Chapter 118 – Fantastic Benefits
Even the hands of the third layer Qi Practitioner, Diao Fei, became covered in cold sweat. Within a range of three steps, he would not even have the time to activate a talisman against such an opponent. He felt extremely relieved that he had not fallen out with Li Qingshan. Under the guidance of an envoy, the three of them climbed the lengthy stairs, with Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi following behind Li Qingshan instinctively. Afterwards, they crossed through a long corridor. Over a dozen Black Wolf guards parted to form a path for them. Li Qingshan clearly saw that there were both men and women among them. There were young twenty-year-olds, but there were also many middle-aged or even elderly people.
Li Qingshan studied them. Under the gloomy weather, their various faces turned into blurs in Li Qingshan’s mind. He did not try to remember them. He only silently estimated their strength. There were many third layer Qi Practitioners, with a few second and fourth layer Qi Practitioners. He did not see any fifth layer Qi Practitioners. The conclusion he reached was that he did not need to take special note of any of them.
Strength was the best calling card for Qi Practitioners. Before he knew it, Li Qingshan had also learned how to judge a person based on their strength. Only when Li Qingshan arrived before Zhuo Zhibo and Zhou Wenbin did he take special note of them. Their auras were so powerful that they could not be ignored.
Zhuo Zhibo scanned past the three of them, with his gaze pausing on Li Qingshan slightly. He smiled kindly. “Congratulations. From today onwards, you are a part of the Hawkwolf Guard. You’ve all done extremely well… In a moment, there will be a welcoming banquet. Little Ge, go take them to collect their items.”
“Yes, commander!” answered a short but powerful Qi Practitioner. He had a bit of a baby face, but he had a mustache. Additionally, he seemed rather funny but also very likeable.
Zhou Wenbin said, “Commander Zhuo, I won’t be disturbing you any further then. I’ll take my leave.” He did not even mention the matter of the spiritual stones, as he knew that Zhuo Zhibo would have the spiritual stones delivered to him once he returned. If he demanded for them before so many Black Wolf guards, it would be rather humiliating for Zhuo Zhibo and overbearing on Zhou Wenbin’s part.
Zhuo Zhibo urged Zhou Wenbin to stay with no sincerity at all before politely accompanying Zhou Wenbin down the stairs. Before Zhou Wenbin left, he said to the three of them, “Oh right. Don’t forget to report to the district government.”
In writing, the district magistrate was the highest ruler of Jiaping. He had the authority to dispatch the Hawkwolf Guard to assist his governance, so new members of the Hawkwolf Guard would have to report to the government and be recorded. While the Hawkwolf Guard was responsible for supervising the government, they could not directly disobey the orders of the district magistrate, thus creating a relationship where they checked one another. However, in reality, actual power would depend on their individual skill and strength.
Although he directed that to the three of them, anyone could tell that he was specially speaking to Li Qingshan. District magistrate Zhou was very interested in him.
Under the lead of ‘little Ge’, Li Qingshan finally entered the depths of the Hawkwolf Guard. The exquisite, extravagant buildings and pavilions made it seem like a royal palace rather than a government office. The envoys they came across along the way no longer possessed any arrogance at all. Instead, they were humble and polite.
‘Little Ge’ was very good at making conversation. He introduced the names and purposes of the structures along the way, mentioning stories or anecdotes with great ease. He also constantly asked Li Qingshan how he had managed to accomplish what he currently possessed.
“It was all by chance,” Li Qingshan smiled. He had already learned that ‘little Ge’ was actually called Ge Jian, and he was actually past thirty years old already. The reason why he was so polite was directly connected to the strength Li Qingshan had displayed earlier. Although Ge Jian was cautious of him, being treated as an equal was still a comforting fact.
Ge Jian said, “There aren’t a lot of people who practise that now. The body practising methods in the library are even close to getting moldy with how seldom people view them. However, I never thought the power would be so great. Even I want to try it out now. You’ll need to teach me well when I do try.”
He was just making conversation. Although Body Practitioners sounded like they were equals to Qi Practitioners, that was just Body Practitioners blowing their own trumpets. It was not some hidden, powerful path that people could take. It was just like the daoist ability of the Strength of Nine Oxen and Two Tigers. Most ancient cultivation methods were lost because they could no longer keep up with the times.
Compared to the powerful strength in battle, there were many disadvantages to the method of training the body. Every path was composed of the summaries of the countless lessons people before had learned. However, Li Qingshan was not a ‘person’, so he obviously had no need to follow the same path as these ‘people’ before.
Soon, they arrived at the depths of the mountain peak and entered a stone building carved out from the mountain. Ge Jian took the three of them through a series of stone doors. Every stone door was engraved with inscriptions. Even spiritual artifacts would not be able to blow them open. This was the armoury of the Hawkwolf Guard.
To the Hawkwolf Guard, there was not a single piece of gold, silver, or treasure worth protecting unless they were spiritual.
Ge Jian took out two Black Wolf uniforms for each person from the armoury first. Li Qingshan gently felt the smooth fabric. Through Ge Jian’s introductions, he learned that it was made from dark silk; it was both fire and waterproof and was tough enough to stop crossbow bolts. This was the best piece of clothing he had ever worn even with his two lives combined. However, he did not care too much about it. With his Ox Demon Forges its Hide, he had never been afraid of any crossbow bolts in the first place.
If that was all the benefits the Hawkwolf Guard had to offer, it would just be disappointing. However, Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi showed no signs of disappointment at all. They held the uniform like it was a treasure as they were distracted by their thoughts.
Qian Rongzhi’s thoughts included both resentment and joy. If she wore this uniform and returned to Ancient Wind city, those old coots would have to show some respect to her. Everyone who had once offended her, who had looked down on her, would have to pay.
Her hatred towards her family was actually dozens or even hundreds of times more intense than the feelings of someone like Li Qingshan who had cut off his family.
What Ge Jian took out next attracted all of their gazes. Even Li Qingshan showed anticipation. They were three delicately-crafted hundred treasures pouches, completely different from the ragged versions they possessed.
Ge Jian handed the three hundred treasures pouches to the three of them. “The items inside are all a welcoming gift.”
Li Qingshan channeled his true qi into it and sensed that the space in the hundred treasures pouch was the size of a box. It was ten times larger than the ruined hundred treasures pouch he had obtained from Qian Rongming. It could easily hold a larger weapon, and he could finally store his Cursive Sword Calligraphy away.
There was a bottle of pills in the hundred treasures pouch as well. Despite its size, it held thirty Qi Gathering pills. Every single one of them was only the size of a soybean, but they were perfectly round and translucent, teeming with spiritual qi. Their effects surpassed regular Qi Gathering pills. There were also three low grade talismans.
It amazed Li Qingshan. The Hawkwolf Guard truly were wealthy, truly a government office of authority of the best of the best. The benefits that came with a position were just so good. There really was a reason why so many Qi Practitioners would risk their lives desperately to join them.
To his side, Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi also showed surprise and joy when they took their hundred treasures pouches.
However, that was not all. Ge Jian then took the three of them into the armoury, opening three stone doors. When the third stone door opened, a brilliant glow flooded out, dazzling Li Qingshan.
The large armoury room was filled with various types of weapons. Whether it be blades, spears, knives, glaives, axes, hooks, or tridents, it had them all. Light flickered in there like stars in the night sky. Every single one of them was a spiritual artifact.
“How are there so many spiritual artifacts here?” The spiritual artifacts Qian Rongzhi currently saw was more than she had seen throughout her entire life. She had grown up in Ancient Wind city, so she believed the Qian family was one of the largest clans in the world, a tremendous existence that could not be shaken. Yet, when she came to the Hawkwolf Guard, only then did she realise she had just been experiencing tunnel vision.
Ge Jian explained, “Over all these years, we’ve killed many enemies, with many Qi Practitioners among them. Since we obtained their weapons that we have no use for, we offered them up as contribution, which ended up being stored here.”
Li Qingshan asked, “What’s contribution?”
Ge Jian explained patiently. As it turned out, Hawkwolf guards were not always busy with their duties. They just needed to deal with a few cases every month, and they would be permitted to use their other time freely. They could practise qi on the mountain or have fun outside, all depending on their preferences. They had great leisure.
Within the Hawkwolf Guard, strength was everything. No matter how hard a person worked, they could not be promoted if their strength was insufficient. As a result, in order to motivate people to work, they set up a contribution system. Whenever a case was completed, they could receive a corresponding amount of contribution, which could be exchanged for pills, talismans, or spiritual artifacts.
Moreover, the Hawkwolf Guard did not pay their salaries with silver. There was no silver on the mountain at all. Instead, they would give each member ten Qi Gathering pills for their cultivation.
A great salary, great benefits, and high amounts of freedom. When I work, I even receive bonuses, and I get respected wherever I go. Apart from the fact that the commanding officer doesn’t seem to like me, it’s basically a perfect job. But even if the commanding officer does dislike me, he’ll have to live it with. Who told him to send someone to come steal my things? Serves him right. If he develops spite against me because of this, then he’d better be careful when he goes out at night, just in case he falls into the hands of daemons.
Li Qingshan smiled subconsciously, which made Qian Rongzhi and Diao Fei shiver.
Ge Jian said, “Everyone pick one as your weapon. If you don’t have confidence in your insight, I recommend that you choose a standard issue Wind-entwining blade. Be quick, because I still have to take you to your residences.”
The three of them immediately began picking eagerly. Originally, Li Qingshan wanted to choose a heavy weapon, the heavier the better. He had already chosen a long battle-axe, but he changed his mind and directly went to the rack to the west, choosing a Wind-entwining blade. He drew the blade from its sheath; it was covered with a cloud-like pattern, shining with cold light. He could tell from a single glance that it had not been used before, brand-new. There were inscriptions on the hilt so that as long as true qi was channeled into the blade, it could unleash wind blades. It was basically a well-made low grade spiritual artifact.
Ge Jian extended his thumb at him, praising his choice. Li Qingshan replied with a smile. He was extremely satisfied with the Wind-entwining blade as well, but he did not choose it because he was unconfident in his insight. Weapons all depended on circumstances. The current him no longer needed to go trample through the Black Wind stronghold.
An overly-large or long weapon could not be stored in the hundred treasures pouch, so it was difficult to carry around and unwieldy. He had begun with the blade at the very beginning, so it was perfect for him to return to the blade now. And, he currently lacked a way to launch long-range attacks. He could not just use the Cursive Sword Calligraphy against anyone and everyone. The Wind-entwining blade was imbued with the Wind Blade technique, so it suited what he was looking for.
Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi also chose their respective weapons. Diao Fei also chose a Wind-entwining blade, while Qian Rongzhi chose a Water-splitting barb.1
1. Water-splitting barbs might look like this: