Legend of the Great Saint
Book 1, Chapter 4
The atmosphere in the ancestral hall stiffened up. The village chief’s face sank like cold water: “What, Li the Second, you’re not satisfied with my arrangement?” Those several scoundrels already started to rub their fists and roll up their sleeves. The bald leader even drew out a chopper.
The other elder people either closed their eyes, or urged him: “Little Second, don’t sulk and act rashly.” “The arm can’t twist the thigh, David can’t fight against Goliath.” “Steward Liu even promised to hire you as a worker in his mansion and give you a bit more money, whatever happens you won’t starve.”
Li Qingshan vaguely replied something. He had no idea how he got out of the ancestral hall. When he came out that baldy even tripped him and he almost fell, leaving behind him bouts of great laughter.
On the way he met the witch. She was laughing proudly: “Disaster, disaster, it’s still not too late to pay your respects to the gods.”
Li Qingshan returned back to the new house at the foot of the Crouching Bull Hill and lay down face first, not half a bit of happiness inside his heart.
The sun fell below the western mountains, the color of the sky fell to dusk, the chicken clucks and the dog barks also gradually quieted, and the village restored its calm.
The green bull strolled in from outside. Li Qingshan raised his body, about to speak, but the green bull actually said: “I saw everything, but I didn’t help you.”
“I wasn’t planning on asking for your help, I also don’t care about those few pieces of land, I only…”
“Can’t swallow this anger?”
“Not distinguishing black from white, overturning right and wrong, these kind of things are many under the sky. At times even immortal Buddhas and great saints with powers that pierce through the heavens suffer grievances and humiliation, not to mention you tiny mortal. What does your small anger count as?”
Li Qingshan stared: “But I don’t want to bear and suffer in silence.” He suddenly remembered the short knife again.
The green bull watched him in silence for a long time, then suddenly laughed: “Good good good, not wanting to bear and suffer is the right way. A man of character frankly avenges grief and grudges. The benevolence of a single meal must be repaid, the enmity of a single angry stare requires reprisal. I originally saw your willpower wearing down these years, but surprisingly you still have some of the vigor of a young man in your chest. Only this way is worthy of my teaching.”
Li Qingshan stared blankly: “You were testing me?”
The green bull sniffed through its nose and said: “This also count as a test? Isn’t it only asking you kid which road you want to walk?”
“Which road?” Li Qingshan didn’t understand the meaning.
“The daos of the world are countless many, there’s the dao of swallowing insults and putting your life before principles, there’s also the dao of raising one’s weapon and die fighting. Men have human dao, monsters have monster dao, gods have divine dao, ghosts have ghost dao, each dao has its own scenery, each dao has its own choices.”
Li Qingshan heard his incessant “dao” and directly felt his head spin, don’t tell me you’re going to sing me “Dao Dao Dao”1next? After listening for a while, he flatly interrupted: “I seek my own dao!”
The green bull first stared then became happy: “You actually understand, that’s right, great daos are countless many, you seek your own dao.” He took out a big gourd from who knew where. The gourd flew on its own to Li Qingshan’s hand: “Since you don’t want to bear in silence and swallow this anger, I’ll teach you how.”
Li Qingshan felt a heavy weight in his hand and some kind of liquid sloshed inside. He pulled out the gourd’s cork and a waft of alcohol assaulted him.
Li Qingshan smiled wrily. After eating meat, did he actually need to drink booze? It looked very reasonable, but who depended on these two things to cultivate? If eating meat and drinking alcohol was enough to become an immortal then every rich man under the sky would be an immortal. Could it be that immortals were all good-for-nothing gluttons?
The green bull only said eight words: “Meat reinforces the body, alcohol strengthens your courage.”
Li Qingshan clenched his teeth, lifted his head, then gulp gulp poured the booze down. It was merely the village’s rice wine, but when this gourd of wine rushed in his belly he also felt the sky spin and the earth go round. His eyes stared straight at the green bull. Was this to drink his worries away?
