Li Yao’s heart skipped a beat. He did not know that Master Bitter Cicada was so good at scrutinizing faces that he could tell a person’s character by their subtle expressions.
Appearances could be faked, and part of one’s personality could be simulated. Li Yao was a brutal man who would not hesitate to kill anyone, but although he had killed hundreds of people since he was born, none of them were innocent.
The real Master Spiritual Vulture was an insane murderer. So, it was impossible for him to simulate the figure perfectly.
Then, he recalled that he had almost lost his cool in front of Dan Fengzi. It appeared that there were still a lot of bugs regarding the identity of ‘Master Spiritual Vulture’ that required patches.
Ba Xiaoyu’s face turned milder after hearing Master Bitter Cicada’s words, but he was still staring at Li Yao coldly. “Master Spiritual Vulture, tell me, have you slaughtered a few tribes without even sparing the children?”
Thinking quickly, Li Yao replied in a hoarse voice, “What if I did, and what if I didn’t?”
“If you didn’t and it’s just a rumor, this will be a nice encounter between you and me. You may sit down and enjoy the wine with me!” Ba Xiaoyu said. “If you are the scumbags who murdered children, it is fine, too. The delicious wine here and your broken guts will be perfect sacrifices for the unrested souls you killed!”
“You are going to kill me for something a hundred years ago?” Li Yao’s pupils constricted violently, and he cackled like a crow. “Are you able to kill me?”
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hundred years ago or it’s yesterday. Now that this beggar has learned of it and run into you, this is your unlucky day!” Ba Xiaoyu chuckled. “As for whether or not I’m able to kill you, I’ll know the answer after I try. If I can’t, I can run away to heal my wounds, and I’ll come back after I’ve recovered. I’ll kill you when you are bathing, pooping, eating, or sleep! I’ll poison your wine, pee in your food, and put pests in your bed. Even if you are not killed, you will be disgusted and frightened!
“For as long as you are alive, I will try to kill you in such a way, until either of us dies!”
Li Yao suddenly felt warm, but coldness beamed out of his eyes. His facial muscles cramped for a while before he gnashed his teeth. “If you want to kill me, just do it. After all, in the eyes of the pretentious Cultivators from the central plateaus, the barbarian Cultivators are all cannibals who feast upon raw meat and blood. What kind of appalling things do we not do? Would you believe me even if I told you that I did no such thing?”
Ba Xiaoyu stared at Li Yao’s face for a long time.
Li Yao stared back at him aggressively, too.
When the air between the two of them was about to be ignited, Ba Xiaoyu suddenly picked up half a bailer on the plank and threw it toward Li Yao.
“Since the monk says that you are not a bloodthirsty person, and you are not willing to admit it, I can only believe that you are innocent for now because of the lack of proof. If I find proof tomorrow, I will kill you tomorrow. But tonight, let’s drink!”
After a sniff, Li Yao snatched the bailer and landed on the plank like a soft feather.
Ba Xiaoyu patted his hands and curled his finger. The boiling pot was suddenly opened. It jumped into the air and did not descend even after rotating three times.
The most treasured food ingredients of the Roaring Tiger Hall, boiled by ten barrels of fine wine, were bubbling inside the pot. They were already well-cooked, with the fragrance of meat spreading out. The center of the pot even seemed to be glowing!
Ba Xiaoyu laughed. He picked up a fishing pole from the edge of the plank. Then, as if fishing, he tossed the pole at the pot and picked up a red, greasy, and fragrant dog leg!
“Master Spiritual Vulture, you grew up in the Southland of Sorcerers. I’m afraid that you have never seen such a dog leg before. This is no ordinary dog leg!
“It is a common practice to put such a ‘dog leg’ in the middle of a barrel of hams when the hams are being brewed so that the flavor of the dog meat will add to the taste of the hams!
“After the barrel of hams is brewed, the flavor and essence of the dog leg will have leaked into the ham. So, the dog leg itself will lose all the taste, and it is usually abandoned!
“However, haha, this beggar discovered that, if you put the dog leg that has lost all its essence and looks like a honeycomb into the same pot with the other food ingredients and boil them together, the dog leg will absorb the essence of the other meat and be filled up again. It’s almost like pumping!
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. As a result, such a dog leg will be the best food in the world that you can never find elsewhere!”
While introducing the dish, Ba Xiaoyu was already drooling. He shook the hooks on the fishing pole and picked up three dog legs from the bottomless pot. Passing two of the legs to Li Yao and Master Bitter Cicada, he looked at Li Yao and said, “The same food can breed very different people. Some of the Cultivators in the central plateaus are pompous villains, but some of them are the extravagant magnates who are willing to share the invaluable dog legs. Come on. Even a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator might not be able to stand on his feet after a mouthful of such dog meat!”
This was the first time that Li Yao had ever heard a ragged beggar calling himself an ‘extravagant magnate’ without the least unease.
