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“Amitabha…” Fahai’s aged and muddled yellow eyes looked at Xu Yangyi for several seconds, and he shook his head. “I am unenlightened. Even if Buddha is all living things, when he is enlightened with a thought, it is then that all living things are Buddha.”
Xu Yangyi kept silent. Fahai already knew what he was going to ask. This story was the way to tell him that cultivation was to become an immortal. If Fahai was aware, he was an immortal. If he wasn’t aware, he would then go cultivate into the legendary immortal. The so-called immortal path was vast and distant. In fact, the immortal path possessed its own standards.
In any case, why ask about something that no longer existed in the present?
“Junior will bear your advice.” Xu Yangyi still hadn’t talked much, but Fahui suddenly spoke up.
Fahai faintly nodded. “All things possess a destiny… One day, the azure carp’s destiny arrived. At the side of the Wei River, a straight hook caught a fish. Jiang Shang met King Wen of Zhou… yet as everyone’s gazes were cast into this unprecedented meeting in history, whose gaze looked upon that azure carp?”
Several gazes looked towards the azure-clothed woman in shock. The woman’s face was devoid of joy or sorrow, as if the one being spoken about wasn’t her.
“King Wen of Zhou—Ji Chang…” Mao Ba’er gulped. “For this… this monster… to survive until now, s-she’s at l-l-least over 3,000 years old! W-What realm is this?!”
“No one paid attention whatsoever…” Fahai sighed. “In order to repay the grace of meeting the azure carp, Jiang Shang tapped the azure carp’s head three times. Henceforth, this azure carp’s intelligence bloomed.”
“She has seen much… She has witnessed the Fall of the Shang and the Rise of the Zhou… She has seen those once supreme greater demons fall to the earth… and observed the sudden rise of each new demon clan…” His voice was seeped with a somewhat hoarse bleakness. His gaze was fairly blurred, seemingly looking back on history’s long river.
Fahai paused for a brief moment and then followed up unhurriedly, “Her realm became greater and greater. So great that heaven and earth was unable to tolerate this greater demon’s existence any longer. At that time, a thousand years had already passed. Time arrived at that of the Southern Song.”
“Everyone, have you read the Legend of the White Snake in the past?” His topic changed directions. He studied the crowd and said faintly, “Do you think me to be an addled monk, treacherous and unversed in human emotion?”
No one spoke. Everyone had read the Legend of the White Snake. Fahai’s image was indeed as he said. He was a meddlesome monk who broke up a happily married couple.
“A great lie.” Without the stirring of great billows, Fahai’s expression finally rippled a little. His gaze was like lightning, looking straight at the azure-clothed woman. “The Legend of the White Snake… isn’t like this at all… At the dawn of the Southern Song, a benefactor named Xu Xian came to Jinshan Temple. He stewed and sat down for several days, stating that he absolutely wouldn’t go back until he saw this poor monk. Under my questioning, I knew…”
“His wife, Bai Suzhen, kept exhibiting blasphemies! This was a fiend’s doing! Because she coveted his appearance, she married him. With my own hands, I then subdued her! I didn’t anticipate it, but she didn’t give up on this. Rather than be righteous together with her younger sister the azure snake, she desired to engage in arcane combat with me for her own obscenity! I descended into the waters and fought. An enormous wave that flooded the sky caused the countless peoples of Zhenjiang to lose their homes… Benefactor!” Fahai trod a step forward, his gaze arcing straight at the Myriad Waters Demon King like electricity. “Centuries have passed. Do you regret your sin on that day the least bit?”
Mao Ba’er whispered and asked Zhao Wuye, “Descended into the waters and fought?”
Zhao Wuye likewise whispered back an answer, “The Flooding of Jinshan.”
The azure-clothed woman smiled. “Go on, I want to know. How long can you keep up with this silver tongue?”
“Amitabha…” Fahai painfully closed his eyes. “Lay down your butcher’s blade and give yourself to Buddha post-haste. Benefactor, why are you slow to abandon the will to lay down the cleaver in your heart?”
Silence. A stretch of silence.
