The letter was from Xu Sheng.
The news it brought was not pleasant.
Due to the death of the second prince, the procedure of recommending Li Mu to be appointed Grand Chancellor of the Supervisory Department in the northwestern region was terminated right before it was about to be approved by the Chang’an government, when half of the procedure had been done. At the moment, it seemed that the deal was off the table.
In the letter, Xu Sheng extended his apologies to Li Mu.
Aside from that, Xu Sheng also alluded to the chaotic political state in Qin City after the second prince had died. All the political forces had burst into an uproar. The delicate balance was broken. It could be said that the death of the second prince had produced a series of ripple effects. Various forces started to bare their fangs. But since the emperor of the Western Qin was in a closed-door training to cure his injuries, nobody knew what to do without a leader. Therefore, the situation had grown even more turbulent.
And the force behind the second prince already hated Li Mu to the core. All the other forces were scrambling for the enormous politic vacancy left by the second prince, who had gone to another world, so the remnants of his force were swamped to protect their powers. As the struggle had come to a critical moment, they had no time to spare and deal with Li Mu for the time being. Yet, presumably, Li Mu would not lead such a peaceful life for long.
Xu Sheng had also suggested in the letter that if Li Mu had a place for retreat, he might as well withdraw from public life and go live in Jianghu with a low profile for a while.
As Li Mu finished reading the letter, he laughed it off.
Certainly, Li Mu was quite appreciative of Xu Sheng’s kindness.
He could tell that the elder of the Yue Mountain Faction was surely a decent man. Also, he was very nice to Li Mu.
But Li Mu would not accept Xu Sheng’s suggestion.
By then, the Taibai County would have been thoroughly revised by the Earth Evil Polaris Formation. It had abundant Spiritual Qi and was gradually developing into a blessed land. Li Mu could safely say that he had built up a solid foundation in the county. Adding that the Taibai County was located in the Taibai Mountain where the landscape was picturesque, the air refreshing, and the geographic position convenient, Li Mu could easily live a secular life or stay aloof from worldly affairs. For him who had fostered his own force, the county was absolutely the ideal place to start off.
In twenty years, Li Mu had to reach the Void-breaking Realm and leave that planet.
Within only six months or so, he had almost caught up with the Celestial Beings and covered the miles that many martial arts practitioners could not have traveled for a lifetime. However, the road leading to the ultimate martial arts was a road heading uphill. The longer one proceeded, the harder it got. Numerous Natural Experts had failed to become Celestial Beings, and numerous Celestial Beings never reached the Sage realm. Even among those practitioners who became Sages, few were able to reach the next level and finally enter the void, weren’t they?
It was just a matter of probability. The higher the level was, the lower the odds of making a fresh breakthrough was.
Therefore, Li Mu dared not to be too confident about achieving his goal within twenty years.
He was also longing for traveling around, riding on a galloping horse with his lover, adventuring with his broadsword and seeing the world. However, he had no time and energy for that.
The letter from Xu Sheng, anyway, made Li Mu realize one thing.
That was, he had to start doing some preparations.
Otherwise, once the aftermath of the death of the second prince spread to the Taibai County, an unprecedented storm would be in store for him.
Li Mu began to ponder over the matter.
And some plans gradually formed in his mind.
As time went by, the weather turned steadily chilling.
The boundless forest shed its leaves shower by shower; the endless river rolled down to the sea hour after hour.
After frost descended for ten days in a row, the Taibai County welcomed in the first snow in that winter. Every family had lit a fire to resist the cold, so smoke rose out of the chimney of every house.
A broadsword light streaked across the sky.
Li Mu leaped from the yard of the old county government and mounted his flying broadsword. Like an immortal, he soared across the sky over the Taibai County and disappeared into the misty Taibai Mountain.
The locals who caught that odd scene all fell to their knees to worship him.
“His Honor is truly an immortal from heaven!”
“Yeah, an immortal! Certainly an immortal!”
“Our Taibai County is so blessed that we have an immortal’s protection!”
