The vault, Li Yundong soon realized, was essentially an underground maze, a complex labyrinth of passageways interspersed by what appeared to be dozens of cellars and chambers. It was without a doubt one of the most marvelous feats of engineering that Li Yundong had ever seen.
Li Yundong raised his oil lamp (found a couple of them hanging on the wall near the entrance) and spotted Lin Youfa sticking his head into one of the many, many chambers. The guy was an old dude, but right now he was acting like an excited three-year-old.
Li Yundong rolled his eyes when Lin Youfa let out a cheer.
"Holy shit, Li Zhenren!" Lin Youfa exclaimed. "Do you know what that is?"
Yeah. By all means, keep shouting, why don't you? Let everyone in the Great Six know that we're here.
Li Yundong walked over and peered over Lin Youfa's shoulder.
Lin Youfa's oil lamp shone into a particular corner of the dark chamber, illuminating a large frame hanging on the wall.
It was a calligraphy painting.
Lin Youfa's boisterous voice echoed in the chamber. "Hah! See that? That's Wu Daozi's famous work! The Birth of Gautama Buddha!"
Li Yundong studied the painting for a moment. Well, it was a nice painting and all that. But quite frankly, he didn't give a flying fig.
"I wonder if that's the original," Lin Youfa whispered. "It'll be worth several hundred million dollars if it is…"
Li Yundong glanced sideways at Lin Youfa.
Even in the dark, the greed in the old man's eyes was plain as day. Lin Youfa definitely couldn't be trusted fully.
Just as Lin Youfa was about to move towards the painting, Li Yundong reached out and held the man's shoulder in a tight grip.
"Hey," Li Yundong growled. "Take me to the hidden passage first."
Lin Youfa turned around and stared at him in disbelief.
"But this is the vault!" Lin Youfa protested. "There are so many—"
"I don't give a damn about the treasures," Li Yundong snarled. "Take me into the Fox Zen School. Now."
Through the meager light from the oil lamp, Li Yundong could see the defiant glint inside Lin Youfa's eyes right then.
"Why do you always get to do what you want?" Lin Youfa snapped. "Why can't I explore the vault first and then take you to the secret path?"
"Are you dumb?" Li Yundong growled. "I'll be out of your damn hair once you lead me out of here. And then you can explore this place for however long you want or rot in here for all I care."
"That's not gonna work, Li Zhenren."
Li Yundong frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"The secret passage might take a while to find."
"So?" Li Yundong stared at Lin Youfa. What the hell was this old man even on about?
"What if I don't have enough time to explore the vault?" Lin Youfa raised his chin. "What if the Great Six arrives by the time I lead you out?" Lin Youfa snorted. "I won't be able to take anything then."
"That's your problem, not mine." Li Yundong paused to take a breath. Then, he shot the old man a glare. "You said that finding the secret passage will take some time. Isn't that all the more reason for you to start looking right away?" Li Yundong took a step closer. "I warned you not to waste my time, old man."
The old man didn't back down this time. "How about we work together, then? Let's strike a deal. An agreement."
Li Yundong kept glaring at Lin Youfa. Clearly, this idiot had forgotten who was really in charge here.
Perhaps he needed a little reminder.
Lin Youfa's oil lamp crashed to the floor the moment Li Yundong hoisted him up by the throat.
"I told you not to jerk me around, Lin Youfa," Li Yundong growled. "You seem to have forgotten that."
Li Yundong tightened his grip around Lin Youfa's throat, causing the latter to gasp.
"K- K- Kill me a- and y- you'll n- never… f- find t-the pa… passage…"
Li Yundong glared into Lin Youfa's eyes, reveling in the fear he saw in those eyes.
Lin Youfa gasped. "L- Let me go… And… We'll come up w- with… a deal."
Li Yundong slammed Lin Youfa's back against the wall, though he didn't let go of the man's throat. "I'm going to ask this one last time, old man," Li Yundong growled. "Will you get me into the Fox Zen School or not?"
