The group of rogue cultivators who had come from all corners of the world looked at each other before erupting in laughter. They had been fully prepared to endure a huge battle with Mount Emei’s great power ever since they entered the mountain to hunt for treasure. None of them were expecting to be confronted by a little baby monk as the first person to block their way ahead.
They were still laughing uproariously when the little monk stopped running and turned around with a reproachful face, “W-w-with all due respect, all of you…can’t…c-c-can’t go up the peak!”
The old man Gongye squinted his eyes and asked the little monk, “Who is your Master?”
The little monk saw that the old man was dressed in a clean attire and appeared less peculiar than the rest of them, though there was still a sense of sternness in his demeanor. The little monk seemed less fearful than before and used the wooden fish to scratch the back of his head as he replied with a puzzled tone, “M-m-my Master’s name is… I forgot.”
A shifty-eyed middle-aged skinny man squawked in laughter, “This little monk has delicate skin and tender flesh, you just need to add some carrots to his stew and it will surely smell savory!”
The little monk’s two legs began quivering, his lips turned pale and the baby fat that had yet to fade from his chubby cheeks started quaking wildly. He didn’t dare to say another word but continued to block the way while resolutely shaking his head.
Wen Xiaoyi whispered into Wen Leyang’s ear and laughed, “That person’s taste in food is not so different from yours.”
Wen Leyang shook his head in a solemn manner, “I only eat the raw ones!” After a while, he hastily explained, “I meant the carrots.”
Red Grandaunt’s heart once again overflowed with love as she saw the little monk’s graceful brows and bright eyes. She did not appear to step forward but all of a sudden she had already floated to the head of the crowd. She turned around and scolded the skinny man, “You only talk nonsense to scare little children! Do you not fear that your name, Fourth Laoqiu, is already unpleasant enough?” She then gently consoled the little monk, “Dear child, do not fear. Return to the temple and search for your Master quickly, let us continue on the path.”
The little monk stared at the old woman with a face filled with appreciation, but he shook his head and said, “M-M-M-M-Master allow…”
Aside for the white powder, Red Grandaunt’s face was full of pity as she said, “Good child, don’t be afraid, speak slowly! Look what you’ve done, you selfish people, you’ve intimidated a perfectly good child.”
“N-n-not…intimidate, intimated, I’ve…s-s-stuttered…since…s-since birth!”
There were a few hundred rogue cultivators in the crowd, each one was a master of arrogance and most days they feared nothing and no one. Since they were not considered to be deviant practitioners of evil dark arts, the other cultivators who belonged to an official group would also just let them be. This time the rogue cultivators had united and ascended the mountain noisily and the destination is within their sights yet they are being barred from the way forward by a little child. These people had been refraining from taking action on the child, as no one was willing to bully a little monk in front of the rest of the crowd. However, it has now come to the point where some could no longer hold themselves back. The first to lose his restraint is a dark, fat man with a crushing presence. He jumped out of the procession and cursed loudly, “Red Grandaunt, do not waste your words on him! You little fellow, you better scram quickly, or else…” As he said that he turned his palms upwards to face the sky, and he roared a verse of strange and bizarre words.
The tranquil sky abruptly swayed as a stone tablet the size of a minivan dropped down from it. It made a loud screeching sound from the friction in the air before falling heavily towards a little patch of forest not far from where they were.
Some in the group cheered merrily while some had scornful expressions on their faces.
The little monk that had seemed petrified through the encounter screamed once in fear and leaped up into the air! As he jumped, his plump body turned into a robust young dragon and speedily circled around the huge falling tablet. He held the wooden fish’s mallet in his hand and knocked it on the stone’s edge continuously.
Just as the huge stone was about to crash into the forest, a dull noise was heard abruptly and the huge stone tablet exploded into fine dust all at once. The dust rained with a rustling sound into the forest until not a trace of it was left.
In a blink, the little monk had returned to Red Grandaunt’s side. His timid appearance was struck with terror as he said, “Trees…d-d-don’t grow…easily…on Mount Emei and each grass…each grass…e-e-each grass…” His stuttering made him sound like a scratched CD.
