Chapter 103 – Returning to Human Society
The pool water fell as rain. Under the illumination of sunlight, it formed a rainbow.
Li Qingshan shut his eyes firmly. He seemed solemn. Inside his body, his daemon core withdrew all of his aura, constantly sinking down. It was like a spirit turtle withdrawing into its shell, sinking into the abyss of the seas and entering a millennia long slumber, unknown to anyone such that its existence became a mere legend.
When Li Qingshan opened his eyes again, he leapt out of the pool and arrived in front of Xiao An.
Li Qingshan had turned back into the original Li Qingshan. Actually, such a statement was not completely correct.
That was because he no longer possessed his well-defined muscles, nor did he have a sharp bearing. Everything had been withdrawn. He seemed like an ordinary teenager from a mountain village, no longer possessing any special features. However, the depths of his eyes were just as deep and calm as the deep sea.
He looked at his human hands and suddenly remembered that he was already sixteen.
When he existed as a daemon, his concept of time became blurred. Only after turning back into a human did it abruptly clear up once more.
It had been sixteen years since he arrived in this world. Everything that happened in the last half a year was more fascinating than the first fifteen and a half years combined. He had gone from a human to a daemon, and then back to a human.
All of his daemon qi had been withdrawn into the daemon core, without the slightest bit seeping out. Even other cultivators would not be able to tell he was actually a daemon. It was funny now that it was mentioned. When he comprehended the true path of a daemon, he had instead recovered everything human.
There were countless creatures in the world, so just why weren’t humans able to become daemons? Speaking of which, when cats became daemons, they were called cat daemons. When tigers became daemons, they were called tiger daemons. What were daemons that were originally human called? Human daemons? Transvestites?1
Li Qingshan felt a chill. He decided to never consider this question again. He signalled to Xiao An. “I’ve made you wait for so long. We can set off now!”
The colour of joy lit up in Xiao An’s eye sockets as he leaned up close to Li Qingshan.
Li Qingshan took out the sumeru ring that the black ox had left to him. He had no idea what it was made of. It was crystalline, yet it did not shine. Now that all of his true qi had been converted to daemon qi and withdrawn, he could not open it at all. Although he was curious about just what the black ox had left to him, he could only be patient and slowly come up with a way to open it. He strung the ring up as a necklace, hanging it on his neck and hiding it in his clothes.
He touched the charred scholar wood tablet after that. “Let’s go. Compared to those distant goals, let’s help you recover your body first. However, you need to hide away again for now.” Li Qingshan constantly remembered his responsibility to this child. It was Xiao An who had assisted him at every crucial moment. Even during the times of greatest danger, he had stuck close to him.
He would not speak any words of gratitude. He only allowed this sentiment to silently compact in the bottom of his heart. Moreover, their relationship and bond had already surpassed mere gratitude.
He looked at the rainbow and figures flashed through his head—the black ox, Xiao An, Gu Yanying, and Xuanyue. He would achieve and complete all of those expectations, all of those promises, and all of those wild ambitions one by one.
Peace returned to the mountains. The pool no longer had any vortices. Li Qingshan’s daemon qi had completely subdued it.
The sixteen year old who possessed the characteristics of both daemons and humans set foot in human society once again. Just how many dangers could he survive and how many storms could he weather?
Li Qingshan arrived at the ruins of the Black Wind stronghold with Xiao An, but he could not help but frown.
Since he was about to return to the world of humans, he obviously required quite a lot of gold and silver to pave a path for himself. All of the silver notes on him had been destroyed in the fire during the battle at the mountain god temple. They could no longer be used.
As a result, he thought about the wealth that remained in the Black Wind stronghold. He was glad that he had the foresight before, so he came here to have a look, but he discovered traces of excavation and digging everywhere.
As expected, the secret room below Xiong Xiangwu’s room had been unearthed as well. Everything inside was obviously gone.
Li Qingshan breathed in deeply. “What’s this supposed to be? Grave robbers?”
In Qingyang city, Ye Dachuan furiously kissed a transfer order in great joy. “Haha, I can finally leave this damned place!”
The destruction of the Black Wind stronghold and the merit he received from treating the Dragon’s Gate sect as a local evil organisation had been reported to the Clear River prefecture. After a series of checks and confirmations, it was delivered to the prefect’s table.
Even the prefect was rather surprised by Ye Dachuan’s achievements. He could not endure the coaxings of his beloved consort either, so in the end, he sent a transfer order, transferring Ye Dachuan from Qingyang city.
Of course, returning to the clamour of the Clear River prefecture was impossible. However, he had still been relocated several hundred kilometers away, sent to the prosperous Jiaping city. As such, it was something for Ye Dachuan to rejoice about.
The advisor said, “Congratulations, sir! Congratulations!”
Ye Dachuan celebrated for a while before saying gloomily, “It’s just a pity with what happened to my brother Qingshan!” At least he had not forgotten the person that made this all possible.
The advisor sighed. “Please cheer up, sir. This is all just fate. No one can do anything about it!”
Ye Dachuan considered it and emerged from the gloom very soon. “Don’t forget to burn some more joss paper before we leave so that my brother Qingshan can bribe the lords of hell and have it a little easier and be reborn into a good family.”
“Reborn into what good family?” Li Qingshan leapt over the wall with a strange expression and landed in the courtyard.
“Of course it would be a great, wealthy… a ghost!” Ye Dachuan replied absentmindedly, but his voice gradually slowed down. When he saw who it was, he finally cried out, hiding behind his armed chair swiftly.