Lin Youfa nodded shakily.
"As soon as you can?" Li Yundong squeezed Lin Youfa's throat harder.
There was another shaky nod.
Li Yundong let go of Lin Youfa's neck then. The old man slid down to the floor, coughing and wheezing.
He didn't want to resort to such violence, but he really didn't have a choice right now. If the main entrance was sealed off as Lin Youfa claimed, then the secret passage was the only way he could make it into the Fox Zen School on foot. Well, he could've searched for the passage on his own, if the whole place wasn't so damned big and convoluted. It would probably take him days to search through the whole place.
He hated to admit it, but Lin Youfa was his only hope of making into the Fox Zen School as quickly as possible.
"How about we split up. I go find the secret passage, while you explore the place and tell me what you find later." Lin Youfa rose to his feet. "Sound fair?"
"What, not afraid that I'm gonna steal away all the good stuff?"
Lin Youfa shrugged. "I'm convinced now that you're not here for the treasures."
Yeah? No shit.
"So do we have a deal or not?" Lin Youfa asked impatiently.
"No," Li Yundong said in a sharp tone.
Li Yundong glared at Lin Youfa. "What do you take me for? An idiot?" Li Yundong took a step forward and pointed a finger at Lin Youfa's face. "You'll just go on a looting spree the moment I let you wander off on your own! So no! Your stupid plan isn't gonna happen. Here's what will happen instead. You're gonna start looking for the hidden passage right now, and I'll be following you around. I'm not letting you out of my sight."
"But that's a waste of time!" Lin Youfa argued. "One of us could've spent that time exploring this place!"
Li Yundong smashed his fist into the wall beside Lin Youfa's head. "Don't test my patience, old man…"
A smirk formed on Lin Youfa's face. "Go ahead. Kill me. You'll never be able to find the hidden passage without me."
Pieces of concrete fell to the floor when Li Yundong yanked his fist out from the dent on the wall.
"Just take the deal, Li Zhenren," said Lin Youfa. "Can't you see? It'll be a win for the both of us."
Li Yundong shot the man a vicious glare.
It's not that I don't see it, asshole. It's just that I don't trust you.
Lin Youfa shrugged. "You get to be on your way, and I get to save some time. Like I said, win-win."
Li Yundong shook his head and said nothing. This wouldn't do. He had to come up with some way to outwit the bastard. Otherwise, the guy would just keep jerking him around.
Li Yundong glared at Lin Youfa again.
Apparently, death threats had no effect on him anymore.
Son of a bitch.
Lin Youfa chuckled and waved his hand around. "Look around you. It's like a goddamn maze in here. The place is so huge. There's no way you can find the passage on your own. It'd probably take you days! And there's no way I can finish exploring the place on my own either." Lin Youfa clapped Li Yundong on the shoulder. "So what do you say, Li Zhenren? How about we work together, eh?"
Li Yundong removed Lin Youfa's hand from his shoulder and considered his options. What if he broke the bastard's arm and then offered to heal it only if the guy did as he said? Would that work? Or was there a better way?
Suddenly, Li Yundong smirked.
Perhaps there is…
"Fine," Li Yundong said, schooling his features. "I'll take the deal."
"Hah!" Lin Youfa clapped his hands together. "Finally saw sense, eh? Good, good!"
Two can play this game…
"Go on, then," Li Yundong snapped. "Move your ass and get to work!"
Instead of moving, Lin Youfa reached into his pocket.
"Hey!" Li Yundong's hand shot out. "No funny business."
"Geez… Relax, Li Zhenren." Lin Youfa waved the object in his hand. It was a tiny ball of string, about half the size of his palm. "This thing is completely harmless."
"What's that for?" Li Yundong snapped as he watched Lin Youfa bend down to pick up the fallen oil lamp.
