"Shocking news! The truth behind the recent sudden mass-psychosis turns out to be...
Ok, first of all, do forgive me for using such a cliche title. I myself have actually given it much thought, but found only something like this is loud enough to express my feeling at the moment.
It all began seven days ago when Bo Bo 1 went to see a friend—whose gender I shall not reveal—off. While we were crying our eyes out at the departure, I happened to notice a foreign friend wearing a traditional Siamese outfit.
Out of occupational habit and my instinct to seek novelty, your Bo Bo took a few pictures without giving it much thought.
He pointed at me and I was taken over by this unbearable itching—about ten thousands time more tickling than my husky's tongue. Here, these are the bloody scratches I left on my own arms.
Audacious as I am, I secretly followed him to a hotel and waited in the lobby. I thought at first that this foreign friend was some Tame Head master on a business trip here, but what followed has surpassed my wildest imagination.
About half an hour later, a Maoshan priest arrived—you heard me right, a Maoshan priest like Uncle Ying 2 . Here are some supporting photographs.
Bo Bo was even more surprised by then: a master from Siam and a Taoist priest, could it be just a coincidence? As a realistic and practical person, I decided to get to the bottom of this.
My dear readers are probably aware of the recent events that dozens of people all over Goat City suddenly fell ill and were all sent to the Southern Hospital. The second day when those two masters entered the hospital, four other Taoist priests arrived.
I wasn't able to get into the building and could only remain stationed outside. The third day into my wait, a patient finally came out. Below is the interview.
Just like so, I stayed there for seven days and interviewed a total of five people, who all gave me the same story.
They had no idea what had happened, nor did they have any memory of being sick. The only thing they knew was that their recovery was not because of something the doctors did, but by some rituals of those priests.
Hence, Bo Bo is going to make a bold speculation here: these people—or even all those patients we heard from the news all over the country—were not sick at all. What they had was what we know from the legends as being 'possessed by a ghost'!"
Cui Zhanbo was a reporter-turned writer and had a thing for investigative journalism.
He summarized the evidence he collected during those seven days and generated a well-organized long article in a simple language and posted onto his blog.
With his over 400,000 followers, his articles usually got forwarded and viewed for over 600,000 times in total. The figure of this article, however, reached 7 million in mere three days! That was an increase by ten folds!
It went viral on Wechat in the south of Five Ridges and the popularity was still going up, soon expanding to other social media. Some chose to believe, some remained indifferent, while some sniffed at it and responded with vicious comments.
Meanwhile, netizens of other regions of the country were sharing their stories as well.
"My mum's younger sister got sick the other day. We sent her to the hospital and she only just got back yesterday, saying a Taoist priest treated her. She was not too sick and was still a little conscious… holy sh*t, the Taoist skills are real. It's nothing like the gimmicks of the Boxers 3 ! She was a Jesus follower before she got ill and has now switched to believe in Taoism!"
"This is live. I'm picking someone up from Spring City People's Hospital and the building behind me is the inpatient department… gosh! Holy crap! There's a Taoist priest on the corridor! Did you see that? Did you all see that?"
"I'm from Forest City and I want to admit a mistake I once made. There is this Taoist temple called 'Immortal's Cave' in our city and I visited once with my mother before. I was young and ignorant and insulted the priests there. My mum got sick a while ago. The priests from Immortal's Cave cured her."
As the saying went, one would not argue with a smoking gun.
Such substantial materials with corresponding convincing images were suddenly all over the internet of the country.
It seemed all of sudden that the entire country was talking about related subjects. The public went from being rather doubtful to half certain, then to finding it rather plausible… then, naturally, there came the massive panic or massive excitement.
Panic was an understandable part of the human nature.
Excitement was an equally understandable part.
With the issuance of the "Three-year Plan on National Cultivation Personnel and Social Development", from the second half of the previous year, the government had been putting in a lot of effort in ideology promotion through films and TV dramas, fictions, policy advocacy, and middle and primary school education, etc.
Such effort did not seem much individually, but was influencing the general population's ideas in a subtle way. Adding to the fact that abnormal creatures and phenomena were popping out everywhere this year and that app was also online now… many people had speculated towards the right direction.
One of the most conspicuous "smoking guns" was that the between-class exercise in schools was suddenly changed to a martial arts training program.
Six months were enough to achieve some initial improvement in the students. The parents began to realize in surprise: why, my kid seemed much healthier these days...
Such examples had planted the seeds in the minds of the common people, only that the authorities were sticking to their principle of not going public or indulging in the rumors so such a trend had been tuned down.
Coming this year, with the deliberate manipulation of the government, certain information began to leak out. Like a burning torch thrown into the parched wilderness, everything caught the flame all at once.
Tianzhu Mountain, Qiyun Monastery.
The building complex of the monastery was mostly completed now. The upper courtyard stood on the mountaintop, where the thirty-six priests lived. Halfway up the mountain was the grand plaza and the middle courtyard, which was where the future elite disciples would live. The lower courtyard was at the foot of the mountain and served as the dwellings for ordinary pupils.
The grand plaza was already completed. The ground was paved with well-polished bluestone as smooth as mirrors. Ordinary people found it even a bit difficult to stand still on it, not to mention trying to walk. They had to scuff forward with tiny steps to keep themselves from falling.
"Dear Priest Lu, this ground is so inconvenient for us mortal men. We can barely walk on it! I see you don't really want us to come here!"
A government official was gingerly moving forward while making his half-serious joke.
