“Who the hell are you?” demanded the stout man surnamed Zheng. Staring viciously at Li Mu, he gave a snort and said, “Want to poke your nose into this? Well, only a few in Chang’an dare butt in on my business. Little monk, you’re asking for trouble here.”
Li Mu, however, turned a deaf ear to his threat.
For Li Mu, the stout man and his cronies were nothing he needed to worry about.
At that moment, he was still contemplating how to make himself known to the middle-aged woman. Since he had no knowledge of the things the real Li Mu did with his mother in the past, he could easily get caught. He even did not know how the real Li Mu used to call his mother. Did he call her mom? Mommy? Mother? Or other names?
“Tell me, what happened? What’s the matter?” Li Mu gazed down at the girl pleading for his help.
The girl seemed hesitant. She looked up at him, clearly not knowing where to begin with since she was not sure whether he was completely trustworthy.
Besides her, the stout man surnamed Zheng laughed coldly and began, “This bitch is the concubine that I bought with a big sum. But she obeyed the Female Virtues by stealing my things. But my guards discovered her crime and tracked her down here. It turns out that she stole those objects for this old pig. Hum, the two of them must have colluded with each other and planned on this…” He tried to justify his acts with that speech. After all, he had some scruples about Li Mu martial arts power, because a man who just threw two of his wagoners out of the yard with one slap was certainly not an ordinary guy.
“Really.” Li Mu swiftly gave the stout man a hard slap in the face.
Mr. Zheng did a 720-degree rotation on his spot. A clear palm print appeared on his left cheek, and several of his teeth spun off.
“You…” The stout man surnamed Zheng was dumbstruck.
Li Mu took a white handkerchief from Zheng Cunjian and wiped his hands. Then, he said, “This slap serves as a warning to you that you should watch your mouth. If I hear you utter one more swear, I will rip your head off right away and kick it around like a football.”
Not until then did the stout man realize what he had been through. As though a dog being trodden on the tail, he stamped furiously and hollered, “You… You slapped me? Do you know who I am? You’re screwed! No one ever dares to hit me like that…”
Li Mu ignored him. He turned and looked at the girl again.
“Tell me. Just tell me. I can sort it out.” Li Mu reassured her.
After that, the girl found her voice and recounted the whole thing.
Li Mu’s assumption was correct. This girl was named Grassy, and she was the last maid Li Mu’s mother had. A few days ago, she was sold to the stout man surnamed Zheng to be his concubine. But the poor Grassy was very loyal to Li Mu’s mother. Although she was forced to get married and move out, she often worried about her lonely old master. Therefore, from time to time, she stole some living supplies from the stout man and delivered them to Li Mu’s mother, who was already blind and could hardly make a living. However, today, that stout man surprisingly gave Grassy some money and food and asked her to send those things to her old master. The girl thought Mr. Zheng was granting special favor today. But she did not see it coming that the moment she set off Mr. Zheng followed her with a bunch of henchmen and barged into Li Mu’s mother’s yard. He accused Grassy of stealing and immediately gave her a good beat. After that, he demanded Li Mu’s mother to take responsibility for this.
“You kind Young Master, I dare not ask for anything else but the security of Madam Li. She has nothing to do with this. I am willing to take any punishment and go back with Mr. Zheng. I’ll put myself at his disposal. But please let Madam Li stay out of this… Young Master, I won’t forget your huge grace. In my next life, I’ll do anything to pay you back,” begged Grassy desperately, who was already on her knees.
This was the first time she met Li Mu. Asking him to save Madam Li was already a big favor for such a stranger, so she did not even wish he would help her out.
At least, she knew Li Mu had no reason to offend Mr. Zheng for her sake.
She was well aware that this stout man was quite influential in Chang’an.
But she had to give it a shot, because Li Mu was perhaps the only one who could save them.
“Well, seeking help from him? This bald dork even cannot save his own ass…” When the stout man realized what was going on, he leered. “My men will soon arrive here. Today, none of you can get out… Haha, you bald dork, no matter who you are, once you hit me, Zheng Tianliang, you must pay for it.”
Li Mu quickly shot a look at Zheng Cunjian and asked, “He called me a bald dork. Is that swearing?”
Zheng Cunjian went dazed for a second but soon picked up the hint and answered, “Um… Perhaps it is.”
Li Mu nodded. Then, he turned to that stout man surnamed Zheng and asked, “What kind of price do you want?”
“Well, this old pig instigated my concubine to steal my things. According to the laws of the empire, she must give me a double indemnity and be put into jail so as to redeem her sin. But, haha, if she has problems with that, I can point out another way out for her…” Saying so, Zheng Tianliang’s face showed a hint of obscenity. “This old pig still has some beauty with her. Though she is a bit old, I don’t mind it. If she is willing to be my concubine and attend me well, I can write off this debt of hers once and for all…”
A trace of killing intent flashed through Li Mu’s eyes.
By now, he finally understood why Zheng Tianliang had set up such a trap to frame Grassy and the real Li Mu’s mother.
“You asshole, how dare you covet Madam Li’s beauty?”
“Aren’t you curious about who I am?” Li Mu simply cut Zheng Tianliang off. “Now I’m telling you, my name is Li Mu. I am the magistrate of Taibai County, as well as the son of this old woman you abused, who just returned since I left home eight years ago… So now, do you understand what you’re doing?” He stressed every syllable of his words.
“What? Li Mu? You… You are… the son of this old bitch…” stuttered the stout man, who looked utterly astounded.
“Yeah, you heard me. I am her son.” As he said that, Li Mu slapped him again.
This time, he did not restrain his force.
That slap knocked off the head of the stout man and it spun on his neck for quite a while before dropping down to the ground with a bang like a ripe watermelon.
“I’ve told you, one more swearing word I would rip your head off and kick it as if kicking a football. But you thought I was just kidding, didn’t you?” said Li Mu as he looked down upon the head that was rolling on the ground.
The stout man surnamed Zheng called his mother old pig more than once and even set up a scheme to satisfy his lust for her. That man should die a thousand times. And based on his way of dealing with the weak, he was no decent man. Hence, Li Mu did not feel guilty after killing him.
“Oi… I… You…” The stout man was not brain-dead yet. With the last ounce of consciousness, he opened his mouth and made cryptic sounds. His face was unprecedentedly horror-stricken as well as incredulous. Even though he was about to die, he still found it hard to believe that Li Mu really dared to kill him.
The rest on the scene were also petrified.
Except for Zheng Cunjian.
Those guards Zheng Tianliang brought here, in particular, stood there like logs.
Before they could react, their master was already killed. He got his head wrenched off… “How can it be? There surely is an ignorant idiot that dare to murder Mr. Zheng! Is he a lunatic or something?”
It took them off guard.
And the maid, Grassy, also went dumbfounded.
A moment ago when she pleaded for this young man’s help, she was only wishing he could keep Madam Li intact. As for her own life, she did not have time to think over it. But to her astonishment, this monk really launched a strike and simply killed Zheng Tianliang… She even doubted if she was dreaming…
“Right, he just said… What did he say?”
Grassy shivered as she recalled another important issue Li Mu just mentioned.
“This young monk said he is Li Mu, the son of Madam Li. Could it be that… Second Young Master… has returned?”
Madam Li was thoroughly rooted to the spot. Trembling slightly, she already forgot how to talk.
She also could not believe what she had heard. “Li Mu is back? Is he really my son?”
“Is this a dream as I had before? Am I having an illusion?”
“Here you go!” Li Mu lifted a foot and gave Zheng Tianliang’s head a good kick. It flew up to the sky and shrank to a little black spot before disappearing from sight. No one knew how far it went to.
Indeed, Li Mu always lived up to his word.
Since he said he would make the stout man’s head a football, he surely did it.
“Take out his body.” Li Mu turned to the guards of Zheng Tianliang.
Only then did they realize they should get going. The two burly men called Laifu and Wangcai were the most terrified ones. Unable to utter any word, they hoisted the headless body and hurried out.
“I hate those surnamed Zheng.”
Li Mu muttered to himself.
Hearing his whisper, Zheng Cunjian was drenched in cold sweat. Although he felt this incident was not his fault, he dared not argue with Li Mu.
After getting rid of the nasty ones, Li Mu wheeled around and walked up to Madam Li. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees and called, “Mom, I’m back… though it’s a little late. I’m sorry I let mom suffered so much. I’m not a good son.” He finally decided on the salutation. Now that he was going to play her son, he would go the whole hog.
“You…” As if waking up from her reverie, Madam Li stuck out her quivering hands and gingerly caressed Li Mu’s face, “You are truly my son… My son is really back?”
Her wrinkled and chapped hands kept stroking his face.
Li Mu could feel how worried this mother had been since her son left.
For the whole eight years, she had never heard from her son. Li Mu did not send her anything, not even a letter. Madam Li just kept waiting and waiting, and nearly gave up all her hopes. She could not imagine how the young Li Mu could survive without her taking care of him. She had spent countless nights crying, worrying if her son was in danger, or maybe… She could not bring herself to think further.
Every minute, every second since her son went out on his own was a torture to her.
She had also considered about searching for Li Mu by herself.
But sadly, her personal freedom was limited by the magistrate of Chang’an—she could not travel out of this city.
“So, after eight years of anxious waiting, my son is finally back?”
Trembling from head to foot, she carefully stroked Li Mu’s face, hoping to ascertain if this young man was really her son.
“Mom, I’m sorry!” As if on cue, Li Mu burst out crying.
“Madam Li is blind. She can’t see me. So I don’t need to worry if I look like her son. At least, she won’t spot any visible flaw. This way, I might pull it off. Oh, please let this poor woman live the rest of her life in peace and joy.”
Li Mu thought sincerely.
“My son, you’re truly my son! My little Li Mu has grown up, but your face didn’t change much…” After touching ever corner of his face, Madam Li was finally convinced. It was said that there was a mystical connection between a mother and a son. Since eight years had passed by, Li Mu’s appearance certainly was different. But that was still recognizable to Madam Li, because his main features could not change much. Thus, after careful perceiving his look with her hands, Madam Li eventually acknowledged his identity.
“My son, you’re really back!” Madam Li cried.
Grassy, the maid, was also in tears out of excitement. She was smiling, but her hot tears just kept rolling down her cheeks.
“This day finally comes! Young Master is really back!”
Such a scene of a family reunion was pretty touching.
Zheng Cunjian, the only outsider of the reunion, stood a distance away from them and made no noise.
He was clear that at such a moment his best performance was to stay quiet, in case he ruined the atmosphere.
However, the trees may prefer calm but the wind will not subside.
Annoying footsteps were heard from the alley out of the yard.
Laifu’s voice roared, “The evildoer is right in there! That damn thug has killed Master Zheng! Don’t let him escape… Mr. Dong, Your Honor, my master has been murdered. Please, right the wrong for his sake!”