"So that I can find my way back to you, of course." Lin Youfa took one end of the string and pulled. Then, he broke off a piece of string from the yarn. He tied one end of the string to his wrist before handing the other end to Li Yundong. "Tie it somewhere on you."
Li Yundong stared at Lin Youfa. Had this old man gone off his rocker? "What difference would that even make? This thing is only like, 2 meters long!"
Lin Youfa rolled his eyes. "It's an enchanted string. Haven't you heard of it?"
"Would I be reacting like this if I have?"
Lin Youfa sighed. "It'll stretch out and elongate when pulled." The red string lengthened when Lin Youfa pulled it. "And it'll never get tangled up."
Fine. Point proven.
Li Yundong grabbed the other end of the string and began tying it to his wrist.
"Like I said," Lin Youfa continued in a strange tone. "I need a way to find you in this maze later, since you'll be doing your own exploration." There was a pause. "Besides, I would know immediately if you're just following me the whole time I was tracking down the secret passage…"
Li Yundong looked up from his wrist.
Lin Youfa smiled smugly. "Did you think I'm that dumb?"
God damn it!
His plan had failed before it even began.
Son of a bitch.
Fine. Plan B.
"And I have your word that you'll locate the secret passage as quickly as you can?" Li Yundong raised a brow. "No funny tricks?"
"No funny tricks."
Without taking his eyes off Lin Youfa, Li Yundong formed Acalanatha's 6th's mudra—the Heart of Virtue—with his fingers.
"Namah samanta vajranam ham," he whispered while bridging his Three Gates.
After about ten seconds of silence, Li Yundong lowered his hands slowly.
"Didn't know you're a Buddhist, Li Zhenren," Lin Youfa said in a strange tone.
"That's none of your business," Li Yundong snapped. "Now get—"
Li Yundong whipped his head around and looked over his shoulder. There was nobody there.
But that voice…
"What's the matter?"
Li Yundong turned back around and found Lin Youfa studying him curiously. Li Yundong shook his head but then froze when he heard the voice again.
It sounded like some kind of echoing whisper, which was creepy as hell. (T/N: Think Voldermort whispering to everyone at Hogwarts in the Deathly Hallows)
"Hey," Li Yundong said, narrowing his eyes at Lin Youfa.
"What?" Lin Youfa asked curiously.
"Did you hear that?"
Lin Youfa frowned. "Hear what?"
Li Yundong raised a finger to his lips and pushed his Zhenqi to his Shenting; Eryue came to life in an instant. He spent the next minute trying to detect the strange voice he heard just now, only to come up empty.
The voice was gone.
"What the hell?" Li Yundong whispered to himself.
Lin Youfa chuckled. "I don't know what you heard, but you must've imagined it, Li Zhenren." Lin Youfa waved a hand dismissively. "We're the only ones who entered the vault just now, remember? Nobody came in after us." He shrugged. "Unless there's another way in, or unless someone else knows how to open the door, then we're the only ones here."
Li Yundong shook his head.
What if someone was already hiding inside the vault before they even entered?
"Whatever," Li Yundong said gruffly. He deactivated Eryue and gave Lin Youfa a hard stare. "Just get moving. I want that passage found in half an hour."
Lin Youfa mumbled something about impatient kids before he pulled out a digital camera from his pocket.
"Use this to take pictures of everything you find in those rooms," Lin Youfa said, then grinned. "I'll revisit them once I see something I want."
"Half an hour," Li Yundong growled, snatching the camera from Lin Youfa's hand.
Lin Youfa shot him a helpless look. "I have to check on a few things, so half an hour is a little…"
"Half an hour," Li Yundong snapped.
Lin Youfa sighed. "Fine. I'll try my best."
The red string lengthened as Lin Youfa shuffled away from him. Li Yundong stared after the old man's leaving form. Nothing had happened when he used Heart of Virtue on the guy.