Ba Xiaoyu’s face of delight indeed seemed to suggest that he was an emperor treating his honorable guests who had come from afar with hundreds of delicious cuisines in his splendid palace.
Glancing at the wine in front of Master Bitter Cicada, Li Yao smiled. “Do you drink wine and eat dog meat, too, Master?”
“Of course,” Master Bitter Cicada said. “The monks count on the benefactors for their living. If the benefactor gives water, we will drink water. If they give wine, we will drink wine. Now that the dog leg has been given, it is disrespectful to turn it down.”
“Haha. Not only does this monk have wine and meat, he drinks even more than I do. Pay special attention later and make sure that he doesn’t steal more wine!” Ba Xiaoyu clapped his hands and laughed. Then, he suddenly put on a grave face and glared at Li Yao. “Why are you not eating? Do you feel that this beggar is too smelly and filthy for you?”
Ba Xiaoyu’s body was indeed covered with ulcers and pustules. Not only did he look rather unkempt, he did not smell very good at a close distance.
There was also a deep bite on his left leg that had long deteriorated due to the untimely treatment. Right now, the rot had already reached the bone.
However, he seemed to be feeling none of it and was still talking and laughing. There was really no telling what he was made of.
Li Yao frowned and shook his head. “I was born in a land of barbarians. Why would I despise you for your untidiness, Fellow Cultivator Ba? I am just curious. With your Cultivation, you must already be insusceptible to weather or poisons now, mustn’t you? How can you be troubled by dermatitis? Also, the wound on your left leg does not seem to be caused by any tough poison. As long as the rotten flesh is cut away and the wound is covered in decent medication, it will recover very quickly. Why have you delayed the treatment to this day?”
“If I want to cure it, of course, it will be cured very soon.” Looking at the hole on his leg, Ba Xiaoyu said, “However, the ulcers and the wound are my best cover. It was with their help that I was able to sneak into Roaring Tiger City. Nobody suspected that a beggar could be in the Nascent Soul Stage!”
Li Yao was greatly shocked. He lost his calmness and exclaimed, “So, you intentionally caught the disease in order to collect the evidence of the Black Devil Cult’s crimes and to figure out the relation between the Black Devil Cult and the Roaring Tiger Hall?”
Ba Xiaoyu nodded and bit the dog leg hard, while he replied in a blurred voice, “Why are we still talking? Come on. Have the meat and wine!”
Li Yao was caught in mixed feelings. The world of ancient Cultivators had no rules. Everything was growing wildly, and polarization was extremely severe.
There were the seemingly gracious but in fact extremely selfish elders and leaders who appeared to be Cultivators but did the things in the Immortal Cultivators’ way.
There were also the Cultivators like Master Bitter Cicada and Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar who were really ‘slaying evil and serving justice’!
From them, Li Yao seemed to have found the origins of the creed to protect the ordinary people in the modern Cultivation civilization.
He also understood why humanity could rise and bloom again in the dark universe after sinking for thirty thousand years!
He felt that his blood was boiling. Like Ba Xiaoyu and Master Bitter Cicada, he took the meat and wine to his heart’s content.
It was the most delicious meat and wine that he had ever enjoyed.
Right then, Master Bitter Cicada suddenly spoke to the clouds. “Now that Fellow Cultivator Qi is also here, why don’t you join us for some wine and meat, too?”
His voice concentrated into soundwaves that pierced through the sky like a pillar.
After a long time, the clouds slowly swirled into a hole, from which a translucent shadow crawled out and landed on the crooked tree next to the plank like a dry leaf.
It was ‘Iron Saint’ Qi Zhongdao, the leader of the Great Qian Cultivators.
His face was gloomy. A thin, icy shell covered his body. Frost was everywhere on his head and his eyebrow. He was truly like what he was nicknamed and no different from a cold, hard glacier that nobody wanted to touch.
“Greetings, Leader Qi!” Ba Xiaoyu the Beggar welcomed Qi Zhongdao with a smile.
There was not a regular alliance among the Cultivators in the Great Qian Dynasty. However, in cases of emergencies—for example, to fight the Heaven Battering Army, the White Lotus Cult, the Ghost Qin army, or to threaten the Purple Pole Sword Sect like last time—or to resist natural disasters, temporary alliances would be established for the convenience of organization.
In most of the cases, Qi Zhongdao would be the leader of such temporary alliances. Why else would he be called the leader of all the Great Qian Cultivators?
Naturally, it was not an exception this time.
The form of address, however, made Qi Zhongdao’s face even gloomier. He was almost grinding his teeth and about to leave.
“Old Ba, do not talk like that!” Master Bitter Cicada sighed. “Fellow Cultivator Qi’s life is not easy, either. To unite the selfish sects into an ostensible alliance that can work on something together, he has paid much more than you did when you snuck into Roaring Tiger City to investigate the Black Devil Cult!
“You never know how difficult something is until you do it yourself. The life of a monk or a beggar is easy, but it is certainly much more difficult to work as the leader of all the Cultivators!”