Chapter 194 – The Tiger and the Snake’s Trap
Smell would always be the aspect that human cultivators missed the most. Li Qingshan possessed a sense of smell that was a hundred times stronger than regular beasts. Combined with his instincts for danger and killing intent, it was impossible for him to be ambushed so easily.
He concealed all of his aura and gripped his Wind-entwining blade firmly. He prepared all of his talismans and approached the Zombie Daoist’s dwelling slowly. He constantly sniffed for the lingering scent in the air and did his best to discern where they were hiding right now.
He had set out for the Sect of Clouds and Rain, so how could he flee right after seeing them? Of course, his battle tactic would be to retreat if there were many people, but if there were only a few, he would kill them. If he worked with Xiao An, he had some confidence in being able to triumph over a ninth layer Qi Practitioner.
When he finally set foot in the dwelling, it was empty inside. All that was left was a lingering scent that slowly dispersed.
Why would these great Qi Practitioners remain in the pitch-black underground, waiting for the arrival of a junior? They only waited for a few days before leaving this place to search for Wei Yingjie’s whereabouts.
Li Qingshan was slightly disappointed. It seemed like it would take him some effort.
In the middle of the night, Li Qingshan climbed up the mountain where the Hawkwolf Guard resided on and arrived before his original residence. As expected, there was an aura inside, but it was much stronger than he had expected, but the smell was right. Qian Rongzhi had actually broken through to the fifth layer. She was even faster than him.
With Xiao An outside keeping an eye out, Li Qingshan climbed up the residence alone and opened the window. He saw Qian Rongzhi meditating in the room and practising qi. She did not seem to be lascivious at all. Instead, she seemed rather solemn.
Qian Rongzhi heard the window open, so she immediately stood up and grabbed her weapon and talismans, assuming a defensive posture. Afterwards, she was surprised. “It’s you?”
Li Qingshan said, “It’s me.”
Qian Rongzhi eased up. She did not even ask why Li Qingshan had become so big. Her eyes lit up as she said, “You’ve reached the third layer. You really are a genius!” The first time she had seen Li Qingshan was only a few months ago. Back then, he was still a first layer Qi Practitioner.
Li Qingshan said, “Your cultivation surprises me more.”
Qian Rongzhi said, “The worthless have their own worthless ways. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough to defeat you.”
Li Qingshan squinted his eyes. “What will you do if you could defeat me?”
Qian Rongzhi smiled thinly. “You’ll know when it happens!”
Li Qingshan refused to dwell on this matter. He cut to the chase. “What’s going on with the Sect of Clouds and Rain? Who’s in charge of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain now?”
“Don’t ask me. I was dragged into the matter due to Wei Yingjie’s disappearance. I’ve already been expelled from the Sect of Clouds and Rain. I knelt on the ground and begged the granny for a very long time, but it was all useless. I’ve been tested for all this time, all for nothing. I didn’t even get a single cultivation method. Aren’t I pitiful?” Qian Rongzhi said bitterly and pitifully, as if she had not personally abused Wei Yingjie to death.
“Dragged into the matter?” Li Qingshan sneered. “The same as before. If you can lure the West Gate Granny out alone to a certain place, everything that has to do with the Sect of Clouds and Rain in her hundred treasures pouch will go to you.”
Qian Rongzhi widened her eyes. “You can kill ninth layer Qi Practitioners?” She knew Li Qingshan had a trump card, so he was as powerful as sixth layer Qi Practitioners at the very least. However, she never imagined he would actually reach such a high level.
Originally, she believed that catching up to Li Qingshan was just a matter of time with her cultivation speed. However, her confidence completely evaporated now. The disparity separating her from Li Qingshan was not shrinking. Instead, it was growing exponentially.
She also understood why he did not take her too seriously as a potential threat. He possessed absolute confidence in himself. Before absolute strength, rarely would any schemes or plans be effective. This man was probably different from all of the other men she had seen before. He was surprisingly difficult to deal with.
“That’s why you’d better maintain some fear for me. That’ll do us both good!”
Qian Rongzhi stopped smiling. “I understand. The vice sect master of the Sect of Clouds and Rain, Wei Zhongyuan, and the four grannies found nothing when they went to the Zombie Cave, so they split up to search for you. There are Parlours of Rain and Clouds littered through the lands, and they’re well-connected. As soon as you appear, they’ll discover you.”
Li Qingshan said, “Did you send them to the Zombie Cave?”
Qian Rongzhi said, “I said Wei Yingjie went there in search of you, but I didn’t say that you killed him. You’ve fallen out with the Sect of Clouds and Rain completely anyway, so it’s no difference to you. Don’t tell me you were stupid enough to hide there?”
Li Qingshan felt like he had been slapped across the face. He said boldly, “Of course not. Continue.” She had said that so nonchalantly, so it was not like he could lose his temper over that.
Qian Rongzhi smiled. “The Parlour of Clouds and Rain has lost two parlour masters, one after another, so they haven’t sent anyone new. If you want to deal with the Sect of Clouds and Rain, I’d recommend targeting Wei Zhongyuan. He’s currently going through the sorrow of losing a son. He’s irrational, so he’s easy to control.”
“What’s his cultivation?”
“The tenth layer.”
“I refuse,” Li Qingshan said without a second thought. Tenth layer Qi Practitioners were people who had opened all of their acupoints, along with the twelve standard meridians and eight extraordinary meridians. They were only a step away from Foundation Establishment. Compared to the ninth layer, they were like sixth layer Qi Practitioner to fifth layer Qi Practitioners. He was confident in his own strength, but he had not become blinded by it.
