Chapter 617 – Late Foundation Establishment, the Hundred Beasts Formation
In the pitch-black centre of the mountain, Li Qingshan raised his head with his hair draping down. Specks of water circled around him, glowing with blue light in the darkness like fireflies.
He had witnessed the various forms of water. He possessed god-like talent. He was the lord of countless rivers and lakes. However, he had never considered the meaning of water.
Was the meaning of water softness? That seemed right.
Was it goodness? That was probably correct too.
Streams trickled, while rivers raged gloriously. The white clouds were soft, but the ocean was deep.
The water in the tank nurtured life, while the water under the eaves hid allegories.
It was as if every single form of water possessed a deep meaning. Because water was everchanging and took no fixed form, it only made it more difficult to find its meaning.
Li Qingshan waved his hand. Countless droplets of water condensed into a smooth mirror.
Innate ability, Watermirror’s Image.
He stared at his reflection in the mirror for a long time before suddenly smiling. He realised that he was not searching for the meaning of water, but the meaning of “me”. Just like the water mirror, if it reflected flowers, then it was flowers. If it reflected the moon, then it was the moon.
That was why Ru Xin had not answered his water. What good-natured like water? What triumphing force with gentleness? What others said was meaningless. Water could take on a myriad of forms, so all he had to do was ask himself, What type suits you the most?
Was it the gracefulness of the clouds? Was it the forcefulness of the rivers? Or the steadiness of dripping water?
No, none of them! There was only a single type that suited him. Ru Xin had never shown him it, but it had always been deeply embedded in his memory. It was the boundless ocean. It could surge violently, and it could be completely flat. Apart from the vague word “boundless”, there was nothing else that could easily summarise the ocean.
The ocean was probably the most difficult to imitate.
All rivers converged in the ocean. It was boundless in capacity.
How much pain and setbacks did a person have to go through to be able to calmly accept all of the grit and sediment? And how much forbearance and intelligence was needed to suppress the ever-surging sea of consciousness?
Li Qingshan was still unable to answer these questions. He was still too young, but he was not dejected, as he was still very young. He had plenty of time to experience it all. He believed even the ancient oceans began accumulating from a single droplet of water.
He spread his arms with a smile, and his mind expanded into the surroundings indefinitely, sensing the endless water spiritual qi and gathering it towards him. He lit up with blue light, shining brighter and brighter.
The Arts of the Boundless Ocean revolved rapidly, and the spiritual qi in his dantian became more and more abundant, cascading against his body as waves and shaking up his soul.
With a boom, all of the light dispersed. He had finally reached the sixth layer of the Arts of the Boundless Ocean, and at the same time, he had also broken through to late Foundation Establishment.
Outside the Qing Xiao dwelling, Chu Danqing happened to be running out of patience when the formation suddenly opened up, and Li Qingshan strode out. “I’ve made you wait. Let’s go meet up with them!”
Chu Danqing was mildly surprised. He smiled. “Qingshan, congratulations on breaking through again! Golden Core is in sight!” The more powerful Li Qingshan was, the more confidence he had when meeting up with them.
Li Qingshan smiled. “That’s called an Ocean pearl for me. Let’s go! We can’t make them grow reckless from waiting!”
Although he still could not break through to the fifth layer of the spirit turtle, he was no longer in a hurry either. He could already see the direction he had to head off in. There would be a day when he managed to merge fire and water.
The two of them travelled eastward and arrived at the boundary of the Clear River prefecture. The mountains stood like huge pillars or sharp swords, extending towards the sky. White clouds drifted between them, which formed a precipitous and beautiful landscape.
“Look, it’s right there!”
Chu Danqing pointed at the tallest mountain among them. It was surrounded with sheer cliffs such that even monkeys would struggle to climb up them. Only birds could scale the mountain. However, two men and a woman sat at the very top, overlooking the other mountains as they sipped tea or alcohol. All three of them seemed graceful and unrestrained like immortals.
“Little junior brother, you’re late. Who’s this?” the eldest male cultivator asked.
The three of them gazed over from afar. The eldest male cultivator seemed to be in his forties or fifties. He gave off the greatest sense of maturity and level-headedness among them. No one could tell he was one to betray his master.
“First senior brother, this is my friend, as well as the Scarlet Hawk commander of the Clear River prefecture, Li Qingshan.” Chu Danqing introduced.
“Friends? It’s a gathering between juniors and seniors, yet you’ve called an outsider to come along. What is the meaning of this?”
The female cultivator squinted her eyes and studied Li Qingshan, finding the name rather familiar. She was in her thirties, with a thin and beautiful appearance. She wore a palace dress, and she was quite a beauty. However, her cheekbones protruded slightly, which made her seem rather mean.
Chu Danqing replied in a way that was neither rude or submissive, “Second senior sister, master told me before he passed away that if my seniors were to ever come and find me, I had to bring commander Li along to preside over the situation and ensure fairness.”
“Li Qingshan. You must be that commander Li who triumphed over the otherfolk in the marquis’ estate. I’ve long heard about you. Now that I’ve seen you with my own eyes today, you truly are valiant. However, we’re dealing with matters between our seniors and juniors today, so it might be inappropriate for you to take part, commander. Our master has been senile, so if he’s a little muddle-headed, please forgive him.”
The last third senior brother said politely. He maintained a smile on his round face the entire time, but he seemed a little fake, like a merchant trying to sell a product. He spoke politely, but he wanted Li Qingshan to leave.
With his reminder, the first senior brother and second senior sister both stiffened in expression. No wonder it sounds so familiar. So he’s that “Mad Tiger”.
