How would you evaluate Chapter 658 (698) of the manga "The Outcast"?

Decoding the Storytelling Techniques of Mi Er in Comics

In the recent chapters, we have witnessed two common tactics used by Mi Er. The first one involves laying a foreshadowing for the actual answer, ensuring that the revelation of the truth does not seem abrupt. The second tactic is presenting a misleading target to divert attention, a classic case of the “Golden Cicada’s Shedding”.

The foreshadowing for the actual answer is found in Zuo Ruotong’s mutterings. He has reached a bottleneck in the second stage of his “Inverse Life” technique and is unable to figure out the breakthrough for the third stage. His phrase “Could it be…” sets the stage for the upcoming truth. If Zuo Ruotong’s idea of destroying and reconstructing his body is incorrect, then this “Unless…” points towards the correct path.

What, then, does this hidden half-sentence of “Unless…” imply?

The complete statement is: “Unless, the path ahead does not exist. The third stage of Inverse Life is not about ascension. The concept of metamorphosis in the third stage is a fabrication, merely a legacy of thoughts left by the predecessors for their descendants."

The third stage of Inverse Life being a method to achieve metamorphosis is the essence of the Trinity Sect, representing their confidence as leaders of the mystical community. Without this belief, there’s no qualitative difference between the third stage of Inverse Life and the “Reversing the Eight Directions”. Hence, exposing this truth is equivalent to shattering the spirit of the Trinity Sect.

This is why, after witnessing Zuo Ruotong’s state in the third stage, the seemingly impulsive Uncle Shi of the Trinity Sect hurriedly sends Wugen down the mountain. Earlier, he was prepared to eliminate Wugen, but now prioritizes sending him away because something more crucial than removing the “great threat to the Trinity Sect” has arisen.

What is this urgent and significant matter? It is the fear that Wugen might expose in front of the entire Trinity Sect that the third stage of Inverse Life is not about becoming an immortal through metamorphosis. Once exposed, the spirit of the sect would disperse.

In his urgency, Uncle Shi does two things: first, he hastens Wugen’s departure to prevent the revelation of the truth; second, he emphasizes publicly that “today is a day of great joy for the Trinity Sect”. Why declare it a day of great joy? Because he realizes that Zuo Ruotong has not successfully metamorphosed. To prevent the truth about the third stage of Inverse Life from being exposed, he publicly claims that Zuo Ruotong has ascended, thus pacifying and deceiving the sect members. Though he does this for the good of the sect, it’s a compromise of integrity for the sake of organizational benefit.

Some might wonder, could it not be that Zuo truly succeeded?

The real process of metamorphosis, as the author perceives, is described here: [Link and image omitted]

For the analysis of the character with a sudden change to a stern demeanor, please refer to the following:

From the creator’s perspective, let’s summarize a few interesting tactics commonly used by Mi Er.

1. The Stern-faced Character

A normally portrayed character suddenly turning stern-faced indicates a severe emotional fluctuation.

Take Wugen in the Trinity Sect event, his stern face at that moment signifies that he has no retreat left and is prepared to take serious action against Zuo Ruotong.

Similarly, in the Trinity Sect event, Uncle Shi and the other disciples suddenly turn stern-faced because they are conspiring to ensure that Wugen does not leave the mountain alive.

Zhang Chulan turns stern-faced while talking to Zhao Dong, as Zhao proposes using the Lu family against Ma Xianhong, triggering a strong aversion in Zhang. This emotional fluctuation reflects Zhang’s inherently good nature.

Another example is Jin Feng’s stern face when Xu Xin states that nowadays people only know Wugen and not Feng Yao. In reality, Jin Feng is the true informant. Xu Xin’s words remind her that she is the one who betrayed Wugen, causing her intense emotional turmoil.

These are just a few examples. The conclusion remains the same: a normally depicted character suddenly turning stern-faced signifies a dramatic psychological shift.

2. The Golden Cicada’s Shedding

The Golden Cicada’s Shedding, one of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, involves throwing out a false target to attract enemy attention, allowing the real target to slip away unnoticed.

In comic creation, this strategy starts by presenting a seemingly reasonable explanation to confuse right and wrong, keeping the real answer hidden until the final reveal. However, to ensure that this real answer does not appear out of the blue, there must be foreshadowing earlier in the story, which is often overlooked because it is not emphasized. Hence, identifying this foreshadowing is crucial to uncovering the real truth.

