Chapter 339 – Decision
Li Qingshan’s figure attracted quite a lot of attention as he whistled through the air.
A group of disciples of the school of Agriculture were currently tending to their crops in the fields. They raised their heads and pointed at the sky.
“Look, what’s that?”
‘Seems like Li Qingshan!”
The agriculture disciple all marveled at him. Indescribable envy filled their eyes. Before they knew it, Li Qingshan had already become a prominent figure of the academy. All the people that he normally got along with or did not get along with were all renowned figures too.
Recently, there were even rumors that the leader of the school of the Military, Han Anjun, was interested in taking him in as a son-in-law, betrothing the second senior sister of the school of Legalism to him. In just one short year, he had gone from being a disciple of the most humiliating school of Novels to this step. He basically seemed like a figure of legends to cultivators who originated from a similar background to him.
“Hey, Li Qingshan. Doesn’t he come from the same village as you?”
Li Long stood within a watery paddy with bare feet as he neatly arranged the tender rice seedlings. This was not Longevity island, but an island specially allocated to new disciples by the school of Agriculture for farming. He had obtained a plot of land too.
He raised his head and watched the faint blue trajectory vanish into the horizon. He could still remember how his master had once said that Li Qingshan would become an impressive figure in the future. But probably even his master had never imagined he would reach this step!
He lowered his head and smiled. “Exactly. He’s the great hero of our Crouching Ox village.”
During the testing last spring, his wood affinity was evaluated to be low yi. He passed the test for the school of Agriculture and became a disciple there.
Back then, village head Li had sent him off to the Iron Fist school to learn martial arts exactly because he did not want his son to tend to the fields, but he probably never expected he would still return to the fields in the end. The school of Agriculture really was appropriate for a backgroundless disciple of average talent like him.
The plants he grew were crops with a spiritual aspect. They could replace pills and gradually improve his constitution. He could eat whatever he grew, or he could exchange them with his seniors and juniors. If there was a surplus, he could even sell them for spiritual stones.
Compared to the other schools, a life in the school of Agriculture was monotonous and repetitive. They would weed the fields and use true qi to nurture the seedlings in a constant cycle. Many people found it boring, so they would frequently call a few friends and go have some fun in the Clear River city. The young master of the Iron Fist school had invited Li Long to come along several times too.
However, Li Long had turned down all his invitations. He still had to pay back his debt of a hundred spiritual stones to Li Qingshan, and he had to pay for the school fees next year. Additionally, he had to work hard on cultivation to avoid the compounding fees. He could not afford to sit back and relax.
Gradually, the young master of the Iron Fist school stopped visiting him. Apart from attending classes, he would spend every moment from dawn to dusk in the fields, covered in dirt. He would fall asleep the moment his head hit the pillow, almost suffocating from the heavy pressure.
He remembered a year of severe drought when he was young. With his father, he would travel almost ten kilometers along a mountain path for water. When they poured the water they brought back into the fields, it would evaporate in an instant. It had truly been a despairing sight. After a single day, his hands had become covered in blisters.
His grandfather sighed that farming was contending over fate against the heavens. Yes, contending over fate against the heavens. This was not just a special characteristic of cultivators!
Perhaps it was because all his ancestors were farmers, so the blood of a farmer flowed through his veins too. Through this primitive labour, he gradually experienced unprecedented joy. As he watched the seedlings thrive and grow with each passing day as he nurtured them with true qi, they seemed to be nurturing him too.
Before he knew it, his cultivation had broken through the natural barrier for regular Qi Practitioners from the jianghu. He surpassed protector Yan and reached the third layer.
On that day, he laid down in the fields and cried out in joy. As his tears fell onto the fields, he thought back to when the severe drought had ended back then. As heavy rain fell from the sky, he had rolled around happily in the puddles. This kind of joy was well beyond anything sleeping with a woman in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain could offer.
From that day onwards, he made up his mind. Even if the school of Music was holding free, public concerts, he would not be attending them. As Li Qingshan challenged the military disciples, he did not go and watch either. Only today did he suddenly realise that he was no longer envious of Li Qingshan.
An agriculture disciple said, “The test is coming up. I heard he knows the Spiritual Rain technique. Why don’t you get him to water your fields?”
The school of Agriculture also had their way of competing against one another, which was seeing who had tended to their crops better. The victors would receive some rewards.
Li Long brushed off the dirt from his hands and smiled. “I’ll go ask him and see if he has the time.” In the past year, he had not even visited Li Qingshan once. He had found himself to be slightly inferior, and he did not want Li Qingshan to think that he was trying to get on his good side. Now that he no longer felt any envy, he obviously had no sense of inferiority either. And, he could finally return some of his kindness from back then.
When he saw this fellow villager again, Li Qngshan almost struggled to recognise him. His face was tanned, his hands were coarse, and he radiated with a rustic aura. He no longer bore any resemblance to the high-spirited talent of Crouching Ox village of the past anymore. His gentle and mild eyes revealed an aura that differed vastly from before.
When Li Long saw Li Qingshan again, he felt something similar. He was mature and confident, strutting around proudly. His name, Qingshan, had once been mocked for many years in the village, but Li Long could now understand what the name entailed.
Li Long took out a sack of spiritual rice. “I planted it myself. Try it! I’m still lacking a little in terms of spiritual stones, so if you’re not in a hurry, just another year should be enough.”
“There’s no hurry. It doesn’t matter even if I have to wait for another three or five years. It’s not like you can run away.” Li Qingshan opened the sack of rice and took a look. Every single shiny grain of rice was the size of a peanut, radiating with a faintly scented spiritual qi. He praised, “Nice rice. I think this rice is enough to make up for fifty spiritual stones. If you can bring me another three sacks, we’ll be in the clear.”
