The explosive news that Meng Wu, the Heaven Ride Silver Spear, the General Director of the patrolling regiment and the Commander in Chief of the Red Blaze Battalion, and his twenty cronies were undressed and tossed into the Pig-Herding Alley after being knocked out and looted by Li Mu swiftly bandied about in the entire Chang’an.
It sparkled a huge sensation across the city.
Days before, the Four Great Devil Zombies of the Ghost Sect had been given the same treatment.
But for some reason, the head of the Ghost Sect chose to turn a blind eye on it.
Anyhow, the Ghost Sect was just an association of the martial arts circle. They had to be scrupulous in Chang’an. And considering that Li Mu was also an official of the empire, the governor of a county, they could not assassin him in haste.
By contrast, Meng Wu, the Heaven Ride Silver Spear, was the Commander in Chief of the Red Blaze Battalion, which was one of the three primary forces of Chang’an. He was a second-grade official, and allegedly from the imperial army in the capital, Qin City. In light of either ranking or background, Meng Wu was undoubtedly superior to Li Mu. The latter dared adopt the same means that he used upon the evil Four Great Devil Zombies to deal with the former!
Well then, Li Mu must have poked his head into a hornet’s nest, right?
And how unlucky Meng Wu turned out to be! As a Commander in Chief of a battalion, he merely brought twenty trusted soldiers to go to the Pig-Herding Alley along with him. Without any vigilance, they were stripped naked like pigs and dumped in the Pig-Herding Alley. Since then, Meng Wu’s reputation was ruined. The incident would be the shame of his life. How could he continue to command the army?
Everyone was looking forward to watching the Red Blaze Battalion assemble its power and stage a drama centered on sweeping off the enemies in the Shack.
No matter how formidable Li Mu’s power was, he could by no means confront a principal battle army on his own.
But before such a drama was put before the public, another matter concerning Li Mu spread across Chang’an.
The Bloody-moon faction had sent out the message saying that Boody-moon Evil Master, their Grand Master, had not completed his closed-door training on time, and so the duel with Li Mu on the Rooster Peak would be postponed until three months later.
This time, what they made was a unilateral announcement.
In the past six months, the Bloody-moon faction had developed rapidly in Chang’an. They already had quite an influence, especially among the martial experts at the lowest rung. It could be said that they had controlled many other groups and forces without anyone noticing. They even established the headquarters in Chang’an. And their Grand Master, Boody-moon Evil Master, seemed to emerge as a dark horse. He suddenly rose up and defeated a score of established practitioners, and therefore was regarded as a fierce role.
When the Bloody-moon Faction declared that Boody-moon Evil Master would challenge Li Mu at the Rooster Peak, many still had no idea of who Li Mu was. After some investigation, they believed the victory would surely belong to Boody-moon Evil Master. But later, the situation changed as Li Mu surpassed the early starter and overawed Chang’an. During the meantime, Boody-moon Evil Master was nowhere to be seen, and the headquarters of the Bloody-moon faction became vacant out of no reason.
At the moment, almost everyone was of the opinion that Boody-moon Evil Master would be courting death if he insisted to challenge Li Mu.
Therefore, it was surprising but reasonable to see the Bloody-moon faction made such an announcement.
However, at that news, Li Mu shook his head in disappointment.
He was already well-prepared to set for the Rooster Peak the next day.
After looting Chu Nantian, the Four Great Devil Zombies, and Meng Wu in a row, our Devil Li became aware of the benefits of taking the ‘deliveries.’ Compared with toiling himself at practicing and making money, he could win more loots by having several fights. “No wonder so many people like being the bad men. Only extra feedings could indeed fatten a horse, and only ill-gotten gains could make a man rich.”
“A Grand Master like that Boody-moon Evil Master must carry a ton of resources and treasures with him. If I give him a stunning blow and snatch up all his belongs, I will make a fortune once more, won’t I?”
“What a pity that Boody-moon Evil Master got cold feet!”
