Trolled to Death
Since he joined the White Immortal sect, there were only three outer disciples that Xinzi took notice of: Xia Hu, the hopelessly meek pretty dork later turned swordmaster, Chunxu, the neck-slicing crotch-kicking bombshell that inspired more dread than lust, and Dong Ling...the imp that now lay before him.
That girl had no respect for Heaven or Earth and dared say things that even the most tactless of oafs would keep locked under his breath. On the first day she met him, she gave Xinzi the "burly boy" nickname, costing him much face in the outer court. Fortunately, others dared not imitate her, or Xinzi's holy hands would have wrenched many necks—pretty or not. Despite all the tricks the lotus monk put forth, the impish gal refused to relent, making him gnaw his nails in exasperation.
"Xinzi, you dare scold my parents?!"
"Not only will I scold them, I will scold them splendidly! What, am I wrong? By giving birth to you, this fat-tittied big-bootied bitch, they have sinned against Heaven and embraced the thigh of Hell! If not for your humongous assets, I would have kicked you to death already!"
"Bastard! Harassing virtuous women in broad daylight, yet still has the nerves to call himself an Enlightened Monk! Senior Sister was right, you're a bandit in monastic garbs and will never match up to big brother Xia!"
"Bah, to say nothing of you, I will even harass your mom. Peerless follows my name wherever I go. Why must I compare myself to Xia Hu? Today you rely on me. You better watch your tone, or I swear to the 18 Hells that I'm getting outta here!" Xinzi's words reminded Dong Ling of her current appearance and predicament. Meanwhile, mysterious beasts and White Immortal disciples watched the clash, slack-jawed, not knowing how to behave.
Dong Hui, especially, couldn't digest the change. The Eight Trigrams Array he'd studied for decades and took so much pride in collapsed under a single blow from a boy 94 years his junior? Was there still any justice in this world?
Knowing that she currently bore the appearance of a half-human half-snake monster, Dong Ling wondered why Xinzi, out of all people, still behaved like his usual self, and even stood before her. Her nemesis, too, failed to understand Xinzi's stance.
"Abbot Xinzi, what do you mean by this? As a Lianist monk, an Enlightened Monk at that, suppressing demons and beasts should be your top priority. Why do you stand before this heinous creature and against righteousness?" Dong Hui probed the waters.
"The Golden Lotus be praised. Who told you that Lianism was about suppressing demons and beasts? Am I the monk, or are you the monk? The nerve of the punk trying to teach me my job when he handles his like a half-baked cripple." Xinzi jabbed at the Formation Master, clearly looking down on his Eight Trigrams Array. Dong Hui's face twisted at Xinzi's incisive words. But before he could retaliate, the lotus monk ended the debate.
"All lives follow the cosmic law. Sentient souls share the same emotional spectrum. Good and evil exist by nature's will. Who are we to praise one and curse the other? The beast we scorn sin with instinct-driven purpose. What is the man's excuse? Demons and men both kill at will, yet one's crimes puts an eternal label on a race, while the other's prompts fleeting grumbles. May my disciples never meddle in the clash of good and evil—less they waste a lifetime of enlightenment.
After suppressing an army of 10,000 demons only to get skewered by the Immortal Alliance, these are the words Abbot Yuanzhen left behind and the reason why even if the world should collapse, the Golden Lotus temple will not intervene. On his deathbed Abbot Yuanzhen achieved Perfection. Meaning that whenever lotus monks repel ghosts and suppress beasts, they go against the will of our world's last recorded Perfected Being. And that...is supposed to be my top priority?" A surge of golden light followed Xinzi's words—drawing men and beast into a trance.
Rotating his cultivation base, Dong Hui broke free and cast out his Spiritual Sense to prevent Xinzi's words from reaching him—to no avail. A mystical rhythm emanated from every syllable, forcing the bystanders to give the monk their undivided attention.
"As mighty as we might be, we Formation Masters all suffer from the same plight: a delayed cultivation. Despite good talent, top resources and 100 years of cultivation, you're still at the mid-stage of Foundation Building. Desperate for progress, you placed your hopes on your clan cousin's top-grade Monster Core, hoping to refine it to make a direct leap to the peak of Foundation Building. But still you hide behind a petty mask of righteousness. Foolish...oh so foolish."
Xinzi's words not only revealed Dong Hui's true purpose but drew out his inner demons. Indeed, all claims of righteousness fell flat when compared to the chance to transcend his fate. As descendants of a Holy Beast King, the Zi clansmen's monster cores concealed large Qi Reserves that the knowledgeable could extract to enhance their cultivation base. Thus, for months Dong Hui had been planning to rob Dong Ling's Monster Core, but couldn't devise a plan that'd also keep his life safe. The Ice-Glazed Lichen presented a golden opportunity. Dong Ling's Monster Core could only increase his cultivation base. The Ice-Glazed Lichen, however, would transform his destiny.
