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[ED/N: There are many (sometimes long) footnotes for this chapter, but they mostly describe stuff like historical characters, their works, idioms and so on, thus they can be skipped. Only number 4 and 5 are of some major importance].

After the priest withdrew, Li Yan and He Zun went in, leaving Uncle Han outside to guard the door.

The abode was used purely for meditative purposes and did not have a single chair. The two ended up sitting awkwardly on rush cushions. The old priest was right across them, sitting ramrod straight and as firm as Mount Tai, with an imposing manner that demonstrated his character. [1]

"Priest Mo has been living here for a few days now, how’s everything?" Li Yan asked.

"Hoho, you've come here at this hour of the night, so I presume you’ve discovered something?" The old priest did not answer him, but threw a question back instead.

"Nothing can hide from your eyes…" He Zun took out the remaining incense pill and passed it to him. "Please have a look at this."

Holding the pill in his palm, the old priest sniffed at it first, then felt it between his fingers. Taoist temples also used incense for religious purposes and would stock large quantities of incense sticks and burning incense. Priest Mo would usually participate in incense-making himself and could be counted an expert.

He found the incense rather unusual at the first glance. The pill was mellow and full with a firm texture. There were no hollows or pores in it. No man-made marks could be found on the little ball and it almost looked as if it was formed naturally. He stood up at once, walked to the wooden table on one side, cleaned away the benzoin that was still burning and replaced it with the incense pill.

He did not use the indirect burning method. As the pill was heated, a faint smoke coiled up in the air.

It would take a short time for the incense to start working. A minute or so later, all three of them smelled something pure and relaxing which seemed to dispel the cloudiness in their heads and lift their spirits instantaneously.


The old priest took a deep breath and his countenance changed slightly, as if he was unsure of something. He breathed in for another couple of times and returned to his rush cushion, starting to meditate with closed eyes.

The other two exchanged looks in confusion, but dared not disturb the old priest and could only wait in embarrassment.

Silence fell over the room. The only sound remaining was that of long and vigorous breathing, whose rhythm seemed to create a slight sucking effect that drew the fleeting smoke closer. The face of the old priest somehow turned blurry behind the smoke.

Quite some time had passed before he opened his eyes and asked in a somewhat eager tone, "Where did you get this incense?"

"From one of the targets. Her friend gave it to her."

"Can this friend be found?"

"I think so…" He Zun paused, but could not hold back his query. "Priest, is there any problem with this incense?"

"Yes, a big one, but I’m not at liberty to tell you in detail."

‘Excuse me?!’

He Zun was not very happy with that answer. Seeing that, the old priest simply gave him a direct explanation. "Mr. He, I was only here because of the unusual medical conditions of your sons, which have aroused my curiosity. I did not make any promise, nor am I a member of your goon squad. If you do find this incense maker, whether he did things to your sons or not, I will pay him a visit. As for your grudges against each other, I’ll leave them to yourselves."

It might sound harsh, but he was just being frank.

He had never promised to solve all their problems and they were the ones begging for his help. Sensing the atmosphere turning stiff, Li Yan intervened hastily, "What you said was totally right. You are free to tend to your own business, and we’ll take care of our own."

He Zun squinted and restored his calmness right away, then nodded with Li Yan.

With that, the two got up and bid the old priest farewell.

Hence, the old priest was left on his own. He was now watching the censer with mixed emotions--he was pleasantly surprised and expectant, but also feeling uneasy and anxious at the same time.

The heritage of the Southern Sect had been passed along for over a thousand years since Zhang Boduan founded it. However, comparing it to the long history of mankind, it was nothing but a mote.

Chinese mythology contained countless stories and one of the patterns they formed was that the more ancient a story was, the mightier the beings in it would be; the more recent the times when a story took place, the more commonplace it became.

Examples of the most ancient stories were "Kua Fu Chasing the Sun" and "Jing Wei Trying to Fill the Sea with Pebbles", then came the ones such as "Purple Air Coming from the East" and "A Fish in the Northern Ocean". After that were legends of Ge Hong and Zuo Ci, all the way to Wang Chongyang and Zhang Sanfeng. In a word, the standard of the myths had seen some serious downgrade throughout history--from the enchanting story of the creation of the world in the beginning, to the petty Maoshan [2] tricks that could only be used to raise evil spirits and catch adulterous lovers in the act.

When it came to the modern times, even those tricks such as sticking bare hands into electric sockets or inserting a coin into a sealed bottle without breaking the glass were seen as myths, while those who made a living as entertainers were considered masters!

Let's put it this way. Back in the ancient times, when the productivity was low, people had little education. Hence, they worshiped natural and mysterious forces. With social and scientific development, mankind was enlightened and realized many things could be tested and verified scientifically, which naturally led people towards rational thinking.

