Chapter 254 – A Despicable Woman
Li Qingshan could not be bothered with sorting the items carefully. He glanced through them quickly, enough for him to gain a rough idea of what he now possessed. At this moment, he opened a strange-looking hundred treasures pouch. He discovered that it was not for items like spiritual artifacts and spiritual stones. Instead, it contained many poisonous bugs like scorpions and centipedes.
Apart from controlling ghosts and refining corpses, there were plenty of cultivators who wielded insects or used gu1. However, regular hundred treasures pouches were unable to hold anything living. For example, the disciples of the Burial Mound mountain used special bronze bangles for controlling corpses, while this was a rare bug pouch.
Li Qingshan released a venomous scorpion from the pouch. The scorpion was a reddish brown, and it was huge, the size of an adult man. It surprised Li Qingshan.
The huge scorpion waved its huge pincers menacingly. It suddenly spotted Milliped and immediately shirked away, wanting to escape. Milliped’s body scrunched up before shooting off like an arrow. He burrowed into the huge scorpion, and the scorpion struggled a little before falling on its side and dying.
Milliped devoured all of the scorpion’s flesh, only leaving behind an empty shell, before emerging once again. His mandibles twitched and clicked. He was very happy with it.
Suddenly, Li Qingshan came up with an idea and released all the poisonous bugs. There was a huge assortment, some flying, some crawling, and some leaping. Milliped released a pink gas and enveloped all the poisonous bugs. They fell to the ground before Milliped ate them all.
If the arts of nurturing gu really did exist, then Milliped was the king of gu. These poisonous bugs were nowhere close to him. Even when weakened, Milliped was still a Daemon General after all. All he needed was time, and he would definitely be able to recover his original strength.
Li Qingshan finally made up his mind. Afterwards, he began to catch the butterflies in the dark cavern.
Three days later, just as Li Qingshan was scooping up the plants in the water, he suddenly heard a daemon soldier report, “Leader, there’s bad news. The Daemon General to the west is killing his way over.”
Following that, another daemon soldier rushed over. “The east too!”
“And the south.” “The north is no different.”
Li Qingshan straightened himself up calmly. It was so soon.
The dens of these daemons were located near the boundary between Milliped’s territory and the other Daemon Generals’. They had been on the constant look out for the activity of the surrounding Daemon Generals recently.
What happened to Milliped obviously could not be hidden from his neighbours. There was no law or order underground. Only strength was respected. Now that Milliped had been weakened, these Daemon Generals would definitely come to fight for the territory. Probably even Daemon Commanders would not be able to change this principle.
Li Qingshan hauled up the last handful of aquatic plants and returned to Milliped’s dwelling. A lot of the fluttering, blue butterflies were now missing, and the beautiful sea of flowers was now dimmer.
He had already picked all of the mature Blue Butterfly flowers that could be used for refining pills and stored them in a jade box in his hundred treasures pouch. Or more accurately, he and Xiao An had already swept through and collected all the mature spiritual herbs in the territory.
Collecting these spiritual herbs had not been as simple as he imagined it to be. Many of them required special tools and placed emphasis on how they were collected. For example, the Blue Butterfly flowers would definitely lose their efficacy if they were directly picked by hand. They required a special set of gold, silk gloves to be worn. Fortunately, there were plenty of tools in these hundred treasures pouches.
The daemon soldiers had all gathered before the stone platform now. Every single one of them was nervous and uneasy. Although they were afraid of disobeying Li Qingshan’s orders as the leader, fighting other daemons was different from fighting humans. This matter involved Daemon Generals. They did not possess a Daemon General, so defeat was basically guaranteed.
Li Qingshan glanced past the daemons and the restless group settled down, quietly waiting for his command. Through the various trials, Li Qingshan had gradually developed a heavy, composed bearing like a mountain. Gradually, he no longer led the daemons through just his own strength and the benefits that he could provide to them.
