When Li Qingshan rampaged through the sea of insects, he devoted most of his attention to his surroundings so that he could locate the ancient voice when it rang out again.
However, he realised that the voice still originated from everywhere. It was not purposefully trying to hide its location. And, according to what it said, there was only a single answer.
The speaker was the great banyan tree, as well as the greatest Daemon King of the Mist province, the Great Banyan Tree King.
He could not help but feel some respect. In the past, when he investigated the Golden Cicada Spirit King, he had also seen some rough information regarding the Seventy-two Daemon Kings. The Great Banyan Tree King was the one with the longest lifespan. He was renowned for his longevity and wisdom.
Normally, the stronger a Daemon King was, the more the other races would fear him. However, the Great Banyan Tree King was revered by all races throughout the entirety of the Mist province. Daemons obviously went without saying, but the rarest part of it all was whether it were the humans who viewed themselves as the legitimate race or the otherfolk that came in all shapes and sizes, they all revered him like their own ancestor. Some tribes even worshipped him as a god.
According to the historical records, when the founding emperor swept through the nine provinces, he had once visited the Mist province and sought guidance from the Great Banyan Tree King over how to govern the world, asking him about the way of administration used by ancient sages and lords of virtue.
A figure like him was no longer simply “powerful”. Li Qingshan dared not brush him aside either, but he never expected the voice to say, “I am indeed a banyan tree, but I am no Great Banyan Tree King.”
Li Qingshan said, “But in my knowledge, this banyan tree comes from the Great Banyan Tree King.”
“If you were to pluck a hair from yourself, could I call that hair you?”
When Hua Chenglu heard Li Qingshan mention the Great Banyan Tree King, she had already become speechless from surprise. To a Qi Practitioner, the Great Banyan Tree King of the Ten Daemon Kings was a figure that was who knew how realms away. The difference that existed between them could no longer be described as a chasm. Instead, it was truly an abyss.
She also noticed that Li Qingshan had already wrapped his arm around her waist before she knew it, pulling her closer. However, he gripped the Traitorous Demon sword firmly in his other hand as his eyes shone with interest. No matter who he was facing, he could not drop his guard, nor would he cover in fear. Even when he faced the legendary Great Banyan Tree King, he would still refer to him calmly as “fellow”.
Hua Chenglu’s heart softened and leaned against him gently with her beautiful figure that Li Qingshan had praised as “developed nicely”. She had actually already grown slightly accustomed to this. Hearing what the Great Banyan Tree King said, she could not help but think.
Despite how big this tree is, it’s actually only a hair to the Great Banyan Tree King. I’d really like to see for myself just what his main trunk in the Mist province is like.
Li Qingshan raised an eyebrow and smiled. “That’ll depend on how you put it. There are a myriad of horses in the world, with white horses only making up for a small number of them. Does that mean white horses aren’t horses? It might just be a hair, but it still contains all the information about me, so how can I say it’s not me?”
The ancient voice let out an extravagant laugh. The entire banyan tree shook gently as the branches and leaves swayed together. The people waiting for them outside looked at one another, clueless as to what was happening inside.
Hua Chenglu could sense that the entire space was shaking, subconsciously pressing a little closer to Li Qingshan. Li Qingshan cast a comforting gaze at her and said with his soul sense, “Don’t worry. A hair still isn’t enough to deal with me!”
Hua Chenglu’s lips curled slightly. Just earlier he had said with assurance that a hair was the whole thing.
“That’s reasonable. White horses are horses. I am the Great Banyan Tree King!” The laughter subsided, and the Great Banyan Tree King admitted to it sombrely.
Li Qingshan asked, “May I ask what you require, fellow?”
“I’m older than you by ten thousand years, so surely I deserve to be called senior.”
“Whatever you like, senior.” Li Qingshan could not be bothered with bickering over these empty forms of courtesy, but he thought inside, Older than me by ten thousand years? If I were to cultivate at the same speed as you, I’d be done for.
“But, I still prefer fellow.”
Li Qingshan curled his lip. “Old people sure are difficult to handle.”
