The Dao Asking Cliff was an extensively enormous peak which was approximately seven million zhang* tall.
When Meng Xuanzi flicked his sleeve, heaven and earth trembled and the air around them rippled. In a flash, they had already traversed countless distance, appearing at the summit of the Dao Asking Cliff.
It really was Ning Fan’s first time witnessing such incredible speed.
He’s way too much faster than the Old Devil…
Ning Fan could imagine that the Old Devil who was behaving in an arrogant and domineering manner in the mortal world might not necessarily have a high post in the immortal world… At least, compared to an Immortal Emperor, he was pretty much insignificant.
At the peak of the seven million zhang* tall mountain, the strength of the wind alone was enough to blow any cultivators below the Divine Transformation Realm off from the mountain.
However, Ning Fan’s steps were firm and steady despite the wind pounding harshly on him. Well, he did not attain the Second Level of the Jade Life Body Refining Realm for nothing. With the toughness of his physical body, how could it be possible for him to be unable to withstand the blowing wind?
The summit of the mountain was nearly ten thousand zhang* broad. Aside from that, the surrounding area was wreathed in clouds of purple mist.
Outside the vicinity of ten thousand zhang* which was shrouded with purple mist, Meng Xuanzi stopped at the edge of a cliff and impatiently said, “This is the Dao Asking Cliff. It was constructed by the Immortal Sovereign. This place is where you will go through the Third Step of Mortal Severance. Alright. Little brat, jump down from here and kill yourself. Then, you will complete your Divine Transformation!”
Ning Fan gently clenched his fists, walked closer to the edge and looked down from it.
From the height of seven million zhang*, nothing could be seen clearly below. However, he could vaguely see multitudes of corpses and skeletons lying all over the ground like a field of flax, except they were all in blood-red color. Apparently, they were the cultivators who made a leap from this cliff in the past and left their mortal selves below in order to complete the Divine Transformation.
Jump from the cliff and leave one’s mortal self. If it was in the past, Ning Fan might agree with this kind of practice. But after crossing the Ten Steps Bridge and sounding the Bell of Samsara, Ning Fan had a feeling that the third step would not be as simple as just jumping down from the cliff.
Since it’s called the Dao Asking Cliff, it shouldn’t be as easy as just making a jump from here. Otherwise, why isn’t it called “Mortal Severance Cliff” or just simply “Falling Bone Cliff”?
The reason why the Immortal Sovereign established the Three Steps of Mortal Severance might seem to allow the cultivators to sever their mortal coil. But from another perspective, he seemed to have left a strand of opportunity within the stages of mortal severance. In actuality, it seemed like only those who chose not to go through the mortal severance would be able to grasp that opportunity.
Ten steps and an illusion. Mister must never look back… But Ning Fan had actually done the opposite which in turn brought a huge improvement to his state of mind.
As soon as the Bell of Samsara rang, mister’s Dao became empty… But Ning Fan’s Dao did not disappear under the sound of the bell. In stark contrast, he saw samsara and got a better understanding of worldly affairs and existence, strengthening his Dao Heart. Moreover, his luck as well as his aura force improved too.
An opportunity lied within each of the steps of the Mortal Severance. Those opportunities seemed to be a kind of reward from the Immortal Sovereign to cultivators who dared to remain true to their worldly hearts.
The Immortal Sovereign should also be concerned with worldly affairs… It’s because of those affairs that one would have struggles within their hearts. It’s because of those things that he would become so powerful and strong.
At the end of the day, in the path of cultivation, what the cultivators were truly after was a strong heart. It was the insight that Ning Fan gained from the Ten Steps Bridge.
Jumping down from the cliff and commit suicide surely needed absolute courage. Anyone who was cowardly and timid would never be daring enough to make the leap from the cliff after seeing such a terrifying height.
But whatever the reason might be, committing suicide was equivalent to an act of avoidance. Cultivators who chose to kill themselves were actually trying to avoid from their feeble and inferior mortal selves…
Being weak was not shameful, being lowly was not a disgrace, being fragile was not an embarrassment… Those elements were the basic traits of a mortal! Those elements were what mortals were born with!
Even if one had become an immortal, the word “mortal” composed most of the word “immortal”!
In the past when Ning Fan was at the Sinister Sparrow Sect, the ugly man, Yun Lie had asked Ning Fan a question: What is an immortal?
At that time, Ning Fan answered him relying on the comprehension of the Dao from the Ancient Chaos’ memories.
He said, “An immortal is a person who stands on top of the mountain!”
As for now, Ning Fan was standing on a mountain, right on the summit of the Dao Asking Cliff. Within his heart, he suddenly had an unprecedented insight towards that particular sentence.
One who stands above the mountain is an immortal.
After descending from the mountain, he or she is just a mortal.
This is the cultivation path that was recognized by the Immortal Sovereign.
He heaved a deep breath but he did not show signs of leaping down from the cliff. The impatient look on Meng Xuanzi’s face had turned into a trace of praise.
Actually, his impatience was just a façade. He was just trying to test Ning Fan to see whether he was able to see through the true meaning behind the Dao Asking Cliff…
“Why haven’t you jumped yet?! Why don’t you go and kill your mortal self?!” Meng Xuanzi deliberately asked in a loud tone.
