Threads of divine will darted back and forth quickly within the grand hall as Wu Qi and Lao Ai rapidly exchanged their opinions.
"What tricks are you trying to play here? Don't you forget that this old monk is your savior!" Wu Qi glared at Lao Ai.
"I am used to the lifestyle of being escorted imposingly by a group of retinues, being dressed elegantly and feasting on delicacies. But, not only am I in a miserable situation now, even my Great Sun Sect is uprooted by someone. It makes me really uncomfortable if I don't take in a few more disciples and apprentices! With my guidance, at the very least, this old monk could attain the rightful fruit of Arhat. It is a great advantage for him!" Lao Ai said with a smile and a solemn expression.
"Don't cause any troubles here! They are all proper monks. You must not make them into Great Sun Sect's disciples!" Wu Qi gave Lao Ai another fierce glare.
"You don't have to worry. Since I was young, I've learned to requite kindness with kindness, and return evil with evil!" Lao Ai said indifferently as he returned a nasty look at Wu Qi. After that, Lao Ai reached out his hand and placed it on top of Hidden Heart's head. "There is fate between you and me. From today onwards, you will be my second disciple. Now, exercise your cultivation technique and focus your mind. I will use the technique of epiphany to help you form your first relic lotus throne!"
Immediately, a blinking Buddhist light radiated from Lao Ai's body, and a warm stream rushed into Hidden Heart's head through his palm. The old monk let out a hearty laughter as he sat down cross-legged on the ground with a crack slowly opening up on his forehead, from which, a tiny beam of white light burst out, together with a dazzling, white, peanut-sized relic. Vaguely, the image of a swastika and a lotus flower could be seen on the inside of the relic. A soft, tender, but pure Buddhist power spread out and swept across the hall, which made Wu Qi feel his mind calming down, and his spirit becoming clearer and more compact.
Lao Ai began to recite a spell under his breath and perform various hand incantations, as he kept channeling his own enormous energy essence into Hidden Heart's body. A white mist rose up from the old monk's forehead, then gradually transformed into the shape of a lotus flower.
Buddhist cultivators did not cultivate their Gold Cores, Nascent Souls, or Nascent Divinities. The entirety of their cultivation base was on their relics. It was actually the conglomerate of all the spirit, energy, and vitality of a Buddhist cultivator. When a relic was formed, it was similar to the Gold Core realm of a Daoist. After the relic was formed, if one could form the first lotus throne under the relic, one would achieve the cultivation base similar to that of a Nascent Soul cultivator. When the second lotus throne was formed, it was equal to Nascent Divinity realm. When the third lotus throne was formed, and with three lotus thrones protecting the relic to transcend the heavenly tribulation, one would attain the cultivation base of Golden Arhat, thus reaching immortality.
After one became a Gold Arhat, he would have to fuse three lotus thrones together and transform them into a corporeal Third Tier lotus throne. If he were able to sit on the lotus throne, he would attain the rightful fruit of a Bodhisattva, giving him an overall strength similar to that of a Gold Immortal. Meanwhile, the tier of the lotus throne would increase following the improvement of one's cultivation base, from Third Tier to Ninth Tier. Once a Ninth Tier lotus throne was achieved, one would become a Buddha, having an overall strength similar to that of a Primordial Immortal.
By using his own energy essence to help Hidden Heart form his first lotus throne, Lao Ai's intention was to help Hidden Heart break through the Nascent Soul realm.
A vast stream of energy essence kept being channeled into Hidden Heart's body. Sweat broke out from the old monk's back and trickled down, while a very strong golden light was radiating from his fleshly body. The cultivation of his Diamond Body was advancing by leaps and bounds, yet the realm of his own cultivation base was having a hard time breaking through. It was as if a stubborn threshold was lying right before him, and even though he had mustered all his Buddhist cultivation base and coupled with the energy essence channeled into his body by Lao Ai, he just could not break through the mental shackle, his inner devil.
Cold sweat was rolling off Lao Ai's forehead. He realized that even though he was just playing a trick, there was a price he had to pay. He had yet to fully recover from the serious injury, but for the sake of bringing Hidden Heart under control, he disguised himself as a Bodhisattva. He barely managed to squeeze out a little bit of his energy essence, hoping that could help Hidden Heart make the breakthrough. Initially, he thought with the old monk's cultivation base that was very close to peak-stage Gold Core realm, it would be very easy to form the first lotus throne. But, little did he expect that thing would be of his control.
