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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

191 Pressure of the Death Mission

 "Death mission?" Meng Qi had only just relaxed, but he tensed up right away. For the Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms to reveal the next time the Samsara would open, this mission had to be difficult, in which everyone was about to be in danger of losing their lives.

The Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms refrained from explaining any further, and instead indifferently declared,

"Evaluation of the task: Ge Huai'en, 'ordinary', no additional rewards; Zhang Yuanshan, Fu Zhenzhen, Ruan Yushu, and Luo Shengyi, 'medium', with a reward of 50 Karma points each; Jiang Zhiwei, Qi Zhengyan, and Zhen Ding, 'good', in addition to 100 Karma points each, they get an opportunity to cast lots for anything inferior to the Exterior."

Meng Qi slightly furrowed his brows. He was only 'good', and not 'exceptional'. His hopes of attaining the Samsara talisman were shattered. However, when he thought about it, it was actually reasonable. He had not performed beyond the central task the Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms had announced, nor had he gone beyond the scope of the side task or conducted additional investigations.

The light pillars disappeared, leaving the group to look at each other, still immersed in thought about the death mission.

"Old Luo, do you know about the death mission?" Meng Qi questioned Luo Shengyi, who had the most experience when it came to Samsara.

Luo Shengyi seemed to recall some unhappy memories as his facial muscles contorted into an uneasy expression. "After I opened Four Apertures, the original team's overall strength hit a certain level, initiating the death mission. That death mission involved surviving seven days while being hunted down by an Exterior One N-fold Heaven master. In the end, my team was only left with three survivors. My two seniors, whose strength was several times greater than mine, eventually fell under his sword. I barely managed to return because of luck."

"The next few times when I was working with other teams, I also heard many things about the death missions. Some were chased and killed, some thrown into hopeless situations, and some were pitted against the strength of several Half-step Exterior Scenery masters. There are countless similar cases. It is said that if teams manage to maintain half their original strength after getting through a death mission, the difficulty and harvest of the World of Samsara will increase, or even involve contacting with ancient remains."

Meng Qi tried to seek joy despite the disheartening message. He replied, "That sounds pretty hard. It seems like I'll have to spend all my Karma points this time."

He looked at Zhang Yuanshan and Fu Zhenzhen for a moment. Seeing that they were standing close by with no antagonism expressed on their faces, Meng Qi did feel relieved.

Being glanced at in such a manner, Fu Zhenzhen's face flushed immediately as she lowered her head. Her hair was undamaged, evidently repaired using her Karma points, while Zhang Yuanshan nodded gratefully.

"How I envy them..." Meng Qi thought to himself, staring at Fu Zhenzhen's hair. But it was just a thought, for his every Karma point was precious. He could not afford to waste them on repairing hair for it would grow back anyway.

I'm just that stingy!

The lot pot materialized and fell in front of Qi Zhengyan. He, who was still worrying about the demanding death mission, picked up the lot pot to shake it expressionlessly. Unluckily, he only received two bottles of common recovery elixirs.

Jiang Zhiwei appeared to be unaffected. She looked at Meng Qi's short hair cheerily and shook the lot pot hard. Light and shadow spun as scripts, refined weapons, elixirs, wondrous items and other objects flashed past one after another, before finally settling on a mask as thin as cicada's wings.

"A Face-changing mask?" Meng Qi asked curiously.

"Yup." Jiang Zhiwei held up the mask and said, "The Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms stated that masks could be lent to others, but unfortunately this is for females, so you can't use it. Why don't you introduce to me those two?"

She pointed at Ruan Yushu and Ge Huai'en.

"Ruan Yushu, daughter of the Langya Ruan family. Ge Huai'en, a Confucious scholar who has enlightened the Apertures..." Meng Qi introduced both of them.

Jiang Zhiwei smiled gently. She said, "I have long heard of Lady Yushu's extraordinary musical talent. You hold much promise in being able to play the "12 Heavenly Sounds of Lang Huan" and the "Heaven-shattering Earth-changing Tune" in future. I didn't expect to meet you here today."

Ruan Yushu bowed coolly. "Sister Jiang from the Jiang family could enter the top ten ranks of the Ranking List of Young Masters only shortly after entering Jianghu. I truly admire you."