Just to be safe…
A tendril of Li Yundong's Zhenqi stretched forward and shaped itself into a noose around Lin Youfa's throat. Call him paranoid, but he trusted his own Zhenqi more than that enchanted string.
"I'm warning you, Lin Youfa," Li Yundong said in a dangerous tone. "No funny business. Or else…"
Lin Youfa stopped walking and started coughing when Li Yundong's Zhenqi squeezed Lin Youfa's neck.
Li Yundong eased up on the Qi Kinesis and let Lin Youfa breath.
"How the f*ck did you do that?" Lin Youfa was staring back at him in shock.
Lin Youfa turned around and started moving away again.
When Lin Youfa was out of sight, Li Yundong sighed. Hopefully, the old man would return soon and he would be out of here. Please hang on, Chan'er…
The string stopped lengthening.
Li Yundong glanced down at his wrist and fought down the annoyance rising to his chest. The old man must've gotten distracted by something.
Li Yundong tightened the Zhenqi noose around Lin Youfa's neck.
There was a loud yelp.
"Argh! Li Zhenren! Stop! Stop!" A retching sound. "I- I'll keep moving! J- Just stop!"
Li Yundong shook his head and loosened his Zhenqi.
The red string started lengthening again.
Li Yundong sighed. "I might as well explore the place."
He kept walking until he reached the end of the corridor where he had to make a choice: left or right.
He glanced down at his wrist. The red string had curved towards his right.
He exhaled slowly and decided to follow the string. It made more sense to avoid straying too far from Lin Youfa.
Li Yundong came to a halt, his scalp tingling. Below, the red string kept stretching forward. He shook his head and forced himself to keep walking.
Li Yundong hastened his pace. It could be an illusion. Some kind of trap.
Keep walking. Just keep—
Li Yundong gasped when his vision exploded in a multitude of colors.
Fire. He saw fire. Brilliant, varicolored flames. The flames were everywhere, forming some kind of halo. The vision disappeared as quickly as it came, and Li Yundong found himself down on his knees.
Someone was pulling on his backpack. But when he turned his head, he realized that he was wrong. Nobody was pulling his backpack; the backpack itself was trying to move back where he came from.
Okay, okay. I get the idea, Li Yundong communicated with the Fan of Seven Treasures. Stop pulling already.
When the backpack stopped jerking around like it was having a seizure, Li Yundong rose to his feet and turned around.
Was that your voice just now?
The backpack moved to the left, then to the right.
Li Yundong frowned.
That was a "no" according to their agreed gestural language.
"Then whose voice was that just now?" he whispered.
From Lin Youfa's reaction earlier, it seemed like Li Yundong was the only who could hear the voice.
You want me to go back where we came from, Li Yundong said to the Fan of Seven Treasures.
The backpack shot up, then dipped back down.
Li Yundong started walking back.
The hissing voice echoed inside his mind. It was like hearing a bunch of snakes hissing away inside an echo chamber.
"Who are you?" Li Yundong said but didn't stop walking. "Show yourself."
Seek what? What am I looking for?
He had just arrived at the fork at the end of the first hallway where he took the right turn earlier. He continued walking until he was past the first hallway; he assumed that the voice, whomever the heck it belonged to, had wanted him to take the left turn instead of the right. He kept walking despite his niggling doubts, fully aware of the fact that he had no idea what he was walking towards.
Left, right, right, left, left, left, the voice kept guiding him as he made his way through the labyrinth that was the Fox Zen School's hidden vault. Suddenly, he noticed how similar his fate was to that piece of string attached to his wrist: slowly unravelling as it was stretched apart by the force of the unknown.
The air was starting to turn chilly. Despite his body's temperature resistance, his skin still ended up peppered with goosebumps. Perhaps that had nothing to do with the cold and more to do with the fact that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing.
Can that voice be trusted? Li Yundong asked the Fan of Seven Treasures.
The fan affirmed.
