By dint of his strength coupled with some simple Taoist magic arts, Li Mu could freely go in and out of the mansion of the Zhou family as if it were an unguarded place. Therefore, Zhou Dedao and his guards did not notice his intrusion before.
As to why Li Mu was spotted now, it was because after realizing how time-consuming the blind searching was, he decided to reveal himself to some leader of the staff in order to ask for directions. But to his surprise, he bumped right into the president of the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce, the head of the entire mansion.
With Li Mu’s hand clapping on his shoulder, Zhou Dedao immediately felt like he was pinned under a mountain and could not move at all.
“Get your hand off President Zhou!” yelled Leader Wang agitatedly. He then paced in an odd and unpredictable fashion. Before they realized it, he suddenly approached Li Mu and hacked at the arm Li Mu rested on Zhou Dedao’s shoulder.
“The peak of the Joint-thoughts level?” Li Mu commented as he flipped his palm up and casually directed it towards the attacker, “You’re way below me.”
A wave of energy released from his palm lashed at Leader Wang. As though being hit by a thunderclap, Leader Wang’s steel broadsword cracked into pieces and he was directly sent flying backward. With a loud bang, he crashed with an artificial hill, which instantly caved in.
“Aargh…” Leader Wang squirted a mouthful of blood. He attempted to get up but failed.
At that sight, the rest of those experts who were eager to attack instantly felt their bones chilled and were no longer motivated to strike.
Leader Wang was the most powerful one among them. But shockingly, he was not a match of this weird short-haired young man. Thus, they knew their strike would be in vain. What was more, President Zhou, who knew no martial arts, was still grasped by the young man. If he was fretted, his one single punch would reduce President Zhou to mince.
“Today I’m only here for locating someone instead of killing. But if you leave me no choice…” Li Mu gently patted Zhou Dedao on the shoulder with carefully restrained force, but that patting threw everyone into horror, not to mention that all the color drained from Zhou Dedao’s face.
“Who is Xia Ju? Take her over here! Hurry up…” shouted the president desperately.
The experts guarding the mansion exchanged helpless looks but did not reply.
Instead, a maid of the bookkeeping room hesitated for a second and then answered, “Master, Xia Ju is a maid Young Master brought here half a year ago. Last night, she did something wrong and got whipped by Young Master. Now, she is kind of… shut in the storage room.”
“What?” Li Mu’s face changed from calm to anxious.
He seized Zhou Dedao by the back of her neck and ordered, “Lead the way. Quick!”
Vulnerable like a duck being grabbed by the neck, Zhou Dedao hollered in despair, “Quick, bring this young hero to the storage room in the backyard. Get a move on!”
Shuddering with fright, the crowd gave the way to Li Mu.
With the guards leading the way, Li Mu dragged Zhou Dedao along towards the backyard.
By then, all people in the mansion had been alarmed by such an incident. Loads of experts scuttled over, including several whose power was superior to that of Leader Wang. However, as they saw their heavily injured leader, none of them dared to strike recklessly, in case they hurt the president, Zhou Dedao.
“Li Mu? It is you?” The young master, Zhou Yu, also hurried over after hearing the news. He growled, “How dare you break into my place! You’re mental!”
Li Mu, of course, did not respond.
He simply seized Zhou Dedao as if he were a baby chicken and strode to the door of the storage room.
A faint smell of blood wafted out from the storage room.
Li Mu’s heart sank like a stone as he sensed that smell.
“Li Mu, do you have any idea what you are doing? You dare hold my father hostage! You’re nuts! No one in Chang’an can cover for you. Now, you’re a dead man…” barked Zhou Yu. Then, he turned and yelled to a servant, “Quickly bring Senior Lin here…”
Senior Lin was one of the two experts in the Great Master Realm the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce had recruited with good money.
Sullen-faced, Li Mu kicked open the door of the storage room.
In the dingy, damp room lay a girl of about eighteen. Her clothes were ripped into pieces and already soaked in blood, which messily stuck to her badly mutilated body. The girl was motionless and unconscious, only her chest was heaving as she breathed weakly. The scene was extremely miserable. Moreover, all of her fingernails and toenails were pulled out. It was obvious that she had been tortured.
Li Mu dumped Zhou Dedao at the side and rushed into the room to gently hold the unconscious girl in his arms.
An appealing face came to his vision.
She was Xia Ju.
She was doubtlessly the person in the portrait of Xia Ju that Zheng Cunjian had given Li Mu along with her file.
He rapidly conjured up a seal with his left hand. Instantly, wafts of coolness in light green converged to the seal and formed a little bead like a drop of water. Then, he pressed the seal in between Xia Ju’s eyebrows.
That was the Vigor Seal!
A Taoist magic arts of the wood element! It could extract the power of the wood element in the world to cure injuries. In fact, it was a fairly simple Taoist magic art.
On the way to Chang’an, Li Mu had fathomed out many simple Taoist magic arts the old faker taught him, such as the Life-and-Death Spell that kept Zheng Cunjian under his control and the Vigor Seal Technique. Of course, those Taoist magic arts the old faker categorized as simple were all startling powers in this world.
“Ah…” moan Xia Ju, who slowly woke up from her coma and opened her eyes after the seal was planted in her.
Her large eyes were clear and bright.
“You… You are…” she asked in confusion when she saw Li Mu.
Li Mu hastily said, “Sister Xia Ju, I’m taking you home. Relax, you’re safe now.”
