Chapter 263 – To the Academy of the Hundred Schools
For the past few days, Li Qingshan had focused on studying the techniques. He had managed to gain a basic grasp over the Cloud Riding technique in just a few days. Although he still could not “fly”, he had already made it past the basics, so all he needed was practice now.
This was not because of how great he was at comprehension, but the fact that his affinity with water among the five elements was extremely high. In particular, his true qi was extremely pure. When he used techniques, his advantage would be on full display. He could control true qi as he wished. It was like a group of elite soldiers under strict orders, able to move according to their commander’s wishes and fall into various formations without the slightest disorder. These various formations were the crux to using the technique.
Then, Li Qingshan switched to the Mist Wielding technique. In just a few days, the entire cave became filled with clouds of mist, while Li Qingshan circled around and flew through the cave like he was going for a space walk.
As long as he could combine these two techniques, he would truly be able to fly. However, the difficulty of this was even greater than just practising one of the techniques at a time. All he could do about this was gradually merge the two techniques and accumulate experience. There were no tricks in this at all.
However, Li Qingshan was extremely patient. He took his time to think it through and learn and practise. With Xiao An by his side, he did not find it boring.
The so-called secluded cultivation was actually akin to being in prison, but to be able to temporarily leave all the disputes and conflict at the stone door, he felt indescribably relaxed. He was not pained by this, instead finding peace. If cultivation went with the flow without insisting on a particular thing to happen, the effects would instead be optimal.
This mentality was even more important than the Spirit Gathering formation in the cave. In the path of cultivation, resources were a crucial foundation, but just stockpiling resources could not create powerful cultivators.
Only with a certain disposition and a certain understanding could people perform wonders.
At this moment, Li Qingshan gained a deeper understanding of the importance of the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression. As more and more pills were being converted into daemon qi and stored in his daemon core, his thoughts became calmer too, without any impatience or restlessness.
Time passed bit by bit, while the clouds and mist permeating the cave grew smaller and smaller, denser and denser. They seemed even more corporeal than before. Li Qingshan grabbed at it, and he felt like he had grabbed a ball of pliable, elastic rubber. However, it was also extremely moist, smooth and light as he sped around in the cave.
Li Qingshan smiled happily. He had finally gained an initial mastery over flight. He plonked his bottom down on a cloud, and the cloud rose up, lifting him up in a stable manner. He sat on it with his legs crossed and asked with a smile, “Don’t I look like an immortal?”
“You don’t!” Xiao An answered honestly.
“In what way?”
“If you don’t, then you don’t.” Xiao An refused to make eye contact with him.
“Alright you, Xiao An, how dare you say this immortal doesn’t seem like an immortal! Get over here!” Li Qingshan extended his hand, and the true qi sprayed over like water, wrapping around Xiao An.
Xiao An giggled, but she did not dodge. She allowed him to grab her, pinch her cheeks, and squeeze her nose, wreaking havoc on her face.
If Diao Fei saw this, he would definitely feel that Li Qingshan was not as terrifying as he imagined him to be. However, if it were not for the fact that Xiao An was here, why wouldn’t he bare his fangs in the dangerous world outside?”
Suddenly, there was a rumble in the distant sky.
Li Qingshan said, “It’s springtime thunder!”
Spring had already arrived. The earth was returning to life.
The bug pouch twitched constantly as Milliped awoke from his lengthy sleep. He was wriggling his body.
Xiao An said, “It’s the stirring of insects1!”
Insects stirred, thunder rumbled, bugs awakened.
Li Qingshan opened the bug pouch and Milliped emerged. He seemed to have grown slightly bigger as he waved his feelers. “Food! Food!”
“You glutton!” Li Qingshan teased him before taking out the food so that Milliped could bury himself in it.
Two months had already passed now. There was less than a month until the Academy of the Hundred Schools began to take in new students.
Li Qingshan wanted to use this month to break through to the sixth layer.
The fifth layer and sixth layer of Qi Practitioner were two completely different concepts. Whether it be in terms of strength or status, they both represented completely different things. As long as he reached the sixth layer, he believed that he would not have to worry about being smothered out even in the Academy of the Hundred Schools, a place teeming with talented people.
