Chapter 222 - The Path to Eternal Life
"Lifesbane! I thought I would be able to enjoy its benefits without its drawbacks... but being a decabane...." Now that he really thought about it, it did seem too good to be true. The founding ancestor had suffered for five decades to become a pentabane. The condition had always been an angel and a devil at the same time.
Qingyu had said that, growing up, she felt searing pain during full moons for fifteen whole years. It was only today that she’d managed to break the curse and become a Pentamoon Skybane. Tianming, on the other hand, had manifested his talent before his curse.
"The Li Saint Clan truly has to borrow the powers of the sun, moon, heaven, and earth to change their fate!" One day was ten for him. In three years, he would look like he was fifty, perhaps even older than Wei Tianxiong. Not to mention, his mother had just returned to looking twenty.
"Big Brother... what do we do?" Feiling was starting to panic. If this went on, Tianming would definitely die in six to eight years time from old age. He would reach his peak in three years, and it wasn't just him; Ying Huo and Meow Meow would also be the same. His bright path was immediately cut off before he’d even realized.
"What the hell... I don't want to die," Ying Huo said, looking painfully at the black dots under its wings for the first time. It also began to feel its time running out ten times faster than before.
"I can only live a few more years?" That thought caused the black cat's hair to stand.
"I knew that being a decabane was too good to be true. With Lifesbane, the ancestors managed to defy fate. I have ten times the speed. There was no way I would be able to overturn the world without bearing some sort of cost!" Tianming looked at the five bane-rings on his right arm, noticing that they had begun changing.
One after another, they interlocked and formed five odd words. Those words were savage, dark and mysterious, resembling five gigantic beasts coldly looking back at him. The same was the case with the bane-rings on his left arm. The more he looked at them, the more sinister they felt. What kind of words were they? Tianming had never seen nor heard of them before. Each stroke of the words was like a curse that seemed to beckon him to pay the price for the benefits he enjoyed, taunting him like judges of fate.
While his talent was still present, his future was a straight path to death, much to his frustration. What in the world was Lifesbane? Now, he couldn't really tell.
"My mother spent twenty years suffering, only to get three bane-rings. The founding ancestor survived for fifty years, becoming a pentabane and reaching the Empyrean Saint Realm. Even Qingyu suffered fifteen years of head-splitting pain to become a Pentamoon Skybane. Then... what about me?" Tianming stood up, shuddering. His body was more or less the same, with the only difference being his rate of aging. It would be a year before he could really feel what being a man in his thirties was like. There was no way he could pretend to be sixteen by then.
"Arrgh! Lifesbane!" He turned his face to the wind and let his white hair flutter. "I can fight my fellow man, the heavens, and the earth.... But against Lifesbane, the enemy is myself! I know now that this is a challenge from fate! This is predetermined! If I lose, my death is certain. If I win, I’ll have overcome fate! This is the old tradition of the Li Saint Clan—we defy fate to achieve glory! And now, I have two times the blessings of the founding ancestor, so that means my curse is two times as bad! Whether I perish or defy my fate depends on me, and nobody else."
It had been far too smooth sailing since he’d left Ignispolis, all of which was thanks to him being a decabane. He knew too well the benefits it had conferred, but now it seemed more like a curse than a blessing. It was like a poisonous venom that slowly seeped through his body, edging him toward the edge of certain death.
"I can't die, I can't lose, and I can't cower in fear!" Now it wasn't just about his survival; Ying Huo and Meow Meow's lives were riding on his life as well, not to mention the other eight unhatched primordial chaos beasts.
"There was no way I could enjoy these benefits without paying any price. This must've been destined. This is my real fight!" He gradually sharpened his resolve, without which he wouldn't be able to face off against fate itself.
"We'll see if this disaster in my body is a match for me. The Saint Realm is a point on the path to eternal life. Granny said that once I reach it, I’ll have a lifespan of two hundred years. Only by constantly cultivating can I extend my lifespan, and that's assuming I can reach the Saint Realm before my body turns fifty. In other words, if I can't reach that realm within three years, it'll be over for me."
