The disappearance of Bai Xiaochun ushered the peoples of the starry sky into a new age. No one could see him, but he remained where he had always been, in the former location of the Eternal Immortal Domains, his eyes closed as he sought enlightenment of Essence.
Days passed. Years passed….
One day, Bai Xiaochun opened his eyes, only the second time he had done so since he began to meditate. The first time was when he created heavenly tribulation. This time was because… he had gained enlightenment of everything.
He had witnessed the rise of life. He had created the sun and moon and all living beings. He had observed the darkness and the light of the starry sky. He had been present as living creatures became many, and had sought enlightenment through countless tens upon tens of thousands of years. Now, when he opened his eyes, it was possible to see a boundless calmness and purity deep therein.
He was so pure that he seemed untainted by even a speck of dust. In some ways, his eyes were like a newborn child’s as he looked out at the stars.
“Back when I fought the Mortal Renegade, I asked myself, ‘What is Essence…?’ I had trouble with that question for a long time, but now, I understand. I know what Essence is.
“Essence has no form or shape; it’s almost like it doesn’t even exist, but simultaneously, it creates and contains every form and shape.
“Essence has no beginning or end, but simultaneously, creates and contains the beginning and end of everything.” Although he only murmured the words softly, they caused all of the 1,080,000 worlds to tremble!
“Essence takes up no space, but simultaneously, creates and contains all space.
“Essence exists outside of time, but simultaneously, creates and contains all time.” With these sentences having been uttered, all of the natural laws in the starry sky, as well as all the magical laws, began to resonate!
“Essence is noiseless and lightless, but simultaneously, creates and contains all sound and light.
“Essence does not exist in any one specific place, but simultaneously, creates and contains all places.” As Bai Xiaochun smiled and spoke these fifth and sixth sentences, all the living beings throughout the starry sky became still and quiet!!
In that silence, Bai Xiaochun spoke his final two sentences!
“Essence is infinitely small, but simultaneously, infinitely large.
“Essence is completely unique, and completely boundless!”
Radiant colors suddenly appeared within the silent starry sky. Countless natural and magical laws fused, and then dispersed. The starry sky vanished, leaving behind only… a single point!
It was a singularity of absolutely no length, breadth, or depth!
That singularity existed within the starry sky. It contained all magical laws, all natural laws, and a total of 1,080,000 worlds!
When Bai Xiaochun saw that, he smiled. Waving his finger, he caused the singularity to transform into a line…. It had no breadth or depth, and yet, was infinitely long, with no end.
“I’m missing something, aren’t I?” After a moment of thought, he waved his finger again, and the infinitely long line suddenly became infinitely wide!
Because it was infinitely long and wide, it was actually impossible to tell which direction was which. Such descriptions could only exist in one’s thoughts.
From a distance, it almost looked like an enormous sheet of paper, spread out through the starry sky. Bai Xiaochun looked at it for a moment, smiled again, and then waved his hand, causing it to grow infinitely deep and high!!
Now, it didn’t look like a piece of paper, but rather, an infinitely wide, infinitely long, infinitely tall box!
“Still missing something.” Shaking his head, Bai Xiaochun waved his finger, causing the infinitely long, wide, and tall box to ripple and distort. It seemed to age, blurring, as though the passage of time was transforming it into something illusory, into a vortex, into… space!
It contained everything that made up the starry sky for the past tens of thousands of years, their existences stretched out together. It contained all life forms and all living beings, from the moment they were born until they died, from the moment they existed, until they didn’t exist. And everything in between. By stepping into that space, one could appear at any moment that had ever existed.
Bai Xiaochun looked at this world made of time and space, and quietly said, “This is the same vortex that Holy Extermination opened with those Dao domain treasures of his. This… is how the River of Time and Space appears.”
He extended his right hand, and visible within it was a golden leaf, the very same leaf that he had found in the Blood Stream Sect, along with the little turtle.
Way back then, he had no way to understand what that leaf was. After reaching the Sovereign Realm, and beginning his search for enlightenment, he had occasionally studied it, but had gained little as a result. But now, as he looked down at the leaf, everything became clear.
“Interesting. No wonder I was never able to understand what this leaf was. It is actually made of a vast number of unique leaves, all with different overlapping vein patterns. Because the veins are transparent, they are impossible to see.
“But with my current divine sense, I can see them now, each and every vein.
“As for the information contained therein….” He looked closer, eyes glinting with curiosity, until he finally smiled again.
“Well, what’s this? The cultivation system of the Never-Ending Dao Domain is divided into steps. First step, second step, third step, fourth step…. The fourth step is the last. Only by practicing cultivation to that level can an almighty being see the truth about this leaf.”
“Apparently, the Dao domain treasures that Holy Extermination used contained the full power of the fourth step.” Bai Xiaochun smiled. Although the leaf did not look like anything particularly unique, he could now see that it could actually act as a key… a key that lead to the Never-Ending Dao Domain!
“There is more I can do.” He looked with narrowed eyes at the vortex of space and time that he had created. As he did, his eyes reflected the countless beams of light from the dimensions therein. There were too many to count, each of which contained innumerable living beings, all with their own unique destinies!
However, his mere act of looking at the dimensions caused them to tremble unstably, as though they might collapse at any moment.
With that, he looked away, and everything vanished. The expression of space and time that he had created vanished, and the starry sky went back to normal.
“It’s not that I’m incapable of doing it, but rather… this starry sky can’t sustain such a dramatic transformation. Based on the descriptions from the Never-Ending Dao Domain, doesn’t that imply… that there’s a fifth step which they haven’t encountered yet?
“I should pay a visit to the Never-Ending Dao Domain, and see if their starry sky can sustain such a transformation.” Having made his decision, he ignored the leaf.
“What is the Eternal?” he asked himself. A moment passed, and he shook his head.
“How could there truly be something Eternal? According to the people from the Never-Ending Dao Domain, their fourth step is the Eternal Realm.
“But if there is something uniquely Eternal… perhaps it’s just one’s power of imagination.” He sighed.
“Imagination is the most powerful force there is. Essentially, imagination is Will.
“Take, for example, the first time I saw the moonflower seeds spreading out. I remember being moved, because… I was born from the very thoughts of the original Arch-Ancestor, from his imagination. And all of the Eternal Sons were born from the Eternal Mother in the same way.” He closed his eyes, and could almost see the Eternal Mother letting loose a cloud of dandelion seeds, all of them containing her Will, which she hoped would eventually grow into children, one of whom would bring an end to the great catastrophe….
Those expressions of Will became the three sovereigns, who, in the moment before their death, released their own Will. One fragment of that Will… contained something that Bai Xiaochun recognized as his own aura.
Laughing softly, he rose to his feet. As he did, everything around him vanished, and he took a step forward. A vortex appeared, similar to the one he had created earlier. As it spun and swirled, it opened up to reveal… a boundless river!
The River of Time and Space!
He stepped forward into the river, and disappeared. As he did, he spoke, causing his words to echo out into the starry sky before eventually fading away.
“One Will to create oceans. One Will to summon mulberry fields. One Will to slaughter countless devils. One Will to eradicate innumerable immortals…. Only my Will… is Eternal.”