Hearing that, Li Gang gave a satisfied smile.
Private Adviser Tian did not practice martial arts. His strength was even less than Zheng Cunjian’s. But he excelled at unorthodox arts like Divination and fortune-telling, so he had a pair of sharp eyes in judging people’s disposition.
Now that Private Adviser Tian came to that conclusion, then it could not be incorrect.
Huang Wenyuan was a man with ambitious goals but thin blessings. He was born to be a scapegoat.
Then, Li Gang thought of the Private comment Adviser Tian gave Li Mu, which was very concise—he is a man to be obliterated at the first chance. The explanation he provided was that ‘his acts are beyond any reasonable deduction, so he is a variable out of our control.’ And those incidents in the past few weeks proved that Li Mu was indeed an erratic variable. The fact that the second prince was at last killed by Li Mu was the most substantial evidence.
“You can go and make the preparations.” Li Gang waved him away.
Private Adviser Tian bowed out.
Li Gang slowly sank back to his chair and unfolded his palm. A glint of silver light appeared and materialized as an ancient mirror, which was precisely the Sky-stabilizing Mirror.
He operated the Cultivation Method and murmured a mnemonic rhyme. The surface of the mirror soon started rippling, and a large map of the entire Chang’an emerged like a water reflection. Only the area marked as Taibai County appeared shady, as though it was covered up by a weird power to prevent others from seeing it.
“Still bleary… Is he going to declare him a lord over the district? How audacious he is!”
Li Gang put down the mirror, looking rather sullen.
“The shade over Taibai County must be the deployment Zheng Cunjian mentioned to me.”
“It didn’t look like this two months ago.”
“That is to say, during the past two months, Li Mu built up a tactical deployment in Taibai County that is powerful enough to block the Sky-stabilizing Mirror out. However, the Sky-stabilizing Mirror was forged by the top nine Holy Clans as well as the royal family, and it is allegedly able to inspect all the places in the world other than the imperial palace and the Holy Clans. As long as it is within the mirror’s inspect range, every single thing will be shown in the mirror…”
“But the sect behind Li Mu can go against the Holy Clans, can’t it?”
“Which ancient sect that has retreated from the world is Li Mu’s sect on earth?”
Li Gang put away the Sky-stabilizing Mirror and was lost in conjectures.
A moment later, Zheng Cunjian brought Li Bing in.
“Father…” mumbled Li Bing, his head drooped, being too scared to breathe freely.
Without looking up, Li Gang said, “Now that you’re back, don’t go out and stir up trouble anymore. This time, I think you’ve learned your lesson. Go to the bookkeeping room and get your allowance for the past couple of months…” He was neither too cold nor too kind to his son.
Li Bing nodded. He dared not say one more word and wheeled around to leave.
He sincerely held his father in awe all the time.
“Your Honor, shall I continue to deliver all the news and messages to Taibai County as before?” asked Zheng Cunjian for instructions.
Li Gang looked up, his eyes locked on Zheng Cunjian’s face. Zheng Cunjian’s heart gave a horrible shudder. Li Gang then smiled and said, “Mr. Zheng, you seem to ask me for instructions a little too frequently in recent times. You’re not like this in the past. Some issues are within your discretion. You can weight them yourself and don’t need to solicit my advice on every matter. I believe in your competence and loyalty. Sooner or later, I’ll get someone to remove the forbidding spell inside you. So, don’t worry about it.”
Zheng Cunjian shed tears of gratitude at that remark and said, “Thank you so much, Your Honor. I can’t repay your superior understanding and appreciation of me even if I die a dozen times for you!”
Darkness had fully engulfed the city.
Bai Xuan was sitting in her room, quite anxious and unnerved.
As a woman, a beautiful woman, she cared about her appearance very much. Thus, for all those years, she had worked hard to maintain her beauty and seldom stayed up. But tonight, she was still wide awake when it had past midnight.
