Book 7: The Eternal Immortal Domains
Half a year had already gone by since the destruction of the Heavenspan Realm.
Strange skies, strange lands. Strange cities, strange people….
These lands were actually made up of five enormous land masses which were called… immortal domains.
Any one of the immortal domains was dozens of times as large as the Heavenspan Realm or more. On one of them, in the eastern part of the domain, was a vast, winding mountain range that resembled a sleeping dragon. Many cities could be seen within those mountains, around which were numerous towns.
In one such town was a young man in a rumpled white garment, with a smudged and dirty face. He seemed to be laughing and muttering to himself as he stumbled drunkenly down the street, a jug of alcohol clutched in one hand, from which he occasionally took long swigs.
“Immortal domains, huh…?” he murmured. From the way he trudged along, he seemed completely despondent.
It was autumn, and a biting wind swept through the mountains, sending yellow leaves rustling along down the street. This particular town wasn’t very heavily populated. It was located in a relatively remote area, and for the most part, the people in it kept to themselves. Because of how bitingly cold the wind was, the few people who did walk down the street all wore thick, warm clothing, and hurried to their destinations as quickly as they could.
Clearly, no one wanted to be out on the street on such a chilly evening. And anyone who did have to be out wanted to get back home as quickly as they could, to where it was warm, and to where their friends and families waited for them.
However, this drunk young man didn’t seem to have any concept of home. He wandered in seemingly aimless fashion, a blank look in his eyes, completely ignoring the biting wind. He didn’t seem to mind the wind at all, and in fact, it matched the loneliness in his heart. As he walked along through the evening, he seemed incredibly melancholy….
Brittle yellow leaves floated in the air around him, and they seemed to have found a kindred spirit in him that they didn’t wish to leave.
“Immortal domains…? Who gives a shit…?” The aroma of alcohol surrounded the young man as he staggered onward, lifting the jug up for another drink. However, at that point, he realized that the jug was empty. Cursing, he lifted it up and jiggled it a bit to get the final remaining drops out. After swallowing them, he smacked his lips.
As the amber light of evening shone in his listless eyes, it revealed the bitterness and loss contained deep inside.
“Out of booze again…. At least the alcohol in this world is good stuff.” Ducking his head, he began to mutter incoherently as he stumbled off in the direction of the tavern he frequented, his only company the biting autumn wind.
The tavern wasn’t very far off, but the young man almost seemed to be walking through knee-deep water as he went along. It took him the time it takes an incense stick to burn before he reached his destination. By that time, not much of the amber sunset remained. He pushed the door open and lurched inside, simultaneously allowing a blast of cold wind to enter with him.
There were only about seven or eight tables in the tavern, but they were all full. Even the random seats that weren’t attached to tables had people in them. There were quite a few young ones present, running about amongst the tables playing while their parents sat chatting and drinking. There wasn’t much to do in this remote town, and therefore, this tavern, which sold Drunken Immortal liquor, had long since become a center of activity.
It was here that people exchanged local gossip, rumors about the rich people in town, and even stories about immortals. Sometimes, people got drunk and told their secrets out loud, leading to much laughter from their fellows.
For most of the people in town, their greatest entertainment was to come to this tavern and enjoy each other's company.
As soon as the young man entered, some of the regulars pointed at him and chuckled. “Well, if it isn’t Scholar Bai! Hey, shopkeep, looks like you've got another one hooked on your Drunken Immortal!”
Considering how drunk the men were, it was hard to say whether they were being friendly or not.
No one in town knew this young man, but the regulars at the tavern recognized him. He had shown up out of nowhere a few months before. He never talked with anyone, and nobody even knew his name. However, he was clearly different from the somewhat rough and uneducated townsfolk. He wore a long, white robe, and seemed to wallow in melancholy and pain. None of that did anything to forestall the speculation about who exactly he was.
He looked like a scholar, specifically the type who had only passed the town-level scholar examinations.
Because of the white robe he wore, people took to calling him… Scholar Bai.
“Scholar Bai must have failed in the imperial examinations, and doesn’t have the face to go home. That’s why he’s drunk all the time….”
