Li Mu now found the stream of surprises in the past few days quite bizarre.
“How come so many Earth residents have just revealed themselves overnight?”
He knew that Lord Qu of Southern Chu was probably not his old acquaintance. But according to the message he sent to Li Mu, he was surely from Earth. Further, the time he had spent on that planet seemed way longer than Li Mu’s.
“An Earth resident has become a lord in Southern Chu?”
“That sounds surreal.”
“What else did Lord Qu say?” probed Li Mu.
Yu Wenhui beamed and said, “Your Honor, may I take a seat before answering your question?”
Li Mu eyed him for a second. He was slightly annoyed by the confidence revealed in the man’s tone which seemed to be declaring that all was in his control. That was a little flamboyant. Thus, he shook his head and replied, “No, you may not.”
Yu Wenhui was taken aback. Then, he commented, “The Sage-to-be must be joking.”
Li Mu countered, “I was not. You just have to stand there.”
A hint of awkwardness flitted across Yu Wenhui’s face.
But he had no alternative. Looking a little vexed, he continued, “Lord Qu asked me to tell Your Honor that you are not in a safe world and you’ve already been exposed. He said you’ll be in danger and advised you to be careful.”
“What danger?” Li Mu lifted his brow.
“That’s beyond my knowledge.” Yu Wenhui said void of expression. “His Highness also asked me to tell Your Honor that if you want, you can pay a visit to him. When you meet him, he has many things to tell you.”
Li Mu propped a hand against his chin and deliberated for a moment. Then, he said, “Fine. Tell Lord Qu to come to Taibai County and visit me in person.”
Yu Wenhui smiled and replied, “Your Honor is surely quite humorous. His Highness is busy with a myriad of state affairs every day. He has to sort out numerous political issues and is responsible for the well-being of several million common folk in the Qu region. Given his prestigious status, he cannot travel to the Western Qin.”
Li Mu remarked, “Now that he won’t come to me and I won’t come to him, we fellow countrymen seem to have no way to meet each other.”
After all, Li Mu would by no means leave Taibai County.
“Your Honor, what concerns do you have about the visit? Lord Qu won’t impose any threat on you when you are there… I…” Yu Wenhui simpered, ready to continue the persuasion.
“How dare you!” The little attendant suddenly cut in and rebuked, “In the presence of the Sage-to-be, how can you the little envoy be so rude? Believe it or not, even if Young Master beheads you now and delivers your head to the Southern Chu, Lord Qu won’t have the nerve to utter a word of complaint!”
A trace of fury flashed through Yu Wenhui’s eyes. He bellowed, “You’re a humble attendant, but I am a Celestial Being…” “Well, when had he ever been affronted like that?”
“Oh yeah.” Li Mu said with a nod. “Celestial Being? Well, you’re not anymore.” With that, he pointed a finger at Yu Wenhui. A shaft of broadsword light zoomed over like a flash of lightning and pierced his body. In an instant, Yu Wenhui’s meridians were blocked, causing his internal qi to dissipate. His Celestial Being power evaporated in a trice.
“You…” Yu Wenhui was horror-stricken. He was shocked and incensed, for he never knew Li Mu would mean to strike. And he did not show any mercy in depriving him of his entire cultivation.
Sitting at the high chair in a high and mighty manner, Li Mu said, “Now, just spill it, because I am not a man who yields to the strong. What else did Lord Qu say?”
Catching Li Mu’s sharp glance, Yu Wenhui promptly sensed the undisguised killing intent in his eyes. The envoy’s hair stood on end. After all, a Sage-to-be’s killing intent could frighten a human emperor. Suddenly, he felt the strategy he had adopted was incorrect in that he had mistaken Li Mu’s disposition.
“His Highness also said…” Suppressing the resentment and indignation for his ruined cultivation, Yu Wenhui attempted to answer Li Mu through gritted teeth.
But Li Mu abruptly waved him down and said, “Forget it. Stop saying anything. I suddenly don’t feel like listening to your speech. Whatever Lord Qu intends to tell me, ask him to inform me face-to-face.” He then turned to the little attendant and said, “Show our guest the door.”
Qing Feng rolled his wheelchair and headed for the doorsteps as he said coldly, “Envoy Yu Wenhui, follow me, please.”
