Li Qingshan asked, “Then she?”
Xiao An raised her right hand, which glistened like it was forged from gold. The pale-white and transparent Samādhi Flames of White Bone surged out, giving her flesh and blood again. Her original complexion with a healthy glow now seemed rather pale, while her newly-grown skin was also deeply embedded with golden sanskrit characters, like she was born with them.
She tried circulating the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, and the golden sanskrit character immediately shone with a gentle glow, suppressing the White Bone śarīra she had spent all this time developing and refining.
She faltered and said, “She’s suppressed my Path of White Bone and Great Beauty in an attempt to make me switch to the cultivation methods of the school of vinaya.”
“She’s gone as far as to sacrifice her life just for this?” Li Qingshan was mildly stunned. He found it rather difficult to understand what the old nun was thinking. With how precious a great cultivator’s life and cultivation was, how could she give it all up so easily just for her disciple to switch cultivation methods?
“Yeah, it’s very funny, isn’t it? I deceived her for over a decade, and it even cost her life in the end. She channelled all of her cultivation into me. As long as I abandon the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty and switch to the cultivation methods of the school of vinaya, I’ll be able to undergo the third heavenly tribulation with ease. Hehe!”
Xiao An laughed gently, but Li Qingshan could not laugh. He could also tell her laughter was completely forced. A sense of pain and being lost instead appeared in her clear eyes. All the moments they spent together during the decade or so suddenly flooded through her head. The pale-white memories of the past suddenly became dyed with various colours, becoming deeply embedded as a part of her.
Li Qingshan suddenly understood. The Divine Nun of the South Sea was not just trying to get her to switch cultivation methods, but also trying to give her a heart. However, a heart came with regret, conflict, and pain. He pulled her into his arms firmly. “This isn’t your fault. The old nun was being over-sentimental!”
“Qingshan, let’s go to the next demon cavern! If this continues, my Samādhi Flames of White Bone will extinguish!”
Xiao An suddenly grabbed his hand firmly. Her face was conflicted, but she had much greater resolve. The golden sanskrit characters were seeping deep into her bones right now, attempting to completely cripple her Path of White Bone and Great Beauty.
“Have you made up your mind? No matter what kind of path you take, I’ll support you!”
Li Qingshan’s feelings were rather mixed, not just shocked by the Divine Nun of the South Sea’s sacrifice. Along the way, had Xiao An sacrificed anything less than that? She could not admire any beautiful scenery. She could not taste fine food. Everything was for the sake of cultivation, followed by risking her life again and again to help him contend against powerful enemies. She had sacrificed much more than a life.
If the opportunity arose and she could recover some of those feelings, even if she went back to being the simple-minded little ghost, wouldn’t it count as taking care of her?
“Dummy Qingshan, stop thinking about abandoning me!” Xiao An touched his cheeks gently. No matter how wondrous the cultivation methods of the school of vinaya was, how could they compare to the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty that originated from beyond the Nine Heavens? Without that cultivation method, how was she supposed to keep up with him?
She clutched the scripture and disciplinary stick in her hand and moved her lips, mouthing, “Apologies, master!”
“Hmph, I’m still not that fond of you. You’ll be getting through it all with me whether it’s good or bad!” Li Qingshan pouted as a joke and unfurled his phoenix wings, taking off into the air with a gust of fierce wind.
“Is there a demon cavern… over there?” Xiao An asked.
“How are you supposed to fight alongside me in your current state? Let’s find a place for you to rest up first. I’ll deal with the matter regarding demonfolk. I’ll definitely feed you till you’re stuffed.”
Xiao An said “okay” and focused on circulating the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, doing all she could to fend off the golden sanskrit.
In the Myriad Poison cult, the halls and pavilions stood just like before, giving off a sinister, eerie aura. However, they were covered in a layer of dust. Under the glow of the setting sun, it seemed particularly quiet and desolate.
Ru Xin sat in a pill cauldron for cultivation. Her body that resembled white jade was soft and exquisite, becoming even more pure and flawless. Suddenly, she sensed something and threw on a set of clothes, leaving the hall and raising her head.
A resplendent streak of scarlet light tore through the air, landing on the stone square with a boom.
Meeting an acquaintance again after over a decade, Ru Xin could not help but smile. “You’re in such a hurry! Are you being hunted down again? Hmm? What’s wrong with Xiao An?”
Li Qingshan had no time to explain. He handed the Xiao An in his arms to Ru Xin preciously. “Take care of her for me!”
Ru Xin’s arms sank. Her body that should have been as light as a feather had actually become as heavy as gold. The golden sanskrit stretched across her skin, filled with an immovable and inviolable sense of solemnity.
Along the way, Li Qingshan had once tried to suppress the golden sanskrit for Xiao An, but it had already merged with her body, or even her mind, completely!
Xiao An had studied the buddhist dharma diligently for many years. Although she had done so with the exact opposite intention, she had already mastered the essence of those buddhist scriptures and ideas. Everyone who comprehended to her level was a wise, enlightened monk of buddhism. The only reason why she was emotionless and characterless was because of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty’s influence. Once this calmness shattered, it was not like she did not have a devotion towards the buddha and a wish to bring salvation to all, just like how the White Bone Bodhisattva also had a devotion towards the buddha and a wish to bring salvation to all.
What made her waver was not the Divine Nun of the South Sea, but the buddha nature within her.
Li Qingshan glanced deeply at Xiao An again and said nothing more, as it would all be useless. He turned around and flew away.
Ru Xin moved quickly, grabbing him by the shoulder immediately. “What happened exactly?”
“Your cultivation sure has progressed quickly, but if I hadn’t stopped, I probably would have torn off your hand.” Li Qingshan came to a halt and was slightly surprised. He had not raised his guard or tried to dodge, but that alone indicated she had not wasted the past decade either.
“Alright, alright, alright. Mister Li is in the prime of his life, which a mere cultivator like me admires greatly. May mister Li please tell me exactly what happened?”
“You can ask Xiao An about the details.”
“If she’s willing to acknowledge me, if I’m willing to acknowledge her, then of course I can ask her.”
Ru Xin glanced at Xiao An in her arms. She was also a sharp-witted one. Even back then in the Academy of the Hundred Schools, she had already noticed Xiao An’s peculiarities. This little girl looked at people like they were merely objects. Why would she go out of her way to please someone who did not even acknowledge her?
“Sister Ru Xin… I’m… willing to… acknowledge you… You can ask me!”
Xiao An said slowly, which stunned Ru Xin. Gazing at the feeble, young lady in her arms, she actually felt a sense of sympathy, which truly was unfathomable! This also happened to be the reason why she was reluctant to have too much contact with this girl. It clearly was not the arts of charm, yet it was even more terrifying than the arts of charm. It was basically impossible for her to not waver once she spent enough time with her.
“You hear that? I’ll be right back!”
“Where are you off to? To do what?”
“Demon caverns! Hunting!” Li Qingshan was about to fly off when he heard Xiao An add. “The South sea.”
Li Qingshan was mildly surprised before nodding his head to express that he understood. The fierce wind whistled, and he rushed through the clouds in the dusky sky in the blink of an eye, flying towards the South sea.
“To think that he actually trusts me enough to leave his favourite with me.” Ru Xin could not help but extend her hand and pinch Xiao An’s cheek. She felt delight from taking advantage of her weakened state. “So tell me, how do I take care of you? Are you sick?”
“Let go!” Xiao An stared at Ru Xin in displeasure.
“Sigh! You really are sick.”
Releases are back to normal. 2 chapters a day.