Li Qiye got on shore first and the princess quickly followed. She became astonished again right away.
There was another stone stairway leading up a peak. From the base, one could see the curved rooftop of a shrine.
Along the stairway were trees everywhere, including Bodhi, Vajra, and Arhat trees. Such a scene was too ordinary in Pure. This mountain wasn’t that big and sacred. Even the stairway was normal-looking, consisting of regular rocks with weeds growing from the cracks. Yes, this scene was all too common.
However, it was a different story in Exploration Grounds. The princess couldn’t believe her eyes due to all the green trees. This was the first time she saw living plants in Exploration Grounds. Even though Buddhist Plain was full of yellow grasses, they weren’t true lush vegetation unlike this place here.
Keep in mind that these were ruins of ancient epochs and have been crushed by a destructive power before. It was hard to see life. Alas, the trees here were no different from the ones in Pure.
If not for knowing her current location already, she would mistake herself for being in a peak in Pure. This place didn’t have the impure chaos energies either.
She couldn’t help rubbing her eyes at this spectacle.
“No need for that.” Li Qiye said flatly: “What you are seeing is real. It’s so precious, the destruction wasn’t thorough enough.”
She became shocked after the confirmation. Buddhist Plain was already destroyed, no longer part of the current temporal sphere. It was a land of death outside of this lush location. What kind of power had managed to protect it?
The princess quickly gave chase since Li Qiye was already climbing the steps.
Meanwhile, the rowing monk was still lying on the ground, not daring to follow Li Qiye.
It didn’t take long before the two made it to the top. Despite its mediocre height, the mountain seemed so close to the sky. One could reach out and touch the stars in this place. It was mystical, seemingly not part of the karmic and reincarnation cycles.
Li Qiye had entered the old shrine with the princess behind him. There weren’t that many items inside, only eight Buddhist statues in meditation. Upon careful inspection, one would find that these were the bodies of supreme Buddhas, not statues.
Their bodies were perfectly preserved. There was no frightening divinity or boundless Buddhist affinity. They were dried up and dark, not as hard as steel, and looked quite relax like the body of a dying old man.
After seeing these normal bodies, the princess uncontrollably dropped to the ground with great reverence. She didn’t wish to do so but it was an instinctive submission. She had no way of opposing it and more importantly, she didn’t wish to do so either. Her respect came from the heart. There was no invincible power suppressing her but she simply wanted to prostrate.
Meanwhile, Li Qiye stood there calmly and gazed at the eight bodies without saying anything. It seemed that time had stopped at this moment. He was going back in time through the epochs for a chat.
An unknown amount of time passed by. She eventually regained her wits and finally stood up. Once again, no power was pushing her down to the ground.
“What is, what is this power?” She asked Li Qiye while staring respectfully at the bodies.
“No, it is not a type of power.” Li Qiye shook his head: “You should be happy right now. Back in that epoch, this would be the greatest of fortune, to be able to prostrate before the eight Golden Buddhas. Only brilliant prodigies who are masters of Buddhism would be qualified to do so; the best ones in an era. This is a fateful encounter; it looks like as you took a step forward in the Ganges earlier, you have sowed a karmic fruit.”
The princess was surprised. When she was in that other world, she did feel something calling her. So it was the fateful connection with Buddhism.
“In that epoch, these eight Buddhas are apex existences! Only the ones that have experienced endless pain and suffering would be able to see them. Back then, even if you have crossed the Ganges, that might not necessarily be enough to see them. Without your fateful connection, you wouldn’t be standing here right now to prostrate before them, despite my interference. This is an amazing fortune.” Li Qiye stared at the shocked princess and explained.
The princess finally realized what was going on behind the scene after hearing this. She took a deep breath before carefully looking at the holy bodies. She noticed that all eight were sitting down, meaning that they had the same status. However, there were nine spots but only eight bodies.
“There are nine spots. Are there nine or eight Buddhas?” She asked.
“Yes, there are indeed nine Golden Buddhas in that epoch. However, this place only has eight so one spot is empty.” Li Qiye said while glancing at the empty seat.
“Where is this Buddha’s body then? Don’t tell me someone else took it away?” She looked at him and asked.
She was certain he had been here before so he was the most likely culprit.
“Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t take it away.” Li Qiye chuckled: “He himself left. Plus, it’s not like I can just take these bodies away. They have fused into one with their world. Taking them away is the same as taking the entire Buddhist Plain!”
“He left? So a sacred Buddha came back to life?!” The shaken princess blurted out.
If an old epoch’s existence had come into being again from rebirth and could leave Exploration Grounds, it would be quite frightening due to its unprecedented nature.
“You’re overthinking it.” Li Qiye smiled and said: “He wasn’t here from the very beginning. When their epoch was about to be destroyed, the nine Golden Buddhas deliberated. They wanted to use the power of their epoch to stop it, so they fused their Buddhist affinity with their world. At that point, numerous devout believers did the same thing, using their faith to stop the power of destruction! However, one Buddha among them had a different view.”
“Why is that?” She became curious.
He looked at her and took his time elaborating: “The specks of sand in the Ganges are endless, but ultimately, they are still only sand. Using them to build towering pavilions is still only piling sand together, won’t amount to anything.”
The princess didn’t dare to comment since she wasn’t at the right level. Only a talent standing at the apex could truly analyze the statement.
“The ninth Buddha preferred offense over defense. He wanted to use the faith of his epoch to create a new Buddha with full offensive potential. Just defending against the destructive power alone was impossible. Only by turning themselves into a weapon to sever the great karma and destruction would allow their epoch to survive!”
He paused for a moment before continuing: “However, the other eight didn’t agree with his view. Because of this, this last Buddha left during the moment of destruction while the rest continued with their plan, fusing with their world and using its full power to stop the destruction!”