05 SPRINGMONTH 1501 AFTERFIRE, 13 YEAR OF JULIAN ERA
FIFTH MONTH OF THE MIDGARD CALENDAR
The flowers blooms on the outside, the leaves swirls down, the wind bring windy breeze, the warmth spread into one heart, the edgeless wilderness spread upon one sight.
Charles thought of this verses to himself, as he reflected his journey here to the Temple, with each step he takes.
Charles walked inside the Temple, his footstep is unhurried, carrying with him his dignity as a great noble of Midgard.
With each steps, he takes a look on his left and right like a curious child. On the first courtyard he saw an old monk sweeping the ground. He is old yet, his back is straight and one could the training of martial arts is ingrained in his body.
Charles understand this is because of the environment of the temple.
‘Three Mountain and Four gates’ he muttered under his breath. In his mind he thought to himself, their reputation is not without basis.
On his left and right were two junior monks, walking in pace with Charles and Liu Yi.
Charles look at his left and right and could not help but exclaim silently in his heart.
‘No wonder this Temple hold a special position in the mind of martial artist.’ he examined the temple with his eyes, awe and wonder is reflected in his expression.
‘There was numerous temple halls’ he thought to himself. It is said that the Righteous Temple is one of the largest temple that practices the path of Nirvana teachings.
Charles continue to examine the place without making it too obvious. Liu Yi on the other hand felt stifled by the monk’s demeanor of silence.
Charles could see the structure he wanted. Pagoda. And there was a lot of pagodas…but none of it was the same as the scribble on the map described.
A Sealed Pagoda.
And even as he walked he could feel eyes on him. Of course normal people could not sense it. But Charles is not exactly one would call normal.
When he was training with her teacher, he also felt this kind of feeling.
Feeling of being watched. But he shows no sign of anything is wrong on his face.
Charles heard that the Monks of the Righteous Temple have their own protector. They have the Four Thunder Great Protectors each of them have unfathomable cultivation.
It was then Charles was startled for a bit. Then he bitterly smile and said to himself.
‘I forgot this was a temple’ the monk beside him smirks and Charles just shakes his head smiling.
A melodious chime could be heard in the distance, resonating across the large temple.
A hundred structure lined this large area that housed the fearsome martial monks of Jianghu. If this is anyone else they would feel too scared to even try entering with impure intentions.
But not only Charles appears calm and relaxed, he is even planning to steal something that is in Righteous Temple.
Because he saw great profit in doing so. And it promises him adventure. If he truly could find the ancient treasures of Han, his ambition would be easier to achieve.
He has talent and he has ambition. Nothing makes a man more dangerous.
Now, he knows his life could be extended, and he could now practice martial arts, how could he as a person, a man of great noble lineage not have ambitions?
He already predicted the warring era that would come not because he could see the future but he could deduce by looking at the world situation.
He lives in a world more advanced than this world and this has always been repeated.
‘The world under heaven, after a long period of division, tends to unite; after a long period of union, tends to divide. This has been so since antiquity.’ He thought bitterly.
Now that the world is divided, then it is time for someone to unite it. Charles wanted to accomplish something in his life and be someone.
Charles saw it from a distance one, and it looks like a small city where all the residents are monks.
As Charles walks, he realizes the Seven Great Hall and his eyes look towards the top of the entrance gate.
Each Hall had a golden plaque on the top of its door gate. They began to walk along the famous Hall of the Righteous Temple.
Immeasurable Hall, Gentle Glory Hall, Hall of Invincibility, Hall of Steles, Martial Arts Hall, Heavenly King Hall, and Sutra Hall
‘All dharma are nonexistent in the beginning, all dharma are without flaws, all dharma have been expounded, all dharma do not decrease nor are they reborn’
Charles said when he walk past the Gentle Glory Hall.
The monk beside Charles only beams his eyes in admiration before saying
‘Young Master Charles attainment in the Path of Nirvana is not shallow for Young Master knows the mantra of the Gentle Hall’ one of the monk said.
Charles then smiles and shakes his head.
‘Just superficial knowledge not worth mentioning’ Then they do not speak anymore as Charles passed the Seven Hall.
Liu Yi look at Charles being puzzled as he move up his eyebrows asking what is up with that?
Charles frowned. When he saw the Gentle Glory Hall and looking at the Eresian writing he remember some of the phrases in the Heartless Sutra.
It is said that the First Founder of the sect met two old people that was starving and help them in their time of need.
Then both of the old man lecture about life and death, about rebirth and reincarnation, about the cycle of Heaven, and about love and hatred.
One talks about the Boundless Path. One talk about the Path of Nirvana.
When Charles practices the Heartless Sutra, he realizes his body energy distribution becomes smoother and his concentration heightened.
As he memorizes the words and practices he could quickly see improvement.
There is a bit of Boundless path teachings and there is also a trace of Nirvana Path teachings inside the Heartless Sutra.
But at the same time the heartless Sutra ask one to be heartless. But what does it mean being Heartless?
How could something that expounded the teachings of two great sages teachings of the Way of Heaven and the path to be free from suffering would ask the practitioner to become Heartless?
Charles shake his head as this is not the time to be thinking about that.
The two senior monks that opens the gate has informed of his and Liu Yi arrival to the Abbot while these junior monks are to escort them to the outer courtyard of the temple before escorting them to the Guest Reception Hall
They slowly walk until they reached the Guest Reception Hall. They were served hot water and vegetables bowls.
The two monks that accompanied them did not say any more than necessary. They were junior monks but they are clearly in their twenties, older than both Charles and Liu Yi.
As Charles moves around the Temple he realizes one thing that people have misconception about the Righteous temple.
The Temple was unbelievably not as silent as one would believe. There are some monks that is boisterous and there is some that only speaks a bit.
As they walked to the Guest Reception Hall, Charles could understand why the Righteous Temple was a powerhouse in martial arts and their monks extremely powerful
They do not stifle conversations or behavior, only regulated it according to the teachings of Path of Nirvana.
When they talk they do not lie, no rude speech speaking only that which leads to the salvation from suffering of the world and the afterlife.
When they take action, they restrain from killing or injuring, and they do not take what is not given, and they restrain their carnal desires.
And they live without excessiveness and their mind is always consist of what they are doing. Seeing such thing and even practicing such thing is impossible for Charles.
He has great ambition in his heart, how could he adhere to such teachings?
Which is why Charles think why he felt so uncomfortable here. This feeling is felt by both Charles and Liu Yi
When they reached the Hall, Charles and Liu Yi sat on the wooden chair as they waited to be summoned.
The two junior monk also excuse themselves as they go
Liu Yi look around for a while, looking left and right as he runs outside the Hall looking if there is any monks looking at him before returns back inside the hall and he finally talks.
‘This Temple gives me the creeps’ he finally said
Charles smiles a bit.
‘Why?’ Charles said as he sip the warm water that the monk prepared for him.
‘It is too silent. Like a graveyard.’ Liu Yi said as he stay down on the wooden chair that is too high for him. The same could be said for Charles.
He is after all still a child. But the child of Midgard especially of Westhold is known to be strong owing to their practices of training with horses and archery
And in this world, it is not weird to see children possessing wisdom and prowess beyond other of their peers.
They are usually molded by their experience or their environment which forces them, to be strong.
Since there is no peace, one have to be strong.
Alexander the great himself started participating in war battle as early as 14 years old.
It is not uncommon for the people of that Earth, why is it uncommon for the people of his Earth who has seen many wars and at the edge of a great warring period?
This is why the monk did not seem surprised he could survive the chase and the journey here to Qi’an
‘Didn’t you hear the sound of people practicing, chanting sutras and seeing them walk and practicing their martial arts?’ Charles asked
‘What is the difference between that and being silent?’ Liu Yi said snorting in derision
Charles was amused so he asked
‘Then what constitutes as not being silent to you?’
‘You need to curse. Do stupid things and some stuff like that? I guess.’ Charles wanted to laugh.
‘Where did you learn such a thing?’ Charles could not help but wonder where Liu Yi learn this kind of manner.
‘I’ve been in my sect for almost all of my life. It was extremely boring. All they talk about is how to fight this or evade that, or counter this or counter that. When I went to the city, I went to the market. I saw people cursing, screaming and people doing things sometimes without thinking. And for some reason I felt they were more alive than the people inside my sect’
Charles did not deny Liu Yi words.
He understand why Liu Yi would find that a better way to live. But that is the gap between a teenager and an adult.
A teenager that has never hold any responsibilities of course do not understand that the adults prefer quiet and peace.
But then Charles think again. This is not necessarily true either. He almost wanted to scold himself.
Underestimating the young and idolizing the elders.
As there is wise and smart elders, there is also smart and wise youngster. As there is idiot youngster there is also idiot elders.
Then Charles knows what the problem with Liu Yi is.
In a way Liu Yi is more of a child than Charles ever was. This is a matter of upbringing. Charles was born into a prestigious family.
But even though he was born in a prestigious family, his status in that family is not high.
Since he was young he was bullied and if not for the protection of his mother he would have already died so many times from the schemes of his stepmothers.
So, he mature fast and think deeply and cautiously even before he was transported into that world.
Liu Yi while his childhood was tragic, he was young and a child when that happens and he could not even remember what happened.
He was then taken in by the sect and lives in a complete peace never having to fear being assassinated by his own family and pampered by his teachers and seniors.
And as such he cultivates a playful personality and go with the flow kind of attitude in his life.
‘Now, sit down. Let us wait the decision of the monk’
They waited in silence, while Charles calmly watching the leaves falling down from the tree and for hours they waited until a monk then came bearing a message
‘Young master Charles of Midgard and Sir Liu, the Abbot wanted to meet you to discuss the matter of the oath’ the monk did not show any indication whether he knew or not about the decision of the abbot.
They instantly jump down from their chair and walk behind the messenger monk and arrived at a building at the back of the courtyard.
In a couple of minutes they finally arrived in front of one hall.
It looked smaller and shabbier compared to the other Halls but at the same time Charles could see the monks treated this hall to be more important than the other hall.
The hall itself were made with some stone Charles did not recognize.
‘It is the Star Stone Hall’ Liu Yi whisper.
‘At night this Hall glows with colors.’ Liu Yi added with excitement as he marvel the beauty of the Hall. Charles nodded.
It is known that the entrance gate of the temple was crafted by uncommon metal so it was not surprising that one of the hall would also be made from uncommon materials.
‘A master craftsman must have volunteered his services to the temple’ Charles surmised.
Monks have many talents but even Charles was not convinced if they said they could craft something so wondrous.
As he entered the Hall, he could hear bursts of long and drawn out, rising and falling, chanting voices that seemed to be coming from the monks inside the Hall, the sound reverberates inside the Hall.
There in the middle of the Hall sitting in the lotus pose, was the Abbot of the Temple. The Abbot was young, and there was still the trace of youth in his face.
He had a holy disposition, his face clean and dignified, and his aura could be felt even from the distance showing his attainment in martial arts
‘So, this is Abbot Xuan’ Charles thought to himself. On his left side was many monk, also sitting in the lotus position, closing their eyes, appearing to be chanting some sutra inaudibly.
On his back there is a curtain leading into a small room. Charles believes that is the room of the abbot.
And they all old monk judging by the wrinkles on their face and forehead.
But unlike the normal monks, they all possessed sturdy body and ripped muscle with an aura of martial might around them that could not be hidden.
Charles was about to offer greeting to the Abbot when that young abbot then declare
‘The Righteous temple never fear anyone especially not those who bear dark intention.’ He begins. His voice was impassive and Charles even detect annoyance in his tone.
Then the young Abbot look at Charles with a cautious expression.
This kind of expression is hard to read and of course the Abbot himself and these monks would find it hard to believe that a child like Charles could see the subtle differences in human emotions.
But Charles is not a normal kid and he has more experience than this young Abbot. Then somewhere behind the curtain, a cough could be heard.
The young Abbot was startled. He then closes his eyes, chanting sutra and then he opens his eyes, his eyes is now calm, and his heart is as still as a lake.
Charles could not help but admire the young man composure but was also curios of the one who cough.
Who is inside the room behind the curtain?
Charles could not help but feel this young abbot is more than what he seems and this Temple is also full of secrets.
