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A note from Hego

Exxxtra long chapter, enjoy.

Like a comet, a burning wreck cut a fiery line through the sky shortly before it flew past the horizon. A few seconds passed and several horns thundered in the distance away from the city. All of the sounds seemed similar but each one had some distinctive elements to it.

" I wonder how often people dump their garbage here? " Han Bei idly thought as he watched the sky through a gap in the window. His eyes had grown somewhat used to the golden light after several hours, although, he would still rather claw out his own eyeballs than head deeper into the city.

The door to his room opened, and a young servant that wore a simple green robe entered after a bow. His teeth shined with green light as he spoke, " Honorable guest, your companion wished to pass along a message that he eagerly awaits your company. " Han Bei addressed him in a lazy manner, " So the old thing is waiting for me, huh? " The young servant wryly smiled and didn't comment on the rude question. " If the honorable guest has no other instruction this one will tend to his other duties. " Han Bei shook his head and the young servant left after another bow.

Han Bei stood up and his cloak parted as he stretched his body. "Wonder what the old thing has in store for me? " He walked through the dim corridors of the inn until he reached the entrance where the old monk awaited him. The old monk was in a jolly mood, and from what little Han Bei knew of him that was probably a bad sign.

"Oh, you're finally here little Corpse. Here catch! " The old monk gently threw something at Han Bei. Han Bei caught the object while confusion was written all over his face. " You're giving me a bag of holding? But I already have one. " The old monk patiently corrected Han Bei. " No silly, I'm giving you back YOUR bag of holding. "

Han Bei quickly inspected what little possessions he had, and indeed the treasure he took from Mo Wan was missing. " But how? Why? " The old monk waved his meaty finger at him, " No time to explain gotta move." The old monk already opened the door and walked out, while Han Bei slowly followed after a long sigh.

His pale face still scrunched up when the rays of light hit his face but Han Bei followed the old monk regardless. A part of his attention was gathered on the bag of holding. Outwardly it looked the same. A brown battered fist-sized bag. The contents were the only thing that changed. There was a new set of clothes, a mechanical watch, an immortal compass, 2 talismans, and 30 spirit stones. His face twisted further as previously the bag of holding held a substantial amount of 400 spirit stones. " What the hell did you do with my spirit stones. "

Now it was the old monks' turn to snort. " Do you think that spirit items grow on trees? " Yet Han Bei was still unresigned. " What kind of master steals from his disciple? " " Master, " the old monk allowed the word to hang in the air before he burst into laughter.," HaHaHa, When did I ever take a little lost puppy as a disciple. No, little corpse. I'm not teaching you my arts and if you dig yourself into a grave that's your problem. Our relationship is one of interest. "

Han Bei didn't argue back this time. While the declaration from the old monk was spoken in a jovial tone, he detected a familiar sense of arrogance. One that's commonly present in cultivators of higher realms, one that he saw in his own old master back on his homeworld. He got quieter as he remembered his old sect. " Who knows if it even exists? From what I heard several decades have passed since I left. So many years, so many memories lost. " Han Bei remained silent until the city gate where a small mob had gathered in the shadows.

Han Bei was surprised to see that the majority of the crowd didn't have a dour look on their face he had come to expect. Instead, he saw smiles born of schadenfreude and eyes full of mockery. The old monk dragged him further along. " Let's see what's up. "

 

In front of the gate, there was an argument between 2 men. One of them was an injured young-looking cultivator in a black robe that shouted in an enraged manner. On the other side was absolutely unperturbed. middleaged demi-human, a dark fae to be precise, one that looked to be on the shorter side with a slender build and pointy ears. His most notable features that indicated his origin was his dark blue skin and hair. Han Bei hadn't met many demi-human but even he knew of Fae and their many variations. It was the second most populated race in the wide universe, while humans were first of course.

 

The young cultivator shouted, " You filth you dare deceive me! I will flay you and hundreds of your kind for this impertinence and the screams of your agony will reach my retinue all the way to the high heavens above. " The fae had a smug smile on his face. " Good luck to you then young master. "

Han Bei was quite a distance away and he wondered why such a mob had gathered. He idly thought that perhaps the fae might be some well-known expert. The old monk lightly patted his shoulder and the schadenfreude smile was etched on his face as well. " You're gonna enjoy this, little corpse! "

The young cultivator was even further enraged by the fae's attitude. " You'll pay for your arrogance you cur. " Green qi surrounded his hand and formed a phantasmal beast claw around it. The fae looked unimpressed and the sneer on his face only deepened. The young cultivator swung his arm in a wide arc and Han Bei could see no other result than the fae injured or killed.

