Chapter 114 – A Stretch of Clouds and Mountains
Diao Fei originally planned to keep it for opening the Yang Linking meridian, saving it for when he would break through to the fourth layer. However, he could not allow his rival to obtain this Lightning Strike talisman no matter what, so he could only bear the pain of giving it up.
Li Qingshan said to Diao Fei, “Let me see it!”
Diao Fei poured the Pearl Dew pill into his palm. A small pill, transparent like a droplet of dew, shone brightly. All of the Qi Practitioners in the surroundings struggled to hide their greed. A pill of superior quality could play a great role at crucial times when it came to breaking through. Qi Gathering pills could not be compared to it.
Li Qingshan suddenly regretted the fact that he did not finish off both of them back on the boat very much. My demonic thoughts, oh my demonic thoughts! He smiled. “Not too bad.”
Not too bad? Diao Fei was very dissatisfied with this evaluation. This is a Pearl Dew pill! Have you seen better pills before? The other Qi Practitioners all thought Li Qingshan was putting on an act as well.
Little did they know that not only had Li Qingshan seen better, but he had eaten many better as well. Only now did he realise just how nice Xuanyue had been to him. Although he had no idea what the name of the pills that Xuanyue had fed to him were, just a single one of them was countless better than the Pearl Dew pills that these Qi Practitioners desired so much. Sigh, speaking of which, I wonder how she is doing?
Over five thousand kilometers away, a black spiritual cat laid in a deep, blue embrace and let out a sneeze. A slender hand gently rubbed her smooth fur, as silky as moonlight.
A gentle voice said nervously, “Yue’er, have you caught a cold?” At the same time, she tightened her embrace, pulling in Xuanyue tightly.
“I’m a cat daemeown. Can cat daemeowns fall sick? Please use your head, meowster!” Xuanyue struggled hard, but she was unable to break free.
“As long as you aren’t sick. Your body is far too frail. Here, eat a pill!” Her slender fingers held a spiritual pill, delivering it to Xuanyue’s mouth. Its glow was hidden inside. It glistened and was transparent, just like a crystal. Compared to it, Qi Gathering pills were like mud balls, while Pearl Dew pills were like rocks.
“No more! No more! No more!” Xuanyue swung her head around, struggling even more.
“Alright, alright, alright. No more, no more.” She stowed the pill away. Her voice was filled with helplessness and doting, like a mother looking at the child she loved the most. It was as if even being capricious was a good thing.
Xuanyue raised her head, looking at the beautiful face that seemed to be frozen in sorrow even when smiling. She suddenly felt sad. Even when she ran away and had been brought back, this master of hers had not scolded her even once. Instead, she took care of her with even more devotion and attention, just like moonlight that illuminated her. She used countless spiritual pills to turn her from a mere spiritual cat into a Daemon General that could assume a human form in just a few decades.
She suddenly thought of that tall, wide figure, carrying her on his back while climbing the icy cliffs in the snowstorm, shedding a pair of translucent tears for her. I’m not a good pet!
She was just like a child who only realised her parents’ care and concern after having her own child. Only after trying did she understand that none of the things she possessed came so easily.
“Meowster, let me tell you a story!”
“Alright! I love hearing Xuanyue’s stories!”
Outside the windows were a stretch of clouds and mountains. Two mystical beasts pulled a beautiful carriage, treading through the air.
Back to Jiaping city, Li Qingshan had already returned to his room. He laid on his bed idly as he calculated his earnings today.
Around fifty Qi Gathering pills were enough to support his cultivation for three days; he could break through to the third layer of the Innate Method of Practising Qi. As for the Pearl Dew pills, it would be used to break through the fourth layer of the Innate Method of Practising Qi, which was going from the first layer to the second layer as a Qi Practitioner, opening his first meridian.
As a result, Li Qingshan shut himself in his room, entering secluded cultivation once again. His behaviour was common. There were many Qi Practitioners who would use these three days to make some final preparations, remaining in their room for the entire time.
He ingested the Qi Gathering pills one by one. Most of it was converted into daemon qi, while a small part of it was converted into extremely pure true qi. Although he could not revert to his original form to check, Li Qingshan believed his current daemon form would be even taller and studier. If he remained in the mountains, he would struggle to reach this level even if he spent day and night absorbing spiritual qi of the world. It was true. The cultivation speed of daemons was nowhere near as fast as humans. This was their natural disadvantage, but Li Qingshan did his best to use the methods of humans to make up for this disadvantage.
Although external pills were beneficial to cultivation, it would lead to an accumulation of impurities in true qi, leading to impure true qi. Apart from absorbing their effects, regular Qi Practitioners would also find ways to purify and refine their true qi, which would obviously take up quite a lot of time. However, with the assistance from the sumeru ring, Li Qingshan was saved from this part of the process, basically saving him a lot of time. It instead sped up his cultivation.
Li Qingshan meditated in his room quietly. Three days passed swiftly. He had ingested a year’s quantity for many Qi Practitioners, twenty-four Qi Gathering pills, in a single sitting, and only then did he break through to the third layer of the Innate Method of Gathering Qi. He originally wanted to continue cultivating, but unfortunately for him, it was time. He could only stand up and leave. He discovered that it had begun drizzling at a certain time while he was cultivating.
Under the lead of an envoy, he arrived at the location of the competition, which was a stone square. The rules were extremely simple. Qi Practitioners would go up there and fight or kill one by one. The victor would advance, while the loser would be dropped from the competition. The final three people would become Hawkwolf guards.
At the end of the square was a vermillion pavilion with layered eaves. Its colour was rather gloomy due to being wet from the rain. There were several figures vaguely visible in the pavilion. The pitch-black of Black Wolf uniforms was a colour that Li Qingshan was familiar with. After three days, Li Qingshan finally saw the people he was looking for.
Aside from the Hawkwolf Guards, there were a few people in informal wear, leaning on the handrails and chattering between themselves while at great ease. Beside them were fruits and snacks. It basically seemed like an audience watching a show, or perhaps it was a party for gambling.
This was because Li Qingshan could clearly hear them discussing the strength of the Qi Practitioners, telling one another how much they had wagered. It was so relaxed that it seemed like they were gambling on horse-racing or dog-fighting.
A Black Wolf guard with a bulbous nose held a list, which detailed the names and cultivations of the Qi Practitioners. “There’ll definitely be these two third layer Qi Practitioners in the top three. The only thing worth gambling over is just who among the second layer Qi Practitioners will emerge victorious.”
The Black Wolf guard beside him leaned on a column and said nonchalantly, “I’ll gamble on that woman.”
Bulbous nose looked at the list. “Qian Rongzhi? Why? She’s not exactly powerful.”
“Just a feeling.” The Black Wolf guard smiled like he was keeping a secret, but he looked towards the interior of the pavilion.
Bulbous nose seemed like he suddenly realised something and smiled understandingly.
The Hawkwolf guard suddenly said, “Oi, look at that kid. The one looking at us. That first layer Qi Practitioner. Why don’t we gamble on when he’ll die?”
“I’ll wager the first round.”
Two men sat before each other in the pavilion. They could see through the gauze curtains easily and see what was going on outside. There was a jug of green tea on the table, which wafted with a faint fragrance. Two beautiful attendants stood to the side.
One of the men was slightly chubby. He wore the dark-coloured Black Hawk uniform. He was the Black Hawk commander of Jiaping city, Zhuo Zhibo. He squinted his eyes as he smiled. “Sir Zhou, why don’t we have a little gamble of our own, huh?” He seemed to still be middle-aged, but his actual age had surpassed sixty at the very least. However, due to opening the four major meridians of yin and yang along with the Girdle meridian from practising qi and condensing a sea of qi, he seemed much younger.
Sir Zhou, on the other hand, seemed even younger. He only seemed to be in his thirties, dressed like a scholar. He had a long thin beard, which made him seem more solemn, just like a refined scholar. He waved his hand with a smile. “Nah, I’m not going to gamble. I’ll just be asking to lose if I gamble on your territory.” However, he did not smile at all inside. This bastard wanted to demonstrate his martial might to him again. How wretched.
Within Jiaping city, there was obviously only the district magistrage of Jiaping, Zhou Wenbin, who could stand on equal footing with Zhuo Zhibo. There had never been a place where two people of equal authority got along with one another. However, they each had their fears of the other and had different jobs. As such, they could maintain peace on the surface without invading each other’s territories. However, whenever a chance arose, they would want to demonstrate their strength to the other.
Under Zhuo Zhibo’s repeated request, Zhou Wenbin finally picked up the list. Afterwards, he saw a name, and his interest was piqued. “Commander Zhuo, there’s even a first layer Qi Practitioner enlisting this time?”
“There are reckless people every year.” Zhuo Zhibo had noticed this outlier a long time ago as well, but he did not pay too much attention to it. He had no chance. The difference was far too great. Although Wang Pushi had scolded him before because of Feng Zhang and had told him that someone new would be reporting to him, he basically never mentioned Li Qingshan’s name to him. Perhaps even Wang Pushi did not believe Li Qingshan could escape from Feng Zhang’s hands with his puny life given his skills. Moreover, that was several months ago.
Zhou Wenbin stopped smiling. He did not have Zhuo Wenbin’s might in Jiaping, but as he originated from the prefectural city of Clear River and had attended the Academy of the Hundred Schools, he had many more connections and was better informed. His memory was rather impressive as well. He could vaguely remember a friend from Clear River city mentioning something interesting in a letter to him. He mentioned a name that seemed to bear the surname of Li.
The White Hawk commander Gu Yanying, the woman who possessed the greatest authority and power in the Ruyi commandery, was the dream lover of all men. There was not a single man who had not been interested in her upon seeing her. Although all they could do was covet her, unable to approach her, everything related to her would be an interesting topic of conversation, just like the celebrities from Li Qingshan’s previous life.
And, his old friend Zhuo Zhibo had even been scolded by old Wang of the Clear River prefecture exactly for this matter, which only made the matter even more memorable.
“I’ll wager ten spiritual stones on this kid. He definitely has something to rely on for enlisting as a first layer Qi Practitioner. He’ll be able to rise up and become a Hawkwolf Guard.”
Zhuo Zhibo’s eyes narrowed. He smiled. “To think you just said you don’t gamble. Aren’t you even more interested in gambling than me?”
With a group of people above, they gambled on the fates of the people below. With a group of people below, they became the tools for gambling to the people above. The human past time of gambling did not change because of practising qi. Fighting and competing was an instinct of primitive creatures, but it was also present within humans. It was only presented in a different form.
Li Qingshan stood on the side of the square. A group of Qi Practitioners were filled with animosity towards him. The people who bought the talismans would not be grateful towards him because their odds at succeeding had increased. They would only hate him for making use of the situation and scamming them. Those who failed to buy any talismans would resent him as well for making their opponents stronger, let alone the people who had mocked him before he mocked them in return.