According to normal reasoning, the empress dowager shouldn’t have the strength to stand up again at all. However, unknown as to just what kind of force supported her, she stood back up, made her way up the burning ancient stairs, rising one step after another.
The monk in front of them still didn’t turn around, but his steps slowed a bit. The surging gentle force around his body pushed the winds a bit further away, blowing the stone steps he left behind him a bit more cleanly.
Because of the empress dowager’s heavy and firm steps and because of the unimaginably majestic massive buddhas in the yellow sand, Emperor Feng Xuan’s heart was always pounding intensely.
Everyone in Tangcang knew that Sanskrit Temple was behind Scarlet Scorpion Desert, because behind Scarlet Scorpion Desert was another endless sea of sand. Sanskrit Temple never welcomed guests either, so apart from some ascetic monks who previously left their footprints here, most people of the world only heard the words Sanskrit Temple and Sanskrit Buddhas, almost no one dared risk offending the sanskrit monks or to come here to tour these buddhist vestiges.
When he sensed the power and radiance from the empress dowager’s body, Emperor Feng Xuan understood some things, some of the expression of sorrow on his face concealed. However, what he saw still made his heart pound intensely and uncontrollably.
Behind the Sanskrit Great Buddhas, in the great canyon within the sea of sand, was a wall-like long and narrow mountain. There were arch bridge-like mountain rocks protruding into the air.
Glorious and indescribable temples were built high in the sky, on these long and narrow mountain rocks. There was gold embedded and runes carved into many mountain walls and temples, under the illumination of sunlight, overflowing gentle buddhist radiance was released. Within the buddhist radiance, there were actually praying mat-like circular sanskrit characters. As streaks of golden light rays were inserted within, from the distance, these indistinct characters and sanskrit radiance vaguely linked up into a sea, covering the canyon’s sand and stones, as well as some weather beaten ancient temples that only had an outline visible.
Sanskrit radiance overlooked the sea.
It was indescribably beautiful and solemn, indescribably grand and holy.
In that instant, Emperor Feng Xuan’s heart almost jumped out of his chest.
The empress dowager’s figure stopped briefly at one side of the canyon, her eyes releasing a bit of sadness.
Under the lead of the well built monk in front of them, Emperor Feng Xuan and the empress dowager entered the valley, walking on the stone path, feeling as if they were flying.
Inside the temple, there were people chanting sutras, there were tall and auspicious golden buddhas standing tall.
There were tassels that extended from the roof of the temple.
On a cliff to one side, there was actually a white stream that murmured about.
On a cliff to another side, there were actually countless densely packed caves, the inside either empty or holding buddist images.
The monk guided the empress dowager and Emperor Feng Xuan through this glorious buddhist land completely detached from the world of mortals, walking towards one of the caves.
The empress dowager already sensed that her body was dying one part after the next, but her mind only felt more and more bright, more and more joyous.
Within this doorless cave sat a yellow-browed old monk. He sat on the rock ground. In this cave, apart from him, there was nothing else.
“This unworthy disciple pays her respects to master. I have come to repent for my sins, to ask master for forgiveness.” The moment the empress dowager saw this old monk, she was immediately deeply moved, her eyes filled with stirred emotions. She kowtowed before this old monk, bowing deeply in respect.
The yellow-browed old monk calmly looked at the empress dowager, saying without any sadness or happiness, “What sins are there?”
The empress dowager stared blankly for a moment, and then calmly said, “Disciple didn’t listen to master’s instructions before, selfishly leaving Sanskrit Temple, going against monastic discipline.”
The yellow-browed monk said with a faint voice, “Monastic discipline is merely set by man. Even if it is deities and buddhas, it is only used to bring people light and radiance, let people feel peace, grant them faith. The choice you made, what sin is there to speak of?”
“Since there is no sin, why must you ask for forgiveness?” After giving the empress dowager an expressionless look, the yellow-browed old monk continued, “If there is sin, if your actions in the last sixty years prevented you from entering this temple, even if you are close to the end of your path, how could you have taken even a step in here?”
The empress dowager stared blankly for a moment. The faint golden radiance around her body began to slowly fade. Her face suddenly revealed the joy of achieving supreme enlightenment. She gave another bow of respect. “Master’s level is something this disciple cannot attain in this life.”
“In this life of mine, I have seen further than you, comprehended more zen truths, but what I’ve accomplished is less than you. You dedicated your life to the secular world, this is worthy of the word saint.” After giving the empress dowager a calm look, the yellow-browed old monk said, “Your trip back today, apart from wishing to see the great buddhas and sanskrit light overlooking the sea scene, seeing me one last time, what else do you need from me?”
The emperor dowager’s expression was like a smile, yet not a smile. She gestured towards Emperor Feng Xuan who was also kneeling on the ground. “My son is still young, I must ask master to help me support him.”
“Once one is caught up in the secular world, there will be a sea of bitterness. To become like you are today, without any regrets, heart at peace, is extremely difficult. I am also unable to take responsibility in another’s place.”The yellow-browed old monk raised his head slightly. He gave the monk who held an ancient golden staff and stood at the entrance of the cave a look, saying, “Zhen Pilu, you were willing to guide her back into the temple, are you willing to enter the secular world?”
The monk’s brows furrowed slightly, the space between his brows also bulging slightly. However, without any hesitation, his hands joined together, bowing in respect towards the old monk and empress dowager. Without any sorrow or joy, he said, “This disciple is willing.”
