696 Overthinking

    Meng Qi heard his heart thumping loudly. Blood in his body, generated from his marrow, pulsed through his veins swiftly into all parts of his body. For once, Meng Qi truly felt the sensation of treading on the fine line between life and death.

    And now, with mortal risk at hand, the delicate balance of his mortality crumbled as the fine thread that his life held dear to snapped suddenly!

    His sworn brother, Gao Lan had reverted to his true self - the cold and proud Gao Lan - when he had inadvertently mentioned the name of Master Lu. But now, in a single breath, Han Guang had said both the names of Master Lu and Taoist Chonghe! The aftermath could be horrifying!

    Meng Qi could vaguely see the smile fade from the face of his sworn brother. The warmth from his gaze ebbed gradually to be replaced by a cold and heartless stare. How could he not be frightened by this sudden turn of events? How was he to prevent the rush of thoughts that instantly crammed into his mind?

    There would be no room for chance. Meng Qi knew he must act swiftly.

    With hardly any way to revert his sworn brother into his oafish state, Meng Qi knew he could only flee to ensure his safety. There will be zero chances for his survival once he fully completes his transformation!

    Regardless of whether it was a deliberate act of Han Guang to provoke Gao Lan mentally, Han Guang could not be truly confident that his trick would succeed. He would barely has any awareness to prevent the escape of Meng Qi. Then again, it was easy for them to catch up to him and deal a mortal stroke with their invincibility!

    The recovery process of Gao Lan into his normal state was but a gradual process which might not require much time, but it would hardly be only a moment. With the Dharma King Dushi still a pseudo-ally, he and Gu Xiaosang would never instinctively hinder his flight.

    Hence, now is the time!

    Hardly an indecisive person himself who instead was one quick on the uptake, Meng Qi produced a jet-black charm in the hand that held the hilt of the Flowing Fire. Fully inscribed with runic seal script, the writings on the surface of the magic were confusing to anyone who would try to read them. Still, two unmistakable words were legible,


    Never would Meng Qi roam the domain of the Ninth Heaven without the trump card to the means of his safety. How could he not guard himself against the unpredictable nature of the cunning demoness Gu Xiaosang?

    And because he possessed the Ancient Space-breaching Talisman, Meng Qi had used the pretense of the re-emergence of the domain of the Ninth Heaven to persuade Yuan Lihuo to seek for the help of the Primogenitor Lingbao. He requested nothing from Yuan Lihuo with the offer of the second chance of assimilation of the Supreme-wisdom Tree in exchange, for he knew that the Talisman he held was the best item to deliver him to safety!

    Before reaching the Temple, Meng Qi knew that rashly using the Talisman would not deliver him out of the domain of the Ninth Heaven. Instead, he might have himself transported from the fire into another frying pan. When restrained earlier by Han Guang with his mastery of Time, he had refrained from using the Talisman because he knew that Gu Xiaosang would surely have additional tricks or items that would safeguard her. Moreover, there were reasonable odds that Gao Lan had not recovered and the Dharma King Dushi was just beside them. But now, with Han Guang effectively triggering Gao Lan mentally and his extraordinarily precarious situation of standing right between them forced his hands that he could worry of the unknowns no more!

    He would hardly worry for Gu Xiaosang. The Holy Maiden of the Luo Denomination would surely have hidden tricks up her sleeves since she dared to enter the cavern with them. Additionally, the Dharma King Dushi would surely ensure her well-being!

    As if Time had slowed, Meng Qi could see expressionless Gao Lan gradually opening his mouth. Without any more hesitation, he channeled his powers and activated the Talisman.

    He had chosen to transport himself to the direction of the stairs, for he did not know if the walls and grounds of the cavern were impervious to any foreign magical effects. He has to be careful and cover all details to ensure his escape.

    Once out of the secret passage, he would hurl himself into the clouds and glide out to safety. The Nature-involving Knack would come into play with possibly the detonation of any exotic materials if Han Guang were to try stopping him from leaving.

