What Li Mu asked for were not a million pounds of silver but a million pounds of gold. The value of that amount of gold was way higher.
The eyes of the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club were lit up with thrill. “How come I didn’t come up with this idea? If I did, our Xiongfeng Martial Art Club would have long since been rich, wouldn’t it? In that case, we would no longer need to send our disciples to make money by doing delivery work at the dock every day.”
Those words almost freaked the Marvelous Mathematician out. He hastily contradicted, “Thank God you didn’t figure out this mad idea. Otherwise, our Xiongfeng Martial Art Club would have already been destroyed.” After all, not everyone could pull off blackmail, especially when the subject was a tough one like the Dafeng Chamber of Commerce.
Nonetheless, this time the seemingly greedy request of the young Great Master was not accusatory.
“What do you say? Well, think about it carefully, because you only got one shot,” Li Mu’s voice spread out from the yard of The Shack once again, “I won’t push you. It’s all up to you now. But to be honest, if I were you, I would rather kill Zhou Yu. Anyway, letting such black sheep die out of pain is a bargain for you. When he is gone, you can marry more concubines and have more babies. Isn’t there a saying about this? Right, when you failed on your first try, you can always start over with more attempts.” His tone was brimming with vicious mockery.
With sweat beading on his forehead, Zhou Dedao was petrified on his post, his expression rather nasty.
“Dad, please save me, save me! I am your only son…” howled Zhou Yu, who was tied up in the carriage and could not move. He was wailing, roaring, and struggling to break free as if he had sunk into quicksand with only his head above.
Zhou Dedao clenched his teeth and made up his mind, “Fine, I say yes.”
He had Zhou Yu, his only son, when he was fairly old. That was why he overindulged him. And the most important thing was Zhou Dedao actually had had several concubines in secret. But no matter how hard he tried or how many elixirs he took, he had failed to have more children over the years. It was likely that he had some problems in producing offspring.
Therefore, he had to keep his black sheep intact.
If not, who would carry on his family line?
“Good. You go and prepare the money. You only have one day.”
Li Mu spoke again.
As his voice rang, a green bamboo leaf fell off from the wall of bamboos around The Shack, drifted through the crack of the carriage, and landed on Zhou Yu’s forehead.
Curiously, the moment that leaf touched Zhou Yu, who was scrabbling around as his face reddened to the ears, he instantly quieted down. His eyes became clear and serene again, and then, he closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
“He will be fine within one day.”
Li Mu’s voice sounded once more.
Zhou Dedao rushed into the carriage to exam his son. A doctor who went along here took his pulse and then said with a nod, “Young Master Zhou’s pulse is stable, his breathing deep, and his organs operating in order, so there is nothing to worry about. He is just asleep.”
Zhou Dedao gave a sigh of relief.
“Great Master, thank you for being so lenient.” He cupped his hands towards the yard.
After that, he turned round to point at the three carriages behind him and said, “Those are the extra gifts I prepared for Great Master beforehand. They do not count as our agreed amount of treasure. I offended you the other day, but please pardon my ill behavior. As you know, my Dafeng Chamber of Commerce only has a limited fortune. One day is perhaps not enough for me to get a million pounds of gold. Please give me a couple of days’ grace. I’ll gather the money and send it here within six days. How about that?”
The yard of The Shack fell silent. After a while, as Zhou Dedao was restless with anxiety, the voice of the young Great Master rang, “You just hope to postpone the deadline till I battle that fu*king damn Heaven-Sword Celestial Being, don’t you? Hum, if I die in the battle, you won’t have to hand me the money, am I right?”
“Eh, I absolutely dare not.” Cold sweat immediately trickled down his forehead. Of course, that was his precise wish. However, it took him by surprise that the young Great Master had seen through his little trick on the spot.
“Well, okay, you have six days. Now, get yourself scarce,” Li Mu’s voice was heard from inside the yard.
As if being granted amnesty, Zhou Dedao hastily wheeled around.
Shortly, the Zhou family and their servants were gone.
“How dumb that Zhou Dedao is!” sniggered the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club, whose pretty face was written with despise.
The Marvelous Mathematician asked, “Is he? Why did you say so, boss?”
“Think about it! If Great Master Li Mu really dies in the duel, he will be more hopeless to rescue his son. At that time, his son will certainly die. If I were him, I would definitely strive to make Li Mu lift the spell in my son before the duel starts. That’s the safest plan.” The owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club explained.
After hesitating for a moment, the Marvelous Mathematician said, “Boss, you might have overlooked a point.”
“When the one who cast the spell dies, there is a possibility that the spell planted in the victim will disappear automatically.”
“Yes, absolutely. But it’s just a possibility, not a certain fact. Zhou Dedao is betting on this possibility. If Li Mu dies but the spell in Zhou Yu doesn’t clear, he will let his son die. From his perspective, that’s his son’s fate. After all, a million pounds of gold is too much for him to give away. I guess this time he prefers to let the heaven call the shot.” The Marvelous Mathematician added.
“Fuck, you guys using the abacus have the profits-before-everything mentality. I can’t follow your mean schemes!” said the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club disdainfully.
The Marvelous Mathematician went speechless.
“Let’s go and visit the Great Master.” The owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club shook off the shells of melon seeds on her clothes, got up, and marched towards the front door of the yard.
The Marvelous Mathematician hurriedly caught up with her and said, “Boss, are your really going to drag Li Mu to our side?”
“Of course. He will soon be an overnight millionaire. I can’t let go of him!” The owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club narrowed her eyes into a pair of crescents, her pupils glinting with the desire for wealth.
Half an hour later.
“Fuck… His rejection is damn harsh.” The owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club’s chest swelled with anger. She gritted her teeth and stormed to the exit of the Pig-Herding Alley as she muttered, “If I were able to hit him, I would have beaten him to a pulp. Oh, I’m so pissed off.”
