The Temple of Hidden Heart was surrounded by rich vegetation. Bodhi trees with thick trunks, which took several people to encompass with outstretched arms, were growing everywhere in front and behind the buildings.
There was a grand hall that stood right in the center of the temple. It measured slightly over one hundred feet in both width and length. A few glittering Buddha statues were being worshiped inside it. Facing the Buddha statues and being led by an old monk, a group of little monks with age ranging from three to eighteen years old was chanting some Buddhist scriptures. The old monk did not have any Buddhist cultivation base. However, he was completely shrouded in a Buddhist aura, and had a vague ring of Buddhist light behind his head. Evidently, he was a monk with a profound knowledge of Buddhism.
Among the little monks, the few youngest ones had already fallen asleep on hassocks. Meanwhile, those older ones were chanting mechanically, their voices sometimes louder, and then lower, as they kept sniffing the fragrance of hot buns that came from the kitchen in the courtyard.
The little monk who carried Wu Qi with him flew straight across the grand hall and bypassed the rear hall and rooms, before arriving at the courtyard, where a few simple cottages stood. To the left of the courtyard was a farmland, which was about thirty acres wide and fully filled with half-green, half-yellow paddy that grew healthily. There were a few acres of land planted with vegetables, carrots, and some other edible plants. To the right of the courtyard was the kitchen, a store, and a few stone buildings. The fragrance of a decoction was wafting out of one of the stone buildings.
A skinny old monk, standing about eight feet tall, was seen swaggering out of the kitchen, bringing with him a pot of porridge as he went ahead to feed a few hunting dogs playing before the cottages. When the little monk saw the old monk, he shouted, "Master, I've built another seven-storied pagoda! But, it is too bad that as my power is too weak, I can only build half of it, and I've to hand the rest of it over to you!"
The old monk turned his head over feebly. A bright gleam shone from his eyes as he gave Wu Qi a glance, nodding as he said, "Sādhu! Sādhu! This fellow Daoist is severely wounded! Mm, was he being robbed or sexually harassed? Why isn't he clad in any clothes?" As his glance moved around, he saw the black dragon spirit ring and spirit breeding ring hanging before Wu Qi's chest. The old monk laughed and said, "It seems he was sexually harassed, because all his belongings are still with him!"
The old monk's words matched well with what the little monk said earlier, which greatly infuriated Wu Qi, making him nearly jump up to break their bald heads. The little monk had only a cultivation base of Gold Core realm, while the old monk had a peak-stage Gold Core cultivation base. Wu Qi was amazed by their courage, as they simply brought a strange cultivator, who was struck by a misfortune, back to their temple. Could they have never heard of the saying- the human heart was a mystery?
Staring at the bright smile on the old monk's face, Wu Qi coughed violently and said with a bitter smile, "You must be joking, Master. Heh, the fact is that I bumped into a few of my enemies, and was defeated by them, with my clothes burned off by them as well. May I know your name, Master?"
The old monk put down the pot of porridge, put his palms together, and said, "My name is Hidden Heart, and this little monk is my disciple, Guarding Heart."
As Wu Qi was about to praise hypocritically for their brilliantly picked name, the door of a cottage next to them opened up suddenly. A hoarse, very unpleasant voice echoed out of it, "Master, when can we leave this nasty place? I can't stand the life of eating vegetables and carrots every day! I want to eat meat, I want to drink wine, I want women!"
As the hoarse, unpleasant voice rang out Madman Xue, whose face was extremely ugly and body was clad in a simple burlap monk robe, walked tottering out of the cottage. He was even skinnier than the first time Wu Qi saw him, almost as slim as the old monk, Hidden Heart. Wu Qi could not help but relate Madman Xue with those Rwanda refugees he met back on earth. Apart from a pair of pale eyes and two rows of pale teeth, Wu Qi could find nothing else on his face.
