The sounds of footsteps grew closer. Bai Su’s father, the old man whose face was now burned with age, stopped several dozens of feet away. He looked at the sea and sky Su Ming was staring at. There was only darkness there.
He fell silent for a moment before he spoke hoarsely. "All things in the world have Lives, and this Life does not mean the state of being alive, but is the manifestation of what we have sensed from our past lives in our current lives."
"How did you determine that Bai Su’s Life was to be a stone falling into the river in the sky?" Su Ming still did not look at the man as he asked lightly.
"Because all of us descendants of the Bai family have the Lives of the river in the sky. We are to be hurt by love and are to be alone. Only our children will remain and stay with us until we grow old and die… The river in the sky is made of starlight, and there are a lot of stars that shine in the sky. When they fuse together, the river can be seen clearly, but when you try to look carefully, you won’t be able to differentiate each one. This is my Life, and so it was for my younger brother Bai Chang Zai. And my daughter Bai Su… is burdened with the same fate. The entire Bai family has been burdened with the same Life for generations!
"But Bai Su is a little different. Her Life has been changed because of the stone. That stone… is Si Ma, and is also you!" Bai Su’s father spoke slowly, and his voice was deep as it echoed in the area in this is dark night.
"Nonsense!" Su Ming turned his head around and cast a cold glance towards Bai Su’s father.
"Si Ma’s Life is different. Those with his Life are the light from the dew on grass that appears when it reflects the light from the morning sun. He should have originally been green grass, but due to the dew on his body, he became a striking figure under the sunlight.
"This is… borrowing Life.
"I don’t know what his original Life was supposed to be, but the reason behind why he had such great power and serendipity was all because of the reflection of light on the dew, but this reflection can be cut off and turned against him, that is why I had been certain that if he died, he would definitely die because of the reflection of light!
"The person who can kill him will definitely be the one who gave him that dew, the one who lent his Life to him!" The eyes of Bai Su’s father were originally dull and lifeless, but when he said those words, they started sparkling brilliantly, as if they were reflecting light. He looked towards Su Ming.
"I deduced your Life in the past. You had the Life of the veins within grass, wood, and stones. All of them contain veins, and they support their entire bodies. Those who have this Life are bound to be controlled like puppets, and they cannot escape… They are not suited for Bai Su’s Life!
"But when I looked for your Life again now, it has changed greatly. I… can no longer see any signs of Life on you!" Bai Su’s father looked at Su Ming and took a few steps forward. His voice gained an anxious edge.
"This shouldn’t be possible. All manner of being in the world has Life, and even those who have died will have Life. Their Lives will not disappear, but you…" Bai Su’s father stared at Su Ming, and a brilliant light appeared in his eyes.
Su Ming stared at the old man before him coldly. The Life this old man spoke about seemed to be connected to the Life Cultivation he had come to understand, but was even more subjective, and Su Ming could not find himself believing in him.
Besides, Life Cultivation was a new Realm after the Berserker Soul Realm. Perhaps there were truly people who had managed to step into that Realm, but they were incredibly rare. Even those who had managed to arrive at its doorsteps would surely be only a few.
Su Ming did not believe that this old man had managed to find his way to the door leading to Life Cultivation, or else, why would he be humiliated and oppressed by Si Ma Xin! However… even if Su Ming did not believe in his words, the meaning behind them had made his heart move slightly.
‘Si Ma Xin turned into a puppet after he died… That puppet had a strand of hair from when I was still an infant and a drop of my blood at the center of its brows, and then there are the altars I saw because of that strand of hair scattered all over the continent.
‘The reflection of light on dew…’
Not a hint of what Su Ming was thinking was revealed on his face. He looked at the old man, and his gaze was still filled with cold detachment.
"I know that you won’t believe in this so called Art of Life so easily, but every single thing I said is the truth!" Bai Su’s father said once again.
The words he said previously about Su Ming’s Life echoed in his head, especially in regards to the first half of his words, when he was talking about the Life of the veins in grass, wood, and stones, and that he was supposed to be controlled like a puppet. These things caused a barely noticeable constriction in his pupils.
"Then what is your Life?"
"My Life is…" There was a slight hint of anguish on Bai Su’s father’s face, but when he looked at Su Ming, there was a strange glint contained within that pain in his eyes.
"My Life is that of the fish suffocating outside the river in the sky! Those with this Life cannot run into emptiness, because once they do, they will definitely die! They are just like fish that have left water, they will not live long.
"I had never understood what it meant until I met you again. You have no Life, so you are emptiness itself!" Bai Su’s father looked at Su Ming and spoke with mixed feelings.
"Are you saying that you don’t have a long time left?" Su Ming asked slowly and calmly.
"I may have only a few moments, or it could be a couple days, but no more. Then I will die." Bai Su’s father said with a low voice, and sighed.
Su Ming narrowed his eyes and suddenly asked, "How did you manage to look into other people’s Lives?"
"About that…" Bai Su’s father hesitated for a moment before he cast a glance at Su Ming, and then, he gritted his teeth.
"The Bai family has a long history with Freezing Sky Clan and we are closely connected to them. Our ancestor, Bai Yuan Hua was one of the creators of Freezing Sky Clan, and during his time, his level of cultivation could be said to be so famous that his name rang through the entire South Morning!
"We don’t know where he is now, since once he built Freezing Sky Clan, he left South Morning. But before he left, he once isolated himself for a hundred years, and when he left, he left behind a Life Scroll!
"It is damaged and in tatters, and our ancestor obtained it by chance. He should have left because he wanted to search for the other Life Scrolls, and in fact, the great power from his cultivation base might have come from the epiphany he gained from that Life Scroll!