"This person literally changes the way she speaks depending on who she's speaking to; she's never this polite to me!" Meng Qi cursed her silently. He picked up the lot pot and shook it, looking at the swirling images inside it expectantly.

Currently he was not lacking in terms of bladesmanshipor swordsmanship, and was also armed with the Immortal Pressing Art which could replace the "Transformation Strategy" as his divine assistance. There were no Exterior items, in any case, so he was particularly looking forward to elixirs, concealed weapons, poisons, wondrous items and the like.

Unfortunately heaven did not sway according to his will, for he received only 200 Karma points instead.

"Not too bad, at least it can be used, unlike other items that can't even be exchanged for Karma points," Meng Qi thought, not exactly disappointed with the result.

He turned to look at the others contentedly. He announced, "I wonder what everyone got from the task this time round? The death mission is imminent, so we should band together to get through it."

Due to the pressure of the death mission, as well as his familiarity with Luo Shengyi, Meng Qi decided to include him in their circle. As for the newcomers Ruan Yushu and Ge Huai'en, their backgrounds and experience were simple, which meant those who believed in doing the right thing like Jiang Zhiwei and the others would definitely accept them.

Jiang Zhiwei responded in an imposing manner, "I had a fortuitous encounter on my solo mission this time, on top of the training I had while peregrinating before. I've opened the Oral Aperture and am at the beginner level of the Inner Realm. I've also mastered one of the Exterior sword arts derived from the 'Anatta Sword': 'Striking the Sea'."

This was a move recorded in the "Swordplay Sutra of Supremacy". It was derived from the "Anatta Sword", one of the nine major killer moves; mastering it meant Jiang Zhiwei had progressed yet again in terms of the "Anatta Sword", a slight achievement.

As she was talking, she glanced over at Meng Qi's Evil Ordeal and nodded her head slightly, before dumping the two Refined Weapons and three scripts they had received as rewards into the central light pillar. "Along with these and the rewards I just received, I now have 1,670 Karma points in total. I intend to exchange them for 'Bright Swordsmanship', Shaolin Recover Pills and two Hundred-herb Bolus."

It seemed that she had already exhausted her own supply of Hundred-herb Bolus, and since she was peregrinating from place to place, it was difficult to retrieve them from the mountains herself. Moreover, Recover Pills were the holy medicine Shaolin monks from the main world used during their enlightenment period. While they could not bring one back to life and make the broken limbs in good condition, most internal and external injuries could be healed within two hours of consuming it. Even the Golden Bell Shield that had taken Meng Qi several days to train up again after breaking its force could be recovered in a day.

After "Bright Swordsmanship" cost her 920 Karma points, the Recover Pills 500 Karma points, and two Hundred-herb Bolus another 200 Karma points in total, Jiang Zhiwei spent almost all her Karma points, leaving only 50 behind.

"This kind of exchange is a little strange..." Meng Qi spoke straightforwardly since he was the closest with Jiang Zhiwei.

"I've had my eyes on 'Bright Swordsmanship' since before, because it was an aspect my master had urged me to train up. After hearing about the death mission just now, I decided to exchange my Karma points for Recover Pills and Hundred-herb Bolus instead of Heavenly Vision and Earthly Hearing pills since we still have a year to go. I intend to fight strong opponents to activate my Eight Apertures,and not give myself a chance to back out or leave things to hope or elixirs." Jiang Zhiwei looked very determined. The elegance of a swordswoman emanated from her manner. She was so bright and beautiful beyond description.

If she was going to go all-out in training to enlighten her Aperturesand fight against powerful opponents, medicine for healing and recovery were a necessity. Thus Jiang Zhiwei had decided to exchange her Karma points for Recover Pills and two Hundred-herb Bolus.

Zhang Yuanshan and Luo Shengyi stared at such a Jiang Zhiwei. She was shining with splendor, so bright and blinding that they began to feel inferior to her.

With regard to Jiang Zhiwei's choice, Meng Qi was full of respect. He did not say much and changed the topic by asking, "Which aspect did Senior Su urge you to train in?"

He had received directions from "Nine Strategies Beyond the Swords" and the Sword Emperor so his swordsmanship was considered to be decent, and was thus exceptionally interested in "Outer-sky God Sword" Su Wuming's instructions.

"My master said that I have captured the essence of going from complex to simple, but am lacking in the art of variations and only know how to attack fiercely. Hence he asked me to practice the way of going from simple to complicated." Jiang Zhiwei replied without attempting to hide anything.

Her realizations about the "Anatta Sword" which was differed from that of others. Right from the start she had understood a bit about Dharma and Logos; her moves excelled in terms of momentum, ferocity, speed and strength. She had always been of one mind with the rules of non-varying swordsmanship: tear apart the opponent's weaknesses, use strength to overpower smarts, use simplicity to fight the complicated, and use speed to beat the slow. This could be seen from the Yama's Invitation she had created herself. It was like purity condensed, the scent of death spread outwards. It also seemed to hold Dharma and Logos too, and was imposing and terrifying, not showing any signs of retreating.

Although her variation of moves was better than most people at her level, it was not quite compatible with her own realm of Sword Principles. Therefore Su Wuming made her develop the rule of no variations, and learn to go from simple to complicated to make up for her weak points. That was why she had targetted the "Bright Swordsmanship" resting next to the Nine Strategies Beyond the Swords.

Meng Qi expressed his mild surprise. "The last time I was in World of Samsara, I also happened to recieve similar advice from a senior, although he emphasized on the importance of oneself more."

He briefly summarized what the Sword Emperor had told him.

Jiang Zhiwei appeared to be deep in thought as she said, "It's very similar to what my master told me. Does that mean all types of sword art achieve the same things by different ways?"

This question could not be answered at their level, so they had no choice but to drop the subject.

Jiang Zhiwei exchanged her Karma points for the "Bright Swordsmanship" and three elixirs. She turned to ask Meng Qi, "What kind of gains did you get? And what will you be exchanging them for?"

"I have at least more than 2,000 Karma points, but spent some on the thunderbolt mark once," Meng Qi answered. He had yet to exchange his Refined Weapons and scripts for Karma points so he did not know exactly how many points he would get yet. However, the rewards from completing the main and side tasks alone were already 1,150 Karma points. With his remaining points from last time, it would total up to be 1,171 Karma points.

The thunderbolt mark was an Exterior move. Using it was equivalent to consuming around 1,000 Karma points, so Meng Qi was in fact about the same as Jiang Zhiwei.

He continued, "I also had a fruitful encounter during my mission. The sixth pass of the Golden Bell Shield has been fully consummated and I've also opened the Nose Apertures. My swordsmanship and bladesmanship have both improved well, and I've obtained the 'Immortal Pressing Art' as a reward for completing the mission and collected several long swords of the Refined Weapons, Hundred-time Tempered arms, and scripts."

Here Meng Qi paused and thought for a moment, then calmly took out the strange black parchment the Demon Venerable had left behind. He showed it to the group, saying, "I got this from our mission this time round. It was left behind by the Demon Venerable..."

He told the rest about what had happened with the Demon Venerable and described the scene of Ananda he had seen-- he made an excuse that he had "seen" it when the Gist of Trueness had first been imparted to him. Zhang Yuanshan, Luo Shengyi and the others listened intently with their eyebrows knitted together tightly. "The big powers of the last ancients are still alive? And they're continuously reincarnating? What kind of connection do the World of Samsara and the ancients' secrets have?"

This was so bizarre that it made their palms feel sweaty yet with some freezing vapor rising up. Even the usually calm and confident Jiang Zhiwei and the cool and composed Ruan Yushu expressed suspicion on their faces.

"The rumors say that Ananda passed away on the mountain behind Shaolin..." Jiang Zhiwei suddenly said.

Meng Qi remembered the back mountain was a restricted area, and thought of the phrase "Anyone who is benevolent should not enter". He was startled for a moment and did not know what to say.

The group engaged in discussion for a while to try and figure things out but to no avail, so they gave up on it for the moment.

"In other words, I have to use less of the Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship, which means I have to exchange my Karma points for another Exterior bladesmanship. I have the seal of the thunderbolt mark, so I've set my heart on the 'Seven Purple Thunderstrikes'." Meng Qi spoke in a low tone. He took out the long swords and scripts and was about to throw them into the Central Light Pillar.

"Wait." Fu Zhenzhen stopped him. She looked mildly embarrassed as she continued, "I want to exchange my Karma points for long swords of the Refined Weapons. If you have any that are suitable, I'd be willing to buy them from you. It's a much better deal than if you exchanged them for Karma points with the Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms."