Chapter 102 – Starting Over as a Human
Li Qingshan checked his hand. There was a bottle of spiritual pills.
Gu Yanying only acted like it had never happened, kicking up a whirlwind with a sweep of her sleeves and taking off into the sky along the rays of moonlight with Xuanyue.
Xuanyue looked back and glanced at Li Qingshan again. Her smile had vanished now, and tears emerged from her lakewater-esque eyes.
“Wait for me! I will definitely be there!” Li Qingshan roared at the sky as loudly as he could.
Xuanyue suddenly looked back. She heard him yell something, but the snowstorm drowned out his words. However, she could read his lips. She saw the three words, wait for me.
Gu Yanying showed surprise as well. The clouds closed below their feet.
On the Ice Sword cliff, the last ray of moonlight disappeared. Li Qingshan remained in the same posture as when he roared at the sky. His roar was a promise to the black ox, to Xuanyue, and to himself.
I will definitely reach beyond the Nine Heavens. I will definitely take you to the Dragon province.
I will definitely find the answer. I will definitely possess strength.
Under the mist, Li Qingshan stood before the waterfall once again. He no longer had the arrogant black ox beside him, nor was the girl bathing in the waterfall before him anymore.
He rubbed Xiao An’s head. At least you’re still by my side.
Without Xuanyue leading the way, he had to rely on his rough memory to return along his original path, coming back to this place. Although he could conceal his aura, he still encountered countless dangers along the way. Only after all of that did he finally return to this waterfall.
Winter had already passed. The world was beginning to bloom.
It felt like an entire lifetime had passed.
In just three short months, someone had told him that the Green Province spanned fifteen thousand kilometers, someone had told him that their objective was to leave the Green province, and finally, someone told him that they were waiting for him beyond the Nine Heavens.
Li Qingshan lowered his head and smiled. He said to Xiao An, “Let’s see just where I can reach!” After that, he leapt into the pool of water.
The first thing that Li Qingshan did in the water was not cultivate, but summarise his accumulated experiences and the lessons he had learnt.
The advantages and the disadvantages, his gains and his losses.
A tiny shrimp being involved in a battle between sharks would rarely result in anything good. Just the flecks of meat that slipped between the teeth of the sharks could allow the shrimp to strengthen significantly, but it would probably end up dead as well.
He had survived completely due to the protection of a great sea monster, the black ox. However, this sea monster had already left him, giving him the goal of similarly becoming a great sea monster.
If he wanted to achieve this goal, he could not rely on his luck for surviving. He could not take risks he could not completely grasp. No one had immunity, and even if they did, it would easily shatter before absolute strength.
Not only did he have to possess the unswerving determination of an ox and the boldness of a tiger, but he also needed the depth and tolerance of a spiritual turtle. This form of tolerance was not lying down in the face of humiliation, being a coward and afraid of everything, but maintaining lofty ambitions, enduring what others could not and achieving what others could not.
Perhaps the reason why the black ox had not wiped the Soaring Dragon Elder from existence right from the start was for him to understand this. Anyone could state the great principles of life, but only by experiencing it would they truly understand it and embed it in their heart.
If he had not experienced the despair he felt when he roared out on the sheer cliff face, how was he supposed to understand the value of strength and the point of friends?
He desired even greater power.
There was no concept of time in the mountains. The buds turned into verdant leaves, and the flower buds bloomed into flowers.
The water from the waterfall also flowed more vigorously and became louder compared to during winter.
Li Qingshan sat beneath the waterfall. All of the sounds and all of the changes in the surroundings were picked up by his ears, but they did not cause his mind to waver at all.
Between extreme stillness and extreme motion, he was not just training, but also comprehending the activity and changes of nature. Or to him, the two had always been together.
He ingested the spiritual pills one by one, turning them into raging spiritual qi, but to him, that was not everything he used.
Even in an absolute state of meditation, he could still sense the existence of the tremendous spiritual qi in the surroundings. It was omnipresent, ruling over all of the activity and changes in the world.
He was like a spirit turtle, hidden deep in the sea, having forgotten about himself, and the spiritual qi would no longer reject him, naturally fusing into his body.
It was just like what was mentioned in the daoist canon. “Humble your minds, fill your bellies, weaken your pre-existing beliefs, and strengthen your backbone.” It was also like how the black ox had originally taught him—fill your body, strengthen your body, and only then will you have a foundation for everything. Only by humbling his mind and weakening his pre-existing beliefs could he be free from distracting thoughts and truly reach unity with nature, sensing the existence of the spiritual qi of the world.
To humans, this could only be achieved once Qi Practitioners had overcome the first tribulation and reached Foundation Establishment. Otherwise, it would require great luck and comprehension.
However, to daemons, this was a natural instinct. In the eyes of humans, the birds and beasts of the wilderness were foolish without a doubt, copulating and feeding, multiplying and propagating based on instincts alone. However, they were a part of nature, so they could naturally sense things that many humans could not. Spiritual qi was one of them.
At the same time, while humans possessed intellect, they lost their ability to harmonise with nature. They required various methods to cultivate in an attempt to lengthen their lifespans. Yet, the lifespan of any daemon would be much longer than a human of similar power.
