Pursuing Immortality Chapter 403
406 The Emergence Of Lushan
The river was a vast unbroken stretch back in the Tang Dynasty. However, during the Chenghua period of the Ming Dynasty, a giant sandbank was left in the middle of the river after a flood.
At the time, the counties of Min, Houguan, and Huaian all tried to claim the sandbank as theirs, resulting in a dispute. Hence, the provincial government brought in a verdict that the sandbank would be co-administered by all three counties, and was given the alternative name "Three-county Islet", which was the River-center Park nowadays.
When time came to the modern age, the surface of the river remained quite wide at Longtan Corner, but the government dared not let its guard down, and had made ample preparation work beforehand for this operation.
By the standards of the ordinary people, the area affected by an entire mountain floating out of the river would be enormous. Hence, residents on either side of the river had been evacuated early on, and flood prevention works had been set up in case that the river water would flow backward.
As a result, buildings in the large area from Longtan Corner all the way to Cangxia across the river remained where they were, but none had anyone inside. This section of the city was lifeless.
Of the seven innate state cultivators of the monastery, three were here. Together with Huang Huiguang, Cheng Ansongthe current abbot of Lshan Sectas well as Gu Yu and Xiaozhai, these seven people were the main force this time.
They waited two days in Zuohai. The third day at dusk, when the sun had not yet set and the moon not yet risen, the ideal moment arrived as calculated by Huang Huiguang.
The seven assembled at Longtan Corner, together with Mu Kun and the others. They stood there, facing the dark green river with Chen Jinggu Temple behind them. Min River was calm and waveless as it flowed eastward unhurriedlyjust as it had for the past 1000 years.
A sacrificial altar had been set up by the river, and Huang Huiguang and Cheng Ansong had changed into their ceremonial robes.
Rituals of the Lshan Sect consisted of a civil and a martial type.
The martial ritual was carried out by a priest wearing red or black ceremonial headdress hanging all the way down his back, and with a leather headband tied around his head. He would be dressed in a green top, a longpurple skirt, and a pair of straw sandals. The activities involved in this type of ritual were usually fierce and terrifying to behold. Cheek-piercing and tongue-cutting were common practices, and the belief was that the ritual was not completed without sheddingblood. This type was mainly used for subduing monsters and ghosts.
As for the civil ritual, it was similar to that of Zhengyi, which was used to invite and offer sacrifices to gods.
The sacrificial altar was covered by a drawing of the great snake of Nanwu; the statues of Xu Xun and Chen Jinggu sat on the altar to be worshipped. Also on it were talismans and refined instruments such as the dragon horn (made from ox horn, to be blown), ritual knife, trident bell, etc.
That Black Water Sword of Concealment stood right at the center of the altar, with its blade stuck into the table.
Among all these people, Mu Kun turned out to be the most nervous, for as the representative of the state, he was going to sacrifice a refined instrument as valuable as a national treasure for a seemingly unreal skill hall of Lshan that was such a high stake. To be honest, some bosses in the central government were still protesting at this moment.
Before the ceremony officially began, he couldn't help but go up to the priests and ask again, "Priest Huang, you can be frank with me: how sure are you about this?"
"Less then fifty percent!" replied Huang Huiguang.
The muscles on Mu Kun's face twitched, and he sighed. "All right, I'll ask a different question. What worries me the most now is whether there is an underwater divine mountain! If there is, we still can think of other ways even if we fail this one. However, if there isn't, then you and me"
"Hoho, we of the Lshan Sect might not be well-known, but our history and heritage are real. Our founder, Chen Jinggu, was a historical figure of the Tang Dynasty, Lord Huangshan that of Song, Generals Hua and Yu that of Yuan, and the three Perfected Men Gao that of Ming.
"Sixteen of our predecessorsLord Master Xu includedwere famous figures in the Taoist history, and all the records on their lives were closely related to the great hall of skill. The mountain definitely exists!"
"Good, good" Mu Kun was slightly embarrassed and went back to his spot, murmuring, "I hope so!"
