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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

38 The Cosmos Juggler

 Immediately after he finished speaking, Tang Shun charged at Qi Zhengyan and Meng Qi like a furious bull.

Though his Kung Fu was the weakest among the four master pros, Tang Shun was still a strong enlightenment period master. Qi Zhengyan could not afford to be careless. With his sword, he drew an arc like the rise and fall of the sun's orbit with his sword as a defense. He partnered with Meng Qi to brace for the oncoming attack. Together they bided their time until Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan could recover and join the fight.

Qi Zhengyan did not lack experience in fighting masters who had enlightened the Apertures-whether through sparring or during the King's Hiding Castle task, there were Eye Apertured experts. He was therefore confident in his Long River Sword Art. Even if he lost, he knew that he could bide for time, especially now that he had learned some of the 13 Moves of Infinitely Changing Mist. With these skills incorporated into his swordsmanship, he might even be able to injure Tang Sun and deplete his strength.

That way, there was still hope even if Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan could only fight at a fraction of their strength. With Qi Zhengyan's swordsmanship and their strength in numbers, they might be able to defeat Tang Shun. They could at least hold him off until the completion of the main task.

Meng Qi was able to predict Qi Zhengyan's intentions. He started the Eight Divine Steps, stepping aside and striking with his sword in harmony with Qi Zhengyan.

As Qi Zhengyan and Meng Qi began their combined attack, Tang Shun unexpectedly moved toward the oncoming blade.

"Oh, no!"

Tang Shun could tell his abnormal move had startled Qi Zhengyan. Taking advantage of the split-second confusion, he gave Qi Zhengyan no time to retrieve his sword and change into defense. Qi Zhengyan could only turn sideways and protect himself by straining his abdomen and chest.

A dull sound came from his sword as Meng Qi's attack was rendered useless by Tang Shun's surprising advancement. His sword slid across Tang Shun's back, cutting his robe and leaving a white scratch on his dark skin.

With a sharp slam from his palms, Tang Shun landed a heavy blow on Qi Zhengyan and sent him and his sword flying. Blood sputtered from Qi Zhengyan's mouth as he fell hard on the ground.

Thwart Kung Fu?

The consummate Iron Shirt?

Meng Qi stepped back and dodged left, trying to avoid Tang Shun's subsequent attack. His heart pounded erratically inside his chest.

Until now, he had relied on the Iron Shirt to defeat his enemies, trading minor injuries for major victories. But he was now facing an Iron Shirt attack stronger than his own and a frightening opponent more skilled than himself.

Jiang Zhiwei's and Zhang Yuanshan's faces flushed red as they forced themselves up, cutting short their recovery time. They grabbed their swords and joined the fight.

After falling on the ground, Qi Zhengyan struggled for some time before forcibly standing up. Though he managed to avoid the full force of Tang Shun's blow, the ferocious attack still injured him.

Left, right, forward, backward. When it came to facing a fearsome opponent like Tang Shun, Meng Qi could only rely on the Eight Divine Steps and survive by dodging in all directions.

Tang Shun was far more skilled than Meng Qi. Otherwise, Meng Qi would have used the same strategy he used against Zhen Miao.

Despite Meng Qi's unpredictable movements, Tang Shun was slowly closing the space between them. He would be unable to avoid him before long.

"Lady Jiang and Senior Brother Zhang are almost here..." Meng Qi said through clenched teeth. With all his energy focused on avoiding the attack, his understanding of the Eight Divine Steps seemed to have deepened a little more.

"Ha!" Tang Shun simultaneously exhaled and let out a loud sound, like the sound of a gong and a drum.

At once, Meng Qi heard a ringing in his ears and felt dizzy. His vision blurred and his legs went weak, slowing down his steps.

"Thud!" Tang Shun saw his opportunity and attacked, imprinting his fist on Meng Qi's back.

Meng Qi's vision blackened and his back went numb. The blow from Tang Shun sent him flying through the air as a cracking sound came from his body. Blood spewed from his mouth.

