Chapter 443 – The Person in the Painting
Li Qingshan’s suggestion immediately garnered everyone’s agreement. Since the alliance would definitely be going ahead, the priority right now was how to derive more benefit from the alliance. Nothing would be better than the Daemon Suppression alliance and the daemons they wanted to suppress all dying together so that they could continue cultivating in peace. However, they obviously could not openly say something like that.
Wang Pushi snorted heavily. He was rather displeased by how he was called “old Wang”. He knew this was Li Qingshan’s reply to being called “kid”. However, he agreed very much with what the brat said, and he did possess some of the right to call him that now. As a result, he decided to ignore how he had referred to him.
After some further discussion, everyone decided that Liu Zhangqing would lead the negotiation with Fu Qingjin along with a few other school leaders. However, with Fu Qingjin injured and the Daemon Suppression alliance receiving a heavy blow, they were unsure whether the meeting in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain would go ahead as planned.
Li Qingshan did not care too much about this meeting. He just felt that Fu Qingjin had chosen a very good location to hold it. As a sect, the Sect of Clouds and Rain should have joined the Daemon Suppression alliance, but since it was based in the Clear River city, it had always been mingled with the academy. It existed within a grey region between the two factions. Qiu Haitang could be regarded as a clever and capable person, so she could mediate between them.
After the meeting ended, Li Qingshan and Ru Xin bickered secretly as they made their way out.
Liu Chuanfeng glanced at Li Qingshan in the crowd and wanted to say something. Li Qingshan sensed him and turned around, but Liu Chuanfeng ended up shirking away like a mouse that had just seen a cat, lowering his head and leaving. He left Li Qingshan rather confused.
Suddenly, Chu Danqing appeared before them. He bowed towards Li Qingshan first before asking Ru Xin, “Senior sister, could you send someone to take a look at my master?”
“Danqing, you’ve reached Foundation Establishment too? What’s wrong with your master?” Li Qingshan noticed he had already reached Foundation Establishment. The naivety had vanished from his face. He no longer seemed as dazed as when he first left the mountains. Instead, he was anxious, and it clearly had nothing to do with the daemons.
“My master has been feeling rather unwell.” Chu Danqing forced out a smile before looking at Ru Xin again.
Ru Xin said in confusion, “Hasn’t my master been taking care of master Chu’s body the entire time?”
“Senior Hua Ci said, ‘Doctors can’t cure the helpless, just like how buddha can only bring salvation to those who are destined. Sir, your life force is almost all but exhausted. No medicine can save you.’ After that, he stopped visiting.” Chu Danqing was overcome with worry.
Li Qingshan shook his head. That dark-skinned old man sure was blunt and direct. He could have comforted him a little at the very least. He wondered whether Ru Xin had turned out like this because of his influence.
“Since my master’s said that, it might be… Fine, I’ll take a look.” Ru Xin originally wanted to turn him down, but when Chu Danqing’s pleading gaze became almost pitiful, she changed her mind and agreed.
Chu Danqing thanked her several times, leading the way in a hurry.
Li Qingshan knew he was probably just doing everything he could do and was touched by his filial piety. He could not help but let out a sigh. He thought of something and followed along as well.
Ru Xin said, “Why’re you coming along?”
Li Qingshan said, “To visit, obviously. You can say there’s a bit of fate that master Chu and I met.” He paused slightly and changed the topic. “I have a few works of calligraphy that I’d like master Chu to appraise.” He had remembered the three pieces of the Cursive Sword Caligraphy.
They were on the verge of an alliance and on the brink of a great battle. Increasing his strength as a human was his priority right now. If he could restore these three fragments of the Cursive Sword Calligraphy, he could potentially obtain a powerful arcane artifact. In the past, he was worried it would lead to trouble, but now, there was nothing to worry about. Paintings and literature had always gone hand in hand. He could not really depend on Liu Chuanfeng, so he would have to find a painter for this instead.
Chu Danqing’s worries eased up slightly. He smiled. “Thank you, senior brother. My master likes calligraphy very much. Perhaps he’ll feel a little better after appreciating a few works.”
Through these years of construction, the school of Painting had become quite the sight to behold. There were sculpted pillars and painted walls, small bridges and flowing water, forming a pleasant scenery.
Although the war had never stopped, the school of Painting primarily focused their efforts on painting and not actual battles in person. As a result, they normally did not have to carry out any dangerous missions. They were mainly responsible for painting on the island and handing them over to the academy, which would give the other disciples an additional safeguard. They had not lost many disciples, so it was bubbling with activity.
As they moved around, they were all dressed in white, but it was unlike the pure-white of the school of Medicine. They painted pictures of birds, flowers, landscape, and people. The streams gurgled as the fish swam through them. They would move about freely, which was difficult to put into words.
Under Chu Danqing’s lead, Li Qingshan and Ru Xin arrived before a residence surrounded by pine and cypress trees. The flowers and plants at the front were impervious to the cold, blooming brightly. Butterflies fluttered between the flowers. It was a wonderful sight to behold.
“Master Chu’s paintings truly are almost divine.” Li Qingshan held a butterfly in his palm. Through his soul sense, he could feel that the butterflies and flowers were not real.
Chu Danqing scratched his head in some embarrassment. “I painted all of these. You’re too kind, senior brother. They’re nowhere near as great as the wonderful techniques of the school of Novels that can conjure anything and everything. Could you wait outside for a moment, senior brother?”
“The school of Novels is nice, but it’s a pity that it relies on the external environment so much. It can’t be compared to how painters can just remain in seclusion and paint. Alright, you better go!” Li Qingshan nodded with a smile. He had almost forgotten about his identity as the primary disciple of the school of Novels.