Li Yundong strode into some kind of weird chamber with a rectangular floor plan. The chamber was empty except for its four walls. The place was essentially a large atrium with four hallways connected to it, one to each wall.
Li Yundong stopped at the center of the chamber. "What now?"
The voice didn't speak again.
Did you know that voice? At least he had the Fan of Seven Treasures for company. He honestly didn’t know what he would do if he was in this alone.
The fan affirmed.
Whom does the voice belong to?
His backpack began vibrating like crazy.
Right. The Fan of Seven Treasures would only respond to yes or no questions.
Settle down buddy. The backpack stopped vibrating immediately. Are you sure that the voice can be trusted?
That was his main concern right now, which was why he sighed in relief when the fan answered with an affirmation.
"From south… North-east… Fifteen steps…"
Li Yundong's head snapped up, though he had no idea what he'd been expecting to see. The chamber's marble roof was the only thing he saw. In his defense, it did feel like the voice had come from above.
From south? North-east?
From south. That was probably meant as some kind of reference point. Which means… Li Yundong turned his head and looked towards the hallway he came from. That hallway must be south. He looked back to the front, making sure that his back was facing the south hallway directly.
He rotated his body 45 degrees clockwise, and then started walking forward.
He stopped at the fifteenth step.
A loud click sounded, and a deep rumbling followed suit. A rectangular pad at the center of the chamber sank downwards to form a series of stairs.
Li Yundong stood rooted on the spot until the floor stopped quivering before he slowly made his way towards the staircase. It was a steep flight of stairs leading to God knows where.
"Are you leading me out of this place?" Li Yundong yelled.
Maybe Lin Youfa didn't know shit after all. Maybe this was the secret passage.
The echoes of Li Yundong's voice petered out. Still, no answer came.
Having been ignored, Li Yundong decided to turn to his trusted partner in crime for some much-needed advice.
Is the owner of that voice trying to lead me to the Fox Zen School?
His backpack didn't move.
Oh, come on! Don't abandon me now…
Seconds went by.
Not an inch. Not even a tiny nudge. So much for trusted partner in crime.
"Proceed…" the voice hissed.
Li Yundong looked down at flight of stairs and winced. He took a deep breath and made the first step.
At least the first step felt pretty solid.
"Heavens help me," Li Yundong muttered as he took another step.
The stairs led to a huge circular room. Half of the floor was painted black while the other half was painted white. Scratch that. The whole room was actually a massive Yin-Yang circle.
A huge wall cut across the center of the circle. The wall seemed a little out of place given how plain it looked unlike the room's exotic design.
Li Yundong leaped down from the staircase and walked forward.
"Seek what?" Li Yundong stopped walking and glared up at the ceiling. "What do you want me to find?"
Li Yundong did a face palm and sighed.
All of a sudden, he let his hand drop.
"The wall…" He looked up at the ceiling and pointed at the wall. "That wall? You want me to reach that wall?"
Forth it is, then.
Li Yundong walked on, stopping when he reached the wall. "Okay? Now what?" He reached out to touch the wall.
His hand bounced right off before it could even touch the wall's surface.
Piqued, he leaned in to take a closer look at the wall's surface.
There was nothing there, at least to the naked eye.
Well, the wall looked like the dullest wall in existence, and yet…
Li Yundong slowly pushed his index finger forward. Again, his hand was repelled when the tip of his finger was about an inch from the wall's surface.
It was like there was some kind of invisible barrier protecting the wall. Some kind of spell? A magical seal maybe?
"Satya…" the voice hissed.
Li Yundong leaned back from the wall with a frown. Satya? Truth? Why was it suddenly speaking to him in Sanskrit?
"Wisdom," Li Yundong whispered.
"Seek… Hear my name… Heed my teachings…"
Something flashed inside Li Yundong's mind's eyes; he saw those colorful flames again.
"Heed my teachings…"
Li Yundong gasped when the vision disappeared.