Li Mu also felt he could snap his fingers and get the Boody-moon Evil Master beaten up, because that guy even failed to overtake the injured Shangguan Yuting.
But now that Boody-moon Evil Master chickened out, Li Mu had no means to come to him and take the ‘deliveries’, for he had no idea where the coward was hiding.
Thus, he decided to waste no time to repair his weapons and refine the Samsara Knife the second time.
Li Mu allowed himself not a minute to rest. He practiced the Zhenwu Boxing, the Xiantian Skill, and the skill of using the broadsword. He refined weapons, went to the military cemetery to absorb the Spiritual Qi in the Earthveins, and instructed Shangguan Yuting to learn martial arts. Also, he reviewed and digested the gains he acquired after he fought the Red-hair Killing God, Zhang Bulao. In particular, the secrets of the Celestial Being Realm, the mobilization of the power of heaven and earth, and the grid of hidden energy currents all gave Li Mu great inspiration.
Further, because of the Xiantian Skill Li Mu had been practicing, his spiritual force was powerful. With the help of the Taoist magic arts that the old faker taught him at random, he was able to open all kinds of storage space without effort. Li Mu was so amazed that he even started to suspect the old faker of being a devious thief who had preyed freely in the vast universe but once incurred the wrath of the public and fled to the remote and bleak Earth to avoid their chasing.
Li Mu had found a load of interesting stuff among the treasures he snatched from the Red-hair Killing God, who was an elder of the base of the Qing Sha Clan, including four stones that were the same as those he discovered in Chu Nantian’s pockets. The stones contained peculiar energy and were blood-red. Li Mu had not figured out what they were used for, but the future leader of the Heaven Sword Sect nad, the elder of the Qing Sha Clan, also carried those things around. So, they must be something very precious. Li Mu decided to put them away for the time carefully. Aside from that, he found various gold checks, magic iron, mysterious instruments, the wonder-working star deployment, and a stack of martial arts manual, mostly on the different secret techniques developed by the Qing Sha Clan as well as the illustration of the Hacking Deities Three Styles.
As the Commander in Chief of the Red Blaze Battalion, Meng Wu was also exceedingly wealthy. He had a heap of treasures with him but those weird stones.
During the whole day, Li Mu had shut himself up in the secret chamber to do a closed-door training.
Only until late afternoon did he walk out of the secret chamber to have dinner with the girls.
Chatting and laughing, the girls made quite a noise. After spending those days with him, they had all had a good measure upon Li Mu’s disposition and were no longer that fearful of him. Instead, they dared occasionally make an innocent joke on Li Mu, who did not mind that, either. After all, he and the girls were all at a reasonably young age. He felt no need to give himself airs because that would deprive him of all the fun.
It had been quite a while since the beauties were grounded in the Shack. They were longing for some fresh air outside. But due to the turbulent environment out there, their request was very ‘democratically’ vetoed by Li Mu at last.
As to Shangguan Yuting, she was cured. She had already started over with her practice and was progressing at an amazing speed.
It was just that her Mud-pill Palace had not been fully rebuilt yet. And the use of that wisp of spirit force in her Sea of Consciousness was still a mystery, though she continued groping for it.
Nor did Li Mu have any good advice on that matter.
Because since that day he tried to cure Shangguan Yuting by letting his Yang qi and her Yin qi to blend, he also found a wisp of spiritual force in his Mud-pill Palace that was running wild. So far, Li Mu had not worked out its use and meaning, either.
After the dinner, Li Mu left the Shack.
He was going to try his luck at the mean magistrate’s place again.
To his surprise, just as he went out of the Shack, he saw a post on the wall of the Pig-Herding Alley. The post said that since the magistrate of Taibai County, Li Mu, colluded with the demon races and was of the most heinous guilt, he had three days to go to the patrolling regiment to turn himself in and deliver them the head of the Fox Spirit of the Clean Spring Chamber of Commerce. Otherwise, according to the law, he would be executed and erased from the world.
After reading the post, Li Mu was a little stunned but soon was amused.
