Chapter 1 – Sinking in the depths of hell for ninety thousand years
“He isn’t dead yet.” said 2 Ox-headed beings as they chatted softly with each other. Dressed in a suit of red combat armour and helmet, both wielded a blood red spear in their hands.
“I would rather die if it were me.” said the other as he shook his head.
Both of them looked at the vast never-ending scarlet mountain range in the far distance. Even though they had lived here for countless numbers of years, the place before their eyes still brought a faint sense of dread to their hearts.
This was because of the eighteenth level of Hell located right under that mountain range. As for the “person” they were talking about, he had stayed in there for ninety thousand years.
If one would say hell was an episode of a blood moon, then there would only be blood left within the eighteenth level of Hell.
This was a legend of an “undead”.
Before the Condemning stone, he had suffered the torture of looking through all the actions he had done when he lived. However, he only said a single phrase towards this torture: I have no regrets.
The ten courts of the underworld want him to plead guilty. However, he vowed to not yield. This finally shook the all the nine cities within the realm of the underworld, resulting in him being sent to hell.
“Once one enters the eighteenth level of Hell, one would never, ever be reincarnated” was by itself a joke. This is because there is no one yet that was able to endure within it for a hundred thousand years unless one was a god of the legends.
As for him, he had been inside for ninety thousand years. Although he had stepped on the path of cultivation, this could be considered as a miracle.
With the seventeenth level of Hell, the Grinding Torture.
The surrounding fog was dusky, while the floor was scarlet in colour. Filled with a faint blood-red glow, the entire place appeared gloomy and mysterious.
Jiang Han stared indifferently at the gigantic blood-red coloured millstone in front of him. There were countless numbers of gears spinning on its surface, with traces of remnant flesh and bones hanging on them. Standing by this millstone was a Horse-face wearing a blood red coloured armour staring at him.
“You’re already familiar with it, come up!” shouted the Horse-Face.
Like a walk in the park, Jiang Han did not require the ghost army behind to push him. Taking to a step forward, he slowly climbed up onto the gear of the millstone.
A ray of bloody light flashed past. In the blink of an eye, Jiang Han felt his entire body grow heavy, as his floating soul was reintegrated into his fleshly body, appearing as though he had been reborn after death.
However, none of the happiness from being reborn came, as the gears beneath his feet started to slowly crank, grinding away a layer of skin from his recently recovered feet.
Jiang Han felt an intense, soul-penetrating pain sweeping across his mind. He wanted to roar out in anguish. However, an invisible, frightening force pressed him firmly onto the gigantic blood-red millstone.
“Squish Squish Squish!”
Layer by layer, the newly grown flesh of his was ground away from his feet up by the millstone. Just like rubbing one’s bare feet on sandpaper, it was scrapped off piece by piece, never ending or coming to a stop.
When all of the flesh at the soles of his feet were scrapped off, the millstone started to slowly grind away at his body. Finally, his feet were ground into bits, with his flesh and blood clumping together like little drops.
Waves of uncontrollably intense pain started corroding and eating away at Jiang Han’s consciousness and mind, causing him to teeter on the verge of madness. The veins running across his arms bulged and wriggled about, while his face turned beet red. Despite that, he was still unable to utter a single roar out.
The stone grinding hell. As its name implied, it was level of hell where people would get grinded into pulp, their fleshly bodies regrown just to get grinded down again. This would continue for eternity, or till the death of one’s soul.
It started from his legs, proceeding on to his calves, thighs, waist before finally reaching his head.
Opening his eyes wide, Jiang Han stared at the 2 toothed gears as the crushed him from the edges of his eyeballs. Despite having firmly suppressed it, a soft pop was heard, as though something had splashed out from him…
Jiang Han used all of his strength to maintain the clarity of his thoughts. That’s because it was the only way he could continue to survive one.
The grinding stone ground away one’s flesh, and damaged one’s heart.
After one’s fleshly body was grounded into flesh, bone, blood, and water, Jiang Han’s consciousness and soul condensed once again into a spiritual form. Nonetheless, his face was much paler than before, with cracks even appearing on his spiritual body.
The pain felt from the grinding stones didn’t seep into one’s bones, but one’s soul and spirit.
“Brat, how long more can you endure for? A thousand years? 10 thousand years?” said the emotionless Horse Face. Truthfully, he rarely speaks. However, being overly “familiar” with this ghost, some curiosity had surfaced in him.
“I’ll live through this.” Jiang Han moved his eyes to look at the former before replying in a cold voice.
“A very ordinary view. That has allowed you to train an invincible belief. I hope that your thoughts will come true.” the Horse Face paid no attention to Jiang Han’s tone. “The Bodhisattva of the Yin Mountains had said before, that “Before the hell is empty, I will not become Buddha”. With you here, I can see that this level of hell won’t be empty.”