When executed perfectly, this strategy creates an effect akin to “darkness under the lamp”, where the truth is right in front of the reader, yet remains unseen, much like being blind despite open eyes. I have been fooled by Mi Er’s use of this tactic before.

For example, in the Nathan Island arc, the biggest question was: Who broke the golden branch?

Though initially not highly alert, entering Nathan’s royal castle, especially its heart where the divine tree resides, was no small feat. Considering the king’s strong perceptive abilities, it seemed nearly impossible to break the golden branch unnoticed.

At this point, the cunning Mi Er starts depicting Gu Qiting, whose ability to appear and disappear mysteriously seemed perfect for the task. Many readers, myself included, were convinced that Gu Qiting was the culprit. However, as we all know now, the real perpetrator was a Nathan guard. The guard had better access and opportunity to approach the divine tree than Gu Qiting, yet we overlooked this obvious suspect, a classic case of missing the truth that lies in plain sight.

Therefore, when reading comics, if you encounter a so-called reasonable explanation before the real truth is revealed, it is likely just a decoy in the Golden Cicada’s Shedding strategy. The real answer should be connected to the subtle foreshadowing earlier in the story.

For instance, in the case of the 36 people’s betrayer, the decoy in the Golden Cicada’s Shedding was Zhang Huaiyi. Mi Er even went to the extent of having him claim to be the main culprit of the Jia Shen turmoil. While he was indeed the main culprit, it doesn’t mean he was the informant. The real answer was Jin Feng.

Regarding the character of Grandma Jin Feng in “The Outcast”:

When Bi Lian was attacked by the Yaoxing Society, and Hu Lanlan came to her rescue the next day, drawing a symbol on her arm, the decoy was Wang Zhenqiu, as the flesh Ganoderma was watching at the time. However, the real answer was Zhang Yude.

What happened to Zhang Chulan’s father, Zhang Yude, in “The Outcast”?

Regarding the qi infant inside Zhang Chulan, some guessed it was Qi Body Source Stream, others thought it was Zuo Ruotong… These are all decoys. The fact that the qi infant can use Divine Spirit Technique is the biggest clue, as Divine Spirit Technique, being an innate skill, cannot be taught. Therefore, the real identity of the qi infant is Wugen.

What exactly happened between Wugen and the Trinity Sect in “The Outcast”?

3. Unity of Opposites

To endow a character with strong tension, Mi Er often uses the technique of combining two seemingly opposite attributes within a single character. However, these opposite attributes share a unified core, embodying the concept of the unity of opposites. The opposites are superficial, while the unity is the core. Characters crafted this way are not only dynamic but also layered, making for a highly effective portrayal.

In “The Outcast”, characters embodying the unity of opposites include:

Xiao Ge’s combination of Buddha and Demon. He is a born killer with inherently evil instincts but understands right and wrong and practices Buddhism as a counterbalance. His opposites are Buddha and Demon, unified in the perpetual struggle to suppress his demonic nature with his Buddhist beliefs.

Wugen’s unity of opposites lies in being both righteous and nefarious. He can appear more righteous than the righteous when needed but turns a blind eye to various atrocities (like when Liang Ting took Jin Feng away with ill intentions, Wugen didn’t intervene but instead asked them to leave). His unified core is “holding virtue as a mirror”, essentially reflecting the virtues and actions of those who come to him.

Views on Wugen in “The Outcast”:

Zhang Chulan exhibits numerous opposites – he’s full of lies yet keeps his promises, appears decayed yet stands upright, is smooth yet distinct. His unified core is complex and cannot be summarized in a few words. For a deeper understanding, please refer to the following article:

Why do many dislike Zhang Chulan?

Li Muxuan is another character displaying unity of opposites. His opposites are compliance and rebellion, unified in his pursuit of control. His ability to comply with others’ wishes is evident, as even Zuo Ruotong notes, “He knows too well what others want”. Yet, he often acts in defiance, always doing the opposite of what he’s taught. Both compliance and defiance are manifestations of Li Muxuan’s need for control. After analyzing him extensively, I realized a psychologist succinctly described Li Muxuan’s psychological traits in four words: “vertical split”.

