Translated by Moe
This is the first of two chapters that I’ve translated for Holy Ruins (圣墟), the series that I had originally intended to replace World Controlling God with. There’s honestly not much going on in these two chapters, but the story picks up soon enough. If there are any translators out there interested in picking up the series, feel free to do so.
Chapter 1 Red Spider Lily in the Desert
A single column of smoke rose in the desert. A long river meanders under the setting sun.1
The desert stretched as far as the eyes can see—grand and majestic-like—as the sun begins its descent below the horizon, casting an intense red color across the surrounding sky. The sweeping expanse in all its majesty was also accompanied by a sense of desolation.
The ancient fire beacons had long since fallen into ruin from the passing of the years, but the abandoned bed of the Yellow River’s old course exists as before, albeit its course had changed numerous times.
Chu Feng is traveling alone. Exhausted, he lied down on the yellow sand and gazed at the blood colored sunset, uncertain of how much longer it will take to leave this desert.
He graduated a few days ago and had said his farewell to the school’s goddess, perhaps for the last time. After all, he had been tactfully informed that they will be living far apart from each other from now on and that it would be better just to break up. So he decided to travel after leaving college.
The red setting sun suspended at the edge of the desert adds a kind of serene beauty in this wide-open vista.
Chu Feng sat up to drink some water and felt his energy has restored quite a bit. He has a slender and sturdy physique, and in peak physical condition, so his fatigue gradually subsided.
Standing up to look around, he felt that he should leave this place soon. The herdsman’s tent should come into view if he walks a little further, so he decided to keep trekking forward.
Traveling west the whole way, he left behind a long and distant trail of footprints in the desert sand behind him.
A shroud of fog suddenly rose from the ground, something that’s very unusual in the desert.
What surprised Chu Feng the most was the sharp blue color of the fog, so jarring in this late autumn evening that it sent a cold chill down his back.
Before he knew it, the fog had unwittingly become denser—the blue haze swirling miasma-like—enveloping this part of the desert.
At the edge of the desert, the setting sun also appeared somewhat strange as its color gradually transformed into a blue that possesses a kind of devilish charm, dyeing the previously red clouds in shades of blue.
Chu Feng frowned. Although he’s aware that weather conditions can be fickle in the desert, the scene unfolding before his eyes is truly bizarre.
The desert was calm and quiet. Chu Feng stopped his footsteps.
Before entering the desert, he was warned by an old local herdsman, that those who wander the desert alone will sometimes find themselves hearing unusual sounds or seeing strange sights, so he needed to be careful. But he was not particularly concerned at that time and threw caution to the wind.
The night was as tranquil as before. Except for the appearance of the hazy blue fog in the desert, nothing else of note occurred. Nevertheless, Chu Feng sped up the pace in his desire to leave as soon as possible.
The blue sun dyed the western part of the sky with its color may be strange and unusual, but it too will soon disappear beyond the horizon.
Chu Feng increased his pace more and more until he broke into a run. He had no desire to be in this ominous setting any longer than necessary.
In the desert, mirages and the like appear quite often when exposed to the scorching sun, but this is not consistent with what’s happening at the moment. This does not resemble any mirage whatsoever.
Suddenly, a muted sound came from his front, as if something had burrowed out of the sand, and the sound is very intense, occurring one after another.
Chu Feng swiftly stopped and stared at the desert with vigilance. Bright blue stars twinkled into being on the ground in front like scattered blue diamonds, sparkling and translucent, glittering in the afterglow of the setting sun.
One seedling after another, less than an inch tall, broke through the desert sand, bringing a beautiful, pure, yet bizarre luster everywhere in the desert.
After a momentary standstill, the rustling distilled into a crisp sound. The blue shimmered in the waning light as the seedlings rapidly rose, shooting up in a split second.
The blue sun sank lower, now on the verge of disappearing over the skyline, as the fog, everywhere present, draped the vast desert like strange blue gauze.
The sound of flowers blossoming disseminated as the desert turned blue. Just as the sun was about to disappear, these plants begin to blossom into a field of flowers.