“Everyone, we are currently under attack from Daemon Generals in all directions. They’ve come to take this land. Great king Milliped is injured, while I don’t possess the power to stop them. The vice leader and I will be temporarily leaving with great king Milliped, heading for somewhere where he can heal in peace.”
He did not hide it, nor did he lie. Li Qingshan was honest, speaking his mind.
“Croak, croak. Leader, where are you going? What are we supposed to do?” asked the ice frog as it leapt around.
“All you have to do is wait here for their demands to surrender. Though, you have to remember to stay united. No matter who takes over this territory, they will all require your strength.”
There were principles among the underground daemons too. As long as they did not revolt out of desperation, Daemon Generals would not kill daemons. However, the encroaching forces would definitely affect the benefits that they could derive from the land. However, as long as they could remain united, they would be important figures that could affect how the territory would be divided up later.
The daemons had already tasted the benefits of unity. As it turned out, they would often hear about a few daemons being slaughtered in their dens every Herb Gathering ceremony, but this time, only a few weaker daemonic beasts had died. There was even delicious food for them. They became rather reluctant to see Li Qingshan leave.
Li Qingshan made his way out of the cavern with Xiao An. The daemons parted to form a path for him.
Milliped was sleeping in the bug pouch. After losing his daemon core, his instincts gained a greater grip over him. He could still eat and sleep like before, and he was not mentally affected at all. If Li Qingshan had suddenly lost his daemon core instead, resulting in a plummet in strength, he would definitely become overcome with dismay. He could only sigh over how a foolish daemon had a fool’s luck.
“Are you going to return?”
When Li Qingshan reached the entrance of the cave, the boulder viper could not help but ask. This was also the question that the daemons all wanted to know.
“Of course. Very soon. Just wait.”
Li Qingshan waved his hand without looking back, alarming a blue light butterfly that fluttered before him gently. It was slightly dim, but still so dreamily beautiful.
Li Qingshan had only collected the more mature spiritual herbs. He did not touch the younger ones, and most of the time, he only harvested them, without touching their roots, as he would return sooner or later. He would claim this territory for Milliped and for himself.
The roars and growls of daemons rang out from a cavern extremely far away. It was time to leave.
Within the Boundless mountains, under an inconspicuous hill.
Li Qingshan swept aside the withered vines and emerged from there. The chilly winds buffeted his face, bringing him great satisfaction. Expansive clouds stretched over the sky. A few stars managed to make it through the layer, twinkling coldly.
The spirit turtle’s daemon core shone resplendently.
Li Qingshan gradually shrank, turning back to his original appearance. He touched his face, and there seemed to be some whiskers now. Checking himself in the mirror, all he saw was an unfamiliar young man staring back coldly. He forced out a smile, but he only seemed even more malicious.
He was not pretty, nor was he ugly. He was like a hard, stubborn rock, where his corners would only grow sharper the more they were polished.
It was said that a person’s appearance was a reflection of their heart. He believed it now.
In the past few months, he had transformed into a daemon, faced countless dangers, killed countless people, and even swore to never rest until he got revenge. He naturally developed a sense of brutality. Even as a human, he bore resemblance to a daemon.
Li Qingshan did not care about this either. After confirming that his appearance had returned, he casually took out a set of clothes before hanging the glazed mirror on his waist. After channelling true qi into it, his surroundings twisted and distorted, making him vanish.
This was an extremely interesting spiritual artifact that Li Qingshan had found in the many hundred treasures pouches. They could turn the user invisible, or even evade various forms of detection. It was an extremely rare auxiliary high grade spiritual artifact. He called it the Mirror of Invisibility.
He had found this glazed mirror in the hole that Milliped had dug. Clearly, there had been a Qi Practitioner in the past who had tried to use this to hide from Milliped so that he could collect the spiritual herbs freely. But clearly, he had failed.
