Chapter 405 – A Soldier or a General?
What a crafty old bag of bones! Li Qingshan cursed inside. With that, he would have to defeat two powerful Daemon Generals consecutively if he wanted the position, while Dragonsnail could remain uninvolved. Bloodshadown and Strongboulder were clearly rivals, so their strength were probably equal. By then, perhaps Dragonsnail would end up being the one in charge.
“Alright, then that’s decided. Northmoon, when do you plan on going ahead with this?” Spider Queen Lolth curled her lips. When it came to conflict, she would always be brimming with interest.
“I will definitely come and see ma’am Spider Queen again in three days time and battle it out with these two ‘seniors’!” Li Qingshan clasped his hands. After an initial probing, he had basically confirmed that Spider Queen Lolth was towards the warlike end of the spectrum within the daemons. She would never hand him over due to some Treaty of Kings.
Of course, the person who had the final say over this was still the Dragon King of Ink Sea who reigned over the world of daemons in the Green province. However, basically everyone could tell that war was unavoidable. The probability of the Dragon King of Ink Sea killing one of his subordinates on the spot was so low that it was basically zero.
Strongboulder was excited, Bloodshadow’s gaze was vicious, and Li Qingshan’s lips were slightly curled. The gazes of the three Daemon Generals clashed before they all turned around and took their leave.
Leaving the chamber of the throne and returning to the region of the Spider Shadow clan, Li Qingshan gazed over the entire city from a terrace.
“Sir Northmoon, how much of a chance do you think you have?” Ye Mingzhu probed him.
“Fifty percent.” Li Qingshan was neither conceited, nor did he underestimate himself. He only showed off extraordinary confidence. “If you’re willing to assist me, perhaps that might increase by ten or twenty percent.”
“I’ll definitely leave you satisfied, sir Northmoon!” Ye Mingzhu lowered her head. His chances at success were already startlingly high.
“If my ambition can come true, then how difficult can your ambition be?”
“Uncle, that little brother of mine really is very troublesome! There’s nothing I can do this time.” In the commandery city of Ruyi, Gu Yanying clutched the Ink Dragon talisman and said helplessly.
After receiving the news from the Green Vine mountain, she was tempted to capture Li Qingshan immediately and choke him until he told her just what was going on. Was he really going to ignore her previous words?
The ink dragon coiled around a few times before spitting out a sentence, “Then let them fight!”
Gu Yanying shuddered. A single word from the Dragon King of Ink Sea could overrule ten thousand from regular people. He would decide the general situation of the entire Green province with a single word, or he could even change the direction that the entire world moved towards.
“Will the peace of several millennia finally be broken?”
“Limited to the Clear River prefecture, those whose cultivation is below two heavenly tribulations.”
“What! Why?” In Cobweb city, a similar small, black dragon danced and coiled about like a black wisp, passing on the Dragon King of Ink Sea’s order. The Spider Queen beamed at first before becoming furious. The war she had thirsted for all this time was finally about to begin, but she could not be directly involved.
“Learn to use your subordinates!” said the tiny dragon before dispersing completely.
At the same time, Fu Qingjin received orders from the Sword Collection palace. From this point on, he would be completely in charge of the Daemon Suppression alliance in the Clear River prefecture. He would be able to do whatever he wanted within the Clear River prefecture. As long as he did not venture too deeply underground and reached that place called Cobweb city, the Spider Queen would not touch him. But at the same time, he would not receive the assistance of any Golden Core cultivators either.
Both of them sighed as they experienced the same thought, Are you planning on turning the fifteen hundred kilometers of the Clear River prefecture into a chessboard?
The Clear River prefecture was like a miniature version of the Green province, where the complications between the three organisations were almost identical.
No one knew how alike the thoughts of those above ground were. Had they allowed this to happen as training for the war in the future? Or, was it to use the brutal reality of war to warn those who liked fighting? Or, perhaps this was just a game within their lengthy lives! A mere gamble!
Gu Yanying stowed the Ink Dragon talisman away. Is my job just to prevent others from interrupting this game? Most of them are easy to deal with, except that the old man from Pine Sough academy. He’s very stubborn. There’s only one person who can stop him.
The heavy gales of wind whistled through the air, making the pine trees sough and ripple.
Together with the wind came the misty rain, rolling over the soughing pine trees like fog. It drifted through the mountains before colliding with a large mountain and scattering over it. Lofty structures peppered the mountain, and the doors were labeled with three powerful and charming words. It was the renowned Pine Sough academy.
The sounds of studying rang out everywhere, piercing through the autumn rain and rising into the sky.
A streak of light descended from above, arriving outside a thatched hut on the back of the mountain. A dark-skinned scholar sheathed his sword; he was a Foundation Establishment cultivator who had already gone through a heavenly tribulation. The thatched hut before him was so simple that even regular people would have found it to be overly run-down.
However, the dark-skinned scholar became cautious. He tidied his clothes and gave a great bow. “Master.”
The wooden door opened, revealing the back of someone currently bent over a table, writing. His small, skinny body held up his large robes, which seemed especially big on him. Many bottles and containers were scattered around the ground behind him. They were actually for catching the rain that ran down the hut.
“Junior brother Jiang is dead.” The dark-skinned scholar was furious. He went off to help him the moment he received Jiang Shancheng’s distress signal, but he never thought it would turn out like this. Not only was he dead, but they had even lost an extremely important Soaring Dragon ship.
