The Golden Book (Unedited)
Pan Gu’s death and burial ultimately were of little consequence to the vast majority of the Swallow Tail Sect. There was one matter of interest which caught the eye of the school after his burial, and that involved the expulsion of Huang Shi, an Outer Sect disciple, on the basis that he recklessly destroyed the property of the Swallow Tail Sect.
His departure from the sect was met with upturned noses, and eyes cast askance. Even his former friends no longer associated themselves with him, for fear of bringing down this same punishment on their selves.
Pan Gu’s journey into the jungle like forests outside of the city were for the most part unremarkable. The many wild and vicious beasts had learned to hide themselves deeper within the forests in order to avoid running into cultivators who would seek to rob them of their beast cores and eat their flesh to improve their constitutions.
On the third day after his departure, Pan Gu’s journey brought him to the edge of a pond, which was attached to a stream. Following this stream, Pan Gu managed to make his way over to a small Lake, overshadowed by a massive waterfall.
Believing himself far enough away from society that he could cultivate in peace, Pan Gu then began scrounging for supplies to build himself a temporary lodging.
Finding several nearby trees large enough to create a cabin with, he called out to Jian Sheng with his mind to see if he had any spare axes which could be used to fell the trees.
“Unfortunately I do not currently have any weapons that are of a low enough level for you to handle them. However, you can take this as an opportunity to begin practicing your first real martial skills.”
“M-martial Skill?! You’re gonna teach me a martial skill?!” Pan Gu’s heart began skipping with joy.
“The skill is called Drain. Generally, I would avoid using this skill in front of others because it may lead to the misconception that you’re a practitioner of the Devil Dao. Your cultivation method works by absorbing the matter and energy of the world around you and directly converting it into Chaos Qi. This martial skill has a similar effect, allowing you to absorb the very essence of your opponent’s existence through physical contact. When you train this skill to a high enough level you can even kill your opponent with the barest of touches. In its lower levels it allows you to slowly siphon off your opponents energy, leaving them gradually weaker while you slowly gain strength. It also allows for you to convert any poisons into a source of energy, preventing them from harming you.”
Pan Gu’s breath was caught in his throat. This skill was just too heaven defying. Who had ever heard of such a monstrous ability?
“Senior, I am ready to receive your teachings at any time!” Came Pan Gu’s excited voice.
Jian Sheng chuckled, and a repeat performance from when he passed on the cultivation method occurred, an orb of light was pressed into his forehead and he sat down to focus on understanding the newfound knowledge.
“Senior, this technique… It seems truly troublesome to cultivate it. The first stage of the technique, the iron hug, seems especially improbable.”
“Pangu, you should know that if you’re able to properly cultivate this technique, you will be able to shatter boulders with a shrug, and uproot trees with a finger! All that you need to do now is train! And I suggest you start by using the first stage of that technique to begin uprooting those trees of yours.”
Pan Gu sighs heavily, and then approaches the first tree. It’s a large tree, with deep roots.
Following the instructions of the martial skill technique, Pan Gu wraps his arms around the tree trunk, spreads his legs, and begins straining against the tree.
Frustratingly, the tree does not budge. Still, Pan Gu continues straining. Days go by. Fed by supplies preserved in Jian Sheng’s storage space, Pan Gu trains continuously, straining against his tree until finally, it shifts.
Excited by the development, Pan Gu redoubles his efforts and puts his all into uprooting the tree. With a heave, and a heavy groan, the roots of the tree give a loud “pop” before the tree comes loose, and Pan Gu is able to toss it over his shoulder like a practice dummy at the Swallow Tail Sect.
Finally excited with his success, he immediately launches himself at the next tree, this one coincidentally slightly larger than the last tree.
Pan Gu’s training in this area continues day and night, for a month. By the end of that month, he has at last managed to uproot the trees and neatly stack them to the side of his little camping area.
Cleaning the trees of their extra limbs and leaves, Pan Gu creates a small fishing pole, using spidersilk harvested from one of the branches of the downed trees as fishing line. This silk was tough, obviously belonging to a vicious beast who had abandoned the area when Pan Gu arrived. With an earthworm for bait, Pan Gu’s harvest from the water was quite good, and he sat himself down to enjoy a hard earned meal.
Unbeknownst to Pan Gu, behind the waterfall, in a dim and grim cave, a heavy head with bright red reptilian eyes shifted around, displacing years of dust and old fragile bones belonging to humans and vicious beasts alike.
Elongated nostril slits poked out of the curtain of water, inhaling the scent of the cooking fish and fire made by Pan Gu.
A greedy light flashed in the eyes of the creature, and it slowly edged its way of the cave, disappearing under the surface of the water.
This creature was an ancient vicious beast. The terror of ancient vicious beasts is not their raw power, for one ancient vicious beast could be the lowest rank of cultivation and still live for millennia, but rather it is that after a certain amount of time, they gain a semblance of human intelligence, capable of scheming and making plans to more easily capture prey.
Pan Gu’s lack of awareness of his surroundings had been taken advantage of by this monstrous beast, allowing for it to sneak up close behind him, silently exiting the water and slithering its way across the ground towards Pan Gu.
However, though Pan Gu was not actively paying attention to his surroundings, he long since noticed the creature and was merely biding his time, waiting for the creature to attack. The creature could not have guessed at how extraordinarily powerful Pan Gu’s senses were, and did not know that as it slipped out of the waterfall it displaced a small stone, whose tumbling sound which an ordinary cultivator could never hear over the roar of the waterfall, had been faintly picked up by Pan Gu’s ears.
Immediately wary, he had swept the area with his senses before sensing that there was a malevolent killing intent approaching him in the waters behind his back.
His excitement over his meal had gradually dulled and he now carefully prepared his mind for the incoming battle.
