Xiao An’s heart suddenly lurched. An intense feeling of unease surged through her. She drifted out of the hall and gazed in the direction that Li Qingshan had departed in. There was no one else apart from him that could make her feel uneasy.
The mountains, rivers, and trees repeated endlessly. Even she could not see so far away. The glow of the setting sun dyed the stone steps of the hall red. As she stood there, she seemed graceful, her clothes swaying gently in the wind. She was indescribably beautiful, but her face was sunken.
She took out the Bamboo-Jade Lot of the Cloud Bookcase from her sumeru ring, shut her eyes, and began using the Cloud Bookcase of the Seven Lots. The seven powers of yin, yang, and the five elements produced seven different colours of light, gathering in her hand as a seven-coloured lot pot. It was as gorgeous as a kaleidoscope, casting light on fate and the heavenly secrets.
She murmured Li Qingshan’s name and shook the lot pot gently, carrying out her divination.
This was a technique from the school of Yin-yang. She had not fallen behind with it because of her buddhist cultivation. Instead, as her cultivation of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty progressed, she gained a deeper comprehension. After all, one of the six most renowned abhijñā, or knowledge or powers, was the pubbe-nivāsanussati, the knowledge of past lives or fate. It was impossible for the White Bone Bodhisattva to not have practised this ability given her cultivation. The Path of White Bone and Great Beauty had a special section devoted to this aspect.
She was still not qualified to dive too deeply into it, but she had quite a comprehension of it when combined with the Cloud Bookcase of the Seven Lots.
Li Qingshan could shield himself from most probing eyes that originated from the heavenly secrets through the Spirit Turtle Transformation, but their fates were closely linked, like it was just one body, so they could sense one another. In the past, when Li Qingshan underwent rebirth after the Dragon King of Ink Sea hunted him down, she had sensed it clearly despite being in the distant Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Her divinations regarding him were especially accurate.
On top of that, she was not divining the obscure, unpredictable future, but the past and present that had already happened or was currently happening. She possessed an abundance of relevant information too, so her process of divination was extremely smooth.
She grasped the thread of Li Qingshan’s fate the moment she closed her eyes. It was enveloped in an omen of great misfortune. He currently faced great danger and difficulties.
He seemed to be trapped in a certain place. That place was almost isolated from this world, where even the threads of fate that surpassed space felt unstable.
Has he fallen for a trap by the Demon domain? Xiao An frowned slightly and immediately reached an accurate conclusion. She balled her fists. It’s all because of me!
The balanced buddhist glow and the flames on her fell into disorder. Just like how concern led to mental disarray, she was almost tempted to rush over right now to save him. She bit her fingernail and made herself calm down.
She murmured, “My current state… even if I was in my best state… It’s useless… It’s not a regular trap…”
The only thing worth rejoicing over was according to the indications of fate, he was in dire straits, but he would not be dying any time soon. The issue was how she could save him from there.
“Ask for help? The Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga? Feng Xiwu? The Great Banyan Tree King? The King of Southern Yue? The Merfolk Kings?”
In that moment, a thousand thoughts raced through her head. She constantly eliminated, sifted through, and chose between them…
First of all, the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga was out of the picture. The Mist province and the Green province were still hostile with one another.
Furthermore, perhaps Feng Xiwu and the Great Banyan Tree King were willing to assist him, but they were both plant daemons. They could not move their main bodies easily and were limited to a certain range of activity. The Great Banyan Tree King could mobilise the other Daemon Kings of the Mist province, but he could not order these Daemon Kings to throw their lives at demonfolk.
The two Merfolk Kings of the South sea would fight for the sake of Gong Yuan, but convincing them was anything but easy. On top of that, one of them would definitely stay behind to watch the Crystal palace. With just a single Merfolk King, what could they achieve? It was not very optimistic.
Last of all, the King of Southern Yue was the most optimal choice to seek help from. Given the Silver Dragon King’s great destructive power and the fact that he also had a duty to fend off the demonfolk, Li Qingshan had basically been constantly assisting him by purging the demons, so it made perfect sense for him to lend a hand. However, there was also a possibility that he would just stand by.
Thinking through everything in an instant, Xiao An arrived at where Ru Xin cultivated. After telling her the situation, she asked her to go to Savage mountain to ask for the Great Banyan Tree King’s assistance. Only the Great Banyan Tree King could quickly make contact with the King of Southern Yue and convince him to fight.
Seeing how solemn Xiao An was, as well as how she was slightly panic-stricken, she understood the severity of the matter and got right to work. She immediately made way for Savage mountain.
After sending Ru Xin off, Xiao An seemed to make some sort of decision. She returned to the hall again and thought to herself.
Qingshan has always been balancing the demonic and divine and equalising fire and water. On the other hand, white bone and great beauty is a transition between form and emptiness, a shift between life and death, which is also mutual promotion and restraint. The White Bone Bodhisattva had converted all of her buddhist cultivation into the demonic path of white bone, so why don’t I try to balance the two too? The King of Southern Yue may not provide assistance. I’m better off relying on myself than others. All I can do is undergo the third heavenly tribulation as quickly as possible if I want to save him!
With a stubborn idea like that, she took out the two arcane treasures the Divine Nun of the South Sea had left for her before suddenly conjuring a golden avatar. The avatar had a total of four arms, one holding the Skull Prayer Beads, one holding the scripture of vinaya, one branding the disciplinary stick, and one gripping the Buddha-slaying sword. The Blood Sea Banner stood behind her, spraying out a river of blood that wrapped around the golden avatar.
Under the golden avatar, her body began to change in a bizarre way. Her left side was complete with flesh and great beauty. Not only was she alluring, but she also took on a solemn and benevolent demeanour, glistening with a holy light as half a halo enveloped the back of her head.
Her right side was jagged bones, with the Samādhi Flames of White Bone lingering in between, which depicted thousands of painful, twisted faces. It demonstrated the coldness and mercilessness to destroy buddhas, annihilate the dharma, and slaughter all life!
For a moment, good and evil displaced one another. Buddhism and the demonic coexisted. It was indescribably profound.
However, this was a great danger to her. If the Samādhi Flames of White Bone devoured the holy glow, or if the holy glow suppressed and extinguished the Samādhi Flames of White Bone, they could both be regarded as a path to her. There would not be a lot of danger.
However, once she tried to balance the two, to make them coexist, she would immediately be pushing the limits. It was not just the two powers in conflict with one another. Even every single thought through her head clashed together.
She was like a coin tossed high into the air, constantly alternating between the two sides, with the world spinning around her, in search of an outcome. However, the outcome she was after was neither heads or tails, but to stand firmly on its edge. The difficulty involved went without saying. Just the slightest carelessness would completely tear her apart.
She did not even know whether the possibility of standing on the edge existed at all. After all, even the White Bone Bodhisattva had gone from buddhism to the demonic.
However, there was no hesitation on either side of her heart. During the process of practising the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, she had once become lost and confused too. It was through his advice that she managed to come to an understanding. It was not because of how profound his advice was, but because it was so simple and direct that it was rather naive.
However, what mattered the most was not the contents of his advice, but the person who gave the advice—him.
She had never pursued the depth and profound knowledge of the buddhist dharma, nor had she ever wallowed in the liberty and lawlessness of the demonic. She only wanted to remain by his side forever. That was all.
With her true self present, there were no buddhas or demons that could change it!
“Namo Amitābha!” “Destroy buddhism! Destroy buddhism!”
She suddenly opened her eyes, and the two voices rang out at the same time, bringing her palms together.
With a great rumble, the grand hall was obliterated!
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