At that, the envoy was dumbfounded.
He never expected Li Mu’s temper could be so hot. He simply made a strike for a minor offense… That time, he really suffered a great loss. But after witnessing Li Mu’s fiery character, he also realized that it was no use to put in more words. Therefore, he had no choice but to turn around and leave the place in low spirits.
“Perhaps your Lord Qu can lift the broadsword qi inside you and help you regain your strength.”
Gazing at Yu Wenhui’s back, Li Mu added as an afterthought.
Yu Wenhui was stunned at those words. But soon, his eyes sparkled with wild joy.
“So it’s possible to recover my power!”
As Li Mu watched Qing Feng lead the Southern Chu envoy out, a shade of solemnity surfaced on his face.
He surely did not punish Yu Wenhui just for his ill manners.
It was not that simple.
That Lord Qu in Southern Chu claimed to be an Earth resident. Although Li Mu had never met him and the message he brought to him appeared to be good-intentioned, somehow, an instinct deep down told him that the Lord Qu in Southern Chu was up to no good.
When a practitioner’s cultivation reached a high level, a kind of instinct would be aroused to sense fortune. That instinct would surface particularly in terms of the matters concerning the practitioner. To put it in the words of the old faker, it could be called ‘a whim’.
When some ancient practitioners and deities in the vast universe felt such ‘whims’, they could even predict the future and their fates.
Yet, Li Mu had not attained that state.
But as his cultivation deepened, especially as his spiritual force grew, Li Mu’s instinct, or say his seventh sense, kept expanding, too. In particular, when he was within the Dragon-assembling Pattern, the increase in his instinctive power was more pronounced.
A moment ago when he was talking to Yu Wenhui, he suddenly caught a whim and had a feeling that the Lord Qu in Southern Chu somehow repelled him.
Although he was Li Mu’s fellow countryman, he might not be a good person.
Anyway, as an Earth resident, he wound up being a lord in Southern Chu. How did he manage that?
Perhaps there was a tragic history behind the way to his success.
Li Mu decided to investigate on the Lord Qu of Southern Chu first before making up his mind on whether he should go and meet the lord. That he cut Yu Wenhui off was because he wanted to avoid hearing anything that might cloud his judgment. Considering that he was exposed while the other party was hiding in the dark in the first place, if he heard too much from the mouth of the other party, he probably would fall into a trap that Lord Qu prepared for him.
On the evening of the same day, Li Mu paid another visit to Xu Sheng.
“Lord Qu in Southern Chu? I have indeed heard about him. As far as I know, he is one of the eight most powerful lords in Southern Chu. The Qu area he governs is vast, abundant of resources and products, and guarded by well-trained and powerful troops. He has ruled that place for fifty years. He is very ambitious and has impressive means to achieve his goals.” Xu Sheng said without thinking. “By the way, as you’re prying into his background, is that Southern Chu envoy one of his subordinates?”
Li Mu nodded and confirmed, “Yes, he is.”
Xu Sheng continued, “The political situation in Southern Chu differs from ours and that of the Northern Song. In light of territory, the area of Southern Chu is larger than that of our Western Qin and Northern Song combined. But a large amount of its land is covered with water. Big waters run across the land, huge lakes interconnected with one another. Even though mankind rules the nation, the number of demon races living there is also striking. It can be said that the vast territory of Southern Chu is governed jointly by humans and demons. Specifically, demon races living in waters are rather powerful. They have even built up their own nation underwater. And the issues in Southern Chu are not all up to the royal family. Although nominally the emperor rises above all, in reality, his power is divided among several hundred dukes. Some of the strongest dukes are basically as powerful as the royal family of Southern Chu…”
When Xu Sheng was in his youth, he had once traveled around the world. That was why he was so knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects and very familiar with the customs and culture of various countries.
“So, old bro, are you saying that Lord Qu already became the governor of the Qu area fifty years ago?” Li Mu was amazed to hear that. “During the fifty years, has the lord of Qu’s area ever been passed on to or overtaken by some other person?”
Xu Sheng searched his memory and answered, “I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
Li Mu rubbed his temple in distress.
