Chapter 584 – Secular Disciple
The sunlight was unable to reach the entrance of the Demon Suppression hall. A string of prayer beads sat quietly in the Unraging monk’s large, thick hand, drawing Li Qingshan’s attention.
There were only eighteen prayer beads, and they were worn on the wrist. They seemed to be made out of wood and were perfectly round, all the same size. Only a single prayer bead was relatively large. They did not shine at all and did not seem special, no different from regular prayer beads.
However, Li Qingshan was not worried. Just like how a wise head would keep a closed mouth, powerful arcane artifacts and treasures were probably the same. The Unraging monk seemed like he wore these prayer beads often, so they must have been extraordinary. As the first disciple, the treatment he received could not be any worse than Duoge’s, right?
And, the Unraging monk’s behaviour left Li Qingshan even more convinced about this. He glanced at the prayer beads in his hand reluctantly before saying.
“Damned disciple, give me your hand.”
Li Qingshan extended his hand and the Unraging monk personally slipped the prayer beads onto Li Qingshan’s wrist.
Li Qingshan was secretly confused. He was unable to sense any pulses of spiritual energy like this. He tried extending his soul sense into it, and he did not find anything special either. However, since his master treasured it so much, there must have been something else to it!
The Unraging monk said, “This string of prayer beads by itself is not some powerful arcane artifact, but they have been handed down to me by my master in person, so they hold great significance. In particular, after entering my possession, I wore it all the time, touched and wore it down by me every single day. They are soaked with my blood and sweat, so do take good care of them and do not lose them.”
Isn’t the difference in treatment a little too great!? Li Qingshan glanced at the demon heart prayer beads around Duoge’s neck again, tempted to pluck them from him and throw them viciously at the Unraging monk’s smiling face. Bald ass, are you looking down on me? Apart from blood and sweat, there’s probably pork grease, lamb grease, and beef grease too! I saw you eating and drinking with this on with my own eyes!
Li Qingshan fantasised viciously. Of course, he could not actually do that. Li Qingshan casually clasped his hands. “Thank you for your generous gift, master. I’ll be taking my leave now.” The prayer beads on his wrist only felt more greasy now. He was tempted to take them off immediately.
If the Unraging monk had just given Li Qingshan a string of prayer beads as something to remember him by, then Li Qingshan would have been perfectly fine with it. However, he had specially given Duoge an invaluable string of demon heart prayer beads, only to turn around and give him a regular thing like that. He could not help but feel disappointed, and he found it unfair. We’re both your disciples. You’re clearly just looking down on me.
The Unraging monk did not seem to sense Li Qingshan’s displeasure. He chuckled. “Before you go, you should pay a visit to the Courtyard of Secular Affairs and collect a set of uniforms for secular disciples and register yourself!”
“Yes,” Li Qingshan replied lazily.
“Don’t run amok under your master’s name outside. If I find out, I won’t spare you!”
“Alright.” Li Qingshan became a little impatient. Do I look like the type who likes to strut around under borrowed authority?
“Whenever inner courtyard disciples leave the mountain, they can have a line of the Chant of Deva-Nāga embedded in them, which they can use to save their lives at times. However, you’re just a secular disciple, so you don’t have that right.”
Li Qingshan shot a glance at him. Since I don’t have the right, why’d you mention it in the first place? He said, “Understood, I’m going!” and turned around, making his way out of the valley, only to hear the Unraging monk say.
“So, if you encounter any danger, you can mention my dharma name. It should earn you some respect. If it’s useless, then crush the largest prayer bead on the string, and I’ll rush over immediately and defend you.”
Li Qingshan stopped and looked back suddenly, only to see the Unraging monk sitting there, smiling away just like before. He waved his hand. “Go, damned disciple!”
The Unraging monk did not merely have some respect. In the Green province, even if Li Qingshan provoked the lord of the Green province, the Dragon King of Ink Sea, the Unraging monk had the right to speak up for him. As for figures one level lower, they would have to show Li Qingshan quite the courtesy and consideration once they heard the Unraging monk’s name.
The prayer beads were basically equivalent to a life-saving talisman. Li Qingshan glanced at the prayer beads on his wrist. His actions earlier did seem a little narrow-minded. He turned around and bowed deeply. “Yes, master. I’ll be going now.”
Li Qingshan left the valley and remembered what the Unraging monk had told him to do. He climbed up Great Buddha mountain again and arrived before the monastery, only to see an acolyte monk sweeping the leaves. He went up and asked, “Young sir, may I ask where the Courtyard of Secular Affairs is?”
The acolyte monk pointed at the foot of the mountain, “There. It’s all down there. The main hall is on this side of the mountain.”
Li Qingshan had noticed the large swathe of structures on the foot of Great Buddha mountain a long time ago. They layered upon each other row upon row, all resplendent and magnificent in design, basically wrapping around the entire mountain. It was like the hem of the great buddha’s clothes that touched the ground. It would only stop near special places like the Demon Suppression hall.
As it turned out, these all belonged to the Courtyard of Secular Affairs, but in terms of area, none of the courtyards on Great Buddha mountain was anywhere close to it.
Not only did the Courtyard of Secular Affairs take up the greatest area in the monastery, but it was also the courtyard with the most monks. There were numerous responsibilities they undertook, and one of them was receiving the pilgrims who had come from far and wide, providing them with lodgings and food. It would be impossible to accommodate them all without so many buildings.
