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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

59 Remuneration

 Standing leisurely on the bow, Duan Xiangfei's expression was gentle and his temperament relaxed. He looked more like an erudite than a martial artist. But deep exhaustion was etched on his face and the wrinkles between his eyebrows barely concealed the helplessness within.

"That's me." He cupped his hands in way of a greeting. With a sudden sink, the shallop slowed down abruptly, as if it was loaded with a heavy boulder. Now it was logging at the same speed as the junk ship Meng Qi was on.

Meng Qi squinted, estimating the strength of one of the so-called Seven grandmasters. Judging from his Qi control earlier, he gathered that he might need to exert all his efforts to deal with Duan Xiangfei, whose level was much higher. "Mr. Leisure, are you joking? In this world, are there things you would be incapable of doing?"

He imitated Ennea Monkey's approach and deliberately spoke with a low, hoarse voice. This way, no one would recognize him to be a fake. The monkey also used a fake voice anyway.

Duan Xiangfei shook his head and smiled wryly. "There are certain occasions when a man's power is limited. In this world, there are many things that I'm helpless to do. The passage of time, aging of beauties, there are also irrevocable things for any mortal. Mr. Monkey, if I'm not forced to this, do you think I'll be willing to deal with Twelve Animal Zodiac Gods?"

"Oh? I'm intrigued that there's something Mr. Leisure cannot achieve." Now that he knew it was his mission, Meng Qi would have to accept this request. But he cannot be too eager lest he provoked Duan Xiangfei's suspicion.

Duan Xiangfei sighed again. "I welcomed a son at my old age, thus he was much indulged and neither apt at literature nor martial arts. He knows nothing but idling with his friends and living an extravagant life. That would be having fine for me, since I still have some fortune for him to squander. But half year ago, disaster suddenly befell my family. My unfilial son had gone missing in Destiny City and no information was delivered thereafter. Mr. Monkey, you may have heard of this affair. Please accept my request and find my impious son. If he lives, I want to see his person. If he's dead, I want to see his body."

His face twitched when he said the last sentence.

Meng Qi noticed something odd as he listened. "Mr. Leisure, with your kungfu and reputation, innumerable heroes would be willing to help you. If there's a mastermind behind this, how could he be your opponent?"

Duan Xiangfei quieted for a moment, before smiling and saying tiredly, "If I could it this way, I could've saved much effort searching for your whereabouts."

He raised his right hand, showing a maimed palm without fingers. "I devoted most of my life on swordsmanship, but five years ago, a misstep cost me five fingers. If this news becomes known, many of my old enemies would certainly hunt for me. Therefore, when I found out my son was missing, I pretended to be mad and blamed him for turning on a devious road and bringing trouble to himself. I told people I had repudiated him and that I had already retired."

"Of course, I've already reached this realm after all. If old enemies really come knocking at my door, I'm still capable of sacrificing this old flesh and bring them down with me."

He said this placidly, as if he was telling someone else's story. "I need to take some risks to save the impious son of mine, so I told you this as well. Alas, I'm already old. I no longer care about Jianghu rankings and martial competency. I only wish for my son's safety."

"There's actually someone capable of hacking off your fingers," Meng Qi said, stunned. If the actual Ennea Monkey was here, he would have probably reacted in the same way. As one of the Seven grandmasters, Duan Xiangfei's level must be among the highest. But there was even a man who hacked off his fingers and destroyed his ability to wield a sword. How formidable must this guy be?

Duan Xiangfei squinted slightly, his proud air impressive as a top-of-the-world hero. "I wasn't aware of such an expert in this world either. He had opened three Secret Chambers and almost touched the boundary between human and gods... "

"Mr. Leisure, you too have no idea? How could this guy be unknown in Jianghu?" Meng Qi asked in confusion.

Duan Xiangfei shook his head. "It's like this man appeared out of thin air. He had no reputation before our fight and reserved himself afterwards. He's not any of the known masters, which is very strange. He's somewhat similar to you Twelve Animal Zodiac Gods. Huh, I even wondered if he was Zodiac Dragon, the strongest among you all."

"I have no idea of this... " Meng Qi frowned. A man of unknown background who disappeared after completing something. This sounded a little familiar... Wait, was this man someone like him? A Samsara traveller with Karma missions!

Meng Qi thought this was very likely. Gu Xiaosang, who did not belong to Meng Qi's team and had her own Samsara space, was transferred to their world due to a mistake. She had to use some mysterious article to disguise herself as a newbie lest her identity was discovered.

He came to this world five years ago and then disappeared. During this period, this Samsara traveller must have finished his mission and left. So there was no need to worry.

Duan Xiangfei was not here to find out who the expert was. After the description of his predicament, he asked straightforwardly, "Mr. Monkey, what remuneration can I offer you to accept this task?"

How should Meng Qi know what were the charging standards of Twelve Animal Zodiac Gods? He barked an odd laugh to mask his inexperience. "It shall depend on what Mr. Leisure can afford."

"This old flesh is proud of nothing but the martial art he learned for a lifetime. If it pleases Mr. Monkey, after the mission is done, I'd like to give you copies of Tide-watching Chant, Sword Art of White Colt Crossing Crevice, and insights I summarized over the years."

"Insights summarized in years? Do they involve those of Secret Chambers?" Meng Qi was already aware of the three Secret Chambers in the human body. It was different from the practice in his world. This world must have a novel method for practice. Since he had chosen Golden Bell Shield and practice through Enlightenment, he may not be able to open Secret Chambers at the same time. But it might be a good idea to check out other practice methods, for he could learn from the best out of the variety and explore the essence.

