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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 90

    The advertisement still echoed from the mobile phone, but Mr. Gu had no energy to gaze at the mystical images displayed on it. Thinking about the boast he made to Wei Xi earlier, he felt that his career was reaching its end.

    After working for so many years and dealing with Taoist and Buddhist associations across the country multiple times, this was the first time he encountered such an extraordinary Taoist temple and its abbot.

    Seeing Mr. Gu's state, Unity Yi sensed something was amiss and whispered to his master, "Master, do you think Mr. Gu might regret his decision?"

    Even though Wei Xi was not the sharpest, he could tell when someone was troubled. Witnessing Mr. Gu's distracted state, he couldn't help but worry about Qiu Guokai's concerns.

    The world beyond the mountains was indeed too complex. How difficult it was to establish a legitimate sect with integrity.

    *****

    With different thoughts in mind, they arrived at the coastal city mentioned by Mr. Gu using various modes of transportation. As the second disciple was absent, Wei Xi felt stifled on the plane and slept throughout the journey. The moment he stepped off, he sensed the impending storm outside.

    Their aircraft was the only one on the runway, and the sky was gloomy, filled with dense clouds. The howling wind carried moist air, striking their faces fiercely. The wind was so strong that it could almost topple over those who were slender. Being situated by the sea, the air in the Sea Entry City was much more humid than Beijing, making the intense gusts even more uncomfortable.

    As Mr. Gu stepped off the plane, he lifted his head to look at the sky, and a hint of fear involuntarily showed on his face.

    This matter was of great importance, and almost half of the Daoist Association in the capital had arrived. After such a long time since Xin Nan, Xu Xiaofeng had returned to life, her body gradually regained its normal state. Familiar faces like Kuang Zhiming and Daoist Priest Old Quan had also come, all with equally solemn expressions.

    As fellow Daoists, Wei Xi greeted them proactively, "Fellow Daoists, it's been a while. Have you found your lawyer yet?"

    He recalled that before leaving Xin Nan, they had mentioned crowdfunding to hire a renowned lawyer to clear Xuanwu's name. As someone aspiring to join the Capital Daoist Association, Wei Xi, representing Taicang Sect, had contributed a symbolic 1,000 yuan. The poor Daoist priests from various sects had truly invested heavily for their sacred beast this time.

    Their solemn expressions froze at his question, and even Mr. Gu, who had intended to inquire about news, was taken aback. "Daoist priests are hiring a lawyer? For whom? Has someone committed a crime?"

    The Daoist priests replied with an odd expression, "Oh, in the cult case in Xin Nan, there was... a fellow Daoist who made a bit of a mistake and was incarcerated."

    Mr. Gu was quite confused, "I see, is that so. We know some capable people in the legal field. Please don't hesitate to ask for help if needed."

    Not often dealing with legal matters, the Daoist priests were delighted by his offer and promptly asked for more information. They took note of the names of the lawyers Mr. Gu mentioned who were skilled in criminal cases.

    Seeing their concern, after giving the names, Mr. Gu couldn't help but inquire, "From the way you all are behaving, the Daoist who made a mistake must not be an ordinary person, right? Could a major temple be involved?"

    The Daoist priests: "..."

    Sigh, it was more than just the crisis of a single Taoist temple.

    However, they didn't wish to elaborate further. After all, family matters should not be aired in public. The esteemed Black Tortoise Sect being involved in an evil cult and now having its members, dressed in yellow vests, detained in a police station, their faces pixelated on the news was hardly a proud moment for their religion.

    At this thought, everyone felt like crying again. Elder Quan, a devout believer, sorrowfully wiped his eyes before turning the conversation away with tears streaming down his cheeks. "It's a long story, let's not dwell on it. Mr. Gu, after arriving here, we collectively performed divination, but no one could determine the cause. The floods that have been occurring near the Sea Entrance City seem to be truly formidable."

    **********

    The crew from the "Believe in Science" program, accompanied by local meteorologists, were also waiting at the helipad, promptly verifying his words.

