Chapter 264 – Arriving in the Prefectural City of Clear River
The cloud and mist surged, shooting across the sky with a small, white tail.
The gusts of wind blew into their faces and ruffled Li Qingshan and Xiao An’s clothes. The spring wind in the third month was still slightly chilly, but the warmth from the sun was truly intoxicating.
The landscape below them rapidly receded. Li Qingshan had been on aeroplanes in his past life, but it was impossible to compare the feeling of flight to sitting in an aircraft cabin.
Under Li Qingshan’s control, the cloud and mist suddenly rushed down towards a large lake. The crystal green lake hurtled towards his face. In the moment he was about to collide with the lake, he suddenly slowed down, kicking up a clear splash that landed on Li Qingshan’s face. He sped along the surface of the water, leaving behind a trail in the lake.
When he was about to crash into a hill, he suddenly pulled up, rushing towards the blue sky.
The surrounding scenery constantly changed. The cities, towns, and villages appeared before disappearing once again, while the mountains towered before flattening out.
During early spring, he took in all of the natural scenery that had yet to be destroyed by humanity.
For a moment, Li Qingshan felt that his mind had never been so open before.
Li Qingshan took out Milliped from the bug pouch to show the scenery of the sky to this guy who spent his entire life crawling around underground. As soon as Milliped came out, he shrank into a ball.
Li Qingshan laughed aloud, while Xiao An giggled.
His flight speed was not particularly fast. At least, it was not as fast as when Li Qingshan moved along the ground. However, the benefit was that there were no obstacles in the sky, so they could fly along a straight path.
Although there were five hundred kilometers between Jiaping city and Clear River city, covering that much distance in a single day was nothing difficult while flying.
They had set off in the afternoon. The sky above them gradually dimmed, lighting up with stars. In the end, it turned into a resplendent galaxy of stars.
The tiny cloud was like a tiny, lone island, hovering beneath the starry sky. Li Qingshan could not help but be shocked by the scenery around him, which he praised, “So beautiful!”
Xiao An nodded. Li Qingshan rubbed her head before taking out the mental map of the Green province. Taking a look, he said, “We’re almost there.”
The Clear river turned into a jade band glistening with starlight, leading to the very core of the entire Clear River prefecture. More and more boats began to appear on the river.
As the cloud sped along, a ball of fire suddenly lit up in the distant, gloomy horizon. It burned in a dazzling manner.
As Li Qingshan drew closer, he saw the fire split up into thousands of lights, which surprised him slightly.
Originally, he thought the prefectural city of Clear River was just an enlarged version of Jiaping city. At most, it would cover an area a few times larger.
But when he saw it with his own eyes, he felt like he had transmigrated back to his original world, arriving in a modern city towering with skyscrapers. Skyscrapers seemed to grow from the ground. There were plenty that towered above ten storeys, and their designs were extremely exquisite. The city was like a gigantic art gallery instead of the concrete jungles of modern times.
These traditional structures should not have been able to stand in such an imposing manner. In particular, there were a few buildings and pavilions of special design that even a non-professional like Li Qingshan felt did not conform to the principles of engineering, yet there they stood without any issues at all.
Li Qingshan immediately understood that this was the civil engineering techniques of mohism.
Now, this was a cultivator’s world. Their influence had already penetrated every corner of the world. They did not spend every single day flying around in the air and blasting one another with techniques.
Before the city, Li Qingshan dispersed the cloud and mist and walked over with Xiao An by foot. However, he still used the Glazed Mirror of Invisibility, concealing his body while withdrawing all of his aura. It was unlikely for him to run into the people of the Sect of Clouds and Rain in such a large city, but there was nothing wrong with being more careful.
On the ground, he discovered the city to be even more imposing. Just like Jiaping city, there were no city walls here either. If there really was a day when war erupted, the end result would be determined in the sky. City walls on the ground were just a small, earthen slope to the enemy.
There was even less of a reason to use city walls to guard against bandits and thugs. This was the supreme headquarters of the Hawkwolf Guard for the entire Clear River prefecture, with two commanders stationed here. Anyone who dared to make trouble here would be captured immediately and taken away.
Li Qingshan’s first destination was the headquarters of the Hawkwolf Guard. Originally, every single person who joined the Hawkwolf Guard would come to Clear River city to meet the two scarlet bronze commanders after a period of trial. It was basically a formality.
Qian Rongzhi and Diao Fei had already come to Clear River city before, but only Li Qingshan had not done so. Before he had entered secluded cultivation, Fang Enshang had specially reminded him to report there as soon as he arrived in Clear River city.
If he wanted to cultivate in the Academy of the Hundred Schools, this was crucial. He could not help but think about what had happened over a year ago, with the handsome “commander Hua” and the stern “old Wang”. He wondered how they would react when they saw him again.
And, with how late it was, the two of them probably were not in their office anymore. Suddenly, his heart skipped a beat. He sensed a spiritual pulse scan past him.
Li Qingshan immediately raised his vigilance, but he saw no one approaching him. He could not help but become rather perplexed.
Xiao An said, “This is a formation.”
“How do you know?”
“The Book of All said so.”
Li Qingshan was astonished. This was a formation that enveloped such a large city. That was equivalent to invisible city walls, guarding against Qi Practitioners that could actually threaten this place. However, he guessed that the formation was probably much more useful as a deterrent than whatever other purposes it could serve.
