Chapter 103 Paying an Accusatory Visit to the County GovernmentShortly, all the culprits were executed.
Li Mu let out a sigh of relief and threw aside the broadsword he was holding.
On that day when he was infuriated and massacred the Shennong Faction, numerous disciples of that faction were directly killed by him, and many were smashed by the crumbled rocks. At that time, Li Mu was too enraged after he saw the mother and daughter filing the suit were both murdered in the Shennong Faction, so he let his fury take the best of him and soon lost self-control in all the fighting and killing.
When he calmed down later, he also did some serious self-reflection.
He told himself that men were not pigs in the slaughter house. Everyone’s life was precious, and no one could live twice.
Therefore, since that battle, Li Mu had seldom gone for the kill. In most cases, he drew the line at justified punishment.
However, today, he lost control of himself again.
But he did not regret it.
He could imagine how many innocent men had been tortured or killed as the dishonorable and ruthless officials like Ning Zhongshan and Chu Shufeng climbed up the social ladder. It could be said that those ruffians were standing on a heap of skeletons. Further, even if he could put aside their previous crimes, what they did in the past few days in Taibai County was already unforgivable.
Hence, he had no regrets killing those men.
When he slapped that Supervisor Xu to death, he suddenly figured everything out.
The pet phrase of a very popular character called the Separated Buddha and Sword in a hit TV series on Earth crossed his mind: killing is a kind of protecting; destroying crime is not destroying life.
That Separated Buddha and Sword was a very eminent monk. He had a profound knowledge of Buddhism and also excelled at martial arts. Through his life, he had abhorred evils as his deadly foes and never showed mercy to wrongdoers. He had killed countless wicked men who had committed foul crimes and put the evil in such fear that the criminal would freak out even at the sound of his name.
As his name conveyed, he believed that ‘Buddhas’ and ‘swords’ had different functions— Buddhas helped the good, while swords eradicated the evil. Killing the wrongdoers was for the sake of the innocent men. From that point of view, sending the bad guys to hell to repent their crimes was still compliant with the Buddhist doctrines.
Unlike other monks or characters in the cruel world portrayed in that teleplay, the Separated Buddha and Sword was peerlessly favored by the audience, though he was not the leading role. That could be attributed to his unique personal charisma.
Now, staring at the corpses of Ning Zhongshan, Chu Shufeng, and Qian Cheng that were sprawling on the ground, Li Mu felt no twinge of guilt.
He knew put those scourges to death would protect more innocent lives from their harm.
Then, he set his eyes on the remaining two deputy generals and the black-armor soldiers behind them.
His gaze scared the hell out of the two deputy generals at once. But they dared not flee. Desperately, they dropped to their knees and began to beg for their lives while shaking uncontrollably.
Feeling Li Mu’s burning gaze, the 100 black-armored soldiers also knelt down, their weapons tossed sideways and their head lowered to show their obedience.
“You can go now. All of you, leave Taibai County within half an hour.” Li Mu announced.
Although he was hot under the collar, he was not as mad as to want to kill every man from the Chang’an government.
He pointed at the bodies on the ground and added, “Clean up my county office and take the bodies away with you. When you get back, tell the magistrate of Chang’an to leave me alone. If he picks on me once more, I’ll not let him or the matter get away so easily.”
After hearing Chu Shufeng’s confession just before his death, the plots the magistrate of Chang’an devised did not sit well with Li Mu. Considering his current cultivation and strength, Li Mu was clear that he did not need to fear a magistrate of a prefecture anymore. Thus, he had no worry about sending out such a threatening message.
For the two deputy generals, the verdict Li Mu reached was as relieving as sounds of nature.
They figured this time Li Mu would definitely kill them all. But much to their surprise, this county magistrate suddenly turned merciful and decided to let go of them.
“When we’re back, we will certainly put in a good word for your honor.” One of the deputy generals offered, reckoning he was making a clever move.
However, Li Mu snorted and refused, “No need. Just tell him the truth.”
That deputy general instantly blushed with shame.