“That Young Master Huang is surely a ruthless person. How stony-hearted he is! If Hua’er ever falls into his hands…”
Recalling the beautiful Qin’er who had passed away, she felt a surge of anger and sympathy.
Unlike the madams in other brothels, Bai Xuan truly wished that the girls working for her could settle down with a decent man. She had treated her as well as she treated Hua Xiangrong, regarded her as her daughter, and placed great hopes on them. But now… How could she not be overcome with grief? How could she not be incandescent with rage?
“I mush tip Young Master Li up.”
Bai Xuan made up her mind.
She grabbed a writing brush and started writing a letter. She wrote down all the information she heard in the Holy House and today’s incident. In the letter, she warned Li Mu repeatedly to deal with the situation carefully and not underestimate the opponents. And if it was necessary, she suggested getting away to a faraway place along with Hua Xiangrong…
Finishing the letter, Bai Xuan called over her most trusted handyman and asked him to ride a fast horse to deliver the letter to Taibai County overnight.
“How I wish Young Master Li and Hua’er could escape this tribulation.”
In Taibai County…
Li Mu just received another letter.
The one who delivered it was Wang Chen, the Wind Gentleman.
“Her Highness is very grateful for all your help.” The Wind Gentleman said respectfully.
Li Mu opened the envelope and unfurled the letter.
In the letter, Her Highness had extended her gratitude to Li Mu for the help he provided that day and told him that she had raised about five hundred thousand gold ingots as the first installment to pay Li Mu back. At the end of the letter, she also reminded Li Mu that the current political trend was rather hostile to Li Mu. The ruler seemed to be planning to issue an order to arrest him as the scapegoat for the death of the second prince to have something to answer to the emperor who is about to get out of his closed-door training. For all that, she advised Li Mu to go into hiding in the vast Jianghu…
After reading the letter, Li Mu smiled.
This was the second person who wrote him a letter to persuade him to leave Taibai County.
Anyway, her intention was good.
Li Mu did not express an opinion on the letter but simply let Qing Feng, the little attendant, accepted the five hundred thousand gold ingots.
Then, Wang Chen took out a case from his chest pocket and handed it to Li Mu. “This is an object Her Highness asked me to give to Master Li.”
That took Li Mu by surprise.
He took it and opened the lid. There was a booklet lying in the case, which was made of a specific material between silk and paper. The material was quite eccentric. It looked ancient, perhaps had existed for several thousand years. In the booklet were all kinds of vividly drawn figures and landscapes. There was a total of nine pictures. Beside each picture were notes written in ancient minuscule calligraphy. On the cover presented Gists of the Meditation Illustrations of the Nine Heavens in Chong Ming.
“It’s a Mediation Approach!”
Li Mu was even more amazed.
“The princess should give me a Mediation Approach as a gift?”
In fact, Li Mu had been intrigued by Mediation Approaches before. But the Mediation Approaches that mysterious swordswoman at Peace County gave Li Mu turned out to be useless to him. Although he tried many times to learn the approaches, he found they were of no help in meditation. So, he just gave up.
He reckoned mediation just would not work magic on him.
“This booklet is a secret treasure of the royal family that Her Highness once obtained by luck. The emperor claimed that the booklet contained the supreme secret of the qi in the world. But Her Highness failed to discover it after decades’ worth of study and meditation. So, Her Highness believes she is not talented enough to master this miraculous art, and if she continues to keep the booklet, the art will be lost like a pearl being covered in dirt. Your Honor Li, you are a genius in martial arts, so maybe you can comprehend some great wonders in the booklet.” The Wind Gentleman explained.
Hearing his speech, Li Mu began to catch on the meaning behind her generosity.
She was trying to rope him in with a weird, battered booklet.
Li Mu flipped through the pages but did not find anything special about it, so he did not take it seriously. He then said, “I accept the kindness of Her Highness and reluctantly take the booklet. But let me get this straight now, the booklet is gifted to me by Her Highness of her own accord. Thus, it can’t serve as a payment for her debt.”
Wang Chen immediately fell speechless.
