Chapter 332 – Fighting Paintings with Paintings
Han Qiongzhi saw how Li Qingshan had been taken away by his thoughts, so she smiled. She waved her hand around in front of him. “What are you thinking about?”
Li Qingshan said, “I’m thinking about how I’ll face li’l bro Chu.”
Han Qiongzhi furrowed her brows. “Do you really have an idea for that?”
“I might as well try it.” Li Qingshan smiled. His bronze face radiated with confidence that beamed like the sun.
Han Qiongzhi’s heart rippled as her cup halted in her hand.
“Senior sister Han, the commander’s requested you to return.”
Qian Rongzhi arrived near the bamboo loft and bowed. She seemed to ignore everything unfolding right before her.
“Thank you for your alcohol.” Han Qiongzhi placed down the cup and left in a hurry, as if she was fleeing.
Li Qingshan watched as she left. His gaze landed on Qian Rongzhi, and his smile immediately vanished. His expression became as bleak as the winter sun.
“Qian Rongzhi, I just happened to be looking for you. Why don’t you explain to me what happened in Ancient Wind city?”
Gu Yanying had restricted access to the information on what Qian Rongzhi had done as some form of protection for this “Nighthawk” who had performed a meritorious service. There were not a lot of people who knew the inside story. Li Qingshan had only managed to guess part of it because of his understanding of Qian Rongzhi.
Qian Rongzhi made her way over to the corridor and sat down. She picked up the cup that Han Qiongzhi had set down and began drinking by herself under Li Qingshan’s gaze. Then, she started explaining everything that had happened.
After he heard the entire story, even Li Qingshan could not help but sigh in amazement. Although her cultivation had not progressed much during the months he had spent in secluded cultivation, she had not been idling around. She was gaining favour with people using her own methods.
“You wouldn’t be in any danger, nor would Xiao An be in any danger. I don’t have the right to warn you of anything either.”
“Are you certain that there won’t be any danger?”
“I’m not, but that’s all because I’m too weak. From today onwards, I can no longer leave the academy anymore.” Qian Rongzhi downed the alcohol cup after cup.
Li Qingshan understood now. Regardless of how heavily injured the White Lotus Mother was, killing her would still be as easy as crushing a bug. As the greatest traitor of the White Lotus cult, she would have to live her days carefully from here on out. She tried benefitting from her betrayal, but she would have to pay the cost for it in the end.
“Commander Gu has promised me that if I can reach Foundation Establishment, she’ll take me to the Ruyi commandery.”
Li Qingshan said, “So she’s already helped you arrange a path of retreat.”
“A path of retreat? If I can’t leave the academy, just how long will it take for me to reach Foundation Establishment? A decade? Two decades? Five decades? The most likely scenario is that I won’t even reach Foundation Establishment. Even if I barely manage it, will I be able to find any peace in the Ruyi commandery?” Qian Rongzhi smiled painfully. Gu Yanying had indeed given her an abundant reward, but she was not Xiao An. She was not Chu Tian. She was not even Li Qingshan. With her talent, the heavens had basically already taken pity on her with how she had managed to reach the sixth layer.
She hated Gu Yanying uncontrollably inside. She hated her for using her like a chess piece. She hated her for clearly seeing through her hatred, yet still brushing it aside. Even more, she hated the fact that she lacked the ability to even fight back.
Li Qingshan fell silent. The world probably no longer had a place where she could shelter herself now that she was targeted by a Golden Core cultivator. This vicious woman who had made her way to the academy together with him seemed to be living in glory, but she had instead embarked on a road to ruin.
Qian Rongzhi suddenly stood up. She took out a pile of things from her hundred treasures pouch. There were large amounts of pills and spiritual stones, even a Virtue Accumulation pill among them, as well as many mid and high grade spiritual artifacts. There was even a supreme grade spiritual artifact. The Virtue Accumulation pill and the supreme grade spiritual artifact had come from Gu Yanying. They were basically precious treasures to a Qi Practitioner.
Li Qingshan wondered whether Qian Rongzhi was drunk too, and that she was even more drunk than Chu Danqing.
“I’m going to go carry out a mission, so hold onto these items for me. If I don’t return, give them to Xiao An.”
“Right now?” Li Qingshan was surprised too. He had heard about how all powerful cultivators would dabble a little in divination. If she went out right now, she would basically be throwing herself into the arms of the enemy. She would probably be tortured to death by the White Lotus Mother.
“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live like this.” Qian Rongzhi smiled charmingly and bunched her hair together. She had just conquered fate, giving her the freedom to plan and scheme as she wished, but now, because of the White Lotus cult, she had lost the ability to pivot around. All her plans were filled with the possibility of failure. Compared to death, she found this situation much more unbearable.
Now, she wanted to gamble against fate once again, just so that she could live without depending on it.
At this exact moment, the sky twisted, and dense mist sealed the islands of the academy once more. After several days and nights of urgent repair, the Formation of Dragons and Snakes was operating once more, protecting the disciples of the academy.
Many disciples in the academy stopped what they were doing and emerged from the buildings, looking up.
They all discussed with one another quietly, “We’re good now.”
“I used to find it pretty restricting, but now, I feel like going without the formation is like going without clothes.”
Countless uneasy souls settled down because of the return of the formation.
Qian Rongzhi smiled in a self-deprecating manner. She left Cloudwisp island and left the academy, setting off to face the ever-changing, unpredictable fate.
Li Qingshan stowed away the items she had passed him quietly. He neither prayed for her, nor did he curse her.
He glanced at the sky again before returning inside and beginning to write.
