Affronting a top expert in the Master Realm was nothing fearful to the Dafeng Commerce of Chamber.
However, ruffling the feathers of a superb expert in the Great Master Realm was not something the Dafeng Commerce of Chamber could do without contemplation.
The reason that the branch of the World Chamber of Commerce in Chang’an could always get its way and stood above the rest was attributable to the fact that it had a super powerful expert in the Great Master Realm. With such a menacing ace card at hand, even the local government that represented the majesty of the empire had to be nice to them.
What was more, the superb expert, Li Mu, was still very young.
A young Master was a far cry from a young Great Master.
Most of the highly gifted cultivators were probably unable to break through the Master Realm and become a Great Master during their whole lifetime.
Indeed, not every Master could make his way to the Great Master Realm. That requires various conditions, such as resources, Karma, talent, diligence… None of those could be dispensed with.
The road of pursuing martial arts was a way of defying destiny by drawing the power from heaven and earth and altering the physique and spirit a man was given. This act of breaking through the restrictions set up by nature with manpower was a process of contending against nature. If it could be said that an ordinary man entering the Joint-force level, then to the Joint-qi level, and then to the Joint-thoughts level was a quantitative change, crossing the gap between the Master Realm and the Great Master Realm was a qualitative change, just like a fish leaping over the dragon gate and transforming into a dragon.
Once a man became a Great Master, he could go anywhere in the world without concern.
Although the Dafeng Commerce of Chamber came out at the head of the list of the local chambers of commerce in Chang’an, it was merely power in the city. Thus, getting off on the wrong foot with a Great Master might still incur horrible consequences.
“You evil spawn, what kind of man on earth you’ve pissed off?”
Ashen-faced, Zhou Dedao questioned his son, Zhou Yu.
“He is merely an abandoned son. His Honor will deal with him sooner or later. What does it matter that he is a Great Master? Sometimes, even Great Masters get killed in this world.” Zhou Yu roared like a psychopath.
“Young Master Li… You’re truly… I…” stammered Xia Ju. She felt a stream of warmth was spreading within, and her injuries were healing. The scars on her skin were also itchy because they were scabbing at an amazing speed. “Last night, when Zhou Yu said Young Master had come back, I thought he was fooling me around… But out of my expectations… Well, has Madam Li known this? Um, I… I think can walk now.”
“My mother has already known. Sorry, Xia Ju. I should have come sooner last night,” said Li Mu apologetically.
Still holding Xia Ju in his arms, he was leaping from one roof to another by casting his body-lighting skill to the utmost. As though a streak of smoke, he galloped in the direction of the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
“Let’s go and take Sister Qiu Yi back home.”
Li Mu assured Xia Ju.
Half through the journey, he dropped in a dress shop and bought an outfit for Xia Ju. After the maid got changed, he set off for the Heaven Sword Martial Club with her.
At first, he considered sending Xia Ju back to the Pig-Herding Alley before rescuing the second maid. However, when he thought of the torture Xia Ju endured in the Zhou’s mansion, he worried that Qiu Yi might be suffering in the Heaven Sword Martial Club as well. Therefore, there was no time to waste, so he decided to bring Xia Ju along with him and head for the Heaven Sword Martial Club straightaway.
About half an hour later, Li Mu and Xia Ju arrived at the gate of the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
As a reputed martial club in Chang’an, the construction of the Heaven Sword Martial Club looked quite magnificent. A decorated archway that was six meters high connected to a wide Martial Club Street. After walking over a hundred meters down the street, they arrived at the front gate of the Heaven Sword Martial Club. It was ten meters in height, carved out of a whole white marble. On both sides of the gate stood eight stone pillars with dragon patterns. Those pillars jointly carried a spectacular plaque displaying “Heaven Sword’s Pursuing of the Way”, which was the inscription wrote by the current head of the Heaven Sword Sect in person. Moreover, there were two sculptures of dragons that were as high as six meters sitting on both sides of the front gate.
Sixteen bulky men at the Joint-thoughts level were stationed at the flanks of the gate. They were all wearing scarlet armors and carrying steel beheading broadswords. And each of them also led a violent tiger. Eyes sharp as a knife, they stared at every passer-by vigilantly.
Unlike those chambers of commerce, a martial club was engaged in teaching people martial arts. That was why it had numerous disciples and experts. Undoubtedly, the martial strength of the Heaven Sword Martial Club was much stronger than the Dafeng Commerce of Chamber.
Now, Li Mu and Xia Ju reached the front gate of the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
They finally made it to their destination.
Without hesitation, Li Mu led Xia Ju towards the gate.
“Stop.” A guard stepped forward with his tiger and asked, “Are you here to learn martial arts?”
But before he finished the sentence, he was dazzled for a second and then Li Mu and Xia Ju was nowhere to be seen.
“What the hell?”
“Did… Did you guys see it?” Rather alarmed, that guard turned to look at his companies.
But the others were stunned and puzzled as he was.
“We must be seeing things, aren’t we?”
As the guards were wondering, Li Mu had already entered the front yard of the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
Ten patches of practicing field, each of which was ten acres, constituted the front yard. Young men and women in swordsmen uniforms were divided into different groups and practicing swordsmanship on different patches of field. There must be at least a thousand of those young cultivators on the field. They were all beginners, whose average strength was at the basic stage of the Joint-thoughts level, but on each patch of the field there were experts at the peak of the Joint-thoughts level giving them instructions.
Surprisingly, Li Mu and Xia did not meet more obstruct when they crossed through the front gate.
Some young disciples even cast curious glances at them and soon were told off by their guider for being distracted during practice.
