Chapter 197: Walk Around the Lake
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Liu Zheng’s powers had increased tremendously from before! He could now fight on par with Wen Leyang.
Liu Zheng’s life force was pure and sharp. However, he was obviously not accustomed to his new strength, or else even Wen Leyang, who had his bones remoulded by poison, might not have withstood his attack.
After his initial blow, Liu Zheng retracted his powers and stopped his attacks. He frowned as he scrutinised Wen Leyang. “It is really is you.” He waved for his disciples to stop their attack.
Wen Leyang’s brows knitted together, “What do you mean? Of course. It’s me!”
Liu Zheng broke out into a smile. A sense of friendliness shown through his eyes but it vanished just as quickly as it came. “I knew there was something strange about this town. Your powers have increased as well. This led me to believe that it was all some kind of trick of the eye cast by the enemy to deceive us.”
Liu Zheng’s gaze shifted to the people standing inside the town’s borders. “They… they’re not the original inhabitants?”
Wen Leyang nodded in response. “They’re my friends. We have just arrived here not long ago ourselves.”
Liu Zheng’s eyes bulged all of a sudden. “Then where are the town’s residents? Where have they gone?”
Wen Leyang shook his head. He did not answer the question and diverted the topic instead, “What’s going on here?” He gestured towards the Kunlun disciples, who were recalling their flying swords and were slowly gathering around their supreme leader. Not had only Liu Zheng’s powers improve, the magic powers of these Kunlun disciples were on the same level as the Kunlun sword seniors that he had met back at the City God Temple of Shanghai. If it had not been for the giant pangolin’s desperate attempt to stop them, Wen Leyang would have suffered grievous wounds from the assault of the sword dragons.
Liu Zheng hesitated before opening his mouth and speaking stoically, “My master and the two Immortal uncles have passed away.”
Wen Leyang was taken aback at this discovery. He pulled Liu Zheng to his feet. “Let’s discuss this further inside the town.” Liu Zheng did not protest. He instructed the one thousand Kunlun Sect disciples to standby. He followed behind Wen Leyang. The giant pangolin Po Tu, who had been struck senseless by the divine swords earlier, slowly got to his feet. He returned to his earthly form and staggered like a drunkard into the town.
When they arrived in the middle of the town, Wen Leyang repeated solemnly, “The enlightened person Tian Shu has passed away?”
Liu Zheng nodded rigidly, “Uncle Tian Hua as well.” Liu Zheng had shrunk down to just a bag of bones in the last few months. It seemed to be empty under the Taoist robe. Gu Xiaojun was worried that if Liu Zheng would break his thin neck just by nodding.
“Before the master passed away, he passed on his remaining powers to me and the Kunlun disciples. My uncle buried himself in the sword grave and called upon the sword with his spirit.” Liu Zheng stated rather drily.
The abilities of the three sword saints of Black and White Island were unparalleled. Before his passing, the enlightened person Tian Shu had used a secret technique to pass on his remaining powers to Liu Zheng and all the Kunlun disciples. That was how the Kunlun Sect as a whole had been raised to another level. Little supreme leader Liu Zheng had attained the level of power of an elite, like the old demon rabbit Bu Le.
If it has been the former Kunlun Sect, the disciples would not even have the chance to activate their sword formation before Wen Leyang had got ahold of Liu Zheng.
The sword dragons had been a formation formed by the flying swords of the Kunlun disciples. It was not, as Wen Leyang had thought, the Thousand Swords Greeting magic spell that had been used at the sword grave at the feet of the Kunlun Mountains.
Wen Leyang said with a soft smile, “Thank goodness you did not cast the Thousand Swords Greeting.” He was trying to soothe and distract Liu Zheng.
Liu Zheng merely squinted his eyes in disapproval. He did not find Wen Leyang’s joke amusing. He said, slowly, word for word, “The Thousand Swords Greeting is used to kill…” Liu Zheng changed the topic then. He lifted his eyes and looked at Wen Leyang. “Why are you guys here? Where are the town’s people?”
Wen Leyang roughly recounted their experience in Tuer Town. “The town’s residents have left with the evil cult followers a few days ago.” He lowered his voice, “Does the passing of the two sword Immortals have anything to do with this town?”
