The first red sun rose slowly over the top of the city wall of Chang’an, bathing the ancient city in the warm sunlight.
With the help of the maid, Grassy, Madam Li stepped out of the thatch-roofed house with an anxious look. When Grassy saw Li Mu, who was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the yard, she called, “Madam, this is not a dream. Young Master is truly here. He is in a training session.”
Hearing the excited voice, Li Mu got to his feet and turned to Madam Li, “Mom, you’re up.”
“My boy…” Madam Li walked over and grabbed Li Mu’s hand. She stroked his face for quite a while before showing a broad smile and saying, “You’re really my son. I thought last night was just a dream.”
“Mom, don’t worry, from this day on, I will not let you live with fear all by yourself.” Deeply moved by the old woman’s affectionate touch and hand-holding, Li Mu guaranteed seriously.
“Sister Grassy, there is some food in the carriage. Please take them to the room. Soon, someone will come here to repair the house. And, take good care of my mom when I’m out,” Li Mu said to Grassy.
“Oh? My dear, are you heading out?” Madam Li tightened her grip on Li Mu’s hand. She sounded rather panicky.
Li Mu beamed at her reassuringly and said, “Mom, please relax. I’m just going to pick up Snow, Qiu Yi, and Xia Ju. I’ll be back in no time.”
“But…” Madam Li was still a little hesitant. She was very clear what kind of people took those maids away from her. They were all extremely powerful people in this city. Although Li Mu made it sound quite easy, how could those people let go of the three maids without protest? Indeed, she had been worrying about those maids who was almost family to her for numerous days and nights. But at present, what concerned her most was the safety of her son. After eight whole years, she finally had him back. She absolutely could not afford to lose him again.
Grassy also held the same thought.
When she first heard that Li Mu would take her other three sisters back, she nearly jumped with excitement. But on second thought, she knew the journey was dangerous and also began to worry for Li Mu’s safety.
But Li Mu smiled, and then comforted, “Mom, Sister Grassy, you two should not be so concerned. No one in Chang’an is my equal. Plus, I’m not doing it alone. My master has sent ten experts in the Great Master Realm to assist me.” He did a white lie so as to put the two women at ease.
“Dear, you just said someone will come and fix our house. Who is it?” Madam Li posed another question.
Li Mu beamed again and said, “Well, just a few friends of mine. Some new friends.”
“In that case, do you mean we’re going to stay in Chang’an for a while?” Grassy probed hopefully.
Li Mu nodded and confirmed, “Yeah, we’ll live here for a period of time. When I get all my things done, we’ll set off for Taibai County.”
After briefing the two about his schedule, Li Mu departed.
By then, sunlight already lit up the shabbiest yard at the far end of the Pig-Herding Alley.
Some neighbors of the alley had stuck out their heads to peek into the little yard. Since they had more or less heard or seen what had happened last night, now their eyes were gleaming awe and curiosity.
Grassy helped Madam Li to settle down on a wooden chair nearby, then, she went to sort out the articles in the carriage.
But as she opened the door of the carriage, she let loose a screech in surprise.
“Grassy, what’s wrong?” asked Madam Li hastily.
“Meat! So much meat! And desserts from Zhengpin Bakery…” Grassy was a little out of her breath now.
The carriage was loaded with the best food and ingredients of a variety of time-honored brands in Chang’an. The last time Grassy saw that kind of stuff was when Madam Li was still the magistrate’s wife. Recalling the taste of those delicious dishes, Grassy’s mouth almost watered at once.
After all, she was just a girl of eighteen. Girls that young had no resistance to fine food.
It took Grassy a long time to remove everything in the carriage to the house.
Shortly after that, a clatter of hoofbeats and roars was heard. About fifty men hurtled into the Pig-Herding Alley.
Some of them were riding, the others were sprinting. All of them were strong and wearing uniforms, which looked imposing. Closely followed them were a fleet of carriages, each of which was crammed with unknown stuff wrapped in canvas. With so many people and carriages suddenly flooding into the small alley, it was almost jammed.
All of the newcomers were heading towards Madam Li’s little yard.
Seeing the strangers coming, Grassy looked quite tense. She hurriedly supported Madam Li to stand up.
Under the gaze of the Pig-Herding Alley residents as well as Madam Li and her maid, those strangers stopped at the door of the little yard.
A man with his entire face hidden behind a hood cupped his fists and announced respectfully, “Madam, I am a friend of His Honor, Li Mu. I’m here to repair your house. Please pardon us for the inconvenience we incur.” Obviously, he was the head of the group.
Since he did not reveal his face, no one knew who he really was. But in truth, he was Zheng Cunjian.
He dared not neglect the job Li Mu gave him. After all, whether he would live or die was still up to Li Mu.
“Turns out that they’re the repairing guys.”
Madam Li and Grassy both breathed a sigh of relief.
Because Li Mu had explained this to them before he left.
“Please come in,” said Madam Li courteously.
As an old member of the royal family, she still had the noble manners for dealing with guests in spite of so many years’ life in poverty.
Zheng Cunjian nodded. But he did not enter the yard immediately. Instead, he took out a jade badge and held it in hand before gingerly taking several steps ahead. Then, all of a sudden, jets of light shot out from underneath the desolated yard and vanished in a flash. After that, the yard seemed somewhat different—from the outside, it looked close but also remote.
