Chapter 685 – Return
“Li Qingshi?” Li Long was taken aback. He scanned the ruins beneath his feet and understood something. “What a good name, but it’s just a little unsuitable.”
Pebble wiped away his snot and tears. “My mum said that I have to be like my uncle. I have to become someone impressive!”
Li Long rubbed his head and crouched down. “I’ll take you to see him, alright?”
“M- m- my dad and mum are dead, right? Just like Old Yellow?” Pebble asked in fright.
There was nothing Li Long could say in response. He sighed. He wondered how his master and everyone else was doing. With their skill, the fire should not have taken their lives, riht?
At this moment, a group of people appeared in the ruins on the other side of the village. Spotting the two of them, the person at the front rushed over.
Li Long’s eyes lit up. These people were the disciples of the Iron Fist school being led by Liu Hong, as well as many villagers.
As it turned out, after the great fire had been lit, Liu Hong had led the disciples of the Iron Fist school to evacuate all the villagers, fleeing into the mountains nearby. Only when the sun had risen up and the flames had subsided did they find the courage to return.
“As long as you’re fine!”
Liu Hong eased up, while Wang Lei’s gaze towards Li Long became filled with reverence. The great fire that filled the air last night was basically the legendary handiwork of immortals. If it were not for him, probably everyone in Crouching Ox village would die.
The villagers found their ruined homes with their family. Many of them sobbed. Pebble finally understood that his parents had suffered the same fate as Old Yellow. They would never be returning again. He began to wail loudly.
Li Long was relieved that at least his battle had not been meaningless, but he was unable to cheer up inside. He said to Liu Hong, “Master, it’s time for me to go back.”
“Aren’t you going to wait until the burial?”
“My father’s soul has already returned to the netherworld. All that remains is but a shell, and probably even this shell doesn’t exist anymore!”
Li Long gazed at Li Hu and Li Bao from afar. When the fire started, they could not even run away in time, so why would they still care about a dead corpse? It had been reduced to ashes with the courtyard of the Li family.
It was strange now that he mentioned it. They were clearly brothers connected by blood, from the same mother and father, yet he found them to be so distant right now. It was as if they lived completely different lives. The so-called returning home gloriously had become meaningless.
Once he left this time, he would probably never return to this hamlet again. Li Long thought of Li Qingshan again. Had he anticipated this already, which was why he was so resolute?
In the end, Li Long passed enough silver to build a hundred Crouching Ox villages to Liu Hong, together with a jar of medicinal alcohol he had carefully brewed. He handed over a few more things before setting off on the journey back to Clear River city.
“What a huge river! What a huge boat!”
Pebble leaned on the railing and widened his eyes, gazing at the raging Clear river. He gulped. He probably had yet to properly understand the meaning of death. He had already recovered some liveliness, enamoured by this wondrous sight he had never seen before.
Instead, Li Long’s heart still weighed rather heavily. As he gazed at Pebble from behind, he felt worried. Back then, he had acted on impulse to say that he would take him to see Li Qingshan. Li Qingshan had already severed his ties with the Li family. With that man’s resolve, it definitely was not just for say. The fate of this pitiful child probably would not be so optimistic.
The boat followed the flow of the river. By the time they arrived in Clear River city, it was already dusk. Clear River city blazed with light.
Together, Li Long and Pebble disembarked from the boat. Everyone around them avoided them with faces of disgust. Li Long still seemed as rustic as ever, while Pebble was even worse off. He was as dirty and filthy as a young beggar. Li Long had not even given him a basic clean, let alone changing him into a new set of clothes.
Pebble could not help but cower under the disdainful gazes, but when he saw Li Long striding ahead calmly, it brought him great ease.
After disembarking, Li Long visited the Hawkwolf Guard to ask about Li Qingshan’s whereabouts, learning he was holding a banquet in the Parlour of Cloud and Rain. As a result, he brought Pebble to the blazing Parlour of Clouds and Rain. Pebble raised his head and did his best to look up.