A scrunched up ball of paper fell onto the floor. Li Qingshan was troubled. Li Bai could string together a hundred poems after drinking, yet he, Li Qingshan, was not even able to write a fairy tale?
He had a flash of inspiration. Li Qingshan stood up. “This isn’t how you write this story!”
He arrived at the Cloudwisp association. Sun Fubai and Liu Chuanfeng were currently editing his novel urgently, but it really was quite the workload. It was a novel of a million characters, and they would have to change the entire story if they wanted to edit it. Moreover, they had to ensure continuity too. Even if they went without sleep or rest, it was not something they could complete in a few days.
Sun Fubai said, “Qingshan, time is just too tight.”
“All we can do is give it a try.” Li Qingshan then said to Liu Chuanfeng, “Help me draw some things.”
“I don’t have the time!” Liu Chuanfeng called out.
“Then I’ll go find another artist.” Li Qingshan remembered how the Cloudwisp association had quite a few artists too, who were hired to specially produce accompanying illustrations for novels.
Li Qingshan chose some young painters who were skilled in meticulous, realistic painting techniques, before telling them what he was thinking and getting them to paint it.
Ever since Li Qingshan had visited last time, everyone in the association knew that this was one of the three owners of the association, so they never dared to brush him aside. They immediately began to paint with everything they had.
Li Qingshan meditated in the meantime. A while later, a painter passed over the work he had completed. “Boss, do you think this’ll do?” The other painter began to speed up too.
Li Qingshan took a look. Sure enough, it was life-like and extraordinarily detailed. It depicted a boy of humble origins vividly, but Li Qingshan shook his head. “It won’t do. You’ve drawn him too well!”
Drawing it well was instead bad. The two painters exchanged glances.
“This is for children, so make it simpler, and don’t leave it black and white. I want full colour.” Li Qingshan affirmed his thoughts. The only way to express the wonders of this story was through pictures. Back then, he had read a picture book too.
And, he had to ensure that the pictures depicted everything. Little children had very limited vocabulary. With some further thought, he realised that what he was doing right now was no longer a so-called novel. Instead, it was a picture book or cartoon.
However, novelists in the beginning were based on rumors and gossip. They were not bound by words. Regardless of the methods he took, all that mattered were people understanding it and believing in it. He wanted to use the methods of the school of Painting to defeat the school of Painting.
He remained in the Cloudwisp association until night time. Finally, he decided on the painting style. However, no matter how he tried to simplify it, the works from the two painters were still much more detailed than the picture book in his memories.
Afterwards, he immediately gathered all the painters skilled in meticulous, realistic painting techniques and got them to copy the style. The story was extremely simple, less than a hundred pages in total.
In the end, Li Qingshan added naively simple narration at the bottom of the illustrations, and it was complete as a picture book.
Li Qingshan weighed it in his hand. This original draft was critical for summoning the characters in the book, as well as his trump card for defeating Chu Danqing.
Thirty kilometers away from Clear River city, in a small town.
Thump, thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump. A travelling pedlar swung a rattle-drum around with a carrying pole over his shoulders, walking along the small alleyway paved from stone.
A door opened within the alleyway, and a tiny head stuck out. “Pedlar uncle, is there candy?”
“There is. There’s sesame candy, barley candy, and crunchy candy. There’s each and every kind!” The pedlar cleared his throat and sang out a list of what he sold.
A group of children emerged like small monkeys, gathering around the pedlar. They all held a few copper coins.
“What’s this?” A child spotted a stack of colourful picture books on top of the goods. There were four words on there, but he only recognised the word “horse” or “Ma”.
The pedlar said, “Now you have some pretty sharp eyes. Take it.”
The children each received a book and flipped through it. Perhaps they still did not understand the contents too well, but the beautiful pictures alone had managed to enrapture them. They immediately began to hesitate. To buy candy or to buy the book?
“How much is the book? I’ll buy it!” said a little fatty. He was in possession of much more copper coins than his little friends.
“I’ll buy it too!” said the eldest child there. He had learned how to read from a private tutor, so he understood what the words were saying. He had been drawn in by the story immediately. Even if he had to go without candy, he would still buy it.
The pedlar said, “It’s free. It’s a gift. One for each person. Don’t take anymore than that!”
The children cheered.
“Can I take one too?” asked a child nervously. Compared to his companions’ cotton clothes, he wore patchy clothes, which made him seem particularly small. He did not have a single copper coin at all. He had only come to see what was going on.
“Take it!” The pedlar casually shoved two pieces of candy into the child’s mouth. The money he would make from giving out these books would be even more than clearing all the stock on him. He too was extremely happy over how he could have a prosperous year.
The pedlar travelled away, and the children gathered together.
“How pretty.” “What is this picture showing?”
The eldest child copied his tutor by clearing his throat. “Come, I’ll read it for you!”
Sun Shuping received a new draft from Sun Fubai. He planned on going back and familiarising himself with it first, thinking about how he would tell the story before teaching it to the other storytellers.
Although he felt like the novel had lost part of its charm after being edited, there were fortunately not any particularly major changes overall. As a matter of fact, if he could tell some of the turning points properly, it would be even more fascinating. Splitting open the Bright peak in a single stroke was much more interesting.
This youngest owner was not particularly old, but his writing ability was truly impressive. He was far better than that second owner, the Master of Wind and Moon.
PS: I’ve passed Singles day like it doesn’t exist. Yep, all I need to do is ignore it. Women and whatever are unimportant. Just monthly tickets are enough. Hehehehe, sobs.