The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 350
The features of a woman were painted upon the mask. Majesty and mystery could be seen in the furrowed brows and clear eyes, reminiscent of queens or goddesses of mystical folklore.
She remained as still as a statue, so much that no one would dare desecrate her grace and solemness. Her mere presence commanded respect and fear.
Perplexed by the grandiose of her demeanor, the disciple of Thunderous Sword Godness didn’t have the nerve to raise his head and steal a glance even though the maiden’s appearance was concealed behind her mask. He slowly handed over the tiny ancient tripod with two hands that trembled with such meek submissiveness that he put a lamb to shame.
“Very good.” A lovely voice came from behind the mask. Elation and frenzy overwhelmed the disciple as he shivered uncontrollably. She praised him! She approved of his effort!
Slender, pearly-white fingers reached out from within the robes of the masked maiden with mysterious luminescence. Her fingers had barely touched the Fate-protecting Tripod when a column of energy burst out of the tripod and shot up into the night sky, illuminating it like a moon on a cloudless night.
So sudden and stunning were the events that had transpired, that the maiden was awe-struck and speechless. She didn’t expect such turns of events. How was it possible that everything had been fine when the disciple had been holding it, but this had to happen when she had just barely touched the cauldron?
She instantly collected herself, stifling her boiling fervor and suppressing the eruption of her Boundless Energy. She re-sealed the energy into the jade-green ring on her left hand. She pondered for several beats, looking far into the east, before turning to leave. With swift steps, she flitted like a wraith into the darkness and disappeared amid the ruins, leaving no trace of her presence.
A faint smile spread across the disciple’s face as he watched the maiden leave. He slowly went limp and collapsed on the ground as his breath left him.
Like a raging typhoon, Baizhang Taoist unleashed a flurry of palm strokes with blinding speed and immeasurable intensity. Even Zhao Heng was confused and dazed by the whirlwind of attacks came blow after blow, clamping down on Corpse Demon.
“The Qi-Shaking the World technique, how fearful…” Zhao Heng gasped in awe. Even among the grandmasters of the Exterior, Taoist Baizhang was surely on par with them. Even Corpse and Fire Demons that relied on the imbuement of Devil Qi were still a cut below him. It was no wonder that he was one of the Three World-saving Sages!
After taking out the remaining zombies, he rushed to Taoist Baizhang’s aid and tried to help him in taking down both Demons.
As clearly stated by the mission objective, crystallized Devil Qi from at least six corpses of Devils were required to destroy the passage to the Demonic World. With only one more month left, it would be best if they slay more devils and obtain as many Demonic Crystals as possible.
As for the other end of things, he was at ease with Jiang Zhiwei, Su Meng, Ruan Yushu and Qi Zhengyan holding down the fort together as long as they left no room for sloppiness and folly. With their bravery and valor, it shouldn’t be difficult to neutralize both Fire and Soldier Demons.
Whereas at this end, Taoist Baizhang might be superior to Jiang Zhiwei in strength, but it took both Thunderous Sword Godness and Eight Fingered Heavenly Palms to equal the Killing Blade’s capabilities. Fearing the worst, he had best lend a hand as soon as possible lest both the Corpse and Iron Demons become desperate. A cornered rat can be extremely dangerous.
Taking a deep breath, he lunged forward with his sword and hacked Iron Demon. Strong energies emanated from his attack, resembling a curled dragon that enveloped his advancing blow and dispelled the devilish aura around him.
Taoist Baizhang noticed the help that had arrived and took his cue as he gathered himself for another wave. Turning into a whirlwind of destruction, the onslaught of blows hammered down on Corpse Demon as he received strike after strike. With their strong, advancing attack and torrential offenses, the crippling Demon could only defend himself helplessly.
Without strokes as quick as Taoist Baizhang, Corpse Demon was at a disadvantage in this skirmish. Then again, he was able to withstand heavy damage with his physique that was as sturdy as a strong oak tree. He had yet to receive any serious injuries save for a few wounds with foul-smelling, infectious pus oozing out of them. Nevertheless, given enough time, Taoist Baizhang would surely be affected by the poisonous, grey-white mist enveloping the area.
The both of them had yet to deliver any fatal strikes. They had been looking for an opening by using common offensive and defensive techniques.
Suddenly, a terrible shriek cut across the battlefield from afar.
“Was that Fire Demon?” Recognizing the owner of the shrill cry, shock and awe immediately gripped Taoist Baizhang, Thunderous Sword Godness, Eight-fingered Heavenly Palms, and both Corpse and Iron Demons. It seemed that Fire Demon had sustained a fatal injury and was on the verge of death.
How could Fire Demon, only slightly weaker than Corpse Demon with no dominion over the zombies, cry so loudly?
Were they capable of reaching such feats?
Could it be that there were masters with unparalleled skills among them?
With everyone distracted and stunned by the sudden cry, Corpse Demon saw an unmissable opportunity that he could not miss. His boil-ridden body engorged suddenly and, in an astounding flash, he dashed toward Taoist Baizhang with his palms ready to deal out death mercilessly.
A killing strike!
