Chapter 1088 – Sovereign Li
The Myriad Ghosts abyss.
A śarīra melted away at the tips of the pale-white fingers, giving off a gentle, golden glow and merging with the hand, like a golden thread. It ventured deep within the white bone, turning into marrow and flowing about.
The great winds passed through the chasm, immediately turning into chilly winds through the Umbral Yin Formation of Gathering Ghosts. It howled like the shrieks of ghosts as the long banners fluttered in the air.
Xiao An stood up and looked up. A crescent moon hung in the sky; it was like she was submerged in a pitch-black river. The chilly winds were the water, and the edges of the valley were the banks. The moonlight was dim.
She took out an object that resembled a sharp pick. It was pale-white like an arcane treasure of white bone, while it was shaped like countless ghosts devouring and embracing one another. It did not give off any glow, but it gave off a sense of sharpness that could pierce domains, a power that could twist space.
This was the key to the Gate of Hungry Ghosts. With this Key of Hungry Ghosts, she could use the Gate of Hungry Ghosts freely and make all the people who viewed her as a buddha nemesis think twice about attacking her.
The Dark Queen had given her the key. After learning that her death was the result of the Umbral Yin sect’s scheme, she believed her without any doubt at all. The Fierce King of Chu only let out a sigh. “Xuanyue, do what you must and take care.” before leaving.
When she recalled everything that had happened back then, she could not help but let out a slight sigh, very much like a mortal that was filled with emotions and affection. She refined the many śarīra she had collected on Great Buddha mountain, channelling new power into the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty.
However, it was unavoidable. The intense conflict between the buddhist and the demonic had resulted in a human heart, which led to many different feelings. She would now have emotional responses to many things.
For example, Li Qingshan’s wedding.
She did not care about these empty formalities, nor was she envious of Han Qiongzhi, let alone worried that Li Qingshan would be tied down by his feelings, but she still felt a little strange inside.
She could not help but shake her head, casting aside these unnecessary thoughts. She planned on continuing with the next step of cultivation. She obviously would not be attending the wedding, just in case she stole the bride’s thunder. She would go to the Clear River prefecture after they killed the Soaring Locust King!
By now, the Umbral Yin Formation of Gathering Ghosts had already been activated again, and the Blood Sea Banner and Skull Prayer Beads had been completely repaired too. She had reforged the Buddha Slaying sword yet again, and her cultivation of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty had climbed to a higher level. She was basically fully prepared, only waiting for the Gate of Hungry Ghosts to open.
However, before this, she wanted to forge a new treasure of white bone, the Soul Stirring Bell!
Within the endless expanse of sand stood a lone city.
The sand and wind swept through the world, obscuring the night sky.
This was the boundary between the Green province and the Scarlet province. It was riddled with storms all year round, and it would even draw in the atmospheric winds from above sometimes, forming terrifying tornados that sucked in the sand. These would be like yellow dragons, destroying everything in its path. Only powerful cultivators could survive here.
The lone city served as the headquarters of the Sand Boat sect. Through his Arts of the White Camel, the sect master had already undergone the second heavenly tribulation and condensed a Golden Core. He possessed quite the renown in the Scarlet province.
But at this moment, the Sand Boat sect was dead silent. The disciples were nowhere to be seen, while the formation that had guarded the sect for thousands of years was wide open. The camels sculpted from white rock silently endured the bombardment of sand and wind.
A miserable shriek rang out from the Wild Sand hall. That was not the call out of a human. Within the gaping entrance, dim-blue ghost fire swayed and flickered. All of the disciples were gathered in the hall, except they had all become withered corpses, while their souls suffered in the ghost fire. The sect master was among them too, letting out a resentful curse.
“We had no grievances at all, yet you’ve actually gone so far… I curse you to a horrible death!”
“Heh, no grievances? Don’t we have one now?”
Elder Ming sneered. It had been many years since he had done something like this. As a grand elder of the Umbral Yin sect, the Gate of Hungry Ghosts had an endless number of ghosts, so there was no need for him to do something that would result in public condemnation like refining live souls.
