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The high school entrance examination was over and July arrived.

In terms of tourism, the busiest season started in full swing from May and would not die down until November each year. Students made up a great part of the tourists during this time. With the commencement of summer vacation, they would loiter here and there like swarms of grasshoppers.

Leaving Shengtian from the southeast, the first large region one would come across was the scenery of Bai Town. Centered around Phoenix Mountain, a dozen scenic spots could be found in this area, such as the Red River Valley rafting, Green Creek water cave, Small Tang, Ravine Hot Spring and peach blossom of Hekou Town. Together, they made a busy and diverse tourist route. [1]

The second large region started from Hekou Town, extending all the way to the seaside city of Dongyun, and the view there was of a completely different style.



Having been opened up for over a decade, the tourist industry had long established its own fixed system. As July approached, numerous barnyard businesses and the related industries were getting restless, ready to make full use of the season.

July 2, a sunny day.

In the resting area halfway up the mountain, tourists were passing to and fro in groups, all hustling and bustling. Every peddler was hawking their wares at the top of their voice. Some even plugged in loudspeaker boxes and bombarded the area with agricultural heavy metal just to attract more customers. [2]

"Cucumber, freshly picked dryland cucumber, one yuan each!"

"Home-grown vegetables, all green-food standard! Juicy tomatoes, won't you have one?"

Fang Qing was straining her neck, shouting from a stall. On the ground by her feet were several baskets, half of the vegetables in them already gone. Business was going well.

Next to her was Uncle Fang and the stove he was looking after was decorated with frizzling grilled squids. He would give Fang Qing a glance every now and then.

Having finished her exams, the girl didn't have much to do before school started and thought she might as well use the free time to help her parents out. With that clear and melodious voice of hers, customers were attracted to her stall like a ceaseless stream. The girl was a smooth-talker herself and her baskets were getting emptier at an unbelievable speed.

After busying herself for quite some time without taking a break, Fang Qing finally got a minute to sit down. She picked out a tomato whose skin was scratched and bit eagerly into it.

"Here, hungry, aren't you?" Uncle Fang passed along a grilled squid on a stick and said with a relieved tone, "It's great to have you tag along. I wouldn't be able to handle all this on my own."

"Dad, take a rest. There aren't so many people now," smiled the girl.

"Em, all right."

Uncle Fang also sat down and grabbed a towel to wipe away his sweat.

Fang Qing was alternating between the tomato and the squid, apparently enjoying her food in high spirits. She then asked, "Dad, business is going so well these days, why isn't brother coming to his stall now?"

"He says he's been selling incense and there are quite a few buyers. He would probably stop coming here for good."

Looking at his own daughter, Uncle Fang could not help but sigh with emotion. "Your brother might seem a brooding and passive man, but he knows what he's doing. After his grandpa passed away, he came through everything that had been thrown at him on his own. Capable men like him can deal with anything, anytime. You see, it's only been two years and he's set his life back on track again. Therefore, Qing Qing, you have to study hard. That's the only way you'll become someone…"

"I know, I know. Don't you get tired of telling me that eight times a day?"

The girl was listening carefully to her father in the beginning, but was soon starting to feel annoyed. Her old man was the best, but he just wouldn't stop lecturing her with all those talks. 'Study hard, study harder!' Come on, of course she knew that, but it was not like she was cut out to be a good student!

Thanks to Gu Yu, she passed the ordeal of high school entrance examinations, but she still had three years of high school to go through, and after that, there was the university entrance examination, during which the competition would only be all the more fierce. While she might seem all jolly and merry, there was actually a lot going on in her head.

"..."

The father and daughter both stopped talking and ate their food in silence for a while.

This resting area could lead in all directions with branch roads on all sides. To the left was a footpath and ten minutes along it would lead one to a platform where the tourist could admire the mountain peak on the other side from afar. The upper part of the mountain resembled a human being, while the lower half looked like a toad.

It was given the name: "Immortal Man Fishing a Toad".

To the right of the area was a wide road, leading to the only temple on Phoenix Mountain, namely, Ziyang Temple.

After the peak hour passed, the peddlers were nowhere near as busy and the agricultural heavy metal had also stopped. Fang Qing and her father were chitchatting sporadically when they heard the noise of a disturbance, which was coming from the direction of Ziyang Temple.

"What's with all the noise?"

"What's happening?"

"Is there a fight?"

The peddlers stood up one after another, all straining their necks towards that direction. The most nosy one among them trotted away to see the commotion and came back later to inform the crowd.

"Damn! Someone's been bitten by a snake!"

"Seriously? You can still find a snake nowadays?"

"Good gracious! I've got to take a look."

Hearing that, five to six people jumped out. Unable to constrain his curiosity, Uncle Fang said to Fang Qing, "Stay here, I'll go have a look."

With that, these people ran to the road on the right. A man was lying on the ground with a weeping woman beside him. Around them was a whole bunch of onlookers, all trying to offer some advice.

"Call the management office. Tell them to send someone up now!"

"The management won't do, call the police!"

"What the hell are the police going to do with this? Call an ambulance!"

