Chapter 271: True Emptiness, the Most Wonderful Possession
Without looking back, Li Qinghou murmured, "Possession without possession is the most wonderful possession. Emptiness without emptiness is the true emptiness...." 1
Bai Xiaochun was shaken by the words. Clearly, they contained profound meaning, and yet, he had no idea what that meaning was. However, Li Qinghou only seemed more impressive because of it.
Before long, they were in the air behind Mount Daoseed. Even as they neared their apparent destination, Bai Xiaochun still didn't see anything out of the ordinary. After a moment of thought, he opened his third eye. Li Qinghou sensed what he was doing, and looked back at him, eyes shining with praise. Then, he stopped in place, hovering there while he waited to see what would happen.
As Bai Xiaochun examined the area with the Heavenspan Dharma Eye, he saw nothing. Therefore, he decided he might as well unleash some of the power of his three spiritual seas. Pouring their power into his Heavenspan Dharma Eye, and adding in some of his Heaven-Dao aura, he once again looked around.
Pain stabbed into his third eye, but at the same time, his view of the world changed. Just barely, he could now see the vague image of a majestic mountain floating in the air behind Mount Daoseed.
"A mountain...." he blurted in shock. Unable to sustain the use of his Heavenspan Dharma Eye any longer, he closed it. Panting, he looked over at Li Qinghou, an expression of complete incredulity on his face.
Suddenly, an ancient voice spoke out of nowhere. "What you just saw is something that only the sect leader, the legacy echelon, and the prime elders know about. The Spirit Stream Sect's ninth mountain peak!"
Along with the voice, an old man emerged out of thin air. He had long white hair, and wore a flowing blue robe.
His face was ruddy, and on his forehead was a red, finger-nail sized birthmark. Despite his white hair, his face wasn't very wrinkled, and his eyes shone with a piercing light. Clutched in his right hand was a four-colored jade pendant that glowed with dazzling light.
The air around him immediately began to ripple and distort, and the clouds in the sky began to churn. Shocking fluctuations flowed out from him, fluctuations which seemed to Bai Xiaochun to be like pressure from heaven. Even more shocking was the murderous aura which surrounded him, making him seem less like an old man and more like an ancient wild beast!
"Greetings, Master," Li Qinghou said softly, clasping hands in formal greeting.
Despite having never seen the old man before, from his energy and murderous aura, Bai Xiaochun instantly guessed who he was. Taking a deep breath, he clasped hands and bowed. "Bai Xiaochun offers greetings, Patriarch!"
The old man looked Bai Xiaochun up and down, a smile on his face that, because of his murderous aura, seemed particularly ferocious.
"You're not in the legacy echelon, and thus, have seen things you have no right to see. Admit your sin immediately, child!" The man's murderous aura almost immediately seemed to wrap around Bai Xiaochun.
Bai Xiaochun shivered, and his face drained of blood. To him, it felt as if he were surrounded by death and destruction, leaving him scared witless.
"Master, you've frightened Xiaochun," Li Qinghou said, sounding a bit embarrassed.
Bai Xiaochun really was frightened. The combination of the old man's smile and his murderous aura caused all of the hair on Bai Xiaochun's body to stand on end. He felt like he was in the grip of death, and it even felt as if his blood qi wanted to explode out of him to compare itself to the old man's murderous aura.
The old man chuckled darkly, waving his hand so that a field of mist sprang up, surrounding him and ensuring that only a vague outline of his form was visible.
"Very well," he said from within the mist. "But I'm going to remember this, child. If you make any mistakes in the future, punishment will be waiting for you!"
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, then stuck his chin up and tried to look as obedient as possible. Inwardly, though, he couldn't help but feel a bit of disdain. From what he could tell, the old man was just trying to scare him and teach him a lesson. Bai Xiaochun himself had used such methods back when he was acting as blood master in the Blood Stream Sect.
"Sir, since you're my uncle's Master, then that makes you my Sect Grandfather. Sect Grandfather, please accept the formal greetings of the younger generation!" Bai Xiaochun wasn't very impressed, but still bowed deeply. Looking up, he patted his bag of holding to produce a medicinal pill bottle, which he held up above his head with both hands.
"Sect Grandfather, since this is our first meeting, sir, I would like to present you with the most precious spirit medicine I possess. Everyone who has consumed it has praised it to no end. The wonderful uses for this spirit medicine are virtually endless. Sect Grandfather, this gift is the sincerest expression of my familial piety, and I sincerely hope that you will accept it...." As he spoke, he kept his eyes fixed on the old man in the mist, and especially the four-colored jade pendant he held, which was obviously some sort of precious item.
Li Qinghou already felt a headache coming on. For any other person to offer a gift to someone of the older generation would be something relatively commonplace. However, when it came to Bai Xiaochun, Li Qinghou could already tell that something different was going on. Then he realized what Bai Xiaochun was looking at, and smiled wryly.
This was clearly not a situation of offering a gift to the older generation, it was obviously him asking for a gift to be given to him....
As Li Qinghou smiled wryly, the old man's jaw dropped. After looking at Bai Xiaochun for another long moment, he was fairly certain he understood what Bai Xiaochun was thinking, and suddenly laughed.