However, he no longer cared now. As he gazed at the wailing souls in the flames, he was filled with a twisted sense of delight. However, when he recalled the white flames over the Myriad Ghosts abyss again, he shivered inside and strengthened the ghost flames.
However, he did not do this for the sake of venting his anger or for cultivation. As the wails grew louder and louder and the flames grew stronger and stronger, he took out a black memorial tablet solemnly and arrived before the altar table in the hall. Behind the thick, yellow curtains stood the sculpture of an old man. His face was covered in deep wrinkles, and his messy hair had completely greyed. He was hunched over, leaning against a poplar cane and staring ahead blankly.
The gaze filled elder Ming with disgust for some reason. The statue must have been the first sect master of the Sand Boat sect. He had already destroyed the entire sect, so there was even less reason for him to take a sculpture seriously. With a wave of his hand, the sculpture flew out and slammed into the wall, shattering into pieces. Then he placed the memorial tablet on the altar table carefully. There was a tiny line of words written in golden lacquer—Third sect master of the Umbral Yin sect, Li Meizi.
When the past sect masters and grand elders of the Umbral Yin sect entered the Hungry Ghost realm—whether through ascension or by becoming a ghost—they would all leave behind a memorial tablet like that and deposit a wisp of their consciousness in there. They were all stored in the Ancestral Spirit hall of the Umbral Yin sect, which elder Yin was responsible for looking after. When the need arose, he was responsible for holding ceremonies, giving up offerings of live souls to summon the ancestral spirits.
However, the consciousness in most memorial tablets would vanish very quickly. As a matter of fact, they might even vanish in just a few days after they had been enshrined. Even these great cultivators that roamed the nine provinces fearlessly were unable to avoid the fate of being devoured in the Hungry Ghost realm, which was truly a frightening revelation. This was why elder Ming would never choose to enter the Hungry Ghost realm unless he had absolutely no choice. Even if he were to enter it, he would do so through ascension, just like what this third sect master had done.
The calls of the sand and wind grew louder and louder. Elder Ming assumed a solemn expression, dropping to his knees and lowering his head. His chants merged wondrously with the shrieks of the souls, gradually blocking the sounds of wind out of the hall. Then he cast the live souls into the memorial tablet one by one, and a pitch-black figure suddenly sprung out of the tablet, twisting about into a humanoid shape. It filled the entire hall in the blink of an eye.
“Greetings, sect master!” Elder Ming lowered his head deeply. He felt a coldness that reached the depths of his bones.
“Why have you called for me? Have you found the successor of white bone?” The voice seemed to ring out from the depths of a cave, echoing through the darkness in a hollow manner.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to report on…”
Elder Ming began telling him about everything that had happened in the Umbral Yin sect in full detail. He pushed all the blame onto the deceased sect master, saying he fell for the successor of white bone’s tricks, which led to the sect’s destruction.
The black figure fell silent for a moment as if it had not expected something like this either. It suddenly approached elder Ming and said sinisterly, “So you escaped alone? Why didn’t you open the Gate of Hungry Ghosts!?”
“I did so in order to report this to you! The white flames are anything but ordinary. Even an army of a million undead were set alight instantly. Not even several dozen Ghost Kings were her opponent. If I opened the Gate of Hungry Ghosts rashly, it’ll probably only provide her with resources, which will make her even more difficult to deal with!” Elder Ming prostrated himself even further.
“I know you’re afraid of death, but I forgive you. Once you come to the Hungry Ghost realm, I’m even going to reward you, if… your soul hasn’t been destroyed… Long time no see… so you’re still alive, you old hunchback…”
The black figure gathered in the memorial tablet again, and the voice gradually drifted away, filled with a sinister sneer. However, what he said at the end was not for elder Ming.
