Birth of the Lotus of Fate, Endless Divine Art Descends
Yun Yang was fully submerged in his thoughts, as he gazed at Wu Wenyuan’s decapitated torso, lying still in a widening pool of blood. Staring at the corpse, his expression twisted as he felt an unusual breeze envelop and penetrate his being – almost as if springing from the death of Wu Wenyuan.
It was an exhilarating feeling. His dantian1, parched and meagre since he sustained those injuries a year before, began to awaken and bloom. Tentatively, like a child with his first steps, Yun Yang began to probe and control his flow of Qi2, feeling the whispers of energy start to flow through his long inexistent meridians3 – his eyes snapped open with a radiant glow; recovery was a possibility after all!
Despite being unsure of the entirety of what was transpiring, Yun Yang was more than satisfied to have even arrived at this conclusion.
“Such are the rewards for answering my doubts,” Yun Yang looked down at Wu Wenyuan’s lifeless form and murmured, “I won’t renege on my word. Although you proved to be a traitor to the Empire, wicked and treacherous… I keep my promises. Most of all, because this is the Nine Supreme’s promise.”
With that epitaph, Yun Yang walked out of the room, without looking back. His final word shivered in the air;
“Remove the corpse and head back to the prison, save Wu Wenyuan’s wife and mother.”
By the time his words dissipated, Yun Yang had disappeared; to be replaced by Lao Mei who had appeared, as silent as an apparition.
When Yun Yang returned to the canopy of orchids once again, the moon was already waxing bright in the velvet sky. He stared at the moon in silence, a mournful smile tugging at the corners of his lips. A series of revelations flashed through his mind.
“Brothers, I know now who they are. The Four Season’s Tower!’
“Mr. Nian is the mastermind of the Four Seasons Tower.”
“4 seasons in a year, 12 months and 365 days. They represent 365 people.”
“There’s hope for my ability to recover!”
“Don’t you worry, I will live well.”
Like a mantra, Yun Yang chanted these in his heart, the pain and sadness crushing him like a relentless vice, causing his hands to tremble with rage.
After a long while, Yun Yang exhaled, his anger tinting his puff of air crimson in the moonlight. Just as he was about to arise, the sliver of weak Qi in his dan tian finally reached it’s breaking point, having chugged through his meridians for the entire day. Any martial arts practitioner worth his salt could have their Qi flow through their meridians a few times in a single breath – even the most novice of them could do so – but Yun Yang’s Qi had taken him almost two full hours to journey an entire round through the meridians. It was a clear indication how clogged his meridians were.
Just as his Qi was about to complete a loop, Yun Yang felt a sudden surge in his mind, the clap loud enough to shatter his soul. Feeling his mouth fill up with blood, the last thing Yun Yang could recall was the landscape turning blurry, before he collapsed on the floor, unconscious.
Lao Mei, hurrying over to him, was astounded to see the green glow emanating from the young master’s body. It was filled with so much life energy that Lao Mei, who had seen many things before, was shocked.
While he extended his arms towards the supine man, the green glow bloomed as bright as the sun, and Yun Yang’s body began to shake. With a gasp, Lao Mei felt the energy wind its way towards him, picking him up like a rag doll, and flinging him clear across to the gates. Crashing bodily into the metal bars, Lao Mei was rendered immobile and barely able to stand. The impact was so great, he could feel his internal organs collapse, and his bones shatter into mush.
Lao Mei’s eyes bulged as exquisite pain wracked his body. How could this have happened? His cultivation base qualified him as the top five known experts in Tiantang City. How could a brief contact with the gentle green glow hurt him so horribly? Picking himself up with great effort, he saw that the glow around Yun Yang’s body had begun to fade.
Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, Lao Mei peered incredulously at the young master – there was nothing unusual, nothing to indicate that he had unknowingly lashed out with enough force to harm innocents around him. “Utter madness..”, Lao Mei muttered angrily to himself, “Could I have imagined it? Caused myself harm? Why would I even do that?”
Yun Yang was… somewhere else.