"Heed my teachings…"
Head my teachings? Hear my name? Li Yundong rubbed his forehead with his palm. Where have I heard that kind of speech pattern before? And those flame—
Those colorful flames. He'd seen those flames the night he met Acalanatha on his balcony!
"Heed my teachings," Li Yundong said as he started pacing back and forth. "Hear my name…"
Li Yundong stopped short, and all of a sudden, Zi Yuan's translation of Acalanatha's message came flooding into his mind.
"Those who hear my name shall banish all evil and cultivate goodness," Li Yundong whispered. "Those who heed my teachings shall obtain Ultimate Wisdom…"
Li Yundong looked up at the ceiling, his mind running a mile a minute.
Satya means truth in Sanskrit; and Prajna means wisdom.
Okay. So he had to seek truth and wisdom, possibly from that wall over there.
Li Yundong walked back towards the wall and stared at its bland surface.
Seek truth and wisdom. Right. Easier said than done.
Li Yundong walked around to the opposite side of the wall.
Maybe it's only sealed on one side?
His hand bounced off once again.
He hung his head with a heavy sigh. Right. As if anyone could be that stupid.
He examined the wall's surface again, hoping to find some clue to help him unravel this mystery. Unfortunately, this side of the wall looked as plain as the other side.
Li Yundong cocked his fist back and sent a powerful right cross at the wall. The resulting bounce was so powerful that he was thrown ten feet backwards and ended up falling flat on his ass. Well. Not that he'd been expecting that to work; he just wanted to blow off some steam.
Li Yundong groaned and climbed to his feet. Right. So this stupid wall contained the truth he was supposed to be seeking. But he had to break the seal in order to get the wall to reveal this so-called truth to him.
Truth. Ultimate wisdom, whatever.
Li Yundong froze. Whoa. Wait a minute.
Li Yundong replayed Acalanatha's message in his head: Those who heed my teachings shall obtain Ultimate Wisdom.
"Heed my teachings… That's what the voice said…" Li Yundong rubbed his face with his palms. "Heed my teachings… Heed my teachings."
He lowered his hands and released a frustrated growl.
Acalanatha's teachings. What did Acalanatha teach?
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Come on, Li Yundong. Think. This is important. What do I know about Acalanatha?
Acalanatha. The Immovable Wisdom King.
Li Yundong's eyes shot open. "My God… The mudras." He gripped his hair with his hands and began another round of pacing. "It's in the mudras… It has to be."
He came to a halt, turned around, then ran back towards the wall.
Acalanatha had conveyed his teachings to his followers via different ancient texts; the Mahamudra Tantra was one of them. Li Yundong stared hard at the wall. Okay. So one of Acalanatha's mudras held the power to destroy the seal. He was sure of that now. But which one? Acalanatha had 14 mudras in total. Which one should he use?
Should he just try all of them?
Don't be stupid, Li Yundong. Some of those mudras were pretty destructive. One wrong move and it would be all over for him—the entire vault would collapse. He wouldn't even be able to get out of here.
Right. Which means the 1st, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, and 14th mudras were all out since they were all highly destructive in nature.
The 2nd mudra, the Immovable Mountain of Treasure, forms a defensive shield, so that was probably out as well.
The 4th mudra, the Great Eye, allows the user to perceive a person's evil intent.
The 5th mudra, the Mouth of Samadhi, was the only mudra in the Mahamudra Tantra that Li Yundong had no idea how to use. Well, he knew how to form its hand sign, but its purpose, effect, and incantation weren't stated in the Mahamudra Tantra. Even now, Li Yundong remained ignorant as to why that was the case.
The 6th mudra, the Heart of Virtue, delivers immense suffering to those who harbor malicious intention towards the user; the suffering will last until the user releases the mudra.
The 11th mudra, the Dharma Shankha, was used as a form of blessing which boosts the morale, spirit, and willpower of everyone in the user's vicinity; the range and duration of the morale boost depends on the user's own willpower.