That was one way of putting it. To the theists, though, during the thousands years of human history, there must have been numerous magnificent events that remain unknown to us.

The passing on of the entire Taoist system largely depended on ancient books and mythologies--not the most accurate method. In the Southern Sect alone, Zhang Boduan wrote "Wuzhen Pian" and Bai Yuchan wrote "On the Diagram of Wuji", both of which were tangible records. Meanwhile, anecdotes were likewise passed down. For instance, Boduan was said to be matching magical powers against a monk once. They both sent their primordial spirits away from their bodies, which set off towards Yangzhou together. They had agreed that the first to arrive needed to pick a flower to win the match. The monk’s spirit got to Yangzhou first, but failed to pick the flower. Boduan was the second to arrive, but could casually pluck a viburnum flower from the branch.

Boduan said, "I’ve coordinated my physical and spiritual life and cultivated with the magnificent method of the Great Elixir. My true spirit can be materialized, which makes it a Yang spirit. You only focused on the physical aspect and ignored the spiritual one. The speed of your cultivation might be fast, but it is of no use. You only have a Yin spirit."

Wasn’t that an amazing ability? The man was awesome.

However, four successors down to Bai Yuchan, the only things left were theories and there was no substance to them. No distinguished names were mentioned in six to seven centuries, let alone the exhibition of mighty powers.

It was the most bizarre history. Old Priest Mo had read through every ancient text he could find and still could not come up with an explanation. He had traveled all over China in his youth, calling on various masters. However, those senior cultivators who had lived for over a century had been simply meditating in a tranquil and profound manner while leading a regular life. They were not using any cultivation techniques.

Even so, he still believed in the existence of the "Immortals" without a shadow of doubt.

It had occurred to him that he might be stuck in the acquired stage for the rest of his life… however, it just so happened tonight that he undoubtedly smelled something from that incense, which was strange, peculiar and filled with brightness and vitality.


In the small hours, on the peak of Phoenix Mountain.

The light still seemed a bit dim and in the coldness, a thriving greenness was brewing and being reflected by what was the mountain top. It resembled an enormous icy jadeite, embedded in the sky and filled with a detached and indifferent atmosphere. The midnight mist accumulated throughout the night had not yet fully dissipated, while the glory of a new dawn was just sprouting. Now was the time when two essences melted into each other as night turned into day.

Sitting on a giant black stone, Gu Yu felt as if everything else had gone silent and his spirit was the only light left. Even his presence was becoming less discernible, as if fusing with the natural surroundings.

Clouds overhead moved with the wind and color of the sky changed as time went by. He had lost count of time when a faint trace of redness lept out of the distant horizon, like a blob of ink dropping into the water. It expanded and fanned out, soon taking up half of the sky.

Sensing this in his mind, Gu Yu opened his mouth and spat out a wisp of vapor slightly denser than the one before, which then danced in midair in a way that a young snake would. It maintained its shape and did not dissipate even after a while.

He then opened his mouth and swallowed the vapor back.

He kept repeating this process until the red sun rose high on the eastern sky; the rosy clouds of dawn had long disappeared when he opened his eyes slowly. Looking up into the distance, he found himself amidst a boundless sea of clouds. The morning sunlight glanced off the clouds, turning them into colored glaze. Beneath him, countless cliffs sprung up from the ground, each one more beautiful than the other; rows upon rows of trees covered the mountain, transforming into verdant screens.


He stood up and could not hold back the smile on his face. He seemed to be in excellent condition today.

"Condition" was a magical term. It not only referred to various states of health, but also suggested whether or not one got laid in time and what position was used, as well as psychological factors such as if one managed to hit the jackpot after getting laid. [4]

When everything mentioned above was achieved, one would truly be in an "excellent condition".

Obviously, with the fact that Gu Yu was still a single guy at the moment, "excellent condition" was referring to a successful cultivation exercise which had given him a sense of satiation and a pleasant feeling of fulfillment.

He stood on the black rock for a bit longer, looking around, then turned to leave.

The mountain was silent. Most creatures were still sleeping and the only things active were the worm-searching early birds. He walked for a while and heard a rustling sound in the woods on his right, followed by a few chirrups from birds.

He turned to look and saw a black-and-purple titmouse with a pure white chest. It circled around in the air and landed on a branch.


Gu Yu blinked and moved towards it quietly. He stopped when he was about seven steps away, which was the maximum distance for his skill to work. He then lifted his arms and his loose sleeves flapped suddenly along his movement.


An invisible fluctuation instantly enveloped the bird. He felt as if a high-power water pump was connected to his body, rapidly draining him of his petty reserve of spiritual essence.

Almost simultaneously, the bird who was combing feathers with its beak went rigid all of a sudden and the look in its eyes turned dull. However, the next second, it become all happy and cheerful again, flapping its wings and hopping around on the branch.

