Chapter 458 – Intentions Revealed
Li Qingshan contemplated it silently. Since he could not deal with this using a direct approach, he would have to cover it up with something else and lead the spider queen astray.
“Liusu, apart from the Rose Cloud sect currently occupied by the Daemon Suppression alliance and the academy’s Clear River city, are there any other places we can attack in the Clear River prefecture? It has to be strategic points to the war. Only then can it hold up before the Spider Queen as an explanation.”
Ye Liusu saw how he approved of her suggestion, so she smiled and came up with a suitable counterplan.
“There are. We can target spiritual stone mines!”
As the currency in the world of cultivation, spiritual stones were also important items of use. They were all mined from the individual spiritual stone mines before being forged by artifact blacksmiths into regular spiritual stones.
This was one of the most important resources to cultivators. Without spiritual stones, the mechanisms and puppets of mohism would all be rendered useless.
Fu Qingjin was able to gather all the sects together, but he was unable to take these spiritual stones along with him.
Ye Liusu took out a mental map and indicated certain spots. “There are over a dozen larger spiritual stone mines in the Clear River prefecture right now…”
“Gather everyone!” Li Qingshan swung his hand. He had to launch an attack as soon as possible so that he could draw over everyone’s attention before the daemons began massacring cities.
In the Parlour of Clouds and Rain, Li Qingshan opened his eyes and glanced at Fu Qingjin from afar. You may be an enemy, but I hope you receive my warning.
He turned towards Ru Xin. “Earlier, I…”
“Who are you? Why are you sitting beside me?” Ru Xin glanced at him before turning away again.
Li Qingshan shrugged and let out a smile.
As his summoning orders were being carried out in a hurry underground, the meeting continued in a systematic manner.
Through Li Qingshan’s eyes, he saw two worlds, one dark and one light. They both symbolised the centres of the world of humans and the world of daemons. Even though the Clear River prefecture was just a chessboard, he believed he was a rook that could move freely, one that could affect the developments of the entire chessboard.
TL: The chess reference here is actually a reference to the chariot piece in Chinese chess. It’s a piece that moves in basically the same way as the rook does in western chess, except it’s the piece that can move most freely and quickly through the board in Chinese chess, thus making it one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, piece in Chinese chess.
With the Spider Queen’s orders, the middlegame had finally arrived.
In the meeting, both sides bickered over every single point, refusing to relent no matter what it was.
Fu Qingjin sat with his arms crossed in silence. Suddenly, he frowned and pressed his finger against his ear, as if he was listening to something. A while later, he stood up and arrived in the centre of the meeting.
The disputes stopped. Everyone’s gazes landed on him.
Fu Qingjin said, “I just received news that the rock demon is dead.”
After a moment of silence, everyone became riled up again. “What? When?” “Did he succumb to the injuries dealt by that strike from fellow Fu?” “That’s fantastic! My disciples have finally been avenged!”
Various sounds reached Mind Enlightenment’s ears, but it only turned into a buzz. Only five words continued to echo through his head. The rock demon is dead. In the end, it turned into a verbal murmuring, “The rock demon is dead.” He exclaimed, “Master!” His face was already covered in tears.
Li Qingshan glanced at Mind Enlightenment from afar and muttered quietly, “That’s the end to that grievance. We no longer owe one another anything.”
Li Qingshan was rather surprised with how quickly Fu Qingjin had received the news. The death of the rock demon had been announced with the Spider Queen’s orders to massacre cities, but the news had not been spread very far.
Just where did he receive this news from?
The hall became filled with a jubilous atmosphere. The rock demon had slaughtered countless and caused great damage. The number of regular people who died to his hands had reached into the millions a long time ago, and he had killed countless cultivators too. He was like a great shadow, looming over everyone’s heads. Now that he finally faced retribution, of course they would all be overjoyed.
Even the cultivators with extremely impressive self-restraint could not help but smile. Some people even began to dance about.
However, Fu Qingjin’s next words immediately diluted the joyous atmosphere while attracting even more suspicion from Li Qingshan.
“The daemon queen has already sent out orders to massacre cities. She wants a hundred cities slaughtered in revenge for the rock demon.”
Just as everyone was surprised, Li Qingshan contemplated a certain question. How had the information been leaked?
Fu Qingjin seemed to be using some kind of high level voice transmission spiritual artifact earlier, or it would have been impossible for the message to be transmitted across such great distances, even overcoming the interference from the underground magnetic fields.
Daemon Generals could refine spiritual artifacts and use them, but spiritual artifacts like that normally came in pairs or groups. If they were to be refined, they would be refined together. Fu Qingjin would never move around with an item radiating with daemon qi on him, so it must have been the doing of a night roamer.
Who was this night roamer? There sure were a lot of hidden secrets in the world!
However, Fu Qingjin did not mention anything regarding attacking spiritual stone mines, which made Li Qingshan relax slightly. As it seemed, it was not someone from his personal guards, but a clansmen possibly. Otherwise, he would have his mirror clone turn the entire place upside down right now to sniff out the damned spy.
It was not necessarily bad news that Fu Qingjin had learnt about this beforehand. At least it could save countless cities, reduce the casualties of this war, and speed up the progress of the war.
“Fellow Fu, is that true?” Liu Zhangqing could not help but stand up. He was solemn. As the prefect of Clear River, he had the responsibility of safeguarding his citizens in the place of the emperor. More importantly, it had to do with the accumulation of merit for all confucian disciples.
“That’s right. The daemons are leading a large-scale attack, yet we’re still here bickering over puny matters. What do you think about this, sir Liu?”
Wang Pushi’s brows became firmly furrowed as Hua Chengzan let out a soft sigh.