Little supreme leader Liu Zheng grunted in a non-committal manner. He continued to question Wen Leyang, “In which direction did they go?”
Wen Leyang did not answer but Gu Xiaojun, who was frowning, opened his mouth, “We are investigating the nine-headed snake cult followers. You guys pose such a large force. If you meddle in this, it’ll-”
Liu Zheng stretched out a hand and cut Gu Xiaojun short, “If you are going to tell me, we will go look for them ourselves. I can’t let them escape!” Gu Xiaojun may have been a mere mortal but he showed no weakness in front of Liu Zheng. He said forcefully, “If you want revenge, we will do whatever we can to help you but this issue involves the re-emergence of Xiang Liu. Nobody should act recklessly!”
Wen Leyang hastily moved to stand between the two. “Let’s not quarrel. What exactly happened to the enlightened person Tian Shu and Tian Hua?”
Liu Zheng looked at Wen Leyang and answered flatly, “Master and uncle were badly injured by some scheming, wicked… some men. The two elders had rushed back before their final breath and left us with a clue.” He closed his eyes and said, word for words, in a cold tone, “If we, the thousand disciples of the Kunlun Sect, cannot have this revenge, we will gladly lay down our swords and follow the heroic souls of my master and uncle into the grave.”
These words had no effect on Wen Leyang. He was merely puzzled. “Who is this enemy you speak of? Also, the enlightened person Tian Yin still hasn’t-” In the Kunlun ranks, the only remaining member of the three sword immortals was the enlightened person Tian Yin, who has not shown himself. Logically speaking, with such a serious matter taking place, the enlightened person should have come out of his seclusion and take charge.
Wen Leyang had only made it halfway through his sentence before he closed his mouth. Things must not be so simple, or else Tian Shu and Tian Hua would have looked for their big brother, enlightened person Tian Yin himself, and not the little supreme leader.
Liu Zheng’s expression turned savage for a moment but he regained his ice-cold demeanour just as quickly.
Wen Leyang had picked up from Liu Zheng’s statements, other than the fact that the two swords immortals had died, one of them had passed down his remaining powers to his apprentice and the Kunlun disciples before his death while he cultivated the sword with his spirit. Other than that, he did not know anything else. After some thinking, Wen Leyang opened his mouth and asked Liu Zheng. “What do the deaths of the two enlightened person have to do with this town ad the nine-headed snake cult followers?” He followed that with a heavy and sincere promise. “I will help you get your revenge.”
Liu Zheng did not react immediately. He answered slowly, long after Wen Leyang had finished talking. He managed a weak smile as he waved lightly. “The grudges of the master are like grudges of a father, I shan’t trouble anyone else with this matter.”
He then turned and whistled to the Kunlun disciples. He said no more, just turned around and left. In the space of a blink of an eye, the thousand Kunlun disciples vanished from sight.
Wen Leyang stood riveted to the spot. Two out of three Black and White Island sword immortals had died. Liu Zheng led the Kunlun disciples, resorting to reckless tactics without first investigating. Every Kunlun disciple had been filled with hatred…
Wen Leyang and Old Gu looked at each other. They knew things had just gotten more complicated. Wen Leyang hesitated for a moment before saying bitterly, “Even if the two enlightened had been badly injured, I would still have not been able to withstand their deathly counterattacks.”
A few months ago, Tian Shu had been badly injured by Fifth Brother Hanba at the City God Temple of Shanghai. Enlightened person Tian Hua too had suffered grievous wounds and fainted after a fierce battle with Chang Li, San Wei, and Hanba. Even if this were so, killing these two heavily wounded elites, breaking through the many layers of prohibition spells that surrounded Black and White Island, getting past the heavy protection of the Kunlun disciples, this would have been no easy feat.
Cultivators on their level could also launch an extremely powerful counterattack before their deaths. The Kunlun Sect had taken on a position of vengeful wrath. It was obvious that their foe was still at large.
Wen Leyang spoke out loud as he thought things over, his speech slow and steady, “The Tibetan people of this town must have made us stay back to deal with the disciples of the Kunlun Sect. The Tibetans had asked us to stay because they trusted in our abilities. The Kunlun Sect’s search had led them here. The deaths of the two sword immortals must be related to the town’s bodyguards or that unknown evil sorcerer. If that is the case, I’m afraid to say that the magic abilities of the enemy are far beyond what we may have imagined.”
