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    Chapter 89

    At the same time that Daoist masters across the country received news of the appearance of the divine beast Xuanwu, Xia Shouren, who was far away in the capital, also heard about it.

    Xia Shouren responded, "What? You're saying Xuanwu is somewhere?"

    Other Daoists felt a deep sorrow that they couldn't express, but they quickly headed for Xin Nan to collectively organize a special visitation event.

    The Cultivation Teaching had been completely eradicated, and the case was still under investigation. The sight of Little Fatty, dressed in a yellow vest, being escorted in and out of the facility by guards moved many devout Daoist masters to tears.

    Monks emphasized the passing down of traditions from generation to generation. Such a historic event would certainly be recorded in the annals to be passed on to future generations. But how could they put this into words? Should they tell their descendants, "My child, the twenty-first century was a historic century. Our revered divine beast was sentenced to XX years in prison for involvement in a cult, becoming the first recorded divine beast with a criminal record. So, everyone must abide by the law from now on."

    Should they say that?

    The scene of a group of elderly men with topknots weeping outside the detention center caught the attention of many police officers, who were puzzled. "Isn't solving such a big case a good thing? Why are they crying?"

    A colleague with some understanding of the situation explained, "Legitimate sects and cults are always at odds. Isn't there a term for... instability in the Daoist tradition? Maybe they're just overwhelmed with joy."

    Instability in the Daoist tradition! The Daoist masters felt even more saddened but were too embarrassed to speak. After a long while, they could only mournfully say, "Forget it. At this point, all we can do is work together to hire a skilled lawyer for... Lord Xuanwu before the public prosecution, hoping for a lighter sentence."

    Moreover, it wasn't all bad. It was better for the Black Tortoise to be locked up in detention than to be taken in by an evil cult and used for malevolent purposes. As an ancient and reputable divine beast, even though they had never seen it before, since the Taoist sects regarded it as the guardian of the north, it must possess astonishing magical powers, despite presenting itself as benevolent. Even if it hadn't fully awakened due to various reasons, once it went down the wrong path, it would undoubtedly become a great threat to humanity.

    After all, humans were just humans. How could they compare to such a godly being capable of moving mountains and filling seas?

    The foreign Taoist masters couldn't help but feel a chill down their spines at this thought. They held hands with their counterparts from New Nanjing, who had witnessed the new chapter in Taoist history, and asked, "Did any of you get hurt during the battle in the mountains?"

    The Taoist friends being asked: "...We're fine. The Black Tortoise was subdued quickly, so we only got hit by its tail a few times while trying to dodge. Nothing serious."

    The masters from renowned domestic temples were more knowledgeable in their field. They imagined a breathtaking scene and spoke with admiration, "Subdued quickly? I didn't expect your Taoist arts to be so profound despite your low profile. May I ask which master Taoist led the battle? What methods were used?"

    As they asked, countless intricate formations flashed through their minds. They saw embarrassment and shame on the faces of those being queried—

    "...It was a village dog spirit subdued by a disciple of the Taicang Sect."

    "It brought along anesthetic needles used by a gang of dog thieves."

    Taoist masters, upon hearing that the ancient Black Tortoise was defeated by a village dog spirit from the Taicang Sect: "..................................."

    *********

    The leader of the Grand Granary Sect, Wei Xi, faced the somewhat fearful gazes of his fellow cultivators and felt a bit on guard. Recalling the identity of the Black Tortoise, he couldn't help but ask his second disciple, "Que'er, did they perhaps see me biting the Black Tortoise?"

    His second disciple seemed to hesitate before replying, "You bit it? Where did you bite it?"

    Wei Xi pressed his still-numb tongue against his teeth. "Its tail."

    There was a moment of silence from his disciple, then his voice dropped to a whisper, "So, how did it taste?"

    Something felt off to Wei Xi as he turned to look at his disciple, noticing the darkened gaze in his eyes.

    "It didn't really have a taste, just a stronger yang energy," Wei Xi said hesitantly under the disciple's scrutiny, feeling inexplicably guilty. He added instinctively, "Of course, it can't compare to you. Your taste is the best."

    A hint of relaxation appeared on the disciple's face, but it quickly turned stiffer. "Is that so? What if there's someone whose taste is even better than mine?"

    Without much thought, Wei Xi answered, "Impossible!"

    But after speaking, he found himself puzzled. Where did this unwarranted certainty come from? Why did the answer arise so clearly and instantly from the depths of his heart?

    ******

    News of the Xin Nan cult's eradication by a spontaneously formed group of folk Taoist priests quickly made it to the country's largest television news program. On the screen, Little Fatty's eyes were pixelated as he lethargically confessed his sins to the media. At the same time, countless Taoist priests across the nation were weeping in front of their TVs. Wei Tianyi, who happened to pass by the screen, merely snorted coldly. "Finally caught him. The moment I saw him that day, I knew he had the face of someone involved in shady dealings – not a good person."

