Chapter 137 – It’s the Thought that Counts
Gong Liangbai leapt to his feet, pointing at Li Qingshan with widened eyes. He was left temporarily speechless as if he had never expected him to admit it so easily.
Li Qingshan drank his wine in a composed manner as he said indifferently, “So much for being an academy. You study the teachings of scholarly sages, yet you produce criminals who kill and rob. You even need me to clean up after your academy for you! You’d better return and think over that properly!”
Li Qingshan had never thought that he would come across an enemy here, but thinking about it, this place was not too far from Qingyang city either. He had come across Qian Rongzhi as soon as he had left home, while the news of the spiritual ginseng had drawn in many masters of the surrounding region as well. There were not exactly a lot of Qi Practitioners within several hundred kilometers of this place, so even if they gathered together, they would only form a small group. It was nothing surprising for them to appear in Ancient Wind city right now.
However, if I killed a bandit of a scholar, then I killed him. What are you going to do about it?
The guests all discussed, “To think there was a grievance like this!” “The Hawkwolf Guard’s just far too arrogant. Even after killing someone, they still have the audacity to say that they were cleaning up after them. “ “Yeah, since when were second layer Qi Practitioners bold enough to speak to third layer Qi Practitioners like that?” “Be quiet, don’t cause trouble.”
Although they did not know the entire story, most of them stood on the Humble Maple academy’s side instinctively. The schools of Confucianism and Legalism were technically both a part of the hundred schools of thought and a part of the Great Xia empire, but to most Qi Practitioners, scholars were always more pleasing to the eye than the police.
Qian Rongzhi and Diao Fei were instead rather accustomed to Li Qingshan’s behaviour. As long as reason was on his side, he would act like no one was of importance. He was the same when he faced Zhao Liangqing and Zhuo Zhibo, let alone a scholar.
Invisible true qi surged out and made Gong Liangbai’s robes ruffle. Simultaneously, he pushed over the thick, long table in front of him, causing a clatter.
“That junior brother of mine was only a step away from the innate realm. Originally, he should have been able to reach the second layer of Qi Practitioner very soon. It’s all because of you!”
Li Qingshan remained seated. “Fortunately, I had acted soon enough. He was already bold enough to act in such an unruly manner when he was just a first-rate master. If he made it to the innate realm, that would be the end of the world.”
There was a flash of white light, and Gong Liangbai drew his sword from his waist. He pointed it at Li Qingshan from afar. “Others might be afraid of the draconian laws of your Hawkwolf Guard, but the disciples of our school of Confucianism aren’t!”
“It’s not a matter of being afraid or not, but a matter of right or wrong. If I were wrong, I wouldn’t even mind kneeling. However, to think that as a scholar, you won’t even listen to reason, acting purely on your emotions. Where did all of the things you learned from studying those books go? Did a dog eat them?”
“I’m going to lose my mind at you!” Gong Liangbai was unable to retort his words. He took a step forward and swung down with his sword right over Li Qingshan’s head.
Diao Fei pressed down on his Wind-entwining blade as he entered a half-kneeling posture.
Li Qingshan remained unfazed. He did not move, continuing to drink his wine with a lowered head. He said indifferently, “If you even touch a hair on me, let’s see if there will still be a place in the world that can shelter you. Will the Humble Maple academy protect you?”
The sword stopped above Li Qingshan’s head and trembled slightly, but it did not fall all the way down. Gong Liangbai’s expression changed as he gazed at Li Qingshan below his sword. This teenager did not give off any sense of might the entire time, but there was a certain kind of courage that could not be overlooked when he went about his matters.
Despite being the host, Qian Yannian simply allowed the matters to unfold. He did not try to interfere, exactly because of what he had heard from Qian Rongzhi. He wanted Li Qingshan to suffer heavily at the hands of others, but he never imagined the end result would be like this. He could not help but reevaluate Li Qingshan. This teenager who had killed Qian Rongming was really a piece of work.
If he continued to stand aside, it would be far too inappropriate of him. “Both of you are my guests. I really do hope that you can put aside any irreconcilable grievances and avoid any conflict. Just do it for my sake.”
Li Qingshan placed down his cup and raised his head. “Have you thought it through now? If you have, piss off. Stop embarrassing yourself here.”
With a swish, the sword swung down and cut off the corner of the table. Gong Liangbai looked around. He felt like everyone was looking at him and mocking how he was afraid of even touching a hair on Li Qingshan. He rushed out of the hall.
Qian Yannian ordered people to chase him. His eyes swiveled, and he had already come up with a plan. He glanced at Li Qingshan. Kid, you won’t be able to remain arrogant for much longer.
The banquet continued, and this time, the centrepoint actually became Qian Rongzhi. As the young miss who had brought glory to the Qian family, the atmosphere gradually eased up and warmed as she spoke and smiled as if nothing had happened at all.
Many young Qi Practitioners had their eyes glued to her. They were very attracted to her.
Qian Rongzhi used a toast to shoot glances at Li Qingshan and Diao Fei, indicating to them that the plan was successful. Afterwards, when she looked back at Qian Yannian, her gaze seemed to change again.
Li Qingshan only smiled, tilting his head back and drinking all of his wine.
Under the beams of moonlight, Li Qingshan and Diao Fei returned to their residences, reeking with the smell of alcohol.
Diao Fei said, “Originally, I thought I was pretty arrogant, but you’re ten times as arrogant as me.”
Li Qingshan said, “That’s not called being arrogant, but being honest. What’s wrong with being honest?”
Diao Fei replied, “Yeah, yeah. The Hawkwolf Guard is not something they can just trifle with.” As he thought about the tremendous sum of wealth that was about to enter his hands, he seemed to become even drunker.
Li Qingshan said, “There are some things I want to discuss with you.”
Suddenly, Diao Fei discovered that Li Qingshan’s pupils were even clearer than the moon, and they gave off a faint, murderous aura as if they were shining red.
He said discuss, but after Li Qingshan was done talking, he returned to his room to rest, leaving Diao Fei dazed on the spot.
That was not the plan!
Someone was deviating from the plan, and someone was coming up with a new one as well.
“I’ve managed to convince Gong Liangbai to stay for a few more days. I’ll introduce you to him. There are a lot of prying eyes right now, so let’s do it after the birthday party and cover it up as you throwing your life away at him to drag him down. As long as this succeeds, you will have done great for the Qian family,” Qian Yannian said to Qian Rongzhi.
Qian Rongzhi said, “Rongzhi is willing to put herself through thick and thin for the sake of the Qian family.”
In the still of night, Xiao An fiddled around with the Qi Gathering pills in the centre of Li Qingshan’s hand. He raised his head as if he was asking. “Is this all that’s left?”
Li Qingshan rubbed Xiao An’s head. “Yep, and that’s with me holding back! But don’t worry, there will be a lot very soon. There’ll be a thousand of them!” He casually tossed a Qi Gathering pill into his mouth and began cultivating. He needed some time to consolidate his current cultivation.
The brilliant moon set in the horizon before rising once more, illuminating the mountain city. Lanterns that gave off a red glow filled the Qian estate, making it seem like it was on fire.
Numerous guests had gathered. Every single one of them had come to celebrate Qian Yannian’s birthday. The banquet extended out of the hall, all the way down the hill. There was a great hubbub of noise. It all seemed like a noisy, fiery river.
The entire Ancient Wind city was involved!
However, there were only around a dozen tables within the main hall of the Qian estate, reserved for special guests. The eldest grandson, Qian Xingwei, held a list of gifts as he personally received the guests outside. He declared loudly, “The Xuanzheng Master of the Skyriver sect gifts a pair of blood crystals.”
“Gong Liangbai of the Humble Maple academy gifts ten jade fragrance fruit.”
Most of these were rare treasures Li Qingshan had never even heard about. When Diao Fei and he arrived before Qian Xingwei, Li Qingshan thought about it before fishing out his final Qi Gathering pill, placing it in his hand.
Qian Xingwei was stunned. Was he gifting a single Qi Gathering pill?”
Li Qingshan said, “You should declare it.”
“S- sir Li Qingshan and Diao Fei of the Hawkwolf Guard g- gifts one Qi Gathering pill.”
The guests were surprised. They wanted to see just who was so stingy, but all they saw was Li Qingshan completely composed, while Diao Fei had buried his head deeply. The bystanders all felt embarrassed for him, but they were unable to see the mixed emotions of his face, the sweat dripping from his forehead, or hear his mumbles.
“Just like travelling thousands of kilometers to gift the feathers of a goose, it’s the thought that counts!” A grizzled old man in grey clothes came up with a smile as he mediated the situation. The aura he radiated belonged to the third layer of Qi Practitioner.
Li Qingshan said, “You must be that, that someone of the two elders of the Qian family? I’ve been looking forward to meeting you!” The only two third layer Qi Practitioners of the Qian family were known as the two elders of the Qian family. They were Qian Yannian’s foster sons, and they had come to receive guests for Qian Yannian.
The corner of the old man’s eye twitched. He repressed his fury. “That’s me. Please come this way, sir.” Last night, Qian Yannian had gathered the core members of the Qian family in a hurry to discuss his plan against Li Qingshan. He already knew about Qian Yannian’s plan. Once tonight passed, Li Qingshan was a dead man. There was obviously no reason for him to get angry over a corpse.
Li Qingshan said, “May I ask where the other elder is?” Afterwards, he saw another old man when he followed the old man in grey’s gaze. He said to Diao Fei indifferently, “Brother Diao, why don’t you go over there and get to know him?”
The old man in grey found this rather strange. Li Qingshan was actually ordering a third layer Qi Practitioner Hawkwolf guard around, and what was the purpose behind getting to know him? However, before he could think too much about it, Li Qingshan had grabbed his hand and walked towards the banquet. He asked, “Is it here?”
He threw behind Diao Fei, who stood within the flow of people. He looked around in uncertainty with his slanted eyes like a lost child. Then he looked at Li Qingshan again before finally moving his feet and making his way over to the other old man.
His mumbling became slightly louder. A female attendant walked past him and strangely heard from the mouth of this sir from the Hawkwolf Guard. “He’s far too arrogant!”
Qian Rongzhi stood beside Qian Yannian. She felt that something was off before suddenly realising something. Her expression suddenly changed.
The old man in grey accompanied Li Qingshan to his seat, but he discovered that Li Qingshan had suddenly stopped talking and was now looking at him with his deep, pitch-black eyes. He asked, “Are you all trying to kill me?”
“You sure know how to joke!” The old man laughed, but he could not laugh for much longer. He felt like Li Qingshan’s hand had turned into an iron clamp around his wrist, and it was gradually tightening, which suddenly made his expression change.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
There were three explosions that rang through the great hall, resounding through the entire estate.
Air rushed outwards as the crowd pulled away in fright. All they saw was a pitch-black person pointing at Diao Fei with difficulty in the centre of the empty area. He wanted to say something, but he was unable to say it. He gave off a charred smell.
Qian Yannian roared out furiously and in surprise, “What did you do?!”
Diao Fei had only used the time when they were talking to stick three Scarlet Fire talismans on the other elder of the Qian family. Subsequently, he ignored everyone else, including the infuriated Qian Yannian, and looked past the crowd at Li Qingshan nearby.
Originally, Diao Fei had thought about how even he would be in danger if he were within ten steps of Li Qingshan.
And just how far away was this old man in grey from him? Half a step?
And back then, Li Qingshan had only been a first layer Qi Practitioner. He had reached the second layer now.
Among the cries, Li Qingshan grabbed the old man by the throat with a single hand, lifting him up. A crazy, murderous smile filled his face.
With a crack, Li Qingshan snapped the old man’s neck and tossed him towards Qian Yannian.
“Here’s a gift of a pair of corpses as well. It’s the thought that counts after all. I hope you can kindly accept it!”