Death and Rebirth
Across the wide expanses of space, in the farthest edge of the most distant galaxy, a great battle is taking place. A single figure, Pangu, flees across the galaxy, frantically rushing away from an incoming tide of Martial Gods. The pursuing Gods launch attacks which come at him from every direction, making his escape extraordinarily difficult.
“Pangu! Stop! You can’t escape this! Just obediently hand over that treasure, and we’ll let you keep your life!”
Pangu nearly spat blood from his mouth in anger. He, who had lived for countless millennia, had now been forced into this clichéd situation. A situation he knew he had little chance of escaping from with his life.
The pursuing gods finally catch up and surround Pangu.
The voice which had called out before calls out once more.
“Come, Pangu. Show me some face, and hand over the sword. I swear on the Dao of the Heavens that I will not pursue this matter further.”
Pangu’s face turns black in anger. “Do you take me for a fool?! With only your oath, can you swear on behalf of all these other Gods, on the Dao of the Heavens themselves that not you, nor a single one of these other Gods will cause me trouble?!”
His outburst is met with silence.
“I thought as such,” Pangu mutters.
Pangu focuses his mind. It was time for his hail-mary. The last life-saving skill he had.
“I may not be able to survive today. But I swear, I, Pangu, will come back one day. I will find every one of you, and I will slaughter you and your families until even your most distant cousins will pass through the netherworld along with you! Mingzi… I swear by the Dao of the Heavens, in my next life I will personally shatter your soul!”
The owner of that voice, a God, named Mingzi, frowns. “Pangu, whatever it is that you’re planning, do you really think that you’d be able to pull it off without anyone of these Gods being able to stop you?”
Pangu smirked. “I’ve already succeeded, Mingzi. I’ll find you in my next life.”
While they had been talking, Pangu activated a secret skill hidden within the blade of his sword. The sword begins vibrating with power, and Pangu slams the sword into his chest, piercing his heart.
His life fades from his body before any of the Gods have any chance to stop it.
Mingzi watches in shock as the life leaves Pangu’s eyes. A chill goes down his spine as he sees the lingering smile on Pangu’s face. Sighing, Mingzi waves his hand towards Pangu’s corpse.
“Retrieve the sword.”
The Gods rush forward to claim his spatial rings and other items, hoping to be the first to claim it and clean out any other treasures which might be hidden therein. But, when the other Gods searched his body, and all of his spatial treasures… The sword was missing.
Mingzi’s face turns green when hears that the sword is gone “Pangu!!!”
Mingzi’s roar of anger shakes the essence of the heavens and the earth from one end of the galaxy to the other, sending out ripples of space which cracks and forms small tears in the fabric of reality.
And so it was that Pangu, the first living being, the God who separated Yin from Yang and formed the foundations of the universe with his will, died.
The days passed into weeks, and weeks into years, until one day, on a continent floating in the sky, a great sign appears. This sign shakes the heavens and sends a great ball of fire crashing into the depths of a river which divides this continent into two.
Pan Gu jerks awake with a gasp. Cold water had been thrown on him. Blinking and looking around in confusion, his eyes finally landed on the irate figure of Teacher Yun Lee.
Yun Lee was a hard, taxing man who demanded the utmost respect from everyone around him, and for some reason, he took great pleasure in torturing Pan Gu with strict punishments for minor infractions.
Yun Lee was a lower level figure, even within this Martial Sect. Even so, his status in the world of immortals was far above that of Pan Gu.
This martial sect was called the Swallow Tail Sect, and it was within the province of the Phoenix Empire on the Yang Half of the Continent. It was a low-level sect among low-level sects, and it had no real authority on any significant scale. Its influence extends out only to the small towns and villages within 3,000 kilometers, which revered this school as the superpower that protects the mortals from the hordes of vicious beasts. While this may seem like a large area of influence to some, this was, in fact, a negligible amount of space for a Martial School of the Yin Yang Continent. The continent itself is so incredibly vast that a cultivator born in the middle of the continent could walk every day for 100 years without stopping, and still not reach the edge. Center to edge, the radius of the continent measures 7,029,614.592 Kilometers, making the diameter of the continent (edge to edge) approximately 14,059,229.184 Kilometers wide.
