Chapter 2 - Blue Phoenix

Chapter 1: Rebirth

Hui Yue had been floating in a sea of blue flames for what seemed like an eternity. At first, he was panic-stricken, but the endless sea of blue flames swayed his mind quickly washing away the depressing thoughts that still lingered within Hui Yue.

Currently, Hui Yue found himself engulfed in a comfortable way he had never been before. His body was light, and it floated around in the sea. He was completely without worries as he casually moved around observing the flickering blue embers which the sea was made of.

He was well aware that he had died. Though the blue sea was doing everything it could to wash away his sorrows, there was still a feeling of loss which could not be filled. Whenever Hui Yue thought about this, he remembered the face of Li Fen. He remembered their childhood together, and the first time he realized he loved her. He then remembered the smiles she would give him and the happiness they brought him.

Although Hui Yue kept thinking about his life with Li Fen, he also knew that there was no way he could ever return to his previous life. Death, however, did not seem as terrible as he expected. There was no darkness. No monsters nor a long path of light leading towards stairs. There was nothing apart from this endless warm blue sea.

These blue flames were so calming that he soon stopped thinking about his memories of leaving behind Li Fen and his parents. His worries subsided into an unexplainable feeling that everything would be okay.

Suddenly, Hui Yue was startled as he heard a faint mumbling. A mumble that came from far away. His soul became alert, and he strained his ears trying to pick up what was being said. Unfortunately, everything he heard was muffled, and no matter how hard he tried, he was still unable to understand what the voice was saying.

For a long time, Hui Yue was as tense as a bowstring; fear and panic threatened to overtake him; however, even if he wished to move away, it was currently impossible. His consciousness was completely trapped within the blue sea of flames.

Hui Yue focused his attention towards the sounds, but it took some time before he noticed how the previously still blue flames started to flare up towards the blue sky. The change in the sea caused the already alert Hui Yue to finally force himself to calm down and observe everything happening around him.

While the flames grew larger, the sea grew smaller, and a suction force started pulling Hui Yue towards a dark blue abyss. As this suction force appeared, Hui Yue noticed that the murmur he had heard previously originated within this abyss, and he was heading straight for it.

Hui Yue felt his consciousness flicker slightly. His consciousness rushed down a dark blue tunnel falling towards an unknown location. His initial fear had long since passed because these events felt as if they took years to complete. Every stage, every meter traveled was clearly visible to the alert Hui Yue.

When Hui Yue noticed that he was rushing through a dark tunnel, falling towards an unknown location, his speed suddenly picked up. It changed from a few meters each year, to a few meters each day, and eventually, he could feel himself falling at a high speed near the end.

A hint of fear snuck back into his heart as he was unaware of what his future would bring. He had no idea how this blue sea and the black tunnel were capable of controlling time or at least his sense of time. However, he forcefully calmed himself down with the thought that he had already died and with no body, he should no longer be able to feel pain.

Hui Yue focused on suppressing his fears so that it would not cloud his mind. He attentively observed everything which was happening around him. Soon he had stopped moving, but it was not an abrupt stop rather his speed slowed down before it almost unknowingly disappeared.

Hui Yue noticed subtle changes in his surroundings, but currently, he was still unable to understand what was going on. His senses were alert, just as before, however, nothing seemed to be happening.

A moment of complete silence followed Hui Yue’s arrival, at wherever he was. Nevertheless, after that moment, he heard the previous voices which were mumbling. The voices now were no longer low mumbles, but hurried voices seemingly yelling right next to him.

The darkness changed from a black tunnel into a lighter shade, a shade Hui Yue was all too familiar with.

Hui Yue needed a moment to understand what was happening around him. Once he relatively understood his situation he noticed that he was no longer just a consciousness but once again contained within a body. Shock filled his heart and increased its beat. The darkness which surrounded him he finally noticed was from having his eyes closed, and opening them was not an easy task.

Hui Yue was rigid with fear and curiosity. He had been dead, of that he was sure, but now he suddenly found himself in another body. It was impossible for him to move in this body though, and even opening his eyes seemed to be a cumbersome task; however, even if he had to live his life as a vegetable, it would be worth it, as long as he could see Li Fen and his parents once more.

