Note: I am not picking up this series, just translating up to chapter 6. See Table of Contents for details.
Chapter 2: Being aware 500 years in advance
Legend has it that this world contained a luminous river that assisted the planet’s orbit. With the use of the Spring & Autumn Cicada, one could go against its current to travel to the past. Rumors regarding this legend were varied and diverse. Many people didn’t believe it, while others half-believed, half-doubted.
In the end, there were no true believers.
That was because each use of the Spring & Autumn Cicada required the offering of a life. One’s entire body and cultivation status would be sacrificed as the energy to power the drive backwards. Such a cost was too much for people to bear–especially when they didn’t even know if the cicada would work after losing their lives. Even if someone owned the Spring & Autumn Cicada, they wouldn’t dare use it casually.
Suppose the legend was fake and nothing more than a hoax?
If Fang Yuan had any other choice, he wouldn’t have used it so quickly, either. But right now, Fang Yuan firmly believed in the legend. That was because the reality before his eyes was impossible to refute. He really had been reborn!
“It’s a pity I had to use a good Gu like this. It cost me the strength of nine bulls and two tigers to massacre hundreds of thousands of people, enough to incite the wrath of the Heavens and the anger of men, before I passed through those hardships to refine it…” Fang Yuan sighed in his heart. Though he had been reborn, the Spring & Autumn Cicada hadn’t come back with him.
Humans are clever in tens of thousands of ways, Gu are the true refined essence of Heaven and Earth.
There was an infinite variety of fascinating Gu, almost countless in number. Some Gu could be used once or two to three times before they disappeared. Others could be used repeatedly, as long as the user didn’t overdo it. Perhaps the Spring & Autumn Cicada was one of those Gu that would disappear after just one use.
“But even though it’s not there anymore, I can refine another one. If I did it in my last life, why can’t I do it in this one?” After his moment of regret, Fang Yuan couldn’t help the burst of aspiration in his heart. He could accept the loss of the Spring & Autumn Cicada now that he’d been reborn. Beyond that, there was a treasure he owned that no one else had.
That was his 500 years of memories and experience.
Within his memories lay stores of precious secrets that were still undiscovered by the people of this time. Recollections of major events to come meant he could easily grasp the flow of history. There were images of people too, some of them his seniors, some of them handsome and talented youths, some who hadn’t even been born yet. Beyond that was the hard-earned experience he’d gained from fighting over 500 years.
With these in hand, he could grasp the beginning and end. As long as he manipulated things deftly, he could travel about with ease as a formidable, elegant person of fearsome might. Perhaps he might even attain a higher plane of existence!
“But how should I manipulate things…” Fang Yuan was very logical as he quickly collected himself. Looking at the evening rain outside his window, he fell into thought.
He couldn’t help but feel there were thousands of strands and loose ends. As time passed, his eyebrows began to furrow more and more tightly. 500 years of time was indeed long. Leaving aside the things that were fuzzy to him or forgotten memories, just the locations of secret treasure troves and fated meetings with celestial masters were numerous. But they were all either far away or fixed chances that opened up at certain points in time.
“The most important thing is still my cultivation foundation. Right now, my Primordial Sea isn’t even open, nor have I stepped on the cultivation path of a Gu master. I’m a completely ordinary human! I’ll have to start cultivation soon and quickly to increase my foundation so I can beat history and seize the lead. Then I’ll get good results.”
After all, many mysteries were impossible to understand without an ample cultivation base. They’d only end up being headaches. Right now, the first problem before Fang Yuan was cultivating.
He had to raise his foundation quickly. If he was as slow as his first life, he’d be too late.
“To quickly improve my cultivation, I’ll need to borrow aid from my clan’s resources. With my current situation, there’s no way I can shuttle back and forth between these mountains. A simple wild boar would be enough to do me in. If I can reach the Third Level of Gu master cultivation, then I’ll have the basic ability to protect myself. It’ll be possible to travel afar under difficult conditions then.”
After 500 years of experience cultivating in a demonic way, this Mt. Qingmao was really too small for him. The Ancient Moon Sect also felt more like a cage keeping him in. But at the same time it locked him in, it gave him a certain amount of security.
“Hmph, for now I’ll stay in this cage and stir around a bit. After I reach the Third Level of Gu master, I’ll leave this poverty-stricken place. Fortunately, tomorrow’s the Broadening Horizons Ceremony. It won’t be long afterwards that I can cultivate in the open as a Gu master.” Recalling the Broadening Horizons Ceremony brought to surface old, buried memories from Fang Yuan’s past. “Latent talent, is it…” He stared out the window and laughed coldly.
At the same time, a young boy lightly opened the door and walked inside.
“Big brother, why are you getting rained on by the window?”
This youth was thin and emaciated, slightly shorter than Fang Yang. Their looks were quite similar. When Fang Yuan turned to look at him, a complicated look flitted past his face.
“So it’s you. My younger twin brother.” He raised his eyebrows slightly before his face returned to its usual chilliness.
