Li Qingshan could only follow behind. Refusing now would merely be courting his own humiliation. No one could say “no” in front of absolute power. His brain went over everything he’d seen and heard at high speed. What was the second level of qi refining, wasn’t it the innate level? The one he was soon going to meet was also a great figure inside the Eagle Wolf Guard. Why did he want to see him, it couldn’t also be for the spirit ginseng?

His brain was full of interrogations he couldn’t answer. The imperial court’s strength was even far above his imagination. Rather than saying the imperial court used great wealth and high status to enlist those powerful men to its service, it was better to say that the powerful men had established the imperial court to rule all under the heavens. The greater the abilities, the greater the responsibilities, this was only a fantasy in American movies. The reality was, the greater the abilities, the greater the privileges.

The three of them traveled out of the city as those thoughts turned inside his head. Hua Chengzan walked in the front and seemed to be floating forward. His pace became faster and faster but he left no trace behind when he stepped on the snow.

Feng Zhang mobilized the true qi in his whole body and strove to follow behind. Although he was far away from Hua Chengzan’s chic, one could still see he used the same kind of steps.

There was no more such elegance when one looked at Li Qingshan beside them. He leaped up and fell down, every one of his steps crossing the distance of several dozen steps as he maneuvered every bone and every muscle in his body. There was a rough and primitive heroic air about it. He was actually able to follow them.

Out of the three, Hua Chengzan and Feng Zhang operated their qi while Li Qingshan used his strength. The difference between them manifested itself immediately.

Feng Zhang thought: I would truly be unable to follow if this kid used all his energy to flee. It looks like there’s more to him than an ordinary first-grade master. Wait until I see captain w.a.n.g, I’ll report it and waste his martial arts first thing.

Hua Chengzan’s vision was actually much more penetrating. He was also secretly a.s.sessing Li Qingshan. “First level of qi refining. The true qi is still very weak, but his blood energy is very powerful. It must be the effect of the spirit ginseng, and he’s also cultivated some kind of body tempering technique.”

Feng Zhang boldly said: “Captain Hua, what business brought you here together with captain w.a.n.g?” What could have dispatched those two captains.

Hua Chengzan threw a smiling glance at the two of them and said, “Boss Gu came. What for exactly, I don’t know either.”

Li Qingshan saw Feng Zhang freeze for a long while. Then it looked as if his reaction had suddenly settled in and his expression greatly changed. His true qi became chaotic from head to toes in an instant, while his steps staggered. He narrowly avoided slipping down and adjusted his posture with great difficulties before catching up once more, his head facing down as he was lost in thoughts.

Li Qingshan became even more curious as to what kind of character that “boss Gu” was. Hua Chengzan said earlier someone wanted to meet him, not that “old w.a.n.g” wanted to meet him. Was it possible the one he was talking about was precisely this boss Gu.

Outside Suncheer City, inside a snowy world wrapped in silver silk, under a Huangshan pine1 at the foot of the mountains, there was a long woven mat laid there who knew when, together with a small table made of red sandalwood. There were several extremely refined drinking vessels on the table. At the side, a small cauldron boiled above a small stove made of red clay.

Two people sat face to face, drinking wine and admiring the snow, elegant and free of vulgarity as if they weren’t of this world.

One of them was precisely the one who possessed great authority over all criminal matters in Clear River prefecture, w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+. His real age was already above eighty, but he seemed merely around forty thanks of his qi refining. That famously grim face of his was presently br.i.m.m.i.n.g with a smile that resembled a spring breeze in May.

An eagle had given him a piece of news and summoned him from the inexhaustible flourish of the Clear River capital to this remote and desolate small Suncheer City thousand miles away. But he was not only not angry, he felt greatly honored instead.

“Old w.a.n.g, your cultivation has made much progress again. This Clear River prefecture will soon be too small for you.”

This nickname of w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+’s wasn’t something anyone could call him with. He gave even vice-captain Hua Chengzan the eye when he called him old w.a.n.g, but he felt even more honored when the one facing him called him like that. He leaned his body forward. “I only wish to be a wolf at your excellency’s orders.”

