Chapter 493 – Where the Dream Lies
During the oppressive stalemate, spiritual qi of the world surged into Lolth’s body violently. As her daemon qi recovered, her physical strength slowly recovered as well.
Li Qingshan’s opportunity to kill her slipped by bit by bit.
Finally, Li Qingshan took action. He drew back his hand slowly.
Was he going to spare her, or was this the premonition of an attack?
Lolth dared not be careless, afraid that he was trying to toy around with her.
Li Qingshan had already made up his mind inside.
I even spared Fu Qingjin, yet I’m afraid of revenge from her? Yes, when a Daemon Commander loses her mind, she won’t be something that can be compared to a Foundation Establishment cultivator who overly relies on his sword. Oh, so I’m supposed to spare those who pose a smaller threat and kill those who pose a larger threat? Isn’t that just posing around, bullying the weak and fearing the strong?
Against someone like Fu Qingjin, even if they fought for another century, he would have never broken through to the fourth layer. The path leading to beyond the Nine Heavens would definitely be filled with twists and hardships. He could clearly imagine the horrific wounds on brother ox as if they were right before his eyes.
Compared to the enemies he would face in the future, Lolth was absolutely nothing. I’ll just keep this little spider as a stepping stone for my advance!
However, Li Qingshan was reluctant to let Lolth off so easily. He sat down to the side and crossed his legs, smiling. “I know you refuse to accept this and think I won unconventionally. That’s not exactly wrong. However, victory is victory and defeat is defeat. I’ve won this battle. Will you admit that?”
“I admit that,” Lolth said coldly. This had always been the most basic principle of the natural world. Fairness and justice meant nothing. There was only a boundary between life or death.
“From today onwards, I no longer listen to your command. I possess the right to rule over half of the underground territory. The daemons will go to you, while the night roamers will go to me. That’ll be my spoils of this battle. What do you think?”
“That’ll work. However, not half, but all of it. From now onwards, your command is my command. You are welcome to enter my chambers as you please. In human terms, you are my husband.”
Lolth said calmly before even revealing a chilling, enchanting smile at the end.
“You’re planning to kill your husband!” Li Qingshan laughed aloud, revealing what she was thinking in a single sentence.
The thing that Lolth feared the most was Li Qingshan taking off after finishing up with this. With his ability to hide his aura, she really would not be able to find him, and with his powers, it would be very easy for him even if he wanted to go to another province. As a result, she cast out bait in an attempt to make him remain in this territory.
She believed that as long as they fought again, she would definitely be able to kill him. As a matter of fact, she had already become rather eager for that now. In a short while, she had already recovered a lot of her daemon qi.
“I’d advise you to only challenge me again when you have absolute confidence. Next time, I might not necessarily be so generous, mother of my child!” Li Qingshan smiled as he held Lolth by her chin, shaking her head around.
“Just in case you’ll become paranoid, constantly on edge, and just so I can find you, let’s agree on a time to meet for next time!”
Lolth smiled as she gently slid her hand across her chest as if she was afraid the bait she cast out was too little and he would not bite. At this moment, she had completely turned back into that calm predator.
“Now, as one of the rulers of this territory, tell me just what that thing in the magma is.” Li Qingshan asked the question that had been on his mind for a very long time.
Lolth’s face suddenly changed. She became uncertain as if she was wondering whether she should answer him and how she should answer him.
“What do you want to know about me?”
Before she had even spoken, Li Qingshan’s face changed too. An immature yet ancient voice directly rang out in his mind. This might have been a strange description, but that was truly what he felt. The voice was as immature as the first cry of an infant after being born, yet as ancient as the final words of an old man who had witnessed all of the changes of the world around him.
Li Qingshan shuddered. Was this the… they were several hundred kilometers from there at the very least!
However, he immediately calmed down and asked, “Who are you?”
“That’s not important. What is important is, who are you?”
Li Qingshan was stunned. He did not know how to answer.
The voice continued, “Forget it. That’s not important either.”
“Then what is important?”
“Where are you going?”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to ask me where I come from too!” Li Qingshan laughed. He had asked the three supreme questions of life right off the bat. Was this guy public security hidden deep underground?
The voice fell silent. Perhaps Li Qingshan had hit the mark.
Li Qingshan merely laughed. “My name is Northmoon. I come from whence I come and I go to whence I go!”
“That touches on some profound truths of chan.”
“Are you a human or a daemon?”
Actually, what Li Qingshan wanted to get to the bottom of the most was not this. He wanted to know whether he was friend or foe. Lolth clearly knew him, so by that logic, they should have been from the same side, yet even when Lolth faced death, she had never sought help from him. He could clearly sense everything happening here, but he chose to watch on from the side.
“Are you really called Northmoon? And what about you? Are you a human or a daemon?”
Li Qingshan continued to smile, but compared to his gaze, it became slightly forced. Had he realised something? His identity as half-human, half-daemon could be described as his greatest secret. Once it was divulged, the consequences would be unthinkable. If a regular person found out, Li Qingshan would even consider killing them to silence them, but the “infant” underground was clearly not someone he could silence.