“This Li Mu is so frank and outspoken that I kind of can’t take it.”
“Such a great treasure is accepted reluctantly… Could he be more brazen?”
Li Mu placed the booklet on the desk unceremoniously. Then, as if something occurred to him, he chuckled and added, “I know Her Highness, Mrs. Tang, and her daughters are all in Taibai County. Don’t worry. As long as you guys don’t cause trouble, I won’t mind you staying in the county. And while you’re here, nobody can hurt you.”
Wang Chen was overjoyed to hear that.
The purpose of him sending the payment and gift to Li Mu today was exactly to get that approval.
That also indicated that Li Mu finally did not find Her Highness that objectionable. That was good news.
Up to that day, Wang Chen was still considering talking Li Mu into working for Qin Zhen, the princess.
Yet, he no longer perceived Li Mu as a potential subordinate, general, or so on. Instead, he started to regard him as an equal partner. As long as Li Mu was willing to assist Qin Zhen, the tide could be turned.
As they talked, Qing Feng came in and said, “Young Master, a man from the Holy House in Chang’an delivered a letter to you. He emphasized that Young Master must open it himself.”
“Oh? Let him in.”
Li Mu was bewildered. “A letter from the Holy House? Is it because Bai Xuan misses Ting’er?”
Upon seeing that, Wang Chen got to his feet and took his departure with senses.
Although he intended to persuade Li Mu to be in his league, he knew that could not be achieved in a rush. He had to bid his time.
Shortly, a handyman in cyan with sparkling eyes and a travel-stained look stepped in. At the sight of Li Mu, he hailed, “Young Master Li, I am Xu Er. Do you remember me? It’s Madam Bai who sent me here…” He had seen Li Mu back in the Holy House.
Li Mu answered with a beam, “Of course I remember you.” He did have a fuzzy memory on the man called Xu Er and knew he was a trusted handyman of Bai Xuan.
“Madam Bai told me to greet you and bring you this,” He fished out the letter and went on, “Madam Bai wrote this in person and asked me to send it to you overnight. She said it mattered a great deal. So, I dare not dawdle a minute on the road and sped here at the cost of three fast horses…”
Li Mu at once opened the letter and read the content. He quickly grasped the gist.
“Here is another person who tried to persuade me to leave Taibai County.”
“Xu Sheng, Her Highness, and Bai Xuan… They all meant it well.”
Those people willing to take the risk to warn Li Mu already took him as a friend.
In particular, Bai Xuan, a woman in the prostitutes’ quarter, still treated him with good faith. Her letter inspired Li Mu’s awe and respect for her.
“I understand. You go to the back yard and visit Miss Hua. After that, you go back and tell Madam Bai that I, Li Mu, have marked her grace in mind and there is nothing to worry about.” He then turned to Qing Feng, “Prepare some money for Brother Xu Er to cover the traveling expenses. He has taken a great amount of trouble in getting here. Treat him well.”
“Thank you, Young Master Li.” Xu Er rejoiced.
Everyone at the Holy House knew that Li Mu was quite generous.
Rolling the wheelchair, Qing Feng led Xu Er out.
Li Mu put away the letter. His eyes once again fell on that Gists of the Meditation Illustrations of the Nine Heavens in Chong Ming. He picked it up for further examination. After looking through it, he did not spot anything unusual. The landscapes and figures on the illustrations were indeed lifelike, but they did not seem to convey any wondrous art.
Li Mu meticulously observed the first illustration called Flying to the Sky. Clinging to the last shred of the hope for a fluke, he gave another shot to meditation.
However, after a quarter of an hour, he did not see any effect.
“It seems that meditation truly does not suit me.”
He decided to give up.
But the moment he put down the ancient-looking booklet, Li Mu abruptly had an idea. For some curious reason that he could describe clearly, he turned on the Third Eye and scanned the booklet. Suddenly, his eyes widened.
“Um? An interlayer? How… How can it be?”
An incredulous look appeared on his features.