Clairvoyant: I am just a lowly priest who has been practicing asceticism.
Clairvoyant: I have done no wrong.
Dipankara the Monk: You are a mere Spirit of Pine Wood and you are trying to cultivate Xian-hood?
Dipankara the Monk: If you are not using Sacred Wood from the Divine Tree that stabilizes the waters,
Dipankara the Monk: are you telling me you achieved your elvish powers through saintly deeds?
Clairvoyant: Sacred Wood? I really do not know about this!
Dipankara the Monk: It should say ‘May the Light Never Fade’ on it.
Dipankara the Monk: Since you have lived a hermitted existence without wrongdoing,
Dipankara the Monk: I would show mercy and not destroy your century of ascetic practice
Dipankara the Monk: if you tell me the location of the Sacred Wood.
Dipankara’s tone of voice was stern as he stood on the tip of his sword unsupported; he said to the elf bound by the Xian lasso tied before him.
Clairvoyant: Xian, please do not kill me!
Clairvoyant: Although I am channeling the power of wood in hopes of becoming a Xian,
Clairvoyant: I have never seen or even heard of the Sacred Wood that stabilizes the waters.
Clairvoyant: And the barren patch in the neighboring forest! I have never—
Dipankara the Monk: Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Dipankara the Monk: You have lived here for so long, and yet,
Dipankara the Monk: you claim no knowledge of what happened to the neighboring village?
Dipankara the Monk: If not for the Sacred Wood,
Dipankara the Monk: how could a mere Spirit of Pine Wood cultivate itself into a Xian?
Dipankara the Monk: If you remain obstinate, don’t blame me for—
The Enlightened Master: Dipankara!
The ascetic had cast a spell and magical flames were already at the elf’s nose. Yet, as soon as he heard the deafening cry, he halted his spells and the elf took the opportunity to escape.
The Enlightened Master: The willow elf had become Xian
The Enlightened Master: by refining its power with the pneuma of a sacred cave.
The Enlightened Master: How could you tortuously interrogate it,
The Enlightened Master: risking misfortune-riddled karma to yourself?
In the distant past, the Enlightened Master had worshipped the Sacred Wood that stabilizes the waters with other ascetics. During the ceremony, a pregnant white-haired woman was there paying her respects to the wood but she went into labor but died from complications. The Enlightened Master had saved her child and named him with the prayers she had carved onto the Sacred Wood.
The ascetics intended to have the child adopted into an ordinary village; yet, he cried ceaselessly and would not sleep unless it was by the Enlightened Master’s side. With a heart of mercy, the Enlightened Master kept Dipankara by his side, cultivated his potential and helped Dipankara become Xian.
The Enlightened Master: The Divine Wood is to be found by those destined to.
The Enlightened Master: You don’t have to chase after it.
The Enlightened Master: Didn’t I make myself clear enough?
Dipankara the Monk: But—
The Enlightened Master: You are too aggressive! It is all my fault...
The Enlightened Master: All these years I have been taking you along me to rid the realm of demons.
The Enlightened Master: But I have only taught you sorcery, and neglected moral values...
Dipankara the Monk: Master, I; I only wanted to—
The Enlightened Master: Your expectations have fallen short, haven’t they?
The Enlightened Master: The village once blessed by the Sacred Wood has deteriorated.
The Enlightened Master: It is now a barren ruin...
The Enlightened Master: Nothing lasts forever, Dipankara.
The Enlightened Master: Do not allow this to anger you or affect your judgement.
Dipankara the Monk: Yes, master. I understand.
The Enlightened Master: Ebbs and flows are predestined.
The Enlightened Master: Xian like us should not weep over falls or rejoice over rises.
The Enlightened Master: You will understand this in the future, Dipankara...
The Enlightened Master: Come, let us move on from here.
Elf Ascetic: but has successfully cultivated yourself to Xian-hood?
Elf Ascetic: If the Master did not favor you, are you saying that your deeds were so saintly
Elf Ascetic: that you have earned the position of abbott?
Female Ascetic: I do not accept this!
Female Ascetic: Dipankara has always acted rashly.
Female Ascetic: What saintly deeds could there have been?
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: Young Dipankara, you should offer them an explanation, my friend.
In the past, the Enlightened Master had simply stayed on the road hunting for Demons. But he could scarcely hope to pacify the chaos in the realm of Humans alone. Hence, the Enlightened Master had accepted Yuanshi Tianzun’s recommendation in the end and had built an abbey on Vulture Peak. There, he taught the way of governance to ascetics.
