Chapter 150 – From Dawn till Dusk
Not only did Qian Rongzhi give Zhuo Zhibo no warning that Li Qingshan might have been hiding his strength, but she even purposefully misled him, making it seem as if Li Qingshan had won out of pure luck. Even when there was no element of profit in the matter, she was tired of this old thing right in front of her. She hoped very much that he would be killed like that old bag of bones called Qian Yannian. These methods of just allowing matters to develop without making a sound would often be much more terrifying than those straightforward schemes.
Zhuo Zhibo also sneered just like he would normally. “It’s good that he’s alive. That’ll save me a trip, and I’ll be able to take his life personally. I’ll be able to vent what I’ve pent up.”
“Are you going to kill him as soon as he returns?” Qian Rongzhi’s smile was hidden deep within her pitch-black eyes. She was ready to watch a fascinating show.
However, Zhuo Zhibo said instead, “I’ll need to put further thought into this matter.” Despite being the commander, he was not bold enough to kill a Hawkwolf Guard in public. Afterwards, he sneered, “But he’s still under my command, so do you think he’ll be well off? I’ll show him just whose command this Hawkwolf Guard office is under.”
Qian Rongzhi said, “Is there anything on this mountain, in Jiaping city, that doesn’t belong to you? Even I’m no different.”
Zhuo Zhibo let out a hearty laugh. He would continue watching over Jiaping city until the day he died; he was just like the iron hawk, watching over everything.
When the Clear River twisted around the mountain once more, Li Qingshan directly leapt off the boat. Under a series of cries from the people on the boat, he climbed up the cliff face.
He returned to his residence first and set Xiao An down before going to see Zhuo Zhibo. He wanted to see just how this commander Zhuo would treat him now.
Li Qingshan clasped his hands. “Subordinate Li Qingshan greets commander Zhuo.” That was what he said, but he stood with his chest held high, standing as straight as an arrow. He showed no respect at all.
Zhuo Zhibo no longer tried to act all polite either. He questioned coldly, “Why didn’t you return immediately after completing the mission?”
Li Qingshan answered in a manner that was neither too humble or arrogant, “I obviously had matters to attend to.”
Zhuo Zhibo became even more displeased. To think that someone who was about to die would still be bold enough to act so arrogantly. “I’m deducting half of your contribution. You can leave!”
He had actually lost half of the contribution he had earned after so much difficulty. That was equivalent to several dozen Qi Gathering pills. Anyone would be irritated by that.
Li Qingshan held back his anger. He did not try to dispute it. He just turned around and left. He also could not kill a Black Hawk commander on this mountain.
Right now, they were targeting one another, but due to the same reason, they could not directly attack one another. However, they were already sharpening their knives.
As soon as Li Qingshan left the office, he ran into Ge Jian.
However, Ge Jian had been waiting for him. He sneered as he said, “Li Qingshan, do you really think you’re a big deal just because you killed an old man who had a foot in the grave? How dare you speak to the commander like that? Now you know the consequences, don’t you?”
Li Qingshan said, “You really are a good dog raised by Zhuo Zhibo.”
He said that with confidence. Obviously, he did not need to worry that Zhou Zhibo, who was in the office, would miss it; the latter’s face darkened.
“What did you say?!” Ge Jian lost his temper after being insulted right to his face. This was no longer the first time Li Qingshan had humiliated him. He had only endured it because he was worried about the latter’s backing.
Li Qingshan mocked, “To think that you would be bold enough to bark at me here!”
Ge Jian choked up. Originally, he wanted to infuriate Li Qingshan. As long as Li Qingshan attacked him first, there would be grounds for Zhuo Zhibo to interfere. But indeed, without Zhuo Zhibo, where would he get the courage to provoke Li Qingshan? This fellow was a monster who had killed a fifth layer Qi Practitioner.
Li Qingshan waved his hand. “Come, let’s go to the front, and you can tell me clearly. I’ll let your scheme succeed for once. Let’s see whether Zhuo Zhibo comes to save you or not.”
Ge Jian would never follow him. Once that happened, even if Zhuo Zhibo’s plan succeeded, he would be dead. He tried to put on a front. “D- don’t be cocky. I’m looking forward to the fate that you’ll suffer.”
Li Qingshan did not spare an additional glance at him. He made his way to the library. Just when he was about to climb up the stairs, he was stopped by the old man who guarded the library. “Who let you up?”
Li Qingshan said, “I have contribution, so of course I can go up!”
“Move. The library is currently under maintenance. Miscellaneous people are forbidden from entering.”
Li Qingshan’s eyes narrowed, and he frowned slightly.
All the old man felt was an invisible pressure against his chest, so heavy that he struggled to breathe. He forcefully endured it. “What, do you plan on forcing your way in?”
Li Qingshan slowly raised his right hand. The old man gulped as all of his muscles tensed up. His measly amount of true qi that had been eaten away by the passage of time began to circulate furiously. He could feel that as long as Li Qingshan tried, he could launch a devastatingly terrifying attack. Under the tremendous pressure, he did not even have the confidence to receive a single attack from him.
However, all Li Qingshan did was pat the old man’s shoulder. “Take care!” Afterwards, he turned around and left the library.
The old man broke out into a cold sweat and breathed heavily as he leaned on his knees. He had wandered the jianghu for many years, but he had actually been frightened by a half-grown junior. He was utterly humiliated. He yelled at Li Qingshan, “You’re the one who should take care!”
What Li Qingshan experienced afterwards was basically the same. There were no spiritual artifacts or pills. The contribution he had earned after great difficulty became a meaningless number.
Li Qingshan wanted to exchange for a new Wind-entwining blade, but he was turned down. Originally, Hawkwolf guards could exchange their weapons destroyed in missions for free. However, none of these people said that he did not deserve to. They just came up with various reasons to shrug off his request, but unless he gave them a beating, there was no other way for them to yield to him.
These important places that held items and wealth were obviously under the control of Zhuo Zhibo’s trusted subordinates. As a matter of fact, there was not even a need for Zhuo Zhibo to say anything. All he needed was a signal and that would be enough to prevent Li Qingshan from accessing anything in the Hawkwolf Guard.
In the end, Li Qingshan arrived before an extremely old building, with one, large word on it—Falconry. This was where the Hawkwolf Guard issued missions. It was probably the only place on the mountain not under Zhuo Zhibo’s control.
It was not that he was unable to control. Instead, it was because there were no spiritual artifacts or pills here. There were just a pile of troublesome missions. However, exchanging the contribution from the missions for actual things required Zhuo Zhibo’s permission.
Li Qingshan smiled. As long as this place was still open to him, all was well. To him right now, whether it be spiritual artifacts or pills, none of them were urgent. What he required the most right now was in the falconry.
There were a few Black Wolf guards accepting missions in the hall. When they saw Li Qingshan enter, they immediately fell quiet. Their mouths moved soundlessly as they communicated via true qi. They discussed between one another silently.
Li Qingshan made his way over to the counter. The envoy in black stood up in a hurry and said politely, “Sir, you’ve just returned. Do you plan on going out again?” On this small mountain, there were not a lot of secrets. He had heard about the disagreements between Li Qingshan and Zhuo Zhibo, but he was afraid of disrespecting Li Qingshan as well.
Li Qingshan said, “I want to see what missions there are.”
The envoy in black immediately took out a thick book. “Please have a look, sir.”
The book was dark all over as if it was covered in countless layers of filth. It also seemed like the colour of congealed blood. It felt ominous just from a single sight of it. However, it shone with a gentle glow, and as he held it in his hand, it gave off a slight warmth.
Li Qingshan said, “This book is probably pretty old.”
The envoy explained obediently, “It has existed since the office was established in Jiaping city. It’s probably over a millennium old.”
Li Qingshan said, “Then it really is quite old. Does this book have a name?”
The envoy said, “This is just a low grade spiritual artifact used to record missions. It does not have a formal name, but the people of the jianghu call it the blacklist!” Although he was just an envoy, he naturally revealed pride as the person in charge of the blacklist.
Li Qingshan said, “The blacklist? Why’s that? What’s the story behind it?”
The envoy said, “That’s because names that make it onto the blacklist will definitely die.”
Li Qingshan smiled, “Dearth, old age, illness, and death go hand in hand. Even if you don’t make it onto the blacklist, you’ll still die.”
According to his knowledge, the White Lotus Mother who had sacrificed two hundred thousand people should have made it onto the list as well. She even required a mighty White Hawk Commander like Gu Yanying, a Golden Core cultivator, to personally take action. However, Gu Yanying still seemed to have failed to bring her to justice. At the end of the day, it was still all about strength in this world. Nothing was definite.
However, to the people of the jianghu, it basically was a list of death considering the fact that it was written by Qi Practitioners. Afterwards, Li Qingshan realised the things he was about to do next was quite similar to what the White Lotus Mother had done. However, he was on the side of law, moving as someone carrying out the law. He had the license to kill.
Although the envoy was displeased by Li Qingshan’s joke about the blacklist, he was afraid to rebuke him. He just told Li Qingshan about how to use it.
Afterwards, Li Qingshan understood why it was called the blacklist. He would see a string of names with each page. There were normal names among them, as well as strange daoist or dharma names. It was used in a rather similar fashion to mental maps. All he needed was a thought and the list would be arranged according to different criteria.
These criteria included the amount of contribution, the danger level, the strength of the opponent, the estimated gains, and so on. If he selected one of the names, he would receive a set of extremely detailed information, including their cultivation method, spiritual artifacts, area of activity…
Li Qingshan sighed inside. The Hawkwolf Guard really was a major organisation that had existed for several millennia. There was rigour to the organisation, and they were fully-equipped. This information had basically simplified the steps of investigation, allocating all the work that could be completely by ordinary people to ordinary people. Afterwards, they would confirm the crimes and make the list so that the Hawkwolf Guard could hunt them down one by one.
Every single Qi Practitioner was a powerful master who stood above many, with longevity as their greatest objective. Cultivating and practising qi was their greatest priority. There was not a single Qi Practitioner who would waste their time on these miscellaneous tasks, being ordered around by others like servants. Otherwise, no matter how great the benefits of the Hawkwolf Guard was, it would still not be an attractive occupation to Qi Practitioners.
“Once you’ve chosen your mission, sir, there will be a file that you can read up on whenever you’d like. The information in there is all the most detailed information our leads have obtained. However, we cannot ensure that it will be completely accurate. You’ll need to adapt to circumstances,” the envoy gave a warning as a formality.
“Of course,” Li Qingshan replied. With a thought, the list was now ordered according to descending strength. He glanced at the name at the very top—the Zombie Daoist, sixth layer Qi Practitioner. He was on the list for capturing living people and turning them into zombies en masse. The danger level was extremely high, and the contribution that came with the completion of the mission was actually as much as twelve thousand points.
But clearly, there was no one who could complete this mission apart from Zhuo Zhibo and the Black Wolf commander who had never shown himself. Of course, Li Qingshan possessed the strength to complete it, but he only paused on it slightly before flipping further until the last few pages.
The last few pages of the blacklist mostly contained the names of gangs and sects, not the names of individuals. These were places like the Black Wind stronghold. They no longer possessed a single person that was worthy of being regarded as a single target by the Hawkwolf Guard.
Afterwards, Li Qingshan chose his missions.
The envoy was stunned. “Sir, do you really plan on accepting these missions?”
Li Qingshan nodded without any hesitation at all. “Go retrieve the files. I’ll be setting off right now.”
The envoy instructed some people in a hurry, and before long, other envoys brought over stacks of documents. Many of them seemed extremely old, with dust floating around in the air near them. Clearly, they had only just been wiped down.
Li Qingshan placed all the files and documents into his hundred treasures pouch and left immediately. As soon as he made it out the door, a few Black Wolf guards hurried over. “What mission did he choose?”
Afterwards, they looked at one another, stupefied.
“What is the kid planning?”
“Carrying out justice and protecting the weak? Don’t kid with me.”
“No matter how many missions he completes, he won’t get anything in exchange for it as long as he doesn’t have commander Zhuo’s permission.”
In the main office, Zhuo Zhibo drank tea leisurely. “So what’s the kid up to.”
Ge Jian smiled, “The kid ran around, but he has nothing at all.” His anger had finally eased up slightly.
Zhuo Zhibo placed down the tea cup. “Toying around with him before we take his life isn’t necessarily bad. I’d like to see just how much longer he can endure this for.”
Ge Jian said, “I think he’ll have to endure it no matter what.”
At this moment, a Black Wolf guard walked in hurriedly, “Commander, that kid has found a reason to leave the mountain!”
Zhuo Zhibo said, “Oh, he wants to avoid me? What mission did he accept?”
The Black Wolf guard said, “More than one.”
The Black Wolf guard said in a strange manner, “He accepted twenty-seven missions.”
“What! Bring them over.” Zhuo Zhibo took the mission document, which had a dense list of the missions that Li Qingshan had accepted. However, the contents of the missions surprised him very much, not because they were too difficult, but because they were too easy.
The pirates of the Water Snake gang, the horse bandits of the Giant Deer valley, and so on. All of them were missions that the Hawkwolf Guard had accumulated over time but could not be bothered completing.
That was because the targets in the mission were all just ordinary people of the jianghu. At most, these people would be carrying around some silver on them, while spiritual artifacts and pills went without saying. And because they were far too easy, the contribution they offered was as low as it could be. At most, new Black Wolf guards would just use it for practise before never looking at them again. They would much rather remain on the mountain and cultivate instead.
As an office of the lowest tier within the Hawkwolf Guard, black iron, they were completely composed of Qi Practitioners, and they primarily targeted other Qi Practitioners. They mainly served as a deterrent force to martial arts practitioners.
As a result, this led to the formation of a tiny vacuum of law in the system. This place was called the jianghu.
Ge Jian said, “If that’s the case, he has managed to find another reason to leave Jiaping city.”
Zhuo Zhibo snorted. “If he wants to do the manual labour, let him do so.”
By now, Li Qingshan had already left the mountain. He calculated in his mind that completing these missions should roughly amount to a thousand people.
This was his main goal: to help Xiao An rebuild his body. For the sake of this goal, he could temporarily put aside everything else.
Right now, his choice in joining the Hawkwolf Guard seemed to be more and more correct. Otherwise, where else was he supposed to ask about bad people? And, if he committed a massacre against ordinary people as a Qi Practitioner, even if they were all bad people, it would attract a great deal of attention. It might have even earned him a spot on the blacklist, which would force him to oppose the government.
It was simple now. The information provided by the Hawkwolf Guard was extremely detailed. Every single person who could make it onto the blacklist of the Hawkwolf Guard through their cultivation method and martial arts alone were sinful, and they all occupied a single region for most of their lives, so they were very easy to find. All he needed to do right now was to go find them one by one with his license to kill, and then kill out a bloody path from dawn till dusk.1
Li Qingshan placed his hand on the porcelain jar on his waist and thought to himself, Don’t worry, Xiao An. Very, very soon you’ll be able to breathe air, taste delicious food, feel warmth, and smile just like the other children.
Li Qingshan did not directly leave the city. Instead, he paid a visit to the government office first. He wanted to exchange the several million taels of silver on him for some Qi Gathering pills. He could feel that he would be gone for quite some time after this departure, and his enemies would not be carrying hundred treasure pouches. They would not be a ready source of Qi Gathering pills. He also gained a deeper understanding as to why the Hawkwolf guards were reluctant to hunt down these annoying insects.
Zhou Wenbin saw Li Qingshan, and his eyes lit up, “You’re already at the second layer. You’ve been progressing much faster than I expected.”
Li Qingshan said, “Thank you for your concern, sir. With a powerful enemy right by my side, I obviously cannot tarry.”
Zhou Wenbin said, “As long as you know. I heard you killed Qian Yannian in a direct confrontation?”
Li Qingshan said, “I just got lucky!”
Zhou Wenbin said, “Even if it were all luck, it’s still an unbelievable achievement for a second layer Qi Practitioner to kill a fifth layer Qi Practitioner. Though, I must warn you again that sixth layer Qi Practitioners are completely different from those at the fifth layer.”
Li Qingshan nodded. Afterwards, he thought of the various things that Xiao An could do. If he was measured according to the standard of Qi Practitioners, he was at the sixth layer or even higher, and he was as swift as lightning with boundless strength. Even if a low grade spiritual artifact landed a blow on him, it would fail to injure him at all. He was much more powerful than regular sixth layer Qi Practitioners. If he really became involved in battle, and it was a Qi Practitioner’s duel where he could not use the Skull Prayer Bead, all he had to do was rush over and forcefully pierce the protective true qi and dig out their hearts; he would win just like that.
The Path of White Bone and Great Beauty had completely exceeded the powerful abilities of this world. The further Xiao An progressed, the more evident his terrifying strength would be.
Zhou Wenbin said, “Although the Sect of Clouds and Rain has expelled Zhao Liangqing, they’ve sent people to investigate. You’ve probably caught their attention. People from sects often don’t have any qualms when they go about their business, so do be careful.”
Li Qingshan said, “Thank you for the warning, sir. I will be careful.” The Sect of Clouds and Rain had lost their business in Jiaping city, as well as a master who was about to break through to the sixth layer. A reaction like this was expected.
Zhou Wenbin said, “Nothing good will come out from striving for a moment of glory. Why don’t you take my advice and go to the School of the Hundred Thoughts to cultivate for a while? You can avoid him temporarily, and once you’re no longer a fledgling, would you still need to fear a measly Zhuo Zhibo?”
1. Yes, there are a few movie name puns in this paragraph.