Chapter 295 – Seeing Hao Pingyang Again
A flying shuttle shot across the surface of the Lake of Dragons and Snakes, arriving on Cloudwisp island.
Out of the three people who disembarked, the leader was a burly man with a full beard, and there was a young man with darker skin to his left, and a young man with a long face and slightly swollen eyelids to his right.
They wore deep, blue robes, and their waist tablets were all inscribed with a single word, “Mohism.” They were the trio who had entered the Zombie cave with Li Qingshan in the past to kill the Zombie Daoist, Hao Qingyang, Zhang Lanqing, and He Yishi.
Hao Pingyang stowed the flying shuttle away and studied the island that was so quiet that it seemed deserted. He asked with furrowed brows, “Are you sure he joined the school of Novels?”
Zhang Lanqing said, “It can’t be wrong. It’s here. He has already made a name for himself in the academy.”
He Yishi said, “He has made a name for himself for being an idiot. He’s actually bold enough to insult the leader of the school of Daoism. He must be tired of living.”
Hao Pingyang shot a glare at him, while Zhang Lanqing said in a hurry, “Yishi, how can you say that? Qingshan saved us in the past after all!”
He Yishi said with his swollen eyelids, “He was just using us to complete his mission. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have ventured underground, and Jin Yuan and Jin Bao would not have died either.”
“Then why are you here? Why don’t you piss off instead?” Hao Pingyang growled. Ever since he had returned from the Zombie cave, he found He Yishi to be quite a despicable person, so he began to alienate him. This time, it was all because of Zhang Lanqing’s persuasions, reminiscing the fact that the three of them had once risked their lives together. As such, they had called him to come with them.
He Yishi turned his head away and no longer said anything, but he stuck to what he said.
Hao Pingyang snorted coldly and strode away. Zhang Lanqing sighed and followed behind him.
He Yishi moved his feet too. He did not come here to thank Li Qingshan for saving his life. Instead, he had come to see Li Qingshan’s miserable condition. The school of Novels? What a joke.
The familiar roars penetrated the bamboo forest with true qi, reaching Li Qingshan’s ears.
Li Qingshan emerged from the courtyard. Hao Pingyang happened to be walking through the bamboo, so when he saw Li Qingshan, his face lit up with joy. He rushed over and patted Li Qingshan’s shoulder heavily and said happily, “You really are here.”
Li Qingshan said, “Brother Hao, long time no see! There’s brother Zhang and brother Yi too.”
“Hmm? The sixth layer? Just how did you cultivate? It hasn’t even been a year!” Hao Pingyang’s current cultivation was the same as the past, still at the sixth layer. The later four meridians of the eight extraordinary meridians were extremely difficult and slow to open. When he heard Li Qingshan had joined the school of Novels on Cloudwisp island, he had rushed over to find him, but he did not know he had already reached the sixth layer.
Zhang Lanqing was surprised too. He was also the same as before, still at the fifth layer. He was currently preparing to condense his sea of qi and break through to the sixth layer. Li Qingshan’s cultivation speed was just far too startling.
However, the most surprised was He Yishi. After returning from the Zombie cave, he made a breakthrough with his cultivation and reached the fifth layer. When he came to see Li Qingshan, he was filled with confidence too, ready to savour his dejected look from above and find some peace inside. However, he never thought that the weak second layer Qi Practitioner of the past would break through four times and reach the sixth layer in under a year. He felt more and more uneasy instead.
Hao Pingyang shifted his gaze and saw Xiao An standing quietly under the eases of the building. He had quite a deep impression of this beautiful child. “Isn’t that… Xiao An?” His eyes were not lying to him, right? How had Xiao An reached the sixth layer too?
Zhang Lanqing said, “Senior brother, were you really that busy building cannons in the workshop that you haven’t even heard of this? Xiao An is a Heavenly Meridians prodigy. She cultivated to the third layer in four hours, and when her elemental affinity was being tested, the school leaders even showed up to contend for her… Though, she’s at the sixth layer now. Is the rumor wrong?”