But by now, the Enlightened Master has reached an advanced age. He had remained withdrawn into his chambers for rest, and therefore, his many disciplines left the peak to continue their cultivation. Dipankara was left to tend to the affairs by himself. It was not until the Enlightened Master announced that Dipankara shall inherit the abbey that the many disciplines objected en masse.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: I understand the concerns of everyone here.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: But it was our master’s wish that I—
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: Young Dipankara, it is not often that I visit.
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: Stop with your disappointing words.
Everyone present could not helped their growing worry. If not for Yuanshi Tianzun’s absence, the ascetics would not have invited this madman.
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: Allow me, the Celestial Master, to officiate these matters.
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: It there’s one of you who can defeat me today,
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: that person will be the next abbot of the Abbey of Perfect Enlightenment.
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: See how simple this has become?
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: Must you do this, Celestial Master?
Celestial Master - Tongtian Jiaozhu: Haha; Come on, young Dipankara, let us have some fun!
In the Abbey of Perfect Enlightenment on Vulture Peak, Dipankara sat with the hoarse Enlightened Master. He brewed tea in silence as the cross-legged elderly man noiselessly scanned the garden. He handed a cup to the Enlightened Master who accepted the tea with thanks and calmly sipped it.
The Enlightened Master: Not bad. This cup of tea alone shows your worthiness to inherit this abbey.
Dipankara the Taoist: You are too kind, master.
Dipankara the Taoist: You look well today.
The Enlightened Master: Hoho. Tell me,
The Enlightened Master: have you finally understood the pointlessness of aggression now?
Dipankara the Taoist: Yes, with help from the Celestial Master.
The Enlightened Master: I still remember that at the beginning, I only intended to raise you to adulthood.
The Enlightened Master: I did not expect you to show mystical pneuma from a young age...
Dipankara the Taoist: But despite my potential in ascetic cultivation,
Dipankara the Taoist: I was also not a bright student in values.
Hearing Dipankara’s self-mockery also brought a small laugh to the Master.
The Enlightened Master: It was my good fortune to have met you during the last worship.
Dipankara the Taoist: Master, it was you who had been taking care of me.
Dipankara the Taoist: You have taught me to rid the realm of Demons
Dipankara the Taoist: while popularizing the proper principles.
Dipankara the Taoist: You have given all of us purpose.
The Enlightened Master: No Dipankara, we have given ourselves over the world
The Enlightened Master: because she was simply too alluring.
The Enlightened Master: It was all life that has filled my heart with love.
The Enlightened Master slowly lowered his head, appearing as if staring into his own heart. Dipankara, at this time, also took a sip of tea and closed his eyes in satisfaction.
The Enlightened Master: ‘Dipankara, the future will be for you to bear.’
At the end of the wars of the Gods’ investiture, the army of the Grand Preceptor Wen had been driven onto a path of destruction. Wen Zhong journeyed towards the Mountain of the Ultimate End far from where he had originally fought Jiang Shang’s righteous army. In accordance with Jiang Shang’s plan, Dipankara stood guard over the cliff. His aggression had long since been dispersed by the mercilessness of war. Sorrow filled his heart as he watched Wen Zhong’s approach.
Dipankara: Grand Perceptor Wen, I have waited for a long time.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: Pst, even my fall to a state as miserable as this has been predicted by Jiang?
Dipankara: Grand Preceptor Wen, please surrender.
Dipankara: Your journey does not have to end here.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: ...Hahahahaha—
Dipankara: Grand Preceptor?
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: I have fought on the battlefield for many years.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: Throughout, I have always accepted only victory, never defeat.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: Today, someone is actually convincing me to surrender to save my own life.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: I have disgraced His Majesty and His father.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: Even if I die, I would never surrender.
Wen Zhong the Grand Preceptor: If Jiang Shang wants my surrender, he should just take my head!
Dipankara: Such power!
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: Dipankara!
Dipankara: Mr. Jiang, you are a little too late.
Jiang Shang had arrived a little later only to see a charred corpse lying by the cliff.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: Dipankara, is this...
Dipankara: He felt that martyrdom for his state was the honorable act.
Dipankara: His will was obstinate and he vowed to die in the battlefield,
Dipankara: With his heroism,
Dipankara: additional attempts to convince him to accept surrender would be an insult.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: Doomed fate has once again martyred another virtuous official for our world.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: Grand Preceptor, I have descended into this realm of Man to capture Xian.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: who are responsible for the world’s chaos on the orders of Yuanshi Tianzun
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: But seeing Grand Preceptor’s boundless loyalty and devotion induces sorrow.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: In the name of myself, Ziya,
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: I endow Wen Zhong with the title of Mercy Revealer,
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: His soul is to be immediately guided to the realm of Xian,
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: and shall be responsible for the rise of clouds and the fall of rain.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: He shall punish the wicked and serve to judge good from evil.
