"Sending messages across thousands of miles?" Mu Kun was taken by surprise. "So, this technique really can travel through space without being impeded by anything?"
"Theoretically, yes. But the actual application will depend on the user's cultivation level." Zhang Jintong had had his answer ready. "Based on what I've learned so far, this technique requires someone with an innate state or above. I am aware of the situation of the monastery and I wouldn't even consider holding such information back. This technique should belong to the monastery."
"Oh? That is very considerate of you. On behalf of the BIMAUP, I'd like to express my gratitude."
"Hoho, you really don't have to. I'm only fulfilling my duty."
One acted all civil and the other one even more so; neither meant what they said.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai left Longhu Mountain the previous evening and Mu Kun arrived at the doorstep this morning. His intention couldn't be more obvious: to probe, inspect, and take away some dividend while he was at it.
He carefully stashed away the notebook recording the technique, apparently not trusting the old priest at all, then asked, "Celestial Master, have those two left anything else behind?"
"Well, it is actually something I feel rather ashamed to mention." It was Zhang Jintong's turn to put on his oscar-winning performance as he sighed. "They were here for the talisman paper and the furnace, for which they have paid an adequate price. Apart from the Flying Message Technique, they also gave me an Evil-dispelling Dan. But... but I have ingested it already."
"How well did it work?" Mu Kun asked eagerly.
"I felt reborn! After years of accumulated fatigue, I was fully aware of my health condition. Once I ingested this pill, however, all of my maladies were cleared away and I was fully recharged in my energy. Sigh… the spiritual Dan is indeed as effective as promised!"
He nodded as he sang the praise as if still savoring the wonderful experience of that moment.
Mu Kun found it such a pity, but could not let it show. Instead, he smiled. "Congratulations, Celestial Master! Your longevity and good health will benefit the Taoist community as a whole. Oh, by the way, do you know how many kinds of Dan they have refined? What value would they allot to this Evil-dispelling Dan?"
"There were two. They didn't say what the other one was and I didn't ask. As for the Evil-dispelling Dan…" Zhang Jintong gave it a thought and replied solemnly, "I am in no position to assess it, but what I can say is that as long as it is not a severe case, one pill is enough for a full recovery. I am not sure about terminal illnesses, though."
"Is it that effective?"
"It is that effective!"
Mu Kun felt his stomach turning. A cure-all was indeed an incredible creation! Moreover, with the way they put it, even the severe cases could be solved popping down a few more pills.
He immediately felt the urgent need to go back and make a report. "Celestial Master, the country will not forget your contribution and the Celestial Master Temple will be rewarded accordingly. I still have some errands to run and will hold you up no further."
"I see. Let me show you out."
Zhang Jintong walked him out of the gate and did not go back in until the car had driven off into the distance.
The old priest chose not to play it fair and square this time. Sitting on the fence, he had made secret deals and deceived the government… he did not regret what he had done, though. Everything he did was to ensure a bright future for the Way of Celestial Masters.
May, early summer.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai spent 35 days on refining the Evil-dispelling Dan; they had successfully made it through four rounds and produced 44 pills. The refinement of the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan took them about 30 days, during which time three rounds were successful, which gave them 29 pills.
25 spiritual stones were consumed in the process.
They left in a snowy and frosty month and came back when the gentle breeze was already blowing. Two months had passed while they were away.
"Sister, what took you so long? Qiu Qiu and I were almost going out there to break you out!"
Up on Phoenix Mountain, Xiaojin dived into her sister's arms and rubbed against the latter, which seemed to be a way to express her affection, but was in fact an attempt to ask for a present. Xiaozhai hugged her back, but immediately felt something was not right. She peeled the girl off and watched her closely, then said surprisingly, "Why, are you taller than when I left?"
"Huh? My cup size has stopped growing long ago, but not my height?" Xiaojin was amazed as well. She dragged Long Qiu closer. "Let's see who's taller."
Long Qiu stood against her as told and Xiaojin measured with her hand. She then yelled, "I'm as tall as before! You're making fun of me the moment you got back!"
Xiaozhai was not going to have a guilty conscience over that. "Why, I made a mistake, then. It's been a while since I last touched you."
Qiu Qiu was firmly against the R18 talk and gave Xiaozhai her harmless cold face.
Of the family of four, Xiaozhai was 26 and 177 cm tall, Gu Yu 25 and 183 cm, Long Qiu 24 and 174 cm, and Xiaojin 23 and 175 cm.
Good God. The mountain was decorated by nothing but long legs! A lot of long legs!
After the chitchat and bantering, the four went into the meditation room.
Gu Yu neatly laid out the rewards, including two gourds, 12 pieces of blue talisman paper, three of purple talisman paper, and a pamphlet recording the method of making talisman paper, and the words and refinement manuals of Shape-changing and Five-transformation Rain-praying Spells.
The Celestial Master Temple had only one of that high-level talisman, but they had stocked some of its talisman paper pieces, only that no one knew how to refine it. Zhang Jintong decided to give them as big a favor as he could afford and gave them all the paper he had.
Gu Yu talked through their experience this time—two hours of exclamations from the audience. They had no intuitive understanding of Dan methods before and never expected it to be this difficult.
"Brother, are we going to sell these pills?"
Picking up a red Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan, Long Qiu was immediately awed by its immense energy; she could not help but sniff at it repeatedly.
"We'll keep the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan. Only the Evil-dispelling Dan is for sale," said Gu Yu.
"What about the price?" she asked another question.
"One thousand spiritual stones for a pill!" yelled Xiaojin.
The girl indeed had a brain for running business—she immediately made the connection between the spiritual Dan and the spiritual stones. Long Qiu, on the other hand, wavered a little. "Won't a thousand stones be too much?"
