Ever since Huo Zhou, Gu Yu knew that the government could not sit tight for much longer and would reveal the information to the public sooner or later. The contracts he signed with the workers were all three-year long, for the environment would be ready enough in three years and by then, it wouldn't make much difference in controlling them or not.
Under the current circumstances, however, they'd better be more prudent. Flamboyance would not be appropriate.
Shengtian, the new district.
There were actually three new districts—one on the south, one on the north, and one of an island. The one in question was the southern one. Back when it was planned, the district was to become an industrial park dedicated to media, electronics and innovative technologies. Hence, the rent was set at an unbelievably low level, together with all sorts of favorable terms.
Li Dong's workplace was right here, a media company registered two years ago.
He worked as an editor, spending his days writing promotion advertising articles before posting them onto various apps. With a monthly salary of 3000 yuan 1 and having neither a house nor a car, he lived in a shabby rented place fifty minutes away from his company.
Originally from a rural village, he was by no means a well-off man. His biggest dream was to save up enough money for the down payment of a small apartment. As for love, marriage, or happiness, they were all concepts too luxurious for him to afford.
This afternoon, after finishing the job at hand, he opened a webpage without being noticed and indulged himself in one of the cheapest hobbies: reading web novels.
He preferred sci-fi and game-themed fictions and was not much into modern or xianxia ones. After catching up with the newest updates of the novels he followed, he was in desperate need for some fresh blood and went to seek some bread for the mind in one of those book-recommending websites.
The moment he clicked open the webpage, he was shocked, for the front page was taken up by the recommendation of a novel named "What Should I Do If I Become A Cultivator".
The lousy name suggested one of those cliche light novels from a certain country in the east. He resisted reading it, but with no better things to do, he clicked it open.
Five minutes into it and he grabbed the general concept behind the novel: it was set in a background similar to the current society when a cultivation-friendly environment suddenly became available; the story the moved on to describe the antagonist's growth and experience, as well as the change brought to the society.
Driven by his utter boredom, he continued reading. As it turned out, a dozen chapters into the book and he could no longer put it down. He finished all two hundred or so chapters in one afternoon and had somehow joined a book fanclub chat group.
The group was incredibly active with everyone chatting with everyone else. They had even set up a shabby forum for the readers to create threads for discussion. The most popular one at the moment was entitled "If I become a cultivator, will I still be restricted by morals and law?"
The delusional adolescent type was not uncommon, but this place seemed to be filled with them!
With a somewhat sarcastic tone, Li Dong left a reply in passing. "Lmao. Those fellows saying they would obey definitely deserve an Oscar!"
He thought little of it after that. However, a couple of days later when he clicked into the forum again, there were quite a few replies under his.
"I cannot deny that all men have their dark side, but you have to admit that there are those who have a strong mind and perfect self-control ability."
"Many of us still prefer a stable environment. Stability requires rules and rules means breakers and protectors. So, it's not really a matter of obeying or not, more like a personal choice."
"I think I'll be able to stay moral, but not law-abiding. When your level surpasses the ordinary people by so far, you're not likely to fall back to that level."
"I stole a duck from my neighbor when I was little and roasted it. Until this day, I had never felt sorry for the duck."
He had never expected to start a discussion and the replies instantly excited him. He started typing, agreeing with some and retorting the others.
People like Li Dong was common enough in our society. Their life less than satisfactory, they were boring and timid in real life, but became flashy and glib once armored with a keyboard. Such a group was known as: netizens.
In a word, the book and the forum had brought a rare satisfaction to Li Dong's bland life. A few forum dwellers there were fellows well-versed in popular internet jargons with a sly humor.
His friend list was several names longer, all of whom he made acquaintance of recently. Two of those were in the same city as him, who went by the online names " Qian Qiu 2 " and "Headmaster" respectively.
Seven days later, nighttime.
Cocooned up in his rented place, Li Dong had just finished a round of MOBA game. His fellow players did nothing but pulling his legs, so he logged off right after the game. Pouring himself a glass of water, he downed it in one gulp. Just then, his computer beeped at an incoming message.
He walked up to it and saw that the message was from Qian Qiu. "You there?"
"Just finished a premade back there. What's up?" he replied.
"I've got a chat group here, wondering if you wanna in. Headmaster's there as well."
"Sure, lemme check it out."
Li Dong did not think much of it and said yes right away. A few seconds later, he was sent a chat group invitation whose name read "Study Group of Natural Science".
What the heck?
Utterly baffled, he clicked the "agree" and entered the chat group. He was instantly stunned.
On the member list on the right side, all IDs had suffixes such as "perfected man", "priest", "layman" and alike. What they were talking about was equally bizarre.
"My Fellow Taoists, I've made up my mind: I'm going to quit my job tomorrow. My life from now on will be spent on visiting all the famous mountains to seek the immortals and pursue the Great Dao."
"Wow. In that case, I wish you a promising cultivation future and rising high above the clouds one day."
"Sigh, how I envy you. I'd like to quit my job as well, but the pressure of doing so is too great for my weak mind."
"Don't give up just then. Everyone is impeded in some way by this mortal life and it's only a matter of time before we can look beyond all those. You… why, we have a new Fellow Taoist!"
"A new Fellow Taoist it is. Welcome!"
"Where does the new Fellow Taoist dwell? Do let us know your native land!"
