The Eastern Treasured Vial Continent had always been split up into the north and the south with Lake View Academy acting as the point that divided the two.
Those in the north were considered to be savages, while the south was considered to be more civilized.
Those in the south had always held a natural disdain for northerners, and even the renowned scholars of Great Sui Nation were willing to concede their inferiority to the scholars of Southern Stream Nation. Hence, for those who came from affluent clans in the south, it was considered to be a disgrace to be married into a clan in the north.
The end of the year was quickly approaching, and a barefoot middle-aged monk with a square and angular face was walking slowly through a busy market in the south, carrying a bowl in his hands.
There was a streetside performer pulling out all the stops, attracting loud cheers from the crowd of spectators. The monk spotted a little monkey tied to a wooden pole. It was extremely emaciated, which made its eyes appear particularly large.
The monk crouched down as he pulled out half a piece of stale biscuit, then pulled off a chunk before placing it onto the palm of his hand and offering it to the scraggy monkey.
However, the monkey was frightened by the monk's kind gesture, and it scrambled to rush back in a panicked fashion, only for the metal chain it was bound by to be instantly pulled taut, causing it to fall to the ground. The monkey's entire body was riddled with whip lashes, and it curled up into a ball and began sobbing to itself.
The monk gently set down the piece of biscuit near the wooden pole, then snapped the remaining half of biscuit into pieces before scattering them over the ground. After that, he placed down his metal bowl as well before backing away and sitting down with his legs crossed around three or four meters away from the wooden pole, where he began to recite scripture passages to himself.
He was constantly cultivating wherever he went, regardless of whether he was walking or sitting.
The emaciated monkey was truly starving, and after the monk sat down, it stared at him with a timid look in its eyes for a long while before finally mustering up the courage to pick up one of the pieces of biscuit on the ground. It then scurried back to its original spot and quickly devoured the biscuit, and its courage was bolstered even further when it noticed that the monk was displaying no reaction to what it was doing. Thus, it quickly devoured another piece of biscuit, and the process repeated itself.
All of a sudden, it noticed that there was some water in the metal bowl, so it approached the bowl for a drink. Even though it was winter, the water in the bowl was slightly warm. With its stomach filled, the monkey was feeling much more content, and it became even less fearful of the monk, staring directly at him with a blank look in its large eyes, as if it were wondering why the monk was displaying such kindness.
After completing his recitation of the scripture passage, the monk opened his eyes before rising to his feet, and the monkey immediately scurried for cover once again. However, the monk merely picked up the metal bowl before departing.
The monkey poked its head out from behind the wooden pole, watching as the monk disappeared into the crowd.
For the first time in a long time, it burped lightly, and it scratched at its own emaciated face as it blinked.
The barefoot monk made his way through the crowd with his head lowered, refusing to raise his head even if a passerby bumped into his shoulder. Instead, he would raise his right hand in front of his own chest as a Buddhist salute while nodding slightly before continuing onward.
There was a deranged old man with knotted hair and tattered clothes stumbling through the market. Whenever he encountered a child, he would approach their guardians, regardless of whether they were wealthy or impoverished, before asking all of them the same question. Most of the people in the market were already accustomed to this, and they would generally pick up the pace in their footsteps and lead their children away.
Occasionally, someone would make a joke at the old man's expense, and there were also some hot-tempered young men who would shove him away. Regardless of the reception, the old man continued to repeat the same strange question over and over again.
"Have you named your child yet?"
A group of uncouth young men who were very familiar with the old man stopped him in his tracks, and one of them wore a sly grin as he asked, "There's a child in my family that hasn't been named yet, what do you want?"
The old man was ecstatic to hear this, so much so that he broke into a joyful jig, and he said, "I'll name the child! I'll be sure to give them a good name this time..."
"You can name my arse!"
The young man kicked the old man in the abdomen, sending him falling back onto the ground, where he rolled around in pain with his hands clasped over his stomach.
The bowl-bearing monk crouched down before helping the old man to his feet, while the group of uncouth young men departed while guffawing like hyenas.
After being helped to his feet, the old man grabbed tightly onto the monk's arm as he asked that same disrespectful question. "Does your child have a name?" 
The monk took a glance at the old man, then shook his head and dusted off the old man's clothes before continuing onward.