What happened between Wugen and the Trinity Sect in “The Outcast”?

4. In Conclusion

To summarize, a character suddenly turning stern-faced indicates a significant emotional upheaval.

Upon recognizing the Golden Cicada’s Shedding tactic, pay attention to the foreshadowing and its corresponding truth, and don’t get fixated on the false targets thrown by Mi Er.

If a character exhibits two seemingly opposite traits, there is likely a deeper, unifying core that reconciles these opposites.

Below is a collection of my analyses on “The Outcast” (covering various mysteries):

Tai Lao’s “The Outcast” Mystery Solving Collection - Tai Lao’s Articles - Zhihu

Tai Lao: Tai Lao’s “The Outcast” Mystery Solving Collection

Here is a link to my novel works, and I welcome feedback. I hope to one day write something that rivals “The Outcast”.

[Link omitted]

Misguided Pursuit in “The Outcast”

In my understanding, Zuo’s success in reaching the third stage was an eye-opener for him. He realized that despite reaching this advanced stage, he remained a mortal and not an immortal, confirming that the Inverse Life technique was just a form of practice and not a path to immortality. This revelation was heart-wrenching for him, a clear proof of his mortality. In the end, he let Wugen attempt to undo the technique as a final validation. As expected, Wugen was still able to undo the third stage, proving that the supposed immortal form achieved after Inverse Life was merely an illusion. Consequently, Zuo, disheartened and disillusioned, chose not to maintain the Inverse Life state and calmly accepted death in his old age (due to the recurrence of an old ailment). It’s likely that before his demise, he freed Zuo Li and disbanded the Trinity Sect.


Updating with a new thought: The words Wugen spoke to Zuo, explaining his firm belief that the Inverse Life technique does not lead to transcendence, reminded me of what Zhang Zhiwei said to Lu Jin about why he tricked him during the Dan stage.

Wugen said, “The path to transcendence is not limited to three stages, nor is it necessary to stop at three.” Initially, I didn’t grasp the meaning of this statement, but recalling Zhang Zhiwei’s words made it clearer.

Zhang Zhiwei explained that the purpose of practicing the Golden Light Spell was to enhance one’s life cultivation. The spell and rituals merely produced some usable golden light, but the focus should be on self-improvement rather than on producing stronger golden light, or else it would be missing the point. Similarly, Zhang Zhiwei saw that regardless of how miraculous the third stage of Inverse Life appeared, it fundamentally involved cultivating oneself to enter a special state. Therefore, by ignoring the Inverse Life technique and directly disrupting Lu Jin’s state, he could break Lu Jin’s Inverse Life.

This highlights a point: at that time, Lu Jin was indeed missing the point with his practice of Inverse Life. He focused on using Inverse Life to defeat others, resulting in an unstable state for himself, which Zhang Zhiwei easily disrupted. Zhang’s words pinpointed Lu Jin’s mistake, which is why Zuo Ruotong constantly reminded him to seek genuine understanding through constant discussion and learning.

With this understanding, looking back at the conversation between Wugen and Zuo Ruotong, we realize that Zuo Ruotong, and even the entire Trinity Sect, fell into the same trap as Lu Jin. The Inverse Life technique, dividing the practice into three stages, led the disciples to believe that reaching the third stage was a step closer to becoming an immortal. Wugen, however, immediately recognized this as nonsense. The essence of pursuing immortality lies in self-cultivation, not in cultivating techniques. By categorizing the technique into stages and suggesting that reaching the third stage leads to immortality, the sect was indeed missing the point. The Trinity Sect’s approach was fundamentally flawed from the start.

Therefore, Wugen’s comment that Zuo Ruotong was “blinded by being within this mountain” was spot on. Having been in the Trinity Sect since a young age, Zuo Ruotong followed their teachings to the very end, never realizing that their direction was skewed from the start. His relentless pursuit of technique, even when taken to the extreme, led him to the same conclusion as Wugen stated: “You reach the third stage and then what? Still Inverse Life? That’s it?” Thus, Zuo Ruotong sought a final verification. Even at the third stage, if Wugen could still undo it, it would prove that after all the effort, Zuo Ruotong was still the same old man, his technique might have been stronger, but he remained unchanged. This path, indeed, was not one to immortality!

