Chapter 323 – Altar Lord of White Lotus
With great confidence as well as trust in Li Qingshan, Han Qiongzhi waved her hand, and the two of them set off.
Han Qiongzhi urged him, “Hurry up and summon the cloud!”
It was early in the afternoon when Ancient Wind city, which sat on the side of the mountain and faced fertile land, appeared before them. It was dyed a faint yellow by the dim sun of winter.
Under the ancient city gates, Li Qingshan and Han Qiongzhi gazed ahead.
Although it was winter, quite a lot of people moved around on the streets. There were both adults and children, giving off a worldly hubbub. It was the same as the past, and it would remain like this in the future too. There did not seem to be any danger or hidden killing intent.
As they walked through the streets, the two of them had instead raised quite a lot of attention, treated as outsiders.
Li Qingshan said, “Let’s look around for him!”
Han Qiongzhi called out, “Qiu Ruiliu, we can already see you, so come out!”
They attracted even more gazes over. Li Qingshan shook his head with a smile. Was a move used to trick children supposed to work?
A creak followed her voice. At the end of the main road, the doors to the Qian estate swung open loudly.
No different from the past, Qiu Ruiliu wore the robes of a daoist priest as he stood at the entrance. He clasped his hands. “I was unaware that esteemed guests would be coming, so please forgive me for failing to welcome you!”
It actually worked!
Before he had even finished talking, Li Qingshan felt a scorching gust of wind kick up beside him. Han Qiongzhi shot over, leaping towards the entrance of the Qian estate.
With a swish, she drew her blade from her sheathe. It lit up with flames that were ten meters long as she swung it towards Qiu Ruiliu’s head.
This attack was the school of Legalism’s Blade Aura of the Death Sentence. It possessed the dignity of law, the right to execute people, as well as the decisiveness of the school of the Military. Before the attack had even arrived, it could already overwhelm the opponent with awe.
However, Qiu Ruiliu simply stood right there, smiling as he watched the blade arrive before him.
With a clang, the blade landed on a black barrier of light. A formation enveloped the entire Qian estate. It would be extremely difficult for her to contend against the formation alone.
Knocked back, Han Qiongzhi made a flip in the air and landed gracefully.
Qiu Ruiliu said, “Originally, I wanted to lure some powerful people here, but I never thought I’d only lure over some shrimp.”
“Murder!” Only now did the passersby on the streets react. They all called out as they fled towards their homes. They were merely some poor people, so why would they want to become involved in a battle like this?
“Why aren’t you helping me?” Han Qiongzhi turned around and asked Li Qingshan. However, all she saw was Li Qingshan staring at the black barrier around the Qian estate with a frown.
“Let’s go!” Li Qingshan suddenly grabbed Han Qiongzhi, and they took off into the sky.
“What are you doing?” Han Qiongzhi said as she put up a struggle. Even if Qiu Ruiliu was protected by a formation, the power of the formation would not be endless. Moreover, she possessed a few supreme grade talismans too. Even if this was an ambush, there was nothing for her to worry about.
However, Li Qingshan said nothing at all. His face was sunken as he wrapped his arm around her waist like a hoop of metal. An unprecedented feeling of alarm loomed over his heart.
“You want to leave? It’s too late!” Qiu Ruiliu laughed aloud. Even in this moment, he seemed to be brimming with righteousness, more upright than insidious.
A black streak of light shot into the sky from within the Qian estate, pushing the black barrier outwards. It caught up with Li Qingshan instantly, enveloping the entire city.
As if night had suddenly descended, even the winter sun in the sky dimmed. Some of the people who had yet to flee back home suddenly halted. They became riddled with cracks before collapsing like sand statues, reduced to a dark red smear on the ground silently.
Without any preparations or prior signs, the entire city, whether they were male or female, whether they were old, frail, women, or children, had died in that instant.
There were no heroes that appeared, engaging in a battle between good and evil to save the common people. There were no laments or pain. All it was was an instant, and everything became deathly silent. The hubbub of the streets seemed to have never existed in the first place.