An emerald light, not unlike an azure sun, rotated in the sky, and Yun Yang’s body and soul alike, felt oddly at ease. Almost as suddenly as he had arrived, however, he felt a heart-stopping jolt, and his consciousness, mystified as it was, was wrenched back into his mortal coil. Immediately, his olfactory senses kicked in, and an overpoweringly pungent scent almost caused him to retch. He began to feel the coarse bed under his back, the air vile enough to possibly suffocate an entire town’s population. An unmentionable epithet passed his lips as he leaped out of the bed and rushed out to escape the odour, only to realize that it emanated directly from him.
Staring in horror at his arms and body, a slick covering of slime covered his entire torso, and seemed to fill every orifice, even his nostrils. Working on pure instinct, he held his breath and made a grand leap straight into the pond in the middle of the courtyard. The resultant splash drenched the sides of the pond and revealed a pair of frightened eyes that materialized right in front of the beleaguered Yun Yang.
It was Lao Mei, whom, after attempting to attend to his master, failed utterly when faced with the noxious stench. Having nowhere to hide from the terrible fumes, and seeing that his master was in no real danger, Lao Mei had also decided upon the pond as a suitable getaway. To his horror, not only did he fail to escape the horrendous odours, the source of it had found him again.
“I have braved the dark underground of martial arts, and cheated Death countless times. I have faced enemies terrible beyond comprehension, and I have never faltered, not even once! None of that, however, compares to this abominable smell!” Lao Mei was beginning to sway dizzily. “What’s worse, it follows me wherever I go, and it reeks of maggots and corpses.. I give up!”
With his eyes rolling all the way back into his head, Lao Mei collapsed into a dead faint.
Yun Yang was already scrubbing mightily at the slime, trying to cleanse himself of it. It wasn’t long before he began to see shapes start to emerge all around him. Blinking in speechless amazement, he could only chuckle as the fishes in the pond bellied up and floated in a macabre ring.
After a gruelling two hours of scrubbing, Yun Yang finally began to feel live was worth living again. He was exhausted, and the faint glimmer of dawn marked the beginning of a new day. Lying down in the pond, the reluctance to move at all threatened to send him right under its surface. Lao Mei, who had finally regained consciousness after his fainting spell, was still somewhat tongue-tied. “Young master, your skin…” the words came out crookedly. “Is this how natural jade is meant to look like?”
Transformed. Yun Yang’s face was smooth and clear, resembling the perfection of a jade carving. Fair and rosy, with an ethereal translucency, he practically glowed with an inner light. He had always been a dashing man, marred only by battle scars that would never disappear, most prominent of which was the one earned during a near fatal encounter.
His face was now smooth as alabaster, the scars that marked him vanished like an old moon.
“Cleansed of impure meridians! Natural golden jade!”
Lao Mei exclaimed in awe. What had happened to his young master? How was it that this phenomenon that all martial artists sought for entire lifetimes, happen so suddenly and unexpectedly?
Yun Yang extended his sense to probe his body, a hint of delight blossoming in his mind. Aside from his cultivation base that had yet to recover, his body now was akin to a newborn’s – healthy and flawless!
“Once the injuries in the meridians’ heal, it was only a matter of time before the healing energies of the cultivation base began to manifest itself.” Yun Yang was happy with his condition now, despite not entirely understanding how it had occurred.
Yun Yang was nothing, if not pragmatic. The lack of information did not overly bother him; the fact was that it had happened, and he was the better for it. He would find out how it happened soon enough, but of utmost priority was to recover his abilities with all haste! As it was, his strength had been sorely depleted since the horrendous battle a year ago.
Suddenly, his eyes narrowed in consternation.
Where was the frost jade that had adorned his wrist?
After performing his ablutions, Yun Yang gingerly returned to his room, all the while
escorted by Lao Mei and his intense scrutiny. Flipping his sheets over, he made himself comfortable on the soft mattress, and began his search for answers. Entering a mental state of fugue, a dense mist began to collate before his eyes, and amidst the swirling clouds was a rotating lotus seed, pulsing with golden light.
A green aura surrounded the seed, and as he inhaled, he caught a whiff of a rather wonderful fragrance.
The top of the lotus seed had cracked.
A tiny seedling surfaced; its green stalks were fresh and translucent like that of jade. Anyone whose eyes laid rest on it immediately felt at ease. Swaying slowly, the seedling literally gave out waves of a strange energy.
“What on earth was this?” As Yun Yang attempted to digest this new sight, an implosion of dizziness washed over him, as a surge of information flooded his psyche all at once. The agony almost caused him to blackout, and his head throbbed with pain.