Left Ruotong’s ultimate goal was to prove whether reaching the Third Realm of Reverse Birth could truly refine the Primordial Qi. That’s why he requested Rootless Sheng to verify it once again, and the results were evident – he still couldn’t attain the Primordial Qi. This marks the limit of the Third Realm of Reverse Birth, an insurmountable barrier to ascend to the heavens, let alone achieving immortality. For Left Ruotong, who had dedicated his entire life to cultivation, it was an immense blow…

However, Left Master, I truly wish you could leave some instructions for the future and prevent unnecessary conflicts and events from occurring.

Why Did Rootless Sheng Destroy the Twenty-Four Meridian Valleys?

Because in the world of outsiders, achieving immortality through feathering is non-existent.

You transformed ordinary people into outsiders through the Qi formations you created, leading them to pursue feathering and eternal life. However, in the end, this path is a dead end. The harder you strive and persist, the greater the harm you suffer.

So far, all feathering is merely rumored.

Rootless Sheng is an atheist.

Ziyang True Immortal never truly became an immortal. The Qi formations he left behind are fundamentally flawed from a philosophical perspective. This is probably why Rootless Sheng, after witnessing Left Ruotong’s obsession, negated Ziyang’s teachings.

The Third Realm of Reverse Birth is, so far, the closest technique to feathering. However, even if Left Ruotong reaches the Third Realm, he is still just a practitioner.

Even at the pinnacle of cultivation, one’s Qi source remains a mere practice, with no connection to becoming an immortal through feathering.

As for Rootless Sheng’s subsequent gathering of the Thirty-Six Rogues, could it be that he intends to test each sect’s practices with divine and spiritual beings to see if there’s any possibility of achieving immortality?

The outcome…

The Path of Ascension: Beyond Mortals and Immortals

Has there ever been a defined path to ascension?

On Zhihu, many have debated whether the true path lies in the cultivation of both life and destiny, asserting that it surpasses mere techniques. Those who cannot become immortals are deemed practitioners, considered inferior. However, a significant number of people often ignore the manga’s setting, interpreting the concept of life and destiny according to their whims. It often leads to conflicting interpretations, making it an exercise in futility.

If the enhancement of one’s life and destiny is considered a path, then what about an advanced technique like the Golden Light Incantation, which can accelerate this process? Is it still considered a technique, or does it qualify as a path?

The most absurd part is that in the manga, the four categories of people explicitly associated with techniques and paths have no connection to martial arts cultivation.

From this chapter, it becomes apparent that there is no absolute right way to cultivate one’s life and destiny, nor should there be only one path to becoming an immortal.

Practicing Thunder Techniques can lead to immortality, as can mastering Tai Chi, or crafting talismans. Assuming that the Eight Eccentric Arts are all legacies of immortals, then alchemy and shamanism can also lead to immortality.

Indeed, martial arts techniques vary in quality, but they should not be solely measured by the ability to become an immortal. Some techniques aim for immortality, while others focus on combat, healing, or achieving specific goals – all of which can be considered good techniques. The criteria for evaluation should not be limited to the narrow question of whether one can become an immortal.

If an individual’s sole purpose in cultivation is to become an immortal, they are destined to fall short.

There is no predetermined path to ascension; it all depends on whether you can forge your own way.

When You Reach the End of a Path, You Have Two Choices

Either You Change Course

Or You’ve Entered a Dead End

Reaching the Primordial Qi through Reverse Birth leaves no path ahead.

There are countless methods in the world, and even the Third Realm of Reverse Birth is enough to dominate all others.

But why choose Reverse Birth? Is it to seek eternal life?

Those who cultivate value life the most, and Rootless Sheng is the prime example.

Five hundred years aren’t enough; a thousand years are just a fraction.

Now that you’ve cultivated the Primordial Qi, where is the path to eternal life?

Just like when Sun Wukong apprenticed under the Three Stars Cave of the Slanting Moon and received teachings from the Bodhi Patriarch,

Why did Sun Wukong refuse to learn this and that?

Because he came for the sake of eternal life. No matter how powerful other methods are,

They cannot alleviate the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death in the cycle of reincarnation.