Yet moments before the young cultivator's attack landed the golden light around him intensified. Han Bei was forced to squint his eyes but he still managed to see the green qi dissipate centimeters away from the fae's unguarded face, but that wasn't the end of it. The young cultivator screamed in agony as the golden light slowly melted the flesh away from his bones.

"AAAAAAH!" The young cultivator flailed his arms around like he'd gone mad and ran outside of the city, while the fae spat where he just stood. The surrounding crowd broke into full-blown laughter. Han Bei stood absolutely baffled as he saw the old monk laugh until he teared up. " HaHaHa, It never gets old to see green silk pants wander into Myris." The laughter continued for a solid minute even after the fae left, who either didn't notice or didn't care that a crowd had gathered. The mob slowly dispersed afterward with a small smile still on their faces.

Han Bei rubbed his forehead in frustration. " By the Heavens, it's just my luck to get stranded on a world filled with looneys. " He rubbed his forehead and looked at one looney in particular. " Can we please go now? The path has cleared up now. " The old monk also was in a good mood. " Oh lighten up. It's not like the little cultivator got turned into a corpse Hahahaha ." The old monk walked away with a laugh while Han Bei remained silent as a tombstone.

 

This time the old monk led them north of Last light. Under the old monk's guidance, their path was curved like a snake, rather than as straight as a spear. The old monk changed the directions whenever he pleased and the moment Han Bei thought he knew where they were going the old thing changed directions again. Sometimes they walked in single directions for hours only to walk back from where they came, on other occasions, they walked in circles or stopped altogether.

After they traveled for 3 days the number of wreckages gradually decreased and a tree line appeared on the horizon. The closer they got the wider the tree line seemed to appear. The pair approached a great wast forest, an ancient forest. The closer Han Bei got to the forest the more unnerved and on edge he felt and once they reached the forest it became obvious why.

If Han Bei's skin wasn't always corpse-white then it definitely would have gone pale now. The numerous trees were thin and many of them grew up to a length of 4 meters. Their pitch-black bark contrasted the shining green grass, but it was their shape that unnerved him. Their branches resembled twisted and shriveled human limbs, hell, Han Bei swore that he could even see human faces on some of them.

The old man seemingly already used to the sight, nonchalantly commented, " Ah finally reached the border area, a good place. It should be relatively safe from anything truly nasty. " Han Bei pointed to the ominous forest and asked, " The hell is this place? " The monk knowingly answered, " This is the wailing forest, a good place if you're strong enough, or a place to become food if you're stupid enough. Feel free to go in if you wanna be the latter. " Han Bei's gaze was still glued to the ominous forest. " Do I even want to know why it's named like that? " The old monk smiled and pointed at one of the numerous trees. " Here, try to attack it. "

Han Bei approached with hesitant steps, but as nothing seemed to happen his stride got more confident. When he was a few centimeters away from the nearest tree he extended his hand. [death grip] his fingers sank into the tree like it was made from sponge cake, and he easily ripped off a chunk.

" OOOOOH! "

Han Bei quickly backed away and almost fell on his ass, because the tree just moaned, like an old man on a deathbed. He shouted, " Is that thing fucking alive? " The old monk answered with a small smirk on his face. " Oh, little corpse, you should have seen your face, Ha. This never gets old. " Han Bei was still frustrated. " Just answer the damn question. " The old monk finally composed himself, " It's no more alive than any other tree. You can think of it as a peculiar defense mechanism. " Han Bei spat on the tree. " Some defense mechanism. " The old monk's tone turned a bit more serious as he warned, " Oh don't look down on them too much. Harm to many of them and their song turns into a curse and then you will be wailing beside them. " Han Bei contemplated for a while and made his judgment. " Burn it with holy fire! "

The old monk briefly chuckled at that. " HaHa, have you heard about the blessing of the giants? " As the pair moved east along the edge of the forest Han Bei shook his head and the monk started his story. " Many years ago when the Empire was still young many great cultivators traveled the void to claim worlds of their own. One of them happened upon a great mountainous world, it was breathtaking even from space but he could tell it would more than likely be useless for his art. No one can tell if it was out of idle curiosity, boredom, or perhaps some greater force like fate, but he still chose to explore the world."