The advisor said, “Sir, calm down, calm down. Under the light of day, why would there be any ghosts? Sheriff Li has returned!”
Ye Dachuan studied Li Qingshan. He saw a long shadow being cast below Li Qingshan’s feet from the summer sun, and only then did he ease up. He emerged from behind the armed chair and grabbed Li Qingshan’s hand. “Brother Qingshan, you’ve finally returned. Where have you been all this time?” As he said that, hot tears began to well up in his eyes.
Li Qingshan drew back his hand. “I suffered some injuries and went into seclusion in the mountains for a while. Did you think I was dead?”
Ye Dachuan said, “As long as you’re alive, as long as you’re alive!” Afterwards, he told him the entire story. As it turned out, the news of Feng Zhang bringing a group of first-rate masters with him to encircle Li Qingshan had spread like wildfire, and in the end, everyone vanished in the mountain together.
Over the past few months, quite a few people had entered the mountains to search, but all they found was a burnt down mountain god temple. The remains there were completely unrecognisable, so rumors arose from everywhere.
Some people said Feng Zhang silenced everyone with death after he got his hands on the spiritual ginseng before subsequently hiding away. There were also some who said that other masters interfered and killed everyone.
However, regardless of the rumour, Li Qingshan was dead. No one believed that he could survive such a situation, so everyone treated him as dead. However, they had never thought that Li Qingshan would actually emerge from the mountains in the end. Moreover, he was the only one to emerge.
“As long as you’re back. You can come to Jiaping with me. What do you think?” Ye Dachuan gestured at the transfer order complacently as his eyes vanished under his wide grin. He was happy from the bottom of his heart that Li Qingshan could return. Li Qingshan was his bringer of good fortune.
Li Qingshan glanced at the transfer order and said in confusion, “Vice magistrate? Aren’t you being demoted?”
Normally, smaller districts did not have vice magistrates. Only larger ones did, and at most, there would be two or three. They remained under the district magistrate’s command, so they obviously did not have as much authority as a solitary magistrate.
Ye Dachuan said, “Now this is something that you don’t understand. You’d much rather be a beggar in a city of gold than a king among a pack of dogs. What kind of benefits can a run down place like Qingyang city provide? Even if I make money, there aren’t even any decent parlours for me to dine at with prostitutes…”
As Li Qingshan listened to district magistrate Ye talk about his indulgences, he could not help but break into laughter. At least it felt slightly more realistic that he had returned to human society. It did sound primitive, but weren’t these the exact things that humans pursued?
The two words, Jiaping city, made his heart skip a beat instead. He touched the Iron Wolf tablet in his bosom. The Scarlet Hawk commander ‘old Wang’ had once told him that if he managed to survive, he could go to Jiaping city and report to Zhuo Zhibo to become a Hawkwolf guard. However, he had yet to consider the matter completely, so he still could not make up his mind.
The Feng Zhang that he killed might have old colleagues or acquaintances in Jiaping city. Zhuo Zhibo, who sent Feng Zhang here in the first place, might not have a good impression of him either.
The advisor truly did live up to his position of advisor. He did not know much of the inside story, but he still managed to think to such a point. He reminded Ye Dachuan, “The haughty Feng Zhang came from Jiaping city, but now, his whereabouts are unknown.” The reason for his disappearance was obviously Li Qingshan. They could not be certain whether the Hawkwolf Guard would investigate this matter or not.
Ye Dachuan’s expression changed as well. “Yeah. Brother Qingshan, you have to be careful. If you want to, you still can run. I’ll just treat it like I never saw you return.” With his identity, he was still unaware that Wang Pushi had expelled Feng Zhang. The disappearance of a Hawkwolf Guard was a significant matter.
Li Qingshan said, “Thank you for your concern sir, but you don’t need to worry about this. There’s something I’d like to ask about.”
“What is it?”
Li Qingshan said, “Who dug up the Black Wind stronghold?” With the amount of work involved, it was impossible to be completed without raising any disturbances. No matter where he went, he needed money. There was a price that had to be paid for stealing from the mouth of a tiger.
Ye Dachuan said, “I- it’s the Iron Fist school. Qingshan, don’t be rash.”
“There’s nothing to be rash over. I just want to get my money back. Will they be bold enough to turn down my request?” Li Qingshan was rather confused by Ye Dachuan’s reaction. He had destroyed both the Black Wind stronghold and the Dragon’s Gate sect. Was the Iron Fist school bold enough to make things difficult for him?
Ye Dachuan said, “Recently, a protector arrived in the Iron Fist school. He seems to be investigating the whereabouts of that mealy hall chief. Liu Hong excavated these items to give to him as presents. I also heard he’s an innate master. He might be difficult to deal with.”
Li Qingshan said, “I will be careful.” With that, he vanished over the wall again. Leaping over numerous tiled roofs, he arrived in the Iron Fist school. However, he was in no hurry to show himself. Instead, he eavesdropped.
Having withdrawn his daemon qi and assumed a human form, his senses were not as sharp as when he was a daemon, but they still surpassed the senses of ordinary people. Within a range of a thousand feet, he could even hear the buzzing of mosquitoes, so he immediately located Liu Hong.
Over a hundred children currently stood neatly on the martial arts platform under the brilliant sun. They all stepped forward one after another.
1. Human is 人 (rén), while daemons in this case is 妖 (yāo). In Chinese, the phrase 人妖 means transvestite.