When the old man finished listening to everything, he just happened to have finished writing a word. With a sweep of his arm, the sword hanging on the wall flew into his hand. The sheathe was very old, but it was simple and uncomplicated, just like him.
He strode towards the door as his aura grew, lifting up his large robes, lifting up the simple room, and lifting up the Pine Sough academy, filling the entire world.
His wrinkled face was so solemn that it was almost rigid, and his wispy, white beard drifted about gently. In the eyes of regular people, he was just a small, skinny old man, but he gave off a bearing that no regular person could imagine. It was boundless and dauntless.
He was the head scholar of Pine Sough academy, Wen Zhengming.
“I’ll be right back.”
“Please hold on, brother Wen.”
At this moment, a man emerged from the rain. He only seemed to be in his twenties, but he gave off the same, somber feeling that came from a hundred-year-old man. He wore a fancy hat and was dressed in violet. His delicate face seemed rather chilly, as if he was forcing a smile.
Sure enough, Wen Zhengming stopped. He furrowed his brows. “What has brought sir governor to my thatched hut in the mountains?”
“Originally, I had no interest in coming to your thatched hut in the mountains to speak to an old coot like you.” He was the governor of the Ruyi commandery, the Marquis of Ruyi.
“Did ma’am Gu send you to persuade me?”
“If you want revenge for your disciple, you’ll get your opportunity some day, but not right now. This is not an attempt at persuasion, but an order!”
Confucians were firm and unyielding, unfazed by poverty, incorruptible by wealth. Even if Gu Yanying had personally come, she would struggle to stop Wen Zhengming from avenging his disciple. However, the Marquis of Ruyi was the legitimate lord of the Ruyi commandery. No confucian could defy his decrees unless they decided to commit treason against confucianism; it was not because they could not, but because they were reluctant to.
In just a few words, Wen Zhengming returned to his hut and wrote away once again, but the sword continued to hang on his waist. He refused to take it off.
In the sky, Gu Yanying said to the Marquis of Ruyi, “Thank you.”
“I’ve done everything I can to fulfil your request.” The Marquis of Ruyi was no longer as chilly as before. He smiled gently, staring at her face.
Gu Yanying ignored this familiar sight. She thought with a smile,
The board has been assembled. Where be the pieces?
Li Qingshan, oh Li Qingshan. Are you going to be a soldier who won’t emerge alive, or a general who leads the army?
On the slow, rippling lake, Li Qingshan only infiltrated the Lake of Dragons and Snakes after confirming and checking multiple times that the spirit turtle’s daemon core gave off no warning, handing the Green Vine Elder and Jiang Shancheng’s hundred treasures pouches to his real body.
Passing through the Formation of Dragons and Snakes and returning to Cloudwisp island, Han Qiongzhi had already left, leaving a message behind for him.
“Old Wang wants me to return and formally become the primary disciple of the school of Legalism.”
Li Qingshan placed the message down and turned around. All he saw was a petite figure in black monk robes, leaning against the bamboo and staring at him from afar.
Li Qingshan beamed in joy. “Xiao An, get over here. I have something good to show you.”
However, Xiao An did not lunge over like before. Li Qingshan’s heart softened as a result, making his way over and squatting down. He rubbed her head. “What, are you angry?”
“Yep.” Xiao An nodded obediently.
“It’s all my fault. Please forgive me, great ma’am Xiao An!” Li Qingshan scooped her up with a smile, both apologetic and lovingly.
“You don’t want me anymore, do you?” Xiao An wrapped her arms around his neck and said gently.
“What’re you saying? I can give up on anyone, just not you!” Her tender voice made Li Qingshan’s heart ache.
“Then why didn’t you come find me at all? I was afraid of disturbing you too.” Xiao An furrowed her brows as her eyes rippled slightly like limpid water.
“I swear that it won’t happen again!” Li Qingshan stared at Xiao An’s clear, dark eyes. Whenever he spent time with her, there might not have been the entangling passion he felt with Han Qiongzhi, but he would be filled with indescribable peace and quiet, a sense of belonging.
He had once said home would be wherever he was, but that was not actually true. Only where she was was home. Perhaps he could not think about it constantly, but he would never forget it.
“Come, let me give you a kiss!”
Xiao An pecked his face heavily, and Li Qingshan smiled so resplendently that even the rainy weather was unable to hide it. Xiao An was infected by it too, revealing a shy smile of happiness.
“Let me tell you, I did something huge recently…” Li Qingshan made his way towards the loft as he showed off. He was not blazing with an imposing bearing, and he was without a sense of valiance or dauntlessness. Sometimes, he would even seem extremely petty, greedy, and lustful, riddled with problems. However, as long as it was her, he would hide nothing at all.
Their conversation after being separated for all this time actually came with an indescribable feeling of satisfaction and liberation, no less than when he piloted the ship and destroyed the Green Vine mountain. Although Xiao An only smiled and listened, just how many people in the world were such good listeners?
Qiu Haitang had said that if he loved her, then he had to protect the secret forever. She was not wrong, but she missed the most important point, which was what Li Qingshan felt. This had nothing to do with a lack of understanding. She had been imagining the perfect lover, but she never imagined a daemon would have a concept of home.
When he decided to properly cherish this relationship, to relieve Han Qiongzhi of the pain that came with his secret, even Li Qingshan himself had failed to notice the change in his mental state. He just felt like he had been neglecting Xiao An lately, which was completely wrong of him.