Even with an extended lifespan, there will ultimately be an end to it.

The Third Realm of Reverse Birth does not lead to transcendence.

Left Master, in the state of the Third Realm, is undoubtedly unmatched in strength,

And Rootless Sheng, despite having divine spirits, is no match.

The speed at which you erase is not faster than Left Master’s reconstruction.

However, just like the Tian Shi Sect practices the Golden Light Incantation not for the sake of gold light,

The Third Realm of Reverse Birth is willing to defy conventional norms for a glimmer of hope.

The path of 3-in-1 has reached its end.

Even if you are an emperor, reigning supreme, with all lands in submission and none daring to oppose you,

Even if you are the top in the world, dominating an era, reaching the pinnacle in this life,

Life will eventually come to an end, reduced to a handful of yellow soil.

Ultimately, you are still just an ordinary mortal.

In the end, you cannot become an immortal, cannot ascend to the heavens.

Left Master now resembles Yang Lie, who saw the truth about Huaiyi’s Dan Shi and fled like nothing happened.

But at least Yang Lie knew that the myth of Dan Shi remained.

Left Master, on the other hand, has witnessed a bloody reality.

After all the commotion, he has reached the end of the 3-in-1 path.

They could have been great friends in their twilight years.

Even if their lifelong pursuit ends in emptiness, he doesn’t blame anyone.

Such is the conduct of a true gentleman.

The next update is on the 9th, but Left Master won’t make it through this year.

You are a respected teacher, leader, elder, and gentleman.

May you have a peaceful journey.

Ah… Everything is Illusory…

Contents of this chapter:

Left Ruotong has truly entered the final stage of the Third Realm of Reverse Birth, where he completely transforms his Qi and conceals himself within the realm, allowing him to reform his Qi and body at will.

As the onlookers were astonished by Left Ruotong’s disappearance, it seemed like he had blocked everyone. Some were delighted that Left had entered the third stage, while Rootless Sheng wore a grim expression, indicating that he knew this path was not as the Three-in-One Sect disciples had imagined.

All disciples of the Three-in-One Sect knelt, believing that Left Ruotong, having reached the third stage, had truly become an immortal.

Everyone recited the Three-in-One Sect’s techniques, a scene that even Li Muxuan couldn’t help but kneel before.

Indeed, Li Muxuan had apprenticed under the Three-in-One Sect due to their profound techniques and had even changed his name to Li Muxuan. Today, he witnessed the most profound scene in the world.

As Left Ruotong took form and locked eyes with Rootless Sheng, a brief silence ensued. Left Ruotong realized that there had been no fundamental change in himself.

Seemingly, Jichong watched Left with excitement, but still took a few steps forward, allowing Rootless Sheng to step back. [In my opinion, at this moment, Jichong may have thought Left Ruotong intended to kill Rootless Sheng, which would have been easy, but Rootless Sheng had done nothing wrong. Therefore, Jichong spoke up in advance to save Rootless Sheng.]

Left Ruotong asked Jichong to step back, while Jichong continued to defend Rootless Sheng, saying, “You have already become an immortal, so why bother with him?”

Left Ruotong did not say much and used his Qi to create a barrier, trapping himself and Rootless Sheng inside.

The two conversed in private, and Rootless Sheng candidly stated that while the Third Realm of Reverse Birth was indeed powerful in terms of techniques, it couldn’t lead to ascension in cultivation.

Left Ruotong asked why, and Rootless Sheng replied that since Left Ruotong had been part of the Three-in-One Sect from a young age, it was natural for him to be unable to think beyond their framework. If you didn’t join the Three-in-One Sect, your talents would have allowed you to understand that the methods for ascending in cultivation have no endpoint.

Left Ruotong understood and said, “I know the answer, and it pains me…”

“This pain is not only because I know the reason for my failure, but also because my failure is proof that I couldn’t become an immortal, remaining a mortal…”

However, since I chose this path, even if I already know it’s wrong, I still want to reach the end…

Rootless Sheng chose to fulfill Left Ruotong’s wish…

Once again, the divine spirits tore open the Third Realm of Reverse Birth…

The disguise of all states constructed by Qi vanished…

Left Ruotong remained the old, elderly figure he was…

Reverse Birth cannot lead to ascension; it is ultimately illusory, a mere disguise…

With a lonely tone, Left Ruotong asked Rootless Sheng to leave…

If there is one line in this chapter that stood out to me the most, it would be…

“Rootless Sheng: ‘It cannot lead to ascension.'”


