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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

27 Reward and Punishmen

 The cold wind ripped over the edge like a sharp steel knife was slashing across his body. Meng Qi shuddered with cold, though he was wearing a thick frock and underpants. He had to operate the Shaolin Temple heart sutras to get warm, and inner force slowly flowed through his body, thus the coldness was expelled.

The road toward the back mountain was heavily guarded. There were even guard monks at the edges of the cliff where no one could pass through. Meng Qi, Zhen Hui, and Zhen Yong were arranged at the front of a narrow road leading to the back mountain. On each side was cliff walls and the front had a large and dense forest.

"Senior Brother, are there the White Bone Woman and Spider-Woman in the back mountain?" Zhen Hui asked. He had not opened up his Elixir Field, thus his Inner Qi Force was in a slow growth. He was so cold that he skipped, staring sharply at the dark end of the narrow road. That was the back mountain.

"White Bone Woman? Spider-Woman?" Zhen Yong was momentarily confused. By giving Meng Qi an odd stare, Zhen Yong wondered what strange stories Meng Qi had told Zhen Hui.

Meng Qi laughed as between the hard practices of Kung Fu to cope with the life-or-death pressure in the World of Samsara, it was somewhat the only leisure for him. "Now that Senior Brother Zhen Miao has said there are demons and ghosts, then there must be some alluring women."

He did not know well about the demons and ghosts, so he mentioned it on purpose to see if Zhen Yong could explain it.

Zhen Yong was watching the end of the road absent-mindedly, and it was like he was talking to himself. "The true demons and ghosts... How many people have ever seen them? Since the Demon Mess time has gone, the demonic cult has sunk without a trace. At least, we ordinary people can rarely find them. It only occurs sometimes that a scholar meets a Fox Woman or a master faces down a Snake Spirit. Well, I haven't seen one yet."

Meng Qi nodded his head and did not ask more questions, for Zhen Yong really seemed to know little about it.

The night dragged on, the north wind getting colder. Zhen Hui had found a stone to sit on for meditation and Zhen Yong was walking about to drive out the chill.

With the quiet environment and guard monks from Dharma and Bodhi guarding behind, Meng Qi gradually put his mind on the last step of the Eight Divine Steps. Suddenly, a deadly cold wind came past and Meng Qi shivered. Then, he became sober and had a flash of genius, and had all the passes figured out.

After figuring out the last key to the Eight Divine Steps, Meng Qi could not help giving it a try.

Though Zhen Yong "knew" that he had a technique inherited from his family, Meng Qi was still not accustomed to using the steps directly. While the bladesmanship could cover it up, the movement was so big that Zhen Miao and other people who were patrolling would find out and, thus, he would be scolded.

Looking around, Meng Qi said to Zhen Yong with his hands pressing his stomach, "Senior Brother, my stomach is aching. I have to go to the toilet. Sorry to give you trouble."

Zhen Yong had a few similar experiences when they were in the Sutras Depository so he felt it was nothing weird. He smiled. "Go ahead! I'll explain it if Senior Brother Zhen Miao comes."

Meng Qi carried his Buddhist Commandment Blade and scuttled off into the forest ahead. He did not dare to walk away too far. So, at the side near the cliff wall, he started to practice the steps around the huge trees.

Eight Divine Steps was delicate and mysterious. As it was dark at night, Meng Qi felt that he was like a ghost moving around in and out of the shadows.

"Good! That really is it!" Meng Qi satisfactorily nodded his head after practicing several times and decided to go back.

He suddenly heard a slight sound come from the wall when he was about to go, and all of a sudden, he felt fully tense. He slid and hid behind a big tree.

"I can't be that unlucky! Aren't there Uncle Masters and Senior Brothers guarding? And there is such a cliff here!"

Meng Qi thought that it was some monster or demon.

He peeped at that side and saw a big hole cracked into the cliff wall beside a big reddish stone. A figure warily darted out.

This figure touched something behind the big stone. The sound came again, and then the stone wall slowly closed.

"Is it the escape exit for the demons and ghosts?"

