Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 64


64 Whisper On The Wind
In an old world as the pillars shatter, an immortal sagged against the air, hands bereft of any crutch or shoulder.

He stood there unmoving and mute as if he had turned to stone. However, his mind was anything but firm, inside turbulent oceans raged and molten tides of fury and disbelief overturned his most trusted beliefs. He felt his faith shatter that day. Nine brothers and sisters had once walked together moving oceans and adventuring under the heavens with abandon. However, today, eight brothers and sisters continued to walk together in the light and one brother was left by the wayside. As he stared at the backs of those he once called friends he came to realize that he couldn't call them friends now. With his mind filled with silent alternating screams of rage and despair he turned and walked a darker path.

His steps were slow and filled with a sense of ponderousness. Each breath felt as if he was pushing against the world itself and it was as heavy as a mountain on his chest.

"Where do I go now? I have nothing left." He wanted to break down and cry, but he knew it would do no good. As lightning began to crackle and rain came, tears stealthily mixed in amongst them, unseen and unheard. Heaven's wrath poured from the skies as if trying to wipe out his miserable existence from the earth. He chuckled instead of sobbing and forced a slight but terrible grin to his face. This was his path and he could do nothing but walk, such was destiny. Terrible thoughts came to mind.

"What if I did this differently...what if I had just... what if I was not who I am..." Such doubts, such regrets, and endlessly tears tasting of terror slipped out unwanted like their creator. For an indeterminate amount of time he wandered in the dark and cold and wet and sometimes he even became lost in time. He'd dwell in his darkest thoughts and suddenly he'd be in the light again, traveling the world and slaying all demons outside and within with those he could call friends without a doubt. Then he'd scream inside as he knew he was lying to himself and he just wanted to yell,

"HELP ME!!" but the only one who'd listen had long since walked away, together...WITHOUT HIM! His steps faltered at times, breaking down as he contemplated just lying down and giving up, but he kept walking just for something to do. If he stopped...his thoughts overran his being and he became no one. Just leftovers and he dwelt on how he had stopped in time as others moved on. No, it was better to walk, it gave him the illusion that he was moving in time again. Plod, plod, plod. When the dirt compressed beneath, his feet sank in deep, the rain had long since loosened up the soil and he found that it was no longer a trick of his mind, each step WAS harder! But he kept walking. Who knows how many days and nights he walked, it all felt the same beneath the endless rain, and he had long since surpassed the point where he needed to eat and drink as mortals to survive.


There was no indication how long he had gone, and suddenly, as his thoughts endlessly circled and accumulated into a massive dark cloud inside, a bolt of lightning lit the world around him in endless fire and the crackling heat seared through him as the ground below gave way.

BOOOOOOOOM!!!

Down, down, down he finally fell and walked no more. In despair, he felt a horrifying feeling as he realized he didn't know where he was. Falling forever, the light of the lightning passed and he saw that he had wandered to the edge of a towering cliff and the edge had been rent by the blast, and he along with it, tumbled away into the vast deep ocean below.

Plop!

The water crashed into him, and sucked him in without a trace, the dark sea holding him close and tight like the friends he thought he used to have. As he sank, he mused for the hundredth time,

"Did I really have these friends? Were they real or did I dream them? Perhaps I just made them up and I've been walking alone this whole time. After all, if they were really friends would they have left me? How long has it been?"

Down. Down.. Down... Down...

Into the black depths he went, deeper and deeper until the darkness, even worse than the lightless existence above, was all he saw. He raged hopelessly as his breath slowly dragged out, his body, weakened from hopelessly wandering finally began to give. The pressure surrounded him and he felt his heartbeat slam against his temples. With every pulsing beat, he felt a frantic desire to live but it was beaten down in despair as he remembered that there was no one above who would miss him when he was gone. He kept sinking and the pressure increased, millions of tons of water crushing his body and mind. As he was almost gone, he let out that terrible grin one last time and chuckled a few pathetic last bubbles out.

Glub Glub Glub

A flash of overpowering hatred overtook him. Forged of regret, despair, and hopelessness, but not any of these things, this was hatred. Sheer venom and terrible desire.

"If only..." Then a flash of brilliant red came across the backs of his closed eyes and they snapped open to catch a glimpse of something...else. The bright underworld of the deep was lit for the first time in who knows how long. A bloody black and red lightning bolt from the world above surged through the water illuminating an underwater city abandoned since ancient times, lost beneath the waves. Below him, a crimson sword engraved with dragons gleamed as the strange colored lightning raced down from the Heavens into this lost world. He sank down above the sword and the red lightning smashed through him into the sword flooding the world with red. His will was overpowering as he was erased from the world,

"If only I could try again!"

