Legend of the Great Saint
Book 3, Chapter 119
Many little two-story buildings sat hidden among the lush, rustling vegetation on the mountain, exuding a tranquil elegance. These were the residences assigned to the various Eagle Wolf guards, and now several of them had been tidied, waiting only for the three of them to choose one as they wished. It gave Li Qingshan an even clearer picture of the benefits about joining the Eagle Wolf Guard.
Ge Jian said, “Please bathe and change your clothes after making your choice. I’ll come fetch you again at noon.”
Li Qingshan chose the quietest and most remote little house. He went in after taking his leave of Ge Jian.
Plants and flowers right in dazzling bloom grew in the front. Li Qingshan had no understanding of such matters and had no idea about their names. They glittered in every color under the sun, in a very pretty scene; bees and butterflies fluttered and lingered above, harvesting pollen during reprieves from the rain.
Li Qingshan stood there and enjoyed the scenery for a spell. He opened the door to his house, an appealing room of ancient flavor partitioned into two sections by a hanging bamboo curtain. The front was a guest-receiving hall, and the rear was a tranquil tearoom.
Li Qingshan shook the porcelain jar at his hips and said, “You can come out now, Little An. You must be bored stiff!” He opened the jar and a skeleton flew out. Various bones assembled into a whole body standing in front of Li Qingshan. He shook his head at Li Qingshan, signifying that it was of no importance.
Those who cultivated the [Dao of the Beautiful Bones] were neither dead nor alive, dead yet still alive. They lay in a fascinating state, coinciding by happenstance with the most abstruse and the deepest truths of Buddhism. If one had to talk about concealing one’s aura, then even Li Qingshan couldn’t compare despite cultivating the [Spirit Turtle Sea Guarding Secrets], because the dead had no aura.
Little An ran in front of the wall and admired the several antique paintings, then nodded to Li Qingshan, indicating they were all genuine.
Li Qingshan rested his hand on the stairs’ railings and slowly walked up the flights of stairs. Little An hastened to follow behind him, pounding the stairs “dong dong dong dongs” on his climb.
An incense burner shaped like a red-crowned crane sat on a square table, its smoke curling up a mahogany screen. The decorations inside the house were all extremely lavish yet subtly arrayed. One could tell at a glance it had been designed by the most brilliant master craftsmen. Anything inside this room, if put on sale, would be something ordinary people couldn’t afford for a lifetime.
Li Qingshan pushed the windows open and looked in the distance. His sight crossed over the layers of treetops, taking in the panoramic view of Blessed Peace. Innumerable houses were spread out neat and tidy like matchboxes. A blue water ribbon flashing with light passed through the city; that was Clear River.
If he were to compare it to the scene of living in a bullpen inside Crouching Bull Village, then one was hell and one was paradise. This was the free and easy life befitting qi refining warriors. Li Qingshan closed his eyes and took a deep breath, as if trying to breathe all the freedom and joy deep inside himself.
The bloody killings under that gloomy rain seemed to become an instant, distant memory. Little An tilted his head and watched him, the flames flashing in his eye sockets, also feeling happy for his sake.
Li Qingshan beckoned to Little An. He sat at the table and, just like a miser, poured out everything from the two Hundred Treasures Bags then once again carefully counted them. He beamed with delight and rubbed Little An’s head, saying, “Wait until I officially take up my nine to five, I’ll definitely work hard and help you cultivate that supernatural skill, alright? When the time comes, maybe you’ll also be able to cultivate qi, who knows? I have to try hard and earn back many qi condensing pills.”
Little An nodded nonstop, expressing his agreement while guessing at the meaning of “nine to five.”
Hence a big monster and a little skeleton thus planned their lives in all seriousness. They seemed like the most ordinary of common folks on this matter. Strive hard to make money! Make money and marry a wife! Etc etc.
In the end he gathered everything inside the new Hundred Treasures Bag, then gave the old one to Little An. “One for each of us! You don’t have much, so I’ll use the big one, but don’t worry, I’ll definitely arrange a better one for you in the future.” The one hanging at Zhuo Zhibo’s waist seemed pretty good; Li Qingshan couldn’t help but think, am I hoping for you to come mess with me? Or am I rather hoping for you not to make any trouble for me?
Little An would naturally not have any objection. He obediently collected the bag, then put the locust wood plaque inside.
Li Qingshan took a comfortable warm bath, then wore the dark wolf uniform and matched it with the wind stitching blade. He told Little An to look after the house then went outside.
A banquet had been arranged inside the big hall.
Zhuo Zhibo’s main seat sat in the middle. More than a dozen tables were lined on either side, two people sitting at each, all arranged in order of cultivation.
Ge Jian patted Li Qingshan’s shoulder: “Just put up with it!” He was at the first level of qi refining and his cultivation realm the lowest among all the Eagle Wolf guards, hence he could only sit at the very tail. Everyone knew however that his strength was probably not any worse than a third level if it came to a real fight.
Li Qingshan expressed he didn’t care about this and just sat down when a whiff of fragrance came beside him. Qian Rongzhi actually sat beside him and said charmingly, “I should be the weakest, you’re truly being wronged.”
Li Qingshan thought: is it really like they said, the colder you act with beautiful women the hornier they would latch onto you? However this thought lasted but a moment. He couldn’t forget the look of this woman when she accomplished her ambition. If he truly could forget her prior conduct, then that wouldn’t be magnanimity but a problem with his head instead. It was too late now to put on an hypocritical act.
But since she greeted him with a smile, he wasn’t willing to lose in manners either. He lightly said, “It seems that everywhere in the world, people are separated into seniors and juniors according to strength. There’s no difference no matter where you go.”
