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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

25 The Hegemon in the Exhibition Hall

 With a long breathing rhythm, Meng Qi's inner force was delivered from his Elixir Field, turned three passes, ran through the Mingmen, entered the Mud Ball, and finally gathered into his chest. It was like a heavy snow had fallen and all rivers had been pulled into the sea.

After several days of training like this, Meng Qi gradually learned the essence of the "Shaolin Cultivation Method". He then inhaled, sagging his body before opening up his eyes.

At this moment, Xuan Chi, who had taught him the heart sutras, had disappeared. Outside the quiet room, he heard the sound of flesh hitting flesh.

Struck by a thought, Meng Qi stood up and walked out of the quiet room, entering the Kung Fu Acting Hall.

Though he did realize the importance of the cultivation of Inner Qi Force, he could only touch these Buddhist monk knives and practice bladesmanship in the hall these days, except when he was engaged in patrol or guard duties. Then he would practice and strengthen his inner force after the closing of the Kung Fu Acting Hall and his return to the meditation room.

"Junior Brother, do you want to leave with me?" Meng Qi asked casually when he saw Zhen Hui had opened his eyes.

Zhen Hui's cheeks were ruddy and he looked confused as if he had just woken up. He answered shyly, "Senior Brother, that warm mouse was funny, so I want to practice the heart sutras some more."

"OK. Now it's time for you to lay the foundation. You'd better open up your Elixir Field as soon as possible." Meng Qi smiled and opened the door of the quiet room and returned to the hall.

The weapon rack was against the left side of the wall, which was mostly stocked with long sticks, a few Buddhist Commandment Blades, with a few long-swords mixed in. In each corner stood two Deacon Monks wearing yellow clothes. They were present to help avoid accidental injury during sparring matches.

Meng Qi looked around and saw Zhen Yong burying himself in the Arhat Fists pair training. So he did not say anything to Zhen Yong and just walked straight over to the weapon rack. He picked up a Buddhist Commandment Blade that had no edge and weighed it in his hand. Then he postured, performing a slow and clumsy practice, according to the

Five Tiger-like Bladesmanship

lessons given by Qi Xia.

One Deacon Monk standing beside Meng Qi unconsciously squinted his eyes when watching him practice. He watched for a while and realized that Meng Qi was performing the most basic moves of bladesmanship. After shaking his head, he returned his attention to the other monks training.

Meng Qi moved from posture to posture, gradually forgetting everything around him. He sank into his world of practice, where he swung his sword easily, like the wind. He adjusted his mistakes according to the esoterica.

After some time had passed, Meng Qi put the sword back, and beads of sweat had broken out across his forehead. He paused, savoring the gains he had just reaped from his practice.

"Whew, I could almost master my bladesmanship in a month if I practice to this degree every day." Meng Qi sighed deeply with delight. Picking the blade back up, he again postured and swung his Buddhist Commandment Blade.

At this time, Meng Qi's "Blade Art of Five Tigers Cracking the Gate" was quite a mess. That was because he had concentrated on his footsteps. Displaying bladesmanship was just a way to mask his practice of the "Eight Divine Steps" to avoid being discovered by the Deacon Monk.

After an hour, Meng Qi remembered most of the footsteps for the "Eight Divine Steps". Combining this with his inner force, it was not hard to increase his Qi. But Meng Qi felt this was still far from the threshold, let alone mastery. It was obscure, like something he could not understand was in between there. Right now, he could only remember the complicated footsteps, which was not useful at all.

"It appears that I need to practice with actual combatants to find out the secret of the footsteps." Meng Qi felt exhausted after a night of practice. He put the Buddhist Commandment Blade back on the weapon rack and walked toward Zhen Yong.

"Hey, Junior Brother Zhen Ding, have you mastered the Shaolin Temple heart sutras?" Zhen Yong was standing bent over with his hands on his knees while he tried to catch his breath. He was exhausted from the pair exercises he had done earlier.