He was not going to the Academy of the Hundred Schools to seek refuge. He was not planning on following the principle of remaining discreet and keeping himself safe. No matter the environment, there would always be the survival of the fittest, the laws of the jungle. Only the fittest would receive better resources and be able to enjoy better environments to cultivate in.
This was the path he wanted to walk.
Through this period of waiting, the true qi in his four yin and yang meridians was already full. This was nothing difficult to him, as he could absorb the spiritual qi of the world. Moreover, he had become extremely familiar with the tricks for controlling Gui Water true qi.
Am I ready? Even he did not know, but it was time to go!
Li Qingshan’s gaze became determined.
Below the mountain, the Parlour of Clouds and Rain.
It was pitch-black within the parlour. After the few incidents, the Parlour of the Clouds and Rain was heavily weakened, and due to pressure from various sides, it struggled to recover its former prosperity.
The hollow centre of the building had once carried and linked the prosperity and liveliness throughout the entire place, but now, it seemed particularly quiet. Only the paintings of flying and dancing women continued to smile.
In the underground palace, a middle-aged man with pepper hair asked, “Is that little bastard really on the mountain?”
The current master of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain replied carefully, “Sect master, we’re absolutely certain. Many people have seen him. L- Li Qingshan is in secluded cultivation in a cave on the mountain.”
“As soon as he emerges, contact me. I refuse to believe that he won’t leave the mountain.” Surprisingly, the middle-aged man was the vice sect master of the Sect of Clouds and Rain, Wei Zhongyuan. He no longer wore his fancy violet robes, but a set of old, grey robes. Clearly, he was here in secret. He ground his teeth the moment Li Qingshan’s name was mentioned.
Ever since Li Qingshan splattered the Parlour of Clouds and Rain with blood and killed the procuress, he had developed grievances with the Sect of Clouds and Rain. Until now, even Wei Zhongyuan’s son and the two grannies of the sect had died under mysterious circumstances.
Wei Zhongyuan refused to believe that Li Qingshan possessed the strength to kill the two grannies, but he was thoroughly convinced that he had something to do with their deaths.
He was hiding below the mountain with great determination. As soon as Li Qingshan appeared, he would capture him and torture him savagely to force out a confession. Only then would he be satisfied. As long as the Hawkwolf Guard did not possess direct evidence, there was nothing that they could do about him.
Of course, he also lacked the courage to charge up the mountain and directly kill Li Qingshan right now.
“Don’t worry at all, sect master. Everything that happens on the mountain and below the mountain is within the range of my perception. As soon as he emerges, the sect master will know immediately.”
As Li Qingshan tried to open the Girdle meridian, he finally realised that the latter four meridians of the eight extraordinary meridians were different from the former four.
Right now, just opening and connecting all the acupoints was not sufficient. During that process, he needed to constantly balance the flow of true qi through the four yin and yang meridians, but the difficulty did not just increase by four times. The difficulty was compounded for each meridian.
In the beginning, he tried to have true qi circulating all four meridians, but he soon realised that this was an impossible mission for him right now.
He could only slow down and urge on the true qi in the Yin and Yang Heel meridians first, but even with his foundation built from using techniques, he often still lost focus over one of the meridians.
Fortunately, Li Qingshan had bought the Gui Water Method of Condensing Qi that was complete with comprehensions. The experiences of the past people were extremely detailed, but when Li Qingshan tried replicating them, it would always end in failure.
At a time like this, Li Qingshan obviously went to Xiao An for guidance. Just how was he supposed to balance the true qi?
“Can’t you just split your focus a little?”
“Split my focus? How am I supposed to split my focus?”
Xiao An’s eyes widened. For the first time ever, she was unable to help Li Qingshan, as she completely failed to understand where the difficulty lied.
“I know my talent for comprehension is only so-so, so you don’t need to verbally strike me like that.” Li Qingshan patted Xiao An’s shoulder and said to the upright Milliped, “Yeah, Milliped? How can we grasp something like that so easily?”
