Chapter 754 – The Sword Collection Palace’s Invitation
The two of them laid in each other’s arms. Li Qingshan told her about some things that happened after they separated. Xiao An spent most of the time listening quietly.
The moonlight shifted, vanishing in the end and turning into sunlight. It simply repeated like this, the sun replacing the moon and the moon replacing the sun.
This continued until Han Qiongzhi came knocking.
Han Qiongzhi stood outside the dwelling. Gazing at the clouds and mist that drifted through the Chain mountains, she thought to herself, Ru Xin’s dwelling is nearby, but she’s already spent several years in secluded cultivation. I wonder how she’s doing right now.
The stone door behind her opened up, and she turned around, only to see Li Qingshan walking out. However, she could not help but shift her gaze and look at Xiao An who was behind him, leaving her stunned. Despite also being a woman, she felt dazzled.
Even though white bone and great beauty, the conversion between life and death, emphasised that all was emptiness, it could manifest as extreme beauty. As her cultivation increased and as she grew older, her beauty became even greater. It was not the arts of charm, but it surpassed the arts of charm. If she pushed it to the limit, it could not even be described as the Sect of Clouds and Rain’s Aspect of Heavenly Fragrance and Beauty anymore. She would become a heavenly maiden that transcended this world.
“You’re… Xiao An!” Han Qiongzhi returned to her senses after quite the effort.
“What, you don’t recognise her anymore?” Li Qingshan smiled.
“How could I not recognise her? Who can still forget her once they’ve seen her?”
Han Qiongzhi smiled, but her feelings were rather mixed. With how straightforward and broad-minded she was, she was not envious of Xiao An’s talent. She could not be deterred by her absolute beauty either.
Moreover, her instincts told her that their relationship had nothing to do with that of a man and woman. Even if she was not jealous, the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga would have never permitted it.
However, just by standing there in such a simple manner, they gave off an indescribable sense of harmony. Their appearances were worlds apart, but they had the closest connection to one another. Even she could not get between them.
She thought, This must be the partners of cultivation that father’s been talking about!
From a certain perspective, she would prefer Li Qingshan to sleep around liberally rather than this. She shook her head and cast these thoughts to the back of her mind.
She said to Xiao An, “I heard you underwent the second heavenly tribulation too! Congratulations!”
Xiao An nodded slightly. She stared at Han Qiongzhi placidly like she was looking at common vegetation. Unless it was absolutely necessary, she never liked to talk to anyone. Things like etiquette and rules went even more without saying. She would only cope with it when she needed to.
In the past, Han Qiongzhi had lost her temper over this exact attitude, and Li Qingshan had immediately fallen out with her. For her sake, he had stood up to Qiu Haitang without even batting an eye despite being a measly Qi Practitioner.
Now, Han Qiongzhi understood that she treated everyone like that. She was not singling her out.
“You shut yourself in your dwelling the moment you got back. I had thought you were going to enter secluded cultivation again!”
“It was a little unexpected last time. If I really were to enter long-term secluded cultivation, I’d definitely tell you, though I am planning to do that as of late!”
Li Qingshan and Xiao An exchanged glances. They had agreed on this. After comprehending the eighth layer of the Demon Suppression Statuary, Li Qingshan needed some time to consolidate what he discovered and take a step forward with his cultivation. With the several dozen demon hearts from Duoge, he had an opportunity to refine the Traitorous Demon sword into a true demonic treasure. And, he wanted to wait until he recovered the peak of his powers as a daemon.
Xiao An was no different. After undergoing the second heavenly tribulation, she could continue to practise the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty. The various artifacts in her possession like the Skull Prayer Beads, the Buddha Slaying sword, and the Blood Sea Banner all needed to be refined again. Li Qingshan had already prepared the resources she required. He had collected many corpses over the several years of fighting.
In particular, from the battle on the eighth floor of the Demon Suppression hall, the demonfolk that amounted to the tens of thousands and the Demon Generals and Demon Commanders that amounted to several hundreds and dozens were enough for her to increase her cultivation further.