Leaning against a rattan staff, Madman Xue walked out trembling. After complaining about the poor living condition in Temple of Hidden Heart, he laughed and said, "Hehe, let me see who this unlucky fellow saved by the monks here just like me and my Master is? Hehe, we've been eating carrots for half a year, and didn't even touch a single piece of meat!"
Wu Qi stared blankly at Madman Xue, while Madman Xue saw Wu Qi as well after rubbing his eyes dazzled by the sunlight, struck dumb instantly. Both men stared at each other for a while, before Madman Xue screamed at the top of his voice, "Master! The enemy is here! Sh*t!"
A violent coughing was heard together with rapid footsteps. Lao Ai, who was as skinny as his disciple, but still having the same tall and devilish appearance, ran out of another cottage. Even as he came to the courtyard, he trembled and nearly fell to the ground. He fixed his gaze at Wu Qi, pointing his trembling finger out as he cried, "Do you really want to exterminate us? We've fled all the way and have been hiding here. Why can't you just let us go?"
Wu Qi was stunned. He touched his own face, and to his helplessness, he found that when he was traveling underground, in order to fight against the aura of death, he could no longer keep the spell of disguising his face and stature. It was his original appearance that was revealed before Lao Ai and Madman Xue now.
Laughing bitterly, Wu Qi shook his head with effort and said, "It's been a few years. How are you both? Well, you've come really far!"
Wu Qi admired Lao Ai and Madman Xue from the bottom of his heart. Both of them had absolutely no idea about the situation in the outside world, yet they could still flee all the way from Myriad Immortals Planet to Pangu Continent. On top of that, it seemed that they managed to escape after being severely wounded by someone. How could Wu Qi not admire them for what they had achieved?
He sighed lightly, then nodded and said, "Although Pangu Continent is a huge place, but we could still meet here. Looks like it is fate that brings us together!"
Lao Ai and Madman Xue were taken aback, and they exchanged a glance. They could tell that Wu Qi did not hold any hostility against them. Also, as Wu Qi was severely wounded and could not even lift his finger, he did not look like he was here to kill both of them.
After a brief moment of pondering, Lao Ai shook his head and gave a strange laugh. "You are not here to kill us! You, Wu Qi, are not qualified to kill me!"
Madman Xue sneered, rubbing his fingers as they produced some crispy popping sounds, and said, "Master, why don't we just kill this fellow here? He is Yan Dan's grandson-in-law, and Yan Dan is one of the men who hurt you that day!"
"Mm?" The old monk, Hidden Heart, glared and punched Madman Xue's head a few times. "How dare you?! This is a holy land of Buddha. How can you fight against each other?" bellowed the old monk, "Since you all know each other, and you are here now after being severely wounded, this is a sign that there is a fate between you and Buddha! This is the will of the Buddha! He is the one who makes you meet here, so that you can have your enmity reconciled! If any of you want to fight again, you will not able to eat even the vegetables or carrots!"
Madman Xue hissed painfully as he hugged his own head and jumped back next to Lao Ai.
Even as the old monk was about to give Madman Xue a few more punches, the door to the kitchen opened up suddenly. A fat and burly monk, about ten feet tall and with a waist measured at least twelve feet in circumference, walked out from behind the door, with the fat on his body wobbling. The monk had a basket of hot buns held in his left hand, and a pot of porridge mixed with vegetables and carrots in his right. "It is meal time! It is meal time! You bald donkeys, come here and have your meal!" The monk shouted.
Ten minutes later, Wu Qi, Lao Ai, and Madman Xue squatted in a line on top of the one-foot tall threshold at the front entrance of Temple of Hidden Heart. In their left hands were two hot buns the size of a toddler's head, and in their right was a bowl about the size of an adult's face. Inside it was unsalted porridge mixed with vegetables and carrots. They were staring at the valley before them with a deep look in their eyes.
After having a bite on the half-cooked bun that had a rock-liked texture, and drinking a mouthful of porridge that tasted like plain water, Wu Qi breathed out a long sigh and said, "Prince of Changxin, so this is the meal you and your disciple had for over the past half a year? What a suffering, you've really suffered greatly!"
