Chu Nantian felt his world had been turned upside down.
He could hardly believe what he saw.
“How… How come you also know the Sword-commanding Style? You…” He stared at Li Mu as if bumping into a ghost in broad daylight.
Li Mu, still, commanded the Flying Eagle Sword to do all sorts of movements over the Pig-Herding Alley. It shot about like lightning, cut open the void and the airflow, displaying its unmatched power. Its connotations and speed were evidently more remarkable than what Chu Nantian showed a moment ago.
“I learned it from you,” said Li Mu brightly.
With a stir of his mind, the Flying Eagle Sword soared back and suspended over the top of Li Mu’s head, still vibrating and buzzing, showing off its sharpness.
“I… You…” stuttered Chu Nantian in disbelief.
Zhang Chengfeng and the other disciples from the Heaven Sword Martial Club, who were then in a trance, seemed to have seen the scene on the day of that duel again. They saw the imposing Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being exercised nearly completely suppressed Li Mu, but at the last moment, the latter found out the principle of those styles and thwarted the strike and eventually killed the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being with one punch.
“Is Li Mu’s learning ability so freaking strong?”
“No way! How could such a monster live in this world? How could a man master the opponent’s secret combat skills merely by seeing the opponent demonstrating them once without instructions? If what he learned was some ordinary sword skill, which would be no wonder. But what he mastered is the Sword-commanding Style, an incredibly profound and wondrous style! Did he really grasp the ins and outs of it at first glance?”
“Who is he kidding?”
“You learned from me? No, that’s impossible! You… You’re tricking me!” cried Chu Nantian, who was ashen-faced and almost had a nervous breakdown after being frustrated like that.
“Did he really steal the Sword-commanding Style after I performed it just one time?”
Li Mu corrected. “Not exactly. Your Sword-commanding Style as you displayed before was still an inferior one lacking the proper Taoist Sense. Is that because you haven’t fully mastered it or the Sword-commanding Style you got from your Heaven Sword Sect is also an incomplete one?” With the precedent of the Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal, Li Mu had every reason to suspect that the so-called Sword-commanding Style was, in fact, not created by the Heaven Sword Sect but a piece of the method developed by the immortals living in the vast universe which then strayed into this world.
“You… I’ll fight you whatsoever!” Chu Nantian lost all of his sanity and dashed forward with a sense of madness.
Li Mu, however, knocked him out with a punch and threw him onto the ground.
Then, in the presence of Zhang Chengfeng, the Heaven-breaking Legend Sword, and the others, Li Mu directly started searching Chu Nantian’s personal belongings.
He groped out a treasure pocket, some gold tickets, a soft vest made of golden cocoon fiber, a number of elixirs, a jade pendant, and some delicate jade hairpins… All his valuables were mercilessly dug out by Li Mu. He did a thorough search over every pocket Chu Nantian had. Judging by his unsatisfied look, he would even peel off that outer robe with the star deployment pattern Chu Nantian was wearing if it was not for the fact that he could not fit into that size.
“Well, there you go, another postman. You delivered me a Cultivation Method, some money, and who knows what is in the treasure pocket…” Li Mu grunted. He immediately scanned the treasure pocket with his spiritual force, which unveiled the connection between the warlock star deployment and the spirit. With that discovery, he could not stop laughing and yelling. “I made a fortune! I made a fortune…”
Watching all that by the side, Zhang Chengfeng and the others only felt a chill running down their spine.
They began to sympathize with Chu Nantian.
“What a poor guy!”
“All right. You can take this man away.” Li Mu said casually, “The things he carried obstructed his progress in cultivation, and that’s why he lost to me. Today, I help him to get rid of all those possessions and rise above the external fusses. I believe in the future, his cultivation will advance a hundred times faster. When he wakes up, tell him to save his thanks.”
Zhang Chengfeng. “…”
“Oh, right! This sword has a special connection with me.” Li Mu put the Flying Eagle Sword away, utterly unabashed.
But Zhang Chengfeng could not stand it any longer. He gritted his teeth and steeled himself to say, “Be sure to leave a trace of kindness for future encounters. Li Mu, this Young Master Chu is one of the future leaders of the Heaven Sword Sect. What you did to him is way out of the line. The Heaven Sword Sect won’t let you get away with this…”
At that remark, Li Mu was not scared. Instead, he broke out laughing and then said, “Well then, that suits me best! I can’t be gladder if those from the Heaven Sword Sect deliver more posts to me.”
Zhang Chengfeng was bemused, for he had no idea of delivering posts.
But the next second, Li Mu took a step backward to blend into the tactical deployment around the Shack and disappeared out of sight.
With a sense of helplessness, Zhang Chengfeng and the others had to bring the unconscious Chu Nantian away.
“Well, I got to report this to the Heaven Sword Sect.”
“What a disgrace!”
“Secret Book on Heaven Sword Sect.”
Li Mu spotted a manual with that title in Chu Nantian’s treasure pocket.
He was suddenly seized by curiosity.
He opened the book and soon flipped it through.
In the secret book, there was one chapter that narrated the origins of the Heaven Sword Sect. It made it sound quite mythical. According to the book, once upon a time, an immortal carrying the Celestial Sword descended upon the earth and established the Heaven Sword Sect. He made his name with his terrific sword skills. And his flying-sword technique, in particular, was invincible, which helped him defeat the heads of the top nine Holy Clans.
After reading that, Li Mu was more convinced that his conjecture about the history of the Sword-commanding Style was correct.
