Chapter 418 – Waking Up
This was a small city three hundred and fifty kilometers from Clear River city. It was a small city, but it still had a population of several tens of thousand people. However, piles of corpses and puddles of blood spanned as far as the eye could see.
The red blood soaked the ground, drying into a black mess before the winter froze it cold. It was sticky and slippery.
With every step Li Qingshan took, he would alarm countless crows as well as various other unknown scavenging birds of prey. However, the strangest part about it was there were no signs of invading enemies at all.
A madam dressed in an apron firmly embedded her kitchen knife into a man’s head. However, right before his death, the same man attacked her, crushing her throat. Their faces were twisted with hatred the moment before they died, as if they were facing their greatest enemy. And, it was possible to tell from where they lay that they were clearly husband and wife. The virtuous madam had probably finished making dinner and had come out to call the man in.
A regular soldier with a spear pierced the chest of an armoured military officer. At the same time, he was pierced by three other spears, whose wielders were dressed in the same uniform. They seemed to be soldiers and officers responsible for defending the city, but they had become icy-cold corpses now. They had forgotten about their responsibilities and killed one another.
A little girl with her hair tied into buns used her hemp waistband to choke another child to death. Her head had become dented by the metal ball that the other child originally played with. Their faces were twisted with viciousness and murderousness that did not belong to children. The bloody metal ball had rolled to one side. Originally, this was a very ordinary game between two friends.
Wives killed their husbands, soldiers killed their officers, and friends killed their companions.
It was as if the people in the city had all gone insane, attacking the people around them and all perishing together.
Li Qingshan could vaguely guess whose handiwork this all was. He clenched his fist as his face became rather ugly.
“I thought you’d like it! Thankfully, it’s winter. If it were summer, there’d be much more to see!” Qian Rongzhi walked over from behind.
“Aren’t there any people who try to deal with this?”
“There were in the beginning, but after a few massacres, they came to their senses. Who would sacrifice themselves for regular people who are no different from ants? Oh right, there was one a while back. The One Thought master came to bring salvation, and he challenged the rock demon, but he lost.”
“The rock demon!?” Li Qingshan confirmed his thoughts inside. It could not be wrong. This was the power of the Rock of Slaughter. Strongboulder had arrived here and unleashed his natural power, making everyone descend into madness and kill one another.
To a daemon like him, massacring an entire city was a piece of cake. If Li Qingshan were willing, he could kick up an earthquake here and reduce the entire city to ruins.
“You still don’t know, do you?” Right now, the daemons are being commanded by the rock demon and the blood demon. They’re both powerful daemons who have massacred countless cities. The cities massacred by the rock demon are all like this, while the cities massacred by the blood demon won’t have a single drop of blood left. There aren’t a lot of people who can hold their ground against them, whether it’s from the academy or the Daemon Suppression alliance.”
“Then what are we doing here? What’s there to investigate?”
“We’re here to collect corpses.”
“This is an easier job, alright? I can tell Hua Chengzan is taking very good care of you. Look, what’s that?” Qian Rongzhi pointed ahead.
Under the setting sun, a tottering figure stood up.
A survivor! Li Qingshan’s heart skipped a beat, but he immediately dismissed that thought. The figure was a stalwart farmer. His eyes were completely white with long, protruding teeth. His body had already become blue, wrapped with corpse qi. Suddenly, he turned around and locked onto the aura of the living. With a growl, he lunged towards Li Qingshan. A wooden cart blocked his way, but he directly smashed through it.
“That’s a zombie!” Li Qingshan suddenly understood.
Qian Rongzhi rushed over with a flash. A bronze bangle flew out from her hand and smashed into the zombie’s head. The zombie vanished, and with a flash, the bronze bangle returned to her hand. A bloody mark had appeared on it, almost covering the entire bangle.
“The deceased hold extremely great resentment. They only need to be slightly refined, and they’ll become Corpse Soldiers who can serve in battle. All the Corpse Soldiers produced from cities massacred by the rock demon have the best quality. Their murderousness and malice linger without dispersing. They can even become zombies by themselves and be refined into Corpse Generals.” Qian Rongzhi smiled sweetly.
Corpses climbed up to their feet. Under the setting sun, they growled at the sky, as if they were baring their fangs at it in resentment.
Li Qingshan was shocked by this. His attempt to lecture Qian Rongzhi was reduced to silence when it reached his lips. He was responsible for everything before him.
He could try to justify himself, blaming the Daemon Suppression alliance as the ones who started it all and the fact that war between humans and daemons was unavoidable in the first place. He could say that he only played the role of a soldier in this. However, all of his excuses seemed pitiful before this sight. Even just one ten-thousandth of the responsibility weighed as heavily as a mountain.
Disregarding what Li Qingshan felt, Qian Rongzhi made her way around gracefully and subdued these zombies one by one. Xiao An tugged Li Qingshan’s sleeve, worried and concerned for him.
Li Qingshan rubbed her head and silently got to work, collecting corpses.
A racoon-like daemon moved around through the streets, constantly changing directions and avoiding the balls of exploding fire.
Balls of fire flew over the city, illuminating the night. A few disciples from the Fire Cloud sect, dressed in scarlet clothes, were in hot pursuit, unleashing balls of scorching fire and setting whole regions ablaze.
The entire city smoked, engulfed by fire. Noises and wails rose up into the sky like the smoke.
Li Qingshan gazed down from the sky in the distance, and he felt strangely surprised. From his perspective, it just seemed like a few cultivators committing widespread arson.
