Darryl was stunned as he stared at Ghost Valley Sage wordlessly. Then, Darryl realized that even though the Ghost Valley Sage looked energized, his energy field and internal energy were gone, just like his.
“Elder.” Darryl was shocked; he asked, “What happened to your power?”
The Ghost Valley Sage chuckled and said, “Darryl, you are quite knowledgeable when it comes to ancient studies. Have you ever heard of the final stage of cultivation called the Returning of Innocence?”
The Returning of Innocence? Darryl jumped as if those words had kicked him in the chest; he drew a quick breath with widened eyes. “Elder, so you are saying that you’re going to eclose…”
Darryl was shaken. He thought back to what he had learned about that. Once a cultivator reached the Heaven Ascension level, they still had another level to achieve—the Godly Realm level. It was an extremely challenging level, and very few had managed to do that. Yang Jian was a powerful being, and he was still in the final stages of the Heaven Ascension level. He was not even close to achieving the Godly Realm level yet.
As for the Returning of Innocence that the Ghost Valley Sage mentioned, one would need to go through the eclosion stage after one achieved the Godly Realm level. Darryl had always thought it was only a myth; he had not heard of anyone who had gone through that stage. He did not expect that the Ghost Valley Sage would be the one to break through that stage. The older man looked like he would eclose at any moment.
As he tried to remember all the information that he remembered about that stage, Darryl finally understood that situation. It seemed like the Ghost Valley Sage had gone all the way there to join them in defending the Chaotic Mountain Range. However, the older man did not expect that he would have a chance to achieve a break through.
So, he stayed in a cave to prepare for the Eclosion stage. Coincidentally, that was when Darryl got himself kidnapped and brought there by Jackie. As the last step of cultivation, there was no margin of error when it came to the preparation for Eclosion. That was why the Ghost Valley Sage remained silent while Jackie was there. He did not want to be disturbed.
“I will be leaving soon.” The Ghost Valley Sage watched as Darryl tried to gather his thoughts. Then, he said in a peaceful tone, “Our friendship began when you released me from the Seven Treasures Exquisite Pagoda and ends with you beside me as I eclose. Destiny really does work in wondrous ways.”
“I’ve written the manual of my powers called the Heart Sutra of Eight Wilds on these walls. Learn it well, and you should be able to regain your powers. I only wish that you will be able to serve the Nine Mainland once you do…” The Ghost Valley Sage’s voice began to fade; he closed his eyes as he uttered the last words.
A powerful shockwave erupted from the Ghost Valley Sage with a hum. It filled up every corner of the room and then disappeared into the air.
“Elder!” Darryl cried at the unexpected farewell; he got down on his knees. Darryl could sense it as the Ghost Valley Sage took his last breath, but he looked so peaceful that it was almost like he was asleep. The fact that the Ghost Valley Sage eclosed was great news, but the thought that he would never hear his voice again instantly filled Darryl’s heart with sorrow.
It took a few minutes before Darryl snapped out of it. He lowered his head until his forehead touched the ground as a gesture of respect, and with determination, he promised, “Elder Sage, rest in peace. I vow to serve the people until my last day once I regain my power as you had wished.”
As his words echoed through the caves, Darryl stood up and turned to inspect the walls. He found the words that had been carved into them with internal energy; it was the Heart Sutra of Eight Wilds that the Ghost Valley Sage had spent his entire life to create.
Darryl was deeply touched by the length that the Ghost Valley Sage had gone through to help him. He realized that the elder had stopped responding to him after their initial conversation because he was focused on carving everything he knew on the stone walls so that Darryl could regain his power. He would never forget what the Ghost Valley Sage had done for him! Darryl decided not to hesitate for another moment; he sat down and began to practice the sutra on the walls.