It was completely unaware of its bizarre behavior.

Several breaths later, the vision ceased on its own. The bird went through another round of confusion as it looked around, unable to figure out what had just happened.

"Em, that was better…"

Gu Yu observed it for a bit longer and got what he needed, then went down the mountain.

The vision required elements of the seven emotions and six sensory pleasures to lure one in. Animals did not have as many emotions, but they were endowed with the basic pleasure, anger and fear. Ever since Gu Yu started learning this skill, he had been dying to find someone to experiment on, which was not that easy a task.

Randomly picking someone and imposing "Moon Reader" on them might result in accidental death, which was also not the biggest problem--if the person survived, your identity as an conjurer would be exposed. Unless you could find someone close to you… well, that would not actually guarantee anything, for the whole process was way too scary. [5]

As a result, small animals in this mountain were having a hard time recently. Luckily, he was not trying out the great fear technique.

Gu Yu returned to Phoenix Fair a little past seven o’clock. He did not return home, but walked into the Fang family’s courtyard straight away. The Fang couple was anxiously preparing the stationery for Fang Qing, while the girl herself was savoring her breakfast on the brick bed, appearing extremely calm.

Seeing Gu Yu come in, she put down her bowl and chopsticks immediately and ran to him. "Brother, I thought you were not coming."

"How could I? This is a very important day for you. Is everything ready?" He smiled.

"Well, I am…"

The girl darted a resigned look at her parents, who were still fumbling around.


Gu Yu chuckled. They couldn’t help it. No parents could stay calm on the day of their child’s high school entrance examination.

[1] TL/N: Mount Tai, or 泰山 is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located in northern China. ED/N: Hence everyone can recognize it when they see it, unless they have some face-slapping in store for them, ordered by either author, MC, or the readers.

[2] TL/N: a branch of the Zhengyi School as mentioned in Chapter 34); As for other things in this paragraph:

Kua Fu or Kuafu (夸父) is a giant in Chinese mythology who wished to capture the Sun.

Jingwei (精卫) is a bird in Chinese mythology, who was transformed from the Yan Emperor’s (炎帝) daughter. After the girl drowned when playing in the Eastern Sea, she metamorphosed into a bird called Jingwei, who is determined to fill up the sea by continuously carrying a pebble or twig in her mouth and dropping it into the Eastern Sea.

The story of "Purple Air Coming from the East" (紫气东来) refers to a legend relating to Laozi. Laozi, or Lao-Tzu (老子, literally "Old Master") (ED/N: Btw, Laozi also means "father", as in "I your father" omnipresent in xianxia, lmao... well, the last character has a slightly different pronunciation, but you write them the same) was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. Legend had it that before Laozi arrived at Hangu Pass (or 函谷关, a strategic Qin-dynasty pass and the site of many battles during the Warring States and early imperial eras), the commanding officer of the pass noticed purple air approaching from the east, which indicated a sage was coming their way. Laozi then indeed arrived on the back of a black ox. The expression has later become an idiom describing auspicious signs.

"There is a fish in the Northern Ocean" (北冥有鱼) is a quotation from the ancient Chinese text Zhuangzi ("庄子"), which contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Taoist sage. Named for its traditional author, "Master Zhuang" (Zhuangzi), the Zhuangzi is one of the two foundational texts of Taoism—along with the Tao Te Ching—and is generally considered the most important of all Daoist writings.

Ge Hong (葛洪) was a minor southern official during the Jìn Dynasty of China, best known for his interest in Taoism, alchemy, and techniques of longevity.

Zuo Ci (左慈) was a legendary personage of the late Eastern Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period. It is claimed that he lived until the age of 300.

Zhang Sanfeng (张三丰) was a legendary Chinese Taoist (possibly born during the Southern Song dynasty) purported to have achieved immortality. )

[3] TL/N: "Wuzhen pian"--meaning "Folios on Awakening to Reality/Perfection", a Taoist classic on Neidan-style internal alchemy; Wuji-- ‘ultimate’; Yangzhou (扬州), a city on the north bank of Yangtze River and historically one of the wealthiest cities in China.)

[4] TL/N: 敬业福, or the "dedicated happiness" refers to a lucky draw on 支付宝 app during spring festival time, which involves collecting five different types of 福 (happiness) character to enter the lucky draw, among which 敬业福 is the hardest to collect, not much unlike an ssr card. ED/N: The author is talking about an app on one hand, and about getting laid on another if you're confused.

[5] TL/N: Moon Reader = 月读, or Tsukuyomi, a very powerful illusionary technique in the manga Naruto; 膜法师 is a comical way of saying 魔法师, or a magician; it's translated to English as "mogician", and if you want to find out more, just read this:

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