Han Bei listened with rapt attention and almost tripped as the old monk continued his story. " There he found many great sights that nourished his soul and opened up his horizons but nothing that would help him along the great path. He was ready to leave when a member of the indigenous population told him of one last sight that he hadn't seen yet. With a thought that it wouldn't hurt to make one more stop before he continued the ancient cultivator planned to make one last trip, not knowing that his travels would soon end.

On that final trip, he found a certain mountain. From the outside, it looked absolutely ordinary but It was the inside that made this mountain special, for it was hollow. Inside the hollow mountain, the ancient cultivator found a mythical forest that was part wood, part earth. The moment the ancient cultivator found it, his breath was taken away as he knew this place would be the key that will push his arts higher. Later he sought out the locals to find out how such a miraculous place came to be and he was told of the blessings of the giants. Not much is known about the next century but 2 things are for certain. He claimed this earth forest as his own and consequently created a clan that ruled the whole mountainous world. He found the giants and made a pact with them. At the end of every century, his clan would leave the earth forest for 3 months before they returned.

A millennium passed and the ancient cultivator enjoyed great glory both for himself and his clan. But everything under the heavens must end and the ancient cultivator felt that his time was near. He passed everything to his firstborn son, a powerful cultivator in his own rights. The leadership of the clan, all the techniques, and all the secrets. When the new clan leader found out about the truth behind the blessing of giants he fled in utter disgust. Hey, what do you think it was little corpse? " At the question, Han Bei simply shrugged, impatient to hear what was the point of the story.

" Well, It turns out the giant's blessing was a union between 2 giants that lasted for 3 whole months. The residue scattered by the love of the giants gave the forest unnatural vitality and that's what allowed this forest to survive the earth qi dominated environment and even adapt to it. Of course, there was no amazement in the heart of the new clan leader only disgust and fury that some beasts dared to sully his home. He wanted nothing more to strike the beasts down for their sins, yet his father made him swear that he will honor the pact between the giants and his clan. The new clan leader reluctantly promised to do so while the ancient cultivator could return to earth in peace with the knowledge that his bloodline and arts would live on.

Not much changed as the new clan leader took over. After a glorious burial ritual, life continued as normal right until the end of the century arrived. Hey, what do you think happened next little corpse? " Han Bei shrugged his shoulders again. " The new clan leader renewed the pact and threw them a big feast? "

The old monk had a strange gleam in his eyes. " Ha, as if. Once the time of the giant's blessing came close the clan didn't leave but set up an ambush instead. When the promised time came the new clan leader captured the pair of the huge lovers. The giants roared and called the clan leader a traitor and an honorless oathbreaker, but the clan leader knew better. He knew that mere beasts knew nothing of honor and loyalty, especially ones that sullied his home. So he had them killed, butchered like cattle. Still, he appreciated their help for so many years and allowed them to serve the clan for one last time. He cut up their bodies and sold everything down to the last drop of blood and strand of hair, and by the Heavens, it made them strong. The resources they bought allowed the clan to soar beyond what was previously believed possible. Centuries passed and the clan expanded from their ancestral home. They took over new more bountiful worlds while their old home was neglected and slowly wilted away. The power of the new clan leader was great even greater than that of the clan's founder, but so was his arrogance. Eventually, in his boundless arrogance, the clan leader earned the ire of an insurmountable enemy. All that he took and conquered was reduced to dust, and the clan was left with a single wilted world. With its foundation ruined the clan was incapable of rasing any more experts and so it slowly descended into ruin. The story goes that the clan leader died while he kowtowed to the grave of his father on that once beautiful mountain world that he turned into a lifeless rock as his clan finally died out. HeHe, that must be my favorite part. "

As the old monk finished his story Han Bei silently remembered another fool that didn't face the truth, a silly girl that cloaked herself in duty. " Foolishness, truth is our guide on the great path, and those that weer away from it are bound to fall. " The old monk nodded his head approvingly. " True, but it's one thing to chant the principle and another to actually follow it."

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Hego

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