Chapter 679 – Love, Lies, and Change
In the depths of the serene lake, water rippled over Qiu Haitang’s head. She sat up without moving. She had long eyelashes, a delicate, slightly-perky nose, rosy lips, and a head full of dark hair that flowed down like a waterfall, reaching down to her waist. She was charming and pretty.
A while later, she opened her eyes and let out a gloomy sigh. Before she knew it, she had already remained beneath the lake for a lengthy period. She had never remained in secluded cultivation for so long; it was as if the world had forgotten her.
Of course, only a single person knew she was here, but that person had clearly already thrown her to the back of his mind. These damned, heartless men!
She had established a foundation many years ago, so she was well-grounded. After switching to the Heart Dyeing Art of Rouge, she had already broken through to late Foundation Establishment with granny You’s Rouge Heart. However, she had not refined it completely, so she was still a fair bit off from peak Foundation Establishment.
Taking that step and condensing her own Rouge Heart was anything but easy. She did not have an Origin Spirit pill. Breaking through with her strength alone was far too difficult. She stood up and paced around the dwelling.
If her cultivation had not progressed rapidly, she virtually would have doubted whether she could actually stay here for so long. Although she had grown tired of the noise and business, she only discovered after so much solitude that living alone was not easy either.
She swept her dark hair behind her ears. Although she was a cultivator, her meaning of life, her reason of persistence, was definitely not just cultivation. She could not allow her beauty to silently wither away in the long river of time. All of her cultivation was for the sake of finding a man she loved before using the Lovesickness Dyes the Thread Red secret technique on him.
Since human nature was fickle, then she would use a red thread to restrain it, to bind them together. Who would that be?
At first, she thought of Hua Chengzan, but she immediately dismissed him with a smile. Although she had once loved him to the point where she had even cast aside her dignity, she had yet to become so insistent. If they had no interest, then what was the point of love that was purely maintained through a technique!
Afterwards, the face with a devilish smile and scarlet hair like fire appeared before her eyes. She murmured, “Northmoon… you bastard!”
Thump! Thump! Thump!
At this moment, a series of knocking sounds rang out overhead. Qiu Haitang raised her head and saw a familiar, smiling face above the crystal ceiling.
Li Qingshan entered the dwelling at the bottom of the lake. It had not changed much compared to when he left. Although a few pieces of basic furniture had been laid out, it was still as spacious and bland as a prison. It was worlds apart from her extravagant, magnificent dwelling of the past.
It probably hasn’t been easy for her to stay here for so long!
Seeing Qiu Haitang again, Li Qingshan could not help himself as his heart skipped a beat. Right now, she wore a set of plain and neat clothes, which gave her a sense of unadorned beauty. Already with a snow-white complexion, her skin now seemed glowing, perhaps due to staying in the gloomy depths of the lake for too long. She sat there naturally and gracefully as she gazed over with a pair of lovely and elegant eyes. At the same time, she gave off an indescribable sense of wondrous charm.
To Qiu Haitang, he had changed quite a bit too. He had lost some of his flagrance, becoming much calmer and quieter. The way he looked at her brought her great satisfaction. However, when she recalled their intimacy in the past, it was as vivid as yesterday. Her mind began to ripple as she struggled to compose herself.
She remained unfazed on the surface, serving up some tea; she acted polite, courteous but distant. She was blaming him for cold-shouldering her for all this time.
Li Qingshan asked, “You’re close to facing the second heavenly tribulation, right?”
“Yes.” Qiu Haitang kept her talking at a bare minimum.
“Here.” Li Qingshan tossed a brocade box to her.
Qiu Haitang accepted the brocade box, opened it, and took a look. She exclaimed softly, “An Origin Spirit pill.”
Li Qingshan placed his hands into his sleeves and left as soon as he turned around, leaving behind the cup of tea, completely untouched and curling with steam.
“Wait! Are you just leaving like this?” Qiu Haitang never thought he would leave without even batting an eye, without even the slightest hesitance, which left her slightly frantic.
“What else am I supposed to do? You don’t seem like you want to talk to me.”
Li Qingshan turned around and said. If other people treated him negatively, he would not go out of his way to put up with them. Of course, if he used force, Qiu Haitang obviously would not stand a chance again him, but it was not like he was some sex fiend. There was no need for him to come here specially for something like that.
“You really are cold and heartless!” Qiu Haitang said furiously.
His disrespectful and indifferent attitude immediately infuriated her.
Li Qingshan smiled. “If the heavens had a heart, if the heavens had emotions, they too would grow old. You’re a cultivator after all. Looking at your talent, you better spend a little less time thinking about those matters of love and undergo the second heavenly tribulation sooner.”
“Go! Don’t come back!” Qiu Haitang threw the Origin Spirit pill back forcefully.