Meng Qi made a guess sorrowfully. He regretted a little bit coming into the forest.

He thought at first that there were just some wild beasts here. And they would not come out on such cold winter days. It should have been a definitely safe place, while he did not expect that he would meet this thing.

The figure turned around and was going to run into another side of the forest.

At this moment, Meng Qi saw his face clearly against the hazy moonlight.

"Him?"

Meng Qi was so surprised and shocked that he almost screamed out. He finally bit his lips to stop himself.

"The person out from the back mountain is Zhen Guan!

"The person who attacked me and suffered from no hope for revenge. It is Zhen Guan!"

"Hasn't he been expelled from Buddhism?"

Meng Qi thought doubtfully. He believed that Xuan Xin did not lie about it because his friend in the Chores Yard, Zhen Yan, said he had never seen Zhen Guan since that day.

Meng Qi stood still and saw Zhen Guan go away. He knew his own power was not good enough to get involved with such stuff as demons and ghosts.

"Men should have self-knowledge. Not everyone is a hero..." Meng Qi said to himself.

"If I go and open that exit, what waits for me might not be some beast's elixir or some kind of demonic cult Divine Skill. I might be just killed and devoured or become a puppet. After all, the former belongs to 'heroes' and I may not have a halo of a 'hero'."

He quietly left the forest and decided to seek a more capable person to handle it. Though he had long determined to resume his secular life, he was in the Shaolin Temple right now. He might be implicated into trouble if there would be conflicts in Shaolin.

"Junior Brother Zhen Ding, are you having the runs?" Zhen Yong teased Meng Qi for his late arrival.

Meng Qi said seriously, "Senior Brother Zhen Yong, I encountered a strange thing when I was having the runs, and I think I should report it to our Uncle Master!"

"Oh! Quick! Shoot off the fireworks!" Zhen Yong was taken back. He thought it over and let Meng Qi send an emergency signal right away without asking him what thing was.

Meng Qi's mouth twitched a little.

"This Senior Brother Zhen Yong, enthusiastic, hearty, and generous in normal times, is quite a slippery fellow at critical times. He doesn't even ask anything and tries to keep himself out of it."

He did not care much about Zhen Yong's little thoughts but inwardly made a decision to be wary of him. At that time, Zhen Hui took out a bamboo tube in front of him, aimed it into the sky, and pulled its lid off.

With a swish, a red glow shot up, bursting into a bright sight in the sky.

"Junior Brother is really a man of action. You didn't ask anything, but just fired it..." Meng Qi wiped the cold sweat on his forehead, and walked ahead of Zhen Hui with his blade, alert to a possible attack.

After two or three breaths, Meng Qi felt dizzy and then saw a handsome, while melancholy, middle-aged monk. He wore a yellow frock and a red cassock, and in his right hand, he had a string of black beads carved with Buddha images.

"Yellow frock, red cassock... Which yard is he the head or Elder of?"

Meng Qi was about to greet him, but hesitated as the words were just on his lips.

"Should I call him Uncle Master, Grand Uncle Master, or Great Grand Uncle Master? I don't know him at all. The rank is too complicated."

However, Meng Qi felt relieved when he saw a high-ranking master monk arrive.

The monk came with a grim face. But having seen that this place was peaceful, he became relaxed as well. He found that Meng Qi was hesitating and understood the reason for it. Then he said with a smile, "My title is Xuan Bei. What's this emergency firework for?"

"Is the 'Xuan' already a title of a yard President or an Uncle Master?"

Meng Qi was in complete surprise. But he still put down his desire for speaking out. After thinking it over, he said, "Uncle Master Xuan Bei, just now I went into the forest to urinate and I saw a secret door on the cliff wall..."

Xuan Bei listened to Meng Qi calmly. Then he slightly nodded his head. "You did a good job. No offense and no cover-up. But, are you sure that figure is Zhen Guan, the one who has been expelled?"

"I know what he looks like, but I'm not sure if it's a monster's transformation," Meng Qi answered honestly.

After learning about the exact place of the door and some signs there, Xuan Bei instructed them. "You all follow Xuan Chi back to the Warrior-monk Yard later, and leave this matter to me."

