Qiang Yan waited for a moment to give him some the time to digest this information. There was a lot Bai Mu would have to take in now. He couldn’t expect him to do all that at once. Still, he felt better now that he had told him that he hadn’t known. He didn’t want him to feel that his father hadn’t cared about him. He wanted him to know that he really hadn’t known. That he would have come to look for them if he knew that they were still there.
Qiang Yan finally cleared his throat. “I guess you haven’t heard about the trials of the gods either. It’s hard to explain in short without going into too much detail but the gist of it is that a trueborn god will have to be reborn as a human at some time in his life. They are supposed to undergo some trials, learn things that they might not be able to do in the Nine Heavens, and after that, after they die in the mortal realm, their souls will find their way back to the Nine Heavens where they’ll awake as the person they were before.”
Bai Mu nodded. He really hadn’t heard of that and to be honest, it was hard to imagine. A life lived in another life? Just how what that was that supposed to work? Would it be … like a dream? A very long dream of many years that they just woke up from?
Qiang Yan didn’t wait for him to ask. Even though he couldn’t go into detail, he felt that he should at least give him some more information. “The trials are important to us trueborn gods. If we don’t do them, we will die. There are some prerequisites tied to them like the time when we have to undertake them and the things we’ll have to do in these trials. For the most part, somebody will write down what we’re supposed to experience in these trials so we aren’t completely free either.” He took a deep breath and his expression turned nostalgic. “Back then, I wasn’t a completely young god anymore. I had passed two of my trials and with a bit of luck, there was only a third one that I needed to accomplish. My fate wasn’t pre-written. I was allowed to go and explore on my own, experiencing whatever would happen to me. There was nothing anybody forced me to do.
“I was reborn as Feng Jian Hao, your father. The life I chose … I guess I was giving the people in the Nine Heavens a headache. For the gods that reincarnate to pass their trials, there is one thing that they can’t do. And that is to cultivate. Because if they ascend, then they would turn into an ascended deity and that deity will live on instead of their real self, the trueborn god.
“It’s … I guess you can’t say that the trueborn god dies but it is still more or less the same. As long as somebody lives in place of your original person, then that is almost just like dying, isn’t it?” He still smiled but this time, it was mostly sad. Maybe it was also mixed with regret.
Bai Mu’s eyes narrowed. This at least explained why his father, who his mother had always believed to be only human, had turned out to be the God of War. Well, at least it explained the relationship between the two. It didn’t explain why the one in front of him was the God of War now. “If what you said is true, then what happened to my father? Why is the one here now …?”
Qiang Yan nodded. “Yes, I thought you’d like to ask that. Originally, I turned into an ascended deity. And yes, I would have lived on as that person. But there is another rule in the Nine Heavens. If a trueborn god reincarnates and then ascends, then the person they have turned into would be killed upon sight when they returned.”
Bai Mu furrowed his brows. “So they attacked you and killed you as soon as you ascended? Without you knowing what was going on? Did you know about these things when you entered the Nine Heavens?”
Qiang Yan shook his head. “How could I have known? I was still just Feng Jian Hao. I didn’t have the memories of my previous life. Seeing that they were ruthlessly attacking me, obviously intent on killing me, I even thought for a moment that it was good that your mother wasn’t there yet.
“I still had the slight hope that maybe I would be able to kill off as many of them as I could. So that when she came, she would be able to escape. Maybe he would even be able to escape together, however much injured I was. Hiding somewhere where nobody could find us, staying there until the danger was over … How often had he done that in the mortal realm? It had always worked out. So I thought … I thought it might work.
“Who knew that she wouldn’t come? And that I would die in that place alone? Back then … In the last moment of that life, I felt unwilling. I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want to let them live and maybe endanger your mother’s life when her ascension was completed. I was even more unwilling to die without seeing her for one last time. But however much reluctance I felt, there was no way for me to hold on any longer. In the end, I was defeated like that and died with these regrets.”