If he chose to turn a blind eye to such an outrageous deed, what was the point of him learning martial arts anyway? If he failed to save these two poor people, wouldn’t his ambition of saving Earth be a big joke?
Thus, Li Mu marched over towards the crowd.
But just before he could open his mouth to speak, something beyond his expectation happened.
Six high-spirited young men made a way out of the throng of onlookers and darted forward. They quickly pulled Granny Cai over from those aggressive soldiers and stood in front of her like a line of shields.
With their sudden move, Li Mu was in no hurry to step forward.
He decided to have some patience and see what those young men wanted first.
“Who, who are you? How dare you confront the Defending Warriors? Huh? What are you doing? Huh? You want to defy authority?” roared the rough, bearded leader of the guards. He flung out an arm and yelled, “Surely you are a bunch of hecklers trying to stir up trouble. Guards, come and besiege them! Don’t let any of them run away!”
In an instant, scores of soldiers charged out from behind the gate of the tomb, unsheathed their weapons, and surrounded the six young men as well as Granny Cai and her granddaughter in a tight ring.
The scene immediately became tense.
The onlookers all backed away, afraid of being targeted as well.
“So this is what you Defending Warriors do?? Going against justice and humanity?” retorted the six young men, none of whom seemed scared.
The man taking their lead had large eyes and thick brows. Although he was lanky, he looked quite potent. Wearing a linen robe and an angry look, he spoke, “When we are shedding our blood to kill more enemies on the frontline, our family members are tortured and insulted by you scums in the rear like this, aren’t they?”
“Oh? You’re serving in the army?” The expression of the bearded officer altered slightly.
That lanky young man stretched out a hand and showed them a palm-sized brass badge. Infuriated, he announced, “Wu Beichen, Centurion of the Xinxian battalion of the Jingbian Army. Well, what now? Are you clear if I’m qualified to discipline you shameless b*stards? Uh-huh?”
Upon those words, the bearded officer looked rather awkward.
The Jingbian Army was the frontier force of the Empire of the Great Qin Dynasty, and its established hierarchy was different from the soldiers in the assorted government organs. Anyway, a centurion was equal to a sixth-grade military official in the government troop. According to the rank of the current regime, he was much superior to the bearded officer of the Defending Warriors who was barely in ninth grade.
“Don’t get so harsh. Brother, I am just acting under orders,” the bearded officer said with a sullen look, “The law is the law. No one can break it…”
“What fu*king rubbish you’re talking about? What is your brother? How could you scums have the face to fraternize with us?” the lanky young man named Wu Beichen snarled and said, “We risk our lives to kill enemies at the borders so as to protect our wives and children at home. But you cowards who will certainly piss yourselves when you go to the frontier are doing this in the rear? Huh?”
“You and I are both soldiers of the empire. Why do you have to go so hostile with us?” said and snorted the bearded officer.
He reckoned those men from the frontier army were just a cluster of uncivilized boors.
“Hey, you think you live up to the title of soldiers of the empire?” One of the six young men gave a chilly laugh and said, “Defending Warriors are just dregs of the society who make a living by bumming meals off the armies’ pay and provisions beside the military tomb.”
“Can’t agree more! I wonder which wicked jerkass has come up with the idea of charging the family members of martyrs for visiting the military tomb. Doesn’t he worry that he will die without descendants for doing such foul deed?” Another young man from the frontier force furiously hurled his questions at the bearded officer. “Which law of our empire grants you ghouls the power to do so?”
“Yeah! Beating the family of martyrs! You are worse than beasts!”
The six young frontier soldiers were all from the city of Chang’an. This time they came back to mourn for their fellow-soldiers who had died in battles. But to their astonishment, they caught sight of such a scene when they were at the military tomb. It was only natural that they felt betrayed and indignant.
“What are you all yelling for? Look, here is Chang’an, not the borders.” The bearded officer grinned scornfully. “Paying the entrance fee is a rule set by our head. If you doubt it, you can just go and argue with our head.”
“Which wretched b*stard is your head? Bring him out to see me!” demanded one of the six frontier soldiers.
But before his remark faded, another unexpected thing occurred.
Like a flash of lightning, an arrow shot out from the entrance of the military tomb and zoomed at the throat of the young frontier soldier who spoke.
Killing intent instantly burst out.
“Watch out…” Wu Beichen, the centurion, was the first one to act. He rapidly raised a palm and slummed at the flying arrow with raging internal qi.
Just at the most critical moment, his palm hit the middle of the arrow and forced it to deviate from its original trajaction a little. The arrow brushed past the cheek of that young frontier soldier, instantly leaving a streak of blood as wide as the little finger on his face.
Meanwhile, Wu Beichen felt his arm went numb under the effect of the counter-force. The skin at the center of his palm also burst open and revealed the flesh underneath.
At this point, a lofty Young Master who looked in his twenties walked out of the tomb gate, wearing a lethargic and indifferent expression, and his hands gripping a bow and several arrows. He stared at the crowd with a cold but a little surprised look and spat onto the ground. Then, very cooly, he began, “What a pity! That shoot got blocked and didn’t kill that pig.”
The bearded officer and his fellows hastily bowed at the young man respectfully.
“What did you say?” That targeted frontier soldier flared up like a provoked tiger as he groped the blood groove on his face and yelled, “You mean who is a pig?”