“It’s because of the existence of Bodhisattva that this level of hell will definitely become empty. It will become empty.” replied Jiang Han in a low voice.
“Let’s go! There’s still one more level!” the ghost soldier standing behind him shouted out.
Within the 18 levels of Hell, Jiang Han would start at the 1st level and endure all the way till the 18th level. This would happen day in and day out. However, if he wasn’t able to endure all the way, it would spell the death of him.
Jiang Han didn’t know how long more he could endure such passing of life. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, or perhaps he would die tomorrow.
“Regardless of anything, as long as I survive, I have to do it properly.” thought Jiang Han as he raised his head slightly. Sending a gaze out, his gaze seemed to penetrate through the depths of hell to look at the “beautiful” blood moon hanging in the sky.
All of a sudden, a ferocious rippled propagated through the dark and misty air. In the next instant, a spatial vortex formed, before a tall and burly male dressed in black armor stepped out from within.
“Jiang Han!” shouted the black armored male as he looked towards the pale-faced youth dressed in white prisoner garbs.
“Greetings, general!” the ghost soldier and the Horse Face stood in attention and saluted.
“Ghost Army General?” Jiang Han was slightly shocked as he finally realized the identity of the incomer.
The Ghost Army General was considered to be a high-level figure within the Netherworld. After having “blended” in the netherworld for an extended period of time, how would he not know the identity of the former? What’s more, Jiang Han was more than familiar with him.
“May I know why you’ve come to the 17th level for, general?” asked the ghost soldier in a soft tone. Although he was of a lower rank, he was not under the same king as this war general. With him not being under the direct line of command as the latter, the ghost soldier was not afraid to ask out.
“Bring Jiang Han away!” replied the Ghost Army General as he stared at him.
“He’s a serious offender of hell. Please present the edict from the king, general.” said the ghost soldier in a tone that was neither overbearing nor servile.
Hearing that, the Ghost Army General nodded his head slightly. As he did so, a golden scroll had already appeared in his hand, its surface radiating with strange and peculiar fluctuations. He proceeded to open the scroll up.
There was just a single line of words present within the golden scroll.
“Having sunk into hell for 90 thousand years, he will be temporarily reincarnated to the mortal realm. — Emperor Song.”
Those few simple words seemed to possessed endless demonic intent, causing the hearts of people to palpitate and tremble upon seeing them. Not only that, they caused faint ripples to propagate in this stretch of air, forcing people to involuntarily submit to them.
“So?” said the ghost army general as he kept the scroll.
“Since there’s an edict, please do as you please, general.” without any hesitation, the ghost soldier gave his reply. With a wave of his hand, the prisoner outfit bound around Jiang Han’s body disappeared, turning into a set of fluttery white robes.
“Jiang Han, follow me!” the ghost army general spoke towards Jiang Han. With a wave of his large hand, Jiang Han’s entire figure disappeared from his standing location, before the ghost army general walked back into the spatial vortex.
In an arbor, within a garden located in the Nether capital.
“Greetings, General. This lowly one is incomparably grateful for your saving grace, general.” said Jiang Han as he knelt down.
“Stand up.” said the black armored general in a soft voice.
“This lowly one doesn’t dare.” replied Jiang Han in a suppressed manner.
“I ask you to stand up, Jiang Han!” the black armored general roared in a fury.
A faint shiver shook through Jiang Han’s body before he slowly stood up and looked at the black armored general before him. Right before him stood a large and burly man dressed in black combat armor. Radiating with a terrifying aura, a sad face was present as he stared right at Jiang Han.
“For 90 thousand years, I’ve not come to rescue you out. Do you blame me?” asked the black armored general after calming his feelings down.
Hearing those words, Jiang Han gently shook his head. Blame?
After enduring such a long and arduous torture in hell, there was no longer any blame present in his heart. Now, there was only one thing left in his heart, hatred.
“You’ve not committed any crimes, yet the Nether Kings had forcibly added endless sins on your name. After 90 thousand years being locked up in hell, the greater half of your sins have already been served, barely reaching the prerequisite for reincarnation.” said the black armored general in a soft voice, “ I’ve tried my best, and I’ve obtained the right for your reincarnation via the Wood bridge with 8th rank talent.”
“Wood bridge? 8th rank talent?” a feeling of suppression surged slightly in Jiang Han’s heart.
When reincarnating, the talent one would possess in one’s next life was calculated through one’s merits and sins, and arranged in accordance to 6 bridges; Golden bridge, Silver bridge, Jade bridge, Stone bridge, Wood bridge, Black bridge.
Those who walk via the Gold bridge would enter the heaven realm, entering the nobility of the mortal realm via the Silver bridge, entering the wealthy families via the Jade bridge, enter commoner families via the Stone bridge, enter the poor families via the Wooden bridge, or renter hell to wash off one’s sins via the Black bridge.