The rooftop of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain was currently a scene of prosperity. The warm breeze was intoxicating as a celebration for the current peace unfolded.
Basically all the Hawkwolf guards of the Clear River prefecture were gathered there, but most of them could only sit towards the end, as in front of them were Wei Yangsheng, Liu Zhangqing, and the other Foundation Establishment cultivators. Even Han Tieyi was among them.
Hua Chenglu was there too. She frowned as she gazed at Hua Chengzan, who sat in the secondary seat. This banquet was held for him, except he was drunk, and he held a woman in each arm like no one else was around, playing around with them. He would embrace them in intimate ways from time to time.
If any other man behaved like that, they would inevitably come off as indecent and obscene, but when it was him, it was casual and elegant, like the outstanding son of an aristocratic family.
Sitting behind the primary seat’s white, jade table was a robust young man who leaned on his arms, smiling faintly. He fiddled around with an alcohol cup in his hand as if he was admiring the song and dance, but at a closer glance, it was possible to discover that his dark eyes were not focused at all.
His appearance obviously stood no chance against a handsome dandy like Hua Chengzan, but he was like a tiger prowling through the forest, possessing a bearing that could look down on all. Even though he was silent, no one could neglect his existence.
“Isn’t Linglong pretty?”
A woman pushed him gently from beside him. Her beautiful face formed a perfect, flirtatious pout. Her figure was very petite, like a fourteen or fifteen year old girl, except it curved delicately and exquisitely. Her gentle baby-face was extremely cute, giving off a special type of charm.
Li Qingshan looked down and replied in an unconcerned manner. This woman was indeed very pretty. She even possessed the Aspect of Exquisite and Smooth Beauty. Probably only Hua Chenglu out of everyone present was more beautiful than her.
“Then why haven’t you looked at me at all?” Afterwards, she stifled her voice and whispered in his ear, “Don’t tell me commander Hua is jealous?” Her breath tickled his ears as she gently touched the rim of his ear with the tip of her tongue.
“Aren’t you afraid of being eaten by me because your cultivation is insufficient?”
“I’ll never be afraid.” Linglong stuck out her tongue, but sure enough, she sat up properly.
Li Qingshan shook his head. She had been such a bashful child back then, but after a year of special treatment, she had become bold enough to tease him in public.
“Sir, sect master, there’s a man called Li Long who wishes to see you. He’s currently waiting in the warming house,” a female attendant reported.
“Oh, he’s back.” Li Qingshan stood up and made his way downstairs to the warming house. “You’ve come back so soon! Let’s have a drink together! Huh? This child is…”
“A few things happened…” Li Long thought about how he would phrase it as he explained everything that had happened. Pebble already knew the person he was seeing was his legendary, extremely-powerful uncle. Under Li Qingshan’s gaze, his tiny face became bright red, and he stood as tall as he could.
Li Qingshan shut his eyes before opening them again. “I’ve already severed my ties with the Li family. This child has nothing to do with me. You shouldn’t have brought him to Clear River city!”
Pebble deflated like a balloon. He felt both wronged and furious. He raised his head to say something, but when he met Li Qingshan’s eyes, he could not say anything at all. He lowered his eyes, and his eyes reddened as tears began to flow.
“I understand. However, I want to accept him as my disciple.”
Li Long sighed. He had purposefully avoided cleaning up Pebble so that he could see a little more pitiful. If he could gain Li Qingshan’s recognition, then he would be on a meteoric rise, but it still did not work out in the end!
“The name, Li Qingshi, is unsuitable. You better change it!”
Li Long’s eyes lit up again. “Then, what should he be called?”
“Call him Li Xiaoyao!” Li Qingshan answered without even thinking before changing the topic. “You’re close to Foundation Establishment too. Here are three True Spirit pills. Qi Practitioners have no right to serve as people’s masters.”