Elder Ming was stunned. Suddenly, he turned around and saw a hunch-backed old man leaning against a cane, standing at the entrance and staring ahead blankly. If it were not for the almost indiscernible daemon qi, he basically would have suspected him to be the statue from before.
“You’re…” A name suddenly flashed through elder Ming’s head. The White Camel Sand King!
One of the Ten Daemon Kings, the king of the Scarlet province daemons.
Unlike the Great Banyan Tree King and the Dragon King of Ink Sea who remained in the same place all the time, the White Camel Sand King regularly roamed through the sea of sand in the Scarlet province. His tracks were a mystery, and very few people ever saw him.
It was rumored that he would turn into a white camel and guide lost people through sandstorms, even leading sandstorms away from oases where life gathered. He was treated as an auspicious omen, but even fewer people had ever seen his human form.
Elder Ming had only heard about the name of the White Camel Sand King too. Without any hesitation, he turned into a ghostly figure and flew away. All of the Ghost Kings in his possession had been lost during the battle in the Umbral Yin sect, so he was currently in his most feeble state. Even if he were in peak condition, he would struggle to hold his ground against one of the Ten Daemon Kings. However, he was still reasonably confident about slipping away.
The White Camel Sand King stood blankly without budging. He tapped the poplar cane in his hand gently, and the sandstorm immediately intensified by several hundred times, sweeping through the entire region and devouring everything.
On the other side of the Gate of Hungry Ghosts, an endless wave of gloomy figures descended. Countless Corpse Kings and Ghost Kings lay in prostration. There were even a few Corpse Emperors and Ghost Emperors that cast aside their dignity and went up to welcome him, calling out, “Welcome, sovereign Li!”
Sovereign Li ignored them, staring straight at the Gate of Hungry Ghosts as if he could see what was happening on the other end. “Come, I know you’ll be opening this gate. I know you feel the same greed and hunger!”
This Lowly Monk Comes From Tang of the East~
I recently moved into a new environment, an environment that’s more suited for writing. Although it’s also led to many new problems that I have to face, it still feels pretty great so far.
The journey I’ve been taking has been far too twisted the entire time, circling around and detouring, stopping and going, which makes people wonder whether I can actually make it to the end or not. However, I actually understand how distant the end still is better than anyone. The journey ahead is still very, very long. You can only say I’m halfway so far, or not even that.
I’ve never written such a long novel before. Every single step I take comes with unknown circumstances. I don’t know what other hardships I’ll face. The eighty-one tribulations are probably an allegory for endless!
TL: This is a reference to Journey to the West. Tripitaka has to face eighty-one tribulations during the story.
The greatest problem with retrieving scriptures from the west is not the monsters blocking the journey, but why the fuck should we go in the first place?
Sun Wukong says, “You fool, I only need a single somersault, and I’ll have finished the journey!” Zhu Bajie says, “Let’s just break up. Gao village is not a bad place to just settle down in!” Sha Seng says, “First senior brother, second senior brother, master has been abducted by a monster again!”
Only afterwards did I realise that elder Tang’s wholehearted devotion to buddhism isn’t that simple. He said he has the protection of three great disciples, but protection my ass. If the monsters didn’t suffer from perfectionism, procrastination, infatuation, and other sorts of mental disorders, he would have been turned into takeout a long time ago.
Monsters can be subdued, but if elder Tang decided to give up halfway through the journey, then even the buddha would be powerless.
Alright, let’s stop here with these boring parallels. I originally wanted to announce loudly something along the line of “I, Dream Teller, am back. From today onwards, two releases a day, one at 8 in the morning and one at 6 in the evening, a hundred thousand words a month”. But when I think about it now, I always have such naive thoughts whenever I overcome a difficulty, so let’s just play it safe this time.
Anyway, I still have to keep going. I’ll have to gamble that every single monster in my path suffers from mental disorders and that those three bastards will always be able to save me, and then I’ll continue forward.
Oh right, there’s going to be an auction in Shanghai in August. They’re auctioning the game rights to Legend of the Great Sage. I better move faster!