“But…” Li Yiming glanced at Eyeglasses. He knew from the way he spoke that the old man was no ordinary person.
“Well… I don’t really know how to put it. You’ll see for yourself soon enough.” Eyeglasses shook his hands and pushed his Shadowless stone pendant back beneath his collar.
However, Eyeglasses only piqued Li Yiming’s curiosity even more. Fortunately, it was not long before Li Yiming was given an answer; the chanting in the hall had ceased, and an old man wearing a blue Dao robe appeared at the entrance. He seemed no different from any other old man, with a face wizened by wrinkles, the skin on his eyelids loosely hanging from his eyes, and his silvery hair tied up into a braid above his head. His eyes were foggy, and it seemed like he was half-blind.
“I’ve made you wait.” The old man saluted the group with a bow. He spoke softly, but somehow his voice rung out loud and clear in everyone’s ears.
“We’re sorry to disturb you, Master Qingfeng.” You Fang answered the salutation. Everyone stood up from where they sat, save for Chen Quan, who squinted his eyes and scrutinized the old man.
“Oh, not at all. On the contrary, I’m sorry to have made you come all the way. Please, come inside.” Qing Feng gestured.
Lin Lu put her rifle on the ground and followed Qing Feng after a quick glance at Zhang Shanjun, who stood still while keeping guard. Li Yiming also put his gun down and followed along with Liu Meng.
“It must have been a long trip. Please take a break. I’ll go get the refreshments,” Qing Feng said and headed for the side hall.
“There’s no need to inconvenience yourself, master. My name is Lin Lu, and I’m the one responsible for this operation. We’d like to know if there have been any changes in Lianyun Peak recently.” Lin Lu intervened and explained herself.
“It’s okay, it’ll only take a little while.” Qing Feng made a smile that accentuated his wrinkles and insisted on showing his due hospitality.
“Thank you, Master Qing Feng. But it would really be inappropriate for us to inconvenience you…” You Fang stepped forward and supported Qing Feng back into the crowd.
“Oh well…” Qing Feng smiled and shook his head as he looked at each of his visitors.
Lin Lu frowned lightly; with her way of doing things, she found it hard to deal with people like Qing Feng. After exchanging a quick glance with Mr. You Fang, she took a few steps back and gave the responsibility of interacting with Qing Feng with the latter. Qing Feng continued his examination, stopped upon noticing Li Yiming’s bald head, and made another bow.
“Oh, my apologies. I did not realize that someone who walked the way of Buddha was…” Qing Feng said. “Regardless, you are my guest the moment you walk through the door, these are the rules, and what you believe in doesn’t concern me.”
“I’m sorry, this is a misunderstanding. I’m bald, that’s all…” Li Yiming lowered his head to show that he did not have the markings that were inscribed on the head of monks.
Liu Meng put her hand to her mouth to hide a chuckle.
“Master Qing Feng, may I ask you about Lianyun Peak…” You Fang was also baffled. He had heard of Qing Feng’s name for a long time. ‘But who would have known… time is really unforgiving I suppose.’
“Oh, yes. Lianyun Peak. Please follow me…” Qing Feng took on a worried expression and limped shakingly toward the back of the building. You Fang immediately stepped forward to help him.
Li Yiming touched his bald head once again and followed with a bitter smile. As for Chen Quan, he was busy examining the hall, not sparing a single brick. His attention finally settled down on the chandelier right in front of a statue of a Taoist deity.
“If you dare bring a leaf out of this place, I’ll bury you under the tree at the entrance.” Lin Lu approached Chen Quan and threatened him with a cold voice.
“Haha! You must be joking. This is all a matter of fate.” Chen Quan let out a dry smile and looked away.
“Well, you can test your fate with that tree.” Lin Lu gave Chen Quan another warning.
The group followed Qing Feng into a small backyard in which moss was running rampant, with only a stone desk and four chairs under a large tree. The abbey seemed even more desolate, with broken walls and roofs in disrepair.
‘This monastery has a thousand year of history? But it’s in shambles…’ Li Yiming looked at the pale blue bricks which paved the ground that formed beautiful patterns.
“Master, you’ve brought us here for…” You Fang looked at the backyard.
“Here…” Qing Feng raised his right hand slowly and pointed forward with squinted eyes.
