Once his work on Tianzhu Mountain was done and an agreement reached between him and Wang Qi, Gu Yu left as soon as he could without hesitation. He did not go back to Phoenix Mountain right away, but stopped by Jiang Zhou, since it was not that far.
As for the spiritual stones, seeds, and other stuff he asked for, it would be a while before they reach him.
Right now, Tan Chongdai was pleasantly surprised to see him. "My young friend Gu, how come you're in Jiang Zhou?"
"I was in Qian Zhou for a while and have just finished my business there. I thought I should take a detour on my way home and visit you." Gu Yu chuckled.
"That is quite some detour! I never thought you would still remember an old priest like me!"
Tan Chongdai was wholeheartedly delighted to see Gu Yu. It had been a while since he wanted to treat a visitor coming from afar.
They walked to the back room while chatting. Once there, Gu Yu saw that the table had been set—a kettle filled with cold water was sitting on top—and he apologized, "Sorry for intruding in like this. Have I interrupted your breakfast?"
"Don't be. A late breakfast does not make that much of a difference… please sit, I'll go set the kettle."
The old priest took the kettle into the kitchen and returned in a few seconds. He went on asking, "Are you here alone this time? How is my young friend Xiao Jiang?"
"She's cultivating back at home and doing great. Oh, I need to apologize first. We've been incredibly busy lately and haven't got around to find pupils for you."
Gu Yu was abashed, for they had made a promise then disregarded it. He made a mental note to keep an eye on it from now on.
"Sigh, destiny has its own ways and it is not our place to importune."
Tan Chongdai was slightly disappointed, but it was nothing overt. All in all, he looked rather indifferent to the news.
A few minutes into their conversation and the water was boiling. The old priest went to fetch the kettle and made two cups of bitter tea. It made one sad, really, to see the leader of a sect cook his own meals and boil his own water.
Gu Yu sipped his tea while scanning the room with inquisitive eyes, which suddenly fixed on a low couch set against the wall, upon which was placed an exquisite invitation with cloud design and the eight diagrams.
It got our fellow wonder. He would love to pick it up, but did not want to seem rude.
Noticing Gu Yu's curiosity, Tan Chongdai took the initiative and handed the latter the invitation with a smile. "I've only just got this. Zhengyi is holding a impartment ceremony and I'm invited to attend."
"The sect of Zhengyi? Oh my, and it's from the residence of the Celestial Master itself. That's a celebrity all right!"
Gu Yu's heart also lurched as he skimmed through the lines. He could not help but suspect—in a time as sensitive as now, such an activity had "fishy" written all over it. Going through it in his head quickly, he found many doubts that could not be explained, so he asked, "Senior, what are they trying to achieve from this?"
"Hoho, the answer is quite simple. For the past a thousand years, do you know what has been the single word behind all the changes to Taoist sects?" Tan Chongdai chuckled.
"I have no idea."
Tan took a sip of his tea and went on. "In the ruling days of emperors who believed in gods, we competed for orthodoxy, disciples, and the support of the court. Now that the ruling class has changed, the competition remains, only that we are competing for the fame, the money, and the official positions.
Of the one chairman and nineteen deputies of our Taoist association, Quanzhen has filled fifteen of those posts and Zhengyi five only. That's proof enough of the competition on official positions, which would give them power and prestige!
Taoist community nowadays is inseparable from the government… no, let me rephrase that. It's already in the government's tight grip. Those closer to people above are sure to be treated favorably. I won't go into details. You're a guy smart enough to figure it out yourself.
If the Taoist skills have reemerged as you said, then their intention is obvious. Unless anything unexpected happened, I'm sure all sects of Quanzhen would have received a similar invitation issued from Baiyun Temple as well."
Gu Yu was genuinely surprised by the declaration. Poverty-stricken and frustrated the old man might be, the insightfulness of his words had made Gu Yu regard him with a different look.
After all, the man was the leader of a sect.
Gu Yu had also read between the lines, for the old man did not express everything explicitly. What he omitted was that with the current situation, there was no way that the two schools had taken the initiative on their own. The authorities must be behind it.
After Gu Yu figured that out, he asked again, "Senior, are you going, then?"
"Sure, why not?"
