Li Yundong ended his ministration on the fan's surface . "Misogynistic? What on earth gave you that idea?"
Try as he might, Li Yundong couldn't hide the surprise in his voice . He took a step back and studied the tessen like it was an odd specimen . How could this thing by misogynistic? It wasn't like the fan had a will of its own . . . Or did it?
"That's because only a man can wield its full power," Zi Yuan said casually .
Li Yundong frowned . "But why? Why does it matter?" Li Yundong paused in thought . "Well, it is a little heavy, I suppose . "
"No," Zi Yuan said with a shake of her head . "This has nothing to do with its weight or size . "
Li Yundong gave her a puzzled look . "Okay?"
"Have you heard of the Diamond Sutra?"
"Err… It's a Buddhist scripture if I'm not mistaken . "
Zi Yuan nodded . "According to the Diamond Sutra, Gautama Buddha himself said that there are seven treasures inside a man's body and five leaks—or punctures—inside a woman's body . " Zi Yuan paused and ran her palm over the fan's surface . "Take a look at these inscriptions . What do you make of them?"
Li Yundong brought his face closer to the fan and studied the strange engravings on its surface . "Well… They're Sanskrit . " He looked towards Zi Yuan for confirmation . "Right?"
Zi Yuan nodded . "As a matter of fact… You're staring at the Diamond Sutra . "
Li Yundong gave Zi Yuan a look of surprise . "Wait, what? You mean the whole scripture is…" Li Yundong's gaze drifted towards the fan once more .
Zi Yuan smirked, then nodded . "Yes . These inscriptions contain all the verses from the Diamond Sutra . "
Li Yundong chuckled . "No wonder it's so . . . big . "
"Before he became a Shenxian, the fox elder Pan Shi created this fan and then inscribed the entire Diamond Sutra onto its surface in honor of the great dharma heir and Zen master, Baizhang Huaihai . "
Li Yundong looked towards Zi Yuan . Baizhang who?
It didn't seem like Zi Yuan had noticed of his confusion . Zi Yuan looked almost pensive as she stood there stroking the fan's surface . She also had a faraway look in her eyes, like she was revisiting old memories .
Li Yundong didn't want to interrupt her thoughts, so he kept watching her, waiting for her to continue .
Seconds later, she did . "After that, Pan Shi performed an adhisthana on the fan . " Zi Yuan looked towards Li Yundong briefly . "Adhisthana is like a blessing ceremony that grants an object or a person magical powers . Anyway, Pan Shi blessed this fan with Vajra magic, which can only be wielded by someone with a body of seven treasures . In other words, only a man can wield its magic . "
Li Yundong nodded . "No wonder Su Chan said that none of her sisters in the Fox Zen School are able to use it . . . " he mumbled to himself .
"So unfair . "
Both Li Yundong and Zi Yuan looked towards the couch where Ruan Hongling sat with a dark scowl on her face .
"A lot of spells and magic can only be mastered by men, not women," Ruan Hongling grumbled .
Li Yundong stole a glance at Zi Yuan who appeared to be engrossed in her own thoughts . Perhaps this was one thing that Zi Yuan couldn't correct Ruan Hongling on .
"I mean, just take a look at the long history of Cultivation," Ruan Hongling ranted . "The number of female Shenxians are far too little compared to the number male Shenxians . " Ruan Hongling snorted . "Oh, and let's not forget what happened to the Mystical Silver—"
"Hongling . . . " Zi Yuan said in a warning tone .
"What, Elder Sister!" Ruan Hongling snapped . "It's history! It really happened . "
Li Yundong's eyes bounced back and forth between Ruan Hongling and Zi Yuan . Clearly, these two were talking about something he knew absolutely nothing about . Moments later, Zi Yuan's shoulder sagged slightly and she sighed .
"Um . . . guys . . . ? Do you mind explaining to me what you guys were talking about? I mean I am trying to become a Cultivator, so . . . maybe some background knowledge would… you know…" Li Yundong finished lamely .
Ruan Hongling crossed her arms and regarded him for a moment . "Does the name The Mystical Silver Fox ring any bells? Did your girlfriend ever mention that name to you?" Ruan Hongling asked without taking her eyes off him .
Li Yundong shook his head .
Ruan Hongling huffed out a breath . "Well, she was the fourth head of the Fox Zen School . Anyway, she sneaked into Mount Wutai one time to research on Buddhist magic . And guess what? She tried to master a Vajra spell and went into Zouhuo Rumo state . She only survived because a monk sacrificed his life to save her . "
The living room fell silent . Li Yundong didn't know what to make of what he'd just heard . Who was this Mystical Silver Fox? From what he'd heard so far, she sounded like a controversial figure . Why hadn't Su Chan told him any of this?
