Chapter 325 – Blowing Hot and Cold
The Altar Lord heard that and smiled towards Li Qingshan as if he was saying, “Like I said!” He seemed to be completely unaware that he was already in dire straits. The black lotus beside him had only tottered slightly after being struck by the lightning.
Li Qingshan could not help but look at Han Qiongzhi. Had she sent out a distress signal when the formation had weakened? Han Qiongzhi was just as confused as he was.
No, that was impossible. The Academy of the Hundred Schools was over five hundred kilometers away from their present location. Even if she did send a signal, it was impossible for them to arrive so quickly. There was only one explanation—this was a trap, a trap for the White Lotus cult. Their identities as the hunter and the hunted immediately reversed.
Even if Altar Lord Black Lotus had the support of the strange black lotus formation, he still stood no chance against the attacks of so many school leaders. The gates of death loomed before him.
However, another question appeared in Li Qingshan’s mind. If that were the case, why hadn’t they struck earlier, letting this city full of people die and even risking Li Qingshan and Han Qiongzhi’s lives?
Wang Pushi said, “You planted the black lotus, so I’d like to see how you escape this time.”
“Life and death is set by fate. I did not flee in the past out of my own volition, but because the time was not right. I have always felt apologetic over that. You will definitely be satisfied today, commander.”
As it turned out, the black lotus was not just a regular arcane artifact. Instead, it was one bound to the Altar Lord’s life. He could unleash this formation when he planted the black lotus, such that even Foundation Establishment cultivators would be at his whim if they entered it. He was truly in his strongest state right now.
However, once it was planted, he could not move it so easily, so he was also in his weakest state.
All Foundation Establishment cultivators knew escape techniques, and Altar Lord Black Lotus was among the best of the best at such techniques. As long as he was not trapped by a formation, he could escape easily even when surrounded by all these Foundation Establishment cultivators. He had been surrounded multiple times in the past by Hawkwolf guards because he had been exposed, but they had failed to capture him every single time.
At the cost of several tens of thousands of lives, they had finally managed to trap him here for good. They were about to complete a service of great merit, such that even Wang Pushi could not help but feel delighted.
Liu Zhangqing said, “It’s just a pity for these tens of thousand lives.”
“Namo Amitābha!” The One Thought master chanted. His face was filled with pity. He could have prevented all of this.
“There’s no need to blame yourself, sir prefect. You take responsibility for the millions that occupy the Clear River prefecture. You have an obligation to make trade-offs.” Black Lotus said, “There’s no need to be sad, master. All of their sins have already been washed away. They’ve comprehended the wondrous essence of the lotus, sent off to the blissful paradise. Instead, we are the ones who dwell in filth, tainted with sins, unable to be liberated. Now that’s worth lamenting over.”
The Altar Lord did not expose their hypocrisy. Instead, he comforted them gently, without the slightest extremism. He was filled with tolerance and understanding.
“Vile spawn, shut up!” A thunderous lion’s roar erupted from the One Thought master’s mouth. With a furious glare, he said, “If I don’t enter hell, who’ll enter hell? Even if I must be tainted with sins, I’ll still kill you all and purge you scourges for the world!”
The Altar Lord said, “Master, you’re wrong there. Legalism uses strict laws to warn and deter people, which is why killing me is commander Wang’s priority mission. Confucianism governs the people and must weigh the trade-offs presented before them, which is why the entire city of people has been sacrificed, with no other choice available. However, the buddha is benevolent. Although there are great beings who purge demons, you cannot let your fury overtake your benevolence.”
Li Qingshan could see exactly what was going on. The various school leaders had initially tried to get under his skin verbally, but the Altar Lord remained as calm as still water. He was unaffected.
The slovenly daoist priest said impatiently, “What’s the point of spouting all this nonsense? Let’s just work together and kill this bastard!”
Han Anjun said to Li Qingshan, “Well done. Take her away from here.”
That seemed to signal the beginning of the battle. The various school leaders all surged with light, drawing their spiritual or arcane artifacts.
