Li Qingshan thought that the green bull’s words weren’t entirely honest and seemed to conceal something, but he was too busy with his delight to think too much about it. He immediately trained his fist technique and tried to sense this true qi’s uses.

Sure enough, he put his finger on something not long later. When he cultivated his [Bull Demon Strong Fist] today, it was smoother and more relaxed than at any time before, like an old rusty machinery that’s been smeared in lubricants. It felt unspeakably satisfying.

It was also much faster to regain his breath. It seemed like a triviality, but when ordinary people fought they had to spare some energy and they didn’t dare to attack with all their strength. Because if the blow with the whole of their strength were to be dodged, it was difficult to avoid a momentary body stiffness and leave a most important opening.

He wouldn’t have to worry about that. In the time it took others to hit one punch, he could fire out three fists with the whole of his energy. Even if his opponent had equivalent strength, he still wouldn’t be his match.

Li Qingshan’s dozen days of painstaking training finally obtained this “shred” of result, and he couldn’t restrain his great joy, feeling that he was another step closer to his goals.

But remembering the last night’s exhausting danger, his expression became cold: “However, I’d like to know who sent this blessing my way.”

The green bull said as if it wasn’t paying attention: “There’s no door to luck or misfortune, man brings them upon himself.”

Light flashed in Li Qingshan’s mind. Those were words he said when the witch came to his door to ask for boar meat. The little ghost certainly didn’t cling on his body for no reason at all. After careful considerations, he immediately came to some conclusions.

He was born on the earth of the small mountain village and grew up on this earth. He had a rough idea about all the major matters that had happened inside the village. Things that could be called major weren’t many to begin with in this small village. Among them was precisely when a household became ruined after a child fell ill, a several years ago.

Li Qingshan was also a child back then, and he had known this kid called Little Hair. He had never expected in a thousand years that this kid would die just like that.

It was also precisely because of this example that Li Qingshan obediently restored to his previous state after drinking blessed water, and never dared to reveal anything extraordinary afterwards, while loathing the witch to the extreme at the same time.

Little Hair’s mother death was very fishy. It had happened in the s.p.a.ce of a single night without any clear reason.

Li Qingshan originally thought that she couldn’t bear the sorrow of her loss, but thinking now it was clear she had been invaded by the gloomy chill. He suddenly stood up, cold light flas.h.i.+ng in his yes: “So it was like this, she can’t be spared!”

The green bull said: “Just go kill her then!”

“It’s not that simple.” Li Qingshan sat back cross-legged and bowed his head as he sank deep into his thoughts.

The witch wasn’t the same as Liu Baldy that lousy wretch. Not only her influence was extremely great inside the village, she also had some fame in all the countryside nearby. People from other places often came to ask for her divinations.

He’d have no choice but to leave far away if he killed her. It was even possible he’d be reported to the government offices and listed as a criminal. Moreover he had no evidence right now and couldn’t definitely accuse her. The most important thing was, since she could order a small ghost about, did she also have other means? He had no way to know.

The green bull stayed on the side and didn’t interrupt, his heart full of approval. If blood had rushed to Li Qingshan’s head because of his prestige from the previous day, and he had gone straight to the witch to cause a scene and kill her, it would have been a waste of his painstaking efforts.

It was difficult to obtain perfection in this world. It was hard for a brave man not to be impetuous and thoughtless, while a smart man was often hesitant and lacked some decisiveness and staunchness. The words “sword valor and zither heart”1were the rarest of them all.

Li Qingshan made up his mind and dragged his legs to the village.

“Oh it’s the Second Son, did you eat? If you haven’t yet come eat at my house.”At the village entrance, an old burly man held a hoe and was digging the soil in his vegetable garden. He greeted Li Qingshan warmly when he saw him.

The things that happened in the great yard of the Liu residence had already spread to the village’s four corners. The originally obscure and unknown Second Son of the Li family was now already someone famous in the village. Whether old or small, they all had more respect for this young man.

Li Qingshan answered each of them as he crossed through half the village, coming to a small yard with several willow trees planted in front. A small old man with ruined clothes leaned on a tree, already dead drunk so early in the morning. He had a little the posture of a lofty hermit.

