Chapter 181 – Two’s No Different from One
Hao Pingyang said, “We’re at the entrance!” Everyone’s faces became much brighter after seeing the light.
The light drew closer and closer, becoming brighter and brighter. In the end, it swallowed the boat.
Their surroundings suddenly opened up into the endless wilderness. Red clouds filled the horizon. It had actually been less than half a day since they entered the cave, but it felt much longer than that.
The three of them were even more touched by this sight. They felt like an entire eon had passed.
Lao Xishan emerged from a corner and glanced past everyone before locking onto Li Qingshan in the end. “You’re Li Qingshan?” This was the first time he had met this infamous figure who had shaken up the entire Hawkwolf Guard of Jiaping. Lao Xishan noticed that he was only a second layer Qi Practitioner, so he already began to look down on him. Since this fellow was bold enough to work against Zhuo Zhibo with this measly amount of strength, he sure was as reckless as they came. It was probably a fluke that he managed to kill Qian Yannian. Though, he sure was lucky to still be standing here alive.
Li Qingshan said politely, “I’m Li Qingshan. Greetings, commander. May I ask for your honourable name?”
“I’am Lao Xishan. You can just call me commander Lao.” Lao Xishan nodded in a rather dignified manner before furrowing his brows. “Have you seen Zhuo Zhi- commander Zhuo?”
Li Qingshan said, “I only met him once in the morgue outside the town, but I didn’t enter the cave with him. Instead, I entered with my friends from the school of Mohism, but I didn’t see him again after that.”
Lao Xishan sank into his thoughts. He knew that Zhuo Zhibo had come for Li Qingshan, but he did not suspect that Li Qingshan had killed Zhuo Zhibo. Even if there were a few disciples of mohism assisting him, it was impossible for them to be the opponents of Zhuo Zhibo and his group of elite Black Wolf guards. As someone who had endured Zhuo Zhibo for all these years, he understood Zhuo Zhibo’s power the best.
He could only place all the blame on the tremendous daemon qi. He had heard rumors that many powerful daemons hid underground. Zhuo Zhibo must have been extremely unlucky to run into one of them!
Li Qingshan said, “Commander, what brings you here?”
“I’ve obviously come for the Zombie Daoist. I’m preparing to enter the cave to search for him.” Lao Xishan had to distance himself from Zhuo Zhibo’s death to avoid raising any suspicion as well.
Li Qingshan said, “Then there’s no need for you to go in, commander. We’ve already killed the Zombie Daoist. His corpse is in the hundred treasures pouch. I’m about to report back on the success of the mission.”
Lao Xishan was extremely doubtful. “What? You lot actually managed to kill the Zombie Daoist just by yourselves?”
Hao Pingyang was in a bad mood, and Lao Xishan’s words only made it worse. He clasped his hands at Li Qingshan. “Qingshan, we’re in a hurry to report back, so we’ll bid farewell to you here!”
Li Qingshan ignored Lao Xishan and clasped his hands back at him. “Alright then. Brother Hao, I hope that you have a safe trip back. I’ll see you in the future then. When that happens, I have to share a satisfying drink with you.”
Hao Pingyang smiled as well. “Alright, then that’s that. When that happens, I’ll invite you to the wonderful liquor our school of Mohism has to offer.”
Zhang Lanqing said, “Count me in too. We’ll definitely meet in the future. The Academy of the Hundred Schools will be recruiting new students during the third month next year. You can’t miss it, Qingshan.”
Hao Pingyang said, “If Qi Practitioners in the world join neither clans or the hundred schools, they’ll have to depend on their own comprehension for cultivation, which makes it almost impossible for them to achieve anything. You’re young, and your talent is fantastic, so it’s a perfect time for you to join the academy. Perhaps we might even become juniors and seniors.” He glanced at Lao Xishan. “If you find it unsatisfying, you can just resign from the Hawkwolf Guard and come to Clear River sooner so that you can prepare for the entry exam.”
