Chapter 198: The Changes of Taibai County
“I feel like I’m ready to walk on the clouds like a fairy and about to drift off with the wind…” Hua Xiangrong opened her eyes. With a pleasantly surprised look, she felt more energetic than ever. This comfortable sensation was quite different than the relaxation she gained after a good nap. Now, it seemed that the world she saw had become brighter. Thus, she said with excitement, “The effect of this Breathing Skill is very salient…”
She adopted a girly demeanor that was quite sweet and adorable.
Li Mu said, “As long as time allows, you should practice this method like this every day. I believe it won’t take you long before you become an unmatched expert who can domineer part of the world.” He truly had high hopes for Hua Xiangrong.
Hua Xiangrong’s eyes were gleaming. She stretched herself with a yawn and then said in an exceedingly charming tone, “Young Master, as long as I can be with you, I’m perfectly satisfied.” With those words, a blush crept up her fair oval face. At the moment, her red cheeks made her look extremely cute.
She had just indirectly confessed her love to Li Mu.
As a virgin with limited experience in dealing with women, Li Mu’s vanity was greatly satisfied by that remark.
He then added, “Later, go and notify Xin’er and Madam Bai that tonight I’ll stay in the Holy House, and ask Madam Bai not to interrupt us…”
“Ah… Young Master is going to spend the night here?” Hua Xiangrong let loose a thrilled shriek. Her face was burning, the blush on her cheeks was more pronounced, and her voice was a little trembling. Obviously, she was overwhelmed.
Li Mu was a little taken aback by her suddenly timidity. But in an instant, he realized that Hua Xiangrong had misunderstood him.
However, Hua Xiangrong meekly lowered her head and subconsciously began to entwine her thin and delicate fingers between locks of her long hair. In a small voice as dim as the whisper of a mosquito, she muttered, “Actually, actually I… have long since reckoned I’m yours… I’ll send Xin’er to notify Madam Bai right off.”
She looked a little panicky but also a bit surprised.
Like a frightened deer, she was too bashful to look up.
Although she was a famous prostitute, frankly speaking, she was merely a girl of sweet sixteen. Unsophisticated as she was, she certainly knew a bit more about men than ordinary girls. Thus, after grasping the underlined meaning of an overnight stay, she grew coyer and coyer.
It was the kind of shyness that could only be seen on virgins.
Li Mu was touched by that scene.
This world was not an open-minded society as on Earth. Here did not allow any meaningless sexy life between noncouples, especially in the stern and stringent Western Qin Empire. Accordingly, when a girl accepted such request of a man, it meant she was truly in love with that man and willing to be faithful to him and give him everything she had.
“Once I whipped a nice horse when I was drunk, now I fear the beauty would be burdened by my sentiments.”
“Yeah, to accept a beauty’s grace is surely the most difficult thing.”
In the excess of satisfied vanity and the struck heartstring, Li Mu felt a fit of uncalled pressure.
What on earth were his feelings for Hua Xiangrong?
Was that love?
He himself was not sure of it.
But it was true that he often thought about her when he had some free time.
However, this was absolutely not the time to consider those questions.
Li Mu hastened to explain, “Hua’er, I’m leaving the city of Chang’an to attend to some issues, but I don’t want others to know I’m gone. So, I hope to leave them a fake impression that I’m staying here overnight…” As he explained, he suddenly felt this idea was truly a wicked one, because by doing so everyone else would believe the girl had lost her chastity to him.
At his explanation, Hua Xiangrong seemed shyer. She let out a little scream and hurriedly assured, “I know what to do. Young Master, there’s nothing to worry. I’ll help you to put on the play.” She uttered no complaints to Li Mu. In truth, she even felt very happy to do something helpful to Li Mu.
Li Mu breathed a sigh inwardly. Clueless about what to say, he stretched out a hand despite himself, held Hua Xiangrong’s small palm, and gave it a gentle squeeze.
Hua Xiangrong looked tender and kind, her breathing mild and steady. Without struggling to break free, she simply let Li Mu hold her hand.
It was the first time she had bodily contact with the opposite sex since she was born. But curiously, she was not flustered or fretted by the handholding. Instead, the subtle warmth spreading from Li Mu’s large hand gave her a sense of security that she had never felt before.
“Do work hard to practice the breathing method I taught you today. If you have any questions, you can ask me when I get back.”
After saying that, Li Mu stood up.
He launched the Muscle Changing and Bone Transforming technique. Soon, under the amazed stare of Hua Xiangrong, his muscles began to shift and his bones to grew out of shape, eventually making him look like a horse-faced man in his thirties. After that, he cast some Taoist magic arts to conceal his aura before quietly heading out of the Holy House.
On the next day’s afternoon…
It was one of the beautiful autumn days. The suns were blazing in the blue sky.
Taibai County was peaceful and harmonious, for every place was bathed in the joy of harvest.
Half of Taibai County was built against the mountains. The local crops were mainly those that grew in terraced fields. Fortunately, there were plenty of mountain springs and underground water, so the river system was well-developed and it was no problem to irrigate all the terraced fields. Thanks to this year’s perfect weather, the harvest of those crops were quite satisfying.
A carriage was traveling smoothly on the government road in the countryside.
“The air is so fresh,” exclaimed Li Mu’s mother in spite of herself. She was seated by the window of the carriage and admiring the green mountains and a sea of green plants outside.
