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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

305 Before the Main Spectacle

 Meng Qi didn't act like a guest at all. He leisurely walked over to Wang Siyuan and Han Sanniang and planted himself down on a chair. He casually picked up the cup of tea on the table and characteristically fiddled with the lid for a moment.

The tea inside was emerald-jade in color. There were several loose leaves inside, some floating and some resting at the bottom of the cup. Drifting in a relaxed manner, they reminded one of freshly-blooming waterlilies. A refreshing aroma wafted through the air and the lingering sweetness tickled his taste buds. Even without any knowledge of tea, Meng Qi couldn't help making a compliment. "An excellent brew," he said.

"The leaves are plucked from the nine Qianlong trees beside Lake Yue in Guangling. It's the only place to get them." Han Sanniang suggestively eyed Wang Siyuan with her beautiful eyes.

Wang Siyuan didn't respond to the gesture and Meng Qi was unable to capture the gist of her remark either. Smiling, he continued, "We were initially looking for Wolf King, but instead we found the Devil who killed the Eight-armed Flying Dragon and the rest. It seems oddly coincidental to me."

"Just a few days ago, Han Sanniang and Head Keeper Luo attempted to join forces, forcing Snake King to openly skirmish with the other mid -- to small-level Controllers. That gave me and Jiang Hengchuan a reason to first seek him out. I must admit that we got lucky."

"One may regard an occurrence of luck to be normal, but two? Hardly a coincidence, don't you think? In addition, I've always found it strange that Master Wang didn't take the opportunity of finding the Wolf King to create a setup. And that's why I'm here."

With a tone as soft as silk, a smile as gentle as his voice, his robes whiter than the first snow and his sword across his knees, Meng Qi showed no hint of anger or contempt, not even assertiveness in his voice.

"And you knew well to come here. That shows that you're smart, at least," Wang Siyuan commented in a concise manner.

The corner of Meng Qi's lips twitched. "Surely there're others who would've noticed what I noticed."

"And that's exactly what we want them to do." With a brief and ambiguous reply, Wang Siyuan's expression remained deadpan and his complexion was as pallid as ever. Meng Qi couldn't help wondering if the man would suddenly faint.

Meng Qi exhaled deeply and remarked, "I hate people who employ divination and devise treacheries like you."

His nonchalant comment seemed to quell any shred of irritation and had Han Sanniang giggling instead. "So do I!"

Wang Siyuan coughed gently twice, a rare hint of interest marking his face. "So what would you do if we're to face each other in the future?"

Meng Qi considered it earnestly before answering, "I'd first need to learn divination skills. I wouldn't need to fully master the skill, but I need to know enough to conceal myself."

"Of course, that's a lie..." He could easily conceal himself with or without any divination skills! Once he had completed his Eight Nine Mysteries technique training to the seventh stage, he would be able to harmonize the technique with his Inner World technique. The combined ability of both skills would allow him to avoid disasters. He could conceal himself just as how Wolf King did with his Oneness of Heaven and Man skill.

One of Meng Qi's greatest gains in the past three months had been the ample time to train (the previous three months in addition to the recent three months, totaling a half year). It had allowed him to shed his common body. With the breakthrough past the Four Acupores of his Eight Nine Mysteries technique, he was now in his sixth stage. Now that his training of the meridian points of the Eighth Acupores was almost done, he would finally unseal the Seventh Acupore of the technique and complete the same for his Golden Bell Shield technique with another year and a half.

On the other hand, with already a diverse set of skills to arm himself, Meng Qi didn't have to further inconvenience himself by spending time and entertain distractions by training himself in the ability of telegnosis. He would have to wait until he had broken through the Nine Acupore level, complete the discipline of the Heaven-Man Connection, and achieve Oneness of Heaven and Men to build himself a steady foundation for future aspirations. Judging by He Jiu, Wang Siyuan, and the others who had suppressed their breakthroughs for several years, there would surely be enough time.

Then again, he could never be deficient in similar departments lest he compromised himself. He could put himself in danger if he wasn't able to divine warnings and look past the unseeable. It wasn't like he could always band together with his comrades.

"Not bad. And then?" With a faint smile, Wang Siyuan seemed interested in Meng Qi's plans.

"And then? And then I'll work on my kung fu and try to surpass you as soon as possible. I'll then pick an opportune moment when you can never avoid and challenge you directly. Our duel shall be straightforward and frank, leaving you with no chances for your schemes and trickery. I'd enjoy bashing you up then," Meng Qi answered with feigned seriousness.