“In that case, if Lord Qu is truly an Earth resident, he must have stayed in this world for at least fifty years, hasn’t he? And if time on this planet lapses at the same speed as it does on Earth, it means Lord Qu might have left Earth around 1970.”
“Is that even possible?”
Li Mu immediately inquired, “The information channels of the Supervisory Department can reach every part of the Divine Land, can’t they? I beg my old bro to investigate two people for me. One is Countess Huanzhu, the adopted daughter of Lord Virtuous the Eighth in Northern Song. The other is exactly Lord Qu in Southern Chu.”
Xu Sheng nodded and said, “No problem. It’s just that the two people are in places far away from our Western Qin Empire, so it may take a bit longer to get the detailed information. I guess it will require about one month.”
“Thank you, old bro,” Li Mu replied tersely, saving all the redundant words of courtesy before Xu Sheng.
The Celestial Being also kindly suggested, “Junior bro, now that you are the master of Taibai, you shouldn’t be too close to the lords in Northern Song or Southern Chu. Otherwise, the royal family will start to speculate whether something is going on. Remember, when a tree stands out from the forest, the wind will crush it. Bro, lately, you have been always in the limelight. But I think even a Sage-to-be needs time to somewhat conceal his strength and quietly improve himself.”
Li Mu appreciated that thoughtful forewarning very much. He said, “Thanks a lot for your suggestion. I’ll bear it in mind.”
As they talked, Dong Rui also bustled over to join them after he got the news.
The three cast aside their other concerns and resumed their martial arts gathering.
By then, Li Mu’s broadsword-using skill had basically made Full Accomplishment. If he could take one step ahead, he would be able to understand the broadsword intendment.
Xu Sheng and Dong Rui then gave Li Mu some advice on improving his broadsword art.
According to the two Celestial Beings, in this world, all the martial arts and weapon-using arts are rated from low to high as moves, techniques, intendments, and momentums. Moves were styles of movements. When moves developed to a fine level, they could be called techniques. When techniques improved, they would become intendments, which were the true meaning of martial arts. And the true meaning every practitioner grasped varied. When intendments were upgraded, they turned into momentums, which referred to the momentum of heaven and earth. Similar to Taoist magic arts, it was a more profound way to draw support from external power.
Li Mu could not agree more on that.
He had seen Li Gang’s Secular Sword Intendment and Xu Sheng’s Punching Intendment, so he naturally knew the intendment could complement and enhance the practitioner’s power. However, comprehending the Broadsword Intendment was not an easy job. In fact, it required him to figure out the ins and outs of his broadsword-using method before he could proceed to the next level.
In the next couple of days, the three of them almost never stopped discussing martial arts day and night.
Li Mu’s understanding of martial arts soon progressed by leaps and bounds.
On the sixth day, a piece of news interrupted their heated discussion.
Qiu Yin, the direct disciple in chief of Li Poyue, Head of the Guanshan Pasture, had arrived in Taibai County for a meeting with the Taibai master, Li Mu.
Everyone started to cast sidelong glances at Li Mu.
Because at the moment, Huang Shengyi the Fire Devil, the Deputy Head of the Guanshan Pasture, was still imprisoned in the Knife Hut. Qiu Yin had gone to Taibai on behalf of the number one martial arts practitioner in the Western Qin Empire. It would soon be clear if he had arrived for war or peace.
Although a great number of people reckoned it was clearly a move be in Li Mu’s good graces, since he was already crowned as Lord Taibai. To play down the influence of that incident was the best way for the Guanshan Pasture to protect their interests. However, as Li Poyue the Guanshan Master was quite cranky, no one else was certain about his behavior. Thus, Qiu Yin’s visit could mean the opposite.
Meanwhile, a massive confrontation was surging on another battlefield.
The rebel armies of Fufeng City and Fengxiang City finally faced the suppression of the royal family after ten days’ preparation. Li Gang, Magistrate of Chang’an, commanded three main forces to besiege the rebel armies led by Lord Zhenxi along with the troops from the four provinces nearby, which added up to a total of four hundred thousand soldiers. Li Gang gained victory at the first battle. Fengxiang City was recovered by the royal forces within five days, and Fufeng City at the moment seemed to be in imminent danger.