At that, Feng Yuanxing knew he could no longer keep the truth from the masses and so recounted what had happened during the past few days. Then, as tactfully as he could, he added, “Shortly after the strife occurred, those folks and soldiers involved in the conflict were killed. Yet, I don’t believe that’s just an unlucky coincidence. I dare say Young Master Huang and his subordinates are among the suspects.”
“It’s not that they are among the suspects. They are the suspects!” cried a folk on the scene.
“The murder is certainly that man surnamed Huang!” shrieked another.
“I beg Your Honor to bring justice to us!”
The folks and the families of the victims all got on their knees, imploring and lamenting. They knew that Young Master Huang was not a man they could afford to offend, so Li Mu was their only hope.
As the folks were pleading, a man’s mild voice said, “Humph, a bunch of unruly people! Do you have any evidence? How dare you defame the new county magistrate? You are truly audacious in the extreme!”
The crowd all looked up at the source of that voice.
Wearing a smile, Huang Wenyuan strolled out through the front gate.
He was closely followed by the youthful-looking Elder Liu, the white-haired, scarred-faced guard, and a score of ordinary guards.
Li Mu fixed his eyes on Huang Wenyuan. He sensed a stream of exceedingly powerful energy fluctuation.
“This is an expert in the Celestial Being Realm.”
“A Celestial Being at a fairly young age. His antecedents are extraordinary.”
Then, Li Mu swiveled his eyes to Liu Chong and immediately learned that the youthful-looking elder was the one with the most frightening strength. His energy fluctuations were well restrained inside him instead of running wild about him, as if it were an old well which was so deep that Li Mu could not see the bottom or any ripple. Clearly, the old man’s cultivation had reached the extremely profound realm, which was way superior to that young Celestial Being called Huang Wenyuan.
As to that old guard with white hair and a scary scar… He was an expert at the peak of the Natural Realm. And he was still issuing killing intent and a pungent smell of blood, which suggested he had just committed a murder.
Li Mu had already drawn his conclusion on the case.
“You are Li Mu, aren’t you?” Huang Wenyuan darted a nasty look at Li Mu. With his eyes locked on the old county magistrate, he sneered, “I have come here to replace you as the county magistrate in Taibai county. You should refuse to see me on the excuse of doing a closed-door training. Humph, who lent you that kind of guts?”
On hearing his remark, the county folks in the surroundings instantly burst into an uproar.
“What? His Honor Li is leaving the office?”
“We have a new county magistrate?”
“Why transfer His Honor Li to some other place?”
“No! His Honor Li can’t be leaving!”
All kinds of protests and cries erupted like a violent volcano. Everyone was indignant. Even the families of the victims who were immersed in grief shot astonished looks at Li Mu.
They had no idea that Li Mu was about to resign. They could not accept that, for they seldom had a real upright magistrate who had the folks’ best interests at heart. During those months, the Taibai people finally led a life free of bully and anxiety. If Li Mu was gone, they would be thrown back into that old lifestyle, which was definitely a nightmare.
Li Mu lifted a hand and waved the crowd down.
The hopping mad county folks quieted down at once.
“That’s not gonna happen. I won’t leave Taibai County. You can all rest assured,” said Li Mu gravely. “Those guys are frauds.”
That accusation almost knocked Huang Wenyuan off his balance and caused him to fall down the steps.
He started at Li Mu in disbelief.
“Li Mu can’t have known this! How dare he say things like that?”
“Where does his confidence come from?”
“Is he out of his mind?”
But the folks certainly did not care to think about the details. When they heard Li Mu’s remark, they immediately whooped joyfully.
Li Mu raised a hand and pointed at the old guard with white hair and a horrible scar on the face and bellowed, “You! Right, it’s you! You smell like blood. You just murdered someone. Come to the front and answer me, it’s you who killed those poor folks and soldiers, am I right?”
