Following the warm current diffusing inside his abdomen, the shred of qi also livened up and flowed to his body’s open wounds. An itchy numb sensation came to him.

Sick Yellow Tiger sent out a few skilled and nimble hunters as scouts, and the group of people surrounded the bull cart as they rushed toward the depths of the great mountains.

This journey took them all the way to nightfall, sinking deep inside the tall mountains, no trace of human habitations all around them.

At the foot of a mountain, Li Qingshan saw the Horse Rein Village from the legends.

A tall wooden wall was tied together all around the village, with watchtowers at the four corners. It didn’t look like a village but more like a military camp. The sluice gate opened after the group neared and transmitted words. It was entirely different from Crouching Bull Village’s casualness.

Li Qingshan attracted everyone’s attention as the only outsider. He didn’t bat an eye outwardly, but he was tense inside. This was the dragon pond and tiger cave from the legends that had made a great army rein in their horses.

Sick Yellow Tiger didn’t look like he had any evil intention, but he still needed to proceed with caution, else he might lose his life muddleheadedly. That thick-backed steel blade had already been taken away, but even if it were still there, it was already so broken that it couldn’t be of use anymore after that battle.

Sick Yellow Tiger settled him inside an unoccupied small courtyard. Although he didn’t dispatch anyone to keep an eye on him, he exhorted Li Qingshan not to randomly walk around, before leaving hurriedly.

In the village’s most central building, under the light s.h.i.+ning from several lanterns, the hunters with the most prestige in Horse Rein Village were discussing around a round table:

“The Ginseng King Village has had grievances with us since a long time ago because of the matter of ginseng picking. We often lose people in the mountains for inexplicable reasons, I fear it’s precisely their doings. This time they even dare to have ideas about the spirit ginseng, it’s the right opportunity to send them a blade.”

The two villages were separated by merely a few mountains with no clear boundaries between them. The ginseng gatherers made a living from picking the ginseng, while the hunters wandered through the mountains all year long, so they could still recognize ginseng and would naturally not leave it behind if they saw some.

Hence it gave birth to many disputes. The mountain folk’s disputes were often settled with a knife. It was only because the distance was far enough that no large-scale confrontation had happened yet.

Until not very long ago, between the two villages, on the Old White Peak near the Horse Rein Village, the two enemies met face to face again, and they discovered a spirit ginseng from the legends. It had already taken human shape and could even leave the soil and walk away.

This kind of rare heavenly treasure led to close-quarter fighting, but after the ma.s.sacre the spirit ginseng was already gone without leaving trace or shadow. Even so, reasonably speaking it should still be on Old White Peak. No one from the two villages dared to act rashly and conduct a large-scale search on the mountain, but both sides were making their preparations.

“Chief Hunter, this thing can absolutely not be leaked out, it’s better to take care of that kid!”

“That kid’s talent is pretty good and his character also suits my tastes, it’d be a pity to kill him. I want to make him stay in the village, and add another blade for us.”

“But he’s an outsider when all’s said and done.”

“No need to say any further, I will carefully test him. If he’s not qualified enough, a certain Yellow will certainly not show a soft hand.” Sick Yellow Tiger said resolutely and decisively, but it was followed by a burst of coughs.

Inside a small pitch-dark room, Little An drilled out from the locust wood plaque and looked with concern at Li Qingshan, reaching his hand out and touching the wounds that had already scabbed on his body.

Li Qingshan said: “Don’t worry, I”m fine, I’m fine for now!” Though he could see that Sick Yellow Tiger appreciated him, this feeling of not having his life in his own hands was really uncomfortable. If he wanted to pull his fate back into his hands, the only way was to become stronger.

He immediately followed the green bull’s instructions and soaked the ginseng with good wine to make medicinal wine. Then he stopped for a moment and looked at the result with a burst of happy gratification.

Early morning the next day, Li Qingshan woke up very early and practiced the [Bull Demon Strong Fist], but he suddenly felt a strong wind a.s.sault him from behind, as if a violent tiger was pouncing on him.

Li Qingshan turned around and sent out a punch, but it fell into empty air. Sick Yellow Tiger rubbed his arm, his right hand grasping empty air as if it were a claw that clawed toward his throat.

“He wants to kill me and shut me up?!” Li Qingshan’s thoughts revolved in his mind. He surprisingly didn’t try to dodge or block but welcomed it instead, as if he was going to deliver himself to the other party’s hand. At the same time he gathered his arms like an old bear hugging a tree, exerting the strength from his entire body.

