# 125. A Secret "Ai, It seems that this was destined to be a fruitless trip." Xu Qi'an finally took his first sip of tea since entering the temple, and sighed. "Master, Do you know of the Sangpo case circulating in the capital recently?" Master Hengqing didn't speak. After signalling his colleagues to be silent with his eyes, Xu Qi'an continued, "I was appointed as the lead investigator of the case by His Majesty. It's not because the Emperor recognizes me and appreciates me..." Xu Qi'an let out a long sigh as if he wanted to stop speaking. Master Hengqing couldn't help taking a glance at him. "As it happens, this matter has been in my mind for a long time. Now that I'm in the temple, I'll talk about it with you, master." Xu Qi'an said after a while, “A few days ago, I was ordered to raid the house of a criminal official. His Majesty was kind and didn't implicate the family members in the mansion. But, when the house was being raided, Some colleagues saw the beautiful women in the mansion, causing them to want to spoil them... One of the girls was merely twelve or thirteen years old. “As I couldn't stand it, I stopped them immediately, fought with my superior, and almost killed him. I was sentenced to be chopped at the waist for this. So, His Majesty handed over the Sangpo case to me, and had me perform meritorious service to offset my crimes. "My friends say that I had been too impulsive. The correct way to handle this was to bear it first and report it to the Constabulary later. But, in that case, the girl would have already fallen prey..." Xu Qi'an showed a painful and entangled expression, "It is said that the Dharma is boundless and can save myriad sentient beings. I want to ask the master if I did the right thing or not." Lyu Qing was taken aback, astonished. She hadn't known that such a story lay behind Xu Qi'an's imprisonment. *He is different from other men...* An gentle light emerged in the eyes of the female constable. Master Hengqing was slightly moved. He hadn't expected this court dog to be a warm-hearted person. After reciting the Buddha's name, he said: “As long as the benefactor[^1] has a clear conscience, you will not be touched by karma.” "Master also believes that I did something wrong." Xu Qi'an dully said. After hesitating for some time, Hengqing said, “You have a good heart, and mercifully saved people, what sin is in that?” Xu Qi'an asked, "Then, Why did the imperial court sentence me to death?" Master Hengqing pacified him, "The world is like a sea of bitterness. Being inside it means that you can't stop yourself sometimes. Sometimes, a kind heart may not lead to a good outcome. However, even if it is late, a good outcome will never be absent. The Sangpo case is so, a heaven-mandated turning point for the benefactor." "Master, I'm enlightened!" Xu Qi'an seemed to have realized something, turned his head, and said to everyone: "Everyone should have heard it. Master Hengqing said that the Great Feng is a sea of bitterness, and the Sangpo case is the retribution brought about by the royal family. Why are you all in a daze? Come and arrest him." Clang clang clang... Everyone stood up immediately, as the sounds of blades being drawn resounded through the quiet room. ... The Zen Chamber. The abbot of the Qinglong Temple, Master Panshu was sixty-two years old. His bald head wasn't as shiny as it was in his youth, and his white beard had grown to reach his chest. A Fifth Rank Silacarya, He had remained in this realm for more than 20 years. The Buddhist system paid attention to a single word, "Enlightenment". Some monks may have practiced Zen for decades, yet not go further until their deaths. However, some monks could suddenly realize the unity of all dharma in a single night, like a sudden spring breeze, saving them decades of hard work. Master Panshu could have been the former or the latter, but nobody could be any sure if he could achieve enlightenment before he actually did so. This could be described as Schrodinger's Enlightenment, or Quantum Buddhism. "Abbot, abbot.." A deacon shouted anxiously from across the courtyard, "A group of Nightwatchers came to the temple and arrested Courtyard Master Hengqing, saying that he slandered the Imperial Court and the royal family." Abbot Panshu opened his eyes and said softly, "I know." The door of the room opened on its own, after which Master