Li Yundong didn't have to fly for long before he saw Lin Xueqing waiting for him in the air, looking around proudly, as if she had known that Li Yundong would definitely follow her.
Seeing him approaching, Lin Xueqing was about to start bragging smugly, but Li Yundong flew past her without stopping, which made her swallow some of the words she had been about to say. She could only angrily follow him and fly over to Mount Huangshan.
After flying for a while, they finally arrived near Mount Huangshan. When Li Yundong landed, he found himself in the middle of a majestic mountain made up of thousands of peaks and valleys and generously sprinkled with rare pines. Towering rocks jutted toward the sky, and fluffy clouds gathered into a vast sea.
At first glance, Li Yundong felt like he was utterly surrounded by pine trees. These trees were rooted in the cracks of the rocks. Looking from afar, he could see that the trees were lush and dense, with curved trunks and gnarled branches, all in various poses. Some of them relied on the shore to be tall and straight, some stood at the top of the peaks, some hung upside down from the precipices, some were flat like lids, and some were sharp like swords. Some were standing along the cliffs and valleys and some were extending past the rocks; some penetrated the cracks of the stones and some broke through to see the sun. As for directions, some were upside down, some were growing horizontally, and some were sleeping on the ground and some had just awoken. They really were everywhere, even in the stones! What's more, every pine tree was unique and bizarre!
Li Yundong felt as if he was in a paradise, a wonderland of the human world, with the surrounding air filled with an unusually dense spirit of Heaven and Earth, making him feel relaxed.
"It's true that the five great mountains in China are superior to any other mountains, while Mount Huangshan even makes the five great mountains seem unnoteworthy!" Looking at the beautiful scenery around him, Li Yundong couldn't help but sigh from the bottom of his heart.
At this time, Lin Xueqing also landed beside him. Hearing his words, she said proudly, "Of course! Don't you see where you are! This is the highest peak of Mount Huangshan, Tiandu Peak! Haven't you heard the saying 'The returning guests of the five great mountains are also awed by seeing Tiandu Peak'?"
Li Yundong smiled slightly. It seemed that he had forgotten about Diyuan Jindan for a while. He looked around with intense admiration in his eyes and thought to himself, "If I could live here with Chan'er in the future, I would cultivate with her and travel around the mountains and rivers with her, making even immortals envy us!"
While Li Yundong was busy expressing his amazement, Lin Xueqing ran quickly toward Tiandu Peak. Moving with the agility of a monkey, she leaped and ran through the woods so fast that she got halfway up the mountain in the blink of an eye.
Li Yundong hurriedly shouted after her, "Hey, where are you going?"
His voice spread throughout the whole valley, causing echoes. Lin Xueqing stopped and turned back to shout at him, "To see Master Wan!"
He asked curiously, "Doesn't he live in Pine Valley Cottage?"
Lin Xueqing laughed and said, "Who told you that? He lives at Tiandu Peak! Come with me!"
Li Yundong was filled with doubt, but he quickly followed as asked.
He leaped and quickly climbed up the hillside. When he reached the top of Tiandu Peak, he looked around and saw that he seemed to be floating upon a vast sea of clouds, which was integrated with mountains, and that the rivers had gathered together. Overlooking the mountains surrounding him, he found that there were thousands of beautiful and high peaks around. However, only Tiandu Peak on which he stood was high enough to touch the sky and show disdain for the rest of the mountains. It was the most splendid and majestic mountain peak of all!
In particular, when Li Yundong looked down, he could see that the ropeway of the mountain was winding continuously like a gray snake circling around the mountain in a great coil. When the mountain wind blew, the ropeway would shake and rattle in a rather exciting fashion.
Seeing that Li Yundong's eyes were glowing with admiration and appreciation, Lin Xueqing was satisfied and came up with an idea. She suddenly suggested, "Well, let me give you a topic to test you. You need to make a couplet with this scene in front of you, which should contain the four words sea, sky, mountain, and peak. What do you think?"
Although he didn't know why she suddenly wanted to test him, when he looked around at the magnificent scenery, he felt a heroic feeling in his chest that was comparable with the vast sky. He started to believe that although the world was big, it would never be conquered!
This was the biggest difference between Taoism and Buddhism!
Buddhists emphasized that people should be aware of their mortal lives, and that there was no way for people to triumph over heaven. As for Taoists, they proposed going against heaven, and humans were bound to surpass it!
There seemed to be an intense stream of Yuanyang Qi surging through Li Yundong's chest. He felt that it was like a powerful torrent, making him want to express his deep feelings. He immediately answered, "At the end of the boundless ocean, the sky will be the shore; at the top of the highest mountain, I will be the peak!"
Reciting this couplet, he used a loud and clear voice and took a long breath, resembling the sound of countless bells in the mountains ringing in unison. It was like rolling, magnificent waves, which piled up layer by layer and were transmitted far away. The words echoed forcefully in the valley and through the sea of clouds, strong enough to make anyone who heard it feel the seething blood and Qi and become broad-minded.
As a woman, Lin Xueqing knew that Li Yundong had borrowed Lin Zexu, a famous Chinese historical figure's couplet to answer her question, but she was shocked by his impassioned feelings after hearing the sentence. "He is broad-minded and courageous! No wonder he has been given the nickname of 'Invincible Li' after only half a year of cultivation! It seems that I have underestimated him in the past. Judging by the spirit of his words, I'm sure that he will be a master in the future, a true Zhenren!" she thought with surprise.
While Lin Xueqing was still secretly shocked by Li Yundong, she heard a burst of laughter coming from not far away. "What a good verse!"