“Maybe next year. I still need to keep some for myself, whether it’s to eat or to sell!” Li Long nodded gratefully, not because of the spiritual stones, but because of the respect. He glanced past the bamboo forest that covered most of the island. “It really is quite a pity with this land and those bamboo shoots.”
The land allocated to each agriculture disciple would still be limited after all. The school of Novels definitely had the lowest population density in the academy right now.
As one of the main islands, Cloudwisp island was a first-class spiritual ground, obviously much better than the island where Li Long planted the rice. If he could plant here, there would be quite the harvest as long as he tended to them slightly, even without putting in much effort. And, the bamboo shoots that burst out from the ground were filled with spiritual qi as well.
Li Qingshan came to an even deeper understanding that Cloudwisp island really was a treasured place. He could not just let others take it away. “If you want to, then feel free to clear part of the land and plant on it. You can pick these bamboo shoots as you wish too. I don’t have the time to tend to them anyway.”
Although the spiritual bamboo shoots could replace pills, their effects were limited, so they were not particularly worth it to him. He would be much better off learning alchemy from Ru Xin.
Li Long began to slightly regret that he had not visited Cloudwisp island sooner, but he refused to take advantage of Li Qingshan’s generosity. In the end, they reached the agreement that half of all the crops Li Long planted and half of the bamboo shoots he harvested would go to Li Qingshan.
Not only could he help a fellow villager, but he would also receive many free things, so Li Qingshan happily agreed to it. Even if he did not eat these items himself, they were still quite a good choice to feed Milliped with so that he could recover.
Speaking of which, it was about time this guy woke up from hibernation!
Right as he thought that, he felt the bug pouch on his waist twitch. He happily agreed to Li Long’s request to water the fields.
“I still have some other matters to tend to, so you should go back first! I’ll be there in a second!”
After Li Long had left, Li Qingshan released Milliped and fed him the entire sack of spiritual rice. “There’s no hurry. There’ll be bamboo shoots to eat later too, so just bear with me a little more. I’ll take you back underground very soon.”
After satisfying Milliped and sending him back into the bug pouch, he went to Li Long and helped him out by using the Spiritual Rain technique a few times. He waited until Xiao An had come back from dealing with the school of Buddhism. After that, the two of them passed through the Formation of Dragons and Snakes, leaving the academy.
They went to Clear River city first. Li Qingshan wanted to travel around and use Chu Danqing’s paintings this time so that he could complete a few missions along the way. Earning some merit would obviously be for the best.
The black-clothed envoy in charge of the missions tended to his needs immediately. He took out the missions log and allowed Li Qingshan to browse through it.
Li Qingshan looked through it and chose missions carefully. Coincidentally, he saw a notice at the end of a mission that it was currently being undertaken. The person responsible for it was Qian Rongzhi. He asked, “Has Qian Rongzhi returned?”
“Ma’am Qian has returned twice before immediately taking on a new mission and leaving.”
All three missions had taken her to extremely remote regions far away from the prefectural city.
Li Qingshan thought, Not only is this woman vicious to others, but she basically treats herself no differently. She’s basically trying to commit suicide.
After choosing his missions, Li Qingshan was just about to leave when the envoy in black suddenly said, “Sir Li, ma’am Han is currently upstairs.”
Nothing spread faster in the world than gossip. The two directly involved in the matter were clueless, but it had already led to quite the hubbub within the Hawkwolf Guard. The Han family looking for a son-in-law was no small news.
Li Qingshan said, “Senior sister Han is here too? Then I need to pay her a visit.”
“Sir Li, do be careful. Ma’am Han has been in a very bad mood lately.”
Li Qingshan knew that it probably had something to do with him. He felt rather ashamed about this, so there was even more reason for him to go and explain himself.
The joyous spring sunlight poured into the room.
Han Qiongzhi currently furrowed her brows as she sat in Hua Chengzan’s original spot, dealing with official business. Her shoulder-length hair had been dyed a golden brown, but her face was as bleak as winter. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door, and she said coldly without even looking up, “Come in.”
Li Qingshan made Xiao An wait outside as he entered through the door alone. “Senior sister Han!”
As soon as Han Qiongzhi saw Li Qingshan, anger began to bubble in her. Ever since that night, she thought their relationship had undergone some development. She was just waiting for him to come find her. However, no matter how she waited, no one came. After a slight investigation, she learnt that he had gone into secluded cultivation again, but he did not even give her a notice beforehand.
Her face immediately became frosty as she yelled, “Get out!”
Li Qingshan sighed gently and backed out again.
“Come back!” Han Qiongzhi leapt to her feet. She never thought he would not even be willing to explain himself.
Li Qingshan said, “What else is there?”
“You- you drive me crazy!” Han Qiongzhi bit her lip as she felt both furious and irritated. She could still recall everything that had happened that night vividly. Never had she cast aside her pride to get close to a man, yet she was brushed aside without the slightest acknowledgement like this.
Li Qingshan was unwilling to see her like this. This was the first woman to like him in his current life, and she seemed much more realistic and adorable compared to Gu Yanying, who was currently beyond reach.
If it were possible, he did not want to let down her feelings either, but since fate opposed them, there was no need for him to trouble himself over this. All he could do was apologise. “Let’s go, Xiao An!”
Within the long corridor, Li Qingshan walked away with his brows furrowed. Xiao An followed behind him closely. Suddenly, she raised her hand and grabbed him by the sleeve.