"Starting from this Tuesday, the continental warm high will take over Shengtian area, bringing forth continuous high temperatures. The maximum temperature during the day will reach 35 degrees Celsius 1 and is expected to rise to 37 degrees tomorrow, a historical high for the past fifty years.
Throughout the province, as many as ten cities will experience a temperature of above 35 degrees. A high temperature alert has been issued by the provincial observatory, cautioning against heatstroke danger during such weather. Outdoor workers are advised to take precautions; children and elderly should avoid going out at noontime…"
Inside the migrant village off Hongmei Road, Old Man He switched off the radio and mumbled in a dry voice, "Such ridiculous weather!"
He was lying on a chair right outside his house, wearing a thin, loose-fitting T-shirt and shorts. There were no trees around to provide any shade and he was hiding in the tiny bit of shadow formed by the houses.
35 degrees on a summer day was not even worth mentioning in southern part of the country, but this was Shengtian we were talking about here! Of all the time ever since there was meteorological observation data, only thirty-three days were recorded to be hotter than 35 degrees, but two more days were adding to that record in this year alone.
Such weather might not mean much to the locals, but buildings of the migrant village were all makeshift houses with minimal sunshade and heat insulation effect. Living inside was like being shut in a steaming pot. What was more, with all these people stuffed together, the high temperature threatened to breed epidemic diseases via water, food, or domestic garbage.
Adding to that was the overall irritable mood, which aggravated their conflict with the locals. The number of police reports was going through the roof.
The government was in a terrible fix at the moment. Not only did they set up an additional police service station, but necessities like medicines, cold drinks, watermelons, etc. were also given out periodically, which barely enabled them to maintain the stability.
"Grandpa, have some watermelon!"
The old man remained lying there and in a moment, He He trotted out holding a plate, on it were a few slices of red-pulped watermelon. Taking one up, he asked, "Has the teacher told you when to start school yet?"
"No, not yet."
Sitting down beside him, He He replied like a little grown-up. "I was told they needed another two or three days, just in case of accidents."
"Accidents? Hmph, shirking responsibilities, that's what they are doing. The school is no different from the government!
There's no f**king decent men around nowadays. Everyone's pretending to be weaklings. They never do as they promised and think about themselves only.
My dear Xiao He, remember this: whatever you do, be mindful and don't give away your trust easily. In that way, you'll be able to take care of yourself when I'm gone…"
Tending to go to the extremes these days, the old man would burst into such babbling every now and then, regardless of his granddaughter's ability to comprehend his words. He He, on the other hand, was indeed too young to respond to any of that and could only turn a deaf ear to her grandfather.
The boiling heat was also getting to her. She gulped down a slice of watermelon in a couple of bites and was ready to take a second piece when there came a screech. A car had stopped at the other side of the street.
The door opened and out came a young man with a familiar face.
He He's face lit up and she called out loud, "Brother! Brother!"
The man caught sight of her and waved back, then walked into a convenient store. Presently, he came out with a few bottles of water, got back into the car, and left.
"Xiao He, do you know him?"
The old man, on the other hand, questioned with a straight face, apparently rather taking it rather seriously.
"He's been to our house before. You've even talked to him," replied the little girl, somewhat amazed.
Furrowing up his brows, he pondered at the question and relaxed his face. "Well, I suppose he has… anyway, you still should be careful. You never know how terrible a man he could be underneath. Keep away from the strangers from now on…"
The old man resumed his habitual lecture. Poor little girl, with her parents gone when she was merely six or seven, she was stuck with an old grandfather who had gone a bit haywire. It was thanks to her sturdy nerves that she was able to endure such a life. She giggled at the old man's comment and went on eating her watermelon.
"It wasn't this hot when I got here. The weather is just ridiculous!"
Inside the car, Xiaojin uttered the same exclamation before asking, "Hey, Brother-in-law, do you think it's a sign of the spiritual essence going crazy and the doomsday coming?"
"It's a perfectly normal climate phenomenon. Haven't you heard of 'global warming'?" The question was giving Gu Yu a phantom pain in certain body parts again.