Panshu disappeared from the room. ... The Nightwatchers escorted Master Hengqing outside the temple. As they accompanied him, more and more monks gathered, giving off hostile gazes. They gave off the appearance of forming an encirclement as if they would immediately fight with this group of court dogs if some took the lead. But the Nightwatchers had too strong of a background. They could fight with this group today, causing a group of strong ones to raze the Qinglong Temple the next day. Therefore, no one made any rash moves. "Master, you don't have to be afraid. At the Nightwatcher Office, You will be released soon if you cooperate with us." Xu Qi'an consoled. At the time, Xu Qi'an's smile was a devil's smile to Master Hengqing. He didn't feel any consolation in his words at all. "Amituofo!" A majestic but benevolent voice sounded, calming down the hostility and anger of the monks. Xu Qi'an saw an old monk, wearing a red and yellow cassock appear three feet ahead out of nowhere, blocking the way of the Nightwatchers. "This poor monk is Panshu." "Abbot Panshu!" Xu Qi'an put his palms together and greeted him back. He said, "I have something I wish to inquire Abbot about." "Come along." Abbot Panshu sighed. Coming this time to the Meditation Room, except for Xu Qi’an, all the Nightwatchers including the three Silver Gongs were blocked outside. Towards a fifth-rank expert, Xu Qi'an also had a much more serious attitude. A fifth-rank Silacarya corresponded to the fifth-rank Transforming Force of the Marital Arts system. He was an expert beyond the Bronze skin and Iron Bones level. "Master abbot, I was decreed by the emperor to investigate the Sangpo case. I accidentally found that a Baihu in the Jinwu guard could deceive the Arcanists of Sitianjian. After inquiring about it, I heard that the Qinglong Temple has a Magical Instrument with similar effects." Xu Qi'an warned, "This case is quite an important case. Even for the safety of the Qinglong temple, Master Abbot must tell the truth. I am not threatening Master at all. I hope you understand my situation." "The temple indeed has a Magical Instrument, which can be used to cover up the aura and hide from prying eyes." Abbot Panshu said, in a gentle tone. "Is that Instrument still in the temple?" "It's not here." The abbot shook his head. Xu Qi'an didn't speak, instead, he waited for an explanation. Abbot Panshu paused for a few seconds, sighed, and said, “The reason why Hengqing lied to Sir is probably that this involves a scandal in the temple. If it spread out, It could also bring great disaster to the temple. "This poor monk once had a disciple. His dharma name was Henghui,[^2] and he was quite talented and diligent. This poor monk originally had high hopes for him, but he didn't have clean roots and had an affair with a female pilgrim. He stole the magical instrument and eloped with her, fleeing the capital." Xu Qi'an narrowed his eyes, looked at the abbot, and asked, "What's the identity of the female pilgrim?" Abbot Panshu clasped his hands together, and chanted the Buddha's name in a low voice, before he finally replied, helplessly, "Princess Pingyang." “!!!” Xu Qi'an felt as if he had been struck by lightning. In the Great Feng, the word “Princess” without any landed titles could be used by the following: the Emperor’s *shu* daughers, the crown prince’s daughters, imperial princes’ daughters, and other kings’ daughters. Strictly, except for the eldest princess who was born to the empress, the other three princesses were all *shu* daughters. However Emperor Yuanjing only had these four daughters, and rare things are precious, so they were all given landed titles, and could be considered Princess Royals. Although the crown prince did have a daughter, she was still young, and so could not be involved in such matters as elopement. Thus, Xu Qi’an deduced that this Princess Pingyang, as a non-Princess Royal, was a daughter of a king in the royal family. *This case is turning more complicated, the deeper I investigate. What was the role of the monk who eloped with a princess in the case?