Chapter 126 A Figure More Awe-Inspiring Than the Heartless ScholarAn idea suddenly hit Li Mu.
“I’d better not let others know about this secret chamber.”
Therefore, he walked up the staircases and headed out on his own accord.
“Merciful Buddha. I pay my respectful greetings to you benefactors!”
He murmured as he climbed up the flight of stairs with one palm held in front of his chest and arrived at the outside.
“Who is it?” A fierce voice sounded.
“Stop right there!”
“Stay where you are and don’t move.”
Rows of broadswords and spears were instantly directed at Li Mu. A dozen soldiers grabbing bows and arrows also aimed at him, waiting for their superior’s command before turning the little monk who abruptly walked out of the secret chamber into a human-shaped hive.
“Who are you?” demanded a middle-aged man in Eighth-ranking armor, who looked like the leader. He was glaring at Li Mu, his expression stern.
Li Mu replied, “You can’t tell? I am a monk.”
“A monk?” That middle-aged man sneered, “How come a monk was found in this mansion in the dead of night? Is it you who murdered Ma San and his company?”
“No, I’m not. A woman in white killed the people here. I was just passing by.” Li Mu muttered Amitabha again. He then put on a pitying look and said, “In fact, I was here to send them to Amitabha Buddha. But unfortunately, I was one step too late.”
Since the woman in white had not required him to keep the murder as a secret, he figured she was in no fear of governmental investigation. Thus, Li Mu did not take the blame for her to show his chivalry. Furthermore, he did not try to cover up the real purpose of his visit to the villa.
“Wow, monks really never tell lies.”
“I made it, too!”
Li Mu praised himself internally.
The middle-aged man went speechless for a few seconds.
He assumed that the little monk would certainly try to deny it. After all, committing murder was a felony pursuant to the laws of the empire. But to his complete surprise, the monk did not play by the standard rules. Although he did deny the accusation, he also made it clear that he had planned to kill them here. That unexpected candidness rendered him confused.
“Humph, sure the killer is you… A monk is supposed to be lenient and merciful. But you committed a murder! That is a mortal sin!” The middle-aged man finally came around and snorted, “I’m the mayor of Peace County. Little monk, do you want to submit to arrest by yourself or by force?”
Li Mu’s mind went blank for a fraction of a second.
“Hey, did you hear my words? I said I am not the killer. How could you suddenly be sure of that accusation?”
“Are the officials of the empire all reckless like him?”
“Well then, you’re the mayor of Peace County?” inquired Li Mu, who unbiddenly rested his eyes on the middle-aged mayor.
Granny Cai had told him that the Mayor Song just came to the county two years ago. And only when this mayor took office here did Ma San and his gang start building up their power system. There were rumors that the reason for Ma San’s outrageous behavior was the backing of Mayor Song.
If that was true, this Mayor Song must know there was a secret chamber, and probably what objects the secret chamber housed.
In order to track the history and whereabouts of the space shuttle, Li Mu believed he should start with this Mayor Song.
Although he was pondering over the new idea, his face did not betray any of his thoughts, in case he put the target on guard. With a totally dismissive expression, he argued, “Now that Mayor Song is here, the thing is simpler. Ma San and his lot plagued the residents of this county, took others’ lives for money, and had complete disregard for human life. They were unforgivable sinners. Even if I, a monk, did send them to Amitabha Buddha, I would be doing the right thing. So, why would I be the sinner?”
Several Dutou Officials around them were already at a loss after hearing the conversation.
“The two are not on the same page at all! Are they talking to themselves?”
“And, it seems to me that the little monk’s arguments sound even more far-fetched than our mayor’s.” They complained inwardly.
“Hum! No matter how glib-tongued you are, the law says a murderer shall be executed… Quick, put the cangue on him!” ordered the middle-aged mayor, Song Yi, who beckoned the soldiers over with a frosty face.
This Song Yi had made some under-the-table deals with Ma San. Out of the concern for his sordid business being exposed, he decided to stop reasoning with the monk and put him under arrest right away.
A soldier clutching iron shackles immediately came forward and crammed the cangue round Li Mu’s neck.
“Well, Your Honor, I’m afraid you can’t arrest me today.” Li Mu did not dodge but let himself be shackled. Smiling brightly, he said, “You know, you cannot afford the consequence of it.”
“Haha, what a brilliant joke! I’ve captured a maniac killer who had murdered almost a hundred people. I am enforcing the law within my duties. How could there be consequences I can’t afford? You, a monk, dare threaten an official. You really don’t know how to spell ‘death’, do you?” Song Yi, the mayor, taunted Li Mu with a leer.
But he failed to notice Li Mu had stopped calling himself ‘a monk’.
Li Mu, still, gave him a smile and then fell silent.
At that precise moment, footsteps were heard from afar. A moment later, a soldier dressed like a Dutou Official scurried over and whispered something into Song Yi’s ears.
Song Yi’s expression rapidly altered.
Paying no more attention to Li Mu, he spun around and headed for the hall.
Li Mu was very clear about what was going on. But he did not speak and just waited with patience.
Very soon, the mayor, who was austere-looking a moment ago, put on an ingratiating face and came back with a luxurious, dark red sedan chair carried by eight bearers. Now, he looked just like doy wagging its tails in front of its master.
“Never knew Mr. Zheng also arrived at our Peace County. Our humble county is honoured by your presence,” said Song Yi in a booming voice.
“Well, thank you, Mayor Song.” Zheng Cunjian’s voice sounded from that curtained sedan chair.
Li Mu snickered gleefully.
The officials in Chang’an could not be more familiar with the name ‘Heartless Scholar’. Taking Zheng Cunjian along with him on this trip was a quite smart decision. To say the least, the Heartless Scholar could deal with the various officials for him, which actually spared him tons of trouble.
“Mayor Song, this Master Madcap is a distinguished guest of His Honor. Even His Honor treats Master Madcap with courtesy, so I’m wondering why Mayor Song got him shackled.” Heartless Scholar spoke in a seemingly nonchalant tone.
Given that Li Mu had broken his legs and he had not been fully cured, Zheng Cunjian could not walk yet. Apart from riding a horse, he had to come here in a sedan chair.
And the line he said was what he had rehearsed with Li Mu in the inn.
Upon hearing that, cold sweat instantly streamed down Song Yi’s forehead.
“Distinguished guest of His Honor?”
“No wonder this monk was so audacious. It turns out that he has such a connection.”
“Now, I’ve made a huge mistake!”
Song Yi cast a plaintive look at Li Mu, as though whining that why Li Mu did not tell him that important information and deliberately let him get wrongfooted.
Li Mu returned him with a smiley face, implying that he would not believe it even if Li Mu mentioned it to him before.
“Aren’t you going to free Master Madcap?” urged the Heartless Scholar. He was also quite worried. If Li Mu was infuriated, his legs might get broken once more.
Not daring to slight the monk anymore, Song Yi stepped forward to unshackle Li Mu in person.
However, Li Mu smiled and took a step back. “Mayor Song, it’s easy to put the cangue on my neck. But you will find it a lot more difficult to remove it.”
Song Yi’s face paled, and he felt his heart skipped a beat.
“Fuck, why is this monk being so difficult? He is like a seasoned politician.”
“Mr. Zheng, er…” Song Yi turned round to look at the sedan chair.
Zheng Cunjian’s unique chilling voice was heard from the sedan chair. “Mayor Song, you see to it. If Master Madcap finds your performance unsatisfying, today will definitely be the last day of your service. And as for the other matter… Well…”
“The other matter? What’s the other matter?”
“Of course, he means my life!”
“He is implying my life is on the line now!”
At that thought, Song Yi felt real terror stirred up in his heart.
It was utterly beyond his expectations that the magistrate of Chang’an held the little monk in so much awe. And judging by Zheng Cunjian’s tone, even the celebrated Heartless Scholar was in fear of him. The mayor could not stop blaming himself for affronting such a big-shot.
“Er… Master Madcap, I…” Song Yi whipped around again to look at Li Mu. Hitten by such an unforeseen disaster, his eyes were almost brimming with tears. Pitifully, he implored, “Please forgive me for being so stupid as to fail to recognize you, renowned master! But Buddhists are merciful! Master, please spare my life. I’ll answer any of your requests.”
Beamingly, Li Mu assured, “Mayor Song, all I’m asking for is some honest answers to my questions. If you provide me with the desirable answers, I’ll let you off the hook.”
Song Yi nodded hard.
“Good. Come with me.” Li Mu turned and headed down to the secret chamber.
Perturbed, Song Yi hesitated a bit but still followed him with trembling legs.
In the hall, only the cracks of the torches could be heard. None of the soldiers dared to make a sound. They had all heard about the Heartless Scholar. It was said that when hearing the name a crying child would be too scared to let out a wail. Thus, being cooped up in the hall with such a terrifying man, though he was behind the curtains of the sedan chair, they still had an urge of turning tail.
Time ticked by.
About half an hour later.
Li Mu went out of the secret chamber with Song Yi following behind him.
Song Yi was ashen-faced, as if he had swallowed down a dead mouse. As cold sweat kept dropping down from his forehead, he stumbled his way out. But the others could not tell from his expression what conversation Li Mu had had with him.
Li Mu, by contrast, looked immersed in thoughts.
“Mr. Zheng,” Li Mu spoke first, “I left something down in the secret chamber. You and Mayor Song can have a discussion to figure out a way of sending the things to Taibai County. You must do it quick and in secret. No mistake is tolerable this time. Do you understand?”
“Master Madcap, please, don’t worry,” Zheng Cunjian assured him immediately, “We won’t leave behind anything of yours, not even a grain of dust! We will send everything to Taibai County within three days!” The Heartless Scholar was quite confident because he knew the objects in the secret chamber were nothing more than the treasures the gang had raked in.
Li Mu nodded with gratification.
“And the rest of the matters, is Mayor Song’s call,” added Li Mu haughtily.
Then, he turned his back on the mayor and set off for the outside.
Zheng Cunjian also hurried the bearers to take off in the wake of Li Mu.
At that scene, Song Yi felt his heart quivered again.
“What’s the background of that Master Madcap? How could he make Heartless Scholar listen to him like his servant? Why have I never heard of such a figure before?”