Chapter 608 – In the Parlour of Clouds and Rain
Qiu Haitang was dressed in splendid attire. She bowed gracefully. “Thank you for saving me, commander. The great kindness you’ve shown me is vast as the sea, something I’ll never forget. Please let me know if there is any area I can be of use in the future. I will hold onto the kindness you’ve shown even until death.”
Li Qingshan and Chu Danqing exchanged glances. They could not help but laugh aloud.
Qiu Haitang asked in confusion, “Commander, why do you laugh?”
“You’ve said everything I hate in a single breath.” Li Qingshan waved his hand and laughed loudly. “There’s no need to thank me! After all, ‘thank-yous’ mean nothing before great kindness! Since you won’t pledge yourself to me, it’s useless even if you thank me a thousand times.”
The surroundings fell silent. Just who would bring up things like “‘thank-yous’ mean nothing before great kindness” and “pledge yourself to me” again and again after doing some good? Qiu Haitang was completely taken aback. She reddened slightly and stared at Li Qingshan with a mixed gaze, thinking to herself.
Don’t tell me he’s interested in me? Yeah, so much for fancying myself as clever, I completely missed this point. If he wasn’t interested in me, why would he take on so much risk to help me? If he only stopped E Dan, then so be it, but he even went as far as to fall out with him completely. He was clearly standing up for me!
Sigh, he has offended E Dan for my sake, so he really might die to a scheme before long. Even if I do pledge myself to him, he well and truly deserves something like that, though from what Chengzan said, isn’t he already engaged to the young lady of the Han family?
Qiu Haitang thought quickly. Li Qingshan had once put everything on the line to stand up for her, refusing to let her be humiliated before everyone no matter what. Right as she contemplated how she would reply, she heard Li Qingshan continue.
“There’s no need to say anything more. All you have to do is serve up some good alcohol and good meat so that I can have a jolly session with everyone, and we’ll be in the clear. There’s alcohol tonight, so we’ll get drunk tonight. By the time you really approach your last breath and become an old granny, what’s the point even if you still remember it?!”
There was a roar of laughter. Everyone had heard how he completely fell out with a powerful Golden Core cultivator from the Dragon province for the sake of Qiu Haitang in the marquis’ estate. If they had been in his shoes, they definitely could not smile so easily even if they did not go as far as losing their appetite from worrying day and night. They secretly admired his courage.
Only now did Qiu Haitang realise that she had been overthinking. He had no interest in her paying him back at all. He merely had a reckless mouth, bold enough to do whatever he wanted. He did not disguise his inner desires, but he was not bound by them either. To have chosen such a bold and frank man, Qiongzhi’s insight truly is far better than mine!
With some hidden bitterness, she glanced at Hua Chengzan. Hua Chengzan lowered his head and cleared his throat. She smiled. “Commander- no, Qingshan, if you truly are interested, how can I hold myself back? Though, I do have to be married to you in a formal manner, under the witness of our friends and family. Only then can we become cultivation partners.”
Basically all the men present become envious. Qiu Haitang’s beauty was renowned. There was basically no one who did not know about it within the cultivation community of the fifteen hundred kilometers of the Clear River prefecture. Never had anyone managed to get close to her. As a matter of fact, some people thought that even if they had to fall out with E Dan, it was not completely unacceptable if something as great as this was on the line.
Li Qingshan shook his head firmly. “That won’t work. Qiongzhi will kill me!”
Everyone laughed aloud again. Qiu Haitang laughed too. “Then you can’t blame me for refusing to pledge myself to you.”
She felt a tinge of regret the moment she said that earlier, but when she saw how Li Qingshan turned her down without the slightest hesitation, she could not help but become slightly disappointed. Though, that was not exactly because she was interested in Li Qingshan, but purely because of her instincts as a woman.
“It’s fine, it’s fine. As long as there’s alcohol and meat.”