The proliferation of scintillating blue flowers appeared almost surreal, like entering a reverie, as Chu Feng stood mesmerized by the scene of flowers blossoming all over the desert.
These plants were translucent as blue coral, perhaps one foot tall, and each and every petal was pretty and captivating. In other words, it possesses a devilish charm that pulls at people’s soul.
Chu Feng took a step back, but realized that these plants have already bloomed all around and behind him; the telltale glow of blue light flickered as far as the eyes can see.
He was dazed for a moment, and then took a closer look in an attempt to recognize this plant. It closely resembles the red spider lily with its petals which curves backward, with made the flower incredibly breathtaking.
However, the red spider lily is bright red as its name suggests , and he has never heard of there being blue colored red spider lilies.
The red spider lily is real, and it exists; the flower has strong religious overtones and is associated with many legends. Chu Feng did not believe any of them but was still alarmed by the sight before him.
The desert is barren and harsh, characterized by a lack of water that creates a survival problem for all but the drought-tolerant plants that can occasionally be seen sparsely scattered in patches. The red spider lily likes dark, damp environments and should not be here or bloom so splendidly in any case.
There was no end in sight; the sea of flowers stretched into the distance.
The vastness of the desert, the mist that dyed the sun blue, and the blue colored red spider lilies were all indescribably fantastic and mysterious!
A faint fragrance wafted in the air that made people lose themselves in ecstasy.
Chu Feng shakes his head vigorously and then took ginger steps, paying particular attention to avoid the flowers. He discovered that there is only one place that does not have these plants and that is the Yellow River’s old channel.
There had been a lot of changes throughout the years; the course of the river had had many times and the channel running through this expanse of desert is nearly dried up nowadays. The blue colored red spider lily bloomed everywhere along both shores and tightly framed it.
At the moment the sun finally set, these plants had completely bloomed into an ocean of blue running light and vibrant colors. Even under the evening light, the swirling blue luster remained dazzling and beautiful to the extreme.
Chu Feng stood on the dried bed of the Yellow River, unable to calm the pounding of his heart. Nevertheless, he did not linger and hurried along the course of the river.
The blue glow of the desert twinkled, but then, all of a sudden, when the blue colored red spider lilies were in full bloom, the flowers simultaneously withered in a split second.
The delicate petals were the first to wilt, followed by the rest of the plant. They lost their color and rapidly yellowed, exhausted their vitality, and then disintegrated into a fine powder; it was like losing decades of life in an instant.
This strange scene would be difficult to explain. It was like the momentary splendor of fireworks, beautiful to the extreme, and then fading away and turning into ashes.
It was hard to distinguish between the dried up yellow powder and the desert sand in the twilight, but the blue fog is now gone, and the desert has resumed its original, quiet appearance as if nothing ever happened.
Chu Feng did not stop taking large strides forward, causing sand to slide down the slip face of the dunes in the dim light. At last, the mountains’ silhouette came into view on the horizon, reigniting his desire to leave the desert.
The sky has completely darkened when he finally came out. He could clearly see the mountains and even make out the vague outline of the herdsmen’s tents at the foot of the mountains.
When he turned his head around, the vast desert behind him was very quiet, not one thing out of the ordinary. In contrast, lighted lanterns could be seen swaying in the direction of the mountains as indistinct clamor drifted through the air even though he was still quite far away.
In addition to those, there were the terrified cries of yaks and other livestock, as well as the muffled low growl of Tibetan mastiffs.
Chu Feng picked up his pace and rushed toward the herdsman’s dwelling at the foothills of the mountain.
- This is a line from the poem, An Envoy Arriving at the Outpost (使至塞上), written by the famous Tang Dynasty poet, Wang Wei (王维). The key takeaway is that Wang Wei wrote the poem depicting the Lanzhou area in modern-day Gansu province. This sets the story in the northwest part of China, probably somewhere at the borders of the Gobi Desert and the Tibetan plateaus.