Li Qingshan was quite touched by his sincerity. “If I can brother Hao senior, it would be my honour. I’ll definitely be there next year.”
Lao Xishan saw how none of them, including Li Qingshan, took him, a mighty sixth layer Qi Practitioner and a Black Wolf commander, seriously, so his face turned cold. “The Hawkwolf Guard is not a market. It’s not a place where you can come and go as you please. Even if you join the Academy of the Hundred Schools, you’ll be a disciple of the school of Legalism. You’ll have nothing to do with the school of Mohism.”
Li Qingshan and Hao Pingyang glanced at Lao Xishan. Both of them ignored him and told each other to take care.
Zhang Lanqing clasped his hands. “Qingshan, you have to come!” He Yishi, on the other hand, kept his head lowered the entire time, without uttering a single word.
It was getting late, and the birds in the trees were restless.
After the three of them departed, Lao Xishan basically commanded Li Qingshan. “Li Qingshan, tell me exactly what had happened. Did you really kill the Zombie Daoist, and you weren’t fooled by a substitute? Where’s the corpse? Let me check it!”
If this were all true, perhaps he would be able to get a share of the merit. The contribution for killing the Zombie Daoist amounted to twelve thousand points. It would be for the best if Li Qingshan offered all of it to him, and he would accept him as a trusted subordinate. Both of them would be satisfied.
Li Qingshan vaguely sensed what he was trying to get at. He said indifferently, “You’ll see it once we get back to Jiaping city, commander.”
“That’s rude of you. How dare you disobey my orders. You have no sense of respect at all,” Lao Xishan said furiously. He was as complacent as he could get right now. Not only had he split open a sea of qi and reached the sixth layer, Zhuo Zhibo was likely dead as well.
If nothing unexpected happened, he would take over the position of Black Hawk commander and claim the leader’s seat within the Hawkwolf Guard. With how much authority and status that came with the position, he could never allow such an arrogant subordinate to exist below him.
“That’s how commander Zhuo described me as well. Let me just give a word of advice to commander Lao. Don’t become arrogant from your successes, or it might very well lead you to misery.” Li Qingshan frowned. This bastard had basically become blinded by status, losing all of his humanity, just being some shitty commander.
“How dare you try to teach me a lesson!” Lao Xishan was infuriated, and his murderous intent was stirred. However, before he could even draw his blade, his surroundings suddenly darkened. A tall, wide figure in a cape suddenly appeared before him. Within the shade of its bamboo hat was a vicious face half covered in metal plating. Lao Xishan cried out, “Zombie!”
Li Qingshan said, “That’s the Iron Plate corpse I managed to steal from the Zombie Daoist. It’s extremely powerful. Would you like to try it, commander Lao?”
Lao Xishan had some understanding towards refining corpses. Iron Plate corpses seemed extremely powerful, making them difficult to deal with. His expression fluctuated with uncertainty as he lowered his hand resentfully. He decided to just fall out with Li Qingshan completely.
“Li Qingshan, it looks to me that you’re closely related to commander Zhuo and the other Black Wolf guards’ disappearance. If you have some wits about you, it’ll be our combined efforts that resulted in the Zombie Daoist’s death this time. Once we return to Jiaping city, you’ll be someone on my side as well, and I’ll watch out for you. Otherwise, your contribution will just be a pile of useless numbers. It won’t even be worth a single Qi Gathering pill.”
Li Qingshan said, “You want to claim half of it? What an appetite you have, commander Lao.”
Lao Xishan said, “Moreover, your Iron Plate corpse is an existence of heresy. It’s evil. The Hawkwolf Guard will be responsible for dealing with it. You’ll have to hand over the method of control as well.”
Li Qingshan asked, “No room for negotiation at all?”
Lao Xishan said, “No room for negotiation at all. Since you’re my subordinate, you’ll have to follow my orders, or I’ll unleash hell on you. Don’t even think about running to the Academy of the Hundred Schools either. I have plenty of friends cultivating in the school of Legalism.”