His fear melted away as he thought about Li Fen and the terrified expression on her face. His gratitude for the heavens spread within him as he knew that they might be reunited. Maybe he could even get this body to move.

Hui Yue decided to try moving his limbs, testing whether they were still attached to him, and relief flooded him as he noticed that they somewhat followed his orders. However, although they followed his orders, he could not help but feel that something was amiss.

Hui Yue’s entire body felt very different from what he was used to before the crash, but he decided that details like this could be focused on later. The most important issue for Hui Yue was to once again see Li Fen’s beautiful smile. The fact that he could control a body left him feeling relieved, and he focused all his energy to force his tired, sealed eyes open.

As soon as his eyes opened, he instantly screamed. His heart felt as if it had tried to escape his chest and fear shone in his eyes.

The next thing he knew the face of a giant was in front of him. It was a rough looking man with a bearded face so close that Hui Yue was certain that he would reach it if he stretched out his arm.

After containing the scream, Hui Yue dared not make another sound let alone move a muscle. The fear in his eyes was apparent to this giant as well, but he seemed not to care. Hui Yue was shocked deeply by these events.

Hui Yue’s first thought was to escape instantly and find a safe place where he could focus on understanding this changed reality he seemed to be in. However, right now, there was no way to escape with this giant staring at him.

At least this giant did not seem hostile in any way; however, it still seemed to be a dangerous situation to be caught in right after waking up in a new body, being completely unguarded.

Hui Yue was scared. He had expected to see Li Fen and his complete mindset had been positive, but everything was now thrown into chaos, and he feared for his future. He feared for his new questionable life.

“Don’t be so close, you’re scaring him, dear,” An exhausted but gentle voice sounded from the side, and Hui Yue slowly turned his head to look in the direction of the voice.

It was hard to move his head or even keep his eyes open, but he forced them to do so as he currently had no choice but stay alert. To stay on guard and to understand what was happening around him.

As Hui Yue moved his head, he noticed that he was currently located in a worn out bedroom in a rundown shack. Looking at the shack, Hui Yue furrowed his brows and wondered if he had traveled back in time. The interior resembled a wooden shack that commoners would have owned back in ancient China.

Something about the air here was much richer than what he was used to, but most importantly, giants definitely did not exist, and Hui Yue suddenly understood that he was in another world.

The bed in the bedroom was currently occupied by a woman who was clearly beautiful, but right now her beautiful features were filled with exhaustion and pain. The lower part of the bed was covered with blood, and a young girl was washing the injured woman.

Hui Yue was both scared and confused as his eyes widened while he stared at the bed. The entire situation was something which he completely did not understand. These giants did not seem hostile is what Hui Yue thought while observing the two adults. He continued to contemplate for a while but decided that the easiest way to gain information would be to simply ask them.

Although he had decided to seek help from the friendly giants, it still took a few breaths for him to stabilize himself and calm his soul before he finally opened his mouth.

“Goo goo, Gah... Uwhaa!” Hui Yue tried to say something along the lines of ‘Excuse me, could you explain what is going on here?’ However, the words that came out of his mouth made no sense. Hui Yue’s eyes widened as he got quiet and had a strange and rather uncomfortable premonition.

“Listen, darling,” the bearded giant said as he reached down and carried Hui Yue towards the fatigued woman. “Our son is already trying to speak.” There was tenderness in his voice, and the same tenderness was shown on the woman’s face.

The tenderness and care that these two people showed Hui Yue made his heart ache as he was reminded of his parents and the pain he left behind with his premature death, not to mention his own suffering. Seeing these two adults made him long for his parents. It made him miss how they would talk with him randomly, or lovingly scold him when he broke things.

He also missed Li Fen. The woman whom he had given his life to save, and the woman who meant the world to him. He had hoped to be reunited with her, but now he realized that it was highly unlikely to ever happen; he would probably never see her again. This realization caused a lump to form in Hui Yue’s throat, and he fought back to avoid crying.

Lying on his new mother’s bosom, Hui Yue forced himself to ignore the pain and sadness he felt from the loss of his parents and Li Fen. Instead, he started thinking about everything that had happened to him.

He should have believed the old lady when she said that the hairpin was cursed. It truly did seem to have killed him; however, as he was thinking about his situation he said in his mind, ‘I wish I knew how I went from death to rebirth.’