After an unknown passage of time, Xuan Chengzi looked at the woman, his voice trembling. “What Senior means is…”
“This Senior is Xiaoqing.” Xu Yangyi’s voice rang out. He seemed calm, but in his heart, there was likewise a massive wave surging towards the heavens! A guess was one thing… but a confirmation was another matter!
Who would’ve thought… that this legendary myth truly existed? Who would’ve expected… that Fahai and Xiaoqing were actually still alive in the world? And who would’ve foreseen that there was such a situation at the bottom of Danxia Temple?!
Were it not for him looking at all of the Yellow Springs Path’s wall carvings, this moment of shock would be absolutely no less than everyone else’s for him!
Thump… Mao Ba’er’s butt landed on a lotus leaf. The fur all over his body was shaking in disarray.
“S-S-She’s Xiaoqing? The azure snake?” His tongue was trembling, and his eyes were unable to focus because of this great divergence. The husky stared blankly at the demon king. “Then h-hasn’t she lived up to now f-for already over a t-thousand years?!”
“Amitabha…” Fahui was incredibly shocked. Ordinarily calm like a breeze and still like a wave, his face at this moment carried an incredulousness that couldn’t be masked!
“Daofather above…” Xuan Chengzi coldly gasped. He looked at the calm-faced woman with terrible astonishment, his voice wavering. “This… This is a true greater demon throughout the ages…”
No one spoke. No one dared to speak. Nobody whatsoever had expected that this azure-clothed woman was actually the nameless Xiaoqing in the Legend of the White Snake! A figure of legend truly stood before them!
“Indeed a name worthy of cherishing.” After ages, the azure-clothed woman softly said, “This Palace’s real name is Yu Qinglin. I was called Xiaoqing, though there was nothing wrong with that.”
“S-she a-admitted it! She really is Xiaoqing?!” Mao Ba’er stared. In fact, he was not alone; everyone else stare as well. They looked at the azure-clothed woman in a daze, their minds a tangled ball of confusion.
“Se… Senior…” Zhao Wuye said warblingly, “T-This doesn’t match the Legend of the White Snake’s tale… a-and this senior, s-she isn’t an azure snake…”
“No! This is fact!” Fahui’s eyes were somewhat reddened, and he gritted his teeth. “Benefactors, I’m unaware, but have you read ‘Tales to Warn the World’ by the late-Ming author Feng Menglong? In this… the original version of the Legend of the White Snake is written! From the start, it was never an azure snake. But an azure carp!”
He took a deep breath and stood up, bowing deeply towards Fahai. “This poor monk has always believed this was nothing more than a myth… For the common people and all things, Senior didn’t hesitate to enter hell alone. Junior feels deep admiration.”
Yu Qinglin coldly studied Fahui and suddenly laughed. “Fahai… I ought to send your junior, who has the character ‘Fa’ in his name, off to be buried with my own hands.”
Fahai eyed Yu Qinglin pitifully and shook his head. He didn’t respond and continued to speak, “And yet the descent into the waters and the battle were all because of me… Buddha said ‘If I do not enter hell, who can?’. Although the chief evil that was the white snake was suppressed, the azure carp slinked away. Because I shouldered the enormous karma of Zhenjiang, I had no choice but to hide inside a crab… After searching through several thousand lis of adversity, I finally found a trace of the azure carp here. But at the same time I was suppressing her, I was plotted against by the azure carp. Both of us suffered defeat.”
He took a deep breath, facing all the Qi Condensation cultivations and sincerely saluting. “I hope benefactors will consider the the world’s masses. This demon… MUST not leave!”
Silence. Deathly silence.
Clap clap clap… After ages, the sound of applause echoed. Her expression motionless, Yu Qinglin was lightly clapping. “A good story… you almost made me believe that I committed some great atrocity. Your use of this tale to deceive these little Qi Condensation cultivators is enough and then some. I didn’t expect, I really did not expect… that in these past centuries, I still hadn’t seen your talent for such falsehoods.”
“It just so happens that I also have a story, but it is worlds apart from the one you told. I don’t know if the present juniors have heard it. Who should they believe?”
