Chapter 76 – Primordial Past (1)
First Published on Wattpad, Reposted on Ainushi
When Zhao went inside the holy tree, he took away more than just the Ink Brush of Virtue.
The holy tree has always been connected with Mount Kunlun, overseeing the five- thousand-year history of this universe. Zhao headed inwards to a brand new dimension. He tried to grab hold of something behind him, but the tree bark was nowhere to be found. As he moved forward, he could not make out anything in front.
Lightless were his surroundings, where the air ceased to flow, and all was dark.
He squinted his eyes, and tried to look into the distance. Finally, he found a feeble flicker in the darkness, much like that of a firefly. As he moved in closer, he could see that it was the Ink Brush of Virtue, having shrunken down to the size of a normal ink brush.
Zhao tried to take hold of it, and surprisingly, it did not take much effort at all. He raised his eyebrows, and found acquiring this treasure too easy to be true. Soon, the Ink Brush exerted an unknown force which pulled him forward.
Rationally, Zhao knew he should have taken the Ink Brush and headed back. Yet, he could not help but be enticed to keep walking forward.
As the Ink Brush settled down, it had already lured him in.
None of his lighting equipment was working, as he sat on the ground, helpless in the never-ending darkness.
He held his mind strong, and was not frightened by darkness or loneliness, so that place did not trouble him a great deal. Still, a boundless space of complete darkness can be rather depressing. The dark, however, was a very strange kind of dark: not only was he indifferent to the possibility of being trapped, he even started to believe that he was always supposed to fall into deep slumber there.
As he sat in the darkness, he yawned, and grew drowsier and drowsier.
At that moment, a crumbling roar bombarded his ears, as the dark space shattered, and a glaring light flashed in. Zhao jumped on his feet and backed up several feet. As he looked up, he squinted his eyes in the gleaming light; a gigantic axe had hacked the darkness apart, and a massive opening on the ground widened with a bellow, splitting the earth in two.
A colossal man towered amidst the chaos, wielding an axe. His head reached the sky, his feet on the earth, his lush beard and hair flowed in the wind as he furiously bawled, sending shock waves across the wild lands.
He who bested the sky and surpassed the earth; day by day, the sky soared, the earth thickened, and Pangu grew. It had been so for eighteen thousand years, till the sky soared to its zenith, the earth thickened to its extremity, and Pangu grew to his acme.
Thus the belief that the sky and earth sit apart ninety thousand miles, and the Three Sovereigns came thereafter.
Such was Pangu the creator.
Zhao opened his eyes to the vast sky and earth, and watched as Pangu collapsed, his humongous axe splitting into two: the handle became Mount Buzhou, and the head became Mount Kunlun. The giant fell as his limbs and head became numerous mountains and hills, towering into the skies.
Then rivers flowed, the sun and the moon shone, and valleys and caves were formed.
The stars above shone in mass like an ocean; an inexplicable touch of sorrow arose in Zhao’s heart. He inadvertently began moving forward to take a closer look at this giant man that made him, but he soon witnessed the giant dissipating.
Zhao turned around abruptly, and found himself in the vast wilderness, as several ten thousand years flashed forward. He heard the sublime resonance of the wind from Buzhou, and he heard the restless tempest from within the depths of the earth. Yet, time flew swiftly without leaving a trace.
From the depths of the earth: the truest, cruelest, crudest, savagest, fiercest… were all connected by blood with the true Kunlun. As they were born from chaos, the unknown connection was too.
Mount Kunlun was born with the sky and earth, and after one hundred million and three thousand years, the soul of the mountain had materialised, and thus Lord Kunlun was born.
At that time, the Three Sovereigns were young, and the Five Emperors had yet to be born. The world was only replete with raptors and beasts, and humans were nowhere to be found.
Zhao was soon bewildered: on one hand, he knew where he came from, and held the Ink Brush in a tight grasp; on the other hand, he thought he had turned into a mischievous, troublemaking youngster.
He peed on the almighty Fuxi’s tail, then he scared away the phoenix nesting in the holy tree, which made the bird frightful and from then on to exclusively nest in parasol trees. Finally, Nuwa found a kitten from somewhere and gave it to him, which got him the quiet down at last.
The kitten was very fragile, and the forever-snowbound Mount Kunlun was not of any help: it looked as though it was about to die.
Lord Kunlun had never seen anything quite as troublesome. He made a small bell out of golden sand, which stabilised one’s soul and enlightened one’s wisdom. He hung it around the cat’s neck, and after some hassle, he finally managed to keep it alive, and he no longer had anytime to give others trouble by then.
He only left the mountain when the kitten had grown up and began running around on its own, so he took it downhill, and there, he saw Nuwa making humans out of clay.
She made a rope out of vines and carelessly swirled it in the air, then numerous “people” that looked much like gods emerged from the earth. Lord Kunlun had never witnessed such fever, and was instantly mesmerised.
Nuwa turned around and smiled at him, “Kunlun, you’ve grown a lot.”
Lord Kunlun put down the cat in his arms, and carefully trod forward. He stared at a clay man intensely.
He saw the man quickly grow from juvenile to adolescent, and the adolescent kneeled and worshipped him with fear and reverence, then before he could stand up, he grew to adulthood, then his full head of hair started falling and turning white, and finally he laid motionless on the ground, and turned back into clay.
Lord Kunlun felt an inexplicable envy, though he could not tell why: perhaps time had been moving too slow for him, so he coveted a life that burnt bright and brief like a shooting star.
“How fun.” Lord Kunlun held the clay in his palm, “What is this called?”