"But us descendants of the Bai family do not have our ancestor’s wisdom, and up to now, there is no one who has managed to understand that scroll completely, and since we were afraid of getting into trouble for what we have, this thing has always been a secret within the Bai family.
"A long time ago, my younger brother, Bai Chang Zai, had gained the most understanding from that scroll, but he still could not gain a deep enough one. As for me, I only possess superficial knowledge about the contents in that scroll, and I can only make simple deductions and calculations."
Bai Su’s father was filled with sincerity, and his voice echoed in the darkness, able to cause all those who heard it to feel an ancient air about him.
"This is absolutely true. I have no reason to lie to you. I can give you the Life Scroll that is the legacy passed down in the Bai family, but I want to ask you for a favor!"
When Bai Su’s father said these words, he swiftly lifted his right hand and pointed at the center of his brows. Immediately, dark light shone at the spot where his fingers touched. His body immediately started trembling, and he began withering away right before Su Ming’s eyes.
As he withered away, the skin on his face started squirming as if there was something moving within his body. He sucked in a deep breath at that moment and lifted his left hand to swing at the air. Immediately, a lit incense appeared before him. The wisps of smoke from the incense curled up into the air, and as it rose upwards, Bai Su’s father sucked in a deep breath in its direction, and it immediately turned into seven wisps of smoke that crawled into his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
This was an incredibly bizarre sight, and a focused look appeared in Su Ming’s eyes as he watched. Once Bai Su’s father sucked in those seven wisps of smoke, he began trembling, and a crack tore through the center of his brows.
No blood flowed, and it looked as if it had existed for many years but had been hidden away usually so no one could see it.
Only when Bai Su’s father used a secret Art would this crack appear. Right then, Su Ming immediately sensed a presence that shook his soul spreading out.
It was difficult to describe this presence with words. It was like a sweet scent that would make people feel delighted the moment they took a sniff of it, their bodies relaxing. In fact, those who took a whiff of it would even find their own cultivation base increasing slightly, and joy would appear within the depths of their hearts, as if they had just experienced an incredibly joyous occasion, and they would be unable to control themselves and smile.
It would make these people try to sense more. Yet when unable to help themselves they would open up to get in touch with that presence, they would find that it was no longer sweet, having turned into a nauseating feeling. It would make them feel as if they were about to throw up all their organs in their bodies. It was as if what they had sensed earlier was just an illusion, and this was the real deal!
However… if that was merely the case, then this presence would not really be that strange. What shocked Su Ming was the bitterness that gradually emerged from within that presence once the nauseating feeling was gone. That bitter taste was as if he had just swallowed the thickest gallbladder in the world, and it had turned into an extreme bitterness as the taste traveled from within his body to his skin.
This complex and varying presence caused Su Ming’s mind to be shaken, and at the same time, he saw Bai Su’s father lifting his right hand pushing it into the crack at the center of his brows. There was a strange look on his face, as if he was laughing and crying at the same time, when he slowly pulled out a black wooden block from within!
This wooden block was only the breadth of two fingers and half a palm long. The presence that had caused Su Ming’s mind to be shaken came precisely from it!
"This item is the Life Scroll our family’s ancestor left behind when he left all those years ago! This scroll is not a scroll, because it has turned itself into a piece of wood with its own Art…"
The black wooden block’s image appeared in Su Ming’s eyes. The instant his gaze was trained on it, the cries of infants seemed to echo in his ears, along with the sorrowful mourning of women, and the grief filled voices of men, as well as the sounds of tears falling on robes as the elderly cried.
Those were the wailing sounds of people from different periods of time.
Su Ming’s pupils shrank. With his current level of cultivation, it was rare for his facial expression to change visibly, but at that moment, he was visibly moved, and all of it was because of this small piece of wood!
‘This item is definitely nothing ordinary!’ This was the only thought that appeared in Su Ming’s head at that moment.
Because while he heard crying sounds, he saw illusory shadows surrounding the block of wood, and they were all men and women married to each other. They were smiling… smiling in all sorts of situations, smiling during birthdays, during childbirth, during their marriages, their wedding night, and all sorts of other situations. There were all sorts of people among those illusions, and they were all smiling happily.
"I give this to you… and for this, I just have one request. Promise me, if the day comes where you possess the ability to change the Principles of Life1, help my daughter Bai Su change her Life…
"Before you possess this ability, then I wish… for her… to be safe in this chaotic world." Bai Su’s father sat down cross-legged on the ground, and his voice grew weaker. Once he finished saying those words, he swung his right hand in the air, and the black wooden block immediately started drifting slowly towards Su Ming.
It continued until it arrived right before him.
Su Ming looked at that wooden block, and after a long while, he slowly nodded. He might still have doubts regarding the old man’s words towards the Art of Life, but he still chose to agree to his request.
The instant he nodded, Bai Su’s father smiled faintly. He lifted his head and looked towards the dark sky and sea in the distance. Vaguely, he seemed to have seen a woman walking towards him from the air, stretching her hand towards him.
"Hui Chen… is that you…?"
A dazed expression appeared on Bai Su’s father’s face, and when he uttered that question softly, he closed his eyes, and the presence and life force within his body disappeared at that instant.
Principles of Life: 命理 (ming4 li3), actually just known as Chinese fortune telling or Chinese divination, but I highly doubt it. Maybe I haven’t been able to find the official translation for it, but I gave it the name according to Life series, so we have here Principles of Life. The basic meaning of this 命理 is the principles that govern a person’s fate. This fate has two meanings, one of them is the state of being alive, and the other is the eight characters/eight words (八字) that form your inborn natal chart or what we call here Life Matrix. This apparently shows what sort of stages you will go through in life (which is the ‘life’ mentioned earlier) and whether you will live your life in a series of blessings or disasters (which is ‘fate’).