Li Qingshan entered the Parlour of Clouds and Rain with everyone and glanced upwards. When Qiu Haitang mentioned how she could agree to his demands, he immediately felt a sense of hostility, but the hostility vanished as he turned her down publicly.
The Parlour of Clouds and Rain is hiding a Golden Core cultivator. I wonder who they are. Don’t tell me E Dan has come for revenge?
As a result, he raised his guard and immediately made his mirror clone hurry over so that it could provide assistance at crucial times. E Dan probably would not take action in the eye of the public. He could definitely strike when he was alone; no, he did not even have to be alone. He only had to kill all eyewitnesses. He definitely possessed the strength and cruelty to do something like that. If that happened, Li Qingshan would not be able to maintain his disguise anymore. He would be forced to show his true form and cooperate with his clone to see if he could kill E Dan on the spot!
Like in the past, the banquet was arranged on the rooftop of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain. It was possible to admire flowers and the moon and see the entire glow of the prefectural city from there.
Everyone sat down in their seats, and Li Qingshan obviously occupied the seat of honour. Qiu Haitang had arranged this banquet to thank him after all. In the past, Qiu Haitang would carry out her responsibilities as a host and go around toasting to the school leaders so that everyone would be happy, but she sat with Li Qingshan today, specially serving him and keeping him company.
Li Qingshan did not hold back, emptying his cup the moment she filled it with alcohol. Although he would not grope around, it was still extremely delightful to have a great beauty with such a mesmerizing figure and charming bearing to fill his cup and urge him to drink. He incurred everyone’s jealousy.
Sure enough, Qiu Haitang did not mention another “thank you”. She only mentioned how they first met. “Back then, I thought you were just an ignorant country bumpkin, but I never thought…”
“You never thought there would be a time when you drank with me, right?” Li Qingshan smiled as he clinked cups with her.
The unhappy experiences of the past sounded more like interesting stories now. Qiu Haitang did not do everything to please him, but she was docile and meek. It was not only because she owed Li Qingshan, but also became of his extraordinary strength. Originally, his young age was worth despising, but now, it accentuated his extraordinary talent instead.
By the time they had become familiar with one another, Qiu Haitang had become somewhat tipsy. Her plump, smooth cheeks were slightly flushed, making her even more charming. She said gently, “Be honest with me. Did you kill the West Gate Granny and the others?”
“Well that’s not something I can tell you!”
Li Qingshan laughed. Having reached this point, it did not matter even if he admitted it. As the Scarlet Hawk commander, defeating those stronger than him and killing a few Qi Practitioners who dared to oppress him in the past was nothing bad at all. Instead, it brought him glory.
But in that moment, he felt the sense of hostility appear again before vanishing very soon once more.
“Forget it. I knew you wouldn’t tell me. It’s not like we needed them anyway.” Qiu Haitang did not care. In the past, she had even used Li Qingshan’s strength to kill Wei Zhongyuan, who was scheming after her. The lives of a few measly Qi Practitioners truly were nothing.
After several rounds of toasting and drinking until they were tipsy, Liu Zhangqing walked over and toasted. “Qingshan, I’ve yet to discuss the Exhibition Matches of the Nine Prefectures with you!”
Li Qingshan said, “What’s there to discuss? Just make your arrangements, sir prefect. I can guarantee I’ll emerge victoriously wherever you need me to fight.”
This was not a boast from Li Qingshan. He also had a slight understanding about the Exhibition Matches of the Nine Prefectures. It was primarily for the disciples of the hundred schools to compete with one another. At most, it would be some Foundation Establishment cultivators. How could he lose?
Liu Zhangqing shook his head inside. He felt like Li Qingshan had become slightly carried away with his success and began to overestimate himself. The Academies of the Hundred Schools in the various prefectures were filled with talents and powerful people. With his cultivation at mid Foundation Establishment, how could he claim certain victory?