The residents of the entire county instantly perked up and swelled with pride. The excitement in their hearts dispelled the cold. Everyone felt the winter in the Taibai County had never been so snug and warm.
The new county government was not very far from the old one.
The officials on duty had also caught sight of Li Mu riding on his flying broadsword, shooting across the sky. Although they had seen him do it many times, becoming inured to the unusual, they still could not help expressing their admiration. Also, the awe they had for Li Mu peaked again.
“If His Honor could grant me a manual on any cultivation method…”
A young civil official placed the writing brush on the racket and lapsed into a reverie.
The news that the county magistrate gifted manuals for cultivation methods to officials at the welcoming feast days ago had bandied about within the county government. At the moment, nearly every official worked extra hard because they were keen to be rewarded by His Honor with an immortal cultivation method. Even if they could not really become immortals with that, they might at least grow healthier, stronger and have a longer lifespan.
So far, he found that his colleagues’ interests in getting promotions and making a fortune had declined considerably. Currently, their biggest goal was to gain the favor of the county magistrate through their great performance and to attain one of such manuals. After all, the strong prevailed in that world. Only when a man had enough cultivation and strength was he qualified to possess power and wealth.
The general mood in the Taibai County Government was changing.
Days lapsed in the seemingly peaceful environment. In the blink of an eye, another half a month had passed.
One month and a half had flown by since that fierce battle.
Almost every day Li Mu rode the flying broadsword and weaved through the thick forest in the Taibai Mountain.
One day, heavy snow descended upon the county again.
The winding mountain ridge covered with snow looked like a dancing silver snake; the vast plateau coated with snow appeared to be the waxwork of an elephant.
Wearing only a thin robe, Li Mu stood on the flying broadsword and shuttled over the white Taibai Mountain. Looking down upon the primitive forest, he was intoxicated by the spectacular view consisting of towering peaks and the shining sea of snow.
Those days, except for practicing, he had observed the terrain around Taibai Mountain in a radius of a thousand miles, over and over again.
Surely, he had discovered something special.
Taibai Mountain was a famous mountain area in the Western Qin Empire. The mountains were mainly made of huge rocks, which were very durable. The terrain was highly difficult to access. Several hundred mountains wounded in different directions and stretched afar. When looking from the sky, it appeared that a great number of wriggling dragons were assembling in the area, which was quite magnificent.
By the dint of the Third Eye, Li Mu could see through the mountains and peek at things buried a kilometer deep in the soil.
The routes of the Earthveins and earth qi were also unable to escape his Third Eye.
Suddenly, Li Mu halted his flying broadsword and floated in the void.
Snowflakes were drifting down.
“There shouldn’t be any mistake in my analysis… The seventy-two mountains and the thirty-six Earthveins in the Taibai Mountain area fit into the geomantic traits of the ‘Dragon-assembling Pattern’. As the old faker said, such a geomancy pattern can easily produce the divine dragon and send it to the sky once the right settings and stimulation are present…” Unappeasable exultation appeared on Li Mu’s face.
Sending the dragon to the sky meant breaking free from all the shackles and soaring over the world at will.
“Doesn’t it imply the breakthrough of the old realm and the advance into the outer world?”
“That alludes to the Void-breaking Realm, the final realm a practitioner can enter.”
“So, this mountain area can bring up a supreme master in the Void-breaking Realm.”
Half through logical deduction and half through far-fetched guesses, Li Mu came to that conclusion.
According to the old faker, in such a terrain, a whiz in Taoist magic arts only needed to set up a Taoist deployment to attract the qi of the mountains and the Earthveins to one spot, before making use of the blessed resource with the energy of the Dragon-assembling Pattern.
Indeed, in terms of martial arts practice, the practitioner’s diligence was the most important factor, while the opportunity provided by the environment was the second most important element.
The higher one’s cultivation was, the more crucial the latter was.
To put it in a mystifying fashion, the latter was luck.
When he was in luck, he would not fail in anything.