Li Qingshan clearly knew that this was no lofty hermit but only an ordinary farmer. He was also Little Hair’s father, called Wealthy Li. He actually wasn’t even forty, but he looked fifty to sixty. After the death of his wife and child, he’d neglected his farm work, and drowned his sorrow in alcohol everyday, acting a little deranged.

Seeing Li Qingshan come close, Wealthy Li mumbled vaguely: “Come, drink, drink,” his intoxicated breath rus.h.i.+ng out.

Li Qingshan frowned. He grabbed Wealthy Li and dragged him inside the house, then without saying two words he scooped water with a ladle and shoved it in Wealthy Li’s mouth, choking him into coughing and puking on the doorsteps.

Li Qingshan glanced around at this thatched house. Everything was worn-out and broken. Spider webs covered the window frames. It could really be called “four bare walls at home.” He remembered that Wealthy Li’s house used to be a famously well-off house in the village, and the lands he owned were second only to Steward Liu. He was worthy of this name his parents gave him and his whole family lived prosperously.

Who could bear to think that there was no permanence for men in the world, and that a suddenly disaster would bring such an outcome. Li Qingshan couldn’t help but sigh. The little joys of mortals were really too fragile. But his temperament was firm and he carried great ambitions in his chest. He most despised those who let themselves go and wallowed in their dejection, so his actions weren’t too polite either.

Wealthy Li angrily said: “What…What.. What are you doing?”

“Big uncle Li, are you drunk?”

Wealthy Li saw that Li Qingshan’s gaze wasn’t so well-disposed, and he quivered. He wasn’t deaf and blind yet, and he was keenly aware of what Li Qingshan had done in the village those few days; this was really an evil star. “What…What do you want?”

“Do you know how Little Hair’s mother died?” Li Qingshan went straight to the point.

“I don’t know, I don’t know anything.” Wealthy Li was scared until his face became white when he heard, and he tried to go outside without caring about anything else.

Li Qingshan grabbed his thin dry wrist: “Aren’t you letting down your wife and son like this?”

Wealthy Li’s body froze: “Second Son, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you. It’s not trouble you can stir up, don’t throw your life away in vain.”

“I wasn’t looking for trouble, but trouble already came knocking at my door. If I had to live like you, I might as well throw my life away. You only need to tell me what happened back then.”

Wealthy Li was alarmed when he heard: “What, already came to your door?” He hesitated a long while, and started talking after taking a long breath in.

“After Little Hair’s mom shouted abuses in front of the witch’s door, she came back and went to sleep. The next morning she couldn’t wake up anymore. Her body became cold and blueish. Many creepy things happened that night, and also… I also saw…”

“What did you see?”

“A child!”

Li Qingshan was finally certain that the was indeed that witch.

Moreover the witch had even eerily told Wealthy Li that Little Hair not only missed his mother in the underworld, he also missed his father. It had scared Wealthy Li into a great offering.

Li Qingshan slapped the wall. “It’s truly intolerable bullying. Don’t tell me you never thought about taking revenge for your wife and son?”

Wealthy Li’s face wholly flushed red at the contempt in Li Qingshan’s words and suddenly ran inside the house. He took out a long bundle from the bottom of the bed.

He untied the bundle. Inside was a blade2, a top-notch steel blade.

Li Qingshan pulled the blade out of the scabbard. A cold and threatening chill a.s.saulted him. It reflected his face, his hair and beard clearly visible.

This blade’s handle was approximatively one foot long and faintly curved, with black silk wrapped around it. It felt very comfortable when held in the hand. The blade itself was two feet long and five inches wide. It was so much more powerful than Li Qinshan’s short knife that was only one inch long and of poor make.

The back of this blade was very thick and it felt heavy in his hand. The edge was extremely sharp. He randomly waved it around and heard the sound of air being broken. He couldn’t hold in his praise: “What a good blade!” He’d never seen such a good blade in the market. If he really had to buy it, he was afraid he’d need to exchange several mu3 of fertile land in exchange.

1. A zither heart means a gentle and refined heart

2. Presumably a dao, a single-edged curved sword akin to a saber. Culturally it’s seen as less n.o.ble and refined than the straight sword.

3. A mu is 1/15th of an acre.

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