The gate closed behind him. Li Qingshan looked around, seemingly not noticing the tense atmosphere inside the yard at all, and headed toward the table Steward Liu sat at. That place faced the hall and was arranged under the tallest old elm tree in the yard. It was were the main seats were, and those sitting there were all people with fame and prestige within the village.

On the right and left of Steward Liu were Village Chief Li and the witch. Those were precisely the three peoples with the greatest power and influence in the Crouching Bull Village. There were also some village elders, and the only young people were Village Chief Li’s two sons, Tiger Li and Panther Li. They were both born tall and burly, and glared at Li Qingshan like beasts watching their preys.

Steward Liu’s eyes slightly contracted. It’d only been a dozen days since he last saw him, but Li Qingshan seemed like he had become another person. He couldn’t say concretely what changed, but anyway it was greatly different compared to the past. There was a momentum that wasn’t there before.

Village Chief Li had an august expression, and a bad light in his eyes. The witch was straight out naked poison.

If ordinary villagers offended any of those three, they couldn’t even live in the village anymore. They could only bow their heads and apologize. Not to mention offending the three of them together, but Li Qingshan would certainly not apologize or bow his head down.

There were actually many rules in the village for eating at a feast, from the position of your seat to the sitting posture, all were pretty complex. Li Qingshan noticed that the other tables were all squeezed full, and only this table was comparatively less crowded. He boldly sat down, saying: “Why aren’t you eating yet, is everyone waiting for me?”

No one answered him. Tiger Li and Panther Li pressed closer on both sides and separately gripped his two shoulders, squeezing down forcefully.

Although Li Qingshan was young, his stature was tall and wasn’t inferior to the two of them, but his build was slim and far from their beefy physique. If it were in the past, only one of them would have been enough to subdue Li Qingshan. Even now Li Qingshan could only cope with one, two was hard to say.

Li Qingshan frowned. He grabbed the two’s wrists and pulled down, resorting at the same time to the “Bull Demon Skin s.h.i.+ft” transformation, looking like a buffalo stretching its muscles and bones as he leaned left and right.

Panther Lid and Tiger Li only felt a burst of pain from their wrists. Li Qingshan b.u.mped again into them and they suddenly couldn’t control their bodies, falling down from their chairs.

The two felt humiliated and flew into a rage. They sprang up without caring about the dust and dirt covering their bodies.

Steward Liu originally planned on saying a few words for the scene and probe Li Qingshan’s intentions, see if he had any thoughts about giving in. But unexpectedly Tiger Li and Panther Li acted so impulsively. He didn’t have time to curse them as he was about to throw the cup in his hand and order his workers to act.

“Clang!” A short knife nailed into the surface of the table, and the movements of the other people were also nailed stiff. The blade radiated a hazy glint under the mottled sunlight.

Tiger Li and Panther Li suddenly didn’t dare to go forward anymore. They were both sons of the village chief and were pampered. They could still bully honest people with their robust bodies, but they weren’t ready to struggled to the death with someone.

Li Qingshan held the short knife with one hand, stamped one foot on the bench, bent his body forward and looked at Steward Liu as he smiled taciturnly: “Steward Liu, that’s no way to treat your guests. Even if you have life and death grudges to settle, there’s still no harm in waiting until we eat and drink our fill before talking about it. Don’t waste these tables full of food and wine.” He didn’t feel anxiety anymore as he said this.

Before Steward Liu opened his mouth, the workers around the tables actually applauded one after another. What was the most important thing for them, of course it was to eat! If they started to fight they didn’t know how much food they’d spill and knock down. They would absolute not believe the stingy Steward Liu would prepare another table for them.

“Right right, steward Liu, we didn’t even eat this morning? We’re so hungry our back is touching our chest, where would we have any strength to fight.”

“I didn’t even eat last night, I’m going to die if I don’t have a bite now.” The one saying this harshly swallowed a mouthful of saliva.

The hostile atmosphere at daggers drawn suddenly became weird. Even Li Qingshan didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, silently wondering why he had been so afraid of this group of people.

Steward Liu’s face swelled bright right. The reason he set up this feast was one to subdue Li Qingshan, and two to give his hired hands some benefits, because he was worried they wouldn’t work hard enough.

He wholeheartedly wanted to imitate the books, hide five hundred axemen, and have them rush out at the signal at a thrown cup to arrest Li Qingshan1. But he had forgotten that the people under him weren’t a death squad or some retired generals, but a group of genuine farmers.

Liu Qingshan smiled happily at Steward Liu: “What a coincidence, I also didn’t eat anything last night, now I’ll have to be impolite.” He grabbed a roasted chicken and started to eat.

