Village head Li said, “Tie up Li Er and take him to the ancestral hall.”
Crouching Ox village was simply too remote, so they were basically autonomous. A discussion among the village elders would decide everything. Even for murders, they had to capture the person first and then send them to the government offices. It was impossible to rely on the government officials to make an arduous journey of several dozen kilometres across mountains and rivers to a place like this to capture someone. As a result, the village basically never had any contact with the government, and people were directly judged in the village.
There was a disturbance among the crowd of villagers. Li Qingshan raised his eyebrows. “Who dares to?” Even without a weapon in hand, he possessed the deterrent of the murder, so he was like a drawn sword, shining with a cold edge.
Not a single villager stepped forward, and it was not only because they feared Li Qingshan. All people had a concept of right and wrong, and the thoughts of the villagers were simple. Village head, you’ve been colluding with tyrants to harass the kind-hearted, so what right do you have to order us around? We’ve all watched Erlang grow up as well. He even calls you grandfather, yet you can still bring yourself to do this. Patch-haired Liu deserved to die. Erlang has gotten rid of a menace for us.
“Patch-haired Liu drank too much and tripped to his death. What’s it got to do with Erlang?” The speaker was Zhang Wuge, who had a grievance with patch-haired Liu. Patch-haired Liu had tried to harass his wife while he was in the fields. Back then, he was tempted to throw his life at patch-haired Liu, and he only stopped under the bitter pleadings of his wife. Now that he saw this fellow’s corpse, he felt an indescribable sense of delight.
Someone added immediately, “Yeah, yeah. He fell to his death. This is heaven’s retribution.”
There was a hubbub of agreement as they echoed the sentiment that patch-haired Liu’s death was purely accidental. They completely ignored patch-haired Liu’s constricted pupils. Additionally, their gazes towards Li Qingshan bore some respect now.
Li Qingshan suddenly felt rather moved. This was the so-called will of the people.
Village head Li knew that if this continued, his authority in the village would be heavily affected. More importantly, he was truly afraid of Li Qingshan’s revenge. If he had known that this kid was so vicious, he never would have twisted his words for a few pieces of silver. Currently, none of the villagers heeded his order, while the other scoundrels were even worse than the villagers, having secretly slipped away already.
He could only glance at caretaker Liu. Caretaker Liu should have been able to order around the servants and workers of his home, but he pretended to not notice. It was the sister-in-law who insisted on selling the land to him anyway, and he was never directly involved in the matter either. He had a lot of matters to attend to, so why would he go up against such a vicious and brutal person over such a small affair? Moreover, it would be his loss if he accidentally aggravated the villagers.
Unknowingly, he had already begun treating Li Qingshan as a vicious and brutal person.
“Possessed by demons, possessed by demons. I’ve said so before, I’ve said so before.” The witch suddenly pointed at Li Qingshan and began wailing.
Her words fazed all of the villagers, causing them to move away from Li Qingshan involuntarily.
Li Qingshan went up and kicked her to the ground. “You old hag, how much longer are you going to falsely accuse me? If you utter another word, I’ll rip your mouth to pieces.”
The witch uttered an ‘Ouch’ before shutting up. She only stared at him in resentment.
Li Qingshan was composed and unafraid. “If you truly possess supernatural abilities, then you better get those gods and ghosts to come look for me. Let’s see whether I’ll be afraid or not.” With that, he left the crowd with his head held high. After he arrived at an area without any people, his imposing manner finally deflated. He only felt his heart thump heavily, but he knew that he had made the right move.
If he hid at home due to fear and gave village head Li time to mobilise the villagers, people would probably come for him before nighttime had even arrived. With his current stature, he was truly in no shape to take on a few adult men. He could only truly be safe and sound by making a risky move, overwhelming the others in terms of presence and swaying the public opinion to his side.
Returning to the cottage, the black ox had already been waiting. It examined Li Qingshan.
Li Qingshan also noticed the strange atmosphere. He went up and bowed politely, raising his head and asking with a smile, “Brother ox, do you still want to hold a banquet for the acceptance of a disciple?”
The black ox said, “Hasn’t all of your wine and meat been acquired by me? Yetyou still want to hold a banquet for the acceptance of a disciple.”
Li Qingshan shrugged. “Then I’ll help you harvest some tender grass instead?”
The gaze of the black ox darkened. “Let’s stop kidding around. You have the heart to kill, which is why I will teach you the art of killing. In the future, you’ll have to contend and fight against a lot of people, so you won’t get another day of peace. If you aren’t skillful enough and end up getting killed instead, then you’ll only be able to die with no objections.”
“The strong prey on the weak. It’s the same no matter where you go. I can’t say no objections, only no regrets.”
The black ox replied, “Well put, no regrets. Since you’ve made up your mind, I will pass onto you the Ox Demon’s Fist of Great Strength. Once you attain the strength of an ox and have established a foundation, I’ll then pass onto you the Tiger Demon’s Fist of Bone Forging. By practising them together, you will be able to attain a supernatural ability from daoism, the Strength of Nine Oxen and Two Tigers. By then, you will be able to wander the world unopposed.”
“The Strength of Nine Oxen and Two Tigers?” When Li Qingshan first heard that, it seemed like nothing special. What was so extraordinary about nine oxen and two tigers? They were just the most ordinary of livestock and wild beast, yet they were worthy of being called a supernatural ability, enough for him to wander the world unopposed?
However, after further thought, he felt shocked. He had tended to an ox for more than a decade, so he understood just how strong an ox was. A bull had the strength of ten fit men. As long as he achieved the strength of an ox, he could don a suit of armour, and with a weapon in hand, he could charge onto the battlefield and earn the title of a valiant general.
There was nothing extraordinary about nine oxen and two tigers, but if all of their strength were gathered on a single person, the person’s every single action would bear the weight of thousands of kilograms. Would there still be anyone who could stop him? Even if Lü Bu was reborn and Li Yuanba was still alive, they would also struggle to block a gentle punch of his.
“But since it’s a daoist ability, why’s there ‘ox demon’ and ‘tiger demon’ in the name?”
“The ability originated from times of antiquity. It has already been lost now.”
Li Qingshan became excited after hearing the ox mention times of antiquity. Based on his knowledge, any kind of pill, medicine, esoteric manual, or treasure that had anything to do with that phrase would be unmatched.
However, the black ox’s following explanation disappointed him greatly, as the ability had been lost due to being too hard to use. It had been replaced by other abilities and skills created by later prodigies and masters. In other words, it had fallen obsolete.
Village head Li said, “Tie up Li Er and take him to the ancestral hall.”