The competition between the schools of Miscellany was extremely interesting. It was not a clash or demonstration of strength, but to see who could sell more things and earn more spiritual stones. Not only would the winning prefecture receive a huge reward, but they would have a superior advantage in the trade between the prefectures too.
As a result, whenever it came to the Exhibition Matches of the Nine Prefectures, the schools of Miscellany would all take out their prized items to sell, and the price would often be extremely discounted.
The cultivators of the various schools and sects temporarily set aside their misunderstandings and disputes and all surged into the stores, buying what they required. Everyone was radiating with joy, and it was a very lively sight to behold.
Apart from the nine stores of miscellaneous goods, there were many cultivators who took advantage of this opportunity to sell their own goods. Many mechanical structures rose up loudly as restaurants and tea houses spread out. The empty square had turned into a huge city in the blink of an eye, glowing with lights.
Fireworks would even illuminate the night sky from time to time. The place was enveloped in an atmosphere of jubilance.
Li Qingshan understood the intention of the Exhibition Matches of the Nine Prefectures a little. It was a grand gathering that the entire cultivation community of the Ruyi commandery would take part in. It emphasised exchange and communication; it was not a battle to the death between the various prefectures and schools.
Li Qingshan did not have anything particular he wanted to buy, while Han Qiongzhi mainly wanted to enjoy strolling around with him. The two of them made their way through the stores idly, pointing at some interesting things from time to time and talking. In the eyes of the passers-by, they were a pair of lovers.
Li Qingshan suddenly let out an interjection of surprise. He discovered the messy brush strokes on a certain scroll did not form a painting. Instead, an unruly aura filled the entire scroll. He found it very familiar. It was part of the Cursive Sword Calligraphy.
This part was only a mid grade spiritual artifact, located in an inconspicuous corner with no one to care for it. This was not strange. When Qi Practitioners chose spiritual artifacts, spiritual artifacts that coincided with their elemental affinities would definitely take priority. Only then would it be satisfactory when they used it, allowing them to unleash several times their strength.
The Cursive Sword Calligraphy was powerful, but it placed a huge toll on true qi. At the same time, the profound sword style it was hiding could not be comprehended by everyone. It definitely was not an optimal choice for cultivators.
Han Qiongzhi said, “This one seems to form a set with the one you possess.”
“That’s right!” Li Qingshan immediately called over a disciple of the school of Miscellany and purchased the Cursive Sword Calligraphy. It put him in the mood to look around some more. “Let’s go take a look at the other stores!”
According to his guesses, the fragments of the Cursive Sword Calligraphy had scattered after being broken apart, but it was basically impossible for them to scatter too far away. They were most likely all within the vicinity of the Ruyi commandery.
And, the fragments were not actually suited for regular cultivators. Even if someone managed to come across a piece, they would not treasure it too much. They would probably be more than willing to exchange it for a spiritual artifact that suited their elemental affinity. As a result, there was nothing strange for them to end up in the stores of miscellany as time went on. He could use this opportunity to look around. Perhaps he might find a few more fragments.
Han Qiongzhi had no problem with that, but after visiting all nine stores, Li Qingshan did not find a trace of another part of the Cursive Sword Calligraphy. He could not help but scratch his head. “Was I mistaken?”
“Do you want me to see if I can do anything?” The connections of the Han family spanned the entire commandery.
Li Qingshan shook his head. “There’s no need. I’m only fulfilling my small urge to collect.” Right now, the Cursive Sword Calligraphy in his possession was only an inferior arcane artifact. Even if he obtained a few more fragments, he could elevate it to low grade at most, and he would have to trouble Chu Danqing.
The two of them left the stores and walked along the noisy streets, appreciating the scenery on the sides of the street. To Li Qingshan, this was a rare moment of peace, except he could not help but think of Xiao An again. He had spent most of the times of peace in his life by brother ox’s side, followed by Xiao An’s side.
He could not help but hold Han Qiongzhi’s hand. He had lofty aspirations, but he treasured every moment of peace, as well as every single person that could bring him peace.
Li Qingshan suddenly frowned and pulled Han Qiongzhi into an alleyway on the side.
“Qingshan, what’s wrong?” Han Qiongzhi asked.
“Nothing. There’s just someone following us!”
Li Qingshan explained. Although he had always been the centre of attention as he walked down the street, there had only been a single gaze that constantly drifted around him, following him steadily.
He gazed at the entrance of the alleyway and said flatly, “Please stop lurking around. Come in here, and we can have a talk!”
“Please don’t misunderstand, commander Li. I have no ill intentions. I just have something I’d like to discuss with you, commander, except I never got the opportunity! Why don’t we go to a tea house on the side and have a cup?”
A Qi Practitioner in grey entered the alleyway lithely and quickly. He seemed to be in his thirties, and his appearance was very ordinary. Combined with his cultivation at the ninth layer, he was the type that would not stand out in a crowd.
“If you have something to say, make it quick!”
“Did you buy a piece of calligraphy earlier, commander? I was wondering if you could sell it to me? And, in my knowledge, you have something else that’s similar in your possession, commander. I'm willing to pay a high price to purchase it!”
Li Qingshan was mildly surprised. Originally, he thought this was another scheme from Si Qing, but he never thought the Qi Practitioner had come for the Cursive Sword Calligraphy. He took out both calligraphies and unfurled them with a swish.
“Are you talking about them?”
