638 Heavenly Knowing

    Courage rose within He Jiu, spurring the continuous change between formed and formless and the sprouting of Sword Qi. He alternated between dodging and blocking attacks while resisting the terrifyingly forceful electric lights. Suddenly, darkness enveloped his vision and he lost sight in his opened Eyes Aperture. There was nothing but silence in his ears.

    The raging gale and numbing electric light earlier seemed to have disappeared at the same time!

    Suddenly, He Jiu could no longer tell top from bottom, left from right, even front from back-he had lost all frames of reference!

    "This-" Before a thought could fully form, he detected a faintly discernible breath-a breath unchanged since time immemorial-on a boundless sea in the depths of the darkness. The breath gave an impression of superiority over everything in the world as it overlooked the past, present, and future. Feelings of reverence would inevitably rise when coming across this breath, quelling all intentions to rebel!

    Suddenly, splendid streams of saber radiance illuminated the darkness and dyed He Jiu's vision purple. Color returned and he could finally see.

    The purple saber radiance, like a curved Thunderclap, created an irregular wound above the "darkness". Light, noise, and astral winds burst forth from the wound.

    His Vital Spirit opened its eyes. Since heaven and earth were alive, it was only natural for all living things to evolve!

    The saber radiance was so fast that it arrived at He Jiu's face the second he detected it. Instinctively, he could only shift from formed to formless and attempt to dodge it.


    The "void" split open with a dull sound like tearing brocade. The vague, hazy sword light tore through the "void" just like that.

    A stunned He Jiu continued to shift between formed and formless, unleashing all his potential. Sharp, quick-witted sword Qi sprouted and interweaved layer upon layer to produce a sword formation.


    The sword formation shattered, causing He Jiu's Qi and blood to rage inside him. Losing the strength to maintain the Formless Sword Qi, he returned to his human form. Blood gushed from the Aperture acupoints all over his body including his eyes, ears, and nostrils. The blood then turned into a red Sword Qi that struck the saber radiance, bringing about a mutual obliteration.

    "If Su Meng comes at me with another strike right now, I won't be able to endure it!" He Jiu absorbed all the Heaven Qi and Vital Qi he could in order to recover as soon as possible. Their tense exchange of blows earlier had brought him close enough to touch the first step of the Celestial Ladder. In fact, he was close enough to step into it yet lacked something to push him forward. He wanted to borrow the pressure of a final battle to do it. Even so, he knew that if Meng Qi's condition was even a little better than his and he was struck again, he would not even have the chance to gather his strength!

    The Vital Qi, like a vast sea, existed in every nook and cranny of the world. It permeated He Jiu's body, aiding his recovery.

    Suddenly, he felt the sea of Vital Qi on his left turn scorching hot. The sea began to boil as a Grand Sun rose, dying the sky red. Simultaneously, on his right was the cold sensation of pure and clear moonlight.

    "This is..." He stopped in his tracks to sense his surroundings. Innumerable twinkling stars dotted the night sky that stretched to infinity. Golden Crows fluttered inside the stars, towering over the images of Gods.

    Then, everything began to contract as they collapsed within themselves. It was as if there was a vortex ahead, warping and breaking down all of them until they were fused.

    It was not till now that He Jiu finally saw Meng Qi. As usual, the latter was clad in black while carrying his huge saber, Heaven Inflicted Pain. The Aperture acupoints all over his body radiated great rays of light. Behind him was an imposing image of a "human" dressed in a wide-sleeved loose robe. The image seemed to be the same "vortex" that engulfed all phenomena.

    When he focused on the image, he realized it had Meng Qi's face!

    Moreover, it was as if the force of heaven and earth was imbued in every part of the image. The force was formed out of the interweaving of Meng Qi's genuine Qi with a variety of Dharma and Logos. It was so abstruse that it stupefied all who saw it.

    "How could he materialize his own form?" Stunned, He Jiu could not look away from the image.

    Upon closer inspection, he vaguely felt the image collapsing, beginning with the tiniest fragments of the Dharma and Logos. The collapse continued incessantly until it seemed to be forming a Dark Dot. The dot was so tiny that it appeared to have neither top nor bottom, neither front nor back, yet contained all possibilities. Neither the past nor the future could be discerned from the dot. It was something indescribable. In fact, it was a dot that could not be considered a "Dark Dot"!

    The greatest of forms bore the desired shape!

    "Illusion?" He Jiu restrained the probing. When he took another look, he found the imposing, impressive human image still there. It still bore Meng Qi's "face".

    He took a breath before slowly expelling it along with all of his fighting desire. He saluted Meng Qi. "Back then, I borrowed your strength to make a breakthrough. Today, I'm returning the favor by helping you cross the first step of the Celestial Ladder. Sigh, to live life with such carefreeness! Congratulations, congratulations indeed!"