‘Obviously, it was caused by my astonishing power,’ A self-satisfied voice spoke from somewhere inside of Hui Yue’s mind causing the already frightened young man to become even more frightened. The voice seemed faintly familiar.

‘Who are you?’ Hui Yue asked tentatively while trying to remember where he had heard this voice before; however, as soon as he had that thought, he remembered. It was the voice he had heard as he was dying.

Hui Yue instantly became alert and did not allow for even the slightest muscle in his new body to relax. He knew that he was in a very dangerous situation. He had the body of an infant, and he seemed unable to fight back in his current state.

Is he a death reaper? Hui Yue questioned himself while refusing to say anything else. But as he kept his silence, it seemed as if it did not matter much as the voice gave a healthy laugh.

‘Ha ha, You’re not bad kid!’ The voice exclaimed happily as if it were praising a dog, ‘I am the legendary blue phoenix, and I was sealed within that cursed hairpin which you bought.’

‘You… you’re the one who killed me?!’ Hostility flared up in Hui Yue’s mind as he roared at the hidden voice.

This voice belonged to the person who took Li Fen away from him! This blue phoenix was the one who had taken away his hopes for a future and taken away his parents’ only child. This self-proclaimed phoenix made Hui Yue seethe with rage.

‘Nah, I did not cause the truck to appear. I just used the opportunity to merge with you,’ the voice sounded bored as it spoke. It seemed as if he did not even care about Hui Yue’s death, which in turn only nurtured the younger man’s rage.

‘You should thank me you know.’ The voice said as if it was capable of sensing the hostility which was aimed towards him; nonetheless, the voice still contained obvious disdain.

‘If I hadn’t merged with you, you would not have been able to reincarnate this quickly.’ Once again the voice turned smug as it pointed out just how much Hui Yue owed him.

I doubt he is lying; Hui Yue thought annoyed. It seems as if this person does not care about me at all, so why would he bother to lie about such a thing? After contemplating for a short while, Hui Yue decided to believe the arrogant voice in his mind. In the end, he had no real choice if he wished to get information.

‘What do you mean when you say that you caused me to reincarnate? Where am I?”

As soon as Hui Yue asked these questions, he heard a sigh from the phoenix, and somehow he understood the feelings the phoenix felt.

He felt a certain degree of impatience, and annoyance but also hope. Hui Yue felt astonished as he realized that he was currently able to understand the feelings of the voice inside of his mind. He was deeply astounded, but at the same time unsure why the phoenix would allow him to feel this.

‘I will tell you a long story,’ the phoenix said after a pause.

‘I have nothing but time, I’m a baby you know.’ He thought while noticing that his new mother had fallen asleep. Hui Yue pretended to be asleep as well so that he would not be disturbed while talking with the voice in his mind. Had Hui Yue not been moved to a different world, he would have been certain that he was going insane.

‘Be quiet and listen to my story,’ the phoenix said just as the silence was getting suffocating, and his actions made Hui Yue think of a child throwing a tantrum.

‘It is really quite a long story, and you better listen because I will only say it once.’ The phoenix said aggressively, but Hui Yue just stayed quiet, waiting for the bird to start his story.

He had a feeling that the phoenix was able to understand everything about him, his thoughts, his emotions, everything. Even if they did not directly communicate, he felt that the bird understood him. Unfortunately, it seemed this did not work both ways.

‘Hmm,’ the phoenix grumbled a little before he decided how to start, ‘This world is quite different from the one you are used to. Here strength is what matters the most; the stronger you are, the better prospects you have in life.’

The phoenix was quiet for a second before continuing, ‘This world was created by the four divine beasts: the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, the Vermilion Bird, and the Black Turtle. These four divine beasts created multiple worlds prior to this one; however, they decided to settle here. They laid down their bodies as the foundation for each of their countries, and their consciousness created new bodies that they used to walk these lands and experience a normal life.’

Hui Yue was dumbfounded as he heard about these four beasts. He had never thought that they were real. In China, they valued these beasts by naming constellations after them and even went as far as to call them symbols of China. To think that these beasts were real and that he was in a world they created, it was simply unfathomable.