Specks of mystical light rose from the charred corpse at the sound of Jiang Shang’s voice. Slowly, they gathered together forming the image of Wen Zhong.
Wen Zhong the Mercy Revealer: Jiang Shang... No, Mr. Jiang.
Wen Zhong the Mercy Revealer: If you would allow me one more gaze upon my state and people,
Wen Zhong the Mercy Revealer: no more longing would remain in my heart,
Wen Zhong the Mercy Revealer: Dealing with the malevolent elf queen depends on you now, Mr. Jiang.
Jiang Ziya the Celestial General: I, Jiang Ziya, will not let you down.
Dipankara: ‘The loyal and great would rather die than complain at their defeat’
Seeing Wen Zhong’s spirit honoring Jiang Shang, Dipankara was enlightened. He realized that sentiments is not a part of the world and the death caused by fate was not determined by good or evil. Dipankara had stood by Jiang Ziya’s side in this battle and vaporized many with his merciless flames.
In the beginning, Dipankara had adhored elves and other malicious beings’ reign of chaos over the realm of Humans. Therefore, he had agreed to help in the wars of the Gods’ investiture and cease the many conflicts in amongst Humans. But now, after seeing countless deaths, he no longer raged within. He had killed for honor, and the killed had not complained. This compelled Dipankara to rethink his previous actions...
Dipankara: ‘Where should my hatred be directed? What is the honor of killing?’
Dipankara had always blamed the destruction of his homeland on the chaos. But now, what he had seen removed all the hatred from his heart.
Taiyi Zhenren: This brat has such powerful pneuma, but has an unstable and aggressive attitude.
Taiyi Zhenren: How do you intend to resolve this, master?
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: It is as if a bag is opened, and it proves empty, there is no burden within.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: This lack of a burden is not releasing, nor accepting, nor forgetting.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: It is neither an act of great mercy nor is it an act of stubbornness.
Taiyi Zhenren: Enlightened Master, not only have you learnt from your predecessor,
Taiyi Zhenren: you have even surpassed him.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: The title of master is too much. Please call me Dipankara.
Taiyi Zhenren: Haha, alright then. I will leave you to work with Nezha, Dipankara.
In the lotus pond, there was a little figure soaking in the water. He wiggled and floated on the surface of the water, and the magic-imbued equipment on his body gleamed with light. Dipankara walked across the surface of the water no differently than he walked over land. The moment he approached the figure, a red shape wrapped around Dipankara’s legs and a pike shot from beneath the pond.
Dipankara grabbed the pike with a great splash, then quickly followed by catching an iron ring which has also flown at him. Dipankara then caught the lotus figure’s claws, picking him up with his hands and suspended him in the air.
Little Lotus: You jerk! Let me go!
The little lotus issued threats and struggled mightily, but his cute appearance meant all Dipankara could do was erupt in laughter.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: By Tianzun’s decree, from this onward,
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: you are a junior ascetic in my enlightened abbey.
Little Lotus: To heck with you! Wait until I am stronger; I will show you!
The Little Lotus started cultivating his mind on Vulture Peak from then on since the only way he could leave the mystical mountain was if his hatred has dissipated. Because of the lotus person’s power, Dipankara would always stay by his side. Even when Dipankara has to go run errands, he manifested a double of himself...
Faith Pursuer: All clear？
The Little Lotus stayed silent and reached out with his mind’s eye to check around the door—
Faith Pursuer: Hey, I am asking you a question. How is everything out there?
Little Lotus: Run! Quickly! It’s a manifestation of the Taoist!
That time, an ascetic wanted to unseal a mythological beast on the mountain, and Nezha had conspired along with him. They broke through the magical barrier imprisoning the mystical bird and released it from the cage. The two, with Zhuque in arms, rushed out of the abbey’s gates and dashed down the mountain. However, Dipankara had expected this and had prepared a manifestation of himself that would appear and block the path if the abbey gates were opened.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Stop running, you insubordinate apprentice!’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Do you know of the repercussions of returning Zhuque to the realm?’
Faith Pursuer: With Zhuque as weak as it is now, what possible repercussions could there be?
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘In the past, it has burned the earth leaving plumes of smoke'
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘that inundated the Celestial Palace.’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘While it is understandable that he would not know this considering his youth,
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘but Nezha, you have trained with me for decades.’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Are you telling me you don’t know of Zhuque’s past?’
Little Lotus: Naturally I would know.
Faith Pursuer: If Zhuque cannot exert self-control,
Faith Pursuer: I would personally reduce Zhuque to a normal bird.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘If that time comes,’
Faith Pursuer: ‘I worry that you would scarcely have the ability to protect yourself.’