Although she was allowed to enter The Shack and meet the legendary young Great Master as she wanted, her proposal of inviting him to join her club was refused without hesitation. That made her quite embarrassed.
But the Marvelous Mathematician wagged his head as he read, “A mountain has fame not for its height, but for a deity being in it. A lake has the spirit not for its depth, but for a dragon being in it. My room, although simple and humble, is famous for my virtues… Haha, wonderful, really wonderful! Never knew this Li Mu is such a good poet aside from being an excellent cultivator in both magic and martial arts. This Epigraph of My Shack will sure be spread to the world. He is surely the youngest champion of the imperial exams of liberal arts. I am so lucky to have the chance of admiring this fabulous work of his. Hahaha, it is awesome! It really touches my heart…”
He saw the Epigraph of My Shack at the main room of The Shack and finally understood why Li Mu had named this picturesque house that seemed to be built on a fairyland ‘The Shack’. Every word in the poetry was apt and accurate. It enlightened the benighted and gave people a positive aspiration.
The Marvelous Mathematician was said to be the second best-educated person in the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club. He had also investigated Li Mu’s past. Thus, after reading the Epigraph of My Shack, he kind of caught on why Li Mu, a son who severed his ties with the magistrate of Chang’an and got cast out, could make it to today’s position step by step. It was attributed to the young man’s astonishing will power and strong dignity.
The Epigraph of My Shack was telling the story of that young man!
Up to now, the whole city of Chang’an already went nuts for the peerless power of the young Great Master. However, how many of them knew this young man had even more stunning aptitude for writing?
Staring at the Marvelous Mathematician who seemed intoxicated with the poetry, the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club could not help but ask, “Hey, hey, hey, why do you look so touched? Is the Epigraph of My Shack or whatever that brilliant?”
“Absolutely. In the past, when Young Master, Wen Zongbin, passed Chang’an, he wrote the Ten Rainy Days of the Ancient Capital, which then went so popular that the price of paper in Chang’an shot sky-high due to the lack of supply. And if Great Master Li Mu’s Epigraph of My Shack gets out, I believe it will be as sensational as that one. Anyway, it is an unparalleled poem.” The Marvelous Mathematician sighed with emotion.
“Humph, it’s just a lame poem for bragging. How can it be that good?” retorted the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club exasperatedly.
“Boss, let’s face it, a rough fellow like you had better not comment other’s poems or writings, in case you make yourself a fool… Ow, why hit me? Fine, fine, I’m sorry… Aaah! Help! Help! But you’re denying the truth…”
“Damn you! Straighten it up, why am I rough? The most thing I detest is being called rough! Remember, I am a girl…”
As they bickered, a man was watching them on a tower at the depths of the Pig-Herding Alley in a distance.
Li Mu rubbed his temples and watched the pair of funny fellows from the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club taking off with an awkward look.
In fact, the file Zheng Cunjian wrote to him also mentioned the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club. It was a place sheltering evil people and doing wicked businesses. The disciples it took were all scatterbrained or engaged in stealing or robbery. However, Zheng Cunjian also admitted in the file that Tan Yanzi, the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club, was a tough woman. Although she was less strong than a man, her Blazing Sun Punch coupled with the Golden Boxing Gloves could not be more masculine and aggressive. She could be said to be the best boxer in the city of Chang’an, who was also qualified to rank among top twenty on the list of the experts in Chang’an. Technically, her strength was ever superior to that of Zhang Chengfeng, the one known for his Heaven-breaking Legend Sword from the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
In fact, Li Mu had long since noticed the arrival of Tan Yanzi and the Marvelous Mathematician.
That unfathomable breathing he first detected was exactly from Tan Yanzi, the owner of the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club.
Thus, when the two required for a meeting with him after the Zhou family had left, he made an exception for them and allowed them into the yard.
But when Tan Yanzi invited him to join the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club, he resolutely turned her down.
He certainly did not have time for a bunch of weirdos.
As to that Marvelous Mathematician, he caught sight of the Epigraph of My Shack on the plaque hanging at the gate of the bamboo tower and was drunk in the beauty of that poem in no time. His eyes even softened when he was complimenting Li Mu for his talent, as though he was already a fan of him. Undoubtedly, he had taken the Epigraph of My Shack as Li Mu’s work.
Half an hour later after getting rid of the two from the Xiongfeng Martial Art Club, Zhang Chengfeng, the current head of the Heaven Sword Martial Club, bustled to the Pig-Herding Alley in a full white roble and delivered the gauntlet to Li Mu in person.
“Our Zhang family’s great ancestor, Heaven-Sword Celestial Master, stakes the secret manual of Heaven-sword Sixteen Styles on the duel with Great Master Li. Will you take the challenge?” With the surge of his internal qi, Zhang Chengfeng’s voice could be heard almost in every corner of the western region of Chang’an.
“Yes, I accept.”
Li Mu gave his consent without thinking.
When he asked for some kind of stakes, he was actually aiming at the Heaven-sword Sixteen Styles.
“Then, in three days, on the drill ground of Heaven Sword Martial Club, our Zhang family will be waiting for your arrival,” Zhang Chengfeng hissed through his tightly clenched teeth, “And I wonder what stakes Great Master Li will offer for this duel.”
Surprisingly, Li Mu refuted quite brazenly, “It’s your man that wants to challenge me, not the reverse, so why do I have to offer a stake?”
Zhang Chengfeng was struck dumb by that remark. At last, he hit the road disgruntledly.
Very soon, the news spread across the city of Chang’an.
The upcoming duel between two Great Masters caused quite a stir in the whole city, and the sensation was still rippling to other areas of the empire.