Chapter 313 – Trudging Back Through the Snow
Liu Zhangqing frowned. Why would a disciple of legalism know the arts of charm? However, he saw how she was friends with Chu Tian, and she was indeed comforting Chu Tian’s mind, so he did not interfere.
Qian Rongzhi used this opportunity while Chu Tian was mentally shaken up to cast a firm shadow in his heart.
Of course, it was not something like a seed of suggestion. She had no idea how to plant something like that, and even if she did, she would never do it before so many school leaders.
Her arts of charm were completely harmless. At most, it would just make Chu Tian develop a good impression and feeling of love towards her, but that was enough. Compared to something as coarse and inferior as seeds of suggestion, this suited her better.
She knew Chu Tian was hiding something, something that he had not even told the two girls beside him about. However, under her verbal probings, she learned the existence of this object. Just what was it that could make the arrogant, conceited Chu Tian behave so cautiously?
No matter what it was, she had to obtain it. If she could not manage that, then she would still have a powerful pawn under her thumb. Even in the worst-case scenario, he would be a human-shaped pill, though his true qi of the five elements might be rather difficult to digest.
Chu Tian recovered his fighting will. He stared at Li Qingshan with pure hatred. “Li Qingshan, you got lucky this time. I won’t spare you. I’ve said before that if I want to kill you, no one can stop me.”
Li Qingshan slighted him casually. “You’re welcome to try at any time.”
Chu Tian’s mind eased up, and he fell into a slumber. Out of the two girls beside him, the older one said to Qian Rongzhi, “Sorry, big sister Qian. We shouldn’t have said that to you.”
Qian Rongzhi sighed gently. “I can understand what you’re feeling. Take good care of him.”
Li Qingshan had no idea why she was doing this, but he still took pity on Chu Tian. I hope you recover before this venomous snake swallows you. I still want to make some more spiritual stones off you!
Chu Tian was taken to Benevolence island by the school of Medicine’s leader. In the blink of an eye, the various school leaders and primary disciples had all vanished.
“Qingshan, please don’t hold a grudge against my school of Confucianism. This battle was not necessarily a bad thing for Chu Tian. It’s a blessing that the academy has a genius like you. There will be a lot of competitions of swordsmanship on Great Virtue island in the near future, so you’re welcome to participate too. Your sword is very interesting.” Liu Zhangqing tossed that out and left, demonstrating his extraordinary demeanour.
At this moment, Hua Chengzan arrived before Li Qingshan. “Where’s your wolf tablet?”
Li Qingshan was taken aback. Did Wang Pushi really find him so repulsive that he wanted to expel him from the Hawkwolf Guard? However, he did not say anything, simply taking out his wolf tablet and handing it to Hua Chengzan.
Hua Chengzan accepted it before passing a scarlet bronze wolf tablet back to him. The shiny, red wolf tablet was extremely detailed, such that he could even make out the eyelashes on the wolf. It was rather hefty as he held it in his hand.
Li Qingshan asked, “What’s this?”
Hua Chengzan said, “Congratulations, you’ve been promoted. Old Wang told me to give you this. In the future, if you want to investigate anything or make some spiritual stones, you’re welcome to go take a look at the Hawkwolf Guard of Clear River city.”
“Alright!” Li Qingshan smiled. In order to gain someone’s recognition, there was always a need for him to prove himself.
Wang Pushi and Li Qingshan did not hate one another. It was simply a result of Li Qingshan’s negative first impression on him combined with everything that had happened after that. Today, Li Qingshan had proved himself. This did not mean Wang Pushi now liked Li Qingshan, but regardless of how he felt about him, this man had earned the right to this identity and status. This was how the school of Legalism handled things.
“Now, let’s go celebrate!” Hua Chengzan wrapped his arm around Li Qingshan’s shoulder before calling to Han Tieyi in the distance, “Tieyi, you’re forbidden from leaving. Come along as well.”
“Am I invited too?” The primary disciple of the school of Daoism, Juechenzi, approached them with a smile.
Li Qingshan was slightly taken aback. He smiled. “Since we’re friends, why wouldn’t you be invited?”
During the banquet that day, Li Qingshan had drunk a lot of alcohol. Originally, Li Qingshan was competing against Hua Chengzan.
Hua Chengzan was unable to continue any further before long. His face was crimson. He turned them against one another, fiercely praising Han Tieyi’s drinking capacity. Before they knew it, it turned into a drinking competition between Li Qingshan and Han Tieyi.
The first-class spiritual alcohol was emptied jar after jar. Han Tieyi kept a cold expression the entire time. Let alone becoming drunk, his expression had not even changed the entire time, which made even Li Qingshan uneasy.
After downing over thirty jars, Han Tieyi suddenly closed his eyes and collapsed like a log, unable to get up anymore.
“So I’m still the victor after all.” Li Qingshan laughed aloud. He heard about how Hua Chenglu had stood up for him, so he specially went over to toast to her, turning her bright red.
Using his drunken recklessness, he patted his chest and said, “Miss Hua, you’re the same as your older brother, a good person. If you have any trouble in the future, feel free to come find me!”
Even if he did not drink, he would still give her a promise like that. Back then in Lakeside city, it was all because of her assistance that he had managed to escape. She had even given him a puppet for free as Xiao An’s birthday present. He drew a thick line between kindness and grievances. Perhaps he could ignore small grievances, but he would always return kindness, no matter how big or small.
“Really?” Hua Chenglu blinked her eyes.
