Chapter 190 – The Third Layer
By then, he could do whatever he wanted. If the Sect of Clouds and Rain found him, he could escape to the caves. He only needed to take a few twists and turns; with his aura hidden, the Sect of Clouds and Rain would never be able to capture him.
The estate occupied a few thousand square meters. As it was located in the mountains, many fallen leaves soon covered it again despite having just been sweeped earlier.
It was a secluded place, where the scenery and building complemented each other. The place gave off an antiquated aura within its tranquility. Who knows just what it had weathered already. The original, wooden carvings on the beams and columns had faded, which instead replaced the sense of extravagance with a certain weatheredness.
Li Qingshan was extremely satisfied. It was even better than his residence at the Hawkwolf Guard. He lowered his head and said, “Looks like we’ll be staying here for a while.” He rubbed Xiao An’s head. “Once I rise up and accomplish something with my ability, I’ll knock on their doors one by one and make the people of the Sect of Rain and Clouds bleed. They’re dreaming if they think they can take you! Hahahaha!” His smile was as resplendent as the sun.
Xiao An was infected by his laughter and a smile formed on her face like a ripple in water. She thought to herself, Yeah, no one can take me away.
In order to buy this place, money alone would likely not have been enough to do the job for Yu Shukuang. He relied on the Proud Sword manor’s influence as a gang as well. Just like the food chain, the Green Vine mountain could just send a disciple over and that would be enough to render great hero Yu docile, while great hero Yu could turn a few rich merchants docile just by turning around.
What a brutal social hierarchy!
Li Qingshan sighed. He looked through the manor, in search of a place to begin digging.
Xiao An pulled out a book on the shelf in the study, and with a creak, the shelf turned around, revealing a flight of steps downwards.
Li Qingshan gave Xiao An a thumbs up. “Nicely done. Let’s go in and take a look!”
As soon as Li Qingshan and Xiao An set foot inside, the bookshelf closed automatically. With the strength that they possessed, they were fearless, so they ventured downwards with nothing to be scared of.
They discovered that this was a man-made secret room, divided into several dozen rooms and connected by several secret passageways. They led to a few important structures in the estate. There was also a large stockpile of grains and food in there.
Li Qingshan had once heard that rich and influential families would all construct secret rooms like this when they built their estates so that they could seek shelter during times of strife. With somewhere to hide, it might even be enough to shield their entire clan from destruction. However, this was the first time he had ever witnessed something like this.
This had instead saved him some trouble. He took out the underground mental map and matched it to the entire hidden structure. He arrived in a stone room, raised his right foot, and stomped down heavily.
With a thump, the floor became covered in cracks; followed by a rumble, the rock and soil all collapsed, kicking up motes of dust.
The dust settled and revealed a great hole in the floor. Li Qingshan stuck his head into the cave and looked around. As expected, it was connected to the cave system below. He smiled happily. With this path of retreat, he could cultivate in peace now.
Returning above ground, the twenty tables of food had already been delivered. Li Qingshan indulged in the food heartily. Xiao An ate some with him before placing down her chopsticks and watching him eat as she leaned on her hands.
After enough food and drink, Xiao An went to the study to look at the books, while Li Qingshan meditated in the courtyard. He swallowed ten Qi Gathering pills in a single gulp, and they were swallowed up by the daemon core as soon as they were digested, all converted into daemon qi.
He had decided to direct his focus back to the cultivation of the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression from today onwards. If his cultivation of the spirit turtle was too low, it would be insufficient to keep the ox demon and tiger demon suppressed, preventing him from reverting to human form. It would lead to quite a lot of trouble.
The Ox Demon’s Fist of Great Strength and the Tiger Demon’s Fist of Bone Forging could drastically strengthen his body, endowing him with extraordinary battle prowess. However, what controlled his cultivation as a daemon was the tiny daemon core condensed from the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression.
The first layer of the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression was condensing a daemon core, allowing him to reach a level equivalent to the sixth layer of human Qi Practitioners. If he reached the second layer, it should result in him breaking through his current realm, allowing him to become a Daemon General. By then, he would not have to fear the Sect of Clouds and Rain anymore.
However, this would be far more difficult than reaching the second layer with the ox demon or tiger demon. Of course, now that he had mentioned it, this was not exactly difficult. Instead, it was an issue of time. He could not afford to waste a few decades or a century on this. He still wanted to go looking for Gu Yanying once he became accomplished in his cultivation.
If a century passed in a blink of an eye, perhaps she would not age, but it would already be a miracle if he could still remember her name. No matter how deeply he had fallen in love at first sight, how could it withstand the erosion of time? He had to try to win her over while this feeling for her remained.
He had also promised to take Xuanyue to the Dragon province. Who knows just how quickly her cultivation could advance with the pills from the provincial lord’s estate. She might even end up achieving something before him during that century and run off by herself. By then, wouldn’t his promise just be a joke?
And, if he spent too much time on the ground, his brother ox beyond the Nine Heavens would probably run out of patience, even though he had never seen him run out of patience before.
In short, it was simple. He had to devote himself to cultivation and advance aggressively. He wanted to use countless pills to pave a shortcut to success so that he could rise up.
He closed his eyes. Externally, he drew in the spiritual qi of the world, while he absorbed the pills internally. He constantly gathered, took in, and converted the energy.
