Chapter 191 – Xiao An Speaks
On the carriage, the two of them discussed, “Senior brother, I heard the great hero Niu who stays there stands nine feet tall and is built like a rock.”
The mild-mannered young man expressed his doubts, “Is he really that tall? I find it all quite strange. Since when did the world have masters who bear the surname of Niu?”
“What’s wrong with the surname Niu? My surname is Ma1!”
“It’s not like I’m talking about you, so what’re you getting so frantic for? Sigh, what a nice child. She’ll definitely become a great beauty when she grows up. It’s just a pity she’s mute. What a pity!”
The carriage had already pulled extremely far away, far beyond the hearing range of regular first-rate masters. However, Xiao An was able to hear it all clearly outside the door as she moved the boxes in. Her face sank slightly.
She placed all of the boxes in a secret room that was relatively cool so that Li Qingshan could feast on them whenever he roused from his cultivation.
However, Li Qingshan never roused. She just sat on the stone step by herself in the autumn wind and fallen leaves. She opened her mouth and clenched her fists, using everything she had in an attempt to speak.
When she recovered her body, she was still unable to speak. The disappointment on Li Qingshan’s face was embedded in her mind. Although he had comforted her by saying that it did not matter, she never wanted to cause any disappointment to him, so she had always tried to practise speaking whenever he was not looking.
However, she had not been successful. She felt like an invisible film plugged her throat the entire time, preventing her from producing any sound. She could not even emit a single syllable no matter how hard she tried.
Her voice had been taken away by the witch, like she would never be able to get it back again.
Failing once more, she became filled with disappointment again, almost to the point where she wanted to cry. Do the heavens think that I’m too greedy? Since I can already feel his warmth, and I can remain by his side properly, I shouldn’t desire anything more!
After who knows how long, Li Qingshan opened his eyes and shook his head gently. He had accidentally become engrossed in cultivation. As he slowly raised his eyes, he saw Xiao An wielding the broom that was even longer than herself as she swept away the leaves. He smiled to himself. She sure had nothing better to do. He also felt slightly apologetic for this.
He asked casually, “Xiao An, how long has it been?”
Xiao An just happened to be lost in her thoughts, thinking about speaking, when she suddenly heard the familiar voice. She turned around in a hurry. “Eek!”
Li Qingshan stretched and yawned. “What’re you eeking… about…” His eyes widened in disbelief as he pointed at Xiao An. “Y- you…” He seemed like the one who struggled to talk now.
Xiao An covered her own mouth with her eyes wide open. She had clearly failed with all of her attempts before.
After all these months of hard work, all she lacked was a moment of inspiration.
Li Qingshan knelt on one knee and stood up. He gulped and extended his hands forward. He said as calmly as he could, “Relax.. and try again!”
Xiao An placed down the broom, parted her lips, and tried. “Eek!” The short syllable seemed to originate from within her chest, like a droplet of water landing in a tranquil lake, causing prolonged ripples throughout.
She had used the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty to condense a perfect body, and that included her voice. Even though it was just a single sound, it was like striking the string of a zither.
Li Qingshan smiled happily. “That’s fantastic. Again.”
Xiao An gained some confidence. She sucked in a deep breath. “Eeee…” It was a long, drawn-out sound, like how a phoenix’s cry could linger for three whole days.
Li Qingshan took a step forward and embraced her firmly. “This is fantastic! I knew you could do it!”
Xiao An rubbed her eyes as tears rolled down her face.
Li Qingshan wiped them away for her. “Don’t cry. If you keep crying, I’ll end up crying too!” He pinched her cheek. “Come, come, come. Say a little more for me.”
Under Li Qingshan’s eager gaze, Xiao An’s face became bright red with how hard she tried. She finally spat out another syllable. “Ah!”
Li Qingshan’s lips tightened, left at a loss over how to respond. He rubbed her head. “Forget it. We’ll go slowly, just like cultivation.” Mentioning cultivation, he checked his daemon core and discovered that his daemon qi had grown slightly, but only by a tiny amount. Although the spiritual qi of the world was endless, he discovered that he could only draw in a tiny portion of it.
In comparison, it was still faster to chomp on pills. However, he suddenly noticed something. “Hmm? Since when did I reach the third layer?” True qi flowed freely through his Yin Heel meridian without any obstruction at all. His original plan was that he would only be able to break through to the third layer after a while longer. Yet now, he had actually broken through unknowingly. He really was slightly taken aback by how sudden it all was, such that he became slightly lost.
Xiao An moved her arms and eeked and ahhed, explaining to him what had happened. She had remained by Li Qingshan’s side the entire time, so she understood what had happened to him.
“I see!” Li Qingshan held his chin. He did not wonder about why he was able to understand her at all.
Although he could enter a form of meditation that was almost like hibernation with the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression, he would not be able to sense anything in such a state. He would only rouse when he sensed danger. He would not be able to consume any pills, forcing him to take the route of a regular daemon, which was why he never really used this state.
The spiritual qi of the world was like fine wine, but there was only a single jug, while he could wolf down Qi Gathering pills like entire tanks of dregs. And, as long as he maintained a steady supply, he could eat as many as he wanted, allowing him to accumulate daemon qi very quickly.
