Everyone standing outside Fortune Court watched as a gray cloud of Murderous Qi shot out from Li Xianming’s sleeve. The cloud flew towards Gu Suihan and burst just before hitting Gu Suihan.
“Prepare to die, little brat! I’ve contributed enough to kill someone without repercussions now!” Li Xianming had a murderous look on his face as he rotated his folding fan several times, sending out several silver needles that glistened with a murky green liquid. The needles were clearly laced with poison.
“Murderous Qi?” Gu Suihan’s expression turned sinister as the intention to kill finally filled his heart.
“It’s so cold.”
“That’s a lot of Murderous Qi.”
Everyone already standing outside moved even further away as the inside of Fortune Court was quickly engulfed in a gray smog.
Gu Suihan wasn’t able to dodge the onslaught of needles in time, so he raised his arms to wave his sleeves in order to blow most of the needles away. After that, he brought his shoulders low and suddenly charged at Li Xianming like a tank.
Anybody who had read enough books on martial arts on Earth would probably immediately exclaim, “That’s the Mountain Leaning Technique!”1(https://kknews.cc/news/b648zb6.html)]
But Li Xianming took one look at Gu Suihan’s small and skinny frame and scoffed in disdain. “Murderous Qi of Dark Yin! Corrode!”
Swooshing noises filled the air as the Murderous Qi surrounding Gu Suihan suddenly gathered together again. The particles tried their best to penetrate Gu Suihan’s body but all they managed to do was to eat away at the clothing covering his upper body. Several tiny black dots appeared on Gu Suihan’s clothes, but the particles could go no further.
“How can this be?” Li Xianming was shocked, but he didn’t slow down just because of that. He flung the folding fan aside, touched the bag hanging on his belt and retrieved a handkerchief about the size of his palm.
“Vast Net of Chaos! Capture!”
The handkerchief started flapping even though there was no wind and increased exponentially in size before flying towards Gu Suihan. This was a low-grade magic weapon that he had used a large number of Spiritual Stones to purchase. It was pretty powerful, since it was able to lock a person’s internal energy for a few seconds, which also made it more of an auxiliary weapon rather than a main weapon.
And because Gu Suihan was able to match his moves, Li Xianming instinctively assumed that Gu Suihan was at Half Step to Qi Absorption like he was. At this stage, the body had very little Qi but still hadn’t processed most of it into pneuma yet. To him, that was the only explanation for why Gu Suihan had been able to hold up against his Murderous Qi attack.
“What an idiot.” Gu Suihan suddenly stopped moving and a dagger appeared in his hand. Li Xianming paled in horror as he watched Gu Suihan use that to not only cut right through the Vast Net of Chaos but also to stab Li Xianming in the chest.
“That’s enough!” an elderly voice suddenly rang out. The voice seemed to carry some sort of power that stopped Gu Suihan’s dagger from stabbing deeper into Li Xianming.
“You got lucky.” Gu Suihan’s expression was nasty, and he whispered into Li Xianming’s ear, “You’d better watch out… otherwise disaster might befall you when you go out.”
The Murderous Qi that was swirling within Fortune Court also slowly gathered together again and flew back into Li Xianming’s sleeve after that elderly voice gave that shout.
Now that their vision was no longer obscured by the gray smog, everyone outside realized that the previously pompous Li Xianming was now slumped on the floor, his hair in a mess and his face as pale as a sheet. His robe was stained with blood and his empty gaze truly shocked the crowd.
“Gather your things and get out of here right now. I will not make you compensate for damages this time,” said the elderly voice again. This time, it sounded a little more upset.
“I take my leave.” Gu Suihan bowed politely, then waved his hand at the two absolutely terrified maids who were hiding by themselves in a corner to follow him out. As he walked past Li Xianming, he silently moved his fingers a little before marching out of Fortune Court with an unfeeling and ruthless look on his face.
At the same time, Tianyu and the rest who just witnessed this fight were so relieved that Miss Mo had settled the matter earlier by just giving Gu Suihan what he wanted. Getting on the wrong side of such a vicious opponent was definitely going to end in tragedy.
