The cold wind was no different than it always was. And yet, as it blew on the three shivering ruffians, they were soaked with sweat.
“An immortal!” Sun Wu blurted. “He’s definitely an immortal!!” The mere thought that he had struck an immortal made Sun Wu feel like crying. In fact, he was certain that his life was about to end.
“So what if he's an immortal!” one of the other ruffians said. “I saw an immortal a few years ago, and he got gutted like a pig!” Perhaps this fellow was confused about what he had seen in the past, or perhaps he was just so terrified that he wasn’t thinking straight. Either way, he quickly pulled out an axe and aimed it at Bai Xiaochun’s head.
“If he is an immortal, we’re dead anyway, so we might as well go for broke!” Howling, the ruffian swung the axe down with all his might. When it hit, a cracking sound could be heard as the haft of the axe shattered into pieces. As for the axe blade, it might as well have struck a boulder, and it turned into a blur of light that whizzed back and embedded itself into the ruffian’s face.
Before the blood could even drip down from the wound, the ruffian staggered backward, and then flopped down onto his back, dead.
Sun Wu and the other ruffian were scared out of their minds. Screaming, they turned to run away.
Terrified, they didn’t dare to stay in the town for another night. After stealing some horses, they rode off into the night.
Back at the temple, the cold wind blew over the corpse with the axe head embedded in its face. Eventually, the blood from the wound pooled around the unmoving body.
Some time passed, and Bai Xiaochun managed to open his eyes. He looked at the bamboo forest, and the corpse lying next to him, and then struggled to his feet. Annoyed at having been woken up hungover, he stumbled to the tavern to buy some more alcohol. After returning, he slumped down against the wall, oblivious to his own filthy clothes and hair as he started drinking again.
Before long, the alcohol allowed him to revel in his fancies, and forget any painful and bitter memories.
As he drank, the sky turned dark. Soon, hints of dawn could be seen on the horizon, and the inky darkness began to retreat. It was at that point that Bai Xiaochun’s expression flickered with disbelief. Straining his eyes to focus, he looked at the bamboo forest not too far away, and suddenly began to tremble.
In fact, his hand started shaking so hard that he dropped the jug of alcohol.
There, striding out of the bamboo, was a tall man clad in a black robe. He almost seemed at one with the night, wrapped up in a sinister, ghostly energy that transformed the temple and its surrounds into an underworldly hell.
The man walked up to Bai Xiaochun, loomed over him, and then let out a sigh of regret. When he spoke, it was in a voice that seemed profoundly ancient.
“Got any more left in that jug? Can I have some?”
“Big bro… Giant Ghost…?” Bai Xiaochun could do little more than stare blankly at this tall man in black.
Sure enough, he was none other than the Giant Ghost King!
This was the first living friend Bai Xiaochun had encountered after arriving in the Eternal Lands!
He looked much, much older than he had back in the Heavenspan Realm. He had scars on his face; clearly, he had experienced many trials in the more than half a year since he had been teleported to the Eternal Lands.
Looking very tired, he sat down next to Bai Xiaochun. After leaning up against the temple wall, he reached out, grabbed the alcohol jug, and took a long, hard swig.
Bai Xiaochun suddenly jumped to his feet and sent some divine sense out into the area.
“Don’t bother,” the Giant Ghost King said, not even bothering to look over. “I have no idea where Zimo is, or anybody else. The only person here… is me.” With that, he continued to drink.
Bai Xiaochun suddenly seemed to lose even the power to stay standing. He flopped to the ground, snatched the alcohol jug back from the Giant Ghost King, and took a drink. However, it was empty. He shook it back and forth a bit to get the last drop or two out, and then threw it off to the side.
The Giant Ghost King didn’t say anything.
“How did you find me?” Bai Xiaochun asked, his voice hoarse.
The Giant Ghost King produced a jug of alcohol from his bag of holding, took a long drink, then tossed it to Bai Xiaochun. “By looking for half a year!”
In the moment when the world collapsed, Bai Xiaochun had been severely injured because of his fight with Daoist Heavenspan, and thus lost consciousness upon being teleported away. However, the Giant Ghost King had not lost consciousness. He had been there to watch as Bai Xiaochun was whisked away to the third immortal domain in the Vile-Emperor Dynasty, just as he had been.
He had begun his search almost immediately. Just like Bai Xiaochun, he had found so many corpses that he eventually began to sink into bitterness and despondency. However, he had held fast to his belief… that Bai Xiaochun was alive.
That faith pushed him through many months until this very day… when he finally found Bai Xiaochun, wasting away outside of the temple.
The truth was that the Giant Ghost King was in just as bad a state as Bai Xiaochun. After the war in the Wildlands, the world had been destroyed, and his daughter went missing. He had once been a mighty heavenly king in the Arch-Emperor Dynasty, but now, everything had changed.
The wife he had taken in Giant Ghost City was also nowhere to be found. And thus, the heart of the mighty Giant Ghost King eventually went dark.
The people he had once ruled, and his previous glory, were gone in the blink of an eye…. They were a thing of the past. Here he was, alone in the Eternal Lands… starting over from scratch.
Considering how old he was now, the idea of being back at square one caused him to sigh bitterly. It was just when things seemed to hit rock bottom that he realized that the alcohol in the Eternal Lands was a wonderful thing.
This alcohol could get mortals drunk… and could also get immortals drunk!
Bai Xiaochun took a drink, then stared off into the distance for a moment. Eventually he said, “Did you see…?”
Certain that the Giant Ghost King would know what he was talking about, he didn't finish his sentence.
A moment passed, and then the Giant Ghost King replied. “Did I see anyone else alive? You’re the only one I've encountered so far. However, I'm certain that even though a lot of people died in the teleportation, there are some who survived. I saw many of them flying through the starry sky!”
Bai Xiaochun looked quietly up into the night sky….
As he did, there were other people on the other immortal domains of the Eternal Lands doing the same thing. They were in different domains, different continents, different counties. Some were in cities, and others were out in the wilderness. But all of them had the blood of the lands of Heavenspan in their veins, and all of them were looking up into an unfamiliar night sky.
They were like a vast multitude of stars, flickering with their own desires, not willing to resign themselves to fate.
Li Qinghou. Patriarch Spirit Stream. Master God-Diviner. Xu Baocai.
Zhou Zimo. Song Junwan….
Bruiser was out there as well. Because of the insanity to which Bai Xiaochun had sunk, he had forgotten about Bruiser during the final hectic moments of the fighting. After being teleported into the Eternal Lands, Bruiser found himself among strangers, and was scared. He couldn't sense Bai Xiaochun’s aura, but he could sense some familiar fluctuations. And after searching for a time, he found Song Junwan….
That was when he realized that the familiar fluctuations were not coming from Song Junwan, but rather, from inside of her belly….
The blood was familiar, but the aura was not. Bruiser didn’t understand. However, when he saw Song Junwan’s beaming smile, he knew that he had to protect her, and protect that aura inside of her!
Bruiser knew that sooner or later, he would find that familiar face, which he longed to see in this strange land….