Chapter 688 – Realm of Cultivation
Qiu Haitang was meditating at the bottom of the lake when she suddenly sensed the water being disturbed. The lakewater parted, and she beamed with joy, standing up in front of the mirror and tidying her hair by stroking through it with her slender fingers. She turned around, and sure enough, Northmoon appeared. Her joy subsided. Right when she was about to talk, she noticed Hua Chengzan beside him, which left her surprised.
The moment she looked back, Hua Chengzan basically failed to recognise her. Dressed in simple clothes, she was more beautiful than any of his memories of her, radiating with enchanting charm.
This was not only because of practising the Heart Dyeing Art of Rouge. When she emerged from the shadows of the past, listened to the soul-stirring, sweet words and regained her confidence, she obviously seemed like she was radiating with cheerfulness.
Qiu Haitang shot a questioning glance at Northmoon. Li Qingshan crossed his arms. “This man came and found me. He said he wanted to see you, and he had something to say to you.”
“I don’t want to see him. Please get him to leave!” Qiu Haitang turned around. She did not want to have anything to do with him anymore, much less cause any misunderstandings.
Li Qingshan looked at Hua Chengzan. Hua Chengzan was as clever as they came, but even he was left rather stumped about how he should face the woman he had left down severely.
“Haitang, it’s best if certain things are made clear. If they hold you back, they’ll be extremely detrimental to your cultivation.”
Li Qingshan shook his head and slid back. As he said that, he disappeared into the lakewater.
“Hua Chengzan, just what do you have to say for everything that’s happened already?” Qiu Haitang sucked in a deep breath and said without even looking back.
“Failing to stand forward for you back then in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain is the greatest disgrace in my life. Ever since then, I’ve always been tossing and turning restlessly, filled with regret. I…”
Reaching there, Hua Chengzan choked, unable to continue.
Qiu Haitang turned around slowly. Seeing him in his current shape, her heart softened. “What’s the use in saying all of this now?”
Hua Chengzan said sincerely, “It’s useless, but please believe me that if I were alone, I’d be willing to die for you.”
“I believe you’re not a cowardly and overcautious person. But, I want to ask you something. If it were Gu Yanying instead, what would you have done?”
“Sorry, I don’t remember her anymore.”
“You don’t remember her?” Qiu Haitang widened her eyes in surprise. She would believe Hua Chengzan if he said he had forgotten about anyone else, just not this woman.
Hua Chengzan told her about his strange experience this night. When he emerged from Gu Yanying’s shadow and his various memories of Qiu Haitang suddenly became so clear, he could not help but wonder whether there would be a different conclusion if he never met Gu Yanying, or if he had drunk the Water of Oblivion sooner.
Qiu Haitang let out a lengthy sigh. “Then I really must congratulate you! I can answer that question for you. If it were Gu Yanying, you would have tossed aside everything on your mind, just so that you could win a smile from her. I understand how you would have felt.”
“But did you know? Back then, never in my wildest dreams did I want you to cast aside everything for me. I only wanted you to lie to me, to coax me. Everything that you could do for Gu Yanying, I could have done it for you too… But that’s all in the past now. You’re doing well, and I’m not doing bad either, right?”
Qiu Haitang turned her head away and wiped the corner of her eye, letting out a long sigh. After saying these things, she felt her entire body lighten up. Hua Chengzan was still the same Hua Chengzan, but before she knew it, he had already lost the charm that drove her wild in the past.
“Yeah. That’s the only thing worth rejoicing over, or I’d definitely be filled with regret for the rest of my life.”
“Let’s not talk about these negative things anymore. I’ll toast us to a cup of tea, to congratulate us from being able to emerge from our shackles and see the light of day once more. We really are childhood friends after all. We’re basically unlucky in the same places.”
Qiu Haitang smiled faintly, recovering her composure.
“Fair enough. It’s time for me to sober up too.”
Two tea cups gently clinked together in the air and two pairs of eyes met. Everything in the past had gone from intense back to indifference.
Li Qingshan stood on the surface of the lake, quietly sensing how the Water God Seal had changed. Over the past year, the power that devoured his water territory rapidly spread. It had already taken up a third of his territory now, and it showed no signs of slowing down.
Clearly, they either had a huge Water God Seal or large quantities of Water God Seals. If all of this was just the Dragon King of Ink Sea trying to force him out, then it would be nothing strange at all if there were so many Water God Seals involved.
He only brushed this aside with a smile. Even if he gave up the entire region of water, so what? It was not like he only wanted this region of water.
He did not waste the past year. Under constant attempts and trails, the conflict between the spirit turtle and phoenix had weakened drastically. Although he was still a fair distance off from merging water and fire, he believed he could unlock the true innate ability of the phoenix very soon.
This was all thanks to the two Daemon Kings, the Great Banyan Tree King and the Golden Cicada Spirit King. If Li Qingshan had nothing to do, then he would enter the Asura Field and strike up a conversation with the Great Banyan Tree King. His clone was located in the flames and magma deep underground, so the Golden Cicada Spirit King would talk with him too whenever he had time to spare.
Whether it was cultivation or wisdom, they were existences that stood at the very apex of the nine provinces. Just a few simple pieces of advice would often be able to enlighten Li Qingshan and let him benefit tremendously. The value of this opportunity was immeasurable. It was also no coincidence that Li Qingshan had their good graces. The Nine Transformations of the Demonic and Divine turned him into the most resplendent rising star of the Daemon race, and his aspirations beyond the Nine Heavens gave him the boldness of vision to speak as equals with these Daemon Kings.