'Teehee!' Xiaozhai snickered quietly. The fellow would be pretty decent had it not been for his bureaucratic mindset. It was a habit that made them want to stick him to the wall all the time when dealing with him
The couple of Phoenix Mountain believed Huang Huiguang's theory, for Lshan Sect produced no outstanding figures since the middle of the Ming Dynasty, nor was there any record of Lshan making its appearance after that, which corresponded with the declining of the spiritual essence.
They waited a little longer, and the sun was falling lower towards the western horizon. The moon was about to rise; it was time.
"Thank you, everyone!" Huang Huiguang turned around to face the others first, and bowed deeply, then said to Cheng Ansong, "Junior Brother, let's begin!"
The two stood ramrod straight facing the altar, the looks on their faces never as solemn. However, underneath that emotionless serious countenance was the flame of passion.
It had been five hundred years!
Lshan was very likely to be brought back to the mortal world again, and as its humble disciples, how could they not be exhilarated?
The two backed off a little, then uttered a word suddenly, "Za!"
After that, they began to chant a spell together, which consisted of an unbroken series of strange syllables that sounded halfway between a song and a poemthe spell was in ancient hokkien.
They then each held a trident bell in their left hand, and slowly walked towards the altar following Gang Steps.
Their posture was rather bizarre, for they were moving with both feet walking a straight line the whole time, each tip of the foot immediately following the heel of the foot in the front. The soles of their feet were the part landing first, then the heels. Their body was quivering slightly, which reminded one of the witch doctors' dance-in-a-trance of the Northeast.
This Gang Step was unique to the Lshan Sect, and was known as the "Lady's Step". As the name suggested, it was named after Lady Chen Jinggu.
"Hm?" Gu Yu was intrigued, for a faint fluctuationno, that was not it, it was some sort of attractionwas coming out of the two priests. It extended out like a string attached to the two, and slowly floated into the river.
There was no movement in the water.
A little while later, Cheng Ansong moved to the side, leaving the main spot to his senior brother. Huang Huiguang put down the trident bell, and took the ritual knife. With a whoosh, he then picked up that talisman handed down in his sect with the tip of the knife.
He stayed very focused, and promptly bit the tip of his tongue, then spat out a mouthful of spiritual blood. Once tinted by the blood, the talisman jolted on its own, then became still again.
'That's not enough!' Huang Huiguang realized with shock.
Remember when we mentioned that the skill of Lshan was most fierce and merciless of all? Huang Huiguang was not showing any mercy to himself. He cut off his tongue without a second thought, and switched to the method of the martial ritual. With the severed tongue in hand, he drew a few strokes on the talisman, which was the sign of an edict.
Only then did the talisman burst into flame.
Lu Yuanqing carried him to the side immediately, and stuck a healing talisman onto him, while Cheng Ansong began to chant.
"Preach in the world of the living in the morning and gather the divine soldiers at the altar at night unify the worlds of the living and the dead; no creature can run away from this power I hereby chant the spell of the Lshan, and offer a divine weapon as a sacrifice. Great Lord Master of Lshan, please come to us!"
He immediately blew the dragon horn, which made a desolate and ancient sound. With it, the burning talisman hovering in midair seemed to become a spiritual creature, and approached the black sword. It then wrapped around the blade.
The black sword shook and hummed as a great force began to pull at the sword, dragging it right towards the river.
Seeing this, Huang Huiguang waved his hands frantically, ignoring his bleeding mouth. Gu Yu then quickly went up to the sword, putting his hand over the hilt, and pressed down forcibly like Mount Taicrushing down.
As the sword wasspiritual, it was aware of its fate as a sacrifice tonight, and would naturally fight against it. Unfortunately, it was no match for the power of a Human Immortal, and was soon suppressed. The humming grew fainter, but the sword was still quivering as if it was expressing its indignation.
"..." Gu Yu sighed silently. 'Too bad, you'll never get the chance to demonstrate your full power.'