Lao Ai and Madman Xue had an expression that looked too deep for tears as they stared at the coarse food in their hands. Slowly, they opened their mouths and gave the bun a fierce bite.
"If I were not severely wounded and unable to absorb the natural energy to heal myself, only relying on these coarse foods to replenish my strength, I would have long... I would have long broken those bald heads, burned down the temple, and cooked all the bald donkeys here!" Lao Ai shivered as he continued to howl under his breath, "For half a year, one hundred and eighty-nine days, I've been eating only one meal a day, a coarse meal which even dogs and pigs would not want to eat..."
Madman Xue chimed in a low voice, "No wines, no meats, no women... nothing..."
Lao Ai kept complaining with a trembling voice, "We are surrounded by only a group of old, big or little monks, who spend day after day telling you that there is fate between you and the Buddha, asking you to shave your hair and become a monk. They better not let me regain my divine ability and magical power, or else... or else..."
Wu Qi gave Lao Ai and his disciple a gaze, then sighed light and said, "The gratitude of saving one's life can never be forgotten. If you kill your saviors, tsk, tsk, you will be held up by metal demons, and you will have to face a great demonic obstacle in your future cultivation!"
Lao Ai nearly coughed blood as he gave Wu Qi a grumpy glare, before turning his head away.
Ignoring Lao Ai, Wu Qi went to Madman Xue and asked him about their encounters during the past few years.
Their story was rather simple. That day, after they killed Yu Hetian, and after Lao Ai fully digested the Yin energy which he seized from Yu Qianqian, the pair of Master and disciple returned to Ji City. Right when they arrived, Lao Ai was immediately invited by Su Mei'er for a session of dual-party cultivating.
At the very moment when Lao Ai was fully indulged in the session, Yan Dan led all the expert sinecures of Great Yan Dynasty and launched a full assault against him. They nearly turned Lao Ai to ashes on the spot. Fortunately, Lao Ai's Wheel of Delight was very powerful, as he used that to protect Madman Xue, who was also severely wounded in the battle, and fled all the way out of Ji City. From there onward, the Master and disciple embarked on a desperate escape journey, from the Myriad Immortals Planet to White Cloud Planet, then from White Cloud Planet to Minor Heavenly Circle Realm, and eventually to Puluo Heavenly Realm. After that, while hiding from their pursuers, they robbed cultivators for energy stones and finally arrived at Pangu Continent.
At that point in time, both of them were in a really bad shape, and were just one step away from the gate of death. However, such condition could not kill off their lust, as when a few beautiful female cultivators went past them, Lao Ai immediately rushed forward with the intention of abducting them, using them as cultivation vessels to heal his injury. Little did he expect that the few beautiful female cultivators had a very strong backing. As a result, right after he smoothly abducted two Gold Core female cultivators, a Thirty-Third Tier Heaven Immortal came from the sky and attacked him and Madman Xue, nearly turning both of them into ashes.
They were lucky enough to escape. However, although they still had some strength to do evil initially, when they were finally rescued by the little monk, Guarding Heart, and brought back to the Temple of Hidden Heart, they were badly mutilated and at their last gasp, which made them no different from ordinary mortals. If not because of that, with Lao Ai's temperament, how would he have stayed obediently in a temple, munching on tough buns?
After listening to Madman Xue's complaints, just when Wu Qi was about to laugh gloatingly at their misfortunes, a dazzling cloud suddenly arrived above the valley and began to descend slowly, on top of which stood a couple of young men, who all had handsome and extraordinary appearances.
One of them, who obviously was their leader, produced a small storage bag and threw it over to Wu Qi as he said coldly, "This place, and everything around here, is now the territory of Min Clan of the An He City. In the bag are one hundred pieces of lower-grade energy stones. You have only fifteen minutes to move out from here, or don't blame us for dismantling your broken temple!"
Wu Qi blankly picked up the storage bag which fell before his feet.
What was happening? Had he bumped into the Pangu Continent version of forced dismantling of properties and seizing of land?