Chapter 277 – Meeting Acquaintances Again
The flying sword controlled by a mere sixth layer Qi Practitioner was nothing in Wei Zhongyuan’s eyes. It could not even pierce his protective true qi.
Without even looking at the Clear Stream sword, he raised his hand and unleashed a blast towards the flying sword.
With a boom, rocks shot off in all directions and huge trees snapped, but there was still no trace of Li Qingshan.
Wei Zhongyuan frowned. Li Qingshan’s technique of erasing his aura was even more powerful than he had previously imagined.
Li Qingshan stood nearby with Xiao An in his arms. There was not even a speck of dust on him. He formed a seal with his hand and wielded it like a sword, drawing and pointing with it.
The Clear Stream sword cut through the air silently, stabbing towards Wei Zhongyuan’s throat with even greater speed.
Ding! It stabbed into the protective true qi and was unable to advance even an inch further.
“Overconfident!” Wei Zhongyuan said in disdain. He reached towards the Clear Stream sword. As long as he caught the flying sword, he could use the aura on the sword to find Li Qingshan.
The Clear Stream sword suddenly rippled like water, inching through the protective true qi.
Li Qingshan was overjoyed. He poured his strength into the Clear Stream sword in a hurry, and with a flash, it turned into a green streak of light and pierced the protective true qi, brushing past Wei Zhongyuan’s face.
Wei Zhongyuan touched the tiny nick on his cheek. He was shaken inside and furious. If he had not tilted his head in time, his head would have been pierced.
Li Qingshan only found out then that the Clear Stream sword could pierce protective true qi as well. Although this feature was simple and nothing special, it made the sword a true weapon for killing when combined with its speed. It truly deserved its status as a high grade spiritual artifact. However, he had failed to kill Wei Zhongyuan in a single stroke then, which was quite a pity.
However, he would be dreaming if he wanted to kill a tenth layer Qi Practitioner like this. What he was trying to do was to completely agitate Wei Zhongyuan, which would give him an opportunity to strike.
The Clear Stream sword turned around and shot over again.
Wei Zhongyuan no longer handled it carelessly. He used a protective technique. A faint, oval-shaped membrane of light appeared around him. As expected, the Clear Stream sword struggled to pierce it so easily now.
If he forced it through, the sword would probably just be caught by Wei Zhongyuan. As a result, he made the sword linger around to disturb Wei Zhongyuan. It was not like Wei Zhongyuan could find him anyway. He had plenty of time to waste on him.
The Clear Stream sword turned into a green flash. Gradually, Wei Zhongyuan became agitated.
“The Glorious Sun of Brilliance Illuminates the Four Directions!”
Wei Zhongyuan brought his hands together before parting them. He lit up, illuminating the surroundings.
The vegetation yellowed and withered, beginning to burn. Thick billows of smoke rose up.
If he used this move on regular people, he could turn several thousand of them blind. However, the effect on Qi Practitioners was nothing special. It just covered an extremely large range.
Wei Zhongyuan looked around and spotted a blurry figure within the endless light. Raising his arm, a shining sword, three feet long, had already appeared in his hand. The name of the sword was called Three Yang, and it was a high grade spiritual artifact. It had turned into a streak of white light as it shot over like a bolt of lightning.
“Oh no! Clear River sword, go!” Li Qingshan called out.
Clang! The green flash struck the white light, revealing the weapon.
With one bigger and one smaller, the two flying swords entangled with one another, producing a messy string of clings and clangs.
The Three Yang sword was swift and powerful. It contained great force, such that it would almost knock away the Clear Stream sword with each clash.
This was the first time Li Qingshan had clashed with someone using flying swords. He only controlled it based on his feelings, but he was severely lacking in both experience and technique. The Clear Stream sword was forced backwards, and in the blink of an eye, the Three yang sword had already arrived before him.
Killing intent erupted in Wei Zhongyuan’s eyes. True qi swelled in his sea of qi, and the Three Yang sword shone brightly, sending the Clear Stream sword over a dozen meters away. It sliced towards Li Qingshan’s legs in a hurry. He had made up his mind to directly cripple Li Qingshan.
With two clangs, two white prayer beads flew out and sent the Three Yang sword flying.
“You can actually control three spiritual artifacts at the same time!” Wei Zhongyuan’s expression changed. While regular cultivators could refine multiple spiritual artifacts for use, they would never use all of them in actual combat. In particular, spiritual artifacts like flying swords required even more concentration. Their true qi would disperse if they split their focus, so they would be better off just focusing on a single spiritual artifact.
However, the two prayer beads that sent the Three Yang sword flying were heavy. They were instead even more powerful than the Clear Stream sword, which threw Wei Zhongyuan into disbelief. Never did he imagine that this actually came from Xiao An, as she seemed to possess no cultivation at all.
Li Qingshan ignored him. Instead of retreating, he advanced. With the Wind-entwining blade in hand, he shot towards Wei Zhongyuan like an arrow. After lurking around for so long, this was the first attack he had delivered in person. He seemed like he was unstoppable.
Wei Zhongyuan only beamed with joy. He was actually approaching him. Did he really think he could make up for the difference between the sixth and tenth layers just because he was a Body Practitioner? However, Wei Zhongyuan still received him seriously. His figure stood as steady as a mountain as he spread his arms forward. White true qi rapidly gathered.
Behind Li Qingshan, Xiao An hid without moving. She held a white bone sword in one hand and a supreme grade talisman in the other.
The distance of fifty paces could be covered in a mere moment; the boundary between life and death was only separated by a moment too.
“Stop!” A yell rang out from the sky, and a metal shield fell down, arriving right between Wei Zhongyuan and Li Qingshan. It turned into a wall of metal.
Li Qingshan secretly lamented over the destroyed opportunity. He kicked off the wall gently and sprang back, arriving in the air. The Clear Stream sword arrived below his feet, and he stood there, clasping his hands. “Senior sister Han, what brings you here?”
The person happened to be Han Qiongzhi. She piloted a flying shuttle with a few familiar faces behind her.
Han Qiongzhi said, “I’m the vice leader of the law enforcement team of the Academy of the Hundred Schools. I’m in charge of the public security around the entrance examinations. You’ve made such a great disturbance, so how can I not come and check?”
The entrance examination was when the Qi Practitioners from various places converged. There would be plenty of incidents when enemies met with great hostility. Some people would become tempted by wealth, resorting to murder and robbery, and there were even cases of people breaking out into a fight over a slight dispute. As a result, the Academy of the Hundred Schools arranged the disciples of legalism into law enforcement teams to maintain order.
The leader was obviously Hua Chengzan. When a bright flash in the distance occurred, regular people would have never been able to sense it during daytime, while Qi Practitioners would not care even if they sensed it. However, Hua Chengzan immediately sensed that something was amiss and realised that he had made a miscalculation, ordering Han Qiongzhi to come over and provide support in a hurry.
Han Qiongzhi turned around and faced Wei Zhongyuan. She immediately became slightly stern. “Wei Zhongyuan, do you plan on murdering a Hawkwolf guard here?” She was acquainted with Wei Zhongyuan, but she had never liked him. He was already so old but only at the tenth layer, so he was not someone worthy of her attention. As a result, she spoke without the slightest hint of courtesy.
Wei Zhongyuan withdrew the Three yang sword reluctantly and said with his head raised, “This is our personal grievance. It’s got nothing to do with the Hawkwolf Guard.”
“Your esteemed sect master Qiu has already agreed to dismiss all grievances with Li Qingshan. If you keep on clinging onto them, then sect master Qiu will never spare you even if the Hawkwolf Guard spares you.” Han Qiongzhi did find Wei Zhongyuan to be irritating, but the Sect of Clouds and Rain was still one of the more powerful sects in the Clear River prefecture. Only Wang Pushi had the authority to pass orders against a vice sect master. Unless Wei Zhongyuan actually killed Li Qingshan in front of them, Wang Pushi would probably be reluctant to fall out with the Sect of Clouds and Rain over a single Black Wolf guard.
