Chapter 172 – Human Mentality in the Face of Danger
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Black Wolf guards clothed in their dark uniforms directly pierced through the walls and entered the morgue.
Dust rose up in the surroundings, but none of it reached them. Their clothes fluttered with their true qi as they stared at Li Qingshan coldly.
A sharp killing intent gathered and wrapped firmly around Li Qingshan. Although the strongest was only the fifth layer Xie Nande, they were much more powerful than Zhang Lanqing and the others.
They were professional killers, a pack of wolves for hunting prey. Every single one of them had survived countless life-threatening battles. If Zhang Lanqing were pitted against Xie Nande, he would kill the latter in a single clash.
However, Li Qingshan sat down instead. He held the scabbard of the Wind-entwining blade in one hand without even looking at these Black Wolf guards. The rolling dust reached five steps away from Li Qingshan, but it was unable to advance another inch further. Xiao An stood beside him as her eyes that were like black pearls revealed yearning.
All of his paths, front, back, left and right, had been sealed. All that remained was the pitch-black, holey main entrance of the morgue with cold wind whistling into the structure. A black shadow stepped over the door sill. With the wind, an iron hawk arrived. The hawk’s wings were highly raised, its eyes were circular, and its beak was curved like a hook. It stared straight at Li Qingshan as if it could come alive at any time and kill him.
The might he gave off alone surpassed the other Black Wolf guards combined.
Li Qingshan finally raised his head. “Commander Zhuo, what an impressive group!”
Zhuo Zhibo scanned the morgue filled with corpses and asked in doubt, “Did you do all of this? You repelled the Zombie Daoist?”
“It’s as you can see.” Li Qingshan spread out his left hand.
Zhuo Zhibo sneered. “He’s just a piece of trash!”
If the wolves and the hawk had surrounded the Zombie Daoist, he would never have been as relaxed as when he faced the disciples of mohism. Even if he tried to flee with everything that he had, they would still end up killing him and ripping him to pieces.
Li Qingshan agreed, “He really is just a piece of trash.”
They had fallen out already, so Zhuo Zhibo no longer tried to hide his blatant killing intent. “You’re about to die, so do you have any last words?”
Li Qingshan shook his head with a smile. “I won’t die.”
Zhuo Zhibo said, “Yes, you won’t die too soon. We have the most skillful interrogators here. We will cut you open bit by bit, but we won’t let you die.”
He wanted to take pleasure in Li Qingshan’s expression of fear and despair, but he was disappointed. Li Qingshan only smiled. A pair of snowy-white canines that were slightly longer than usual protruded from his mouth, and even the child beside him remained unfazed.
Not a single Black Wolf guard in the surroundings butted in as Li Qingshan and Zhuo Zhibo spoke with one another. Even their expressions remained the same. Even the eyes of the weakest among them, Ge Jian, shone brightly. He firmly locked onto Li Qingshan’s aura, unwilling to drop his guard even by the slightest.
Although they were enemies, Li Qingshan could not help but praise them. Now these were true warriors. As the most powerful system of violence within the Great Xia empire, even the weakest Black Wolf guards possessed such composure.
He possessed absolute confidence about defeating them. The only issue now was that he could not let any one of them escape!
Li Qingshan stood up. With a shing, he drew the Wind-entwining blade that was so damaged it seemed like a saw. He reached into his talisman pouch with his left hand and held a Lightning Summoning talisman. Xiao An held her blade in one hand and the Skull Prayer Bead in the other.
They did not even have to make eye contact, and they had already decided on a battle tactic. It would be the same as the tactic they had employed against the Zombie Daoist earlier. They would erupt with all of their strength and kill the strongest, Zhuo Zhibo, instantly. After that, the rest would just be lambs for slaughter. Even if they managed to escape, hunting them down would be easier.
Zhuo Zhibo nodded, and seven Wind-entwining blades were drawn from their scabbards.
The battle was about to erupt, but a bellow suddenly rang out from outside, “Li Qingshan, is there something wrong with your legs? How slow do you have to be?!”
Li Qingshan was slightly taken aback. “Why did you return?”
At this moment, Zhuo Zhibo looked back and saw a burly man with a full beard standing several dozen meters away. The aura he gave off and the bronze cannon in his arms made Zhuo Zhibo’s eyes narrow.
Hao Pingyang said, “I’ll come back here if I fucking want to. Since when do you care?” Zhang Lanqing and the others stood beside him, holding loaded Thousand Mechanism crossbows as they frowned.
Zhang Lanqing said, “Aren’t you done with your matters? If you’re done, then hurry up and come over!”
Zhuo Zhibo said frigily, “I was wondering why you were so fearless. Looks like you’re getting help from others. No wonder you thought you would live.”
Li Qingshan completely ignored him. He yelled back at Hao Pingyang, “I can’t go over right now, so you should go first! There’s no need to wait for me!”
Hao Pingyang exclaimed, “If I want you to come over, then you come over. I would like to see who stops you! I’ll blast them to pieces!”
Li Qingshan felt rather helpless, but also rather touched. He sheathed his blade and said to Zhuo Zhibo, “Commander Zhuo, looks like there just isn’t enough time today!” With that, he made his way over to the main entrance of the morgue with Xiao An.
The moment he brushed past Zhuo Zhibo, both of them could sense the startling killing intent from the other, but neither did anything.
Ge Jian said, “Commander!”
Zhuo Zhibo raised his hand to signal for him to shut up.
Li Qingshan arrived beside Hao Pingyang. Hao Pingyang whispered, “What’s going on?”
Li Qingshan laughed, “We just have some small disagreements.”
“Small disagreements?!” Hao Pingyang exclaimed. A small disagreement was enough for a group of Black Wolf guards to surround him with their killing intent bare? Their leader was even a sixth layer Qi Practitioner, an Iron Hawk commander!
Jin Bao said with lingering fear. “Even from so far away, with his back towards me, that man feels so terrifying!”
The reason behind Cave town’s name was a huge cave that existed near the town.
One of the branches of the Clear river flowed into the caves, disappearing inside. Boats and people would suffer the same fate as the river. In the past, there would be curious villagers who wanted to investigate and explore the caves, but not a single one of them would return. As such, it basically turned it into a forbidden zone.
However, the name that the Hawkwolf Guard gave to this mission location was Zombie cave. It was the hiding location of their most wanted criminal, the Zombie Daoist. He was a terrifying existence even to the Hawkwolf Guard of Jiaping city.
Zhuo Zhibo had once personally led a squadron in an attempt to complete this mission, but he ended up losing four Black Wolf guards while failing to find the Zombie Daoist’s exact hiding spot. As a result, the reward for completing the mission increased again and again, setting a record within the Hawkwolf Guard of Jiaping city.
Li Qingshan currently stood at the entrance to the Zombie cave. The cave was several dozen meters tall and extremely wide. It was like the gaping mouth of a beast, expelling a cold breeze. Li Qingshan could vaguely smell a stink in the breeze. It was the stink of corpses. He cast his gaze into the depths, but it only vanished into the darkness in the end. The stalactites drooping from the ceiling of the cave were like the teeth of a beast’s mouth.
The rising sun in the east was unable to weaken the gloominess here.
Zhang Lanqing took out a small boat and tossed it into the water. The boat expanded rapidly to a size where it could hold eight people. There were many oars that extended from both sides, making it look like a centipede.
“You still should go first. Those people won’t spare me. They’ll definitely catch up to me.” Li Qingshan had already given the rough story to them. They were all infuriated, but after they felt fury, fear followed. The Hawkwolf Guard was infamous among Qi Practitioners.
Jin Yuan and Jin Bao lowered their heads. They said nothing. From the clash earlier, they had already learned about the difference in strength that existed between them and the Hawkwolf Guard.
He Yishi was uncertain as he said hesitantly, “That works too. It’s always easier when you flee alone.”
Hao Pingyang was furious. “When there are benefits, we get along so well in harmony, but once there’s danger, you scatter like chaff in the wind, only caring for yourself. Do you still have the slightest decency as a human being?”
Jin Yuan and Jin Bao were both ashamed, while He Yishi said, “I’m just saying!” However, he grumbled inside as he wondered whether Li Qingshan was purposefully using them to evade the danger waiting for him.
Zhang Lanqing said, “Yeah, Qingshan. You’ll be safer if you stick with us. Once the mission ends, we can go to Clear River city together. You can file a complaint at the Hawkwolf Guard in Clear River city. We’ll all serve as your witness!”
Hao Pingyang said, “That’s not a bad idea. If that won’t work, then you might as well just resign from the Hawkwolf Guard. Next spring, when the Academy of the Hundred Schools is taking in new students, you can come to our school of Mohism. I’ll personally teach you engineering.”
Li Qingshan took note of all of their responses. Hao Pingyang was truly a bold, straightforward man. Although his temper was not the best, and his mouth was foul at times, his virtues could not be dulled by these insignificant flaws. Zhang Lanqing was a loyal person as well, and he was prudent with his thinking. The other three were far worse in comparison. Their loyalty, hot-bloodedness, and enthusiasm could be roused, but it would never last for too long.
However, Li Qingshan did not resent them over this. There was nothing strange about their behaviour. Not all of his attempts at friendship would be reciprocated. Even if all five of them no longer wanted Li Qingshan around them, he would not find it strange at all. Instead, it was already extremely rare that there were two people who actually wanted to help him. Now they were people truly worthy of being friends with. The three others would just be acquaintances at most.
Li Qingshan said, “Alright, I’ll accompany you for a little longer.”
Hao Pingyang said, “That’s more like it!” The seven of them boarded the boat, and under Zhang Lanqing’s control, the wing-like oars on the two sides immediately began to move. The boat traveled with the flow, entering the cave.
Soon after they had left, Zhuo Zhibo’s group reached the entrance of the cave as well.
Ge Jian asked, “Commander, what do we do?”
Zhuo Zhibo said, “Let them scout ahead and clear the obstacles. Once they’ve utterly exhausted themselves, we’ll kill them all and push the blame onto the Zombie Daoist. Then we’ll kill the Zombie Daoist.” That determined everyone’s fate; it demonstrated Zhuo Zhibo’s cold-bloodedness.
“Yes, sir!” The Black Wolf guards obliged loudly, following his decision.
Zhuo Zhibo cracked a joke. “I sure am lucky. I didn’t kill him at the very beginning, and he has brought me more benefits instead.”
If a boss told a joke, how could the subordinates afford to keep a straight face? The Black Wolf guards all chimed in with smiles. “Those mohist disciples must be carrying a lot of good stuff.”
The boat traveled with the flow, moving extremely quickly. It reached the depths of the cave very soon, which gradually narrowed. The surroundings were pitch-black, so a small lantern lit up at the front of the boat.
Although Qi Practitioners could all see at night, darkness still affected their vision. The person who truly remained unaffected was Xiao An, and Li Qingshan even found the darkness to be even clearer than daytime.