Buddhist cultivators attached the utmost importance to the cultivation of their mental state. Without any mental shackles, an ordinary old monk could become a Buddha in just one day. On the contrary, when one was dragged by too many mental shackles, he might only possess a cultivation base of a relic even after living through one hundred lives. Nobody knew what the things that were hidden in the old monk's mind were. His face had turned purple, and Lao Ai was trembling from head to toe. Yet, the first lotus throne was still in a misty form, refusing to condense into a corporeal form.
Wu Qi frowned, darting his eyes from side to side. Suddenly, he walked in front of Hidden Heart, using all his strength to roar with the technique of Lion Roar, "Who are you feeling sorry for?"
Hidden Heart was in a state where he could make the breakthrough at any time, yet he still failed after numerous attempts. He was in a trance, and his mind was obscure. Upon hearing the sudden roar from Wu Qi, he answered reflexively, "I feel sorry for too many people. The loves and hates that accumulated in my previous thirty lives, my wives, my parents, how could I just abandon them?"
Wu Qi gave the old monk a powerful slap in the face and scolded, "Fool! No wonder you are using 'Hidden Heart' as your name! Stop hiding it! Now dig out the heart that has gone through thirty lives, pull it out, place it under the sunlight, and give it a good rinse! Whatever happened in the past lives, it would stay in the past lives! The events of the mortals shall be settled by the mortals themselves! You've already jumped out of that filthy world, so why are you still hiding that dirty heart?"
Again and again, Wu Qi violently slapped Hidden Heart's face, tearing his skin and smearing his face with blood. "Wake up! Release the heart that you've been hiding!" cried Wu Qi at the top of his voice, "After you become a Bodhisattva, you can always find the incarnations of those you love and hate in the previous lives, then requite love with love, hate with hate. Why are you still tangling yourself with those right now, right here?"
Abruptly, Hidden Heart's eyes shone brightly as two beams of white light shot out from them to a very far distance.
Using all his spirit, energy, and vitality, Wu Qi sent a loud noise that sounded like the ringing of a huge bell into the bottom of Hidden Heart's heart. "Without becoming a Buddha yourself, how are you going to guide others? A clay Bodhisattva can hardly survive when crossing river. You can't even protect a small temple in this mortal world. How are you going to save the others? How are you going to help the others?"
Lao Ai rolled his eyes and nodded thoughtfully.
Suddenly, Hidden Heart called the name of Buddha with a loud voice. His body ablaze without being kindled by any flame, and very quickly he was engulfed by a rainbow color flame, which burned him and sent forth a very strong scent of sandalwood. After being burned by the flame, his once old, shriveled body became tall and burly, shining dazzlingly with a golden light. He had transformed into a monk who was in his adulthood. A white light was swirling over his head, amidst which two white lotus flowers that looked like freshly picked from a pond were blooming in the breeze.
The old monk's relic had also doubled in size, now hovering gently between the two white lotus flowers. It emitted a bright light that illuminated the lotus flowers, while the flowers were spraying wisps of mist that nourished the relic. The way they were promoting each other looked very much like the inter-promotion between two opposing forces of Taiji. In a flash, a beam of white light shot out of the relic, inside which, another white lotus flower was taking shape gradually, and it seemed that with just a little bit more effort, it would take a corporeal shape.
"Excellent! Excellent!" Wu Qi put his palms together and told the old monk with a smile, "Grandmaster, now you are just one step away from becoming a Gold Arhat! All it will take is just a moment of enlightenment, and you will attain the rightful fruit of Gold Arhat, who lives forever and never perishes! Congratulations!"
Hidden Heart threw his head back and gave a joyful cry. Slowly he rose to his feet, then walked three rounds around Lao Ai and bowed respectfully, before turning to Wu Qi, putting his palms together as he said, "Thank you for enlightening me, fellow Daoist! Your Lion Roar has woken me up from my dream. I benefited a lot from that! Fellow Daoist, with your extraordinary intelligence, it tells me that there is a fate between you and the Buddha!"