    "Since the end of last month, heavy rainfall has affected provinces along the Yellow River from west to east. Beginning with Qiu Xian, where the floods initially started, cities such as Datong, Tianyi, and Pengbo have all experienced varying degrees of disasters. The torrential rain began approaching Sea Entrance City two days ago and, almost simultaneously upon entering the city, our meteorological bureau detected a significant increase in its intensity. As of today, the rain has been pouring nonstop for an entire day and night, causing severe flooding in the city. If this continues, the airport might soon become unsustainable. There are already nearly fifty thousand stranded passengers, and without special approval, Mr. Gu, your program team wouldn't have been able to arrive either."

    As he spoke, he answered a phone call, his expression growing even more solemn. "What?!"

    After hanging up, he weakly pinched the bridge of his nose and added in a somber tone, "Folks, just now, our bureau received the latest survey results. Apart from this wave of heavy rain, a new weather system is forming over the sea and is currently approaching Sea Entrance City at a speed of twenty-one kilometers per hour. Its energy is continuously intensifying, and it's likely to make landfall very soon! There's a chance it could trigger a tsunami."

    **********

    In the airport, announcements echoed, informing passengers that flights couldn't take off due to the weather. Chaos reigned everywhere as stranded travelers angrily sought out the ground staff to vent their frustrations, unaware that the airport staff were even more anxious about the worsening conditions.

    The meteorological bureau had already issued an urgent warning about the approaching typhoon.

    Gusts of wind battered the glass walls of the airport terminal, occasionally producing alarming collisions. Planes on the apron swayed helplessly, and as Wei Xi followed the Daoist priests out, he overheard many passengers gathered inside the terminal, discussing the situation.

    "Oh my god, how bizarre! It's not even typhoon season, so why would there be such a sudden and powerful one?"

    "Yeah, the rain in Ocean City is also acting strange. Just last week, it was still sunny. Where did all this rain come from?"

    "Did you guys know? People online are saying it's because of a dragon. Dragons are mythical creatures that can summon wind and rain, right?"

    "Yes, Qiu Xian has been flooded too. Someone took a picture of a dragon's silhouette in their city's river! Look at the map, isn't that river a tributary of the Yellow River?"

    "That doesn't make sense. Didn't the news say it was just a rumor? My mom shared on her social media that the floods in Qiu Xian were due to a landslide at a reservoir. You really believe in dragons?"

    "Well... how do you know there aren't any dragons? You believe everything the news says? Don't you think it's suspicious how there have been heavy rains across provinces along the Yellow River recently? Ocean City is precisely where the Yellow River meets the sea. I think that dragon must've reached us!"

    Upon hearing the excited yet nervous remark, Wei Xi turned to glance at the passenger.

    A dragon...

    Mr. Gu, standing by the side, also overheard these discussions. He looked at the enthusiastic travelers with a worried expression. "Master Wei must have heard it too. These sorts of speculations are already spreading wildly on the internet, reaching everyone's ears. Not only do they threaten social stability, but they've also given rise to criminals who exploit such claims for fraudulent purposes. If we don't curb this trend soon, the consequences could be disastrous."

    The staff from the Meteorological Bureau expressed their helplessness. "Heavy rain and typhoons are natural phenomena created by science. It's puzzling why these citizens would rather believe baseless rumors."

    Hearing such socialist remarks, Mr. Gu could only murmur an ambiguous agreement. Suddenly, his phone rang, and after hanging up, he turned to the others with a serious tone. "Everyone, we need to get ready to depart!"

    The vehicle sped through the downpour, the raindrops beating against the windows with a loud clatter. Many areas of the road had become flooded, and as the tires splashed through, clear water sprays rose visibly.

    Looking out the window, Mr. Gu spoke rapidly. "The local cyber police in Ruhai City just contacted me. They said someone near Ruhai Park took a photo that seems to show a dragon's shadow and uploaded it to social media. Fortunately, they managed to delete the image before it spread widely."

    The film crew inside the car quickly adjusted their equipment. As Wei Xi listened to Mr. Gu's explanation about Ruhai Park's history, he learned that it was the place to view the Yellow River flowing into the sea. After searching his phone, he found that the scenery was indeed picturesque. The surging river quietly merged with the tranquil sea at the end of its course, creating a blurred yet distinct boundary between the two colors in the photos.