Meng Qi smiled. "Senior Brother Zhen Yong, have you forgotten that I've opened up my Elixir Field?"

"Right, I forgot!" Zhen Yong patted his shaved head and slowly straightened up."Will you go back to the meditation room now?"

The meditation room of the Warrior-monk Yard was a double room. Meng Qi and Zhen Hui were living next to Zhen Yong.

Meng Qi nodded his head. While calling out to Zhen Hui, he suddenly saw in front of him a burly monk savagely hitting another monk.

With a snapping sound, the weak monk was forced to step back. He looked at his opponent with surprise and anger. But, before he could say a word, that burly monk who had hit him spoke up maliciously, "How dare you hit me? Do you want to fight with me? All right, come on then!"

The weak monk's face paled and he was clearly afraid, however, he did not turn down the challenge. He postured and fought with that atrocious monk.

It came as no surprise that the weaker monk's defenses were no match for the burly opponent. Beaten black and blue, he staggered away toward the exit of the Kung Fu Acting Hall.

And that bully-like monk triumphantly shook his fist, boasting all around.

Meng Qi was so shocked it took him a moment to find his voice. Looking at Zhen Yong, he said, "This is ridiculous!"

"He committed a crime of provocation and a blow to his sectmate under the eight Deacon Monk's eyes. All the while, the monk getting beaten up did not even call out for help! Where is the Shaolin Discipline?"

Although it had been said that where there was Jianghu, there were bound to be a few bullies, but Meng Qi thought the Shaolin Temple was a peaceful place for practicing Buddhism as some prominent monks had made achievements. Even if dirty stuff existed, it should not be seen publicly like this.

Zhen Yong whispered, "His Dharma name is Zhen Liang. He came to the temple three years ago and he just now reached the primary level of Qi-cultivation. He likes taking advantage of the rules by bullying the weak in the Kung Fu Acting Hall."

"Rules?" Meng Qi asked in confusion.

Zhen Yong said with a smile, "It's our own yard rule. You can not reject a request for a sparring match when you are practicing in the Kung Fu Acting Hall. After all, if you are a Jianghu fighter, you can't just say, 'I don't want to fight you', when someone is trying to kill you. There are situations where the challenge is discussed in advance, but there are distinctions. Once a monk has reached advanced success of Qi-cultivation, they will no longer train here, they have their own hall for their level.

"Zhen Liang uses this rule to challenge monks that he has had conflicts with. As for his bragging, it's considered a reasonable provocation in the Kung Fu Acting Hall. It helps monks acclimate to those types of situations and help them prevent emotional reactions."

Meng Qi nodded his head as he finally realized the reason for it. "But, the Deacon Uncle Masters and Senior Brothers should know if it's an unfair or actual practice, shouldn't they?"

"I've heard that Zhen Liang has an elder brother in the Commandment Yard..." Zhen Yong whispered, "So Deacon Uncle Masters and Senior Brothers all turn a blind eye to his behavior unless he breaks a rule. Haha, he's really a hegemon in the Kung Fu Acting Hall."

It reminded Meng Qi of the monks in the Chores Yard. He sighed and said, "How can this kind of person gain access to the Warrior-monk Yard? I thought Uncle Master Xuan Ku was a man of integrity."

"It's said that Uncle Master Xuan Ku was only in charge of the first few groups. The later groups were picked up by the other Uncle Masters. They'll evaluate our performances and pick their disciples." Zhen Yong did not have an unfavorable opinion about Xuan Ku.

Meng Qi felt wrong about his thetic view. He squinted at Zhen Liang, who was chatting and laughing with others.

"What I need is an actual combat practice. Now, I'm just worried about who the right man is!"

Suddenly, Meng Qi walked up to him.

The pressure of death in the World of Samsara left him no room to hesitate. It also suited his wish to be expelled from the Shaolin Temple for this.

Zhen Yong did not know why Meng Qi was walking over to Zhen Liang, so he just watched quietly.