“Amitabha.” Fahai’s expression was imposing and motionless, and his white beard fluttered. “When false is true and true is also false. When true is false and false is also true… Every drink and every peck, each flower and each fruit, all is determined by the heavens. Benefactors, you must judge clearly.”
“Judge clearly?” Yu Qinglin coldly watched Fahai. “Those of Buddha have always said that which is pleasing to hear… Using your body to suppress a demon?”
“Just by relying on yourself?” Tilting her head, she rested her perfumed cheek on her hand and sneered. “Were it not for this Five Phases Godseal Formation, would you still be able to suppress me?” Her smile vanished and her icy gaze observed everyone. “I’ll tell all of you two things.”
“If not for me, it would be impossible for all of you to leave Danxia Temple’s depths.” She raised up two fingers. “The second… If you don’t pull out the chain in my chest… you will all die here.”
“Hear me.” She was like a queen overlooking the mortal realm, simply not looking at everyone. In the same vein, a wisp of reminiscence penetrated her gaze. She paused for no less than ten minutes and then said unhurriedly, “Since the End of the Han, I have been imprisoned here. At that time, my cultivation was already at the initial stage of Nascent Soul.”
Everyone collectively gasped. Qi Condensation, Foundation Establishment, Core Formation. Afterwards was Nascent Soul, long since faded away without a trace in the End of Days. Core Formation was titled Dao Master. Nascent Soul was titled Dao Lord!
Here and now, a living Nascent Soul Dao Lord was standing before their eyes! Even if they had guessed early on that the cultivations of these two people were at least Nascent Soul, at this moment, Xiaoqing had admitted it from her own mouth. Nevertheless, it still caused everyone to be terribly shocked.
No… Xu Yangyi took a deep breath. This… was a Nascent Soul Dao Lord from 2,000 years ago! What level had her cultivation reached now? No one could say for sure!
In his heart, he inwardly calculated. The longevity of Nascent Soul was recorded to be 800 years. He wasn’t all too clear what realm was after Nascent Soul, but Yu Qinglin was bound to have already advanced to the next realm! Only then would she be able to endure this endless 2,000 years from the Qin dynasty to the present!
Yu Qinglin didn’t pay too much attention to anything else and said slowly, “On a certain day at the End of the Han, all cultivators… just disappeared… I speak of the most supreme ones. It seemed as if there were never cultivators in the world… All that remained were second and third-rate sects. Hehe… the second and third-rate sects I speak of would still be enough to sweep away and flatten the modern cultivation world.”
She furrowed her brows and frowned. “On that day, a man sitting on a wheelchair found me. He didn’t say a word and sealed me. However, even if he didn’t utter a word, I still recognized him…”
She paused for a very, very long time, somewhat vexed as she pondered that person’s name. Xu Yangyi clenched his teeth and murmured, “Zhuge Liang?”
Just as his voice fell, Yu Qinglin snapped her head up and looked at him. Her voice was incomparably icy. “How did you know?”
Fahai also lifted up his head and recited a chant. “Benefactor, how did you guess it was Senior Zhuge? This poor monk heard this demon speak of this past matter only once in the past several hundred years.”
Xu Yangyi didn’t speak, but in his heart he was intensely shaken!
Fahai didn’t know? Xiaoqing also didn’t know? In that case… where did those wall carvings come from?!
Did a third person come here? No… perhaps… this person was still here! Who in the world was it? To be capable of surviving in front of two such high-level cultivations? This figure still hadn’t been detected by them after so many years?
No… maybe… it was Liu Bowen? Zhuge Liang? That was also incorrect! If it was them, why would they take and seal Fahai’s words of “save me” in the wall carvings?
Or maybe… Xu Yangyi deeply eyed Fahai. Was this in itself Fahai pretending to be unaware?
1. Shang and Zhou are both ancient dynasties. Shang: 1600-1046 BCE. Zhou: 1046-256 BCE.
2. Southern Song is 1127-1279 CE.
3. Feng Menglong - novelist during the late Ming dynasty (1574 - 1646 CE). Tales to Warn the World otherwise known as Stories to Caution the World.
4. Fa = 法
5. End of the Han dynasty is 220~ CE.
6. Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE)
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