Chapter 116 – An Extraordinary Mindset
Zhuo Zhibo’s gaze towards Li Qingshan became cautious. He frowned deeply. Li Qingshan’s casual attitude only seemed to verify his thoughts.
By now, the dead Qi Practitioner had already been carried away, and the order of the rounds were rearranged. A Black Wolf guard personally hosted below.
Although the Qi Practitioners were envious, jealous, and resentful of Li Qingshan, they were afraid of saying anything about it. From today onwards, he was a Hawkwolf guard. He was no longer an existence they could provoke.
The Black Wolf guards in the pavilion experienced various thoughts. They gazed at Li Qingshan with either disdain or curiosity. Regardless of the ground, an arrogant newcomer was not well-liked, let alone the fact that Li Qingshan had basically replaced their old colleague, Feng Zhang. Moreover, his strength was only at the first layer, which led to even more disdain. Many people wondered just how they would teach a lesson to this ignorant kid from the mountains.
Li Qingshan just stood below the pavilion, gazing at the platform. He was even more relaxed than the gambling Hawkwolf guards, ignoring all of the gazes on him. He discovered that it was indeed better to stand to the side and watch people fight for their lives instead of being involved as tools for gambling.
Two Qi Practitioners arrived at the centre of the square, standing ten steps away from one another.
The one to the left wore green casual wear and was in his twenties. He had fairer skin and no facial hair. His hands were empty, without a weapon. Li Qingshan could still remember that he had purchased two talismans from him, one inferior and one low grade. He clearly had some background, probably from an aristocratic clan, born with the talent to practise qi.
The person to the right was much older. He was in his thirties or forties at the very least, and he wore grey, tighter-fitting clothes. He had an extremely prominent red scar on his face. He gave off a sense of fierceness. There was a sword at his waist. If Li Qingshan had guessed correctly, he should have started off as a martial arts practitioner, having converted his inner force into true qi.
Both of them were second layer Qi Practitioners. Li Qinsghan was unable to determine just who was stronger or weaker. The Qi Practitioner in green definitely possessed quite a few powerful talismans, so he had an advantage in resources, but his battle experience would definitely be insufficient. Even if he had any, it would just be overpowering people weaker than him.
However, the Qi Practitioner in green had slaughtered his way out of the jianghu. His battle experience would definitely be plentiful. And, Yan Song had mentioned before that among lower Qi Practitioners, those who were originally martial arts practitioners tended to be stronger.
Within the drizzle, the two people faced each other, and with a clang of a gong, the first battle began.
The Qi Practitioner in grey moved. He turned into a grey flash, charging towards the Qi Practitioner in green. He conveniently drew the sword from his waist. The entire motion was smooth and fluid, completed in a single stroke. In the moment prior, he was ten steps away, but in the moment after, the shining, a cold sword had already stabbed towards the Qi Practitioner in green’s throat.
Li Qingshan cheered inside. He really did begin as a martial arts practitioner.
The Qi Practitioner in green spread his arms in no hurry, retreating backwards like a gliding bird. True qi circulated through his body, and he separated his hands. A fist-sized fireball flew out.
Li Qingshan immediately gathered his attention. He had heard from Yan Song that true qi was not as simple as a stronger version of inner force. Aside from being able to make people faster and stronger, it could also be used to unleash various wondrous techniques. Talismans were basically all techniques that had been sealed within talisman paper, allowing them to be used at any time.
The rain vapourised from the heat of the fireball. Even the soaking ground dried up, teeming with white steam, which only demonstrated the power of the fireball. If a person was struck by it, they probably would end up becoming a human torch.
The Qi Practitioner in grey seemed extremely fearful as well, but he did not become frantic. He used a profound series of foot steps, moving left and right and actually brushing past the fireball. Although his hair and eyebrows were singed, he did not slow down.
The Qi Practitioner in green panicked. He had clearly underestimated the willingness of Qi Practitioners who originated as martial arts practitioners to risk their lives. He wanted to force back the Qi Practitioner in grey, so he stopped his retreat. The true qi in his body had yet to settle down either, so he was unable to use a technique in time. He made up his mind and fished out a talisman, slapping it on himself. A breeze sprang up below his feet, and he immediately became much more agile.
Li Qingshan learned that while techniques were powerful, they could not be used particularly quickly. If he were against Qi Practitioners similar to himself, he would be fine, as their reaction speed would be limited as well. However, against Qi Practitioners who started off with martial arts, he would struggle.
The Qi Practitioner in green pulled away. He unleashed fireballs and large swathes of steam rose up from the surroundings. Suddenly, one of them flew towards Li Qingshan. Just when he planned on dodging, a wind blade pierced through the air, cutting down the fireball. A hot wave of air surged over hime, causing his clothes to ruffle.
Li Qingshan raised his head. A Black Wolf guard stowed his blade away and saw him look over, sneering in disdain.
Within the swathe of steam, the Qi Practitioner in grey was dishevelled. He was covered in burn marks, but none of them were fatal. He was both vicious and cautious, sticking close to the Qi Practitioner in green.
The Qi Practitioner in green had instead panicked due to wasting true qi. The length that an inferior talisman lasted for was extremely limited, so the breeze below his feet gradually dispersed. He took out a low grade talisman this time.
Li Qingshan shook his head. The outcome had already been determined. Unleashing strength that could crush the opponent right in the beginning was the correct decision. Being indecisive would not work. However, he could also understand that talismans would vanish with each use. The more he used at the beginning, the smaller the chance of victory later on. In the end, it was very likely that he would not gain anything at all, ending up wasting the invaluable talismans.
A vicious light flashed through the eyes of the Qi Practitioner in grey. No one knew when, but he was also holding a talisman in his left hand now.
The talisman shattered, transforming into a flash of white light, blinding everyone. The Qi Practitioners on the side all looked away.
However, as Li Qingshan was further away, he saw it clearly. The talisman was just an inferior good. Aside from being able to dazzle people, it could do nothing else.
However, the Qi Practitioner in green was dazed. Due to fear, his body paused slightly.
A battle between masters would be determined in a single instant.
The light subsided, but a sword also flashed past. The Qi Practitioner in green produced meaningless gurgles. A glowing metal sword had pierced his throat. His eyes were filled with regret. He still had so many talismans he had yet to use. If he used them right from the beginning, he would definitely be the victor. Two streaks of tears fell from the corner of his eyes. He had been drowned out by regret and death.
The envoy announced loudly, “Victory to Liu Yiming!” He did not even mention the Qi Practitioner in green’s name. They would either make a name for themselves out of nowhere, or they would die nameless.
Rich battle experience and decisiveness became critical points to victory. Li Qingshan also realised that whether it be talismans or techniques, it was completely up to how the person used them. Even if sheep had the claws and fangs of wolves, they would still be sheep.
However, unfortunately, Liu Yiming failed to make a name for himself. He was matched up against a third layer Qi Practitioner in his second round. Fortunately, he was swift enough with forfeiting, saving him from losing his life pointlessly.
Droplets of rain fell from the gloomy sky. Round after round passed in the competition. Not every round would result in a corpse. Those who were outmatched could forfeit, and their opponent could not force them to keep fighting, which was basically an attempt from the Hawkwolf Guard to reduce injuries and death.
However, whether it be the spiritual artifacts or the techniques Qi Practitioners employed, they were all just too powerful. Basically every single one of them had stronger attacks than defences. Most of the time, there was not even the opportunity to admit defeat. Once they were struck by an attack, they would be dead. Victory and defeat, life and death depended on a single moment.
The second round of the competition ended, and four corpses were now placed at the edge of the square. These noble Qi Practitioners just laid in the muddy water, dead. Li Qingshan suddenly fought it to be all so foolish. They had originally obtained everything already, everything that an ordinary person could not obtain throughout their entire lives, yet they risked their lives for more, for better, only to lose their lives.
However, he suddenly realised that he was no different. He could not say that he had a grand dream, while everyone else just had wild ambitions. He could not help but shake his head in self-mockery.
However, he had no plans to change his mind. The saying of knowing when to be content is happiness was just a way for weaker people to comfort themselves. It was the belief of people who had lost their motivation to live and the spirit to forge ahead. Men had dreams far and wide. If they died before achieving their dream, how could they say that knowing when to be content was happiness? Constantly advancing through struggle was the only source of happiness. Even if they died as failure, it would not be a waste at the very least.
He dismissed his unaccommodating thoughts before looking back at the square. He no longer had any mockery and self-mockery in his eyes anymore. Instead, there was appreciation, appreciating the Qi Practitioners for unleashing all of their intelligence and strength to face off against their opponent, searching for victory in the danger of defeat, searching for life in the shadow of death. The vigour they demonstrated made death seem insignificant. They were flowing with battle intent and fighting spirit.
Zhuo Zhibo had been paying attention to Li Qingshan the entire time, clearly sensing the powerful fighting spirit from Li Qingshan and his gaze of almost admiration for the competition. This was not usual. The Black Wolf guards in the pavilion were afraid of mocking and making a ruckus due to his anger, but they were still haughty, acting like they were watching a battle between caged beasts. Even though they had also emerged from the same cage, only Li Qingshan admired the battle, desiring the battle.
Zhou Wenbin also paid attention to Li Qingshan. This youngster, no, man had an aura that heavily differed from normal people. He would usually hide it all and seem normal, but once an opportunity presented itself, it would all emerge from him and display itself.
However, no matter how special he was, it was all useless if his cultivation and strength were insufficient. A first layer Qi Practitioner in his teens could be regarded as rather talented in Jiaping city, but across the entire Clear River prefecture, it was nothing special at all. He would probably spend his entire life at the level of the Black Wolf guards. If he could split open a sea of qi, then he would be lucky. Zhou Wenbin then glanced at Zhuo Zhibo and shook his head. It would be difficult for even that wish to come true under this person’s command.
Li Qingshan still possessed very little experience in actual battles against Qi Practitioners. When he watched these battles, he benefited tremendously. Various novel techniques and moves were demonstrated before him. Not only was he watching, but he was also silently thinking of how he could handle them so that he would be prepared if he came across them in the future.