"I was used to thinking of my old friends alone, with the good company of the moon. Now that the old friends were visiting me this night, I was so happy that I forgot about the bright moon."
China roses shivered in the chilly night wind as the moon slowly rose above the eastern peak. Gu Yu was still lying on the roof of the library when he chanted an entire poem, which was very rarely for him. He chuckled. "I am no old friend, but I just happen to be here tonight; I'd love to see what is really going on with that moon."
He then turned to look at Bai Yunsheng, who was sitting quietly below the eave. Gu Yu couldn't help but ask, "Priest Bai, do you practice your sword technique daily?"
"Then why aren't you practicing today?"
"I don't feel like it."
"Oh, I see. You're a little shy with all these people around. That's perfectly understandable."
Bai Yunsheng opened his eyes and gave Gu Yu a look saying "You're the most famous cultivator in this country, at least act like it" before closing them back again.
Such a killjoy!
Gu Yu twitched his mouth at Bai Yunsheng's lack of response. He then played with the jade Ruyi in one hand and stroked the bird with the other, waiting for the long night to pass.
They discovered the secret in the couplets that afternoon; it was now a little over eight o'clock at night. Autumn nights were very long in the South and the moon only just began to rise. They still had a long wait ahead before dawn tomorrow.
There was a full moon tonight. It hung in the sky, bright, pure, and impeccable. They were now all gathered in the small Black God Temple and talked among their separate little groups.
"Luckily Fish Mountain is a scenic area and they have included it in the power grid, or we wouldn't even have any electricity."
"I wish they did the same with the water line… Hey, do you have any water left? Gimme some!"
"Watch it. It's scalding hot… there you go!"
Inside the green-glazed-tile preaching hall, the deputy and his five men were chatting casually. The room was pretty much empty and the air had a stale smell. Tonight, this hall looked bleaker than ever.
They had just finished dinner and were now sipping hot water from their vacuum cups. Despite the easiness they showed, they were all jittery inside. Their job was to investigate and collect such intelligence, deeming them experts in judging the situation. The emergence of such abnormal phenomena or treasure almost always portended great danger.
But they had no choice but to stay here. Fleeing from danger in such situations was a dereliction of duty. Not to mention that people tended to put a little too much trust in luck—what if they hit the jackpot by some unbelievable coincidence? They would become the star of the show… moreover, so what if things went south—they still had that guy to count on. He wouldn't just let them die, would he?
While they were putting their thoughts into words in the room, the You brothers were also whispering under the old pomegranate tree a short distance away.
"Brother, let's go. I think this place is very dangerous." You Yu tried to talk his cousin out of it again.
"Tsk, I'd be choking you right now if you weren't my brother!" You Le was frustrated by the younger Yu's lacking ambition and scolded, "Didn't you see what those two masters did? Haven't you heard what they said? It's so obvious there's a good chance of seeing an immortal event for us here and you want to leave?"
"You're always talking about some immortal event, but if they're that easy to get, they wouldn't be that valuable, would they?" You Yu might seem a little dull, but he had his own logic. "Anyway, I don't think I'm the right material to get it."
You Le smacked him and said angrily, "You don't, but I do! The school is turning you into an idiot! Why do you think it'll just fall into your hands if you don't fight for it? Fine, like you said, you don't want it. So don't try to take from me when it comes!"
"No, I won't…" Rubbing the back of his head where You Le just smacked, You Yu replied as such, not having any hope in their outlook tonight.
"Pat, pat, pat!"
"Pat, pat, pat!"
While they were still chatting, there was a pat on the temple gate, which sounded particularly distinctive in the quiet mountain. Someone was shouting, "Open the gate! Open the gate!"
The two brothers were in the front yard and went to answer the door. Good God! As many as over twenty people stood outside, each looking haughtier than the next. One of them asked, "Where are the men from the BIMAUP?"
Before the brothers could answer, the deputy hurried near and frowned at the newcomers. "What's this about?"
"Old Huang, that wasn't very friendly of you!" The man seemed to know the deputy and chuckled. "An event this big and you didn't tell us, that's not very nice."
Deputy Director Huang scanned the crowd and saw that among them were people of the Zhijin County government, backup forces, and quite a few elite and fully-armored soldiers. He said with a stern face right away, "It's not safe here. Please go back."
"Oh my, why so serious? I'm sure you know the virtue of sharing, don't you?" The man was still using his teasing tone.
Old Huang raised his voice suddenly and said sharply, "I'm telling you for the second time: please go back! This is the emergence of an abnormality, not your playground!"
He was no fool. The BIMAUP had to stay here because of their job description, what the hell were these people hanging around for? If anything happened to them, he would be the one taking responsibility.