When he was out of luck, twice work would only get him half the result.
The Taibai Mountain area was within several thousand miles. If the Earthveins and mountain branches were also counted in, it had to stretch to over ten thousand miles away. According to Li Mu’s notion, considering the geomancy in the area, the land contained extraordinary luck.
“It’s really a wonder that the Taibai County is sitting right at the center of the natural Dragon-assembling Pattern, not a mile too close or a mile too far. And the cliff, the Nine-dragons Fall, and the deep lake at the rear of the old county government is probably the precise deployment eye of the Dragon-assembling Pattern. If I put a directing setting there and make the old county government the deployment eye, then, all the Spiritual Qi and luck in the Taibai Mountain will converge at that place and fan out through the entire Taibai County…”
After the careful broodings in the past few days, Li Mu already came up with a practical plan.
With the Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal, the success of the plan was almost guaranteed.
At the old address of the Xiongfeng Martial Arts Club in Chang’an City…
Bone-chilling wind swept across the city at night.
The street was almost empty.
In the pouring moonlight, a creepy figure slid near the small desert akin to a ghost.
Step by step, the figure slowly sank into the sand as though doing a diving operation, which looked rather spooky under the moon.
“Haw-haw, those poor, dumb mortals only take this place as a tourist retreat. How can they know that the real treasure is buried beneath the sand? Well, the three Celestial Beings and Li Mu just toiled themselves for the benefits of the Bloody-moon Evil Master, and that is me!”
He dived to the depths of the desert and then began to run some vicious cultivation method.
The sand grains underground started flowing slowly.
Then, a weird thing occurred.
Wisps of blood-red mist were extracted from the grain of sand within a radius of several hundred meters. They were exactly the shattered pieces of the power of the Otherworldly Fiend, which were forced out of the second prince by Li Mu’s Five Elements Sky-flipping Seal. But the power did not dissipate in the world. Instead, it seeped into the sand. At the time, the wisps were drawn by an invisible force towards the Bloody-moon Evil Master.
In the Heaven Sword Sect…
“Tian’er has been killed!”
A large bead of a tear rolled down the cheek of a stooping old man, whose hair and beard were all white.
“Li Gang, Li Mu, and Xu Sheng… I’ll make you beg for a quick death!”
An appalling Sword Intent erupted from him. It transformed into a jet of silver light and thrust at the sky, which directly created a crack in the blue yonder. The area within several hundred miles was instantly shrouded by the freezing-cold Sword Qi. Plants withered, rocks froze, creatures shivered, and fear hovered above the place.
“Gosh, is that old monster coming back?”
“The land will once again be drenched in blood.”
In some sects several thousand miles away, the slumbering old freaks suddenly sensed something.
In Qin City, the capital…
Violent roars and hopeless wails gradually died away.
Heavy snow just descended without notice and froze a military coup that had just failed. But the smell of blood was still wandering in the air.
Scores of men fled out of Qin City like defeated dogs.
“So that’s it? Failed like that? I can’t take it, I can’t! We had a man who was hopeful of taking the throne of the empire. If it weren’t for that damn Li Mu who killed the second prince, we would not have gone this far to…” grunted a middle-aged man with an impressive appearance, his face written with dissatisfaction.
He looked back at the capital and saw the towering city walls scarlet, as if they were built with blood.
“Your Highness, the Cloud Shuttle the Wind-ride Sword Sect sent to pick you up is here. Let’s get on board,” A guard wearing iron-made armor with bloodstains urged.
Despite his reluctance, the middle-aged man boarded the flying shuttle. A warlock specializing in star deployment activated the shuttle, which rose to the sky and turned into a far off black dot, then vanishing into the distant skyline.
A few seconds later, a turmoil broke out in Qin City.
“The head of the rebellious force, Lord Zhenxi, escaped!”
“Go after him!”
“If we let him slip away, the crown prince will chop your heads off!”
Furious bellows were heard everywhere.
The imperial troops inside the capital flew out in the moonlight and started a chase in all directions.