The Sage Who Transcended Samsara Chapter 664
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
“The Ancient Space-breaching Talisman, a Precious Weapon of exquisite quality. An Immortal Seal Script of Godly Inheritance, it is the personal work of a certain pre-ancient great power. It was acquired by Zhenwu Great Emperor and was frequently used over a long time, resulting in the gradual decline of its power and quality. Currently, you can use it to break through the void and escape. Those beneath the level of a grandmaster or those using a restraining technique would not be able to obstruct this talisman. There are two uses left. It is worth 9,800 Karma points.
“The Mystic Turtle Sword, a Precious Weapon of exquisite quality. It is the failed product of Zhenwu Great Emperor’s early attempt at forging a divine weapon. The sword has a superb defensive ability. If the body of the sword is used to block an attack, even a divine weapon would need to attack several times to chop off the blade. It is worth 9,000 Karma points.”
Since Meng Qi knew what Fiery Core of the Grand Sun and Frost-eye Crystal were, he put them away without appraising them.
Suddenly, Primogenitor Lingbao reminded him. “Even though forging a divine weapon is simpler than exchanging for one, it is not easy. Do not attempt it lightheartedly even if you are equipped with top-notch impartations. At least wait until you cross the second step of the Celestial Ladder and become a grandmaster. For self-protection, Doumu made three attempts. She spent all her savings and threw herself head-first into great danger. It is only recently that she completed the specific tasks for forging a divine weapon.”
“Doumu has forged a divine weapon? For self-protection?” Meng Qi was rather surprised.
“It is that difficult even for a Half-step to Dharmakaya master?”
“The most difficult phase of a reincarnation task is getting stuck at a barrier somewhere. That was the case for Qingyuan and Bi Xia in the past, and Doumu and Tai Yi in the present. Their cultivation and strength were stagnant but the reincarnation tasks were slowly increasing in difficulty. The first few tasks are fine but you will have to depend on external items in the subsequent tasks if you don’t make a breakthrough. Countless Samsara travelers have fallen in this phase,” Primogenitor Lingbao said emotionally.
“Not even the Hidden Latch and the three steps of the Celestial Ladder are as difficult as Half-step to Dharmakaya. This, I have once bitterly experienced myself. Doumu has been promoted to the Half-step realm for a number of years and completed three tasks but she couldn’t see any sign of a breakthrough. Planning ahead, she could only forge a divine weapon for self-protection.”
Unlike ordinary masters at the peak of the Half-step to the Exterior realm, Samsara travelers like Primogenitor Doumu possessed an even more desperate desire to make a breakthrough. Otherwise, they could only watch helplessly as reincarnation tasks become increasingly difficult and feel a suffering akin to drowning. Meng Qi might not be able to empathize but he could somewhat sympathize. He had risen through the ranks at once and endured the four heavenly ordeals. Even if everything went well for his advancement into the realm of a grandmaster, who could guarantee that it would be the same afterward?
Hard work was one matter, but the realm of Dharmakaya was an important differentiator between an immortal and a human. As frightfully talented as Su Wuming was, was he not also stuck in the Half-step to the Dharmakaya realm for many years?
“I’ll be careful.” Meng Qi nodded solemnly. It did not bother him as the main ingredients for forging a divine weapon were also secret treasures themselves.
“Here’s how I would like to deal with the opportunity to comprehend World of Dao. The cost for official members wouldn’t be too high as the opportunity is limited to those within the Immortals. You, on the other hand, will receive the Gist of Trueness of Dharmakaya supreme art impartation of Eight Nine Mysteries. If a member wishes to comprehend it a second time, he will need to negotiate with you and give you a certain amount of Karma points or items,” the Primogenitor said.
It made no sense to allow the official members of the Immortals to benefit at no cost to them. If they were free to comprehend the World of Dao on a whim, it was equivalent to them breezing through their cultivation and reaping what they had not sown. This defied the organization’s original objective of offering mutual help and protection. One must not enjoy aid without paying a price!
“Sounds good!” Meng Qi said, finding the Primogenitor’s sensibility incredibly agreeable.
The Primogenitor turned to look at Jiang Zhiwei. “My young friend Jiang, Meng Qi has assumed full responsibility of vouching for you. You are close to becoming a Peerless Master Pro so a task meant to test your strength would be meaningless. Thus, you can directly become an official member. However, our original objective is to offer mutual help and support. No one is free to take from us without repaying the favor. At the moment, you are limited to receiving the enlightened-Aperture part of Immortal Yuding’s skill. Please complete a task for freshly-minted official members to gain access to more benefits.”
Likewise, Jiang Zhiwei agreed with the Primogenitor’s reasonable suggestion. She said that she would undertake a task after comprehending World of Dao and going into hermetic training to digest it.