“I had my heart set on letting little Hua fill in your position. Only.”

“Little Hua couldn’t make something of himself and has failed to live up to your excellency’s expectations. Oh, they came.”

“Big boss Gu, I led the man here for you!” Hua Chengzan was all smiles, then he went forward and grasped the furnace lid as he said: “Old w.a.n.g, is the wine still not ready?”

w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+ slapped Hua Chengzan’s hand away and said as he stared him down, “Stop using random names. Quietly sit down. This needs an hour and a half before the taste comes through.”

Hua Chengzan sucked in a mouthful of cold air. He covered his hand and sat cross-legged to one side. “Old w.a.n.g, you act really too heavily.” He said to boss Gu: “Now you know how he bullies me in ordinary times!”

Li Qingshan had already seen the two persons sitting under the Huangshan pine from far away thanks to his spiritual eyes. If the spiritual qi on Hua Chengzan could be described as flowing like water, then it was frozen into ice on this w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+, as if the essence within had been congealed. He attracted the spiritual qi between heaven and earth with a single raise of the hand or a single lift of the foot. It was filled with unspeakable mystery.

But Li Qingshan’s attention fell entirely on that “boss Gu” when he came under the pine. His line of sight wouldn’t budge an iota no matter how many profound mysteries were on w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+.

Pure white clothes, loose and elegant, spread softly around on the bamboo mat as they seemed to merge into one with the vast expanses of whiteness between heaven and earth.

A face that could overturn the world watched Li Qingshan with a smile yet not a smile, lucid and elegant just like the snow, but also concealing a once a generation glamour.

Li Qingshan hadn’t believed in any love at first sight before. He’d hadn’t believed he could still have his so-called breath taken away after undergoing the impact of countless beautiful women on the internet in his previous world.

But at this moment he was willing to believe in love at first sight. He was even more willing to believe this world had beauty his previous world couldn’t compare to. His heart slammed faster and faster; he was about to lose control of himself.

He’d once spoken conceited claptrap under the influence of alcohol, saying he wanted to “bed the most beautiful women in the world.” This was originally a mere joke after wine for him, but now there was an intense and violent thought budding inside him. He wanted to take her as wife!

Feng Zhang’s att.i.tude was diametrically opposed to his however. He only threw a glance over before lowering his face, as if the one in front of him wasn’t a woman of absolute beauty, but a scourge like great floods and wild beasts.

Hua Chengzan threw a contemptuous sidelong glance at Feng Zhang, then watched Li Qingshan with a smile. But lament also slid across his eyes. Only the most haughty and most egotistical person would dare to directly look into her eyes this way. Then they would be forever unable to extricate themselves once immersed within.

“Boss Gu” coughed lightly once and sniffed: “When was the last time you took a bath?”

The voice was as pleasant to hear as the flow of a chilly ice spring, but the words made Li Qingshan stiffen blankly on the spot. A certain image of perfection somewhat crumbled inside his heart. He very much wanted to roar, “You can’t say this kind of words.” In his mind, even if she couldn’t make fresh flowers bloom as soon as she opened her mouth or drip out honeyed sweetness just like in fairy tales for children, she still should be a little more poetic, a little more aesthetic.

Hua Chengzan couldn’t resist laughing up loudly. “Haha.”

“I…” Li Qingshan had no idea how to answer for a moment. Even if he trained all day long, it still wasn’t as bad as having any bad smell on his body! But thanks to this, he also woke up from the obsession he was wallowing in just then.

Li Qingshan noticed then that a small silver eagle hung at her waist, just like on w.a.n.g Pus.h.i.+’s hips. A white eagle spreading its wing was also faintly visible when the snowy light shone upon her white clothes. The wings spread all the way to her sleeves, every feather painstakingly crafted down to the smallest detail, just like a feather dress from the legends2.

She was a White Eagle Captain.

1. The “Huangshan Pine,” literally the “Guest Greeting Pine,” is an evergreen tree unique to the mountains of eastern China. Here’s a picture:

2. The feather dress is said to be the dress of divine immortals. Also the dress worn by angel-like creatures in some variation of Buddhism.

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