The countenance of that old guard altered. Then, he gave a cold smile and said, “Boy, don’t talk nonsense.”
Li Mu snorted, “You have the balls to commit the murder but dare not come clean? Fine. It seems that only when you’re taken into custody and faced with cruel tortures will you tell the truth.”
As if he had just heard a funny joke, the old guard with the white hair and the horrible scar broke into a fit of disparaging laughter.
Huang Wenyuan shook his head repeatedly, his face written with disdain and contempt. He snapped, “Hey, Li something, you’re not the county magistrate anymore. Why keep putting on airs like this? What’s the matter? Addicted to power? Even now you’re trying to be impressive, aren’t you? Are you going to take the case into your hand, too?”
“How come this fu*king dumbass is here? Screw off!” Li Mu glared at Huang Wenyuan and said rudely, “I’ll first finish off this white-haired, scarred-faced rat before doing you in…” Then, Li Mu turned to that old guard and yelled, “Will you move your ass over here or be dragged out after I break your legs?”
He was really enraged, so he just went into a rant without considering his manners.
The old guard with the white hair and scar dissolved into mockery laughter and said, “Ever since I joined the Guanshan Pasture, no one dares to speak to me like that…”
“That’s because you haven’t met a really tough man.” Reluctant to bickering with him, Li Mu launched his attack straight away.
He leaped in a flash and landed in front of the old guard with white hair and a scar as speedily as a ghost. He balled his fingers into a dragon claw and grabbed at the opponent. His fingers were sharp as knives and generated qi waves out of the thin air.
The old guard only captured a dazzling flash before he found out that Li Mu was already in front of him. Out of astonishment, he made to reach for the broadsword fastened to his waist. With a bang, Li Mu had stretched his claw into a palm and slapped on the back of the old guard’s hand at a faster speed. In an instant, a crack was heard. In shock, his right hand was smashed into a pile of mince like a chunk of shattered watermelon.
“Ahhh…” The old guard with white hair and a scar let loose a piercing screech.
Li Mu made a backhand grab at his throat, stifling his wail. Then, as if seizing a chicken, he took hold of the old guard and retreated.
The whole process started and finished in a flash of lightning.
The one who first registered what had happened was Elder Liu Chong. He cocked up his white brows and hollered, “You dare!” Without further ado, his palm swept out. Gold light glinted from his fingertips. Carrying fierce killing intent, the palm advanced on Li Mu. At that moment, the power of heaven and earth within a radius of ten meters surged violently and entwined like a chain. That move did thoroughly demonstrated the strength of the senior Celestial Being.
“Old prat, though you look like a person of some worth, you’re not a good guy at all.”
With one hand gripping the old guard with white hair and a scar, Li Mu’s free hand flattened and directly shoved at the coming punch.
“You’re dead meat!” Killing intent was whirling in Liu Chong’s bleary eyes.
“He dares take my punch with a punch!”
“It’s you who courted your doom!”
“Great opportunity to get rid of this scrounge once and for all! I’ll kill you right on the spot.”
In a second, another stream of concealed energy flooded out of his palm as he mustered the rest of his might.
The two palms pressed together. Energy fluctuations as powerful as raging tides erupted from the center of the two palms and flooded in all directions.
Suddenly, Liu Chong felt his wrist shuddered uncontrollably and a stab of pain shot through his arm as if his bone had snapped.
Meanwhile, the concealed energy he cast at Li Mu simply disappeared like a drop of water falling to the sea.
He let out a muffled yelp, shivered and wobbled on the spot.
By contrast, Li Mu backed away like a nimble willow catkin. At the same time, he continuously waved his long sleeves. In the air, invisible energy was raging and formed gusts of wind to disperse the dreadful repercussions of their strikes in a trice. After that, he landed back on his spot like a feather.
Liu Chong gawked at Li Mu with a look of intense incredulity.
