Chapter 145 – Pale Flames of Bone Smelting
However, there were many parts that seemed strange to Qian Rongzhi.
She had already gained some understanding as to what kind of person Li Qingshan was. He might have been courageous and staunch to his morals, but he was not stupid. Anyone knew it would be a futile effort to face a sixth layer Qi Practitioner while at the second layer, but he was fearless.
She had purposefully probed him earlier, confirming once again that he really did not have any backing he could rely on, so just what was he relying on?
When they came, during the night on the boat, Qian Rongming went to make trouble for Li Qingshan. He did not die at Diao Fei’s hands, but his hands, as he used a special method to hide his strength.
Was his true strength beyond the second layer of Qi Practitioner?
Qian Rongzhi thought of something. Zhao Liangqing and Furong’s mysterious disappearance might have purely been a coincidence, but she knew Qian Yannian’s strength very well. Even if he managed to get past the two Geng Metal Swords of Qi, there would be many powerful talismans waiting for him in Qian Yannian’s hundred treasures pouch, so why had they not been used?
She shut her eyes and began to recall the past as best as she could. Washing away the blood and craziness of last night, it reappeared before her.
Qian Yannian stared at her furiously, but he did not say anything to her. Why? His chin had shattered. He was covered in many wounds, but the critical one was located at his chest, which was why her Water-splitting barb had pierced him so easily.
When Qian Yannian emerged, he was basically on his last breath already. Li Qingshan seemed to have been knocked out in a horrible shape, but he did not seem to be injured at all. He had defeated Qian Yannian in a direct confrontation.
Li Qingshan must have had an extremely powerful trump card, which was why he was bold enough to be so haughty and arrogant.
She thought about Qian Yannian’s wounds. Li Qingshan’s arts of forging the body might have been much more powerful than he had displayed, powerful enough for him to steal Qian Yannian’s hundred treasures pouch, shatter his chin, and pierce his chest in a single instant. Afterwards, he was knocked away as an act. If that were the case, everything made sense. All of Li Qingshan’s actions and words fell in place together.
Just like how thieves were petty people, yet they were more clever than kings, Li Qingshan had never thought that everything he did would be deduced in such detail.
Qian Rongzhi saw something else. A vicious tiger laid within the woods, waiting for the vulture to dive down from the sky. Who was the predator? Who was the prey? That was undecided!
The idiot, Zhuo Zhibo, was bold enough to bear the word ‘intelligence’, or ‘zhi’ in his name, yet he failed to see the danger hidden in this. As it turned out, he was just like Qian Yannian. They seemed clever and experienced, but they had actually wasted away instead, now just fools. However, it was not their fault. It had been far too long since their strength alone was insufficient to defeat their opponents, so they obviously stopped using their heads.
She obviously was not kind enough to warn Zhuo Zhibo. It was just like before. She would be happy no matter who died. Hopefully, they would fall in battle together.
For the first time, she felt like Li Qingshan had a slightly greater chance at victory, as he hid in the darkness. Those who hid in the darkness were terrifying. She understood this very well herself. If she used this matter to threaten Li Qingshan right now, she would definitely die, but if she reported this to Zhuo Zhibo, there would probably be no benefit either. Moreover, if she lost the gamble, she would have to be buried along with Zhuo Zhibo. Li Qingshan’s warning was not a joke.
Then, if she wagered on Li Qingshan, was it possible for her to get a share of Zhuo Zhibo’s corpse?
She seriously considered these possibilities. Being a crafty, petty person really was much more difficult than being an impractical person of noble character. At this moment, her cold thinking completely discarded any consideration for her own honour or disgrace, even more than a wise and open-minded king. Everything was for the sake of benefit.
A cold breeze suddenly swept towards Qian Rongzhi from the pit. It caused her to shiver. Unknowingly, it was already very deep into the night.
She turned around and saw a green will-o’-wisp floating above the pit.
Even ordinary people would be startled by that, let alone her, the reason behind all of this. However, she only cursed jokingly, “Damned ghosts!” Afterwards, she cast aside the matter regarding Li Qingshan. There were even more important matters for her to attend to at the moment!
Now, it really was time for her to pay a visit home.
She raised her head and smiled at the starry sky. Father, mother, my brothers and sisters, you must be all sick of waiting!
After Qian Rongzhi left, something startling happened beneath the soil in the pit.
Web-like cracks expanded over the jar. It exploded violently, and Blood Flames of Corpse Incineration spread out in all directions, devouring all of the corpses and the foul flesh and blood, turning it into a part of the flames. It burned even more vigorously.
The dim depths tuned into a brilliant sea of fire. The foul, rotting corpses turned into clear, surging flames.
The will-o’-wisps vanished from above the pit.
With a rattle, over a thousand skeletons fell to the bottom of the pit.
Xiao An sat at the centre of the raging flames with his legs crossed, controlling the fire while absorbing the energy of the blood flames.
The skulls at the bottom of the pit stared at him silently with their empty eye sockets.
Xiao An extended his index finger downwards, and the blood flames turned into thousands of snakes, slithering through the skulls.
Blood flames similar to his lit up in the empty eye sockets. All of the skeletons began to shake, constantly banging against one another and producing a hurried rattle. Afterwards, they flew up, and the scattered bones assembled together.
Over a thousand skeletons of various sizes leapt about at the bottom of the pit, dancing around in the flames. The rattling of the bones were like percussive instruments, while the chattering of teeth was like singing. They surrounded Xiao An like they were holding a grand sacrificial ceremony.
The Blood Flames of Corpse Incineration could be divided and imbued into corpses, developing a link with Xiao An so that he could control them at will. He knew this already. However, there was no point to this at all. The weak skeletons could not even defeat weaker practitioners of martial arts.
A skull flew over and landed in Xiao An’s hand.
With eye sockets to eye sockets, their blood flames burned together.
Within the brilliant redness of the Blood Flames of Corpse Incineration, a sliver of pale whiteness gradually appeared.
Joy appeared in Xiao An’s eye sockets. This was an evolved flame of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty—the Pale Flames of Bone Smelting.
The fire was just like its name. It could smelt white bone.
If it were ordinary flames, it could only burn white bone to ashes no matter how hot it was, but as it was licked by the Pale Flames of Bone Smelting, the skull melted like candy. This process was extremely gradual and just as unbelievable.
After a very long time, the skull melted completely, turning into a droplet of pale-white liquid that dripped onto the centre of his forehead.
Afterwards, he raised his head, and a bone arm landed in his hand. He continued to smelt it.
As he smelted the white bones, the Pale Flames of Bone Smelting burned more and more vigorously. It smelted Xiao An’s white bones as well.
This process was a hundred times more painful than using blood to cultivate. It felt like countless steel needles, saws, and grindstones piercing, cutting, and rubbing against his body.
Just a single instant of it was enough to drive an ordinary person into insanity, or even death, let alone enduring it. However, the flames in Xiao An’s eye sockets burned brilliantly. He was fearless.
Whenever it almost became too painful to endure, a snowstorm would appear before him. He would return to that snowy night below the Ice Sword cliff.
Li Qingshan had waved his hand and knocked him aside, telling him to leave before vanishing into the snow and wind, climbing up the Ice Sword cliff alone and embarking on a road to death.
He stood in the wind and snow, alone, for a very long time. He did not hide as Li Qingshan had instructed. Instead, his body had stiffened. Coldness pierced his bones. He thought in fear, Would he die? Afterwards, he collapsed on his knees and agony filled his body.
In the end, he managed to catch up to them and lent Li Qingshan a helping hand at a crucial moment, as he had no idea just where else he was supposed to go apart from there.
Once everything ended, he watched on as Li Qingshan roared at the sky. He said nothing, but he gritted his teeth and clenched his fists.
The influence of that night on him was no less than what Li Qingshan experienced.
How could what he was going through right now compare to the pain back then?
The roaring Pale Flames of Bone Smelting enveloped him completely, smelting away the impurities and imbuing him with even more bone fluid; this process continued endlessly.
Before he rebuilt his body, he wanted his new body to be even stronger so that he could catch up to his steps.
Li Qingshan arrived at the local government office and handed the pile of property deeds to the district magistrate so that he could auction them off.
The district magistrate was utterly flattered. “Sir, I probably won’t be able to sell them all immediately.”
Li Qingshan said, “It’s urgent, so it’s fine even if you lower the price a little. Just treat it as a boon from me to the citizens of Ancient Wind city.” With a tremendous sum of several hundred Qi Gathering pills on him, he did not care too much about the silver. He had considered just throwing it all into a fire, but that would definitely lead to great turmoil in Ancient Wind city, which was why he did this.
The district magistrate said, “Sir, you sow endless good karma. I must thank you for your kindness for the sake of the people of Ancient Wind city.”
Karma? Li Qingshan smiled. That was not something he believed in. “Just get it done within a month.” Even without a warning, he did not believe the district magistrate would rip him off. At most, he would just skim a small part of it, which only made sense.
The district magistrate said, “Sir, are there any other matters?”
Li Qingshan made his way out through the door, “I’ll be staying in the city for a while. Just don’t annoy me.”
Li Qingshan obviously did not continue staying in an inn. After all, he was the largest landowner of the city. He chose a small courtyard on the mountain side. It was close to the Qian estate, and the surroundings were extremely tranquil. Most important, he could see the pit from there.
He stood in the courtyard. There was an overarching grid with grapevines and below it was a rocking chair. Beside it was a great water tank to put out fires. A carp lived in the tank, swimming around freely. A rippling, crescent moon reflected on the dark water surface.
Xiao An never mentioned it, but he could vaguely sense that the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty was an extremely impressive ability. It did not require any pills of medicines, progress could be made rapidly, and it possessed astonishing power.
However, everything was balanced and equal. It required talent far beyond the reach of ordinary people. It required people to endure intolerable pain.
Xiao An was just a child, but he was a very clever and very strong child. He did not need his worry. The only thing he worried about was the future. Their future.
After all these years, Xiao An’s family have probably all passed away already! Perhaps there would only be a few gravestones waiting for him once he returns, and afterwards, I’ll adopt him.
Li Qingshan scratched his head. “Haha, my damned demonic thoughts.”
In the end, he decided to not think that much. He just sat down on the ground and tossed a Qi Gathering pill into his mouth. Chewing it to pieces, the bitterness and astringency spread through his mouth, which instead cleared up his head. He began to cultivate.
A ray of sunlight fell on his face. His eyelashes trembled, and he opened his eyes.
In the eastern horizon, setting all the clouds alight, a red sun slowly but firmly rushed into the sky, radiating with endless light and warmth and dispersing the fog. The endless view of golden wheat rippled in the morning wind.