As for talent, it was the equivalent of one’s qualifications and success after birth, with the 1st being the most outstanding, while 9th being the lowest.
Having cultivated on Earth for dozens of years before becoming a ghost soldier serving in hell for a 100 years, Jiang Han was naturally incomparably clear about all of these.
The Wood bridge meant that he would be born to a family of low status, while his 8th rank talent meant that his talent after reincarnation would be poor. Jiang Han knew that if he were being reincarnated with such pre-birth talent, the possibility for him to cultivate and recover would be nigh impossible.
However, Jiang was also clear that the black armor general had already tried his best to obtain such conditions for him, After all, Jiang Han was a serious criminal whose name had shaken the nether realm.
“Jiang Han, due to you have too many sins, it’s hard for you to wash them away even after entering the 18th level of hell. Only after reincarnating a few times will it be possible for you to completely wash them off. If you’re able to set foot on the Saint’s path, you would naturally be able to regain your memory from your past life.” said the black armored general in a soft voice. “When that happens, you’ll have your chance once again.”
“Thank you.” replied Jiang Chen in a low voice.
Jiang Han was incomparably clear that the black armored general might just be offering his encouragement to him. Nonetheless, after a reincarnation, one’s memory and cultivation would all be gone. Coupled with his sins and 8th ranked talent, how easy would it be for him to step on the Saint’s Path?
However, Jiang Han knew that if he doesn’t enter the reincarnation cycle, he would be forever be stuck in the 18th level of hell, being ground till his soul shatters apart.
Looking at Jiang Han, the black armored general gave a sigh in his heart before saying, “Let’s go! I’ll send you into the reincarnation cycle!”
He gave a gentle wave of his hand.
In the next moment, Jiang Han felt his vision go blurry as space-time started to change. Upon waking up, he was right beside a river, watering gurgling in it as it flowed towards an unknown location in the distance.
Present in the distance was a grey coloured stone bridge. At this moment, there were countless ghosts slowly moving across the air on its surface, while massive numbers of the nether realm blood armored guards stood guard by its 2 sides.
“River of Forgetting, Bridge of Regret!” with a sweep of his eyes, Jiang Han already knew where he was.
“I can only send you here.” said the black armored general as he pointed before him. “Cross the Stone of 3 lives and walk the Bridge of Regret. After following the standard procedure, you’ll be cast into the reincarnation cycle.”
“Yes.” replied Jiang Han with a slight nod.
“Take it.” said the general as a scroll coloured in the faint shade of gold appeared in his hand.
“Okay.” Jiang Han replied with a single word as he took it over. Upon raising his head, the black armored general had already quietly vanished.
Sweeping his gaze out slightly, Jiang Han proceeded to walk straight towards the group of ghosts. As for those blood armored soldiers standing guard, none of them came forward to obstruct him.
Noticing the appearance of the black armored general earlier, those ghost soldiers naturally knew that the white youth before them definitely did not have an ordinary background. Thus, they weren’t willing to provoke the latter. In any case, they won’t care if any matter pops up.
Step by step, Jiang Han followed the group of ghosts before him, walking all the way to the side of the bridge. All of a sudden, he felt the surrounding space-time turn illusionary, while the ghosts, guards, and soldiers seemed to turn into life forms of a different time.
This world, this place. The only thing before his eyes that remained the same was his body, and the strange and mysterious rock.
That rock appeared to have some kind of demonic charm, forcing him to involuntary turn his head to look over. As he did so, scene after scene flashed out from the rock, some of them being mountains, being flowers, and being humans…
A toddler stumbling around, with a couple beaming with smiles before him…
A youth, lying on a grassy plain with a group of friends, staring at the starry skies while chatting freely about their future…
A handsome youth walking along a mountainous forest, accompanied by a fairy-like girl…
As he continued to observe, days floated by like the wind. Only before the Stone of 3 lives would one be able to see one’s past life. All of a sudden, Jiang Hao felt tears faintly appearing in his eyes…
After 90 thousand years of solitude, he assumed that he would no longer shed any tears. After the torture in the 18th level of hell, he assumed that there was only hatred left within his heart.
Only at this moment, did he realize that there was still a softness and resolution uniquely his that was present within his heart. What’s more, there was also a promise that has yet to be corrupted.
“Seat and observe the Stone of 3 lives, settle your past lives, forget your present life?” Jiang Han muttered. As he did so, his eyes regained their usual icy coldness, before he took a gentle step forward. “It’s a pity that I’ll never forget my past, present, and future! How can I forget! How would I dare to forget!”
As a ripple formed, he walked past the radius of the Stone of 3 lives, stepping right onto the Bridge of Regrets.