Chapter 95 Returning to the County GovernmentIn the county government…
“Still no trace of Li Mu?” Zheng Cunjian raised his brow.
Accompanied by two gorgeous maids, he came to the living room Li Mu usually inhabited.
The place looked quite tidy, because Chu Shufeng, the new Deputy county magistrate, had already asked servants to clean up the whole backside mansion.
Li Mu’s living room was the most spacious and comfortable suite in the entire place. Now, naturally, it became the temporary dwelling of Zheng Cunjian. To accommodate the new distinguished resident, Li Mu’s belongings were cleared out from the room and ditched on the aisle.
A wooden box caught Zheng Cunjian’s eyes as he glanced at that pile of abandoned items. Driven by curiosity, he picked the box up and opened it only to find a pair of boot-like footwear.
“I guess it’s a pair of shoes. But the way it was made with is rather peculiar. I wonder how it was produced,” said Chu Shufeng, who also found it a bit strange when examining the items at an earlier time. But he did not regard it a big deal.
In truth, it was a pair of basketball shoes from the brand Li Ning that had been transported from the Earth along with Li Mu.
People in this world, of course, could not understand what a pair of high-class basketball shoes created by the modern techniques from the Earth was. For them, even its material and design was totally alien in their world.
Zheng Cunjian did make any comment at Chu Shufeng’s assumption.
He simply took the shoes out and held them on his palms to observe. He examined each of them carefully, and even tried a sniff.
The mild smell of stinking feet made his nose cringe.
“Any more strange objects like this?” asked the Heartless Scholar.
Chu Shufeng paused, bewildered by Mr. Zheng’s interest in a pair of odd shoes. But after a moment, he answered with all due respect, “Yes, there are a pair of curiously-looking trousers and a piece of cloth that might be a belly-band for men. Please wait for a minute.”
A moment later, a handyman brought over Li Mu’s Li Ning-branded sweatpants and vest.
At the sight of these items, Zheng Cunjian’s eyes lit up. He immediately took them for further examination.
As he checked the objects, Chu Shufeng explained, “The style of the trousers is rather common, but the material is quite unique and scarce. They are also very exquisite, almost as beautiful as the best silk robe I’ve ever seen. That male belly-band is in a really weird shape. I have no idea what it is used for…”
But Zheng Cunjian interrupted, “Pack up the three items and send them to my room.”
Chu Shufeng was taken aback at this command. Not daring to finish his sentence, he said obediently, “Yes, I got it.”
Then, Zheng Cunjian stepped into the room and quickly studied the internal decoration. As a derisive smile surfaced on his face, he muttered, “The overall arrangement of the suite is fine. But, unfortunately, since Li Mu is a boor who doesn’t deserve the title of the youngest scholar in the empire at all, the decoration of specific parts is terrible… Well, never mind, I believe I can do with a couple of days living in this suite.”
Chu Shufeng hastened to flatter him, “Li Mu surely doesn’t live up to his reputation. How can he be put in comparison with a really low-key genius like you?”
“I was told that the county prison has housed a number of guys in the martial arts circle, am I right?” asked Zheng Cunjian thoughtfully, who had come down to the study and was watching the red dragonflies dancing over the pool in the yard through the windows.
Chu Shufeng swiftly replied, “Yes, it has. Most of them are little potatoes from the west and the north, not worthy of our attention. Li Mu imprisoned them for ransom. That act brought shame to all the empire officials. Two elders from the Sky Dragon Faction and the Huya Faction respectively had visited me, hoping I could let them bring Dongfang Jian and Tie Zhendong back.”
Zheng Cunjian smiled, and then he said, “Li Mu is really a weirdo. But, don’t release those prisoners unless they turn in the ransom. You can just tell the public that it is Li Mu’s order and you can’t do anything about it. After all, for now, Li Mu is still in charge of this county. Why not let him be the scapegoat for one more time? It’s called making good use of the waste.”
“How wise Your Honor is.” Chu Shufeng complimented again.
Just at that moment, they heard footsteps approaching. Ning Zhongshan, the new Dianshi janitor, was scuttling towards them, his expression a little perturbed. “Mr. Zheng, Zhou Zhenyue, the outer school elder of Taibai Sword Faction has brought dozens of his swordsmen here. They are waiting outside the office, demanding a meeting with the person in charge of the county government.”
“Taibai Sword Faction?” Zheng Cunjian was mystified. “What are they here for?”
The Taibai Sword Faction was quite an influential institution in the region of Taibai Mountain within a radius of a thousand miles.