"The Fox Zen School has produced quite a few prodigies over the years," Ruan Hongling said . "The Mystical Silver Fox is probably the greatest among them . Her magical powers were phenomenal back then . " Ruan Hongling snorted . "Not anymore though . Now she is weak . Then again, the Fox Zen School has Ao Wushuang now . Too bad—"
"Enough, Hongling . It is disrespectful to discuss the affairs of other schools . "
"Enough . . . " Zi Yuan said sternly .
The two women glared at each other across the room .
Li Yundong cleared his throat and raised his palms .
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, guys, guys . . . Why don't we all just . . . chill?"
After a while, Ruan Hongling looked away with a loud huff . Li Yundong turned towards Zi Yuan . "Um… Can you explain to me how to use this thing properly?" Li Yundong tapped the Fan of Seven Treasures with his knuckles .
Zi Yuan looked away from Ruan Hongling . "There are two ways to use it . You can either use it as a physical weapon, or you can use its magical properties . "
Li Yundong chuckled . "A physical weapon? You mean like smashing someone's head with it? But it's so heavy and bulky . "
Zi Yuan smiled . "I can show it to you," she said, then paused to look at him . "Only if you don't mind, of course . "
Li Yundong shrugged . "Sure . " He lifted the fan off the floor and handed it over to Zi Yuan .
Despite her slender frame, Zi Yuan lifted the bulky fan with ease and carried it towards the living room . Even Ruan Hongling had stopped sulking and was now following Zi Yuan's movements curiously . The girl's face still looked a bit sullen, but Li Yundong suspected that it was her natural look . He kept that thought to himself lest he start another bickering match .
Zi Yuan stopped at the center of the living room . She glanced around the apartment a few times, then shook her head . A second later, her eyes were on Li Yundong . "There's not enough room here . Come with me . " Zi Yuan jerked her chin towards the sliding door . "I'll show you how it can be used as a physical weapon . "
Then, without waiting for Li Yundong's response, Zi Yuan strode towards the sliding door and stepped outside onto the balcony . Ruan Hongling rose from the couch a moment later and followed Zi Yuan to the balcony .
Li Yundong sighed and shook his head . "It's like they own the damn place," he grumbled .
By the time Li Yundong stepped through the sliding door, Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling were nowhere to be seen . No doubt those two had flown off again .
Li Yundong sighed inwardly . Great . Now where the hell am I supposed to go?
Li Yundong leaned over the top of the railing and looked up and down .
"Uh . . . Hello?!!" he yelled into the night . "You two geniuses seem to have forgotten something very, very important! You see, guys . I can't fly—Whoa! Shit!" Li Yundong reached for the railing when his legs suddenly levitated off the floor .
He grabbed the railing tighter .
"Let go of the railing, doofus!"
Li Yundong looked up and saw Ruan Hongling staring down at him .
Li Yundong let go of the railing and allowed his body to float upwards until he was level with Ruan Hongling .
Li Yundong glared at Ruan Hongling . "How about a little warning next time, huh?"
Ruan Hongling rolled her eyes . "Too scared to fly? Tsk, tsk, tsk . What a sissy . So much for being the Jindan's Heir . "
"Hey! Who says I'm scared? I was just startled—" Li Yundong yelped when his body suddenly shot into the air .
At least he managed not to squeak . Barely .
Seconds later, he landed on the rooftop of his apartment block . Zi Yuan was already there, waiting for him .
"What took you so long?" Zi Yuan asked the moment his feet touched the floor .
"Maybe because he got scared and started crying like a baby!"
"Hey! I told you I wasn't scared!" He glared at Ruan Hongling, who was lowering herself to the roof . He turned away from Ruan Hongling to face Zi Yuan . "I wasn't scared . I swear . "
A smirk tugged at Zi Yuan's lips . Then, she waved her hand a few times . "Back away a few steps . "
Li Yundong did as he was told .
Zi Yuan swung the fan in a wide arc and then let it rest on her right shoulder . "Now watch," she said, giving Li Yundong a pointed look . "This is how you use it as a physical weapon . "
SWISH! CLACK! The fan spread open after a flick of Zi Yuan's wrist . What! How the heck did she…? Li Yundong had to use his Qi to even spread the fan, yet she did it so effortlessly . Wait… What was that?
Something strange was happening to the fan's leaves . They weren't stationary at all; they were rotating about the ribs like a bunch of spinning blades .