Even though Chang’an was already a picturesque place, it was still far less beautiful when compared to the Taibai Mountain. Covered by ripples of flourishing pine trees, this place was like a fairyland. In a distance, the red bricks and cyan tiles of the Taibai county could be seen. The town had an antique beauty, which made it look like a cluster of palaces in the fairyland with immortals living.
Chun Cao and Xia Ju also could not stop chattering all the way to the county. Since they had never left the city of Chang’an once over a decade, they were now curious about everything they saw as if they were a pair of skylarks that just broke free from their gold cage.
Yesterday afternoon, they set off from Chang’an and traveled overnight. By the noon on the second day, they had already reached the gate of Taibai County.
They traveled a little faster than Li Mu presumed.
Indeed, the horses and the carriage that Zheng Cunjian arranged were top of the range.
After passing the security check at the gate, the carriage headed along the main road for the government of Taibai County.
There were a lot of people traveling along the road, too. They all looked peaceful and at ease. The little kids and grey-haired seniors were all smiling, and other passersby also appeared to be delighted. Apparently, their life in the county was pretty simple and happy.
“My son has done a good job in administrating Taibai County,” praised Li Mu’s mother.
Born in a prestigious noble family, she indeed had a great insight into the administration and was pretty good at inferring the big picture from particular facts.
Li Mu merely smiled and made no reply.
He knew the credits belonged to Feng Yuanxing and his other aides and staff.
After all, he had always been a carefree magistrate who delegated all the duties to his subordinates.
Nevertheless, it seemed that during the days of his absence, things in Taibai County were going on like usual and nothing unexpected had happened. With that in mind, Li Mu breathed a soft sigh of relief.
Shortly, they entered the government of the county.
Although it had been just a dozen days since Li Mu left, the local government had taken on huge changes.
Those were the changes brought about by the Earth Evil Polaris Formation.
A dimly visible mist was swirling, which had wrapped around the entire government. The Spiritual Qi here was freaking rich. With the nourishing of the thick Spiritual Qi, the trees that were moved here just days ago had grown into large ones that seemed to be decades old. They were luxuriantly green and quite leafy. Skylarks, white cranes, white doves, and a score of other clever birds were playing hide-and-seek outside and behind the red walls. Winding streams were trickling across the place, making it tranquil and beautiful, as if it was not a place on the planet but the home of an immortal.
“This is the county government?” exclaimed Li Mu’s mother and the others. They were all struck dumb, unable to believe what they had seen.
Even an inhale of the air at the door of the county government tasted sweet and refreshing. As if the air could cleanse their hearts and souls, it felt unutterably wonderful.
Li Mu was also quite astonished at the scene.
Because everything in and around the county government was fraught with the vigor of life, presenting them a dreamlike colorful landscape.
“The Earth Evil Polaris Formation has just started remolding the county government for about ten days, but the changes it incurred are already so pronounced? This is incredible!”
When the shock ebbed away, a burst of joy washed over Li Mu.
The effect of this magic formation was even better than he had imagined. When practicing in such an ideal environment, even an inhale of the air would boost his cultivation.
Feng Yuanxing, Zhen Meng, and the others all came out to greet their master the moment they heard of their arrival.
“Pay my tribute to Your Honor.”
“Your Honor, you’re finally back!”
Feng Yuanxing and Zhen Meng were both very excited to see Li Mu.
“Your Honor, the affairs to be processed have piled up to a heap. I’m so glad you’re back. I’ll ask the attendants to prepare the files and report to you…” said Feng Yuanxing, obviously overjoyed.
Li Mu grunted, “Emm… Let’s discuss those things later.”
“Get out, those darn affairs, files or whatsoever! I don’t want to see any of them!”
Judging by the behavior of them, Li Mu figured that the incidents in Chang’an evidently had not spread to Taibai County. But that did stand to reason, considering the fact that Taibai County’s location was fairly remote and the traffic was also poor, not to mention that the communication in this era on this planet was not that advanced as he had assumed.
Then, Li Mu and the new arrivals were ushered into the county government.
After learning the identity of Li Mu’s mother, Feng Yuanxing even went speechless with shock. But he dared not to ill-treat the mother of his master, so he immediately summoned several maids to take care of her, and asked them to hurry up and clean up the best room beside the newly built yard of the county government.
Chun Cao and Xia Ju, though they were just two maids of Li Mu’s mother, also received highly preferential treatment here.
A moment later when Qing Feng, Li Mu’s little attendant, appeared in a wheelchair, the county magistrate finally sighed with relief.
This little kid looked quite healthy. His face was not colorless anymore, which indicated that he had had a much more comprehensive recovery than he was when Li Mu took off. And it was easy to tell that he had a very calm and optimistic mindset, for he was not drowned by his misery after losing his legs.
At that point, Zhao Ling, the female pharmacist from the Taibai Sword Faction, also turned up.
At the sight of Li Mu, this proud swan did not even greet him but simply fellowed behind Qing Feng to push his wheelchair forward. She pretended she had no interest in Li Mu’s return, but the peeks she sneaked now and then at him revealed the curiosity inside her.
Unlike Feng Yuanxing, Zhen Meng, and other subordinates, Zhao Ling was a genius of the Taibai Sword Faction. Whether in terms of cultivation or the knowledge of martial arts theories or real combat experiences, her achievement was much higher than the others in the county government. Naturally, her sharp senses told her that the current Li Mu had an extra inexplicable aura, which put her under pressure and rendered him more unreachable.
That was a feeling she had only had when the head of the Taibai Sword Faction was around her.