Even though Hui Yue was filled with excitement and astonishment, he did not open his mouth even once. Instead, he was focusing on what Lan Feng was saying. He would definitely not repeat this later, Hui Yue thought dejectedly.

The phoenix spoke once again, ‘Thousands of years passed after the divine beasts created this world and they had started their own families in their individual countries where they settled down. Their descendants were not divine beasts; instead, they were normal humans.’ Hearing what this odd phoenix said, Hui Yue felt nostalgia wash over him. Immediately he felt how strange it was to feel this as he had no reason whatsoever to feel nostalgia which caused him to assume that these emotions belonged to the phoenix.

‘Time went by, and eventually, the four divine beasts decided to enter an eternal slumber. They had long since buried their original bodies far below the surface of this world, and they spent the rest of their energy to create four massive mountain ranges that split the whole continent into four equal parts. Those four parts represented the locations of each of their bodies. In the middle was a large castle they had created when they first came to this world. Each one of the divine beasts called their oldest son to the Four Beast’s Palace in the center of the continent. There they passed down their legacy together with some of their powers and the right to lead their kingdom. After this rite of passage was completed, they reentered their original slumbering bodies and went into an eternal slumber.’

Yet another wave of sadness and nostalgia hit Hui Yue as these final words were spoken. Although these feelings did not belong to him, they greatly influenced Hui Yue’s mood.

Hui Yue was not a slow person, and he instantly understood that this was part of the phoenix’s story.

‘The sons did a good job and many thousands of years passed by in peace. Civilization flourished, and humans started cultivating their internal powers. However, four thousand years ago a human tricked the descendant of the Azure Dragon and used his powers to seal and banish the four beast clan leaders from this world.’

This time, he felt a mixture of hate, regret, and pity as he understood part of the reason why the phoenix had ended up as a hairpin.

‘You are the eldest son of the Vermilion Bird?’ Hui Yue asked as he decided to make sure his assumptions were right. He had a lot of questions waiting to be answered.

‘That’s right,’ the phoenix said with a proud voice, and Hui Yue understood that he indeed had a right to be proud.

‘Then why are we stuck in a baby’s body instead of one matching our age?’ Hui Yue could not help but ask. Being in an infant’s body with the mind of a twenty-four year old person was simply too surreal for him to accept.

‘Why don’t you try being sealed inside a hairpin for four thousand years?’ The phoenix snorted, ‘I had almost no power back then, and only a small fraction got released when I merged with you while you were dying. We share a body right now, so I am unfortunately also quite limited by this arrangement,’ he continued with disdain.

‘Hey, don’t complain about the body. It was you who chose it!’ Hui Yue pointed out as he laughed at this incredibly haughty phoenix. A strange sense of satisfaction grew within Hui Yue every time he made the phoenix display his unhappiness.

Despite Hui Yue having been attracted to the Blue Phoenix hairpin, he was definitely repulsed by this self-proclaimed phoenix. It was hard to explain why his feelings were like this, and he could not think of any valid reasons; however, something about the phoenix made him annoyed.

That being said, Hui Yue genuinely enjoyed hearing about this new world in which he ended up. Especially the story of the four divine beasts which made his heart beat much faster.

The phoenix also had a good reason for why he was so arrogant. Not many were able to claim that they were the first born son of the Vermilion Bird.

‘I didn’t have many bodies to choose from you know,’ the phoenix replied. ‘You should be thankful. If I did not help you reincarnate you would have been stuck in the Netherworld for god knows how long, and then there would be no possibility for you to remember anything about your previous life.’

‘It was you who was complaining,’ Hui Yue laughed as he enjoyed hearing the phoenix trying to persuade him to feel indebted to him.

‘Shut up. Do you want me to continue with the story or not?’ Hearing that, Hui Yue decided not to argue any further and waited for the phoenix to continue.

‘It has been four thousand years since I was last here, so I don’t know how the countries are split up right now, nor do I know who controls what. But I do know about cultivation, and that is one thing that will never change.’

Hui Yue’s interest was piqued even further when he heard the word cultivation. He had cultivated in the past, but he never found it to be helpful.

‘Everywhere in this world is the essence of the heavens and the earth. Every person has something called a lower dantian. This is where one can refine the essence of the heavens and the earth into Qi and store it in a Qi spiral. Cultivators increase their strength by gathering essence and refining it into Qi. Refinement is the first step in the world as a cultivator. The finer one’s Qi is, the better their results will be. There are three different dantians in the body, but you can only gain access to the next two if you have enough strength.’