SNAP! The fan closed again with Zi Yuan holding it like a Bo staff . Zi Yuan moved into a fighting stance, and then started dancing around the rooftop . SNAP! The fan opened again .
"I see . . . " Li Yundong whispered . The fan could be wielded as a Bo staff, and then opened to increase its striking range . He had no doubt that those spinning blades would tear anything to shreds upon contact .
Zi Yuan's demonstration lasted for quite a while . Hell, Li Yundong almost didn't want it to end . It was the most impressive weapons demonstration that he'd ever seen .
"Amazing . . . " he said when Zi Yuan placed the fan back into his arms .
"That's actually nothing," Zi Yuan said with a smile . She didn't even look like she broke a sweat .
"Hah! Elder Sister Zi Yuan is capable of things that are far more impressive things than that!" Ruan Hongling said .
Li Yundong nodded . "I'm sure that's true . "
Ruan Hongling beamed with pride .
"What about spells?" Li Yundong ran his hand over the fan's surface . "How do you use spells with this thing?"
Zi Yuan smiled wryly . "Unfortunately, I can't show you that because . . . well, for obvious reasons . " She gestured at her own body .
"Right . Because you're not a man . "
Zi Yuan nodded . "Only someone with the body of seven treasures can unlock the fan's weapon . " Zi Yuan held his gaze steadily . "I guess you'll find out once you pass the Zhuji phase and reach the Shentong phase . "
Li Yundong stared down at the weapon inside his arms . So close yet so far .
Zi Yuan landed on the balcony of Hongling's apartment, which was right across Li Yundong's apartment block .
The sliding door opened, and Hongling poked her head out .
"Come on in, Elder Sister Zi Yuan . "
Zi Yuan turned, and gave the rooftop of the opposite block a final glance . Li Yundong was still up there having fun with the Fan of Seven Treasures .
Zi Yuan tore her gaze away from the rooftop and found Hongling staring at her quizzically . Instead of entering the apartment, Zi Yuan turned around and stared out into the night sky .
The sliding door closed behind her . Hongling was standing beside her seconds later .
"What's on your mind, Elder Sister?"
Zi Yuan sighed . "Nothing… It's just…"
"You're thinking about the Jindan's Heir again, aren't you?"
Zi Yuan didn't answer . Why bother when the answer was already so obvious?
"Are you just going to keep helping him, Elder Sister Zi Yuan?"
"Is that a problem?"
Hongling was silent for a while .
"To be honest, I don't see the point," Hongling said .
Zi Yuan looked at her young protégé .
Hongling held her palms up defensively as though she was expecting to be reprimanded . "Don't get me wrong, Elder Sister . I think he's smart and talented . But he lacks experience . " Hongling held Zi Yuan's gaze . "I'm not sure he'll be able to survive the Heavenly Thunder . "
For once, Zi Yuan couldn't come up with a counterargument against Hongling . "I…" Zi Yuan sighed . "I don't know, Hongling . I don't know…"
Silence spread between them .
"Are you thinking about Master's prophecy?" Hongling asked .
"What if this is the ultimate test?" Zi Yuan said .
"What do you mean?"
"I mean what if Li Yundong's divine punishment is the ultimate test of whether Master's prophecy is true?"
"It makes sense, doesn't it?" Zi Yuan said . "If Li Yundong failed to survive, then Master's prophecy is clearly wrong . But if he did…" Zi Yuan trailed off .
"If he did?" Hongling asked after a while .
"Then I don't know… Maybe we'll become allies…"
Hongling snorted .
Zi Yuan smiled . "What is it with you two, Hongling?"
"He just… rubs me the wrong way, I guess . "
Or maybe you're just jealous of his talents…
"Regardless," Zi Yuan said in a stern voice . "We'll keep teaching him for now . So I want you two to start getting along . "
"Great . Now I have to tolerate his obnoxious attitude for God knows how long," Hongling grumbled .
Zi Yuan chuckled . "You might not have to worry about that, Hongling . "
"Yeah right . You just told me that we're going to stick around him . "
"Nope," Zi Yuan said . "You won't be seeing him in a few days . "
"Seriously?" Hongling sounded surprise .
"Yes, seriously . " Zi Yuan smiled . "I'm taking him to that place . And you'll be going back to the mountains to take care of those souls . "
"What! You're taking him there?!" Hongling shouted . "B- But… He's going to die before he even tries to pass the Zhuji phase!"
"Well . There is a risk of that . " Zi Yuan sighed . "But if he couldn't even survive that place, then he definitely wouldn't be able to survive the divine punishment…"