Darkness, a deep blackness with no front or rear, no up or down.
In this emptiness that obfuscated everlasting eternity, I had found myself lying down, engulfed in the lives of innumerable people.
Clearly, they weren’t people living in this place and time, yet I could see and hear their stories.
And their deaths.
They seemed to me as if I were hallucinating them, like a mirage on a hot day.
But I knew they were all genuine.
Each of them was unique.
Their age, gender, and color were all different.
Some lived in a culture so mysterious and unfamiliar to me, and others lived in a strange civilization I would have never dared to imagine.
Still, they all had something in common.
Their lives had something in common.
A terrible tragedy.
All of them were protagonists of stories that only ended in tragic disaster.
I dared to guess, thinking they may be the ones chosen before me.
Of course, I could never be certain.
Time continued to pass.
The voice I had been talking to was nowhere to be heard.
Thinking about it, it might be that there was no such thing as a voice from the beginning.
Maybe I made up all these tragic stories out of boredom.
Or maybe they were just delusions formed by a mind that had gone insane after enduring a series of horrific tortures.
Time moved slowly and heavily.
It seemed like forever, like nothing would ever change.
At one point, from a distance, I could see a dim light, emitting a mild warmth of life.
Approaching it as though possessed, I sensed the world’s vitality.
And as I went closer, I fully grasped that this desolate, lonely, dreadful darkness was the deepest part and essence of my soul.
The closer I got to the light, the clearer it seemed that I didn’t belong there.
I was freshly assembled and composed by an unknown immemorial monster called The Ruler of Darkness.
And as I acknowledged that, I came to know that I was ready to go.
He opened his eyes feeling rejuvenated, as though he’d just awoken from a long afternoon slumber.
As if all those hours of anguish and terror had been falsehoods, he awoke nonchalantly, as if it had been a brief nightmare in his sleep.
His body was in such a relaxed condition that the recollection of being tormented and losing limbs seemed pitiful.
As if he awakened after obtaining enough sleep.
“Was it all a dream?” Of course, he was fully aware that it couldn’t be.
A heavy and evil energy quietly coiled up around him, emanating from his Dantian.
It was unmistakably the energy of “the ruler of darkness”.
The hideous demonic energy that had engulfed him that day in the subterranean cell had been entrenched in his Dantian.
Although at this moment, only a fraction of the whole energy was allotted to him.
Nonetheless, the ruler of darkness’s pure demonic energy, like sparks falling on his clothes, plainly made him believe that all was genuine.
“Hmm… … ”
In his naturally moving body, he felt discomfort.
The body, which had formerly been destroyed to the brink of death, was now in near-perfect shape.
He lifted his palm up in front of his face, opened it, and clinched it over and over again.
There were five digits attached to his fair, white hand, without even a single blemish, let alone a wound or scar.
“This is…” He got up, surveying his surroundings.
What filled his vision was an elegant bedroon.
From the wall of bookshelves filled with books and the pungent ink scent that tickled his nostrils, he immediately recognized its owner.
“This is my room.”
His scanning eyes appeared to know the location of each book without having to look.
His bedroom, which he had occupied since he was a toddler, was the most comfortable place in the house for him.
“He said he would give me one more chance.”
The ruler of darkness had clearly said that he would give him a second chance.
But reverting to the past!? He would have been content if he could have smuggled him out of that terrible purgatory.
That’s what he concluded when he heard the words “second chance.” All of his loved ones were long dead and gone, but this was still a great chance.
There was a lot to accomplish so long as he was alive.
But returning to the past!? That thought never crossed his mind.
Before he knew it, a creepy laugh escaped his mouth.
The ruler of darkness, who alluded to himself as the scripture opposed to Heaven, was far more terrifying than he had imagined.
It demonstrated the power to turn back time in a way he only dared to imagine.
He was curious about the identity of the monster called the ruler of darkness, but at the moment he couldn’t care less.
He had returned to the past! He got more than he bargained for, “Ha ha ha ha ha ha…!”
As if responding to his laughter, the energy of the ruler of darkness in his Dantian growled and howled.
Sitting on the bed, he knew that he had returned to the past, both from the appearance of his bedroom, which could never be erased from his memory, and from the hands, which could only belong to a young person.
But he needed to know more precisely, the date he had gone back to.
Fortunately, he didn’t have to look far for hints; the surroundings were almost yelling them at him.
He cast a brief peek over the wall of books.