Li Qingshan guessed that while the Mirror of Invisibility could turn people completely invisible, it was very difficult for cultivators to hide the aura that they naturally gave off. However, this did not bother him at all. He was extremely good at concealing his aura, so it was basically a perfect combination with the Mirror of Invisibility. It immediately turned him into a super assassin.
Prepared, Li Qingshan rushed off in the direction of the Green Vine mountain. However, there was still a small grievance he needed to settle before he left.
Arriving below the Green Vine mountain, Li Qingshan looked at the Town of Flowing Clouds from afar, but he saw a startling sight.
The Town of Flowing Clouds was shrinking. Among the mechanical clink and clunks, the Hundred Flavours restaurant collapsed and folded up, like building blocks or folding paper, turning into tiny modules in the end. This occurred everywhere. The Town of Flowing Clouds had already shrunk to half its size.
As it turned out, the entire town was a huge, mechanical structure.
The lanterns in the town dimmed. Only the store of Miscellaneous Goods at the very centre continued to blaze with light, but even it seemed rather powerless.
In the past Herb Gathering ceremonies, now would be when it was the liveliest. Cultivators would return here with the spiritual herbs they had risked their lives for to exchange, but this time, all of the cultivators left without returning.
The store of Miscellaneous Goods was bubbling with activity. The quiet main lobby was now filled with cultivators. Most of them were store owners in the town, who currently huddled together in conversation.
Little Zhang, who sold weapons in the Arsenal of Arms, said, “They’ve actually been annihilated this time. Only a few people managed to escape. Fortunately, I had no interest in trying my luck. These daemons sure are vicious.”
Lu Zifei of the Tranquil teahouse said, “If daemons aren’t vicious, can you still call them daemons? If you’re in a risky line of work, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be safe no matter how skilled you are. They all go on about purging daemons. What’s the point in purging them? Dying in there was just a matter of time. Let’s just hope no trouble arises. Let’s drink tea! Old Sun, why do you seem so heavy-hearted?”
As it turned out, Sun Fubai also happened to be among them. He was thinking about Li Qingshan, or should you say, Niu Juxia. He was worried. Although they had only met briefly, he had a very good impression of him. They had almost become friends across generations. He sipped some tea. “I’m worried about the safety of a young friend of mine. I wonder how he’s doing.”
Little Zhang was the cleverest among them, so he smiled. “You must be talking about Niu Juxia!”
Sun Fubai was surprised. “How did you know?”
Lu Ziyu said, “Is there anything within this town that can escape those donkey ears of his?”
“You’re too kind, elder Lu. Recently, he caused the death of the first senior brother of the Pheasant’s Grace mountain, so news has constantly reached my ears. Even if I don’t want to know about it, I can’t. He even drank a few cups of tea at your place. I can still remember him even now. He’s quite the figure!”
“Hmph, I think he’s probably done for!”
Everyone turned around and saw Liu Ruping attending to the table with her eyes filled with malice. Ever since she heard how the first senior brother of the Pheasant’s Grace mountain had died at Niu Juxia’s hands and how he also managed to escape from the Golden Pheasant Elder, she began to feel uneasy. She was afraid that he would find out about her role in it all and come back for revenge. Over time, this actually developed into a fear towards him. Why didn’t you just die? Can you still call yourself a man for running as soon as you face a master?
Little Zhang was surprised. “Ruping, how did he offend you?”
Liu Ruping immediately had nothing to say. Not only had Niu Juxia not offended her, but he had even allowed her to make a lot of money easily.
Sun Fubai placed his tea cup on the table heavily and said in displeasure, “It’s just like what they say, only women and the despicable are difficult to deal with!”
1. Most of you might have heard about gu before, but for those who don’t know, it’s basically a method of refining poison where multiple poisonous bugs, which can include centipedes, snakes, scorpions, spiders and so on, are sealed within a container and left to devour one another, until only one remains. The remaining bug is believed to have absorbed the poisons and venoms of the other bugs, making it the most potent, which can be used to poison and kill people.