Evening out his breathing, he prepared himself to dodge at the last second, and then… CRASH!
Pan Gu had leapt out of the way just in time for the massive serpent to miss him, and instead crash headfirst into the fire, covering its head in flames and filling its eyes with hot embers, blinding it.
The serpent screeched, and reared back, shaking its head in agony. Leaping into action, Pan Gu casually grabbed one of the nearby uprooted trees and swung its massive bulk at the serpent, catching it off guard, and knocking it flying back into the water, consequently shattering the tree from the force of the blow.
Putting on a face of fearlessness, Pan Gu launched himself into the water to chase after his prey.
Finding himself in the center of the small lake, Pan Gu reached out with his senses to find any traces of the creature.
Finally, it appeared behind him, blinded in one eye and with the flesh of its other eye scalded and scarred.
Before Pan Gu could turn around, it attacked, quickly rapping its massive body around Pan Gu, and beginning to tighten itself around him, attempting to use its extraordinary muscles to squeeze Pan Gu to death.
To its dismay however, Pan Gu merely laughed. “Dumb snake, this is exactly what I wanted!”
Without another word, Pan Gu roared and tightened his arms around the snake, executing the first stage of his martial skill for the first time!
The snake suddenly felt like all the energy it had was leaving its body far faster than it could absorb more. The grip of the human cultivator who had it seemed to only become stronger as time went on, causing it to struggle and thrash with all its might.
The stalemate continued for a few minutes, until finally the snake could not take anymore, and collapsed unmoving in Pan Gu’s arms.
Satisfied with his recent kill, he proceeded to the shore where he set his fire back up, and roasted the snake.
The beast core of the snake was located in its head, so using his bodies immense strength, Pan Gu ripped the head of the snake off, cracked its skull open with a stone, and fished out the core which he washed off in the water.
The core was a small golden orb, with threads of silver running through it. Chuckling at his good fortune, Pan Gu sat and enjoyed his meal.
“Pangu, I have a feeling that you may not need to build a residence here anymore. I think one may already exist.”
Pan Gu’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, and he swallowed the last morsel of food before issuing his reply.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve got an odd feeling about that waterfall. The snake seems to have been staying near there, so it’s possible there is a nearby cave. And with the age of this snake being apparently so old, it’s possible that we may find some good treasures for you to use within it.”
Pan Gu’s expression became quizzical, and he gazed off in the direction of the waterfall with a raised eyebrow.
Standing, and stretching, Pan Gu descended back into the water, and swam his way over to the waterfall.
The force of the water pounding overhead pushed his body underwater, but his powerful swimming strokes continued to propel him forward until he found himself coming upon a small shore in a darkened cavern behind the curtain of water.
The size of the cavern itself was impressive, but it carried an ominous atmosphere due to the littered skeletons and half eaten rotting corpses.
Pan Gu shivered as he observed these things, but continued on his path deeper into the cave.
Numerous shed snake skins could be found wrapped around stalagmits that stretched towards the ceiling of the cavern.
Eventually, Pan Gu stumbled into a dark corridor where he summoned out a ball of his qi which glowed well enough to light up his surroundings.
Seeing nothing of extreme interest, Pan Gu delved deeper into this corridor which smoothed out to look as though it had been carved from the rock face itself. Eventually, Pan Gu discovered a small podium erected in the middle of the corridor. On the top of the podium lay a book which glowed golden, washing its surroundings in a pale yellow color.
Trepidation filled him as he approached the book, and he was able to read the title which was embossed on the cover of the book.
The title read simply, DAO.
Jian Sheng’s voice gave a sharp gasp as Pan Gu told him the name of the book.
“Take it! Take it now! Boy, you’ve got more luck stars than any other person I’ve ever met!”
Jian Sheng’s voice shook with mad laughter, while Pan Gu’s confusion only seemed to grow immensely.
“What is this book?”
“This is one of the books of the Dao! Its an extraordinarily rare item, which even gods fight wars over!”
“Why? What’s so impressive about it?” Came Pan Gu’s shocked reply.
“Cultivators who study the martial arts must fundamentally come to understand and master different Daos. This tends to be a lifelong process, but the value of understanding the Dao is incalculable to a Martial Artist. This is because Martial Arts is derived from an understanding of the world around us. The better we understand the world around us, the more that understanding can augment our martial skills, allowing us to become exponentially stronger. A mortal cultivator who understands a complete Dao path can even become strong enough to withstand a few attacks of a God. Though, don’t misunderstand, even if a mortal cultivator managed to understand many complete Dao paths, they would not be able to defeat a God through this knowledge alone. Hence the necessity for cultivation.”
Pan Gu’s mind was swirling with the information, but he pressed on with his questions.
“What’s a Dao Path? I don’t understand.”
Jian Sheng’s voice takes on a scholarly tone, and he lectures happily, “The Dao is the Way. All things that exist act according to the Dao. There are 4 heavenly Dao. Time, Space, Death, and Life. Each heavenly Dao is composed of smaller Dao’s called Major Daos. There are a near infinite number of Major Daos. And each major Dao is composed of a Minor Dao. A complete Dao Path is what happens when a cultivator manages to understand and control all of the Minor Dao that form a specific Major Dao.”
“I think I get the gist. But I still don’t understand what’s so special about this book.”
“The incredible thing about this book is that instead of one having to meditate and understand a minor dao on one’s own, one can simply read this book and have that Dao immediately reveal itself in its entirety to them.”
Pan Gu’s shocked silence filled the corridor. His gaze swiveled to stare at the book with intense greed.
“All I have to do is read it?” Pan Gu’s hand immediately opened the book, not even waiting long enough to hear Jian Sheng’s panicked voice calling out to stop him.
The last thing Pan Gu saw as he gazed at the book was a flash of blinding Golden light.