Since his two partners only took an item each, Meng Qi did not try and selfishly keep things to himself. He shared the part of the Primary Instruction given by the Evil Spirit of Zhenwu in hopes that Primogenitor Lingbao would surpass Earth Immortal as soon as possible and that Jiang Zhiwei would pass the first step of the Celestial Ladder within four months.
The former would ensure a favorable future for him as a member of the Immortals who enjoyed an amicable relationship with the Primogenitor. The latter would help tremendously in the Journey to the West task.
Once Jiang Zhiwei was done with her comprehension, Meng Qi would have also obtained the Chaos Vortex he so coveted and gained a tentative understanding. Then he would condense all its power to form a little skill and technique.
The two of them left a message for “Qingyuan” Cao Xianzhi asking about Purple Thunder Earth Immortal before putting on their masks and flying toward the exit.
“World of Dao is truly abstruse. I need to go into hermetic training as soon as possible and push myself to cross the first step of the Celestial Ladder before the Journey to the West task.” Even when Jiang Zhiwei was masked, Meng Qi felt as if he could see how her pretty face lit up and how her eyes gleamed while talking about sword art.
Meng Qi exhaled. He sensed that Jiang Zhiwei was smiling as she said, “You must be ecstatic about all the rewards you have reaped this time.”
She was familiar with Meng Qi’s weakness for money.
“I would be lying if I said otherwise.” Meng Qi laughed. “However, even as I’m feeling happy, my heart feels weary and stifled.”
Gradually, the mirth in his tone dissipated.
“Because of the great power?” the sharp Jiang Zhiwei asked.
Meng Qi took a breath and gradually exhaled. “Hmm. From the beginning in the Carefree Valley in Bomi to the Netherworld’s whereabouts, the mysterious Taoist, Primogenitor Plenitude, the Primary Instruction of the Buddha’s Palm, the pure land in the back mountain of Shaolin Temple, Ananda, Divination Saint, Evil Master, Blue-blooded People, the Apotheosized World, Mystic Fairy’s metamorphosis, Extinctive Blade of the Overlord, Evil Spirit of Zhenwu, former successor to Thunder God, and finally the fifth style of the Seven Strokes of Heaven Interception—one thing immediately follows the other. The repeated appearance of shadows of great powers stifles me to the point that I’m unable to breathe. Even if what I gain surpasses what ordinary grandmasters get, I often feel all this to be illusory. I feel as if I’m acting involuntarily, as if I’m acting under the shadow of prestige, as if all my actions ultimately amount to nothing.
“Emptiness, suffocation, and exhaustion of the body and mind are what my heart feels right now. Once the joy of obtaining treasure passes, all that is left is hollowness, dread, and strain.”
Hearing his sincere words, Jiang Zhiwei’s voice turned soft as she said, “The numbers of the Great Expansion make 50 when multiplied together, of which only 49 are used in divination. Escape is one of the options that Heaven Dao has given. It is where one can find a chance at survival in a desperate situation. Your chance of surviving your karmic burden can only come through struggling as hard as possible and firmly moving forward on your own path. This path will be impossibly tiring and torturous. Perhaps you will witness the demise of your friends and family, perhaps you will find yourself an enemy of the world. It is not something that an ordinary person can bear.
“But I know, despite your lively and immature appearance, you are firm and tenacious. You uphold your principles, persevere despite the odds, and have the will to risk your all. Your current emptiness and exhaustion are all temporary.”
Suddenly, she chuckled. “These words are useless to you, aren’t they? It is because you know this well yourself.
“What you need now is rest. Relax and forget everything for a while. Once this phase passes and your mood settles, you will be full of the will to fight.”
She abruptly unsheathed her sword and pointed it to the sky.
“Look. If the Gods and Buddhas that fill the sky dare use us as chess pieces and manipulate our lives, why don’t we just kill them?”
Meng Qi stared at the sky silently, basking in the warmth of being comforted by a friend. He did not respond immediately for he knew his reply would be void of true emotion, will to fight, and strength.
Once they were close to the exit, he pulled himself together. “Zhiwei, you are right. I need to rest, so I’m planning to take a journey of the mind. I will be relaxing while cultivating. I will meet old friends and talk about the past so I can forget about my worries.”
She smiled and nodded, saying nothing else. She was still the same steady, reliable, and trustworthy companion of his.
As midwinter neared, brilliant white snow had blanketed the entire Snowy Jade Mountain and caused the paths to freeze.
Meng Qi was now clad in a wide green robe with his sword hanging from his waist. His hair was bound by a wooden hairpin. He traveled through the snow with his hands clasped behind him.
The snow under him creaked as he took his time, walking like an ordinary person. He would not consider himself calm, merely that there was no surge of emotions.
