Kunlun Lord asked, “Little Ghost King, why aren’t you with your ghost tribe?”

The youth lowered his head, remained silent for a while, and softly said, “Too filthy.”

Kunlun Lord was momentarily stunned and curiously asked, “How filthy?”

The youth dared not look at him but stared at Kunlun Lord’s reflection on the water’s surface. He earnestly replied, “Apart from knowing how to kill and eat, what else do they understand? I don’t want to be with them.”

Kunlun Lord solemnly pointed out, “That’s how the ghost tribe is.”

The gaze of the young ghost king turned gloomy for a moment. However, when he raised his head to face Kunlun Lord, he successfully restrained his ferocity. It seemed he had become accustomed to doing so. Pausing for a moment, he lowered his voice and asked gently, “Just because I was born as a member of the ghost tribe, must I be the same as them?”

Kunlun Lord did not answer. The young man stood up from the water pond on his own. Perhaps losing his appetite, he dragged the corpse of the ghost animal to the side. Then he washed his face with the now clean water, bent down silently, wrung out the water from his coarse cloth clothes, rolled up his pant legs, and climbed out of the water. He glanced at Kunlun Lord, his eyes like crow feathers on pure white snow. Then, in an indifferent tone, he said, “I don’t like it. It’s better not to be born.”

After speaking, he didn’t go near the large rock that Kunlun Lord had occupied earlier. Instead, he casually sat by the water’s edge, his feet wet on the ground. He looked into the distance, towards Denglin, the mountains behind Denglin, the mist and snow atop the mountains, and the pouring rain accompanied by rolling thunder in the sky.

Kunlun Lord couldn’t help but ask, “What are you looking at?”

The young man pointed with his hand along his line of sight and said, “Beautiful.”

“What’s beautiful about a rainy day?” Kunlun Lord said, leaning against the huge rock next to the youth. “On a sunny day, the peak of Kunlun Mountain is beautiful. The golden sunlight falls on the snow, like flowers blooming on the white snow. Beneath the ice lies a rugged terrain. In summer, a thin layer of grass grows, green and filled with various unknown flowers. All those little flowers are called Gesang flowers.”

The young man listened in a daze, staring at Kunlun Lord blankly.

Kunlun Lord suddenly paused his words and said, “Hmm, you can’t see it now.”

“Why?”

“To release all of you, I poked a hole in the sky,” Kunlun Lord couldn’t resist reaching out to touch his head. The young ghost king’s hair felt as soft as it appeared. With his neck stiff, he remained motionless, obediently allowing the touch. It was hard to imagine that he had just bitten into the neck of a ghost animal, and if one looked closely, his mouth probably hadn’t been wiped clean.

This reminded Kunlun Lord of the little cat he used to keep.

“Why did you poke a hole in the sky?” the young ghost king asked again.

“I made a promise,” Kunlun Lord replied, pressing his hand on the young king’s head. “You wouldn’t understand, child.”

The young man, however, raised his head exceptionally earnestly. “I understand. I didn’t know what was outside. If I knew it was so beautiful beyond the great seal, I would have poked a hole in the seal back then.”

Kunlun Lord shook his head, chuckled softly, and the young man continued to stare at him without diverting his gaze. After a while, Kunlun Lord spoke softly, “Unable to control one’s destiny, it’s better not to be born. You, on the other hand, are a kindred spirit.”

After he finished speaking, he stood up, turned around, and began to walk away. Nüwa’s figure appeared faintly in the sky, busy and restless, seemingly still futilely searching for the colorful stones to mend the heavens. Kunlun Lord chuckled briefly, as mountains, rivers, and living creatures suffered in calamity, he felt a peculiar sense of pleasure.

The young ghost king hesitated for a moment and then stood up, following him obediently.

Kunlun Lord didn’t pay him any attention, allowing him to follow. Suddenly, he raised his hand, and a rumbling mountain rose from the flat ground, standing in the southeast Penglai. The witch and monster races sought refuge in Penglai, and the incessant downpour finally turned into a torrential flood. It surged from the highlands in the northwest, advancing relentlessly, devastating everything in its path.

Over thousands of miles of barren land, people wailed, and Zhuan Xu knelt and kowtowed, praying to the heavens.

But the heavenly Dao was merciless.

The young ghost king followed Kunlun Lord to the peak of Penglai Mountain. The hundred thousand mountains finally began to stir. The news spread to Penglai, causing panic among the myriad of monsters. The Wu tribe brought their former Chiyou tribe, and Houyi, like his ancestors, led his tribe to the top of Penglai, with some young children ignorant of the situation, crying and fussing among the crowd. Anxious adults, fearing they would disturb the gods and bring calamity to their tribes, covered the mouths of the children and accidentally suffocated them midway.

