"Watch out! Watch out!"
"Shut the doors and windows and stay down! Cover your heads! Take cover in the seats!"
"Zap! Zap! Zap!"
It was a hubbub of crying, chaotic screams, beast squeaking, gunshots, as well as the bone-chilling noise of claws scratching the metal shell of the vehicles… together, it sounded as if a giant chest had fallen from the sky and crushed open its lid, releasing all the sounds of the world.
The long-distance bus had just made its way into Guizhou Province and was not yet out of the luxuriant mountains when it was caught in a tide of beasts.
Yes, it was a tide made of a type of animals. They were about half a meter in length with a half-meter long tail, had grayish yellow fur with brown stripes on their back, and a tapered head, giving them a weasel-ish look.
Many might not have seen such an animal before. It was Viverricula indica, or commonly known as small Indian civet. It used to be an endangered species, but the population had grown back after the highly encouraged artificial breeding in the country.
The animal was of great economic value. On its perineum just below its anus was a pouch-like scent gland that had a closable opening, which secreted oil thick as honey.
That was the so-called civet oil, which was said to be one of the four major animal fragrances alongside musk, castoreum, and ambergris.
Gu Yu knew a little bit about this animal. Civet oil was not commonly adopted in oriental incense, but was mainly used in the traditional medicine to repel foulness, promote the circulation of Qi, relieve pain, ease sudden pain in the heart and stomach, etc.
Well, ok, this was probably not the best time to talk about such things.
"Help… sob… mum!"
Night was just setting in. On this major section—one that all vehicles had to use to get to the neighboring province—nearly a hundred vehicles were surrounded by the herd of civets. All headlights were switched on in the dimness, under which all vehicles seemed to be crawling with grayish-yellow maggots, which had very big eyes and were squirming.
Even the adults were frightened out of their wits, let alone the kids—who were convulsing with fear.
The police had long arrived at the scene and were doing their best to scatter the animals holding shields and electric prods. Their last resort was to shoot into the air, trying to scare them off.
"What the hell is going on? There was no warning of hazard on this section of the road!"
"I heard a breeding base had a breakout and the owners were all killed!"
"Sh*t! There are a lot of breeding farms in the area. There must be tens of thousands of them… watch out! Over there! There!"
"Zap… ow, ow…"
Caressing the bird, Gu Yu raised his head to peek out of the window. The civets were not very effective as far as attacking was concerned. Most of the trucks and buses remained unharmed and about half of the cars were trashed—mostly Japanese and Korean brands, which tended to have thinner shells.
He was still trying to figure out how to save the day when cheers erupted outside.
"Priests! The priests are coming!"
"That's great! I never thought we'd run into Lord Priests out here!"
He walked along the aisle to the front of the bus and looked out. Two priests were getting off a vehicle, both wearing blue robes and both very young.
The two walked to the middle of the road. With one guarding the perimeter, the other one took out a few yellow talismans, which burst into flame all at once.
The talismans shot into mid-air in a whoosh and turned into a big lump of flames, which floated there. A smell seemed to be emanating from the flame, spreading out fast.
Human beings were not affected by the smell, but the civets were tottering and went tipsy as if they were drunk. They soon fell to the ground in a series of thumping sounds.
"Why, there's still a big one!"
"Take it alive! Take it alive!"
They were checking the unconscious animals when they saw a big civet over a meter long was still struggling. One of the priests took out his whisk and knocked it on the head, chuckling. "That's quite a fighter. I wonder how spiritual it is, though. Let's take it back and raise it."
"This is a happy coincidence. Senior Brother has been looking for spiritual animals. This civet will earn us a small reward."
"We'd better hurry, then. Senior Brother will go back to the monastery in a few days."
Gu Yu returned slowly to his seat and found that conversation rather strange. So their sect had a priest up on Tianzhu Mountain, but why were they looking for spiritual animals? Could it be that the monastery has got their hands on some secret treasure? There was the refinement with mental force and now the spiritual animal?
With the help of the two priests, the tumult soon subsided.
The police then busied themselves with dispatching the vehicles and checking the traffic condition. Before long, a police officer boarded the bus. "Please take your rest in the next town ahead. We'll have to record any injuries or damage, eliminating any possibility of contagious diseases. We have arranged accommodations for you all, but passengers travelling on their own may have to share rooms. Sorry about that."
"That's ok. Thank you for everything."
"It's been a tough day for you guys as well. We'll be fine. It's just one night."
The passengers were yet to recover from the fright and could not continue the journey. No one objected.
The fatigued police officer got off in a hurry and went back to direct the traffic, mumbling, "Damn it! Half of the roads nowadays are closed and monsters are everywhere. How am I supposed to do my job?"
Pan Zhou, the town of Saji.
Pan Zhou was under the jurisdiction of Liupanshui and the western entrance of Guizhou Province. It was located at the junction of Diannan, Guizhou, and Guangxi. Saji was a small place. With nearly a hundred vehicles and three to four hundred people rushing into the town, nearly every hotel was filled to the brim.
Gu Yu did not live in the hotel arranged by the police, but paid for a suite to stay the night.
As soon as he got into the room, he set up a confinement and let out the little bird. The white jade bird had been shut up in a tiny place for the past few hours and was now flying all over the room looking very grumpy.
After much chirping—which Gu Yu had ignored completely—the bird landed on the windowsill. It was indeed a very pretty bird, especially those expressive, bright black eyes.
Gu Yu opened his bag and took out a civet secretively—he had picked it up in passing. He couldn't help it—the occupational habit of an incense maker. He had played with plenty of plant-derived incense material before, but never an animal one, which intrigued him greatly.
Because of the unknown method that priest used, the civet remained unconscious. Gu Yu put it on the table and began his work.