Meanwhile, the old man continued to make a fool of himself in the market, earning a bunch of abuse and disdainful looks for his efforts.
As the sun was beginning to set, the monk began to beg for food, but stopped after visiting seven households, only securing a meager amount of food that barely covered the bottom of his metal bowl.
The monk entered the city from the north, then exited the city from the south. Along the way, he passed through many throngs of people on the streets, and whenever he encountered any insects, he would pick them up before placing them on the sides of the streets so they wouldn't be trampled on.
Upon coming across an ancient temple that had long been abandoned, the monk extended a Buddhist salute outside the door before slowly making his way inside.nOvε.lb.In
In the walkway under the eave outside the hall of the temple, the monk ate the food in his bowl, then sat down with his legs crossed and continued to cultivate.
In the darkness of the night, the deranged old man stumbled into the temple, and he didn't even take a glance at the monk before rushing straight into the hall, where he then collapsed onto a pile of thatch. After that, he covered himself up as best as possible with a ragged blanket before falling asleep.
An uneventful night passed by.
The old man who was obsessed with naming other people's children only woke up at noon, and as soon as he woke up, he immediately left the dilapidated temple before returning to the city to ask everyone that he came across the exact same question. This entire time, he hadn't even taken so much as a single glance at the barefoot monk.
Initially, some people had speculated that the old man could've been a powerful cultivator with a strange personality, but they quickly discovered that he was just a powerless old man who didn't retaliate no matter what type of abuse he was subjected to. He would cry and scream when beaten, and even bleed when the beating became too severe. In the end, there were only some unruly young thugs who still liked to abuse the old man for their entertainment.
The old man had already been living in this abandoned temple for many years.
During the next close to half a year, the monk temporarily lived in the temple day after day, occasionally going to the city with the old man to beg for food, and he would also occasionally leave the city and return to the temple with the old man.
However, the two of them never spoke to one another, and there was barely even any eye contact between them the entire time. Whenever the old man saw the monk, there would be a dazed look on his face, and he wouldn't be able to remember anything.
There was a heavy thunderstorm that night, and the sounds of the howling wind and pelting rain were so loud that two people most likely wouldn't have been able to hear one another even if they had been yelling right at each other in close proximity.
The old man was curled up into a ball on the makeshift thatch bed, and he would shudder in fright whenever a thunderclap rang out. The old man was sound asleep, and perhaps he had thought of some painful memory or was having a nightmare. In any case, his fists were clenched into fists, and his entire body was tightly wound as he repeatedly murmured to himself, "I gave you a bad name, my grandson... I ruined you..."
There were no longer any tears left to shed on his wizened face, but that only made his suffering seem more potent and heart-wrenching.
The thunderclaps soon became quite few and far between, but the rain was still as heavy as ever, and the old man's sleeptalking had already subsided.
However, right as the old man fell into a restful state of sleep, the monk suddenly curled his fingers before making a gentle knocking motion.
The sound of a wooden fish being struck rang out across the entire temple, and it was clearly audible even above the sound of the heavy storm.
The old man shuddered before abruptly sitting upright and scouring his gaze across his surroundings. A dazed look appeared on his face, followed by a hint of relief, which then turned into deep sorrow.
He rose to his feet and made his way out of the hall, and despite his ragged and pitiful appearance, he walked with an extremely fearsome aura, like a tiger rushing down a mountain or a dragon swimming along a river. However, despite his formidable aura, his body remained extremely frail.
He was like the very definition of a paper tiger.
After making his way out of the temple, he looked up at the night sky in silence with nothing but melancholy in his eyes.
"All those who cannot discard their emotions will feel pain," the monk said in a gentle voice.
The old man continued to look up at the sky as he scoffed, "There's is no pain, I'm willingly subjecting myself to this! Are you telling me that immortals who are devoid of emotions are somehow better than everyone else? All they care about is their bullshit immortality and they regard themselves to be superior to all others.
“They don't even remember that they're still humans. If the average person forgets their roots, then they'll be punished by the heavens, yet an immortal can only be considered to be an immortal by forgetting their roots. What a laughable existence..."
"All living beings feel pain," the monk replied in a concise manner.
The old man fell silent, then sat down with his legs crossed as he rested his tightly clenched fists on his knees and murmured in a self-deprecating voice, "All of that feels like a lifetime ago."
