"Hey, mate, which society are you from? I know all the cosplayers in Yueyang, why haven't I ever met you?
"Check out my whisk. I made it myself. Nice, isn't it? I went out to get a few hundred horsetail hair for this.
"Hey, what's in your box? Can we have a look?"
Bai Yu was a chatterbox never switching off. Gu Yu darted him a look and said half-jokingly, "It's a sword."
"Tsk, dude, whom are you kidding here? Even plastic toy swords are not allowed on board these days." One of Bai Yu's friends snorted.
"Exactly. I'll eat that box of yours if there's really a sword inside," said another friend.
Gu Yu pursed his lips. 'I'd really like to see you eating that—let me get you a cappuccino to wash it down!'
They chatted on as the bus left Yueyang and headed for Yingtan. A while later, the bus stopped when they just entered Jiangxi Province. Vehicles had lined up behind a check point for inspection.
The passengers complained a little, but still waited in patience. After all, with so many people rushing into one place, safety was the top priority.
About forty minutes passed when it was finally this bus's turn. Two police officers got on board, saying, "Thank you for your cooperation. ID, please. You don't have to open your luggage. We'll scan them directly."
One was checking the ID cards while the other one went around waving the scanner. They were soon at Gu Yu's seat. His box was way too conspicuous and the two officers had been eyeing it for a while. The scanner swept across it and the alarm began to beep.
The police officers changed color and were combat-ready. "What's in that box? Take it down!"
"There you go!"
Gu Yu handed out his ID and remained seated.
"I asked what's in the box? Open it! Or we'll open it for you!"
The police officer was on his guard for all possible danger with a hand on his holster. Just then, his colleague finished scanning the ID card and his face suddenly looked funny. He then patted his gun-reaching friend hard on the shoulder.
"We're done here!"
"No, he hasn't…"
"Nope, it's all fine! Time to go!"
They left without checking the rest of the passengers. Everyone was utterly baffled and turned to look at a certain fellow.
Bai Yu blinked. Only then did panic ran through him, immediately replaced by an even more intense excitement. It had to be his lucky day. This man was definitely a disciple of some thousand-year-old well-known family and was out to see the world. That had to be it!
As for exactly who that young man was, everyone was curious, but no one dared to ask. The bus was filled with a strange silence.
The bus wobbled on for another while. As they drove closer to Yingtan, the traffic was also getting heavier. They slowed down, only moving forward every other while.
They were surrounded by noise on all sides. Every now and then, there would come a honk. Instead of becoming restless under such atmosphere, the passengers were overwhelmed by all the jitters and anticipation.
As the bus passed the toll-gate of Yingtan and turned into the main road, someone shouted in surprise.
Gu Yu turned around and saw a black shadow dashing forward from behind at an unbelievable speed. Each leap would take it a few meters high and over ten meters far. Even those container trucks would only take it one jump. It moved smoothly through the traffic like so.
What was stranger was that a man, who had pale skin, dark hair, and a gloomy face, was crouching on the back of that shadow.
Youngster Li was here as well!
Watching the man and the corpse dashing away, Gu Yu looked sorry. Because of the limitation of Li Suchun's cultivation level, the iron corpse had remained at that level. Without the necessary opportunity, this would be as far as the first mighty soldier among them went.
"Ah, a bird! A big bird!"
"Wow, that's a huge monkey!"
"That priest is so handsome! Puritanical, but HOT!"
"Sh*t! That's got to be a spiritual beast! I'd trade anything to have one of those!"
After entering the city, the bus seemed to have stumbled into a wonderland. Everything seemed out of place and everywhere they turned, they saw something beyond imagination. No one was trying to hide anything and just let them wander around the streets.
With a loud and clear chirp, a big bird with a wingspan of four meters flew low across the sky. It moved nimbly around the buildings and wire poles, then landed by the side of a priest and drew back its wings.
Right after that, a pure white lynx jumped out from behind the priest and struck down at the back of the bird with its shiny sharp claws.
The big bird turned around and smashed down its wings unhurriedly. With a whooshing sound, a gust of wind sent flowers and grass into the air. They exchanged a few blows; then, a red beam arrived at lightning speed, separating the two animals. It was the talisman from another priest.
"So the monastery has sent them all out here to put on a show!"
Gu Yu chuckled. He then turned his eyes to another direction and cried out in a low voice, "Why, he's here as well."
A group of people stood at the street corner ahead of the bus on the right among whom was a priest in his fifties. It was none other than Li Daoyu, that fellow of the Three Yang Sect who had been tricked by Xiaojin's "Great Makeup Skill 1 ".
The man had been taken away by the BIMAUP after that incident and was not heard of ever since. Gu Yu had not expected to see him here.
That was interesting...
When Bai Yu talked about a great martial arts assembly, Gu Yu didn't think much of it. From the look of it now, the government was adding fuel to the fire, deliberately trying to spread the anecdote wide and far.
"It was the year of Ding-You. Autumn was leaving and winter was just arriving when masters young and old gathered on Longhu Mountain, in Yingtan, and western Jiangxi. We were there to participate in a great event. The sky above, over which we let our eyes travel the great scenes and let fancy free, was vast beyond comprehension. How pleasant it was!"
The bus reached the long-distance bus station, and passengers filed out to head for their own destinations. Bai Yu was unloading the luggage with his friends when he spotted their unusual fellow passenger. He called after him in a hurried tone, "Mate… I mean, Boss!"
