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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

288 Switching Between Life and Death

 After seeing the Boundary Between the Living and the Dead, Meng Qi quickly took out the Black Fur. There were some strange symbols and patterns on the piece of fur. The Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms had put down some annotations on it, linking it into a map. However, the map was incomplete one with many missing places and paths. Only two paths were complete, both leading to the center of the tomb.

There was a sentence written in ancient script at the top of the map:

'Boundary Between the Living and the Dead.'

Neither Jiang Zhiwei nor Ruan Yushu could discern the symbols and patterns on the map. But after the Dominator of Samsara in Six Realms had translated them into the ancient script, they could make out parts of it. Qi Zhengyan and Meng Qi, on the other hand, felt like illiterates because they couldn't read the ancient script. Meng Qi had never studied the ancient script and never got around to it even though he could learn it after joining the Six Fan School.

Next to the sentence were a few lines of words that read: 'Those who cross will die; those who obey will live.'

"Would we die if we cross the bridge?" Meng Qi asked, perplexed after listening to Jiang Zhiwei's translation. How could they enter the mausoleum without crossing the bridge? How could they find the secret of Zhenwu's Decoy Grave and activate the next part of the task?

Not to mention the map also showed that the path was behind the Boundary Between the Living and the Dead.

"It could mean something else," Ruan Yushu said calmly while holding the Phoenix-perching Zither.

Jiang Zhiwei smiled. "I won't stop now that we've gotten this far. Just be ready to use the Buddha's Lamp. If something happens, we'll just run. I want to see for myself what those words truly mean."

How typical of Jiang Zhiwei, Meng Qi thought.

Qi Zhengyan hadn't said anything all this time, merely looking behind the iron lock. It was dark and hazy. Though they all had their Eye Acupores opened, it was still hard to discern what was behind the lock. It was as though the haze was there to prevent prying eyes. Perhaps the haze was the septum between Yin and Yang.

With half of his focus on the bluish white lamp in front of his chest, Meng Qi carried the Heaven Inflicted Pain and became the first one to pass the boundary marker. He then stepped onto the bridge.

The energy light from his long blade gleamed and wrapped around his body, giving him the aura of the Thunder God.

Jiang Zhiwei walked beside him and Ruan Yushu followed closely behind her. Qi Zhengyan was last. No one spoke a word, but they were clear about their responsibilities.

The chain bridge creaked as it swayed. There wasn't anything unusual besides the creaking noise, no ghosts or anything weird. The bridge didn't collapse either.

The calm made Meng Qi a little uneasy. Could it be that the warning was fake?

Just then, he suddenly realized that his body temperature had been gradually dropping. His pulse was slowing down uncontrollably too. He felt his blood thickening and his Yang energy shrinking as though they were about to contract into a 'seed'.

These changes, however, didn't affect him from operating his genuine Qi, strength, flexibility, or mind. His Vital Spirit was as clear as day. He didn't sense any danger, and his Buddha's Lamp was burning brightly. Nothing was unusual.

As he projected his will, he instantly noticed that his companions all experienced the same symptoms. In addition, a dark aura seemed to have covered them as if they were the walking dead!

"Did you guys feel it?" Meng Qi asked. As the words came out of his mouth, he became frightened. His voice sounded grim and full of Yin Qi as if it had drifted out from the Nine Serenities.

Jiang Zhiwei habitually nodded as she turned to look at Ruan Yushu and Qi Zhengyan. "I feel it, but I don't sense any damage being done to my body. Could the state of 'dying' mentioned in the warning referring to a fake death?"

"There had been many big shots that sought a way of preservation after death." Ruan Yushu chimed in suddenly. Her voice had always been indifferent, but now it was downright cold.

"Were they trying to switch between life and death to hide from the Gods?" Jiang Zhiwei asked. Clearly, she had read about such accounts in her research.

