There was a new grave at the southeast corner of the valley.
A snow mound and a worn wooden board tombstone were all there was to this grave. Not a single word was written on it. Even if some fortunate man stumbled into this place years later, they would have no idea who had been buried here, or that this place used to be a green valley.
Mourning Sima Che after killing him was neither pretentious nor hypocritical for the two. They would not judge Sima Che on a basis of being good or evil, for he had only done a thing many others would choose to do in pursuing interests.
Therefore, what they expressed was desolation—a deep sorrow and loneliness they felt as fellow cultivators.
In the afternoon, the campsite.
Xiaozhai had gone down to the valley to dig again, leaving Gu Yu, who looked somewhat out of form, sitting on the makeshift cot. Having been mending his internal injury for the past few days and having forced himself to conjure a vision, he had consumed more than half of his spiritual essence.
He had yet to reach the Spiritualization of the body and could not produce spiritual essence on his own, but had to depend on external sources, which was not exactly something reliable at the moment. He dared not make any rash move and had to ration what was left of his own essence.
At the moment, Gu Yu was holding two objects in his hands: the green jade casket and the Seal of Patriarch Sa.
He studied the casket first. It was the size of a cigarette box with a slidable lid, which seemed to be carved out of one single chunk of jade stone. Inside were two jade needles around 5 cm long, which were slightly thicker than embroidery needles and thinner than toothpicks.
They were sharp-pointed on both ends, blueish green in color, and shone coldly in the light.
Judging by the interior space of the casket, there should have been three needles at the beginning. One had been used—it was none other than the green flash in Sima Che's mouth.
That pal had secluded himself in Tianshan for years and stumbled upon the ice lake and the mutated jade stones. He then expended painstaking efforts to produce these three jade needles. With some secret method, he could hide the needle in his mouth, enabling him to use them for surprise attacks.
Unfortunately, before he could have a chance to carry one out, he was killed by a conjured vision.
Gu Yu could not figure out the way to conceal it in his mouth and the jade needles were rather valuable, so he thought it better to keep them for the time being.
After checking out the jade casket, he picked up the Taoist seal. It reminded him of the fishbone, in the sense that they both gave a bleak and ancient feeling of the remnants of a splendor long dissipated.
This seal, however, was much more intact. Looking closely, he could make out some Taoist patterns carved on its four facets, which could be talismans or formations. These patterns were probably the reason the seal could suppress the node.
One might never know the reason Sa Shoujian left this Taoist seal behind. It was likely that Sa himself did not anticipate a node appearing in the future time, let alone that someone of the later generation closely connected to Shenxiao Sect would come here and obtain this seal.
After playing around with it for quite some time, Gu Yu gingerly let out a streak of spiritual essence and probed the seal with it. As soon as the spiritual essence made contact with the seal, it was devoured like a stream disappearing into the sea.
Blinking, he gave up this method right away and turned to another approach.
He activated his mental force, carefully separated out a thin branch and scanned the seal gently with it. This time, there came a response. As if he and the seal were adjusted to the same frequency with matching signals, the Taoist seal opened its vast and remote self up with no resistance.
Gu Yu felt his consciousness go dark. In front of him was a sky full of stars, as deep as an abyss.
Xiaozhai panted as she made her way back to the mountain side, a shovel in hand. The shovel looked rather weird, for she had found a stick of wood and stuck it into the shovel head, then bound it tight with a rope. Anyway, it did its job for now.
Arriving at the campsite, she saw Gu Yu meditating close-eyed with the ancient seal in his hands. She did not disturb him, but started cooking the broth on her own.
It was when the pleasant aroma of the meat filled the air that Gu Yu opened his eyes, still half immersed in what he had seen. He turned his head and saw Xiaozhai busying herself with cooking despite her hard labor earlier. He could not help but feel guilty and blurted out, "You've worked hard!"
"I've checked out the tunnel entrance. It's not buried too deeply. With some luck, I might dig it open tomorrow."
She was never the sort of girl who needed kissing, petting, and cuddling to keep going. Ignoring Gu Yu's guilty conscience, she only asked, "How's your injury?"
"Not looking too good. I'm afraid I'll have to make my recovery after we're out of here."
"That's all right. We are both still alive, which is good enough."
Xiaozhai handed him a bowl of soup and asked again, "By the way, got anything out of that thing?"
"A little. The jade needles in the casket seem to be some sort of hidden weapons. They can be ejected from one's mouth extremely fast. In close quarters, they're almost impossible to dodge."
"How strong are they?"
"Not sure. He has used it as his killing move, so it must be powerful. As for this ancient seal…"
Holding the seal on his open palm, Gu Yu suddenly straightened his face and said sternly, "Jiang Xiaozhai, I have a Taoist skill here. Do you wish to learn it?"
"Will it make me immortal?" Xiaozhai asked with a laughter.
"Nope, don't want it!"
"You senseless girl! Come to my bed at midnight! 1 "
Xiaozhai scanned him from head to toe with her eyes and remarked with wholehearted contempt, " By the time you're finished, my cup noodle is probably not soaked soft. The normal kind, that is. I won't humiliate you with the one with kimchi 2 !"
'Tsk! You haven't tried my "hard" and "soft" tactics…'
Pursing his lips, Gu Yu refrained from that retort and automatically acknowledged his defeat.
Speaking of the Seal of Patriarch Sa, it actually contained three manuals: "Shenxiao's Tinkling Jade Book of Great Thunder"; "On Alchemy"; and "On Refining Instruments".