“Why should I jump?!” Ning Fan lifted his head and gazed into the sky with his sparkling eyes.
“Since I am standing on the mountaintop, I am an immortal! Since I am already an immortal, how does it make sense for me to kill my mortal self?! This mountain is just an analogy. As long as a mortal being places his heart on the mountain which is much higher than an immortal, he would then be considered an immortal!”
How did a butterfly fly to the Heavenly Court with its mortal body?
It was because this butterfly had not thought about the difference between an immortal and a mortal. In its eyes, it already considered itself higher than any immortals above the Heavens!
Perhaps it did not have any magic power but its state of mind was on a completely different level as compared to any True Immortals!
“I was that butterfly! And right here, right now, I will not jump off the cliff and kill myself… I will stay here and question the Dao!”
At the moment his voice echoed in the air, Meng Xuanzi burst into hearty laughter.
“You sure are a monstrous talent! In the past, this old man has hesitated for forty-nine days at this cliff before seeing through the true meaning behind it and eventually chose not to jump off the cliff. You, however, were able to see through it within just a few breaths… You are definitely qualified enough to ask the Dao here!”
Just as Meng Xuanzi finished speaking, the purple mist surrounding that area suddenly concentrated towards Ning Fan, producing multiples illusions.
At this moment, Meng Xuanzi’s eyes flashed with absolute seriousness.
“The illusion of Dao Asking. This is the Third Step of Mortal Severance. The only step where one would be able to increase their cultivation level! What cultivators are truly cultivating in the path of cultivation is their heart! If one has a strong and determined heart, their magic power will surge itself! Therefore, when cultivators have completed the seven cultivation realms and wish to become immortals in one go, they would rarely consume any pills or Dao Fruits if they intend to stand at the pinnacle. Those items are just external aid… In order to attain the culmination of cultivation, one must have the Dao Heart which is as strong and firm like this seven million zhang* tall mountain!”
“Although you are just attaining the Divine Transformation Realm for your demon power, your magic power is still your foundation because you are still a human after all. Within the illusory realm, each day that passes will be equivalent to ten units of magic power. Six hundred years… There will be a whole samsara in six hundred years and there will be a scene of samsara each day… Ordinary cultivators could only withstand six days within the illusory realm. It’s rare to find anyone who could stay within for more than seven days… In the past, this old man only managed to hold on for 97 days. How long can you stay within?!”
Within the purple mist, Ning Fan’s eyes were vacant and lost. He appeared in an area surrounded by a bamboo fence.
He was holding a porcelain bowl in his hands which was filled with chicken feed. Looking at himself, he was just a child of seven or eight years old.
He stared blankly at the chicken feed, feeling that he had forgotten something important.
“I remember that I should be at the Dao Asking Cliff to ask the Dao…Huh? What is a Dao Asking Cliff? What is asking the Dao…”
Forgotten. He had forgotten everything. In this illusory realm, all his past seemed like a fantasy. Its realness and fakeness was undiscernible.
“Fan Er, hurry up and feed the chickens. Then bring this basket of eggs to the teacher of the school to take him as your teacher so that you can start learning calligraphy. It’s for the best since you have nothing to do every single day…”
A woman wearing ragged clothes made of hemp carried a basket of eggs and passed it to Ning Fan’s hands in a petulant manner. After that, she lovingly stroked Ning Fan’s head.
“Silly boy, are you daydreaming again?”
This woman was the boy’s mother. She was the only person who lived with the boy.
Her clothes might be old and torn, but her appearance was like a dusty gem. She was in fact the most famous beauty of the village.
Her name was Ning Qian…
Ning Qian was feeling angry and funny. Her kid loved to daydream. Every time he did that, he would still claim that he dreamt of becoming an immortal himself.
To Ning Qian, there wasn’t any celestial beings in this world…
“Stop daydreaming, okay? Come on, little dear. Go and acknowledge the teacher as your master and obediently learn how to read and write from him…”
“But I really dreamt that I’ve become an immortal… I’ve also dreamt that Zhihe has become the daughter of the Celestial Emperor.”
“Silly boy. Those are just dreams… Zhihe is the daughter of Carpenter Wang. How could she be the daughter of the Celestial Emperor… Let’s go. Study hard and when you are capable enough in the future, I will help you to bring up a proposal of marriage between you and Zhihe to Carpenter Wang…”
The little boy took over the basket of eggs with a slightly disappointed look.
He stared at the ethereal purple clouds floating above the sky, feeling unconvinced.
“Those slaughters were just dreams?”
“In here, I have mum and Zhihe. It should be a blissful life. But I still have a feeling that I’ve forgotten something very important…”
Translated by Tommy, edited by Roel
a. li (里) = 500 m
b. zhang(丈) = 3.13 m
c. chi(尺) = 30.7 cm
d. cun(寸) = 3.33cm
“Grasping Evil” is being translated on Veratales (Click here) but Liberspark (Click here) is hosting the chapters as well. You are encouraged to read on veratales.com for project updates. :)
Some phrases or expressions of the original are changed for ease of reading.
If a mistake or mistakes were found in this chapter, feel free to comment below.
Some terms are subject to change when better suggestions are selected.
All the internal monologues will be in italic form.