He did not reserve any strength when launching that strike. However, the young man called Li Mu offset his attack with an equally powerful punch. “How could he be on par with me? No, I should say the cultivation he displayed is even higher than mine as he still had the energy to dissolve the residue of the energy fluctuation both of us produced in case the county folks in the surroundings got hurt by such power.”
“How could that be?”
“Back away!” Li Mu warned in a booming voice as he touched the ground.
Feng Yuanxing and the other officials swiftly picked up the hint and hurriedly removed the sixteen bodies from the scene and asked the surrounding county folks to step back until they distanced about forty meters away from Li Mu, leaving him standing in a clearing.
Li Mu tossed the old guard directly onto the ground.
“Guards, come here and break his old dog’s hands and legs!” commanded Li Mu.
“You… How dare you?” howled the old guard with the white hair like an injured beast. His hand had been shattered into mince of meat. His cultivation had also been sealed by Li Mu with the natural qi. Therefore, he had no strength to fight back for the moment.
“You old prat, you must pay for the crime at the cost of your life. Now right before your doom, how dare you still be puffed up with arrogance?” bawled Li Mu, his killing intent boiling.
Then, he seized the old guard by the neck and gave him some hard slaps. The old guard instantly sported a bloody nose and a swollen face, which was like a smashed ripe peach. After that, Li Mu spun around and ordered, “Fetch some iron cudgels and beat him!”
After a moment of hesitation, the guards of the county government gritted their teeth and retrieved some iron cudgels over. Then, they wielded the cudgels directly at the arms and legs of the old guard.
They knew Huang Wenyuan was here to replace Li Mu and the official inauguration documents were complete. So they doubted they were simply a group of “frauds” as Li Mu declared. On the contrary, they believed it was probably true that Huang Wenyuan was really the new county magistrate. Yet, his subordinate, that white-haired dog, just killed over a dozen Taibai people. Since the county was not large, everyone knew everyone, and most people were somehow related. Plus, six of their colleagues were also killed by the white-haired dog. So, even though they feared offending the new magistrate, those righteous youths who did have some backbones decided to give the murder a good beat and avenge their dead brothers anyway.
The old guard with white hair and a scar gave a blood-curdling scream.
He had never expected that he would wind up like this, even in his wildest dreams.
Although he did not focus on the physique practice, his personal strength was fairly immense. However, with his protective internal qi being sealed, he would feel the pain when being beaten. A couple of strikes of the cudgels would not break his bones, but if they continued to it, the endless pain alone would send him in a coma.
“Stop! Stop now!” Huang Wenyuan didn’t come to his senses until that moment. He barked furiously, “Li Mu, you’re courting death! How outrageous you are to hurt my man! Do you know what you’re doing?” “Do you have any idea who Guard Sun is? You…” He never anticipated that Li Mu would go that far.
Li Mu raised his sleek eyebrows. He locked his eyes on him and sneered, “Why should I care that? An old damn dog has killed the folks in my Taibai County, so he must die.” With that, he wheeled around to face those county government guards and roared, “Did you skip your meal or what? Use your strength! If you can’t break his bones with cudgels, switch to your broadswords…”
The guards, whose eyes turned scarlet with rage, unsheathed their broadsword with a clink and hacked at the legs of the old guard with white hair and a scar.
“Damn it!” shouted Huang Wenyuan with wrath.
He stuck out a hand and did a flick with his middle finger and thumb. Several streaks of fiery Sword Qi charged at those county government guards. His face distorted by rage, he roared, “A cluster of little bugs who know nothing about danger… All go to hell!”
But Li Mu took a step forward and shielded the guards as if he just disapparated and apparated again. He lifted a hand and grabbed all the Sword Qi over before crumbling it with a squeeze.
“You dare to strike in my presence?” Staring at Huang Wenyuan, Li Mu said, “Well, my folks and soldiers were killed, and this white dog is the murderer, but you prat must be the man behind all this. Fine. You, too, move your ass here!”