Chapter 324 – Arrival of the Hundred Schools
“You! Didn’t I tell you to leave?” Han Qiongzhi stopped.
Li Qingshan’s tall figure stood before the entrance of the Qian estate as he looked back and said, “Apologies. I don’t have a habit of having women die for me!” He was apologising for his momentary hesitation earlier.
“Even if we’re trying to interrupt the formation, I have a better chance at it than you. You go instead!”
“I’m in charge here!” Han Qiongzhi caught up with him in a hurry. Li Qingshan pointed at her forehead, and a supreme grade talisman lit up, enveloping her.
Although the power of all talismans had greatly weakened within the formation, it would still be of some use. The thin cracks on her face immediately stopped spreading.
She wanted to speak, but a recovery pill was tossed into her mouth, and her injuries began to heal.
“Only women who listen are adorable. Don’t let my efforts go to waste.” Li Qingshan said nothing more. He turned into a gale and made a beeline for the inner courtyard of the Qian estate.
Han Qiongzhi gritted her teeth and rushed towards the exit of the city.
“Sometimes, there needs to be a sacrifice, but no matter who the sacrifice is, it shouldn’t go to waste.” This was also something Han Anjun had once told her. Even in chess, the concept of bait and sacrificial pieces existed, let alone in a battle between two armies. This was the path of the school of the Military.
The familiar scenery rushed past him as Li Qingshan charged in.
His true qi was useless now. Not only was he unable to fly, but he had even lost the ability to make turns in the air. Right now, his feet could not afford to leave the ground without good reason.
Who knew how many walls he had run through. Finally, he arrived at the inner courtyard, the origin of the black lotus stalk.
There was a pond of lotus flowers to one side. The lily pads were verdant as the lotus flowers bloomed, emanating with fragrance like it was late spring. He could vaguely see a carp swimming around in there. It was brimming with life. However, it seemed like such a strange contrast to the deathly silent Ancient Wind city.
A man in black ceremonial robes with a black lotus crown sat on a lotus leaf with his legs crossed. He extended his hand to stir the water of the pond, teasing the carp. He was like a cultivated scholar. He did not even give off a hint of treachery.
However, the thick stalk of the black lotus that was about to bloom was planted right before him. It had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
“You’ve come. Looks like Ruiliu has already departed. No, I can say he’s come too.” The man in black looked at the black lotus and smiled.
Li Qingshan was very tempted to just swing his blade at him without uttering a single word, just like what Han Qiongzhi had done, but the warnings in his heart were basically screaming out. This black-robed man was not just a Foundation Establishment cultivator. He had reached the peak of Foundation Establishment. The feeling he gave Li Qingshan approached what the slovenly daoist priest exuded.
Under such a state, perhaps he only needed a single move to kill him. However, the more dangerous it was, the calmer he became. He searched for the slightest opening, the slightest hope of survival.
“Who are you supposed to be?”
“Names are just a form of reference for convenience, so you can call me Black Lotus!”
“Your companion has died. Don’t you feel sorrow or fury for him?”
“I feel happy for him. He’s tained with quite a lot of sins, so it’s about time they catch up to him.” Altar Lord Black Lotus chanted slowly, “All sins annihilated, the lotus blooms. Away from the sludge, to purity and clarity!” His gentle voice had quite the charm. His eyes were clear and at ease, like an eminent monk. Anyone who saw him would want to get closer to him.
“You feel happy for yourself, as he’s made your lotus a little stronger. Though I wonder when you’ll pay for your own sins?”
“Perhaps today.” Black Lotus smiled.
Li Qingshan was speechless. The Altar Lord had not just overcome death. He truly viewed death as relief. The thoughts of cultists truly could not be analysed with logic.
At this moment, there was a splash in the pond, and a red shadow passed through the lily pads, squirming around and swimming over. It nodded towards Li Qingshan in acknowledgement. It was the same fish that Li Qingshan had originally released. It opened its mouth, as if it was asking for pills.
“You know each other?” Altar Lord Black Lotus waved his hand. “Go, go. I don’t have any pills for you right now.”
Even against a carp, something that was only regarded as a daemon in the eyes of regular people, his expression was so gentle that he seemed like he was coaxing a child throwing a tantrum for candy. Perhaps this metaphor was wrong, as he had personally killed hundreds, if not thousands, of children just then.
The Altar Lord was helpless. He took out a pill from his hundred treasures pouch and placed it in the carp’s mouth, rubbing the carp’s head. Only then did the carp swim away in satisfaction. The pill was not as great as Virtue Accumulation pills, but it was not far off either.
No, I can’t keep dragging it out any longer. Li Qingshan took a step forward.
“You want to cut the black lotus and save your friend?”
Li Qingshan’s steps halted. Had this Altar Lord been spying on them the entire time? If that was the case, it would be difficult for him to carry out his plan.
“I saw nothing. I was just guessing you were planning that. Hawkwolf guards rarely move alone, especially when they face the likes of us. You were staring at the black lotus the entire time before. Is it a man or a woman?”
“Are you planning to use the power of belief within your divine talisman to activate a talisman and launch a sneak attack against me?”
