The barren land was flat. When one stepped on it, one could feel countless particles of dust rising from the ground, then slowly falling back, as if they were sinking in water.
Iron filings seemed to have been mixed into the dust, lending it a metallic gleam.
Gray and silver specks were mixed together, extending into the distance.
Other than that, no trace of life existed, nor was there any trace of anyone.
The riverbed was dry and the mountains cracked. All life seemed to have been drained away in an instant. Only the aether surging in the air like a fluid reminded Ye Qingxuan about where he was.
When he looked up, he could see the giant tree of light rising from the center of the ground in the distance. Its countless magnificent branches pierced into the sky, spreading blazing streams of light.
Meanwhile, its system of roots was hidden beneath the earth, absorbing a magnificent power unimaginable to human beings. Thousands of miles of roots hid under the surface, with the occasional forks resembling aerial roots extending out of the soil, thus forming huge brambles tens of millions of meters in length.
Fluorescent brambles poked in and out of the ground, winding and growing, crawling on the silver-gray ground. Sometimes they formed a jungle-like landscape, sometimes a seemingly endless grassland.
Flowers blossomed amid the brambles.
Crystals formed by high-density aether were absorbed onto the veins of the brambles, resembling flowers forged with silver. Thousands of layers of petals unfolded, reflecting light in a beautiful and seductive manner.
"Had I known that you have such artistic talent, I would have saved up money so that you could transfer to an art academy." Ye Qingxuan reached out and stroked the edge of the petals, letting the color of rust spread along his fingertips in vain before finally peeling off and falling into the dust.
If I had foreseen it back then, things would not have deteriorated to such an extent, right?
Maybe I could have saved something.
"Little Yezi, you are here." The familiar voice sounded from behind Ye Qingxuan, the tone calm and peaceful, as if its owner was smiling.
Ye Qingxuan turned back and saw the person standing in the vast desert of dust. It was as if he was the only living thing that still existed in the barren world.
He wore a white robe and stepped on the ground barefoot. He had a smile on his contoured face, but the smile was not of the cheerful kind that Ye Qingxuan was familiar with.
It was as calm as the ocean.
He faced everything with mercy.
"It's been a long time, Charles." After a long silence, Ye Qingxuan spoke, carrying on with what seemed to be like a casual conversation between reunited old friends. "What have you been busy with recently?"
"Many things." Charles thought about it and laughed. "Sometimes I feel that I am in a loop, but after I finish something, it still provides me with a sense of accomplishment. Despite not having studied in an art academy before, it comes to me very naturally when I practice. Perhaps, I am a self-taught student?"
He turned and waved to Ye Qingxuan, eager to show the latter his new discovery. "I'll show you something, come with me."
Ye Qingxuan subconsciously took a step in his direction, chasing after him.
As if they had finally passed through the heavy deep sea and reached land, the heavy feeling of suffocation disappeared, and it was replaced by the fresh wind blowing from afar.
The wind brought with it the fragrance of flowers. Green, lush young plants sprouted from both sides of the path, with a few unknown wildflowers mixed in. A frog leaped from bush to bush, croaking in a low tone, jumping into the water body not far away.
It cruised along in the clear lake. Soon, its trail was covered by drooping branches. The branches were ripe with fruit, and a ripe apple fell from the branches, landing in front of Ye Qingxuan.
Ye Qingxuan bent over, intending to pick it up, but a black shadow jumped out of the bushes diagonally in front of him. It leaped towards Ye Qingxuan, and when it brushed past him, it swiftly ducked its head and grabbed the apple with its mouth.
Then, it ran away.
One could only vaguely see a pair of huge antlers in the forest.
Ye Qingxuan grabbed nothing, yet he could not help but reach out again to touch the soil on the ground. He grabbed some soil from the ground with his fingers, then the fertile black soil fell from his fingertips once more.
He could vaguely see the fine grass seeds in it.
