As everyone knew, the three most prestigious spots in the Three Realm Temple were namely the Yao Tower, the Tower Forest, and the Bodhi Illuminating Wall.
Among them, the Bodhi Illuminating Wall was the most mysterious.
Outsiders were not allowed to visit, and even within the temple, many legends circulated around it.
Every day, many monks sat facing the wall, hoping to be like one of the monks they admired and find their own chance encounter through this wall.
On this day, however, a Daoist appeared in front of the Bodhi Illuminating Wall, which attracted many monks’ attention.
Jing Yue stared at the smooth mirror-like wall calmly.
Yesterday, he followed the monk who was sent to invite him into a meditation room where Kong Miao sat waiting for him. When only he and Kong Miao were left in the room, the other party bowed to him deeply.
He asked Kong Miao, “Why the grand gesture?”
The other party replied, “Seven years ago, I already felt your aura when the strange vision appeared at Frostcloud Sect. After that, Frostcloud invited guests and said that the sect had appointed a new patriarch who inherited the legacy of Daoist-Master Jing Yuan. How can I not guess your identity?”
Jing Yue smiled and said, “Rebirth is a very inconceivable concept, but the little monk doesn’t seem to be shocked?”
His sudden joke caught Kong Miao by surprise and a touch of nostalgia flashed in his wise eyes. “Everything that happens in this world, be it conceivable or inconceivable, are chance encounters.”
Jing Yue laughed. “A little monk like you is talking profound with me.”
Kong Miao’s eyes twitched. The first half of ‘little monk’ gave him a feeling of affection, while the second half… well, he couldn’t refute it, right?
He settled and said, “To be able to discern your identity through the strange visions from the other day, one must at least be at the Tribulation Passage stage. Most of the people who had had contact with Daozu^ perished during the Yao Catalyst. Apart from myself, there’s only your youngest disciple and the one from the Dragon Palace. As for the semi-Saints of the Yao tribe who had scuffles with you in the past no longer exist in this world, and based on the current cultivation levels of the other creatures, they wouldn’t be able to tell.”
(TN: Daozu 道祖 = Dao ancestor. Cos Kong Miao is Buddhist, he can’t call Jing Yue ‘Laozu’)
Jing Yue nodded slightly. “The Dragon Patriarch rarely concerns himself with the affairs of the human realm. My true identity is safe for the time being.”
He paused before continuing, “During the turbulent times of the Yao Catalyst, Yi Ye was still weak and was forced to stay in Frostcloud Sect in the last battle. I heard you were there at that time. Can you tell me about it?”
Kong Miao was taken aback. He did not expect Jing Yue to mention that incident so abruptly. He sighed, “Presumably Daozu is aware that it was your second disciple that killed the Yao Saint with one strike from his sword back then.”
Jing Yue nodded silently and listened as Kong Miao retold the story.
8,000 years ago, the Heavenly Dao suddenly became chaotic and the Yao tribe appointed one of their strongest individual as the Yao Saint. He led an army to breach the Realm Mountain and descended upon the human realm, robbing the Heavenly Fortune on a large scale, driving the human world into depression and near destruction.
That battle lasted for ten years, during which countless sacrifices were made by great beings and innumerable sects were destroyed. In the end, the human race devised a strategy to trap the Yao Saint in the Yao Detention Mountain of the Schism Ocean. While Yi Wang, who was just a Return to Void cultivator back then, used an unknown method to activate an awe-aspiring sword strike and obliterated the soul-mind of the Yao Saint, but in the process, he also exhausted himself and perished during the fight.
“I still remember that after that strike, Yi Wang-daojun’s sword turned into ashes, but a ray of light soared into the sky.” Kong Miao said solemnly. “Now that I think about it, it should be the soul of that sword.”
“If that sword has developed a soul, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Yi Wang to kill the Yao Saint even though he was only at Return to Void stage.”
With that said, Jing Yue’s heart ached yet again.
After a long while, he laughed mockingly, “The world is indeed unpredictable.”
