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Chapter 693: The Three-life Temple
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
The Animated Peach leaped and disappeared into the dense veil of mist. It popped out curiously to eye Meng Qi before briefly vanis.h.i.+ng from view once again.
Meng Qi loosened the sash from his waist. With a somersault, he leaped forward and sped ahead with blinding speed. Gu Xiaosang followed behind at a comparable rate, and illusionary blossoms of lotuses were appearing at her feet.
There was barely time for them to lament or grumble. Like a wounded beast, they hurried as fast as they could, for the pursuers of the Dharmakaya Realm could be at their heels any minute now!
The Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool gurgled as they pa.s.sed by it, having claimed the lives of countless deities and immortals through the millennia of its existence. Many might have fallen into the pond during the fall of the Ninth Heaven. Without anyone to save them, they all lost their lives there as their powers were stripped off together with their ability to fly.
Catching another glimpse of the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool, Meng Qi whispered to Gu Xiaosang telepathically, “The liquid from the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool can strip a person of their powers. It may be useful for us to store some in a flask.”
Since the peaches could be plucked and consumed, the liquid from the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool should be able to be scooped and stored in theory.
“You cannot store the liquid of the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pond in common vessels. Even items that bear magic, runic seal scripts, and the enchantment cast by martial techniques would be ‘cleansed’ of their powers and reduce to ordinary items. Only the Fairy Jade containers from the Celestial Court can store such liquid. Unfortunately, it is marked as “Unavailable” in the Exchange List of the Dominator,” Gu Xiaosang explained in haste.
Even if they’d brought any of these Jade containers with them, none could say what perils and dangers awaited in the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool. A slight mistake could cost them their lives. It was an endeavor that was hardly convenient for them given their pressing need for time.
The cloud-built path grew wider before them as the mists also grew less dense. The mists were covering only at the top of the skies and the horizon ahead. Meng Qi was silent for brief moments before he asked suddenly, “Lady Xiaosang, do you know of the romance of the Mad Prince of Gao Lan?”
“Why this now? You are implying that he is the unknown Dharmakaya pract.i.tioner behind us?” Gu Xiaosang was indeed quick to the catch. With just a little slip by Meng Qi, she had guessed that the Sword of the Human Sovereign had fallen into the possession of Gao Lan. After all, he had then appeared mysteriously out of nowhere to take Meng Qi and the True Emperor Seal. It would not be hard for her to guess that his aim then was the Dragon Stage.
At the juncture of life and death, Meng Qi chose not to conceal the facts any longer. “That may be him, or one of the other unknown Dharmakaya pract.i.tioners. Still, we cannot wait blindly like lambs waiting to be led to the slaughter. If it were other unknown Dharmakaya pract.i.tioners, we could follow Xi’s example and leap off the path and try gliding to safety. But if it is truly Gao Lan, we can try to pinpoint on his schizophrenia.”
Not knowing if Gu Xiaosang knew of Gao Lan’s condition, Meng Qi still has vivid recollections of his sworn brother’s schizophrenia. One of his personas was pa.s.sionate and friendly, while the other was cold and distant. There could be ways for Meng Qi and Gu Xiaosang to survive without risking their lives by jumping off the path if they could trigger the s.h.i.+ft between his personalities.
With the hint of a smile, Gu Xiaosang remarked, “It seems that you have a close friends.h.i.+p with the Mad Prince due to the incident of the True Emperor Seal, husband.”
“We have been sworn brothers…” Meng Qi grimaced at the problem. They would have to bet that they will be able to invoke Gao Lan’s other persona now.
Gu Xiaosang wasted no time as she compelled her memories of Gao Lan’s tale, speaking at a slower pace. “He was said to have butchered the n.o.bles of Changle city due to the pain of losing his lover. Indeed, we might be able to direct towards triggering the mental shock and invoke the other personality of the ‘Mad Prince.’”
At which, she giggled quietly, “The name of his lover was Yan Ran, a daughter of common lineages of the Yan Clan. From an early age, she was sent to the Shui Yue Nunnery to study martial skills and Buddhism, but not as a nun. She was most senior of the generation of students there then, gifted with tremendous potential and incomparable beauty. She was benevolent and compa.s.sionate, and yet she did not allow her kindness to stand in the way of her judgment. She was well-known across all of Northern Zhou that many in the Jianghu admired her.”
