On the square, Jing Wu’s eyes moved, and the previous turbidity was replaced by alertness.
He slowly raised his head and found that Hui Yuan was no longer in front of him. Even the dream monster had disappeared without a trace. Only Kong Miao smiled at him in relief.
Had he defeated his inner demon? Jing Wu didn’t know. His body seemed lighter but his heart still ached.
Jing Wu folded his hands together and bowed to Kong Miao. “Thank you for your guidance.”
Kong Miao said with a smile, “You shouldn’t thank me. It’s Master Jing who illumined you.”
Jing Wu instantly understood that the last call of ‘Shifu’ came from the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, so he quickly showed his appreciation.
Jing Yue merely smiled in response. One must not speak too much when showing off.
Jing Wu’s matter was solved. Everyone didn’t know what to say and the venue fell silent for a while. But new questions also emerged. When did Kong Miao learn about the existence of the dream monster? Why wasn’t it resolved as soon as possible, instead of playing dead and creating the chaos today?
Kong Miao seemed to have guessed everyone’s thoughts and slowly recounted the tale.
“When Hui Yuan’s remains was burned by the Heavenly Fire, Jue Yuan found black spots on his Sarira. It turned out that before he died, he integrated a shred of Yao energy on his body to serve as a warning…”
At that time, Jue Yuan told Kong Miao about it and Kong Miao personally made thorough investigations into the matter. Finally, he found out about Jing Wu’s abnormality.
In fact, the dream monster had concealed itself very well, but an occasional trace of Yao energy would leak out when it controlled Jing Wu’s body. If Kong Miao didn’t pay careful attention to Jing Wu, he wouldn’t be able to detect the subtle changes.
Now that his sights were locked on Jing Wu, Kong Miao quickly figured out the purpose of the dream monster. Making use of Jing Wu’s authority and convenience as the guardian of the Yao Tower, the other party colluded with the Yao King of the snake tribe and got in touch with the Snake Emperor through secret methods.
Kong Miao learned that the Snake Emperor planned to breach the Yao Tower, but since the Three Realm Temple was under his care, the Snake Emperor dared not act recklessly.
However, he predicted that his life was about to end, and he was worried that the monsters would wreak havoc after his passing. Even if Jing Wu was illumined at this time, others might be controlled, and the Three Realm Temple would be caught off guard by that time.
Therefore, Kong Miao decided to go along with the scheme, faking his death to lure the Snake Emperor out in the open and deal him a heavy blow, eliminate the hidden dangers, and severely deter the Yao tribe.
Nonetheless, it would be extremely difficult to trick the Snake Emperor through ordinary means, so Kong Miao used a secret technique to render his soul completely dormant and could only be awakened by the Heavenly Fire.
“But I really didn’t expect an intervention by the Cadaver Gate. In the past battles between Yao and humans, both the righteous path and the demonic cultivators would put aside all internal conflicts to fight against the Yao. I wonder if the Blood Corpse-laomo’s appearance this time is just a coincidence, or is there collusion between the demonic cultivators and the Yao race?”
Kong Miao’s doubt was also everyone’s concern. If the latter, the threat would be substantial.
A few years ago, the Cadaver Gate caused some provocation at the Frostcloud Sect. Thereafter, Frostcloud Sect organized a cleanup in the Evernorth region and weeded out dozens of demonic cultivators, most of them members of Cadaver Gate. After that, Cadaver Gate returned to hiding in the West Shu region. The rest of the continents had not heard any news about demonic cultivators in recent years so they gradually relaxed their vigilance.
Could the demonic cultivators be plotting something?
“This disciple is willing to go to West Shu region to obtain news from the Lurking Ghost Sect.”
The person who spoke was Jing Wu and many people looked at him in surprise.
Everyone knew that the Lurking Ghost Sect was the leader of the Demonic Dao, and their attitude could indeed represent the entire faction. However, the West Shu region was full of demonic cultivators. If Jing Wu embarked on this dangerous trip, there might be no return for him.