Qian Rongzhi was disappointed. Her plan to use Wei Zhongyang to break through had fallen through, but it also gave her some peace of mind. At the very least, Li Qingshan did not possess the strength to deal with the tenth layer right now.
“Then just the West Gate Granny. However, I need time. I need time to plan, and I also need time to explain my cultivation. And, they’ll be sending over a new Black Hawk commander soon!”
“I will contend for the position of Black Wolf commander. As long as I get promoted to commander, the Sect of Clouds and Rain won’t touch me even if they suspect me as long as they don’t have any evidence. Of course, I need to thank you for opening up this position for me.”
She was scheming before others, but before Li Qingshan, she would always be extremely honest. This was not because she had any good will towards Li Qingshan. Instead, she just adapted to circumstances. She knew that this was the only way to cooperate with Li Qingshan, to maximise her own benefits.
Only now did Li Qingshan recall that she had reached the fifth layer and that she really did have the right to be promoted to Black Wolf commander. They had joined the Hawkwolf Guard together, yet unknowingly, she had already reached such a step. She really was a woman who could not be underestimated.
Leaving behind a talisman for communication, Qian Rongzhi smiled. “It’ll take me one to three months, but I’ll deliver the West Gate Granny to you.”
Li Qingshan nodded. He wanted to use this time to finish off his remaining pills so that he could be as strong as he could be to increase his chances at victory with regards to this battle. Once he was victorious, he could use the pills in the West Gate Granny’s hundred treasures pouch to maintain his cultivation speed.
The two measly Qi Practitioners made a deal. The deal was about a ninth layer Qi Practitioner.
Li Qingshan then said, “Oh right, help me appraise some pills!” He had obtained several dozen bottles of pills, including a few high grade ones. However, he did not know about their effects and whether he could eat them or not. Qian Rongzhi had grown up in a clan after all. She had learned proper alchemy with Qian Yannian, so she should be able to appraise them.
As expected, Qian Rongzhi’s eyes lit up when she saw the pills Li Qingshan took out, describing all of their names and effects with great familiarity. Most of them had similar effects to the Pearl Dew pills. They were for cultivation.
However, there were two bottles of Eruption pills that could instantly unleash the potential the human body had to offer, as well as two bottles of Concealment pills for concealing aura and three bottles of Healing pills for recovery.
If he had eaten them blindly, it would have been a waste.
In the end, Li Qingshan took out three pills the size of goose yolks. “And what are these?” He did not know alchemy, but he could sense that the spiritual qi within these three pills was extremely special. It was extremely pure, yet also surprisingly mellow. They did not seem like pills for cultivation.
Qian Rongzhi said, “These are Innate pills! They’re worth even more than Pearl Dew pills, but they’re not for Qi Practitioners.”
Li Qingshan understood the value of Pearl Dew pills very well. They were enough to make countless Qi Practitioners fight over them. Since these Innate pills were not for Qi Practitioners, they must have been for ordinary people. “Don’t tell me they’re-”
Qian Rongzhi said, “That’s right. They’re pills that can allow ordinary people to practise qi. However, it doesn’t guarantee success. It’ll depend on their talent. In the past, Qian Yannian spent a tremendous amount of effort to obtain one for a beloved son of his. He ate it, but he failed to reach the innate realm in the end. Only large clans can refine pills like that.”
Li Qingshan understood that unless they possessed tremendous wealth and had as many pills as they wished for, all Qi Practitioners would be more willing to exchange for a few Pearl Dew pills to increase their own cultivation than an Innate pill to nurture their children. He stowed away the Innate pill first before saying, “Pick a bottle as remuneration.”
Qian Rongzhi chose the bottle of Concealment pills without any hesitation at all. That also happened to be the type that Li Qingshan needed the least. Afterwards, he stowed all the pills away and was about to leave.
Qian Rongzhi suddenly asked, “Is that child with you?”
Qian Rongzhi said, “I want to see her.” She saw Li Qingshan hesitate, so she took out a bottle of Qi Gathering pills.
Li Qingshan said, “I won’t make any deals involving her.”
He spoke calmly, but it was like a thunderous clap to Qian Rongzhi’s ears. She was immediately left at a loss as to what to do with her hand holding the bottle of Qi Gathering pills. She even began to feel ashamed. She forced out a smile. “You two sure are lucky.” Her smile exuded indescribable envy, as well as some sadness.
Li Qingshan changed his mind. He called in Xiao An, but she said, “Forget it. You should go!”
After Li Qingshan left, Qian Rongzhi leaned against the window sill. Her eyes were slightly lost. An indescribable, irrepressible wild wish appeared in her heart. She wished someone could say something like that to her. Even just once would be enough. But would there be anyone? And would she believe it even if they did?
She laughed at herself. In her mind, the word ‘trust’ had already ceased to exist.
People of misfortune had to avoid getting too close to those who were fortunate, or they would lose their resolve. They would have nothing left. She had stopped depending on luck a long time ago. Kneeling on the ground and begging the heavens was useless, no matter how many times a person tried. Begging others was useless too. It would only make them smile wider. She had to obtain everything with her own pair of hands.
She looked at her right hand. It was pale and elevant, with five, long fingers. The light in her eyes gradually calmed down. It was a calmness of apathy. The corner of her lips curled coldly as she suddenly extended her right hand. I’ll rip apart the smile in the sky!