A day had passed by, but the Red Blaze Battalion still remained quiet. Meng Wu’s revenge came more slowly than all the people expected, and it seemed to have been done by halves. That was confusing. “Does the patroling regiment hope to wage a war of the public opinion with that post?”
“They must have been cracked up!”
Li Mu tore the post off and stamped on it. Then, he set off.
Half an hour later.
At the Chang’an government.
Li Mu was waiting outside the hall.
It was the third time that he came to the Chang’an government. Upon the first two times, Li Mu was told that the mean magistrate was not there and was required to go back. Clearly, the mean magistrate wanted to grind Li Mu’s arrogance, because every time he went there to visit Li Gang, Private Adviser Tian came out to sent him away with all sorts of excuses, only without directly telling him ”His Lordship says he is not here’.
But this time, the mean magistrate finally answered Li Mu’s request and asked him to wait for a moment outside the hall.
“His Lordship is busy with the government affairs,” explained Private Adviser Tian with a wry smile.
Li Mu nodded but did not give any reply.
Because he could tell that the mean magistrate was indeed swamped instead of using it as an excuse to get rid of him. Those bustling in and out of the hall were officials in charge of different states and counties in Chang’an. As if on the opening day of a new market on Earth, the officials formed a long line like those avid shoppers purchasing cheap eggs. They all carried an armful of thick files, waiting for the magistrate’s review and approval.
Chang’an was the second largest province in the Western Qin Empire. It governed dozens of cities and counties, had a vast area, a variety of products, and hundreds of officials. Every single day, piles of government decrees and decisions were received in and released from that hall. According to Private Adviser Tian, every day, Li Gang spent at least half a day processing government affairs, so he was a diligent magistrate.
Hearing that, Li Mu irresistibly held the brute in respect.
Although Li Gang was of disreputable character, his competence and industriousness were really admirable.
Duties like processing the decrees were even more tedious than grading the juniors’ papers on advanced mathematics. Only freaks could keep doing it for decades as if it was on the first day and also have fun.
After a brief chat with Private Adviser Tian, Li Mu concentrated his mind, closed his eyes, and launched the Xiantian Skill to practice the breathing skills while standing on the spot.
By his side, Private Adviser Tian was speechless with astonishment.
“Well, no one can spell ‘Li’ in two different ways. The two do share the same kind of blood. They are both competitive men who cherish every minute and every second.”
After two whole hours, it was finally Li Mu’s turn.
“His Lordship summons the magistrate of Taibai County, Li Mu, to the hall.” A guard announced the order.
Private Adviser Tian led Li Mu into the hall.
It was a large and spacious room, lined with well-organized tables and chairs. In the front stood a large desk. Behind the desk sat a handsome man in his forties, whose complexion was as clear as jade, brows sleek and eyes sparkling, nose straight and cheeks supple, forehead full and chin round. Cladding a suite of official purple robes with dragon embroideries, he looked remarkably prominent and awe-inspiring.
That was Magistrate Li Gang.
His name was common, but his status was not.
At a glance of the magistrate, Li Mu could not help giving him credit. To say the least, when that man was in his youth, he was a pretty face that could cause significant trouble. With the good looks endowed by God, it was no wonder that the younger Mrs. Li was once mesmerized by him. He was not only handsome but also had a gift in writing poems, and he also championed the imperial examinations… Well, he was practically a heart-throbbing star for the girls.
Usually, when the officials entered the hall, they all seemed unnerved and respectful.
Li Mu, however, started studying the room at ease, as if he was here to inspect the place. Scared by his audaciousness, Private Adviser Tian kept coughing at his side, hoping to bring him to his senses. But Li Mu simply ignored the hint.
While Li Mu studied the room, Li Gang also studied him.
Finally, the two met the eyes of one another, but Li Gang’s eyes reflected no emotion.
“County Magistrate Li, for what matter did you request to see me three times?” Li Gang broke the silence. His voice was steady, filled with a mighty aura and a strong sense of authority.