Li Qingshan travelled along the river. The multi-storeyed ships on the wide river were like cities among the city. There were loud commotions at the harbour, while the lights were so bright that it seemed like daytime, illuminating all of the willow trees that were currently blooming along the riverbank. It all seemed hazy like mist.
On the main road, people flowed to and fro, weaving between each other like cloth. It was both busy and lively.
Li Qingshan suddenly realised something. These regular people were living in the care of gods.
Li Qingshan wove through the road with Xiao An and found his destination very soon, a scarlet building that stood several dozen storeys high. At the very top of the building was a bronze hawk, even larger than the one in Jiaping city. It also had its eyes wide open and its wings spread. It was very imposing.
Li Qingshan could not help but wonder whether there would be a bird even larger than this made from white silver where Gu Yanying stayed in the Ruyi commandery. If it was the South Centre city, it would probably be a golden hawk.
However, just what significance was all that gold and silver supposed to hold at that cultivation realm?
Li Qingshan removed his invisibility and climbed up the steps, entering the majestic building. The lobby was quiet, and the only thing that connected it to the higher floors was a spiral staircase.
The marble tiles were reflective enough for Li Qingshan to see himself clearly. Only a woman sat behind a marble table as she dozed off.
Li Qingshan purposefully made his footsteps quite obvious, but he failed to awaken the woman. In the end, he discovered that she was just a regular person. The security here was so lax that it was almost impossible to connect it with the Hawkwolf Guard. All he could do was walk over and knock on the desk.
The woman jerked awake. “Who are you looking for?”
Li Qingshan said, “Black Wolf guard of Jiaping city, Li Qingshan. I’ve come to meet the two commanders.”
“Commander Wang has already gone home.” The woman saw the tablet on Li Qingshan’s waist and immediately answered diligently.
Li Qingshan said, “Then what about commander Hua?”
The woman immediately said, “Commander Hua has already gone drinking with women.” She covered her mouth in a hurry, knowing that she had said too much.
Li Qingshan curled his lip. As it seemed, this commander Hua was not particularly dignified here.
The woman was clearly just a regular receptionist. It was probably because no Qi Practitioner was willing to work a job like this, which was why they chose a decent-looking regular person.
“You are welcomed to go upstairs and rest for the night. You can meet the two commanders tomorrow.”
The purpose of this majestic building clearly was not just for work. It also provided lodgings for guards who had come to the city.
Just as Li Qingshan was contemplating on what to do, footsteps began to ring out above.
“You’ve finally arrived.” Qian Rongzhi slowly made her way down the spiral staircase. She was not wearing the uniform of the Hawkwolf Guard, having changed into a thin, long, violet spring dress. Her hair was styled in a fancy manner, revealing her snow-white nape. Compared to the gentleness and kindliness she showed in Jiaping city, she seemed more elegant now.
At this moment, even Li Qingshan struggled to connect her with the Qian Rongzhi of the past. Her bearing had not just changed, but improved as well. Her cultivation had already reached the sixth layer, which probably played a crucial role in all of this.
Li Qingshan frowned. “Why are you here?”
Qian Rongzhi touched her hair. “I’m also going to the Academy of the Hundred Schools to cultivate. Perhaps we might end up as fellow students. Right, Xiao An?” She winked at Xiao An before saying to Li Qingshan, “Congratulations, you’ve reached the sixth layer.”
Although she showed none of it on her face, she was surprised inside. When she initially met him, he was only at the first layer. In under a year, he had reached the sixth layer. He had truly been cultivating at an amazing speed, and his true strength was much more than just that.
Even though she had the brutal cultivation method of the Vitality Devouring technique, the reason why she could cultivate so quickly was closely linked to all those years of accumulation, which was why she managed to split open her sea of qi successfully in a single attempt.
Li Qingshan replied, “Same to you.”
The joy that came from her success was not an act. Reaching the sixth layer as a Qi Practitioner was worthy of celebration for all cultivators. However, with her exquisite outfit, it no longer seemed so simple anymore.
“Rongzhi, what are you doing here? Didn’t we agree to eat together?” A young man made his way down the staircase and arrived beside Qian Rongzhi.
Li Qingshan glanced at him quickly. He had met this man in the past too. He was Wu Gen, the one who led the group that had surrounded the Truth-seeking society.
It was not strange at all for Qian Rongzhi to be acquainted with him. Fang Enshang favoured her heavily, and Fang Enshang and Wu Gen were familiar with one another. As such, now that she had come to Clear River city, Fang Enshang would obviously ask his friend to take good care of her.
When he saw how Wu Gen looked at Qian Rongzhi, Li Qingshan understood even further. That was how a man looked at a woman. Although he intentionally disguised it, the lust was still as clear as day.
The prey had already bitten the bait.
“Brother Wu, this is a fellow colleague of mine who joined the Hawkwolf Guard with me. He’s Li Qingshan. Qingshan, this is a good friend of our commander, Wu Gen.” Qian Rongzhi gave a natural and graceful introduction, but she maintained a certain distance from Wu Gen the entire time. She seemed closer to Li Qingshan.
However, exactly because of that, Wu Gen felt restless and found it to be unbearable. When he met her below the Green Vine mountain in the past, he could feel that this woman was different. Now that he had met her again in Clear River city, and she had changed into a spring dress, she seemed to have transformed completely, causing his heart to thump for her.