“Sure enough, the yard has been cast with a magic formation.”
Zheng Cunjian awed internally.
Last night, Li Mu handed the jade badge to him and told him that if he entered the yard without it, he would die a grotesque death.
“The means of that warlock is really scary.”
“What kind of warlock Li Mu is on earth? How can he set up such a formation at this dilapidated yard overnight on his own?”
Zheng Cunjian’s fear deepened as he thought so.
He knew he must start working right off. Thanks to the help of the jade badge, he entered the yard and began commanding the others to load the construction materials off into the yard.
Heaps of stones, wood, bamboo, and assorted tools and ready-made construction parts soon appeared in front of them.
The construction work went ahead with full steam.
The Dafeng Chamber of Commerce was established eighty years ago. In the beginning, it was just a small association that struggled to survive in Chang’an. Later, it obtained subsidies from some high-ranking government official and expanded rapidly. Now, it had developed from a third-class chamber of commerce into the leader of the local consortiums, only second to the Chang’an branch of the World Chamber of Commerce that had businesses through the entire continent.
The president of the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce was Zhou Dedao, a resourceful man about to reach his fifties.
This morning, Zhou Dedao was at his place going through the account of the chamber of commerce.
That was his biggest hobby—to feel the wonderfulness of endless fortune flowing into his hands through the figures on the accounts.
There were over twenty fully armed martial arts experts that he employed with tempting payroll stationed outside the bookkeeping room.
When wealth was accumulated to the extreme, it generated immense energy. Especially if it was combined with power, an unimaginable reaction would be triggered. That was how the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce rose to the top and successfully secured loads of martial arts experts to safeguard the president’s place. It was also said that the Zhou Family had two experts in the Master Realm stayed there to maintain their security.
Bearless, stout, and often smiley, Zhou Dedao seemed to be an innocent rich man.
Flipping through the accounts, he was wearing a faint smile. Beside him, dozens of trustworthy accountant that he hired with good money were doing fast calculations as their fingers swiftly slid beads on the abacus. Meanwhile, they called out a string of figures to inform Zhou Dedao of every income and expense of the massive financial empire, the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce.
Two young and beautiful maids were standing on both sides fanning for him.
Suddenly, with a creak, the tightly closed door was pushed open.
A man came in.
Zhou Dedao frowned upon this interruption. The bookkeeping room was the most vital part of his mansion. He had declared repeatedly that no one was allowed in unless he gave the permission. But someone still dared to violent his rule.
He then looked up at the intruder.
Next second, he went stupified.
A tall, robust, short-haired young man who seemed full of vigor strolled calmly towards him.
“Who… Who are you?” asked Zhou Dedao with astonishment.
He had never seen such a young man who looked like half monk half ordinary man. What was more startling was how come he got in the bookkeeping room without making a fuss.
“Urm? No here? Oh, sorry, I went into the wrong room.” The young man seemed utterly unconcerned, as if he was roaming around in a market. As his eyes rolled in every direction, he revealed a trace of disappointment and then turned round to leave.
Recovering from the shock, Zhou Dedao stormed, “Guards! Stop him!”
“He wants to leave after breaking into the bookkeeping room?”
In an instant, a dozen the experts hired to protect the Zhou family dashed here. They drew out their weapons and besieged the young man.
Zhou Dedao strode out of the bookkeeping room. Staring at the young man, he demanded, “Say it, who are you? How did you get in?”
The intruder replied coolly, “Easy, man. I’m just searching for someone in your place. I’ll leave when I find her.”
“Search for someone?” Zhou Dedao was fumed. “You did get in without permission! How can it be? Leader Wang, are you and your team all dead? How come you failed to spot there is a stranger sneaking into the bookkeeping room?” To be fair, given the importance of the bookkeeping room and the money he paid for a slew of experts, it was no wonder that he was so angry. Now, even a stranger could break through his carefully designed line of defense and wander in. That meant if this young man intended to assassinate him, he would have had a good chance today, wouldn’t he?
Those experts all quaked in their boots as their employer ranted.
Then, that Leader Wang, a heavyset man in his thirties with a strong aura of energy, hurriedly assured, “Master, please forgive us. We’ll arrest this audacious rogue right away…”
But instead of waiting for him to finish the sentence, the young man’s eyes lit up and he interrupted, “Master?” He briskly looked at Zhou Dedao and continued, “You are the president of the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce?”
Zhou Dedao snorted, “Yes. But what does it matter? Today, you broke into the restricted bookkeeping room, I…”
However, before he could finish his remark, he was dazzled by a flash of light.
Then, when his eyes came to focus again, to his great shock, that young man had appeared next to him like a ghost. With one hand clapping on Zhou Dedao’s shoulder, the intruder said with delight, “That’s terrific. So, you must be quite familiar with this mansion. I’m looking for a woman named Xia Ju. You help find her, I’ll let go of you.”
Well, as was expected, the young man was Li Mu.
He came to the mansion of the Zhou family to look for Xia Ju, one of the maids of her mom. But when he entered, he realized he got it all wrong, because the place was so large that it was beyond imagination. Finding a maid here was like fishing a needle in the sea. After working fruitlessly for half a day, he barged into the bookkeeping room by accident.