Just like that, if the two of them worked together, perhaps they were not unstoppable, but they could easily deal with any dangers in the South Sea commandery. Even if they faced certain third heavenly tribulation existences, they would stand a chance.
“More secluded cultivation!”
Han Qiongzhi basically had no idea what to say. To cultivators, secluded cultivation definitely was not a bad thing, except it was completely unnecessary unless they had reached a critical juncture in cultivation and required great concentration to break through the bottleneck. Simply maintaining their regular cultivation was enough.
However, Li Qingshan had entered secluded cultivation a little too frequently, and whenever he emerged, his cultivation would have increased rapidly. She had basically become rather numb to it already.
Li Qingshan said, “But not right now. I need to focus on resting for now. I’ll probably consider it once I receive the new orders and go to the Mist province.”
“Cultivation takes priority. Just deciding on it yourself is enough. You don’t need to go out of your way to tell me. I’ve grown used to it anyway! It’s not like we’re mortals. We don’t have to be so affectionate with each other!”
Han Qiongzhi said in a very big-hearted manner, but she also felt a hint of helplessness. Before Li Qingshan could answer her, she said, “I’ve come to find you for something else. Chengzan is going to the Sword Collection palace.”
After the battles in Moon Court lake had ended, Yin Xiaochou did not head to the next prefecture immediately. Instead, he was invited along by Hua Chengzan. That night at the banquet in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain, neither of them were present. They had gone drinking together on Soaring Afterglow mountain.
Since Hua Chengzan was interested in joining the Sword Collection palace, he would obviously go out of his way to befriend Yin Xiaochou. He had always been extremely charismatic, and while Yin Xiaochou’s cultivation was higher, he spent most of his time in the Sword Collection palace, focusing on the path of the sword. His experiences obviously paled in comparison to Hua Chengzan’s.
With a few jars of alcohol polished off, they felt like old friends meeting for the first time. Hua Chengzan mentioned how he wanted to join the Sword Collection palace, and Yin Xiaochou immediately thumped his chest to guarantee that it definitely would be no problem at all with his talent. He told the Sword Collection palace about this the very next day. Perhaps because they were egged on by the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga, the Sword Collection palace gave a reply very quickly. They wanted him to go to the Sword Collection palace to be tested!
That night, on Soaring Afterglow mountain, the empty halls ended up blazing gloriously with light.
To Li Qingshan’s surprise, there was not a gathering of guests like he had imagined. Instead, it seemed rather quiet. Logically speaking, with Hua Chengzan’s vast number of friends and the lofty foundations of the Hua family, they should have invited many guests for something as big as this.
Landing on the terrace on the top of the mountain, he discovered only around a dozen or so people had come, and they were all familiar faces. There was not even a proper banquet set up. The group of people talked and drank together like it was just a normal gathering.
Everyone’s gazes were drawn away by Xiao An beside Li Qingshan. For a moment, they all became speechless.
“Fellow, you must be One Will. I’ve long heard about you. Now that I see you today, I think I understand why knowing a person by reputation pales in comparison to meeting them in the flesh!” Yin Xiaochou stood up and said.
Yin Xiaochou’s gaze was like a sword, hiding sword intent. He instinctively tried to probe her out, but he discovered in shock that the sword intent was like a rock tossed into the ocean. It just vanished. If they began fighting, he actually had no idea how he would swing his sword against her. Only then did he understand that the difference between their strength could not be made up for with just a Breaking Water sword.
Xiao An said nothing, and Li Qingshan ignored Yin Xiaochou too. He asked Hua Chengzan, “Why so few? Why didn’t you find some more people for a celebration?”
Hua Chengzan said, “I haven’t become a disciple of the Sword Collection palace yet, so what is there to celebrate?”
“With your mentality and talent, Chengzan, you definitely won’t face any problems. You might even pull out a renowned sword!” Yin Xiaochou looked at Li Qingshan and changed the topic. “Fellow Qingshan, would you be interested in joining the Sword Collection palace and getting your hands on a good sword?”