Chapter 459 – Judgement
Liu Zhangqing considered it. Fu Qingjin had already demonstrated so much commitment to this, and he had taken such a great concession in the negotiations too. If they still refused to cooperate, it would be far too unreasonable of them.
He looked back and asked the people of the academy, “Do you have any objections?”
Everyone remained silent, only glancing at one another.
If someone objected at a time like this, they would probably garner actual suspicion. None of them could afford to become involved with the death of an elder of the Sword Collection palace.
“Fellow Fu, please go ahead. I believe no one in our academy will be connected to this, and if there really is someone, we definitely won’t side with them. We’ll definitely make them give the Sword Collection palace a proper explanation.”
“You have my admiration for how impartial you are, sir.” Fu Qingjin clasped his hands. He strolled over to the semicircular stand where everyone sat and scanned around. No matter who he saw, their hearts tensed up.
In the end, Fu Qingjin’s gaze landed on Li Qingshan’s face, and he smiled.
Li Qingshan’s heart tensed up too. This bastard buttered him up good, but never did he think he would be the one questioned first. If he really were questioned, he would give himself away regardless of whether he answered or not.
What was he supposed to do next? Admit he had found the sumeru ring? But that would be a lie, and it would be picked up by the xiezhi’s horn. Fu Qingjin would definitely get to the bottom of this.
Or perhaps he could directly kill his way out of here, but that would be even worse. If Fu Qingjin wanted to prevent him from leaving, he would unleash the Green Ruins Illusion. Unless he transformed, he was unable to break out at all, but if he did transform, there were almost a hundred Foundation Establishment cultivators here. They would not simply idle around.
Fu Qingjin had cast out an all-encompassing net. Once he reeled it in, Li Qingshan would be thrown into dire straits.
Various thoughts flickered through his head. Fortunately, Li Qingshan had already established some foundations with his ability to act, so he frowned slightly. “Don’t tell me you’re suspecting me, fellow Fu?”
“I’m not…” Before Fu Qingjin had even finished speaking, a roar of laughter erupted, as the xiezhi’s horn in his hand actually lit up.
“The xiezhi’s horn truly lives up to its reputation.” Li Qingshan smiled.
The xiezhi divine beast passed impartial judgement. It only knew right and wrong, regardless of who it was.
Fu Qingjin smiled bitterly and rubbed his nose. He said clearly, “I admire your courage and adaptability very much, so I really don’t hope it’s you. I want to question you last.”
The xiezhi’s horn did not respond, proving he was telling the truth.
“Whatever you want.” Li Qingshan said without minding at all as he eased up inside, but his feelings also became rather mixed. What would Fu Qingjin say once he exposed him?—“I didn’t think it would be you!”? How was he supposed to answer?—“Sorry, I’m a police officer!”
Stop kidding around.
He had avoided it for now, but the danger was nowhere close to being over. It had just been temporarily delayed. Li Qingshan thought long and hard. Just how was he supposed to fool the xiezhi’s horn? The ox demon? The tiger demon? The spirit turtle? None of them seemed to work.
Fu Qingjin paced around a little more and arrived before the slovenly daoist priest, Zhou Tong. He bowed deeply. “Please answer me, senior!”
Fu Qingjin had questioned Zhou Tong in the past, but as the person closest to Golden Core in all of Clear River prefecture, he had developed an unscrupulous character where he did whatever he wanted. Why would he pay any attention to Fu Qingjin?
But given the current situation, even Zhou Tong was forced to answer. He said seriously, “You’re a real fucking likable kid!”
The xiezhi’s horn lit up brightly, leading to another roar of laughter. Zhou Tong said, “It sure is useful!”
Fu Qingjin said, “Please continue, senior!”
“I feel joy from the bottom of my heart when I see you!” The xiezhi’s horn lit up once more.
“Fu Qingjin is wise and kind-hearted… The Daemon Suppression alliance is justice and righteousness… May the Sword Collection palace prosper for many generations to come…”
The xiezhi’s horn flashed constantly, and Zhou Tong resorted to cursing aloud. The people of the academy laughed a few times, but when they saw the faces of the people from sects becoming more and more warped, the laughter gradually died down.
Only Fu Qingjin continued to smile. “Senior, if you haven’t had enough, I can make some time and let senior go on for three days and three nights. However, please don’t forget that the daemon armies underground have already begun assembling. A hundred cities will be reduced to hells of blood before long.”
Zhou Tong’s cursing came to a sudden halt. No matter how uncontrollable he was, he was still a person after all. In the face of a righteous cause, even he could not act stubbornly and recklessly. He gazed at Fu Qingjin deeply. “I haven’t seen that Soaring Dragon Elder or whoever you’re talking about, let alone some Soaring Dragon sword.”
The xiezhi’s horn finally dimmed, and Fu Qingjin clasped his hands again. “Thank you, senior.” He proceeded to the next suspect.
Li Qingshan smiled gently too, but he was extremely nervous inside. I need to interrupt this meeting before he gets to me!
“They’re in a meeting in the Parlour of Clouds and Rain? Let me go take a look!” Underground, Li Qingshan’s mirror clone notified Ye Liusu before unfurling his wings of wind and flying out from underground. He rushed into the sky and accelerated, producing a few sonic booms as he shot towards Clear River city.
However, Fu Qingjin’s next few suspects suddenly began to cooperate very smoothly. Even someone like Zhou Tong had to cooperate obediently, let alone them. They were even more afraid of offending the Sword Collection palace. Even if they were reluctant to tell him where they were and what they were doing that day, all they had to say was they had never seen the Soaring Dragon sword, and it would basically be enough.