"Huh? That's just boring. I've taken so much pain to become this awesome, some little bi*ch'd better show up and let me kick her ass!"
"Why?" Long Qiu, who was sitting on the passenger's seat, was amazed by the statement.
"Tsk, it's called 'the sense of achievement'. I am a natural fierce fighter, the same way you are an ultimate innocent sweetheart. Hey, have you got into any real fight before?"
"Shut up and drive!" Playing with the her phone, Xiaozhai gave the order without raising her head.
The younger sister's moment was ruined instantly. Pouting, she decided it would be best not to retort.
Speaking of which, all crew were present and accounted for today—that is, all four of them.
During her several-day-long stay on the mountain, Xiaojin took almost no time in accepting the new setups of the world and soon familiarized herself with the cultivation method of the mind-calming manual. What she needed from now on was persistence and comprehension.
Starting with zero background knowledge, they could not impose any harsh requirement upon her. The baseline Xiaozhai set up for her was to achieve a calm mind first before moving on to the next step. Xiaojin was not to let cultivation get in the way of her studies, nor was she going to live in seclusion with the other three. With her minimal ability, she had a long way to go before pretending to be some master.
Of course, Xiaojin was disgruntled at the arrangement. What happened to "my daddy (or mommy, or brother-in-law) is so awesome and I can live a comfortable privileged life"? Why did she have to work her a*s off like a dumbo?
As for Xiaozhai, she was here because she needed to check up on her own home, especially her parents. To be frank, having been brought up by her master and influenced by a completely different world view ever since she was little, she was not at all that close to them.
Even so, she was still their flesh and blood and the relationship was a fetter of the secular world. If she failed to deal with the issue with an open heart, it would very like become a malicious hinderance for her.
As she was going home, Gu Yu naturally had to keep her company… well, it was sort of an initiative of meeting the parents. And since the three of them were all gone, they couldn't have left Long Qiu behind, hence the girl was with them as well.
They drove all the way to Shengtian and went their separate ways in the south part of the city, where Xiaozhai was to take her boyfriend home and Xiaojin led Long Qiu away to have some fun. They each went their own way.
"The heaven and earth did not exist until there was the Void. The unshakeable Void came into existence first, then we had the first Patriarch, known as 'Old Patriarch Infinity'. This one man governed the universe, under whose governance the primordial world materialized, which gave rise to a chaotic being. The primordial world was created first, then the chaotic being. The latter grew up, turned into a primary egg, which was also called 'Black Sky and Yellow Earth'... the pure and light energy became the sky, while the foul energy became the earth. One begets Two, Two begets Three, Three begets all things on in this world. Everything was the creation of the Old Patriarch…"
In some courtyard in the south part of the city, Li Daoyu was seated high above, preaching and lecturing a bunch of disciples. The scripture he recited was called "Havenless and Earthless Chaotic Void Treasured Scroll", some gibberish concocted by Han Gaozhao.
As mentioned before, Three Yang Sect was an illegal civil society specialized in scamming.
In order to glorify his story, Han Gaozhao made up a Taoist immortal called the "Old Patriarch Infinity" and branded himself as the first avatar of this figure. The hilarious thing was, he later declared the inexorable doom of three Yang and three worlds, weaving in Buddhist theories talking about Buddhas of the past, the present, and the future, while deeming Maitreya its supreme god.
Only the impoverished commoners with little education in ancient times would buy such groundless bullshit. In a modern society like this, Li Daoyu would never dare bring out such "doomsday" propaganda.
It was so obvious that the whole story was a beguiling scheme. Hence, he had to refer to Old Patriarch Infinity as his cover story and talked about the scripture alone, without mentioning any religious beliefs.
As it turned out, his plan was carried out pretty well. At least Xue Zhao and his people showed no suspicion and only thought Li the disciple of some minor sect and considered him a proper Taoist practitioner.
"Ok, that's all for today…"
Li Daoyu went through the entire text, lifted the lower hem of his robe, and was rising to his feet.
"Old Immortal, be careful!"
