Legend of the Great Saint
Book 3, Chapter 112
On a mountain peak at the northern side of the city, an iron eagle molded from black iron spread out its iron wings more than a hundred feet wide as it stamped on a stone platform several dozen feet tall, overlooking the whole of Blessed Peace City. It seemed to declare clear and loud that this city was monitored and defended by the Eagle Wolf Guard, filled with arrogance rather than any attempt at discretion. Whether you were a man of the rivers and lakes or a qi refining warrior, you had to act cautious and careful under the gaze of this eagle.
Li Qingshan disembarked from the boat then directly dashed toward the mountain peak without saying anything. A building sat below that iron eagle spreading its wings. It was precisely the location of the Eagle Wolf Guard. Diao Fei tailed behind him as soon as he disembarked from the boat. His eyes had become firm again. No matter what strength Li Qingshan was hiding, it couldn’t disturb his determination to become an Eagle Wolf guard.
Li Qingshan advanced along the neatly arranged stone steps. The thick forest shades on both sides seemed to hide the sky above from prying eyes. The mountain peak wasn’t very tall, a mere thousand feet. There was no way to compare it to those great mountains inside the Boundless Mountain Ranges, but his heart seemed to widen once again when he turned his head back and looked down on Blessed Peace City below his feet.
A tall stone arch stood at the end of the stone steps. The calligraphy of three words “Eagle Wolf Guard” were handwritten on it with wanton flamboyance. There was a vast plaza after crossing past this arch, and that eagle sat in the middle of it. He couldn’t feel it from the distance, but he could sense the awe-inspiring aura of this iron eagle now that he was nearing, especially that pair of eagle eyes that seemed to be staring at people like a living creature. Eleven equally flamboyant words were inscribed on the stone platform under his feet: “The eagle overlooks the world, the wolf watches the nine provinces.”
Eagles observers didn’t require too many explanations. They overlooked the earth like an eagle hovering in the sky. As to the observing wolf, it described an attitude. Ordinary people would certainly turn their bodies and look back if someone were to call their name behind them. To turn the head but not the body was called looking like a watchful wolf, and people who acted such were often deceitful or paranoid1.
These eleven words were not only filled with a pride that overflowed from the sky. They also describe the role of the Eagle Wolf Guard in vivid strokes. Li Qingshan didn’t understand calligraphy, but he still could immediately see that these eleven words were written by the same hand that’d written the three words “Eagle Wolf Guard.” There was an inimitable grand tyrannical aura and a loftiness that could swallow the world, sweeping away everything under the sun. They brought even more shock to the heart and soul of men than that huge iron eagle sculpture.
A young man clothed in green came up before Li Qingshan had had time to carefully examine them. “You must also have come to apply to the Eagle Wolf Guard!”
Li Qingshan didn’t sense any sign of martial arts or qi refining on him. He was presumably a mere attendant or perhaps the kind of small role here to receive guests, but his person actually carried an air of command about him. The gatekeeper of a prime minister was indeed like an official of the seventh rank2.
Li Qingshan said, “Indeed.”
The green-clothed attendant observed Li Qingshan puzzedly. He saw Li Qingshan’s calm and unperturbed appearance and softly said, “Come with me then!” He led Li Qingshan in front of a great hall. “Go in, everyone is inside. When you go in you have to first note down your name and cultivation level.”
Li Qingshan trod inside the great hall. Many eyes immediately fell on him, every gaze sharp like swords and sabers.
Li Qingshan saw more than twenty persons inside the great hall. Some were men and some were women, some were young and some were old. Some were in groups of three to five and some sat alone in meditation. Each and every one of them was a qi refining warrior. Most of their gazes were unfriendly when they looked at Li Qingshan. Some raised their eyebrows in ridicule, happily pointing at him and commenting to their companions, some exposed disdain and immediately turned their eyes away. There were also one or two persons who looked at him with a little suspicion.
This was the first time Li Qingshan saw so many qi refining warriors, and there was an excitement he couldn’t put into words inside his chest. He finally came into contact with the community of cultivators in this world.
In truth, Halfmoon had already ferociously thrown him into it, but these people were all formidably strong like freaks. He could only look up at them with despair and hope. There was no sense of reality when the difference was too great. Only now could he look at these people as equal, or perhaps even look down at them from above.