“The immortal descending from heaven with a Celestial Sword and all that stuff are probably just a story the Heaven Sword Sect made up to glorify the truth. I guess, perhaps, some powerful immortal, due to injuries or a certain reason, once wandered to this world. Or else, some really amazing treasure fell to this planet and was picked up by a man, who then acquired its unusual power and created the Heaven Sword Sect.”
“The Sword-commanding Style is surely from the universe.”
Li Mu continued to read and soon saw the essential way of the genuine Sword-commanding Style.
Moreover, through the secret book, Li Mu confirmed his previous surmise—the Sword-commanding Style was truly the source of all the sword skills of the Heaven Sword Sect. It could be said that it was their top one marvelous technique. And Chu Nantian, as one of their potential future leaders, did have a high standing in that sect. Otherwise, he could not have obtained the original way of the Sword-commanding Style. As to the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being, an outer disciple, he had only had a peep at the smattering of the art.
Although Chu Nantian, an up-rising talent who had already become Natural Expert before he turned fourteen, had broken many records in the martial arts world and was thought highly of by countless experts, in fact, he was merely a sapling in the greenhouse the Heaven Sword Sect nurtured with all kinds of treasures and elixirs. So, despite his startling cultivation, he was actually a paper tiger.
From Li Mu’s perspective, Chu Nantian’s fame and arrogance were formed by all his treasures, Cultivation Methods, and the prestige of his sect.
So, for Li Mu, beating Chu Nantian was as easy as a father beating his son.
After all, in comparison with the experts who reached the Natural Realm solely by his own hard work, there was a large gap between Chu Nantian’s foundation and theirs.
Li Mu looked through the book with great delight.
Then, he turned to the rest of the items in the treasure pocket—secret manuals on a number of other martial arts, some herbs, letters, weapons, rare materials, a journal Chu Nantian wrote, some notes on martial arts practice, as well as a bunch of secret objects of the sect. Those were all rather scarce items.
Aside from that, he found ten fist-sized cyan ores that glowed dimly and were sending out energy fluctuations. They did not like weapon materials or medicine minerals. Clueless about their uses, Li Mu examed them for quite a while before putting it away.
Anyway, the biggest benefit he attained from that haul was the crucial way of the real Sword-commanding Style.
Through it, Li Mu had tapped into the Great Way of “commanding objects”.
As long as his spiritual force grew to the level described in the Great Way of “commanding objects”, he would not only be able to command swords but also broadswords. If so, Li Mu’s broadsword skill would be taken to a higher stage.
After perusing the text, he started to practice right on the spot.
Since his powerful spiritual force was honed by the Xiantian Skill, Li Mu’s groundwork was laid very firmly. Thus, the practice the way of “commanding objects” suddenly turned much simpler.
In the Heaven Sword Martial Club…
A shrilling howl of fury was heard at the dead of night, giving rise to a fit of loud dog barks around the house.
Rubbing the bump on the back of his head, Chu Nantian turned livid and bellowed. “Li Mu, you’re my sworn enemy! Ahhh…” When he finally came back from the coma, heard Zhang Chengfeng’s recount of the story, and rummaged in his pockets, he instantly freaked out.
He had lost a great deal!
All his possessions and his pride were taken away.
“Do not tell anyone about what happened. If anyone else learns about this, I’ll do away with all of you,” said Chu Nantian through clenched teeth. If other people heard his defeat, then his reputed Flying Eagle Sword would at once be reduced to a joke.
Zhang Chengfeng and his disciples all groaned internally. But they had no alternative other than giving Chu Nantian their word.
Immersed in resentment, Chu Nantian fiercely ground his teeth. Yet, at the thought of the overwhelming sensation of being quashed when he dueled with Li Mu, a sense of helplessness surged up inside him. Then, he found he even did not have the courage to challenge Li Mu again, because he knew it was a hopeless course.
That defeat was the hugest setback he had suffered since his debut.
“Why on earth is that son of a bitch so potent?”
Chu Nantian could not figure it out.
“Servants, bring me writing brush and ink.”
He ordered through gritted teeth.
“At the moment, all I can do is ask for help.”
“Li Mu, you can’t be gloating for long. In three days, I’ll make you kneel down before me and beg for mercy! I’ll force you to hand me treasures several times more than you took from me!”
Chu Nantian took the vicious vow inwardly.
“Eh? How come there is a little fox sitting at the doorway?”
On the early morning the next day, Li Mu came to the gate to welcome Ning Jing and Dong Xue in. But to his surprise, he found that at the door hunched a small pure white and very cute fox with eyes sparkling like gems.
“I took it a pet Young Master had kept,” exclaimed Dong Xue, who fell for the adorable little white fox at once and could not help sticking out a hand to stroke its fur.
But the little white fox seemed startled by her touch. It yelped ruefully and retreated, its eyes brimming with tears. Then, it curled up and started weeping.
Li Mu watched its movements speechlessly.
“This kiddy’s expressions kind of resembles human’s.”
“Normally, such a sweet little thing can’t have come to the slums like the Pig-Herding Alley.”
“This white fox seems quite small and weak. It barely has any power to protect itself. And, its fur is so pure, so stain-free, making it almost like a small snowball. It’s likely a pet of a rich family. I can’t see any reason that it should turn up at my doorway like this.”
“Does it get lost?”
Li Mu reached out tentatively to console the little fox.
Then, a weird thing unfolded.
The little fox, though leaped back when Dong Xue approached it and even cried and shuddered in fear, slowly calmed down when Li Mu gave a hand to it. It looked up at Li Mu, as if it wanted to talk with its ruby-like eyes. A moment later, it even brushed Li Mu’s outstretched palm with its head and then jumped into his arms.
“It has intelligence?”
“A Fox Lady?”
Ning Jing and Dong Xue’s eyes widened to two round saucers.