Li Qingshan gave a short explanation of what had happened. Hao Pingyang and Zhang Lanqing had no idea on what to say. She had completed the first layer of the Guardian King’s Scripture of Demon Subdual in a single night, defeating the primary disciple of the school of Buddhism, Mind Enlightenment. If it were not for the fact that Li Qingshan was personally telling them this, they never would have believed it. They studied Xiao An in surprise and doubt, and sure enough, they saw the tablet of the school of Buddhism’s primary disciple on her waist.
Hao Pingyang grinned. “I feel like I’ve gotten to know someone extraordinary. Are we supposed to bow?” When regular disciples saw primary disciples, they all had to bow out of respect and call them senior brother or sister, not to mention the fact that she came from a major school, the school of Buddhism.
In Zhang Lanqing’s memory, the primary disciple of the school of Buddhism, the Mind Enlightenment monk, was an extremely haughty figure. He was unable to connect the primary disciple of the school of Buddhism to Xiao An right in front of him.
Li Qingshan said, “That’s a funny joke, brother Hao. Don’t just stand here. Come on in!”
Arriving in the guest room, the three of them sat down, and Xiao An went off automatically to find a tea set, bringing tea over. The three of them stood up in a hurry again and accepted it. This was tea from the primary disciple of the school of Buddhism. Hao Pingyang was not too perturbed with how he never focused on the minor details of courtesy, but Zhang Lanqing and He Yishi basically felt flattered. They looked at Li Qingshan again, but they saw how he was at ease. After serving the tea, Xiao An sat down beside him obediently, just like in the past.
He Yishi was completely dejected inside. Whether it be Li Qingshan or Xiao An, they had both reached a higher domain than him. He was filled with jealousy. The heavens were unfair! He had cultivated painstakingly for all these years, yet it could not even rival a year from Li Qingshan, or a day and night from Xiao An.
After a slight conversation, Zhang Lanqing could not help but sigh. “If it’s the school of Buddhism, then so be it. It’s a good place to join. However, with your talent, Qingshan, joining the school of Novels really is quite a pity.”
Li Qingshan took a sip of tea and said without minding, “The school of Novels is not all bad.”
Hao Pingyang said, “Yeah, it’s not all bad. This environment is suited for cultivation. Joining the school of Novels doesn’t mean you have to learn their arts. With your talent, Qingshan, you’ll definitely be able to reach Foundation Establishment in the future. By then, there’ll be plenty of good cultivation methods available to you.”
“Just as brother Hao has said.” Li Qingshan smiled. Hao Pingyang seemed like an unsophisticated person, but he was extremely sharp-witted, and his concern and encouragement moved him too. Zhang Lanqing was a prudent, honest person who did not want to offend anyone as well. Only He Yishi was rather strange, glaring at him. Who knew what he was thinking.
Hao Pingyang changed the topic. “Have you chosen your subjects?”
Li Qingshan said, “I haven’t yet. I heard there are quite a lot of subjects. I don’t even know where to start right now.”
Within the academy, from Contention island to the various other islands, they all had subjects, ranging from forging artifacts and alchemy to philosophy and literature. They covered everything, and disciples from other schools could listen in too. However, regular new disciples would primarily focus on the arts of their own schools once they joined the academy. Since Li Qingshan was reluctant to learn the arts of the school of Novels, these subjects were extremely important to him. They were also one of the reasons why he had joined the academy in the first place.
Hao Pingyang said, “Then that’s perfect. We’ll choose them for you. There’s quite a lot you need to know when it comes to choosing. Lanqing, you’ve brought a list of subjects, right?”
“I have.” Zhang Lanqing pulled out a piece of paper from his hundred treasures pouch in a hurry. It was covered in tiny words. Every single line was neat and uniform in size. Clearly, it had come from a printer and was not hand-written.
Li Qingshan lowered his head and read through them carefully—“Divinations and Symbols”, “Identifying Spiritual Herbs”, “Explanations for the Yi Wood Method of Living Qi” and so on. According to the timetabling, there were over a dozen days of classes. On the back of the paper were the times and locations for the classes, as well as the names of the instructors and professors. Apart from subjects that were directly related to cultivation, there were also subjects on literature and etiquette, or even appreciating music. There was everything.