Meng Qi detected the hint of a scoff in her voice, a sign of her probable disagreement.
“Yan Ran was contrary to what people portrayed her to be?” he asked.
Without slowing down her pace, Gu Xiaosang replied with a smile of disdain. “Yan Ran was undoubtedly remarkable, lest the finicky Gao Lan would never have fallen for her. But she was but a mere p.a.w.n in the hands of other ent.i.ties where she was sacrificed and discarded when her use had run out, even if her feelings for Gao Lan were true.”
“p.a.w.n… Sacrificed…” Meng Qi murmured, his heart thumped as he finally understood. “She was one of the Nirmanakaya incarnations of the Mystic Fairy?”
Gu Xiaosang was still wearing her smile as she replied, tacitly confirming his guess, “No one else would have been able to guess her true ident.i.ty. But I, on the other hand, controlled one of the Nirmanakaya incarnations of the Fairy for some time. The encounter has allowed me to wring a good many secrets from her. Since Yan Ran had ‘retired’ from her place as one of the Nirmanakaya reincarnations, the Mystic Fairy did little to conceal the fact of her demise.”
“What a pity…” Meng Qi could not help himself from feeling slightly sorry for his sworn brother. It was nothing short of a tragedy that two lovebirds have fallen for each other and yet they have been separated by fate just because one of them was just a Nirmanakaya incarnation, a mere p.a.w.n to be discarded if not used. He would have also crumbled with grief and desolation if met with the same fate. To add salt to the wound, Gao Lan’s cultivation of his powers, the All-life Treasured Body, tend to drive its users to the brink of sanity, thus the sobriquet ‘the Mad Prince.’
“d.a.m.n these ent.i.ties who toy with the feelings of others!”
They came before a fork. Both paths diverged into the unknown, masked by dense, ethereal mists. However, Gu Xiaosang immediately turned left without hesitation as she explained to Meng Qi via telepathy,
“We will continue towards the Three-life Temple!”
Strokes of steel rained mercilessly on him. Fearing he could hold on no longer, the Dharma King Dus.h.i.+ vanished into thin air and slipped away swiftly, tracing the steps of Meng Qi and Gu Xiaosang. He would try to see if there were still treasures or riches that he could plunder to prevent the trip from being nothing more than a fruitless endeavor.
In his hand, Gao Lan’s sword hung aslant from within his fluttering sleeves. With one step, he strode over the scorch marks-littered path and swept over the Monster-slaying Stage, entering into the domain of the Fairy-banis.h.i.+ng Pool.
As if enjoying a walk in his courtyard, Han Guang strolled with his hands held behind his back. Ripples broke out from around him from his resonating powers. He looked intently at the Sword of the Human Sovereign in his companion’s grasp as he cast a spell to increase his pace.
“For all their efforts, the Han Clan of the former dynasty had failed to recover the Sword of the Human Sovereign and had only been able to replicate the True Emperor Seal. Otherwise, the entire country would still be under their dominion and the n.o.ble clans would be cowering at their feet!”
With increased pace, it took merely breaths for them to reach the fork. Han Guang paused for brief ponder before he spoke, “The left.”
Despite the erased traces and the veil of the dense mist, Han Guang has the gift of partial foresight inherited from the disciplines of the Heaven Sovereign. His sixth sense urged him to take the left turn.
Gao Lan nodded sternly without a word and took the left fork.
They had merely stepped for a few paces when his gaze froze.
Han Guang looked forward after noticing the change in his companion’s demeanor and found the inscription written with purple thunder hanging in mid-air amidst the dense mist.
“Through Fate Love comes; At which End Love flies; What say you; Of the pains of Life; If Love is so freely severed?”
The mood of the ballad seemed to convey the pain felt by a heartbroken lady.
“Through Fate Love comes; At which End Love flies…” Not even Han Guang himself – with his cunning intellect – could have resisted feeling bewildered by the verses. For reasons unknown, the verses seemed to reveal a probable origin of their author. “It seems to have been written in how a member of the Sect of the Plain Lady would feel. Could they be also related to the Sect and have left this to distract us?”
Gao Lan scoffed with scorn and replied coldly, “Parlor tricks. How vile.”
They continued further on, only to find another ballad similarly written with lightning bolts of purple color.
“I am me and only myself; Me alone, my special Me; Why one other self? I refuse to be “Her”; I love and preserve those that I love!”