Li Yundong and Lin Xueqing turned their heads in unison, only to see Wan Zhenyuan wearing a robe and holding a dust whisk, laughing as he walked towards them.
Seeing that Wan Zhenyuan was here, Li Yundong turned around, bowed to him, and said with a smile, "So, it's Master Wan!"
Lin Xueqing bowed to Wan Zhenyuan and said casually, "Uncle Wan, I've brought him to you. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Wan Zhenyuan stroked his beard and said to Lin Xueqing with a smile, "No, that's all, Xueqing. Go and find your master. I'll have a word with Zhenren Li now!"
Lin Xueqing responded with a sigh and left quickly. After taking a few steps, she looked back at Li Yundong with a strange look in her eyes. She quickly glanced at Wan Zhenyuan, as if she wanted to say something, but stopped herself on second thought.
Wan Zhenyuan smiled at her and said, "Xueqing, is there anything else?"
She hesitated for a moment, shook her head, and said, "It's nothing. I'm leaving now, Uncle Wan!" Then, she left with spritely steps.
After watching her walk away, Li Yundong smiled and said to Wan Zhenyuan, "How have you been, Master Wan?"
Wan Zhenyuan chuckled and said, "You're too polite, Zhenren Li. I've been busy refining the Diyuan Jindan recently, so I haven't been able to take time out of my busy schedule. I could only ask Xueqing to invite you to come here for a chat. She has been spoiled by her master since she was a child. If she did anything rude, I'll apologize to you for it now."
Li Yundong waved his hand and said, "It's nothing. What I'm curious about is, why are you here, Zhenren Wan? Why aren't you at Mount Gezao?"
Wan Zhenyuan laughed and said, "Mount Gezao? I've been robbed twice there. If I foolishly went to practice alchemy there again, wouldn't I be asking for trouble?"
Li Yundong asked curiously, "Oh? Is there a problem with Mount Huangshan?"
Wan Zhenyuan smiled and said, "Mount Huangshan has been the sacred land of Taoism since ancient times. In modern times, our sect has been operating here for a long time. Our forces are deep-rooted, and outsiders can't get in. Moreover, Tiandu Peak is currently in a state of lockdown, making it a place free of tourists. Therefore, there is no need for us to worry about being disturbed by others when we practice alchemy here, and no one will know that I am refining Diyuan Jindan."
"Master Wan is really thoughtful. I'm impressed!" Li Yundong said, looking at him with a smile and nodding slightly.
Wan Zhenyuan laughed and said, "You are the one with great skills. Since you brought back the millennial snow lotus so quickly, now there is a good chance for us to refine the Diyuan Jindan!"
At first, Li Yundong wanted to ask Wan Zhenyuan why he had been spying on him, but after giving it a bit of thought, he refrained from posing the question. Instead, he asked, "Master Wan, how can I be sure that I'll be the one to refine the Diyuan Jindan in the future?"
Seeing that Li Yundong wasn't mentioning that he had spied on him, Wan Zhenyuan breathed a sigh of relief in his heart. He couldn't help but admire that Li Yundong was so young yet so experienced. He smiled and said, "You don't need to worry about it, Zhenren Li. You can watch and accompany me right up until the Diyuan Jindan is refined. I believe that with your ability, you won't be worried that I'll swallow the Diyuan Jindan in front of you, will you?"
Li Yundong smiled slightly and said, "You must be joking, Master Wan." As he said this, he carefully handed over the millennial snow lotus, then put away the white handkerchief it had been wrapped in.
At first sight of the millennial snow lotus, Wan Zhenyuan's eyes lit up. He stretched out his trembling hands and held it out in front of himself, then said in a trembling voice, "Is this really the millennial snow lotus? The one and only? Oh, My God..."
With tears in his eyes, Wan Zhenyuan knelt down in the direction of the Tianshan mountains to the west and said in a choked voice, "Master, I haven't let you down. I have finally earned a chance to refine the Diyuan Jindan in my lifetime!"
Li Yundong could see that Wan Zhenyuan, a middle-aged man of 40 or 50 years old, who was normally shrewd and sophisticated, was getting so excited that he was losing his composure. He remembered some of Wan Zhenyuan's life stories which Zi Yuan had told him before, and he couldn't help but feel a little sad and sorrowful. "Master Wan, your teacher will definitely bless you if he receives your message from heaven!" he said comfortingly.
Wan Zhenyuan raised the millennial snow lotus with both hands and kowtowed three times respectfully, then got up and wiped away his tears with his sleeves. After that, he smiled and said, "Zhenren Li, please excuse my behavior! I began to learn the Tao from my master when I was ten years old. Although my master's cultivation is extraordinary, he has always regretted that he was unable to see the fantastic appearance of Diyuan Jindan during his life, and that he couldn't refine the lost Diyuan Jindan with his own hands. Now, I am able to realize the final wish of my master. Thank you for your help!"
Li Yundong smiled slightly and said, "I'd like to see Master Wan refine the Diyuan Jindan!"
Wan Zhenyuan laughed and carefully put the snow lotus away. He pointed to a covert cave not far away and said with a smile, "Look, that is the door of the cave guarded by the immortals. I have already arranged everything inside. Please follow me."
Just as Li Yundong and Wan Zhenyuan were heading for the Alchemy Cave, Lin Xueqing returned to the Pine Valley Cottage in the north of Mount Huangshan. However, unbeknownst to her, there were two uninvited guests in the Pine Valley Cottage.
One of them, an old man with silvery-white hair and a ruddy complexion, was chatting warmly with his master Zhong Qingsong, a kind smile on his face. Beside him stood a tall, sexy, and fashionably dressed woman.
These two were none other than Zheng Yuan and his disciple, Ding Nan!