At the end of the day, it still depended on the individual’s abilities. The banner of the Hawkwolf Guard was quite useful, but it was not an all-powerful protective charm.
Wei Zhongyuan snorted coldly. He stowed the Three Yang sword away and flew away in the wind. Before he left, he said to Li Qingshan, “You got lucky today. This won’t just end like this. You better clean your neck and wait for death!”
Li Qingshan said impatiently, “You’d better fuck off!” It was difficult to say who actually got lucky today. All Wei Zhongyuan knew was how to throw threats around.
“You!” Wei Zhongyuan’s face turned bright red. He glanced at Han Qiongzhi before storming off.
Han Qiongzhi shook her head. If she had not learnt that he actually came from a small mountain hamlet from Hua Chengzan, she definitely would have believed that he had some powerful background. However, at least that was better than being a coward. She smiled. “You can get on. The entrance examination is about to start, so you’d better hurry up!”
Li Qingshan boarded the flying shuttle with Xiao An. He lowered his head and sank into his thoughts. Whenever he went through a battle, he would always reflect on it, with this battle in particular since Wei Zhongyuan was an enemy he would definitely face again in the future. He wanted to think through the entire battle properly.
After travelling a few kilometers, the flying shuttle suddenly stopped. Han Qiongzhi said with a sunken face, “Get off!”
Li Qingshan asked in confusion, “What’s wrong?”
Han Qiongzhi said, “Don’t you feel like you’ve forgotten something?”
“What have I forgotten?”
Han Qiongzhi gritted her teeth. “A thank you! If it weren’t for me, you would have lost your life there today.” So much for rushing over here and saving him. She did not even receive a single “thank you” from him. Perhaps regular people would just grumble inside, but she did not have the personality to keep it all repressed.
Li Qingshan smiled understandingly. “Alright then. Thank you. Though, if you hadn’t come, I had some confidence in making him remain there forever.”
The disciples of legalism were unconvinced. They all seemed like they wanted to mock him. That was a tenth layer Qi Practitioner on par with Hua Chengzan, yet he was actually boasting that he had a chance to defeat someone like that. He sure was overestimating himself.
Although Li Qingshan was raidating with valiance when he charged at Wei Zhongyuan earlier, it was more like charging towards his own destruction. He was overconfident in his abilities.
Han Qiongzhi said, “I don’t believe it.”
“Then thank you.” Li Qingshan shrugged and leapt off the shuttle, riding off on a cloud instead. If someone helped him, even if it was just the tiniest bit, he would remember it. However, what other people believed in was not for him to decide, nor did he care either. Was he supposed to pull out a few supreme grade talismans or the Cursive Sword Calligraphy to justify himself?
Han Qiongzhi was surprised. Originally, she had been waiting for Li Qingshan to thank her and cheer her up, and she would then forgive him for his rudeness. However, she never thought he would be so straightforward. She ground her teeth. “Alright you, Li Qingshan!”
The flying shuttle shot past the cloud. Han Qiongzhi maintained a cold expression, suppressing the urge to glance at Li Qingshan.
Xiao An said softly, “What a weirdo.”
Rarely did Xiao An ever comment on someone. Li Qingshan smiled and pinched her cheeks. “Let’s not stoop to the same level as her.”
At this moment, expansive, mist-covered waters appeared on the horizon. Under the sunlight, the ripples and waves glistened.
Li Qingshan smiled. He was finally here.
Yes. The Academy of the Hundred Schools was located in this great marshland.
The name of the lake was Dragons and Snakes, originating from the classics of confucianism. “Dragons and snakes were produced within the deep mountains and marshes.” It implied that those who set afoot in this lake might rise from mediocrity, transforming from a snake into a dragon and setting foot upon the endless path of cultivation.
This was the beginning.
