Chapter 212 – The Busy Streets Deep Within the Mountains
Yu Shukuang was elated. He bowed deeply. “Whatever you wish!” As long as Yu Zijian was safe, he would be willing to do anything.
Li Qingshan said, “Extend your hand!”
Yu Shukuang extended his hand in doubt. A shiny pill landed in the centre of his palm. Wasn’t this the Innate pill that he dreamt of every single day? He was both overjoyed and surprised. He bowed deeply again. “Thank you for your generous reward, Niu Juxian. May I ask what you need me to prepare?”
Li Qingshan said, “Ingest the pill first and see whether you break through to the innate realm. See if you can produce a sliver of true qi. We’ll talk about the rest after that.”
Yu Shukuang immediately ingested the pill. He sat down and meditated to digest the pill.
If regular people ingested the Innate pill, they were not guaranteed to be able to practise qi. However, if a first-rate master like him ingested it, it was basically certain. The effects of the pill permeated every inch of his body and fused with his dense inner force. Gradually, a strange feeling appeared.
The clumsy inner force gradually became agile, as if it had broken free from the restraints of his body. It extended outwards endlessly. Great joy welled up in his heart. However, Yu Shukuang knew now was the most important moment. He had to maintain his focus to avoid suffering from any deviations.
Li Qingshan sat to one side and pulled out a buddhist scripture that Xiao An regularly read. A while later, he felt his head ache. What form and emptiness and namo? He had no idea what was going on, nor did he have any idea how in the world she managed to understand this with that little head of hers, or how she was able to become so absorbed in something so boring.
A while later, Yu Shukuang shuddered. Li Qingshan turned around and smiled. “How is it?”
Yu Shukuang’s body loosened up. He seemed exhausted, but he was unable to hide his joy no matter what. “The kindness you have shown me is like granting me…”
Li Qingshan interrupted him. “You can skip the formalities. I’ve said a long time ago that I won’t mistreat you if you do things for me. I have a cultivation method called the Innate Method of Practising Qi, which I can pass onto you as well. With your dense inner force, reaching the second layer shouldn’t be a problem.”
Yu Shukuang almost could not think straight anymore from all of these joyous events happening one after another. However, he was still someone who had been through thick and thin before, so he composed himself very soon. He internalised his joy. He knew the kindness that had been shown to him was so great that it could not be returned with just a few words of gratitude. He waited for Li Qingshan’s instructions quietly.
Li Qingshan passed him the Innate Method of Practising Qi before tossing an empty hundred treasures pouch to Yu Shukuang. “What I want you to do is to fill up this hundred treasures pouch with whatever alcohol, meat, and food you can find, and then give it to me. You have under two months to do this, and I want you to do it discreetly.”
Yu Shukuang was slightly taken aback. This mission was just a little too simple. However, when he channeled his true qi into the hundred treasures pouch according to the method Li Qingshan had told him, he finally became stern.
This hundred treasures pouch originally belonged to the East Gate Granny. It was extremely large inside, the size of several large warehouses. It really would be difficult for him to fill it completely, especially if he had to do so within two months. Even if he slaughtered all the livestock near Salt Mountain city, it would not be enough. However, if he imported it from elsewhere, he might not make it in time, and it would create too much of a disturbance.
It was exactly because Li Qingshan did not want to attract too much attention that he had assisted Yu Shukuang in becoming a Qi Practitioner. He wanted to make use of the fact that he was well known in these parts of the land, which would save Li Qingshan a lot of trouble.
Yu Shukuang nodded. “I definitely won’t let you down!” Although this mission was rather troublesome, it was not exactly dangerous. Searching for meat and alcohol was hundreds of times simpler than searching for an Innate pill.
Li Qingshan gave him a few more details. After all, the tastes of daemons would not always conform to the tastes of humans. As a matter of fact, many of them did not even like cooked food. They liked fresh meat.
Yu Shukuang memorised every single thing he said. Li Qingshan thought about if he had anything else to hand over before picking up the bamboo basket, putting on his wide hat, and making his way out. He suddenly stopped. “The path of cultivation is boundless. Does the swordsman still possess some of the pride of the past?”
He strode off with that, leaving Yu Shukuang standing in a daze. He subconsciously stroked the full beard on his face. He had grown it the year he swore he would never take a wife again. His gaze gradually became determined before he suddenly drew his sword and shaved himself with a few flashes.
At this moment, the mild young man who regularly delivered meals to Li Qingshan came in to pay his respects. “Master, Niu Juxia’s…” However, he became stunned by Yu Shukuang’s appearance.
It was a handsome face. Although it had been weathered by time, leaving behind many small wrinkles, it only added the charm of maturity to his face. Seeing how stunned his disciple had become, he laughed aloud. “Go fetch me some alcohol. I’ll prove it with my actions!”
His mind was exceptionally clear, as if he had returned to his young past where he wandered around for the sake of justice, with his own life beyond his concern. However, he was no longer young. He was no longer carefree, now tied down. He had something extra called responsibility on his shoulders. As a father, if he could not even protect his own daughter, what was the point of living?
Li Qingshan had already exited the manor. He glanced back and smiled. Regardless of their moral alignment, the willpower and determination of anyone who could become a first-rate master was as clear as day, and Yu Shukuang happened to be the best of the best among them. That was why he was able to create the Proud Sword manor.