Before they had even completed the first mission, a second mission arrived. The traces of a daemon were discovered in this city and needed to be eliminated. However, this was what he saw when he arrived.
“Someone’s beat us to it. They’re from the Fire Cloud sect,” Qian Rongzhi said.
“What are they doing?”
“Purging daemons, obviously. It’s fine. Once they succeed, we’ll just kill them too. We can even get our hands on a few hundred treasures pouches. Don’t look at me like that. If they have the opportunity, they won’t show any mercy either. The academy’s lost a lot of disciples, but it’s not like they only died to the fangs and claws of daemons.”
The threat of the daemons had not united the humans. Instead, it broke the original order, making all conflicts even more violent. The Rock of Slaughter was not present, but killing one another had already become the norm. No one would mind obtaining a few hundred treasures pouches without facing any danger at all. It was not like anyone would look into the matter with the current chaos anyway.
Before Qian Rongzhi had finished speaking, Li Qingshan already flew down.
“Oh no. Senior brother, we’ve let it escape!”
The racoon-like daemon was extremely nimble. It turned around a corner and vanished. When the disciples of the Fire Cloud sect rushed over, all they saw was a small hole in the corner of the walls. They could not help but feel overcome with dismay. That was a daemon core!
At this moment, Li Qingshan descended from the sky. The disciples of the Fire Cloud sect immediately became vigilant. However, all they saw was Li Qingshan wave his hand and conjure a few water dragons, lunging into the fire and putting out the firestorm.
These techniques immediately made the disciples of the Fire Cloud sect change in expression. This definitely was not someone they could handle.
“May I ask which senior brother you are? How come we’ve never seen you before?” The leader of the group was an eighth layer Qi Practitioner, gathering his courage to pay respects to Li Qingshan. Seeing how Li Qingshan had appeared in the eye of the public, he did not immediately behave like he was about to kill and rob him.
“Did you catch the daemon?” Li Qingshan stood on the roof and asked them from above.
“We didn’t, or we’d definitely offer it up to you.”
“Do you know how many people you’ve just killed?” Li Qingshan gazed at the city. Plumes of smoke still rose up into the sky. With his superhuman hearing, he could clearly hear the many sobs and moans, rising up into the night sky in a playful manner.
In the blink of an eye, countless families had been destroyed. Even with the heart of steel that Li Qingshan believed he possessed, he was unable to remain indifferent to all this.
“If we don’t kill the daemon, it’ll just lead to even more deaths!” That disciple of the Fire Cloud sect sure was righteous. He clearly possessed much more resolve than Li Qingshan. Afterwards, he feigned pity. “Oh, we didn’t want to do this either! We were just careless, letting the daemon take advantage of us.”
Most of the battles between humans and daemons would not occur in the wilderness, but in cities. Powerful daemons would massacre cities in anger, while weaker daemons would make use of the complex layout of human cities to hide and prey on humans. This was commonplace. Whenever they began fighting, they would cherish their own lives the most. Why would they care about the lives of regular people?
Li Qingshan waved his hand, and as if spared, the disciples all flew away from the city, gradually turning into specks of firelight before suddenly going out.
“Another mission.” Qian Rongzhi walked over from where the firelight had been extinguished. Her collection of corpses had increased yet again.
Li Qingshan turned a deaf ear to her. He stood with his arms crossed, sinking into his thoughts. He was like a statue in the darkness.
“What, after three years of seclusion, the vicious tiger’s become a cowardly cat?” Qian Rongzhi smiled faintly. Originally, she thought there would be even more opportunities for her to collaborate with him, but his behaviour had left her slightly disappointed or even angered. Perhaps she should risk her life to anger him!
Xiao An glanced at Qian Rongzhi. Qian Rongzhi raised her hands and shrugged, no longer saying anything else.
“Thank you, great immortal! Thank you!” The common folk gathered over beneath the roof, lowering their heads, thanking him and asking for help. Li Qingshan ignored all of it, and the crowd dispersed.
Before he knew it, a night had passed. The many stars receded, and the east lit up.
In a corner, Qian Rongzhi, who was currently holding Xiao An’s hand and speaking with her, suddenly raised her head, looking at Li Qingshan. Gradually, a familiar feeling began to awaken from him, which made her tremble slightly. The rising sun in the east coated him in a layer of gold.
“Time to go, Xiao An. Let’s go back.” Li Qingshan opened his eyes, no longer lost or confused. It was filled with composed determination.
Xiao An leapt up, arriving beside him and grabbing him by a finger.
“The mission!” Qian Rongzhi said.
“You’d better just handle these boring missions yourself!” Li Qingshan behaved like he had just woken up, slightly lazy. He abandoned Qian Rongzhi and took off with Xiao An.
The three years were like a dream. He had woken up now.
Qian Rongzhi raised her head and watched him disappear into the horizon. She suddenly smiled. You have some more value of use when you’re like this!
In the windy sky, Xiao An cast a questioning glance at him.
“I’m not you. I can’t help neither. I can’t cut off everything. I will bear my responsibilities, my responsibilities as a human, my responsibilities as a daemon.” Li Qingshan stared at the glimmering horizon, and his lips curled up. His smile was slightly exuberant and naive, as if he was still that high-spirited, young, gallant wanderer.
“I’m not a particularly clever person, nor can I come up with any good ideas. However, as long as I kill both sides, the war will stop!”