The man in grey’s eyes immediately lit up. His gaze wandered around the calligraphies as if he was appraising them. “Yes I am. May I ask if the commander is willing to part with them?”
“You sure do talk big for a Qi Practitioner. This one’s an arcane artifact. Can you afford it?”
Li Qingshan thought to himself, As it seems, I was not mistaken. I am not the only one collecting the Cursive Sword Calligraphy!
“I don’t really have any other hobbies, but I’m smitten with calligraphy. When I see one that catches my eye, I’ll buy it even if I have to break the bank. You can say I’m from a bit of an aristocratic clan, so I do have some wealth. If you’re willing to sell it, commander, I’ll always be able to find a way to buy it!”
“What’s your surname?”
Han Qiongzhi studied this person. There were not actually too many prominent clans in the Ruyi commandery, and they were all in contact with one another. Back when Han Anguo was the great general, the various clans would send descendants over with words of blessings whenever they had a celebration.
Of course, each clan had many descendants, so it was impossible for her to recognise them all. However, the most suspicious part for her was this person’s appearance was far too ordinary. He did not seem like he came from an aristocratic clan.
“My clan is far too insignificant. It’s nowhere close to the Han family, so even if I do mention it, you probably haven’t heard about it, fellow Han.” The cultivator in grey bowed slightly and told a lie before looking at Li Qingshan again.
“I don’t want to sell them unfortunately. Qiongzhi, let’s go!” Li Qingshan stowed the Cursive Sword Calligraphies away again, called Han Qiongzhi, and made his way out of the alleyway.
“Please hold on, commander. The two calligraphies aren’t of much use to me, so please state a price!” the cultivator called out behind Li Qingshan.
Please state a price? He really is speaking bolder and bolder! Li Qingshan thought of something, but he did not stop. “No matter what you offer, I won’t be selling them!”
“Commander, you better not regret it in the future for missing out on such a great opportunity!” The cultivator in grey was rather exasperated. The two calligraphies were far more complicated than an arcane artifact and spiritual artifact to him. If he could not complete the mission, he would definitely be punished when he returned.
“Regret it?” Li Qingshan stopped and suddenly looked back. He actually detected a hint of a threat, which was rather unbelievable to him. A mere Qi Practitioner was threatening him?
The cultivator in grey trembled and stumbled back a few steps. “What are you thinking? Deals may fall through, but that shouldn’t affect our relationship!”
“We won’t regret it. If you want calligraphy, you better look elsewhere. Stop following us.” Han Qiongzhi pulled Li Qingshan along and returned to the main street.
“You’ve changed quite a bit. They all say a leopard can’t change its spots, but it looks like it’s not accurate!” Li Qingshan smiled. In his memory, Han Qiongzhi was a young lady with a fiery temper.
Han Qiongzhi rolled her eyes. “We’re in the marquis’ estate right now, so we can’t fight here. I’m a White Wolf guard after all. I’m responsible for maintaining order.”
“I’m not that petty, where I’ll resort to violent means if someone has offended me by a tiny bit.”
Li Qingshan smiled before glancing back at the alleyway. He held Han Qiongzhi’s hand and merged into the flow of people.
On the Soaring Clouds terrace, Li Qingshan teased Si Qing a few more times as Northmoon. He could feel Si Qing’s killing intent grow heavier and heavier. He no longer dared to continue, just in case they actually ended up falling out, which would be the last thing he wanted. As a result, he casually said, “I’m tired!”
Si Qing’s face lit up as if he had just received a signal. “Caretaker Zheng, please take A’yue to his residence to rest!”
Northmoon grabbed Si Qing by the sleeve. “C’mon, we’ll keep drinking in the residence, A’qing!”
“I still have to receive the fellow cultivators, so maybe some other day!” Si Qing’s face stiffened and waved his hands in a hurry to decline.
“Fine then. I’ll be going first!” Northmoon waved his hand. He arrived in a magnificent palace under caretaker Zheng’s lead, with fancy eaves and corners as well as carved beams and painted rafters. It was like the palace of an immortal.
“Welcome, sir Northmoon!”
A group of women knelt down gracefully at the entrance to the palace. They were all dressed in the same style of dress that dragged along the ground. All of them were beautiful, varying in appearance and figures. They were all rare beauties, and their bearings were exceptional. They definitely were not some common women.
Northmoon could see that every single one of them practised qi. Their cultivation was nothing special, roughly around the second or third layer of Qi Practitioner, but they could still be regarded as cultivators after all. The woman in the lead had even opened her sea of qi and reached the sixth layer.
“There’ll all palace attendents for serving you. This good fortune in love is truly envious.” caretaker Zheng smiled in a way that all men understood.
“They’re also cultivators, so of all the things they could do, why did they choose to do this?” Northmoon was rather confused. A cultivation at the first or second layer of Qi Practitioner could run around freely in the world of mortals, so why did they become attendants?
“None of them originally possessed the talent to cultivate. They had been chosen when they were young and were bestowed pills, which is why they’re barely able to practise qi now. Actually, they’re all just slaves. They were sold to the marquis’ estate. They’re not actual cultivators.”
Northmoon nodded. Jiang Fu sure knew how to burn money for him to do something as tasteless as that. Nobles truly lived off the fat of the land!
He took this as a lesson. If Jiang Fu spent a little less attention on sensual pleasures, perhaps he would not have been squatted to death by a single smack from the Dark Queen. Now, it all fell into that grandsonny Si Qing’s lap before being offered to his grandfather Northmoon as gifts.