However, he never thought the cultivation method of daemons would have such a wondrous effect on practising qi. When he broke through to the second layer, he had used the means of traditional qi practitioners, constantly consuming pills to provide support and condensing his true qi to smash through the obstacles. It utterly wore him out. In the end, he had almost failed and only succeeded thanks to Xiao An’s assistance.
Yet now, he had managed to break through from just sleeping. It was as clear as day which way was better. To his surprise, using the method of daemons to practise qi and the method of humans to cultivate as a daemon was the most optimal choice.
He needed to be like a regular human cultivator right now, gathering as many pills as he could to accumulate daemon qi. Afterwards, he would need to be like a daemon, finding a den and then constantly absorbing the spiritual qi of the world to cultivate true qi.
These completely different paths actually supplemented each other. In the very beginning, he felt like cultivation as both a daemon and a human was very tiresome, but he felt the exact opposite now.
Li Qingshan felt like he had been enlightened. He laughed aloud and lifted up Xiao An, spinning around with her. “I know what I need to do now.”
At this moment, there was a rumble. The muffled boom rang out from underground, which was caught by Li Qingshan’s sensitive ears.
“An earthquake?” He felt the ground beneath him shake slightly. Did his stomp from earlier set off some kind of reaction with the crust of the earth?
A while later, the tremors subsided, and Li Qingshan did not pay too much attention to it either. There had been a string of good news today, so he was in a very jovial mood. He placed Xiao An on his knee and teased her. After talking for a while, his stomach growled again. He rubbed his belly. “Do you have food?”
Xiao An pulled him by his hand into the secret room, but all she discovered was that all of the food boxes had been opened, while everything inside had vanished into thin air. She was stunned.
Li Qingshan smiled. “Since when did you have such an appetite?”
Xiao An gesticulated in a hurry and eeked and ahhed. Her voice was like the gurgling of a spring, an extremely pleasant sound. With how clever she was, she had already grown accustomed to the two syllables. She used them like morse code, and when combined with her expression and movements, she seemed to be able to convey everything she was trying to say.
On the other hand, Li Qingshan was like a professional cryptographer, accurately interpreting what she was saying. He was stunned. “To think that there are people bold enough to rob me!” He went to the other room to take a look, and the grains and food stored there had been polished off as well.
Xiao An was certain that she had not seen anyone enter, so Li Qingshan thought of something and immediately checked the hole he had opened up. He sniffed carefully, and just as expected, he detected a powerful daemon qi. There were signs of displacement in the soil and earth as well. The uninvited guest had just left.
Xiao An analysed carefully with her eeks and ahhs.
Li Qingshan agreed. “Yep. I also think it’s a daemonic beast. Why would humans sneak in here to eat the food? I wonder which ignorant daemonic beast is bold enough to steal from us!” Afterwards, he smiled. “It has been quite a while since you’ve refined flesh and blood. Let’s lure it out as dinner for you. We can hold a celebration. Perhaps there might even be a daemon core!”
Xiao An eeked and ahhed in worry.
Li Qingshan was confident. “Don’t worry. I have a good idea!”
The sky dimmed, while the secret room that had been emptied out earlier was now filled with a hundred jars of alcohol. The seal for every single jar had been opened, such that their fragrance wafted everywhere, hiding all other smells, such as poison.
Within the alcohol was all of the poison and drugs that Li Qingshan, or should you say Yu Shukuang, could find. This was Li Qingshan’s good idea. In his former life, he had heard about many stories where they used alcohol to triumph over demons and monsters.
Li Qingshan and Xiao An waited in the study. Li Qingshan smiled. “What do you think about my plan?”
“Eeah!” Xiao An raised her thumb to express her admiration.
“Hah, it’s not that impressive.”
However, the two of them waited until the middle of the night, but there was still no disturbance. Li Qingshan wondered in doubt. “Don’t tell me that this bastard doesn’t like alcohol!”
Xiao An said, “Eeah, eeek eeh, aaah, eek ah ah, eek ah…” After being translated, that meant, “That can’t be the case. The alcohol in those boxes had all been polished off.”
Li Qingshan said, “Then let’s keep waiting!”
Before he had even finished speaking, there was a tremor underground again. Li Qingshan’s eyes lit up. “This daemon must be quite big too. You’re about to witness just how terrifying the intelligence of humans can be!” He pressed his ear against the ground and gathered all the sounds from underground. All he heard were jars of alcohol being tipped over and smashed, along with a series of rustles.
He waited with great patience, waiting for the alcohol to kick in before dealing a fatal strike to the daemonic beast. An hour later, the sounds underground vanished.
Li Qingshan nodded at Xiao An. Xiao An pulled the mechanism and the bookshelf opened, revealing the hidden staircase behind.
Xiao An stopped Li Qingshan from entering, letting the Iron Plate corpse charge ahead first as a scout. Afterwards, the two of them charged into the secret room.
Li Qingshan had already equipped his talisman pouch on his waist. There were several mid grade Immobilisation talismans in there, as well as all of his Lightning Summoning talismans. He had made ample preparations.
They charged into the secret room boldly, but when Li Qingshan saw the sight inside, his excited face suddenly froze. He grabbed Xiao An beside him and covered her mouth, standing exactly where he was, afraid to move.
1. Niu is ox, while Ma is horse in this case.