    He knew he would have to concede if Meng Qi was not preoccupied with making a breakthrough. Moreover, the latter had already crossed the first step of the Celestial Ladder and scaled the Four-fold Heaven realm. It would be meaningless to continue their fight.

    The Dharma Form behind Meng Qi gradually vanished, as did the rays of light peeking out from the Aperture acupoints all over his body. He smiled when everything returned to normal. "It's a pity that you came up just a little short, Young Heightslord He."

    Following the initial interweaving of the Dharma Form and the Dharma and Logos, it would come close to a tangible form. Heavenly Knowing abilities such as Providential Sight and Mind Connection Bead would arise after the form was fed to the Vital Spirit and physical body. It was the inevitable outcome after reaching a certain threshold in one's martial arts cultivation. It was also a sign of true strength. Earlier, Meng Qi had garnered a portion of such abilities.

    First was the "Wind-like Changes" -a deviation technique for the Vital Spirit that was capable of neutralizing the abilities of items like God-tying Rope. The second was the "All-seeing Stare", which resembled Providential Sight more than it did the Bodhi's Stare. It allowed one to see the minute details as well as connect with those with discernible breath within a hundred-mile area. For now, the latter produced relatively vague images. If Meng Qi was far stronger than the other party, the image would be clear enough for him to determine the latter's location. The third was the "Primeval Golden Lotus" that resided in Meng Qi's Mud-pill Palace. It was connected to his Vital Spirit and capable of weakening an opponent's spiritual attacks and confuse karma for a short time. This was to guard against the effects of karmic secret techniques.

    Meng Qi guessed the reason the disguised Immortal Primogenitor Form wore his face-unlike others whose Forms took on the faces of Gods or the manifestation of the Dharma and Logos-had something to do with the impartation of the Gist of Trueness.

    Though he did not major in it, an impartation of such level would most certainly have an effect on the minute details.

    "I, the Unique and Righteous, meet myself!"

    "I'm close to a breakthrough as well. It'll take half a month at most." He Jiu bore no grudge against Meng Qi.

    He did not engage Meng Qi in further conversation, knowing the latter must consolidate his breakthrough. Neither did he ask him about his Dharma Form. He turned around and flew back to the Ruan family manor in Langya.

    Looking at He Jiu's disappearing figure, Meng Qi recalled how He Jiu had challenged him, Yan Chong, and the others. Time had truly flown, so many things had changed. Though he was not in entirely good spirits, he was excited about his achievement.

    "Heh. I'm now just about strong enough to occupy the bottom of the Black List for real." Meng Qi thought optimistically.

    Overhead, the sky was crystal clear and the sunshine dyed the sea of clouds a radiant gold.


    When Meng Qi scaled the west hill the next day, he saw Wang Siyuan enjoying his tea under a Bodhi tree. He was in his usual plain robe, his face as pale as white paper. His figure was as thin and frail as ever as if he would collapse with the gentlest sweep of wind. He coughed every now and then, causing a deep heartache in his frowning servant girl.

    "You again!" She glared at Meng Qi. "Each time Young Master meets this wastrel, his cough would get especially worse!"

    Grinning, Meng Qi took the seat opposite Wang Siyuan. "Master Wang, how elegant of you to sit under a Bodhi tree in front of an ancient Buddhist temple. Could you be interested in Buddhism?"

    Wang Siyuan glanced at him before smiling faintly. "If you have questions, go ahead and ask. Otherwise, just drink your tea."

    He seemed to be saying, "There's no need to beat around the bush and play games with a reckless fool like you."

    With a raised eyebrow, Meng Qi reached for his sleeve with his right hand as if rolling up his sleeves in preparation for beating up someone.

    "I crossed the first step of the Celestial Ladder three months ago," Wang Siyuan said placidly. His lips were entirely bloodless.

    "What a coincidence!" Naturally, Meng Qi did not plan on beating anyone up. He was just trying to liven up the atmosphere. He laughed when he heard what Wang Siyuan said. "Since you've already crossed the first step of the Celestial Ladder, you wouldn't be at a disadvantage against Blue-blooded People of the Exterior level. So why are you staying in the west hill instead of going to the Ruan family manor?"

    Wang Siyuan moistened his throat with tea after coughing twice. "My presence wouldn't make a difference," he said slowly.

    "People who speak in riddles are the most despicable!" With his fingers, Meng Qi began making a deduction using the Jade Virtual Divination.

    Wang Siyuan's gaze shifted downward as if glancing at Meng Qi's right hand. His expression eased as he said, "With the Book of Luo putting up obstruction, you won't learn anything no matter how you try to augur it. But there's not much to discuss since it's not my setup. Everything will be clear in a couple of days."