As they continued their journey, the floodwater reached halfway up the mountainside, sweeping away half of the people in the east. High above the Nine Heavens, the silent gods closed their eyes, like Nüwa, becoming immobile statues.

Then, another group of ragged and burdened individuals arrived from the west, led by an old man carrying a medicine basket. They headed towards Penglai, and the Northern Emperor, Zhuanxu, followed the old man closely with a respectful expression. Kunlun Lord finally opened his eyes and murmured, “Shennong.”

Shennong seemed to sense something and suddenly raised his head among the crowd, his cloudy eyes flashing with heavenly lightning.

While repeatedly proclaiming the annihilation of Zhuanxu’s people and the slaughter of the human race, Kunlun, who had the power to do so, never intervened. He had always been unwilling to defy the heavens and unwilling to dirty his own hands with killing these creatures. He watched as Shennong led the Central Plains humans to climb Penglai with great difficulty, while Zhuanxu and his people performed the kowtow ceremony to Kunlun Lord, expressing their gratitude for the sanctuary of the divine mountain. Shennong remained silent.

Only after the human tribe had retreated did Kunlun finally stand up. Shennong was about to speak but received a resounding slap from the white-haired, trembling old man.

The young ghost king suddenly revealed his ferocious claws and roared, ready to pounce on Shennong, but Kunlun Lord extended his hand to stop him.

Kunlun Lord looked at the old and ugly ancient gods, and said softly, “You are no longer a god, and you are close to death.”

Shennong looked at him with dim eyes and said, “I die as I should, seeking benevolence and finding it. You were born from the vast mountains and the earth, inherently connected to the savage ferocity of chaos. You have also integrated the three souls of the sky-opening axe. I have long said that you were born with the potential for great disaster, causing snow to fall on the peak of Kunlun throughout the year. Yet, you have still reached this point.”

Kunlun remained silent.

“You are incapable of lasting, unable to comprehend right from wrong, unable to distinguish good from evil, and unable to discern life from death. How dare you defy the will of the heavens?” Shennong spoke slowly, each word emphasized. “With audacity beyond measure, you are doomed to eternal damnation. You… sigh!”

Shennong’s words turned into verses.

On the third day, the stars fell into chaos, and ghosts roamed the land.

On the fourth day, the floodwaters rose, and various tribes continued to migrate to the mountaintop. The long-standing conflicts between the witch and monster races finally erupted.

On the seventh day, the witch and monster races continued to fight, resulting in half of their numbers dead or injured. Descendants of Yan and Huang allied once again with the descendants of Chiyou, struggling to survive.

On the tenth day, Shennong began to spread enlightenment amidst the disaster and funeral dirges, starting from the Yellow Emperor and the primeval chaos of the universe.

On the twelfth day, Nüwa finally mended the leaking sky, using the four-legged turtle to form a new celestial pillar. She was almost exhausted.

On the thirteenth day, the heavens collapsed, and the ghost race swept across the continent. The four pillars shook, the northwest sky tilted, mountains crumbled, and the celestial dome trembled, on the verge of collapse.

The arrogant gods, oblivious to the heavens and the earth, finally suffered the backlash of the celestial Dao after repeatedly defying it.

As the heavens and earth were about to merge and devour everything through the mouth of the ghost race, returning to chaos, Kunlun Lord remained motionless, like a statue atop Penglai Mountain, silent and still.

“Nüwa sent word that she has sealed the four pillars and intends to transform into the earth, blocking the gap left by Fuxi’s seal,” Shennong said. “You are right, Kunlun. Pangu is not wrong, and neither are we. However, countless calamities and hardships in the world, the strife and disasters among living beings, are all predetermined. To remain silent, like Fuxi, is to die in silence. To resist, like you, is to resist unto death. I will die like an ordinary person, withering away naturally. It is all predetermined. If anyone is to blame, blame yourself for knowing too much.”

Kunlun calmly opened his eyes and asked, seemingly out of context, “At that time, Chiyou entrusted the witch and monster races to me. Now, the celestial Dao allows me to choose between leaving one or both races, or both races and the jade and stone, right?”

Shennong silently looked at him.

“Leave the monster race behind,” Kunlun finally said in a low voice.

Shennong let out a long sigh, knowing that he had compromised.