This was all knowledge that Li Qingshan required the most. It would assist him in understanding everything about cultivation. He was rather impatient to learn as well, but if he really was supposed to choose from all these subjects, he really would be left at a loss. And, he noticed that there was a price at the end of a few subjects, such as a few subjects from the school of Music. They could only be taken at the cost of a few spiritual stones.
Hao Pingyang explained, “Some subjects can cover highly important and secretive aspects to certain schools, so they obviously won’t just teach it to anybody for free. Moreover, the professors need money too. However, as a primary disciple, it’ll all be easy. You can take any of these subjects for free.”
“Do the subjects of the school of Music also cover highly secretive subjectives? They actually want spiritual stones too.” Li Qingshan remarked in surprise.
Hao Pingyang smiled. “That’s because most of the disciples of the school of Music are females. If they don’t charge spiritual stones, there’ll be a great group of men mucking around in each subject.” He wiggled his eyebrows and smirked at Li Qingshan. “If you have spare time, you should check it out too. Perhaps you’ll find a good match for you! It’s free to you anyway. There are a lot of people who would be jealous of you if they found out.”
Li Qingshan smiled. “How are Qi Practitioners lacking women? Can’t they just go looking outside? I’ve come to the academy for cultivation, not match-making.”
Hao Pingyang said, “Now you can’t say that. How can regular women rival the charm of female cultivators?”
Li Qingshan could not help but think of Gu Yanying, and he discovered that Hao Pingyang was right. Everyone was born the same way. There were only so many different combinations of facial features. Gu Yanying was not exactly any fairer than a regular woman either, but every twinkle in her eyes and every smile she gave was just so breath-taking.
This had nothing to do with the arts of charm. Just like how flaws of the inside would show themselves externally, “bearing” was no longer a mere concept. At the very least, she truly did possess the word “qi1”.
However, Li Qingshan disagreed with Hao Pingyang’s suggestion. “Can you still be regarded as a qualified cultivator if you spend all your time thinking about a woman?”
Hao Pingyang said, “The path of cultivation is boundless. If you walk alone, won’t it be lonely? If you have a partner for dual cultivation, it’ll be like a combination of the qin zither and se zither2, a complementary match. It’ll bring you great joy, and perhaps, you might even make it a little further. There are many people with companions like this in the academy, like him beside you.”
Li Qingshan looked at Zhang Lanqing in surprise. He never thought he would have a partner too. Zhang Lanqing’s darker face reddened slightly in embarrassment.
Hao Pingyang said, “Whenever we go out for some fun, he never comes with us. That’s the exact aspect that she fancies about him. Heh, honest people never suffer.”
“Don’t you have someone too, brother Hao?” Li Qingshan asked with a smile. The idea of bearing suited men too. Hao Pingyang was not handsome, but he was frank and generous. He could be regarded as quite charming too.
Zhang Lanqing immediately said, “Originally, there were people who took a fancy towards senior brother, but he spends all his spare time in the workshop, and whenever he leaves the academy, he indulges himself in women and alcohol. There’s no one who can put up with that.”
Hao Pingyang chuckled. “My hands are full already, so why would I have the time to deal with them?”
“And yet you’re advising me?” Li Qingshan broke into laughter. The Academy of the Hundred Schools was quite similar to the universities of his past life, but with even more freedom. Here, it did not matter even if there was a class you did not want to attend. All you needed to do was give the school leader some notice, and no one would care even if you went out travelling for a few months. You could do whatever you wanted as long as you paid the fees every year.
However, these disciples of the academy could not be compared with the abundant university students from his past life. They were true prodigies.
PS: One release for today. My back suddenly began hurting in the afternoon, and I felt quite ill. Don’t tell me this is a so-called occupational illness? Hopefully, I’ll be better after sleeping! (from the author, not the translator)
1. Bearing in this case is a phrase in Chinese, 气质. The first character, 气, is qi.
2. A qin zither is a plucked seven-stringed Chinese instrument, while a se zither is a plucked twenty-five to fifty stringed Chinese instrument. It’s said that a combination between the two creates great music, which makes them a great pairing.