Chapter 211 Deciphering the Scripture
A duel of life and death was completely different from a kung fu competition. Even a feeble man could kill an unprepared kung fu expert if he had the killing intent.
Gu Shenwei didn’t want to kill Lian Ye, so he lost in one move. Kung fu competitions had never been his strong suit.
He was then hoisted onto the shoulder of the monk. As he looked at the ground moving backward fleetingly, Gu Shenwei couldn’t help but smile bitterly. Lian Ye’s mind wasn’t clear, so it was useless to reason with this rash monk. He could only wait for the monk to release him once he met Lian Hua.
The Left Mountainside Vihara had been defiled by corpses. To restore the sanctity of this place, the monks had spent a lot of effort to get rid of the dead’s resentment.
Gu Shenwei had already broken through the poked acupoint. He jumped to the ground and entered the meditation room in the middle, but what he saw next startled him.
The tiger of Master Tiger Monk was found again. It was lying on the ground like a big cat with its jaw wide open and most of its tongue hanging out.
Besides the tiger sat a skeleton.
The skeleton seemed to have the shape of Master Lian Hua, but it was merely a bag of bones now. It looked as if he had passed into Parinirvana for a long time now.
Gu Shenwei immediately touched his sabre hilt. Monk Lian Ye must have been mad to force him to worship a dead person as his Master. It was useless to reason now; he could only act ruthlessly.
Not noticing the killer’s movement, Lian Ye knelt before his senior brother and respectfully said, “Senior brother, the young benefactor is here. He’s willing to respect you as his Master and fulfill the last wish of Master Lian Xin.”
Gu Shenwei took a shallow breath and was about to unsheath his sabre before the skeleton surprisingly opened its eyes to speak. “Hard, hard, hard. Riding on a tiger and unable to get down. Where’s the way out? Where have I gone wrong?”
Even for an experienced person like Gu Shenwei, who was knowledgeable with all kinds of dead people, couldn’t help but be shocked. It was really beyond his imagination that such a thin man could still live.
The big monk Lian Ye couldn’t help crying, acting as sad as a child. But Master Lian Hua turned a deaf ear to it. He grabbed a piece of paper near him and looked at the red characters on it, lost in his own thoughts.
Gu Shenwei pulled Lian Ye up and motioned him to have a talk outside.
Lian Ye began telling Gu Shenwei of how his senior brother had fallen into this position.
The Death Sutra written by Gu Shenwei in blood had two different pronunciations. Tiger Monk Lian Xin had deciphered all of them and also left some notes. Master Lian Hua followed his brother’s method and also worked it out. But they were just pronunciations, not the original meaning of the scripture, so Master Lian Hua continued studying it. The first one thousand characters went well, but as he continued, it became more and more incomprehensible and he couldn’t figure out the last one thousand characters no matter how hard he tried.
Master Lian Hua had gone through the few words left by Tiger Monk day and night, but still made no progress.
One day, the Master suddenly repented to his junior brother, saying that as a monk he was obsessed with the scriptures of other doctrines and was indeed a sinner. He persuaded his junior brother to stay away from him, while he himself recited Buddhist sutras and the Essay of Severing Obsession every night. He seemed to have given up deciphering the sutra, but he couldn’t help picking up the Death Sutra regularly at daybreak, which he called Nan Ke Fa Ling.
In this way, the Master deciphered the scripture in the day and repented at night without rest. He endured the drowsiness and huger and gradually became the current skeletal figure.
Gu Shenwei thought Lian Hua was a one-track mind. He could either concentrate on deciphering the scripture and forget about the so-called obsession, or give up translating the scripture and focused on being a monk. Why must he torture himself and court death?
While the two were talking outside, the patrol commandant Zhong Heng came over. He had heard that the killer had been taken away by a monk in the temple so he came to see what was going on.
Zhong Heng politely greeted the monk and casually exchanged a few words. Seeing that Servant Huan was fine, he took his leave.