    "Ha ha!" Gao Lan broke into sudden laughter. "Lu Da and Taoist Chonghe are nothing to me ever since the powers of the Sword of the Human Sovereign awakened!"

    It was cool and relaxed laughter. One of complete faith and confidence in his strength, not arrogance!

    "Ah..." Meng Qi looked blankly at the youthful demeanor of his sworn brother, not knowing how to react.

    Just then, a flash of light burst forth, and Meng Qi instantly vanished into the air!

    Gao Lan froze with surprise and called out,

    "Where are you going to, Little Brother?"

    Still, it could have been due to the magical restrictions of the Ninth Heaven; Meng Qi transported not too far away. When he had reappeared, he found himself at the entrance of the Temple. But he reflexively leaped to his left, the right corner of the Hall of Tomorrow!

    "I am too used to the left!"

    "Where are you going to, Little Brother?" Gao Lan's calling voice came to his ears. But by then, Meng Qi had hurled himself into the clouds. He turned himself into an eagle and extended his wings, gliding down into the emptiness of the sky.

    "Where are you going to, Little Brother..."

    Gao Lan's voice echoed again into his ears. Despite in the form of an eagle, Meng Qi smile weakly,

    "I have been driven to the edge by you, Big Brother..."

    He had not expected that his sworn brother to have "evolved" to such state, that not even the names of Master Lu and Taoist Chonghe could mentally provoke him anymore!

    Whereas earlier, Meng Qi had but a mere instant of life and death to make his decision based on his experiences!

    "Indeed, sometimes overthinking or being able to react too swiftly or too forcefully will only do more harm than help..." Confused and troubled, he plowed deep into the dense mist, the turbulent winds and white clouds severing his connection with the senses of Gao Lan.

    "Nevertheless, the cunning demoness would never have to worry about her life anymore..." Meng Qi thought.

    Meng Qi had, for some time, been troubled that he had once been saved by Gu Xiaosang, for he was a person who was especially forthcoming in favors such as these.

    Back in the cavern of the secret passage of the Three-life Temple.

    Gao Lan reached an arm to pull Meng Qi. But the sudden flash of light had caught him unaware that he had been momentarily stunned. With the dense mist blocking his sight, he had been too late to pull Meng Qi back to him.

    Although Han Guang could have responded earlier, Meng Qi had already vanished into the mist when he had barely reacted. He thought of casting a spell that would attack in a wide area, but he remembered that Gao Lan was still in his oafish self. Thus he subdued any thoughts of drawing blood.

    Meng Qi's speedy retreat had also surprised Gu Xiaosang that she was briefly startled, not knowing if she should praise his swiftness and his decisiveness or she should laugh at his overanxious jitters.

    She cast away thoughts of the matter and curtseyed reverently to Gao Lan and Han Guang, "It seems that my husband has important matters to attend to suddenly. I hope that you would not feel disturbed by his sudden retreat, my Brothers-in-law."

    "No matter." Gao Lan was still dazed, not understanding why Meng Qi had vanished suddenly. There was nothing he could do but to accept Gu Xiaosang's explanation.

    Beside him, Han Guang paced around, pondering, "Su Meng's anxiety would suggest that the names of Lu Da and Taoist Chonghe were the "usual" triggers to Gao Lan's condition. But it seems that he has overcome the shock of the hearing both names, now that he remains unchanged."

    "Still, the ways to trigger Gao Lan's mental instability would be almost similar!"

    He was about to try once more when he saw Gu Xiaosang giggled and spoke, "Since I already have what I came for, I shall first take my leave and assist my husband, Brothers-in-law."

    Gao Lan was just worried about Meng Qi's condition. Her request to go to his aid could not have come at a better time; especially he knew she who held an excellent aptitude for schemes and strategy. Nodding his head, he hastily asserted his approval, "Go at once."