The lie-detecting property of the xiezhi’s horn made the questioning process as simple as possible.
When his mirror clone had only flown half of the distance, they had already gone through most of the suspects. Only three remained, and it would just take a few words before it reached him.
Li Qingshan clenched his fist firmly. Suddenly, a pale hand grabbed his fist. It was smooth and warm. It came from Ru Xin.
Due to the obscuring table they sat behind, his subconscious movements were hidden away from the eyes around him, but they were not hidden away from Ru Xin beside him.
Li Qingshan shivered and looked over. Ru Xin behaved like nothing had happened at all, focusing on the outcome of Fu Qingjin’s questioning like everyone else. However, there was a sliver of concern in the corner of her eye.
The stretch of structures appeared on the horizon. The Clear River prefecture was in view. Li Qingshan’s mirror clone stared at the city, but he slowed down instead. He withdrew his aura and approached silently.
It was already too late…
Fu Qingjin finished asking the second last suspect. Only Li Qingshan remained.
Li Qingshan’s suspicion increased drastically. Almost a hundred scorching gazes gathered on him.
Hua Chengzan became slightly nervous, Han Tieyi furrowed his eyebrows slightly while Liu Chuanfeng was completely dumbfounded. Everyone Li Qingshan had befriended and gotten to know in the academy over these years cast over gazes of worry, concern, and undispellable suspicion towards him.
If he interrupted the meeting right now, he would basically be giving himself away. Li Qingshan had already prepared himself for the worst. His mirror clone was for reinforcing him, just in hopes of creating a chance to kill his way out.
“I do hope my judgement is wrong.” Fu Qingjin stared at Li Qingshan. His slightly blue pupils were as clear as water.
The xiezhi’s horn glowed dimly. Li Qingshan smiled. “That’s not true at all. Ask me whatever you want!”
He appeared completely calm, but this was not an obstacle he could get past with acting anymore. The battle began.
Fu Qingjin tightened his left hand and placed the slender and curved xiezhi’s horn between them.
Vaguely, a one-horned xiezhi seemed to be crouching between them, like a solemn judge of law, ready to make its final judgement. Friends or foes, success and failure, or even life and death would depend on this verbal exchange.
Fu Qingjin’s right hand pressed against the Green Ruins sword without any attempt of hiding it.
Li Qingshan seemed extremely relaxed. He did not even stand up. He made a gesture of invitation.
Finally, Fu Qingjin asked the questions he had asked countless times before again, “Where were you that day and what were you doing?”
Li Qingshan smiled. He opened his mouth, and when he began to speak, his mind suddenly sank into chaos.
Fu Qingjin was taken aback. The cultivators present were all overcome with disbelief too. This answer was unable to satisfy anyone.
After reaching Foundation Establishment and splitting open a sea of consciousness, not all cultivators necessarily developed eidetic memory, but their thought processes and memories would be much clearer than regular people. They would still be able to recall whatever they wanted.
As a matter of fact, even regular people would not forget about something so recent completely. They would still have some impressions, yet he actually claimed he had forgotten.
If this was a normal interrogation, it would basically confirm the suspicion on Li Qingshan. However, Fu Qingjin glanced at the xiezhi’s horn in his hand, and it remained still, without reacting at all. It meant that Li Qingshan’s forgetfulness was not an excuse. He had truly forgotten.
Li Qingshan laid out his hands. “It was a few months ago. Who still remembers something like that? I was probably cultivating!”
Fu Qingjin would never relent. His gaze was as sharp as swords as he stared into Li Qingshan’s eyes. He continued questioning, “What about the Soaring Dragon sword? Have you seen the Soaring Dragon sword before? Be direct. Just tell me yes or no.”
Yes, I’ve seen it!
Li Qingshan basically reacted with so much certainty without even thinking at all. Not only had he seen the Soaring Dragon sword before, but he even knew its shape and size.
Afterwards, as he tried to recall it, his eyes suddenly became slightly lost. The glistening Soaring Dragon sword turned into mist and dispersed.
His memories gave him the exact opposite as an answer. Not only had he never seen the Soaring Dragon sword before, but this was even his first time hearing about the Soaring Dragon sword, even though Fu Qingjin had clearly asked the cultivators so many times earlier.
That was the only reply Li Qingshan could give. “No, I haven’t.”
The xiezhi’s horn did not light up. The xiezhi divine beast seemed to judge Li Qingshan to be innocent, proving he had nothing to do with the Soaring Dragon Elder.
It was impossible to tell whether Fu Qingjin’s reaction was disappointment or relief.
Don’t tell me I was mistaken? The person who obtained the sumeru ring is not a Foundation Establishment cultivator of the Clear River prefecture, but from somewhere else, or perhaps a night roamer? But why would a night roamer make a special trip to the surface just to open the sumeru ring?
However, anything was always possible in this world.
The lead had come to an end! Fu Qingjin could not help but admit the feebleness and powerlessness of human intelligence before the unfathomable, unpredictable world. He would only be able to gain a grasp over the tracks of fate if he possessed the arts of divination like the Divining Elder.
Liu Zhangqing let out a sigh of relief and smiled. “Fellow Fu, are you satisfied now?”
Fu Qingjin let out a gentle sigh and nodded towards Li Qingshan. “Looks like I was mistaken.”