Wu Qi's smiling face fell instantly. He gave Hidden Heart a fierce gaze and said with a cold snort, "Your whole family has fate with the Buddha!" Waving his hand and grinning coldly, he said, "You don't have to thank me, save that for someone else. The words I used to enlighten you are stolen from someone else! That man is the one who has fate with the Buddha. In fact, his entire family has fate with Buddha!"
Flicking his sleeve, Wu Qi strode towards Reverend San Le and the others who fell into the hall previously. With a grabbing gesture performed by his outreached arm, the ring worn on Reverend San Le's finger came falling into his grip. However, Wu Qi frowned after scanning the ring with his divine will. Was this man really the new City Lord of An He City? Why was he so poor? Inside the rather spacious storage ring, Wu Qi only found three upper-grade energy stones, a dozen of middle-grade energy stones, and several hundred lower-grade energy stones. How could this City Lord be so poor?
Nevertheless, he did find a few bottles of pills, dozens of decent quality spirit talismans, and three flying swords of upper-grade magical item level. These items could still worth some value. But, when everything was added up and converted to energy stones, Reverend San Le's total net worth on hand was only about three to five hundred lower-grade energy stones. It just simply did not match with his status of a lofty City Lord, an early-stage Nascent Soul cultivator!
In a very detailed manner, Wu Qi searched through Reverend San Le's body, looting everything that he deemed valuable, including a waist belt made from silk produced by Cold Centipede. When he was done, he kicked Reverend San Le away and ran towards Daoist Flaming Crow.
After watching how Wu Qi looted everything from Reverend San Le in such a professional way, Lao Ai finally reacted. "My disciple!" he cried out loudly like a chicken who had its neck squeezed.
With utmost respect, Hidden Heart put his palms together and asked, "Master, I am here. What is your order for me?"
On the other side, when Madman Xue heard Lao Ai's voice, he immediately rushed towards Daoist Flaming Crow like a hungry wolf hunting for its prey. Briefly before Wu Qi arrived, he threw himself onto Daoist Flaming Crow, then ran his hands up and down on the latter's body like a pervert who saw a beautiful girl.
But too bad, an amateur could never defeat an expert. After spending some time pinching and stroking through Daoist Flaming Crow's body, Madman Xue only managed to pull out a few red talismans. However, by briefly sweeping his hand across Daoist Flaming Crow's body and activating the Hand of Web, Wu Qi had pulled away two storage bracelets. Then, after scanning the contents of the bracelets with divine will, Wu Qi could not help but roar with laughter.
Daoist Flaming Crow was a wealthier man. Although he did not have too many energy stones, the spirit talismans, spirit pills, the full sets of magical items and array flags, fire element spirit medicines and mineral ores, their volumes were more than enough to fully fill three huge houses! "That's more like it. No matter what, the natural energy in Pangu Continent is so much stronger than those outer heavenly realms, and the local products are of greater variety as well. Everyone here should have wealth like this!"
Lao Ai was tempted by the amount of loot Wu Qi found. Hastily, he sent a divine will over and said, "Wu Qi, don't be too greedy! According to the rules of the underworld, those who witness the loot can share half of it!"
Wu Qi was taken aback. He turned around, baring his teeth as he nodded at Lao Ai while saying, "Those who witness the loot can share half of it! Once we loot everything from these people, we will go and occupy An He City. Hehe, we need to heal ourselves in An He City first!"
Stunned, Lao Ai cried out, "Occupy An He City? But, that Min clan is supported by Heaven Immortals! How do we have the overall strength to fight against Heaven Immortals now?"
Wu Qi waved his hand indifferently and said in a flat tone, "You just have to believe me! Mm, Madman Xue, come here and remove that fellow's pants. He is hiding a storage bag in his underpants! What's so secretive about it?"
Clothes were flying everywhere inside the grand hall. Reverend San Le, Daoist Flaming Crow, and the several dozens of cultivators who followed them here were completely stripped naked.
Right when Wu Qi was passionately looting these unlucky fellows, a hurried voice was heard coming from outside the valley,
"Patriarch! Please return to the city at once! Some bald donkeys from Golden Pavilion Temple are blocking the city gates!"