"So, that's the fire mineral?"
Inside the meditation room, Xiaozhai was tossing the stone up and down, then let it land on her palm with a thud. She chuckled. "The recovery of the spiritual essence has been going on for four or five years by now and this year was particularly eventful. I was starting to wonder, of all the places in our big country, why was Grass River Mouth the only one turned abnormal. Haha, it is happening somewhere else, finally!"
"Hey you, enough with that craving for disaster."
Gu Yu reached out and tried to take the stone back. His girlfriend, however, retracted her arm and his fingers grabbed onto empty air. Instantly, his hand movement changed as he flipped his hand around to catch her wrist. She unfolded her left palm, showing crackling electric arcs, and stretched it out towards his face.
Unwavering, Gu Yu extended his other arm, grabbing at the stone.
The electric arcs was about to touch his cheek when they vanished in a flash.
"Nice call! How come you're so sure that I won't touch you?" Xiaozhai was curious.
"Who would ever have the heart to scratch such a handsome face?"
He was being all cheeky and flaunting when he saw his girlfriend raise an eyebrow, which was a sign of an incoming verbal assault. He changed the subject immediately. "Ok, that's enough bullshi*t for today. Let's talk business… that Flaming Mountain is not far from Tianshan. It'd better be an anomaly. Because if it turns out to be a mineral vein, it'll be a nasty business. I can't figure out what to do with it. Hey, is there any Taoist skill involving fire?"
"I don't think so. Zhengyi has quite a few fire incantations and talismans, though. I'm not sure about others…" Xiaozhai shook her head.
"Isn't there something called 'True Fire of Samadhi'?"
"Samadhi my a*s!"
She snorted and explained, "Samadhi is a Buddhist concept. There's no such thing in Taoism. When Lü Dongbin wrote his 'On Profundity', he was the first to introduce the idea of the True Fire of Samadhi. According to him, the heart is the 'fire of monarch', known as the 'upper Samadhi', the kidney the 'fire of subjects', known as the 'middle Samadhi', and Qihai the 'fire of commoner', known as the 'lower Samadhi'. There is a cycle involved in all this, which corresponds with the universe… wait a second?"
She was amazed herself as she talked on. "Lü Dongbin was a man of Tang Dynasty and the Transformation Period. This 'On Profundity' was an exploration into Neidan practice, but why did he introduce a Buddhist idea?"
The advent of doubt was unexpected and she furrowed her eyebrows, deep in thought. Mumbling to herself, she went on, "According to Wang Chongyang himself, the founder of Quanzhen was Wang Xuanfu of Han Dynasty. The inheritance then passed on from Wang Xuanfu to Zhong Liquan, Lü Dongbin, and Liu Haichan in turn, which was then handed down to Wang Chongyang. But there was never any historical record talking about Wang Xuanfu except for sporadic legends. We can't even say for sure that such a man ever existed… by the time Han Dynasty came along, Buddhism was introduced to the country and Quanzhen proposed a unification of three religions…"
Seeing that his girlfriend was talking to herself with an weird expression, Gu Yu couldn't help but gave her a nudge.
Xiaozhai came to herself and smacked his thigh hard. "Old Gu, there's one thing we've overlooked!"
"You mean Buddhism?" He removed her hand from his leg.
"Exactly! There were sporadic records as early as Qin Dynasty saying that eighteen Buddhist sages came to China to preach. Our dear Old Ying Zheng 1 ignored their request completely and threw them into the jail right away. Around midnight, some giant Buddhist warrior showed up to break them free. But the commonly accepted theory now is that Buddhism was introduced into China during Han Dynasty, which was also the time when the ancient immortals realized that the spiritual essence was waning.
The great masters set out to find a solution, giving birth to various schools such as corpse-releasing, Waidan, sword immortal, talisman, etc. However, Wei Boyang was the only one mentioning Neidan. We don't know about Wang Xuanfu, but Zhong Liquan was a promoter of Neidan, which Lü Dongbin then improved later in his time. By the time Wang Chongyang took over, the proposal of unification of three religions simply fell into place."
She shook her head and went on, "I simply can't understand. All other sects had held their ground. Why was Quanzhen the only one bringing in the theories of other religions?"
"You mean, you need to nose around again?"