Besides he could redeem all of them for Karma points! This could be his bonus for the main task.

Duan Xiangfei smiled tiredly. "Of course it will contain insights for opening Secret Chambers of Qi and Energy, but for that of Spirit, I cannot help. I myself haven't reached there yet."

He knew, for martial artists at a certain level like Ennea Monkey, their most urgent need is opening up the Secret Chambers. The insights and practice methods would surely sway him.

"Mr. Leisure has already opened two great Chambers. You're indeed one of the strongest masters." Meng Qi did not praise him whole-heartedly, for he wanted to pry further. He had seen experts like Duo Ercha, whose moves could bring about blustering winds and surging winds with lightnings and thunders, a half-god and half-devil monster. His own master Xuan Bei was certainly stronger than Duo Ercha. Therefore he could not bring himself to truly admire Duan Xiangfei.

Duan Xiangfei sighed, smiling. "Nay. Among the three Secret Chambers, the Secret Chamber of Spirit is the most difficult to open. It involves the Primal Aperture at Mid-brows, which is particularly elusive. But once it is opened, one shall achieve a level close to god or devil, and can kill people without using his hands. Old man Cui has opened only one Secret Chamber, but it's the Spirit one. I'm afraid I can only manage a draw with him at most."

"So Mr. Monkey, are you willing to accept this task?"

"Not every offer could tempt me," Meng Qi said pretentiously with his hands behind his back, his body straightened, and his frock fluttering in the wind, looking somewhat detached from secularity.

Duan Xiangfei squinted. "Then what would?"

"I'm already tempted, but there's something lacking. I have a humble request." The mask of the monkey head wore a perpetual smile.

Duan Xiangfei seemed relieved. "What request do you have?"

"I would like Mr. Leisure to collect some martial scriptures for me. They don't have to be very superior. Normal ones would do, but the more the better." Meng Qi was planning to exchange them with Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms. Though they certainly would be hugely discounted when exchanged, many pence could make pounds. Maybe he could get several hundreds of Karma points out of this deal.

And besides, every kungfu could only be exchanged once.

Duan Xiangfei frowned, bewildered by the monkey's motive. He paused a moment and said, "This isn't difficult. I accept."

"Then we have a deal." Under Meng Qi's nodding motion, the monkey head mask looked even more ridiculous.

Duan Xiangfei sighed deeply. "Mr. Monkey, you spared no time in accepting my request. I must say it's out of my expectations. You spared me a lot of effort. Look, after your task is done, I'd like to give you another gift. It's not as valuable, but it's one of my favorite belongings. It's quite a mysterious thing."

"What is it?" Meng Qi asked curiously.

Meng Xiangfei chuckled. "You'll find out when you've completed your task."

"These are the people my son had contact with before he went missing." He threw a package to Meng Qi.

Then the shallop under his feet suddenly accelerated and disappeared downstream.

Holding the package, Meng Qi dubiously rubbed his chin. "So the Twelve Animal Zodiac Gods never ask for a deposit when accepting a task?"

This question would not be answered. Ennea Monkey was already dead.

But he was also largely relieved, for he was deeply worried while bargaining with Duan Xiangfei. If Duan Xiangfei thought his demand was too much and threatened to find another masked Animal God instead, he would have to undersell himself desperately to get the task. It was his main mission and he could not miss it.

"Destiny City. I didn't think I'd really have to go there, looks like I have to look for Zhang Zongxian and his wife... " Meng Qi watched the surging river in the darkness. The couple knew Ennea Monkey was dead. He must find a way to conceal this matter.

After he browsed through the materials from Duan Xiangfei, he searched Ennea Monkey's body and others on the deck and got some taels. Then he attached the body with a ballast roc, and pushed him into the river.

Thump! Ennea Monkey's body was devoured by rolling waves and disappeared for good.

After everything was done, Meng Qi concealed the mask and token. He unleashed a shallop attached to the junk and steered it downstream.

Standing on the windward bow, Meng Qi, with his hands behind his back, was feeling chivalrous and heroic. He was only sorry that he had not learned Crossing Lake on a Reed.

Meng Qi arrived at Destiny City after two hours. Located along the river, the city was extended like a giant Chinese dragon.

Because it was deep into the night, the water gate of Destiny City was closed, so Meng Qi disembarked from a quay outside the city.

He did not walk for long before he caught something surprising. It was Zhang Zongxian and his wife, Li Xinyu, talking by the water gate with a girl in red.

"Amitabha. Karma is vicissitudinous as always," Meng Qi declared the Buddha's name from afar. "I seem to be destined with you two."

Zhang Zongxian turned his head and exclaimed, partly surprised and partly bewildered, "Master Zhen Ding, you're also here?"

Li Xinyu and the delicate-looking girl in red perked up in interest.

"I've come here to see you. The Ennea Monkey isn't dead. He feigned death and fled into the river when I was caught off guard," Meng Qi lied boldly. "Therefore, I came here to warn you. Best be more cautious and not tell anyone what happened today, lest the Twelve Beasts return for more atrocious revenge."

"Many thanks to master for coming specifically to remind us." Zhang Zongxian was sincerely grateful, for he saw no need for their savior to lie. It never occurred to him that Zhen Ding was planning to wear Ennea Monkey's disguise.

The girl in red looked at Meng Qi curiously. "Master Zhen Ding, my name is Cui Jinxiu. I've to welcome Sister Xinyu and her husband. I just heard about your prowess. You're so young for being able to defeat Ennea Monkey, one of the Twelve Beasts. I'd be very pleased if you could spar with me and show me some moves."

Beside her stood a white-haired old man. His eyes and brows sagged down as if he was counting ants on the ground.