Uncle Fang squeezed into the crowd and looked at the man. Jeez, the guy had his eyes tightly closed and was drained of all color. A bite mark was on his right leg, which had turned purple-black.

He could not stand all the fuss and bellowed, "For god's sake, stop crying! The man is dying! Go get someone from the management office!"

"I'll call Old Li. You guys move back! Don't stand around him!"

"Old Fang, I'll go find someone from the temple!"

The townspeople were so squeamish. In situation like this, these hillmen were much more capable. They immediately divided themselves into two groups—one group left behind to help take care of the man, while the other made off at once towards the temple.

They reached the temple gate in no time. The young priest was taken aback by the news they brought as well and went in immediately to inform his superior.

The majority of Taoist temples in northern China followed Quanzhen, while those in the south were mostly under the leadership of Zhengyi. Ziyang Temple was no exception, which was also a branch of Quanzhen. Taoist branches was able to further divide into new sects as late as a century ago. Ever since the Taoist association came under the jurisdiction of the government, however, no new sects were allowed to be established.

The current abbot of Ziyang Temple was Chen Qiulin. He became a Taoist priest at the age of fifteen, passed the headdress ceremony at twenty and was now in his early thirties. The so-called "headdress ceremony" was a Taoist ritual where a Quanzhen disciple was formally admitted as a priest. In Zhengyi, this ceremony was called "passing down the law".

Chen Qiulin was a shrewd man with a sharp business sense. He had managed to double the income of the temple in a mere couple of years.

Right now, he was playing chess with old Priest Mo in the backyard. The young priest stumbled in in a flurry. "Abbot, a tourist has been bitten by a snake just outside our temple!"

"What?"

Chen Qiulin sprang to his feet and the first thing that came to his mind was 'He'd better not die, or my name would be implicated'. He asked hastily, "How's the person now?"

"Not good. They asked if we have any herbal medicine."

"Where would I get any herbal medicine, and even if I do…"

"Smack!"

Old Priest Mo could not listen to his blabbering. He tossed the chess piece on the table and said, "That's ok, I'll go have a look."

"Really? Thank you so much, Uncle-master!"

Chen Qiulin's worry turned into joy right away. He was familiar with Priest Mo's remarkable medical skills and bowed to express his gratitude immediately.

After that, they went outside. The man was still lying unconscious on the ground.

Old Priest Mo felt his pulse, fed the man a pill and took out his needle pouch to treat him. Before they realized it, a dozen silver needles were stuck into the man's body and legs. His final step was to insert a long, three-edged needle into certain spot. With a squelching sound, black blood oozed out.

"Um…"

The woman was completely dumbstruck, covering her mouth with her hands and daring not make a sound. After fiddling around for quite a while, the old priest let out a sigh of relief. "The venom is quite potent, but he'll live."

"Thank you, Priest! Thank you so much!" The woman acted as though she would give him a kowtow, even her voice was breaking.

Immediately after that, someone shouted again. "Here, here, make way!"

With that, a junior official of the management office moved near, bathed in sweat from answering to the emergency. The woman came back to life at once, bellowing at him like a madwoman. "What shitty scenic spot is this? Of all the places I have been to, I've never heard of anyone being bitten by a snake! If anything happens to my husband, you can never make enough amends to us!"

"Please calm down."

"Calm down? How can I calm down? Your negligence caused this, how can you be so righteous?"

"That's enough! Do you want to save him or not?"

The junior official shouted back and then asked, "Can someone give me a hand? Let's carry him to the cable car station."

"Here, let us help!"

Being a warm-hearted man, Uncle Fang found several other men and carried the man away at once.

Old Priest Mo did not care about all the bustle going on over there. He was curious of one thing, though. "Are snakes and insects easily found in this mountain?"

"Used to be. They were cleared once when the area was designated for development. I haven't seen anybody bitten by snake for years," replied Chen Qiulin.

"Oh…"

The old priest nodded. He did not like the boisterous scene here and returned to his backyard.

About an hour later, the fellow arrived at the hospital. His life was not in danger and only needed some follow-up treatment. Of course, there was still another thing they needed to clarify.

"Were you able to have a good look at the snake?"

"We were just coming out of the temple and felt there was something by the side of the road. Before we had time to see it clearly, my husband was bitten… it looked like, like a green snake," said the woman.

"A green snake?"

The doctor scratched his head. The description was way too general to identify the species. Moreover, the most common snakes found in northeast China were short-tailed mamushis, rock mamushis, tiger keelbacks and some sea serpents. Snakes with a completely green body was extremely rare.

While they were confused by the description, the junior official was busying himself reporting to his superior.

With a tourist injured in the scenic spot, some form of compensation was necessary. The problem was to determine the amount. Furthermore, there was the publicity issue. They could negotiate with the press media, but what about twitter and instagram?

The golden season was just getting started and here came the head-on blow. How did such thing happen?!

[1] TL/N: Hekou = river mouth, Small Tang is a hot spring

[2] TL/N: Agricultural heavy metal is the nickname given to a type of Chinese pop music characterized by its vulgar and cheesy style, but miraculously quite popular in small cities and towns.

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