"Hey, how dare he not clean the yard for me." Zhen Liang watched the gate.

The monk next to him chuckled, "He doesn't know about Senior Brother's skill. Who can defeat you in the entire Kung Fu Acting Hall?"

"Haha, I'm not that easy to defeat, even though I'm quite genial in my daily life." Zhen Liang laughed out loud.

At this moment, Meng Qi walked up to him and shoulder-checked him with a snap.

Zhen Liang stepped back and looked at Meng Qi in astonishment.

"Usually, I'm the one to bump into others, but today someone is bold enough to shoulder-check me!"

Meng Qi, clenching his fists, crossed his arms over his chest and said with a half-smile, "How dare you bump into me! Are you looking to fight? Well, come on then!"

"What?"

Zhen Liang stood frozen, surprised by the role reversal. Several of his companions stared at Meng Qi in shock.

"Where did this little monk come from? He looks good, but he must have lost his mind."

"The audacity!"

Zhen Yong's face changed and he tried to stop him. But, he suddenly remembered that the Teaching Monk, Zhen Miao, had been beaten by Zhen Ding this afternoon, so he slowed down and looked at the two with a smile.

"Damn it! You bastard!" Zhen Liang came back to earth with anger.

"Only I can bully others. No one can provoke me!"

He imitated Meng Qi by crossing his hands and clenching his fists, his joints rattling. He said with an evil look, "Ok, let's have a practice battle! If you don't cry for mercy, I'll be your junior brother!"

The Deacon Monks that surrounded the hall did not change their expressions and acted like there was not a conflict taking place.

Immediately, Zhen Liang rushed at Meng Qi. His momentum was huge and powerful.

After half an hour, Meng Qi had given Zhen Liang a few thumps and punches, leaving him laying on the floor. The surrounding monks either looked blank or terrified. Straightening up, he leisurely patted his frock. "Well, well, junior brother, you do need to practice more."

At the start of the fight, Meng Qi was familiarizing himself with the combination of the "Eight Divine Steps" and "Arhat Fists", which made him look inept. Zhen Liang felt excited and acted like he had already beaten Meng Qi to tears. But, as Meng Qi's movements began to smooth out, he took a sharp offensive, which left him time to think about his gains. With the help of the Iron Shirt and the vigor of death, he swiftly beat Zhen Liang to the ground, thoroughly clobbering him.

"Junior... brother..." Zhen Liang roared with chagrin. He could not believe that he had been defeated.

"Undoubtedly, I knew I would prevail in the first few breaths, however, this little monk became a monster in the twinkle of an eye. My fists were no more effective than scratching his back!"

Meng Qi looked down and turned to Zhen Liang. "Well, it seems you're contesting my win? Come on then, let's fight again!"

Facing this guy who was acting like a bully made Zhen Liang clench his teeth and slowly pick himself up without saying a word.

Meng Qi quickly became familiar with the Arhat Fists and also grasped some of the essences of the Eight Divine Steps. He was in a pretty good mood and was eager to spar with another opponent.

Suddenly, all the monks around him scattered, ending the practice.

"Why don't give me a chance..." Meng Qi shook his head and turned again to Zhen Liang, who was turning black and blue.

Zhen Liang was embarrassed and dashed off without thinking.

"Junior Brother Zhen Ding, your Thwart Kung Fu is really outstanding." Zhen Yong tried to entice with a compliment. At that moment, Zhen Hui walked out of the quiet room.

Meng Qi squashed his desire to fight and instead, returned to the meditation room with them, so he could practice his "Shaolin Cultivation Method".

The next day, Meng Qi was still carrying water, reading words, and practicing by himself. After he had finished practicing, Zhen Miao stood in front of him, with his hands clasped behind his back. "Junior brother Zhen Ding, are you ready?"

"I'm ready." Meng Qi answered while stepping out of line. He felt both stressed and excited about fighting against a powerhouse.