“Don’t tell me you’re blaming me for never visiting you?” Li Qingshan caught the Origin Spirit pill. With a flash, he arrived behind her and brought his arm around her waist, speaking into her ears.
“I don’t even care about that. Let me go!” Qiu Haitang snorted coldly and put up a forceful struggle.
Li Qingshan could feel her voluptuous bottom rubbing around, but when he lowered his head, all that met him was a jiggling, snow-white gully.
“Then I’ll give a simple explanation for myself. I cultivated for a while, fought against Si Qing and his cronies twice, and killed E Dan. Recently, his master has been trying to hunt me down. Have you heard of his master before? He’s some Beast King from the Mountain Manor of Myriad Beasts in the Dragon province. He’s really strong.”
He said it with great ease, but it was soul-stirring to Qiu Haitang. E Dan was not that easy to kill, let alone some “Beast King”. To a Foundation Establishment cultivator, that was a powerful figure from legends. She would definitely be done for if someone like him hunted her down.
As she cultivated in peace in the secretive dwelling he had built for her, he had instead gained some terrifying, formidable enemies because of her, facing danger and fighting for his life outside. He had always been doing things for her silently. Originally, he could do whatever he wanted, but he never asked for anything from her.
To her, his coldness and heartlessness immediately turned into silent responsibility, which left her feeling extremely sorry.
“I didn’t know… I should have thought of this a long time ago. After killing so many of his disciples, E Dan would have never just left this matter be. It’s truly fantastic that you’re fine.”
“That’s not exactly good news to you. My enemies are your enemies. After all, everyone knows that you’re my ‘woman’.”
Li Qingshan lifted up Qiu Haitang’s chin; she raised her head and met his eyes. She understood he had become angry because of how coldly she treated him, which left her smiling.
“If it weren’t for you, I’d be dead already. This might just be my fate.”
Qiu Haitang sighed gently, feeling a hint of helplessness, but there was not much sorrow. A layer of hazy mist enveloped her eyes, making her seem even more enchanting.
“I don’t believe in fate or whatever it is. It all lies in your own hands at the end of the day!”
Li Qingshan shoved the Origin Spirit pill into her hand and let go of her rather reluctantly. If he continued like that, he could not guarantee he would not do anything to her. Seeing her this time, he did not want to offend her too much for some reason, probably because he was not drunk!
“Can you tell me about what happened outside in detail?” Qiu Haitang turned around. She yearned to know what he had gone through.
As a result, Li Qingshan explained what Northmon had been through. He could not help but include some lies in between, filling in some blanks and embellishing some holes. The fakest parts all had to do with Qiu Haitang, like “I had always been thinking about you then!” or “Ever since I learnt that bastard E Dan had disrespected you, he became a target that I had to kill. Even if I would provoke some Beast King, that still did not faze me.”
That was the type of person he was. If Qiu Haitang wanted to be distant with him, then he would not even bother with saying an extra word to her, but if she admitted to her mistakes, he was willing to say some good things and coax her. He had to admit this was rather difficult. As Li Qingshan said those things, even he himself felt a little unnatural. His acting ability was well below average.
Qiu Haitang was a clever woman who was extremely skilled at reading faces and tones, so she should have been able to see through clumsy lies with a single glance. However, she said, “I don’t believe any of it.” while smiling bashfully. Towards the end, her eyes even shone with extraordinary splendour, becoming extremely touched. The tender feelings in her eyes rapidly strengthened.
She allowed Li Qingshan to understand why they all said female cultivators had the heaviest tribulations of attachments, which was why they should not become involved in those matters without good reason. As he watched her show her joy from the bottom of her heart, he found that she was basically glowing, radiating with incomparable, enchanting charm. As a result, his sugared words gradually became smoother, to a point where even he himself almost believed them to be true.
Yeah, back then, I might have actually been thinking about her. I had just been interrupted by that bastard E Dan’s strange howl, which was why I had to kill him first!
At a time like this, his hands were very well-behaved, only holding her hands and rubbing them gently, as admiring her flowing beauty right now and appreciating the tender feelings flowing through her eyes brought him enjoyment that even surpassed his carnal desires. Her bashful smiles, her concern, her flirtatious grumbling was all as enchanting as it could get. If he took advantage of her right now, he would instead ruin this beauty.
Smiles oozed out of Qiu Haitang’s eyes. “You really told him to call you A’yue!”
“Yeah. I called him A’qing, and there was A’dan and A’zhen too. You really should have seen their expressions back then.”
“You’re evil all the way through.” Qiu Haitang giggled to her heart’s content. “Why don’t I call you A’yue from now on too?”
“Then I’ll call you A’tang?” “Don’t, that sounds horrible. You can just call me by my name.”
As a result, Li Qingshan said tenderly, “Haitang.”