Li Qingshan saw several dozen wooden plaques hanging on the walls of the great hall with names written on them. He threw them a glance and came in front a long table at a corner of the hall. An emissary was writing bent over the desk. He said without even looking up, “Name, origin, master, cultivation. Remember, you can’t hide anything, otherwise if you’re found out…”
The emissary didn’t continue further but the threat in his words were implicitly obvious. Li Qingshan only understood then why these people would stay in this place. They wanted to gather information about newly arrived rivals.
Li Qingshan originally wanted to take out the dark wolf badge, go meet that dark wolf captain Zhuo Zhibo, and directly enter the Eagle Wolf Guard. But against all expectations he couldn’t even see a single genuine Eagle Wolf guard around, only a few green-clothed attendants receiving guests. He temporarily put his original idea on hold. It just happened he wanted to properly observe the proceedings. Anyway he would meet with the real master sooner or later. He wouldn’t believe Zhuo Zhibo wouldn’t make an appearance at such an important event.
“Li Qingshan, first level of qi refining…” said Li Qingshan.
Li Qingshan heard several sneers as soon as he said his cultivation level out loud.
“Coming to apply for the Eagle Wolf Guard at the first level of qi refining, this kid must be an idiot!”
“Go home and go suck on a teat for milk, this isn’t the place for you.”
“Is he really at the first level of qi refining? It doesn’t look like it to me, he couldn’t be lying right?”
“He wouldn’t be far from death if he’s falsifying his cultivation level.”
The people inside this great hall were all at least at the second level of qi refining. Most of those with innate talent for qi refining would cultivate with painstaking care and come out only after breaking through to the second level. As to those who reached the innate realm after training internal strength, they would also use the true qi transformed from their internal strength to forcibly break through to the second level. Hence there were very few qi warriors at the first level traveling in the world.
Even the green-clothed emissary in charge of the records lifted his head. “Is that true? You can’t register if you’re not a qi refining warrior.” He wasn’t a qi refining warrior himself, but he’d spend many years inside the Eagle Wolf Guard, so his vision was pretty decent. Li Qingshan simply didn’t look like a qi refining warrior to him.
Li Qingshan suddenly understood a malpractice of his. After he’d gone through the sinister dangers inside the Boundless Mountains, repressing the entire aura of his person with the [Spirit Turtle Sea Guarding Secrets] had almost become an instinctual behavior. It was so even after he managed to cultivate true qi.
Of course he had to repress his monster qi tight and could absolutely not let the slightest shred of it leak out. But there was no need to be so cautious about true qi. Displaying his identity as a qi refining warrior in due time ought to spare him quite a bit of trouble.
Hence, the aura of his entire person immediately changed. He no longer restrained or repressed his true qi and automatically released it, displaying the strength of a qi refining warrior at the first level.
What this lead to however was in fact roars of laughter across the entire room. Even these few suspicious eyes also finally withdrew their gazes and no longer regarded Li Qingshan as important. The unknown was frightening, that was the reason a donkey could scare away a tiger. But when the donkey exhausted all his moves, it could only submit to a wretched fate3.
The green-clothed emissary also put down his pen and let out a smile. “I see you’re truly young. It’s not easy having your talent. It would be better for you to go back home and cultivate for several years. Come out only after breaking through the second level. There will be dangers in this contest.”
Li Qingshan ignored these mocking laughs. He expressed his thanks to this benevolent warning, then he confidently said, “I have faith in myself.”
The green-clothed emissary stayed noncommittal and proceeded to continue writing.
No clan, no sect, no master, this was Li Qingshan curriculum vitae.
The emissary noted it down in not much of a time. He raised his head and said, “The contest starts three days later. If you go out there will naturally be someone who’ll arrange a place to stay for you. You can also stay here if you want.”
Another attendant lifted a wooden plaque and hung it at the end of that tall wall together with other names. Of course the information on it wasn’t very detailed. There was only a name written on the front and the cultivation level written on the back.
It made Li Qingshan sigh with lament. For a qi refining warrior, any origin or master was all falsehood. Your true strength was your only business card, the thing that people put value on.