It would cause chaos whenever it felt like it, whether a human or Yao, cultivator or mortal, none could escape from fate.
Only by ascension could one break away from this world and be free from its control.
Kong Miao, “But there’s always a sliver of hope within the Great Path. Perhaps the resurrection of Daozu is the sliver of hope left by the heavens to the human race.”
At the end of that night, Kong Miao wisely invited Jing Yue to stay in the temple and suggested that he should visit the Bodhi Illuminating Wall. Of course, Jing Yue wouldn’t refuse.
Thus, he appeared here.
Thinking back to the baby in the swaddle who had grown into an old monk with a kind and honest face, but was actually full of ideas, Jing Yue could not help but laugh.
Although time had taken away some things, it left behind other things too.
He felt the distress in his heart melting away, and it was rare that he could relax, so he slowly closed his eyes.
In the darkness, a dot of light as big as a bean gradually appeared, and the dot of light became bigger and brighter...
In a blink of an eye, the world had changed.
The sky was clear and sunlight swept over a green hillside.
Blossoming wildflowers in full bloom exuded a light fragrance that lingered in the air.
A boy of about six or seven years old was lying on the grass, his head pillowed on a gray stone. His eyes narrowed, curled eyelashes quivered slightly, he bit a piece of grass in his mouth, and his propped leg swayed back and forth, looking very comfortable.
Not far away, an older teenager ran towards him and said, “A-jing, you’re sleeping here again instead of herding cattle!”
Jing Yue turned over and sat up, his face a little red, uncertain if it was due to sunburn or being embarrassed. “I’m thinking about immortals. The villagers said that immortals have stepped on this stone before!”
The teenager chuckled, “Since you sleep on the stone all day, have you met an immortal?”
Jing Yue hesitated. He wanted to say that occasionally he could hear the gurgling of running water, which always made him particularly comfortable. However, when he said this in the past, no one ever believed it, because they couldn’t hear it…
“Anyway… anyway, I’m going to be an immortal!”
The boy pulled at him impatiently. “That’s enough! Come with me quickly. Your mother is looking for you.”
“But my cattle…”
Teenager, “Do you still remember your cows? Don’t worry, Uncle Wang will drive it back for you.”
Jing Yue, who got pulled away, looked back at the stone repeatedly, feeling an inexplicable loss in his heart, as if he had missed an extremely precious thing that could even affect his fate.
But no matter how he looked at it, it was nothing more than a stone.
Jing Yue shook his head, pursed his lips, and followed the boy away.
When he got home, his widowed mother was waiting in the courtyard anxiously. When she saw him, she said hurriedly, “Yue’er, your grandmother is ill. Come with me quickly!”
Grandmother? In his recollection, he had only seen this person once or twice. She seemed to be a very kind old woman?
Before he returned to his senses, he was already pushed into a carriage.
When the carriage passed through the mountains, the old horse pulling the carriage was suddenly startled, neighing incessantly as it plunged over the cliff!
In the carriage, Jing Yue was protected by his mother but still stumbled around, only to hear the coachman shouting from outside, “Jump!”
Jing Yue felt his mother trying to push him out with all her might, but the carriage was too bumpy. Before he and his mother could jump out of the carriage, it already fell over the cliff.
After that, Jing Yue lost all consciousness.
When he woke up from the coma, he immediately smelled a stench, a mixture of mud and blood.
Jing Yue felt his head hurt, as if he had been stabbed by thousands of needles, or hit by a heavy hammer.
He called softly but no one answered.
Jing Yue pushed hard on the person holding him. The other person didn't move but he could see his mother's face clearly.
As far as he could remember, his mother was the best-looking woman in the village. Everyone said his mother was not like a village woman at all, but rather like a lady from a big family in the city.
But now? With bulging eyes and a deformed skull, where could her original appearance be seen?
His mother was dead.
When Jing Yue realized this, he could not help shrinking his body and trembling.
What about him? Why was he left to survive alone?