* Xu Qi'an asked, "When did it happen?" "More than a year ago." Abbot Panshu replied. "Thank you, Master. You have clarified many doubts I had. I still have another thing to ask you." "Please." "Qinglong Temple descends from the Baota Temple established by monks from the Western Regions, doesn't it?" Abbot Panshu said nothing, acquiescing. "After the Yongzhen Shanhe Temple was blown up, I found a large formation at the bottom of the lake with Buddhist script engraved. The formation was arranged five hundred years ago, and the Baota Temple also appeared in the capital five hundred years ago. Even more interestingly, Emperor Wuzong also happened five hundred years ago..." Xu Qi'an stared at the abbot. "Does Buddhism from the Western Regions have any relevant records of that time?" After finishing speaking, Xu Qi'an observed that Monk Panshu's facial expressions turned ugly quickly, as he lost the indifference particular to an eminent monk. "Sir, I want to ask one thing.." Abbot Panshu raised a burning gaze at him, wanting to say something, but pondered on it for a long time. "The thing under Sangpo, really... escaped?" "Indeed it has!" Xu Qi'an gave an affirmative. Abbot Panshu seemed to have suffered a great blow, as the fear in his eyes was difficult to calm down. His hands trembled slightly, he joined his palms together and chanted the Buddha's name to cover up his state. *Such a reaction...* Xu Qi'an was a little surprised. He felt the old monk's reaction being a little too extreme. So, he got straight to the point, "Is the one sealed under Sangpo the first Jianzheng?" The old monk didn't reply but continued to lower his head and recite the Buddha's name, his bald brows trembling. After some time, Abbot Panshu calmed down, and said in a deep voice, “This poor monk doesn't know what is sealed below Sangpo. But, A saying has been handed down since the establishment of the Baota Temple: The monster of Sangpo escapes, and the world descends to Chaos. “The Baota Temple was built to guard the seal in Sangpo, back then. Later, the imperial court became afraid of the prosperity of Buddhism and ordered the removal of Buddhism. The eminent monks retreated to the Western Regions, leaving just the Qinglong Temple. "Before they left, the eminent monks had told us to pay close attention to the state of Sangpo, and report immediately if any abnormality happened." *It seems as if Buddhism cares more about Sangpo than the royal family of the Great Feng.* *Um, The first Jianzheng is a first-rank expert. So saying that the world will descend to chaos isn't wrong. After all, First Ranks are pinnacle experts.* "This poor monk only knows this. Do you have anything else to ask?" "I'm done." Abbot Panshu nodded, and his body suddenly disappeared, as if it had been edited out of the picture. Xu Qi'an's eyes widened, and he thought enviously, *This technique is a little handsome.* After the conversation was over, The sun was shining brightly, and it was almost noon. Xu Qi'an and the others stayed at Qinglong Temple to have a vegetarian meal. "The vegetarian food in Qinglong Temple is quite delicious." Chu Caiwei ate two bowls in one go and was holding the third bowl as she praised with satisfaction. The white rice in Qinglong Temple was mixed with black rice, millet, and corn. Sesame oil was poured into the mixture while steaming. The rice grains were plump, crystal clear, and fragrant. The vegetarian dishes were also prepared with great care, and they excelled in colour, flavour, and taste. Sitting beside her, Xu Qi'an happily watched her eating with such joy, and said with a smile, "Female Donor, don't eat by yourself, this little monk is here for alms." Chu Caiwei protected the bowl, and rolled her eyes, before she said angrily, "Is there any difference in what you and I are eating?" Xu Qi'an shook his head, "Little monk doesn't do fasts." "So?" "Little monk eats fast." ... Everyone was quite satisfied with the vegetarian dishes at Qinglong Temple. Their only regret was the absence of White Phoenix meat to nourish their body. Master Hengqing, who was also the Courtyard head, sent everyone over to the gate of the temple. The city people tricked him too hard, and so in anger he didn’t speak to them the entire time. Xu Qi'an suddenly remembered something, and asked, "Master, Do you know a monk named Hengyuan?" Master Hengqing's face quickly changed colour. --- [^1]: An ordained monk is called *bhikku*, which comes from the word “to beg”. Thus, monks practice poverty and non-attachment to the world. Thus monks call non-monk visitors “donors” or “benefactors”. [^2]: 恒慧 (same Heng as Hengyuan and Hengqing)