The mooing of farming cattle sounded from afar. Ye Qingxuan parted the bushes, saw the farmland being plowed in the distance, and the cattle that had stopped in the middle, dragging the broken plowshare beside it.
Several farmers gathered around, smoking cigarettes, scratching their heads as they discussed the issue of the broken plow. The situation continued until the plowshare was picked up by Charles, who brushed off the dust on it. He said something to the group of people, and the farmer ran away with the plowshare after listening.
Charles turned back and saw Ye Qingxuan in the distance. He waved, motioning the latter to come closer.
The sound of water flowing became clearer. One was vaguely able to see the river flowing rapidly below the mountain in the distance, as well as plots of villages. They were connected by roads, and horses galloped on the roads, dragging heavy carriages along.
Ye Qingxuan could vaguely glimpse the outline of rain clouds further away.
Raindrops fell from the sky, fine and dense, covering the ground.
By the time Ye Qingxuan walked over, the farmers had already walked away, taking the cattle with them by its rope.
"Wooden plows break too easily indeed, but someone just told me that an open iron mine was found nearby. I'm going to teach them to build an iron-forging furnace here. Coincidentally, the charcoal-burning kiln has been completed two days ago, and there are many trees nearby, so we aren't missing anything."
Charles brushed off the dust from his hand and smiled at Ye Qingxuan. "How do you find it, not bad, right?"
"Where are we?" Ye Qingxuan looked around the scene and couldn't suppress his puzzlement anymore.
"A peaceful and stable world." Charles spread his hands, happily showing his work to his dear friend. "Compared to 'the Kingdom of Heaven,' I prefer 'Paradise on Earth'."
This is... Eden?
Ye Qingxuan could hardly believe it.
It wasn't until Charles personally admitted it that he finally discovered that it was not an illusion he experienced.
He had so easily arrived in the deepest part of the realm of aether, which had been sealed off by layers of barriers, and entered the hinterland that everyone dreamed of coming in. He even had a black box that could destroy the place in an instant.
Ye Qingxuan subconsciously pressed his palm towards the back of his waist.
He felt the cold touch of steel in his palm.
It was so reassuring.
As long as he was willing to, he could destroy it at any time.
He could put everything to the torch.
But Charles seemed to have noticed nothing. He just took Ye Qingxuan's hand in his, leading the way. "We're just at the bottommost part, come with me, there's more in front still."
They crossed the clear stream, crossed the river of milk and honey, and even saw a lake giving off the sweet fragrance of wine in the distance. Drunken elks lay in the grass, rolling around.
They arrived at a huge city with crowds of people. Innumerable people brushed past each other on the streets. Voices called out on both sides of the street, promoting their products. A girl ran through the streets with two children following her, knocking into many people and leaving peals of laughter behind.
They ran away merrily.
At the center of the city, in the city hall, men in gray robes debated eloquently on the podium, waving their hands about, exploring the profound and difficult themes of philosophy.
They discussed death, about sex, about people, and about everything in the world.
They argued with each other, convinced each other, or left dissatisfied.
Stonemasons recorded their eloquent gestures, carving out the outlines of their figures from the white plaster. And in the square before the city hall, many mellow and gorgeous statues had already been erected.
They included statues of old people, of women in tulle with plenty of their skin exposed, and of naked young men.
Under the statues, young people sat together in twos and threes, with wine and bread, laughing and chatting with each other.
Ye Qingxuan was engrossed in his observation, not paying attention to the road ahead, and almost stepped on something.
The dog he kicked barked at him loudly, growling with its teeth bared, but a little girl then bent down to pick it up. It no longer barked, but instead, it buried its head in her arms tamely, wagging its tail.
"You scared it." The little girl looked at him.
"Sorry, I did not..." Ye Qingxuan subconsciously apologized, but halfway through his words, he realized something and looked at the little girl in front, stunned.
The girl grinned at him, revealing her chipped incisors.
She turned around and ran away.