“Oh, that’s sickly.” Qiu Haitang frowned, but her heart trembled in a strange, pleasant manner, making her cheeks blush.
“Si Qing arranged so many women for you, so why didn’t you touch them? Or are you lying to me?”
“I swear to the heavens that this is absolutely true. It’s only because when I compare them to my Haitang, they’re like fireflies to the moon. They really can’t interest me.”
“Since when did I become your woman?”
“Didn’t you accept fate already?”
“You’re the one who said it all lies in your own hands at the end of the day.”
“I take that back.”
“Hehe, it’s already too late.”
Of course, there were many holes in his story. Over such a long time, if he had truly yearned for her day and night, could he really not make some time to come and see her?
However, she had automatically overlooked all of this. Even if she thought of it, she would only think that not only did he have to cultivate outside, but he also had to face powerful enemies. As such, he could not allow himself to be distracted. He did not want to drag her into misfortune either. If she blamed him for something like this, then she would basically be an ignorant woman who had no idea how priorities worked.
She was not stupid, just overly infatuated. Hua Chengzan had never said these things to her, while she looked down on other men. For a woman who had always desired love, this was actually the first time she had heard these sugared words in her life. No matter how clever and sharp she was, she would still be a little dazed.
This did not necessarily mean a few sugared words could fool her, or it would have never been Li Qingshan to be the one to say them to her. He had always helped her out, so his concern for her was not fake. It had touched her heart a long time ago, planting a seed in her heart. These words were merely an opportunity to make the seed sprout.
Li Qingshan thought that if he could see data like levels of affection right now, her level of affection for him would have definitely swelled up by a huge chunk. Sure enough, unsung heroes were not the way to go. Suffering in silence was simply stupid. He had suffered what he needed to suffer, and he had broken the silence he needed to break. Achieving these results smoothly was perfectly natural.
Towards the end, her gaze obviously became filled with tenderness and concern, basically enough to make his heart melt. As she gently and bashfully referred to him as “A’yue”, even half of his tiger bones melted away.
When it was time to part, Qiu Haitang was reluctant. Li Qingshan suddenly asked, “Haitang, do you have money?”
Up until now, if a modern person had heard what he had just said, they would definitely treat this as some column in a magazine to swindle people out of their money through love.
“Things like silver notes.”
Li Qingshan gave a further explanation. He vaguely remembered that when he gave her granny You’s hundred treasures pouch, there were a lot of silver notes in there. Back then, he did not care about them at all. He only remembered them through Sun Fubai’s reminder.
Qiu Haitang would have never imagined that the original reason why he had come to find her was for silver notes that were mostly useless to cultivators, but even with all these silver notes, they would have never been able to purchase an Origin Spirit pill.
Li Qingshan said, “I have some uses for them.”
As a result, Qiu Haitang took out all the silver notes in her possession, which was much more than what Li Qingshan originally expected. She had served as the sect master of the Sect of Clouds and Rain for all this time, having managed the earnings of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain across all these years. Granny You obviously would not care much about the money, so she allowed her to hold onto it.
Before he left, Li Qingshan said, “Haitang, don’t ingest the Origin Spirit pill in a hurry. If you fail the tribulation, I’ll be sad!” That was not a lie.
“Yeah, I will be careful.” Never had Qiu Haitang been so docile. Then she said rather bashfully, “If you aren’t busy in the future… be sure to come and visit!”
“I will.” Li Qingshan smiled, pecking her gently on the lips before leaving gracefully.
Qiu Haitang stood there stiffly, touching her lips. The gentle kiss had touched her much, much more than any of the ways he had taken advantage of her in the past.
Only a while later did she return to her senses. She spread her arms and twirled around on the spot, feeling extremely happy. Her steps became light too. Sunlight seemed to be pouring into this gloomy dwelling at the bottom of the lake.
Calming herself down after quite the difficulty, she began looking forward to the next time they would meet. She gazed at the Origin Spirit pill in her hand. She had to step up with her cultivation. Regardless of what he said, she believed there was fate involved.
Li Qingshan left the lake, but he wondered whether he had actually handled the matters correctly earlier. However, he threw these thoughts to the back of his mind very soon. Right and wrong had never been so easy to distinguish in the world. He had already done it, so there was nothing to regret over.
He passed these silver notes to Sun Fubai before attending a banquet at the Parlour of Clouds and Rain at night, formally claiming the Sect of Clouds and Rain as his, which gave him a source of wealth. The hundred-year plan of the school of Novels unfolded grandly. To Li Qingshan, this was not something particularly important. The Divine Talisman of Great Creation did not hold any great significance. As a matter of fact, it could be regarded as the least significant path among his many paths of cultivation. However, it truly affected the lives of millions.
Li Qingshan’s life suddenly became peaceful, but certain things were changing, even unbeknownst to him.