"Ah, so you want a gift from me? Very well, I accept the medicinal pills, and will give you this jade pendant!" With that, the four-colored jade pendant flew out from the mist to hover in front of Bai Xiaochun. At the same time, the spirit medicine flew from Bai Xiaochun's hand into the mist.
Bai Xiaochun was actually surprised. This wasn't at all what he had intended. In fact, the unexpected gift of the jade pendant left him feeling a bit embarrassed. However, he didn't hesitate at all to reach out and grab it, his heart swelling with excitement. After examining it closely, he realized that it was anything but ordinary. Furthermore, the power inside of it reminded him very much of the lamp that the Song Clan patriarch had given him.
"That's a spirit treasure that can be used by a Core Formation cultivator," the old man said, smiling. "Your cultivation base is a bit low, but if you catalyze the treasure with your Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment aura, you should be able to use it." With one more look at Bai Xiaochun, the old man turned to leave.
"Qinghou, this kid isn't bad at all. Why don't you go ahead and pass on the Magic Plant Arsenal incantation to him?" 2
"Many thanks, Master!" Li Qinghou clasped hands and bowed. His entire purpose in coming here had been to gain his Master's approval to pass on the Magic Plant Arsenal to Bai Xiaochun.
After all, Bai Xiaochun was not his apprentice, but rather, the apprentice of another Master in the sect.
Having gained the patriarch's approval, Li Qinghou shot a glare at Bai Xiaochun, then led him back to Mount Daoseed. Outside of Bai Xiaochun's immortal's cave, Li Qinghou gave him a jade slip that contained the secret magic of the Magic Plant Arsenal.
"The Magic Plant Arsenal isn't a type of control magic. Instead, you will be able use the power of plants and vegetation to create battle prowess. Every type of plant and vegetation has innate spiritual qualities that you can incite, thus creating a certain level of power!
"Of course, that's only the first step. By combining different types of medicinal plants, you can create something like a spell formation, unleashing even greater power. With the Magic Plant Arsenal, you can create weapons almost instantly!
"The truth is that the spell formation I just mentioned isn't really a spell formation, but rather, a pill formula. Not the type of pill formula that you use with a pill furnace, but rather a formula to create weapons that can unleash the deadly power of plants and vegetation!"
It was a technique that required a certain level of skill with plants and vegetation. Considering the level of Bai Xiaochun's Dao of medicine, he almost immediately understood what Li Qinghou was talking about, and in fact, didn't need any further instruction. With the jade slip Li Qinghou had just given him, he only needed the most important parts explained, and could cultivate the rest of it on his own.
Most important of all was that the jade slip contained the weapon formula, which had been pieced together over successive experiments performed by eighteen past cultivators of the Spirit Stream Sect!
Around the time evening fell, Li Qinghou prepared to leave. Before he did, he thought back to the medicinal pill Bai Xiaochun had given to his Master, and asked, "What kind of spirit medicine did you give to Patriarch Ironwood?"
Bai Xiaochun blinked guiltily, but having no other option than to tell the truth, he stuck his chin up and proudly said, "Patriarch Ironwood? Oh, I gave him the most precious type of medicinal pill I have in my bag of holding! It's the most famous pill in the Spirit Stream Sect, which I myself created!"
As soon as Li Qinghou heard this, his expression flickered with disbelief. A moment passed, and then he hesitantly asked, "Aphrodisiac Pills?"
Bai Xiaochun nodded, feeling a bit guilty, and when he saw Li Qinghou's ashen face, he suddenly started to get nervous.
"Hey, that pill is great," he said, "and that's no lie. Really, everybody loves it. Even the old dragon from the north bank praised it incessantly. After all, the patriarch is already getting pretty old, isn't he...?"
Mind spinning, Li Qinghou glared at Bai Xiaochun one last time and then flew at top speed toward the ninth mountain peak....
Bai Xiaochun still felt a bit guilty, and continued to mutter to himself after Li Qinghou left. "I didn't say anything that wasn't true! That pill really is the most precious one I have! What gives that old fogey the right to go scaring people! I didn't do anything to him!"
Bai Xiaochun was actually a bit scared, and after some thought, decided it wasn't a good idea to stay in one place. Calling Bruiser over, he left his immortal's cave and headed toward the north bank.
By this point it was dark. Bai Xiaochun and Bruiser slipped noiselessly into the north bank, and were soon in the Beast Conservatory. At that point, he started to relax.
"With Bruiser and the old dragon here, even if Patriarch Ironwood tries to come teach me a lesson, I'll at least have some backup to help me!" Sighing, Bai Xiaochun couldn't help but muse that life had been much better in the Blood Stream Sect. As the Blood Devil, all he had to do was snap his finger, and any patriarch who came to teach him a lesson would have his cultivation base instantly reduced by half.
1. This is an expression that comes from ancient Chinese philosophy. I searched for quite some time, but wasn't able to find an existing English translation of this exact passage, although some of the terms (emptiness, for example) are fairly common Buddhist terminology. Frankly, this kind of stuff is difficult to understand even for native Chinese speakers. Beerblade helped me do some research, and afterward, his response was: "Dude, even after reading the explanations, I still don't understand it." I think my version captures the meaning of the characters, grammar, syntax, etc. As for the deeper meaning of the saying itself, and what it means within the context of the story, you'll have to work that out on your own.
2. In the past I translated this as Magic Plant Soldiers, but decided to change the name