He needed a few usable people like him to help him handle some matters within the human world. People like him did not have to be too powerful, but they could not be too weak either. Right now, perhaps all Yu Shukuang could do for him was collect some food, but he would definitely bring even more benefits in the future.
He unfurled the mental map of the Green province and slid his finger around it. With a thought, there was a flash, and finally, his finger stopped on the sharp outline of a few mountains. Beside it detailed ‘Green Vine Mountain’.
The zigzagging outline transformed into great mountains that rose and fell, towering precipitously. White clouds and mist lingered between the mountains, making it seem a little otherworldly.
Even more wondrously, within that snowbound land in the encirclement of snow mountains, only a single mountain remained lush and verdant, like an emerald gem on the white snow.
Li Qingshan stood on a snow mountain and looked into the distance. He marvelled at the wonders of nature. Although the formations of Green Vine mountain played a big part, the real reason why the mountain experienced eternal spring was because of the spiritual vein underground.
Not only was this place close to Jiaping city, but it was even close to his hometown, Qingyang city. It was located in one of the outlying ranges of the Boundless mountains.
Of course, it was close at Li Qingshan’s current level of strength. Just the several hundred kilometers of dangerous, precipitous mountain paths were enough to sever all chances of regular people reaching here. Even if they managed to reach here out of sheer luck, the pervasive mist hid many secrets. Not only would it be impossible for regular people to climb the mountain, but they probably could not even see the green mountain.
Li Qingshan could see it, but he hesitated over how he was supposed to reach there.
Was Yu Zijian on the mountain somewhere right now, suffering?
Li Qingshan stood atop the mountain in thought. He stomped his foot and true qi spurted out from the bottom, kicking up a ring of snow. He had already leapt towards the cliff several hundred meters below him, having locked onto a pine tree that grew vertically from the cliff face. After pushing off it, he arrived on a mountain on the other side. He wanted to make his way to the back of the Green Vine mountain to see if there were any cracks he could enter through.
By now, the night had already darkened. Winter nights were extremely long, and the dark night was beneficial to Li Qingshan’s movements. If there was some wind and snow, it would be even better.
Perhaps the heavens had really decided to answer his prayers, as snow began to fall a while later.
Li Qingshan concealed his aura, but when he arrived behind the mountain, he was slightly stunned.
A small town sat on a region of level ground. It gave off warm lantern light. Was there actually a village located right beside where cultivators cultivated?
However, as Li Qingshan was born in a village, he knew that regular towns or even small cities should have been pitch-black by now, just so that they could save some oil. The town was bustling with people flowing to and fro. It seemed extremely busy. It seemed out of the ordinary for such a busy place to exist within the frosty mountains.
When Li Qingshan approached the place, he became even more shocked, as there was not a single regular person wandering the streets. They were all cultivators.
Li Qingshan had never seen so many cultivators gathered together in his entire life. Although most of them were at the second, third, and fourth layers, they were still cultivators.
Were these Qi Practitioners from the Green Vine mountain?
Li Qingshan immediately shook his head. There were several hundred Qi Practitioners here at the very least. The Green Vine mountain definitely did not have that many Qi Practitioners. And, the clothes of these people on the streets varied. They bore different insignias. They did not come from the same sect.
At a closer glance, he discovered that many of the Qi Practitioners were like peddlers. They called out to attract customers, without the slightest dignity that belonged to Qi Practitioners.
Li Qingshan’s curiosity immediately rose beyond his control. He knocked the bamboo basket on his back. “What do you think? Wanna check it out?”
The bamboo basket seemed simple on the surface, but there was a thick layer of cushioning inside. Xiao An sat in there leisurely, leaning against a silken pillow as she read in great interest a buddhist scripture that Li Qingshan had found to be boring.
“Let’s go!” She replied very succinctly. She could clearly tell what Li Qingshan was feeling right now.
Li Qingshan emerged from a dark corner and made his way over to the town. However, he maintained his guard constantly. He had been screwed over by far too many Qi Practitioners in the past, and he had claimed the lives of many Qi Practitioners as well. As a result, he was even more vigilant of those like him than the daemons underground.
When he set foot in the town, everything remained the same as before. Everyone continued about with what they were doing. There were far fewer people who looked at him due to his abnormal size compared to on regular streets.
However, Li Qingshan’s huge size still solicited a lot of attention.
“Fellow cultivator, why don’t you check out this fantastic golden silk for tailoring robes? It’s only three spiritual stones for a tael!”
Li Qingshan declined with a smile before turning his head and seeing a second layer Qi Practitioner call out at the top of his voice from a building, “A fifth layer Qi Practitioner explaining the essence of the Innate Method of Practising Qi, only a spiritual stone for entry! In exchange for a single spiritual stone, you can save three years worth of time! You’d better get in here fast, or it’ll be gone before you know it!”
Li Qingshan’s ears pricked up instinctively. However, the building was surrounded with formations, such that it was impossible to eavesdrop on what was being said inside no matter how great his hearing was. Two first layer Qi Practitioners discussed at the entrance whether to go in or not.
Li Qingshan turned his head again and saw a familiar, violet figure.