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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

84 Border of Immensity Sea

 Quicksand Town was the last community east of the border of the Immensity Sea of Death. Beyond this town was an endless, desolate and morose desert. The few recalcitrant green bushes brought little vividness, instead rendering the Gobi desert drearier and deadly silent.

The West Region was a broad term for the vast area west of the Great Jin Dynasty and the North Zhou Dynasty. It was not an exact name for a whole region. Out of the Jade Gate Pass stood hundreds and thousands of states, as well as ubiquitous deserts and Gobis, among which were some colossal deserts extending tens of thousands of leagues, such as the Immensity Sea of Death, the God-burying Desert, and the Westernmost Desert. However, there were also oases and hidden rivers scattered among the deserts, cultivating a wondrous exotic civilization.

A dynasty ago, an Exterior level master who had roamed in the western regions once said, "The West Regions, on one hand, could be understood as a country or alliance of oases encompassed by deserts and Gobis. On the other hand, it could also be seen as deserts and Gobis scattered among numerous states." The only exception was the huge snow mountain range, which lay to the north of the region. From the Abyss Sea of Infinity to the Jade Gate Pass, nobody knew exactly how long it was. The whole West Region was segmented by it.

Mixed with rubble and sand, the gust blew a chill into the bones, and Quicksand Town was completely immersed in sand and dust. Range of visibility was within three meters and audibility within eight.

"This is the so-called sandstorm..." Meng Qi had never seen this climate before. Having tightened his thick frock, he wasn't feeling cold, but shamed for his chivalrous garments which were contaminated by the rubble and dust, making him look like an old decrepit shepherd.

Since the high autumn day when they'd left Shaolin, Xuan Bei had been winding his way at a comfortable speed, giving enough time for other monks who were sent to notify other sects about the affair. Therefore, it wasn't until the march of spring that the three people arrived at Quicksand Town. The place was still as cold and hard as in winter.

Zhen Hui had his large eyes open, staring curiously at the dust permeating around them. There were some lethargic trees nearby and some camels with bells. He exclaimed with wonder at times.

There were few people on the street of the town, for the residents had already sheltered themselves in their homes from the wind and sand. Only some wandering merchants, peregrinating heroes and travelers were still walking in the sandy wind, towards the only tavern in the town.

"Brother, they look different from us!" Zhen Hui couldn't help but comment.

Many passersby had tall noses and deep eyes, their irises anomalously colored, quite different from people of the Central Plains. There were even monstrous people with horns on their heads and additional eyes between their brows.

Meng Qi was also bedazzled and did not know how to answer Zhen Hui's comment.

"Amitabha Buddha. Each place nurtures its own people, so certainly there are differences. Some people in the West Region claim themselves the descendants of Gods and Devils to explain their differences." Xuan Bei said insipidly.

The people with tall noses and deep eyes were normal natives, but those with horns and additional eyes were the Dissimilated Men.

"Descendants of Gods and Devils? What special powers do they have?" Meng Qi was very interested. He thought perhaps there might also be hidden options on the Dominator of the Samsara in Six Realms' Exchange List for imbuing the blood of Gods and Devils into him.

Xuan Bei's clothes were immaculate despite the gust and dust. He said smiling, "Of course they have special powers."

Talking along the way, they arrived at the tavern. It was a decrepit, sandstorm-stricken three-story house, with a signboard that read "IMMENSITY SEA HOTEL NO.1".

Meng Qi saw the counter by the door, on which papers, brush pens, ledgers and other objects were scattered in disorder.

The tavernkeeper was a woman in black, twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old. She dressed as a housewife, but her brows and eyes flickered with delicacy and pulchritude like a blooming flower. A woman's fragrance surrounded her and every guest passing by stared at her, either blatantly or secretly.

She was holding her chin with her right hand and looking sluggishly at the ledger. Her black dress rendered her snow-white face more cold and nonchalant, as if everyone in the tavern owed her 100 taels of silver.

"Amitabha Buddha. Owner of the inn, we seek accommodation as well as meals." As a relatively reliable apprentice, Meng Qi stepped forward. Actually, he wanted to call her "landwife", but his master was watching behind.