"Pft!" Han Sanniang couldn't hold back her laughter. "A splendid idea indeed! Straightforward and brutal, suppression by force! That will defeat Master Wang indeed! Su Meng, you sure are an amusing fellow!"

Wang Siyuan's smile stiffened ever so slightly. "You'll have to first surpass me in strength. Otherwise, you'd just embarrass yourself."

Having displayed a straightforwardly and violent character, a sudden smile appeared on Meng Qi's face. "Naturally, that's a personal concern of mine."

He wasn't worried about Wang Siyuan seeing through his facade because that had been his true intention! He was sick of watching degenerates like him pulling strings from behind a screen and toy around with their schemes. Given the chance, he would most definitely relish the chance to clobber the man!

Han Sanniang interrupted and said, "Instead of you two arguing over the future, how about I play you both a tune?"

Wang Siyuan lifted his cup and took in a sip of tea without responding.

Meng Qi followed suit, showing no objections.

A Wenwu Seven-string zither sat before Han Sanniang. The zither had annual ring patterns on its body which formed traces of cracks.

With clean fingers devoid of any accessories, she picked the strings of the zither with tremendous grace. Melodious music filled the air. The charm and elegance that she exuded would most definitely dispel any exaggerated descriptions of her. A tranquil and soothing calm filled the hall like the gentle flow of a shallow brook that meandered into and relieved one's heart.

All was peaceful and quiet in Flowers Hall when the song ended.

Wang Siyuan's five fingers wriggled as if he was trying to grasp the notes from the tune. "Susu, your skills with the zither seem to have improved yet again. But it's still a far cry from what the gifted young lady from the Ruan family is capable of. You played the notes right, but you've yet to capture its soul."

What the... Meng Qi was stunned speechless by the scathing remark. Were these the words one should say to his own woman? Though Han Sanniang's skills with the zither were incomparable to that of that upper-class snob born with a silver spoon, surely there was no need to be so upfront about it! Could it be that Wang Siyuan was capable of reading the fates of all men save a woman's heart?

True enough, Han Sanniang's face darkened and her smile earlier disappeared. She said coldly, "It's true my skills with the zither couldn't be compared to the legitimate daughter of an aristocratic family. She was born gifted in playing the zither and had been taught the divine skills passed down within her family. Who am I, one who had to learn everything on my own, to compete?"

"You can visit Langya to listen to her play if you liked her skills so much."

"I'm not feeling so well today, so please just excuse yourselves."

With a whisk of her sleeves, she retired into the backyard.

Wang Siyuan dusted his robes and calmly rose. He turned to Meng Qi.

"The main event begins in a few days. Look out for yourself."

Without any remorse nor guilt over the incident, it almost seemed as he had said those words precisely so that he could leave.

"What a scheming man..." Meng Qi really hoped this man could cough to his death soon. Feigning ignorance, he asked, "The calculations of your divination earlier, was that a fake?"

"Wolf King was definitely at the North Street. But with all that furor just now, do you think he'd continue to hide there?" Wang Siyuan smiled confidently.

Without further questions, Meng Qi left with his sword in hand. "Will the main spectacle start and also end in a few more days?"


The next day, Green-ribbon Arrester Dai Fei invited Meng Qi and Jiang Hengchuan to a restaurant for tea as a way of thanking them for their help.

"Though we didn't find Wolf King, we did force out a Heterodox Demon. The both of you have made huge contributions this time. If you ever need help in the future, feel free to reach out to us at the Six Fan School." With tea in place of wine, Dai Fei toasted to them both.

Jiang Hengchuan gulped a mouthful of tea and smiled. "The Heterodox Demons are ruthless and savage. Forcing him out may very well have saved our own lives. Green-ribbon Dai, where is he from? Have you learned anything?"

A similarly interested expression crossed Meng Qi's face.

Dai Fei pondered a moment before replying, "Since you guys are already involved in this, I guess it's fine to share some information. This Devil first appeared in Yangxia and was practicing using corpses. He had some connections to the Life-changing Sect that hunted him down. Thus he went after Qiu Fei. However, it seemed like he'd barely make a breakthrough in his demonic craft during the incidents in Yangxia. Now it appears that he has mastered it."

Mastered? Meng Qi couldn't help thinking that there was still a long way to go for him...

Jiang Hengchuan inhaled lightly. "What kind of demonic art is it?"

It was by a stroke of fate that Old Zhong became involved in this affair. He was someone who treated related information with great care.

"We don't have any relevant files on that," Dai Fei replied.