An intense pain brought Meng Qi back to his senses. He found himself lying on the floor and saw Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan fighting Tang Shun.

Resisting the urge to faint, Meng Qi re-harmonized his Qi circulation. A thick Shaolin inner force gushed through his body, healing and stabilizing his injuries.

"No serious injuries..." Meng Qi examined himself. "But the Iron Shirt is destroyed..."

Thanks to Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan's side-attack, Tang Shun was unable to put his full force into his blow on Meng Qi. Additionally, his Iron Shirt offered him some protection so Meng Qi only suffered minor injuries, allowing him to still retain a primary level of Qi cultivation.

But without the Iron Shirt, Meng Qi's strength was significantly reduced!

...

The sound of the wooden knocker reverberated in Great Buddha's Hall, creating a deeply solemn atmosphere.

Xin Ji sat cross-legged in front of the Golden Body of the Buddharupa, hitting the old wooden knocker without expression. He did not look like someone about to face an attack, but rather someone going about his daily routine.

"Monk Xin Ji, you have truly achieved some Zen." Thick clouds hung over the dark sky outside. Lightning flashed and rain poured. A man stepped through the curtain of water pouring off the roof and entered Great Buddha's Hall. It was General Duo Ercha!

He wore the black robe of the Barbarians. His left eye that Jiang Zhiwei had blinded was open, revealing a frightening and angry empty socket.

Xin Ji put down the wooden knocker. "It's a shame that I can't convince you to put down the slaughtering knife."

"I will become a Buddha after I have slaughtered everyone!" Duo Ercha scoffed.

A gust of wind swept through the hall and extinguished the candles inside.

Xin Ji was not startled. He picked up the wooden knocker again and solemnly started his recitation.

"Buddha's relics have no character; they're neither created nor destroyed..."

A glassy Buddha Aura glowed in his left palm as he continued.

"They're neither defiled nor pure, neither increasing nor diminishing..."

Buddha Aura emanated from Xin Ji, giving him the appearance of a Buddha. With the Golden Body of the Buddharupa behind him, it gave an indescribable scene where one was small and the other large; one was elusive and the other concrete; one in motion and the other still.

Duo Ercha's expression became solemn. "I'm surprised you're willing to give up so many Buddha relics."

He punched out his right palm, creating a gust of wind like a dragon just as a bolt of lightning struck the roof of the temple.

"... there is no suffering, no accumulation, no extinction, no path, no understanding, and no attainment." With intense anger in his eyes, Xin Ji opened his left palm to reveal the glowing Buddha Aura.

...

Meng Qi sprang to his feet and looked around for his Buddhist Commandment Blade while intently watching Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan's battle. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Qi Zhengyan pick up his own sword and stand hesitantly.

Zhang Yuanshan used Tai Ji defense while Jiang Zhiwei attacked with her skillful swords art. Together, they were able to hold off Tang Shun for the time being.

Each time Tang Shun broke through Zhang Yuanshan's defense, Jiang Zhiwei's Sword of the Sun-Penetrating Rainbow would seek out his weak points, forcing him to let up his attack and turn to defense. This allowed Zhang Yuanshan to catch his breath.

Tang Shun could not first focus on Jiang Zhiwei though, as he still could not break through Zhang Yuanshan's defense.

Meng Qi was relieved to see how things were unfolding. With his and Qi Zhengyan's help, Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan could likely hold off Tang Shun until the task was completed.

Just as Meng Qi found his Buddhist Commandment Blade and was about to join the fight, Zhang Yuanshan began trembling. His sword slowed down.

"No! He can no longer suppress his injuries!"

Just as this thought crossed Meng Qi's mind, Tang Shun seized the opportunity to knock Zhang Yuanshan's sword away. With his left leg, Tang Shun kicked him in the ribs and sent him flying.

The sound of Zhang Yuanshan's ribs cracking could be heard clearly as he landed on the ground with blood spewing. He wanted to stand, but could not. He was close to death.