Only Ye Qingxuan was left standing where he was in silence, and he spoke no more. He simply followed Charles through the city, moving on, admiring the world that was so huge that it seemed endless, as if every outline and detail of it was perfect.
Until the end, as dusk had just fallen, they once again returned to the foot of the mountain where they had originally started from, looking at the specks of light in the distance.
A river of stars flashed across the night sky, spilling down sparkling brilliance.
"It's really peaceful." Ye Qingxuan couldn't help but sigh.
"Yes, and there is no pain or hurt." Charles sat on the ground, staring into the distance. "They can live for themselves, without oppression and plunder, and they are free to give meaning to their own lives."
He smiled with satisfaction, just looking at the countless lights.
It seemed as if he had obtained bliss.
"So, you just keep them like this? Just like pets, enjoying worriless lives..." It was hard to tell whether Ye Qingxuan's tone was one of praise or sarcasm. "I have to say that you did a good job.
"At least they won't hurt themselves, right? And they won't hurt others."
"Yeah, the dead will not hurt others." Ye Qingxuan's eyes gradually grew quiet, recalling the little girl who smiled at him during the day, and his eyes seemed to have been stung, twitching slightly. "So, you took them from Sytx and kept them here, right?"
He asked, "You used soil to create figurines, blew into them, filled the soil with memories of the past, set the roles they must play for them, and let them act out a peaceful life in your paradise. But all this can't change an issue—they are all dead. "
"I can bring them back to life." Charles looked at him calmly and answered honestly, proclaiming the truth. "The present me can bring anyone back to life."
Ye Qingxuan was silent.
He said no more.
"It's been a long time, Mr. Ye." Not far away, someone waved. The musician in white stood in the moonlight, smiling at Ye Qingxuan. "You look really powerful now."
God knew how much sincerity the smile had in it. But Ye Qingxuan had a hard time reacting because of the identity of the person who had spoken.
"Paganani?" Ye Qingxuan sized him up and couldn't help but shake his head. "For someone like you, didn't you have enough time to run away?"
Paganini just shrugged and said nothing, but Charles explained for him instead. "He volunteered to stay here and help me manage the place."
"Regardless of whether the paradise is to succeed or fail in the end, someone must always be there to witness it, no?"
Paganini's expression was calm, and he did not refrain from discussing his plans despite Charles being there. Then he nodded and bid farewell. "I still have some trivial matters to attend to, allow me to take my leave."
And so, he turned calmly and disappeared into the distance.
"Observing a god at close range, you have really found him a good job." Ye Qingxuan withdrew his gaze and looked at Charles. "So, what about Wolf Flute? Where is he hiding, preparing to give me a surprise?"
"He died," Charles answered.
Ye Qingxuan curled his fingers up subconsciously.
"At first I was going to let him go, but after he knew what I'm going to do, he challenged me." Charles shook his head regretfully. "Maybe, he is the same kind of people as Gaius? They all have such a heavy sense of responsibility for all of this, leaving me with no choice."
Ye Qingxuan was silent for a long time and asked softly, "He lost?"
"No, he won." Charles lifted his palm and showed him a narrow, slender wound in his palm. "He touched me."
It was the scar left by Wolf Flute.
After sacrificing everything, paying the price which included everything he had, and using up all his wisdom, he merely made a scratch in Charles' skin.
It was shallow and didn't even draw blood.
Had Charles not kept it there deliberately, it would not have even left any trace.
"According to our agreement, for 15 days, the paradise will be constrained to the Caucasus, no matter what happens outside. This is what Wolf Flute has done for the world, and I also hope that you and the outside world will know about it."
Ye Qingxuan forced out a smile and just felt somewhat tired.
"Can I have a smoke?" he asked.
"Feel free to do so," came the reply.
Ye Qingxuan lit a cigarette, tarnishing the fresh air in the paradise, leaving human pollution in it. Waving the smoke in front of him away, he looked around. "After looking around for so long, where is your home?" he asked. "Are you not going to let me visit it?"