The moment Li Qingshan and Han Qiongzhi were enveloped by the black barrier of light, they stiffened. They felt like they were being crushed and ripped apart by a terrifying force, as if it wanted to crush them to a pulp, yet also rip them to pieces.
Under the balance of the two powers, it was almost like nothing, but destruction was omnipresent. They could feel it in their bodies.
The cloud condensed from spiritual energy collapsed quietly. The two of them fell out of the air.
Han Qiongzhi’s confidence was completely replaced with fear. It was impossible for just a person like Qiu Ruiliu to cast down a formation like this. At the very least, they needed an Altar Lord of the White Lotus cult to achieve this.
Li Qingshan, on the other hand, immediately thought of the story Gu Yanying had once told him, about how the White Lotus Mother had sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives.
This time, they had unfortunately won the grand prize. There was an Altar Lord hiding within the Qian estate at the very least.
Han Qiongzhi mobilised her true qi desperately, but her true qi refused to obey her. She wanted to say something to Li Qingshan, but she saw how stunned he was as he stared at her. She subconsciously touched her cheek.
Her fair, smooth cheek had become like an age-old oil painting. A tiny crack had appeared, oozing with blood.
Ancient Wind city has probably been reduced to a ghost city now!
In the Academy of the Hundred Schools, Qian Rongzhi gazed at the blue sky and thought about that.
Everything that had once been would be reduced to nothing in the White Lotus cult’s Lotus Bloom formation.
She chanted softly, “All sins annihilated ,the lotus blooms.”
The first time she had met Qiu Ruiliu was during the encirclement mission last time. In order to hunt him down in the caves that were as complicated as a cobweb, they had split up, communicating with one another with their tablets.
In the end, she had found the injured Qiu Ruiliu.
This time, it was a complete coincidence, or perhaps it was inevitable. She did her best to search for traces before entering a cave that was least likely for Qiu Ruiliu to choose to escape in.
In the darkness, two pairs of eyes met one another. There was no conversation, nor was there any fighting. She acted like she had seen nothing before backing out again.
Back then, Qiu Ruiliu was injured, but she was just a fifth layer Qi Practitioner. If she fought and kept Qiu Ruiliu busy, he would die for sure, but it was very likely for her to fall in battle too. It was not a worthwhile exchange.
A few months later, in a very ordinary mission, she met Qiu Ruiliu again, or should you say he had come looking for her. He invited her to join the cult. He did not try to threaten or tempt her. All he did was show extreme sincerity. “I knew from the moment that I saw you that you’re a person of the White Lotus cult! If you refuse, then cut off my head right now and turn it in at the Hawkwolf Guard. I won’t resist.”
Whether it was the truth or a lie no longer mattered.
Qian Rongzhi considered for a moment before agreeing. She became a believer of the White Lotus, and she offered all of her possessions to the White Lotus cult, along with the Qian estate, so the White Lotus cult could use it as a secret base. Under her urgings, it obviously turned into a land of sacrifice for the White Lotus cult.
Even she was uncertain whether she was expecting Li Qingshan to go there or not, whether it was a coincidence or just inevitable. If he died, she would sigh for him. Hehe.
Han Qiongzhi looked at the blood on her hand. Fear filled her eyes. For the first time in her life, she was so close to death.
At this moment, the black streak of light that had lifted up the black barrier retracted and twisted. The top instead swelled, like the bud of a flower. The mottled, dark-red smears on the ground began to disappear bit by bit as the final trace that proved their existence gradually vanished. Their flesh, blood, and souls had all become nutrients to the flower bud so that it could bloom.
Li Qingshan tried to mobilise his true qi, but his sea of qi had scattered, as if it had collapsed on a much more rudimentary level. It was even more impossible for him to use any techniques.
As the flower bud bloomed, the power of the formation grew stronger, and the damage to their bodies increased. If this continued, they would die even if the hidden Altar Lord just stood by.