“Really.” Li Qingshan was not after a solemn pledge, but he would never shirk away from a promise among friends.
“Alright, then a promise is a promise.” Hua Chenglu lifted her cup and clinked it against Li Qingshan’s gently as if she was considering something.
Then, Li Qingshan went to find Juechenzi to drink with. Juechenzi had not come under the orders of the slovenly daoist priest. Instead, he had come out of his own accord. He wanted to resolve the grievances between Li Qingshan and the school of Daoism, but it was not because he was afraid of Li Qingshan. With the slovenly daoist priest’s cultivation nearing Golden Core, he feared nobody.
In a different time and place, perhaps they would be master and disciple. However, under these particular circumstances, they had instead developed resentment for one another. Juechenzi wanted to share his master’s burden, and he also felt that Li Qingshan was worth befriending.
Li Qingshan and Xiao An had not even spent a year in the academy, but Juechenzi firmly believed they would become prominent figures in the Clear River prefecture in the future, or even more than that.
Juechenzi took advantage of his drunkenness to say, “My master wished for none of what happened on that day too. He originally admired you very much. He often laments to me again and again about how great of a pity this all was.”
Li Qingshan, “Since it’s all in the past now, let’s not talk about it anymore. There’s nothing bad about the school of Novels anyway. At least I can stand on equal footing with you as a primary disciple.”
The slovenly daoist priest had screwed him over, but it was not because he wanted to harm him. He just wanted to vent his emotions, but Li Qingshan did not give him this chance, instead cursing back at him. With the slovenly daoist priest’s cultivation and status, if he were just slightly petty, it would mean endless trouble for Li Qingshan. It showed that he was rather forgiving too.
As such, why would Li Qingshan cling onto this matter of the past?
Zhang Lanqing stood to one side with a smile. His face had also reddened despite his darker skin tone. He discovered that if he looked closely, the primary disciples of five schools were actually present. Excluding Li Qingshan, the primary disciple of the school of Novels, the schools of Buddhism, Daoism, Legalism, and the Military were all renowned major schools.
Figures like them would shine no matter where they were.
Li Qingshan returned to Cloudwisp island alone, while Xiao An went back to Anāsravāṃ island. Despite being the primary disciple, the time she had spent on the island so far was even less than that of a young acolyte. No matter how ignorant she was about how to conduct herself, she still knew that this was rather inappropriate. And, she was burdened with another important mission, which was to help Li Qingshan collect pills so that he could complete that final step.
The One Thought master’s emotions were mixed, but he still felt happy when he saw his primary disciple return. Before Xiao An had even said anything, he had already presented her with many pills to support her future cultivation.
Regardless of how he felt, if he made a supreme prodigy like her suffer on his Anāsravāṃ island or waste time due to a lack of pills, it would be an utter waste.
If he learned the reason behind why she had returned, he would probably facepalm in exasperation. Fortunately, it was unlikely for him to ever know. He could roughly estimate just how many pills other disciples would eat and how many missions they would complete, but just who could estimate her cultivation progress?
Xiao An did not need these pills either. Right now, the true qi she had condensed in her body was just something akin to an illusion. Practising the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty was still based on refining flesh and blood.
Li Qingshan had already promised her that he would take her out to “uphold justice” again soon. Yep, that was how he said it, but in her ears, it sounded more like a “great feast”.
Xiao An said, “Master, I want to listen to your sermons of scriptures.”
“Alright, alright, alright. Which one would you like to hear? I’ll give you one right now.” The One Thought master was delighted. Learning the texts of buddhism was an extremely important component of cultivation to buddhist disciples, but it was also a component that was extremely easy to neglect, particularly for genius disciples like her.
When he faced regular disciples, the One Thought master would tell them earnestly, “Only by comprehending the essence of buddhism can you progress with great ease in practising the buddhist cultivation methods.” However, just how much ease did Xiao An need with her current cultivation speed? He would obviously feel happy from the bottom of his heart now that Xiao An had come to him out of her own accord to hear his sermons without becoming blinded by her own talent.
Little did he know that as a practitioner of the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty, Xiao An understood this principle better than anyone. Although she had read through the entirety of the jade slip called the Canon Depository, buddhist scriptures were different from the path of the sword. No matter how clever she was, it was impossible for her to comprehend their essence so easily.
From a certain perspective, the classics that were purely ideological were more profound and complicated than most cultivation methods.
Xiao An said, “All of them.”
The One Thought master could only smile bitterly. The buddhist scriptures were as vast as the open sea. He had read through all of them, but he only specialised in a single area, and that was already an extremely outstanding achievement.
Xiao An remained silent most of the time, but whenever she asked a question, it would be a difficult one. The One Thought master scratched his bald head and finally made up his mind. He wanted to hold an assembly of dharma and invite all the eminent monks he knew throughout the Clear River prefecture, no, the nine prefectures of the Ruyi commandery, so they could come and give sermons to her.
After all, surely he did not have to bear this “punishment” alone. He could imagine just how speechless she could make his senior and junior brothers become. He actually began to look forward to it.
“Amitābha, how sinful of me, how sinful of me!”
Seeing Li Qingshan return, trudging through the snow, Liu Chuanfeng suddenly raised his head and extended his neck. He asked, “Did you win?” Because of his experiences last time, he was afraid to watch the battle this time.
Liu Chuanfeng danced around. “That’s fantastic! That’s fantastic! Hahahaha, the heavens have blessed my school of Novels. No one will look down on me anymore!”