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The ability the old priest exhibited had amazed everyone. The flower pot was quite heavy, not to mention that it had fallen down quite rapidly and unexpectedly. Yet with a casual swing of his frock sleeve, the pot flew back to the second floor.

He Tian, who had barely escaped the fate of ending up with his skull cracked open, was busy staring with his mouth open, thus he did not even have time to feel scared. Both He Zun and Li Yan were visibly moved, for they had witnessed the whole process and knew with absolute clarity that what the old priest performed was no party trick, but solid skill instead.

"Aiya!"

Wang Yao’s reaction was the most exaggerated. He had always believed in the old priest and was even more completely convinced after this, going as far as to change his way of addressing him. "Old Immortal, what you demonstrated just now…"

"I was only utilizing the inner essence…" The old priest did not want to go into details on that subject. He walked across the courtyard and stopped at the front gate. "I’ll bid you all farewell here. Please go back."



"All right, we’ll visit you some other day, then. If you need anything, please let us know and we absolutely will comply with your request."

They exchanged some more pleasantries before the old priest got into the vehicle and headed towards Taiqing Temple in downtown Shengtian.

He Zun went back inside and scolded the maid harshly for her carelessness. He then called He Tian over and said, "As you have seen, the priest was indeed a capable man. Work with him! Don’t act like a spoiled kid!"

"I know. It’s nothing but a manhunt, no?" He Tian slouched on the sofa and replied in an unimpressed tone. However, he was actually taking the whole thing very seriously now. "Everyone going to that exhibition are a suspect. Just check them one by one."

"Don’t be so goddamn stupid!" He Zun blurted out a rebuke. "What do you think our He family is? I've already done that; however, if we do it again, it may bring us some trouble… Old Han!"

He summoned his subordinate to fetch him a file and tossed it to He Tian. "See it for yourself!"

He Tian picked it up and found it to be a few pages worth of names, all of which were guests at the agarwood exhibition that day. Nearly half of the names had been marked, indicating those people had had contact with him.

"Old Wang, Fat Hu, Old Chen… I don’t even have to think. I’ve definitely touched their hands."

He started off with a few people that he knew well and went on from there. "Tang Zheng, Zhang Lei, Tang Hui, Xiao Shan… I’ve also shaken hands with them."

As a matter of fact, he knew most of the people attending that exhibition, which meant he had to exchange pleasantries with them. However, He Tian was used to having things his way and would sometimes pick on someone for no obvious reason, so he could not say for sure either.

After confirming a dozen of guests, he moved down the list. "Zeng Yuewei…"

'Tsk!'

He clenched his fists because of his mixed feelings towards that woman. For one thing, he regretted that he did not sleep with her before he became impotent. For another, that fact had filled him with anger and shame; he was almost burning with a frenzy of rage.

"She was with me the longest that day…" With that comment, He Tian glanced at the last three names on the list. He frowned, "Jiang Xiaozhai? Panpan? Can’t remember those two… Gu Yu, f**k!"

He smacked the file onto the floor and yelled, "That fellow was damn lucky that day. He’s doomed! Mark my words!"

"Don’t make any more trouble now. Focus on the most important thing!"

He Zun did not like the disposition of his son at all. However, there was nothing he could do about it. After all, that was his own flesh and blood. He picked up the file and asked, "Did those three have physical contact with you?"

"I don’t think so."

"You don’t think so?"

"I didn’t. I couldn’t be bothered to shake their hands."

He Zun nodded and did not pose any further questions. He seemed to have come up with some idea as he called Old Han over and gave him a brief instruction. He suddenly asked, "Are you staying here tonight or going back?"

"I’m going back, of course. It’s so boring here."

He Tian stood up and took his car keys. Waving them in his hand, he said, "Well, I’m off."

With that, he walked out in that dilly-dally manner of his. He Zun also habitually concealed that little bit of emotion he exhibited and resumed his usual big shot attitude.

That night, Taiqing Temple.

The temple was located in the busy city center and its ownership was equally divided between the government and the religious institution. The time when this temple was a place for Taoist followers to lead a life of few wants and ambitions was long gone now. The modern facilities and luxurious guest rooms for layman practitioners alone were evidence enough to show the general atmosphere here.

Inside a room of quietness, Priest Mo was sitting cross-legged with closed eyes. After rushing about for the whole day, he remained calm and placid without any sign of fatigue. He felt slightly out of place, though, for this room was way too flamboyant. [1]

The wooden table was made of red sandalwood and he could smell the finest benzoin in the air. Even the rush cushion he sat on was made from the slow-rebound material. ‘Come on! That’s a cushion to sit on, not a pillow. Do one’s buttocks need that much care?’

Wuliang Temple also ran a business, but the pure rooms there were simple and plain. They were specifically used for practicing Taoism.

Priest Mo could not help it. If he was simply an ascetic Taoist in the remote mountains, he could live his life any way he wanted. However, if misfortune struck him and the government just happened to like the mountain he lived on and wanted to turn it into a tourist area… well, that was it!

First of all, he had to complete all formalities--Religious Administration, Land and Resources Bureau, Taoist Association... you name it. Then there was the requirement of his all-out cooperation with the government; with a mountain, there should be a temple and with a temple, a capable person was needed to run it, so that tourists could be attracted there and increase the income.

The old priest did not care for the worldly affairs, yet he was still living his mortal life. How could he detach himself from it? As a result, he had to put up with a money-stink-filled Wuliang Temple while carelessly explaining the praying sticks for the local tycoons and keeping on practicing Taoism on the side.