Beside the lake on a large, sandy shoal stood thousands of people. They formed small groups, either whispering to one another or engaging in lively conversations. Qi Practitioners were converging from all directions. Li Qingshan descended on the cloud, but he failed to attract much attention at all.
The disciples of legalism in black maintained order in the surroundings. Hua Chengzan stood on a tall sentry post, conversing with a few stronger Qi Practitioners who had accompanied their own disciples. When he saw Li Qingshan arrive, he relaxed and nodded slightly, expressing how he was currently busy. He pointed towards a corner of the sandy shoal.
Li Qingshan looked over to where Hua Chengzan was pointing at. He saw a few hundred children standing there, separated from the Qi Practitioners.
There were two types of disciples that the Academy of the Hundred Schools accepted. One was regular Qi Practitioners. They might have come from smaller clans, or they might have been independent cultivators. As long as they were not too old and were willing to pay the school fees, basically all of them were allowed to study in the academy. The academy truly accepted everyone, both good and bad.
The other type was similar to what regular sects accepted. They would choose talented but foundationless children from various places. These children would not directly enter the Academy of the Hundred Schools, nor did they have to pay any school fees. Instead, they needed to practise the Innate Method of Practising Qi for a while. If they managed to condense qi successfully, they could choose among the schools after establishing a foundation. If they failed, then they would be sent back to their hometowns.
Li Qingshan held Xiao An’s hand and made his way over.
“Qingshan, you’ve finally arrived.” A fatty called out and pushed his way over.
Li Qingshan looked at him. He was Ye Dachuan. It was impossible for these children to make their way over by themselves, nor was it possible for Zhou Wenbin to escort them in person. Ye Dachuan would never miss this great opportunity to return to Clear River city either.
“Sir Ye, long time no see.”
“Were you the person on the cloud earlier? My god, I don’t even recognise you anymore! You’ve made it!” Ye Dachuan came up and wanted to pat Li Qingshan’s shoulder, but he was afraid to. He sized up Li Qingshan and clicked his tongue in wonder. No one would have thought that there would be a day when a farmer kid from Qingyang city would actually be able to ride clouds and fly around.
“I’ve heard plenty of stories about you in the past few months. What kind of friend are you supposed to be? You’ve made it so you’ve forgotten about your old friends now.”
Li Qingshan smiled. “How can I forget about what sir Ye did for me to get promoted? Do I need to register her name?”
“There’s no need. I’ve already registered her name. She’s called Xiao An, right? A ship will come to receive her in a while. Oh right, the other two are here too. Just wait here, I’ll call them over.”
The other two? Before he could ask about that, Ye Dachuan had already vanished into the crowd. A while later, he returned with a group of people.
The leader of the group was a majestic-looking middle-aged man with a large face and mouth. He clasped his hands at Li Qingshan. “You must be young hero Li! I’ve been looking forward to meeting you!” He was clearly a sixth layer Qi Practitioner, but he gave off vibes of the jianghu as he spoke.
Li Qingshan asked, “You’re?” He glanced around, and just as expected, there were two familiar people, one old and one young, among the group. They were the same two people who had walked out of Qingyang city with him back then, protector Yan Song of the Iron Fist school and Li Long, who had been known as one of the Two Talents of the Crouching Ox.
Yan Song remained at the second layer, while Li Long had already gone from being a third-rate master to a second layer Qi Practitioner. He did not waste the past year. When they saw Li Qingshan, they all found him to be rather unfamiliar. It had been less than half a year, yet Li Qingshan seemed to have become a completely different person. His gaze was calm as he gave off a certain weight. He did not lose out in bearing at all when compared to their school master Tie.
Yan Song exclaimed, “Qingshan, y- you’ve already reached the sixth layer!” He was different from Ye Dachuan. He understood the difficulties of cultivation. He had been stuck at the second layer for many years now. The same young man who did not have any foundation and even needed to learn the Innate Method of Practising Qi from him had actually reached the sixth layer in under a year. He was filled with mixed emotion.