Absorbed in his thoughts, Meng Qi paused momentarily before replying, "Looks like this was all set up by Zhenwu, the Great Emperor. He planned all of this for himself..."

The chain bridge wasn't exactly long. Before long, the four of them made it to the other side. Meng Qi felt his weak pulse completely stop after stepping on the firm ground. His blood no longer flowed and his temperature dropped so much that he resembled a corpse. But his genuine Qi was circulating as usual and connected to the outside air in a marvelous way beyond his comprehension. His genuine Qi had replaced his blood to sustain his body.

After focusing his senses, Meng Qi realized his own Yang Qi and energy hadn't really disappeared. Instead, they were concentrated at his mid-brows, condensing into a small 'seed' the size of a mustard seed. It contracted and expanded rhythmically to prevent his body from decomposing.

Meng Qi suddenly thought that if he could understand and utilize this mysterious dynamic energy, then he would definitely end up with extraordinary results.

"If anyone sees us, they'd probably think that we're some kind of mutant zombies." He used the power of the Eight Nine Mysteries to remember all the dynamic changes of his body and then started moving his limbs. He didn't feel any reduction in his strength.

When he turned toward his companions, he started laughing out of the blue.

"Why are you laughing?" Jiang Zhiwei asked in confusion.

Meng Qi held back his laughter after seeing the white-cloaked Ruan Yushu's ghost-like pale face and cascading long hair. "It's nothing."

She looked like she came straight out of A Chinese Ghost Story!

To prevent them from pestering him about directions again, Meng Qi took out the Black Fur again to decide which route to take. There was a route to the extreme left, and one to the extreme right, both leading to the tombs.

"Choose the left route because the right one is clearly marked with a warning to bypass to avoid danger." Meng Qi used the simplest method to decide their route.

Jiang Zhiwei and the rest didn't object to his decision. If anything went awry, they could just turn around and go.

Meng Qi stepped onto the ground covered by a thick layer of fog. The cold winds seeped right through his skin and entered his bones. He drove his genuine Qi to block everything and headed straight for the left route.

They soon came across a gate painted with all sorts of creatures and magical grave-guard animals. The gate wasn't locked. Its purpose was deceit and distraction!

"Could it be that there were others before us?" Meng Qi frowned.

Qi Zhengyan pointed at a hidden spot on the edge of the gate. "Footsteps."

Though there was a heavy layer of mist covering everything, the footsteps were still visible. And there more than one set of them!

Meng Qi tightened his grip on the Heaven Inflicted Pain. "There might be even more things beyond our anticipation. Please take care and stay on guard."

Jiang Zhiwei and Ruan Yushu nodded. Meng Qi went closer to the gate and opened it. There were many long, winding paths up front laid with gray tiles. The walls were painted with vivid images, all telling the stories of a brave man suppressing different Heterodox Doctrines.

The brave man wore black robes and a Heaven Sovereign crown. He carried a turtle-snake long sword. There were paintings of him in a waterproof cloak and grass sandals. By then it looked like he had become a middle-aged man, but his courage was still apparent.

"Zhenwu Great Emperor," said Ruan Yushu.

The legends of the Zhenwu Great Emperor that was spread today had many myths attached to it, vastly different from the paintings on the wall.

As Meng Qi looked at the paintings, he expressed his respect and amazement. "No wonder he was known as the Devil-Rinsing Grandmaster."

They all tried to find some clues from the paintings, but most were related to suppressing the evil spirits of the Nine Serenities or ridding of evil spirits.

"During the ancient times, the Nine Serenities created so much chaos for humans," Jiang Zhiwei said.

There was a large tomb the size of a mansion at the end of the course way, but it was empty inside save for a black coffin in the center.

The lid of the coffin was lying on the side as though the corpse had already crawled out!

Meng Qi felt his blood freezing and the Thunderbolt Python of his Heaven Inflicted Pain was more jumpy than usual.

