“In this world, weapons are classified into four tiers. Like I’ve said, most of the weapons in the world are at the lowest level. Even those wonderful weapons which are rumored that they can slash iron as easily as chopping mud are merely the best among the least powerful ones. Those are ordinary works unable to withstand the injection of strong internal qi, so they are just ordinary ones. The tier superior to the ordinary tier is called Spiritual Tier. Spiritual-tier weapons, aside from being exceedingly sharp, are highly resilient and conductive, which can not only bear the injection of the internal qi of a peerless master in the Natural Realm but also double its power. Yet, Spiritual-tier weapons can’t take the injection of Celestial Beings’ internal qi, so there is a higher tier called Magic Tier. Magic-tier weapons can bear the instilling of the internal qi of Celestial Beings and triple the power. Above Magic-tier weapons are Taoism-tier weapons, which are said to be the deity’s weapons. They are the top kind in the world, and rumor has it that they have their own consciousness and intelligence…”
Speaking of Taoism-tier weapons, Liu Chong’s face glowed with yearning.
Taoism-tier weapons were very scarce. Once they fully submitted to their owners, even ordinary experts at the Joint-qi level or the Joint-thoughts level could kill Natural Experts. Generally, such weapons were well kept to stabilize the fate of a whole family or a clan. These days, only the top nine Holy Clans, the three empires, the alien tribes on the pasture and at some mountain areas and lakes in the extreme south, and some ancient demon races owned Taoism-tier weapons, which were not used in normal combats.
If Liu Chong had acquired a Taoism-tier weapon, he would be able to fight against Li Mu instead of becoming his prisoner.
Of course, that was just a wild wish. He could only dream about it.
After hearing Liu Chong’s introduction, Li Mu had a rough idea of the weapon categories.
“Now it seems more reasonable.”
“The current tier my Samsara Knife is in… Em, is probably the Spiritual Tier. Yet, it is way from the Magic-tier and Taoism-tier weapons.”
“That Magic Moon Shoot is certainly an amazing weapon. I wonder which tier it belongs to.”
“Guanshan Pasture’s Sky-anchoring Bow is a Taoism-tier weapon. It’s said that the royal family’s Dragon-commanding Polar is also a Taoism-tier weapon. Other Holy Clans and empires all have a couple of Taoism-tier weapons as their defense. The number of Taoism-tier weapons and Sages are the only two factors to measure if a faction can become a top-of-the-range force in the world.”
Liu Chong added as an afterthought.
Li Mu darted him a glance.
“Humph, you think I need you to do the analysis for me?”
“Star Stones can only refine Spiritual-tier weapons, right?” Li Mu posed another question. Liu Chong had mentioned that before.
The elder hurriedly explained, “They can refine weapons in and above the Spiritual-tier. But of course, to create Magic-tier or even Taoism-tier weapons, not only a huge number of Star Stones are required but the quality of those Star Stones must be rather high. Generally, you could only obtain one by luck. Otherwise, Magic-tier and Taoism-tier weapons would not have been so rare.”
Li Mu asked pensively, “Then how to judge the quality of Star Stones?”
“You can tell that basically through their weight, color, hardness, texture, and so on. But since I’m neither a star-deployment warlock nor an alchemist, I’m not very sure about it.” Liu Chong told Li Mu all he knew and said it without reserve. He had to behave himself lest Li Mu chopped his head off out of irritation, too.
“Then what about the quality of your Star Stones?” inquired Li Mu. He started rolling the smolder black Star Stones in his palm as if playing with Baoding Fitness Balls.
With an agonized look, Liu Chong said, “Perhaps those are just semi-finished ones, merely Primordial Stones. The outer metal it contains is very limited. If you want to know the specifics, you should open it and you will see it all. The four Star Stones were gained through stone gambling.”
“Why is there another fu*king new concept?”
Li Mu then bombarded him with more questions.
Soon, after hearing Liu Chong’s explanation, Li Mu made heads and tails of the matter.