“Father, I have returned.” Li Rong was standing politely in front of a middle-aged man and telling him everything that happened when he had left the sect. After he was done reporting, he said a little hesitantly, “I feel…that there’s something a little odd about Gu Suihan, but I just can’t seem to place my finger on it.”
Xiexin Zhenren slowly sipped his tea, then said with a faint smile, “Rong’er, that Gu Suihan is hiding a number of secrets. Just that ship robbery case alone is problematic. Did you really think that old thing, Nan Yuntian, would get so uptight over some missing gold pieces?”
“What else could there be?” Li Rong was still confused.
“These tax ships do not only ship annual taxes back to the Royal Court. Rare and precious treasures from officials from all over the country are also included. Most importantly, the old fellow in the palace needs the power of faith and destiny.”
Li Rong gasped and exclaimed in astonishment, “You mean, destiny and faith can be gathered together and shipped like an item?”
Xiexin Zhenren laughed loudly and said, “You’re still young, so this doesn’t make sense to you. But these are extremely important to that old monster in the palace. He’s counting on those to extend his lifespan.”
“So should we…” A frosty glint flashed in Li Rong’s eyes.
“No, don’t.” Xiexin Zhenren waved his hand to dismiss his son’s suggestion and looked intently at Li Rong. “What you need to do right now is to remain on good terms with Gu Suihan. You must maintain your friendship with him and never become enemies with him. Even if you want to proceed, you have to wait until that matter is over.”
Xiexin Zhenren’s expression was very solemn now.
That matter. Li Rong seemed to have recalled something and a mocking smile spread across his lips.
“Go back to your residence for now and remember what I said.”
“Your son will take his leave now.” Li Rong bowed and left the room.
Xiexin Zhenren was left all alone again on the peak of the mountain.
After a long time, he slowly put his teacup down again and murmured, “Gu Suihan? I hope you survive for as long as possible, since…fish will only surface if the waters are muddy enough…”2(https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E6%B5%91%E6%B0%B4%E6%91%B8%E9%B1%BC/4472150)
An idiom from one of Sun-Tzu’s 36 strategems for fighting a war in ancient times.
The aim of this strategy is to identify the enemy’s weakness and time your moves well so that you achieve your own agenda and gain victory in the chaos. When the water is muddy, the fish can’t tell where they are going – similarly, when the war is too chaotic, the smaller or weaker camp will normally be very unstable and easily shaken, which makes them a good target.
A modern use of this idiom would be like confusing a someone during a negotiation and make a simple discussion become more complicated than it really should be (i.e. muddy the waters), then force the other party to make a decision when he’s still confused and not thinking straight in order to achieve your own goals.
The original phrase comes from the idea of making a pond murky so that the fish get choked from the pollution and it will not be too difficult to pull them out of the water.]
More than a month later, all the administrative matters required to settle the new disciples in was completed and everything was slowly moving along as planned. Disciplinarians came to the four Compounds to give lectures.
It felt as though the entire mountain of external disciples was covered by dark clouds and the air was filled with tension. It was like the calm before a storm.
“Senior Brother Gu!” called out a young girl as she ran after Gu Suihan.
Gu Suihan turned around and asked the girl, “Is Li Rong looking for me?”
“Yes, Young Master is asking you to go over to his place, he says it’s urgent,” the girl spoke rapidly as she nodded.
“I’ll go over right now,” Gu Suihan looked down for a moment to think, then answered her after that.
He used his Qi to make his body lighter and arrived at Li Rong’s residence within seconds.
“Li Xianming is dead,” was the first thing Li Rong said the moment Gu Suihan walked in.
“Oho.” Gu Suihan looked surprised and asked, “Who’s Li Xianming? How did he die?”
“You don’t know?”
Li Rong scoffed. He was very sure Gu Suihan had something to do with this.
“No.” Gu Suihan looked both confused and completely innocent.
“Humph!” Li Rong scowled as he said in a dejected voice, “Whether you had anything to do with Li Xianming’s death doesn’t matter, as long as nobody thinks it could be you.”
“Who’s backing him?” Gu Suiran asked suddenly. He didn’t look the least panicky.