Being the keenest toady of them all, Chen Yu rushed to Li's side to help him up. Such attitude was a great boost to Li Daoyu's sense of self-importance. Before all this, he was a mere old pauper, selling second-hand books, while they were business tycoons; their paths would never have crossed.
Yet now, not only was he given a separate courtyard as his dwelling, but these people had each paid him 200,000 Yuan as an apprentice fee. He was addressed as nothing but "Old Immortal" and these people could not show enough reverence for him.
In response, Li Daoyu was holding back no more. Whatever they offered, he accepted without hesitation. His reasoning was rather straightforward: fate had brought such fortune to his doorstep and he saw no reason to refuse the pleasure. If Xue Zhao and his men turned out to be earnest, it wouldn't hurt to teach them one thing or two.
Xue Zhao's purpose was even simpler. He was to cozy up to the old man so that the latter could do his family's bidding when time came and he would also learn some Taoist skills in the process.
The group of six left the lecture hall and took their seats in the living room. The old man sat on the seat of honor, with Xue Zhao the next one up, followed by Chen Yu and the rest of the group.
One of the chubbier fellows was perspiring heavily, and complained as he wiped away his sweat. "Oh my, the weather's heating up without a warning. It's so hard on me. The honorable master is not like us; there's not a single trace of sweat on you."
"Ha, so long as one keeps calm, one doesn't feel the heat too much." Li Daoyu smiled.
"It's very easy for you to say. I don't know how to keep calm, never have," replied the fasto helplessly.
"We cultivators should master the skill of calmness. Without it, all cultivating efforts are but empty words. It's for the same reason that I've asked you to do nothing but meditating in the past few days since you became my disciples…"
Seeing that the chubby fellow was indeed suffering from the heat, he said, "Fine, fetch me a bowl of water."
Chen Yu carried out this command right away and brought the bowl of water to the old man.
Li Daoyu took out a talisman, which turned into a flame without ignition and burnt up in the bowl. The talisman, however, left behind no ashes and seemed to have disappeared into thin air when the flame was gone. The water was as clear as before.
"Now, drink it." Li Daoyu handed the bowl to the fatso.
The fatso hesitated, but took a sip in the end. He shuddered violently, for as soon as the plain water was down his throat, he felt as if he had just chewed five kilos of mint. A cooling sensation wooshed through his entire body and the heat dissipated right away.
"Hoho, nice! That was awesome!"
"Give me some!"
Seeing his reaction, Chen Yu grabbed the bowl from him and took a sip as well. He reacted with the same amazement and satisfaction.
"My turn, it's my turn."
Momentarily, the five people took turns to drink from the bowl and emptied it to the last drop.
As experienced businessmen, they were all worldly-wise people, so why on earth did they fall head over heels for Li Daoyu? The answer lay in such tricks that were beyond their comprehension.
Among them, Chen Yu was the most earnest one, almost to the point of throwing himself at the old man's feet.
Putting away the bowl, he suddenly remembered something and said tentatively, "By the way, Old Immortal, I have a younger sister and I've been meaning to bring her here. I was wondering if you…"
"We do not discriminate those searching the Great Dao by their status or gender. Of course she can come."
"Great! I'll bring her here this evening!" Chen Yu was exhilarated.
Meanwhile, outside the family housing facility of the municipal government.
Gu Yu straightened his clothes nervously and asked, "So, how do I look? All right?"
"Uh huh, you would pass as my boyfriend." Xiaozhai chuckled.
"Just look closely. After all, this is my first time meeting your parents."
"I did. I've seen every bit of your body like the back of my hand. Nothing to complain about!"
Rolling his eyes, he could not be bothered to retort and started strolling in with a bag in his hand.
The usual presents for the first meeting were things like nice cigarettes, wine, or tea. Since they didn't buy anything, they brought two boxes of Mind-calming incense instead, which would work wonders on ordinary people for it would help with sleep, relieve stress, as well as reduce minor infections.
As they swaggered their way to Xiaozhai's home, they had no idea that Father and Mother Jiang were the ones feeling flustered and perplexed...95 Fahrenheit