"Yes, Uncle Master Xuan Bei." Meng Qi could not wait to leave there. Now he was worried that some demons and ghosts would whip out from the dark.

Xuan Bei stood still, and all of a sudden, he vanished from where he was. He flashed on the edge of the forest, and around him was faint Buddhist singing and Buddha Aura dimly shining. It was solemn and holy like Arhats and Bodhisattvas were landing in this world.

"That is the strength of the Exterior..." Zhen Yong said to himself while watching in the direction Xuan Bei was heading.

Meng Qi said with surprise, "Senior Brother Zhen Yong, you know this Uncle Master?"

Zhen Yong turned back to him and said with a sigh, "I don't know other Uncle Masters except for Xuan Chi and Xuan Ku, who we usually see. But this Uncle Master Xuan Bei has a solid reputation. I have often heard of him from Senior Brother Zhen Chang."

"Zhen Chang, the head of the first three 'Zhen' Disciples?"

Meng Qi knew Zhen Chang, and it was said that he was superior to Zhen Miao and Zhen Ben.

Zhen Yong continued, saying, "Uncle Master Xuan Bei was a Peerless Master Pro traveling through the world, and he had the title, 'Seven Deadly Hand'. But later, he suffered a sudden misfortune, and his whole family was killed. Though he had gotten his revenge, the killer had a strong background. Some grandmaster came for him. And adding to this, he was disheartened at that time, so he finally decided to escape into our Shaolin Temple. He buried himself in Buddhism and cut all connections of secular life, accompanied by the Old Buddha with the Altar Lamp.

"As he was talented and faithful to Buddhism, His Abbotship valued him and took him as his disciple, which is actually an exception. Then he learned about Mo-Ke Exorcism Punch. He was so spectacular that he had a breakthrough in a short time and became a grandmaster. Later, he even became the first one of the 'Xuan' title who stepped into the Eight-fold Heaven of the Exterior. There is only one more step for him to reach the summit."

"This kind of person is always a legend..."

Meng Qi thought quietly, while Zhen Hui was listening with thirsty ears.

Later, Zhen Miao and his group arrived. Many yellow-clothed monks that Meng Qi did not know also came. The three went back to the Warrior-monk Yard with Xuan Chi.

The next morning, when Meng Qi was going to practice writing and find out the result of that matter (he did not have to wake up early to carry water because of the mountain guarding last night), the door was pushed open. The evil-eyed Commandment Monk, Xuan Kong, walked in, and the dejected Zhen Yong followed him.

"Yesterday, your findings made some conspiracy fail, so Bodhi Yard will give you a reward. But it may be in a few days." Xuan Kong smirked. "But Commandment Yard must punish you for your desertion when you were guarding. Combined with your contribution, you'll be isolated in the meditation room for three days."

"Only isolated for three days?"

Meng Qi answered him with a "yes". He cared little about this punishment, for it was too light. He could settle down and practice his inner force.

He was looking forward to the reward of Bodhi Yard.

"Will it be one of the 72 Ultimate Arts?"

Three days later, Meng Qi ate up the dinner that was sent to him and finished his isolation, then he opened the door happily.

"Well, Junior Brother, why are you not happy?" Meng Qi met Zhen Hui when he just went out the door.

Zhen Hui angrily said, "Today, Uncle Masters came to choose their disciples, but you were isolated and couldn't go out."

Meng Qi's face suddenly got gloomy.

"So this was the reason!

"Was it the disrespect earlier or the elder brother of Zhen Liang in the Commandment Yard?"

He squinted his eyes and said to Zhen Hui in a peaceful voice, "Let's go to the Kung Fu Acting Hall."

Although Meng Qi did not want to be a disciple of a Master, as it would be difficult to leave the Shaolin Temple if he did so, still, facing this situation, he was not satisfied at all.

As his voice faded, Meng Qi suddenly noticed that there were two lines of words on the light snow in the yard:

"The second Samsara begins!"

"Please be mentally prepared. The next time it's open, you won't be informed and will be pulled in directly."