Executive Xu Sheng was an elder of the first-grade Yue Mountain Faction. When he was in his prime, he was an omnipotent Killing God who could crush any adversaries. As he grew older, he gradually realized the importance of cultivating his body and mind, so he returned to the Yue Mountain Faction and focused on practicing martial arts. His cultivation improved day by day, and he soon was enlisted by the Imperial Executive Group subject to the Supervisor Department as the representative of the Yue Mountain Faction.
That the Supervisor Department sent Xu Sheng to Chang’an was, actually, a manifestation of their dissatisfaction with Lu Lizi’s recent performance.
Thus, the department assigned Xu Sheng to take over everything in Chang’an from then on.
“You’re truly useless. You’ve been in Chang’an for weeks but still failed to handle a little boy. You don’t deserve to be a Routing Supervisor!” Xu Sheng scolded harshly.
When the executive was young, he was known for his short temper, which had not changed much even after years’ secluded practice. He still talked quite rudely. And he was also very disparaging about incompetent men like Lu Lizi, who only secured the position of the Routing Supervisor by his fame and power.
At his tongue-lashing, Lu Lizi’s face changed color more than once. He lowered his head, ground his teeth, but felt too ashamed to refute.
Since he did not do a good job, anything he said would sound like excuses.
And the more he talked, the more flaws he would let slip.
Therefore, he remained silent on the surface but kept cursing Xu Sheng. “You think Li Mu is just a little boy? Well, try to catch him now! Humph! In the Shack lies an incredible magic formation. On the day it came into being, five rays of divine light shot to the sky like the pillars supporting the heaven. These days, it must have absorbed more Spiritual Qi in the world and grow more formidable. Now, the entire Pig-Herding Alley is about to be a blessed place endowed with Spiritual Qi. Even you, Xu Sheng, can’t crack this shell Li Mu conjured!”
Xu Sheng then declared, “Li Mu is just a pawn. I can arrest and kill him without effort. But, well, there is Magistrate Li’s blood running in his veins… Hmm, servants! Deliver my visiting letter to Li Mansion. I’ll pay a visit to Magistrate Li.”
For high officials like Xu Sheng, they had a clear knowledge of what a Commander of Border-provinces controlling a part of the land meant and how powerful he was. They knew the real man who called the shots in the city of Chang’an was still Magistrate Li, though he had stayed quiet no matter what trouble had been stirred up recently.
Even though it seemed that the power the second prince had was beyond measure, that was just how it looked like on the surface.
Otherwise, why didn’t the main battle force outside the city join the fight on the night of the turmoil in the Musical House?
If the main battle force had cooperated with him to besiege the remainders of the Tang family and the pasture men, how could the second prince loss his two zombie-like freaks?
So, Xu Sheng did not believe Magistrate Li was totally ignorant of the plans and movements of the pasture men and the remainders of the Tang family before the event happened.
Looking back to the fall 20 years ago, Li Gang was just a poor scholar. He alone went to the capital carrying only a sword to take the imperial exams. Like a grain of sand falling to the desert, he did not attract much attention at the beginning. But at last, his name surprisingly appeared on the published list of successful candidates, and he displayed his outstanding talent with both the pen and the sword. In fact, the sensation Li Gang caused in the capital at that time was much larger than what Li Mu, the so-called whiz in poetry and martial arts, had brought about.
Xu Sheng was well aware that to become a Commander of Border-provinces in the Western Qin Empire and have the richly endowed Chang’an to his own, Li Gang did not only rely on his talent but also his resourcefulness, shrewdness, and mighty strength.
What was more, Xu Sheng also knew that Li Gang’s cultivation was also staggeringly high.
In the Heaven Sword Martial Club.
Zhang Chengfeng, who was known for his Heaven-breaking Legend Sword, was wearing a humble but pleasant smile and bowing to a young man who looked no more than 14 years old.
Behind him stood a group of the disciples of the Heaven Sword Martial Club. Their cultivation varied, but none of them were in the Great Master Realm and only a few were in the Master Realm. That was because when the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being died in that duel, most of the great experts in the Heaven Sword Martial Club took their leave as if monkeys scattering helter-skelter when the tree fell. Those who stayed were truly loyal ones, but their strength was rather mediocre.
Accordingly, the Heaven Sword Martial Club that was once notable in the empire had become a paled blossom.
“Duh! You’ve run this place under the name of our Heaven Sword Sect for so many years but ended up with this awful mess… How useless you are!” The young man, despite his age, condemned imperiously, not holding Zhang Chengfeng in respect at all.
“Young Master, please pardon me. We did have a solid foundation in Chang’an. But unfortunately… Well, that unbridled Li Mu first killed my son under some excuse and then murdered the senior of our Zhang family with a devious plot. Now, he took over all the fundamental resources my family has prepared for the Heaven Sword Sect for ages, and he even snatched away the Heaven Sword Manuscript…” Zhang Chengfeng dared not show any disgruntle in front of this imperious young man and still forced himself to answer him with a broad smile.
The decline of his family and the death of the defeated Heaven-Sword Celestial Being did give Zhang Chengfeng a heavy blow and made him suppress his pride.
But that was not the principal reason for his humbleness.
Instead, it was because the recalcitrant, defiant young man was Chu Nantian, one of the three future leaders of the Heaven Sword Sect who was famous for his Eagle Fairy Sword.
The peerless genius in martial arts, who would be 14 in six days, had never been defeated up to then. He was regarded as the number one talent under 15 years old as well as the top 20 promising young people in the Western Qin Empire.
And the most important point was that the young man’s uncle was one of the Supreme Elders of the Heaven Sword Sect at that time.
So, he was second to none in terms of either strength or backup.
When dealing with such a figure, even the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being would have to be respectful if he was brought back to life, let alone Zhang Chengfeng.
“Now that the Heaven Sword Martial Club is named with ‘Heaven Sword’, it is subject to our Heaven Sword Sect’s protection. But how dare that little Li Mu get so unscrupulous here? Today, I’ll kill him as a warning to the rest of the world. I’ll let the others know the prestige of our Heaven Sword Sect is not to be impaired,” announced Chu Nantian, the corner of his mouth curled.
His facial features were so clear-cut that it looked as though they were chiseled by a knife. He was taller and burlier than the others of his age. It was said that he had a special body constitution because he was a half-blood wizard. When he spoke, his eyes were sharp as an eagle’s and sparkled the light of excitement.
Each time he decided to kill a famous expert, he always looked like that.
“Set off for the Shack!” Yelled Chu Nantian.
He could not wait for the fun.
“If this continues, we’ll be in serious trouble!”
Inside the military cemetery, the ghosts of the late generals were complaining, their faces giving a rich demonstration of bitterness.
At the Leaping Dragon Formation, the white mist was rising and the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins were bursting. Li Mu’s figure was half-hidden and half-visible behind the mist as he was absorbing the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins without a stop. He was actually turning into a storing bag for the liquidized Spiritual Qi that was almost as thick as ooze.
Such a scene had been staged each day of the past few weeks.
Every day when the night fell, Li Mu sneaked into the military cemetery to absorb the Spiritual Qi in Earthveins.
By then, he had already succeeded in producing the internal qi, and only the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins inside that military cemetery could be transformed into his internal qi. Therefore, except for that night of the turmoil in the Musical House, every night he was there to take in the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins.
He never slacked when it came to enhancing his strength.
So far, he had turned 30% of his internal qi into the Natural qi.
The speed for his progress was freaking fast.
For other highly gifted Natural Experts, they would really be achieving something if they could turn just 10% of their internal qi into the Natural qi within one year after they entered the Natural Realm. Therefore, they could not even dream of transforming 30% of their internal qi during a few weeks like what Li Mu did.