Charles said nothing.
In the brief silence, Ye Qingxuan lowered his head and couldn't help but laugh out loud.
It seemed as if he had understood Charles' answer.
"Is that the case?" He laughed so badly that he choked on the smoke, and he couldn't help but want to cough. He could hardly say anything. "You created such a magnificent paradise, but you have no place to stay… Charles, are you kidding me?"
It was such a vast land of paradise, an unprecedented utopia. The kingdom of heaven had descended onto the earth, and it seemed that everyone could enjoy peace and joy.
But in the vast kingdom of heaven, the god actually had no place to stay.
Every day and night, He lingered in paradise like a ghost, looking at the countless peaceful and happy lives from afar.
The creator of paradise had no place in paradise.
It was just like a joke...
"Maybe." Charles' expression was still calm, and he simply gazed at Ye Qingxuan. "I don't need anything like that anymore."
"Then, what about our teacher?" Ye Qingxuan pressed on step by step, trying to tear open a crack in Charles' calm camouflage. "Let me see where you have arranged for our teacher to stay, Is it elaborately decorated, like an exquisite grave?"
But the expected anger did not come.
On Charles' face was still an unnerving quietness.
He looked at Ye Qingxuan and asked in confusion. "What teacher?"
Ye Qingxuan was stunned.
He stood frozen where he was.
He couldn't move.
For some reason unknown, he suddenly felt a bit cold.
A chill seeped out of his bones, almost freezing him.
Then only did he realize how stupid his mistake was.
He always assumed that Charles was pretending to be calm, deliberately isolating himself from all human emotions, playing dress-up and acting like a god overlooking everything.
Ye Qingxuan had thought that as long as the calmness and indifference were broken, he would be able to identify Charles' flaw. As long as he could see Charles' anger, he could find Charles' weakness as a human being.
But at the moment, he suddenly realized how wrong he was!
At the moment, how many memories of the past does Charles still have after cutting himself off from everything of his back when he was once human?
He has even abandoned the memories of Abraham's existence.
And who exactly is the person standing in front of me now?
"What's wrong?" Charles asked, "Are you alright?"
"It's nothing." Ye Qingxuan said, "Just assume that I have remembered it wrong."
He forced out a smile, using up all his energy.
The smile was so ugly that even he himself couldn't stand it.
In the end, he lowered his head and put out the cigarette. "Charles..."
"Yes?" At the moment Charles turned back, the New Testament sword struck at his head without warning. In a flash, almost the entire weight of the Holy Cauldron was exerted on it. The violent gravitational pull from the mighty system that ran through the whole of the realm of aether stirred up a hurricane in the paradise.
The fiery blade was like a hot sun, tearing the whole night apart and igniting the darkness.
Amid the fierce light, Ye Qingxuan looked at the friend in front of him.
Finally, he made his intentions clear.
"I'm here to kill you."
Bang! He could feel violent quakes coming from the blade, as if it had directly hit something unbreakable. From the countless branches, all the way to the backbone of the sword, countless strands of music theory shook nonstop, whining forlornly in pain.
The blade striking down was abruptly stopped.
It stopped before an extended palm.
It was mere millimeters away from the wound left by Wolf Flute.
And yet, it seemed as far away from the palm as the abyss was from the sky. No matter how much force Ye Qingxuan exerted, it did not move forward for even the slightest bit.
The attack had come to an end.
It wasn't until the light went out then Charles lowered his head and sighed softly. "I thought you would try to persuade me first."
"Yeah, according to the pre-set plan, it should have gone like that." Ye Qingxuan nodded and admitted it. "But I thought about it and decided to put myself in your shoes. If you were the one persuading me, would I stop?"
"So, what's your answer?" Charles asked.
"I think probably not." Ye Qingxuan clenched his hilt and gazed into Charles' eyes. "So, instead of wasting time, why not proceed directly to the sneak attack storyline that everyone is very familiar with?"
