“I’ve done all that I can do. Now that I did my part, the rest shall depend on Heaven.”
Li Mu heaved with a sigh.
At the thought of the gorgeous and sophisticated Mrs. Tang as well as her two fairy-like pretty daughters, Li Mu could not help but feel slightly rueful and concerned for their fate.
“Keep following their case. If you hear any news about Mrs. Tang and her family, inform me at any time.”
Li Mu told Zheng Cunjian.
“Yes, sir.” Zheng Cunjian bowed to take the order.
Then, he asked, “Young Master, when are you going to leave Chang’an?”
Li Mu replied, “I haven’t got to visit the libraries of the Hanshan Academy and the Fengming Academy yet. So, I figure we have to spend a few more days in Chang’an.”
At his words, Zheng Cunjian’s expression hardened a little as he suggested, “I reckon Young Master should get out of Chang’an as soon as possible.”
Li Mu gazed up at the scholar and inquired, “Oh? What is the reason? Has any unexpected change occurred in Taibai County?”
Zheng Cunjian hastily answered, “Taibai County is peaceful as always. I have been told that Madame Li has recovered some vision thanks to the treatment of the female pharmacist, Zhao Ling. The county government is also running quite well owing to the diligence of Feng Yuanxing, Ma Junwu, Zhen Meng, and the little attendant. But the thing is…”
Speaking of the problem, Zheng Cunjian appeared kind of hesitant.
Li Mu urged, “The thing is what? Don’t worry, just tell me.”
Zheng Cunjian said, “The thing is lately the situation in Chang’an is changing drastically. Assorted forces are assembling here. I heard that even the Qing Sha Clan is on their way to this place. Although that Wei Chong was just an elder of a branch clan, he still represented the Qing Sha Clan. As Young Master has killed him, the Qing Sha Clan surely won’t let you off the hook. Further, rumors have it that the Bloody-moon faction, men of Lord Zhenxi, officials of the Supervisory Department, and even the Heaven Sword Sect have all come to Chang’an for the death of Heaven-Sword Celestial Being… Well, Young Master, you want to take extra care recently.”
Li Mu cast a scrutinizing look at Zheng Cunjian and said, “You fear that if I get killed no one else can lift the Life-and-Death Spell inside you, am I right?”
Zheng Cunjian hurried to defend himself. “I dare not think so, Young Master. I just feel that you are so peerlessly talented that you ought not to fight the hard way at this point. Instead, I suggest you keeping a low key. Given your gift and intelligence, it’s only a matter of time before you amaze the world with your achievements. So, why bother tussle with those forces at present?”
Li Mu laughed after hearing him out.
He could sense the kind intention in Zheng Cunjian’s remark.
This scholar, though engaged in wicked deeds and dishonorable behavior, often cowered in the face of real dangers and so could not be regarded as a decent man, turned out to be competent subordinate. Li Mu was quite satisfied with that.
“It’s not that I won’t bother to tussle with them but the fact that I don’t have much time for it,” Li Mu said, “You can go. Let me know at once if anything comes up.”
Zheng Cunjian still wanted to say something, but at last, he bit his lip and turned to leave.
Li Mu, too, rose up and left the study.
The defensive tactical deployment in the Shack was already out-dated. Now that Li Mu’s strength had hiked enormously, he certainly would upgrade the whole work to transform this place into an impregnable fortress, which could at least protect Shangguan Yuting and the 17 pretty girls so that Li Mu would not have to worry about them.
Also, after refining the Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal, Li Mu was more confident in setting up the new tactical deployment.
Taoist instruments not only could be used as weapons in battles but also as supplements in daily practice. This Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal could gather the Spiritual Qi of the five elements, and the Taoist patterns and tactical deployments in it might serve as a transcription of the Taoist magic arts on the five elements and help the practitioner to comprehend the arts. Aside from that, it could also be used in setting up formations, which would boost their power.
Li Mu got started at once. He busied himself with all the digging, burying, and improving work in and out of the yard.
The pretty girls who had finished making their bed, all watched Li Mu through the windows with intense curiosity.
To them, this legendary whiz in both poetry and martial arts seemed not that lofty and difficult to get along with as the others had described. On the contrary, they found him cordial and funny like a boy living next door. They had also learned from Shangguan Yuting that Li Mu was merely at the age of 15.
It took Li Mu several days to finish the entire betterment of the formation.
With the help of the Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal, Li Mu took references from its Taoist patterns and formations and arranged a brand new five elements formation in and out of the Shack. On each of the formations, he had planted a newly-curved jade piece at the eastern, southern, western, northern, and middle angle, which represented the five elements of gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. Gold was placed in the middle, and the rest were positioned in the four directions.
For the past couple of days, Li Mu had shut himself in the Shack and worked like a handyman. He was so engrossed in all the repairing work that he seemed to have pushed everything else to the back of his head.
Zheng Cunjian, on the other hand, frequented this place more often than usual. Thanks to him, news from all sources spread here without a stop.
During those days, some senseless guys, who were sent by who knew what force, had come to pry on them. But they were all thrown out by Li Mu before Shangguan Yuting and the girls even noticed them.
On the sixth day, Li Mu’s renovated tactical deployment was finally completed.