The hundreds of rogue cultivators were akin to a group of suddenly decapitated ducks, there was a complete silence such that even the crows and sparrows seemed to have stopped their sounds in the blink of an eye. They looked at the little monk in front of them with their mouths and eyes agape. Though most of them will be able to manage the force of that huge stone, some of them might even be able to crush it. But to pulverize it in a flash, that required a whole other level of skill and power entirely.
Red Grandaunt swiftly took a few steps backward. There was nothing of the initial pleasant smile left on her face and in its place was an icy-cold, solemn expression, “It seems like this old woman has misjudged you. I was foolish for trying to act as a good person, thank you, kind master, for not using the mallet on me earlier.”
The little monk did not seem to be able to comprehend why the old woman would suddenly turn hostile towards him. He tried to explain himself but as a result of being too anxious, he could not even utter a word.
Red Grandaunt sneered at him as she said, “This overconfident Red Grandaunt is from the Little Red Stream in the Hebei province. I respectfully seek your guidance, so please grant us your name, young Master. If you can’t remember the name of your Master, surely you would not forget even your own name, right?”
A rustling sound was heard from behind the little stuttering monk.
Nine young and bald monks walked out from behind the huge stone that the little monk had been resting on earlier. It almost looked like they were conjured out of thin air. One by one, they walked in front of the little monk and put their palms together as they saluted serenely, “Good morning, Senior Master.”
The little monk let out a long sigh and extended his plump hand towards Red Grandaunt as he stuttered, “L-l-let Mystic…Swallow…come out and…e-e-explain!”
A monk, who looked to be over thirty years of age, stepped forward with a happy and gay demeanor as he put his palms together to salute the crowd. He sang out with a clear voice, “I am Mystic Swallow from the Great Thunderclap Temple, and I’m pleased to respectfully meet your acquaintance.” His tone of speaking was neither humble nor pushy, it carried a hint of a smile as if there was not a single concern in his heart towards the situation in front of his eyes.
There are specific honorifics for the recent five generations of monks at the Great Mercy Temple. These were: Kindness (Shan), Hope (Xi), Mystic (Xuan), Zen (Chan), and Perish (Mie). At the present moment, there were only a few old monks of the ‘Kindness’ name generation left at the temple. Their age was so advanced that they no longer cared about the mortal world and are instead fully focused on their Buddhist practice. Most of the current abbots and elders are from the ‘Hope’ name generation. However, the monk in front of them was known as Mystic Swallow and he had greeted the little stuttering monk as ‘Senior Master’. Though the little monk looked to be around the age of seven or eight years old, it would seem that he was unexpectedly of the ‘Hope’ name generation.
The crowd of rogue practitioners each had an odd expression on their faces as they began to whisper confidentially to each other. Red Grandaunt looked at the little stuttering monk and asked hesitantly, “Are you a monk from the ‘Hope’ name generation?”
The little stuttering monk put his hands together and said, “H-h-hailing from the Great Mercy Temple, I am Hope…Hope Voice (Xi Sheng).
Wen Xiaoyi covered her mouth as she laughed gently, “Did he say his name was Sacrifice (Xi Sheng, which has the same pronunciation in Mandarin)? That name does not sound too auspicious.”
Wen Leyang shook his head and did not utter a word, for he did not know the established customs of the hierarchy at the Great Thunderclap Temple. He also did not understand the significance of the monk with the ‘Hope’ name generation who came from Mount Emei to the rogue practitioners. However, he could at least comprehend how that huge stone tablet could be pulverized into dust by the wooden fish’s mallet.
Red Grandaunt appeared to want to say something but Giant Bull jumped forward first with an impatient expression. The huge Wolf’s Fang Club in his hand swayed twice, “You monks better stay away! There are hundreds of us rogue cultivators who have teamed up to ascend the mountain. We have no quarrel with the Great Mercy Temple, we are only interested in the treasure at Zhanyan Peak. The information of this incident has already traveled the world, you can’t cover up the truth even if you want to…” He was a rough and uncouth fellow who said whatever he was thinking directly, but everyone got his meaning anyway.