    Everyone in the car was tense due to this sudden turn of events. The Meteorological Bureau staff was confused. "A... dragon's shadow? What do you mean, Mr. Gu? Are you suggesting there really is a dragon in Ruhai?"

    When discussing this topic, his tone couldn't help but carry a hint of reverence. Regardless of whether one was a materialist, dragons held extraordinary significance for the people living in this land. This was precisely why netizens across the country were so keen on uncovering the truth behind the recent heavy rainfall.

    Despite his urgency, Mr. Gu didn't neglect his responsibilities. He tried to maintain the comrade's worldview, saying, "No, no. Don't believe unscientific things. Our 'Believe in Science' production team has come here to debunk superstition."

    The Meteorological Bureau staff wore a skeptical expression, looking at the solemn Taoist priests in the car. "I... see."

    As the voice faded, a crisp game sound echoed from the car – "I'll be the landlord!"

    The worldview of the bewildered meteorologist: "..."

    The flustered Mr. Gu: "..."

    The solemn group of Taoist priests: "..."

    Kuang Zhiming, still shaken by the news delivered by Mr. Gu, stared speechlessly at Wei Xi, who was sitting in the front seat. "M-Master Wei."

    Wei Xi, who hadn't played the role of the landlord, turned to look at him in confusion. "Huh?"

    After studying Wei Xi's expression for a moment, Kuang Zhiming could only say with mixed feelings, "...Could you turn the volume down a bit?"

    Wei Xi acknowledged his request with an 'oh' and muted the game sound, continuing to play cards. The meteorologist finally relaxed a little, convinced by the Taoist priest's demeanor that there was no sign of a dragon in this area. With his concerns alleviated, he started contacting his colleagues to monitor the typhoon situation.

    The other Taoist priests, along with Mr. Gu, were drenched in sweat, unsure how to comment on Wei Xi's resilient heart. Unbeknownst to them, Wei Xi's mind was operating on an entirely different plane.

    After such a long journey without his second disciple by his side, he had grown hungry.

    Amidst the intensifying hunger, he gazed at his phone's game interface with a contemplative expression on his face.

    Dragons... From what he had learned from Auntie Liu, a devotee of the sect, they didn't seem to be some protected species.

    *****

    With this thought in mind, he became distracted while playing the game. He casually played a couple of rounds and got mediocre cards, not as good as when his second disciple was by his side. He quickly lost a lot of Happy Beans.

    He closed the game and began staring blankly out the window at the rain. Despite being surrounded by people, he felt as if he had returned to those idle days on the mountain. Unconsciously, he tapped on his second disciple's WeChat profile.

    The last message was sent after Que'er had left home. Wei Xi had watched him depart and then, similarly bored, sat cross-legged at the door, letting the wind blow past him. Suddenly, his phone vibrated.

    "Go back."

    Staring at these two words that were sent long ago, Wei Xi was lost in thought for a moment. When he came back to his senses, he realized he had inadvertently pressed the voice message button, sending an empty message.

    His disciple must have left in a hurry and likely had something to attend to now. Without overthinking it, Wei Xi prepared to exit the app. However, before he could move his finger, the screen suddenly changed, and Que'er's call came through swiftly.

    After a brief pause, Wei Xi answered, "Que'er?"

    On the other end of the line, the sound of rain could be heard, splattering loudly as if it was hitting very close by. Amidst the faint hubbub in the background, the disciple's voice was somewhat indistinct, yet seemed deeper and more resonant than usual: "You called me?"

    Wei Xi was quite candid: "I accidentally pressed the button."

    He still wasn't very proficient in using this popular tool that was widely used beyond the mountains.

    There was a pause in the disciple's voice: "You're reading the message I sent you?"

    Wei Xi: "Mm-hmm."

    The disciple seemed to chuckle lightly. "Oh, have you eaten yet?"

    Wei Xi suddenly felt less bored. Gazing at the rain outside the window, he started chatting with his disciple, and the sign of the park in his line of sight drew closer and closer.

    On the other end of the call, within the Sea-Entry Park, several people clad in raincoats were stealing glances at each other with peculiar expressions.

