After all, the collapse of Fish Mountain was not an earthquake.
The village nearby was the only one affected; a few houses fell apart and some livestock was injured. People in the county town of Zhijin only heard some very loud noises, but did not feel any detectable tremors.
Even so, it was enough to disturb the residents of the town. They barely survived the bird outbreak that morning and now this rumbling sound in the middle of the night? Everyone was running out of their rooms—that included naked couples of every combination of sexes. All hell broke loose again.
The group of people waiting at the foot of the mountain had taken some major casualties. They were there hoping for some freeloading, but the dream was crushed by all the falling stones. Before they had any time to complain about it, they were rushing back to town to prevent any possible disturbance caused by the incident.
As for those up on the mountain, the surviving five had yet to calm their nerves when they were shocked again by what they were seeing now.
"It, it is…"
Lips quivering, Deputy Director Huang crawled to the edge of the platform they were on and stuck out his head to look down into the pit where the ground had caved in.
He couldn't see the golden toad cave from his angle and only saw a seemingly bottomless underground cave. However, it was not pitch dark. Instead, a glittering green light filled the cave. At the bottom of the cave were three pools.
He couldn't figure out what it was all about. Raising his head, he shouted, "Mr. Gu, how about coming down here to enlighten your mortal friends a little?"
Gu Yu jumped off the rock peak and floated down as light as a kite. When he was about to reach the ground, the ruins beneath him disappeared suddenly and several stone stairs erupted for his landing.
The deputy went up to him in a hurry and asked, "Mr. Gu, what on earth is happening?"
Gu Yu did not answer that, but only smiled at Bai Yunsheng. "Priest, what do you think?"
"It looks like a formation," said Bai Yunsheng with a solemn face.
"That's exactly what I'm thinking. Some ancient masters might have set up this formation in Fish Mountain ages ago; we just happen to be here at the right time. The spiritual essence is surging here—maybe not as intense as a node, but compare to everywhere else, it is… hm?"
He paused all of a sudden, for a light shiver was coming from the jade Ruyi in his chest pocket. He took it out and saw that the strange symbol on the handle was glowing, then its energy changed as well.
Before, it was only an exquisite plaything, but now that the toad cave was revealed, the Ruyi was showing its corresponding real self. An idea came to Gu Yu and he carefully sent in a streak of mental force.
As soon as it made contact with the jade Ruyi, waves of information began to rush into his head.
Youxian County was Youxian Town in the ancient times. To the west of the town was a mountain, and on the mountain was Youxian Sect, which got its name from the town itself. It was not a large sect, but it had a rather special status, for it was one of the branches of the Sword Immortal Sect of Sichuan.
The information in the Ruyi was quite vague on the history of the sect. It could be because of enemies, apocalyptic disasters, or some future opportunity they had foreseen… in the Song Dynasty, master Luo Shengxian of the sect started to travel all over the country to search for a new place to store their inheritance.
After much searching, he found Fish Mountain. He then asked some fellow Taoists who were experts in formations to set up this Sky-swallowing Golden Toad Formation in Fish Mountain.
From then, disciples of every generation would visit Fish Mountain, where they would either do some maintenance work, or add in some records on their own understanding of the teachings. This went on until the end of the Ming Dynasty; the last priest leaving a note was called Li Xianming. Nothing had been added after that.
Gu Yu knew why that had happened: the spiritual essence completely dried up by the end of the Ming Dynasty. There weren't any men of the innate state, let alone Taoist masters. It was only natural that they couldn't activate the Ruyi.
Tuo Jichan was probably the last disciple of the Youxian Sect, which was why he inscribed the poem on the Ruyi and took it to the grave with him.
Speaking of the Sky-swallowing Golden Toad Formation, it required no compass or flag, but could be operated solely by the positions of the sun and the moon and the change of the spiritual essence in a year with a little help from the energy of Fish Mountain itself.
The formation later went into dormancy after the spiritual essence declined. Now that the spiritual essence had recovered for nearly a decade, the density had finally reached the level required to activate it again. Adding to that was the sun and the moon appearing together, and the formation finally made itself seen again.
You Le's head was still bandaged. His face was covered in dirt and his clothes all tattered. Seeing that Gu Yu did not speak for a while, he asked gingerly, "Have you found something?"
"Oh, don't worry." Gu Yu skipped the details and only said briefly, "This is a Sky-swallowing Golden Toad Formation. I don't know how safe or unsafe it is. And… there really is a treasure down there."
Sky, Sky-swallowing Formation?
Apparently, the second announcement was much more attractive than the first one. Seeking benefit was human nature, even in danger. Gu Yu could have told them there was no treasure involved, but who was going to believe him?
"Haha, what did I tell you? I knew it!" You Le was exultant. Shaking his brother repeatedly, he cried out, "This is our fate! Our godsend opportunity!"
To be honest, despite hanging out with his cousin for over ten years, You Yu had never felt more eager to stay away from You Le like he did now. He sighed inside and did not respond to You Le's cheering.
The deputy was exhilarated as well. "Mr. Gu, since there is a treasure, we need to figure out how to take it out!"
"No, you do your job. I'm on my own."
Gu Yu waved his hand, making it clear of where he stood.
He was not in a rush at all. A formation powerful enough to protect the inheritance of a sect could not be that easy to break. The current Taoist community had little understanding on formations and there was nothing about the subject on the remaining classics. Going in recklessly would be suicidal.
He stood alone on one side and examined the cave carefully. Bai Yunsheng suddenly came up to him, whispering, "Actually, I know about this sect."
"Hm?" Bai Yunsheng winced.
"An idea came across your mind when you saw this Ruyi. You obviously recognized that symbol," said Gu Yu.
Bai Yunsheng fell silent and only spoke again after a while. "Is that what innate… mental force can do?"
"That's only the tip of an iceberg."
The young priest tightened his lips as a look of eagerness and persistence flickered in his eyes, which then was extinguished as if it had never been there. "The Immortal Cave indeed moved here from Sichuan; the ancient books of my sect have mentioned the Youxian Sect in passing. All I know is that they were cultivating from a peculiar approach. They didn't practice any methods, skills, or techniques, but focused on the types of swords alone. That's all I can tell you."
Gu Yu was genuinely surprised by his helpfulness. "Thank you for telling me all that. That was very helpful."
While they two were talking, the other four busied themselves with their own things as well. The phone line was down from the landslide just then and there was no reception. Deputy Director Huang stayed behind himself, and his man went down the mountain to report as well as to ask for backup.
You Le was over the moon. His head was now taken over by adrenaline and irrational ideas. Strolling at the edge of the cave, he babbled, "Haha, treasure, treasure… I have rendered a good service to Mr. Gu and of course he will cut me in… the sky-swallowing golden toad, let's see how you're going to swallow this?"
He halted abruptly, picked up a stone the size of a basketball, and with a deranged look on his face, he hurtled it down.
"Gosh, what are you doing?"
The deputy was not in time to stop him. Shouting, he could only watch the stone falling in. Gu Yu and Bai Yunsheng heard the noise as well and both looked down in a hurry.
The stone fell down quickly, ripping through the flickering green light emanating from the cave wall.
The pools were about sixty or seventy meters down from the ground level; the stone was falling for ten meters… twenty… thirty… halfway down the cave, the stone disappeared without warning.
It was as if the golden toad had swallowed it whole.