Chapter 720 – Return
The malice hidden within the crystal skull resembled the tiger demon. It definitely was not as simple as the skull of a powerful Bone Eating shaman. It probably had something to do with the totemic beast they worshipped.
What Li Qingshan needed to practise next apart from the second, third, and fourth layers of the Phoenix Transformation was the fifth layer of the tiger demon. He would complete these two goals after he balanced out the powers in his body. By then, even if he ran into the Dragon King of Ink Sea again, he could retreat with ease.
As a result, as long as it had the slightest connection to his cultivation, he would place great emphasis on it.
“What’s the totemic beast that they worship called?”
Xianghua Man said, “Qiongqi, a vicious beast that likes to eat people. All the Bone Eating tribes worship it! Legend has it that during ancient times, a tribe found a deceased qiongqi. After eating its flesh, one of them became an extremely powerful shaman that specially began eating his own kind, birthing countless Bone Eating tribes.”
TL: Qiongqi is one of the four perils of Chinese mythology. It was first mentioned in the Classic of Mountains and Seas and there were two vastly-different descriptions of it. One said it was shaped like a tiger with a pair of wings, while the other said it was shaped like an ox and was covered in hedgehog-like bristles.. It likes to eat people and oftens starts with the head when it eats.
“Qiongqi!” Li Qingshan muttered. He swiveled his eyes; he looked at Xianghua Man. “Did you complete the task?”
“There’s so many corpses and absolutely no need to dispose of them. Just spare me, A’yue!”
Xianghua Man had already spent so many years as a matriarch, so why would she be willing to do heavy, manual labour like this? She went at it for a while before running out of patience, choosing to just sit on the ground and watch Li Qingshan battle with the totemic beast.
“No!” Xianghua Man threw a tantrum. Since direct objection would not work, she would be indirect. If this continued, she should be able to achieve her objective. She had already begun to consider how to make use of his power to earn even more benefits.
Li Qingshan snapped his fingers, and Xianghua Man collapsed on the ground. Her blood bubbled as if she had been thrown into a pit of fire to roast, but she was unable to say anything at all. The life force that had merged with her body possessed his imprint. It could both lengthen her lifespan and give her a powerful body, but it could also become lethal poison.
Just like how only women and the despicable were difficult to deal with, where getting too close to them only led to rudeness, he had really gotten along a little too well with her during the past few days. Or, perhaps it was because she had already become accustomed to commanding people around as the matriarch, but in short, she had to learn to be a little more compliant from now on.
“What I place the greatest emphasis on is fairness. Think about what you’ve given up, and then think about what you’ve gained. Do you think this is fair? I’m not going to stay here forever. It’ll be two years at most, and then you’ll never see me again. I hope you can properly cooperate with me during this short period of time. At the very least, don’t let down what I’ve bestowed upon you. If you can’t stand someone ordering you around, I can make everything return to its original course. What do you think?”
“I’ll never do it again!” Xianghua Man felt her body loosen as she poured with sweat. Fear filled her face.
“I have high expectations of you!”
Under Li Qingshan’s patient persuasions, Xianghua Man completed her job very soon, and they set off on their return journey on the back of the pack animal, leaving behind an empty fort in the sea of trees. It probably would not take long at all before new vegetation swallowed it up.
The sun rose and fell. Time passed quickly.
Li Qingshan rapidly grew up. His scarlet hair gradually reached past his shoulders, and his original power returned to his body droplet by droplet, even greater than in the past.
It was time for him to take back what was his!
Suddenly, he opened his eyes and felt an aura arrived beside the hot spring, but it was not Xianghua Man. He could not help but become rather puzzled. In order to prevent anyone else from knowing about his existence, he had specially told Xianghua Man to set a large area of Fragrant Flower house off limits. He could enjoy the fine food and fine alcohol from various lands here. There was a fine woman beside him too. Although he could not actually do anything, he basically did whatever he wanted aside from that.
Who’s so bold to barge into this place? Aren’t they afraid of being punished by Xianghua Man?
Over the rippling surface of the water, a young girl stood beside the hot spring. She wore a set of green clothes and was quite the beauty. She possessed an extremely noble status in the Fragrant Flower market, and her face bore some resemblance to Xianghua Man’s.
Li Qingshan immediately guessed her name and identity; she was Xianghua Man’s youngest daughter, Xianghua Lu.
Mum is so stingy. She has Unaging Water of Youth, yet she doesn’t even let her own daughter enjoy it! Xianghua Lu pouted and glanced around like a thief. She only said that to cover up her guilty conscience.
Over a year ago, Xianghua Man’s strength suddenly skyrocketed, and she recovered her youth. She declared she had already destroyed the Bone Eating tribe, and she gathered the various chieftains for a great meeting, consolidating the Fragrant Flower clan’s position as their leader. It was also at that time when she established the forbidden zone in Fragrant Flower house. As a result, a rumor spread that the hot spring in the Fragrant Flower house began producing Unaging Water of Youth.
Regular people were doubtful about this, but the young girl was deeply convinced.
Mum is currently receiving an envoy from the White Lotus cult. She definitely won’t discover me. Even if she discovers me, I’ll be going off to the White Lotus cult very soon. It’s not like she can do anything to me. If I don’t try it now, I won’t get another opportunity.
The young girl comforted herself inside and quickly took off her clothes, revealing her beautiful body. She tried the water temperature with the tip of her toes first before sliding in like a fish.
Didn’t she say she was only thirteen? She sure has developed well!
Li Qingshan made a judgement as he admired her. The women of the Mist province developed at a very young age. Many of them would be married off already at this age, but they also aged particularly quickly. Mortals that did not practise internal martial arts of qi would rapidly age once they reached thirty or forty years old. By the time they were in their late forties and fifties, they would resemble old women.
