Chapter 175 – I’ve Caught You
That was indeed the problem that Li Qingshan’s group was currently facing. With the boat docked in the water, the cave ahead of them was no longer a single, straight path. Instead, it split up into three. Every single path seemed roughly the same, pitch-black and leading to who knows where. Splitting up was obviously impossible. Who knows how many more forks there would be deeper in. It would definitely exceed the number of people that they had.
“What do we do?” Li Qingshan gained an even deeper understanding of why the Hawkwolf Guard had not killed off the Zombie Daoist yet. He even doubted whether he could achieve it himself. The most difficult part would not be the battle, but the search.
Hao Pingyang smiled complacently. “Why would I come down here without preparations? I knew I couldn’t depend on you lot, so I prepared for the worst-case scenario.” As he said that, he fished out a wooden spherical object that seemed like a rugby ball. Afterwards, he twisted the top, and with a series of clicks, several tiny, hexagonal holes appeared on the object. It seemed like a bee’s nest.
With a buzz, a swarm of tiny insects emerged from the nest. They were not bees, but tiny bugs that flickered with light like fireflies.
Xiao An’s eyes lit up again. She extended her hand and caught one. She discovered that they were not actual insects, but extremely delicate mechanical bugs. Their abdomens were embedded with some unknown, green crystal. Every single one of them was an exquisite piece of art.
Li Qingshan asked, “What’s this?”
Hao Pingyang said, “Just watch and you’ll know.” Under his control, the swarm of insects split into three groups and flew down the three caves.
Hao Pingyang twisted the top of the nest again, and a green light shot out, forming a sphere in the air.
There was a large speck of light and countless smaller specks in the ball. The small specks of light divided into three groups and formed three twisted paths from the large speck of light. At a closer glance, those were three caves that differed in shape and size. It actually formed a three-dimensional map in the sphere of light.
Li Qingshan immediately understood its purpose. He praised the wonders of mohism once again. Afterwards, he saw the specks of light separate and leave behind even more paths, sculpting out a detailed map.
Hao Pingyang said, “I found it in the warehouse. It’s a puppet for searching and building maps. Everyone rest up and catch your breaths. Once I find the Zombie Daoist’s den, we can set off.”
“Senior brother sure is prepared!” Jin Bao praised. They all sat down and consumed pills to regather their strength.
Hao Pingyang focused on controlling the puppet insects. Before long, one of them discovered a cave with signs of human excavation. Soon afterwards, the insect was destroyed by something, and the connection was lost.
“Damn insect!” A shriveled hand crushed an insect. The Zombie Daoist rubbed the stone coffin beside him like he was rubbing the face of his lover. “Don’t worry. There’ll be fresh blood very soon. It’ll be the blood of Qi Practitioners.”
Li Qingshan pointed at the sphere of light. “Seems like it’s there!”
Zhang Lanqing and everyone else was overjoyed. The target was right before them now.
Hao Pingyang said, “Once I recall all of the insects, we’ll set off!” When the last mechanical bug returned to the nest-like object, Hao Pingyang stood up and gave the order to set off. However, he suddenly frowned and looked at the cave behind him.
Li Qingshan said, “It looks like I’ll only be able to accompany you till here!” At the end of the day, he still needed to deal with his own matters in person. Zhuo Zhibo had already survived two clashes against him, but he could not allow that to happen again. It was time to put an end to it.
Zhang Lanqing said, “What!” Afterwards, he sensed a powerful aura from the cave and a sharp killing intent, which made his heart jump. He Yishi and the two brothers could feel the determination behind the killing intent, so their faces changed. They could not help but look at Li Qingshan.
They spent most of their time learning how to build things in the Academy of the Hundred Schools, but they were not naive. They understood what collateral damage was. If the Black Hawk commander was truly determined to kill Li Qingshan, he probably would not care about them. He would try to silence them with death instead.
Hao Pingyang said immediately, “We’ll set off right now! Lanqing, steer the boat!”
Li Qingshan shook his head. “No, the boat is not fast enough to shake them off. This has nothing to do with you in the first place, so you should go first. I’ll catch up and regroup very soon once I shake them off.”
“Qingshan is right. It’ll be more difficult for them to find him if he’s alone. The cave is as complicated as a maze, so they might not necessarily be able to find him. If we flee together, we’ll be caught in a pincer attack from in front and behind. Senior brother, you should make up your mind!” He Yishi could not help but say. He did not want to fall out with a Black Hawk commander over a single kid he had met recently. There was no benefit at all, and it would bring him life-threatening danger instead.
The Zombie Daoist had lost his Submerged Shadow sword, and his traps were destroyed as well. He was as weak as he could get. Even without Li Qingshan, they were confident that they could take him down. His thoughts even became darker. He even began to think about how there was no need to give up that thirty percent share if Li Qingshan was no longer with them.
Hao Pingyang said, “Let’s fight them!” However, aside from Zhang Lanqing, who stood up nervously, no one else said anything more.
The aura drew closer and closer. Jin Bao said, “Qingshan, you can leave Xiao An with us. We’ll take good care of her.” Xiao An possessed two Thousand Mechanism crossbows, so she was extremely powerful, and she would not be receiving a share. Of course, they would never admit that was what they were thinking.
“How can you do that? Didn’t we say that we’re all in the same boat? If it weren’t for Qingshan, we would’ve all died in the morgue already,” Zhang Lanqing could not help but say. Li Qingshan was his saviour. How could he turn his back on his saviour?
He Yishi grumbled, “He did not save my life previously.” He was a noble disciple of mohism. A great future awaited him, so why would he risk his life over something like this?
“You!” Zhang Lanqing was left speechless as he pointed at He Yishi. No matter how he looked at it, He Yishi and the others would all be dead once those Hawkwolf guards killed Li Qingshan.
Jin Yuan lowered his head and grumbled slightly ,”Senior brother Zhang, you’re a fifth layer Qi Practitioner! We’re not as powerful as you, so if we stay behind, we’ll just make things more troublesome instead.” You’re strong, so of course you’re confident. We’re weak, so we’ll be killed very easily.
“You three idiots!” Hao Pingyang was extremely disappointed in his three junior brothers. Not only was this traitorous behaviour, it was foolish as well. Once the Hawkwolf guards killed Li Qingshan, wouldn’t they come to silence them as well? They were as foolish as they could get for not trying to pool their strength together, instead seeking temporary safety.
He raised his hand up high. This was no longer messing around with his junior brothers, but a heavy hand bearing his exasperation and disappointment in them. He wanted to smack them to their senses, but the hand was caught by Li Qingshan.
The hearts of people were not exactly dark, but they were not exactly bright either. A calculating aspect of personal interests would always exist in the mind of every single person, but everyone’s choices would be different. In the face of true, life-threatening danger, just who could stick it out with you?
Li Qingshan wanted to scorn them with laughter, but he continued to smile. “They’re right. You won’t be able to help me much. You’ve witnessed my abilities as a Body Practitioner as well. It’ll be easier if I flee by myself. However, Xiao An will be staying with me.”
With that, Li Qingshan leapt off from the back of the boat with Xiao An gently before Hao Pingyang could try to persuade him any further. He said, “Take care! I’ll see you later!” With that, he vanished into the dark cavern.
Zhang Lanqing was still stunned. He Yishi rushed over and took over control of the boat, steering it towards another cave that led to the Zombie Daoist’s den. They parted there.
Actually, Li Qingshan did not have particularly high hopes for them. Although he had never seen the Zombie Daoist, he could tell just how cautious and crafty their opponent would be from the two times they had clashed. If the Zombie Daoist was not completely confident in achieving victory, he would definitely vanish into the caves that were as complicated as a spider’s nest. If he chose to remain, that would be rather terrifying.
Only people who hid their strength like Li Qingshan could ignore this danger. However, the disciples of mohism had already demonstrated how strong they were on the way here.
Of course, he would not take pleasure in their misfortune, hoping that they would all die. He was not so narrow-minded. Moreover, Hao Pingyang and Zhang Lanqing had shown him plenty of gratitude and loyalty. He truly hoped they would be safe.
However, he was neither a babysitter, nor was he a saint. As long as he maintained a clear conscience and did whatever he could, he would leave the rest to fate. He would leave it up for them to choose!
Zhuo Zhibo sensed the two auras in the two caves as he arrived with his Black Wolf guards. Li Qingshan was not trying to hide himself.
Ge Jian asked, “Commander, which path do we take first?”
Zhuo Zhibo said, “Let’s kill Li Qingshan first. We can deal with the disciples of mohism slowly.” This was his main objective in the first place.
As the aura drew closer, Li Qingshan smiled. He used the ability to control water from the spirit turtle’s daemon core to walk on the surface of the water, charging forwards. The walls around him rapidly receded, sometimes sinking and sometimes turning, like it went on forever. He constantly encountered new forks and chose between them without any hesitation at all.
Suddenly, the gurgling of water rang out from ahead. Li Qingshan felt like he had returned to the days he spent cultivating under the waterfall in the mountains, listening to this sound every day. The sound grew louder and louder until it became deafening. The area in front of him opened up as the rushing, underground water suddenly plummeted, forming an underground waterfall.
Li Qingshan leapt several dozen meters into the air and landed on an island in the water. He looked at his surroundings and the entire area was empty. It was a huge cavern, around half the size of a soccer pitch. It was enough for him to daemonify and move about freely.
This was not a coincidence. Instead, it was the battlefield he had chosen when the mechanical bugs had searched through the cave. Perhaps, it would be more apt for him to call this place the burial ground for these Hawkwolf guards. Looking at it in person, it seemed even more perfect than how it seemed on the map from the mechanical bugs. He breathed in deeply and shot a glance at Xiao An. Xiao An immediately submerged herself in the water.
Without waiting for too long, killing intent rushed into the cavern. Li Qingshan raised his head and saw Zhuo Zhibo and his Black Wolf guards fly down from the waterfall, landing in front of him. They scattered quickly and surrounded him.
Zhuo Zhibo said coldly, “I’ve finally caught you!”
Li Qingshan smiled, “No, I’ve caught you!”