The phrasing of the verses was chaotic, yet they conveyed a swelling fear, anxiety, and resolve that burst forth in its expression without waiting. Readers of the phrases were able to feel the emotions seeping from the words despite Han Guang’s incomprehension of the true meanings.
For the verses conveyed the inner and truest emotions of their author in a charming display of psychological leverage.
Gao Lan froze in his steps. His gaze fixated upon the verses hanging before him. He had been looking for pretenses to dismiss “her” from his thoughts to prevent himself from plummeting into the quagmire of his despairful romance. No excuses he concocted seem to outweigh the words before him.
For it was his desires and attempts to lie against his feelings that have caused his vulnerability to the deception of others!
“I am me and only myself…” Gao Lan muttered. The icy tone lingered in his voice that came from behind his mask.
Immediately Han Guang thought of the misery that has plagued Gao Lan’s past and noticed something was not right. Despite not understanding the meaning conveyed by the pa.s.sages, he knew about the training they had in regards to the exploitation of Gao Lan’s mental instabilities.
He hesitated before he uttered a blunt warning, “Have care against their ruse.”
Han Guang had deliberately avoided berating his companion, telling him that he should have ambition towards power and authority instead of romance. He was fearful that such reproach would instead hurt Gao Lan even more and kindle the flames of his companion’s mental volatility.
Gao Lan merely answered dispa.s.sionately, “I know.”
Without any dawdling, he strode past the Purple Thunder verses and employed his Body Movement techniques to push forward with Han Guang. They zipped past a few more poems similarly written, but they did not stop to read them.
With sights set upon ambition and power, he showed the resolve of steel!
At length, a half-battered palace hall loomed ahead of their sights. The construction of the palace divided into three halves: two almost-obliterated wings on either flank of a still-standing central edifice, which was still stood obstinately despite losing half of its structure. A cracked and decrepit wooden plaque sign laid forsaken before the steps of the hall in the thick of the mists. Upon it, an inscription read,
“The Three-life Temple.”
They stood still before the entrance of the hall. Gao Lan raised his sword and swung the Sword of the Human Sovereign into s.p.a.ce before them. Silhouettes and imaginary visions of the common folk, terrains of mountains and rivers flitted before them and converged into the sharp glimmer of his stroke. The blow from his sword hewed across into s.p.a.ce before the entrance to see if any traps or magical barriers could be trigger before their entry.
Crack! The view of the central edifice of the palace broke into two and shattered; the protective spells were defending the hall from trespa.s.sers undone. With skillfulness in harnessing his powers, Gao Lan twisted his blade and directed the stroke from his sword away from hitting the mirror in the hall, preventing any damages on the Secret Treasure.
Suddenly, bolts of purple lightning crackled brilliantly and shot into the mirror. The face of the mirror shone with blinding radiance and illuminated everything around them.
Gao Lan held the Sword of the Human Sovereign across his chest in a defensive stance, and Han Guang held the Diabolic Monarch and a glimmer saber that sealed all brightness of the light outside.
Nevertheless, before their eyes, the mirror displayed to them visions and memories of their past, replaying their recollections in a mere but seemingly dilated instant.
Han Guang stepped forward proudly, his recollections strengthening his resolve. He could feel the aura of Meng Qi and Gu Xiaosang hurling themselves towards the collapsed chambers at the wings of the central edifice with vain hopes for survival; without even the cover of the clouds and mists.
“Hmpf!” He sneered with despise. Meng Qi and Gu Xiaosang felt the colors fading from their sights as everything around them turned black and white. Nothing seemed to have occurred them, yet everything seemed to come to a standstill around them; their movements and even the thoughts of their minds seemed to freeze.
At the moment, an arm stretched before Han Guang, preventing him using the Diabolic Monarch, breaking even the suspension of Time.
Agitated and surprised, Han Guang looked and saw it was Gao Lan who was blocking him from beside.
In a deep voice laced with repressed sorrow, Gao Lan called out,
“Show yourself, Little Brother. There is no need for aggression. It’s your Second Brother, Han Guang.”
The wind blew into the hall with complete silence. Except for Gao Lan, the words he spoke left Meng Qi, Gu Xiaosang and even Han Guang with speechless disbelief.
The magical barrier broke asunder as bolts of purplish lightning shot into the air.
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