This was the terrors of the White Lotus cult that had battled Gu Yanying and the entire Hawkwolf Guard of the Ruyi commandery for all these years. Despite also being Foundation Establishment cultivators, the elders of the three mountains basically seemed friendly and courteous in comparison.
Qiu Ruiliu let out a sigh. “The heavens hold benevolence. I can tell the two of you are anything but ordinary people, so why not forsake darkness for light? Join our White Lotus cult and let’s bring salvation to the world together. It’ll save you from quite a lot of suffering too.”
“Shut up!” Han Qiongzhi gritted her teeth, and the taste of blood filled her mouth. As a stronger Qi Practitioner, she possessed a body that had completely surpassed regular people, which was why she had not collapsed immediately under the formation. However, her injuries were spreading bit by bit, like millions of ants gnawing away at her body, suffering a slow death.
“You were not born to be a coward!” Han Anjun had once scolded her like this. Although she found that old man utterly irritating, he was completely right about this. No matter the predicament, she, Han Qiongzhi, would never embarrass herself, especially when Li Qingshan was watching.
Qiu Ruiliu said, “You refuse to come to your senses! However, being able to become a part of the black lotus and cleanse your sins in the process is your good fortune.”
Li Qingshan raised an eyebrow. He was about to strike. No matter who it was, if they wanted to take his life, they would have to ask his fists first. Even if this formation could suppress his true qi, it could not suppress his daemon core. Having reached the second layer of the spirit turtle, he would no longer be so helpless even if he faced a Foundation Establishment cultivator.
He had indeed hesitated for a moment earlier. His body was much tougher than Han Qiongzhi’s. Although he was suppressed by the formation, it did not cause him any actual harm. With how powerful the formation was, he would have no choice but to transform if he wanted an opportunity to break out, but he would have to expose his greatest secret too. However, he could no longer care so much at a time like this. He could not just watch Han Qiongzhi die.
Han Qiongzhi said sternly, “Go!”
“What?” Li Qingshan frowned. If they could enter and leave this formation as they pleased, what were they feeling fear for?
“The black lotus is the crucial point to the formation. I’ll break it, and you use this opportunity to escape! There might only be an instant, so you have to grasp it properly. Go back and seek reinforcements. Avenge me!”
If there aren’t any chances, then let’s die together! She did not manage to say that before leaping up, charging towards Qiu Ruiliu. She held a supreme grade talisman in her hand.
Blood seeped out from between her fingers, wetting the talisman in the blink of an eye. The talisman flashed. She had used the residual true qi in her blood to ignite the talisman in the most primitive way possible.
The talisman began to burn, turning into a scorching fire ball. It rapidly swelled in size and rose up like a dark-red sun. It illuminated Han Qiongzhi’s smiling face that was covered in cracks. “Die!”
“Altar Lord!” Qiu Ruiliu’s expression changed drastically. There were no Qi Practitioners who could endure the might of a supreme grade talisman.
However, before the fire ball had even reached the peak of its power, it began to dim, swallowed by the darkness. It rapidly subsided, such that only a wave of heat was left when it arrived before Qiu Ruiliu.
Han Qiongzhi’s smile vanished. Despite her despair, she continued to move, clutching a second supreme grade talisman in her hand.
Qiu Ruiliu drew a sword with a wood-grain-like pattern. He lamented, “I can’t bear for you to suffer so much, so I’ll send you off!”
A shadow flashed past Han Qiongzhi, arriving before Qiu Ruiliu. It was Li Qingshan.
Alarmed, Qiu Ruiliu swung his sword.
Li Qingshan raised his hand, and several dozen strands of sword qi shot out. Even the terrifying formation was unable to dull their edge.
Qiu Ruiliu was stunned. Criss-crossing marks covered his body before shifting slightly. Before he could even fall apart as pieces, he collapsed due to the formation, reduced to a dark-red smear.
PS: Feeling slightly unwell today, so I’m a bit late. Thank you for forgiving me!