The woman in black replied indifferently without raising her head, "Five taels a night. Meals depend on what you want."

B*tch, what are you, a robber? Meng Qi wanted to lecture her about how "the customer is the true god", but again, his master was behind.

Considering this was the only tavern in the region and there weren't even any shabby temples, they had a monopoly. Meng Qi glanced back at his master and saw him nod. He took the taels out of his package and put them on the counter. "Here are 15 taels. We want three rooms."

"Only two left." The woman in black was still insouciant.

Meng Qi thought okay, for he and Zhen Hui could share one room. It was better than the camping they had tried on the road. "Fine, here are 10 taels. Show us the two rooms."

He was reaching out to retrieve five taels.

The woman squinted at Meng Qi, "By heads."

Meng Qi's mouth jerked and he felt an urge to teach her a lesson, but his master was watching from behind.

After his master showed approval, Meng Qi nodded, "15 taels, two rooms."

The woman in black slowly collected the taels and said without raising her eyelashes, "West on the second floor, two rooms unlocked. Go then."

You think I dared not lecture you because you are a beauty! But his master was watching behind... Meng Qi mumbled just as he had numerous times along the road. It had become a virtually involuntary habit.

In the hall of the tavern there was a score of tables, surrounded by crowds. Some were playing finger guessing games, some were talking loud, some were whispering low. The atmosphere was boisterous and convivial.

Some guests wore martial clothes, their faces sand-worn but oozing dignity and richness. Some wore Taoist frocks, showing the air of scholars despite the din. Some had their heads wrapped and bodies cloaked, the typical look of desert tramps. People of the Great Jin Dynasty called the people who lived by doing business in the deserts "desert tramps", among which many were horse bandits and robbers.

When Xuan Bei walked through the hall with his two apprentices, many guests glanced at them. They found no oddity. They withdrew their eyes and continued their efforts on making noise.

"Five, five, five!"

"Haha, three sixes! Drink three bowls of wine!"

"Damn! Why? I lost again!"

Under such circumstances, a man who looked rather young sipped the wine and frowned. He slammed the bowl onto the table and stood up, scowling, "Keeper, your wine is not strong enough! You adulterator!"

Suddenly all the noise stopped in the hall. People who were guessing fingers, talking, drinking sullenly and eating, all froze as if time had stopped.

The woman in black, the keeper or the keeper's wife, glowered with round eyes and bristled her thin eyebrows.

"Drink or leave!"

My!

Meng Qi almost spewed out his saliva.

This landlady is such a shrew!

The complainer had not expected such a reply and stood there petrified.

All people in the hall guffawed, seeming to have expected this already.

"Haha, I'm dying with laughter. Someone dares to yell at Jiuniang."

"Don't talk to me. I'm laughing so hard, I'm crying. Where does this young rat come from?"

"Jiuniang has not adulterated wine with water. She adulterated water with... Mmmm, take your hand off my mouth."

"If I let you speak, you choose to be kicked out or drink her foot-washing water?"

This young man had likely walked into Jianghu for the first time. He was nonplussed facing the situation, his face flushing, he did not know whether to be angry or forebear.

Luckily he had a companion who was a veteran in Jianghu. The veteran whispered some words in his ear and urged him to sit down.

The youngster buried his head and clenched his teeth, but dared not rage. Meng Qi was amazed.

On the stairs, Xuan Bei suddenly spoke in a rare interested tone. "Qu Jiuniang, whose background is unknown, came here and set up the Immensity Sea Hotel. At first, she was alone, and her beauty caused much trouble. But all the people who desired her have been either maimed or killed. Some people's bodies were shown outside the town, some hung on the hotel banner naked. No one escaped punishment. Afterwards there was less trouble, and everyone knew her as a hard character. Some even suspect her to be a martial pro of the Exterior level."

"The Exterior? How old is she?" Meng Qi was startled, and satirized to himself:

Master, when you talked about the naked bodies, you did not use a merciful tone, which means you still have a mortal mind!

Xuan Bei stepped over the last step, "Maybe 35 or 36. I haven't used Providential Sight to see her, so I have no idea."