When he turned around, he looked at the group of qi refining warriors with the same gaze he would use to look at garbage. Then he shook his head and said especially to the few people who’d loudly derided him, “Garbage.” Haughtiness was his innate disposition, mocking the herd was his innate gift.
A qi refining warrior said in anger, “Who are you talking about?” He was the one who told Li Qingshan to go back and suck on a teat earlier.
Li Qingshan said, “I’m talking about whoever replies.” Those who hadn’t wagged their tongues at him would naturally not think they were the ones Li Qingshan was cursing at.
The qi refining warrior’s body flashed in front of Li Qingshan. He abruptly lifted his hand and amassed his true qi. The attendant in charge of the records said, “Those who fight private battles on the mountain will be executed with no trial.”
The hand of that qi refining warrior trembled a few times. In the end he let his arm fall down.
The rules of the Eagle Wolf Guard were no joke. There was no mention of lodging during the Eagle Wolf Guard earliest bouts of recruitment. You only had to show up the day of the contest, but afterwards there were many people who couldn’t show up.
The qi refining warriors lived inside Blessed Peace city. It could be said that they showed no scruple and stopped at no crime in order to get rid of their opposition, whether by poison, ganging on someone, or through assassination. The results were often decided before it even officially began. That was why the rules had been changed. Everyone who came to apply lived on the mountain, and no one was allowed to use any mean to attack anyone else. They would be extinguished without trial if they were to act in any way.
Li Qingshan said, “Come bite me, moron!” There was a saying, what was it again. This bro’s low profile isn’t open house for you to act the smartass4. A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, that was the standard he lived his life by. You know how to swear, but my mouth isn’t dim-witted either!
That qi refining warrior was so angry he actually smiled instead. “Three days later, you’ll know what’s called not knowing life from death.”
There were several other qi refining warriors who also snickered repeatedly.
Diao Fei walked into the great hall at this moment. He glanced at Li Qingshan then watched the tall walls, then sighed in relief. It seemed Li Qingshan’s cultivation was indeed at the first level of qi refining. He’d merely used some kind of method to hide his cultivation and make him frightened. But it was still a mystery to him what method Li Qingshan had used to kill Qian Rongming, so he didn’t dare be careless.
The other people inside the hall no longer paid attention to Li Qingshan after seeing Diao Fei. A master at the third level of qi refining was a formidable opponent in this contest, and they had to carefully observe him. Li Qingshan merely played the role of a clown in comparison. The time of his death was already near and he wasn’t worth caring about.
Li Qingshan didn’t stay any longer in the hall. He went out of the gates. An attendant led him up the mountain, past foliage and vegetation, birdsong and fragrant flower, all having gone through the care of a great gardening master. There was a new scenery every three steps; the beauty surpassed the imagination.
The green-clothed attendant pointed to a room when they came in front of a building and said, “This is where you live. You must already know that no private fighting is allowed on the mountain. Three meals a day, you can come to the rear of the hall to eat. You can call for us if you have any request, and we’ll do our utmost to satisfy you as long as it’s not excessive.” The attitude was very average, but the service was definitely thoughtful.
- The “appearance of a watchful wolf” is a Chinese saying based on the habit of wolves to always look left and right or behind when they travel. Ancient Chinese people very disliked wolves, so they came to associate this attitude with deceit etc.
- “A prime minister’s gatekeeper is equivalent to an official of the seventh rank” is a saying in ancient China. It shouldn’t be too hard to understand, the gatekeeper has power over who can go in and who can’t, etc. “Seventh rank” refers to the nine ranks of officialdom, with rank one the highest.
- The story of the donkey and the tiger is a reference to the Chinese fable “The Donkey of Qian.” There were no donkeys in Qian until a man let one loose there one day. A tiger saw it and thought it was a mighty beast because of its size, so it was terrified of it, until the day he finally dared to prod it. The donkey kicked the tiger, and then the tiger finally realized the donkey was nothing formidable and ended up eating it.
- Okay I spent two hours on this line and still couldn’t come up with anything good. -_- It basically means “It’s not because I (this bro) act low key that it gives you the qualification to act pretentious/play the poser. Something something, except spewed out in slang by some Chinese rapper/techno MC thing. Sorry I have NFI.