"The pills are priceless; we can ask for whatever price we want. But the government is not going to let the spiritual stones circulate freely. They would buy a few pills at most for research purposes. So, there are essentially one buyer and one seller only," said Xiaozhai.
"Let's make it a thousand first and see how the market reacts to that. If it doesn't work, we can always turn to barter," said Gu Yu.
Tianzhu Mountain had spiritual stone reserves of 25.4 thousand tons—each ton contained around 4000 stones. In total, that would give them over a hundred million stones. The current stock of the spiritual stone was over three million pieces, which were all kept in the national treasury. It would be delusional to assume some individual or faction could use them without authorization.
"Now, add these talisman manuals to the jade slips, then contact Old Shui, see if we can build a paper mill down there." Gu Yu assigned the tasks, then something suddenly dawned on him. "By the way, has anything happened while we were away?"
"Nothing major." Long Qiu was very succinct.
"Great. We'll have to go into seclusion for a few days and experiment on the potency of the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan. You two go have fun on your own." Xiaozhai was ready to shoo the two girls away.
"What? Are you two cultivating or having a baby? You've just come back and you're shutting yourselves away already?!" Xiaojin grumbled her complaint . She nagged and dallied until the last minute, then fled swiftly like an experienced escaper before her sister's irritation burst into flame.
The sunshine was giving the right amount of warmth and the breeze was not making any noise.
Once the kids had left, Gu Yu and Xiaozhai sat down facing each other, reading the fatigue in the other's eyes.
What they experienced in the past few months involved adding charcoals, watching the furnace, failure, failure, and more failure… it was something any ordinary person would find unbearable. The frustration alone was powerful enough to kill.
The only benefit that came out of it was that their spiritual essence and mental force had been significantly enhanced by the countless rounds of draining up and recovery.
The strange blank-out went on for a while before Gu Yu said, "You go first. I'll watch out for you."
Xiaozhai had no intention to refuse. She took out a pill of the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan and swallowed it.
The fiery red pill that seemed to be glistening melted in her saliva as soon as it made contact with her mouth. A sticky semi-liquid slid down her throat and fell directly into her stomach.
It was as if a scorching thousand-pound weight had dropped into an icy lake.
It went without saying that the inside of a human body was warm. However, the body temperature was like the freezing point compared to the medicine fluid. The heat and the cold clashed into each other and white steam rose with a sizzling sound; Xiaozhai seemed to be burning up.
"Mhm…" Xiaozhai groaned. Her fair cheeks flushed suddenly as fine sweat seeped through the hair on her temples. She seemed to be in great pain.
Gu Yu watched her gravely and was ready to interfere at any moment.
Cultivators were to refine their three treasures: spirit, Qi, and mind. A simplified version would be to combine the first two treasures, making it the training of both the body and the mind. They pretty much followed the same rules: one was to constantly improve oneself by their own potentiality and the power of nature.
It was an extremely slow process, which was why when the ancient cultivators realized that the spiritual essence was waning, they created Waidan practice so that they could accelerate this process as much as possible with the help of the pills.
Some Dan nourished the body, some enhanced the mind, while others could help both, such as the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan. It was the most effective spiritual medicine for cultivators below the Human Immortal state. One could imagine how potent this Dan would be.
Right now, the medicine was rampaging inside Xiaozhai and formed a dark-red whirlpool, which made a few turns before exploding, sending red streaks of liquid flying everywhere.
The Qi-related went to Qi and blood, the mental force related went to mental force, and the physical body related went to the physical body… momentarily, she was enveloped by the ferocious medicinal power from head to toe and inside out.
"Clack… clack… bang!"
Gu Yu was still watching her closely when something made him jump. A series of faint, crisp exploding sounds were coming out of Xiaozhai. He checked her hurriedly and realized they were made by the quivering of her bones and tendons.
That was the medicine working!
He relaxed a little, but still was not fully convinced. In the end, he sent in a streak of his mental force to examine her—he dared not go in to far, but only stayed close to the surface.
What he found was even more astonishing. Through his mental force, he saw that Xiaozhai had turned into a red halo filled to the brim with Qi and blood. The instant vital essence was stronger than anything he had ever seen.
A streak of golden purple and a streak of black purple lightning were rumbling inside that halo as if two dragons were soaring—they were none other than the Metal and Water Thunder energy she had been cultivating.
Gu Yu was utterly amazed. With the insane amount of resources and energy they had spent, they obviously would wish the Body-refining and Mind-enhancing Dan to be something spectacular. As it seemed now, it was much better than they had expected. The special effect alone was worth the money.
He kept his eyes on her for nearly two hours and only was reassured when his girlfriend had turned from being agitated to calm, then to a relaxed state.
Absorbing a Dan pill was apparently a very demanding job. When he realized it, evening came already and Xiaozhai finally opened her eyes and adjusted her breath. Gu Yu had one look of her eyes and knew her capabilities had been greatly improved. He grinned. "How did being high on drugs feel?"
"I don't know where to begin. Somehow my Water Thunder had improved…"
She jumped to a new topic all of a sudden and opened her palm. A streak of black-purple lightning flickered into life. Unlike the intimidating killing will of Metal Thunder, this one had a forever-changing and feminine tenderness about it.
Gu Yu was about to ask when the lightning flickered and turned into an abstract little figure with blurry limbs, which made a gesture of bowing at him.
"Hahaha!" He was exhilarated. "This one pill is equivalent to two months worth of cultivation. Great! This is incredible!"
"As amazing as it is, we can't overdo it, or too much medicine might accumulate inside and do more damage than benefit us," Xiaozhai said after some consideration. "My estimation is that our cultivation time can be shortened by half with the help of this pill… why, your goal of reaching the Human Immortal state has just become plausible!"