Ye Qingyu soon changed his mind when Old Fish informed him that the so-called World Tree was the foundation of the Vast Thousand Domains. Each leaf on the tree represented a different world. It contained the strongest life force in the universe, and it had miraculous effects that could even bring back the dead.
Ye Qingyu was drawn to its ability to bring back the dead.
He had always wanted to resurrect Liu Shaji and traces of his soul were hidden within the [White Lotus Immortal Sword]; this would be the crucial factor that would determine whether or not Liu Shaji would be able to return to the mortal realm. The million year old soul had also once mentioned that if the time and luck was on his side, he might just be able to resurrect Liu Shaji, but warned that there would be a heavy price to pay. Ye Qingyu had always kept these words close to his heart.
He nodded after some thought and said, "Indeed, I know where the World Tree is and it wouldn't be a problem for me to pluck several leaves from this tree. However, will it really be able to bring back the dead? Tell me the truth before I let you know more."
Old Fish's eyes gleamed with green light and said eagerly, "Of course it is true. Hehe, I know you must be thinking of trying to resurrect Liu Shaji, right? He he, don't worry. I'm fond of that fellow too and I'll do my best to bring him back... it is a simple process. The convergence of life and death forces has the power to reverse yin and yang. The World Tree is bursting with life while the water from the Yellow Springs is filled with death. All we'll need to do is to find the gate to life and death. As long as a trace of the deceased's soul still exists, you will be able to resurrect him."
Old Fish had come together with Ye Qingyu to Clear River Domain, and had gotten on well with Liu Shaji and the others, so he took on a more serious tone at the mention of Liu Shaji.
"Gate of life and death? Where is that located?" Ye Qingyu immediately latched on to the crucial point.
The leaves from the World Tree and the water from the Yellow Springs were within reach, and it wouldn't be difficult for him to obtain them; the only item he was missing was the gate of life and death.
"Hehehe, you've come to the right person for advice," Old Fish said proudly as he pointed to the Ferryman of the Netherworld standing on the broken boat behind him. "Check out this old greedy man. His body is dead and nothing but a pile of straw. Yet, there's life in him and he acts like a living person. He is a combination of life and death in itself... don't you find that odd?"
Ye Qingyu nodded.
It was indeed strange.
The Ferrymen of the Netherworld were all very unique. They were all as powerful as the Sky Emperor, but after losing their physical bodies, their Great Dao was not complete, and all that was left of them were their souls. Even if they forcefully took over someone else's body, they wouldn't be perfect. However, the Ferrymen of the Netherworld could use their scarecrow bodies to ascend the imperial throne of past sovereigns. People used to think that scarecrows would never be able to spiritualize since one would need to have an intellectual mind to do that and they'd only be able to transform themselves completely after they had absorbed the spiritual qi in the universe. Ordinary scarecrows would not be able to spiritualize even if they've been soaking in immortal liquid for ten thousand years.
Old Fish was right when he said that the Ferrymen of the Netherworld were a combination of both life and death.
"Do you know why they've ended up this way? It is because they've gone to the gate of life and death," Old Fish said happily. "Now, since they've been there before, I'm sure they know where exactly this gate is located..." he turned to look at the Ferryman of the Netherworld and said, "Am I right? You greedy old man?"
The Ferryman of the Netherworld nodded mechanically and stretched out its hand, "Pay the price."
"Goddamnit..." Old Fish cursed. "We've already known each other for so many years and you're still trying to charge me?"
The Ferryman of the Netherworld would not be swayed, "You have to pay twice."
The Ferryman was charging one fee for guiding the way, and another fee for healing Old Fish's wounds. Old Fish had used the Yellow Springs to heal his wounds but had not paid enough for this treatment.
After a round of bargaining, Old Fish finally produced something that the Ferryman of the Netherworld was pleased with.
"Get on the boat," it said as it hit its green bamboo oars against the side of the boat.
Ye Qingyu hopped onto the boat with Bai Yuanxing.
Old Fish also tagged along.
The Ferryman of the Netherworld held on to the tall bamboo oars and steered the boat down the Yellow Springs at a moderate speed.
"Hurry up," Old Fish urged him. Old Fish couldn't wait to see the leaves that Ye Qingyu could apparently pluck from the World Tree and urged the Ferryman to hurry. Unfortunately, the Ferryman ignored his demands.
Ye Qingyu was also anxious but under such circumstances, he could only wait patiently.
After some time, they could see elusive light yellow mist floating from the surface of the Yellow Springs that blocked their vision. The mist contained a very obscure forcefield that could block out the divine sense probes of even Emperor-level experts. It seemed to be caused from the evaporation of the water from the Yellow Springs, but at the same time, it didn't seem like it either...
"It is rumored that there is a fog of eternity at the very end of the Yellow Springs, and even gods could lose their way in the midst of this fog..." Old Fish muttered and seemed a lot more solemn.
The atmosphere here was very frightening.
The mist around them grew thicker.
Ye Qingyu found that he couldn't see past ten meters despite his strong eyesight.
