Step Twelve – A Helping Hand – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Twelve – A Helping Hand – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai was walking through a dense woodland which hid the sun with its canopy of leaves. Here and there, shafts of sunlight pierced the gloom, to look like towering columns of burnished bronze. Piles of lush leaves of the broad leaf red pine cover the forest floor, the air was filled with insects and birds flitting willy-nilly amongst the trees, each one adding to the cacophony of sound. He had been in the forest for four days and still it stretched on with no end in sight. The forest had an enchanted, eerie look, exaggerated by the shimmering heat. Along with the humidity, the uphill climb made breathing difficult. Upon gaining the top he paused for a rest and taking out his magic bottle he took a drink.

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Step Eleven – A Falling Star – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Eleven - A Falling Star - The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai stood upon a hilltop gazing at a vista of landscapes that lay scattered before his eyes, They resembled a figment of his imagination. To one side in the distance stood the lofty karst mountains, crowned with verdant vegetation that pierced through the ocean of clouds, to look like islands hovering in the azure blue sky. A turn of the head, rice terraces, linked together, like emerald green ribbons hung out to adorn the hillside. Li Bai could imagine them in the spring, water logged and sparkling in the sunlight. Then turning a golden yellow, autumns end. Or covered in a blanket of snow come winter. Another turn of the head and farmers leading their water buffalo away from the river, as wading birds enjoyed the shallows. Fishermen in flat boats, letting their cormorants dive into the depths.

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Step Nine – No Choice to Choose – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Nine - No Choice to Choose – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai finally reached the town that he had seen ten days earlier, from across the gorge. In that ten days he had not seen anyone and was looking forward to any hospitality the town had to offer.

Upon entering the town, he sought out a bath house and spent a leisurely two hours bathing, having his nails clipped and getting a neck massage. Fully relaxed, he then made his way to the nearest tavern, finding a place to sit, he put down his backpack, bamboo box and staff. Making himself comfortable he ordered a meal of vegetable hot pot. He was just finishing this, when a youth rushes into the tavern and tripped over his bamboo box.

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Step Eight – Choose Wisley – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Steep craggy cliffs rose up on both sides of the tributary river, whose roar could be faintly heard echoing up from below. With forested mountains, hills and valleys that stretched as far as the eye could see. Through towering peaks and rocky pillars, off in the distance, Li Bai could see a town of narrow streets, with houses constructed from bamboo, wood and thatch. The town was laid out in such a way that it followed the contours of the hills.

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Step Seven – After The Future – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Seven - After The Future - The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai meandered with the river, sauntering slowly along, thinking of how much of a beautiful day it was, with the birds singing and grasshoppers chirping. Stopping to look around, he could see a complex system of lakes, marshes and multiple river systems laid out before him. When from out of nowhere emerged a hairy rhinoceros with two horns, which was walking towards him.

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Step Six – Flames of Providence – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Six – Flames of Providence – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai was hunched up, with head down and neck tucked into his shoulders as he walked through a mountain pass, for the rain was driven by the wind, and he was drenched. Suddenly he came across a patio or court yard type area, which had been hewn from the solid rock. It was worn and rutted by centuries of unshod and sandalled feet treading upon it. Straightening up and lifting his head, with his black gauze hat sodden, Li Bai saw a temple by the side of the mountain, It had a set of steep stone steps leading up to a pair of stout wooden doors. Either side of the steps there was a channel chiselled in to the rock which let the rain water run down from the steps, adding to the pool of water in which he was standing. Hoping for shelter from the weather, he climbed the steps.

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Step Five – A Little Magic – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Five – A Little Magic – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Dawn was just approaching when the city gates were opened. Upon entering Li Bai sought out a tavern, where he took a room. After filling his leather pouch with mu zhu, he then placed the rest of the coinage on top of his bamboo box. His other belongings he placed nearby. Then picking up his magic bottle, he went in search of a bath house. Not only to clean his body, but also to clean his soul, and apart from a bath and shower, he would make use of their back massage and nail cutting service. ‘And afterwards I will partake in a breakfast of fruit and cakes.’ he thought. When he was finished bathing and had his breakfast, he went to the market to buy provisions and to use some of his time sightseeing.

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Step Four – Throw of a Dice – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Four - Throw of a Dice – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

After leaving the giant and villagers, Li Bai carried on with his journey, after a few days he found himself on a hill top, looking down at a large city. Dusk was setting in, and he knew the city gates would be closed before he reached them. For there was yet a couple of hours to travel, but he was in no hurry. Had he not survived the crossing of a hostile land, underneath a blazing sun. Where if it was not for his magic bottle he wouldn’t have made it to where he now was. Three times the dragon came to his aid by breathing into the sky and making it rain. The only three times in his life that he was thankful for water.

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Step Three – The Challenge – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Step Three – The Challenge – The Absurd Adventures Of Li Bai And His Magic Bottle

Li Bai had been puzzling on a thought for a few days, so taking out his magic bottle, he addressed the fenghuang. ‘I have been thinking about what you told me when we first met, but I am a little puzzled at what you said about four other creatures. You said the dragon, qilin, turtle, and you divided the world into five and you each are responsible for one part, but if there are only four of you. How can you each look after a fifth.’

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