Seeing that Old Huang refused to offer the due respect, the man felt humiliated and his voice turned stiff. "Old Huang, do I have you remind you back when you—"
"Cut the crap!" Old Huang stopped him in mid-sentence. "Do I have to remind you that under special circumstances, the BIMAUP has the jurisdiction over all local authorities? Do I have to call the director and get you an order from the central government?"
The man went speechless right away. He pointed his fingers at Old Huang, but did not dare to let his temper out. He then led the team back down the mountain like a defeated dog.
Needless to say, the two in the backyard had heard every word of the row. Bai Yunsheng remained meditating with closed eyes and Gu Yu kept stroking his bird. He was no Mother Teresa, nor was he going to pretend to be one.
He had given them the necessary warning and it was their own choice whether to listen to it or not. Everyone was responsible for their own life. Of course, should the danger really fall upon them, he would do his best to save as many as he could, but he wouldn't feel guilty if he couldn't save everyone.
Before they knew it, it was deep into the night.
The moon hung above like a suspending mirror, pouring its light all over the tiny Fish Mountain below. There was no sound coming from the preaching hall—the men were probably all asleep—and the backyard was even quieter.
Bai Yunsheng was an expert sitter—he had been sitting there for hours without so much as moving a muscle. His simple and elegant sword lay across his knees. It had a meter-long blade and a net weight of 3.4 kg; it had been passed down for generations in his sect.
Gu Yu lay on the roof and one could not tell if he was asleep or not.
There was a sudden gust of mountain wind and the branches all began to sway. Gu Yu's eyes shot open. The agitation of the spiritual essence on Fish Mountain surged at that moment, resembling a violently fluctuating brainwave under intense stimulation.
Bai Yunsheng also opened his eyes and looked at the ground. Under the faint light, he could see that the paved ground had turned black. The snakes, bugs, rats and the likes on the mountain were fleeing all together like a squirming black carpet, which rapidly rushed into the woods, rolling down the mountain with a shuffling sound.
"Bugs! So many!"
"Get up! Get up!"
There were screams in the front yard and a shuffling of footsteps. The eight men ran to the backyard together and the deputy asked with a pale face, "Mr. Gu, what's happening?"
"It's about time. There's still time if you want to leave."
This was the first time that the deputy actually considered leaving. Only a few people could stay brave facing the real danger. He hesitated for a moment and told his men, "I'm staying, but you don't have to. If you want to leave, you'll have to hurry."
After a brief moment of silence, three men backed out; two stayed, also planning to give it a shot. Although they weren't exactly sure what they were trying to get out of it. It could be fame, power, riches, or like the two brothers, a chance to see the immortal world.
Those three got off the mountain in a hurry and saw that the group of people from earlier was still waiting down there. Vehicles crowded together with their bright headlights turned on.
Gu Yu was secretly shaking his head, feeling sorry for them. He flipped his sleeve. "Find yourself a safe spot for the time being. Now, go."
The white jade bird flapped its wings and disappeared into the night.
Gu Yu was actually very curious. Over a dozen Taoist priests had come to Fish Mountain for something from Luo Shengxian in the Song Dynasty to Tuo Jichan of the Republic of China era, which led him to believe that this was not an abnormal phenomenon, but some relic like the Seal of Patriarch Sa.
All those people had gone through so much trouble for it, so there had to be some ineffable difficulty behind it. He only wondered what types of relic it would be...
Time crept by like so. The sky turned from a lusterless black to a thick and heavy inky black, then to a bluish black, which was gradually bleached down, becoming thinner and more transparent.
The most obvious change was in the temperature. The coldness that had been accumulating through the night finally integrated into something solid before dawn, which seemed to have formed an invisible cold tent, covering Fish Mountain inside.
"The day is breaking!" Bai Yunsheng said suddenly. The deputy turned to look right away; indeed, a line of pale red was peeking through the eastern horizon.
The pale red was devouring everything at an observable speed like a hungry spirit and the bluish black was growing even thinner. It was chased out if its hiding place until...
Like an ebbing tide that had left behind a dry sandy beach of a thousand miles, or ten thousand flowers were blown off from their branches all at once, when all was clear, a red sun leapt out of the horizon.
Gu Yu jumped down from the roof and Bai Yunsheng rose to his feet. The other five were excited and nervous as they looked around. You Le shouted, "The moon! The moon has not set yet!"
"There! Over there!"
"They're out together! They're out together!"
Gu Yu looked into the distance. The sun was rising from the east, which was also the direction of Brocade City, while the pale moon was also distinctive abovehead—a sphere hanging on the western sky.
The silver light fell right on the top pavilion of the library.
"The sun shines brightly on Brocade City; the moon softly lights up the library!"
He was filled with excitement; he almost could not wait. 'Now, now, show me the magic of the ancient masters!'
He winced right after that, for the agitated spiritual essence had suddenly stopped moving. There was not a slightest movement in the air, as if time had frozen.