“Nah. You listen to me. Scholar Bai’s family all died, and then he got robbed by bandits. The pain of everything he's been through is why he looks so depressed.” The crowd in the tavern had noticed how often he came to buy alcohol in the tavern, and considering how despondent he looked, they couldn’t help but sigh and come up with various guesses about his past.
The young man could hear much of what was being said about him, but didn’t seem to care. He stumbled over to the counter, put the alcohol jug down, and then spoke in a somewhat incoherent voice.
“Another jug, shopkeep…. Drunken Immortal. This Drunken Immortal of yours… it’s good stuff.”
The shopkeeper, an older fellow in green garments, looked back at the young man and sighed.
“Scholar Bai, it’s nearly the end of the year. Why don't you save your silver and go back home?”
“Home…?” The young man chuckled, a blank look in his eyes that seemed tinged with pain. Reaching into the fold of his robe, he pulled out a stack of silver and placed it on the counter. “What, you think I'm poor or something?!”
The old shopkeeper frowned at the young man’s apparent inability to accept a kindness. Looking a bit annoyed, he scooped up the silver, plopped a new jug of alcohol onto the table, and then proceeded to ignore the young man.
It was with somewhat glazed eyes that the young man grabbed the jug of alcohol and then took a long drink. Smiling foolishly, and face flushed red from the alcohol, he swayed his way toward the door.
By this point, the children playing around in the inn had taken notice of the young man, and considering how he was stumbling around, began to jokingly call him a drunkard.
The young man didn’t care. By the time he walked out of the tavern, it was already dark, and the wind was even colder. He looked around at the lantern light flickering in the windows of the houses, and his heart grew even darker.
As the darkness in his heart spread to encompass his eyes, he stumbled off in the direction of a temple where he usually slept. Upon arriving, he slumped down against the wall and continued to drink….
The only sound he could hear was the whimpering of the wind, and the rustle of the leaves that occasionally landed on him.
At one point, a leaf landed on his hand… highlighting a scar there that looked like a spark.
“Hao’er….” he murmured, the pain in his voice clear. Right now, the only thing he could think of to do was drink, to use Drunken Immortal to descend into a muddle-headed daze. Only by being drunk… could he forget about all of the pain and confusion.
This young man was Bai Xiaochun.
Once upon a time, he had been happy and full of laughter. But in the same way that summer will change into autumn… those things were gone, and he had changed.
Also gone was his home. Just before passing out, he had heard the deafening boom, and watched as the Heavenspan Realm was destroyed.
Later, he woke up in a strange, unfamiliar land to find that everyone from his past was gone….
His home was no more.
The River-Defying Sect. Li Qinghou…. Mistress Red-Dust. Song Junwan…. They were all gone.
Thankfully, Daoist Heavenspan was also gone. However, that fact brought him no joy, only sadness. An ocean of sadness with him at the bottom of it.
He wanted to cheer up. And in fact, after being teleported to this immortal domain, he had spent months searching. He had used everything in his power, including all of the power of his cultivation base, and all of his divine sense.
But the only things he had found… were corpses. One after another, he tracked down people from the lands of Heavenspan who had been teleported to this unfamiliar world. None of them had been able to survive the process, and reached their destinations as corpses. It was like a nightmare for him, and led to a moment of weeping in which he simply couldn’t hold on any longer.
During his months of searching, he had found corpses that included Nascent Soul cultivators and even devas. Eventually, he didn't dare to search anymore. He feared that one day he would find Li Qinghou, Mistress Red-Dust, Song Junwan or some other familiar faces… as corpses.
Bai Hao’s death. The gravekeeper’s plan. Du Lingfei’s tears. The destruction of the world. One corpse after another. Eventually… Bai Xiaochun couldn’t take it.
Exhausted in all senses of the word, he reached this town, where he ended up in a drunken stupor….
He was not the ruthlessly ambitious type like Daoist Heavenspan. He was Bai Xiaochun… a simple person who wanted to be happy and live forever.
“If all of you are still alive, then where are you…?” he said, his voice slurring a bit as he slowly closed his eyes and passed out.
1. Remember that the character Bai means white. In this case, it could also be translated as Scholar White or White Scholar. They're technically calling him this because of his clothing, not because they know his surname. Because of how it’s used like a name, though, I chose to go with Scholar Bai