Li Qingshan’s heart that had just settled down slightly suddenly tightened again. When he activated the talisman and opened his hundred treasures pouch, he had not used his own blood, but the Divine Talisman of Great Creation. Ever since he left the prefectural city, the power of belief within the divine talisman had gradually increased. Clearly, it came from the members of the Cloudwisp association.
The power of belief had always been an extremely special power. It was not affected by the formation at all. Right now, it played a critical role for achieving victory, but he never thought the opponent would see through and disclose everything before he could even strike.
The Altar Lord said, “The power that the divine talisman in your body radiates with is still very weak, but it’s still not something that I can just ignore. Whatever, go ahead!”
“I won’t stop you. If you can shake the stalk, the formation will shake for an instant too, and your friend will have the opportunity to escape from here. I want to see how you’ll achieve this.”
Li Qingshan frowned. Never had he met such a strange opponent.
Black Lotus said, “Don’t worry. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it long ago. You can treat what I said as sincere words coming from the heart of a dead man!”
“A dead man?” Li Qingshan strode towards the black stalk, but he was filled with doubts. If the Altar Lord had done everything he could in an attempt to kill him right from the beginning, he would instead be at greater ease. However, this situation was just too unexpected, which only pressured him more. He had to guard against an attack from the Altar Lord at all times, and he had to worry about whether this was a trap or not.
However, he did not purposefully maintain his distance from him either. At such a distance, they were just a few meters away, which was absolutely nothing in the eyes of a Foundation Establishment cultivator.
Li Qingshan halted. He wielded his fingers like a sword and leapt up. The remaining dozen or so strands of sword qi in his body fused with his finger and stabbed towards the black stalk.
The unstoppable sword qi stabbed deeply into the stalk, cutting off its access to nutrients. The huge bud on top tottered slightly too. The sky suddenly brightened slightly before recovering its darkness once more.
Li Qingshan returned to the side of the pond and looked at the Altar Lord in bewilderment.
Sure enough, the Altar Lord had done nothing. Instead, he praised, “The sword qi is quite extraordinary. No wonder Ruiliu crumpled from just a single strike.”
“Now, it’s time for the matter between us,” Li Qingshan said. Han Qiongzhi must have used this opportunity to escape. Now, only the two of them remained in Ancient Wind city. He could transform and fight to his heart’s content. With the formation serving as an obstruction, he would not be spotted by outsiders either.
“Oh?” The Altar Lord was slightly surprised. Even if this seventh layer Qi Practitioner had some special powers, standing up against a Foundation Establishment cultivator when he could not even use his true qi would be overestimating himself a little.
“Even in the face of great danger, people like me will confront it calmly, without losing their composure. Why must you copy the mediocre and put up a pointless battle of desperation?” He instead lectured Li Qingshan.
“Cut the bullshit!” Just when Li Qingshan wanted to unleash his daemon qi, he heard footsteps from behind and looked back. “Why did you come back?”
“I don’t have a habit of having men die for me either. And, I’ve never been an adorable woman in the first place. There’s no need for me to please you!” Han Qiongzhi’s expression changed as she rebutted.
Even she herself did not know why she had returned. From the education she had received since young, retreat was the most optimal decision in a situation like this, and she would not be at any fault either. Whether it was the Hawkwolf Guard or the school of the Military, neither of them encouraged pointless sacrifices.
Wavering about at a time like this would instead waste the sacrifice of her companion. Originally, she hated these gestures that were no different from a little girl’s, but this time, she was unable to abandon him. In her heart, he was not just a colleague, a friend, or a companion.
“I just feel like I can’t escape the pursuit of a Foundation Establishment cultivator. Instead of being defeated one after another, we might as well put on one last struggle together. Perhaps we might have a small chance.”
“So it really was a woman, and a beautiful one too. It truly is rare to find a pair that both pleases one another and are willing to sacrifice for one another. You should treasure this fate that has brought you together.”
At this moment, Altar Lord Black Lotus continued to study them in interest. As he spoke, he seemed more like a matchmaker.
Li Qingshan had no idea on how to react either. If someone was willing to die with you, then it would be nothing even if they found out about your secret!
He said to Han Qiongzhi, “Be careful.” He took out all of his supreme grade talismans and was about to unleash them in a desperate battle.
“Hold on!” The Altar Lord suddenly raised his hand.
Li Qingshan would never wait if he faced other opponents, but this Altar Lord Black Lotus was just far too strange. From the beginning till the end, let alone killing intent, he even lacked hostility.
“Both of you go. The people I was waiting for have come!” The Altar Lord raised his head towards the sky.
A streak of scorching white light cut through the darkness, descending from above and landing on the black lotus that was about to bloom.
Boom! Thunder soon followed.
A few familiar figures descended from above.
Han Qiongzhi cried out, “Father!”
Han Anjun was among them. Beside him was also Liu Zhangqing, Wang Pushi, the One Thought master, and the others. Basically all the school leaders were present. As for the lightning bolt, it had originated from the peak Foundation Establishment slovenly daoist priest, Zhou Tong. That was why it had managed to rip through the formation in a single stroke.
Wang Pushi said, “Altar Lord Black Lotus, today is the day you die!”
PS: Had a night of sleep and feeling slightly unwell became feeling very unwell. The climate of Henan sure is messed up! Just this one chapter today. I’ll return to regular releases tomorrow. I’ll go make some ginger soup, so I’ll recover tomorrow!