It really wasn’t you, thought Li Rong as he glanced at Gu Suihan.
“Nobody significant, but his younger brother, Li Xianlong, is also an external disciple. Less than half a day after Li Xianming’s death was confirmed, Li Xianlong was mysteriously transferred to the West Compound,” said Li Rong with a solemn look.
It didn’t take a genius to realize what was actually going on.
Why was Li Xianlong defeated and transferred to the West Compound so suddenly? It clearly had something to do with what happened to Li Xianming when he fought with Gu Suihan.
Even though that elder within Fortune Court had done something to stop the fight, he was still too late. Gu Suihan’s dagger was already two inches deep into Li Xianming’s chest by that time. If Li Xianming weren’t fat enough, he would have died there and then.
At the same time, Gu Suihan was laced with Soul Breaking Grass. On stab was all it took to forcibly stop Qi from circulating within even a cultivator at Foundation Establishment stage. The body would go into a chaotic state within an hour.
Li Xianming had only just cultivated the Murderous Qi of Dark Yin into his body at that time. He had barely started on his cultivation journey and so his dantian wasn’t stable to begin with.
So, after Li Xianming got back to his residence and realized he still couldn’t sense any Qi within his body after eight whole hours had passed, he began to really panic. Because of his anxiety, his severe injury and his unstable dantian, the tiny bit of Murderous Qi he had cultivated sadly vanished into thin air.
This realization almost broke Li Xianming. After thinking about it for a long time, he finally decided that he would rather spend all the Spiritual Stones he had saved up on his younger brother, Li Xianlong, to kill Gu Suihan than to let this go. Unfortunately for Li Xianming, his younger brother had received a mission just a few days earlier and was only going to return more than a month later.
But nobody realized that something had landed on Li Xianming when Gu Suihan seemed to casually flick his fingers as he walked past Li Xianming on his way out of Fortune Court.
“Li Xianming left the sect to look for his younger brother and was attacked by a magical beast on the way there.” Li Rong’s lips twitched, and he looked disdainful as he said, “Almost none of his body was left. If Li Xianlong hadn’t used his family’s secret technique to forcibly take hold of his older brother’s soul and keep it from harm, nobody would have found out that Li Xianming was killed by a Steel-backed Demon Monkey.”
“Of course, that wasn’t all Li Xianlong must have seen when searching his brother’s memories. He probably saw Li Xianming’s feud with you.”
“So, you think Li Xianlong suddenly got himself transferred to the West Compound so that he could wait a month to challenge me and have an official reason to kill me and avenge his dead brother?” Gu Suihan calmly finished saying everything else that Li Rong was trying to tell him.
Li Rong saw Gu Suihan’s completely unaffected expression and couldn’t help but say sarcastically, “You’re not done with classes yet, and while you can look for techniques in the library anytime, you and I know that nothing good comes cheap. Good things always come at a price. Besides, are you sure that you can even master a technique well enough within a month? Dream on! Your level of aptitude is high, but you know very well that being gifted is not always enough.”
“And now, you think you will survive Li Xianlong’s attacks when you’re only in the Perfect Physical Realm? You’re just building castles in the air.”
Li Rong’s heartless words clearly did not harbor any hope that Gu Suihan would be able to defeat Li Xianlong.
“I won’t say too much since you can’t dodge this one. Maybe it’s one of the three disasters and six afflictions you have to suffer.”
A few moments later, Li Rong realized that Gu Suihan’s face was still just as expressionless as before, which both worried and exasperated him at the same time. “Here’s detailed information on Li Xianlong. You can have it.”
“You’ve gone a little too far now,” said Gu Suihan quietly. He picked up the few sheets of paper on the table and left.
Li Rong was left by himself to sit next to the pond in the huge courtyard. He frowned and murmured, “If you weren’t still of great use to me, I wouldn’t have to be so careful.”
The Clacker’s ShadyShadyShady Izakaya
Today’s snack recommendation: Hotaru Ika. Seen those photos of fluorescent blue sparkles in the Sea of Japan before or got a Firefly Squid in Animal Crossing? Good news! YOU CAN EAT ‘EM TOO! Umami: **********
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