The first was a complete book and the other two titles were randomly named by Gu Yu himself. The latter two contained nothing but a few lines, recording the recipe of a certain type of Dan and the refining method of a Taoist instrument, probably the spree-of-a-moment thing.
"Shenxiao's Tinkling Jade Book of Great Thunder", however, was none other than the cultivation manual Xiaozhai had been strenuously searching for.
"Thunder Technique is an innate way and the spirit of thunder a
thunder a spirit within oneself. The Qi is in harmony with the spirit and everything goes back to where they started. Whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, the Qi moves around in an unbroken manner. In that way, it will be nourished and become magnificent enough to cast spells. With the vital Qi of oneself, combined with the creation of heaven and earth, one could summon clouds, rain, and thunder at will.
The Five Elements originate from Yin and Yang, and in turn, Yin and Yang are divided into Five Elements. Men can gather the energy of Yin and Yang from the Five Elements, and by circulating the energy, Five Thunders are made.
The Five Thunders each belong to one of the five internal organs. Only by concentrating the energy of the five internal organs into one place can one master the Great Dao and the magical effect of Five Thunders. Wood Thunder of the East locates in the liver palace, Fire Thunder of the South in the heart palace, Metal Thunder of the West in the lung palace, Water Thunder of the North in the kidney palace, and Earth Thunder of the Center in the spleen palace.
The energy of five internal organs invigorates, maintaining one's original pure character. Such tranquil state is referred to as being "passionless". By severing oneself from five "passions", a Taoist form of quiescence is achieved and an emotional perceptiveness is ready for the use of the Great Dao. Such is the subtlety of the Five Thunders..."
In plain words: Thunder Technique is the fiercest. The process of cultivating the Five Thunders is like the legendary "severing of the three ill temperaments". Of Wood Thunder, Fire Thunder, Metal Thunder, Water Thunder, and Earth Thunder, one needs to cultivate each one of them until they reach the state of "passionless" in all five. It is only by then that they will have achieved an initial success.
Of all the Taoist skills out there, they all led to the same goal, only by different means. Essentially, they were trying to make the human body communicate with heaven and earth, resulting in connecting the individual small universes to the big one. Therefore, this so-called "passionless state" was just another way of saying "innate state".
Gu Yu was cultivating with everything put together, while the Five Thunders divided them into five stages. Both ways would lead a cultivator to become a Human Immortal.
Beyond that were the real Immortals, characterized by their ability of emanating their magical power in both physical and spiritual forms. Related topics could also be found in the "Tinkling Jade Book of Great Thunder", explaining things from how to meditate to how to learn the magical powers, etc.
This was in line with the general principle they found in Qionglong Mountain: to meditate like a dragon, be unrestrained like a dragon, control over everything like a dragon...
This finding further proved the origin of Xiaozhai's sect, which was definitely connected to Shenxiao Sect.
...Before Song Dynasty, essence-consuming dominated the cultivation practice. After Song, Neidan practice took over the market share. The Thunder Technique they had just found, however, had noticeable traits of the essence-consuming method, while the theory of Neidan was also peeking out of the lines.
That period of revolution, or Tang Dynasty to be precise, just happened to be the time when Xiaozhai's sect was founded. With the ample empty space in the the two's heads, they had already come up with a love-and-revenge drama where Wang Wenqing or Lin Lingsu took the credit of creating the skill by killing its previous owner, then white-washed their name and established a sect of their own.
As for the other two records, the Dan was called "Essence-gathering Dan", which could facilitate one's cultivation. The instrument was called "Whisk of Tranquility", which was nothing but a horsetail whisk that was said to dispel evil and help with avoiding ill fortune.
The names alone suggested that they were mere basic appliances, which explained why there was so little description.
Needless to say, it was already a surprise beyond any expectation. Had she not been exhausted, Xiaozhai would very much like to hop onto a tree like a real monkey.
Gu Yu was delighted as well. This was their last stop and finally, they found what they came all this way for.
"The Dan recipe has come just about the right time. We both can use it. As for the horsetail whisk…"
Xiaozhai frowned, "Does it mean we have to become Taoist priests in the future?"
"I don't think so?"
"You don't think so? Can you imagine me waving a whisk around wearing a one-piece?"
Gu Yu thought about that picture and said with embarrassment, "Later, we'll talk about that later."
The little gain they had found had kept them busy throughout the night and their excitement did not subside even when morning came. They couldn't help it. Such exhilaration and satisfaction of obtaining a treasure by accident was unparalleled. With this, they were drawn even closer to each other.
A companion was not just there to guide and instruct. More importantly, they were there so that, when in plight, one did not have to face it alone and could face it with someone they could trust completely.
Take what was happening now as an example. If someone other than Gu Yu had found the Taoist skill of Patriarch Sa, would he tell Xiaozhai all the same, leaving nothing behind? Or even, would he perhaps get rid of Xiaozhai just to keep this legacy all to himself?
This level of trust was what ensured their growing intimacy this whole time.TL/N: The banter (starting from the "I have a manual" bit) is borrowed from "西游记", or "Monkey" and is originally a conversation between Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) and his first master, Patriarch Bodhi. Of course, the master did not ask the monkey to visit his bed at midnight, but implicitly suggested the late night visit so as to teach the monkey skills. TL/N: Yeah, Xiaozhai is teasing Gu Yu about his possible stamina. The mention of the cup noodle with kimchi is because the korean type of cup noodle tends to have thicker strands and needs more soaking time.