The 13th mudra, the Divine Lasso, is yet another offensive mudra; it shackles, binds, and immobilizes a foe at its user's will.
Li Yundong failed to see how any of these mudras could be applied to disarming a magical seal.
(Recommended soundtrack: Check out Acalanatha's theme)
"Goddamn it!" Li Yundong's fist bounced off the wall after he punched it again. Nothing was ever easy. Everywhere he went, obstacles seemed to just throw themselves at him. Why was he always so clueless every time when it really mattered? Worst, he even had to rely on other people to save his ass on many occasions—
Li Yundong froze. "Obstacles," he said, staring at the wall again. "The seal… The seal is an obstacle."
And obstacles had to be removed.
All of a sudden, despair transformed into thrill and excitement. Blood pounded in his ears as a flurry of thoughts gushed into his mind.
The mudras weren't the only things that Acalanatha had taught through the Mahamudra Tantra. Back in Tibet, Meiduo told him that the Mahamudra Tantra had dedicated an entire chapter on Acalanatha's 14 mudras. But some of those pages, according Meiduo, had side notes.
The side notes themselves had nothing to do with any of the mudras; rather, they were about Acalanatha's incantations.
He remembered Meiduo telling him that there were five side notes, each dedicated to one of Acalanatha's incantations.
"My God…" Li Yundong whispered in awe. "Why didn't I see this sooner?"
He closed his eyes and recalled Meiduo's voice when she had read out the contents of one of the side notes to him: it was an incantation called Acalanatha's Rite of Exorcism.
The pieces were starting to fall into place now.
That night on his balcony, the arhats from the Fan of Seven Treasures had destroyed those dark wraiths from the Beads of Gore by chanting a special mantra. And if he remembered correctly…
No. Not if. He was certain of it. Those arhats had been chanting Acalanatha's Rite of Exorcism.
It made sense. Those dark wraiths were evil spirits, and the incantation had exorcised them; hence its name, the Rite of Exorcism.
Then, Acalanatha himself had uttered an incantation after revealing himself in front of Li Yundong!
Come on, come on… Think! What was the incantation? How did it go?
Li Yundong squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to match Acalanatha's voice from that night to Meiduo's voice when she was translating those side notes to him.
His eyes shot open seconds later. "Holy… I know what it is…"
So that's what Acalanatha was trying to tell me…
Li Yundong lowered his backpack to the floor, then stood up to face the wall. One of Acalanatha's incantations held the power to remove the seal.
It was Acalanatha's True Flames of Samadhi. That was the incantation he needed; because, according to the Mahamudra Tantra, the True Flames of Samadhi was actually a prayer to Acalanatha for the removal of any obstacle towards the Path of Truth.
Now he understood why the 5th mudra was called the Mouth of Samadhi, and also why it couldn't be used with the normal mantra: the Mouth of Samadhi was meant as the conveyor of Acalanatha's True Flames of Samadhi.
Li Yundong held his hands in front of his chest and formed the 5th mudra with his fingers. "Here we go… the Mouth of Samadhi."
From his Vital Orb, Li Yundong's Zhenqi surged upwards, linking all three Dantians together to bridge his Three Gates.
May the Mouth of Samadhi breathes the True Flames of Samadhi…
"Namah sarva tathagatebhyah sarva mukhebhyah, sarvatha trat canda maha rosana kham khahi khahi sarva vighnam hum trat ham mam…"
The wall in front of him burst into flames. It was the same flames he'd seen that night on his balcony, the same ones he'd seen earlier in those visual flashes.
Li Yundong repeated the mantra over and over and over again until the colorful flames engulfed the wall completely.
"Namah sarva tathagatebhyah sarva mukhebhyah, sarvatha trat canda maha rosana kham khahi khahi sarva vighnam hum trat ham mam!"