After sighing Abbot Xuan continued
‘It is not because we are arrogant that we do not fear our enemy. But we do not fear them because we hold the peace of the world in our hearts. Senior Old Immortal was a great character that pacified the Jianghu. In his era, bloodshed in the Jianghu were rare. And he in his youth have helped the Temple. We have owed Senior Old Immortal many times, and so the Council of Elder Monks have decided to grant you the oath of martial protection starting tomorrow. None of the Liao forces or your enemy would be able to touch. Rest in peace in our Temple and soak the experience so you might one day open your hearts to the teachings of the Nirvanic Path.’
He stop for a while before he continue
‘You will reside on the Calm Heart courtyard as long as you want. While it is true that the Oath is only for a limited time, this is a special time. And your enemy is also the enemy of the common people of Aeropa. This humble monk hope young master will use that time of protection wisely. Call upon your sect member to come and help you’ Then the young abbot close his eyes, implying he would no longer talk.
Charles stand there feeling awkward. He look left and right at the other monk, trying to understand what just happens? Did he just get ignored?
And from the look of it this young Abbot didn’t like him.
Yet, why agree then? That is what is puzzling Charles.
One of the old monk then put his hand together and praises the Enlightened One. Then he said
‘Forgive the Abbot. This is the decision of the Elder Council and The Humble One is not entirely agreeing. The fact was that he was in a silent vow. Yet, he had to break it to grant young master Charles the oath. The Young abbot attainment in regulating his heart is still a long journey. Hope Young master Charles will not take it to the heart. This is a sacred oath of the martial arts world. We of course will honor it since we have agreed to it.’
Charles shakes his head and said
‘This Junior does not dare. Junior understand what he is asking to the Temple and was surprised that the Temple agreed. Only gratefulness fills this Junior heart right now’
The Old Monk smiles and then he said
‘Please retreat first since we have to finish the Sutra reading for today’ and the old monk gestured with his hand gesturing him to leave.
Charles nodded and bow a bit as he walked outside with Liu Yi who just followed silently, his face solemn.
As he walked outside the stone gate of the hall was closed. Charles look at the closed door with a complicated expression before he mutters
‘Hmm’ that was the only sound he makes.
Liu Yi also did not understand what Charles meant by that. Then Charles walked, following the junior monks to his courtyard, a glint of wariness in his eyes.
INSIDE THE STAR STONE HALL.
The Young Abbot open back his eyes and then got up from his lotus position. Then he walked slowly into the small room behind him.
Pushing aside the curtains he move inside the room. Inside the room there is a small table and the young abbot sit on that small table facing someone?
‘Benevolent Enlightened, why must we gave him our promise? I do not understand your arrangement?’
That person shows a kind smile. It was an old man with straight back and a smiling peaceful expression on his face.
On first seeing the person one might think he is a weak old monk, but there is something otherworldly about him, like he was untethered from the worldly affairs, like an immortal that watched over the world with compassion that encompassed all creation.
If one look closely there is a holy air around this old man. He look harmless yet at the same time to those who have ill intention towards him, they would feel killing intent.
He reflects other people hearts. That is how high this old monk attainment in the path of overcoming suffering.
But what is most shocking thing was that if Charles was here he would surely recognize these old man. He was the sweeper monk he saw when he come in.
The old monk then closes his eyes, with that smile still on his face. He then said
‘I’ve seen his Karma. He would bring death and bloodshed with him someday. Truly sinful’
The young Abbot felt disgust and said sternly
‘All the more reason to reject him’ But the old monks smiles.
‘But he will also bring peace and prosperity. This kind of fate….around and around it goes, until it come again. Of course this is one possible fate. Nonetheless he came here for something else. He did not need our protection. He already travel far enough to come here unscathed.’
The Old Monk said, seeing the plots and schemes of Liu Yi and Charles as easily as opening his eyes.
The Old Monk knows better the capability of the disciples of the Jade Palace Gate. They do not have many disciples but each one of them is great martial artist and have various talent.
The Young Abbot then ask
‘Then why does he need our protection?’ And the old monk smiles like all of Charles schemes and plots were simply child play to him.
‘Because he wanted to enter our temple. Who doesn’t know our 108 Arts and our Body Strengthening Manuals were great temptations to martial artist?
