Chapter 351 – Qian Rongzhi’s Melancholy
“This is already the sixth trigram. Are you going to continue?” Li Qingshan asked. Although Han Qiongzhi had never mentioned it, they had probably asked Ma Buyi to personally divine for her fate since she was a legalist disciple. If they could determine her fate, then it would not be a search mission, but a rescue mission.
Searching for a live person was searching. Searching for a dead person was also searching.
Xiao An gradually familiarised herself with the usage of the Cloud Bookcase of the Seven Lots, but for six consecutive trigrams, they were all the worst of the worst. She could not find a single chance for survival. However, she refused to give up because this was all very strange.
If Qian Rongzhi were dead, then she should have been able to predict a rough location of her corpse. However, the trigrams suggested that she seemed to be in hell. This was the most unlikely place possible.
Even if hell was where all souls would return to, even Ma Buyi’s arts of divination were unable to extend across worlds.
“I want to divine one last trigram.”
“Alright.” Li Qingshan nodded. Although spirit turtles possessed some prophetic powers, he was two-ninths of a spirit turtle at most. He could only sense life-threatening danger.
When he fell into Altar Lord Black Lotus’ formation in Ancient Wind city, there had been no warnings at all. He even had to rely on his instincts as a daemon to sense that something was amiss in the very end, and he had failed to escape. Of course, he believed it was because his senses were not sharp enough, but sure enough, he had just been shaken up in the end, without encountering any danger at all.
Xiao An closed her hands. Seven types of true qi, yin, yang, and the five elements, condensed according to a special method, as if they were parallelling the propagation and decay of everything in the world, resonating with a sliver of unseen fate.
In the end, it condensed into a round cup. Thousands of colours merged and swirled along a special pattern, like a kaleidoscope, like it was forming various diagrams, images, and words. However, just a single glance of it made Li Qingshan’s head spin.
A thin bamboo lot rose up from it slowly, and the cup disintegrated. Xiao An suddenly snatched up the lot, as if she had grasped the unseen fate.
The Cloud Bookcase of the Seven Lots originated from the most ancient Divination of the Seven Stars. A lot decided a fate, giving her knowledge of good and bad luck, life and death, the past and the future.
Li Qingshan was unable to tell what was going on. He just wondered to himself. If he used turtle shells for divination, then Xiao An would use lots for divination. Of course, he had no idea that his dream lover Gu Yanying’s Six Trigrams Divination used bronze coins as a medium.
The lot obviously was not a real lot. There would not be lots of best of the best or worst of the worst. Instead, it would produce a piece of information from the ever-changing fate. Good or bad luck, or life or death, all seemed the same to fate. Only humans had a concept of the best of the best and the worst of the worst.
Xiao An closed her eyes and frowned. She released all of her imagination as she tried to read the information in the lot.
Fate would never tell you clearly, “Hey, John Doe, you’re going to be unlucky today.” Even just a simple piece of information like that was ten times more informative than all of wikipedia. It was a hundred times more difficult to understand than a piece of art from a drunken impressionist.
The main job of the diviner was to read the information and tell the person, “Hey, John Doe, you’re going to be unlucky today. It’s best if you don’t go out.”
Yet, there happened to be a time limit to this. The bamboo slip of light constantly flickered and twisted, dispersing in Xiao An’s hands very soon.
Li Qingshan asked, “How’s it?”
Xiao An opened her eyes and furrowed her brows firmly. The Cloud Bookcase of the Seven used the first six lots as a foundation, so the seventh lot would be the most accurate one. She finally found a sliver of survival in the hellish images. It was so frail that it was almost hopeless. It was like a lone lantern within a fierce storm, where it could be put out at any moment.
Li Qingshan heard Xiao An’s explanation and pondered for a while. “Are you thinking of finding her?”
The fly confirmed the source of the smell. It circled around a few times cautiously. It failed to discover any other flies, which made it slightly uneasy.
However, it was unable to resist the temptation of the smell. Driven by its instincts, it landed on a widened eye of the “corpse”.
At that moment, something seemed to swim past in the pupil of the “corpse”. The eye of the “corpse” suddenly turned.
It fell to the ground silently, its short life coming to an end. Together with many other creatures of the same kind, they laid on the ground, dead.
Using the momentary clear-mindedness, the eyes swiveled, observing the surroundings. Only through that could she learn how long she had remained here for. Her thoughts had been completely torn apart, while her senses became the greatest lies, making her believe she had already remained here for over a century.
Her rationality only played a measly role, as if she was searching through garbage within ruins, wanting to rebuild a city. It was ridiculous and pointless.
However, she managed to find her long-lost sense of time. Her memories returned to roughly three months ago.
The proud, noon sun barely managed to penetrate the green canopy, landing in this forest and making a wide, shallow stream sparkle.
She stepped into the stream and disturbed the silence there. She tried to focus on finding the whereabouts of the man-eating daemonic beast so that she could forget about her original reason for coming here, but she was unable to forget it.
The world was heading into late spring, but her heart remained in the chilly winter, unable to forget about turmoil. She had found nothing in the past few months, and she would be able to let out a sigh of relief every single day, but there seemed to be another power constantly pulling her towards the sludge.
She almost wanted to give up, to travel far away and start over in a place where no one knew her. However, the arts of divination existed in this world. Perhaps that person was helpless against Gu Yanying, but finding her and killing her could not be any easier.