“Go kill someone and I’ll teach you cultivation.” The green bull spoke very calmly like he was talking about some insignificant thing, then crouched down.
Li Qingshan felt a chill course through his back. He suddenly realized that in front of him wasn’t an industrious old farm bull that had accompanied him for over a dozen years, but a genuine evil bull spirit monster. The so-called teaching was definitely not the modest and gentle dao of immortal Buddhas, but the vicious and tyrannical dao of monsters and demons.
It still hadn’t taught him any supernatural skill and only told him to eat meat, drink booze, and now he had to kill someone.
Was he really going to kill someone? Many faces floated in front of his eyes. He hated those people, and wished he could kill them, but he knew he didn’t dare to do so. The green bull also knew that, that’s why it gave him wine to fortify his guts.
Was this a blood pledge or the rite to become an apprentice?
Remembering today’s tribulations, the wine went to his head and his anger overflowed. Li Qingshan lifted his head and deeply breathed in, then lowered his head back: “Kill who?”
“That’s your problem, let’s agree first, I’m not going to help you, I won’t rescue you either, I’m just an ordinary bull.”
The present night’s moonlight was bright and cheerful, throwing a layer of frosty white on the ground. Li Qingshan walked alone on the white frost, and seeing the round moon’s dazzling shine overhead, he couldn’t wait for a patch of gloomy clouds to cover it.
Stillness reigned inside the village. Li Qingshan’s footsteps wobbled in the village as he walked randomly, his heart blank.
The clamor of human voices came from inside a broken house as he went near. Li Qingshan could hear them clearly, it was precisely the scoundrels from the ancestral hall today. He hurriedly squatted at the foot of the wall and listened to what they were talking about.
“This wine came really easy today, we only had to go stand in the ancestral for a bit, but steward Liu gave us so much rewards.”
Li Qingshan immediately recognized this voice. Baldy Liu, a famous rogue in the village, idling all day and stealing chickens and dogs. His temperament was perverse and cruel, and he always carried a chopper knife with him. Everyone in the village was a little afraid of him, and even if he was caught stealing they didn’t dare do anything to him. The other scoundrels also considered him their boss.
“It’s all big brother’s power and prestige, didn’t you see the kid’s face, he was scared white.” There was a burst of laughter in the house.
Li Qingshan had no idea how his face looked back then, but right now it was definitely bright red. The alcohol mixed with his anger and directly rushed to his head.
“Too bad that wimp didn’t do anything. I haven’t exercised my fists and legs for a while, originally I was ready to use him for some practice. This damn boy never took me seriously.”
Li Qingshan was a man of two worlds and was merely not as afraid of him as ordinary villagers. He didn’t expect he’d attract this kind of animosity.
“Isn’t it easy if big brother wants to beat him up? This dumbass built his house outside the village, it’ll be simple to cover our heads and have us bros beat him good. We’ll take his bull too, drag it to the market and sell it, we can still get some wine money in exchange.”
The other scoundrels all agreed.
Li Qingshan spit out an inebriated breath and gripped tightly the short knife in his bosom.
Baldy Liu drank a bellyful of wine and came outside the house for a piss, but he didn’t go back to the house and instead walked on a small path toward the south of the village.
Li Qingshan felt curious and stood up to follow. He came to the famous Widow Liu’s door and shouted at her to open the door. Li Qingshan realized then what he wanted to do.
The door was tightly shut and there wasn’t even light inside. She was obviously afraid of him. There were also several hovels not far away, but surprisingly no one paid any attention.
Baldy Liu borrowed the drunken mood to say a bunch of obscenities, violently kicking the door a few times. He threw curses and insults for a while, attracting loud barks from the village dogs, and only then turned around and left.
Widow Liu calmed down inside the door and secretly looked outside through the door’s seams. She saw that Baldy Liu had indeed gone far away and became relieved, but then a shadow swayed in her eyes and a silhouette followed tightly behind Baldy Liu. The night was dark and she couldn’t clearly see the clothes or appearance, so she took him as a follower, although she faintly felt something wrong.