Li Qingshan glanced at the Altar Lord deeply before pulling Han Qiongzhi away with him. The Altar Lord even said with a smile, “We won’t be meeting again.”
Li Qingshan did not feel positive at all. The Altar Lord was just too composed, and from what he had said earlier, he seemed to have been expecting all of this. Even his own life or death no longer seemed important to him. From the beginning till the end, let alone fury or killing intent, he had not even spoken or behaved harshly, which instead gave Li Qingshan a deep sense of dread.
Arriving near the formation, he left without encountering any obstructions at all.
Without the life-threatening pressure, Han Qiongzhi was unable to contain her injuries anymore. She immediately spurted with blood and fainted.
Li Qingshan was afraid of wasting any time too. He summoned a cloud first, taking them to a safe location that was high enough and distant enough before shoving another recovery pill into Han Qiongzhi’s mouth. He used a technique to heal her injuries.
A while later, Han Qiongzhi woke up slowly, and Li Qingshan stopped worrying. He glanced down and began to frown again.
The battle did not erupt immediately like he had been expecting. Altar Lord Black Lotus said something, and the school leaders all became stunned.
What was going on?
The bamboo forest covered the ground with swaying and mottled shadows. The winter near Clear River city was very cold too, but it was not bone-chilling like Ancient Wind city. Qian Rongzhi was currently lamenting as she tread through the snow alone.
A delicate courtyard appeared before her. It was just as empty and quiet as before.
There was only Liu Chuanfeng writing away diligently in there. Novels had already become his only source of pride, so he could not allow his own disciple to steal the show from him.
However, he was focusing so hard that he failed to even sense Qian Rongzhi’s arrival.
Qian Rongzhi smiled. This person had not been informed and taken along to kill the Altar Lord. However, this was expected.
That day, after accepting Qiu Ruiliu’s invitation, she immediately reported it to Wang Pushi.
Sure enough, Wang Pushi told her to play along first and serve the role of a Nighthawk on the surface so that she could investigate the internal ongoings of the White Lotus cult and find the whereabouts of even larger targets. Then he reported it to the Ruyi commandery so that they could organise another attempt to kill them all.
Instead, he purposefully fed her some information so that she could earn the trust of the upper echelon of the cult. With greater risk came greater reward, so she obviously received quite a lot of rewards from both sides. However, due to her mediocre talent, she was unable to break through so easily.
Thump, thump. Qian Rongzhi knocked against the bamboo strut on the veranda. “Is Li Qingshan here?”
“You’re?” Only now did Liu Chuanfeng raise his head. He felt injustice. His dear disciple was no better than him, so why was he so lucky with women?
Qian Rongzhi stated her school and spoke a few words of courtesy before fishing out a jar of alcohol from her hundred treasures pouch. “Seems like I’ve forgotten. He hasn’t completed his trial mission yet, so I guess fate just doesn’t want him to drink this. I’ll give this jar of alcohol to you instead, sir!”
Liu Chuanfeng was immediately overjoyed. About time I got lucky with women. He faked a cough. “That doesn’t seem like a good idea. Why don’t you wait here for Qingshan to return?” He did not even wait for Qian Rongzhi to make any insistences when he added, “If that’s the case, I might as well oblige.”
A while later, there was a clank, and Liu Chuanfeng knocked over the jug of alcohol, falling onto the ground.
“Just like the rumors. He’s useless.” Qian Rongzhi had coated the alcohol in true qi, so she spat it all out again. Afterwards, she picked up his waist tablet and made her way towards the central formation of Cloudwisp island.
Being a spy was a dangerous profession no matter what day or age it was. They would be surrounded by the enemy at all times, with only death awaiting them once they were discovered, let alone a double-crossing spy who constantly blew hot and cold.
However, she had it somewhat safe. For the entire time, she had not attracted any suspicion from the White Lotus cult.
Because she had subsequently reported everything back to the White Lotus cult.