Eh, well retained! But as a martial pro of the Exterior level, she would maintain her looks even after another decade... Meng Qi nodded slightly.

Outside the room, Xuan Bei turned back to Meng Qi and Zhen Hui, "Your master is going to have a night of study. Do not relax yourselves."

"Yes master." Zhen Hui and Meng Qi answered reverently and entered their room.

There was only a bed, a table and two chairs in the room, old but not dirty. Meng Qi and Zhen Hui did not say much. They took the chair and bed respectively and started meditation.

Meng Qi had not been practicing any particular Kung Fu, but focusing on his Primal Aperture. He was pushing his genuine Qi upward to stimulate the "Hidden Latch".

During this half year, Meng Qi had concentrated the three remaining Aperture acupoints for the Eye Aperture. He had been waiting recently for his body and mind to be harmonized, after which he could find an occasion to use a Heavenly Acumen Pill to make the breakthrough.

His Wind Arresting and Shadow Catching was preliminarily successful, and so were some parts of the Bone Conditioning Chapter of the Yijin Scripture. Even though he had not broken through his level, he increased the power of Golden Bell Shield and Arhat Fists by 30 percent. In addition, after the cultivation of the Bone Conditioning Chapter of the Yijin Scripture, it felt much easier concentrating the Aperture acupoints. Now he was even able to apprehend the evasive and vague Eye Aperture a little bit.

Therefore Meng Qi had not taken any Heavenly Acumen Pills rashly to seek enlightenment when his Aperture acupoints concentrated, but patiently continued practicing the Bone Conditioning Chapter of the Yijin Scripture until he became more sure of the Eye Aperture.

This time Meng Qi felt much more confidence.

Transformation Strategy, however, had produced only modest effect in the beginning. After a period of practice, Meng Qi felt very tired. It was after many days' persistence and with the effect of the Bone Conditioning Chapter of the Yijin Scripture that he felt something fomenting at his mid-brow.

This was partly good and partly bad, for once his Primal Aperture at Mid-brows was stimulated, the feeling was one of hallucinations. If he was too obsessed over it, he would probably go into Qi-deviancy Derangement. But this hallucination meant that his practice of Transformation Strategy was preliminarily launched.

Therefore, Meng Qi gathered all his attention, ignored this hallucination and continued his practice in the supposed way.

Before his closed eyes was darkness and chaos. He fell into a half-awake trance. Suddenly a waft of genuine Qi pervaded inside, and the chaos exploded. Something golden and round rose up slowly, radiating with glaring brightness.

With this glow, Meng Qi's mid-brow bulged out. He saw in his mind's eye a picture around him: a table, a bed, two chairs, Junior Brother sitting on the bed with crossed legs, tea kettle and tea cup on the table...

This feeling faded away in an instant. Meng Qi's mid-brow was swelling and hurting, so he had to stop. He opened his eyes and saw the real picture, yet he felt something different: what he saw now was not the thing he had seen before. He had developed a new way of looking at things.

"Bingo. Transformation Strategy's primary level accomplished." Meng Qi was quite satisfied. This was the level of Frost Herald, who could will the Vital Spirit located at the Primal Aperture at Mid-brows to sense things around and could disturb slightly the sensory organs of others.

Frost Herald was not outstanding. It had taken him over seven years to reach this level. Meng Qi had made it in half a year, which was quite impressive. Meng Qi was confident that at this rate he could consummate his Transformation Strategy in a year. If he exchanged for some auxiliary elixir he would be even faster, and might make it within three or four months.

"Practice in the main world is indeed much faster than in Old Duan's world... " Meng Qi stood up alert and looked around, planning to start the 103rd attempt to escape.

As he had accomplished the primary level of Transformation Strategy, he would probably be able to circumvent the spiritual locking of his master.

He launched the Transformation Strategy. With his Primal Aperture at Mid-brows bulging, he projected out his will and wrapped himself, then he moved to the door carefully.

"Senior Brother, if you are going out play, why not bring me with you?" Zhen Hui's voice suddenly came from behind his back.

Meng Qi's smiling face suddenly froze.