“Alright then, but you have to admit that my acting in the past was still alright.” Li Qingshan raised his index finger before sighing. “Sure enough, modesty leads to improvement, while complacency leads to deterioration!”
However, he was not worried at all. He was no longer that Li Qingshan of the past. There was no need for him to carefully put on a good show every single time, much less care so much. As for when he would go to the Dragon province, or if he would go to the Dragon province at all, that was not something the Hawk God could decide with a single statement.
Xiao An nodded with a smile.
“Though, why would the mighty Hawk God travel thousands of kilometers just for a formality?” Li Qingshan was rather puzzled. He had put on the act for the Hawk God to see so that he could avoid some unnecessary problems, but who was the Hawk God putting on the act for?
“Because he’s the ‘Guardian Hawk God’. As long as the Great Xia empire still stands, he has to continue guarding it,” the Great Banyan Tree King’s voice rang out.
“Oh, I see. In the past, I found the title of the Guardian Hawk God to be quite mighty and impressive, but why do I feel like it’s merely drudgery now?” Li Qingshan said.
As Li Qingshan’s realm of cultivation rapidly advanced, his field of view broadened as well. Several decades ago, when he heard the Golden Cicada Spirit King describe the nine provinces as a well, he felt very shocked, but only now did he truly understand it.
“Though, since the cage is broken now, the bird is free,” the Great Banyan Tree King said slowly.
“Freedom? Just how high do you have to fly before you’re truly free? It’s a pity that you’ll never obtain this freedom!”
“A bird has a bird’s freedom. A tree has a tree’s freedom. To a tree, having a place to grow peacefully, without the threat of being cut down, would be freedom.”
“Fair enough. Oh right, have you basically succeeded, fellow?” Li Qingshan smiled ambiguously.
“This is only the first step. I still need a lengthy period of time to adjust. I do hope there is a time when I succeed,” replied the Great Banyan Tree King.
“You know what I’m asking about.” Li Qingshan was intrigued by the gossip.
“Actually, it’s useless even if you asked Xiao An about something like that. What would she know as a little girl? I’m the one with knowledge and experience. Anyway, just do what you must and don’t think too much about it…”
“Qingshan, senior probably needs to recuperate a little before he can condense a Fruit of Wisdom. Why don’t you go take a look at the Shadow palace first?” Xiao An tugged Li Qingshan’s sleeve and interrupted him.
“Sure!” Li Qingshan agreed to it casually before realising what was going on. “Do you feel like what I said was wrong?”
“It’s absolutely correct!” Xiao An nodded seriously. “You better go. There’s plenty of business waiting for you to ‘do’ in the Shadow palace!”
“Damn girl, how dare you mock me!”
Li Qingshan suddenly began to miss that Xiao An who always looked at him in utmost admiration. However, her clear eyes were now much richer with emotion. They could see through his heart much more clearly than the Hawk God’s piercing gaze. The great beauty on top of the white bone was not an empty shell anymore.
“I’m not a little girl.”
“Alright. I’ll be right back!”
Li Qingshan pinched her cheeks before turning around and flying away. Speaking of white, he had basically spent the past two decades like an ascetic before entering consecutive battles, followed by an arduous task like shattering the Mist Province cauldron. He did encounter a Gong Yuan, who did have some interest in him, but it was for exactly that reason that he could not do as he pleased. When he remembered the Shadow palace and the night roamers, he became a little excited.
“Palace master Ye, I’ve come to uphold my promise.”
“Why do you seem like you’ve come to visit a brothel instead?” Ye Weiyang’s face was hidden behind a black veil, only revealing her eyes that studied Li Qingshan. The battle of the demon cavern had left her with far too deep of an impression, which made her struggle to connect his current appearance to back then.
“Then I want the best your Shadow palace has to offer!” Li Qingshan laughed aloud.
“Hehe, coming up!” With a flash, Ye Weiyang disappeared into the sea of trees.
