"Why, these people take what they do very seriously, don't they? Have they read too many novels or something? They do realize they're nothing but an illegal society, right?"
That night, Xiaojin lifted a corner of the curtain in her hotel room, glancing at the two fellows shadowing them downstairs, her tone full of mockery.
"Illegal societies are not something we should overlook. This thing began in mid-August and it's only the beginning of September now, but they were able to come up with an organization of this scale. Given enough time, they will grow into something substantial."
Sitting on a chair, Gu Yu replied while texting with Xiaozhai.
"The problem is they won't have the time! Bold or coward, they'll be crushed all the same. The first few are bound to be the cannon fodder. You can only grow when the government gives you the green light."
Gu Yu stopped typing for a moment and couldn't help but look up. For a moment back there, he thought he was imagining things: it was not Xiaojin, but his girlfriend that was talking to him.
"Why are you looking at me again?" Xiaojin jabbed at the empty air in his direction. "You weren't doing that when we were back on the mountain, but you wouldn't keep your eyes off me once we're out. You're lying your a*s off saying you're not thinking about me!"
Gu Yu twitched his mouth. "Stop blowing your own trumpet. I had a little new appraisal for you, that's all."
"What the hell do you mean by a new appraisal? Have you always taken me as an idiot?" Euphemisms were never Xiaojin's thing.
"Um…" Gu Yu turned out to be the one embarrassed and apologized right away, "Sorry, I did not mean it that way."
"Sigh, I don't blame you. In the ever changing world of the mortals with its myriad of living things, how many people can actually see through the profundities of the so-called love and hate?"
Xiaojin slowly walked towards him, her demeanor suddenly turned all "Romeo and Juliet" as she said in a sorrowful and pitiable tone, "I'm just a helpless girl stumbling through this wild world. Who out there could see all the grievance I have been put through? Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. Idiotic or sincere, they are but the world sees me for my appearance."
Gu Yu watched her with his mouth agape, utterly dumbstruck.
Sh*t! The girl had been acting like a clown for so long that he had forgotten about an important fact! Little Soap was a graduate of the Jiang Zhou University!
It was the Jiang Zhou University we were talking about here, one that was among the top five universities of the country! As it turned out, both sisters were curve wreckers, leaving him, who had been so pleased with himself up till now, alone at the other end of the spectrum...
Momentarily, he felt he was going to shrink into a ball and cry himself to sleep tonight.
Xiaojin, on the other hand, ran to his side in one stride and glanced at his phone, then went back to her old self.
"Briefing my sister of your day's work again? Man, aren't you getting tired of that? You're a straight man of 183 cm for Christ's sake. The way you're around my sister, I'd think you're some teenage girl falling in love. But I get you—no one can keep their chin up around her. I used to think she'd never find a man and would just live with a few acres of cucumbers.
"Hey, back then, when you went out to probe around with my sister, did you two sleep in the same room or… no, that's not what I was going to ask. When did you two sleep together again?"
Once she began to talk, she wouldn't shut up. She concluded her speech with the ultimate gossip.
"It's none of your business!" Gu Yu felt his headache was no longer imaginary.
"It's every bit of my business, okay? Xiao Qiu has no idea of what's what, but I have to. It's the least I could do to make sure of your healthy adult relationship!" Xiaojin put on the most righteous look and went on, "Oh, by the way, are you planning on having children? It's kinda difficult for cultivators to give birth, I suppose? You know, like dinosaurs—the more powerful you are, the harder to have babies."
Gu Yu actually gave it a serious thought before answering this question. "We'll have at least another two to three hundred years of life by reaching Human Immortal state alone, so having children seems still too early to consider at the moment. It just hasn't occurred to us."
"You've got a point. So, your children, they're going to be cultivators as well, right? In that case, the others will see a family of three all in their twenties and all look like siblings. Tsk, tsk, that'll be fun!"
How was he going to continue this conversation!
He had to stop her before he had a stroke.
"Go away! Go, now! Back to your own room! Time for bed! I'm done talking to you!"