“Hum, I mean you, of course. One, two, three, four… six. A total of six bigs,” The young man gesticulated at them with amusement and said, “What? Am I wrong? You six dumb pigs, how dare you interfere with my business? Even if I snap your necks, flay you, and throw you to butchers to sell your meat like pork, nobody will have the guts to speak for you. Do you believe it?”
“You, you are the Brigadier General of the Defending Warriors?” asked Wu Beichen. He had activated his internal qi to keep the injury on his palm under control and hinted his other brothers to stay calm. From that slum he did, he could tell the young Brigadier General was a really powerful expert. Then, he continued, “Do you still take the laws of the empire seriously? You exploited the family of martyrs by charging them tomb entrance fee unauthorizedly, insulted and assailed the soldiers of the frontier force. These sins you committed are all severe violations of the law.”
“Hahaha, severe violations? How severe?” The young man laughed exaggeratedly. “How can you six pigs represent the frontier force? Humph, here, I am the law. I can do whatever I want… While You…” He pointed at the young man with a streak of blood running down his cheek and sneered. “You cursed a noble of the empire behind his back. Pursuant to the law, you should be sentenced to death. Guards, come and arrest him!”
It was true that the young frontier soldier let loose a few swearing words out of rage a moment ago.
“And you, you…” The young Brigadier General raised the bow in his hand and directed to the other young two frontier soldiers one by one as he snapped, “You two also cursed me and can’t escape the death penalty, either… Take them down as well.” After he issued that order, he deliberately looked at Wu Beichen and said in a provoking and playful tone, “As to the rest of you three, oh right, you are their accomplices. You shall be punished along with them. Haha! Capture them, too! Gouge one eye out from each of them!”
Those words made the crowd shudder in fear.
“This young man really can’t be more vicious.”
“And he is also extremely overbearing and unscrupulous, too.”
Hearing the orders, about a hundred Defending Warriors marched out of the tomb area and surrounded the offenders from all directions.
“Don’t do that! Officer, I won’t go in. I won’t visit my third son. I apologize…” pleaded Granny Cai, who was, after all, too kind to watch those chivalrous young men be prosecuted for her sake. She immediately dropped to her knees and begged, “Officer! Oh no, no, no, General, Your Honor, I’ll get out of here right away. Please release those young men…”
“Haha, hahaha, this is the most hilarious joke I’ve ever heard!” The young Brigadier General broke into a roar of laughter and then barked, “You old pig, who do you think you are? You expect to bend me to your way by saying a few words and doing a few kowtows? Hahaha, guards, come here and hang up this old pig as well as her little granddaughter. I want to cut their throat and let them bleed to death…”
By then, everyone on the scene was pale with fright.
“How brutal that is!”
“Isn’t this young Brigadier General going way out of line?”
“You are just a lawless brat! You…” The centurion named Wu Beichen was now shaking with wrath. He never knew in the peaceful city that he and his fellow brothers safeguarded by fighting bloody battles at the borders was a man who could be so unbridled and atrocious.
But the young Brigadier General completely ignored his protest. He settled himself into a chair that his personal guard carried over here and yawned. “Get started… If anyone attempts to resist, just kill.”
At once, a forest of pointed spears held by about a hundred Defending Warriors advanced on the offenders.
The six young frontier soldiers and Granny Cai and her granddaughter now were out on a limb, waiting to be cut up like meat on the chopping board.
Those onlookers all looked pallid. Though they were enraged, they dared not say anything.
Particularly, some nearby peddlers even shook their heads with resignation.
This young General of the Defending Warriors was a member of the royal family who came here from Qin City last years. It was said that his background was highly amazing. Even the magistrate of Chang’an had to treat him with politeness. Nevertheless, he was a man of brutal means and malicious schemes. Over the last year, he had abused numerous people in Chang’an, causing widespread resentment among the common folks. But unfortunately, no one could stop him.
As the incident developed to this point, Li Mu, who was watching at the side the whole time, shook his head dismissively.
“Long did I sigh to hold back tears; saddened I am by the grief of the masses…”
This line of a poem came to his mind. It was practically the most realistic portrayal of the situation Granny Cai and her granddaughter was in.
After thriving for two centuries, now the Western Qin Empire began to vaguely emanate an odor of corruption.
Li Mu finally walked to the front of the crowd of onlookers.
He lifted a hand and clapped it on a random Defending Warrior at his side. Suddenly, a flush of curious power surged out.
That soldier let loose a yelp of shock and flopped sideways. Then, about a hundred warriors stumbled and fell back one by one like the toppled dominoes. In the blink of an eye, nearly every one of them was on the ground, crying with astoundment and flailing around in disorder.
That besiege strategy was sabotaged in no time.
Such an unexpected change immediately drew tons of people’s attention.
“A minute ago, you claimed that at this place you’re the law, didn’t you?” With perfect composure, Li Mu took a few steps ahead, gazed down at that young Brigadier General, and said, “I figure, you might have made a mistake in your statement.”
Reclining on his chair and staring at all soldiers rolling on the ground like scattered gourds, the young man looked a bit less at ease now. He briskly turned to Li Mu, gave him a quick glance from head to feet, and then regained his slouching tone and hummed, “Hey, another man who isn’t scared of death turned up! Little boy, who do you think you are to nose in my business? What is wrong in my statement?”
Unhurriedly, Li Mu answered, “I reckon, today, at this place, I am the law.”