I’ll be setting off on a journey with her very soon.
In truth, the envoy of the White Lotus cult’s arrival was due to his machinations. He had urged Xianghua Man to ask the White Lotus cult to accept a group of followers from Fragrant Flower market, and he would use this opportunity to infiltrate the White Lotus cult and take back the Asura Field. Although it was completely possible for him to openly take it once he had completely recovered his strength, he really did not want to wait until then, nor did he want the news that Northmoon was still alive to reach the Dragon King of Ink Sea’s ears.
Xianghua Lu laid comfortably in the spring as if the water had wondrous properties that could allow people to recover their youth. She immediately threw her worries to the back of her mind, and she gradually became carried away, diving into the water and swimming around.
Suddenly, she noticed a pair of scarlet eyes staring straight at her.
Plunk! Xianghua Man cried out, and her voice turned into a bubble. She kicked her slender legs and quickly retreated to the side of the hot spring. She shielded her chest with one hand, and she cried out, “Who is it? Come out!”
A while later, a tiny figure rose up from the water. His dark eyes were shining, and his moist hair reached past his shoulders. He was Li Qingshan, who had hidden away his daemonic characteristics. Whether it was his sharp teeth and claws or the horns on his head, they had all vanished. He only seemed like a regular boy, around eleven or twelve years old.
What a pretty child! Xianghua Man marvelled inside and lowered her guard. “Who are you? Are you my mum’s partner?” When she mentioned this, even she began to laugh. How was it possible? He was still so young!
Partner! Li Qingshan thought. She sure had developed early. However, in the Fragrant Flower clan, it really was commonplace for authoritative women to find a few partners, so there was nothing wrong for this young girl to mention something like that.
“Have you come to steal the Unaging Water of Youth as well? How bold of you!” Xianghua Lu could not think of a child like him in the clan, or she definitely would have remembered him. As a result, she guessed his objective was the same as hers. With a flip of her hand, she wanted to restrain him, but then she thought of something.
If I capture him and hand him over to mum, wouldn’t I be exposed as well? Xianghua Lu, you can’t be so foolish! If such a pretty child was made into fertiliser for the flowers, that would be far too great of a pity. I’ll do something good and let him live.
“Little brother, you better go! If my mum discovers you, you’ll be dead for sure!”
Little brother? If your mum ever called me that, I’d definitely beat her until she called me daddy! You sure are rather merciful, little girl!
“Haven’t you come to steal the Unaging Water of Youth too? Why should I go?”
“This is Unaging Water of Youth that belongs to my family, so how can you call it stealing? You thief, how dare you talk back to me! H- how bold of you!” Xianghua Lu turned bright red and waved her arms vigorously, reaching over and grabbing at Li Qingshan. The buds that had yet to bloom were only inches away, trembling gently. They were not full, but they were enticing in their own way. The two pink cherries were particularly enamouring.
“What are you looking at? Would you believe me if I said I’ll dig out your eyes? Forget it. What would a kid know? Get out of here!”
Xianghua Lu gave up on hiding herself and grabbed Li Qingshan by the wrist, pulling him towards the side of the pool. However, he did not budge at all. She wrenched her hands back as hard as she could. “I couldn’t tell- but you- have quite- the strength!”
Her face was bright red. Suddenly, her hands slipped, and she fell backwards. She immediately climbed to her feet, only to see him smiling, which made her even more annoyed. She tried pushing him instead, but it was obviously just as useless.
Li Qingshan smiled. “If I say I’m not leaving, it means I’m not leaving. Who cares where I’m from? If you can toss me out, I’ll just blame myself for being useless!”
“Alright! If I don’t toss you out today, I’ll blame myself for being useless!”
Xianghua Lu spread her slender arms and embraced him firmly, tugging him upwards. She believed that as long as his feet left the ground, he would obviously have nowhere to push off of.
Just like that, Li Qingshan became utterly delighted. A soft and warm beauty was around him, and the developing buds pressed against his face. He smiled evilly and bit down gently.
“Ah! Let go… stop! I’m not your mum!” Xianghua Lu cried out and tried to push him away.
Why would Li Qingshan let go of her? He wrapped his arms around her thin waist and gently caressed her body.
Xianghua Lu already knew a little bit about what went on between a man and a woman, but this was still the first time she had experienced something like this. How could the sensitive body of a young girl stand a chance against Li Qingshan? She felt a strange, numbing sensation rise up in her heart, and her struggle gradually became more and more powerless.
“A’lu, what are you doing?” A bellow jerked Xianghua Lu back to her senses. She turned around, only to see Xianghua Man standing beside the pool, surprised and annoyed.
“Mum, this little bastard came to steal the Unaging Water of Youth. I’m not his opponent. Stop him quickly!”
Li Qingshan conveniently let go of Xianghua Lu and blinked his eyes at Xianghua Man. Xianghua Man said, “You can go first!”
Xianghua Lu kicked Li Qingshan in a fuming manner. Then she picked up her clothes and scurried away like she was fleeing.
Li Qingshan laid out his hands. “Since we’ll be travelling together, I better get to know her beforehand! When can we set off?”
“You can set off probably within the next ten days.”
“Alright. You’ll get what you’ve been desiring this whole time very soon. You won’t have to listen to my orders anymore.”
“You’re not coming back?” Xianghua Man said in surprise. She never expected him to spare her so easily!
“Of course I am. This place is very fun.” Li Qingshan stood on the surface of the water. With a thought, the surface became as smooth as a mirror.
Under Xianghua Man’s stunned gaze, another tiny Northmoon leapt out of the water.
The Watermirror’s Image that he had not used in a very long time!
Li Qingshan gazed towards the north. It was time for him to go back and take a look!