Old Gu snorted and nodded in agreement. “There are many strong people among the magical practitioners under the heavens, there will always be something new that we have never encountered before but the investigation must go on.”
At that moment, Fei Fei suddenly jumped and shouted with some excitement, “I get it!”
The others had been immersed in their own thoughts at this point, thinking about Black and White Island and trying to gauge the enemy’s level of strength. All of them were startled by Fei Fei’s sudden exclamation. Old Gu glared at his subordinate. “What did you get? You know what happened on Black and White Island?”
Fei Fei reacted to her leader unprofessionally. She stuck her tongue out Old Gu playfully. “Not Black and White Island but the monkey Qian Ren. Wen Leyang could not help it to exterminate the bugs right then and there. Although it was mad with rage, it still hoped that it can be free again. That’s why, after capturing the bug, it fabricated a lie about some Fire Master to make it seem less awkward! Also, it could see the outside world despite being stuck in that bird’s belly. It must’ve noticed the Kunlun Sect coming from miles away.”
Wen Leyang understood then. He temporarily forgot about Black and White Island. “The monkey did not wish for us to bear a grudge. He was worried that the people we left here back on the surface would be killed by the Kunlun Sect and we would take our anger out on him. That’s why he chased us back up here?”
The monkey had been angry but it still kept a level head. It would not take any chances in escaping this hell and seeing the skies again.
The old and little foxes had seen through the monkey Qian Ren’s intentions and laughed together.
Qian Ren sat inside the stomach of the dog-headed eagle. It rubbed its palms together with some embarrassment. It muttered under its breath, “I can hear everything you say. Which of you called me a monkey.. I will remember it…”
Gu Xiaojun wasted no more time. The group of Qilian Immortal Sect disciples embarked on their journey to send the message to Nine Peaks Mountain. The others quickly packed up and set out immediately. After meeting their “enemy”, they logically went after the big group.
Xiao Sha had left tracking signals on the other evil cult followers. He had consorted with his secret fold magic ability to do this. He swiftly tracked them northwards. Although more than two days have passed, according to Xiao Sha, the evil cult followers and the Tibetan folk have not gone far. Xiao Sha could still follow their trail. The distance between them and the group was about a hundred and fifty kilometres.
Among the six of them, there were three individuals with amazing methods of practice.The head lama was a Tibetan Buddhism Sect practitioner, Wen Leyang had a body that had been refined by poison, and the giant pangolin was a great demon that has been alive for thousands of years. Their psychic nets were scattered far and wide. Initially, the Kunlun disciples had been within the boundaries of their psychic net but soon, they disappeared from it.
Due to them having to rely on Xiao Sha to lead the way, Wen Leyang and his group could not travel fast.
The head lama grew anxious whereas the pangolin Po Tu seemed at leisure. It walked while its large tail wagged behind it. It had no intention of catching the evil cult followers. The pangolin merely stuck by Wen Leyang’s side, as if keeping an eye on a thief. It hoped that they would not be able to find the evil cult followers. As soon as the Wen family’s insecticide arrives, the pangolin would exchange it for the dwarf Taoist priest and part ways with this group of people.
Xiao Sha’s tracking speed increased gradually. Few people pass through the highlands, which proved a good thing for his tracking skills. After passing through a low hill, the sight before everyone opened up and brightened. A cold, delicious breeze blew across their faces. A resplendent shimmer reflected in their eyes, the great and still Natmso Lake.
Even someone like Wen Leyang, who cultivated in poison and had a tyrannical method of practice, was deeply awed by the purity of the highland’s sacred lake. Above their heads, a sky so blue that it was hard to look away. Comforting, still blue waters before them. Lofty, snow-capped peaks glittered in the distance. A gentle breeze blew all their trubles and exhaustion away. When Wen Leyang laid eyes on Natmso Lake, there was only one thing on his mind. “If only I had brought Xiaoyi and Mumu with us.”
It was currently in the rainy season. There were only a few people around Natmso Lake. A few devout Buddhists were walking around the lake and chanting sutras. Head lama Rangjung was quite well known amongst these highlands. He was recognised the moment he showed up. They started to kneel before him and paid their respects, head lama Rangjung returned the gesture in kind.