The next second, all color drained from Gu Yu's face, for he was sure of what he felt: right here, in this backyard, a power was gushing forth!
Before the others could react, they heard a rumbling sound coming from the southeast and heading towards the northwest. The ground then tumbled and the roofs collapsed, making snapping noises.
Shortly after that, there was another few rumbling sounds.
The loud bangs did not stop there. The main hall and the library began to shake violently and the tiles were falling down. The men of the BIMAUP and the You Brothers turned pale with fear and abandoned their earlier decisiveness. They scrambled towards the front yard, but, a few steps into that direction, they saw that the ten-meter-tall main hall crumbled to the ground like a pile of building blocks knocked over by a naughty child.
Meanwhile, the entire Fish Mountain began to shake. The sky seemed to have darkened and everything was falling apart.
Big rocks rolled down the mountain from the three side peaks and smashed into the river, giving birth to waves over ten meters high. The village not far away woke up to the sounds of stirring chickens and dogs and villagers of all ages ran out of their houses half dressed. Everyone was screaming.
The deputy was running among the ruins when he suddenly let out a scream. The ground sank in and he lost his footing. Only half of his 180-cm body was above ground now and the other half had sank into the hole.
The two-story library could not withstand such power and split into half with a crunching sound. The ground gaped open and devoured it whole like a giant beast.
Centering around that hole, the shaking spread out in aggravating circles. The stone-paved ground of the backyard broke and sank like ragged cloth and was torn into pieces with snapping sounds.
That opening on the ground grew several times bigger in an instant and was still frantically trying to take up more space. One of the stone peaks could not withstand the power and snapped halfway. A giant rock over ten meters high smashed down into the yard.
The deputy was scared out of his wits. He was falling down with a rock smashing towards him. There was nowhere to dodge.
Just then, Bai Yunsheng jumped out and drew out his sword, which stuck into the mountain wall like cutting into a piece of tofu. He then scooped the deputy up with his left hand and tossed him up.
Before the deputy reached the ground, one of his men also fell down. Bai Yunsheng kicked the rock with the tip of his foot, drew out the sword, swerved… "Pop", the sword cut into the rock again and the man was tossed up just like his deputy.
The You Brothers were some distance away, but the disaster had gotten to them as well. They were now both falling.
You Yu's head turned blank. All his pores had opened at such intense stimulation and the cold wind gushed in and rampaged inside his body. He thought this had to be what hell felt like.
He shut his eyes, ready to be smashed into a pulp.
However, the next second, he stopped falling. Instead, he was slowly drifting upwards. Opening his eyes, he saw that he had been lifted with a cloud of mist and was now moving swiftly towards a safe spot.
These few were the lucky ones. The other man from the BIMAUP did not even get a chance to be rescued. He dropped into a hole on the ground right away and was crushed between two fallen rocks, turning into a pile of bloody meat instantly.
"Switching into shadows!"
Bai Yunsheng stared at that cloud of mist in astonishment, but with his energy running out, he didn't have time to give it too much thought. He leapt up with all his strength and dashed forward as soon as his feet touched the ground.
The ground right behind his heels collapsed at that instant.
The shaking of Fish Mountain continued. Those waiting under the mountain were screaming and crying their eyes out. Some were knocked down by rocks, some washed away by the river, and some devoured by the gaping ground. The vehicles were mostly damaged and there was a lot of casualties.
"Ouch, ouch… sh*t! I'm alive! I'm alive! Hahaha!"
You Le was tossed to the ground. He was dazed for a second, but began to shout and cheer right away. It was hard to tell if he was crying or laughing. He was also shaking You Yu, who still sat there with a blank face—he had yet to recover from the remarkable experience earlier.
In a moment, he shuddered and began to search with his eyes, then finally fixed his gaze on that collapsed side peak.
The cloud of mist twirled around the top of the peak and slowly turned into a man, whose manner reminded one of the bright moon over the sea—however the waves and clouds rose and fell, he would just watch from above.
Gu Yu kept his face calm as water. With the collapse of Fish Mountain, the library had sunk into the underground cave and the ancient and elegant Black God Temple was destroyed in the blink of an eye. Only a small section of the front yard remained intact and the rest of the ground had caved in with no buildings to be found, revealing a giant gaping hole.
It was another few minutes before this sudden shaking finally stopped and all was quiet again.
Looking down from above, he saw a beam of blue light gushing out of an underground cave, shooting all the way into the clouds. When the light faded, he was able to see the cave clearly, and it astounded him.
The cave had taken the shape of a giant golden toad, which seemed to be crouching inside the mountain with a gaping mouth, threatening to devour heaven and earth. Inside the mouth of that toad were three pools, reflecting the pale moon on the western sky.
Alongside the Mountains of Dayou and Xiaoyu and together with the Toad Cave, the knowledge stored in the three mountains was like the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon of West Lake!