    The Dharma King Dushi kept silent without any objection. With the Holy Maiden leaving, he would have one less worry on his mind. Even if both Han Guang and Gao Lan were to join up against him, his Vacancy Dharmakaya discipline would ensure his safe retreat. Therefore he would continue staying with the still-unbalanced Gao Lan to see if there would be bounties that he could still reap.

    Without any objections from the two, Han Guang simply remained silent. He watched as Gu Xiaosang left as he continued prodding on the mental state of Han Guang for any weaknesses.

    Gu Xiaosang stepped out of the Three-life Temple and immediately turned to the left. She took a few steps and stopped suddenly. Her brows raised strangely as her gaze shifted as if she became troubled by a sudden concern.


    Channeling his inner powers and releasing his Apertures, Meng Qi tried to attuned himself as much as he could with the energies of Nature, trying to maintain the harmonization of the Inner World within him and his physical structure to keep his form to glide.

    The mists before him grew denser and tense that he could sense no further than tens of meters away. Not even light could adequately penetrate the folds of the thick mists, save for the eternal luminescent illumination that lingered albeit fading slowly into dimness.

    The domain of the Ninth Heaven was a dimension where the Dharma and Logos of Nature converged. Each level of the Heaven was another dimension of its own that the destruction of one of its levels would hardly affect the others. And for now, Meng Qi felt confined within the very same level.

    Noticing some clouds which were solid in substance, Meng Qi returned to his human form. With a somersault in the air, he landed gently upon the clouds.

    The mists around him were still heavily dense that he could not sense far away from him. Therefore he could only wander slowly and try finding his way out.


    He heard the sound of the bell of daybreak echoing far through the strata of Heavens into his ears, filling him with a refreshingly invigorating sensation.

    "W-what the?" From amongst the heavy mist, a figure appeared. Clad in a grey frock, the person was clean-shaven on his head. He sat on a hassock, an ottoman or stool, with his eyes closed as he chanted reverently. His demeanor exuded an air of peace and freedom, yet laced with a troubled hint of tormented life.


    He heard an angry roar resounding with anger and pain. He turned and saw in the midst of the heavy mist was another figure whose head arched back as an anguished scream tore from his throat. Meng Qi could hardly discern the appearance of the person, save for trails of tears pouring down his cheeks.

    Meng Qi mustered all of his attention as he warily studied his surroundings and projected his senses. He turned again and found that behind him was a figure dressed in black, in fitting clothes. Same as before, he could not see the appearance of the person through the veils of the mists, but he could hardly miss the unmistakable stern and erect demeanor of the person within the mist.

    The figure stretched an arm before him and loudly, he called,


    A menacing saber bolted through the continuum of Space and into his grasp. Crackles of purple lightning sparkled angrily, and his aura grew with increasing intensity that all foes would bow before his dominating presence!

    Meng Qi's alertness peaked as he studied carefully at the emerging figures around him. He saw the figure of a deranged Taoist, a swordsman in white who held his sword behind his back proudly, a mighty warrior who was pierced through his body by a long, red spear, and also through the luminous glow through the mist, a silhouette of a person in despair. In the deeper thicks of the foggy backdrop, he could make out the shadows of more figures waiting to emerge!

    "Who are these people?" Meng Qi asked himself, startled and confused.

    Suddenly, the figure of the monk deep in meditation turned and revealed his face, a slightly worn appearance but kind and fair of glance. It was Meng Qi himself!

    The figure wielding the dangerous-looking saber, followed by the figure anguished with pain, the swordsman in white, the deranged Taoist... one by one, their appearances became clear to him through the fog. They were all wearing the same appearance as Meng Qi!

    "Is this me?"

    "Are these all me?"

    His voice shouted to himself although he knew not the answer. Suddenly he understood. He had come into the area where the Hall of Tomorrow had collapsed. "Are these my future? Or are these merely the vision of the boundless possibilities of my future?"

    "Was it because of the damage that I could see nothing of my past, only of my future?"

    "And of all the countless possibilities of my futures, I can only see a few of them?"
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