Pan Gu immediately leaps to his feet, and bows heavily. His forehead smacks against the ground repeatedly as he bows.
“This lowly one begs forgiveness from the exalted Teacher; this lowly one is at your service.” Pan Gu’s hatred for this man boiled within his stomach, making his heart clench uncomfortably.
He was not a man prone to shame, so he did what he had to do to survive. If Yun Lee ever grew tired of him, he’d be thrown out of the Martial Sect, and would no longer have a home to call his own. For him, this was especially dangerous as he was uniquely untalented at cultivation. In a world that relies on strength to survive, the only thing keeping Pan Gu alive was his connection, however bitter it was, to the Swallow Tail Sect.
Yun Lee snorts in disdain. “Up, slave. You were supposed to empty my chamber pot this morning. Why was it still there when I woke?”
Pan Gu’s eyes widened, displaying his terror at the idea of earning the ire of Teacher Yun Lee.
“This lowly is deeply apologetic. This lowly one begs mercy! This lowly one will immediately empty your chamber pot!”
Yun Lee waves his hand impatiently, silencing Pan Gu.
“I’ve already had another slave empty it. You are to report to the students training field for punishment.”
Pan Gu’s face darkens for a moment, but this unsightly expression immediately disappears before it could be noticed by Yun Lee.
“This lowly one thanks the great Teacher Yun Lee for his benevolence. This lowly one will immediately report to the training field for my punishment.”
Yun Lee snorts once again, before stomping out of the room. Pan Gu flips a middle finger up at his back as he goes.
“This bastard, does he want me to die?!” Pan Gu takes his anger out on his straw-stuffed pillow, punching and kicking it until the stuffing has flown out and is scattered across his little room.
Finally, having expended his anger, he cleans his room quickly, re-stuffs his pillow, and then quietly exits, fully composed.
From his room to the training field it is a ten-minute walk, due to him having to constantly bow, and scrape past every student of the Sect, and every teacher.
When he finally reaches the field, he identifies the line of slaves already there for punishment like himself. None of these slaves say a word and only stare at him in pity. Sighing to himself with frustration, Pan Gu notices that the best spots near the back of the line of Slaves have already been taken.
Often, the students would choose the first set of slaves in the line, sparing those in the back of the line from punishment. Thus, those spots were highly valued, and the rule had always been, first come first serve. Pan Gu joins the other unlucky souls at the front of the line, nodding to his fellow sufferers with a bitter smile on his face.
Soon, a procession of Martial students enters the field, and they begin eying out their targets.
“Hah! My luck is good!”
As soon as this voice echoes across the courtyard, Pan Gu’s scalp begins tingling.
A large, brawny teen swaggers over to tower above his chosen victim. He is so large that his shadow completely encompasses the width and breadth of Pan Gu’s body.
“Sent here for punishment again, Pan Gu?” This brawny male’s voice seems to slither in and out of Pan Gu’s ear in an ominous way.
“This lowly one has indeed been sent for punishment, Sir Huang Shi.” Pan Gu has closed his eyes and bowed his head, accepting his fate.
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” Huang Shi says, nodding his head happily. “In that case, I’ll choose you as my practice dummy. Remember, you’re not allowed to dodge at all for ten blows!”
“As you wish, Sir Huang Shi.” Pan Gu dejectedly nods his head and follows behind Huang Shi as they search for a secluded area of the field to practice.
Behind them, the pity filled eyes of the other slaves stare after Pan Gu’s slowly receding figure.