Of course, he was unwilling to part with the status and fame it had brought him. However, in times like this, he should be considered as someone with a steadfast Taoist belief.

"Knock, knock! Knock, knock!"

While he was sitting in meditation, someone knocked on his door. The old priest woke up from his meditation and frowned slightly. "What is it?"

"Priest Mo, our abbot invites you over. He wants to share some experiences with you."

"It’s late now. I’m going to bed."

"Well, in that case, I will leave you to your rest."

After the person outside left, the old priest sighed to himself in resignation. He had met the abbot of this temple once during a Taoist symposium. The man had no talent whatsoever and cared for nothing but currying favor from bigwigs and grabbing more money.

He despised that man, yet he was well aware of the fact that his behavior was a common phenomenon nowadays.

Having been interrupted, the old priest was not in the mood to continue his meditation. He stood up and walked to the window. Looking out, he could see a bright moon hanging high in the clear night sky. A small garden was outside his window and the moon had cast a silver glow on all flowers, grass and leaves.

It was the height of summer and mosquitoes were flying around in clouds. A mosquito was loitering around the screen window right now. It would fly or land here and there, making a faint buzzing sound.

The old priest had stood there for quite some time. One could not tell if he was watching the moon or the garden. Suddenly, he bent his fingers and flicked forward.

"Bang!"

Across the screen window, the mosquito was knocked away with a thud. It rolled around in the air but did not fall down. It was only after a few seconds that the mosquito finally smashed to the ground.

That flick of his finger was a perfect utilization of the force of his Qi. The way he mastered it reminded one of the martial arts experts depicted in wuxia novels.

Of course, what he used was not the internal force, but purely the Taoist method of nourishing one’s Qi.

Old Priest Mo was an apprentice of the Southern Sect of Quanzhen and the branch he belonged to was established by Bai Yuchan, whose Taoist monastic name was Patriarch Zixu. The Five Patriarchs of the Southern Sect differed in their ideology, but in general, their ideas were alike, all focusing on coordinating spiritual and physical life as well as cultivating the truth by utilizing the illusory world so as to obtain the Great Elixir. [2]

The spiritual life depended on one’s spirit, while the physical life depended on one’s essence and Qi.

Taoist practitioners cultivated in Three Treasures, also known as Three Jewels. The inferior method worked on the ordinary spirit, Qi and essence, which made it an acquired exercise. The superior method worked on the primordial spirit, Qi and essence, giving the exercise a congenital quality.

The approach the Southern Sect adopted was to start from the acquired, working one’s way towards the innate and from intentional action to action with no intention, which would lead one to the path of obtaining the Great Elixir.

This method was extremely demanding on its disciples as they could not have any leakage in their essence, Qi or spirit. Old Priest Mo had been following his teacher ever since he was little and had remained a virgin till this day. His initial success did not come until he hit seventy, which helped him to recuperate his appearance and physical health, as well as achieve longevity.

Hence the impression of He Zun and others, who thought he had the eyes of a young child, which had an implicit brightness to them.

According to ancient texts, all of the Five Patriarchs had lived for several hundred years until they ascended to heaven and became immortals. Zhang Boduan, the first patriarch, was even said to have taken lessons from immortals such as Chen Tuan and Liu Haichan. [3]

These types of records were called myths.

However, Old Priest Mo believed every word of it and had spent decades practicing it himself. He had reached his limit and would not see any improvement for the rest of his life, let alone obtaining the congenital Qi.

Taoism seemed to be flourishing right now, but it was only in the form of receiving more material worship. He traveled all over China when he was young and had made acquaintance with nearly everyone in the Taoist circle. However, among all those people, less than one in ten thousand had made a successful entrance into the cultivation world.

He had never expected to run into one in this incident. Judging from the affected area, the person’s approach was none other than damaging the meridians with his inner Qi. As they would say in the street, to achieve such an impact, the person must be a supreme expert.

Unfortunately, little did he know that that fellow was nowhere near an expert, but a pretentious single guy who liked to hide his passion inside.

[1] ED/N: Room of quietness... the literal translation is actually "calm" room, but it's probably one of those special names that already has a not-quite-literally translation to English established, or whose name isn't a literal one (like skyscrapers do not actually touch the sky yet whose name indicates so). It's clearly used as a name afterwards, which makes "calm" unfitting, though. Anyway, just think of it as a fancy (or not) room where priests practice.

[2] ED/N: Great Elixir, literally Great Dan. Probably related to golden dan; I surmise it's something like a final cultivation realm before ascension according to the original Neidan stuff, or some other key realm.

[3] TL/N: Chen Tuan was a Taoist sage also known as the "Sleeping Immortal"; Liu Haichan was also known as Liu Hai (刘海), or Haichanzi (海蟾子), "Master Sea-Toad", who was a Daoist immortal.

[4] ED/N: Also, if anyone felt it strange that they obsessed over "heavy pot" but didn't notice the maid (she fell down indeed), try to think of the mentality of those characters: they're high and mighty big fishes, what do they care about some pleb? Plus, the pot was about to fall down on the head of one of them, who is 1000 times more important in their eyes. Hence, I don't know if it's a small clumsiness on the part of author, or if the author is being sneaky like that (in literature, many things are not being mentioned FOR A REASON, so it's hard to say which is it)... I just ask you not to pass it off as the former without any second thought.

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