He lifted the long tail, revealing the two balls and a rod, between which was a kidney-shaped scent gland. He then gently forced the gland open and saw that the inside looked like an apple sliced open. It was covered with soft white hair, had two shallow ridges, papillations, and a lot of holes too tiny for naked eyes to see.
On either side on the upper part of the gland was a bigger hole and the oil was inside. The normal extraction process would involve squeezing the oil out of those holes.
Gu Yu took out a glass bottle and activated the Small Moving Technique. A pale-yellow sticky substance instantly appeared in the bottle. He sniffed at it. It was rather elegant and not intense at all. With a closer inspection, he could sense something carnal behind that elegance.
Well, that was interesting!
He blinked. No wonder the traditional incense did not like it—that was way too explicit. The westerners loved the style, though.
He pondered on the idea. The civet oil had a weaker scent then the Peach Blossom Incense. With the assistance of some other material to balance the two, he could probably create an incense perfect for "bedtime".
By "perfect", he was picturing a little wine, some intimate talk, she had sexy silk stocking and he had clean socks; the bed was big enough, the foreplay was of the perfect length, followed by the rightly timed coitus and ended with a climax neither too intense nor too weak… everything was just right.
Like Gorky once said (not): men of noble character would fulfil their conjugal duty every five days and there was nothing wrong having fun in the bedroom.
The civet oil changed its appearance very fast. In a moment, it had turned into a half-solid state. Gu Yu put away the bottle, knocked the civet on the head again, and called Xiao Qiu.
Xiaozhai was still cultivating in seclusion and was doing great. If everything went as planned, by the time he got back to Phoenix Mountain, she would reach the passionless state in Water Thunder. Xiaojin was still halfway through her journey and no accident had happened so far.
It was supposed to be that way. The fame of Phoenix Mountain meant something to a lot of people throughout the country and even if someone decided to ignore that fame, Xiaojin would make sure they wouldn't.
He hung up after a while and lay in bed playing with his phone.
He was going to flip through some weibo posts, but got stuck logging in. After much maneuvering, he finally opened the page and saw that it was caused by the sudden inflow of visitors attracted by the announcement of a young actor's love affair.
He was not interested in the entertainment news at all. They all sounded too fake.
Movie stars could pretend to be going out for months to promote a new film, while an ordinary man pretending to be a couple with a female "physical therapist" would get arrested. That couldn't be right, no?
"Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce my bird 1 ."
He suddenly pointed at the windowsill. Hm, that sounded just about right!
"Knock, knock, knock!"
While Gu Yu was enjoying his silly moment, there was a knock at the door. He went to answer it and saw a police officer outside.
The officer winced as soon as he saw Gu Yu's face and his tone turned extra cautious. "Hello, I'm the police officer of this town. Are you one of the passengers coming off that road?"
"There are just a couple of questions we need to ask. Were you injured in any way, or were any of your belongings damaged?"
"Ok, thank you for your cooperation."
The police officer could feel sweat trickling down his neck. He was checking the hotel registration and read the name of His Majesty. He did not believe it then, but when he saw the man, wow! It was quite amazing, though, to see an immortal playing with his phone just like everyone else.
Of course, he dared not reveal any of these thoughts. He was about to leave when Gu Yu said, "Could you wait a minute, please? I'm gonna need a small favor."
"I picked up this civet on the road. Would you please send it back?"
"Of course!" the police officer replied solemnly.
"Are you from around here?"
"Yes, born and raised in Pan Zhou."
"Are there any famous tourist destinations or temples nearby? I'd like to have a look."
The officer gave it a thought and said, "The most famous places of interest are Danxia Mountain and the Great Cave. There is a Huguo 2 Temple up on the mountain. The Great Cave is a site of Paleolithic ruins. The old town of Pan Zhou has quite a few temples. There are Chenghuang Temple, Temple of God of Wealth, and Nanji Temple, for instance. But most of them are in a bad shape."
"Anything else? I'm not really a big fan of the really famous ones. Something less popular, preferably."
"There is a Dushan Temple in Dushan County, a Wanshou Palace in Jinsha, and a Black God Temple in Zhijin." The officer indeed knew the place well.
"Black God Temple? Which god is it worshipping?" Gu Yu was a little surprised by the name.
"Well, some say it is Meng Huo, others say it's some famous general. I'm really not sure."
"No problem, thanks."
After the police officer left, Gu Yu searched for the temple online. It was his first time hearing the name Black God and he was intrigued. According to the results of his search, Black God was a god worshipped with sacrifices peculiar to Guizhou Province.
One theory said it was the barbarian king Meng Huo—the same one caught and released seven times by Zhuge Liang. Legend had it that he had the ability to summon wind, so in some temples, the Black God would hold a sphere in his hand, which was a divine object to summon wind.
Others suggested that it was Nan Jiyun, a general of the Tang Dynasty. During the An Lushan Rebellion, Zhang Xun led the army to suppress the revolt and Nan Jiyun was Zhang Xun's right hand man. The army was later defeated and Nan Jiyun died in the battle.
Nan Jiyun was from Guizhou, where the habit of worshipping with sacrifices was a common practice. The so-called Black God was a name used by the common folk. During the Qing Dynasty, the government carried out a mass migration of the people of Guizhou, who then took this practice with them.
The alternative name of Guizhou was Qian, which meant "black", hence Nan Jiyun was called Black God.
With the date of the Longhu Mountain duel announced—which was 13th of next month—there was plenty of time left for Gu Yu. He decided to take the time to wander around a bit to see the changes.
When he heard this name, it was only natural that he should take a look.TL/N: "bird" is a slang for the male organ. TL/N: meaning "protect the country"