“Interesting…How did you do that?”Lord Nine waved his hand to get rid of the blood between his fingers, “I can see you were talking to a rhythm – the rhythm of his breaths, but…how did that happen?”
Li YunXin touched his neck – the wound was not so deep.
He spread his hands and said: “Promise me, if I tell you, you won’t kill me.”
Lord Nine laughed: “You little thing. Are you bargaining with me? Don’t you know that I’m supposed to be angry with you for what you have done?”
“I’m not bargaining with you, instead, I’m begging you.”Li YunXin said, “There are plenty of people for you to eat, but it’s hard to find someone so fun like me.
It was not complicated: Humans are susceptible to their fear and encouragement. Fighting a tiger alone is scary, but 10 people fighting a tiger together won’t be as scared. When it comes to 100 people fighting a tiger, we call it entertainment. The tiger was the same, but the people’s minds had changed.
I had prepared for it for a long time – I made him talk about his family, in order to consume his patience. During nighttimes, people get aggressive more easily. My words may sound simple, but they were all calculated. I gave him the hints, and then – like what you said – I talked to the rhythm of his breath. Finally, I gave him the command after saying ‘One, two, three’, not giving him a chance to think. He took my hints and followed my rhythm. Everything happened like water flowing through a channel*.”
Lord Nine thought for a while. “Sounds easy, huh?”
“…but it was difficult to put into practice.”Li YunXin said, “Only by undergoing systematic training, could one obtain the skill.”
“It was fun indeed…”Lord Nine frowned, and looked at Li YunXin with his pale yellow pupils, “I thought what you have done was fun, so I’m not going to eat you…Is that also included in your calculation?”
Li YunXin spread his hands again, and smiled sincerely: “Maybe, but it doesn’t matter, since you are so powerful. Killing people is like a game to you. No harm would be done to you, even if I’m a scheming bitch. So…don’t eat me, OK?”He said.
Lord Nine gazed at him, thought for a while, and laughed.
“OK…”He answered, “…but what is a Memorial of Schemes(The pronunciations of memorial and bitch are the same)?”
“Well,that one…”Li YunXin thought for a while, “It’s the secret book of my sect.”
“I’ve only heard of the Memorial of Sending Troops and the Memorial of Attacking Zhou Kingdom.”Lord Nine seemed not interested. He waved his hand, and said: “You owe me a life. Yes, you owe me a life.”
Perhaps finding his statement funny, he laughed: “I’ll get to you later when I’m bored. If you fail to entertain me, I will eat you.”
After Lord nine said this, some fog suddenly appeared around him. When he swung his sleeves in the fog, cold light was reflected by his scales. Then the fog took off with him and disappeared in the night sky.
After a quarter of an hour of waiting, Li YunXin finally felt relieved.
“One, two, three, four…nine days.”Leaning on the tree, he talked to himself, “So many things happened within 9 days. It looks like my life is not going to be peaceful.”
9 days ago, he was living in a mountain village in Ding Province.
It was at noon, he was resting on the rattan chair in the yard. Sunshine leaked through the gaps between the leaves, and became round spots of light on him.
His parents passed away a year ago, and of course he was sad about it. Unbreakable bonds had been built between them and Li YunXin, since they had taken good care of him for 12 years. Not to mention that they were his parents who gave birth to him.
He didn’t want to spend his whole life in the village, but he stayed there, because a tradition of the Great Qing Empire was to stay with one’s parents for 3 years after their deaths. It was a long time, but it was acceptable for him. Although he was as strong as a mature man due to the training he had undergone, he was only 14 years old. He was not sure about what to do in the future.
In the eyes of common people in the Great Qing Empire, studying, taking exams and becoming an official was the best way for a person to succeed, while other ways were all looked down upon. However, his parents seemed uninterested in studying to acquire a job in the government, and even looked down upon it.
It was common knowledge in the village that Li YunXin’s family was the only family of scholars there, but Li YunXin knew that his parents had been exploring a more mystic path. He had read all kinds of books: religious, historical, geographical, political and literary ones, but he was still more interested in the trick his father did when he was 2 years old – creating salt by painting on a piece of paper.
However, his parents didn’t tell him much about it before their deaths last spring.
Li YunXin remembered it was a night of thunderstorm. He was sleeping in the western room, when the continuous thunder woke him up. He lifted his head and looked out of the window – the whole world was brightened by the white lightning strikes; he could see everything in his room clearly. The roaring thunder lasted for about half an hour. When he finally fell asleep and woke up again, he found that his parents who were in the eastern room had become charred bodies.
It was a scary news, and caused some bad rumors. However, they didn’t last long, because his parents were known as really nice people in the village.