    Evidently, his tendency to escape after having his fun was limited to his schemes.

    Meng Qi dropped the issue. Picked up his cup and sipped the tea. He then left with a smile.

    Even though Wang Siyuan did not reveal anything, his words "the Book of Luo", "my presence wouldn't make a difference", and "everything will be clear in a couple of days" were enough to tip Meng Qi off.


    Upon return to the Three-clearness Monastery, Meng Qi met Friar Jiedu who was grinning from ear to ear.

    Friar Jiedu, who was dressed in a dusty frock, ran up to him with gleaming eyes. "I've thought long and hard about it and finally recalled something. That's the seal my Master used to secure the door. Though it's now shabby and fairly powerless, it's nevertheless a treasure."

    "You would've already pawned it if it has any value." Meng Qi chuckled.

    Friar Jiedu scratched his shaven head without blushing. "You're too kind. It's just that I often neglect the item due to its ordinary appearance."

    He took out a newspaper-like yellowed paper as he spoke. The grease-stained paper was deeply wrinkled as if it was often crumpled. Six Sanskrit characters were written on it:

    "Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum!"

    "The six runes?" Meng Qi subconsciously raised his head to look at Friar Jiedu.

    The Five Pillars Mountain had just appeared in his Journey to the West mission and now Friar Jiedu was sending him the Talisman of the Six Runes!

    "Is this a coincidence or a deliberate move?"

    With a tempestuous heart, Meng Qi looked at the monk with a growing impression that the latter was a mysterious, enigmatic person.

    "What do you think?" the monk asked fawningly.

    "Where did you get this seal?" Meng Qi asked with an unchanged expression.

    "This is something my Master left behind. How would I know where he got it from?" The monk looked at him incredulously.

    "Who's your Master?" Meng Qi asked.

    Friar Jiedu chuckled. "My Master died a long time ago. He bore no title and not even I know his name."

    The monk continued to be evasive in answering Meng Qi's next few questions.

    When he saw how tight-lipped the monk was, Meng Qi said, "If you're unwilling to tell me the details, I'm afraid I won't be of help."

    The monk once again looked anxious. "I really have no idea."

    "Not even Buddha's Palm is enough to tempt him?" Meng Qi narrowed his eyes and said, "I see. I'd like to help but my hands are tied."

    This was now a contest of persistence!

    Friar Jiedu sighed as he put away his talisman. He turned around, about to leave.

    Meng Qi suddenly said, "Hold on, Master..."

    The monk turned around happily. "So you agree to help, Donor?"

    "No. Since you're close to Senior He Qi, I have some questions about the Ruan clan's resistance of the Blue-blooded People." Meng Qi would never concede so easily.

    The monk grinned. "It's nothing serious. You'll find out in a couple of days."

    "A couple of days? Again?" Meng Qi frowned.

    Seeing Meng Qi's refusal to mention Buddha's Palm, the monk kept looking back as he left with great reluctance.

    "Just where did this monk come from..." Meng Qi stared at Friar Jiedu as he left, experiencing the same doubt that often came to many masters in Jianghu.

    Since nothing major was unfolding in the Ruan Clan and things would be clear in just two days, Meng Qi decided to wait and see.


    Two days later, somewhere in the East Sea where the water was as blue as a gem.

    "This is the trench." A simple, unadorned tortoiseshell hovered in mid-air, its shell dotted with black-and-white spots as well as figures of the Five Elements of Yin and Yang. Like a book, in its simplicity was its complexity. The speaker was a middle-aged man under the tortoiseshell.

    Evidently, the man had been very handsome in his younger years. Even now, his looks were extraordinary and his temperament was particularly striking. However, his face was so pale it was as if he was suffering from a chronic illness.

    Under the cover of the tortoiseshell, Old Master Ruan, Third Childe of the Ruan Clan, and the others were hovering next to the middle-aged man. Old Master Ruan was staring at the surface of the sea with grim eyes. When he heard the middle-aged man's words, he turned to look at the latter who was hovering restlessly. The latter had a head of white hair but his skin had no wrinkle. He looked somewhat similar to He Jiu. It was none other than "Sword Maniac" He Qi!

    "Then let's get started!" He Qi said, relaxing the muscles in his limbs.

    The three families had long determined the roots of the Blue-blooded People. Inviting the Master of the Wang family and the Book of Luo to Langya with such fanfare was a facade. They did not want the Blue-blooded People to escape in advance after catching wind of the news.

    Currently, the Ruan family manor was essentially deserted. They had merely paralyzed the Blue-blooded People to give them the impression that they had yet to expose themselves. The main force, all the men and horses, had long been gathered here without anyone knowing!

    How could a clan capable of maintaining such power and influence be easy to handle?
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