The situation had instead pressed the academy against the wall. All of the advantages they had built up had vanished. It was impossible for the academy to turn a blind eye to the lives of millions. If the Daemon Suppression alliance just stood aside, and they had to face the daemons alone, they would definitely suffer severe losses.
Liu Zhangqing said after a moment of consideration, “Please set the rules, fellow Fu. As long as they’re not too excessive, we’re willing to accept them!”
But to everyone’s surprise, Fu Qingjin did not take advantage of the situation to maximise his benefits. Instead, he said, “You’d be underestimating me if that’s what you say, sir Liu. The objective of the Daemon Suppression alliance is to purge daemons and protect the common people. How can we pressure everyone into favourable agreements?”
“Our alliance must be centred around a common goal. If we continue to clash endlessly over our own interests, will it be different from the past at all? We’ll go with what we roughly discussed earlier as the rules. As for certain details, we’ll set them aside for now and discuss them in the future. What do you think, sir?”
“Fellow Fu is a man of noble character. You have my admiration.” Liu Zhangqing bowed deeply.
Fu Qingjin had spoken perfectly. Even the people in the academy who were very displeased with the Daemon Suppression alliance and Fu Qingjin in the past found that he truly lived up to his reputation as a disciple of the Sword Collection palace. He possessed a great bearing that regular people struggled to match.
“Please forgive me for making this decision for everyone. As people seated here, we’re all fellow cultivators to one another, so we should be standing together and helping one another in the first place. I do believe I don’t need to elaborate on the principle of mutual dependence, right? Over the past three years, who hasn’t lost people to the hands of daemons? Compared to our interests, purging daemons and avenging them is more important. Fellow Li Qingshan of the school of Novels has already made a model example out of this point.”
As Fu Qingjin spoke enthusiastically, he suddenly pointed at Li Qingshan. “A few days ago, it was exactly fellow Li Qingshan of the academy who obstructed Strongboulder from fleeing despite the tremendous danger, which led to his heavy injuries and eventual death!”
Everyone’s gazes swept over to Li Qingshan, Li Qingshan had no idea on how to react inside. Out of pure coincidence, he had instead become the ice breaker of the meeting, also earning great praise due to the rock demon’s death. If it were not for his other identity, his goodwill towards Fu Qingjin would probably skyrocket right now.
Li Qingshan stood up and clasped his hands. “Fellow Fu, you are too kind to me. As a Hawkwolf guard, this has always been my responsibility. The One Thought master of the academy died at the rock demon’s hands, and I had personally witnessed the brutality of his actions too, so I can’t just stand aside and let him run about freely.”
Mind Enlightenment’s heart heated up. He felt like he had gone a little too far with what he did to Xiao An. He felt rather ashamed.
Fu Qingjin said, “Well said.” Then he said to Li Qingshan secretly, “I hope your performance today won’t bring me disappointment.”
Under great, external pressure, the meeting about the alliance came to an end very quickly. They immediately began discussing countermeasures to the orders of slaughtering cities.
At this moment, Fu Qingjin changed the topic. “Forgive me for wasting everyone’s time, but there’s something critical that I hope the fellows of the academy can assist me with.”
Liu Zhangqing said, “Feel free to mention it, fellow Fu. As long as we can assist you, we’ll never shirk away from it.”
Fu Qingjin said, “Some of you might know a little already. I’ve carried out most of the investigations already too, so all that’s left is to tie off a few remaining loose ends, as some fellow cultivators have refused to cooperate. However, as this has to do with the death of the Soaring Dragon Elder of our Sword Collection palace, I really must handle it with my full attention.”
Everyone remembered how Fu Qingjin ran around questioning people a while back. “Where were you that day, and what were you doing?”
Li Qingshan shivered inside. He could sense the situation was taking a bad turn. With how much Fu Qingjin was rambling, he felt like he was about to reveal his true intentions.
Touching on the Soaring Dragon Elder’s death, Liu Zhangqing was prudent too. “Please elaborate, fellow Fu! Just what has happened?”
“Recently, the Soaring Dragon sword emerged, and the Sword Collection palace determined its location. That’s right, it was that day. I just want to ask a few more fellows where they were that day.” Fu Qingjin’s gaze was like a sword, sweeping across everyone present, including Li Qingshan’s face.
Li Qingshan was unperturbed and let out a small sigh of relief. I’m supposed to tell you the truth just because you’ve asked? However, he felt slightly uneasy for some reason.
“How are you so certain that the people you’ve asked already aren’t suspects?” Wang Pushi immediately stated his doubts.
Fu Qingjin let out a sigh. “Commander Wang, have you heard of the xiezhi?”
“It’s said to be a divine beast that can tell guilt from innocence, the truth from lies.”
“That’s right. This is one of the secret treasures of our Sword Collection palace, the xiezhi’s horn. It also possesses the ability to detect lies. As a result, may the fellow cultivators who did not tell me the truth back then answer my question again?”
Fu Qingjin lifted up his hand, and sure enough, the xiezhi’s horn was in there, radiating with a divine aura. He had already set up the situation, so there was no need for him to keep hiding anything. If that person really was here, he would definitely be able to force them out. With so many cultivators present, he would not be able to flee no matter what he was capable of.
As he pulled out the xiezhi’s horn, Fu Qingjin took note of everyone’s expression, especially the suspects high on the list.
Li Qingshan’s heart turned cold. Suddenly, he understood why Fu Qingjin had asked him so many questions for no reason on Bronze Cauldron mountain. It all made sense now! He could not help but experience some lingering fear. If he had spoken carelessly back then, Fu Qingjin would have gotten him good. Even if he did not expose his true identity, Fu Qingjin would probably still be able to deduce many things.
The real question was now if the xiezhi’s horn really was as magical as Fu Qingjin described it to be, how was he supposed to deal with the situation right now?