Xiao Sha was visibly delighted. “It’s easier to track them here!” He looked to the three cultivators, “Can someone carry me? We can go faster that way…”
Old Gu climbed up on the giant pangolin’s back, the head lama proceeded to carry Fei Fei. Xiao Sha patted Wen Leyang’s shoulder as he pointed, “Follow the lake westward. Don’t go too fast, about forty miles will do…”
Wen Leyang laughed and broke out into a run. Xiao Sha cheered loudly. After taking a couple of steps ahead, they stopped for Xiao Sha to pick up the trail again. Xiao Sha would observe for a while and point out the way. Other than him, nobody could see the marks that had been left behind. The three pairs moved faster than galloping horses. The few practitioners hurried along at wild speeds, long past the speed limit.
Namtso was regarded as a sacred lake by the Tibetan people. The practice of chanting sutras while walking around the lake has existed since ancient times. Legend has it, one could obtain many blessing by walking around the lake. An ordinary person may not be able to it feel but through the eyes of these practitioners, one would notice the sacred lake had magical properties. Running around the lake had become a form of training for them. Their life energy and blood flowed unhindered, giving rise to a sense of comfort from deep within the bones.
Head lama Rangjung chuckled as he explained to the others, “Namtso Sacred Lake is so clean and pure, a heavenly water spirit must reside within its depths. Otherwise, achieving this state would be difficult.”
Wen Leyang ran to the head lama’s side. He turned and asked with a smile, “Heavenly water spirit? What sort of treasure is that?”
“To put it simply, it is the soul of ice. It is the mother of Yin water, the gentlest of the five elements. King Gesar had been able to invoke the power of Namtso Lake to create the mandala seal due to the presence of such a treasure. The gentle force of the water element enshrouds this great lake is from the heavenly water spirit. As we run along its banks, it does not affect our powers but it produces a healthy effect on our bodies.” As the head lama said this, he turned to ask Gu Xiaojun who was on the pangolin’s back, “Would you like to come down and have a run as well? The quicker your blood flows, the better you will feel.”
Gu Xiaojun quickly shook his head. “At my age, I can’t run that fast anymore.”
Wen Leyang, being a young lad in his early twenties, could not help but feel great curiosity towards these legendary treasures. He slowed down and kept pace with the head lama. “Then if I were to jump into the lake, will I be able to find this water spirit?”
Head lama Rangjung nodded in earnest. “You could, but…” The lama looked then like a bald fox that had bet his friends to go bte the hunting hound instead of the heavenly highland walker he was suppose to be. “Legend has it that the heavenly water spirit takes the shape of a drop of water. It would be near impossible to find it in such a a large body of water. If you can find a way to test every single drop of water, perhaps you’ll be able to find it.”
Wen Leyang laughed, “Then you will have to make me two buns!” He knew hat Namtso was a saline lake.
Fei Fei too was interested in their topic of conversation. She asked the lama with a small giggle, “Master, what about our inland’s Lake Donting and Lake Tai? Do they contain such treasure as well?”
Ranggjung nodded firmly. “In the beginning, they all had them. The heavenly water spirit had definitely blessed the whole world. The origins of these lakes are only spoken of in legend. Not only the great lakes of the world, even the long and great rivers under heaven must be related to the heavenly water spirit. However, the lakes and rivers inland aren’t as peaceful or calm as the ones on the highlands. The heavenly water spirit within them have gradually withered away but in Namtso, the purity of the sky and the earth gathers around it. Not only has this kept the water spirit alive but it has helped it to grow as well. I reckon it’s now the size of a fist? Haha! If that’s the case, Mr.Wen’s search will be much easier.”
Everyone laughed along humorously. After hearing the lama’s words, they consciously took deeper breaths. The air on the Tibetan plateau was thin. Their stamina was quickly exhausted with the vigorous exercise of running around the huge lake. However, as they ran along the lake, maybe it was just a placebo effect but their spirits lifted up.
The group of picked up their pace but as night fell, even Fei Fei knew there was something wrong.
The three knights grew suspicious.
The faces of the three ‘horses’ gradually turned pale. The giant pangolin Po Tu finally broke out hysterically. It cursed loudly at Xiao Sha, “Little b*stard, you’re literally just taking us for a ride, aren’t you?”