Li Qingshan’s personal level of cultivation was very important too. After facing the second heavenly tribulation, perhaps his strength had not progressed in an overwhelming manner, but his realm of cultivation was closer to the very nature of this world. With that was a foundation, it greatly diminished the cultivation difficulty of the Nine Transformations of the Demonic and Divine.
According to his estimates, as long as he could truly consolidate the first layer of the Phoenix’s Scripture of Nirvāṇa and gain the two innate abilities that belonged to the Phoenix Transformation, then he would be able to reach Daemon Commander.
By then, he would gain another four innate abilities and in total, he would possess twelve innate abilities. His original innate abilities would become stronger too. His overall strength would change qualitatively.
At the same time, he would no longer have any opponents at the second heavenly tribulation, and it would be difficult for people at the third heavenly tribulation to kill him. He would possess the power to protect himself across the nine provinces.
If he could reach the fourth layer with the Phoenix Transformation like he had with the Spirit Turtle Transformation, merge fire and water, and condense a daemon core of interpromoting water and fire, then he would probably reach peak Daemon Commander, giving him the strength to challenge Daemon Kings. If he took another step further, then he would become a true Daemon King. And, he would be one that possessed sixteen innate abilities. By then, he could run amok through the nine provinces freely. He would be able to do whatever he wanted.
And by then, he would have only practised a measly four transformations from the Nine Transformations of the Demonic and Divine—the ox demon, the tiger demon, the spirit turtle, and the phoenix—and he basically would have only progressed through half of each transformation. Probably by the time he burst out of this world and leapt out of the well, he would not have even completed a single transformation. He had no idea whether he would find the opportunity to witness the wonders of the remaining two demonic and divine transformations.
Li Qingshan gazed at the sky. His gaze pierced through the clouds, passing by the moon and stars until it reached a distant region of space. He extended his hand as if he wanted to pick a star from the sky. The corner of his lips curled into a smile.
Ten thousand years? Why would I need that long?
Hua Chengzan rose up from the bottom of the water. When he saw this, he became shocked for some reason. He followed his fingers and gazed out, but all he saw were dark clouds.
What was he looking at? Just what in the sky was drawing him in?
At a limitless height that no one had ever reached, in his heart so deep that even love was unable to influence, his dreams would never rest!
Li Qingshan drew back his arm and looked over with a smile. “How was the talk?”
“The way you looked earlier…”
“What about it?”
“It was admirable and exciting.”
“Hah, I have no interest in men.”
“I feel the same. Thank you. I’ve been wrapped up by this for so long. It’s about time I set off once again.”
Hua Chengzan raised his head and gazed out. After bringing the feelings of love and the feelings of being loved to an end and resolving all of his obsessions, guilt, and pain, could he return to his former glory and reclaim the title of genius?
Of course, there was no point considering the title of the greatest genius. The greatest genius was standing right in front of him. As for the second greatest genius, that did not seem to be particularly likely either. Xiao An held that position firmly. However, apart from the two of them, he believed that he would not lose out to anyone.
He did not say useless nonsense along the lines of “Please take good care of her”. Instead, he clasped his hands and left gracefully.
Li Qingshan returned to the bottom of the lake. Qiu Haitang sat in front of her dresser with her back towards him. She glanced at him through the mirror. “Are you very close with him?”
The lake was very deep, but she was worried, as she could obviously hear them if she eavesdropped carefully. She found the way they spoke to be very special, like close friends.
“I’ve met him a few times, that’s all.” Li Qingshan arrived behind her and brought his hands to her shoulder.
“You sure meet a lot of people.” Qiu Haitang was originally worried he might misunderstand, but seeing how relaxed he was, she instead became very displeased. “Aren’t you afraid I’ll run off with him?”
Li Qingshan smiled. He bent over and whispered into her ear. “You know, earlier when I was outside, I was going crazy with jealousy, but I believed in you.” His messy, scarlet hair mixed with her dark, long hair. She felt a tickle on her neck; she raised her eyebrows, provokingly saying, “If I actually changed my mind and rekindled my former love for him, what would you do?”
“I’d kill him, obviously. If you can’t resolve it, then I’ll resolve it for you.”
“Aren’t you afraid of breaking my heart and becoming hated by me for the rest of my life?” The corner of Qiu Haitang’s eyes rose a little.
“No one can remain heart-broken forever. I think you’re very easy to coax. Compared to being forgotten as a stranger, I think being hated for the rest of your life is a little better.”
“How forceful! I’m not easy to coax at all!” Qiu Haitang bit her lip, but her eyes oozed with happiness.
“Really?” Li Qingshan held her face and leaned over, kissing her on the lips gently. She did not put up any resistance, allowing the tip of his tongue to part her lips and taste her saliva. She even actively responded with her own tongue. Her soft body leaned against him as her voluptuous chest heaved gently.
When their lips pasted, a string of saliva dangled, keeping them connected.
Li Qingshan smiled. “Aren’t you very easy to coax?”
Qiu Haitang turned around. “I want to drink!”
“More drinking?” Li Qingshan smiled bitterly. Although he liked drinking, he had drunk a little too many times today.
“What, you don’t want to?”
“We can drink, but I’ll only accept it in a certain way!”