He ran towards Gu Yu. "Did you book a hotel reservation?"
"Why?! How could you come here without booking a room in advance! All the rooms 50 km from Longhu Mountains are taken. Where are you gonna live?"
"That's ok. It's just one night. I can make do anywhere."
"How about…" Bai Yu shifted his eyes and came up with an idea. "There are only four of us, but we've booked a standard and a triple room because all the others were taken. We have a spare bed; if you don't mind, you can stay with us. Just give us as much as you see fit."
Gu Yu gave it a thought. He had to avoid the people of the monastery and Celestial Master Temple, so he might as well hang out with these guys. "In that case, thanks a lot. I'll pay the room in full… oh, I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm Gu Jiang."
"I'm Bai Yu. Haha, enough with the thanks! We're buddies now!"
The fellow was proud of his success in "luring" the new friend and made a show about it. He then hailed two taxis with his companions, heading right for the hotel.
While they were settling down, Bai Yu could not stay put. He grabbed something to eat and went out to ask about the situation. He then came back with the news that both parties had picked their candidates for this contest within the Way of Celestial Master: Zhang Ziliang from abroad versus the local Zhang Shouyang.
Because of the widespread video of his contribution in catching those ghosts, Zhang Ziliang was a famous man lately. Zhang Shouyang, on the other hand, had been a reclusive cultivator of his temple and not many people had heard of him.
Zhang Ziliang was visiting the temple for the first time today to set the location and rules of the contest, and the curious onlookers were already there. Bai Yu could wait no longer. He then led his friends and hurried towards the temple as well.
At the foot of Longhu Mountain, outside Celestial Master Temple.
The great plaza was cramped with four to five hundred people, who voluntarily left some space out outside the temple gate, as well as a passageway. About an hour later, some sharp-eyed spectator shouted, "He's here! He's here!"
The crowd turned their heads in unison. A young priest with a hooked nose and in a purple ceremonial robe got off an vehicle. It was none other than Zhang Ziliang himself. He walked to the red gate, but did not enter. Instead, he stood there watching the view inside, as if lost in his emotions.
Zhang Jintong hurried near from inside and the two looked into each other's eyes across the threshold. The grievance brewing for three generations surpassed time and space, exploding right there and right then.
It was after quite some time when Zhang Jingtong finally spoke, "Honorable guest, please come in."
"Save your affected civilized words. I am going to enter, but not today. I will stride in as the lawful master after defeating you all!" Zhang Ziliang scanned the yard inside and said grumpily, "Where is Zhang Shouyang? Is that man so arrogant that he would not see me?"
"Shouyang is still on his way here from Tianzhu Mountain. Sorry about his absence."
"Can you speak for him?" Zhang Ziliang said scornfully.
The old priest did not react to that attitude and replied indifferently, "I am the current Celestial Master. Of course I can speak for him."
"Humph!" Zhang Ziliang snorted and blurted out, "We'll set the rules for the contest today. Zhengyi used to focus on Taoist rituals, but now that Taoist skills have come back, we will skip the formalities. Let's forget about the rituals and compete with Taoist skills only. What do you think?"
"I agree!" The old priest nodded.
"We'll settle this with three rounds. The first two are between our disciples and the last is between me and Zhang Shouyang. Agree?"
"Any thoughts on the location?"
"Shangqing Palace is one kilometer to the east. It's an open terrain, ideal for the contest."
"Good. I'll see you there. Goodbye!"
Zhang Ziliang flipped his wide sleeves and left promptly.
Zhang Jintong remained indifferent and unmoved. He looked up at the surrounding crowd and ordered, "Close the gate."
After the gate was shut, the old priest went back to the inner hall, where another man was seated. It was Mu Kun.
He was casually sipping his tea, as if caring not a bit about what was going on outside. He greeted the old priest with a smile. "All set?"
"Three days from now, we'll meet in Shangqing Palace and settle it with three games."
"I see. I wish your sect all the triumph, then!" Mu Kun put down his glass and cupped his hands.
Zhang Jintong smiled wryly inside. He knew perfectly well that the government was behind all this, but he had no power to resist and could only follow the script.
He was a man of the secular world and was pushed onto this position. After welcoming and sending off visitors for all these years, he had obtained a bureaucratic demeanor. He did not let his true thoughts show and only asked respectfully, "Director Mu, any further instructions?"
"Oh, there is one thing." Mu Kun paused a little and said, "I think you're aware of the great change in the world at the moment. Those above are concerned about how to make the general public accept this change in the smoothest and most orderly manner. This event is a great opportunity for that. We think we'd better make it public, so that more people can see the wonders of Taoist skills and be revered by the profound knowledge."
Zhang Jintong was silent for a moment. He had expected this all along and was not surprised. "No problem!"
"Great. We will never forget all the hard work the Celestial Master has done for us. I still have business elsewhere and will delay you no further."
After Mu Kun left, Zhang Jintong sat there dazed for a while. The corner of his mouth twitched suddenly, making a strange face.
'BIMAUP, just wait and see… you are acting as you please without the least concern for Longhu Mountain's feelings. You even went so far as to make a show out of the thousand-year-old Taoist teachings so that the rest of the world could be entertained. What goes around comes around. There will be a day when you have to lower your head!'TL/N: see Chapter 171