The sky was clear, only awash with moonlight. He let out his daemon core, which spun into the air, radiating with deep blue light that pulsed like it was breathing. A smear of moonlight was absorbed into the daemon core as well.
His mind, on the other hand, constantly descended, like a spirit turtle sinking into a bottomless abyss, entering a sleep of millennia, almost like it did not exist.
The spiritual qi of the world constantly surged into his daemon core and body.
The part of him that was usually the most sensitive to the spiritual qi of the world, the Fengchi acupoint on the back of his head, seemed to have become the perfect entry point. Most of the spiritual qi just entered his Yang Heel meridian like that, flowing through his meridians.
Originally, this was supposed to be something that only Foundation Establishment cultivators could achieve, but this young man who walked both the path of humans and daemons managed to accomplish this unknowingly.
The extremely pure energy of the world was originally an elixir only powerful cultivators who had truly embarked on the path of cultivation could enjoy, yet it flowed through the body of a measly Qi Practitioner like him.
Compared to this spiritual qi of the world, the Qi Gathering pills refined from herbs that humans had devoted so much effort into picking were like dregs to fine wine.
Li Qingshan’s cultivation of the Innate Method of Practising Qi had already reached the sixth layer. He had reached the peak of the second layer as a Qi Practitioner. The amount of true qi his Yang Heel meridian could hold was already full.
The mental cultivation method of the seventh layer of the Innate Method of Practising Qi filled his mind naturally, and he began to use it unknowingly.
The true qi in him surged towards the Zhaohai acupoint on his ankle. Because Li Qingshan was not directly controlling, it was unable to condense into a form that could pierce the obstruction. All of it accumulated there, unable to advance forwards.
However, with the support from the spiritual qi of the world, the true qi surged over in waves like the tide, rising up before the previous had even settled, unrelenting and without pause.
He did not rely on any pills, nor was his true qi consumed. It was endless. The waves smashed against the Zhaohai acupoint constantly.
Even if the ‘dam’ would not waver after a hundred times, what about a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred thousand times?
Finally, the dam fell apart and collapsed. The true qi flowed through the Yin Heel meridian and encountered the second obstacle.
Originally, failure at any point would render all previous efforts null and void, forcing people to start over. This was why Qi Practitioners would always prepare enough pills and spiritual stones when they wanted to open up a meridian.
That would be like infusing more water into the river of true qi. But right now, Li Qingshan’s river of true qi was directly connected with the boundless ocean. He had endless amounts of spiritual qi of the world.
No matter how many times his true qi was obstructed by the dams, it would never weaken and fade away. It would only advance slowly, washing up against the dam another ten thousand times. It was extremely gradual, but extremely steady as well. The acupoints were opened one by one, leading to the final destination of the Yin Heel meridian, the Jingming acupoint on his face.
The acupoint governed sight, which was why it was called Jingming, or the acupoint of Clear Vision. Once the acupoint was opened, Qi Practitioner could see further away and see smaller things, all to the utmost detail. This acupoint could not be avoided if Li Qingshan wanted to open his Yin Heel meridian.
There was no difficulty at all. The true qi flowed into the Jingming acupoint and connected with the Yang Heel meridian like the unity of two great rivers. It formed a strange environment, where yin and yang qi constantly flowed through his meridians.
However, Li Qingshan was ignorant of all of this. He had actually broken through to the third layer of Qi Practitioner unknowingly. Probably no one would believe him if he ever mentioned it.
The autumn wind swept through the trees. A withered leaf gave way, falling off a twig. It drifted over the white walls and fell towards Li Qingshan’s shoulder.
A soft, white hand appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the leaf, tossing it aside. Xiao An had swept away all of the fallen leaves in the courtyard with a broom she had found somewhere, while the puppet and Iron Plate corpse were responsible for using woven dustpans to scoop up the leaves and pour them outside.
Thump, thump, thump. Someone knocked at the door, and Xiao An went over to open it. Two disciples of the Proud Sword manor removed several dozen large boxes of food and placed them on the stone steps at the entrance.
A mild-mannered young man said, “Little sister, here’s today’s food. Is great hero Niu still training?”
Xiao An nodded in a rather unpractised manner. Li Qingshan had always been responsible for communicating with people in the past. Now that Li Qingshan was cultivating, only she could handle them now. She had yet to grow accustomed to it.
The young man had already come a few times before. He knew that Xiao An never spoke, so he did not find it to be strange. He asked quietly, “Do you want me to deliver the food inside today?”
Xiao An shook her head.
The young man was slightly disappointed. He really wanted to check out this great hero Niu that his master basically worshipped, or should he say, treated like a great calamity.
Yu Shukuang was afraid to slight Li Qingshan. Just like what he had requested, he would send two trusted disciples to deliver twenty tables of food everyday. He had basically watched these two disciples grow up, so they were almost like sons to him. He had also reminded them countless times the importance of this matter, as well as the importance of keeping their mouths shut about this. However, this only made the two of them even more curious. Unfortunately, all they met was a mute little girl every time they came here.
The other young man asked, “Little sister, what kind of person is great hero Niu?”
Xiao An was slightly taken aback. Even if she could speak, she was unable to answer that question properly.
The mild-mannered young man raised the reins, and the horse pulled away with the carriage into the woods. All that was left was Xiao An standing at the entrance, stowing away the boxes of food. Suddenly, her heart trembled slightly.