When he reached the rear of the foot of the mountain, Meng Qi trod on the void and ascended step by step.
The last time he was here, he had a difficult time climbing the snowy peak and ice walls with Shangguan Heng. Today, getting to the top took a mere snap of his fingers.
Snowy mist shrouded the mountain. From time to time, there would be martial artists appearing at the foot of the mountain to hunt and pick snow lotus herbs. The sound of colliding gold and metal could not spread far. Meng Qi, who was watching all this while hovering in midair, felt like the scene below belonged to an entirely different world.
The peak was unchanged. The weirdo, Huang Liang, whose hair and beard covered his ashy face, was still seated inside the small ice house.
Wearing a smile on his face, Meng Qi slowly walked to his side and sat down without concern for his image. He mimicked Huang Liang and stared at the starry sky.
The stars gleamed against a cloudless backdrop, looking like a dream or illusion. Meng Qi fell into a daze as he thought about random questions.
“Are these fixed stars?”
“Is this truly the spherical heaven and flat earth or is this the vast universe?”
“Is this world a Shard of Cosmic Glow or a true entity?”
“Is the Supreme-wisdom Tree similar to the World Tree and Universe Tree that I have heard about in my previous life?”
“Which of the worlds are the leaves and which are the branches?”
Meng Qi was spellbound as if immersed in the boundlessness of the starry sky. His consciousness swirled in the air as he muttered to himself.
“What constitutes a leaf, a branch, a trunk, and a root?”
The weirdo, Huang Liang, suddenly turned his head and looked at Meng Qi suspiciously.
“Who are you?”
“Does it matter who I am?” Meng Qi was still staring at the starry sky.
“You have a point.” Huang Liang looked away, once again falling into reverie. “What constitutes a leaf, a branch, a trunk, and a root?”
The floating snowflakes froze into ice. Though Meng Qi was blanketed in snow, he did not make the slightest movement.
Several days later, Meng Qi did not lament about failing to gain answers from his reflection. Rather, he was delighted that his mind had become much clearer. He stood up, shaking off the snow and ice crystals that clung to him. With a gentle laugh, he took off and flew into the distance.
Huang Liang’s eyes moved, glancing at the disappearing Meng Qi. He shook his head.
In the same way that snowflakes could not cover up the light from a fire, there was no stopping the sound of firecrackers from spreading far and wide. Pedestrians weaved through the Jade Bridge Street in Yedu. Some were hurrying to taverns while some were browsing embroidered new year items sold from stalls on both sides of the street. The river water flowed unhurriedly, reflecting the prosperity of the stores on its surface. Meng Qi keenly felt the clamor of the world of mortals.
With his hair fastened with a wooden hairpin and hands behind his back, Meng Qi walked in the midst of the lively crowd and looked around him.
“Some five or six years ago, this is the place that I visited in search for delicious food… I can’t even remember it that well anymore. It hasn’t even been that long but it feels like something that happened in a previous life…” Without having to try, memories came pouring into Meng Qi’s mind. The pedestrians, lights, and river seemed like they had reappeared just yesterday.
“Back then, Demoness Gu appeared next to the bridge out of nowhere. Dressed in a white cloak, she carried an ethereal air and beauty as if she had stepped out of a painting. She was shrouded in the light of the mortal world like a proper young woman…” When Meng Qi’s gaze swept the bridge, it prompted him to recall what happened that day. It was not that he missed Gu Xiaosang. He was merely lamenting just how strong she was back then—it was like a cat teasing a mouse. Yet, in the span of a few years, he was strong enough that she might not even win over him without using tricks.
“This is the place where I paid for my Meridian…”
“This is the place where the Evil Ordeal fell into Demoness Gu’s hands…”
Every step he took in this place brought forth a fresh memory. He felt as if he had returned to that time.
On his left was a husband and wife pair strolling in the street, a mother holding her child’s hand, a young couple meeting in a dark corner, and a gluttonous visitor searching for delicacies while exhaling white breath.
These people were so tangible—this was just how real the world of mortals was. Meng Qi felt as if he was suddenly revived. It was as if he had regained his mindset back then.
His love for delicacies, passion for life, pursuit of good looks, schemes to obtain Karma points, reflection on tasks—he had felt all sorts of emotions. Though he could be not considered an elegant and brilliant person, he had lived like a genuine human then. He had not yet encountered the adventures that involved tombs, traces, coldness, strangeness, and great powers charging at him at full speed…
Gradually, the trace of a smile surfaced on his face. When he looked around him, he realized he had already blended into the crowd.
His smile deepened after he took several more steps and he reached the end of all noise and activity. In his vision was a sword-carrying old friend with a wine jar in hand. Wang Zai’s square face was exceptionally eye-catching to him.