Faintly, a swivel of shiny, golden words appeared in his mind.
“Chaotic wuji4, it is the birth of all things; it comes out of nothing, and grows into infinity… It absorbs the air of the wronged, soothes the injustice of the innocent, and conducts oneself in clear conscience. The bitter heart of a lotus forms the foundation of life; intention serves as its blade, severing all evil… and within the massacred evil, a lotus seed sprouts. Brilliance shines across the land, dissolving impurities and dispels it to light…”
“Endless Divine Art.”
A mystical revelation consumed him, right at that very moment. Yun Yang snapped his eyes shut. After a time which could have been moments or an entire eternity, he reopened them, and the brilliance of epiphany shone clear in his eyes.
“So this is it…”
“I finally understand…”
His meridians were suddenly cleansed, rid of impurities and corruption. Understanding finally dawned, but with it, came intense agony.
If I had known… If it had occurred earlier, my brothers wouldn’t have had to die…
So, it was because of this… that I didn’t die. It was because of this, that I managed to crawl out of the hill of corpses during the battle at Tianxuan Cliff.
I suffered from a myriad vital injuries, 17 in total, any of which would have killed a normal man… but I lived…and it was because of this.
That tiny bead of a lotus seed.
Yun Yang closed his eyes in sorrow; his thoughts chaotic as they brought him back through time, rifling away through his memories.
He had just joined the Nine Supremes, and had just fought three gory battles that very day. In the midst of battle rage and war fire, something, he could never tell what, descended upon his head, and he had ceased to remember anything after.
It was his eight brothers that had saved him.
Later, he realized that the object that had hit him, causing him to slip into unconsciousness was a lotus seed. A tiny lotus seed, which lodged itself deep inside his skull, causing no end of amusement for his brothers, who mocked him ceaselessly.
“The youngest of the Nine Supremes was laid low by a lotus seed!” His brothers’ laughter still echoed in his ears.
Yun Yang, flustered, attempted to extract the lotus seed from his head, with every intention of smashing it to bits. The oldest of them told him with a loud guffaw, “Ol’ninth, keep it with you. Anything could happen on the battlefield, keep this as a reminder to always be cautious of everything. You must know, even a lotus seed could knock out one of the Nine Supremes!”
Everyone exploded in bales of laughter, but he took the suggestion seriously, as he kept the lotus seed and hung it around his neck with a string of silk.
In his idle moments, he would pull it out on it’s tether, and take good, hard look at it.
Even a lotus seed can lay low a hero.
From then on, he became more cautious; from being the youngest among the nine, he gradually became the core and the brains behind the Nine Supremes. Even the oldest of them exclaimed that he had somehow grown up all at once after the undesirable incident. Although everyone still laughed when the matter was brought up, the brothers no longer looked derisively at it; not after the number of times that Yun Yang’s attention to detail and infallible planning saved their lives and brought them success beyond their belief. The brothers even thought that Yun Yang would be a notable figure in the Mainland of Tianyuan if he kept up with his progress!
Yun Yang himself could feel the vigilance that the lotus seed had endowed him. It improved his clarity of mind by leaps and bounds, making him all that more appreciative of the seed, and increasing his reluctance to remove it.
In his quieter moments, Yun Yang had even sworn to do all he could to revive this lotus seed when world peace had been achieved, and he could trade his armor for a plowshare. Then, he would build a large pond for this seed to allow it to grow and germinate into a pond full of lotuses. As for him, he would build a small hut by the lake and spend the remainder of his mortal life there.This very same seed – it was the lotus seed in his subconscious mind.
Now, it had bloomed in his own subliminal thoughts, and to top it all off, it even whispered it’s name gently in the inner parts of his being, where peace and tranquility fought a balance with clarity and boundless energy.
It called itself, “The Lotus of Endless Fate”
1 Dantian (丹田 dān tián): the part where a cultivator’s Qi is concentrated and stored in their body, usually somewhere in their lower abdomen.
2 Qi (气 qì): an energy that exists in all things in the world; regular appearance in the novel as cultivators cultivate Qi.
3 Meridians (经脉 jīng mài): Channels for Qi to flow, similar to what blood vessels are for blood.
4 Wuji (无极 wú jí): the state before Taiji where yin and yang are not yet distinguished.