Like the raw jadeite on Earth, the Star Stone can hardly be valued by its pure appearance. Only when real star-deployment warlocks or alchemists opened the Primordial Stone with professional means could people know if it carried any outer metal and how many kinds and amount of the outer metal was. Therefore, the industry of stone gambling that was similar to the jadeite gambling came into being in this world.
Li Mu’s curiosity was inspired.
“Now this is getting piquant.”
According to Liu Chong, as Star Stones were from outer space, their constitutions were quite alien. For that matter, even experts at the peak of the Celestial Being Realm could not penetrate its internal structure with their spiritual force. Further, it was rumored that some Primordial Stones that contained ‘immortal gold’ could not be seen through even by Sages.
“But can my Third Eye X-ray the Primordial Stones of Star Stones?”
He thought to himself.
Still, he did not intend to display that skill in front of Liu Chong.
“Take him away.”
Li Mu waved at the guards and Liu Chong was escorted out of the room.
Once he was alone again, he scanned a Primordial Stone with his Third Eye. At first, he could not see penetrate the surface of the black stone. But when he concentrated his spiritual force and drove the Third Eye with all his might, gradually he found that the black surface of the stone started to peel off. Then, he saw under the smoldered crust wrapped a chunk of strange black metal, which was the size of a fingertip. Dots of light were glimmering on its surface like innumerable stars wrapped in the universe.
“Well, as Liu Chong said, this Primordial Stone does contain some outer metal, so it isn’t a waste. Only if I know which kind of immortal gold this fingernail-sized black metal is.”
Li Mu was dying to know that.
The Primordial Stone the size of a fist turned out to carry only a bit of the outer metal the size of a fingernail. The metal content was truly low.
Since that day, Devil Li showed great interest in Star Stones.
He had already learned the weapon refining art half through the lectures of the old faker half through the study of the books on that field after he came to this world. He had blazed that road on his own. The Samsara Knife was exactly a half-completed work of his, which was still undergoing constant improvement. Now that he learned that Star Stones could refine weapons in or above Spiritual-tier, Li Mu believed the more Star Stones he possessed the better it would be.
But certainly, Li Mu had no intention to become a weapon-refining master or to refine weapons for other people. In fact, all he hoped for was convert the Samsara Knife into a really powerful weapon that he could take pride in, only that the criterion that ‘he could take pride in’ was set a little higher than common sense.
At last, after being deprived of all his cultivation, Liu Chong was banished from Taibai County along with Huang Wenyuan’s servants, maids, and guards.
Quite mercifully, Li Mu did not kill those people.
On a winding path outside of Taibai County, Liu Chong trudged onwards. He was battered out of his senses, no longer looking like a well-respected immortal. After losing his internal qi, he was only left with the cultivation of the Great Master Realm. So, he appeared to have aged several years and become a fragile old man. He cast a spiteful but also awed look at the distant Taibai County, torn by indignation and apprehension.
“I shall go back to the Holy Clan and visit Head Huang. I can’t let it pass like this!”
When he made up his mind, he ditched all those guards and servants and mounted his white crane before soaring to the sky.
The guards and servants exchanged an appalled look, then, without alternative, continued to take the return journey along the mountain path.
Given that Taibai County was located in the depths of the desolated mountains, it would take them five or six days to travel to the outskirts on foot. At that thought, the guards and servants all felt like weeping but had no tears.
To Li Mu’s surprise, Zheng Cunjian, who just went back to Chang’an, scurried once more to his place.
“Young Master, you did kill that Huang Wenyuan? Now you’re in trouble!” Zheng Cunjian looked quite flustered. He could not understand Li Mu’s decision. Although it was not a very big deal to kill the second prince as those opposing the second prince in the imperial court could cushion against the impact for Li Mu, Huang Wenyuan was a different case. His grandfather, Huang Shengyi, was a fierce figure, and he was exceptionally protective of his family and subordinates.
Zheng Cunjian could not see why Li Mu chose to repeatedly provoke those big shots and insisted to set so many people against him.