“What a coincidence,” Meng Qi said, grinning.
Wang Zai burst into laughter. “You walked past my door twice without even concealing your breath. If I can’t even detect your presence, how could the Wang family from Zhou County call itself a top aristocratic family?”
Meng Qi stared at Wang Zai with a smile. “Oh, you. Your biggest weakness is your honesty and penchant for telling the truth! Shouldn’t you say something like ‘What a coincidence indeed’?”
He paused before saying,
“Yet it is your honesty that makes me the happiest.”
He did so well with his “explanation” each time!
Meng Qi’s teasing caused Wang Zai to laugh. He handed Meng Qi a pot of wine and the two of them started drinking on the street.
“So you have ascended to the Exterior realm.” Taking a swig from the jar, Meng Qi continued to move forward without stopping to enjoy the clamor of the mortal world.
Wang Zai nodded. “Before, I desperately wanted to rise through the ranks at once and took my time in attempting a breakthrough. My father then wrote me a letter to scold me for wasting my talent as a member of the Wang family. He said that too far is as bad as not enough. That was when the realization hit me.”
“I knew it is not meant to be your path,” Meng Qi said, smiling.
Reaching the end of the street, the two tacitly said nothing else and separated at the fork in the road.
Meng Qi then saw a leisurely-looking green-robed Young Master walking toward him with a wine jar. The latter was sipping wine while singing.
“My heart elates with joy, for I know I am no ordinary man…”
Young Master Liu Su!
Laughing out loud, Meng Qi lifted his wine jar and took another swig. Liu Su did the same.
The two of them brushed past each other.
It was enough to exchange laughter in an encounter!
He Mu had now enlightened his Four Apertures and his sword art was now even more stellar, allowing him to often win against those in realms higher than his. He had made quite a name for himself in Yedu.
As Lunar New Year’s Eve approached, he arrived in Mr. Su’s former residence with a wine jar in hand. He planned to drink on his own as he had in the previous years, reminiscing about the past and sighing about the fact that he had enjoyed a chance like that.
His gaze suddenly froze after pushing open the door. The good-looking Mr. Su, with a robe draped over his shoulders and a wooden hairpin securing his hair, was seated under the rain of plum blossoms as he had in the past. He was facing the fire burning inside the copper stove. In his hand was a book that held all his focus. It created an indescribably tranquil environment.
He Mu’s footsteps slowed and he tried to ease his breathing. He cautiously approached Meng Qi and deferentially asked,
“You are still reading Asking Heaven?”
Meng Qi chuckled. “The more I fight, the more I feel my ignorance.”
He Mu nodded and said nothing else. He put down the wine jar and took his usual spot to listen to Mr. Su’s explanation of the book.
The plum blossoms and copper stove, the falling white snow, and a voice full of rhythm and cadence brought calm into his heart.
Meng Qi put down the book when the sky gradually brightened outside. He got to his feet unhurriedly and smiled at He Mu.
“These are the realizations I had two years ago. Study them carefully.”
He tapped on He Mu’s midbrows with the tip of his finger and all sorts of scenes flashed in the latter’s mind.
While He Mu was savoring the scenes, he realized Mr. Su was gone. He left behind only some teasing words:
“Don’t ruin my reputation.”
Treading on the snow-covered ground, Meng Qi climbed Mount Liantai with his hands behind his back in the dark of the night. Lights flickered from within the temple on the mountain top.
The cold, deserted night brought with it winds that could clear one’s mind. Meng Qi, now much more relaxed, happily climbed up the stairs. He walked calmly and unhurriedly.
The pavilion located halfway up the mountain came into view. Meng Qi recalled everything that had happened: the silly little disciple, the sullen Master…
The melodious ringing of the clock spread far and wide, bringing a bizarre charm to the night. It was as if the sound was capable of calling back those who were lost in dreams.
“Was it Abbot Kong Wen who sounded the clock?”
Meng Qi was stumped. He felt the last bit of confusion and exhaustion leaving him and his liveliness returning. It felt as if he was washed clean of dust.
“The flourishing mortal world, an animated life, friends and family as everlasting companions that help one another, all sorts of pleasure, leisure and contentment—these were a part of me in the past, as well as a part of the current me. Whatever happens in the future, I must not let the great powers ‘steal’ me nor let them disturb my calm!”
It was at that moment that the voice of the Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms drifted to his ears, asking him to stay away from Shaolin Temple and prepare for his next task.
Meng Qi turned around and left. Before long, he found himself thousands of miles away from the temple.
Feeling a sudden strong will to fight, he whistled.
“With my saber and sword in hand today, I can exterminate whatever God, Immortal, or Buddha!”
His fervent song was a reply to Jiang Zhiwei’s previous question.
His voice spread far and wide as his figure vanished.