Li Mu rubbed between his eyebrows apprehensively.
Since the Heaven Sword Martial Club had an even larger area and more varied staff than the Zhou’s mansion, locating Qiu Yi was a more challenging task.
It seemed that Li Mu had to found a different way to solve the problem.
“Sister Xia Ju, do you have any personal article that Sister Qiu Yi used to carry along?” asked Li Mu.
Although she was clueless about where Li Mu was getting at, Xia Ju pondered over it for a moment before taking down a delicately-made small pouch from her neck. With a hint of sadness in her eyes, she explained, “This pouch carries the hair of the four of us, including Qiu Yi’s. Madam Li made four of this and gave them to us when we departed. She wanted us to keep them as a memento… Umm, will this do?”
“Hair?” A glint of joy flashed across Li Mu’s eyes. “Terrific!”
He took over the pouch and pulled out a lock of hair from it. Then, he pressed the thumb of his right hand with the middle finger and conjured a seal. With the hair pinched between his fingertips, he murmured the incantation. “The lost can be recovered by magic. Those lost on the 7th of the ten Heavenly Stems will be found on the Tui those lost on the 9th of the ten Heavenly Stems and the last of the ten Heavenly Stems will be found on the Gen… May the heaven be my lamp, may the earth be my guide, may the stars be my marks, may the cloud be my path. Please find the owner of the lock of hair, and lead me there… Quickly follow my order. Begin!”
The incantation was cast.
Immediately, a mystical power was generated from the hair Li Mu was holding. Some of the hair shot out in the direction of the Pig-Herding Alley, and that was the hair of Grassy; some went for the Ning Mansion, which represented the hair of Snow; some landed on Xia Ju, because that was her own hair; the last part of it dashed towards the depths of the Heaven Sword Martial Club, that was exactly Qiu Yi’s hair.
Holding Xia Ju’s hand, Li Mu followed the hair down the road.
When they crossed the front yard, the hair continued flying towards the back yard.
Li Mu and Xia Ju trailed closely behind.
On their way, there was finally someone stopping them to inquire their identities. However, once he asked the question, he just felt dazzled before finding there was no trace of the two of them.
In truth, Li Mu was unwilling to waste time on dealing with those nobodies. He had to find Qiu Yi first.
Now that his strength had reached an unparalleled realm and he had the Taoist magic arts he learned from the old faker as secondary help; it was a piece of cake for him to sneak around the Heaven Sword Martial Club without any of the disciples noticing.
He bumped into loads of experts of the Heaven Sword Martial Club on the way. But he successfully brushed past them as if the two of them were invisible.
Eventually, they made it to the back mansion without difficulty.
The back mansion was the private property of the martial club owner. Common disciples were not allowed in. Only Zhang Chengfeng, the owner who was famous for his Heaven-breaking Legend Sword and his family and servants could access it.
Qiu Yi’s hair drifted to an artificial hill in the back garden and slipped into a crack on the hill.
“Oh? Seems that there is a secret chamber.” Standing by the artificial hill, Li Mu tapped here and there as an ominous feeling rose from inside. Qiu Yi was forced here to be a maid or a concubine at most. She was not supposed to be involved in the secrets of the Heaven Sword Martial Club. But how come she was locked in a secret chamber?
After fumbling on the hill for a while, nothing like a switch or the key to the secret chamber could be found. Then, Li Mu hesitated for a second before placing a palm on the rock where the hair disappeared a moment ago and gave it a tight grip. Instantly, the whole artificial hill crumbled into dust and revealed a tunnel with a flight of staircases stretching downwards.
Li Mu and Xia Ju stepped in.
He repeated the incantation and the hair reappeared before him. It led Li Mu to the basement of the Heaven Sword Martial Club. No, actually, it was an underground palace with winding paths connecting different rooms. It was much more splendid than the underground secret chamber Ma San and his scoundrels had in Peace County. Obviously, it had built for many years. All the way down there, they encountered several batches of patrolling guards, all of whom were wearing scarlet armors and strolling like ghosts underground.
Nevertheless, thanks to the Taoist magic arts Li Mu cast, they were not exposed.
As they proceeded in the underground maze, they saw rooms producing elixirs, refining weapons, storing arms and wine, as well as those keeping secret manuals on martial arts. Also, there were some detention rooms that housed the disciples who committed serious wrongs. They were basically sentenced to the death penalty. At the deeper part of the maze was a prison, holding in captivity many unidentified cultivators from Jianghu. Most of them got their scapulae penetrated and were wearing specially made heavy shackles which kept them stay put. Li Mu guessed they might be the experts who held a grudge against the Heaven Sword Martial Club and were arrested here.
Aside from all that, there were, of course, over ten torturing rooms of different sizes that were devised to abuse the imprisoners.
Screeches could be heard in those rooms without a stop. Li Mu wondered what people were being tortured.
At the sight of all those rooms, Xia Ju could not help but show her fright on her face.
She was just a maid. How could she ever visit such a dark place?
The ominous feeling inside Li Mu was growing.
At last, under the instruction of the hair, the two came down to a spacious cellar at the heart of the maze.
When Li Mu pushed the door of the cellar open, a pungent smell of blood overwhelmed them.
“This is…” Li Mu glanced the room and was instantly astounded.
The large cellar was crammed with corpses. Some were human bodies, some were animals. A majority of them were fierce beasts. It was like a slaughterhouse. And without exception, there were countless wounds left by the sword on those bodies. Some of the animals were not completely dead yet and still whining and flailing around. The floor was drenched in blood, which made the room more like the fiery pits of Hades.