"We will surely come down here to see you off whenever you visit us. Isn't that welcoming enough?"
Lu Yuanqing smiled and waved at the man, sending out a streak of gentle energy, which wrapped around the latter. The official now felt his gait steadied and was able to walk with ease. He couldn't help but say, "Haha, I was just kidding. This monastery is a blessed land of the immortals. No other place in the mortal world is comparable to it."
The two chatted on and soon reached the foot of the mountain.
The official said, "Well, this is where I leave you. Do take some time to consider what we've discussed."
"Of course. I know what to do."
"Great. The government has invested a great amount of resources in this, so make it count."
With that, he turned around and left. Seeing the man disappearing into the mountain trail, Lu Yuanqing turned back swiftly for the monastery, where he summoned the rest and told them about the instruction received.
Some grasped the meaning right away while others were baffled. Zhang Wumeng belonged to the latter. He asked, "What exactly are they trying to achieve through this?"
"Really? You can't see through such a straightforward plan?"
Sikong Chan was sort of an eccentric and loved his jeers, but he meant no harm. Having risen to the innate state with Zhang Wumeng at the same time, he had become quite a good friend of the latter and the two were used to their daily squabbles.
"Enlighten me!" sneered Zhang Wumeng.
Sikong Chan looked at Lu Yuanqing and after a smiling nod from the latter, he said, "Here, hear me out. They can deal with the recovery of the spiritual essence, the reemergence of the Taoist skills, or even the mutation of living creatures and the abnormality of Huo Zhou. However, when ghosts are involved this time, they can no longer handle it. Since there is no way to cover it up, they simply decided not to."
"What does that have anything to do with us?" Zhang Wumeng had little idea of how politics worked and still could not get it.
Sikong Chan's jeering tone grew more explicit as he said, "Ordinary people may become more hopeful when they learn that ghosts exist in this world for their souls may not disintegrate and they get to stay around forever, but it is more likely that people are going to become afraid. However, if somehow they come to realize that the government is capable of protecting its own people and dispelling ghosts and other evil things, not only will there not be a panic, the government will even gain more trust from it."
"In a word, they get the profit, we get to wipe their asses!"
Chao Kongtu, who had just got back the other day, offered his succinct and precise conclusion.
"Don't put it that way. We have been enjoying their resources, so it is only natural that we should help our country and our people. Smaller countries such as Siam and Lao were historically inferior in their resources with less fertile lands, hence it is only a matter of time before they cross the board and stir something up. We might as well take the initiative to suppress them beforehand. Or is it that…"
He looked around the room and smiled. "Are you all intimidated by those sorcerers and Tame Head master and dare not compete against them?"
The most explicit dare was usually the most effective one. For thousands of years, people of this country, regardless of their social status or positions, were regarding the neighboring small countries with a condescending attitude.
It was more so with the cultivators.
Momentarily, the expressions on everyone's face had changed subtly, exhibiting an urge and impulse for some major action.
Seeing this, Lu Yuanqing smiled. "This monastery was only established three years ago and now things are finally moving on in a steady pace. You have all been staying on the mountain for so long. This is a great opportunity for you to go out and look around."
"Abbot, what about you?" asked Zhang Wumeng.
"Haha, I'll stay behind and watch your back."
"Sneaky bastards! They're offing a favor at the expense of Zhengyi. What a move!"
Up on Phoenix Mountain, Gu Yu let out a wholehearted praise after reading through the news. Those politicians were really something.
"Intrigued?" asked Xiaozhai.
"A little. I'd like to participate. How about you?" He did not deny it.
"Can't be bothered. My Water Thunder is on the verge of reaching perfection," Xiaozhai refused right away and added, "It's a big mess out there at the moment. The authorities are behind everything, the Taoist community is teaming up, and the common folk is looking on happily. We should not pick a side unless necessary. Let's just stand quietly on the side and play the saboteur."
"Good point. But playing a saboteur is a task a little too tough for me."
Gu Yu wrinkled up his face as if he actually meant it.
"Hahaha! You can drink all this! Who do you think you are? Some cute baby boy? You're like a hundred-year-old cucumber with yellow flower going out of the top and all the dry spikes! Stop acting like a young fruit already! You're crying? Aren't you ashamed of crying? You stole all my liquor!"
Just then, the most hilarious conversation roared from under the old tree. The spiritual ginseng had stolen Little Soap's spiritual liquor while she was sleeping there. She then fetched a tub of mature vinegar and poured it over the ginseng.
Wait a minute!
The couple exchanged a look and called in unison. "Jin Jin, come here."
Little Soap ran to them with a face saying "I'm up for no good".
"Aren't you always nagging about going out? How about going down the mountain with me in a few days?" Gu Yu chuckled.
"You take me? Just us two?"
"Yup, just us two."
Little Soap frowned, realizing it was not simple as that. She then turned her head back and forth between her sister and brother-in-law like a dumb husky before opening her eyes widely, putting up a frightened look. "Sis, have you just dumped him so that I can take over? I'm your own sister! You can't do this to me!"TL/N: the blogger Cui Zhanbo from the previous chapter is referring to himself in the third person. TL/N: referring to Lam Ching Ying, a Hong Kong stuntman, actor, and director best known for playing a stoic Taoist priest in a series of vampire/zombie-themed films. TL/N: referring to the Boxer Rebellion took place in China toward the end of the Qing dynasty, motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and by opposition to Western colonialism and the Christian missionary activity that was associated with it.