The chat group erupted instantly, with everyone tagging Li Dong at the same time. Li Dong was quite resistant to such atmosphere, to the point that he found all these people ridiculous—these were no delusional adolescents. They were simply out of their mind!
"Why don't you say hello to everyone?"
Just then, a member called "Priest Qian Qiu" tagged him.
Fine! He had no choice but reply, "Qian Qiu, what the hell are you all playing at? Is this a cosplay group or what?"
"LOL, I miss that phrase!"
"Oh my, it's going to be my favorite part."
"Quickly, brief our new friend!"
Li Dong felt they were all talking in riddles. He was about to send Qian Qiu a private message and withdraw from the group when a fellow named "Layman Blue Sky & Ocean" posted a screenshot.
He took a closer look and realized it was a weibo 3 post created by the most authoritative party newspaper of the country, dated July 2nd.
"'The Taoist culture should give full play to the positive energy for the rejuvenation of the nation: Taoism is a religion in pursuit of harmony. According to Laozi, 'Knowing the harmony is knowing the law of the arrangement of all things and knowing such law is the enlightenment.' Zhuangzi proposed that 'all things are in harmony', which referred to a harmonious concept. The Taoist teachings involve multiple aspects, including the relationships between people, between men and nature, and between men and society, as seen in the concepts 'kindness, harmony, and identity', 'saving all living beings from calamities', 'harmony between heaven and man', 'the ways of heaven are impartial, but unknowingly, the charitable people are often favored', etc. Such theories of the heaven favoring the well-doers fully embody an idea of equality, which is generally in line with the principle of fairness and justice promoted by the modern society… "
Li Dong was even more confused. What on earth were they doing?
Immediately after that, another one with an ID "Perfected Man White Rain" also posted an image, which was an announcement from the Ministry of Culture dated July 15th.
"An extension of the third batch of intangible cultural heritage of the country was published today. There are 54 pieces in total, of which 38 are Taoist-culture-related, including Legend of True Warrior Great Deity (folklore), Wudang Taoist tea stir frying technique (traditional technique), Taoist medicine of Wudang Mountain (traditional medicine), Taoist ceremonies and rituals of Mount Longhu (traditional technique), health care method of Baiyun Temple (traditional medicine)..."
Announced together were a few lines of explanation.
"The national intangible cultural heritage directory has 1219 entries in total and the extension contains 311 entries, of which only eight are Taoist-culture-related. They are: Taoist music of Xuanmiao Temple in Jiang Zhou, Taoist music of Wudang temples and palaces, martial arts of Wudang, Wudang traditional opera, legend of Zhuangzi, etc. More than half of the entries are music-related and aspects such as Taoist paintings, legend of immortals, ceremonies and rituals, the art of building, Taoist teachings, Taoist skills, refinement and cultivation, etc., have never been included."
"Haha, the teacher's tapping the blackboard. Pay attention to the underlined paragraph!"
"Mount Longhu, Baiyun Temple, ceremonies and rituals, healthcare method—the answer is written out for you!"
"Has the newbie got it? Newbie? Where is the newbie?"
Ok, the newbie was shocked.
Staring at the screen, Li Dong blanked out for a whole two minutes. He felt a naughty little fairy was scratching its way out of his chest. The scratching was so effective that he was tempted.
They were saying… the news from the authorities meant...
No, it couldn't be! It must have been a coincidence!
Shaking his head, he forced his way back to the reality and typed down a line with his shaking fingers. "That doesn't mean anything. What if it was just a coincidence?"
"The newbie's still denying it!"
"That's ok. We've still got that major blow to come. Show it to him!"
With that, some fellow named "Perfected Man Twenty Yuan" posted the final blow. It was an announcement from the Ministry of Education, dated August 6th.
"Starting from the second semester, selective classes are to be promoted in middle and primary schools in certain areas. This is to help carry forward our national traditional culture, introduce and explain the essence of our history and culture in approachable terms to middle school and primary school students.
It is common knowledge that the core of the traditional culture of this country lies in the complementation of Confucian and Taoist concepts, together with other ideologies such as the Mohist, the Legalist, and the Logician ones.
Ideology is the first aspect to be considered when culture is considered, then come the other derived arts such as poems and verses, dialects, folk music, dramas, operas, paintings, calligraphy, couplets, lantern riddles, shooting games, drinking games, two-part allegorical sayings, etc…"
With the picture came another round of babbling.
"Now what? Convinced yet?"
"How was that? A whole new world, right?"
"How are you holding up? Shall we go for a premade to cool your head down?"
"Damn, we've frightened the newbie to death!"
Li Dong was staring at the screen again, just as what he did ten minutes ago—only this time, the naughty little thing inside was more active. It had pushed aside the soft flesh and made its way out. Squeezing through all those blood vessels, it was now showing its limbs and body.
In the end, it took up his entire chest and was giving out commands. Meanwhile, the education he received and the mindset he had formed over the past twenty years were struggling stubbornly to fight back.
He lit a cigarette with shaky hands, the dot of light flickering in the dark room. After quite a while, he finally managed to type down one line. "What if it's all fake?"
For a moment, those in the group seemed to fall into silence. However, only seconds later, text filled the entire chat screen. Rows upon rows, they materialized like endless tidal waves.
"What if it's real?"
"What if it's real?"
"What if it's real?"
"What if it's real?"TL/N: roughly 470 USD TL/N: meaning "a thousand years" or "a long long time" TL/N: a Chinese social media website. Sort of a hybrid between twitter and instagram.