Despite weapons being drawn, the pair of eyes still had no trace of anger or sadness in them.
They were simply filled with calmness.
An unshakable calmness.
"There's one thing that I'm very curious about." Charles asked softly, "I know that my existence is a source of trouble that must be taken care of to many people, but I don't think they can persuade you.
"Although I knew what you want to do the moment you came here, I really couldn't figure it out...
"Little Yezi, do you have any particular reason to want to kill me?"
"Of course not," was Ye Qingxuan's answer. "I thought about plenty of things along the way, but actually... There is no reason that compels me to kill you... I am still thinking about it just now, maybe a being like you will be a qualified and selfless god.
"Please, believe me, I meant it sincerely."
"Then why..." Charles began
"But, as compared to the paradise you have created today," Ye Qingxuan interrupted his words, no longer able to endure the pain in his heart, "I would rather see hell here!"
At the moment, the projection of the Net of Aether emerged from behind him, and the music theory of From the New World emerged from the outline of the Holy Cauldron. Tens of millions of movements extracted the endless aether, rising into the sky like stars, and turned into a torrent sweeping towards Charles.
A horrifying wave of heat erupted in an instant, burning the entire mountain range red. Countless pools of lava were swept up by the hurricane, gushing in all directions.
In the Föhn wind that exuded a dazzling high temperature, the animals were instantly turned into ashes, and the streams evaporated completely, revealing the dry riverbed. Milk and honey condensed into lumps and were then burnt into black charcoal. The lake of fine wine was ignited, and the burning fire extended into the distance.
In Ye Qingxuan's hands, the paradise was burned.
Forlorn whines sounded from afar, cries and shouts ringing out, once again flooding the world.
"Don't be afraid." A gentle voice rang in the ears of every crying person. "It will soon end. You will have a peaceful and tranquil life once more, and salvation has never left.
"Therefore, you need not endure in silence.
"If you are in pain, you may cry out loud.
"If you are in despair, you may roar and shout.
"As compared to the paradise you will get to enjoy, such an incident is just an insignificant memory."
Amid the ground fire and lava, a barefooted figure appeared, walking on the fire. Wherever he passed, all the flames and pain disappeared without a trace. A clear stream of water spurted out of the riverbed, winding and flowing.
The burning people also stopped crying, even though they were not cured, they could feel no more pain. They just bathed in the glory of God, softly bidding farewell to their families, smiling as they closed their eyes.
They calmly greeted death.
The paradise had returned.
Everything was as peaceful as the kingdom of heaven.
Despite being the kingdom of heaven, despite it being so beautiful...
It was an incredible eyesore to Ye Qingxuan.
Perhaps all of it was true, perhaps paradise had really descended upon the world, but just watching it made Ye Qingxuan furious beyond restraint.
If this place had been hell…
If Charles had created hell…
Maybe I could have felt his pain, maybe, I could still have...
However, Ye Qingxuan saw no flames nor residual anger.
The original sin of all humans had been left outside the godly domain.
Here is paradise.
It is a truly perfect kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps, Charles will be a qualified and just god. Perhaps nothing bad will come from Charles controlling the world. Perhaps human beings can usher in happiness or redemption or whatever after the old world is destroyed.
But none of it matters.
What Ye Qingxuan wanted had never been such goddamn ideas! Compared to what had been sacrificed, the so-called "redemption" was simply not worth mentioning.
"How can you still laugh, Charles?" Ye Qingxuan demanded hoarsely. Just gazing at Charles' face, made him roar uncontrollably. "How many memories have you given up, including our teacher?"
What answered him was some sort of merciful smile. It really seemed like that of a god overlooking the sufferings in the mortal realm after distancing Himself from the human world, spilling down mercy.
He abandoned anger and obtained peace.
He stayed away from sorrow and gained joy.
He refused suffering and ushered in redemption.
If you abandon even hatred, what on earth do you want to turn yourself into?