Li Mu’s amazing progress was attributable to both the Xiantian Skill he had been practicing and the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins there.
As the amount of his internal qi increased and his cultivation accumulated, his comprehension on the Zhenwu Boxing and the other combat techniques he had acquired had all been taken to a higher level. In particular, his adeptness with the Heart Heavenly Shoot, the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles, and many techniques that required the boost of internal qi, had augmented by leaps and bounds.
However, Li Mu’s goal was not to master those combat techniques demanding the use of the internal qi.
Instead, he hoped to explore the way of using the internal qi through those combat techniques.
For instance, many styles of the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles had enlightened Li Mu enormously on that issue.
But what interested Li Mu the most among those styles was the Sword-commanding Style, which allowed him to command the sword with his internal qi. And if operated with extreme accuracy, he could even behead the enemy several kilometers away from him. That reminded Li Mu of the legends about sword experts back on Earth. The stories said those experts could ride on their swords and cover more than 500 kilometers in one day.
And after thorough research and reflection, Li Mu had discovered that the Sword-commanding Style was the most abstruse one among the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles. The martial secret it contained was way more unfathomable than that in the rest of 35 styles. Even the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being had not really grasped the gist of this style when he was alive.
The late generals kept their woebegone faces until Li Mu finished the practice and marched out of the formation.
But he did not give the ghosts any time to talk and simply left the military cemetery.
On his way back, Li Mu continuously replayed the various moves and techniques in his mind.
Among the Wind-Cloud Six Moves he attempted to establish, by then merely the first two moves— the Lightning Chopping and the Dao-Drawing Chopping— had taken shape. The other four moves were still brewing. But he found he could refer to some essential moves among the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles. So, when he was walking back to the Shack, he already had a rough idea about the third move, Thin Air Hack, and the fourth move, Four-directional Hack, though he needed more time to get to the details.
But, of course, the one that intrigued Li Mu the most was still the Sword-commanding Style.
His instincts told him that among the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles, the Sword-commanding Style was the most valuable, but it was not a real completed style. He surmised the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being, after had learned some superficial knowledge from the Heaven Sword Sect, created the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles based on the Sword-commanding Style, while the way of the genuine Sword-commanding Style was still in the Heaven Sword Sect.
“When the right timing comes, I may go to the Heaven Sword Sect and get a hold of the completed version of this Sword-commanding Style.”
Li Mu thought decisively.
“Plus, I need to refine a really good Chinese broadsword as power as a Taoist instrument. I’ll be my exclusive weapon.”
The broadsword was deemed as the top one among all the weapons. It was aggressive and straightforward, and so became Li Mu’s favorite weapon.
The combat technique Li Mu invented by integrating the strong points of all the awesome techniques was also centered on Dao-using methods.
“Any of my broadsword moves can stir wind and cloud, startle ghosts and gods.”
“A hack with my broadsword will crush all the injustice in this world.”
“Huh, want to remove Earth?”
“You have to ask the broadsword in my hand first.”
In Li Mu’s view, the broadsword was interconnected to the Way.
That idea was mainly from the lectures the old faker imparted to him back on Earth.
Curiously, the old faker seemed to exceedingly cherish the Chinese broadswords, and that preference also influenced Li Mu.
As he brooded over the way of the martial arts, Li Mu went back to Pig-Herding Alley.
Then, he saw Zhang Chengfeng, the owner of the Heaven Sword Martial Club, scuffled forward in an obsequious manner, followed by a burly-looking man evidently in his youth and a score of disciples. The throng of them stalked into the Pig-Herding Alley threateningly and headed for the Shack.
“Zhang Chengfeng still has the guts to come to the Pig-Herding Alley?”
“Judging by all those men he brought here, seems that they do not come here with good intent.”
“Did he get him a new backup?”
Li Mu narrowed his eyes and then laughed. A moment later, he followed them in without making a noise.