“Left Ruotong: ‘This pain is not only because I know the reason for my failure, but also because my failure is proof that I couldn’t become an immortal.'”

The former… makes me think of…

First, there’s Zhang Daoling of the Celestial Masters, Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang Mountain, and others who have become immortals…

Indeed, whether it’s the Golden Light Thunder Method or Tai Chi Bagua, there is no hierarchy in their techniques… Any method of cultivation should ultimately be about refining the body and mind, fundamentally polishing the self rather than the technique

So, the fixation on techniques like the Third Realm of Reverse Birth, as mysterious as it may be, and street performances like Magnetic Attraction, Animal Games, and the like, fundamentally have no essential differences. Regardless of their strength, placing too much importance on the form of the technique is ultimately a misunderstanding when it comes to cultivation…

Another point is related to ascension, “Zhang Zhiwei, the Celestial Channeler.” Zhang Zhiwei’s comprehension of life and destiny cultivation can be said to have been exceptionally high from a young age. After practicing for hundreds of years, one can even see from his title that he may have been just a step away from ascension… But… does the celestial realm truly exist?

That brings us to the second line…

Left Ruotong thinks, “If I still feel the pain, it means I’m not an immortal. I have failed…”

Don’t immortals experience pain?

The one closest to becoming an immortal is probably Miss Bao…

Indeed, the ultimate goal of cultivation is Miss Bao…

And Miss Bao, like Zhang Zhiwei, is profoundly enigmatic…

Perhaps these two individuals are only a hair’s breadth away from ascension…

Or perhaps Miss Bao was originally a product of ascension who fell from the celestial realm… Immortal, unaging, desireless…

Returning to this chapter…

It seems that Left Master will be going offline in the next chapter…

The wrong path has been confirmed, and the next chapter will likely be the dissolution of the Three-in-One Sect…

What a waste of such a good person and such powerful techniques…

Left Ruotong Becomes a Land Immortal, But This Is His Limit

This is also the limit of the Third Realm of Reverse Birth.

This chapter is divided into two perspectives for analysis, discussing personal interpretations. First, let’s analyze what happened with Jichong’s reaction, and then discuss the Third Realm of Reverse Birth.

Left Ruotong seems to have achieved great success. To put it this way, even at first glance, I thought he succeeded.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, once you reach the true Third Realm of Reverse Birth, your entire body is transformed into Qi. Subsequently, this Qi flows with the heavens and the earth, freely condensing and soaring in the sky, taking any form at will, even becoming Left Ruotong. In essence, he has become a Land Immortal.

In the previous chapter, I made a mistake because I didn’t expect them to meet. Therefore, I misunderstood: the Third Realm of Reverse Birth allows full-body Qi transformation and instantaneous condensation and dispersal. Here, I am adding the final stage to clarify.

The disciples also share this view.

Why did Jichong react so strongly?

(Some believe that Jichong is acting, and he understands everything. He is concealing the failure of the Reverse Birth. This makes sense to me. But I can’t see how this expression below can be acted ↓)

Don’t you feel that his expression at this moment is no different from Chen Jinkui’s when he first encountered Feng…

He doesn’t hate Rootless Sheng, thank you very much!

He is also quite old!

He is of the same generation as Left Ruotong!

While it wasn’t explicitly stated, we should understand it.

Jichong wasn’t without confusion!

Even Left Ruotong, while in seclusion, would have moments of doubt.

On Jichong’s arduous path of pursuing the Third Realm, he must have questioned it numerous times, just like Left Ruotong.

When he realized that his life and the lives of many disciples were not wasted, that the Three-in-One Sect was the right path, he must have been ecstatic!

Kneeling before Rootless Sheng was not excessive!

At this moment, what did he see?

He saw Left Ruotong still frowning at Rootless Sheng.

At this point, he saw something.

He saw that Left Ruotong was still looking at Rootless Sheng as if he was still going to eliminate demons and kill the benefactor on the path of the Three-in-One.