‘Very confusing’ Hui Yue thought, as he tried to follow the bird’s explanation. The phoenix within him explained quite a bit about this world in a very short amount of time causing Hui Yui to understand very little on the subject. All this caused a slight headache to come his way.

‘It’s not my fault it is confusing!’ The phoenix said without the slightest display of pity, and he quickly continued his monologue giving Hui Yue no time to digest the previous information.

‘Okay, listen closely. Cultivators are ranked into ten ranks of strength, and every rank is split into nine stars. The first rank is Student, then Disciple, which is followed by Practitioner. Those three rely solely on the lower dantian, and refinement of essence into Qi.’ After this, the voice paused for a moment causing a smile to appear on Hui Yue’s infant face.

Although the phoenix claimed that he did not care whether or not he understood, he still paused and allowed Hui Yue to quickly think over the information given committing it into memory.

‘If a person has enough Qi of good quality and some cultivating talent it is possible to break into the Master rank.’ The phoenix continued with an overbearing voice pretending that the previous paused never happened. Hui Yue was quite amused but chose not to comment on how the phoenix seemed to act cold but was actually considerate.

‘After Master rank comes Grand Master then Duke. When a cultivator reaches these three ranks, they still absorb essence into the lower dantian and also refine it to Qi, but they also open the middle dantian.’

The phoenix took another short break before he continued, ‘Qi travels from the lower to the middle dantian and gets refined even further into spiritual power. It is much finer than the regular Qi, and it allows the cultivator to use higher ranked techniques amongst its other uses.’ The phoenix did not dwell on talking about spiritual power much because it would be a very long time before Hui Yue would even be able to see a spiritual power user. Hui Yue could only approve of this decision. He already felt flooded with new information which he tried to keep from mixing together.

‘The three ranks after that are King, Emperor, and Saint. To achieve the rank of King, you need to open the final dantian, the upper dantian. It allows the user to refine their spiritual power into Wu Wei. Wu Wei is the ultimate strength, and upon achieving it, you will be in an entirely different league than all other cultivators below this rank. However, it requires building some insane basics from the start at the lower dantian and continuing with intense, grueling training throughout the middle dantian. One can only hope to reach the Emperor rank, and because of this they are incredibly rare.’ The phoenix was quiet for quite some time while trying to think if it explained all the necessary information.

This silence was well received by Hui Yue, who was working his brain at the highest possible speed. He managed to digest all the information slowly and made sure to memorize it all.

A frown appeared on his infant's face as he thought of everything the phoenix just said, ‘Isn’t that only nine ranks?’ Hui Yue said slightly confused, ‘What is the tenth?’, ‘It’s the God rank,’ Lan Feng answered swiftly. ‘But you don’t need to know about that yet. First, it is completely different from the ranks that rely on one’s dantians, and second, there have only been four Gods as far as I am aware.’

‘What rank were you before you were sealed?’ Hui Yue asked with curiosity but did not expect to be given a proper answer based on their previous history. Surprisingly, the phoenix replied to him honestly, ‘I was at the Saint rank before. As far as I know, there has only been four Gods in all of history, and they were the four divine beasts.’

‘If you were a Saint rank then weren’t you really strong?’ The hostility towards the phoenix was dropping slightly, and Hui Yue began to feel more and more curious about this phoenix, the only company he had. The thought of no longer being near Li Fen still hurt him quite badly, but if he focused all his attention on cultivating the essence of the heavens and the earth, there was a chance that he could get past his broken heart.

‘I was very strong before,’ the phoenix answered smugly; however, this smug feeling was quickly replaced by something that sounded like a sigh.

‘Right now I can’t use my powers very well. I am trapped in this body with you. If I was stupid enough to use my strength, I guarantee that this body would explode, and we would both die horribly.’

‘But can’t you just do another instant reincarnation then?’ Hui Yue asked. He knew that it was probably unlikely, but at the same time, he also wished to ask all his questions to get a definite answer from the only person who was able to give them.