Lian Ye didn’t recognize this and put the Patrol Commandant out of his mind. He just assumed that the other man was an ordinary pilgrim and continued forcing the killer to worship his senior brother as a master and eradicate his murderous heart.
“Show me the scripture translated by the Master.”
“You won’t understand. Even my senior brother can’t decipher it, so how can a little kid like you understand it?”
Although he said this, Lian Ye still went back to the meditation room and took out some papers, which were filled with small characters. Gu Shenwei sat on the ground and started reading carefully.
Gu Shenwei already knew the first several lines of the Death Sutra, which was ‘The soul rises to the nine heavens, the spirit falls to the nine abysses. The living suffers in grief, the dead settle in peace’. Then it was followed by similar poems with four characters on each line, which were all about the reincarnation of the souls of dead people. This part was about three or four hundred characters long. From then on, it was no longer about poetry, but a discussion about the swordsmanship. The more Gu Shenwei read, the more alarmed he became.
The scripture discussed in detail about the essence of the practice of the swordsmanship. All methods, including Gu Shenwei’s method of ‘killing oneself’, or the method of ‘killing others’ insisted on by Lotus, were right and could reach the highest level in the end. The Death Sutra had sixteen possible interpretations and training methods. And unlike the so-called sixty-four training methods, which were actually sixty-four different martial arts putting together by Immortal Peng, the sixteen training methods of Death Sutra were all real.
But in either case, killing was always used as a means of improving the swordsmanship. The more advanced the swordsmanship, the stronger the opponent the practitioner needed. And ‘it would harm the practitioner if one doesn’t kill for a year’, as the murderous heart would cause a backlash if one didn’t kill for a long time. In the end, it would cause the practitioner to go mad and commit suicide.
The way to become ‘invincible’ was also the way towards ‘self-destruction’. Sooner or later the practitioner would reach the point of being invincible under the heaven but must kill an equal opponent within a year.
Both Gu Shenwei and Lotus were killers. Their swordsmanship was still in an early stage and they hadn’t reached the state of having no people to kill. But the two had killed too many people and advanced too fast. Therefore, they had made a big mistake.
According to the scripture, the best training method was to kill one person a year and steadily improve the swordsmanship, until one reached the highest level in fifty or sixty years. By that time, even if the murderous heart would cause harm to the practitioner, one might not die because of it.
Gu Shenwei sneered lightly. No wonder this book had been thrown off the cliff. The man who created this set of martial arts probably had an ulterior motive. If he had clearly written these reminders and put them in the first several pages, no one would probably be willing to practise it. The purpose of practising the swordsmanship was to protect oneself, and if the practitioner killed only one person safely a year, the swordsmanship would improve very slowly and perhaps one would die at the hands of others within less than three to five years.
What a satirical training method.
It was destined that he wouldn’t live long, Gu Shenwei frustratedly thought. Not only could the Desolate Finger Energy entrenched inside his body cause his death at any time, but the swordsmanship he had been practising also hid the trap of an early death.
Perhaps this was the favour of the ‘Heaven’s Will’, so that Gu Shenwei could die with his enemy.
With a few pieces of paper in both hands, Gu Shenwei extended his hands, pondered and became lost in deep thought like the skeletal monk in the meditation room.
Gu Shenwei finally stood up and entered the meditation abode when it was getting dark, leaving the confused Monk Lian Ye.
The Master and the killer had a long talk in the meditation room, and finally found a way to decipher the remaining text. The clue was those several pages of notes left by Immortal Peng.
No one knew where Immortal Peng had learnt about the Death Sutra, but his understanding of the scripture was way better than the brothers Lian Huan and Lian Xin. He didn’t have the scripture for a long time so he had not yet started the interpretation of it, but he had left some annotations and explained the translation method.
Fortunately, Gu Shenwei kept those several pages of notes and brought them around with him all the time.