With gains came losses. Perhaps this was the fairness of nature.
The black ox had once told him that Li Qingshan could only count as half a daemon, as even though his body had become a daemon’s, he still had the mind and heart of a human, so he was unable to sense the spiritual qi of the world.
There were countless techniques and arts in the world. Who knows how many there were that could turn people into monsters. However, they were only monsters, not daemons. If that was all, there would have been nothing special about the black ox’s plans. However, it seemed like he had already prepared everything for Li Qingshan.
With the progress of the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression, Li Qingshan was able to temporarily put aside his intelligence as a human, along with the distracting thoughts that came with intelligence. He began to truly daemonify, looking at this world through the eyes of a daemon and comprehending this world with the mind of a daemon.
After an unknown amount of time passed again, the many flowers began to droop and fall.
Tremendous amounts of spiritual qi gathered towards Li Qingshan. The place that the black ox had chosen had always been rich in spiritual qi.
Having consumed all of the spiritual pills, the daemon qi in Li Qingshan’s body surged like tidal waves before being suppressed by the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression, rapidly being condensed and concentrated.
Xiao An, who was playing by himself on the side, suddenly raised his head, gazing at the waterfall and the pool of water. In the past few days, he had always been waiting quietly, playing around by himself and never leaving this area.
The spirit turtle suppresses the seas!
An invisible power had flattened the turbulent pool, becoming a flawless mirror of water. The water that crashed down from above no longer managed to create any more splashes.
Li Qingshan had finally reached the first layer of the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression. At the same time, there was a great boom through his soul, and his body increased in size once again, nearing six meters. The aura he gave off pushed aside the falling waterfall.
All of his daemon qi condensed into a sphere around the size of a little finger!
He had finally completed the most important step of becoming a daemon, condensing a daemon core.
Li Qingshan lowered his head and looked at the mirror-like water surface. He gently rubbed his pair of ox horns. The two words on them, north and moon, no longer seemed so obvious. Instead, they seemed to have fused with the groovings of his horns, becoming irremovable.
He thought of Xuanyue again, recalling that promise he had yet to complete. He closed his eyes. Wait for me, I will definitely free you from your cage and send you to the Dragon province.
Suddenly, he opened his mouth, and his daemon core flew out. It revolved around him as if some invisible force was leading it around. With a thought, the daemon core shot off, immediately piercing several boulders in the water. It was basically indestructible, more terrifying than any hidden weapon out there.
Daemons did not know how to refine pills, so they were born with the knowledge of how to absorb spiritual qi. Daemons did not know how to forge weapons either, so the daemon core was their strongest weapon.
Although releasing the daemon core came with the danger of having it taken away, that required an absolute difference in strength to achieve. As a result, this kind of danger was not really any danger at all. After all, even if he did not use his daemon core against such an opponent, he would still be finished off, losing his daemon core.
It was just like when human cultivators fought against each other. If the opponent could easily take away the flying swords they unleashed, there was no point to fighting anymore.
Li Qingshan looked at the daemon core hovering before him. He thought, Even if I say I’m a human right now, no one would believe me.
At a closer glance, he discovered the daemon core was not completely spherical. Instead, it was composed of countless tiny hexagons, and it seemed rather different from regular daemon cores. It was probably due to the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression. However, he had only seen one other daemon core before, so he could not be certain.
Li Qingshan extended his right hand and transparent ripples gathered in his palm, forming a ball of water that subsequently turned into various other shapes. If he were described using the five elements, he would be a water daemon, possessing the powers to control water spiritual qi.
He casually tossed the ball of water aside and gulped down his daemon core. He yelled out, “The Spirit Turtle’s Profound Shell!” A turtle shell did not appear on his back. Instead, a spherical, glowing barrier appeared. Upon closer inspection, the barrier was just like the daemon core, composed of countless hexagons.
The cascading waterfall landed on the Spirit Turtle’s Profound Shell. Not a single drop of water could land on Li Qingshan now.
This was the innate ability he had comprehended after condensing his daemon core. However, that was not all.
Li Qingshan stood up and took in a deep breath. He raised his head and let out a fierce roar. Daemon qi formed sound waves, kicking up a fierce wind that rushed towards the horizon. The waterfall was blown away and deep, circular cracks appeared on the rock face.
The Tiger Demon’s Fierce Roar seemed powerful, but it could only create a shockwave and be used against weaker opponents. Against enemies of similar strength, it was basically useless. Although his roar had decreased in range now, it could pierce through rock. It was truly lethal.
This was the second ability he had comprehended. He named it the Tiger Demon’s Killing Roar.
“The Ox Demon Tramples!”
Li Qingshan leapt back into the water, landing heavily at the bottom. The rocks that had been washed by water for countless years shattered loudly as a circular shockwave spread into the surroundings. Wherever it passed by, the rocks would crack loudly.
It was as if countless explosives had been blown up on the bottom of the pool, sending all of the water into the sky and completely shattering the area.
The ox, the tiger and the turtle. Three creatures, three innate abilities. In the instant that Li Qingshan condensed his daemon core, they had all awakened at the same time.
Now, it was time to start over as a human!