Pursuit of the Truth Chapter 180
Half a day had gone by. It was already noon. The gentle sunlight should have been bringing about a scorching heat at that moment, but it was blocked by the thick, dark clouds in the sky that refused to leave. It could not shine through.
The rain was still falling heavily and created pattering sounds along with the whistling wind that swept through the mountain ranges under the heavens.
It might have still been raining, but it did not stop anyone in the crowd in Han Mountain City from watching. All of them wore straw capes and bamboo hats as they continued staring at Su Ming walking on the Chain swaying in the wind in midair!
The wind may have been strong and the rain heavy, but it did not at all stop them from watching the person who had sounded Han Mountain Bell twenty odd times, who completely shattered the five stone pillars he walked through, and who had walked up to the sixth section of the Chain.
Perhaps it would be an exaggeration to describe this person and this incident as something that would only happen once every thousand years, but it was inadequate to describe it as a sight that happened once every few centuries.
"He's slowing down at the sixth section of the Chain! There's definitely something strange in that section!"
"It's a pity that all those who successfully conquered the Chains of Han Mountain chose to keep the secret of the Chains to themselves. Most of those who failed the challenge died, and even those who survived by a stroke of luck chose to remain silent… It only makes people wonder why the Chains of Han Mountain are so difficult."
"Hmm? He stopped!"
Discussions broke out and multiple pairs of eyes gathered on Su Ming through the curtain of rain. Even Nan Tian, Xuan Lun, Ke Jiu Si, and Leng Ying all looked towards him with shining eyes.
Su Ming no longer continued onward on the swaying Chain. Instead, he sat down, looking as if his body was glued to the Chain. As it swayed, his body too, moved with it.
His breathing had become rapid. There was a bright glint in his eyes, but he was not looking at Puqiang Mountain. He was staring at the Chain beneath him instead. This Chain may have been bathed in rain, but signs of rust could still be seen in certain places, which proved the rumors that the Chains had been around for many years.
'The pressure that makes it feel as if my time is flowing away is not coming from the land, neither is it coming from Puqiang, much less the stone pillars that I destroyed… It's coming from this Chain!'
Up to this point, as the pressure from time and age became stronger, Su Ming also felt that his life force was being sucked away by the Chain bit by bit.
The speed at which his life force was being absorbed was not quick, but the farther he moved along the Chain, the faster his life force was being absorbed.
Su Ming could still resist against it at the moment. After all, he had 979 blood veins. If he just circulated all his blood veins, it would provide his body with a vast amount of Qi. The circulation of Qi was part of his life, and it could cover up the portion that was absorbed.
However… Su Ming looked at the Chain that still spanned far into the distance before him.
'I'm only at the sixth section right now. There's still a lot to go… Just what is this Chain? How does it have such shocking power… and why is it absorbing life force!'
Su Ming chose to sit in this exact place because there was a particular portion of the Chain before him that had a lot of rust. It was also the one portion where the rust was the most obvious to the eye. Some of the rust would even break off from the Chain as rain fell on it.
Wind whistled by his ears and brought a lot of rainwater onto him. Thunder also rumbled in the sky. At times, lightning would flash. Beneath Su Ming were the canyons whose ends could not be seen. When he lowered his head, what entered his sights was the rain falling into the canyons like millions of arrows that were let loose.
Su Ming recovered his breathing for a while and lifted his right hand, tapping a finger on the rusted portion of the Chain. The surface of his finger touched the rust.
The instant he did so, Su Ming's face started paling. Very soon, his right index finger turned white, all signs of red being lost. This was not a sign that his blood was absorbed, but a sign that the life force formed when he circulated his Qi and the life force used for his organs to work in his body was slowly being sucked away.
Time gradually passed by. Su Ming had already been sitting on the Chain for a long while. His right hand was still on the Chain, and he allowed his life force to be taken away as he remained still.
The people in Han Mountain City gradually discovered that something was afoot. However, they could not think of the reason. They could only speculate.
"Is he tired? The time it takes to burn an incense stick is already over, and he still doesn't seem to be getting up."
"Looks like the sixth section of the Chain is his limit. It's a pity… a real pity…"
"He already did pretty well for going up to the sixth section of the Chain. After all, the Chains of the Han Mountain are unlike the bell. Your life is at risk if you challenge the Chains. I think that right now, he's also uncertain whether he should continue…"
"But can he even withdraw anymore? He already destroyed all the stone pillars behind him. Even if he chooses to walk back, it'll be difficult…"
The discussions spread in the rainstorm. Su Ming's actions had captured a lot of people's eyes and attention.
"Perhaps right from the moment he destroyed the first stone pillar, he chose not to give up…" Nan Tian looked at Su Ming sitting on the Chain and mumbled to himself.
After a little while longer, a bright glint appeared in Su Ming's eyes and he lifted his right hand slowly. He stared at that portion of the Chain and his pupils gradually shrank.
'It's just as I expected. The Chain absorbs life to repair itself.'