“You are… Young Master Li… You… truly got back. It’s… wonderful. I…” Joy was shimmering in Xia Ju’s eyes. But when she caught a glimpse of the experts in battle array outside, she hurriedly warned, “Young Master, quick… leave here. They…”
But before she could finish her words, what she dreaded already happened.
Two figures galloped in like a whirl of wind. They both drew out their weapons and directed them at Li Mu’s back.
They were two other leaders of the guards. Eager to take the credit of capturing the intruder after they saw Zhou Dedao was no longer a hostage, they attacked when the target was off guard.
However, without even looking back at them, Li Mu threw a punch backward.
A visible transparent seal of a fist drifted out from Li Mu’s fist and expanded at an alarming rate. Torrents of energy it generated tore down the storage room in no time, as the two sneak attackers were sucked in like leaves in a tornado and sent flying across the room before hitting the wall. Next second, the wall collapsed and raised tons of dust. The two slumped onto the fragments of bricks and stones quietly, their life conditions unascertained.
The others in the backyard were also appalled at Li Mu’s power. With the eardrum buzzing due to the repercussions of the energy, they backed a few steps to regain their balance. Even the experts at the peak of the Joint-thoughts level were wobbling.
Carrying Xia Ju in his arms, Li Mu walked out of the ruined storage room.
“Beseidge him! Don’t let him escape!” snarled the livid-faced Zhou Dedao, who was now under the protection of a dozen guard leaders.
Today, he must kill this intruder at all cost.
Otherwise, the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce would be a joke in Chang’an.
“Kill him! Kill the damn pair of them…” Zhou Yu bellowed, stony-faced.
Under that order, those expert guards flooded at Li Mu together.
“Get out of my way!”
Holding Xia Ju, Li Mu took a step forward and his left feet stamped forcefully on the ground.
The ground started to tremble as if there was an earthquake.
Frightening energy broke out and spread from Li Mu to the whole yard. The guards who were dashing to the forefront only felt that the earth under their feet burst open and the energy that rushed out shattered the bones of their shanks and threw them up to the air before landing on the hard ground of flagstones. The energy rippled further. It swept through the staircases, the artificial hills, the trees, the walls… Anything it touched collapsed as though an earthquake was happening.
Everyone in the yard shrieked and fell to the floor.
Even those top-of-the-range experts at the peak of the Joint-thoughts level were struggling to keep balance like drunk people. But due to the counterforce, the bones of their legs crumbled.
In the blink of an eye, the backyard of the Zhou’s mansion that was around 70,000 square feet became total wreckage.
How unbelievable that was!
Zhou Dedao and Zhou Yu did not get hurt due to the protection of several loyal guards.
Securely holding Xia Ju in his arms, Li Mu slowly came out behind the smoke and dust step by step.
“You… You must die! Li Mu, you dare…” howled Zhou Yu, who was burning with a frenzy of rage.
Next to him, his father, Zhou Dedao, was also extremely exasperated.
“Outrageous! This is outrageous!”
“Our Zhou family has never been defied like this!”
“Young man, you’re gonna pay for what you did. I swear, you will…” cursed Zhou Dedao, who was so furious that his face screwed up.
Li Mu gave him a cold laugh and said, “You morons, money has clouded your mind. You lack the awe for the higher power… Sister Xia Ju, it is Zhou Yu who hurt you, isn’t it?” He lowered his head to look at Xia Ju in his arms.
At that moment, that young girl was already too astonished to speak.
She just nodded out of instinct.
Li Mu quickly stared at Zhou Yu. A glint of killing intent burst out from his eyes. “Last night, I’ve already cut you some lack. But you not only remained impenitent but also went from bad to worse. Seems that today I can’t let you get out of this easily.”
Before his words faced, Li Mu took a large step and advanced upon Zhou Yu.
“You…” Zhou Yu was terrified. He backed away desperately.
But it was too late.
Li Mu landed a palm on his shoulder. With a fit of cracks, Zhou Yu’s leg bones were all crumbled under the massive weight before he flopped onto the ground.
“Ow! My legs! Aaah…” Zhou Yu howled miserably.
“My son… You, stop!” Zhou Dedao bellowed, his eyes so widened that they nearly burst out of the eye sockets, “Guards! Guards! Come and rescue your Young Master… Where is Senior Lin? Why didn’t he come yet?”
Li Mu snorted at Zhou Dedao, and then, threw him into the air with a punch. But since Zhou Dedao did not offend Li Mu himself, he did not kill him but merely sent him to the side. After getting rid of the president, Li Mu did intricate gestures with five fingers and created another seal. An exotic aura with burning dark flames soon turned into a weird seal and shot out before disappearing into Zhou Yu’s body.
It was the Life-and-Death Spell.
Once the spell was planted in one’s body, his life and death would be up to the warlock who cast the spell.
Therefore, Zhou Yu was now in the hands of Li Mu.
That Taoist magic art, though had similar functions as the one Louis Cha described in his Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, was a Taoist magic art. It was actually more advanced, for it could manipulate the victim like a puppet. That was incredibly forbidding. The only drawback it had was that it could only be used on the opponent whose power was weaker than yours. Otherwise, it would work.
“You twisting, evil jerkass! You tormented a girl with so brutal means. I’ll make you pay way more than that!”
Li Mu told Zhou Yu in a chilling voice.
He did not murder him on the spot, because he would let him experience the horrifying power of the Life-and-Death Spell.