This is Part II of Fei Changfang's story. For Part I see here.
Evan Mantyk, Contribution Editor
One day, after Fei Changfang entered the magical world in the gourd, he bowed down and sincerely begged a wise old man there for guidance. The old man in the gourd said, "I can see that you are indeed talented, but you must not tell anyone: I will be returning to Heaven on a certain day. Would you like to come with me?"
Changfang said, "I have long desired to transcend the mundane world, but how can I do so without letting my family know?"
The old man chuckled and said, "That's easy." He handed a green bamboo staff to Changfang and said, "Take this bamboo staff home and pretend to be sick. The next day, place the bamboo staff on your bed and quietly come to me." Changfang did as instructed. When he left home, the bamboo staff on the bed turned into his corpse, and his family, crying, buried him.
Changfang followed the old man and, in a trance, arrived at a place where the old man left him alone. Suddenly, a group of tigers surrounded him, opening their mouths wide to eat him, but Changfang showed no fear. The next day, the old man took Changfang to a stone room, where he sat in the middle. Above his head hung a huge stone several yards square, suspended by only a grass rope with many snakes biting the rope. The rope seemed about to break, but Changfang sat calmly.
The old man said with satisfaction, "Indeed, you are a teachable student."
At this point, the old man took out a piece of unusually foul excrement, crawling with maggots over an inch long, and asked Changfang to eat it. Changfang hesitated, reluctant to open his mouth. The old man sighed, "It seems you still cannot become an immortal. From now on, enjoy your life in the mortal world; you have now gained a few hundred years of life." The old man passed on to him a scroll of charms that could control ghosts and spirits, heal diseases, and ward off disasters. He also gave him a bamboo staff, telling him that he could return home by riding on it.
Sadly bidding farewell to the old man, Changfang then rode on the bamboo staff and fell asleep in an instant. When he woke up, he was already back at his doorstep. His family, seeing him, thought they were seeing a ghost. He told them that what they had buried was just a bamboo staff. They dug up the coffin, opened it, and indeed found only a bamboo staff inside, finally believing his words. From then on, Changfang used the charms to control ghosts and spirits and heal diseases, and his deeds of capturing ghosts and subduing demons were recorded in books such as Legends of Immortals (神仙傳).
Changfang had the opportunity to encounter immortals but did not pass the final test of his master, losing the chance to become an immortal. Although he left a name in the mortal world with his Daoist skills, he could not ultimately transcend the mundane world, which was quite regrettable.