Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 36: Monk

Chapter 36: Monk

Upon seeing this tall and strange ‘robot,’ Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong’s hearts palpitated at the same time. Every pore on their bodies couldn’t help but tighten, and their hair stood on end.

At that moment, the same thing flashed in their minds: A monk from the Monks Conclave!

These monks were very dangerous beings in the Ashlands. They also had another name: ‘Eternal!’

According to Pangu Biology’s textbooks, humans had made groundbreaking progress in certain technologies before the Old World was destroyed. Among these breakthroughs, the most outstanding and admirable one was consciousness uploads.

This technology could transmit a human’s consciousness to a specially designed robot bionic chip through special equipment. This allowed humans to escape the restrictions of their fragile bodies. They would no longer age, become unwell, or starve. They also no longer died from the passage of time. All they needed to do was carry out maintenance or switch carriers periodically to achieve consciousness-level immortality.

However, the technology still had many flaws before the Old World was completely destroyed. It had never been officially used, only existing in laboratories.

When the Old World was destroyed, a group of robots—which called themselves Eternals—suddenly appeared when the Chaotic Era came. They used their imagination and methods of thought—which were identical to humans—as well as other strong pieces of evidence to make survivors believe that they were formerly humans and that one’s consciousness could be granted eternal life.

However, according to the Eternals, the technologies for consciousness uploading had been lost during the cataclysm. They said that only a few remaining pieces of equipment could still be used.

Only one factory could produce bionic chips and the corresponding robots that could carry a human consciousness. However, they were unable to reverse-engineer the manufacturing process. They only knew how to use whatever they had on hand to create a limited number of Eternals.

Therefore, their goal of walking the land was to unite humanity, reverse-engineer the equipment, and reproduce the corresponding technology so as to allow everyone to obtain eternal life, end the Dark Age, and enter the New World.

Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong did not know how it developed back then. They only knew what was recorded in the textbooks: “As time passed, the Eternals gradually revealed many problems. This wasn’t because they were malicious, but that the technology was far from mature. Among them, the most prominent problem was that a person lost various sensations after losing their physical body. This resulted in them losing the motivation that humans had in the struggle for survival.

“Many Eternals began to find their lives boring and meaningless, resulting in very serious mental problems. Meanwhile, the Eternals that went crazy dealt another round of severe damage to the already fragile human race. Although the remaining Eternals didn’t go crazy, they became lost. They began to seek comfort from the various religious remnants of the Old World.

“Finally, they focused on a particular religion and absorbed the traits of other religions, creating a new religion that was self-consistent but extremely warped. It was a new religion that could help them resolve their psychological problems. They called themselves monks. They called the hidden stronghold that hid the consciousness relay equipment the Glazed Pure Lands.”

These monks—who were exoskeleton robots—were not afraid of light weapons and possessed great firepower. They were like exoskeleton devices with human intelligence. They were dangerous beings that ordinary humans in small teams could not defend against. Even with heavy weapons, it required dozens or hundreds of well-trained people coordinating and using the appropriate tactics to have a chance of finishing off a monk.

When Jiang Baimian previously did a summary on the more dangerous types of humans, she did not mention Eternals. This was because the members of various large factions and wilderness nomads treated these monks as another type of creature, a creature completely different from them.

Of course, the monks of the Monks Conclave did not have strong aggressive tendencies towards humans. In fact, they were often somewhat friendly. However, the problem was that human consciousness could not be produced out of thin air. Every destruction of a monk—who had lost their ability to reproduce—would mean one less.

In order to maintain the ‘population’ and the parish, the monks were active in the various wildernesses in search of the ‘Fated.’

If they found a Fated, they would ‘redeem’ their target and bring them back to the Glazed Pure Lands. They would then make these Fated give up on their physical bodies and transmit their consciousness into a robot’s bionic chip.

Among the Fated, a small number had strong desires for ‘eternal life.’ Thus, they did not resist it. Most did not dare attempt it due to the rumors of the Eternals’ flaws. However, it was not up to them to decide as long as they were chosen by the monks, even if they were unwilling.

This worsened the Monks Conclave’s reputation rapidly, making it almost notorious.

At the same time, perhaps because of flaws in the consciousness uploading technology, many mechanical monks had certain and different problems. When they encountered a specific scene or heard a specific sentence, they would lose control of themselves and go crazy. It would take them some time to calm down. It was akin to triggering the mentally ill or a personality defect.