This is incredible! Rootless Sheng, get out of here! Go! Leave a life behind, even if it defies the Master. I want you to take us to the Third Realm of the Three-in-One!

Jichong only let Rootless Sheng go after seeing the Master frown. He was sweating profusely. The sequence of events shows that he was genuinely afraid that Rootless Sheng would be killed.

Later, Left Ruotong ordered Jichong to step back.

Jichong shouted, “Why bother with mere mortals?”

Implicitly, “Spare Rootless Sheng!”

All of this is from Jichong’s perspective.

(After reading various perspectives, I feel that my interpretation is quite different from the popular one, and I also think the popular interpretation makes sense… So, I consider my interpretation as an additional perspective for reference.)

Next, let’s discuss Left Ruotong’s perspective.

But Left Ruotong is not satisfied. What’s missing?

Rootless Sheng says, “A path with an end is not worthy of ascending. The true path to heaven is endless.”

This sentence may be hard to understand at first. However, it becomes clear when you see what he did in the end.

“Prove it.”

Prove what?

Understanding what he proved is the key to understanding why Left Ruotong and Rootless Sheng reached a consensus on the failure of the Third Realm of Reverse Birth.

What he proved is Rootless Sheng’s divine spirit. After breaking the Third Realm of Left Master, will it still be reverted to its original form?

Or in other words, is the so-called ascent of the body, which seems like a land immortal, a kind of “modification” that can be reversed?

Prove the path!


Reality speaks for itself.

In the end, Left Ruotong realized one thing.

The Third Realm of Reverse Birth is not the immortal art he pursued. In the end, it’s just one of the “methods” among the various supernatural arts in the world!

The Three-in-One is not the profound sect admired by people in the world. In the end, it’s just a technical school of art similar to the Ji Yun Society, Tian Gong Tang, and the Fire Virtue Sect!

The immortal art he followed throughout his life, the profound art admired by people in the world, in the end, is still a mere mortal, using techniques, playing tricks on his own flesh and blood!!

Everything was explained at the Land Family’s longevity banquet. Zhang Zhiwei also saw through everything.

Let’s add the final stroke to the picture we started.

The divine spirit shattered the myth of the Third Realm of Reverse Birth and revealed the truth about the Three-in-One Sect.

The Three-in-One Sect is now reduced in stature.

The Third Realm of Reverse Birth is now reduced in stature.

For Left Ruotong, who has always pursued being a sage, this undoubtedly means the complete collapse of his faith!

In the end, when everything is clear, what else can he say?


Rootless Sheng… leave.

The Three-in-One, it’s time to end.

A New Understanding and the Desire for Comradeship

This chapter largely explains Rootless Sheng’s transformation:

  1. Rootless Sheng has developed a completely new understanding of art and the Tao. After this incident, Rootless Sheng began to seek the Tao, and it also triggered his reflections on the teachings of Golden Phoenix.

Even when it comes to the Third Realm of Reverse Birth, it still represents the end of art. Similarly, the source of Qi and its flow, being the end of art, still pursues art. From the comparison between Zhang Zhiwei and Zhang Huaiyi’s martial arts, it can be seen that Zhang Huaiyi is skilled in using the Golden Light Spell to create various shapes—he excels in developing art, while Zhang Zhiwei simply practices the Golden Light Spell to be robust and resilient. The transformation of the Golden Light Spell is due to the pursuit of the Tao. This comparison can also be seen from Zhang Zhiwei’s title “Tongtian Daoren” (Heaven-Reaching Daoist), combined with this chapter, where Left Ruotong relies on the development of art but can never reach heaven.

  1. Why does Rootless Sheng want a bosom friend so badly?

Left Master says to Rootless Sheng, “If you weren’t the Grand Master of All Nature, I would regard you as my closest friend.” Rootless Sheng responds, “If I weren’t the Grand Master of All Nature, I would drink and chat with you.”

Keywords like “closest friend” and “drinking” correspond to Rootless Sheng’s statement during the 24 Solar Terms Valley gathering in the previous chapter: “Here, there is only wine and friends!”