Ye Qingxuan shouted, "Haven't you sacrificed enough, Charles! To what extent are you going to destroy yourself before you are willing to stop?"
Ye Qingxuan's expression was distorted in rage, as he stared at the smiling Son of God in front of him, and he could not bear the cracking pain in his heart. "Do you really... want to be a god so desperately?!"
At the moment, propelled by his rage and pain, the New Testament sword whined forlornly as it cracked.
Innumerable cracks appeared on it.
The weapon that Ye Qingxuan had cast with everything he had was no longer able to withstand Ye Qingxuan using it with full force at the moment. Even the arrays of the Tree of World could hardly accommodate the violent music theory.
The horrifying impact of countless suns bursting erupted from it nonstop.
It continued until the New Testament sword completely disintegrated, causing the steel, which was eroded by aether, to turn into a stream of light so magnificent that one could not look straight at it. Pure power descended in Ye Qingxuan's hands, striking forward!
It struck at the god!
The mighty stream of light collided with the power of the god, causing chaotic torrents to erupt and throwing the entire realm of aether into turmoil.
But Charles' expression did not change.
He did not even counterattack.
Below the vast stream of light of rage, he merely protected the paradise behind him, the fragile world he built.
He simply looked at Ye Qingxuan, who was close at hand.
His gaze was full of pity.
It caused all the destruction to disintegrate, and all power lost meaning.
It made Ye Qingxuan almost tear up.
"Don't you have even the slightest trace of hatred?" He looked at the god in front of him, almost pleading. "Acknowledge your pain, Charles, go exact revenge, go create hell!
"At least that way, you will still be you!"
"Hell?" Charles shook his head in disappointment. "Haven't you seen enough of such things outside?" He reached out and held the horrifying brilliance that struck down at him.
He balled up his five fingers.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
He let the uncontrolled power burn his palm, but it failed to leave any scar on the palm.
In the end, it completely dissipated.
All of it was in vain.
"Little Yezi, I've never wanted to retaliate against anyone." Ye Qingxuan heard the calm voice of Charles. "Because revenge never had anything meaning.
"I have told you long ago: I want to end it all forever."
In the silence, the god stood in front of the paradise, gazing at the human. "I will overthrow the cruel and cold world, let the paradise cover everything, and grant everyone redemption."
At the moment, the paradise shook.
Grand singing rang from the deepest part of the realm of aether.
In the observation of musicians, a holy brilliance that seemed eternal lit up in the silent Eden.
On the barren land of the Caucasus, the huge tree of light rumbled, once again beginning to grow after ten days of silence.
It grew towards the heavens and the earth, towards the distance, towards the whole world. Countless bramble-like systems of roots pierced through the crust of the earth, anchoring down the roots, then spread out from the soil, digging up the earth, shaking the mountains and rivers, and extracting vitality from all living things.
In a flash, it expanded several times.
Wherever it passed, everything descended into silence.
Only the magnificent melody of the paradise growing was left between the heavens and the earth.
Tugged by the paradise, the sea of aether evaporated completely, and the realm of aether and the physical world were forcibly merged together. It was as if an invisible palm had forcibly pulled two parallel strings together and tightened them.
In the upheaval, the heavens and the earth had fallen apart.
But in the horrible disaster, no sound of screaming and crying could be heard.
On the earth covered in brambles, all human beings had disintegrated like dust, instantly, blending into the brambles. After losing their bodies, they were whisked away from the sufferings of the mortal world and entered the paradise.
Redemption was sprinkled all over the world.
"Has it finally started?" Amid the turbulent waves in the sea of ice, on the broken ice floe, Bach ignited his last cigarette and gazed silently at the kingdom of god.
After losing the support provided by the music theory of the King of Blue, at the moment, he was in an even worse condition than the ordinary musician, and could hardly even keep his fake heart beating.
But at the moment, his eyes had a light in them, as if he was burning his soul to resist death.
At least, please let me see the final outcome...