Long Live The Emperor!

Chapter 7

Prayer Beads

Xia Ji slept the night away in the dark chamber. The next morning, he heard the reverent shouts of guards outside the door. “Paying respects to the Honorable Imperial Concubine Wan!” The noise grew gradually louder as it approached until the doors to the archive chamber were abruptly thrown open.

A beautiful concubine walked in. Her eyes were soft and gentle, and she was not dressed flamboyantly. There was

a tear mole under her left eye

, which consolidated the air of compassion about her. This was Imperial Concubine Wan, the concubine who had recently captured the Imperial Emperor’s heart, and who was also the birth mother of the Third Imperial Prince.

Imperial Concubine Wan entered the room and waved her head at the guards in dismissal. “You may leave now.”

The eunuch and guards hastily took their leave and withdrew to the courtyard, keeping watch from a distance.

Xia Ji smoothed his shirt, which was the color of the moon, as he saluted. “My respects to Imperial Concubine Wan.”

The gorgeous woman took a quick look at the young man. There was a slight resemblance between his eyebrows and the woman’s, and a hint of disgust flashed within her gaze. However, the expression disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and she brushed it aside to say, “The Imperial Emperor has passed custody of you and the Ninth Imperial Princess to me, so you will address me as Imperial Mother Concubine.

The two stared at each other silently.

The corner of Imperial Concubine Wan’s lip curled slightly. “Why aren’t you kneeling before your Imperial Mother Concubine?”

Xia Ji replied, “I have bad knees from the constant meditation in this tiny chamber and am unfortunately unable to kneel.”

“Yet you were able to climb Mount Meru barefoot?” Imperial Concubine Wan let out a cold laugh. “If you are destined to become the next Buddha, I can help you achieve that. However, even the Buddha has a mother and needs to abide by filial piety. I am your mother!”

Xia Ji retorted, “Well, dare I ask, Honorable Imperial Concubine Wan, who was the one who suggested marrying the Ninth Imperial Princess to Tujue?”

Imperial Concubine Wan gave a start before she laughed loudly. Sarcastically, she said, “You’ve got some wisdom, to be able to see through this. It seems it was no coincidence that you were able to train your meditative mind and crack the code of the Pearl in the Sea.

“You have the wisdom to see through anything and everything, but not the wisdom to remain silent?

“You would have been wise to keep your mouth shut. Opening your mouth is just a fruitless attempt of trying to be clever.

“The most pathetic people in the world are those who pretend to be smarter than they are.”

Xia Ji did not show any anger. His expression was as level and calm as always.

He just wanted to make sure that they had different intentions in mind.

He flipped one of the Buddhist scriptures open, completely ignoring the Imperial Concubine in front of him.

The Imperial Concubine gave him a cold, sweeping glance as she whispered, “So it’s true, the three parts of the devil within you. It seems like eating vegetarian food has not rid the demonic powers within you.”

With that, she left the chamber with a flourish of her sleeves.

As she walked away, the sounds of devoted chanting of Buddhist sutras rang out from behind her.

“There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, and no Way, and no understanding and no attaining. Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva through reliance on Prajna Paramita is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid…”

Imperial Concubine Wan chuckled coolly, an expression of revulsion appearing on her face as her footsteps sped up.

Xia Ji chanted until the evening, and the food that was delivered to him that day was even more tasteless than before.

Before this, at least vegetarian oil was still used. Now, everything had just been blanched in water, with no flavorings or spices added. There was simply no flavor to speak of.

The prince ate quietly and thanked the servant when he was done.

The servant hastily paid her respects, thinking about how gentle this prince was compared to the rest of the royal family, before hurrying off.

The Ninth Imperial Princess arrived shortly after the servant left. She seemed to be in a good mood, a really good mood.

Xia Ji immediately sensed her suppressed joy and asked, “Xiaosu, did something good happen?”

Xia Xiaosu asked curiously, “How did you know, brother?”

“It’s written all over your eyes.”

Xia Xiaosu batted her eyelids and leaned closer. “Brother, don’t tell anyone.”

Xia Ji laughed uproariously as he ruffled his sister’s hair. “The Imperial City is large, but who could I possibly tell?”