In this chapter, in combination with the previous one, Left Master’s statement “Fa, Lu, Cai, and Di (law, wealth, talent, and land) are indispensable, but it was not until I met Rootless Sheng that I found them” suggests that Rootless Sheng also felt the loneliness on his path to seeking the Tao. Those who are Grand Masters of All Nature are not worthy of being his “Tao companions.” Only those like Left Master should be his closest friends. Left Master’s tragic pursuit of art in solitude led Rootless Sheng to the conclusion: A correct understanding of the Tao + “Fa, Lu, Cai, and Di” (the crucial aspect of having Tao companions) = cultivating the Tao and reaching heaven.

In sitting and discussing the Tao, there must be bosom friends. So, he developed the idea of gathering with outstanding disciples of famous sects and eagerly desired comradeship!

The Courageous Pursuit of Enlightenment

This episode unfolds dramatically as Left Master, in the moment of successfully breaking through the third realm, comprehends the essence of Reverse Birth’s third realm. However, he willingly abandons his own power, pride, and even a lifetime of accomplishments, knowing he will ultimately fail, as he aims to transcend the third realm. While he ultimately fails, his courage is admirable and truly inspiring.

Before dissecting Left Ruotong’s actions, let’s first understand the general attitude of the disciples of the Three-One Sect towards his entry into the third realm.

Most of them are astonished by the existence of the third realm, equating it with their master’s attainment of this advanced state. It can be said with confidence that if there were no characters like Rootless Sheng in this era, or if Left Ruotong had not chosen to continue his challenge, his current achievements would likely have been hailed as the ascent to immortality by future generations.

The predecessors of the Three-One Sect and other disciples of the sect confidently declare, “The great building of cultivation is almost complete! The clear sky may have just two dark clouds at most.”

However, just as in physics, someone challenged those two dark clouds, Left Ruotong also chose to challenge the dark cloud looming over the path of cultivation.

Now, just as humans realize that they may never fully grasp the laws of physics, Left Ruotong also grasps through practice that the path to immortality is an exceedingly distant one.

Rootless Sheng voices Left Ruotong’s internal doubt, “Is this a path that can be traversed? If a person can reach it, does that count as reaching heaven?”

At this point, Left Ruotong faced several choices:

  1. Remain stagnant and declare himself as having reached godhood. After all, his power speaks for itself, and in a real fight, Rootless Sheng would likely lose. This option involves presenting a viewpoint that is very close to the truth, and only Left Ruotong can disprove it.

  2. Acknowledge that the third realm doesn’t lead to heaven but is an incredibly powerful and unique technique. Continue teaching future generations the art of Reverse Birth. This is the most practical and rational approach.

  3. Choose to take a desperate gamble, risking everything for the slim chance of seriously attempting to reach godhood through Reverse Birth. (Note that this is not the third realm but Reverse Birth itself as a path.)

From Rootless Sheng’s expression, it’s apparent that he doesn’t strongly favor the third option. Given Rootless Sheng’s character, he most likely leans towards the second choice.

However, this episode blazes with Left Ruotong’s choice of the third path, using his own power, status, and lifespan to verify the possibility of attaining godhood through Reverse Birth. This act of trial and error requires immense courage, and the results of this experiment bring great value to all future cultivators.

In conclusion, borrowing a quote from Wang Daochang’s assessment of Wuhou, we can summarize this article: “It’s not about the destination, but the journey.”

Four words: A noble-hearted person.

On the left side, a noble-hearted person is always open and straightforward, able to start and finish things, and remains true to the path without regrets.

A noble-hearted person is born without roots, willing to sacrifice even when no one understands, probably experiencing the feeling of having a confidant as mentioned by Zuo Men Chang for the first time. That’s why he longs for brotherhood.

Well, the Left Gate’s chief is still unwilling, alas.

In fact, it would be content to gather together and become the chief of the San Yi Gate. It’s not an exaggeration to say they’d be unrivaled in the world.

They must give it another try, despite the dissipation of their skills. Truly living up to the titles of “Great Prosperity Immortal” and “Mr. Kong Long,” they would rather die and disappear than turn back.

It’s quite sorrowful. Everyone hopes to see such a good person have a happy ending.

This triple should already be invincible, and the old Taoist master should not be able to defeat him. However, for the sake of the Dao, he still dispersed. How many people can achieve this?

Unable to reach the third level, it seems like an insurmountable challenge after all, ultimately, it’s a matter of skill.