The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 341
Zhen Hui had grown considerably taller compared to the time when he was at the Jade Gate Pass; only an inch shorter than Meng Qi. His handsome features and lean physique, which matched with his grey frock, emanated a pure and wholesome temperament which would have fitted Meng Qi’s ideal image of a monk, if not for his youthful and radiant smile.
Meng Qi coughed and said, “Junior Brother, it’s a long story. Let me have some water before I relay my tale to you.”
These were the exact words Zhen Hui had spoken to Meng Qi in the past.
Zhen Hui bobbed his head in approval, “Alright, I already have water boiled and ready.”
Upon saying this, he led Meng Qi into the temple. Together they strolled into the courtyard where Xuan Bei lived as Meng Qi recalled.
“Is Master in hermetic training?” Meng Qi took the opportunity to confirm this.
“The Master has been training in intervals for the past few years since he lost his chance to train in the upper levels of the Stupa tower. He is now undertaking hermetic training to strengthen his fundamentals to find another breakthrough,” disclosed Zhen Hui earnestly.
Meng Qi had foreseen this earlier, but listening to the news first-hand, he felt both guilt and shame weighing down him, knowing that his Master had sacrificed his opportunity for him.
“Senior Brother, in truth, the Master had forbidden me to speak of this to you. But I feel that this should not be kept from your knowledge, so I spoke the truth,” said Zhen Hui solemnly.
He looked at Meng Qi with unwavering eyes, without any doubt or fear.
With his heart throbbing, Meng Qi was about to reprimand himself when he was stirred by Zhen Hui’s resolute and unfailing honesty.
“Ahem. Junior Brother, of course I understand that I should be aware of this. But still we should follow Master’s instructions,” remarked Meng Qi, who tried to recollect himself after not knowing how to react.
“Senior Brother, I knew you would praise me!” Laughed Zhen Hui, beaming with delight.
“Senior Brother, after two years of hermetic training, I’ve opened Four Acupores and have accomplished the primary level of the Flower-Pinching Finger. Even Master remarked that I might be among the top three of all generations of practitioners in the mastery of this finger technique…” Zhen Hui’s eyes gleamed with excitement as if expecting a praise from his Senior Brother.
“Good job. The Flower-Pinching Finger technique is one of the hardest techniques to master and is renowned for its difficulty. Being able to attain the primary levels of the technique and open Four Acupores, your skills won’t pale in comparison to Zhen Ben or Zhen Miao; not even to Senior Brother Zhen Chang’s former years,” said Meng Qi with a pleased smile. “But of course, you remain a few inches behind me, your Senior Brother.”
Meng Qi could not help but brag a little about his own strength. With this Junior Brother who was close to him, there was no need for subtlety.
As they walked past, a great number of monks had been peeking and observing the former disciple of the Shaolin Temple who had returned not only as a guest, but also as a Young Master of the Ranking List. However, there was a monk who had yet to be seen; the monk who once assigned Meng Qi to the Chores Yard many years ago, Xuan Ku. Being different from Xuan Kong, Xuan Ku was not of frivolous nor narrow-minded temperament. He was a little stubborn in the sense that he forced people to practice what he believed was right and condemned all that he believed were wrong. It seemed that he was indifferent to Meng Qi’s return to the temple.
“Of course, compared to you, Senior Brother, I still have some catching-up to do.” Meng Qi was slightly surprised that Zhen Hui had actually agreed with him, inflating his pride as the Senior Brother. “If the Master wasn’t in training, he’d tell me stories of your exploits in the Jianghu: The tales of your duel against You Huanduo in West Tract, the contest against a motley of combatants in Yedu, the narrow win against Right-guarding Sword and Wang Zai, the hard-fought victory against The Astounding at Mao Ling, and the street fight against Five Emperors’ Knife in Changchuan. These are all epic and awe-inspiring legends indeed!”
“The others wouldn’t believe a single word I said each time I told them of your stories. But later on, even Uncle Master Xuan Xin came forward with his story, and some other Uncle Masters would return from ventures outside with the masters on Ranking List of Young Masters. It was only then when they started to apologize to me, acknowledging that my accounts had been true all along.”