“The sea of bitterness is boundless, but the great dao will always return to the same root.”
The yellow-browed old monk nodded. He looked at the empress dowager who felt happiness from the bottom of her heart, but the golden light on her body became completely dim, and then he gave Emperor Feng Xuan a look. “Do you have anything else you wish to tell him?”
Emperor Feng Xuan knew that this was already the final moment to bid farewell. His head was hung, choking with emotion as he sat down in front of the empress dowager.
“The principles I have taught you normally, you have pretty much understood them all, you have also done well, leaving me at ease… However, there is one thing that you have to remember. Yunqin and our Tangcang are enemies, but there are some people who are noble and unsullied, worthy of trust.” The empress dowager stroked Emperor Feng Xuan’s young and tender hands, saying, “If you are happy… then I am also happy…”
Emperor Feng Xuan held back hot tears as he nodded.
He wanted to listen more, hear more from the mother he loved and respected, but the empress dowager no longer said anything. She turned around, her gaze somewhat absentmindedly passing through the cave.
In front of her were the pure and holy sanskrit clouds overlooking the sea, on the opposite side the clearly visible great sanskrit buddhas, as if releasing everlasting mercy upon all ages.
When she was arriving here, she had her suspicions, even though she received her master’s affirmation, even right now, she still couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride, pleased with her situation.
In this life, apart from that Principal Zhang who reshaped Yunqin, who else lived a life as brilliant as hers?
“These great buddhas, this sanskrit radiance overlooking the sea, it truly is a spectacular sight…”
When she thought about all the things she did, the people she met, the empress dowager muttered this, and then her head quietly fell.
Emperor Feng Xuan knew that this moment finally arrived, unable to restrain his sorrow anymore.
When the imperial officials at the very front of the procession received the news from Sanskrit Temple, they immediately knelt down before Sanskrit Temple, crying out in sorrow, “Empress dowager has entered the heavens!”
“Empress dowager has entered the heavens!”
Throughout the long procession, these voices solemnly and respectfully transmitted out.
All of the retinue wept with grief, starting to change into plain snow-white clothes.
Several cavalry separated from the troops, speeding towards Tangcang Imperial City.
The ancient golden staff wielding, entire body like bronze monk Zhen Pilu appeared from behind the great Sanskrit Buddhas. When he heard these words, he planted the staff into the golden sand, his hands moving together, slowly saying, “Holy mother empress dowager has entered the heavens.”
His voice wasn’t all that resounding when it left his mouth, but in the endless yellow sand, it instead transmitted further and further away, the vibrations greater and greater, as if thunder rumbled.
The white plain clothed troops suddenly trembled. The officials and those cavalry who separated to report this news, after staring blankly for a moment, revealed pleasant surprise and expressions filled with indescribably respectful radiance, changed their wording and said, “Holy mother empress dowager has entered the heavens!”
A pair of extremely heavy metal gates slowly opened.
The two hundred Tangcang heavy troops dressed in martial attire’s eyelids all jumped. Even with their statuses, they still didn’t know who was locked behind these doors. However, they all knew what kind of figures were within the dozen or so palanquins behind them. This type of formless pressure made them all feel exceptionally tense.
What kind of person was this, to actually make more than ten great figures appear here, to be this serious, as if they were facing a great enemy.
When the metal gates opened, an extremely fishy and damp filthy smell rushed out. The faint sounds of water immediately made these Tangcang elites understand that what was inside was an extremely gloomy and sinister water prison cell.
There were water sounds and the sounds of metal chains. A moment later, the sounds of metal chains became louder and louder, signifying that the one who was locked inside was getting closer and closer to the entrance.
An even stronger indescribably foul smell rushed out. All of the Tangcang heavy armored riders felt a chill in their hearts.
The prisoner inside appeared.
However, what none of them expected, was that the one who walked out with massive rusted chains didn’t have a particularly large frame, didn’t look like a fiendish monster, but was instead a seemingly extremely refined and weak man.
All of the clothes on his body had practically rotted away, the skin on his body covered in mushy ulcers, everything rotten, to the extent where there were many holes in his body that had been punctured through, soaked until they turned white, some even black. The only part that could still be considered intact was the upper half of his body, his exceptionally pale face that hadn’t seen the light of day for who knew how long.
His age wasn’t that great. Even though his beard and hair were stuck together, everyone could still recognize this.
However, what made these Tangcang elites’ breathing momentarily stop, was that not a hint of anger or malevolence could be felt from this weak and scholarly looking man who had been locked up for so long.
He only brought his hands together, giving the sun a look. After frowning a bit, he took a deep breath, as if the outside air and sunlight were especially fragrant and sweet.
A water prison convict like him, even if he didn’t have any mental illnesses, looking straight at the sun like this might instantly make him blind. However, he instead seemed completely fine.
“I’ve finally been released?”
While looking at these Tangcang elites whose breathing even momentarily stopped and the dozen or so silent palanquins, he actually smiled slightly, saying this to himself.
Then, he saw that these Tangcang heavy cavalry had some white cloth around them, a bit of sadness faintly discernible. He then frowned, asking, “Who was it that passed on?”
“Holy mother empress dowager has entered the heavens.”
A rather aged and hoarse voice sounded from within one of the palanquins.
This man stared blankly for a moment, and then he shook his head, saying with a sigh, “Even she has died, the number of enemies worthy of respect has decreased once again.”