Through the thicket of all her babbling, Gu Yu was right on the spot. He then said, "If you ask me, sneaky bastards like the government would surely keep an eye on the Buddhist community. The fact that they stayed put meant there was nothing unusual."
"They are them and I'm me. The point is, I want to know!" Like a kid discovering a new toy, Xiaozhai's eyes were sparkling with expectation.
"But I was thinking of checking out Flaming Mountain! It could be an abnormality and I might not be able to catch up with the change even with the delay of one day!" He looked worried.
"That's easy! You go your way and I mine. Each minds their own business." Xiaozhai gestured with her hands apart.
Had the words come out of another girl, the conversation might move into an endless cycle of "You're mad." "I'm not." "Then why are you acting like this?" "Are you so dumb that you can't tell I'm mad?"
But when Xiaozhai said they should go their separate ways, she meant it.
Gu Yu gave it a thought and found the suggestion reasonable. They were not the joined at the hips type after all. He agreed, "Ok, then we'll leave Xiao Qiu here to mind the house."
'That's a deal!'
Poor Xiao Qiu. She had no right to decide and had to stay behind in the mountain with her puppy eyes.
After the completion of the first trade fair, the next one was set to be held three months later. Before that, the Yuan, Lei, Zeng Families and Bai Town government would busy themselves putting up buildings and other installations.
Gu Yu took no interest in these activities whatsoever. The hundred-year-old ginseng had been carefully stored away. Dried ginseng like this was a non-renewable resource and he was having a guilty conscience every time he cut a piece.
If only it was a living plant. He had alway thought that a most regrettable fact.
There were four types of ginseng in general: wild ginseng, wild mountain ginseng, transplanted mountain ginseng, and garden ginseng.
Wild ginseng was the scarcest in number. They were naturally propagated plants originally growing in thick forests deep in the mountains. Wild mountain ginseng, on the other hand, was artificially sowed in the mountains. It was of a lower grade in quality comparing to the first type.
Transplanted mountain ginseng was cultivated by transplanting ginseng seedlings into the mountains, while garden ginseng was artificially bred through and through.
Rumor had it that the wild ginseng was extremely exhaustive to the nutrients in the soil. Anywhere the ginseng used to grow, the soil would remain barren for twenty years and there would be no sowing for fifty years.
Ginseng was the core ingredient of Essence-gathering Incense and the most numerous plant in the valley. The type Gu Yu cultivated was a mixture of the last three types. With the level of spiritual essence in the soil of Phoenix Mountain and its exceptional effect on plants, he was curious to find out if the 50-year rule could be broken.
Up till now, this "ranch" of our "landlord" and "landlady" had three major produce in terms of their yield: spiritual rice, medicinal materials, and rice chaff.
The couple had planned it all out. They were going to clear out a large patch of the thick woods on the south bank, which they would solely devote to plant rice. With the black thorny forest next to it, the north bank did not leave them with much space to expand. They were only able to clear out a thin stripe of land.
They expected this would give them a total plot area of six to seven mu.
They would not consider expanding to outside the valley for the time being, for there wasn't much suitable level ground. They only walked around the area, scattering a lot of medicinal material seeds along the way.
Unlike certain immortals and masters of the legend, who would wave their hands at the land they picked out and the valleys would be filled with rare plants, birds, and beasts. They were not lucky like that. All they could depend on where their own hands. They lived their down-to-earth life gathering strength, farming the land, and sticking to their vegetarian diet.
And there were those bags of rice chaff they needed to deal with, something with little value, yet they did not want to simply throw away. They finally came up with something—it was not ideal, but half a loaf was better than no bread—which was wine-making. A loss of spiritual essence was bound to occur during the brewing, but it would all come down to the degree of the wastage and the quality of the wine.
They were going to give it a test run first. If it worked out, they would add another product to their list.
Apart from those, the peach trees were also growing nicely. The cut branches had already taken root and grew to about a meter in height. They wondered if the trees would give them a peach blossom miasma the following spring when they blossomed.
As for the outer mountain, it remained a tourist zone. Even Ziyang Temple was still where it was. The abbot was from a branch of a sub-sect of Quanzhen and a complete imbecile. He had no idea of what was going on and was actually enjoying himself very much.
A few days passed as such and the preparations were complete. It was over half a year since the couple got back, and now, they were finally setting out again.TL/N: The founder of Qin Dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China, also known as Qin Shi Huang