Since he began cultivating the [Bull Demon Strong Fist], his food consumption became very astonis.h.i.+ng. A hundred pounds of deer meat unexpectedly only lasted him a dozen days before he finished it clean. The green bull didn’t have time yet to catch new prey.

A roast chicken disappeared in a flash inside his mouth. He stretched his head and looked around. The workers didn’t care anymore, and they lifted their chopsticks one after another, engrossing themselves in the food. In a moment there was only the loud sounds of eating and gnawing in the yard.

Village Chief Li was angry and afraid at the same time. His whole body trembled and he stared at Steward Liu. Aren’t you very smart, quickly think of something.

What something could Steward Liu think of? He stared back. If I told the workers to act, and they don’t want to abandon the food, what am I going to do when Li Qingshan rushes first on me and give me the knife? Your two sons usually look so tough, why did they become so soft at this time?

At this table, just relying on Steward Liu and the group of old people, all of them added up weren’t even enough for a kick from Li Qingshan. It seemed like they had suddenly been cast off on a desert island and they had to face this vicious Li Qingshan alone. They were all trembling in their hearts and scared witless.

Once a coa.r.s.e person rages, blood splashes five feet away.

Li Qingshan acted as if there was no one else beside him. He lifted a wine gourd, poured it himself and nursed the cup by himself. This village wine was already weak and drinking it like this was simply tasteless, so he shouted: “Give me a big bowl!”

But no one answered him. Li Qingshan made an annoyed “hmm?” sound, then Steward Liu hurriedly ordered someone to get a big bowl. Li Qingshan filled the bowl, lifted his head and drank it clean in one mouthful: “Delightful!”

The workers saw him drink so refres.h.i.+ngly and again admired his courage. Quite a few cries of “good!” even came from them.

Li Qingshan had eaten a lot of greasy food these days, and he felt incomparably refreshed when this hot spicy drink washed down. He didn’t stop in the least and drank three bowls in succession.

When the third bowl went into his belly, the yard was already rumbling with praising shouts, the noise like the gurgle of boiling water. It was like the workers didn’t come because Steward Liu invited them, but to lend their fists to a.s.sist Li Qingshan.

Li Qingshan let out a drunken belch and cupped his hands to all four directions in salutation: “Everyone eat their fill and drink their fill, don’t forget Steward Liu’s generosity. What grudge and quarrels can be settled after the meal. Anyway even if you have to walk on the road to the netherworld, you still can’t be a hungry ghost.”

After that his eyebrows straightened and he looked at the people at the main table: “Why aren’t you eating?” His killing intent rushed up with the rush of alcohol. If these people kept making trouble for him, then this Crouching Bull village wouldn’t be safe, and maybe one day he’d fall to a sinister plot of theirs. He might as well kill some of them, s.n.a.t.c.h some properties and go somewhere else. He expected none of those villagers would dare stop him.

At first Li Qingshan merely came to risk the banquet, and there was even some false bravado in that, but as a result he saw the false bravado of Steward Liu and the rest instead. In a short moment, the guest became the host, he went from pa.s.sive to active and his thoughts also became greatly different. He couldn’t help remembering the words of uncle Lei Feng2: Trouble is like a spring, if you’re weak it becomes strong. Then he also remembered the great ancestor Mao’s words: imperialists are all paper tigers, hmm, land owners are also paper tigers.

Although Steward Liu’s scheme was a little botched, he was still experienced in reading people. Looking at Li Qingshan’s expression, he realized with one glance that he was thinking about murder. He couldn’t keep the facade of sophistication anymore and a layer of cold sweat drenched his forehead.

The several village elders were even more scared, they didn’t want to become well-fed ghosts either! They hurriedly explained to Li Qingshan that at the family separation ceremony they were also coping with the situation, and were absolutely not in the know. Some people stood up trembling, wanting to take their leaves.

Li Qingshan coldly shouted: “Everyone be still. Everyone’s seen the things that happened in the past few days with their own eyes. Don’t be in a hurry to leave, eat your fill and drink to your content, stay afterwards and be my witness. You must have a guilty conscience if you still insist on not listening, in that case you can’t blame a certain knife’s ruthless.”

1. The plot to invite someone to a banquet then throw a cup as signal for the hidden soldiers is often used in Chinese fiction. I’m not sure if the five hundred soldiers in this case is a reference to anything specific, sorry.

2. Lei Feng was a solider who became famous in Chinese culture after his death thanks to a propaganda campaign launched by the communist party. They advertised him as a model citizen, selfless and modest, and devoted to Mao and the party.

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