    Unity Righteousness fell silent upon hearing this, while Shu Wanrong felt a tinge of embarrassment. "Stop talking about it. Back then, you were so convinced of their beliefs."

    Wei Tianyi's face twitched as he stomped off angrily, still unable to face his former superstitious self.

    No one at home paid him any attention. Wei Chengshu glanced more intently at the TV and asked, "…Was all that time you spent away from home for this?"

    As he spoke, he looked at Wei Xi, who nodded. Wei Chengshu didn't say anything else, his gaze darkening as he read the scrolling words beneath the screen: “…after a fierce battle, many Taoist priests were injured…” He then turned away with a cold expression and left.

    Shu Wanrong watched his retreating figure head to the bathroom, somewhat speechless. "Going to clean the tombstone again?"

    Wei Chengshu rummaged noisily through the bathroom cabinets, pulled out his bucket and cloth, and then slammed them back in. With a gloomy expression, he threw on his coat and left. "Not cleaning anymore! What's the point!"

    "Such an irritable child for no reason," Shu Wanrong mused, popping a grape into her mouth.

    Wei Xi paid no attention to them, focusing instead on his phone. The ad for the sect that he had instructed Qiu Guokai to create had news.

    Qiu Guokai was rather anxious. "Master Wei, I did make the ad as per your request, but will its content be acceptable? I've looked at it from every angle, and there's no way it'll pass the censors!"

    Unconcerned with Xin Nan's professional assessment, Wei Xi replied confidently, "It's alright; they've already guaranteed it. Send me the advertisement, and I'll contact Mr. Gu to have it aired."

    As he spoke, he got up to take a breather outside.

    With the New Year approaching, the biting cold in the capital intensified. Almost all the trees in the neighborhood, except for evergreens, had lost their leaves. However, the vegetation in the Wei family's courtyard remained lush and verdant. Despite the weather, many guests still came over for tea and incense, especially after the incident involving Xin Nan. The Taicang Sect, as the main force in destroying the cult, had once again appeared on television, which led to an even larger following. It even made it to the trending topics on Weibo for a few days.

    The discussions about the two Taoist priests from different regions eliminating the Self-Cultivation Sect were extensive. Many locals also shared bizarre incidents they encountered on Yucheng Mountain that day.

    Although the sudden, fierce howling of wild beasts could be scientifically explained, another topic caught people's attention more prominently—

    "I'm being serious, after we heard the noise, we went to Yucheng Mountain out of curiosity. The gate of the Self-Cultivation Sect's temple was wide open. I don't know if it was an illusion, but I swear there were loads of moving figures inside! At least a few hundred! Men and women, some in suits, others in armor, and I even saw them holding roses!"

    Most comments beneath this post comforted the netizen, suggesting that they might have been mistaken due to their eyes playing tricks on them. How could a tiny temple accommodate hundreds of people? Moreover—

    "LOL, ghosts in suits holding flowers, both male and female. The OP's imagination is wild. Did they accidentally stumble into a matchmaking event?"

    Nonetheless, among the jests, there were also serious voices. For instance, a local netizen from Xin Nan's hometown left a comment with great sincerity—

    "I believe the OP. No offense, but these past few days have been really eerie at my place. When I returned home that day, I found a shopping bag in my room containing a limited-edition pair of sneakers. I initially thought my parents bought them for me, but when I casually asked about them two days later, they both claimed not to know! That night, I dreamed of my sister who passed away over two years ago, with a man whose face I couldn't see clearly. She asked me if I liked the color of the sneakers! I woke up in fright, and my mom, with her big heart, actually said my sister was getting married in the afterlife, and those sneakers were the betrothal gift from her future husband. She told me it was okay to keep them."

    His comment had sparked nearly a thousand replies, all of which read:

    "How could someone else's brother-in-law have limited edition sneakers... Why is he still so wealthy even as a ghost..."

    "I want a brother-in-law like that too..."

    "Brother-in-law, although I don't have a sister, do you need a brother-in-law like me?"

    Wei Xi immediately knew that his employee's matchmaking endeavor was making progress. It seemed the promised mass wedding wouldn't be far off.

    But considering this nervous and restless future brother-in-law, he decided to tell Uncle Shen to ask the staff to tone down their attempts to please their future in-laws. However, before he could make the call, he ran into his second disciple, who was on the phone by the entrance.

    Leaning nonchalantly against the door pillar, the second disciple had one leg bent with his free arm resting on it. His gaze was fixed in the distance, and Wei Xi could only see the back of his head turned inward. The voice wasn't very clear:

    "Have you investigated it? That formation on the mountain."

    "Indeed."

    "I guessed right. It's a seal that also allows descendants to summon it. Both... he and I reacted. Look into the history of Jade Successor Mountain thoroughly."

    "For now, there's only one Black Tortoise."

    "Who? Where?"

    "I know about Qiu Xian. Last month, there was a flood, and the damage was severe. It was photographed. Where did it go afterward?"

    "...How far is the Yellow River from the Bohai Sea?"

    "I understand now."

    Wei Xi, confused yet intrigued, instinctively called out, "Que'er?"

    His second disciple, who was ahead, abruptly turned back. For a moment, his sharp gaze couldn't be concealed, causing Wei Xi to pause slightly when their eyes met.

    However, the disciple quickly regained his composure, mumbled a few words before hanging up the call. He approached Wei Xi, his voice turning deeper, "Why aren't you wearing a coat?"

    Only after being hit by the cold wind did Wei Xi realize the chill, but his mind was still trying to catch up. "What were you talking about just now? Some formation on the mountain?"

    The disciple glanced at him without responding. He pinched Wei Xi's hand that held the phone, probably sensing its coldness. Swiftly, he took off his own coat and draped it over Wei Xi's shoulders. Then, he paused and said, "Wei Xi, I'll be away for a few days."

    Wei Xi's mind indeed wasn't working properly, and he was easily led astray. "Where are you going?"

    The disciple zipped up his jacket for him and gazed at him for a moment. Casually, he reached out to smooth back his hair and touch the corner of his mouth. "...Just a small matter. Don't worry, I'll be back safe and sound soon."

    *****

    The disciple seemed to be in a rush. After informing Wei Xi, he packed his things and left the house, casting a glance back at the yard before departing.

    Watching his disciple's departing figure, Wei Xi felt an inexplicable urge to chase after him. But not long after, he received a sect advertisement from Qiu Guokai. Before he could open it, an unexpected guest arrived.

    Wei Xi recognized him immediately. "Mr. Gu?"

    Mr. Gu from the Cultural Affairs Department looked somewhat anxious. Upon entering, he began to flatter Wei Xi. "Master Wei, I've finally found you! I saw the news about you and Daoist Quan eliminating the evil cult in Xin Nan. It was truly remarkable."

    Looking at him, Wei Xi asked, "Is there something, Mr. Gu?"

    Mr. Gu got straight to the point. "Did Master Wei see the news about the flood that happened in Qiu Xian last month?"

    Wei Xi nodded.

    Mr. Gu: "So Master Wei is aware of the rumors circulating online about Qiu Xian having a dragon?"

    Wei Xi: "Mm."

    Mr. Gu slapped his thigh. "That's great. Our 'Believe in Science' team has received numerous submissions from people living downstream of the Yellow River, claiming they've seen the same dragon in the water. Coupled with the flood disasters occurring at the locations they mentioned, the attention on this matter online is unprecedentedly high! It poses an extraordinary threat to social stability. We can't keep up with deleting posts on forums and Weibo, so we've decided to produce a few episodes to debunk the rumors. This is no small matter. I've already contacted the local Daoist Association, and after the previous incident at the ancient tomb, you, Master Wei, immediately came to mind. I hope you'll agree to join us for the filming."

    Their program paid for guest appearances, so there was no reason for Wei Xi to decline. However, he was also surprised. "I actually have something to discuss with you, Mr. Gu."

    Mr. Gu arranged a car for him and promptly asked, "Master Wei also needs my assistance?"

    Wei Xi nodded. "Mr. Gu promised to help me with something during our last meeting at the ancient tomb in the north of the city..."

    Mr. Gu immediately nodded. "Oh, oh, oh! That! I remember, I remember. Did I really manage to be of assistance to Master Wei?"

    Wei Xi nodded slightly. "I heard that your department is responsible for approving television advertisements. We recently shot an ad..."

    Mr. Gu inwardly sighed when he heard this. So it was about advertising. This wasn't much help at all. He had heard from the local Daoist Association that Wei Xi had other business ventures, seemingly connected to the entertainment industry. It made sense that he would want to air an ad. He waved his hand casually. "I understand, I understand. No need to be formal, Master Wei. It's just a small matter within my jurisdiction."

    Assuming the situation was urgent, he eagerly invited Wei Xi to set off. After receiving Wei Xi's agreement, Gu Dingyi got into the car without hesitation.

    After the car started, Mr. Gu seemed to relax. Wei Xi recalled Qiu Guokai's words and felt a bit uncertain. "Mr. Gu, we've already shot the advertisement. Do you want to see it now?"

    Seeing him take out his phone, Mr. Gu seemed to doubt himself but remained indifferent. Not that he was boasting, but with their department's authority, they could even arrange for infomercials selling fake products, right? So, as he took the phone, he reassured himself, "Master Wei, don't worry. I'll stick to my old promise. If I can't get this done, I might as well be a dog!"

    Wei Xi nodded in satisfaction.

    Ten seconds passed.

    Mr. Gu put down his phone and gazed out the window, his expression wistful and distant. "Master Wei..."

    Flipping through the documents on Qiu Xian's flood and the photos taken by the public that he had prepared for the car ride, Wei Xi responded casually, "Hm?"

    He saw Mr. Gu staring at him. After a long moment, the man looked away, his gaze bewildered. "I'm considering whether I should try a different kind of life."

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