Nuwa replied, “Humans.”
Lord Kunlun said without much thought, “Humans are great, so innocent, yet they carry with them the things I have heard from beneath the earth even before I was born.”
When Nuwa heard this, her expression changed to one of utmost terror and menace.
Lord Kunlun was still young, and knew only of fooling around with his cat under the holy tree. He did not understand from Nuwa’s eyes that in a split second, she had already foreseen the great calamity that was to come.
Humans were born from the earth, and ridden with the Three Corpses, along with the evil that came from within the depths of Hell. And yet they have already started living their happy lives like monkeys, and even started pairing in marriage, according to Nuwa’s rules, and started creating offsprings.
Why make men from the earth? The Heavens had granted Nuwa great virtue for creating humans. Suddenly, when she looked up to the chaotic stars, she felt something… something cold and ever-present, like an invisible hand that grappled her and pushed all men and gods forward, and none could resist.
Yet it was water under the bridge, unless she killed all the humans.
For forty nine days, Nuwa could not sleep. The clay men had already ran across mountains and traversed across rivers and seas. Countless days and months, soon several generations have passed. Nuwa turned around abruptly, and saw that humans had already started forming tribes. Men and women wore the skin of beasts, and children were playing in crowds: all of them looked identical to the gods.
She suddenly covered her face and wept… Kunlun and the cat stood beside helplessly, neither could understand her sorrow.
Looking back, it was probably natural for a mother to feel for her children.
Nuwa sought help from Fuxi, and borrowed three thousand stars from the galaxy. The two worked together for thirty three days, and made the Great Seal, which covered the earth like a giant net.
Lord Kunlun held his cat in his arms and sat beside; he never knew so much flame was hidden beneath the earth. It roared ferociously from beneath: yet nobody wrote of it, and nobody knew of it. All who witnessed it were ignorant, completely oblivious to the fact that a battle more intense than the battles of gods that were to come had just taken place.
Finally, Fuxi made the Eight Trigrams, and forced the Great Seal upon the depths of Hell.
Nuwa asked Lord Kunlun for a branch from the holy tree, which she planted at the entrance of the Great Seal, and named it “the Land of Great Blasphemy”. From then on, Lord Kunlun never saw Fuxi again.
When the Great Seal was made, Lord Kunlun felt empty inside. The evils from the depths of Hell burnt like wild fire, and could cause great disaster if not handled with care. Yet, it was free and passionate, and Kunlun suddenly felt nostalgic.
The young Kunlun could not put his feelings into words; a single droplet of tear fell from his eye, which became the Yangtze River.
Fuxi had disappeared, leaving Nuwa behind, wandering alone across the lands of the primordial times. She watched the sunrise and sunset, she watched humans endure the challenges of life, and she grew more and more anxious.
Then, Nuwa went into hiding, and Lord Kunlun returned to his mountain. For a hundred years, he passed by the Land of Great Blasphemy several times, and saw the withered branch from the holy tree. As time passed, he matured, and gradually, he began to understand what was locked away by the Great Seal, and he began to realise the reason behind. Though he was curious to take a look inside, he never did.
Kunlun could not forget what Fuxi sacrificed to make the Great Seal. He could not let all that effort go to waste.
Yet, the seeds of the Three Corpses were sown nonetheless. Men grew to become emperors and saints: Shennong’s downfall, followed by the rise of the Yellow Emperor and his battle with the God of War, Chiyou. All creatures of the universe were inevitably sucked into that vortex of calamity.
The Three Sovereigns disappeared, and the primordial lands never saw a day of tranquility again. Humans have lived devoutly and sturdily, with warmth and with joy, and still with the same inevitable need for bloodshed and warfare much like any other animal.
They were like gods, and they were like demons. They were ones with countless eccentric emotions: envy, aversion, obstinacy, repression… and incomparable love and hate.
Yet the ones from when they were first created were nowhere to be found.
Lord Kunlun finally understood why Nuwa was so afraid of her creation despite the great virtue the Heavens bestowed upon her.
When Pangu destroyed chaos, it had merely been dispersed into the universe. Chaos remains, as it waxes and wanes. Great virtue, great evil, great wisdom, great valour: all would come to this world with hubris, yet leave in vain and emptiness.
Smoke signals announced the outbreak of war, as the clouds gathered in the Nine Heavens; the Kun Peng ascended to the West, never to return. Kunlun turned a blind eye to the first great war of gods and demons, which coincidentally revealed his own destiny. Within his heart of solitude and purity which had been hidden from the world for millions of years, there suddenly emerged an uncontrollable surge of grief and unbearable loneliness.
Chiyou seemed to have foreseen his failure, and came to Mount Kunlun. Lord Kunlun refused to see him, so the three-headed, six-armed God of War made his way up the snowy mountain, one step one kowtow. Blood flowed along his way, as the figure in ragged clothing eventually transformed into a galsang flower struggling to survive in the deep snow. Chiyou had hoped that Lord Kunlun would remember that witches and fairies were born from his mountain, and would protect them.
Chiyou kowtowed repeatedly on Mount Kunlun, yet the Primordial Mountain God was not moved.
Kunlun was born atop that freezing mountain, and his heart grew to be as cold and hard as the peak. Yet, the black cat was born of the fairies, and was inadvertently attracted by their ancestor. The cat sneaked out, and licked Chiyou on his bloodied forehead.
By the time Lord Kunlun found out, what was done had been done. The God of Mountain, much like Nuwa, was pushed towards a future that he wished to avoid, and he, too, could not escape this invisible force.