Qian Rongzhi was still all smiles, seemingly not having heard the sarcasm in his words. It looked like her mood was most excellent after joining the Eagle Wolf Guard.
Zhuo Zhibo arrived late. He said a few clichés and expressed his welcome to Li Qingshan and the other two, then with a chuckle, he introduced one by one the Eagle Wolf guards to the three of them. The Eagle Wolf guards inside the Blessed Peace area numbered thirty one in total, Li Qingshan and the other two included. Apart from a few who were cultivating behind closed doors, or off to a mission and not yet back, all of them were in attendance.
Under Zhuo Zhibo’s lead, the crowd offered a toast together, congratulating the three for joining the Eagle Wolf Guard. No matter how cold and arrogant they had been before, they all became colleagues at present and would of course not argue or make a ruckus. At least they couldn’t expose their contradictions out in the open, striving to stay warm and affable instead. Of course, Li Qingshan’s obscure backstage supporter played a considerable role.
Someone would have come and provoked him by now already, otherwise. It was outstanding of Li Qingshan to kill a second level qi refining warrior in one strike, and it’d brought much shock to everyone. But on second thought, that dead guy had merely been a frightened bird easily startled by a mere twang of a bow, and Li Qingshan was in the end but at first layer of qi refining, the lowest level of qi refining warriors. Most of those present were third or fourth level and didn’t fear him.
If an ordinary newcomer were to be so “arrogant,” someone would certainly have stepped forth to give him a lesson. But everyone followed Zhuo Zhibo’s example at this moment, and none dared to act recklessly. Their attitudes were merely cold and thoughtful.
Hence, Li Qingshan didn’t feel Zhuo Zhibo’s hostility. On the contrary, this great commander of Blessed Peace personally came to him once mellow with wine.
Diao Fei and Qian Rongzhi stood up in a hurry, but Li Qingshan calmly stayed seated still, making for a striking contrast. He was extremely versed in the ways of the world. He could take the initiative to ease tensions with opponents who suffered defeat at his hand, like Yan Song or Liu Hong.
But he had to straighten his back on the contrary when faced with a strong opponent like Zhuo Zhibo. He didn’t think that he could change the other party’s impression of himself by merely giving in now. He also was keenly aware of the these qi refining warriors’ twisted sense of honor: they considered it mere bad luck to have one’s face slapped by the mighty, it only served them right; to be provoked by the weak called for certain killing.
He recalled that he’d merely refused Qian Rongming’s unreasonable request back on the boat, then Qian Rongming tried to kill him in the dead of the night just for that. Would Zhuo Zhibo possess better tolerance? He had absolutely no confidence of this. One with authority like Zhuo Zhibo would probably be even more twisted.
The present superficial peace was merely an illusion maintained thanks to Gu Yanying’s reputation, and this illusion would certainly disappear very quickly. He wasn’t one of Gu Yanying’s own, even if he very much desired, one day in the future, to turn Gu Yanying into his own.
Thanks to the experience from two lives, Li Qingshan could see with great clarity where he stood, the mutual relation between them, hence he selected what he believed to be the most appropriate method, not leaving anything to chance.
In the story about the Donkey of Qian1, the only reason the tiger dared not do anything was because of donkey’s incomparably unperturbed attitude. He didn’t mind taking example from the Donkey of Qian and scare this superior of his. At least it could buy him some peaceful days, and when the day of reckoning came, he truly wanted to have a good look as to which one of them was the tiger, which one the donkey.
The smile on Zhuo Zhibo’s face didn’t diminish in the least; the desire for murder deepened in his heart. He took the initiative to clink cups with Li Qingshan and exchanged many intimate words with him.
“Qingshan, it must be the first time you leave your family right?”
“Don’t worry, just treat the Eagle Wolf Guard like a family. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any question, everyone here is your brother and sister, I’m the big brother to you all, I ought to take care of you.”
Li Qingshan chuckled coldly inside at Zhuo Zhibo’s words. He could hear the words within Zhuo Zhibo’s words, inquiring about his relation with Gu Yanying.
Li Qingshan said straight out it was a chance meeting, but that only made Zhuo Zhibo’s suspicions stronger. This was precisely Li Qingshan’s goal: those with abundant intellect inevitably had abundant mistrust. He was most happy to let Zhuo Zhibo bask in his suspicions. He had the clearest picture of the speed his strength grew. How strong would he be by the time Zhuo Zhibo untangled the truth of the matter?
Diao Fei stood at the side, extremely envious of the treatment reserved for Li Qingshan. Zhuo Zhibo almost hadn’t looked him in the eyes at all. How could he be aware of the twists and turns therein.
Zhuo Zhibo made eye-contact with Qian Rongzhi then returned to his seat. Qian Rongzhi became all the more ardent toward Li Qingshan, seemingly intent on easing her relationship with him. She even personally poured wine for Li Qingshan without waiting for the maid. The charm of her face was so thick seemed to almost take solid shape, attracting quite a few glances from Eagle Wolf guards. They revealed their envy, but they glanced at Zhuo Zhibo and all turned their sights away.
Li Qingshan truly showed no reserve either. The wine dried up as soon as it came as he enjoyed her attending with equanimity. With the sharpness of his senses, he’d long sensed a somewhat unclean relation between Qian Rongzhi and Zhuo Zhibo.
He’d cultivated behind closed doors these three days, and it seemed that someone else hadn’t been idle either. Unspoken rules were indeed present everywhere; he felt even more unscrupulous when it came to her. He was too lazy to care about someone else’s business however. If you have something to sell then good for you if you sell it. The only thing he considered was, would these two potential enemies of his league together to deal with him?