Head lama Rangjung scowled as well. He looked like an angry deity. “We have gone in a full circle!”
Wen Leyang turned to Xiao Sha and said, “We’re starting on a second round now.”
Oh, Namtso Lake! The second largest saline lake in China. It had a perimeter of about a hundred and fifty kilometres. Xiao Sha had on a helpless expression. He defended himself in a soft voice. “This.. tracking art is called ‘Mystery At Every Step’. I can only read their footsteps and retrace them… If they did a lap around the lake, then we will have to do the same…”
The giant pangolin exclaimed in surprise as he moved closer to Xiao Sha, “Then what if they did ten laps around the lake?”
Xiao Sha replied with a weary smile, “Then we will have to do ten laps as well. Even if all ten rounds of the enemies’ footsteps were on top of one another, I can only make out the second round after we have finished the first…”
The giant pangolin rolled its eyes and pondered for a long while before saying in a shocked voice, “There really is a mystery going on here…”
Wen Leyang thought of another question. “I thought you sensed there were about a hundred and fifty kilometers away? This one lap around the lake is about that distance, isn’t it?”
Xiao Sha smiled proudly, ”In a straight line!”
Wen Leyang was dumbstruck. He stopped and cursed. “That doesn’t make any sense! You can only see the first step in a circle but then you say they are a hundred and fifty meters away in a straight line.”
Gu Xiaojun was seething with anger. “Why would you care if he makes sense or not? If everything made sense then where did those four buckets of water go? Stop your complaining and keep running!”
Namtso Lake was a place flowing with the power of the utmost gentle water element. As a result, they did not feel tired from their sprint around it. If it had been another place, even Wen Leyang would have collapsed after the hundred and fifty kilometre marathon.
The group picked up their pace again. Devout Buddhists, who were chanting sutras around the lake, stared open-mouthed at the little girl on lama Rangjung’s back. ‘How many blessings do I have to accumulate at the chance for the heavenly walker to carry me around the lake?’ they pondered.
Pangolin Po Tu’s impatience started to rise. He cussed out loud, “This bunch of evil cult followers must have been out of their minds! Going around the lake in circles-” It was halfway through its curse when Xiao Sha suddenly cried out and pointed away from the lake, “Their circling ended here!”
The group changed their direction after making a lap and a half around the sacred lake. They travelled north-east and slowed down their pace. The further the enemies were, the fainter their tracks became. Xiao Sha may have some trouble tracing the steps if they went too fast, and the ‘mounts’ dared not sprint wildly as they had done before. It would be troublesome if they exhausted themselves even before reaching the evil cult followers.
Xiao Sha’s tracking art may have led the group on a detour, making it seem slightly less efficient, but it did have one perk. They could clearly see where the enemy had been. Wen Leyang asked head lama Rangjung as they hurried along, “Putting aside the evil cult followers, the Tibetan folk of Tuer town, could they have been praying for blessings while rounding the lake?”
The head lama shook his head in resolution. “Impossible. They have already exited samsara. On top of that, they are now tainted with foul energy. They could not have done such a thing. I reckon that they plan on borrowing the power of the heavenly water spirit to enact some water-based Dark magic.”
The giant pangolin smiled in triumph. “The earth element flows through my body. If those crooked people are in fact preparing a spell using the water element, we’ve hit the jackpot!”
Gu Xiaojun took out his handgun. “This is a weapon made from metal element magic. I’m not afraid of whatever Dark magic they can conjure up.”
Wen Leyang chuckled and asked him, “You guys are relying on just handguns? Why didn’t you bring something with more firepower?” Anyone who went on an adventure to the wild would know that a handgun had a limited range, low accuracy, and little power. It would be useful in a close ranged fight but against a larger beast, it would prove almost useless.
Gu Xiaojun glared at Wen Leyang, “You try pinning a rifle to your belt.”
The comings and goings of the evil cult followers and the ex-guardians of Tuer Town has been strange and mysterious thus far. In addition, there was now the great grudge born by the Kunlun Sect and for whatever reason, they have walked one whole circle around the lake. Wen Leyang and his group could no longer make sense of the situation. They silently agreed that they would not discuss the matter anymore, merely chatting idly as they went on their journey. They followed Xiao Sha’s lead and chased after the footsteps.