Demonic energy and poisonous mist poured out like a broken faucet as evil spirits answered the call. With their ghostly-white forms, they lunged at Taoist Baizhang.
With the fate of Fire Demon unknown, it was best to retreat with haste! After years of domineering the Jianghu with brutality and malice, Corpse Demon made up his mind without a shred of doubt.
With impenetrable composure in the face of extreme peril, Taoist Baizhang calmly chanted and performed seals with his left fingers as his right palm struck forward with turbulent boldness.
A surging gale rushed forth, enshrouding Taoist Baizhang as the pressure accumulated. A monstrous hurricane formed, surrounding the Taoist and the earth shook in tremor. Grasses, earth, and even roots were ripped from the ground with a force capable of destroying even rocks, dispersing all approaching apparitions into oblivion. His palm met and countered the Demon’s incoming stroke.
The hurricane propelled into the sky, dissipating what was left of the poisonous mist. Bits and pieces of earth fell on the ground and shredded grass drifted lazily in the wind, an aftermath resembling that of natural calamities.
The massive blow stunned Corpse Demon, forcing him to step backward. Cracks began to appear on his body and fetid pus dribbled down his body like blood. Despite being poisoned, Taoist Baizhang pushed forward without delay once he regained his breath. Drips of black, poisoned blood seeped from the corners of his mouth. His face darkened from the infection.
Suddenly, a ray of light streaked up into the heavens, tunneling into the clouds. The pillar of energy shuddered the sky and illuminated the clouds. Everyone was captivated by the incredible event that had abruptly taken place.
A sudden rush of joy filled Taoist Baizhang. Could that be the Fate-protecting Tripod? However, his happiness was short-lived as the column of energy vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
The moment’s distraction bought Corpse Demon sufficient time. Raising his left hand, he zoomed forward as he detached from the Demon’s torso like a rocket and exploded in mid-air. The explosion deafened their ears like the roaring crack of a thunder.
Stunned, Taoist Baizhang staggered backward as he was forced behind by the impact of the horrendous explosion. When the resulting poisonous mist faded, he could only sigh in dismay. Corpse Demon was nowhere to be found.
Corpse Demon was profoundly skilled in the crafts of long- and close-ranged Earth-Blending techniques and concealment. It was very easy for him to escape. Had Tong Yao not own an enchanted artifact that allowed her to sense demonic aura, he would have easily ambushed her.
Iron Demon was less fortunate in his getaway. Zhao Heng ignored the spectacle of the Fate-Protecting Tripod and fixated on the demon, sending a series of lightning blade strokes that assailed the demon. There were no openings for the demon to exploit.
With Taoist Baizhang lending a hand after Corpse Demon’s escape, his fate had been sealed. He did not even have the chance to self-destruct.
Finally, a jet-black crystal was formed from the Devil Qi released when the carcass of Iron Demon crumbled into dust.
Zhao Heng reached to pick up the black, obsidian crystal on the ground. He asked in a matter-of-fact manner, “Senior Baizhang, could something be wrong with the Fate-protecting Tripod?” Tong Yao and Zu Wenzhong made no attempt to dispute his collection of the crystal. It seemed only right that the crystal remained in his safekeeping at the moment.
Together, they gathered and collected what they could of any personal effects of Iron Demon, including scraps of paper.
Taoist Baizhang nodded and immediately turned, hurrying toward the center of the ruins where the column of energy had emanated from earlier.
Resigning, Fire Demon erupted into flames that devoured his body hungrily until nothing was left but ashes and fading embers. Meng Qi searched amongst the dust and soot and found a jet-black gem, the crystallized Devil Qi they were hunting for. Something else caught his eye. Lying amidst the dark ashes and the glowing embers was a small, dark crimson fire lazily burning. It was so small that it looked like a beautifully-crafted trinket. But the little flame that seemed to hide unknown horrifics that one would be foolish to belittle.
Meng Qi batted at his burning clothes with his hands before taking it off. He pointed at the little flame. “What’s this?”
“That’s the Heart of Demonic Flames.” It was Ruan Yushu who answered. She had come over to see if she could help after disposing of the rest of the Demonic Troop to prevent both Demons from making their escape. “Rumor has it that Devils that can channel from both Heaven and Earth will accumulate energies of the Exterior techniques in their bodies. The energies are channeled and stored in the Heart of Demonic Flames.”
On the other end, Soldier Demon crumbled and left only his Demonic Crystal, possibly due to his frequent transformation into weapons.
Ruan Yushu had just barely finished when the column of energy shot upward, breaking into the heavens and illuminating the night sky.
“The Fate-protecting Tripod?” Meng Qi gasped. But the beam of energy only remained briefly before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.
Was that a natural event, or had it been repressed by someone?
Were there others in the ruins?
The four looked at each other with great bewilderment. Keeping the Demonic Crystal and the Heart safely with them, they rushed toward the center of the ruins.
Without stopping, Meng Qi took out a Hundred-herb Bolus to replenish his strength and heal himself on the way.
Knowing well that he was up against Fire Demon earlier, he had used the openings created during his slashes to throw his belongings aside so they wouldn’t be damaged by fire. He only recollected his items after the combat.