Hua Chenglu shot a glance at Li Qingshan in a hurry. That was the Great Banyan Tree King for heaven’s sake. Even Si Qing would treat him with great respect. If he angered him, then that would be terrible.
“Old person? Hehe, young fellow, this old person wants you to help him out,” said the Great Banyan Tree King.
“What is it?”
“Recently, the insects population in me has gotten a little out of control, so please clear them for me! Also, the vines around me have gotten a little too tight, so please find a way to loosen them a little. It would be even better if I could get some rain.”
Li Qingshan was unable to understand what was going on. “With your ability, can’t you deal with a few measly insects and vines yourself? Why would you need the help of someone else?”
“I’m a tree!”
What kind of answer was that? Li Qingshan corrected him. “The Great Banyan Tree King.”
“If you drop the ‘king’, I’m actually just a great banyan tree. Have you ever seen a banyan tree catch insects by itself?”
Only with the Great Banyan Tree King’s explanation did Li Qingshan understand that originally in the Mist province, a complete ecosystem revolved around the great banyan tree. If there were insects, then there were birds to eat the insects. Sun vines were vicious, but there were also creatures that could keep them at bay.
However, after Si Qing moved it into the Dragon Arena, the birds and beasts had obviously been either expelled or killed, and this ecological chain had been broken.
“Even if that makes sense, there’s a saying where plucking a single hair can affect the entire body. Surely you can’t just let someone dig you up, roots and all, while sitting on the side indifferently! If I hadn’t come, wouldn’t the insects have devoured you and the vines strangled you to death?”
The Great Banyan Tree King said with deep meaning, “If I were to fly into a rage over a single plucked hair, I wouldn’t be able to grow until today. Moreover, travelling around can always make you more knowledgeable. If you hadn’t come, I could just ask others for assistance. That kid Si Qing won’t watch me wither to death either. The worst-case scenario is losing a hair, but if I can’t even bear to part with a single hair, then I’ll end up parting with my entire body.”
Li Qingshan was taken aback. He muttered to himself, “By not contending, not even the world can contend with him.”
TL: This comes from Chapter 22 of the Daodejing. It’s similar to being invincible if you have no enemies, and having no enemies makes you invincible.
He vaguely understood that this was his way of survival. Although he already possessed the unbelievable power of kings, he still followed the principles of nature, living the way a tree would.
Even if people stripped his bark, even if the vines drained his tree sap, even if burrowing mites ate his body, he would not abuse his power. Instead, he would do his best and maintain the balance of nature, providing a home to creatures of all races. If any enemies were to attack him, these vines and insects would all fight for him.
This was different from yet also similar to the wisdom of the spirit turtle. He seemed vulnerable, refusing to fight back even when damaged, but this instead maintained his most optimal way of survival. Li Qingshan had only heard of people hating wolves and tigers, but never had he heard of anyone hating trees.
“Hmm? That’s quite profound,” the Great Banyan Tree King said.
Li Qingshan released Hua Chenglu and folded his hands. “Alright, I’m willing to help you out, fellow!”
He was already convinced that the Great Banyan Tree King had no ill intentions. He could even put up with the insects that devoured its body all this time, refusing to use his powers to purge them, so what ill intentions could he have towards them?
He also found the Great Banyan Tree King’s wisdom and knowledge very admirable. This was just like how people would always rise up and revolt, fighting with their lives on the line when facing an oppressive thug who wielded a dangerous weapon. On the other hand, if they faced a gentle, wise old man with a cane, they would bend over and ask for guidance, possessing the absolute power to win people over.
As for Li Qingshan, the thing he paid the most attention to was a clear account of his debts of kindness and grievances. Since he had eaten his bark and drunken his tree sap, he obviously should pay him back. He could also obtain the burrowing mites’ daemon cores, so it could be described as guaranteed benefit. Before he knew it, he had naturally become a part of this ecosystem.
If the Daemon King of the Green province was this Great Banyan Tree King and not the Dragon King of Ink Sea, he definitely would have gotten along with him much better.