask, how severe is the crime of disrespecting one’s superior in Elite Hall?”
Song Qingshu looked at Gu Hai’s eyes, but he felt strangely flustered in his heart.
How can this be? Does he know something? No, that is impossible.
Song Qingshu suppressed his fluster and remained silent, worrying that he would expose his emotions if he spoke.
Chen Tianshan did not notice anything as he answered, “Naturally, disrespecting one’s superiors is a major crime. If it is a severe case, it is punishable by death!”
“What is considered severe? What if a Water Division disciple wants to kill me? What would that be considered?” Gu Hai asked with a smile.
Gu Hai smiled very gently. However, it seemed very sinister in Song Qingshu’s eyes, sending a chill running through Song Qingshu’s entire body.
Did he discover it? Does he know?
Song Qingshu felt extremely flustered now.
“That is, of course, punishable by death. No matter who it is, that Elite Hall disciple will be put to death!” Chen Tianshan said in a confident tone, stating it as a matter of fact.
“Punishable by death? Song Qingshu, what do you think?” Gu Hai asked, smiling at Song Qingshu while continuing to stare at him.
“Right! Right!” A hint of fluster flashed in Song Qingshu’s eyes.
Gu Hai continued staring at Song Qingshu for a while before finally saying with a smile, “So, it is the death penalty. That’s good.”
After Gu Hai smiled, Gu Hai turned his head and stopped looking at Song Qingshu.
However, that short period felt like it was days long to the extremely tense Song Qingshu. The instant Gu Hai turned away, Song Qingshu relaxed. However, his back was soaked with sweat.
When Song Qingshu looked at Gu Hai’s back again, his heart palpitated.
Chen Tianshan did not notice anything strange. However, Gao Xianzhi’s expression suddenly changed as he eyed Song Qingshu in suspicion.
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