The old man abruptly woke up again at dawn, having inadvertently fallen asleep, and his eyes had turned murky again as he continued his deranged existence.
This continued for over a month until the old man finally regained his sanity again on an autumn night with a full moon. However, this time, his aura was far frailer than before, and he seemed no different from an ordinary frail old man.
He sat in the corridor under the eave beside the monk, looking up at the full moon as he mused to himself, "My grandson is very smart, the smartest scholar under the heavens. It's just unfortunate that he bears the Cui surname, and it's even more unfortunate that he has me for a grandfather. Things shouldn't have been like this..."
The monk remained silent.
As winter arrived, so did the snow, and the old man's teeth were chattering violently as he slept in the temple. His face had turned blue, and it seemed that he wasn't going to be able to make it through the winter. The monk entered the temple with his bowl in his hand, and he handed the old man a warm biscuit. The old man accepted the biscuit with a dazed expression, then suddenly hurled it into the ground as a hint of clarity returned to his eyes.
The monk picked the biscuit up from the ground, then offered it to the old man again, but the old man shook his head as he said, "I only continue to live because I want to see my grandson again. Otherwise, I won't be able to pass on. I can't die like this! I have to tell him that I'm sorry, and I failed him... I can't go insane, I have to be conscious! Save me, monk!"
The old man grabbed onto the monk's arm with all his might as he implored, "If you can let me see my grandson in a conscious state, I'm willing to do whatever you want from me... I'll kowtow to you right now! I'll become your disciple! With your almighty power, you'll definitely be able to save me!"
Upon regaining his consciousness once again, the old man's aura had become so frail that it was like a piece of rotten wood. His life force was beginning to display signs of fading away, and he was unable to maintain full lucidity.
"Are you still unable to cast aside your obsessive desires?" the monk asked in an indifferent voice. "At this point, what will you be able to achieve even if you meet him?"
A grief-stricken look appeared on the old man's face as he asked, "How can I simply cast everything aside? This is not a matter that concerns just myself. I won't be able to cast it aside for as long as I remain alive!"
The monk paused momentarily for some deliberation, then suggested, "If you can't cast it aside, then pick it up."
"How do I do that?" the old man asked in a dazed manner.
"Go to the Great Li Empire," the monk replied.
The old man nodded in response. "You're right! My grandson is in the Great Li Empire."
The monk shook his head as he corrected, "Your grandson is in Great Sui Nation, but your grandson's teacher is in Dragon Spring County of the Great Li Empire."
A horrified look appeared on the old man's face upon hearing this, and he hurriedly scrambled back until his back was against the wall. He then shook his head vigorously as he yelled, "I don't want to meet the Scholarly Sage..."
Immediately thereafter, he flew into a thunderous rage. "If you want to harm me, then just kill me! If you want to harm my grandson, then I'll smash your godly body to bits with my fists! Even if the Buddha himself is standing before me, he still won't be spared from my fists!"
The old man struggled to his feet as he spoke, and his aura suddenly became so formidable that it wasn't inferior in the slightest even compared with the pair of martial artists that had clashed against each other in Jewel Small World.
However, that aura was the only bluff that he had left.
The monk's expression remained calm as he lowered his head to peer into his metal bowl, and he discovered that the water inside was rippling slightly. "The Buddha observes a bowl of water, and he sees countless living creatures."
"Don't try to preach to me, you bald bastard!" the old man said with furrowed brows.
The monk turned around and gently lifted his metal bowl as he said, "The most intriguing thing about your grandson is that he can see the 'little.' I think you should speak to his teacher."
"I won't let you have your way, monk," the old man replied with a determined look in his eyes.
"You're nothing more than a blade of grass with no roots," the monk sighed, then stood up and departed.
The old man hurriedly sat down with his legs crossed, making use of this brief window of sanity to mediate, and a layer of resplendent golden light slowly appeared over his wizened skin.
He then carved the words "Great Li Empire, Dragon Spring County" into the palm of his hand with his fingernail, resulting in a gorey sight to behold, and he told himself over and over again, "I have to go to this place, and all I'll do there is look but not speak. I won't ask or do anything."
After that, he returned to the temple before promptly falling asleep.
The snow storm outside was growing heavier, but as soon as the cold air reached the entrance of the temple, it would dissipate on its own.
1. This is especially disrespectful as Buddhist monks are meant to be celibate. ☜