Without Zhang Yuanshan's defense, Jiang Zhiwei was left to face Tang Shun alone. She was weakened and her injuries were slowing her down. It did not take long for Tang Shun to take advantage of this fact. He blocked her sword with his left palm and sent her flying with a blow from his right shoulder.

Jiang Zhiwei's clothing fluttered as she flew through the air. She clenched her jaw as blood spewed from her mouth. Still, she held firmly onto her sword and braced it even as she collapsed to the ground.

"Very impressive buffering Kung Fu..." Tang Shun said in admiration. He expected his blow to kill Jiang Zhiwei, not merely injure her. "Shame on me. I can't even defeat a child..."

He looked around at his injured opponents. Pleased with himself, he laughed heartily. "Your Kung Fu is pretty good. You've all been taught well. How about you teach me some of what you know and I'll let you die a little less painfully?"

He turned to Jiang Zhiwei. "You're such a beautiful young woman. Had the General not commanded me to kill you, I might have pitied you. Hehe, I love women skilled in Kung Fu with a strong sense of justice. If I take you to my bed, I wonder if you'd beg for mercy..."

Jiang Zhiwei was furious, but could not speak in her injured state. She could only gasp for air.

Tang Shun walked toward Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan as he spoke, with Meng Qi and Qi Zhengyan at his side. He planned to intimidate them with their imposing deaths and extract their Divine Skills.

He had a technique for extracting information, but Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan were so close to death he was afraid his technique would end them before he could get any answers.

"What are you looking at, little monk? You're weak and possess little skill... I'll kill you first." Tang Shun decided to set an example and selected the person with the lowest potential for valuable information.

Curses spewed from Meng Qi's lips, but he was calm and collected inside as he thought of how he would face the oncoming threat.

Though he knew the odds were stacked against him, he did not give up. Rather, he clung onto the thin thread of hope for survival.

"I'll use the Eight Divine Steps and dart over there... attack him in his critical area..."

Meng Qi watched as Tang Shun approached him step by step and prepared for his last stand.

"If I don't fight, I'm doomed to die. I might as well give it everything I've got!"

Tang Shun chuckled as he approached Meng Qi, but he was focused on Jiang Zhiwei and Zhang Yuanshan, waiting for them to surrender.

"Would you rather I cut off your left hand or your right leg first, little monk? Or would you rather become a eunuch?" Tang Shun laughed out loud.

He froze just as he finished speaking. A white light radiated from Qi Zhengyan's palm and grew brighter and hotter, illuminating everyone present and flying at Tang Shun, who had no time to defend himself.

Tang Shun roared and the sound of tearing cloth resonated. Another white beam radiated from Qi Zhengyan's palm, this one even brighter and stronger than the previous one. It flew at Tang Shun, tearing a hole through his palm that was raised in defense, and landed squarely on his chest.

"Double-Killing Dart?"

Meng Qi was familiar with this weapon, but he had only read about it in books as a child. It was a concealed weapon that had left a deep impression on him.

But he had no time to dwell on that. He could now put the attack he had planned moments before into reality. He darted toward Tang Shun and rolled in front of him. With an upward stab, he drove his sword into Tang Shun's stomach through his crotch.

Meng Qi gave his sword a sharp turn and Tang Shun's hot blood gushed out, pouring down on his head.

He let go of his sword and rolled away to avoid Tang Shun's final dying attack.

Tang Shun's scream echoed through the mountains, like a wolf howling at the moon or a ghost crying at a grave.

Tang Shun's scream gradually subsided as he dropped to the ground, eyes wide open, a dart stuck in his chest, and his lower body a bloody mess.

Qi Zhengyan could not stand upright after using the Double-Killing Dart. He kneeled on the ground, gasping for air.

"When did he get the Double-Killing Dart? Where did he get the Karma points?"

Meng Qi wiped the blood off his face.

"Did he exchange his Huanhua Sword Sect techniques for it?"