"But, but it's…"
"Are you trying to say I'm selling away the few years left of me?"
Tan Chongdai was not offended. He only said, "My young friend, you have your natural endowments and heavenly fortune, which I can't help but envy. On the other hand, you may never understand people like me. I've devoted my entire life to the pursuit of
the Great Dao and this may be the serendipity I was waiting for. Come hell or high water, I'll be damned if I don't at least give it a go."
After a long silence, Gu Yu bowed low to the old man. "Your words are inspiring to me. Should you run into any difficulty, please do not hesitate to let us know. We'll help you with anything within our power."
Night, Jiang Zhou University.
Inside a small restaurant not far from the campus, Gu Yu was keeping a lovely young lady company—that is, the super-duper, unfathomably cute girl in her own opinion. He meant well; since he was in Jiang Zhou, he thought it only appropriate to pay the young sister-in-law a visit.
As it turned out, five minutes into the dinner and he had a mood set for murder!
"Brother-in-law, why are you here all of a sudden?"
"I told you, I am only stopping by. I was away in Qian Zhou on business."
"Then why did you come to see me?"
"You're the only one I know here. Who else am I suppose to visit?"
"Then, then why are you here with me after dark?"
"Gosh, what are you getting at?" Gu Yu's imaginary headache had returned.
"I'm not sleeping with you! I won't betray my sister!"
The little rascal suddenly crossed her arms around her chest and raised her voice, trying very hard to put on an indignant face, which did nothing to conceal her mischievous look.
Gu Yu spat out the water his was drinking and the other customers were eyeing him with curiosity. Fortunately, he was unabashed enough to retort, "Don't flatter yourself—like I'd actually want to sleep with you? If it were up to me, I'd be on a plane back home by now."
"Oh, I'm so glad to hear that!"
Jiang Xiaojin let out a pretentious sigh of relief, but soon realized what Gu Yu had hinted at. She was exhilarated. "Hey, my dear Brother-in-law, by the sound of what you just said, you two have finally hooked up?"
"Hey, does my sister have nice buttocks? I bet she's got great skin! How did she look when she came? With that frigid-looking body, can she actually get it?"
Okay, the young sister-in-law was heading decisively towards the dirty details, which inevitably reminded Gu Yu of the other night when he was pressed tightly onto a roof and "exploited". That was some memory he would not want to recall.
"Stop right there! Change of subject!"
Giving her a miserable look, Gu Yu asked, "It's already your junior year, right? Any internship during the summer?"
"You bet there is. It's a school assignment. I'm going to spend a few days in my dad's company, but I'm sure it's gonna be boring as hell. If only you and my sister can open a company or something then hire me. It'd be awesome."
"I don't think so. To have you work for us will definitely shorten the lifespan of my company to a few days… wait?"
Gu Yu paused unexpectedly as his thought trailed off to something else for no obvious reason.
The government was already on the move and he could tell where it was heading, which was to train their own cultivators. In response, he should improve himself, as well as the strength of his team, but all he had now were three people… three...
"Xiao Jin!" he called out.
"You… um, I mean, if you're asked to abandon your current life and start living like... like a cultivator of ancient times, would you like that?"
"I don't mind, as long as it's interesting."
She was holding a cup of strawberry sundae. Her nimble tongue swirled around the cream and was swiftly drawn back; the cloying colors of tender red, fresh pink, and smooth white fused into one another for an instant.
"What do you mean by 'interesting'?"
Gu Yu shifted his gaze. These two sisters were vixens that could drive a man crazy.
"Things I haven't thought of, something that will surprise me or keep me wondering. Anything that's not easily solved by me is interesting." Her answer was rather serious.
Gu Yu smiled despite himself. "In that case, come to Phoenix Mountain when your summer vacation starts. We've got something to tell you."
"Please! Why do you take if for granted that I'll do as you asked? I'm a busy person!"
Jiang Xiaojin put down her ice-cream and put on a contemptuous look, "Give me a reason first."
"A reason? Well, aren't you always wondering whether or not I have learned martial arts before?"
Gu Yu casually picked up a porcelain chopstick rest, rubbed it in his palm and unfolded his hand. Granules sprinkled onto the table. Smiling at the now open-mouthed girl, Gu Yu said, "Come and check it out yourself."