    After a while, a handsome redhead, unable to contain her curiosity, finally spoke up, "...At such an urgent moment, why did Mr. Shuo Zong suddenly start talking on the phone by himself..."

    Xia Shouren glanced in that direction and saw the figure in the black raincoat. He didn't give it much thought. "He was called out by us at the last minute. Didn't you see how grim his face was when we met? He probably has quite a few pressing matters in the capital."

    The red-haired woman seemed to have sharper observation skills than the average person: "That's odd. Why would someone with urgent business still be smiling? He seems quite happy."

    "Hey?!" Xia Shouren was startled as well. Upon focusing his gaze, he was quickly noticed by the subject of his scrutiny. The faint smile on Shuo Zong's lips in his line of sight vanished swiftly, replaced by the usual cold demeanor. He moved the phone away and asked, "Have those people finished yet?"

    Heavy rain poured down upon the City by the Sea, causing the ocean to churn wildly. For safety reasons, the Ocean Entrance Park had long ceased operations. Yet, this group of people, having heard some news from somewhere, had gathered in a large crowd to take pictures of what they believed to be a "dragon."

    Looking at Shuo Zong's expression, Xia Shouren couldn't tell if the smile he had just seen was an illusion. After regaining his composure, he dragged the few citizens who had been disoriented by the photography incident into a corner. He then took out their phones, easily unlocked them, and deleted the recent photos and videos.

    "Mischievous creatures," Xia Shouren grumbled as he turned to the red-haired woman who had crouched down to help. "Chōmei, do you have bad eyesight or something? How could you tell that he was happy from his face? I've known him for thousands of years and still can't tell when he's happy."

    The red-haired woman, whom he addressed as Chōmei, froze for a moment before looking up again. By then, Shuo Zong had already turned away, hiding his expression.

    *****

    Wei Xi vaguely heard his disciple's voice growing distant as he mentioned doing something. He asked, "Que'er, what are you doing?"

    His disciple's voice soon drew near again, low and composed: "Nothing much, just a small matter."

    Through the electromagnetic waves, the words were spoken slowly and steadily. It seemed that the disciple was engaged in some task but still answered every question. Wei Xi could almost picture the glance his disciple had shot back at him before leaving the courtyard.

    The disciple's voice over the phone urged, "Stay at home, I'll be back in a few days."

    Wei Xi felt a warmth in his palm. Just as he was about to say that he wasn't at home and was on a moving bus, the vehicle suddenly stopped. Mr. Gu's voice echoed from the direction of the door, "Master Wei, we've arrived. Get ready to disembark."

    As the doors opened, the indistinct sound of rain became distinct, intertwining strangely with the background noise of drizzle on the other end of the disciple's call.

    The disciple seemed to have heard it too. There was a pause in their voice before it turned more serious, "Wei Xi, where are you?"

    Someone held an umbrella at the entrance. Wei Xi stepped down from the bus and looked through the fence towards the Sea-Entrance Park, surprised to see someone moving inside.

    Staring at the vaguely familiar figure facing away from him, he pondered their identity while answering, "I've just arrived in Sea-Entrance City."

    In the next second, the figure in the park suddenly turned around.

    Their eyes met, and both were momentarily stunned.

    Wei Xi observed the man, clad in a black raincoat, with handsome features. Holding a phone in one hand, he stood upright in the rain like a soldier.

    ******

    Shuo Zong stared in astonishment at the row of black umbrellas opening at the entrance to the Seaside Park, his peripheral vision unconsciously catching the turbulent and perilous sea nearby. An unexpected displeasure stirred within him. As his gaze met Wei Xi's, he stepped towards the park entrance without much thought, "Why are you—"

    Before he could finish, Wei Xi's voice echoed from the phone, "How is this annoying guy here too?"

    Shuo Zong: "?"

    He instinctively halted, scanning his surroundings for this so-called annoying individual.

    Then, realization dawned upon him, and his gaze slowly descended onto himself, "............................................"

    Not far away, Xia Shouren observed his friend, whose aura had suddenly turned gloomy as if dark clouds were swirling around him. Wiping the rain from his face, he smugly remarked to Chōmei beside him, "See for yourself, is he really happy? Happy my foot."

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