Li Qingshan followed Baldy Liu to a deserted place. Violence suddenly emerged in his heart and he shouted loudly, fiercely throwing himself forward.
Baldy Liu turned his head back in great surprise and saw a dark and dull knife piercing straight at him. He suddenly half-woke from his drunken stupor, trying to escape and counterattack, but his hands and feet were without strength. Usually he just held a knife and intimidated ordinary people. He also fought a few fistfights, but when did he experience a genuine battle for life and death? Although the opponent was a youngster, the decisiveness and murderous aura assaulted him like it was a fierce beast from the mountains.
Without any resistance a knife went into a body. Li Qingshan also didn’t expect the usually swaggering Baldy Liu to be so useless. Seeing Baldy Liu’s frightened and imploring face, he seemed to be even drunker and his eyes faintly radiated a red light. His head seemed to stop spinning and only the movement of his hand didn’t stop.
The glint of the knife and the light of blood danced wildly in the darkness.
When Li Qingshan calmed down, Baldy Liu was already in a pool of blood, dead til he couldn’t die again. A thick odor of blood floated in this moonlit night, also exposing a little the flavor of coldness.
Li Qingshan forcefully calmed himself, then turned around and went away, running in one breath to the stream at the foot of the Crouching Bull Hill. He borrowed the reflection of the water flow and couldn’t help but be frightened: “Is this still me?”
The water reflected a young man covered by traces of blood all over his body, pursing his lips. His eyes were round, and he still carried a murderous aura that hadn’t entirely dissipated, looking very terrifying.
Li Qingshan cupped icy water and washed off the blood from his body, only then returning back to his mud house. Without caring about the green bull crouching to one side, he fell face down on the bed.
At this moment his hands started to tremble and cold sweat fiercely poured out from all of his body, soaking his clothes through. He was entirely awakened from the wine.
The green bull asked with a laugh: “You’re not escaping?” as if it wasn’t the one that made Li Qingshan kill someone.
Li Qingshan said: “Killing this kind of things, do I still need to escape?” Choosing Baldy Liu wasn’t only an impulse on the spur of the moment. The wretch was bad to the bone and no one in the village would stick his head out for him. If the people didn’t raise the matter the government wouldn’t investigate, and as long as he didn’t leave too compromising evidences, the murder of this kind of person would most likely end up unsolved.
The praise in the green bull’s eyes was deeper. It was easy to find a man who killed in anger, but to know who to kill, who not to kill, how to preserve himself while killing someone, this was very much not so easy. Even if he was faking his calm and composure, it was still easy to see this child’s resolve.
Li Qingshan couldn’t hide his trembling hands from its eyes, but in its eyes it was not only not shameful. Vicious people who thought nothing about murder could be found everywhere, but to be able to repress the anxiousness and fear until now was really something.
After a long while, the green bull said: “How are you feeling?”
“Really frightened, really satisfied!” Those were true words coming from Li Qingshan’s heart. After the fear went away there was an unspeakable contentment, and the anger stagnating in his chest evaporated at least half. Remembering back when he read “Water Margin,” Panther Head Lin hiding from the snowstorm in the temple2, Wu the Second splashing blood on Mandarin Ducks Tower3, it was this kind of feeling.
The green bull laughed: “You quickly sleep, we have many things to do tomorrow!”
Li Qingshan’s heart jumped and he let through an expression of joy: “You’re saying…”
- Possibly this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyKZQn1UWIU
- Lin Chong was taking shelter in a broken temple when he heard people talking outside. He secretly listened and realized they tried to kill him by burning the depot he was supposed to be in. He rushed out and killed them.
- Wu Song was framed and arrested for theft. Those who framed him had bribed the guards to kill him on the way to the prison, but Wu Song killed them, then returned to kill the framers in front of the Mandarin Ducks Tower. He then wrote “Wu Song is the killer” on the wall with their blood.