“Uncle Master Xuan Xin loves to brag about himself, but whenever your feats are mentioned, he tries to change the subject of our discussion…”
“Senior Brother Zhen Ben, well, he has mastered the Seven Supreme Arts, but that too has turned into something that he gloats about…”
As Zhen Hui continued his account of the incidents within the temple walls, his narrative filled Meng Qi in about everything that had transpired for the past two years of his absence. Slowly, Zhen Hui’s recount evoked memories and revelations that flooded Meng Qi with a strong familiarity with his surroundings.
Feeling sentimental, Meng Qi jabbed at his Junior Brother with glee,” Junior Brother, it seems that you’re more of a cackling hen now after being confined within these walls to your boredom.”
“No, I’m not. I’m just a bit emotional because of your return,” denied Zhen Hui smoothly.
He raised his head and gazed at the blue sky above, “You used to tell me fables of Jianghu, fascinating me with the epic and heroic tales of the outside. Now, in only two years, you yourself have become part of the stories…”
From the moment of their reunion till then, these were the words that truly expressed Zhen Hui’s regret.
Letting out a sigh, Meng Qi consoled his junior brother, “Junior Brother, wait till you’ve reached Six Acupores and make it past the Bronzemen Lane. You’ll also become part of the stories that people speak of. Then, I’ll take you along to enjoy the sights outside.”
“Very well then!” Nodded Zhen Hui, restored with tremendous delight.
They chatted casually as their stroll brought them through the patio of the main temple complex, finally reaching the little courtyard where Xuan Bei lived. Zhen Hui poured Meng Qi a cup of water before merrily saying, “Senior Brother, please wait here for a moment while I head to the back mountain and fetch Master.”
Not long after that, a figure clad in a yellow frock and red cassock landed on the ground from above with Zhen Hui with him, it was Master Xuan Bei. Each step he took seemed to emit different energies that took the form of golden lotuses.
Xuan Bei gazed upon his disciple with a comforted smile, “Good, good. It’s good of you to remember to come back here to see your Master.”
He was still very much the middle-aged, sorrowful Senior Monk with a personable presence. In fact, he looked almost identical to Meng Qi’s current appearance.
They were undeniably blood relatives. Meng Qi had begun making the connection with a clearer perspective and had been more certain of his findings after coming across the text “Biological Mother with the Surname Tang” in the secret records.
Meng Qi bowed with deepest respects, “Your unfilial disciple has implicated you, my Master.”
“No matter. Being outside in the turbulent world, you’re faced with trials and tribulations. Who knows, missing an opportunity might be a blessing in disguise. One doesn’t explain the Dharma of Causality with mere words,” Xuan Bei casually consoled him. He helped Meng Qi up before sitting down on the honored seat and exhaled heavily. “Zhen Ding, you’re of resolute spirit like your mother, to refuse to return to the Su Clan of Luoyang no matter what. You’re just like your mother when she decided to leave many years ago.”
“So, I’ve followed the footsteps of my uncle as well…”Meng Qi thought to himself. “Master, ever since I stepped into the gates of the Shaolin Temple, I no longer have any ties to the Su Clan of Luoyang. The only relatives I have remaining are you and Junior Brother,” he confessed.
Xuan Bei did not know whether to laugh or cry, but was slightly pleased nonetheless. “No matter. There’s merit in distancing yourself, no need to entangle yourself with the intriguing webs in Luoyang. Your mother passed due to sickness anyway.”
Hearing this, Zhen Hui’s eyes widened with shock, “Master, you knew Senior Brother’s mother? Could it… Could it be…?”
His question was interrupted by Meng Qi’s feigned cough. Meng Qi was fearful that his Junior Brother could have blabbed the phrase “illegitimate son”, given his past experiences with his Junior Brother’s story-telling antics. “Master is actually my mother’s elder brother,” explained Meng Qi hastily.
“Oh.” Zhen Hui was slightly disappointed that things had not turned out as he had imagined.
Meng Qi’s expression became solemn as he changed the subject. “Master, I’m back this time for two reasons actually. I’ve returned to visit you both and I have something important to report to you as well.”
Hearing this, Xuan Bei waved his hands warily. With his powers, layers of protection that resembled glass encased the room, sealing the room from preying ears outside. “Go on.”