What he cultivated was a supernatural skill based on strength, not an ordinary martial art. Although he hadn’t trained to the strength of a bull yet, the power of his hug wasn’t something a body of flesh and blood could bear either.

Sick Yellow Tiger suddenly pulled his claws back, withdrew his body and circled around to his back.

Li Qingshan immediately said “not good,” and was just about to change his posture, but he sensed that Sick Yellow Tiger wasn’t moving anymore, merely watching him with approval.

If he had pulled his body back right now, this claw would have smoothly manifested all of its power, certainly tearing his throat apart with ease. But he didn’t retreat and advanced instead. This had contained the power of that move, while he used used a trick born from struggles of life and death. Not only he could act according to the situation, he was also considerably brave.

“It’s my loss.” Li Qingshan rubbed his neck. On it were five traces of bloodstains. Sick Yellow Tiger’s skills were truly outstanding. Even if he wasn’t injured, he was definitely not his match.

“Where did you learn your martial arts?” Sick Yellow Tiger asked. Apart from his courage and adaptability, Li Qingshan’s martial art was also very out of the ordinary. Usually, no matter how fast the reaction they still couldn’t regain their breath in time. Also, just now when his five fingers touched Li Qingshan’s nape it was as if they were stabbing the tenacious hide of a bull, and not a soft vital spot.

Li Qingshan natually couldn’t say that it was a bull who taught him, or else he’d probably be seen as a lunatic, so he directly said that several years ago he met a person of high skill. This man saw his simple and honest nature, then taught him a few moves, but he’d exhorted him not to divulge his ident.i.ty or appearance.

“A few years ago?!” Sick Yellow Tiger was stupefied. Li Qingshan not wanting to say his teacher’s ident.i.ty didn’t make him too surprised, but he originally thought that Li Qingshan had practiced martial skills since his childhood. The most important reason to make him stay in Horse Rein Village was to find out who is master was.

“What?” Li Qingshan was a little confused.

“You didn’t practice martial arts since childhood?”

“In a trivial few years, he taught you to such a level. It’s really hard to imagine, it looks like that master is truly a master.”

Li Qingshan was sweating big drops in his mind. Fortunately he casually said several years ago, and not a month ago, otherwise this Sick Yellow Tiger might well die of fright.

At the same time he understood all the more that supernatural skills and mortal martial arts were things at two entirely different levels. Right now he wasn’t Sick Yellow Tiger’s match, but it was only because he’d cultivated for not even two months, while the other side underwent twenty or thirty years of hard labor.

“Does the chief hunter have any matter, coming this time?”

“Kid, do you have any interest in settling down in Horse Rein Village?” Although he casually asked, it carried a flavor that make it difficult to refuse.

“Ok!” Li Qingshan straightforwardly agreed, and it was Sick Yellow Tiger who stared blankly instead: “You don’t have any attachment for your home village?”

“Will the chief hunter promise to let me leave peacefully if I don’t agree?” Li Qingshan calmly said: “Moreover, I once heard a saying.”

“What saying?”

“In this life everywhere is one’s hometown1. Whether Crouching Bull Village or Horse Rein Village, it’s of no difference to me. Here I might even learn some hunting archery. If I say it like this, does the chief hunter understand? My ambition doesn’t lie amidst this piece of mountain forest.”

“Just relying on your low grade martial arts, trying to mix in the roads of the martial world will be but a road toward death for you. You’ll merely be a small fish and a small fry for the disciples of those great famous sects, how does it compare to living free and unrestrained in the mountain forests?”

“Eh? Could it be that it’s not enough even with the chief hunter’s abilities?” Li Qingshan was somewhat surprised. Sick Yellow Tiger’s fame in the surrounding areas could be said to be loud and dazzling.

“I’m not afraid of making you laugh. My archery still counts as decent and it once reached some fame, but experts are innumerable in the martial world. You train for several decades, then a teenage little baby comes along and kills you as easily as killing a dog. I ate a big loss, and being able to come back alive is already a blessing.”

Li Qingshan pursed his lips. Not only did he feel no dread, but on the contrary he felt a rising fascination.

1. Although it’s a little similar to the poem stanza from chapter 1, Google tells me this exact Chinese quote comes from a picture book from 2010 I’ve never heard of. I have no idea if this is correct or not

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