Dong Hui had already reached the threshold of the black grade. With an Ice Spiritual Root to back his formation talents, his position in the clan would undergo a meteoric rise—enabling him to gather the support of the clan's disgruntled junior and elders while also getting away with Dong Ling's murder. No matter how overbearing Guang Fanghu might be, he couldn't destroy the clan's future and slaughter elders based on mere conjectures—or so Dong Hui thought at least. But in his grand delusion, he'd forgotten the patriarch's most troublesome trait: over-the-top fatherly love.
As the master of the Dong clan, Guang Fanghu was clearly not the patriarch's birth name. But on the day his daughter was born, he took on the Daoist name Guang Fanghu: "Sheltering Light," through it making the unwritten pledge to not only be his daughter's beacon, but the shield that'd ward her for a lifetime. For his daughter's sake, there wasn't a single soul in the world that Guang Fanghu wouldn't choke to death. Even if he didn't have any friendship with Dong Ling—and he did—Xinzi would have still saved her, because once she died in the Ice-Fire cave, every single disciple present at that time would follow her to the grave.
Dong Hui had clearly gone mad. So mad that he refused to see the obvious flaws in his plan. So mad that he didn't even dare acknowledge to himself that his actions stemmed from plain and simple greed. So mad...that only death could save him.
"Ha, burly boy, for once I'm so happy to see you. Beat him." Dong Ling cheered Xinzi on, using what bit of strength she had left to wave her fist in a half-aggressive, half-encouraging manner. A slight grimace flashed on the Enlightened Monk's face, but ignoring the "burly boy," he kept his eyes locked on Dong Hui, who by now had realized that he couldn't resist the sacred rhythm of Xinzi's words.
"As a foul cultivator, endorse your selfishness, exult in your madness and embrace your wicked self. Only then can you free yourself from the Bitter Sea and achieve enlightenment. Until then, allow this humble one to give you a chance at…"
Dong Hui's eyes widened in awareness of what was to come, and before Xinzi could utter the next word, he slammed his temples, sending in waves of Spiritual Qi that shattered his eardrums—another pointless move.
"Penitence!" A golden character flew out of Xinzi's mouth. Flashing arcs of holy light blessed inner and outer disciples' faces, indiscriminately making them sink into a world of their own evils. Rage and grief blended in Dong Hui's twisting face as a century of misdeeds came crashing on his soul and filled his eyes with blood tears.
"Have I always been...this wicked?" Shaken to the core, Dong Hui failed to withstand his Penitence. His knees buckled, and he fell face-first.
"Ahhh! Big brother Xia, I'm sorry for having such a perverted mind! Dad, don't blame me for being unfilial, but all daughters must leave the house! Big brother Xia, I swear to change for you!" As Xinzi couldn't control the target of his first Lianist Word: Penitence, all disciples suffered the weight of their crimes. But whereas the others wallowed in various tiers of extreme grief, Dong Ling didn't seem strongly affected. If anything…
"Why does it feel like she enjoys it? Insufferable demoness! How can you become even more lawless in penitence?!" Xinzi waved his hands at Dong Ling with wild, maniacal gestures. But as he considered whether to free her or not, a dark-blue shadow leaped from underneath his feet—bypassing his Jewel-Glazed Dome to merge with his soul!
"Hahahaha! Xinzi, you may have unparalleled formation and Lianist talent, but at the end of the day, you're too inexperienced! I won!"
Xinzi's eyes glazed over, and as Dong Hui's soul rushed into his Spiritual Consciousness, the monk's limbs froze in an awkward stance. "Pulse Condensation, Golden Core, Nascent Soul and beyond! With this body, I will breeze through all cultivation ranks and become immortal! Hahaha...huh?"
Dong Hui's celebration chants had barely started that Xinzi's misty blue Spiritual Consciousness—the typical cultivator's shape—turned into a world of pure and unadulterated darkness that threatened to swallow him whole!
"How could this be! Noo Noo Nooo!" Dong Hui raged against the darkness' grip, but refusing to let go of this fine, self-delivered meal, it dragged him ever-closer towards oblivion. At that time, a voice boomed within Xinzi's Spiritual Consciousness.
"Did you really think that I'd leave such a glaring opening in a defensive formation? Sorry, I just wanted to troll you to death," Xinzi chortled, and as his soul devoured the last remains of Dong Hui, the fallen cultivator shifted between bouts of delirium.
"Eternal Night...no wonder...no wonder! Uncle...how could you be so....foolish?" Thus Dong Hui died, trolled to death by the magnificent Xinzi.