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"Screech!"

Two jeeps stopped at the intersection outside Phoenix Fair. Their doors opened and old Priest Mo came out first. He flicked his eyes to take in the dilapidated and shabby residential area, then marched into an alley.

Sun Baosheng followed behind—together with Yu Tao, Wu Xiaoshan and another two hired thugs, a five-men goon squad. He Zun had given them specific instructions that the old priest would be the one calling the shots, but they must bring that guy back no matter what.

By this time of the day, the parents had all gone to work and their kids were at school. The only people around were those elders sitting outside their yards or at the alley entrance—they were all startled by this bunch. Outsiders seldom set foot in Phoenix Fair, let alone a group as out-of-place as them. Two old men immediately started their discussion in hushed whispers.

"Oh my, they’re here to make trouble, aren’t they?"



"Not necessarily. Maybe they’re from the demolition office."

"What are they doing with a Taoist priest, then?"

"To observe the Feng Shui, of course."

"Well, you’ve got a point."

Old Priest Mo kept his face straight and showed no reaction to the comments--he only quickened his pace. Following the ascending number plates on the doors, he soon found a small courtyard. He stopped outside the gate and ordered, "You guys wait here. I’ll go in and have a look first."

"No problem!" Sun Baosheng replied.

After that, he flapped his sleeves and went in. Studying the courtyard with his eyes, he found three tidy tile-roofed houses with corn stalks piled by the wall and sun-dried chilli pepper hanging down from the eaves… everything seemed very ordinary.

He advanced cautiously, one step at a time. Halfway into the yard, the door opened with a squeak and a man came out.

'Wow!'

Seeing the person, the old priest could not help but feel amazed.

The Neidan practices nowadays all focused on coordinating the spiritual life with the physical one. The essentials lay in abstemious diet, regular working and resting hours and not overworking oneself. Only with a calm mind could one’s Qi be evenly distributed, which in turn would enable one to concentrate—only through concentration could one obtain abundant essence.

When one was endowed with sufficient essence and Qi, they would naturally achieve longevity.

Such qualities, when reflected through one’s appearance, would evoke the most direct impressions in ordinary people. ‘Wow, this person has very bright eyes and jet black hair; his ruddy complexion looks incredibly healthy.’

However, cultivators would sense something entirely different. Take the host here as an example. His essence and Qi were almost in a perfect condition and no matter what environment he was in, he would definitely stand out with that detached manner of his.

Having seen his fair share of people, old Priest Mo had never encountered someone like this. More importantly, he was such a young man.

"Old priest... old priest!"

"Ah?"

He was lost in his thoughts and only came back to himself after Gu Yu called him twice. Priest Mo bowed involuntarily. "Please forgive my rudeness."

"Are you here for alms or looking for someone?" Gu Yu smiled.

"May we talk inside?"

"Sure. Please come in."

Gu Yu turned sideways while his glance flicked past those men waiting outside. He let Priest Mo in without any hesitation, for it really did not bother him. They didn't seem to have come here with a friendly attitude, so he might as well poke around first.

The two entered the east wing. Gu Yu found having a Taoist priest sit on a brick bed somewhat inappropriate, so he fetched Priest Mo a chair. He then went on to boil some water to make tea. After all was settled, he started by asking, "May I ask where the priest comes from?"

"My layman surname is Mo and I’m from Wuliang Temple of Lotus Mountain."

"Wuliang Temple?" Gu Yu blinked and grinned. "I have never been to Lotus Mountain, but have heard so much about it. The reason you’re here is…"

"Hehe…" Priest Mo ignored the question and stroked his long beard. Instead, he said, "Back then in the courtyard, I could see that there was not a single streak of murky essence in you and your spiritual light is of an implicit kind. Being someone as young as you are, such cultivation achievement is indeed impressive."

"I appreciate your compliment," the fellow saluted him with his hands.

The old priest restrained his temper and asked, "How does the young layman think of me?"

"You look very healthy as well, all hale and hearty," he appeared to be rather serious.

‘All hale and hearty… hale… and… hearty…’

The old priest almost choked on his breath. That sounded like something you’d say to an aunty dancing in a public square! As he was not sure what Gu Yu’s deal was, he was thinking of probing him with some questions first. However, this utterly shameless fellow was only acting all innocent. [1]

At this, he simply stood up and cut to the chase. "In that case, I’ll speak my mind. Nowadays, indecency is widespread in our Taoist community. People are blinded by their desire for wealth and value profits more than anything else. There aren’t many cultivators of my generation left. The young layman is also a cultivator yourself and I‘ve made this special trip here today just to share some of our experiences."

‘Tsk!’ Gu Yu was sneering inside. ‘With all those able-bodied men and the flagship jeeps, what kind of special priest are you? You might appear sage-like and know your highfalutin language, but you’re nothing but a hypocrite!’

As a matter of fact, he could already tell the ins and outs of the old priest while they were still in the yard. The old man had managed to cultivate his Qi, but could not introduce spiritual essence into his body. Hence, he remained lingering in the world of mortal men.

Had they come on friendly terms, he would be more than willing to share with them. After all, cultivation was a lonely job. Yet it was obvious that they were here to look for trouble. ‘And you think I’ll just hand myself to you on a plate? Do you think I’m an idiot?’

Therefore, after the old priest finished his spiel, Gu Yu did not even hide his indifference and only said with a smile, "Well… the water’s boiling, let me serve you a tea."

With that, he disappeared into the kitchen immediately and busied himself with teapots and cups.

Old Priest Mo was left where he was. Hearing the clanking sounds of kitchenware, he felt the muscles on his face twitching. He was actually a very contradictory man. He wanted to pursue the Great Dao but was reluctant to leave the mortal world; he believed in the existence of Taoism, but felt there were no cultivators left in this world and he had reached the top.

He might seem a virtuous man, but was actually inflated with pride.

Yet now, facing this young man, the old priest felt shame and annoyance, as if his pretense had been seen through. It was further accompanied by an acute twinge of envy and fear.

Seven, eight minutes later, Gu Yu came back with a kettle and poured the water into a big blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Hot vapor immediately rose up from it. He pushed the bowl towards the old priest and smiled, "I don’t have good tea here. I hope you don’t mind."

"I used to travel all over China in my youth and called on various masters. I know very well that the only way to maintain our Taoist community is to keep in touch and share our experiences…"

"I heard the view at Lotus Mountain was marvelous. I’ll definitely visit there sometime."

"The young layman is such a talented cultivator. I wonder which Taoist branch do you take after?"

"Please have some tea. It’ll get cold in a minute."

"Snort!"

Old Priest Mo had been babbling on all this time. Realizing this fellow was only messing around with him, he finally smacked the table with his palm and said in a cold voice, "Enough with the talking. Since layman yourself is so stubborn, I have no choice but to force your hand. Let’s see what you are capable of."

"Hey, wait a minute!"

Gu Yu found this old man a pain in his neck. This priest could have made it plain that he was here to pick on Gu Yu in the first place. After all the beating around the bush, it still came to a hand-in-hand combat. He said with resignation, "Force my hand or not, I only have one question. How did you find me?"

"Through the incense pills you made."

The incense pills?

He was suddenly alarmed and figured everything out immediately. He had only sent his incense to two people recently—Jiang Xiaozhai and Zeng Yuewei. Since it was the incense pill they mentioned, they must have obtained it from Zeng Yuewei. The force behind it could be none other than the He and Li families.

He did not feel the least bit of fear, but was very regretful, for his indiscretion had implicated a friend. He asked at once, "How is Zeng Yuewei now?"

"Zeng Yuewei? I have no idea."

The old priest became impatient and answered with a frown. He was secretly gathering his strength, preparing to make his move.

"You have no idea?"

Hearing that, Gu Yu’s long lashes flicked. He stood up slowly with these words.

"Hiss!"

In an instant, old Priest Mo opened his eyes widely. He sensed a sudden gush of coldness, which then rushed all over his body. He lifted up his neck slightly and retracted his shoulders, as if the closer the young man was to assuming a fully standing position, the smaller he himself felt facing him… in the end, he was so overwhelmed by an oppressive feeling brought about by the disparity in their cultivation levels that he could not even move a little finger...

[1] TL/N: "广场舞大妈" refers to the aunties (and uncles, sometimes even younger men and women) doing physical exercise in autonomous groups (usually in the evening, after dinner). Dancing in public squares was one of the most common exercises they participate in (and usually the most lively but noisy one) . The priest was unhappy about relating him to the aunties for they can be considered as being boorish and poor in taste.

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