Following the instructs of the two deputy generals, those black-armored soldiers started to clean the battlefield and put away the corpses.
Two soldiers came to Li Bing and helped him up, ready to escort him back to Chang’an.
“He stays.” Li Mu ordered, pointing a finger at Li Bing.
After all, this Young Master was one of the culprits. How could Li Mu let him off the hook like that?
Plus, as Li Mu recalled what the Heartless Scholar had said when he was pleading for a pardon, he could not help but suspect whether there was some kind of connection between the youngest son of the magistrate of Chang’an and the real Li Mu. In order to figure out that issue, he decided to keep Li Bing under his custody for the moment.
“No, no no no! I’ll leave! Let me go…” Li Bing cried in despair, terrified by Li Mu’s very last command. For him, the current Li Mu was as formidable as a devil from hell.
“One more cry I’ll cut your leg off.” Li Mu deliberately threatened in a cold voice.
Upon hearing those words, Li Bing instantly covered his mouth with his hands, his face screwed up with panic.
The county magistrate, however, did not pay more attention to that spoiled Young Master. He simply came over and picked up Zheng Cunjian’s body as he said, “I’ll keep this one here for a while.”
The two deputy generals and the black-armored soldiers naturally did not contradict him.
Very soon, all the mess the fight left in the front yard of the county office was gone.
“You can hit the road now. But don’t babble about what happened here today in Taibai County.” Li Mu cautioned, motioning them to head for the gate. “Get back in the same way you came here. Don’t look like defeated gamecocks!”
Obediently, the two deputy generals led the 100 black-armored soldiers out of the county government in ranks.
After that, the front yard regained its usual peace and quietness.
Sniffing the faint smell of blood in the air, Li Mu began to ponder over other issues.
He felt it was time to make some changes.
Since this Taibai County not only had picturesque sceneries but also an abundant storage of Spiritual Qi, Li Mu had no intention to leave this heavenly land in a few years to come. Now that he would settle down in this county, he had to take some measures to safeguard the county, especially the county government.
In case of any more trouble, he must make sure that his enemy could not break in into his place like this time. If not, the so-called protecting family and friends would just be a joke. He could not allow what happened to Qing Feng, Ma Junwu and the others to reoccur.
In fact, Li Mu already had some ideas.
At that moment, a Dutou Official came in from outside. He nervously went up to Li Mu and knelt down.
“Your honor, Zhou Zhenyue, the outer school elder of the Taibai Sword Faction, as well as his 30 disciples, the representatives of the Sky Dragon Faction, the Huya Faction, and many other factions have gathered at the gate, requesting a meeting with your honor.” The official reported in a booming voice.
“Outer school elder of the Taibai Sword Faction?”
A trace of cold sneer revealed in Li Mu’s eyes.
“They finally couldn’t restrain themselves and went for me?” Li Mu thought, not surprised by that news at all.
Days ago Ma Junwu had dropped hints that the Zhou family of the former Deputy county magistrate Zhou Wu might have certain connection with the Taibai Sword Faction, and they certainly would ask for their help to get back at Li Mu. Surely, Li Mu had made some plans as precautions. But since the Taibai Sword Faction had not stirred up any trouble, he almost forgot the matter.
But today, without any notice, the men of Taibai Sword Faction came to him.
“Fine, it’s better to kick off all my enemies in one day.” Li Mu reckoned.
He then asked the official to let them in.
Also, he ordered the Dutou Official to bring several trustworthy guards here to take Li Bing and Zheng Cunjian’s body away after he noticed the uninvited.
A moment later, Li Mu heard many footsteps.
A throng of men walked in the county government.
They dressed like assorted gangsters in Jianghu and were carrying a variety of weapons. Each of them was wrapped in whirling internal qi, which demonstrated their quite impressive cultivation.
In particular, the one taking the lead was a man in his fifties. He was tall and thin, his hair fully white, his fine robe also snow-white. With a rather peculiar-styled sword dangling from his waist, he was as pure and holy as the accumulated snow on the main peak of Taibai Mountain gleaming in the sun. Instantly, he drew the attention of everyone in the county government.
