Chapter 119 – Hidden Killing Intent
There were many small, two-storeyed buildings on the mountain, sparsed between the exuberant vegetation. It was a quiet and tasteful set up. These were the residences allocated to the Hawkwolf Guard. A few had already been cleaned out for the three of them to choose from, which added to Li Qingshan’s understanding of the benefits that the Hawkwolf Guard provided.
Ge Jian said, “Once you have chosen, please clean up and change your clothes. When it’s noon, I will come to receive you again.”
Li Qingshan chose the residence that was the quietest and closest to the edge. After bidding farewell to Ge Jian, he walked over.
There were flowers and shrubs planted at the front, which had now bloomed. Li Qingshan was not skilled in this area of knowledge, so he had no idea what they were called. However, they did form an assortment of colors, which was quite beautiful. Butterflies floated around them, drinking nectar while there was a break in the rain.
Li Qingshan stood there and admired the area for a while before using his key to open the door. A dangling bamboo curtain split the antique style room into two parts. The front was a room to receive guests, while the back was a quiet tearoom.
The jar on his waist trembled. Li Qingshan said, “Come out, Xiao An. I’ve kept you in there for too long!” Opening the jar, a skull flew out. The various bones connected into a skeleton, standing in front of Li Qingshan. It shook its head at Li Qingshan, expressing that it was fine.
Those who practised the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty were neither alive or dead, neither dead or alive. They existed in a wondrous state, carrying the profound truths of buddhism. In terms of concealing auras, even Li Qingshan, who practised the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression, could not be compared to him. After all, dead people had no auras.
Xiao An ran over to a wall and admired the antique paintings there before nodding at Li Qingshan, expressing that they were all the real deal.
Li Qingshan held the railing and ascended up the stairs. Xiao An followed behind him in a hurry, climbing up the stairs with a series of thumps.
On the square table, wisps of smoke curled up from a crane-shaped incense burner onto a rosewood screen. The decor and items in the room were extremely luxurious, but not overboard. With a single glance, Li Qingshan could tell that a master had designed this. Any item there was worth far more than what an ordinary person could afford in their entire lives.
Li Qingshan opened the window and looked out. His gaze passed through the treetops as he looked towards the entire sprawl of Jiaping city. The buildings were layered together neatly like matchboxes. A blue band of water glimmered at the centre of all of that, passing through the entire city. It was the Clear river.
If this was compared to what he saw when he was living in the cowshed in the Crouching Ox village, one was truly like hell, while the other was heaven. Now this was the unfettered life that Qi Practitioners were worthy of. Li Qingshan closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, as if he wanted to inhale all of his freedom and happiness.
The bloody slaughter in the rain immediately grew distant. Xiao An tilted his head and looked at Li Qingshan as the flames in his eyes flickered. He was also happy for him.
Li Qingshan called Xiao An, sitting down in front of the square table. Like a miser, he poured out the contents of the two hundred treasures pouches, looking through it carefully again. He smiled from ear to ear as he rubbed Xiao An’s head. “Once I formally take my post, I will definitely work hard and help you achieve your ability as quickly as possible, okay? Perhaps you’ll be able to practise qi by then as well? I’ll have to work even harder then and earn some more Qi Gathering pills.”
Xiao An nodded firmly, expressing agreement. He guessed at what ‘taking post’ meant.
A big monster and a small skeleton planned their lives in a serious manner like this. They were like the most ordinary people in this aspect. Work hard and make money! Make money and get married! So on and so on.
In the end, he stored everything back into the new hundred treasures pouch before giving the old one to Xiao An. “One each! You don’t have anything, so I’ll keep the larger one. But don’t worry, I will definitely find a better one for you.” The one hanging from Zhuo Zhibo’s waist seemed quite nice. Li Qingshan could not help but wonder to himself, Should I be hoping that you come for me? Or should I be hoping that you don’t come for me?
Obviously, Xiao An had no objections to this. He accepted the hundred treasures pouch and stored the scholar wood tablet in there.
Li Qingshan had a comforting hot shower and changed into the Black Wolf uniform, equipping his Wind-entwining blade. He told Xiao An to watch over the house before making his way out.
A banquet was held in a large hall.
Zhuo Zhibo sat in the primary seat with over a dozen tables to his two sides. Two people sat at each table, arranged according to their cultivation.
Ge Jian patted Li Qingshan’s shoulder. “You’ll just have to bear with it!” As he was a first layer Qi Practitioner, he had the weakest cultivation in the Hawkwolf Guard, so he could only sit at the very end. However, everyone knew that when it came to fighting, his strength was probably no less than third layer Qi Practitioners.
Li Qingshan expressed that he did not mind. As soon as he sat down, he caught a whiff of fragrance. Qian Rongzhi actually sat right next to him, telling him in a charming manner, “I’m technically the weakest. It really is unfair for you.”
Li Qingshan wondered whether this was really like the legends, where the colder you were to a beauty, the more the beauty became glued to you? However, this thought vanished in a flash. He could not forget this woman’s expression when she achieved what she wanted. If he really could accept her actions from before, that would not be called lenience, but having something wrong with his head. Trying to put on an act now was already too late.
However, since she had spoken to him in such a friendly manner, he could not lose in this aspect. He replied nonchalantly, “Looks like strength is what groups people in the world. It’s the same everywhere.”
Qian Rongzhi did not seem to hear his sarcastic remark, continuing to smile. She seemed to be in an extremely good mood after having joined the Hawkwolf Guard.
Zhuo Zhibo came very late. After saying some conventional greetings, he congratulated the three of them before introducing the Hawkwolf guards present to them one by one. Including the three of them, there were a total of thirty-one Hawkwolf guards in the region of Jiaping. Aside from the few who were in secluded cultivation or out on missions, everyone was present.
Under Zhuo Zhibo’s lead, everyone raised their cups and congratulated the three of them on joining the Hawkwolf Guard. No matter how cold and arrogant they were before, they were all colleagues now, so they obviously could not argue or bicker. At the very least, they could not make their disagreements and conflict too obvious and had to focus on staying united. Of course, Li Qingshan’s vague backing played quite a large role here.
Otherwise, people would have begun provoking him a long time ago. It was very impressive when Li Qingshan instantly killed a second layer Qi Practitioner, shocking everyone very much, but after some thought, the Qi Practitioner who died had already lost half the battle from the beginning after being frightened by him. Li Qingshan was just a first layer Qi Practitioner, at the lowest level among Qi Practitioners. There were plenty of third and fourth layer Qi Practitioners present, so they were not afraid of him.
If a regular newcomer had been so ‘arrogant’, someone would have definitely stepped forwards and taught them a lesson. However, Zhuo Zhibo had suggested to everyone to not act recklessly, but when he said that, he seemed rather cold and seemed like he was in thought.
As a result, Li Qingshan did not sense any hostility from Zhou Zhibo at all. The exact opposite happened instead. Just when he was drinking to his heart’s content, this great commander of Jiaping even walked over to his table personally.
Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi stood up in a hurry, but Li Qingshan remained seated, which formed quite the contrast. He could take the initiative to repair his relationship with people who had been defeated by his hand, such as Yan Song and Liu Hong, which made him seem extremely wise.
However, against a powerful opponent like Zhuo Zhibo, he instead held his head up high. He did not believe that he could change Zhuo Zhibo’s opinion of him if he yielded now. And, he knew extremely well that these Qi Practitioners had a twisted sense of pride. If they were smacked in the face by those stronger than them, they would just pass it off as bad luck or that they deserved it. However, if they were provoked by those weaker than them, someone had to die.
Just like on the ship, he had only turned down Qian Rongming’s rude request, and that was enough for Qian Rongming to try and kill him in a sneak attack at night. Was Zhuo Zhibo any better? He had no confidence in that. Someone with authority like Zhuo Zhibo would probably only become even more twisted.
The peace on the surface right now was only due to a veil that Gu Yanying’s name had cast down. However, this veil would vanish very soon. He was not Gu Yanying’s subordinate, although he did hope very much that Gu Yanying could become his one day.
With his experience from his two lives, Li Qingshan understood his current position and their relationship extremely well. As a result, he made the choice that seemed the most appropriate to him. He did not feel that his current situation was all a fluke.
In the story of the ‘Exhausted Tricks of the Donkey’1, the tiger had only become afraid of acting recklessly because of how composed the donkey was. He did not mind learning from this donkey, bluffing his commanding officer a little. At the very least, he would be able to get a few days of peace. Once the truth was revealed, he would like to see who was the donkey, who was the tiger, and who had exhausted all of their tricks.
Zhuo Zhibo continued to smile just like before, but the killing intent in his heart only grew. He personally clinked cups with Li Qingshan and mentioned many personal things.
“Qingshan, this must be the first time you’ve left home!”
“You don’t have to worry at all. All you need to do is treat the Hawkwolf Guard as your family. If you have any questions, fire away. Everybody here are your siblings. I’m your eldest brother, so it’s my responsibility to take care of you.”
Li Qingshan sneered inside when he was pulled aside by Zhuo Zhibo like this. He could tell that Zhuo Zhibo was trying to probe his relationship with Gu Yanring.
Li Qingshan directly stated that they had only met once, but it only made Zhuo Zhibo even more doubtful; this was Li Qingshan’s intention. Clever people would definitely overthink, and he welcomed Zhuo Zhibo to continue doubting like this. He knew just how quickly his strength grew. Once Zhuo Zhibo reached the bottom of this, just how much more powerful would he have become?
Diao Fei was extremely jealous of the treatment Li Qingshan received. Zhuo Zhibo basically had not even cast a second glance at him. He had no idea about the twisted truth behind all of this.
Zhuo Zhibo cast a glance at Qian Rongzhi before returning to his seat. Qian Rongzhi became even more enthusiastic towards Li Qingshan, acting as if she wanted to mend her relationship with him. As a matter of fact, she did not even wait for the female attendants, personally filling up Li Qingshan’s cup with alcohol. She had drank quite a lot herself, so she was utterly charming, causing quite a few Black Wolf guards to look over enviously. However, when they glanced at Zhuo Zhibo, they all looked away.
Li Qingshan did not hold back at all. He downed the alcohol as soon as it was poured, enjoying her treatment with indifference. His senses were so sharp such that he had realised a long time ago that Qian Rongzhi had some filthy ties with Zhuo Zhibo.
As it seemed, she had been busy during the three days he spent cultivating in seclusion. As expected, unspoken rules would be present everywhere. He only found her to be even more shameless. However, he could not care too much about other people’s matters. They could do whatever they wanted. The only thing he considered was whether these two hidden enemies would work together against him.
1. Exhausted Tricks of the Donkey is a Chinese idiom that means that ‘all tricks have been exhausted’. The idiom comes from a story; once upon a time in the land of Qian (present day Guizhou), there were no donkeys. A person who had nothing better to do transported a donkey from the north and let it out to graze by the mountains. A tiger in the mountains discovered this strange creature, only gazing at it from afar in the beginning before slowly approaching the donkey. It was frightened away by a cry from the donkey, but in the end, it discovered that all the donkey could use was its hooves and that was all of the tricks it possessed. As a result, the tiger lunged on it and had a good meal. You can draw allusions to the current situation yourself.