Kong Miao was also taken aback. “Jing Wu, you…”
Jing Wu’s expression was calm but his eyes were filled with determination. “This disciple’s heart is impure and has developed inner demons that led to the catastrophe today. It’s too late for regrets.”
He closed his eyes and the image of Hui Yuan lying in a pool of blood reappeared in his mind.
“You… are Shifu.”
“Yes, I am.”
“I… just know.” Hui Yuan tried to curl up the corners of his mouth. The smile was not pretty, even a little scary in midst of the shadows. “My… Shifu is most benevolent. The dream monster… can’t…”
“Hui Yuan! Hui Yuan!”
Jing Wu wanted to support his disciple up and impart some Buddha’s power to him, but his hand merely passed through Hui Yuan’s vanishing body.
“I’m here.” Tears fell from Jing Wu’s eyes. He had never felt so helpless in his life.
“I hope… your Great Path… no obstacles… attain… Buddhahood…”
As the last word fell, Hui Yuan disappeared completely. Jing Wu also detached himself from the influence of the dream monster and awakened from the profound state.
But he knew he had lost all salvation and lost all qualifications to attain Buddhahood.
“This disciple’s life and death is no longer under my control, but belongs to Hui Yuan and all the members of the righteous path implicated by me.”
Jing Wu knelt on the ground, took off his prayer beads, held it above his head, and kowtowed three times.
“This disciple will travel westward into the heart of demonic cultivators. I don’t ask for meritorious deeds but I seek to salvage the other side. If I can’t salvage the world, I seek not to salvage myself.”
When he said this, even Jing Yue couldn't help being moved.
To obtain results in Buddhism, one must seek to salvage oneself. But Jing Wu had made a great aspiration—to salvage the world before he seeks salvation. But how could all the demonic cultivators in the world be salvaged? In other words, Jing Wu had actually given up on his Buddhahood.
For a long while, the square fell into pin-drop silence.
Until the wind blew and swept away the sounds of regretful sighs.
That night, Traverse City suddenly flashed and rumbled, and a heavy thunderstorm began.
In a shack in Three Realm Temple, blue phoenix was trying to close the window with its short wings. Half of its body was already soaked and it looked like a drenched chicken.
When the window was finally closed, it was so tired that it collapsed on the table and panted. From the corner of its eye, it peeked at Jing Yue, who was recuperating from his injuries and opened his eyes at the same time.
Blue phoenix leaned back with a guilty conscience and quickly got up from the table. It ran to Jing Yue's side and leaned on his thigh. “Jing-jing, are your injuries alright? Ji-ji is worried that the wind and rain outside would bother you and even closed the windows for you.”
Jing Yue gave it a sideways glance. “Don’t think if you act all coy and coquettish with me and I’d forget your act of running away and abandoning me today.”
Blue phoenix froze in its act of rubbing its head on Jing Yue and stirred its wings pitifully. “You know…I’m a disabled phoenix. Not only am I not able to help you, but I might even get you into trouble if I stayed around.”
Jing Yue raised his eyebrows. Was the blue phoenix significant enough to get him into trouble?
“For instance, what if the Blood Corpse-laomo catches Ji-ji and threatens you?”
The more Ji-ji talked about it, the more it felt justified, and plausibly said, “Since you love me so much, I don’t want to put you on the spot. Ji-ji doesn’t want to cause you any trouble!”
Jing Yue sneered, “Why should I be troubled? It’s all the better for me if he gets rid of you.”
Blue phoenix deflated and said drily, “You’d lose me if you say things like that!”
Seeing Jing Yue’s cold expression, blue phoenix was finally anxious. Tears fell from its eyes, it grabbed Jing Yue and sobbed, “I’m wrong. Jing-jing, don’t abandon Ji-ji.”
Jing Yue was amused. How could he be angry with Ji-ji for such a trivial matter? Jing Yue merely could not help teasing it since it was acting as if nothing had happened, even though it was guilty and cowardly. But blue phoenix was crying its eyes out, so Jing Yue decided to let it go. He patted his thigh. “Come here.”
Without any hesitation, blue phoenix flew onto Jing Yue’s lap and started jumping around wildly.
Jing Yue, “What are you doing?”
Blue phoenix, “I…I’m moving myself.”
Jing Yue: ???
His rationale told him not to ask. Jing Yue rubbed blue phoenix’s head. “Anyone can feel scared. It’s not wrong for you to run away today. If you encounter danger in the future, you must also protect yourself first.”
Blue phoenix tilted its head in confusion but Jing Yue didn’t explain further.
No matter what, Jing Yue was no longer angry, right? Blue phoenix breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, a knock on the door frightened it.
The visitor was Wei Tianli. He was already an Amethyst Abode cultivator and was naturally not affected by the rain. Even in this current downpour, his body remained dry.
Blue phoenix glared at him jealously, and then Wei Tianli was heard saying, “Laozu, are you okay?”
Jing Yue, “A small injury. It’s nothing to be concerned about.”
Of course, Wei Tianli knew that Jing Yue’s injury could easily be healed with a slight activation of a technique. He was here for another matter. “I believe Laozu has long guessed that Master Kong Miao was faking his death?”
When the monks in the square were chanting scriptures, Jing Yue already felt something amiss. But before he could think about it, the incident at the Yao Tower happened, which made him ignore the abnormality.
It was only until the Heavenly Fire descended that Jing Yue realized it. He had a causal relationship with Kong Miao. If Kong Miao really passed, he should receive an indication.
Wei Tianli, “No wonder you stopped us from going after Blood Corpse-laomo.”
After clearing the doubts in his mind, Wei Tianli said angrily, “Blood Corpse-laomo actually dared to attack you today. He’s most likely trying to catch hold of you to threaten us. Now that he’s seriously injured, he can’t go far. I’ve informed all disciples in Central region to hunt him down!”
Jing Yue, “You don’t have to worry too much about this. The old demon offended Kong Miao today. The Three Realm Temple won’t let him off.”
Wei Tianli realized that too and continued asking, “The opening day of the Nine Heaven Academy is getting near. Does Laozu wish to go to Bliss City in advance?”
Jing Yue was silent momentarily before saying, “I wish to stay in Three Realm Temple a while longer and use the Bodhi Illuminating Wall. Perhaps I can find a chance encounter and establish my foundation.”
Wei Tianli was startled and repeated, “The Bodhi Illuminating Wall?”
Seeing Jing Yue’s nod, he said hesitantly, “But that’s the forbidden area of the Three Realm Temple and never open to outsiders.”
According to legend, the Bodhi Illuminating Wall was transformed by the leaves of a Bodhi tree planted by Buddha himself. It could reflect the past life, show the future, help one understand one’s heart, and reveal the true nature. A fated person could even sense a ray of Buddha's energy left by the Buddha through it. Back then, it was here that Kong Miao acquired the Na Mo Mantra from this.
The outside world had many speculations and longings for the Bodhi Illuminating Wall, but no one heard that anyone was allowed to visit it.
But since the Laozu had expressed his interest, how could he, as a disciple, not try to fulfill his wishes?
Wei Tianli said determinedly, “The Three Realm Temple owed us a favor for what happened today. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss with Abbot Jue Yuan and see what he says.”
Jing Yue, “You don’t have to intervene in this matter.”
Wei Tianli instantly misunderstood and said anxiously, “Laozu, there’s no need for you to talk to him personally in your capacity.”
A laugh escaped from Jing Yue as he said, “Have you forgotten? I’ve got an old acquaintance in this temple.”
Suddenly, he turned towards the door and a trace of smile flashed in his eyes. “See, he’s here.”
The next moment, a monk said outside the door, “Master Jing, Great Master Kong Miao requests for a meeting.”