The news regarding the clash between Gu Yanying and Si Qing in the marquis’ estate spread like wildfire, and with it, Li Qingshan made a name for himself. However, the main reason why he became renowned was not because he defeated the fire devourer Zhu Lie and helped Gu Yanying in winning the crucial round, but because he had openly cursed E Dan. With something that insane and reckless, everyone called him “Mad Tiger”.
When the three of them studied Li Qingshan, Li Qingshan was also studying the three of them. The strongest was the first senior brother at late Foundation Establishment, while the second senior sister and third senior brother were both at mid Foundation Establishment. They were not exactly a threat. Chu Shidao was rather good at guiding his disciples. Unfortunately, all he managed to teach them was how to paint, not how to develop a decent moral character.
Chu Danqing wanted to introduce the three of them to Li Qingshan, but Li Qingshan interrupted him. “Even if you tell me, I won’t be bothered with remembering it. If the three of you have anything to say, spit it out! I will make my personal judgement.” What he hated the most was messing around with these empty gestures of courtesy and politeness, let alone when it was with three scums like them.
The first senior brother and second senior sister were mildly angered. Only the third senior brother managed to maintain a smile, but it was rather forced.
The second senior sister said, “You aren’t very polite, are you, commander Li?”
Li Qingshan turned around and arrived on the edge of the cliff, gazing at the mountains below.
Chu Danqing said, “Seniors, just what do you have to say? You can be frank!”
“Little junior brother, master doted on you in the past, and we were envious of you too. All we could do was work hard on cultivating so that we didn’t embarrass our master. Anyone who mentions us will all mention ‘master Chu’ in reverence too, so you better not think we’re coveting master’s property. You’re more than welcome to keep those for yourselves, but you have to tell us what our master’s final words and instructions were at the very least.”
The first senior brother justified with fairness and reason. If an outsider were to hear this, they would have thought that not only did Chu Danqing want to keep all of the property for himself, but he even purposefully refused to tell them their master’s last words and instructions because his master favoured him more.
However, Chu Danqing understood that these so-called “last words” and “instructions” were all regarding the secret of the Painting Tomb.
Before he could even answer, the second senior sister said, “What first senior brother said is perfectly reasonable, but there is something I cannot agree to. You are more than welcome to keep the other painting, little junior brother, but surely you have to hand over the painting of master’s wife so that we can take turns in looking after and paying our regards.”
“I’ve already told you! The mistress has already gone with master!”
Chu Danqing had once heard Chu Shidao vaguely mention that the first senior brother had betrayed him for the sake of fame and gain, while the second senior sister was a little different. In the past, she had been on very good terms with Chu Shidao, even exceeding what should have existed between a master and a disciple. However, only the painting existed in Chu Shidao’s eyes, which led to envy and eventually hatred. Even with the temptation of the Painting Tomb, she did not forget about the painting, wanting to vent her anger and hatred.
“A painting commited suicide? Do you think that anyone will believe a lie as ridiculous as that? Don’t tell me you plan on keeping it all for yourself so that you can appreciate it alone?”
“Y- you’re shameless…” Chu Danqing was so exasperated that he became speechless.
“I’m shameless? So I’m not allowed to mention what you’ve done? I don’t even want to hear those last words. Hand over the painting, and I’ll leave right now. Do you really think you can keep it for yourself and turn it into a family treasure so that you can pass it down through your descendants once you’re done with it? What a great fucking idea!”
Li Qingshan frowned. He skidded over and arrived before the second senior sister in the blink of an eye. He raised his right hand and landed a solid slap across her face. He had completed these movements like the flowing clouds and water, with indescribably smoothness and ease.
After reaching late Foundation Establishment, the strength of his human cultivation had increased drastically. Combined with his arcane artifacts, he was already standing at the apex of Foundation Establishment cultivators. The second senior sister was only at mid Foundation Establishment. And, painters had never been skilled in close combat in the first place, so she was unable to react at all. Although she was protected by spiritual qi, the endless spiritual qi in Li Qingshan’s hand instantly dispersed it.
She clutched her face and glared at Li Qingshan in surprise and anger. “How dare you…” There was also a hint of fear. He’s only at late Foundation Establishment, only a minor realm of cultivation higher than me, so how is he so powerful?!
“A slap across the face is already a light punishment for telling blind lies. If you utter another word of nonsense, would you believe me if I were to say I’ll make you stay behind and turn you into a family treasure, passing you down through my family once I’m done with you?”
With a wave of her hand, a series of painting scrolls flew out and unfurled behind her. There were many hideous monsters and beasts painted on them, ready to leap out at any time. The first senior brother and third senior brother also powered their spiritual and arcane artifacts to protect themselves in a hurry, taking out painting scrolls one by one. The strength that Li Qingshan had demonstrated had alarmed them.
The first senior brother said, “Looks like you simply insist on getting involved, commander!” The third senior brother said, “Don’t you know that those who talk much err much? Trouble comes from sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong!”
Li Qingshan sneered. “That’s right, and you plan on touching me?”
Suddenly, the surroundings twisted and distorted. Wild beasts leapt out from thin air, and their roars and growls echoed through the mountains.
“The Hundred Beasts Formation Diagram!”
Chu Danqing exclaimed. The Hundred Beasts Formation Diagram required a total of a hundred beasts. Every single painting was an extremely-common beast, like a beast of prey or a domesticated animal, but the strength of every wild beast was akin to early Foundation Establishment. Assembled in a formation, it only made their strength even more alarming. The formation had been activated so quickly, so it must have been prepared beforehand to be used against him.
The second senior sister flew into the sky and bellowed, “Li Qingshan, die!”