The Young Abbot shakes his head.
‘Benevolent Enlightened, the whole Jianghu knows while our martial arts are powerful it is not necessarily powerful than the martial arts of the Jade Palace. Some even argued our martial arts and manuals are as equal as the Jade palace Gate. When Senior Heartless roams Jianghu, there were many of our Senior Monks even the Abbot of the time that tries to stop him but none survives fighting him’
‘ Xuan-er….you have grown up. True…so he is searching for something else.’ And the old monk smiles as he remembers a mischievous couple that once come to the Temple to hide.
‘Could it be Benevolent Enlightened knows what the holy Son of Jade Palace is searching for?’ The Old man nodded
‘This is what is called fate. You no longer have to associate yourself with the guest. Let them stay as long as they want until they found what they are looking for’
‘But…’ the Old Monk shake his head and the Young Abbot closes his eyes and nodded. Then the young Abbot comes out of the room and continue his meditation.
The old monk went out from the back and took his broom as he sweeps the floor of the courtyard.
‘I never thought I would see that kind of scar again’ The Old Monk lives very long.
He was there when Song Taizu ascended and he was there when the Han dynasty was first established. He was even there when the Barbarian kingdom first established in the west.
He is…old. Very old.
And his body no longer could compete with the heroes of this generation. His contemporaries have all turned to dust….but he is still living.
He has lived long, sacrificing his body for the Temple.
When he saw that lightning scar, he remembered a painting and a book. He once saw the same lightning scar on the painting of the Founding emperor of the Bourbon dynasty, Guilaume Bourbon.
And a book that belonged to a Daoist. In it was the untold stories of the first emperor of the Bourbon dynasty of Midgard as recorded by that Daoist ancestor.
That Daoist in his book recorded that the Founding emperor of the Bourbon dynasty in the beginning was an immature young lord.
He was prone to crying, possessing unreasonable anger and very violent kid as he was a son of a noble.
One day when he was schemed upon one of his servant died because of his negligence and he falls down a cliff.
He disappeared for three days and when he was found he was unconscious and people notice there is a scar of a lightning on his forehead.
When he awaken, he went to the place where his servant died.
He then kneeled and apologize to the servant, looking at the sky, airing his crime of negligence and order a proper grave to be erected for the servant and his family compensated.
After the mourning period he then once gain come to the cliff and this time he kowtowed to the Heaven and Earth and thank him for bringing him back.
No one understand what the future founding emperor of a dynasty was saying.
But it was from his days he become extremely adept in battle strategies and have a change in his attitude and personality.
In his later years one of his sons asked where did he get that scar?
The Emperor said it is a heavenly gift. When he died, he ordered that any books that recorded his lightning shaped scar on his forehead to be burned.
The Daoist that the Old monk knows was a descendant of a great minister that once served the Great Emperor.
It is how the Old Monks knows about the significance of the lightning scar …and of course the prophecy around it.
The Old Monk sighed as he sweeps the courtyard. He look at the sky and said tiredly
‘Do the Heavens have Compassion? The tears of the common people, the suffering of those who committed evil because of their circumstances. Do the Heavens see? Merciless and Heartles….is that the Heavens?’ He said bitterly, more like complaining to himself.
‘I never interfere in the worldly matters and I never divulged the secret of Heaven. But no one is truly immortal. I am old. Very old. So, Enlightened Sage that saves the soul of the suffering humanity, I intend to give the Temple more time with this bet of mine. It is truly not the conduct of a monk to gamble.’
He then sighed, his heart is full of regret
‘No one understand. Since no one understand, I would not explain. I will only let Time and History be the judge of my action. The thing that boy is searching is after all is not destined with this Temple, so the Temple should not be sad losing it’
Then the clouds on top roiled and turns dark. Thunder appeared. And rain falls down. From the tri colored glazed roof tiles, the rain falls down to the courtyard.
The monk then put the broom away and walk back to his small hut on the back of the Martial Arts Hall.
The rain keep falling outside. The monk closes his eyes and chant sutra as the thunder roars and the rains falls heavily.
Leave some comments and thanks for reading this slow story …Huhuhuhu