Milliped spat out a clump of daemon qi. It was a very small amount, but it was divided into over a dozen thin strands that wove and overlapped with one another, forming an oscillating image.
He might have lost his daemon core and a tremendous part of his cultivation, but he was still once a Daemon General, having reached levels that Li Qingshan had never even experienced before. He seemed slow-witted when dealing with people, but how could something as simple as controlling daemon qi stump him? Li Qingshan had found the wrong daemon if he wanted sympathy.
Xiao An shrugged. “It’s very easy, right?”
Li Qingshan fell silent. He returned to cultivation. In the blink of an eye, half a month had passed, and only then did Li Qingshan learn how to split his focus into two, allowing true qi to flow through his Yin and Yang Heel meridians as he wished.
Another day later, he managed to achieve the balance required to condense the sea of qi in the Yin and Yang Linking meridians too. However, doing this with all four meridians still posed extreme difficulty.
He could only single-mindedly try again and again, without eating or drinking, without sleeping or resting. In the eyes of others, he seemed like he had gone crazy.
Xiao An could not help but become slightly worried.
However, Li Qingshan himself understood that he was neither impatient nor discouraged. All he could do was constantly search for the feeling. Since he was not a genius, he would have to make it up with hard work. If he failed a hundred times, then he would try a thousand times. If he failed a thousand times, then he would try ten thousand times.
However, no matter how patient a person was, they could not help but feel restless and discouraged, especially after trying ten thousand times. Though, Li Qingshan did not. The Spirit Turtle did not only suppress daemon qi, but also his temperament.
During the ninety-one thousand, one-hundred and twenty-secondth time, the four groups of true qi rose up together. They were almost depleted, but they managed to maintain a wondrous balance. At the same time, the true qi in the Girdle meridian circulated rapidly, binding the four groups of true qi together like a girdle, allowing them to flow into the dantian.
Just when the sea of qi was about to form, the true qi dispersed again, resulting in failure.
However, Li Qingshan smiled instead. Reaching this step was definitely a great improvement, but actually splitting open the sea of qi would take a few months at the very least, or even a year. However, there were just a few days before the entrance examination of the Academy of the Hundred Schools.
Apart from hard work, money could make up for one’s lack of talent too. He took out all of his Sea of Qi pills, almost a hundred of them. He placed them in a line before ingesting one. The effects of the Sea of Qi pill was to merge these four groups of true qi, but it did not guarantee success.
Unsurprisingly, the first Sea of Qi pill resulted in failure.
He failed, so he ate another.
This went on.
Even after ingesting over twenty Sea of Qi pills, he still failed to succeed, but Li Qingshan remained unfazed.
If regular Qi Practitioners saw how he ingested these Sea of Qi pills, they would definitely erupt with curses over how wasteful he was. They would all wait until they had some confidence before taking out the precious Sea of Qi pill in hopes of succeeding the first time.
However, Li Qingshan was not afraid of being wasteful. The very purpose of all pills was to reduce his time spent on cultivation. As long as he could become stronger, he could obviously obtain even more and even better pills. Unfortunately, time did not wait.
When he ate the thirty-seventh Sea of Qi pill, the four groups of true qi surged into the dantian at the same time while bound by the Girdle meridian. Under the effects of the Sea of Qi pill, they merged together. A significant amount of the effects from the previous thirty-six Sea of Qi pills lingered, so they basically glued the true qi together forcefully.
But this time, there seemed to be a boom in his belly. The four groups of true qi reached harmony in yin and yang and merged together.
True qi rose and fell in his dantian like an ocean. It no longer reached out. Instead, all rivers ran into the sea, becoming the source and destination of all the true qi in his body.
He had broken through to the sixth layer and condensed a sea of qi!
Li Qingshan finally smiled in relief and energy seemed to drain from his body. The exhaustion and fatigue that had been forcefully suppressed by the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression surged out once more. He almost could not help but tip over to one side and fall asleep.