A sudden buzz emerged below the restaurant during their conversation. It seemed to have come from afar. From the looks of it, a serious incident had taken place.

As a Green-ribbon Arrester, Dai Fei gazed inquisitively in the direction of the bustle. He was momentarily too surprised to speak. "So it's the arrival of the daughter of the main branch of the Ruan Family."

Oh? Meng Qi peered out through the window and spotted a horse-drawn carriage slowly making its way from the end of the street.

The carriage's windows were open but covered by a light veil that prevented others from looking inside. The mysterious enigma of the lady's identity and appearance attracted many passersby who fought to catch a glimpse and sate their mounting curiosity.

The carriage was simple without any lavish decorations apart from a few ornamental floral motifs which resembled musical notes. Its common characteristic should not have attracted any attention, if not for the servants dressed in robes on either side of the carriage keeping others away from it.

"So it's legal wife's daughter of the Ruan family who is rumored to be naturally-gifted." Jiang Hengchuan sighed as he casually eyed the carriage, his voice carrying the faintest hint of melancholy.

Meng Qi feigned surprise. "The legal wife's daughter of the Ruan Family? Why is she here?"

"The Nangong family of Maoling and the Ruan family are closely related. We received word yesterday that she'll be visiting the Dajue Temple to burn incense and fulfill a vow. That's why they sent servants with her to open a path," Dai Fei explained.

"Burn incense and fulfill a vow... It seemed that she had had a tough time trying to come here. No wonder she couldn't visit in private... But it was no big deal." Meng Qi nodded and asked, "But why does she need to fulfill her vow at the Dajue Temple?"

"Apparently, Lady Ruan came here to watch the Tidal Bore of the Jin River while pregnant with her. She offered incense at Dajue Temple back then, and that was why the young lady was born gifted in zither-playing. Since it's almost time for the Tidal Bore of Jin River again, it's normal for her to come here to fulfill her vow." Dai Fei chuckled. "Rumors has it that she's the most beautiful lady in all of Jiangdong. She said so to bear charms that rivals the Moon Goddess, overshadowing the beauty of all mortal females. That explains the scores of curious onlookers who have flocked here to see her after the news spread."

Legal wife's daughters of aristocratic families were of different levels from common sect disciples. They rarely interacted with those from the lower strata of the society even within the Jianghu. With carriages as conveyance and aristocratic families to tend to their needs, even with household names, how could the average Jianghu person possibly get a glimpse of them?

"The Master of the Ruan family had once ordered that whoever who intends to ask for Ruan Yushu's hand in marriage must commit to matrilineal marriage. If not for this demand, I'm afraid that legions of childes from other aristocratic families would've already stepped into the threshold of the Musical Tide Pavillion of Langya," Jiang Hengchuan said sullenly. Sorrow and yearning lined the words he uttered. Unless he was willing to consent to the requirement, there would forever be an invisible barrier between Rogue Cultivators like him and aristocratic families.

Dai Fei sighed. "Word of the Young Lady Ruan's beauty has spread all over Jiangdong. Her skills with the zither are legendary, but I've yet to have a chance to personally hear it. I wonder if we can use the connection of the Nangong family this time to see if we have any luck to witness her beauty and her incomparable skills with the zither."

The way he spoke shrouded some regret at not being able to listen to the melody of her zither despite being in Jiangdong. He would definitely be mocked if he was asked about it after returning Luoyang one day.

Jiang Hengchuan shook his head. "Legal wife's daughters of aristocratic families aren't street entertainers. Why would she regale anyone with her wonders if not entertaining close friends or playing in private?"

He paused briefly before adding, "I'll just hope earnestly that I have the chance to meet her in the future and listen to the 12 Magical Sounds of Langhuan."

That would require no common skill with the zither.

Meng Qi was still as he listened to the conversation. He couldn't help feeling a little smug on the inside.

A strong gust of wind blew and lifted the veil just then, revealing the person inside the carriage. Everyone on the street craned their necks to sneak a peek at the beautiful young lady inside, the legal wife's daughter of an aristocratic family whom they would never be able to meet under normal circumstances.

Dai Fei and Jiang Hengchuan couldn't help looking as well.

The person inside the carriage wore a dress as white as snow. She was sitting up straight and had a cool and icy frost about her. Her slim physique and glossy skin were visible, but her face was hidden behind a sheer white veil. One could vaguely feel her captivating beauty even if it was impossible to see her clearly.

The crowd gasped, awed by her rapturous beauty. The corner of Meng Qi's lips curled upward into a smile.

"So the little glutton has really come here."