“Save your hackneyed sayings before me.” Li Mu yawned wildly out of impatience and went on, “Is it that the mean magistrate has detected something wrong and sent you here to probe on the matter so that you came to Taibai County in such a hurry?”
Zheng Cunjian’s face stiffened. Clearly, Li Mu had hit the nail on the head.
Giving a half-hearted smile, Li Mu said, “You must have met Huang Wenyuan’s guards and the rest of his companies on the way here. Don’t you already know what just happened in the county?”
Zheng Cunjian answered hastily, “I dare not lie to you, Young Master. Yes, I did meet them. And I’ve already known the incident in the county.”
“Now you’ve known it, why are you still so panicky?” asked Li Mu.
“Well, but…” Zheng Cunjian dawdled for quite a while but still did not know where to start. After all, this time Li Mu nettled was the Guanshan Pasture. In the world of martial arts, the Guanshan Pasture was more intimidating than the royal family.
“There is no ‘but’.” Li Mu cut in and digressed, “Do you know about Star Stones?”
Zheng Cunjian was taken aback. He had no idea where Li Mu was getting at with that question. But after pondering over it for a few moments, he said, “I do know about them. But I only have a smattering of those objects. I’ve never studied them in particular, so that field is not my expertise.”
Considering his cultivation and status, he seldom lay hands on such advanced objects like Star Stones. Nevertheless, the Heartless Scholar did not get the title for no reason. With his wide learning and a retentive memory, he already gained a rough idea about them through relevant books.
Li Mu nodded. Then, he said, “All that bothers you is that no one can lift the Life-and-Death Spell inside you if I get killed by the Guanshan Pasture. That’s why you still raced to Taibai County even though you’ve learned the cause and consequence of the incident from Huang Wenyuan’s guards and servants… Well, don’t say I didn’t give you any chance to redeem your sin. Let’s me see, if you can collect all the information about Star Stones’ origins, categories, opening methods, types of the outer metal they contain, refining methods and so on, and deliver it to me, then, I’ll undo the Life-and-Death Spell inside you and return you your freedom.”
At that, Zheng Cunjian went mad with joy at once. He promised, “Be assured, Young Master. I’ll collect all the information you desire within five days.”
Looking as cool as a cucumber, Li Mu drawled, “Whatsoever. I’ll leave you to it. And perhaps the Guanshan Pasture will soon be informed of the death of Huang Wenyuan. When that Deputy Head Huang gets the news, he certainly will come to me with the fury of thunder. So, if you want to get rid of the Life-and-Death Spell, you’d better get all the information ready before he rushes to Taibai County. Otherwise, if I am really killed by that Deputy Head Huang, well, no one else in this world will be able to lift the spell inside you.”
Zheng Cunjian’s body tensed. He quickly replied, “Don’t worry, Young Master. I got it.”
These days, all he wished was to eliminate the Life-and-Death Spell planted inside him. He had had a taste of the torment when the spell was activated before. Every time it went off, he just wanted to beg for a quick death. During the past few months, though the spell worked occasionally, the time it last was always very short. But that was enough to freak him out. However, he never dared ask Li Mu to undo the spell.
Now, Li Mu finally offered to lift that curse on his own accord.
Given Li Mu’s character, that was certainly not a trick once Li Mu gave the pledge in person.
That was one thing Zheng Cunjian was well-aware and positive of.
“You’re welcome. I’m glad to lift the spell provided that your work is satisfying to me. This is a deal.” Li Mu concluded. “Okay, it’s time for you to go. Chop-chop!”
Zheng Cunjian bowed as he bid his goodbye. But when he took just one step, he wheeled around and added with an undecided look, “Then, what should I say to Your Lordship…”
Li Mu blurted, “Tell him the truth.”
“Yes, I got it.” He whipped around and headed out.
Right at that moment, Li Mu clapped a hand on his forehead as if something just occurred to him and cried, “Crap! How can I forget that?”
Zheng Cunjian’s heart skipped a beat and he came to a halt at the doorway.