These annotations were of no use to Gu Shenwei who didn’t understand the scriptures. But to Master Lian Hua, who had been immersed in the book for a long time, they were no less than an epiphany.
Gu Shenwei was expecting that the last one thousand or so characters would have a remedy, but he could do nothing except provide Immortal Peng’s notes. So he left the meditation room to let Master Lian Hua work on it alone.
Seeing that Lian Hua had the symptoms of becoming obsessed again, Lian Ye became anxious and restless, but he didn’t dare to dissuade his senior brother. So he thought it was all the killer’s fault and kept blaming everything on him.
Gu Shenwei ignored him and paced back and forth, dwelling on his own thoughts. Can this swordsmanship really be so ‘invincible’ that one could only kill oneself? All the factions and sects under the heaven like to boast about their martial arts. Maybe this book is no exception.
The tiger came out of the meditation room and yawned. Lian Ye took out some dry steamed buns from his robe and threw to the tiger. The tiger swallowed them dully one by one, and even its chewing sound showed a deep weariness.
“Wow, there’s really a tiger here.”
Wei Lingmiao observed from afar, followed by seven or eight fully armed and alert guardsmen.
“Do not make any noises here, the Master is in a retreat,” Monk Lian Ye said loudly, his voice even louder than Wei Lingmiao. He didn’t know or care about the son of the Governor.
Wei Lingmiao wasn’t fussy about the monk, and he beckoned the killer to come over. “Your duty is a little derelict.”
“Forgive me, Gongzi. I and …”
“I’m just kidding, don’t take it seriously. But I’ll go back to the city next morning. I’m ready to leave Jade City, do you still remember what you’ve promised?”
“Yes, I do.”
Wei Lingmiao had agreed to the Kun Society postponing the ‘peace talisman’ on the condition that Yang Huan killed a person for him, but he hadn’t mentioned who it was.
“Hmm, meet me back in the city. You know, there’s an alternative way.” Wei Lingmiao winked his eyes and smiled as he went down the mountain. His so-called ‘alternative way’ was to see Shangguan Ru once.
Gu Shenwei really wanted to dig out Wei Gongzi’s true intentions, but decoding the scripture was more important. He should have run after Wei Gongzi and showed his loyalty at the moment, but he hesitated for a while and decided to stay.
Lian Ye drove the tiger back to the room like driving a chicken. “Go inside, go inside. It’s already dark now, you coward. How can you call yourself the King of the Beasts if you are so scared of a bird?”
“It’s the big bird of Golden Roc Castle. It showed up again, killed a lot of animals and ate two monks. It’s a pity I didn’t meet it, humph …”
Gu Shenwei looked up at the night sky, looking for the red-crowned roc. He was kind of missing that giant friend now.
The roc didn’t appear, but Master Lian Xin walked out of his meditation abode the next morning and held the door frame, trembling. “Junior brother, bring me a bowl of porridge please.”
The last several pages of the five thousand or so strange characters of the Death Sutra finally revealed its true face, and Master Lian Xin had also corrected some of the mistakes and omissions of the past.
Gu Shenwei understood everything now. He and Lotus had made a big mistake by practising the swordsmanship too early.
Practising the Death Sutra swordsmanship would cause a backlash from the practitioner’s murderous heart. Except for the blunt method of slowing down the practice speed, there was still a way to save oneself. It relied on another secret manual, the Daoless Scroll, which the disciples of Great Desolate Sect were desperately looking for.
At the Left Mountainside Vihara, Kang Wenhui had mistaken the Death Sutra as the Daoless Scroll, because the strange characters at the end of the former were exactly the opening of the latter.
The Daoless Scroll was a secret manual set for practicing internal energy, which was the foundation for practising the Death Sutra. It wasn’t a serious problem to learn the foundation without the swordsmanship, but it would be a fatal defect to practise the swordsmanship without the foundation.
It was crystal clear now because Gu Shenwei knew where the Daoless Scroll was hidden. The Great Desolate Sect had paved the way for him.