Li YunXin investigated for a month with sorrow and pain, and finally drew the conclusion: It seemed to be an accident. He had been worried about their deaths – He thought there was someone behind the accident, but his worries were blown away after a year of peaceful time.
Then, one day when he was chilling out in the yard, 2 priests came to see him in the afternoon. It was his first time seeing a priest. He thought he could be friends with them, because he knew that priests knew spells, just like his parents and himself.
Li YunXin grew up in that village, most of his knowledge of the outside world came from his parents. They were knowledgeable, and had taught him a lot, but he seldom had chances to communicate with people outside the village, and that’s why he was actually really happy when he saw the priests who had similar ages to him.
On the 3rd day since they had met, Li YunXin was chatting with the priests under the tree in the yard. They were enjoying the pine nuts in a tiny basket at the same time. The basket was placed on a square wooden table. Some cloud patterns were painted on the corners of the table, and that made it look stylish.
One of the priests was called ChiSongZi*, and the other one was KangCangZi*. Under the tree, they chatted and laughed.
“So, you two immortals came form Xiang Province* to experience and learn in your travels.”
ChiSongZi smiled. “Not immortals yet. We haven’t found the truth of Dao, so, yes, we are trying to make some progress by traveling. You know, the first step in Taoist cultivation is to strengthen your heart, and the heart means your soul.”
His parents didn’t explain to him too much about this, so Li YunXin knew about it, but didn’t understand it. He asked modestly: “Strengthen my soul? What does that mean?”
ChiSongZi looked at KangCangZi, touched the thin hair on his lips, and smiled: “Looks like that you are a person who seeks Dao, too, little brother. Let me tell you: Strong or weak, everyone has their own souls. We cultivators need a strong soul to control the spirits in the world. The stronger one’s soul is, the more power he can draw from the spirits. The way to strengthen one’s soul – it sounds simple – is to survive the trials.”
“Surviving the trials…?”
ChiSongZi continued: “It’s not that scary like how it sounds. Dao is formless, so when one gets to the ultimate level of his Taoist cultivation, he becomes emotionless.
Everyone in this world is surviving their own trials, and most of them are trials of emotions. Think about those scamps on streets: They are so easily annoyed. They could be so angry that their hair stands up and lifts their hats from their heads*, just because of some meaningless conflicts…and lovers, they always get hurt by the hatred grows out of their love – Nobody escapes from the seven emotions and six desires*.
However, we cultivators study Taoism, and seek the rules behind the world. If one’s soul is not strong enough, he would be easily disturbed. Thus his mind won’t be pure enough for him to understand the world. Maybe he would get disturbed when casting a spell, and get consumed by the spirits.”
“So…to have a strong soul means to be emotionless?”
ChiSongZi’s eyes lit up: “Brilliant! Exactly, emotionlessness is the goal of our cultivation. To strengthen your soul and abandon your desires, you must experience all emotions and desires firstly.”
“Everyone experiences them in their lives, don’t they?”Li YunXin was confused.
ChiSongZi waved his head, and said: “Nope. For example, love, the love between a man and a woman. When their love goes well, they will sink into the happiness of their love, and never think about getting out. When their love doesn’t go well, they will definitely be sad, but still hoping to get their love back. They are experiencing love, but they are not getting rid of it, which means they are not passing their trials.
However, things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme. When you have finished experiencing the happiness and sorrow brought to you by your love, and get bored with it, you will start to get rid of it, and acquire the tranquility in your heart.”
Li YunXin peeled a pine nut, and nodded: “I see. It’s like when you eat too much, you will start to throw up…but there are so many different emotions! For example, a person’s love for his pet cat and his lover are different. What’s more, the sorrows of being slapped in the face and losing money are different, too…there are so many of them! When are you ever going to finish these trials?”
“Alas! That’s why we always say ‘Life is too short’.”Looking to the sky, ChiSongZi sighed. His face of a teenager looked so serious at that moment. “…so we cultivators must acquire longevity to experience all the trials. However, if someone is lucky enough to…”
Looking at Li YunXin, he continued: “…to get a famous painting of the ancient painters, his cultivation would be much easier.”
- The water flowing through a channel: Something which comes naturally
- ChiSongZi赤松子: The Taoist name of the teenage priest. Every cultivator will get a new name when they enter the sects.
- KangCangZi亢仓子: KangCang=tall granary
- Xiang Province襄州: Xiang=To farm
- So angry that their hair stands up and raises their hats from their head: An exaggerated expression of anger.
- The seven emotions and six desires:
7 emotions=Joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hate and desire.
6 desires=The desire to see, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel.
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