Lineir had been wandering the lands for a long time. From desolate desserts to verdant forests, he continued evermore towards home. Using rough approximations and the stars, his cultivator's memory turned the knowledge he gained from his time in Lightholme to a direction. A direction which meandered towards Brackenrock city. As he went, his cultivation base stabilized as he fought for his life against the various beasts of the land. Most were unable to really challenge him, but they gave him a chance to hone his skills and get used to his new strength. He took care to avoid most of the larger beasts which might pose a threat. While he could probably handle the majority of them, dragons and fish swim in the same waters and Lineir was well aware that one unfortunate encounter with such a being could very well end his life.

Lineir was most terrified actually of dragons. While some specific land behemoths or water serpents might pose a threat to him in a head on fight, he could take to the air for a short while to evade them with his fire Qi wings. These phoenix wings gave him an extreme edge which he normally would not possess at his stage of cultivation. He was simply much faster than most cultivator with their flying swords and could fly much higher. That combined with Mei's footwork techniques gave him the confidence to roam the wild mostly without fear. After not feeling any apprehension for a month or two, Lineir suddenly felt a tremor shake his soul.

rrrruuuumble...

It was as if his whole being was rattling, no resonating with something ahead of him. Whatever it was, it was far, but this incredibly deep tremor could reach him still. It did not take Lineir long to realize that it was in fact his undead heart which was resonating with this tremor. As he was about to ask what was going on,

"Deathblade!" Mei's voice rang in Lineir's ears with the force of all her soul. Lineir almost staggered at the force.

"Sorry, it's been a long time since I've felt the touch of a Deathblade. To encounter something that powerful in a mortal realm like this is suspicious. Very suspicious. No mortal realm should have a Deathblade." Mei sighed longingly. She recalled the feeling of a blade in hand, an untouchable expert traversing the Heavens, and nostalgia welled up in her heart.

"I would know this feeling anywhere, somewhere on this plane, a Deathblade has appeared...the question is... who owns it and why would they come here?" Mei was curious but extremely cautious.

"Disciple, a Deathblade's energy vastly surpasses anything on this plane. I leave the choice up to you. While I doubt anyone on this entire continent could sense a Deathblade's coming except for me, unless the owner wishes to become a hidden expert, the appearance of a Deathblade will no doubt bring surging waves across this shallow land. At your level, a Deathblade is a terrifying existence which you cannot hope to fathom. At the same time, the upheaval such a Deathblade brings will send countless opportunities to those who are lucky enough to catch them. It's your choice whether or not to continue forward."

Lineir did not think for long,

"This Deathblade is ahead of us correct?" He asked and Mei replied,

"Yes."

"Then we go. I am heading to Brackenrock city, Deathblade or not. If we are fated to meet, then we are fated to meet, if not, then I can only continue on my path." His resolve was unshakeable, and Lineir boldly continued on his way though the tremors in his heart only grew stronger as he continued. However, while his undead heart might shake, his Third Heart, his path to survival and his way of perceiving the Dao felt nothing. Live or die Lineir was willing to walk his path. While he feared the end, it would be pointless to stop walking from fear alone. Such a fate, to walk without purpose was the same as dying anyway.

"A whisper on the wind..." A faint murmur slipped into Lineir's ears from afar. He instantly paused on the path, cocking his ears and swiveling his head like an owl. Mei seemed confused,

"Kiddo, why did you stop? You can't possibly be tired already, you're a cultivator!"

It came again, the voice streaming across his ears like a freezing line of ice cold water,

"I can mend..." And Lineir felt shock as he realized Mei could not hear this voice. This was truly strange, as a general rule, Mei had far sharper senses than Lineir as she had access to not only his senses, but had an immense ability to sense Qi based on her previous cultivation.

"What's wrong kiddo, there's nothing there?" The next words were louder, and far more terrifying, Lineir could only imagine that the speaker was in unimaginable pain as the voice was clearly tainted by insanity.

"It burns... he-he-hahahaha!"

Lineir's gaze snapped towards the distance and he shuddered. Despite the fact that he had been tempered by many experiences in his travels he could tell that the owner of this voice was unfathomably more experienced than he was, and possessed a massive killing intent. Not just killing intent though, this man, surely a cultivator of some sort, walked a path shod with blood. He realized as he stared at the empty air, that the voice was coming directly from where Mei had said the Deathblade had appeared, and when he told Mei, she became silent for a long while. The two, master and disciple, sword and man, continued on their way in silence, with every step, Lineir felt a foreboding feeling grow in his mind and body. A faint pressure tickled his heart and he had the feeling that this time, he would not leave the battles ahead unscathed.
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