She stopped at the centre of the stream. Once she crossed through this stream, she would reach the depths of the forest, which was filled with various dangers. She could declare an end to the mission once she reached that stage.
“Are you looking for someone?”
Just when she wanted to turn around, a gentle voice made her stop. The voice came from a man who possessed a face as gentle as his voice. The corner of his lips curled into a faint smile. His black ceremonial robes were dark like the night. The tattered bottom of his clothes moved with the stream.
She sighed gently, as if a great burden had been lifted from her shoulders. The real danger she had been waiting for the entire time had already come.
Only then did she slowly turn around. She bowed. “Greetings from subordinate Qian Rongzhi, Altar Lord Black Lotus.” Finally, she had met the greatest person within the White Lotus cult apart from the holy mother once more.
“Qian Rongzhi, how dare you come here!” Before Altar Lord Black Lotus could say anything, a little girl in white emerged from behind him. She seemed to be five or six years old at most, and her voice was childish, but the coldness in her pupils were enough to freeze the blood within her veins. Qian Rongzhi said nothing at all. That’s right, this was the White Lotus Mother, the source of her fear this whole time.
“You seem to have been searching for us the entire time?” Altar Lord Black Lotus asked curiously. They were aware of Qian Rongzhi’s arrival, but they were worried it was a trap. He had racked his brains to prevent White Lotus from stepping into this potential trap. Exposing their tracks for a mere Qian Rongzhi was very unnecessary.
However, today, he was no longer able to pacify her fury, which was why they had appeared. That ma’am Gu was not patient enough to do all this. She could not even be bothered with chasing them down, which meant she no longer took this past enemy of her seriously anymore. Yes, the game had already ended.
Qian Rongzhi immediately dropped to her knees and lowered her head into the water. “Yes, Qian Rongzhi was under Gu Yanying’s control and caused a huge mistake. I deserve a thousand deaths. I’ve specially come for punishment from the holy mother and the altar lord!”
“Don’t mention that name!” The little girl screamed.
“I’m no longer an Altar Lord. Just call me Black Lotus!”
“I’m still the White Lotus Mother!” The little girl screamed again.
“Alright, alright. You’re still the White Lotus Mother.” Black Lotus bent over and spoke to her like he was coaxing a child. Afterwards, he stood up straight again and rubbed his temples like he was troubled. “I really do want to spare you, but can’t you come up with a proper reason? Now that the White Lotus Mother has lost her temper, she’s very difficult to appease.”
Qian Rongzhi wanted to speak, but Black Lotus interrupted her by raising his hand. “I don’t want to hear your lies. Please treat us with sincerity, okay? In order for you to understand the severity of this matter, I’ll kill you if you utter another lie from now on.”
“I don’t want to listen to her. Black Lotus, kill her! Kill her!” The White Lotus Mother constantly stamped her foot, causing the water to splash everywhere.
Black Lotus grabbed the White Lotus Mother’s little hand. “You better speak soon! The White Lotus Mother is running out of patience. Stand up and look into my eyes. Tell me why you’ve come.”
Qian Rongzhi stood up and stared into Black Lotus’s clear, dark, and serene pupils. She could no longer utter a single word of everything she had prepared beforehand, as all of it were lies.
“I want a way out.”
“Don’t you even think about it!” The White Lotus Mother kicked the water fiercely.
Black Lotus smiled. “Very good. There’s something we both want then. Without a doubt, killing out of hatred is pointless. Of course, not everyone agrees with that.” For example, the tiny White Lotus Mother beside him. She was tempted to skin that traitor Qian Rongzhi alive.
“I’m very curious about why you weren’t influenced by the Heart Cleansing Technique of Clear Ripple?”
Qian Rongzhi said, “That’s probably because I’ve practised the arts of charm…”
“The Heart Cleansing Technique of Clear Ripple is not an art of charm. Do you know its origins?”
Qian Rongzhi shook her head. She had not even managed to feel what the technique had done to her.
Black Lotus explained. There had once been an eminent monk who had witnessed all aspects of life. He saw how there were countless people who refused to come to their senses throughout the vast world. Out of lament, he created a technique where he could fill the mind of others with his own comprehension, allowing them to attain enlightenment in a single instant.
Even a fool, a simpleton, could comprehend the supreme essence of the buddhist dharma, no longer bound by the various afflictions of the world. It was called the Wisdom Imbuement technique. It was not a technique to control the minds of others from the demonic path.
The Heart Cleansing Technique of Clear Ripple originated from that. It could not be resisted, as the technique was beneficial to the person in the first place. Under the influence of the technique, it would seem like they had awakened their innate knowledge and comprehended the past, removing all bottlenecks of the mind from the path of cultivation until they reached the limit of the caster’s cultivation. If Hua Chengzan had been influenced by this technique, he would have successfully reached Foundation Establishment a few years ago.
Only then did Qian Rongzhi understand why all people within the White Lotus cult under the influence of the technique would smile from ear to ear, remaining positive even when the White Lotus cult was severely crippled, as if they were filled with endless satisfaction.
Black Lotus said, “Can you tell me exactly why?”
Qian Rongzhi lowered her head. “Actually, I want to be like them very much.” Growing up, she too had once enjoyed moments of utter delight, but she could no longer recall any of it. She frowned and shook her head powerlessly. “But, I just can’t be happy!”