Although it seemed to be a quick glance, it was everything but.
Every time his gaze landed on a book, a bunch of information flooded into his brain.
When did the book come into his room? When was it arranged in its current place? He properly contrasted the scenes in his memory with the ones he was now seeing.
It was a simple task.
Several breaths later, he finished checking.
“17 years old, the second month…?”
His own young voice sounded strange to him.
His eyes darkened, looking back on his own life, which had been eventful as he reassembled it again and again.
Like a Daoist immortal who could predict countless future events just by glancing at a checkerboard.
He had been immersed in his thoughts for quite some time before some noises from outside abruptly jolted him back to reality.
Archduke¹ wake up?”
“So what? Won’t he be holding onto books as soon as he wakes up anyway?”
“Heaven isn’t fair.
I can’t believe that the Archduke of the Luoyang Sword Clan, widely considered the most prestigious clan in the Central Plains, is so worthless.”
“People even call him the swordless….pathetic.”
“Still, he was rumored to be clever in the past……”
“Dude, that’s a totally made-up story.”
“Still, he can do whatever he pleases; the fucking bastard is so lucky that he was born into the great Luoyang Sword Clan, the Heavenly Clan.”
It was none other than the conversation of the servants, speaking ill of him and slandering him.
Hearing such words would have made him enraged in the first life, but his eyes now were utterly indifferent.
Originally, he had been interested in the words of others, and he hadn’t been having fun with it. However, at present, he was stained with lunacy and the demonic energy of the ruler of darkness to the very core of his soul.
In other words, the surface of his mind had become like a still lake of unknown depth.
But under that depth lurked a volcano that might erupt at any moment.
“Hey, is anyone there?” He shouted, calling the servants.
But no one answered.
It was natural.
The place where he stayed was one of the strict secret places of the Luoyang Sword Clan.
The soundproofing technique applied here was undoubtedly the best in the central plains.
And yet, he could quite clearly hear the servants’ whispering outside.
“Is this likewise a power derived from the ruler of darkness?” Perhaps it wasn’t simply the hearing that had been affected.
Calmly, he took his time.
He examined and experimented on his physique over and over.
Not too long had passed before he reached a conclusion.
A dramatic increase in overall physical ability!
All of his physical abilities, including stamina, muscular strength, and his five senses, had been enhanced.
“Great…” He looked in the mirror.
What was there was not the frail body he had had.
Instead, there was a body like steel, only those who trained to the limit could have.
His body, where every muscle was clearly visible, felt somehow bizarre.
He was first enjoying his muscles, but then he noticed that something wasn’t right.
“What the f…..?”
The mirror reflected his own face with a terrifyingly distorted expression.
Was this how a demon would seem, pickled in his murderous look, and his demonic energy had intensified to the depths of his heart?
“Oh my.” Looking in the mirror, he tried to change his expression.
“Like this….” He said as he lowered the corner of his mouth a little more.
He then smoothed out the wrinkles on his forehead, and drooped his brows a little.
“It’s turned into a more grotesque face, cle cle cle.”
A phlegmy laugh escaped his lips.
It seemed that the laughter had to be fixed as well.
“That’s okay, I have plenty of time….”
He put his hands to his face and rubbed it like paste.
First, he needed to relax his muscles a little.
As heat rose from his rough-rubbed face, the muscles softened.
Then he looked in the mirror again and began to practice facial expressions.
I need a more human expression….”
After staring in the mirror for a time, he realized his appearance was absurd, and he burst out laughing.
It was laughter mixed with purring metallic sounds.
He continued to wrestle with his face for a long before finally speaking.
“That’s what I mean.”
In the mirror, he appeared with an almost natural countenance that a child would not be frightened to see.
“Am I even human?” he murmured in a confused voice, glancing at himself in the mirror as though the answer was right there.
Regardless of how weird the look in the mirror was, it was still his face.
Everyone would agree he was that worthless, handsome young man.
But what he was gazing into was utterly different.
The place where the eyes should have been was empty and deformed with pain, dripping bloody tears.
Only two holes remained where the nose should be, and pus was oozing out.
There was no part of his face’s skin that was still intact.
In his throat, the tongue, which had only the root left, was dangling.
It wasn’t a reflection of his image.
It was his mental image of himself that he was looking into.
Wounded, twisted, distorted, tainted…
It was the demonic energy of the ruler of darkness that he was harboring.
1: The eldest son of a noble family
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