According to legend, the fog of eternity was a strange land between life and death. Old Fish had informed Ye Qingyu earlier on the boat that the gate of life and death was located in the space between life and death. Evidently, it should be found within the fog of eternity. However, it would be impossible for ordinary men to enter this area, since even fiendgods could lose themselves forever within this fog and Emperors could enter but would never be able to exit. The Ferrymen of the Netherworld were the only ones who could travel freely within this fog since they were neither dead nor alive.
In other words, they were part of the fog.
Their bamboo poles propped the dingy boat up and could determine the direction and their bearing, so they would never be lost.
Ye Qingyu stood on the small boat and carefully sensed the mysterious forcefield in the surrounding fog, his expression contemplative.
Two hours later, the sound of gurgling water could be heard in the distance ahead.
He could tell that this was not the sound made by the water in the Yellow Springs.
Had they arrived?
He looked at the Ferryman of the Netherworld.
The Ferryman of the Netherworld's face turned grim as it held the bamboo oar with both hands. It seemed more guarded as it steered the boat forward gingerly. Its eyes that were as dark as coals suddenly flickered with dim black light, as though they had been ignited. A mysterious Emperor qi swirled around it and all its techniques seemed to have been activated.
Although it was a sovereign of the past, the Emperor qi that circulated around it at the moment clearly belonged to a Martial Emperor at his prime.
The yellow fog was so thick that it seemed to be a solid city wall made of yellow earth.
The black, broken, and small boat gave off a dim glow, as though it were a piece of burning coal. The energy it gave off was also some kind of forcefield that pushed aside the surrounding yellow fog to create a small path through it. Then, the boat continued to make its way forward toward the sound of the flowing water.
Ye Qingyu could tell that the Ferryman of the Netherworld originated from a terrifying source and could also guess that it must have been a Martial Emperor from this universe, born in this land between the living and the dead. This was why it could travel freely in the fog. It was truly a strange creature.
Finally, the yellow fog completely disappeared to reveal a clear lake in front of them.
The black dingy boat made its way into the clear lake and suddenly started to sink.
"The water..." Ye Qingyu noticed something odd about it. The Yellow Springs could not even affect this boat but this clear lake, one that was merely several meters wide, with water so clear that it was like a perfect wine without a speck of dust, was causing the boat to sink. This meant that the water within the lake was even more terrifying than the water from the Yellow Springs.
The Ferryman of the Netherworld had to use more effort to steer the boat forward.
The boat's momentum decreased and moved incredibly slowly.
It took another hour before they finally reached the middle of the lake.
There was a small island made of white rock in the middle of the lake. This rock was as white as jade and there were no markings on it. If one looked at this island from the top, it seemed completely round and flawless.
"We're here," said the Ferryman of the Netherworld, and used his jadeite green bamboo oar to propel himself onto the island.
Ye Qingyu and the others were thrilled and Old Fish eagerly hopped off the boat.
The white rock was smooth and lustrous. It was barren and there was no scenery to behold. Its surface was completely flat and no vegetation grew on it. However, there was a strange life force contained within this white rock. The Ferryman of the Netherworld guided them confidently to the center of the white island.
They saw a well of two meters in diameter. They could also see that there was water within the well, one meter below its edge.
The water within the well lapped gently against the walls of the well and layers of ripples formed on its surface.
"The gate of life and death," the Ferryman of the Netherworld said as it pointed at the well.
Ye Qingyu and Old Fish exchanged a glance. The legendary gate of life and death turned out to be a well.
The gate of life and death connected a place bursting with life to a place that was filled with death. This lake was located in the heart of the fog of eternity at the Yellow Springs, so this meant that this was the place that was filled with death. If so, would the place at the other end of the well be one bursting with life? What could that place be?
Ye Qingyu's curiosity was piqued.
First, he still had to settle the matter of Liu Shaji.
He looked at Old Fish.
"Why don't you take out the leaves from the World Tree first?" Old Fish said eagerly. "Let me put this clearly: you can't only produce one leaf since you've got to give one to me as well... Hehe, I can tell that you're definitely in possession of the leaves from the World Tree."
Ye Qingyu smiled and didn't make any further explanations. He opened his palm and immediately plucked two leaves from the World Tree in his dantian world.
The leaves glowed faintly with lush green light and shone with a dreamy aura.
A bountiful lifeforce that was as vast as an ocean burst forth from the tiny leaves.
"These... are truly the leaves from the World Tree," Old Fish said as his eyes gleamed. He immediately snatched the leaves away from Ye Qingyu and his avaricious behavior was just like how Little Nine would act. He held them in his hand like he was holding peerless treasures and looked at them from all angles as his saliva dripped from his mouth.
"Tell me, how do we resurrect Liu Shaji?" Ye Qingyu urged him.
"That's easy. Hand over the [White Lotus Immortal Sword] that contains traces of Liu Shaji's soul," Old Fish took the sword from Ye Qingyu, placed one leaf from the World Tree against the body of the sword, then did something that made Ye Qingyu jump in horror.
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