‘Do you think I am some almighty person? When you die, your soul goes to the Netherworld. In the Netherworld, it will wander around until you lose all your memories of your previous life. It doesn't matter if it is you or me, we would both forget. I could help us out this one time because I used the last vestiges of my remaining power, but don’t expect me to be able to do anything like that for a long time to come.’

With a humph sound his voice stilled, and Hui Yue could sense that he had insulted him. Nevertheless, he didn’t stop questioning him and continued unaffected.

‘Then did the four divine beasts turned into other creatures after going to the Netherworld?’ He asked curiously as he wondered what would happen if Gods were to reincarnate.

‘They never went to the Netherworld. They entered something called eternal sleep. They are asleep and will be sleeping forever. Legend says that there is a way to wake them up, but no one has ever found it.’ The phoenix sighed, showing a certain degree of longing. Hui Yue understood that even if multiple millennia had gone past, this bird still missed his father.

‘What is your name?’ Hui Yue suddenly asked. He felt fairly guilty having asked so many questions, even been told the whole life story of this phoenix, but he had not tried to get a personal answer such as this. ‘Lan Feng.’ Said the phoenix, and both Hui Yue and Lan Feng were quiet for a long period of time.

‘So, what should we do now?’ Hui Yue finally sighed not completely sure what step he was supposed to take within this new world which seemed to be waiting for him.

‘I want revenge. As soon as we manage to kill the person who was behind tricking the descendant of the Azure Dragon, then I should be able to return to my own body. That is the goal.’ Lan Feng instantly answered, and anger flared within his voice causing some of it to even make Hui Yue slightly aggressive.

‘What rank was that person?’ Hui Yue asked out of interest. If I can help this guy, then I might as well try, Hui Yue thought casually.

‘He was an Emperor.’

‘I see.’ Hui Yue said, but then he realized exactly what it was that Lan Feng had said, ‘But if you cannot return to your own body then you are stuck in mine, right? You expect me to fight someone ranked that high?’ He started to panic slightly. He was a perfectionist, and it was true that he was quite curious about this so-called cultivation, but he was not suicidal.

‘Yes I am, and I’ll help you to cultivate.’ Lan Feng assured him almost as if everything had already been decided and Hui Yue had no say in the matter.

‘Why should I do something that dangerous? Give me a reason.’ Blaming his death on Lan Feng, he had no intention of dying for this unknown person once again. His previous rage was flaring up once more. Lan Feng might have said that it was not his fault, but Hui Yue felt as if Lan Feng was his murderer.

‘When you reach the rank of God you can be reunited with that girl from before.’ Lan Feng said in a matter-of-fact sort of way, however, that one sentence caused great waves within Hui Yue’s soul.

‘Li Fen?’ He asked breathlessly

‘Was that her name? The one you saved before you died.’

‘Are you certain?’ Hui Yue asked skeptically. After he died, the thoughts of never again seeing Li Fen had made the pain unbearable. While he was being reincarnated, he hoped that he was not dead, but that Li Fen would pop up as long as he opened his eyes.

Hui Yue’s face turned grim. Not knowing for sure if Lan Feng was trying to fool him or what but in the end, if there was even a slight chance of reuniting with Li Fen, then he did not mind if he had to go through hell to achieve it. Therefore he patiently waited for Lan Feng to continue.

‘Well yes,’ Lan Feng said, but before he could continue, he was cut off by Hui Yue, who just thought of something disappointing.

‘If I reach the God rank she will most likely already have lived her life and died already right?’ He asked with a depressed voice as reality hit him. Lan Feng sighed and replied, ‘That is why I told you to reach the rank of God. When you become a God ranked expert you can safely go to the Netherworld and find her soul; then you can create a body for her and restore her memories.’ Lan Feng clearly used this knowledge to reel in Hui Yue. Both of them needed each other to gain what they wanted the most. Hui Yue was very well aware of this, but even if Lan Feng told him to jump down a cliff, he was willing to do so as long as it united him with Li Fen once more.

‘I will help you cultivate to the rank of God, and you will help me get revenge. After returning your lady to you, our deal will be done, and we can go our separate ways. Do you agree to make a Soul Contract?’ Lan Feng asked slightly nervous until he noticed the determination in Hui Yue’s soul.

‘Just tell me what to do,’ Hui Yue replied firmly.