Mystic Swallow shook his head helplessly, “With all due respect, all of you must understand that the birth of the extraordinary treasure based on the auspicious signs is all a baseless rumor. The ancient cave that was revealed at Zhanyan Peak is real, however, there was never any treasure in that cave. On the contrary, it’s an extremely ominous place. A few of the heads from the temple are now investigating the origin and developments of the incident at Zhanyan Peak. There are also several senior fellow apprentices who are occupied in conjuring a protection circle on the peak. Respectfully, if all of you were to ascend the mountain without careful consideration, I am afraid that you may come into danger. This is the humble opinion of a modest monk, so with great respect, I’d like to invite all of you to follow me to the guesthouse to take a rest and refresh yourselves with some vegetarian meals. Once the elders and the apprentices descent the mountain, we can then guide all of you up the mountain for a visit.”
The reporter whose camera had been shattered by the Giant Bull earlier spoke up all of a sudden in a refined manner tinged with a hint of jealousy, “So the monks have sealed Zhanyan Peak and they are telling us that there is no treasure on the mountain?”
The crowd immediately broke into an uproar. In an instant, the hesitant expressions of the rogue cultivators had all turned ferocious and savage.
“The monks harbor evil intentions! They want to keep the treasure for themselves!”
“You better quickly get the f*ck out of the way, monks! If you piss us off, we don’t care which temple you are from!”
The rogue cultivators pointed at the monks and let loose a torrent of verbal abuse; their dialects were a mixture of Northern and Southern accents and when spoken together all at once, it created a huge mess. The little stuttering monk had a panic-stricken expression and stomped his feet anxiously. The other monks from the ‘Mystic’ name generation, however, were not angered at all. In fact, a slight smile can still be seen on their lips
The rogue cultivator’s verbal assault became messier, the cursing of the monks devolved until it became the lame neighbor of the nun’s house. Giant Bull stood at the head of the crowd and cursed with the most enthusiasm. Red Grandaunt and old man Gongye attempted to calm the crowds down to no avail. This went on for a while before Mystic Swallow suddenly took a step forward and chanted a long verse of a Buddhist hymn with a smile on his face, “A~mi~ta~bha~”
In the midst of the loud curses and abuses, the sound of the Buddhist hymn was like a refreshing breeze that flowed swiftly from every person’s eardrums all the way into their minds.
The chant echoed all the around the mountain, circling and returning from all directions. The remaining eight monks each took a step forward and chanted the Buddhist hymn in sequence, verse after verse, until it overlapped the echo from the mountain valley. Once the ninth monk had completed the hymn, Mystic Sparrow started to chant again. In a short moment, the heart-calming Buddhist hymn had grown into a great Heavenly Chant, turning into an ear-splitting sound like the ringing of a large bell. The sound slammed heavily into every listener’s heart and mind and affected the rogue cultivators who were of lesser abilities first. They could feel the flow of blood in their body speeding up. It seemed that no matter how much effort their hearts were exerting and pumping, it could never catch up to the speed of the blood flow. One by one, they grabbed their chests and their faces turned pale before they collapsed onto the ground.
On the contrary, Wen Leyang, Wen Xiaoyi, and Mumu could only sense that the sound was sharp and irritating. They felt unwell because their ears were filled with booming sound but they did not feel any further discomforts. The Heavenly Chant by the Great Mercy Temple, which has inspired awe all around the world, was based on the foundation of Yang spiritual energy. Therefore the Heavenly Chant directly attacked the enemies’ hard-cultivated Qi essence. If a cultivator was to be exposed to the chant for a long period of time he will exhaust the accumulation of his lifetime’s Qi vitality.
Wen Leyang’s party, however, has neither spiritual energy nor Qi vitality, so they were not affected by the attack.