Right before Su Ming's eyes, the part that had most obviously rusted had started recovering. A part of the Chain had returned to a normal shade of color!
'The Chains of Han Mountain were created by Han Mountain's ancestor… He came from another world to the land of Berserkers. I can understand why he supported Han Mountain Tribe. By doing so he could have a place to stay.
'But why did he create the Chains of Han Mountain?! Just what was his real goal..? Did he create this Chain personally, or did he find the Chain somewhere in the land of Berserkers, or perhaps… it's something he brought from..?'
Su Ming had met Han Kong. It could even be said that Han Kong's death was directly related to him. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Han Kong died in his hands.
That was the reason why these series of thoughts and speculations that people rarely thought about appeared in Su Ming's head.
The crowd in Han Mountain City and the Transcended Berserkers were not the only ones showing concern to Su Ming pausing in his challenge, the three tribes were also paying close attention to him.
The old woman on Lake of Colors Mountain stared into the distance and frowned.
"This person could fight for Han Mountain Bell against Si Ma Xin. I won't believe that he can only go up to the sixth section," Yan Luan said softly by her side.
The old woman was silent for a moment before she spoke languidly. "He's mulling over the Chain, just as we did in the past,"
The Elder and the rest were sitting cross-legged on Tranquil East Mountain. They were also puzzled by Su Ming's actions. As they pondered about it, Han Cang Zi appeared from the stairs on the side and walked to the summit. She did not pay attention to any of them, but chose to stand at the edge of the mountain and look towards the Chain of Han Mountain in the distance with a calm expression.
Puqiang Mountain remained in dead silence. All of their gazes were focused on Su Ming sitting cross-legged in the distance. Those gazes were filled with sullenness and uncertainty.
'What is he doing?' was the question practically in everyone's thoughts.
'Just what are the Chains of Han Mountain..?'
Su Ming lowered his head and cast a glance at the canyons down below. Darkness filled everything there and looked like the mouth of a beast just waiting for people to fall down for it to swallow. Su Ming knew what laid at the pit of the canyons, and it was precisely because he knew that he was feeling dubtful about the Chain.
After a long while, he stood up slowly and took a step forward with his right foot, then he walked towards the sixth pillar standing before him.
At the very instant he stood up and moved, Han Mountain City burst into an uproar. All the people that had been watching Su Ming began discussing amongst themselves when they saw him finally moving forward.
"He stood up!"
"We've waited for long enough, and now he's finally starting to move again. I'm curious though, why did he stop just now?"
Su Ming took a deep breath and moved forward. His footsteps had become much slower. With each step he took, some of his life force would be sucked away every single time his foot came into contact with the Chain, even though it was still the same Chain that he had walked on previously. It made him feel uncomfortable, and he started weakening.
In his mind, he was no longer walking on the Chains of Han Mountain, but walking through his lifespan. Each step he took felt as if he had just finished walking through a part of his life. This sort of feeling was difficult for others to understand. Only when their lifespans were passing by would people occasionally sigh for the time they lost.
Yet the Chains of Han Mountain shrank the total amount of time for a person to finish living his life, causing that wave of melancholy to be brought forward.
When dusk arrived, while layers of clouds still covered the sky, the rain had let up slightly. It was no longer a rainstorm, but started becoming a gentle shower. Su Ming finally managed to walk to the end of the sixth section of the Chain after an entire afternoon passed by. The sixth stone pillar lay 100 feet away from him.
At that moment, Su Ming's face had become pale. He might be circulating his Qi to stimulate his life force, but the absorption of his life force became stronger as he moved along the way. He could no longer remain balanced. He could practically feel the Chain howling in excitement as it was absorbing his life force to strengthen itself.
It was only a distance of 100 feet, but Su Ming used the amount of time it takes to burn an incense stick to walk slowly through those final steps. The moment he arrived on the sixth stone pillar, he let out a long sigh and sat down cross-legged, staring at the seventh, eighth, and ninth section of the Chain lying before him, and at Puqiang Mountain, which was connected to the ninth section of the Chain. This distance might seem short, but it gave Su Ming a feeling that it was very far away. He could already imagine that the difficulty of the final three sections of the Chain would far surpass the previous ones.
"This Chain is somewhat familiar to me…" Su Ming mumbled with his eyes closed.
He had that feeling suppressed at the very bottom of his heart, and it only appeared in his mind when doubts and speculations arose, and he connected all of them with Han Kong.
The moment Su Ming stepped on the sixth stone pillar, a huge wave of discussions passed through the crowd in Han Mountain City.
"The sixth stone pillar! That's the start of the seventh section of the Chain!"
"Can he finish traversing the seventh section of the Chain..?"
"I don't think so. He was already staggering when he was walking on the sixth section. It'll be very difficult for him to finish the seventh section…"
"From what I know, all the previous challengers of the Chains of Han Mountain failed at the seventh section… This section might be different from the rest!"
When the discussions started, Su Ming was seated and unmoving. After a long while, when the sky turned completely dark and the moon peaked out from the clouds, he opened his eyes.
"Night has come…" he mumbled.