He had also heard a little bit about Li Qingshan’s battle with the fire devourer. He had a geographic advantage during that battle, and he still almost lost. He had only managed to turn the tides in the end after quite some difficulty. He did not feel like Li Qingshan was particularly powerful.
“Qingshan, please hear me out as your senior. It’s good to be young and aggressive and motivated, but conceit leads to easy failure. You also have to learn to hide your edge at times.”
“What do you mean, sir prefect?” Li Qingshan sensed that Liu Zhangqing was implying something the moment his cup reached his lips.
“You stood forward for a just cause and saved fellow Qiu, which was for the best. I can also feel your glory! However, there was no need for you to fall out with E Dan so much.”
“It has happened already, so what can I do?” Li Qingshan raised an eyebrow.
“Grievances are better resolved than deepened. To be able to reach his realm of cultivation, he definitely won’t be someone unreasonable. If you could speak through commander Gu and give him an apology, it’ll cause you some embarrassment, but it’ll save you a great deal of trouble. Sigh, he is a trusted subordinate of the prince after all.”
Liu Zhangqing said earnestly, but it was not just for Li Qingshan to consider. The Exhibition Matches of the Nine Prefectures were happening soon. The Clear River prefecture had just been through a war, so it was already extremely disadvantageous for them. Li Qingshan had offended an important figure beside prince Si Qing, making matters even worse. E Dan only needed to pull some strings, and they would be in great trouble.
Qiu Haitang said with deep concern, “Prefect Liu speaks with great reason. Real men are flexible, able to stoop down or stand tall depending on the situation. Once you undergo the second heavenly tribulation, you’ll always be able to stand tall. I know you’re a real, proper man.”
Li Qingshan began laughing aloud, drawing over everyone’s gazes. Actually, Liu Zhangqing had not been speaking loudly earlier, but basically everyone present had sharp ears. They had all been listening along attentively. They were all waiting to see how Li Qingshan would answer him, but they never expected him to laugh aloud.
“Thank you for your concerns and kind intentions. Prefect Liu is knowledgeable and well-experienced with this world, so if you don’t mind answering me, if a Qi Practitioner were to insult you publicly, would you be able to endure it? Sect master Qiu has personally seen E Dan, so do you think he’s an open-minded and forgiving fellow?”
Liu Zhangqing and Qiu Haitang both became speechless. Liu Zhangqing seemed gentle and polite, but that was to Li Qingshan. Normally, when he governed the Clear River prefecture, he could kill without batting an eye. If someone happened to be bold enough to insult him publicly, he would definitely kill them in a single strike. Even if he could not kill them on the spot, he probably would not drop the matter, which led to a heavy sigh from him.
Qiu Haitang also felt that getting a vicious and uncivilised bastard like E Dan to let go of his grievances was completely impossible. “It’s all because of me…”
“Even if it weren’t you, I wouldn’t have just sat tight and watched on. And, even if he can forgive me, I won’t forgive him. There’s nothing for you to worry about. Just that old dog won’t be enough to take my life.” Li Qingshan squinted his eyes. Killing intent vaguely appeared.
“You little animal, how dare you insult my master!” With a bellow, several cultivators in black descended from above, dispersing the lively atmosphere and pressing against their weapons, glaring at Li Qingshan.
Qiu Haitang recognised them. They sat behind E Dan during that day in the marquis’ manor. As it turned out, they were E Dan’s disciples.
The music stopped, and the cultivators all stood up. The atmosphere on the rooftop immediately became tense.
Only Li Qingshan remained seated, drinking by himself. He said, “So it’s the group of pups led around by the old dog!”
“Some esteemed guests have arrived. Forgive me for failing to anticipate your arrival. Haitang, why don’t you show the esteemed guests their seats?”
At this moment, an old woman with a face full of wrinkles and a head of grey hair suddenly appeared, all amiable and polite. Apart from Li Qingshan, no one had managed to see where she had come from.
She carelessly revealed her aura, stunning everyone present. A Golden Core cultivator!