He was Zhou Zhenyue, the outer school elder of the Taibai Sword Faction.
Behind him stood about 30 young men and women in white swordsman uniform. Each of them looked quite energetic and arrogant. They surrounded around their elder, making him look like a peacock that was displaying its tail feathers.
On both sides of them were the experts of Sky Dragon Faction, Huya Faction, and some other factions in the northwest Wulin. They were wearing varied expressions.
“I, Zhou Zhenyue, from Taibai Sword Faction, pay my tribute to County Magistrate Li.”
The white-haired Zhou Zhenyue took three steps ahead and cupped his hands at Li Mu, his face rather stern.
Actually, Li Mu already knew who he was even before he introduced himself.
Although his name was only one syllable different from Zhou Zhenhai, the head of the Zhou family, Li Mu could tell that this white-haired man was the elder Ma Junwu mentioned to him before. The aura of this man was quite special and dignified. Moreover, he had the demeanor of a martial arts expert and the Qi similar to the elder Wei Chong he met during that combat at the Nine-dragons Fall.
“May I ask what brought Elder Zhou here?” Li Mu feigned ignorance and asked.
Zhou Zhenyue, who looked frank, did not want to hide his agenda and simply cut to the chase, “About one month ago, my brother came to our Taibai Sword Faction for help. He accused that Your Honor had committed a crime by killing his son named Zhou Wu and asked me to step forward to avenge his son. Ten days ago, I arrived in the county along with those 36 ninth-generation disciples of Taibai Sword Faction. Four days ago, we discovered the bodies of Lu Yun and other three disciples of our faction when we were in the Righteous Manor. According to our investigation, the bodies were delivered there by guards of the county government. Therefore, today I’m here for both my family and my faction. Your honor, could you please give me a plausible explanation on the two cases.”
His remarks were well-organized and based on sheer facts. Devoid of any emotional account, his tone was quite calm, not like a man furiously seeking his revenge at all, which actually took Li Mu by surprise.
“Perhaps this Zhou Zhenyue is not in league with that Zhou Zhenhai?” Li Mu wondered.
With that doubt in mind, the county magistrate did not get hostile for those accusations. Instead, he politely replied, “If you had been to Taibai County, you would have known that Zhou Wu was a violent man. He was guilty of countless crimes. I killed him only for the purpose of protecting my common folks. As to the four disciples of Taibai Sword Faction, well, I never heard of them. But five days ago at nightfall, someone trespassed on the county office when I was not here and took away my attendant, Ming Yue. When I hurried over to this place from the county prison, I did find bodies of four strangers lying here, maybe they were the four disciples you referred to. But you should know, I have nothing to do with their death, nor do my guards.”
“Liar!” One of the young disciples of the Taibai Sword Faction snapped, “Why did Lu Yun and the others go to this county office without any cause or reason? And how come they died here? There must be something wrong. You must be the killer. Now that you have the guts to do it, why you don’t have the guts to admit it?”
“You can’t get away with just a few words. You must give us a rational explanation!” Another disciple shouted.
“Right. They died in your county office, so everyone working here is a suspect.” Zhao Ling, the genius female disciple, also came forward and echoed the request of the prior two with loathing in her eyes.
“We’re told that you kidnapped many key disciples of assorted factions and imprisoned them in your county prison in exchange for ransom or secret martial arts manuals. If they did not cave in, you tortured them until you achieved your goal. Li Mu, you don’t worth the county magistrate title. A horrible devil like you certainly wanted to seize our secret swordsmanship by holding Lu Yun and the other three disciples hostage. They didn’t yield, so you killed them. You monster!” Yelled a male disciple who was having a crush on Zhao Ling. He was so carried away in a hurry to stick up for her that he totally forgot all the analysis and warnings Zhou Zhenyue told them back in the Righteous Manor.
After hearing those impeachments, the crowd stirred with indignation.
Li Mu’s face turned frosty.