Ruan Yushu retrieved a set of green male robe from her Space Ring and tossed them to him.
They were ahead of Taoist Baizhang’s group, but that group was much closer in distance. When they arrived, they noticed the solemn and grim looks on the group’s faces and the corpse lying on the floor. Even in death, the disciple wore a smile on his face as if he had departed in his sleep experiencing a happy dream.
“Strong internal energies killed him, completely smashing the insides of his skull…” Thunderous Sword Godness said softly. He gazed at Meng Qi and the others, wordlessly hoping for any clues or hints of anyone they might know.
Understanding the gesture, Meng Qi shook his head sourly. “Was the Fate-protecting Tripod taken? Were there other demons that had slipped through?”
“Impossible. We had the place completely surrounded. From the moment we had rushed to the rescue, there is simply not enough time for the demons to directly target the Fate-protecting Tripod,” Zhao Heng denied flatly.
Meng Qi captured his gist. The intruder could be something else, if not a demon. Could it be one of the Samsara travelers?
“A demon might have been hiding in the ruins all along. He might be waiting patiently in the only area that we haven’t searched to avoid facing the might of all of us on his own while we dealt with others of its kind,” Taoist Baizhang said, deducing another possibility. “But still, my sources have been positive that Iron Demon had only called three of his kind for help. That leaves us without any idea who’s the one behind the Fate-protecting Tripod’s disappearance…”
If it was indeed a Samsara traveler, from the looks of things, he might not be exceedingly strong, even if he was better than all of us together. Especially since he avoided direct confrontation Meng Qi asked, “Were there any other clues?”
Tong Yao took a careful look at the scraps of paper that she had gotten from Iron Demon. Something caught her eye. “They’ve found the whereabouts of all three Fate-protecting artifacts!”
“What are the other two artifacts?” Zhao Heng asked.
“The Country-stabilizing Seal remains with Buddhist Monk Sanity. According to Iron Demon’s information, the Imperial Jade Bell is kept in Buddhist Monk Jiuzhen’s Heart-forgotten Cottage,” Tong Yao explained as she peered at the information on the papers.
“They’ve found the location of the Heart-forgotten Cottage?” Taoist Baizhang uttered in fear and shock.
Meng Qi looked half-perplexed, not understanding the anxiety of the others. However, he had once heard Zhao Heng mention Buddhist Monk Sanity as one of the Three World-saving Sages.
Tong Yao nodded. “Yes. It’s located at Yanshan, about a half month’s journey from here.”
She handed the papers to Taoist Baizhang and Zu Wenzhong.
“My god, the Heart-forgotten Cottage has been revealed…” Zu Wenzhong muttered in astonishment. He was in disbelief as he took in the information with his own eyes.
Noticing the blank looks on Meng Qi and the others, Taoist Baizhang heaved a sigh before briefly explaining, “You might not understand as Buddhist Monk Jiuzhen is actually a legend of the Myths.”
“In the ancient times, there was a direct pathway from the Demon World to this realm. The lands were infested with demons that fed on human flesh. They left wakes of destruction and carnage everywhere. Fortunately, it was also a time when martial arts were widely practiced and masters in the art of slaying the demons were in no short supply. Thanks to this, humans managed to endure. Later on, legend has it that for unknown reasons and means, Buddhist Monk Jiuzhen received divine insight allowing him to achieve god-like powers and enlightenment in Zen rivaling even that of Buddha Luohan. He then made the Heart-forgotten Cottage his home.”
“Moved by tremendous compassion toward the bloodshed in the human realm, he ventured into the Demon World alone. He defeated Primogenitor Devil with one hit of his Nirvana Palm Strike, forcing him into a deep slumber and severing the connection between the Demon World and the human realm. He restored to the Human realm the peace and prosperity that was once elusive. Unfortunately, he perished in the Demon World and the Heart-forgotten Cottage faded into legends, obscured from us all. It’s unthinkable that the demons have found out its location with information from the Demon World.”
He folded the paper in his hands and passed it to Meng Qi and the others, signifying that they had earned his trust and recognition in the battles earlier.
“Skyscraping True Devil and the other demons know nothing about this. But Corpse Demon would surely report the findings to them when he returns. I must retrieve the Imperial Jade Bell before they do. Is any of you willing to help?” Taoist Baizhang asked, bowing.
“When will Skyscraping True Devil and the other demons arrive?” With only three Demonic Crystals and another three more to hunt for, Meng Qi and the others wondered if they should join the journey to Yanshan.
“Yanshan and the Skyscraping Palace are far from each other, one in the North and the other in the South. If we take into account the time needed for the information delivery, Skyscraping True Devil would need about ten days to complete his journey. Moreover, we have to be wary against the one who had taken the Fate-protecting Tripod. So, time is of the essence,” Taoist Baizhang explained after a moment of calculation.
“The other demons would need at least a month to reach Yanshan. In fact, I don’t think they’ll even make the journey with Skyscraper True Devil personally coming this time. What good would they do?”
That didn’t give them enough time at all Meng Qi and his companions frowned.