“I met a young boy by the name of Duan Rui when I was in Jiang Dong…” Meng Qi then relayed the entire story, including the details of the nine postures, the presence of the unknown monk and the sentence “Intrude not this entry, you who have compassion” which was found in the depths of the secret passage, which he had specifically mentioned on Duan Rui’s behalf.
Zhen Hui listened intently to Meng Qi’s recollection of his experiences. “So Senior Brother Zhen Chang’s death years ago wasn’t a simple affair after all…”
Xuan Bei listened to everything with a heavy look. In a grim tone, he said, “We still don’t have enough clues at the moment, and it’s still hard for us to be certain on who is actually behind all this. However, I shall take extra precaution to keep us from danger.”
As the pinnacle of the mastery of Exterior techniques, not even one with skills of a Dharmakaya would be able to harm Xuan Bei if he maintained constant vigilance.
After a moment’s thought, he continued, “I’m bound by rules of the temple from fully disclosing certain information to you. But to be more specific, the stone door can indeed be found within the depths of the secret passage.
If only the stone door had been discovered when the secret passage was first found.
Was there such a phrase, “Intrude not this entry, you who have compassion”, within the all-powerful and benevolent Shaolin Temple? Meng Qi began to feel that there was more to the Dominator of the Six Realms of Samsara than the eye could see.
Xuan Bei refrained from elaborating on the matter. Being a Senior Monk who had the rules and regulations of the temple at heart, he would not exploit any loopholes to undermine the Temple’s strict codes. Moreover, he was concerned about Meng Qi’s strength that he might not be powerful enough at the moment. It might still be premature to have him engulfed in the mechanics of the thickening plot.
Therefore, he shifted the focus to other pressing issues. “So the Nine Postures are forbidden techniques. And here I was, under the impression that the stances were from the first volume of the Muscle-Bone Strengthening Scripture.”
“Me too. It seems that you’re thinking what I’m thinking, Master.” Meng Qi seemed to have found a person who shared his views.
“I gave up on being a fully practicing monk halfway. Years before, I chose to master the incomplete Mo-Ke Exorcism Punch and had given up on the chance of learning the ‘Muscle-Bone Strengthening Scripture’, therefore I have no knowledge of the contents within the mysterious script. From what I’ve heard from a few Uncle Masters, mastering the Scripture involves learning a total of ninety-nine stances. There’re about 12 or 13 stances in the first volume, along with descriptive texts and notes with meditative Gathas,” revealed Xuan Bei plainly.
Meng Qi nodded quietly. In any event, there was the Dominator of the Six Realms of Samsara to ascertain the details for him.
No longer broaching the subject of the unknown monk and the “Muscle-Bone Strengthening Scripture”, Xuan Bei gazed at Meng Qi approvingly. “In the past, my plans were for you to return to the Su Clan in Luoyang. That’s why I tried to refrain from teaching you too much, in case what you’ve learned might not harmonize with the martial arts taught within the Su Clan. Now that you’re more inclined to wander around the Jianghu, I shall pass down all the martial arts I have to you.”
Meng Qi was elated and bowed in thanks to his master. Additional power skills to add to his plethora of techniques would surely be of tremendous help in the future!
Xuan Bei went on and explained with a smile, “In the past, I was known as Seven Lethals. The Seven refers to the seven techniques of palms, fingers, fists, gripping, Qi energy, locking and moves. You’re more focused on the styles of the saber and sword in addition to your main practice of Divine Skill of Body Protection, therefore you needn’t concentrate deeply on palms, fists, gripping or Qi energy techniques. With some study in the skills of sealing meridian points and movement techniques, you can impart all these skills to others on my behalf when you become a master one day. You must continue the tradition of heritage for me. We shall not inherit what our predecessors have imparted to us and then detach from their legacy.”
“The practice method I use is called ‘Seven True Scripts’. It’s divided into seven parts. The movement technique is called Facing Wind in Air. Once you have fully mastered the technique you’ll be able to somersault in mid-air once or twice. There’s also the locking technique called Immortal-locking Hand. It’s mostly based on the blocking of meridian points. Once you have fully mastered it, it’s specifically called Accupoint-Attacking Finger technique…”