Fang Zheng lowered his head to stare at his toes, one of his habitual moves. “I saw that big brother’s window was still open, so I wanted to close it in secret. Tomorrow’s the Broadening Horizons Ceremony. It’s so late, but why isn’t big brother resting yet? If uncle and aunt knew, they’d worry.”
He was used to Fang Yuan’s coldness, since his brother had been like that since birth. Sometimes he’d think that all geniuses were different from ordinary people like this. Though he looked very much like his brother, he was an ordinary as an ant. They’d both been born from the same womb, so why were the Heavens so unfair? They gave big brother a genius intellect like a diamond while making him as average as a rock.
Everyone around them would refer to him as “Fang Yuan’s little brother.” Uncle and aunt would often tell him to learn from his brother more, as well. Sometimes, he’d look into a mirror and hate the sight of his own face! These thoughts had been circulating for many years, accumulating in the deepest recesses of his heart. They were like a large, heavy stone pressing upon his chest, making Fang Zheng’s head bow lower and lower as he turned more and more reticent.
“Worried…” When Fang Yuan recalled his aunt and uncle, a silent sneer emerged from his heart. He remembered very clearly how the parents of this body had gone out on a clan mission and disappeared. He and his little brother became orphans when they were only three years old. Their aunt and uncle, under the pretense of becoming foster parents, openly and legally assumed control of their parents’ inheritance before harshly treating him and his brother.
As a time traveler, he had to hide his capacities while biding his time, but the hardships of his previous life made Fang Yuan reveal a bit of extraordinary “talent.” This so called talent was just a mature soul and intellect, as well as a few famous poems left behind for posterity. Petty tricks like these were enough to earn him a title of ‘talented’ and close attention from others. Against the pressure from outside, the young Fang Yuan chose to pretend to be cold and detached in order to protect himself. It’d also minimize the chances of exposing his secrets. Time passed, and soon his indifference became a matter of habit.
Like this, his aunt and uncle couldn’t be severe towards him and his brother anymore. As they grew, their prospects seemed to improve, and their allowances increased as well. Still, this wasn’t love but a type of investment. It was laughable that his little brother couldn’t see through them to the truth. Not only was he hoodwinked by aunt and uncle, but he actually carried a grudge against him. He might seem obedient and cute, but Fang Yuan remembered. After Fang Zheng was discovered to have Grade A latent talent, he was personally nurtured by the clan. By then, all of his hidden jealousy and hate revealed themselves and he spent no little effort countering and creating difficulties to suppress his own big brother.
As for his own latent talent…heh, it was Grade C at most. Fate certainly loved to play pranks.
A pair of twins from the same womb yielded a Grade C older brother who had been hailed a genius for over a decade. Meanwhile, nobody had ever heard of his younger brother who would end up possessing Grade A latent talent.
The results of the Broadening Horizons Ceremony had left the clanspeople taken aback as well as throughly reversing the standing of the two brothers. The little brother was like a sleeping dragon that suddenly ascended to the Heavens, while the older brother was a young phoenix that fell to the ground. Afterwards, he was left to face his younger brother’s schemes and his aunt and uncle’s cold looks, as well as the disdain of his own clan.
Did he hate?
Fang Yuan did, in his first life. He hated that he didn’t have enough latent talent, hated that his clan members were heartless, hated that Fate was unfair. But now he’d already lived through a 500-year lifetime and could reconsider things. There were no waves in his heart, nor was there any hate.
What was there to resent?
From another perspective, he could understand his little brother, aunt, and uncle. He could also understand the members of the righteous sects that had besieged him 500 years from now. The weak were the prey of the strong where survival was of the fittest. That was the essence of this world. Moreover, everyone had their own ambitions, competing against each other for a sliver of Heaven’s secrets. It was perfectly understandable that they’d fight, oppress, and kill each other. 500 years of experience had long allowed him to see through everything. The only thing left in his heart was to seek a long life and the Great Way.
If anyone tried to stop him, no matter who they were, it’d be a case of life and death–they’d die, and he’d live. His aspirations were too vast now that he’d stepped on this path. He was ready to take on the entire world as his enemies while keeping aloof from all of them. Killing and stealing would be his choice.
That was his final conclusion after living through 500 years.
I’m not seeking revenge on my own terms. A demonic Way naturally has nothing like compromises. Thinking up to here, Fang Yuan couldn’t help but smile. He faced his younger brother with a mild gaze and said, “You should go back.”
Fang Zheng’s heart inexplicably throbbed with terror, feeling that his brother’s gaze was as sharp as ice on the edge of a blade, piercing through to his darkest, deepest heart. Under such scrutiny, he felt like he was standing naked in a snowfield with nowhere to hide his secrets.
“Then see you tomorrow, big brother,” he didn’t dare say any more. Fang Zheng slowly shut the door and retreated.
 Gu (蛊) - same Gu as Dao Master Gu. Actually the name of a legendary venomous insect. In this novel, various gu possess different abilities and powers.
 strength of nine bulls and two tigers (九牛二虎之力) – jiu niu er hu zhi li, a saying meaning ‘tremendous strength/effort.’
 Fang Zheng (方正) – Fang is a surname that also means “square,” Zheng can mean “upright, straight, righteous.”