Perhaps he’s not too certain either, which is why he asked. Perhaps he’s only probing me. I can’t let him trip me over!
“Forget it. This isn’t important either!”
Just as Li Qingshan considered how he was supposed to answer, the voice interrupted him again, which left him extremely dissatisfied.
“Then what is important?”
As Li Qingshan said that, he found that rather familiar. Sure enough, the voice immediately answered, “Haven’t I already asked it? Where are you going?”
“How is where I’m going relevant to you?”
“It is relevant to me, as we’re going to the same place.”
“Then tell me where I’m going.”
“Beyond the heavens.”
“How do you know?” Li Qingshan shuddered inside.
“I knew from the first time I saw you that your ambitions are anything but small. As frogs in a well, isn’t the purpose of our lifetime of cultivation to climb beyond the well and take a look at the world outside?” The voice that had remained calm and mild, without many fluctuations in tone, suddenly roused up, now filled with lofty sentiment.
He referred to himself modestly as a frog in a well, but Li Qingshan immediately knew he was anything but that. He viewed the nine provinces as a well, trapping him in there and bringing him discomfort. Was there anything he could say with an even loftier sentiment than that?
There was another side that Li Qingshan failed to consider. The frog might have been modest, but in this well, it could still lord over everyone else, an existence with no natural predator.
“You’re right. We do share the same path. I also want to venture beyond the Nine Heavens!” Li Qingshan developed some more respect and spoke much more politely, but he only recognised him as a fellow traveller on the same path. Their statuses were no different, and he did not grovel at all. This was the pride the black ox had given him. He would never lower his head or submit before anyone.
Li Qingshan could roughly tell what the voice was saying. The so-called venturing “beyond the heavens” was the objective of all cultivators. They wanted to break free from the restraints of this world and venture to a higher, more distant world. That did not necessarily mean he knew about his promise with the black ox.
The voice fluctuated again, filled with shock this time.
“How are you wrong? Have I said something wrong?” Li Qingshan was confused.
“I still ended up underestimating you. Beyond the Nine Heavens. Sigh, even to me, this objective is far too distant, well beyond my reach, something that I won’t even consider.”
“Aren’t we talking about the same place? Beyond the Nine Heavens—is that very far?”
Li Qingshan had mentioned these four words many times, but he actually had no exact concept of it. He had only faced the first heavenly tribulation so far, so thinking about that was a little soon. Remaining down-to-earth and cultivating was more important.
However, having run into someone who knew the path coincidentally, he could not help but ask just where the destination of his dream led to.
“Far? Hehe, I only want to climb out of this well, but you want to fly through the sky!”
“Is it really that difficult?” Li Qingshan was tongue-tied. This comparison was not too exaggerated. Just how deep could the well be and how far could the ground be from the sky?
“No, no, no. This is a little too simple. If it’s just flying through the sky, then even I have some hope. As long as you continue, going from a frog to a bird is not completely impossible. However, you want to become a star! It truly is an impressively great ambition. You’re probably the only one with this dream across all nine provinces and the billions of lives that live here.”
Curiosity filled the voice as if it wondered how Li Qingshan had such an unrealistic dream.
I await you beyond the Nine Heavens, for the time when you stand beside me.
The black ox’s words when he left echoed through Li Qingshan’s mind. Only now did he realise just what it was implying.
Li Qingshan fell silent. He naively believed he was only carrying a mountain on his shoulders.
“What, have you become frightened? Seems like I’m just overthinking. Looks like you just added “Nine Heavens” by mistake! I’ve spoken too much. Let me ask you again. You also want to go beyond the heavens, right?”
The voice seemed relieved, yet also slightly disappointed.
Did brother ox add the two words by mistake? The answer was very obvious, No!
Li Qingshan’s reply was the same. “No, I want to go beyond the Nine Heavens.”
He raised his head and laughed wildly. His face was glorious.
Once upon a time, there was a frog that leapt around at the bottom of a well. It trained its legs, anticipating the moment that it leapt out of the well. At this moment, a tiny tadpole swam over and said, “Frog, frog! I want to become a star!”
The frog told the tiny tadpole patiently, “Stars are very, very distant, and tadpoles can’t become stars. I think you’ll have a very good chance at becoming a frog.”
The tadpole considered it. “Alright then. I’ll become a frog first… then I’ll become a star!”
The frog was left speechless.
The awe-inspiring bearing that Li Qingshan gave off suddenly crumbled. He scratched his head in distress. “But what kind of place is beyond the Nine Heavens? Hey, you look like you know a lot. Tell me about it. We can probably travel together.”
“I don’t know what kind of place that is. I’ve only heard that it’s the centre of the trichiliocosm, the place where gods and buddhas roam freely.”
“Looks like I can’t get an answer out of you anyway. Though, as long as I make my way up step by step, I shouldn’t get lost, right?”
Only after a very long time did Li Qingshan understand that the “nine” in the Nine Heavens was not a quantifier, but an adjective.
Nine was the limit of numbers, implying infinity!
“If you really want to go, I can lend you a hand. Though, you need to help me out with something small first!”