Buddhist monks holding golden disks, palace maids holding pure white lotus flowers, servants holding rows of gorgeous curtains, cavalry with curved blades at their sides, musicians blowing conches, playing huqin instruments… A tremendous and sacred procession escorted Tangcang Emperor and the empress dowager out of the imperial palace, leaving the imperial city.
No one in Quicksand City slept.
Everyone who heard the news spread it as quickly as they could, so everyone washed themselves as quickly as possible, put on their best clothes, and then solemnly and respectfully walked out of their doors.
Even some elders who were already elderly to the point where they didn’t usually move, under the support of their children, assembled on the main street outside the imperial city, personally seeing off the empress dowager they loved and respected.
Under the hot and stifling night, two rows of people extended like a dragon. They carried oil lamps in their hands, flickering along the way, as if the flames reached into the heavens themselves.
Many people began to calmly and peacefully chant sutras.
Tangcang has always lacked water since the ancient times. Moreover, the underground spring that extended into Tangcang’s borders, the holy river Tangcang relied on for survival, ever since a hundred years ago, already began to dry up day by day.
This was a punishment of the heavens. Quite a few tribes from Tangcang began to migrate west, their lands which were fertile with water and grass were occupied by the Xiyi Fifteen Divisions as well. While beset with difficulties inside and outside, popular will was unstable, armed rebellions rising in revolt year-round.
A true locust calamity then descended on Tangcang, the mortality rate of newborns rising to fifty percent.
Then, there were three months without rainfall. Just when all of Tangcang’s army and civilians believed that the heavens wished for Tangcang’s destruction, a sacred lady dressed in sanskrit robes crossed the Scarlet Scorpion Desert on her bare feet, becoming Tangcang’s empress.
The empress offered her prayers to the heavens, calming their wrath, exposing herself before the harsh sunlight for three days. Then, a great rain descended from above, bringing peace to the people.
During the next few decades, the empress personally set out several times, calming all sides. In addition, she ordered the army to search for sources of water, having plants be grown along their holy river to lock in the water. Several decades later, several great green regions emerged within Tangcang’s borders, while their holy river no longer diminished.
Moreover, when the late emperor died several years later, the empress quieted the chaos of three families and five divisions, putting the young Emperor Feng Xuan on the imperial throne.
Now, Tangcang Ancient Country had efficient governing, the people were at peace, the capital Quicksand City even more so becoming a safe place. However, after dedicating her entire life to the people, the now turned empress dowager was tired, wishing to leave.
Inside the carriage, the empress dowager who had already changed out of her lavish clothes into a set of old yellow monk robes was already powerless to get up, but she still had her personal maids scatter auspicious multicolored threads to thank the people for accompanying her departure.
She thought about the starving people and the white bones of the deceased everywhere when she walked through the desert before. When she saw the brilliant lantern flames along the sides of the road, the brilliance on her face became even stronger, the hand that held Emperor Feng Xuan’s hands exerting a bit more strength. With a relieved smile, she said, “Child… you must always remember that the death of a person is like the extinguishing of a lantern. No matter how great a country is, how great the imperial palace, to sleep peacefully in the evening, we only need a place to lay down. Once we close our eyes, this entire world will fade from our eyes, all ages fading away. We cannot bring anything to life, once we die, we will return to the earth, even more so unable to take anything with us. In this world, there is nothing more meaningful than whole-hearted joy and living on in the hearts of others. Reputation is superficial, but their love and respect, their happiness, those you can see, they are real.”
Emperor Feng Xuan looked at his mother’s face, at the radiance it exuded, and then at the people who entered the narrow streets to see them set off. He once again understood many things, knowing that this was where the meaning of his mother’s life lay. He nodded again, saying, “This child understands.”
Just as Tangcang’s procession left Quicksand City, starting to make their way through Scarlet Scorpion Desert as quickly as possible, a man dressed in ordinary green clothes walked into Jadefall’s border pass, into Shuren City, heading towards the deep alley where several dozen Yunqin cultivators died.
His complexion was as dark as ink, lips red like a brocade, body as if forged through steel, the lines of his face indescribably cold and resolute. It was precisely the respected great general who inspired awe throughout the empire through bravery and decisiveness.
Behind him followed a silent archery master with a fine vermilion steel longbow on his back, his age in the forties. Not a trace of expression could be seen on his monotonous face, the vermilion-colored fine steel longbow was covered in spark-like runes, the weapon itself exceptionally long.
Respected Cangyue walked into the deep alley without any expression on his face, walking slowly. The alley was still completely empty. After briefly stopping before a few buildings, he then entered the small earth home Cheng Xiangyi previously stood in.
The small earth home was already cleaned out. Cheng Xiangyi’s corpse had already been examined and buried, but the two parts of the broken sword were still quietly resting on the earth, waiting for the respected great general’s arrival.
He looked at these two broken halves of the sword for several breaths of time, and then continued. He made his way around the winding alley, walking into the small courtyard that originally belonged to Internal Affairs Sector’s General Manager Luo Li.
The small courtyard had also been tidied up, but there was a deep arrow hole that remained in the ground.