The instant the new formation started operating, the earth quivered, water squirted out from wills like springs, clouds rolled and wind rose, and the rays in the five divine colors shone in the middle and the four directions and shot to the sky. Seconds later, the Spiritual Qi in the world began to assemble at the yard. The sight was really startling at the start, for a five-colored tornado visible to bare eyes had soared up to a place several kilometers high above from the yard, as though it was a divine pillar that supported the sky.
Shangguan Yuting and Xin’er were accustomed to seeing Li Mu cause a sensation. But the other girls, who just arrived here, were astonished by his work again. Those girls were all very sharp, so they naturally knew such a magnificent manifestation was the result of Li Mu’s recent handyman work.
Xu Wan’er and Lu Shengnan were both pondering on the ways to please Li Mu, so as to learn some of Li Mu’s skills.
The latter, in particular, was fervent about regaining her strength under Li Mu’s help and then avenging her family.
Most of the other girls had the same idea.
The odd phenomenon Li Mu created surely astounded all the parties in Chang’an.
Some of them surmised that whether this was a sign of the appearance of some treasure.
Thus, that night, the number of men who sneaked to the Shack under the order of various forces to scout the place peaked.
But to their disappointment, as the formation was turned on, the Shack appeared to be isolated from the world. Even though Li Mu did not strike, no one was able to slip into the yard, nor could they see or feel anything. Therefore, they all went back dispirited.
Of course, after ascertaining that the strange phenomenon was brought in by Li Mu, the scruples the forces had for Li Mu deepened.
These days, the air in Chang’an tensed bit by bit.
Those patrolling the streets was no longer the guards of the government organs in the four regions but the soldiers of the main battle force from the military base outside the city.
The soldiers from the main battle force had both top combat ability and advanced equipment. They could be said to be fighting machines.
Those who were selected out to patrol the streets were all elites of the main battle force. They were cladding dark red magic uniform and armors and wielding weapons, which all carried the enchantment of warlocks and were engraved with the warlock star formation. Once the formation was activated, they would have mighty defensive and offensive power.
Aside from all that, every patroller was equipped with a Star Shuttle Crossbow that could fire ten arrows at a time. The arrows they had was not ordinary ones but the Star-cracking Arrows, which could penetrate the internal qi protective field of any experts in the Master Realm. These weapons were very effective in taking on achieved experts in martial arts. If being cornered by the patrolling troop, even some fresh Great Masters might submit themselves to defeat.
With such a sharp troop keeping guard on the city, the various sects, gangs, and martial art clubs in Chang’an all behaved themselves.
A portion of martial experts and rogue cultivators who used to wander freely around the city also started to walk on eggshells.
The government had put up a reward post in the attempt to catch the remaining evil family members of the founding general Tang Chong, who had escaped from the Musical House.
The vivid portraits of Mrs. Tang, Tang Tang, Tang Mi, Wang Chen, and that lanky young man in white, the pasture men, as well as the man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask had all been copied thousands of times with magic and posted on the walls of all the streets and alleys. The reward the government offered was really tempting. Even furnishing them a small clue could earn the informant 100 gold ingots.
Upon seeing those reward posts, Li Mu laughed involuntarily.
The second prince obviously knew that he was the man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask. But when the posts were out, the second prince did not send his men to come to his place to arrest him. That kind of rendered the search an ostrich policy. If that was not the case, perhaps they were just biding their time, weren’t they?
To underline the sarcasm in the government’s effort, Li Mu pinned up the reward post right beside the gate of the Shack.
The search through the city grew more rigorous every day.
The patrolling troop from the main battle force soon united the guards of the four regional governments and the assorted sects, gangs, chambers of commerce, and consortiums that acted in response to the official call. They formed an intangible but suffocating net looming over the entire Chang’an while frenetically tracking the traces of the remaining wrench Tang family.
In all parts of Chang’an, fights and confrontations occurred every now and then.
Some villains in the martial arts circle on the wanted list or hunted by the Supervisory Department, who had changed their names and lived in their good hiding places in Chang’an uneventfully for years, were uncovered in this in-depth massive search initiated by the government. Like fish lying at the bottom of a dried-up lake, they were all caught when the water drained and the rocks emerged.
For those people, they could not believe how unlucky they were.
And the ones who were even more unlucky than them were the demon race lurking in Chang’an. The repercussions of the search had also befallen upon them, and many of them were arrested or killed.
Those demons who were able to blend into the human society had basically reached the Camouflage Realm. They could change their appearance to make them look exactly the same as human beings, and their camouflage was so impeccable that no ordinary man could notice anything odd about them. Some intelligent demons who were born with the ability to change their looks, though their cultivation might not have reached the Camouflage Realm, could still perfectly disguise themselves as mankind.
After living for ages in this city, some of those demons already got used to the mankind lifestyle and even married a human and had children. But once they were spotted by the patrolling troop, what awaited them was ruthless arrest and killing.
And all those people who wedded demons were murdered as well.
It was said that a president of a certain big chamber of commerce unknowingly married a woman who transformed from a white fox as his concubine and had a daughter with her. But when the woman’s true color was discovered by the patrolling troop, no matter how hard he argued or begged for pardon, the disaster came all the same. Overnight, his entire family, which consisted of several hundred people, was wiped out. Not a single one in his family survived.
That was because being in league with the demons was deemed as a felony in human society.
In less than ten days, Chang’an was swept by a foul wind and a rain of blood.
Even so, no one had found a trace of the remaining Tang family, as though they had melted into the thin air.