“Here?” Lin Lu looked forward and saw a rather short wall half covered in moss. There was also a large crack near its base, from which a vine emerged and stretched itself to reach its top.
“Above. The mountain.” Master Qing Feng looked forward and said in a voice full of worry.
“Mountain?” Li Yiming frowned.
“Are you talking about the mountains in the distance?” Lin Lu took a deep breath. There were mountains in the distance, but they were so far away that they could barely be seen. ‘Is he getting too old?’
“No, I’m talking about the peak right next there.”
“What? Are you kidding, old man?” Chen Quan had climbed onto the stone table, not being able to see anything due to his height. He looked at the large tree in the backyard and contemplated climbing up that as well.
“There are forty-nine peaks here. That one is the thirty-first… Duan’Ou Peak.” Qing Feng put his hand down and looked back at the group.
“What?” Eyeglasses frowned. He exchanged a glance with Li Yiming and quickly took out his computer. “Wait… there is a peak here, at least according to satellite images, that is.”
“What?” Lin Lu approached them and stared at the screen. Liu Meng, whose curiosity was piqued, also came in to check.
“The entire peak is gone?” Li Yiming looked at where Qing Feng was pointing. There was nothing but the blue sky and a few white clouds. ‘Well, that also excludes the possibility of being hidden by clouds or fog.’
“Nine days ago, I’ve noticed that the peak would vanish at noon and reappear at dusk. It’s been like this every day since then.” Qing Feng muttered to himself quietly.
“I thought the supernatural events only occurred in Lianyun Peak?” You Fang asked, visibly surprised, and he joined the ranks of the people who came in to look at Eyeglasses’ computer.
Qing Feng did not answer. Instead, he turned back toward the giant osmanthus tree in the backyard, which was soon about to flower.
“I need to check this with my equipment.” Eyeglasses put his computer down and glanced at the sky once again; this strange phenomenon was already worth this full attention.
“We’ll help you. Come, Jian Ming.” Lin Lu followed and gave an order to her subordinate.
“I’ll go have a look too.” Liu Meng also joined in after a quick nod at Li Yiming.
“May I talk with you in private?” Just as Li Yiming was about to follow up, Qing Feng suddenly turned his head toward Li Yiming and asked.
“Of course.” Li Yiming was stopped in his tracks and accepted. You Fang and Chen Quan were quick enough to grant privacy to Li Yiming and Qing Feng. ‘What does he want with me?’ Li Yiming wondered.
Qing Feng slowly paced toward the stone chair, and, without minding the fact that Chen Quan had just stepped on it a moment ago, sat down with his hands on his knees. Li Yiming sat down facing him.
“May I know what teachings you may have for me?” Li Yiming looked at Qing Feng with a smile, unaware that his smile did not seem very friendly when paired with his bald head.
“I was initiated to the way of the Dao since a child. I read the Yi when I was thirty-five, Luo Shu when I was forty-one, and He Tu when I was forty-nine. I started traveling the world when I was fifty-three. In ten years, I’ve visited over three hundred shrines and abbeys.” Qing He sighed and raised his head toward the branches of the giant osmanthus tree. 1
Li Yiming listened carefully, but he could not help but wonder. ‘… and why exactly is he telling me this?’
“When I was sixty-three, I came here. Lianyun Peak of Tianshan, and I haven’t left ever since.” Qing Feng put his hands back into his sleeves and reminisced.
Li Yiming nodded and waited for the next part of the tale, just like a child at school. ‘Is this normal…? Do all old people like doing things like this?’
“I arrived at dusk. I remember that it was a young disciple who came to open the door for me. The other ones were all busy with their training. I didn’t want to disturb them, so I started to meditate in front of the hall. But curiously, I couldn’t settle down. I even went over a scripture nineteen times in my mind, and yet something troubled me deeply in this place where you would expect to find nothing but tranquility among mountains and streams.”
“And then?” Li Yiming was having a hard time faking being interested, so he asked a question to stay focused.
“Well, since that day, I’ve lived here for forty years.”
“Forty years? And you are…” Li Yiming was surprised, and he tried to lead the conversation to a more interesting topic.
“I am one hundred and three years old.”
I guess this isn’t just the Loch Ness monster.
1.Yi, Luo Shu and He Tu are all famous Taoist works, kind of like the Bible.
Please go to https://www.novelupdates.cc/Sundering-Nature/
to read the latest chapters for free