This unstable state made many humans in the Ashlands view the mechanical monks as ferocious beasts.

It was due to these reasons that Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong reacted so strongly when they discovered a mechanical monk opposite them.

Only monks from the Monks Conclave liked to wear monk robes and a kasaya around their bodies. An ordinary robot wouldn’t have such requirements or ‘hobbies.’

Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao aimed their Berserker assault rifle’s muzzle at the iron-black robot in the red kasaya. Their foreheads were covered in a cold sweat. They knew that their weapons could not threaten the other party at all. Furthermore, unlike the exoskeleton-equipped bandit leader, the other party did not have any vital spots they could target.

When facing a mechanical monk, they had no chance of winning in regards to equipment. The reason they aimed was mainly because of their conditioned reflexes. At this moment, they could only pray in their hearts silently, hoping that they were not ‘Fated.’

The next second, the 1.9-meter-tall robot wearing a tattered monk robe and a red kasaya turned its cold and black face slightly and swept its blinking red eyes past them.

The mechanical monk didn’t say a word as he silently walked to the person who had fallen to his death. A cold and emotionless voice then sounded. “Life is suffering. Why remain so obstinate? Come back to the Pure Lands with me. Abandon your mortal coils and gain enlightenment. Then, you will understand that everything is nothing but hollow. Those who realize it will exist forever.”

With that said, the mechanical monk pressed his palms together and recited, “Namo Annutara-Samyak-Subhuti[1].”

Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong looked at each other when they saw that the other party had ignored them. They tacitly began to retreat silently.

At that moment, the mechanical monk in the red kasaya maintained his posture and spoke with his cold, emotionless voice again. “Patrons, why don’t you wait a little longer? Although you are not fated with Buddha, all life has a Buddhist nature. It’s not a bad thing to listen to the scriptures.”

Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong were secretly delighted when they heard the words ‘not fated.’ They heaved sighs of relief. At the same time, they were afraid of infuriating the other party, so they could only stop retreating.

Since the monk did not intend to attack or ‘redeem’ them and only wanted to proselytize, it was better to listen than risk their lives.

Upon seeing Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong stop, the robot monk looked at the corpse on the ground and continued speaking. “Although you remain obstinate, Buddha Subhuti is compassionate and cannot bear to see your corpse exposed in the wilderness, never to gain liberation. I will send your spirit off. I hope you can completely escape your mortal coils and obtain new life in the Pure Lands.”

Long Yuehong quietly watched everything when Shang Jianyao’s voice suddenly sounded in his ears.

“How do you intend to do the sending?”

The mechanical monk stretched out his right hand and aimed his palm at the corpse. As he kept his left palm raised, he then chanted, “Namo Annutara-Samyak-Subhuti possesses great compassion and delivers all living beings from suffering. Purifying fire shall wick away your shackles...”

As he chanted, the mechanical monk’s right palm spewed out thick, white flames that instantly incinerated the corpse. These flames seemed to stick to the corpse’s surface in an inextinguishable manner.

After doing this, the mechanical monk in the red kasaya turned around and walked towards Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong. “Patrons, This Penniless Monk’s Dharma name is Jingfa. I’m a monk.”

When it saw that Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong did not respond, he suddenly sat down cross-legged, gently flicked his kasaya, and said in an icy, emotionless voice, “Have a seat.”

Shang Jianyao hesitated for a moment before taking a few steps forward. He then sat on the ground in a way that gave him the most leverage to jump up.

Long Yuehong was a few seconds slower. He walked to the same spot and sat down.

Jingfa’s eyes flashed red as he nodded slightly. “Patrons, what do you know of Buddha Subhuti?”

Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong shook their heads in unison.

Jingfa didn’t go into a rage. His cold voice inexplicably sounded solemn as he said, “Buddha Subhuti is one of the 13 Kalendarium; he controls time, as well as this world. ‘He’ is the ruler of January, the beginning of all things. ‘He’ is the source and embodiment of consciousness.”

[1] Usually, it’s Namo Amitabha. The religious texts found by the Monks Conclave are all incomplete. Therefore, it is normal for there to be mistakes in the Buddhist proclamations and teachings. It’s also a result of them mashing their teaching with other religious teachings. Yes, this is also to differentiate it from real religion to avoid trouble.

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