Reinvigorating Zhuque’s powers is not difficult, but Dipankara’s concern is that Zhuque was initially a weapon in the war between Gods and Demons. If its powers are returned but his truculence remained, it would become agitated and the plague of fire would return to the realm of mortals. If the practitioner remains its side, Zhuque’s truculence can be reduced, but in the end, the practitioner would be unable to satisfy Zhuque’s appetite and be eaten.
Since he had been unable to think of a foolproof plan, Dipankara did not rush to tap into the mythological beast’s powers. Yet now, his apprentice planned to break Zhuque out. ^Dipankara was originally faraway extracting energy from a mystical jewel with Taiyi Zhenren. With a fight imminent, he pulled his pneuma back and sat completely still, focusing entirely upon controlling his manifestation in its conflict with the pair.
Faith Pursuer: I will bear all consequences.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘I fear that you would not even be able to bear the power of my manifestation.’
Faith Pursuer: As the bird of fire,
Faith Pursuer: Zhuque should not be permanently imprisoned within the abbey!
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘This is only meant to be a tentative measure. Please reconsider.’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘You will be consumed by Zhuque. His wild roots cannot be overlooked.’
As Dipankara used a manifested double in the fight, he was naturally defeated by the combined force of Nezha and the ascetic.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Fine, if this apprentice of mine is willing to bet his life on this,’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘I cannot hope to stop it.’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Swear on your life that you would properly control the power of Zhuque.’
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: ‘Do not let it become a scourge on humankind.’
Dipankara allowed Zhuque to leave. Yet, Nezha did not take the opportunity to escape and voluntarily chose to stay.
Little Lotus: I am not a weakling.
Little Lotus: In the future, I will defeat you fair and square before I walk out of here.
Nezha, intentionally provoking Dipankara, had a smug look on his face. Yet, Dipankara could only sigh. Even though Nezha’s mindset remained unchanged, he had already grown accustomed to his new lotus body. It was time to replace it with a real body.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: Sigh...
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: The time has come.
Nezha the Lotus Prince: Ha! I am still more comfortable in a real body!
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: Come and attack me! Let’s see what you have learnt!
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: Are your six limbs okay?
Nezha the Lotus Prince: Yeah, they are fine; in fact, they can still fight another round with you.
Dipankara the Enlightened Buddha: Very well, in that case, come with me to the realm of man.
‘May the light never fade.’^ Her fingers bloodied, the white haired woman drained her last strength to hold the infant boy in her arms. Her warmth served to keep the child warm.
Weakened Woman: ‘Sacred Wood! Please watch over my child!’
Although the woman had been betrayed by fate, she remained devout. She believed in the mystical strength within all.
Weakened Woman: ‘Oh river! Please bring me to the Sacred Wood.’
The woman had prayed to the river in hopes of being led to where the Sacred Wood resided. She followed the winding path of the river and got what she desired.
The women’s oil lamp grew with a dim light as if it was still, like it had left the cycle of time. She could feel the warmth of the child in her arms as her eyes focused on the unmoving flame. Even after she had closed her eyes, an imprint of the light remained present.
Uncertainty never plagued the woman as she knew that if she kept her devotion, the divine would reach out with help.
White-haired Woman: ‘Wind, please guide me!’
She had prayed to the wind in the hope that the wind can point her to the right direction and guide her onto the correct path. In her long journey, she had heard about the Sacred Wood from the nomads — she had finally got what she desired.
Death edged closer to the weakened woman. Her consciousness was gradually sleeping and her pulse grew faint?. It was as if her heart beat was gradually being replaced by that of the child in her arms. The strength of the thump comforted her.
She has been through various vicissitudes of life; yet, with every blow, the woman simply became more resolute.
White-haired Woman: ‘Mother Earth! Please support me!’
She had prayed to the Earth for support on her journey after her abandonment by her husband. She determinedly continued, her bone-thin legs pushing off the ground she has continued her lonely path into the wind.
White-haired Woman: ‘Fire, it is just ahead now...’
That night, she, who been abandoned by her husband, had intended to head onto the mountains alone and die in the jaws of beasts. Yet, on her continued journey upwards to the peak, she had no encounters with any beasts. The arrival of the sunrise marked the ascendance of the fiery sphere. In the coolness of the morning, this provided her with warmth. To enter its warm embrace, she ended down the mountain in the east.
Darkness enveloped her. Even the touch of the child in her arms grew distant. All he remembered was the presence of the fire. In her mind, she has returned to her youth, and beautiful flute music arose in her ears; the little girl excitedly ran towards the eternal light...