However, when he peered inside his body, he discovered that the power of belief gathered within his Divine Talisman of Great Creation had already become extremely abundant before he knew it. He could not help but beam. Now this is the virtue of the school of Novels. Even if I toss it to the back of my mind, it’ll gather power endlessly.
Liu Chuanfeng took a rather passive stance, but as the one truly behind the Cloudwisp association, Sun Fubai had never stopped pouring in his efforts. His efforts and perseverance were the primary reason why he had managed to accumulate so much power of belief. If he refined the Divine Talisman of Great Creation again with his spiritual energy, he would be able to reach a whole new realm. He would not have to rely on the figures and objects in the novels anymore. Instead, he would be able to directly turn fiction into reality, the intangible into the tangible. He would be able to do whatever he wanted. It would be an impressive source of power.
It made him think of Liu Chuanfeng. As it seemed, it was time for him to return to Cloudwisp island to take a look and plan for the future. He had a vague feeling that this power would play a critical role at a certain moment in the future.
“Since you’ve come, you might as well come in too!”
Chu Shidao’s old, feeble voice rang out from the residence. Even with Li Qingshan’s ignorance of the medical arts, he could tell he was growing feeble and his life was coming to an end from his voice.
“Please.” All Chu Danqing could do was invite him in. Li Qingshan and Ru Xin stepped in. The decor in the residence was very simple and elegant.
Chu Danqing followed closely behind them, but his face became slightly gloomy. The residence was arranged in exactly the same way as where he learnt how to paint in the mountains. That was the place that had made him feel the warmest in his entire life. To a little beggar who lived day-to-day wandering the streets, it was basically paradise that was only mentioned in the legends. Yet now, it only amplified his sorrow.
“Danqing, you’ve returned.” A regular woman in a coarse dress emerged from behind to welcome them.
Chu Danqing said with respect, “Mistress, this is senior sister Ru Xin and senior brother Li.”
“Are you the Li Qingshan who won the Heavenly Maiden Scatters the Blossoms from us? I’ve heard many things about you.” The woman bowed gracefully. Without any makeup on, she studied Li Qingshan somewhat curiously.
Li Qingshan was astounded. He had learned that Chu Shidao took a painting as his wife a long time ago. Was it her? However, she was not as startlingly beautiful as the rumors claimed her be. She was only on par with a pretty woman of humble origins at most. However, even until now, he had not sensed a hint of fakeness from her. Her lively aura of life and her eyes filled with emotion were no different from a real person’s.
Now this was called truly divine!
“This way please,” the woman said.
They arrived in a bedroom. Chu Shidao laid on a bed. He propped himself up and clasped his hands. “I’m not too well, so please forgive me for failing to welcome you at the door.” His white hair was messy. Although his face was sunken and on the decline, his bearing still held up. The woman arrived behind him quietly and combed his hair for him. She gently hummed a tune to herself, not worried at all.
“You’re too kind, senior. Please allow me to check your pulse.” Ru Xin approached him, but Chu Shidao waved his hand. “There’s no need. I’m not a doctor, but I still can calculate how much time I have. Danqing, you’ve done something pointless again.”
“Danqing is doing all of this out of his devotion to you, yet an old thing like you won’t even appreciate it.” The woman smacked Chu Shidao’s head gently.
Chu Shidao lost his temper. “I’m teaching my disciple a lesson! Why do I need you butting in? Get out!”
The woman walked towards the wall without saying anything. A yellowing, blank scroll hung there. She walked right into it, turning into a painting that stared at Chu Shidao at ease.
Li Qingshan thought, Even Chu Shidao is losing control over his anger despite his cultivated character in the face of death, but you can’t blame him for that. It has already reached a time like this, yet this “mistress” is still so unfazed. She’s just a painting after all. No matter how human-like she seems, she won’t understand human feelings.
Chu Shidao pointed at the painting and yelled, “Danqing, roll up the painting. Don’t let me see her.”
Chu Danqing was troubled, but he was afraid of defying his master. He bowed at the painting. “Mistress, master is in a bad mood. You…” Before he could even finish talking, the “mistress” turned around. Chu Danqing went up to roll her up, passing her to Chu Shidao.
Chu Shidao let out a long sigh as the anger on his face melted away like ice. He smiled. “I’ve made a fool of myself before the two of you.”
Li Qingshan said, “Senior, your body comes first, so why must you be angry over a painting? If you find her dissatisfying, you can just switch her out for another painting.”
Chu Danqing frowned. She was not just a painting, but a gentle woman who had watched him grow up. She was akin to his mother.
Chu Shidao smiled. “I don’t have the leisure. Even if you give me another century, I won’t be able to paint her.”
His gaze deepened, and he stroked the painting gently. “When I painted her, I was still a mere Qi Practitioner who had barely grasped the basics. Let alone the lack in charm, I even did a bad job with her appearance. I originally wanted to paint an unmatched beauty, yet this was all I could manage. She could barely leave the painting scroll, and she did not seem alive at all. Even when she spoke, she was like a parrot. She was completely absent-minded. She would always knock over the inkstone whenever she grinded ink for me.”
“After- afterwards, for some reason, she just became more and more… Actually, I was the same as Danqing. Although I liked painting, I never actually planned on marrying a painting. Life is unpredictable!” Chu Shidao sighed with a smile. He held the scroll like he was holding a great treasure. He was completely attached to it.
Li Qingshan and Ru Xin exchanged glances. Both of them were speechless. What he poured in was not effort and ink, but a lifetime of emotions, allowing this clumsy piece of an apprentice to become a living being that understood feelings.