The nature of the relationship Pan Gu has with this cultivation student, Sir Huang Shi was quite simple. As children, they had scuffled, and Pan Gu successfully dislodged a tooth from Huang Shi’s mouth. At the time, Pan Gu was wholly unfamiliar with things like status, and class. But this became the beginning of his introduction to life as a slave, and what it meant to be one. Huang Shi took special pleasure in exercising his authority over Pan Gu, to the point of having Pan Gu whipped and beaten with clubs. When Huang Shi reached maturity, his height suddenly increased explosively, and thus he personally began to administer beatings to Pan Gu as often as possible. It was Pan Gu’s own bad luck that he happened to be at the training fields today.
“We’ll practice here.”, Huang Shi says before suddenly spinning around delivering a vicious kick towards Pan Gu. Left with no time to react, the blow hits Pan Gu directly in the face, sending his body flying backward, spinning before it collapses to the ground.
Pan Gu’s mind goes hazy, and he dumbly struggles to stand only to feel a heavy foot plant itself in his stomach.
The blow launches him into the air once more, where a fist covered in a flickering white glow smashes into his back.
Pan Gu’s eyes see white, and the remaining hits and kicks no longer hold any feeling to him. He is vaguely aware of a sharp crack coming from his left arm, and a similar sound coming from his thigh, but he is strangely incapable of reacting to or fully feeling these pains.
Eventually, the blows end and his body is left lying on the ground in the training field. Completely unable to stand, or walk, he lays there limply.
He can hear a vague noise, like the sound of laughter and friendly chatter between people. “Damn Huang Shi, I think you might have killed him. We can’t just leave his body like that, Yun Lee will kill us.”
In the distance, a jeering voice says, “Yeah, somebody needs to add his body to the trash heap. Send one of these other servants to do it. They aren’t busy.”
“No need. If we let them do it, they might give him a proper burial and simply say they dumped him in a heap. I’ve got a special spot for this filth.”
A few moments later, Huang Shi’s strong hands begin dragging Pan Gu’s body away from the field. Huang Shi makes no attempt to check if he is still living.
A few moments later, Pan Gu feels his body being hoisted into a trash chute. He tries to stop Huang Shi, he tries to struggle but remains too feeble to even move a single finger despite his desperation.
I don’t want to die! Damn that Yun Lee and his punishments! Damn that Huang Shi! If I live through this, I swear they’ll pay! He thinks to himself.
He hears Huang Shi mutter something under his breath. “Here’s a special place for you, filth, with the rest of the slop.”
A sense of calm seems to steel over Pan Gu’s mind. I will not die. I will not die.
Even as his body tumbles through the shoot, he thinks this over and over again.
When his body comes to rest on top of a large heap of trash, the smell of rotted food and emptied chamber pots wafts into his nose causing him to gag involuntarily.
It was a relief that he hadn’t eaten today otherwise he would have emptied his stomach here.
Pan Gu focuses his mind, sending a strand of thought to examine all his wounds with his mind. He’d never had any formal training in meditation or cultivation, but living and being around a martial sect had allowed him to pick up a few things here and there about controlling his mind. He could at the very least use his mind to observe the condition of his body in detail.
He lacked the talent for Qi Cultivation, but regarding the mind, he could be considered above average.
Identifying the wounds on his arm and leg, he moves his mind to focus on his back where Huang Shi hit him with his Qi fist.
As soon as his mind touches upon this area, his vision erupts in white once more. Then, suddenly, a shrill laugh was heard.
The world seems to be enveloped in white, and sitting there floating in that endless field of white is an old, wise-looking man.
“Took you long enough to wake me up, Pangu.”
Pan Gu’s eyes widen in response, and he stares at the old man in wonder. Pan Gu was no fool. His mind was powerful enough to understand that this was not a hallucination, nor was this old man standing before him in the physical realm. This meant that this old man was capable of projecting his consciousness outwards, a skill only those who had reached the Nascent Soul Realm could achieve.
“This lowly one begs forgiveness, Senior, but who are you?”
“My name is Jian Sheng. This isn’t our first meeting, though, Pangu.”
“Why are you saying my name like that? You’re making it sound weird.”
“That’s your real name. Pangu. Not Pan Gu.”
Pangu’s confusion grew by the moment. It seemed every word out of this Old geezer’s mouth made less and less sense.
Pangu stares at him wide-eyed. “Senior, I am hesitant to ask, but do you have a way to help me? I am heavily injured, and if I am not able to move and heal myself, then I fear I will be taken by infection and die.”
The Senior smiles mysteriously, and produces a round purple pill from the folds of his clothing.
“For now, eat this. I’ll check on you when you’ve finished.”
The pill floats towards Pan Gu like it has a mind of its own, and tucks itself into Pan Gu’s uninjured hand.
Pan Gu struggles to move for a while, before finally managing to bring his hand up to his mouth, where he slips the purple pearl past his lips.
Immediately the pearl dissolves in his mouth, sending out waves of warm energy which coalesce around Pan Gu’s wounds. To Pan Gu’s shock and amazement, he feels the energy begin healing his body, aligning his bones and clicking them back into place as if they had never been broken before.
Finally, the remaining energy in his body disperses, leaving Pan Gu completely healed and, in fact, in better health than when he’d woken up that morning.
Unable to contain his excitement he once more looks around for the elder, but he is nowhere in sight. An exasperated voice finally calls out, “Idiot; I’m in here. Send your mind to your chest area again.”
Amazed, he does as he was instructed. That blinding white light appears once more, drowning out his surroundings.
Instantly he could see the old man. He bows respectfully towards that old man, “This junior pays respect to the senior. Thank you for saving this lowly one’s life.”
Jian Sheng waves his hand exasperated. “You’re much more polite in this life, you know. It’s very annoying. We both know that’s not how you are inside. Come, let it out, be blunt.”
Momentarily shocked, Pan Gu decides to oblige. “Who are you and why are you helping me? There’s no such thing as a favor given for nothing. What do you want from me?”
Jian Sheng begins laughing heartily. “That’s more like it! That’s the man I knew!”
Pan Gu frowns, and Jian Sheng hastily explains. “You could say that you and I have a sort of history. In your last life, you were Pangu, the God who separated Yin from Yang and created the Universe. And I was a treasure you were studying very intently. This is also why I appear here in your mind’s eye. I reside in your heart. This place is the world of your heart.”
The shock on Pan Gu’s face is clearly visible, making his face resemble that of a drowning fish.
Jian Sheng sighs heavily. “It was unfortunate for you in your past life that my powers could only be fully utilized by someone who had no cultivation base. The techniques I know can’t be learned by someone who has already formed their Core.”
Catching on quickly, Pan Gu timidly asks, “Can I use them now that I’m not a God?”
“Of course! That’s why I had you kill yourself!” says the old man seriously.
The deep confusion once more appears on Pan Gu’s face. Shrugging the old man says nonchalantly, “It’s a long story, and I don’t feel like explaining it at the moment. You’ll know the whole story once you become a God anyways.”
Amazement fills Pan Gu’s eyes. “Wait, does this mean you’ll help me become a God? How will I know the whole story when I become a God?”
The old man seems to become instantly tired. “Look at me; I’m old. You’ve worn me out with all these questions. Yes, I’ll help you become a God. All Gods regain the memories of their past lives when their reincarnation becomes a God. Before we do any of that, we need to toughen you up. You’re not even at the bone forging stage, how could you become a God like this? You need to cultivate.”
Pan Gu’s eyes widen. “Do you have a cultivation technique for me?”
The old man grins widely. “I do. It’s a bit unorthodox, but you’ll see the importance of that as time goes on.”
The old man reaches up to his head, and a ball of white light appears and is grabbed by his hand. He then presses this ball of light into Pan Gu’s forehead, and a searing pain erupts between Pan Gu’s eyebrows.
Knowledge begins flooding into his mind, making him feel like his brain is going to collapse under the sudden strain.
The old man’s cackling laughter is the last thing that Pan Gu hears before blacking out.