Despair and fear consumed him like poison, spreading from the meridians to the internal organs, and even made him forget the pain in his body.
Jing Yue could no longer endure it. His vision went dark and he passed out again.
When he woke up again, he had been rescued by a family of farmers.
The family asked the physician to look at him and was relieved to know that he only sustained superficial injuries.
The physician gave him a simple treatment and left, leaving only a couple and five or six children of different ages curiously surrounding him in front of his bed.
It turned out that the man was a hunter. When hunting up the mountain, he found the wrecked carriage. Seeing that Jing Yue was still alive, he took him back to the village.
Seeing him awake, the host asked him where he was from, what was his name, and why he fell down the cliff?
Jing Yue answered his questions, but couldn't remember where he came from or where he was going. The man had no choice but to let him recuperate at home.
After half a month, Jing Yue's injury gradually improved, but he couldn’t continue staying here anymore.
Although the family who saved him was kind-hearted, their burden was too heavy, and there was no way they could afford to raise another Jing Yue.
So one morning, Jing Yue took some dry food prepared for him by the man, as well as five hundred wen of copper coins, and left the village alone.
When he reached the entrance of the village, he turned his head and glanced at the small village with lingering wisps of smoke. He suddenly felt that there was no place for him in this huge world.
When he finally arrived at the county after great difficulties, he had already eaten all the food he brought along and there was not a single cent left of the five hundred wen.
It was autumn at this time, and the city continued to rain for several days, the temperature getting colder and colder each day.
Jing Yue was hungry, his shirt was thin, and he had not completely recovered yet. Driven by hunger and cold, he developed a high fever one night and became delirious.
But Jing Yue was fortunate and there was always someone to help when his fate was hanging by a thread.
His mother protected him before, the hunter family next, and now he encountered a group of beggars.
The ruined temple where he was stranded at that time happened to be the stronghold of a group of beggars in the city. They found a half-dead Jing Yue when they returned and worked together to think of some native methods to rescue him.
When Jing Yue gradually recovered, he also joined the army of beggars without other alternatives. Because of his agile mind and could recognize a few words, plus he was good-looking, he soon became an important figure and was welcomed by beggars.
Occasionally, they would get together and daydream. Despite the harsh reality, they must still have a wish. What if they struck a jackpot?
For example, at this moment, a little beggar stared fixedly at a certain table in a small food stall. Most of the porridge in the bowl was left on the table, and there was a meat bun that only one bite was taken out of it, leftovers by a father and son.
The little beggar swallowed his saliva and said, “How nice would it be if I’m the stall owner’s son?”
“What’s so good about the stall owner’s son? I want to be a young master!”
“What’s so great about a young master? It’s better to be the old master! To be surrounded by beautiful maidservants at home and thousands of acres of fertile land.”
“Hmph, I want to be the emperor! I heard that even the poles in the royal palace are made of gold.”
“What does the emperor want to do with a pole?”
“He… he likes poles, what about it?”
Someone asked, “Hey, Jing Yue, what do you want to be?”
“Me? I want to be an immortal.”
Everyone laughed and jostled, and thought he was kidding.
Year after year, Jing Yue gradually grew up, and the group of beggars also expanded from the county to the prefecture, taking root there.
On this day, Yang Dashan's family in the city started giving out porridge again. The Yang family’s porridge was not only cooked with good rice, but also large in portion, and they never looked down upon their status as beggars, so everyone ate their fill and sat contentedly to rest in the ruined temple.
Someone said, “I heard that Yang Dashan’s family was the first to open a bank, and the entire Wei kingdom was covered by his family’s bank.”
Another person said, “It’s more than that! They also have gold shops, cloth shops, drug shops, and restaurants…”
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Yang family’s wealth was equivalent to the entire nation’s, right?” It was rare for a beggar to use an idiom.
When Jing Yue heard this, there was a tug in his heart. “If the Yang family is so rich, aren’t they afraid of others watching?”
“I heard that the current prefecture has received a favor from the Yang family in the past, so with his protection, who’d dare to lay a finger on the Yang family?”
Jing Yue pillowed his head on his hand, unconvinced.
If the Yang family simply relied on protection from others, the variables were too great. Could that really be enough of a deterrent?
Very soon, it was the Mid-autumn Festival and the city held a lantern festival as usual, but something went wrong on that day. This southern city was full of small river bridges, and one bridge collapsed because it was too worn out to bear the weight of too many people.
At that time, Jing Yue and his comrades were begging by the river. Seeing many people falling into the river, he instinctively jumped into the river to save people. The weather was cold and Jing Yue was freezing, but he still saved three people, one of whom happened to be the young master of the Yang family.
This act of heroic kindness was salvation to Jing Yue’s hopeless life.
To thank him, Yang Dashan took him and a group of beggars back home, re-established a contract for them, and made them errand boys under the supervision of the stewards.
From then on, they no longer suffered from hunger or cold, let alone betray their dignity for a bite of food.
Jing Yue was grateful and worked very hard. Coincidentally, he was noticed by Yang Dashan, who thought that he was a talent that could be groomed, found someone to teach him literacy and arithmetic, and decided to focus on coaching him.
Jing Yue originally thought that he would stay in the Yang family forever, and in the future, as the young master's right-hand man, he would strive to win the world for the Yang family.
But when he was 16 years old, the city prefect was suddenly found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment. On the day the news reached the Yang family, he was taken to see Yang Dashan.
“Jing Yue, I’ve watched you grow up all these years. You’re a good boy who knows how to repay gratitude. Now, there’s something that I need you to do. This matter is related to the life and death of the Yang family. It’s the only way out for the Yang family. Needless to say, it’s full of danger and hardship. Are you willing to do this for us?”
Yang Dashan frowned deeply, his words full of gravity.
“I’m willing.” Jing Yue didn’t hesitate at all.
He had accepted a great favor from the other party. Even if the Yang family wanted his life, he would not frown.
Later, Yang Dashan accused him of a crime and banished him from the Yang family. But secretly, he handed him some manpower and large sums of money, and told him to start afresh in a neighboring city with a brand new identity.
Two years later, when Jing Yue became an adult, the Yang family was double-crossed by the new prefect. Not only were the properties seized and adult men sentenced to execution, but even the women and children were implicated, either exiled or condemned to a life of slavery.
At the same time, Jing Yue received a secret letter from the Yang family, telling him not to rescue them. He must keep himself well hidden and when the storm passed, he could rescue the remaining living members of the Yang family and take good care of them.
On the day of the execution, Jing Yue disguised himself as a beggar again, mixed in the crowd watching the excitement.
He saw Yang Dashan, the young master who was already thirteen years old, and the stewards who had taught him a lot, as well as many familiar faces.
When the token was thrown out, the guillotine fell.
The floor of the square was covered with the blood of the Yang family. Jing Yue lowered his eyes and left in silence.
Six months later, Jing Yue took the Yang family he rescued and moved to the capital city with them.
They opened a tea house in the capital. The business was very good because of the sophisticated environment and exquisite snacks.
On this day, Jing Yue sat in the private room on the third floor, looking at the streets outside the window. Official sedans came and went, and the civilians hustled out of the way. Next to him, Yang Dashan’s three-year-old nephew bit into his snack and said, “I’ll also be an official in the future.”
His mother asked with a smile, “Why?”
“If I become a high official, I can let father and uncle survive.”
The woman fell silent.
The little guy didn’t get his mother’s praise, so he pouted and asked Jing Yue, “Jing-gege, what do you want to do?”
Jing Yue smiled. When he was a beggar, his companions asked the same question, and he replied that he wanted to be an immortal. However, he was no longer that innocent kid from before, and his daydreams were also deeply buried in his heart. He thought, if there were immortals in this world, why would a benevolent family like the Yang end up in dire straits?
“Me? I just want to take care of you until you grow up.”
I just want not to be manipulated anymore.