Xia Xiaosu leaned forward and whispered, “Here’s what happened. I went to Leiyin Temple today to pray and ask for blessings when I came across a little fox with its legs caught in a trap in the mountains. It was bleeding profusely and seemed to be in a lot of pain. So, I helped free it from the trap and applied medicine to the wound and bandaged it. The little fox was really smart—it rubbed itself against my legs a few times before leaving, reluctantly, I think. For some reason, I’m just so happy to see that it could be saved and returned to the forest.

Immersed in her memories, Xia Xiaosu smiled as she recounted the incident.

Xia Ji smiled too. His little sister was still a sixteen-year-old maiden. Although she had lived in the depths of the palace for a long time, she still had a kind heart. Or maybe it was precisely because she was like a bird trapped in a cage that she was able to empathize with the happiness of the little fox when she returned its freedom to it.

In the following days, the vegetarian food became even blander, with no oil or salt used. To ensure that the Seventh Imperial Prince did not become distracted from his practice, even the Ninth Imperial Princess was forbidden from bringing meat or alcohol into the archive chamber.

Xia Ji did not lose his patience.

He had already been waiting for two years. If he wanted to escape that tiny chamber, it was natural that he would have to wait for a long time.

Only time would decide his fate.

As he waited for the fated time to arrive, he was also waiting for his destiny to be decided. If his destiny was to be uneventful and the world was to be in turmoil, he would take Xiaosu and leave after a month and a half.

For now, the right moment had yet to arrive, but he had already recited all the sutras he could find and had obtained all the skill beads he could. Now, there was nothing he could do except recite them over and over again.

So, he asked for a block of agarwood as well as a carving knife.

He had vivid memories from the chess game on the ninth summit of Mount Meru. The chessboard with its spiritual power was so powerful, it could cause people to see illusions that were sufficiently realistic.

Even though he had the ninth level of the Dhyana of the Present, it did not save him from being sucked in as well, so anyone else would have stood even less of a chance.

Since he had the ninth layer of both the Dhyana of the Present and the Dhyana of the Past, why not try melding the combination of those energies into the tip of a knife and infusing it within a prayer bead?

So, before dawn, he had already woken up. Sitting in the dark, he closed his eyes as he held the carving knife and chipped away slowly at the block of agarwood.

His hands were slender, yet fragile.

A bright, glowing sun shone from the gap between Xia Ji’s hand and the knife, but he suppressed it so that the glow and heat from the sun were limited only to the tip of the knife.

This was part of the Nine Suns of the Heart Sutra, which he had extracted from the Diamond Sutra.

The nine suns were based on the theory of the five elements and nine acupuncture points where inner vitality was stored, namely the base of the heart, the dantian, the stomach, the bladder, the intestines, the hands, the spine, the lungs, and the crown of the head. When he successfully mastered each acupuncture point, a sun would be produced. When all nine points had been mastered, he would have nine independent suns.

The body was like the earth, the organs were the mountains and forests, and the nine suns hung in the sky.

From then on, he would no longer fall ill naturally, his stream of inner vitality like a never-ending river.

In the darkness, the tip of the knife was sizzling hot and glittering as it traveled through the agarwood like it was paper.

Not speeding up or slowing down.

Xia Ji’s wrist worked without rest, and soon he had created eighteen round prayer beads.

Uncarved, they were just wooden beads.

The eighteen of them represented the six indriyas, the six gunas, and the six parijñānas.

Then he picked up the first wooden bead, stowing away the blazing sun in his palm and tossing aside the carving knife he was holding.

He put a finger on the wooden bead, the immensity of the Buddha’s mind collected at his fingertips.

“The land and sky shall connect in my heart, and my heart shall connect to the land and sky.”

He placed the tip of his finger upon the wooden bead. He did not apply much pressure, nor did he even carve it, but the wooden bead changed on its own until the outer layer of the wooden bead was wrapped in a layer of gold plasma that was shifting visibly, as if a dragon was swimming inside it. The wood caved in, and the plasma flowed freely until it formed the shape of a swastika.

  1. moles beneath the eyes are called “tear moles” and signifies suffering and bitterness in life
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