Three years from now, he would only be considered nineteen to the rest. For him to reach the Saint Realm at that age would be nothing short of a miracle! Only the most ridiculously powerful genius in the Grand-Orient Realm would be able to achieve such a feat! It went without saying that he was aware how hard that would be; he was still eighteen cultivation levels away from the Saint Realm.
"I don't have a choice. I’ll be doomed if I can’t reach the Saint Realm in three years." Beyond the age of fifty, while it was possible for him to retain his cultivation, there was no chance he could improve any longer. The path of cultivation was one without a way back.
His original goal was to reach the Saint Realm in ten years, based on his decabane talent, but now he only had three. Was he afraid? He looked at the five black words on his arm. They seemed more savage than before, as if they were mocking him. He closed his eyes at that moment.
"Just you wait."
It was life or death for him. There was no dawdling or surrender, only a struggle to the death. He wanted nothing else but to maintain his youth. He didn't even want to turn thirty.
"Qingyu became a Pentamoon Skybane when she overcame her Lifesbane. I wonder if anything will change when I overcome mine." Surely he would be more impressive than Qingyu, right?
"Interesting... there's finally a worthy opponent for me."
"And who might that be?" Feiling asked.
"Myself. I used to think that I was a true genius who’d clawed my way back from my fall from grace and stomped my foes. Now, I've had an epiphany. A true genius aims to overcome himself and his cruel, merciless fate. He seeks to dominate none but himself, constantly perfecting his skills. That's the true mark of a genius in the Grand-Orient Realm, and I, Li Tianming, am destined to be such a person!" he swore.
"You're making a lot of sense. I'll be with you all the way," Ying Huo said, eyes blazing.
"Does that mean I'll have even less time to sleep?" Meow Meow backed off and shuddered in fear.
"There's no sleep! You're going to die! You'll get all the sleep you want if that happens, brother!" the little chick chirped, then pecked the back of the black cat's neck.
"Brother Chicken, please stop! It's my bad!"
Tianming chuckled at the sight of them fighting. There was no point mulling over the situation.
"Big Brother, you must give it your best and survive this," Feiling said solemnly.
"But of course. I wouldn't want my beautiful wife to widow herself for life, now would I?"
"I wouldn't wanna send you off prematurely either."
In the end, there was not much else he could think of apart from confronting his fate.
That night, Li Jingyu received good and bad news. Tianming revealed his enhanced aging as a result of Lifesbane, but said he didn't know how many years he had left.
Jingyu hurriedly tried the eighteen methods to break the curse that the ancestors had devised, but it was all to no avail. She was dumbfounded; after all, nobody actually had any experience in breaking the Lifesbane of a pentabane.
"Don't worry, Granny, I won't die. Don’t you trust me?" he asked, smiling.
"I do. You have the strongest fighting spirit and willpower I’ve ever seen." Though she said that, her eyes were still filled with worry.
"Tianming, the Li Saint Clan has never feared Lifesbane. You must fight and never surrender. You have to endure, no matter what. One day, you’ll break the curse and be reborn far stronger than before. You must go to the mausoleum often. Their wills will guide you. Feel the unrelenting spirit of the Li Saint Clan!" she said with a face full of tears.
"I know. There's still some good news, Granny, so don't be too agitated." Tianming pulled Qingyu closer. Perhaps Jingyu would calm down after hearing something pleasant.
Yet the moment she saw the Pentamoon Skybane, she shrieked, then fainted altogether. That night, she woke up and kept repeating, "The ancestors be praised!"
Qingyu had just awakened to her true talent. She would definitely be far more impressive in the days to come.
After Tianming finished stabilizing his cultivation, he decided to head to the Abyssal Battlefield. There was definitely a way into it from within the sect itself.
He now felt that Ying Huo and Meow Meow were too weak with only seven stars. Since Feiling had an impressive talent for finding manna, he would put it to good use. So, they would head into the Abyssal Battlefield on the flipside of the sect. They didn't have much wealth, so he had no choice but to try his luck there to raise his lifebound beasts' levels.
He trusted Feiling wouldn't disappoint him.