"I see a ganoderma over there." Qi Zhengyan was the first to discover a fist-sized ganoderma fungus growing in the gap between the coffin and ground. It was different from others, for a gray-white layer had covered the surface of the fungus and emanated Yin Qi.

Jiang Zhiwei heaved a sigh. "Looks like the Netherworld Reishi Mushroom, but not exactly. It might be poisonous. It's at least a century old."

"Who cares if it's poisonous? It's enough if it can be used to exchange Karma points. What are you afraid of?" Feeling optimistic, Meng Qi carefully moved closer to the coffin. With a light flick of the Meridian sword, the Netherworld Reishi Mushroom landed in Ruan Yushu's hands.

Just then, he saw the ancient writing carved at the bottom of the coffin.

Jiang Zhiwei walked beside him and mumbled,

"This is where it belongs, and where it'll end!"

Everyone felt a chill down their spines. Was this a curse or a prophecy?

Suddenly, a gray-white hand reached out from the ground and grabbed Meng Qi's ankle.

The palm and five fingers formed many dynamic transformations.

As the hand grabbed Meng Qi's ankle, green fire suddenly lit up everywhere in the tomb. The flames gathered around the gray-white hand and blocked Meng Qi's retreating path.

Since Meng Qi had just experienced the incident with the Life-changing Sect, he was extra vigilant toward things that popped out of the ground out of nowhere. He jumped up and flipped his body. As he came down, he sliced hard with his blade.

Ruan Yushu held the zither with her right hand. As she played, the crisp sound of the zither reverberated within the tomb. The sound was like the sound of the temple bell and the bell tower, causing the Yin Qi had to suddenly dissipate with a sad shrill.

A shadow suddenly popped out and extended an arm, like it was trying to compete with the Heaven Inflicted Pain.

Qi Zhengyan swung his icy Dragon Stripe Golden Sword, and the shadow's feet were frozen on the ground as the icy light flashed. But the green fire suddenly melted the icy feet.

Jiang Zhiwei seized this opportunity to attack with her Sword of the Sun-Penetrating Rainbow, the sword light concentrating at the figure's mid-brows.

Since the attacker's feet were frozen for an instant, it slowed enough that Meng Qi could catch a glimpse of his face. He was full of white hair and wrinkles. His breathing was weak as if he was half dead. It gave Meng Qi a feeling of deja vu.

The attacker screamed and swung with his left fist. Flames gathered around his shoulder like a ball of fire and blocked Jiang Zhiwei's sword.

Yama's Invitation had the advantage of speed and momentum, but the opponent was like a ghost and untouched by it. It didn't seem like he had any thought process about attacking or blocking, but he still managed to block Jiang Zhiwei's sword!

Meanwhile, Meng Qi attacked with the Heaven Inflicted Pain at full momentum like a tidal wave.

This time, however, the waves were made of Thunder Light instead of water. The opponent's right hand had turned into a palm to block the edge of the blade. He seemed completely unafraid of the Thunder Light!

Bang! Clang! These sounds erupted all at the same time as both Jiang Zhiwei's long sword and Meng Qi's Heaven Inflicted Pain were blocked.

The Thunderbolt Python suddenly swelled up and covered the attacker. Black gas came out of his body as he screamed in pain.

Pow!

The green flames that enveloped his body suddenly erupted and spread. Now wanting to touch the Yin fire, Jiang Zhiwei took a step back and cultivated her Qi to defend herself with her sword.

Meng Qi leaped up and avoided the fire using the force from when the blade hit his fist. Both Ruan Yushu and Qi Zhengyan were standing back so they weren't affected.

The attacker disappeared as the Yin fire went out, leaving only holes in the ground.

He was clearly limited by the Sky Thunder, yet was still unafraid to attack... Meng Qi frowned as he landed on his feet.

He wondered where that sense of familiarity had come from.

The attacker and the Swordsman of Ning Province both gave him the feeling. There were both zombies! And it was as if they came from the same source!