In the past half a month, he had forcefully used the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression to keep his mind at peak condition, just so that he could avoid wasting away the sliver of experience he had accumulated from each attempt from pausing and resting.
This brutal method took a great toll on his mind. As a matter of fact, there was even the danger of making his mind snap. However, he managed to endure it all and make it to the other side.
Xiao An came up to him and rubbed his forehead gently. She said softly, “Sleep a little!”
“Don’t forget to wake me up…”
Xiao An’s voice seemed to possess irresistible charm. Before Li Qingshan had even finished talking, he collapsed and fell asleep.
He slept extremely heavily this time, in a state that seemed like a dream, yet not like a dream. He felt like he was floating in the ocean, being washed around by the currents and the waves. He would sometimes be submerged underwater and float on the surface at other times.
Before Xiao An could wake him, he had already awoken from his sleep. He felt that his head still ached slightly, so he shook it and asked, “How long have I slept for?”
“Roughly fourteen hours.”
“It’s time to set off!” Li Qingshan leapt to his feet and revealed a toothy grin.
Li Qingshan opened the bug pouch and said to Milliped, “You’ll have to bear with it a little more. Don’t worry, it won’t be too long.”
Milliped dived head first into the bug pouch. He discovered the various kinds of food Xiao An had prepared for him, so he immediately began devouring it. He did not seem like he was putting up with anything at all.
Li Qingshan turned the stone disc, and the stone door opened slowly. Fresh air flowed in. Spring was already in the air.
The place for seclusion was located towards the back of the mountain, so it was quiet. He did not bother to inform anyone about his departure, directly using the Cloud Riding Mist Wielding technique. A cloud gathered below his feet.
After splitting open his sea of qi, he discovered that using techniques was easier than ever now, and their effects were much more powerful than before too.
The cloud carried Li Qingshan and Xiao An off into the sky, but as soon as they reached an altitude of a few meters, they vanished as a soft streak of light.
“Sect master, Li Qingshan has emerged from seclusion!” The parlour master reported in a hurry in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain.
“Where’s he right now?” Wei Zhongyuan had run out of patience a long time ago, so he beamed when he heard the news.
“H- he has vanished,” the parlour master stuttered. The news from the mountain was that the dwelling was wide open, but not a single person was in sight. No one knew where Li Qingshan had gone to.
“That little bastard!” Wei Zhongyuan launched a palm strike and sent the parlour master flying, slamming into the wall heavily and spurting with blood. However, he did not dare to fight back or talk back against the enraged Wei Zhongyuan.
Wei Zhongyuan roared, “No matter where you flee to, I will find you and tear you to shreds!”
The cloud and mist had already reached the highest point that it could reach. The blueness of the sky was dazzling. Li Qingshan extended his hand towards the sky, as if he wanted to touch that vision, his promise beyond the Nine Heavens.
However, he touched nothing, but he smiled instead. The light from the springtime sun was so bright and beautiful that he was unable to look at it directly.
Xiao An stared straight at him, like staring at a vision, silently thinking about her own promise, not returning to her long-forgotten home in the south, but accompanying him all the way beyond the Nine Heavens.
After quite a while, Li Qingshan lowered his head and looked at the ground and the mountains below. The raging waters of the Clear river glistened like a stream of light. The Hawkwolf mountain seemed like a small hill, while Wei Zhongyuan’s roar was probably not even as loud as a mosquito, which Li Qingshan missed completely.
He took out the mental map of the Green province and checked his bearings before pointing towards the south-east.
“To the Academy of the Hundred Schools!”
PS: The path has already begun, and Dream Teller is beginning his advance. During the double tickets event, I eagerly plead for monthly tickets. To me, the true challenge has only just begun. I want to determine the victory and defeat with the plot! I refuse to believe I’ll lose to others! And, I want to ask, which schools of thought do you think Li Qingshan and Xiao An will be joining? The answer is coming right up. I don’t think anyone can guess it. ^_^
1. The stirring of insects, also known as hibernating insects awaken, is a name of one of the 24 solar terms used in ancient China, which essentially breaks a year into 24 time periods, each with a different name describing the period. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingzhe