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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

282 Taking Action Separately

 It was a tavern where the low-ranking members of the Jianghu gathered in Maoling.

Meng Qi tweaked his appearance and figure again before stepping into the place. The tavern was dark and gave off an unpleasant odor. Ordering a jug of wine and a plate of broad beans, he sat down in a corner and silently listened to others discussing Jianghu affairs.

A long-limbed man who seemed to skilled at the Arm-through Fist sat in front of him. Seeming as if he had finally managed to wait for his friends' arrival, he deliberately lowered his voice and asked in excitement, "Have you guys heard? Last night, 'The Astounding' and the 'Killing Blade' had a huge brawl in the Flower-viewing Garden!"

His friend, dressed like an armed escort, chuckled. "I know more details than you do! When the Head of Escorts caught wind of it last night, he went down to investigate in person."

The man collected himself, boldly sat down, and downed a cup of wine. His expression was an indistinct one of envy, despair, or perhaps even admiration. "Though these two have only enlightened their Acupores, the destruction they caused is on the level of Top Class Master Pros of the Exterior! The wind howled and the clouds gathered overhead. Lightning flashed and thunder crackled. Trees were cleaved in half and grass was uprooted and whipped around in the wind. Houses collapsed and everything was scorched black..."

He sounded as if he was in a daydream.

"T-that scary?"

"To think they were capable of that!"

The long-limbed fellow and another friend simultaneously yelped, full of disbelief.

The armed escort sighed. "The top 10 ranked masters are indeed worthy of their name. Even though Su Meng, the Killing Blade, isn't among them, he's not that far off."

"So you're saying that the Killing Blade lost?" The long-limbed man seemed to have understood something from his friend's sentence.

The escort hesitated for a moment, and then replied, "He was apparently at a disadvantage, but still managed to force 'The Astounding' to retreat with a powerful strike and left unharmed."

"No wonder you said he's near the top 10." Another friend of theirs smacked his lips together. "Why did they even fight? Was it for the ranking?"

A strange expression appeared on the escort's face. "Jiang Hengchuan's cousin was murdered and the Killing Blade happened to be at the scene. The knife wound on his cousin was also caused by thunder."

"What's the Killing Blade doing? One shouldn't implicate another person's family!" The long-limbed man cried.

The escort's expression grew even stranger. "But today, Jiang Hengchuan explained to a few legends that he'd been too rash last night. He said that he hadn't clarified the matter and had wrongly accused the Killing Blade. Everything was too coincidental so there's definitely some trickery going on. In addition, though the knife wound was caused by thunder, it's different from the Killing Blade's bladesmanship and the weapons he uses. That's why he's now looking everywhere for the Killing Blade to ask for his understanding."

"This..." The other two looked at each other blankly. Wasn't the change of attitude in the Astounding simply too quick?

However, it made sense once they thought about it. Jiang Hengchuan's spirit had to be well-cultivated if he was capable of being on the ranking list. Even if he went mad, he wouldn't get himself blinded by rage and neglect any suspicious details or evidence. Once he had cooled down, he would naturally find that something was amiss and respond appropriately.

Meng Qi quietly listened to the conversations of the Jianghu folk and confirmed that the news about Jiang Hengchuan seeking his understanding had spread throughout the Martial Artists Community. The chance of this news being false was very small. Only then did he casually get up and leave. He made several detours and purchased a set of black clothes, before reverting to his usual appearance and figure. With a knife and sword on his back, he walked along the streets of Maoling.

After three quarters, he unsurprisingly spotted Jiang Hengchuan rushing over at top speed.

He slipped through the crowd to get to Meng Qi, often looking as if he was close to crashing into someone but somehow managing to barely brush past them.

"Young Master Su, I've come to apologize for my rude and reckless behavior last night." Jiang Hengchuan bowed very low. However, his actions seemed perfectly natural and he appeared just the way he had always looked.

Meng Qi calmly accepted his apology. "Brother Jiang, this place is noisy. Why don't we discuss this in a quieter place?"

"Sure." Jiang Hengchuan agreed straightforwardly and wasted no time in turning and leading the way.

The place he had chosen was the Hero Tower.

Meng Qi had been there before and Jiang Hengchuan was a renowned individual, and the two had even caused destruction on the scale of Exterior masters just the night before. Hence nobody stopped them and they made their way directly up to the fifth floor. The place was wide and spacious but also cozy.

There was no one else on the fifth floor, so the two sat down in a corner and waited for their tea to be served.

Both of them took a sip of their fragrant tea. Jiang Hengchuan then stood up and apologized once more with one hand cupped in the other before his chest. "Last night, I was blinded by rage and lost myself for a moment. I hope you can understand me."

"Under that kind of circumstances, I would've lost my calm too and destroy the person in front of me before anything else," Meng Qi replied. He was very collected and bore no hatred toward Jiang Hengchuan.

He was, however, thinking about what Jiang Hengchuan had said. So did he too lost himself for a moment last night?

At midnight the day before, Meng Qi had been reflecting on the battle. He realized that he was placed at a disadvantage not only because of the difference in their physical strengths but also because of his mentality at that point in time. After all, he was fighting against the victim's family member. There was no way he could actually have the intention of seriously battling him. His heart had wavered, which naturally suppressed his might and limited him to only 70 or 80 percent of his usual strength.

However, now it seemed that his opponent had also lost control and succumbed to recklessness back then. The two of them were the same when it came to mentalities, so that battle had been a true comparison of their strength.

This meant Meng Qi still had a long way to go!

In another one or two months, his Seven Acupores would be fully stabilized and he could start working on adjusting his Inner World. His bladesmanship and sword art would then adjust according to his realm, and his strength would be improved.

Jiang Hengchuan's dark skin masked his change in expression as he replied in a self-mocking manner, "Not necessarily. Normally one should be respectful before drawing his weapon. I should've asked you to stay behind and inspect the body together. Only if you refused, then should I have attacked."

"Afterward, I inspected the corpse with Slivery-badge Yu and Green-ribbon Dai of the Six Fan School, as well as Head of Escorts Liang of the Zhenyuan Escort Agency. We found out that, apart from the thunder marks, the genuine Qi was intentionally made to imitate the Golden Bell Shield of the Shaolin Temple. However, since Head of Escorts Liang is a disciple of the Shaolin Temple, he discovered some minute differences and was able to tell that the evidence had been planted. Only then did I realize the grave mistake I had made."

"Genuine Qi that can imitate the Golden Bell Shield... Such kung fu is pretty uncommon..." Meng Qi fell into deep thought. Unfortunately, the main world was huge and there were countless types of kung fu, many of which he had never even heard of. He couldn't think of any leads at this point in time.

"Could it be the Minor Signless Force..." Meng Qi's thoughts began to wander. The "Kung Fu of Heaven and Demon" was already involved in the matter, so an appearance by the Minor Signless Force didn't seem like it would be too much of a coincidence.

In all honesty, his Eight Nine Mysteries was also capable of such imitation. Once he had trained this Peerless Godly Kung Fu to the Seven Acupores level and his Inner World began to form, his control over his physical body and Vital Spirit would improve. His ability to control intricate details of genuine Qi and his physical body would be unparalleled amongst his peers. As long as he had a corresponding script to refer to, changing genuine Qi and imitating unique aspects of it wouldn't be an issue.

Meng Qi furrowed his eyebrows after a brief hesitation, asking, "Since the culprit can imitate a supreme art of the Shaolin Temple, what kind of leads do you have?"

"None at the moment. Though there aren't many Divine Skills that are similar to this, most have long been lost along the way. Perhaps someone dug it out from some grave..." Jiang Hengchuan shook his head. "Young Master Su, do you have any leads that can point us to the real killer?"

Meng Qi briefly talked about the coffin and the paper inside the tavern keeper's mouth. "Brother Jiang, with your protection, how could your cousin have been murdered?"

There was a long silence. Jiang Hengchuan slowly began to say, "It's a long story. Please refrain from telling this to anyone else."

"Alright." Meng Qi nodded, secretly guessing why this man had decided to come to Maoling.

"A few months ago, I killed a Heterodox Expert. I obtained a 'Chance' and enjoyed part of its benefits in Maoling. However, I would need three 'Chances' if I want to go any further. I didn't have any leads at that time, so I decided to leave Maoling and focus on training myself. Unexpectedly, I suddenly received a Dart Message saying that my cousin Tabo had been kidnapped. They demanded that I stay in Maoling and exchange my 'Chance' for him." Jiang Hengchuan was intentionally using the term 'Chance' in place of the name of the actual item.

"Since I couldn't contact my third brother, I had no choice but to rush back to Maoling in secret. Then I realized that he was perfectly fine! He had merely been indulging in gambling and lost all his money in the Skyfirst No. 1 casino. He was being held there to pay off his debt. They finally let him out after I took great pains to collect enough money to cover his debt."

"I found this strange and so didn't reveal myself on purpose. I assumed an alias and stayed in a courtyard near my third brother's place to investigate the one who had led me to Maoling. Last night, I suddenly discovered a lead but lost it after being taken for a ride. Just when I had returned home and drank a cup of tea, I sensed some activity inside the Gentle Breeze Villa and rushed over to investigate. That's when I saw the scene and became shocked and enraged instantly. I thought it was the mastermind warning me to watch out for my other family members!"

A "Chance"... Meng Qi wondered if it could be the key to unlocking the door to the Dongyang Villa.

Qiu Fei gained his "Chance" from the Dongyang Thatched Cottage, but what about the rest?

After listening to the explanation, Meng Qi laughed bitterly and said, "I'm confused myself. You're referring to something, but how would I know what that is?"

Jiang Hengchuan sighed. "I'm afraid that others may overhear us so I purposely used another term. It's difficult for Rogue Cultivators to reap benefits. If I draw the attention of those on the level of the Exterior, I'd have no choice but to give it up to them."

"Brother Jiang, do you have any suspects in mind?" Meng Qi got straight to the point.

Jiang Hengchuan's face darkened as he said, "Yes. I suspect Qiu Fei, the Wind-chasing Stick!"

"Why?" Meng Qi wasn't too surprised by his answer.

Jiang Hengchuan took a deep breath and controlled the urge to grind his teeth. "When I was reaping my benefits in Maoling, I bumped into two groups of people. One was a large group with plenty of infighting. The other was Qiu Fei alone. He obtained some benefits too, but since he didn't have the other two 'Chances', he may very well have started targeting me. With his strength, he might be able to beat me if he used all his family's Precious Weapons but not kill me. That's why he plotted such a scheme."

Did Qiu Fei have the ability to create setups? Meng Qi thought of Wang Siyuan, but what Jiang Hengchuan said next startled him.

"Qiu Fei is highly suspicious. He's been rising through the levels at an alarming speed." Jiang Hengchuan had paid close attention to Qiu Fei for a long time.

Meng Qi lightly sucked in a breath. The information on Qiu Fei surfaced in his mind.

Qiu Fei had enlightened his Acupores at 17, opened his Four Acupores at 20, and then Six Acupores at 24, and finally Seven Acupores at 29. Up to this point, he had been merely above-average. Then he enlightened his Eight Acupores at 32 and then Nine Acupores at 33. He later broke through the barrier of the Hidden Latch of Life and Death at 36. All this suggested that he was a late-bloomer.

Meng Qi once thought it could be due to his adventure at the Dongyang Thatched Cottage, but now that he considered the timing, it didn't seem to fit. If Qiu Fei had the "Chance", he would have immediately came to Maoling.

"Brother Jiang, does the 'Chance' require a specific timing?"

Jiang Hengchuan spoke with certainty, "No, but it seems that the 'Chances' came to this world during the same period of time."

Meng Qi didn't question any further and kept mum about Wang Siyuan's words. "Brother Jiang, there're so many young masters gathering here in Maoling. There's a strong premonition for chaos and I fear something suspicious is going on. Why don't we investigate on our own to find the mastermind?"

"Sure. What do you suggest?" Jiang Hengchuan readily agreed.

Meng Qi took out the wooden sculpture from the coffin, the slip of paper, and the ball of crushed paper from the tavern keeper's mouth. He passed them to Jiang Hengchuan. "There will always be traces left behind. Brother Jiang, you can check the origin of this wooden sculpture and the writing on the slip of paper. I'll investigate why the other young masters have come to Maoling."

Jiang Hengchuan accepted the items and stood up before once again apologizing for his actions.

Just as he was about to leave, Meng Qi suddenly asked, "Brother Jiang, since it's difficult being a Rogue Cultivator, why didn't you join the imperial court, an aristocratic family, or a sect?"

Jiang Hengchuan paused for a moment before giving a good-natured smile like that of a farmer's.

"I didn't go through the pains of training myself for the sake of finding a master."