Li Qingshan fell quiet as if he was thinking. Afterwards, he raised his head. “Then you can go die!”
“What did you say?!” Lao Xishan raised his guard, but Li Qingshan did not move at all. He did not even give off the slightest hint of killing intent. All he did was look at Lao Xishan like the fellow was a dead man.
However, a white bead flew out from the hand of the pretty child who gave off no aura at all beside Li Qingshan, whistling through the air.
The child was actually a sixth layer Qi Practitioner!
Only now did Lao Xishan understand that not only did Li Qingshan want to kill him, but he even had the power to kill him.
“Li Qingshan, you’re attacking a superior officer! Aren’t you afraid of being punished by the laws of Great Xia?” A flying blade, exactly the same as Zhuo Zhibo’s, flew out. It seemed like it was also a standard issue weapon of the Hawkwolf Guard.
Li Qingshan said, “Fuck you and your laws. I killed Zhuo Zhibo after all that difficulty, yet you’re even finding dissatisfaction in the things that literally fell into your lap. You’re even trying to blackmail me. Do you really think I’m really that easy to just walk over? Fuck your shitty position as a commander? Two’s no different from one anyway, so you can go die!
The flying blade collided with the prayer bead in the air. The prayer bead knocked away the blade and only paused slightly. Xiao An’s current strength was far more than just the sixth layer. With Lao Xishan’s abilities of having just broken through to the sixth layer, he could not even control an artifact dexterously, so how was he supposed to stand a chance?
“You killed Zhuo Zhibo!?” Lao Xishan’s eyes widened in disbelief when he heard that. Moreover, Li Qingshan was clearly prepared to kill him now, which was why he was bold enough to tell him that.
Li Qingshan said, “Why is it that whenever I try to spare someone, they become so irritating in the end?”
Lao Xishan formed a seal with his hand. The flying blade spun around in the air and stabilised itself, clashing against the prayer bead with a series of clings and clangs. However, he suddenly saw another prayer bead shoot towards him. The kid could actually control two spiritual artifacts!
Lao Xishan was surprised, but he was unfazed. He knew that he could not defeat her, so he began to consider retreating. As long as he could return to Jiaping city and report this to the Hawkwolf Guard, Li Qingshan would be hunted down.
Hmph, don’t even think about killing me if two spiritual artifacts is all that you have! He extended his hand and fished out the talisman he had already prepared, activating it with true qi, but there was no response at all. He had lost all sensation in his hand as well.
He turned his head. His hand that held the talisman had vanished!
Only half of his forearm remained. It was bare, revealing a complete section of blood, flesh, and bone.
Xiao An stood nearby as she held her hidden blade in one hand and Lao Xishan’s hand in the other. It was currently burning away, turning into flames!
Li Qingshan was slightly surprised as well, as he had basically missed Xiao An’s movements. Apart from being even faster than her prayer beads, she gave off nothing at all, no aura, no killing intent.
It had been quite some time since he last saw Xiao An engage someone in close combat. He had never thought that she would have already become so fast. He could no longer grasp her movements unless he daemonified!
With some closer thought, he remembered how Xiao An had already devoured the essence of flesh and blood from several thousand people since the time they had gone to the Qian family. She used the bones of several thousand people to smelt and forge her own skeleton. Unknowingly, her strength and speed had grown tremendously.
The two Skull Prayer Beads had both been forged with her personal strength serving as the basis.
The Path of White Bone and Great Beauty had a section for forging artifacts, which detailed various kinds, each more powerful than the next. However, the very foundation of the cultivation method was still built on a pursuit of personal strength, to forge her own set of bones into the most terrifying set of artifacts in the world.
This girl was quiet most of the time, but he had never thought she had already become so powerful, and she was steady, accurate, and vicious when she moved. She had truly inherited his legacy.