The dragon horn was still being blown, which was very energy-consuming. Cheng Ansong was only in his acquired state, and soon ran out of his energy. Luckily, the main procedure of the ceremony was over, and he no longer had to do everything himself.
"Allow me!" Shi Yunlai took over the task, blowing the dragon horn with his innate state energy. The unbroken sound resonated over the river.
The sound of the horn worked like a beacon, constantly pulling out an invisible string from the blade, which then reached out to the bottom of the river. Gu Yu was the most perceptive of this process, and could clearly sense a strange energy running out of the sword.
It seemed forever when there was finally a reaction from the river.
There was first a wave, and ripples spread across the water, glittering with a pale golden light under the last rays of sun of the day. The ripples then grew bigger and greater in number until the river began to seethe with billowing waves.
After that, the islet in the middle of the river jolted, and all the buildings on the islet collapsed with it. Trees were broken in half, and countless debris and dirt fell into the river, never to resurface again.
At this hour when day turned into night, an ancient beast of the savage ages seemed to wake up at the the bottom of the river. It struggled and roared, sending waves up so high that they could touch the sky.
The huge waves were as tall as dozens of meters, yet, miraculously, the water did not expand to the surrounding streets or flood the downtown area. Instead, the rampage was kept to the area around the islet.
A wave smashed down, crushing the suspension bridge. All the wooden boards and bits and pieces sank into the water, with none coming back up.
"Look!" Mu Kun called out all of a sudden. Centering around the islet, an area about 30 m in radius was clearly turning deeper in color as the river seethed. In the end, it became a ring, circling around the islet.
Just then, the small island could no longer hold itself together. It sank into the river, and was immediately devoured, leaving behind a dark hole; they could not even see if there was any water in it.
"Light! Quickly!" ordered Mu Kun right away.
Lights on the streets along both banks were switched on, and so were the high-wattage searchlights they'd set up beforehand on the small hill in Longtan Corner. The thick beam of light shot right into the river, lighting it up like bright daylight.
"What, what is that?" Mu Kun drew back his breath. The spot remained pitch dark as if it had sucked in all the light.
Since he couldn't see anything, he turned around, and was going to ask the others. It was then that he saw the looks on their facesLu Yuanqing, Bai Yunsheng, the tongue-less Huang Huiguang, and all the other priests all look dazzled with their flickering eyes.
The strange silence lasted for a moment before Cheng Ansong finally yelled like a mad man, "The divine mountain! The divine mountain has come back!"
"Where is it? Why can't we see it? Why?" Mu Kun was even more anxious at those words.
"The Great Hall of Skill of Lshan is only visible to the disciples of the sect, those with a firm belief in Dao, and very advanced cultivators, but not the ordinary people," explained Xiaozhai (ouch, that hurt).
As bold as she always was, she flew into river after that, standing on the surging waves. Lu Yuanqing and Bai Yunsheng followed suit to see it from up close.
Deep down at the bottom of Min River, there was the outline of a mountain. No one could tell how deep it was or what exact shape it took; the mountain seemed boundless.
The sound of the dragon horn still resonated over the night river, and Shi Yunlai was also nearly worn out after this much time. Bai Yunsheng returned promptly to the river bank, and took the job over. "My turn!"
While the others took turn with the horn, Gu Yu was working on his own. Despite the effortless look, he was actually under a great pressure.
The black sword was an orthodoxy heritage of the Youxian Sect, and he had to muster all his strength to keep it under control. He had a feeling that if he slacked off for as brief as a second, the black sword would flee.
Accompanied by the distant, desolate, and ceremonial sound of the horn, Gu Yu pulled the mountain up little by little like fishing out a whale.
Water rolled back from all directions, and rose higher and higher. When it reached the peak, it fell back down from high above with a splash, revealing what was behind.
Mu Kun and the other officials could not see it, and stood there unsure what to do.
Gu Yu and the other priests looked up, utterly shaken. The divine mountain that had been sleeping for five hundred years under the river was finally brought back!