Li Qingshan strolled through the monastery, looking around as he went. He became even more amazed by the scale of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Regular ancient temples were all a single monastery hidden within many mountains, but the structures of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga stretched over the entirety of Great Buddha mountain. Even the scale of the prefectural city of Clear River was no match for it.
Finally, he arrived outside the main hall of the Courtyard of Secular Affairs. The flow of people around him gradually decreased, no longer as noisy as the other places of the courtyard. Instead, this place seemed extremely quiet, littered with ancient cypress trees as the twitter of birds rang out time to time.
Li Qingshan strolled in. No one stopped him. He could make out a few voices from the distance, so he followed the quiet path and arrived before the hall. He saw a man and woman talking quietly.
“Senior brother Wang, what gift have you brought for senior brother Yong this time? Could you enlighten us about what you’ve chosen?”
The female cultivator asked. She seemed like she was already in her forties or fifties, and upon considering the many methods cultivators possessed to retain their youth, she must not have been young. She remained at Foundation Establishment, so she was basically unable to break through again in the remainder of her life.
“It’s merely a small gift. It’s not worth mentioning.” As for senior brother Wang, he seemed even older. His face was like the bark of a pine tree, and he carried a sword on his back.
Both of them were at Foundation Establishment. They seemed to be dressed in monk robes, but the style was slightly different from actual monk robes. They also wore prayer beads on their wrists.
Li Qingshan did not hide his aura, so before he had even approached them, they had looked over.
“Sir, where have you come from? Is there anything you’re looking for here?” Senior brother Wang noticed Li Qingshan’s extraordinary bearing and composure. And, he was young, yet he had already reached mid Foundation Establishment, so senior brother Wang dared not brush him aside, asking politely.
Li Qingshan strode over and clasped his hands. “I’ve come to register myself as a secular disciple. What brings you here?”
“We’re secular disciples of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. May I ask what your age is, sir?” Senior brother Wang asked curiously.
“I’m fortunate enough to be in my twenties.”
“You’re not even thirty yet! Sir, you can be regarded as a genius. Even if you want to become an inner courtyard disciple, there won’t be any issues at all. Why do you want to become a secular disciple instead?”
Senior brother Wang was surprised. Originally, he thought Li Qingshan was skilled in retaining a youthful appearance and was actually forty or fifty already. He never expected him to be so young, reaching mid Foundation Establishment when he was in his twenties. He could definitely be regarded as a genius, but what was a genius like him becoming a secular disciple for?
The Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga had a great number of secular disciples. Most of them lacked sufficient talent, so they had no right to become an inner courtyard disciple. However, they had spent enough time to become Foundation Establishment cultivators, so they could register for the identity of secular disciple and take it easy under the shade of the great tree that the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga was. Even if they could not learn the greatest cultivation method of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, even cultivation methods one level down surpassed those core disciples of regular sects received.
There were countless Foundation Establishment cultivators in the world, but there were truly only a handful who could reach Foundation Establishment in their twenties and thirties, particularly with independent cultivators. After all, they lacked the support of sects and clans. Most people made it to Foundation Establishment by taking their time.
“The abbot originally wanted me to become a monk, except I still have ties to the secular world, so I refused. But they also refused to let me go, so all I could do was become a secular disciple,” Li Qingshan said helplessly.
“The abbot? Ah! You mean the Dauntless abbot?”
The female cultivator cried out before stifling her voice in a hurry. She gazed at Li Qingshan in disbelief. She was taken aback by how he mentioned the Dauntless monk without the slightest hint of respect.
“Yeah. Who else is there otherwise?”
Li Qingshan spoke like he was stating a basic fact. Li Qingshan was able to remain unpressured before the Dauntless monk because he basically could clash with any second heavenly tribulation cultivator already with his actual cultivation, and he was confident he would constantly improve. There would be a day when he could stand with the Dauntless monk and everyone else on equal footing; he might even surpass them, so he had no mental weakness either.
However, in the eyes of regular Foundation Establishment cultivators, the abbot of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, the Dauntless monk, a Monk King conferred by the Great Xia empire, was basically like a god. If they could earn even a glance from someone like that, that was something worth boasting about.
Not to mention that the Dauntless monk had personally suggested accepting him into the inner courtyard. That was basically infinite glory, yet he actually turned him down, and his reason was something along the lines of “some ties to the secular world”. What a waste of such a great opportunity. The two of them basically wished they could take his place.
Fellow Wang remembered something and asked, “Sir, are you perhaps Li Qingshan from the Ruyi commandery?”
“I am. You know me?”
Li Qingshan had stayed in the back of the mountain for over a month, but little did he know the news of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga’s most glorious reception of Xiao An, followed by the Dauntless monk personally carrying out tonsure for her, had already spread through the cultivation world of the Green province.
At the same time, Xiao An’s dharma name, One Will, boomed through the province. She had already earned the title of the greatest disciple of the monastery. Even now, the impact she caused still lingered about. The matter of Li Qingshan turning down the Dauntless monk publically in the grand hall before being sent into the Demon Suppression hall for punishment obviously did not stay as a secret from these secular disciples.
“I’ve heard many things about you. I’ve heard many things about you,” senior brother Wang repeated as the female cultivator said, “We’ll be seniors and juniors in the future, so there’s no need to be so polite. I’ll just shamelessly call myself ‘senior sister’ then.”
“Sure!” Li Qingshan conversed with them a little longer. Right when he was about to enter the main hall, senior brother Wang said in a hurry, “You can’t go in right now!”