Waving his hand, Gu Yu chased her out.
He was actually intrigued by Xiaojin's social experience despite her young age. On the second thought, he realized that it was only natural that she should have such a temperament and knowledge of the world with her lack of family discipline and care for the past twenty years of her life.
Their original plan was to go check out the cities along the border, but since they found something interesting here, they decided they would stop here for a few days.
Taoism had prospered in Diannan Province. Qiu Chuji himself used to preach here, which gave birth to quite a few sub-sects and branches all following the teaching of Longmen. The largest temple in Spring City was Zhenqing Temple in Baita Road.
The temple had a total area of 32 mu and was built in the Ming Dynasty. The current abbot was called Chen Qingyou, a master of the Longmen Sect. He was appointed to Spring City after the purging of the Taoist community.
Gu Yu and Xiaojin steered clear of the temple, for they were, well, secret customers this time.
After an uneventful night, the following day arrived,
Around dusk, that owner called them and the two hurried to the shop. Maybe their action of doing as told had surprisingly fitted the characteristic of some upstart, for the owner was even more enthusiastic today.
"Here, please have some tea." He made two cups of high-quality Pu'er and smiled. "Please wait a few more minutes. There are three more customers going with you."
"So secretive. What exactly is this event?" asked Xiaojin.
"Haha, it really is nothing but a small private auction. As you two might have learned, this world is no longer what it was. The government might have learnt it all along, but they just kept it from us. As the saying goes, the masses have the sharpest eyes. However hard they try to hide it, the truth will come out eventually."
He darted a look at the door and lowered his voice all of a sudden. "Words around are that every province now has relevant civil societies and we're sort of one of them—to make friends and improve ourselves together. This auction is held by a few people in charge of our organization."
"Talking is easy. What exactly have you got?"
"Something you wouldn't begin to imagine!"
"I heard there is this bird over there in Qingning called Red Feather Vulture. I'd like to make a down coat with it. Can you get me some?" asked Xiaojin.
"Um, we mainly focus on the territory within Diannan Province. I'm afraid we haven't reached that far yet." The owner got his face slapped so quickly that he had to try to make it up. "We've only held one such auction so far and today is going to be the second one. The rule is that the participant has to provide a proof of possessing funds of at least five million to get in. With the generosity and remarkable bearing you have demonstrated, I used the little power I had and got you two tickets right away."
With that, he acted like the perfect NPC in a storyline as he took out two black cards and pushed them towards Gu Yu and Xiaozhai.
Gu Yu put them into his pocket, then with quivering lips, he spoke at a voice only Xiaojin could hear, "There, we didn't trigger the jade-gambling event, but got the auction one instead."
"Auctions are so old school, but I guess it'll be fun. Let me mess around with them." Xiaojin had finished loading her skill.
A couple of minutes into their waiting, the door opened with a squeak and three people walked in.
They were two men and a woman, all on the older side. They tried to dress plainly, but their demeanor suggested someone of considerable influence.
Gu Yu had released his mental force and interfered with the three people's judgement as soon as they entered the room. After all, those of a high social status might have seen his photo before.
The three people now only saw two ordinary-looking fellows sitting there. The leading man asked, "First-timers?"
"Yes, they are. I can vouch for them. You have my word." The owner smiled obsequiously.
The man nodded and said no more. He then sat down and rested with his eyes closed.
After that, the five waited another half an hour until the sky was dark and the street lamps were on. A black commercial vehicle arrived from afar and slowly came to a stop outside.
At those two sounds, the three were instantly awake and rose to their feet. The owner also produced five Beijing opera masks and handed them over. "Time to go. Good luck!"
Gu Yu casually picked up a painted-face mask, which reminded him of four years ago when he and Xiaozhai played Bonnie and Clyde. He couldn't help but snicker.
He winced a little when he turned to look at Xiaojin. Maybe the sisters had similar taste, for she had also chosen the mask of a clown. Holding him loosely by his arm, she said, "Let's go!"