Li Qingshan followed close behind. A beautiful figure traversed through the jungle right before his eyes, which he struggled to grasp the aura of. He was basically unable to unfurl his wings and fly at full strength either in the dark, complicated terrain of the forest. Whenever he approached her, she would immediately widen the distance between them again. Ye Weiyang was not travelling in a straight line either. She darted about as if she was mocking him.
Li Qingshan simply gave up on chasing her.
“What’s wrong? You don’t want the best anymore?” Ye Weiyang smiled.
“If I can’t even see the appearance of the best, it’s fine even if I don’t get the best, just in case I get deceived.”
Li Qingshan answered with a smile, but his eyes remained clear. After everything he had gone through over the decades, he was no longer the country bumpkin who had just emerged from the tiny mountain hamlet and viewed Gu Yanying as a stunning immortal, falling in love with her at first sight. His main reason for visiting the Shadow palace was not to satiate his lust, but to settle a few matters for good.
Ye Weiyang suddenly stopped and parted the foliage. She said, “Please!”
A city constructed among the colossal trees unfurled before Li Qingshan’s eyes, hundreds and thousands of times larger than the Cobweb city he had once seen in the past.
Thousands of luminous pearls gave off a gentle silvery glow, the tree shade blended together, and the thick mist bobbed up and down under the trees. It seemed gloomy, yet also glorious. Countless night roamers strolled around there. It was not like a harsh training base for assassins like he previously imagined. Instead, hints of art and craftsmanship were present everywhere.
However, the many sentry posts hidden in the dark could not evade Li Qingshan’s eyes. As it seemed, the night roamers did not drop their guard because of their territory in Towering city. They maintain their almost-instinctive vigilance.
However, he encountered no obstacles along the way under the Shadow Queen’s lead, reaching the very centre of the Shadow palace. He saw the three sisters, Ye Liusu, Ye Liubo, and Ye Liuxing, very soon. He learnt they were doing quite well in the Shadow palace. After all, with their cultivation at the second heavenly tribulation, they could be regarded as close to the upper echelon in any organization across the nine provinces. Even if there were some disputes and schemes, it would struggle to affect them directly.
On the other hand, the Shadow palace had inherited a rich and complete cultivation system from the ancient divine kingdom, which was of great assistance to them. They spent most of their time throughout the two decades on cultivation.
Ye Liusu was the most talented, and she received Ye Weiyang’s special attention, so she was offered the greatest support. She had made the most progress too, so there was a very good chance that she would succeed the position of Shadow Queen. However, the one who worked the hardest was not her or Ye Liuxing, but Ye Liubo who had always been the laziest and had always possessed the worst talent. Her bearing changed drastically as a result, seeming as if she had become a completely different person.
Li Qingshan nodded in delight. Having travelled together, at least he had not let down his friendship with them to be able to send them to a place like this. Unfortunately, that was all he could do too.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
The sound of knocking echoed through the dark room. Li Qingshan opened his eyes and was about to sit up among a pair of beautiful arms, but they embraced him firmly.
“Take me with you!” Ye Liubo said.
Li Qingshan kissed her forehead gently and stroked her belly. “Take good care of our child.”
“Will there really be one?” Ye Liubo was rather lost.
“There’ll definitely be one this time. I guarantee that to you!” Li Qingshan said.
The flames of the phoenix guaranteed he had already planted that speck of life in her. He had no idea what kind of fruit it would bear, but he was destined to be incapable of being a good father.
“The banquet is beginning.” Ye Weiyang urged him from outside the door.
Li Qingshan had sensed it already too. Hundreds of kilometers away, tremendous auras converged in Towering city.
It was not just the Green province. The stage called the nine provinces was already ready. As a result, he strode through the door, without ever looking back.
PS: Good news, my eyes feel much better. As for the plot regarding the Green province, I have many more thoughts that are much more detailed. Though, I just feel like I can’t set my pen to paper so easily over some crucial parts.
Releases are back to normal. 2 chapters a day.