“This is a Sacred Expert who has only recently managed to fully control a flying sword. After killing so many people, after suffering from your joint attack, she has already sustained serious injuries… Moreover, judging from her advance, she isn’t a Tangcang cultivator, nor is she a cultivator from the south.” Respected Cangyue looked at the only fiery maple tree that remained, suddenly saying expressionlessly, “This age, these methods… moreover someone I was not aware of, able to vanish without a trace, even able to allow Nanshan Mu’s orders to transmit out, walking away with several thousand soldiers... only those who can use the emperor’s people and orders can possibly accomplish this.”
The silent archer continued to remain silent.
He knew that he was supposed to remain silent, because the respected great general was only saying this for him to hear. Moreover, because Ghost Advisor wasn’t here, he wanted to say this to someone, but there was no one to speak to.
Respected Cangyue’s eyes stopped over this small courtyard’s wall.
He understood everything about Nanshan Mu, knowing that the reason why he jumped over this wall was merely to take Luo Li down with him. However, in this place, a Sacred Expert level cultivator actually appeared!
“Zhou Shoufu… I originally thought that you all merely didn’t want me to become one of the old nine, who would have thought that you all actually long prepared this type of powerful cultivator, already ready to deal with me. You all actually had so little respect for my many years of service in the west, all of those glorious achievements!”
Right now, Respected Cangyue had no idea that even the emperor and imperial princess were completely in the dark, outsiders also completely unaware of everything that happened. Ghost Advisor wasn’t only his loyal subordinate, he was also a good friend he met when he was young and frivolous. If it was said that he had a true friend in this world, then that person could only be Ghost Advisor.
Respected Cangyue slowly raised his head, looking into the sky.
He wanted to viciously smash open a hole in this sky.
A bald monk dressed in bronze monk clothes quietly stood on a sand dune.
His hands were together in prayer, a dark golden staff that was as tall as him inserted into the sand next to him.
Scorching sunlight shone on his body, heat rising from the ground, the air warped, this place looked like a sea of flames. However, he seemed completely indifferent to it all, only looking into the distance.
His figure didn’t look all that tall, but every chunk of muscle on his body bulged like rocks, making him look especially sturdy, as if he had a type of heaven splitting earth cleaving strength. His body lacked even a drop of sweat, instead flickering with a faint layer of golden light.
The buddhist beads hanging over his chest were made from a certain type of golden wood, every single bead the size of an infant’s fist, giving him even more of an indescribably majestic and holy appearance.
After standing still for who knew how long, a real comet of flowing flames landed in the vast sea of sand before him. The ground trembled, many scarlet scorpions crawling out, the larger ones the size of a palm. However, he still remained still like a statue, not moving at all.
A long time passed. Troops appeared In the direction he stared at.
These troops that were now already completely dragged by light war chariots were precisely the procession carrying Tangcang’s Emperor Feng Xuan and empress dowager.
As he watched this procession get closer and closer, this monk didn’t utter a sound, only turning around and walking forward, leading the way.
He was barefooted, not walking all that fast, but the war chariots pulled by a rotation of fine steeds just couldn’t pass him, always over a thousand steps between them.
Meanwhile, in the places where he walked past, the thick yellow sand was completely scattered under a wave of gentle aura his body released. Underneath the yellow sand, just like a miracle, emerged an ancient yellow brick road.
The fleet moved over the yellow brick road, advancing more and more smoothly.
In this fleet, apart from the empress dowager, whose face became even more brilliant, expression even more peaceful, when others looked at that barefooted monk’s rear figure, they all felt indescribable shock and astonishment.
In front of the monk was still a sea of sand. A large mountain’s outlines could vaguely be made out.
The monk continued walking towards this great mountain.
Even with the emperor and empress dowager here, many people in this procession, the instant they saw that ‘great mountain’ clearly, they still couldn’t hold back a cry of alarm, their bodies shaking fiercely as if they had been pierced by needles.
This wasn’t actually a great mountain at all, but rather three solemn and majestic great buddhas half buried in the hill.
One of them lost its head and one of them had its arms broken, only the last one was completely intact. However, all three figures’ bodies were covered in giant cracks and deep cut scars.
These three great buddhas clearly already experienced countless years, but they still towered between heaven and earth, indescribably massive and dignified. Anyone who saw them would feel shaken, unable to think selfishly at all. It truly was hard to imagine just how such massive buddhas could be sculpted through the power of man.
This was truly an unimaginable miracle.
“These are the Sanskrit Buddhas mother always speaks of?”
While looking at one of the three great buddhas buried in the yellow sand, looking at this miracle, the weather beaten, face burnt black Emperor Feng Xuan’s mind also went blank, only feeling how extremely insignificant he was in this massive world, below these giant buddhas.
The monk walked past these three great buddhas. The yellow sand below his feet moved, displaying a wide and worn flight of steps.
Behind these three indomitable great buddhas was actually a deep depression, a massive canyon.
Some buddhist temples that flickered with golden radiance protruded from the surface, built in this deep canyon.
“You all can stop here.”
Right at this time, what made everyone’s minds shake uncontrollably, all of them kneeling down once more, was that the already bedridden and seriously ill empress dowager actually stood up by herself.
“Accompany me through this final journey.”
A faint layer of golden light flickered about her body’s surface. Even though she was old, her body thin and pallid to the extreme, it still released a holy splendor, as if the last bit of oil in a lantern had now been ignited.
She grabbed Emperor Feng Xuan’s hand, and then with an unquestionable expression and tone, had Emperor Feng Xuan support her body. Then, they followed behind the monk, walking forward one step after another.Previous Chapter Next Chapter