White, blinding light filled the room. Li Yundong flinched and turned away from the wall.
It was that voice again.
When Li Yundong lowered his arms, he realized that the light was gone.
The wall still looked the same.
Li Yundong frowned. Did it work at all?
Li Yundong pulled in a deep breath and reached out with his hand to touch the wall.
The barrier was gone.
As soon as his palm touched the wall's smooth marble surface, a bunch of Chinese characters began to appear on the wall's surface. The characters were releasing a golden glow:
Herein lies the truth of all truths.
Bright to the wise;
Dark to the foolish.
Seek, and thou shalt discover;
Grasp, and thou shalt master.
Ask, and thou shalt stray;
Follow, and thou shalt fail.
The tree of comprehension will bear fruit;
The tree of instruction will wither and wilt.
Woe to those to whom counsel hath been given;
For your body shall fall into ruination;
Never to heal, never to rise.
Slaves ye shall be;
Fettered by ignorance, shackled by infirmity.
And the Truth shall elude you for all eternity;
The crossing of Essence yields life;
But the crossing of Qi yields power.
Life is vital;
But power is growth;
Grow the Orb, and thou shalt be exalted.
Look within, not without;
For therein live the Elixirs of Power.
The path to the Heavens is a ninefold ascent;
Omit none lest all be vain;
Skip none lest the foundation crumble.
What forms the Orb?
Is it not the merging of Fire and Water?
Is it not the byproduct of such a union?
Whatever generates, grows; whatever overcomes, withers.
Order is structure wherein power grows.
Disorder is chaos wherein power withers.
What is power without structure?
What is growth without order?
Yang stokes Fire;
Vitality thrives in the presence of Fire.
Vitality is the basis of growth.
The Convergence of Yang leads to growth.
Yin-Yang is harmony;
Fire is motion;
Earth is stability.
Balance the Fire;
And be as stable and immovable as the Earth.
Look to the Water source.
Thy Water source is abundant; nourish with it.
Look inward! Look within!
Look for the eleven constituents of your constitution;
For they are the ingredients of the True Flames.
The Orb fortifies the Eleven;
The Eleven sets the Orb ablaze.
When the Eleven converges at the Cauldron and the Spirit sparks, the True Flames will be born.
Burn! Burn! Burn!
From the ashes a new power shall rise!
Once created, the Elixirs will grant immense power;
Once created, the Elixirs will never go dry;
Once created, the Elixirs will never be spent;
Once created, the Elixirs can be called upon to serve their master;
The true master of the Elixirs shall rise and become the master of all masters.
Whosoever that has mastered these methods, if they be worthy, shall unlock the full potential of their corporeal existence. Their metabolism shall speed up a hundredfold; and the state, size, and form of their bodies can be altered at will. Their blood, flesh, and bones shall become the bearers of insurmountable strength. Six arms shall be bestowed upon them, for two cannot wield their strength; one head cannot contain their wisdom, so they shall be granted two more.
Such is the power of the Nine Elixirs Method, the ultimate form of Internal Alchemy.
—Mystical Silver Fox
Translator's End Notes:
So. How about that? Worked really hard to make this chapter readable and enjoyable. It is a super long chapter, but I hope you guys at least enjoyed it. A lot of research was done regarding Acalanatha's Mudras and incantations, and a lot of time was poured into presenting all that material in a format that makes sense.
I have also put in a lot of effort in making the Buddhism stuff as interesting as possible by integrating them into the plotline so that it is much easier for you guys to follow along. And if you haven't already noticed, this chapter is fraught with an air of mystery and suspense.
The incantations of Acalanatha really exist. You can find a video link to Acalanatha's True Flames of Samadhi here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbc-Bw7JQ1k
In terms of soundtrack for this chapter, I recommend listening to Acalanatha's theme, which I have uploaded onto this google drive folder:
This chapter is exhausting, truly. I think I need a nap. Bye guys.