The great flood finally subsided. Nüwa, imitating the ghost king who wielded a giant axe, suffered severe injuries as she transformed into the earth, blocking the breach of the Great Seal. The chaotic ghost race was once again suppressed beneath the four pillars. However, the effort to mend the heavens had consumed too much of Nüwa’s essence, and she was also heavily wounded by the ghost axe. Fuxi’s seal had been barely mended and was still restless.

Shennong sat in the Kunlun Temple, silent.

“I thought I would die under the wrath of the Five Thunders,” Kunlun Lord suddenly spoke, “but I didn’t expect that when I blinded the eyes of the divine dragon and toppled Mount Buzhou, my grave was already prepared.”

Shennong raised his old eyes and looked at the last remaining of the Four Saints of the Primordial Era, unable to say a word. Perhaps Kunlun Lord could leave, using his mighty and rebellious divine power to forcefully close the gates of Kunlun Mountain. Even if the heavens and earth returned to chaos, no one could harm him.

However, Kunlun, born from the sky-opening axe, was the only one who would never go against the will of Pangu.

Kunlun Lord, the embodiment of Pangu’s will.

“I want… to take another look at my cat,” Kunlun Lord said suddenly.

Shennong, carrying the basket of herbs, slowly walked into the deep mountains, while Nüwa’s figure was almost invisible.

Everything seemed to have reached a deadlock, and Kunlun Lord, back in his desolate and empty divine temple, suddenly turned his head and found that there was still only one young man with black hair and black eyes beside him.

The young ghost king asked softly, “Are you going to seal me back in the Great Seal?”

“No, I am powerless over everything. At least… at least I can protect you,” Kunlun Lord chuckled softly. His body jerked violently, and his voice trembled imperceptibly, “If you don’t want to be part of the ghost race, I will fulfill your wish.”

The young ghost king was shocked and reached out to grab his shoulder, turning Kunlun Lord around. He saw that his body had become almost transparent, his face pale as snow. Kunlun Lord suddenly raised his hand, and a brilliant fireball, like a star, was enveloped within his palm. “Take this.”

The young man held it with both hands.

“This is my left shoulder soul fire,” Kunlun Lord, his forehead covered in cold sweat, still wore a smile. “I… I will give you one more thing.”

His body trembled violently, and he pulled out a silver tendon from his own body. It was excruciating to endure skinning and tearing tendons. Tears welled up in the eyes of the young ghost king, but Kunlun Lord seemed oblivious. “Take the Kunlun divine tendon. With this, you can be reborn from the… the irreverent place and be included in the divine registry.”

“You… you will take care of the four pillars for me,” Kunlun whispered with a smile. “There is Nüwa’s cycle calendar, Fuxi’s mountain and river measuring cone, and… the merit brush of the ancient merit tree. I will give you one more thing…”

“Kunlun!”

Kunlun Lord raised his thumb and lifted the young man’s face gently. He softly said, “The stone of premature aging, the water of premature coldness, the body of premature death… Since Shennong willingly became an ordinary person, abandoning the divine registry, I will add one more thing to him, to make him truly sorrowful and compassionate towards humanity…”

After saying that, he vomited a mouthful of blood, which fell into his hand and transformed into a crimson wick. The great wilderness holy figure in front of the young ghost king became increasingly transparent and weak, until it disappeared completely, leaving behind a pure white oil lamp with two words engraved on its corner—Zhen Hun (Soul-Imprisoning).

The soul that was not yet incinerated, the Soul-Imprisoning Lamp.

At this point, the celestial pillar was restored, the Four Saints were gathered, the mountain deity dissipated, and the Three Emperors vanished. The four great celestial pillars, which held up heaven and earth, coincidentally fell upon the young ghost king, who had been forcefully bestowed with divine essence, and he carried them on his shoulders—an ultimate mockery by Kunlun Lord towards the celestial Dao.

This burden lasted an endless five thousand years.

Zhao Yunlan felt as if something in his mind had suddenly exploded. It was as if he had once again experienced the pain of being skinned and having tendons ripped, the pain of bearing the weight of a hundred thousand mountains, and the agony of being pushed to the limit by the celestial Dao and restrained from head to toe.

The world before his eyes changed drastically, and the Great Divine Tree emitted a sigh that seemed to come from an unknown time and month. A person softly said, “Why do you have to do this…”

“Pangu…”

Zhao Yunlan was surrounded by a bright light. Suddenly, he felt dizzy, and when he opened his eyes again, he was back in Dragon City, filled with the festive atmosphere of the Lunar New Year. The lights were off at No. 4 Guangming Road, and the evergreen pines in the courtyard remained unchanged.

The man felt a cool sensation on his face, and when he reached out to touch it, he realized that tears were streaming down his face.