Chapter 965 – Madam Vine
“But you’ve said that the nine cauldrons are one complete entity, senior. If you attack the Mist Province cauldron, wouldn’t the other cauldrons respond?” Xiao An realised the issue.
“Exactly. In particular, the Dragon Province cauldron is the principal cauldron, which can restrain the eight other cauldrons. Normally speaking, destroying a cauldron is equivalent to destroying the nine cauldrons. However, I will temporarily cut off the Mist Province’s connection with the other cauldrons.” The Great Banyan Tree King smiled. “After all, forging the nine cauldrons was my suggestion back then.”
Li Qingshan and Xiao An looked at one another. He sure had thought and planned far ahead.
“Alright, then I’ll lend you a hand, fellow!” Li Qingshan made his way forward.
“Hold on. I’ve already waited for several thousand years, so there’s no rush. This must be completed in a single stroke. You’ve just come back from a great battle, so you still haven’t recovered completely. You might as well spend a few more days recuperating and return to your peak condition.”
The Great Banyan Tree King suddenly sighed. There was some worry in his eyes. “There’s also some matters on my side that I have to deal with.”
“Yep. Fair enough.” This was the first time Li Qingshan had ever seen the Great Banyan Tree King with an expression like that. Li Qingshan wondered what else he had not settled after several thousand years of preparing for this, but he was in no position to ask any further. “If there’s anything I can help you with, please let me know.”
The Great Banyan Tree King nodded gently before composing himself again. “Take these spiritual stones for now!”
When Li Qingshan heard “spiritual stones”, he did not become particularly interested. He had seen plenty of spiritual stones before. They were basically worthless to him now. He even wondered why the Great Banyan Tree King had suddenly become so stingy. Only when he received the spiritual stones did he become dumbstruck.
The spiritual stones shone with a green haze. They were not particularly special in appearance, but the spiritual qi they contained was tremendous and pure, enough to rival the demon hearts of Demon Kings and the śarīra of Monk Kings. Refining demon hearts and śarīra was an extremely troublesome task, which would lead to many side-effects. It could even lead to inner demons. However, spiritual stones did not have this issue at all.
Li Qingshan tried sending his soul sense inside and discovered the wonders of the spiritual stones were not limited to this. They also contained a wisp of the profound laws of the world. If he could refine and absorb it, it would definitely lead to endless benefits.
“Thank you fellow… Do you have any more?”
“Don’t be greedy, kid. These spiritual stones weren’t formed naturally. They all came from the Mist Province cauldron. That’s all that formed over the past few thousand years. You better go now!” The Great Banyan Tree King waved his hand with a smile.
Li Qingshan stowed the spiritual stones away and clasped his hands casually. His figure twisted and distorted, vanishing from there.
Only the Great Banyan Tree King remained in the empty tree hole. He turned around and stared at the Mist Province cauldron before suddenly letting out a long sigh. “Are you going to keep hiding?”
“I’m the matter that you have to deal with, aren’t I?” Madam Vine’s attached voice rang out by the Great Banyan Tree King’s ears. Her arms wrapped around him naturally, and she touched his furrowed eyebrows with the tips of her fingers gently. “Do you have to sigh like that?”
“Once I refine the Mist Province cauldron, I will do everything I can to assist you with ascension,” said the Great Banyan Tree King.
“No, we’ll ascend together.” Madam Vine clung onto him even more tightly.
“Stop badgering on; this brings you no benefit at all. There will be a day when we part.” The Great Banyan Tree King patted madam Vine’s back.
“No, we’ll ascend together!” Madam Vine repeated stubbornly, which then turned into pleading. “Old man, I’m begging you, alright?”
“Sigh, you’re still too young!”
The Great Banyan Tree King closed his eyes gently. In a daze, he saw what happened five thousand years ago. The valiant king of the nine provinces gave a thin, golden vine that was withering away to him as a “gift”.
“This sun vine was born special. It doesn’t belong in this world. If even you refuse to take it in, then there’ll probably be nowhere across the nine provinces that can provide it with shelter.” That was what the lord of the world had said.
Any regular tree that the sun vine entwined around would wither and die in a mere few days. Only relatively powerful plant daemons could withstand its growth, but as long as they had a hint of intelligence, why would they let it grow on them? They would definitely try to weed it out for good as quickly as possible.
As a result, the Great Banyan Tree King allowed it to entwine around him. Many of the otherfolk and daemons under his command tried to weed it out, but he stopped them. “I’m just sharing some rain and dew with it. It’s not like it causes me any major harm, so why must you kill it?”
It had never let down his kindness either, rapidly drawing tree sap and growing stronger with each day. In less than three hundred years, it had undergone the tribulation and assumed human form, becoming a Daemon General. She had reached Daemon King eight centuries ago.
To daemons, her cultivation speed had basically been alarmingly fast, let alone the fact that she was a plant daemon on top of that, the kind that cultivated the most slowly. Apart from her own aptitude, the Great Banyan Tree King’s sacrifice had played a critical role in all of this, allowing her to drink his tree sap day and night and providing careful guidance to her the moment she developed intelligence. The care and effort he had shown was no less than what the divine wutong tree had shown to the little phoenix.
His selfless sacrifice ended up bearing fruit. She became the final and most powerful barrier of Towering city. Even though she had only undergone the third heavenly tribulation eight centuries ago, she was far more powerful than regular Daemon Kings. On top of that, under her intentional control, it was no longer a one-sided plundering. She also assisted his cultivation, forming a harmonious case of mutual symbiosis.
This was another victory to the Great Banyan Tree King sticking to his principles. The otherfolk and daemons who once wanted to weed her out all admired his intelligence and foresight. However, even with his intelligence, he was unable to take everything into account, especially when it came to the subtle emotions and feelings of beings.
Before he knew it, she began referring to herself as his madam, making everyone call her “madam Vine”. Originally, he took it as a joke, but he never expected her to be so insistent.
“I don’t live for the sake of what’s beneficial to me either!” Madam Vine hugged the Great Banyan Tree King firmly, but her pursed lips revealed an unshakable persistence.
Li Qingshan and Xiao An had just been moved to Towering city. They were about to go out for a stroll and take a good look at the city when thousands of resplendent, golden sun vines swarmed in through the windows like snakes.
“Madam Vine?” Li Qingshan immediately pressed down on the hilt of his blade. From his very first glance of madam Vine, he knew he could not treat her like a regular Daemon King.
Back then in the Asura Field, facing a sun vine without any intelligence made him feel great danger. The powerful Foundation Establishment subordinates under prince Si Qing’s command had been forcefully strangled to death by it. That was enough for him to deduce madam Vine’s strength.
Plant daemons suffered from the downside where their main bodies could not move around freely, but they were extremely powerful in their territory. If it were not for his great trust in the Great Banyan Tree King, he would have never come to Towering city. However, he did not have any positive ties with this madam Vine.
The sun vines did not attack him. Instead, they wove together, forming a golden flight of stairs. One of the vines even twisted into the world “please”.
Li Qingshan and Xiao An exchanged glances before climbing up the stairs, arriving above Towering city. They saw countless golden vines rapidly weave into a glistening building. The golden stairs led towards there.
The moment Li Qingshan set foot in the building, the entrance was weaved shut. He clasped his hands and said, “Is there something you wish to advise me about, madam?”
“I wouldn’t dare call it advice. I do have a request! Even though I don’t think you can shatter the Mist Province cauldron, please don’t stick your nose in other people’s business,” madam Vine’s voice echoed through the building. She called it a request, but she was not very polite.
Li Qingshan had never been a fan of provocation. Coupled with the fact that he was still a little tipsy, he laughed loudly. “I do have quite a bit of confidence though!”
“Ignorant kid, you think you’re helping him, but you’re actually harming him,” madam Vine said furiously.
“Oh? How come?” Li Qingshan asked in surprise.
“You’ll prevent him from ascending.”
“He doesn’t want to ascend! It’s just like being a big fish in a small pond compared to being a small fish in a big pond. Compared to ascending and becoming a lackey for those Daemon Gods and Demon Gods, he might be better off coexisting with the world and serving as the god of the nine provinces!”
“Don’t listen to that old man’s nonsense. No one has ever succeeded with this throughout history. Do you know what the consequences are upon failure? In the ancient times, before the forging of the nine cauldrons, countless god seals were scattered across the world. As a result, there were people deluded enough to wage war wantonly and gather the god seals, but they only ended up being devoured by the god seals, being wiped from existence,” said madam Vine.
Li Qingshan was certain that being the god of a mountain or a river was a completely different concept to being the god of a province. It was like how ruling over a village or a town was easy, but when it came to governing a country, it was even impossible to go back to being a civilian without the corresponding strength.
This was why there were Mountain God Seals and Water God Seals but no Sea God Seals. The seas were far too vast. Who knew how much land was hidden beneath the ocean, which could not be controlled by regular Daemon Kings. Once they forcefully tried to condense a god seal, it would only cost them their lives. Meanwhile, the Great Banyan Tree King’s final objective was to embrace all of this, to place all the mountains and seas under his control. It really did resemble a daydream.
“Though, since the ‘old man’ is bold enough to do it, he must have a sizable amount of confidence! Something that no one has ever achieved does not make it impossible. The ‘old man’s’ wisdom and intelligence is far beyond what certain people can rival.”
“Damn you! How dare you speak to me like that! Would you believe that I can strangle you to death?”
Every single sun vine in the building began to squirm, and Li Qingshan immediately felt his strength leak away uncontrollably. If it were not for the support of the Strength of the Earth, he probably would have become utterly exhausted in a short while. He immediately understood that she had already converted this natural ability of hers into an innate ability. How terrifying!
However, he was unfazed. He said proudly, “I don’t believe that!”
Madam Vine was unable to lay her hands on a guest of the Great Banyan Tree King after all. She sighed and said, “You really don’t understand. You’re helping him because he’s the Great Banyan Tree King. If he succeeds, will he still be the original him?”
Li Qingshan fell silent. He had discussed the topic of the will of the world several times with the Great Banyan Tree King, and he had brought up many of his guesses too, in particular with whether the world actually possessed a so-called “self-consciousness”. He had once received an invitation from the Asura realm, but he did not believe he had been speaking with the “Asura realm”.
But there was something he could be certain about at the very least. The will of the world was definitely different from the will of living creatures, which was why no one knew what would happen to the Great Banyan Tree King once he succeeded. On top of that, once he set off down this path, there was no possibility for him to turn around anymore.
“Do you understand now? I’m doing all of this for his sake, so don’t do him a disservice. I will make him give you the Fruit of Wisdom he’s promised you, so go back to your Green province!” Madam Vine’s voice softened as she explained it all to him patiently.
The towering tree remained silent. He did not insert himself into this conversation as if he was also waiting for Li Qingshan’s decision.
Suddenly, Li Qingshan smiled and shook his head. “No, I believe in him! Before I shatter the Mist Province cauldron, I’m going nowhere!”