Its fame could be attributed to a large number of experts in the faction. Apart from Zhao Xue, their head who was one of the top 10 best combatants of the empire and famous for her Snow Sword Skill, in these years there were a few more young talents rising from that faction. On top of that, the Taibai Sword Faction also made its name with its long history and lasting intrepidity and uprightness in moral ideologies. The faction had sent out one thousand swordsmen to go on the eastward expedition for the Western Qin Empire, many of whom made brilliant achievements in war and some even became commanders of border-provinces.
Given the influence of the Taibai Sword Faction, Zheng Cunjian did not dare cold-shoulder those uninvited guests.
“They alleged that four of their disciples have been killed in the county office and then someone delivered their bodies to the Righteous Manor. That outer school elder required us to give them a plausible explanation.” Ning Zhongshan clarified.
“Really? How could that happen?” Zheng Cunjian gave a wicked smile. Then, he continued, “How dare Li Mu kill disciples of Taibai Sword Faction? He is truly a lunatic. Shufeng, you go and tell them we’re trying to catch Li Mu. And considering that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, let them know we’re open to cooperate with them, too.”
“Certainly, I’m on it.”
Chu Shufeng answered at once.
“Zhongshan, go along with him. Try to befriend those swordsmen from Taibai Sword Faction and don’t piss them off.” Zheng Cunjian added as an afterthought.
Chu Shufeng and Ning Zhongshan immediately headed for the gate of the county government.
Zheng Cunjian was left alone in the room.
Shortly, Li Mu’s sweatpants, vest, and basketball shoes were delivered to the suite.
Zheng Cunjian measured up each of them before being immersed in his own thoughts.
At last, he stopped pondering and asked his maids to bring him some paper, ink and a writing brush. When all the things were ready, he dismissed all the servants and wrote a letter. Then, he sealed the letter and put it in a case together with Li Mu’s three personal items before summoning one of his trusted guards. He gave the guard quite a lengthy instruction and then the guard hurried took off with that case.
“Hahaha, never knew there could be such a huge secret in this little county office. If my speculation is right, I will be able to achieve something really stunning.”
As Zheng Cunjian watched his trusted guard hurry away, a hideous smile curled up his lips.
The night hours passed by.
Another daybreak arrived.
Li Mu woke up, feeling lightheaded.
After being exhilarated for two days and two nights as he drank and discussed martial arts knowledge with Guo Yuqing, he finally got wasted and fell asleep last night—the alcohol Guo Yuqing brought over was indeed quite vintage, for the hangover it ensued was really overwhelming.
“Uh? Brother Guo already left?”
Li Mu look around but saw no trace of Guo Yuqing in the cave.
But on the stone wall, there was a line of words: “Younger brother, I have something to attend in my place, so I left early. Take care, we’ll cross path again.” It was the writing of Guo Yuqing.
The cave was still perfumed with the fine wine.
Li Mu burped—even his burp smelled like wine.
“It’s time to get back to the county.” Li Mu murmured to himself. He then went to the bank of the underground river and washed his face with the icy water. Feeling much more refreshed, he muttered, “I wonder if old beggar has taken Ming Yue back.”
Li Mu strolled along the river and stopped before the curtain of the roaring waterfall.
With his current cultivation, he penetrated the waterfall without effort and arrived at the outside. After doing an elegant somersault, he landed steadily on a rock protruding from a cliff.
Not until that moment did Li Mu realize that the waterfall he hid behind during the last few days was actually the one on the most distant outskirts of the Nine-dragons Fall, which was also the smallest one.
The rumbling of the rolling water filled the whole place.
The darkness was fading, but the view of the landscape below was still clouded by the mist.
Li Mu believed that the sight below must be still a mess due to that battle that happened only several days before. Moreover, that gigantic flood dragon definitely would not reappear in a short spell, so he stifled the urge to explore the lake under the abyss. Then, he launched the body-lightening skill and leaped up the tip of the cliff.
About one hour later, Li Mu arrived at the edge of the thick woods behind the county office.
Ahead of him was a band of dense trees.
Behind him was a bottomless abyss.
A crimson sun was climbing up the peaks in the distance. In a while, the other sun would also stand on the top of the mountains and dispel the morning mist that was currently fluttering around the peaks like silk strips.
The warm sunlight fell on Li Mu.
He inhaled deeply.
After the battle against that huge flood dragon, Li Mu’s strength leveled up quite strikingly. Thanks to Guo Yuqing’s instruction, his knowledge and vision about martial arts were also deepened by leaps and bounds. He even grasped many valuable points the old faker had told him but he had ignored in the past. Now, for him, a brand new world of the martial arts practice was welcoming him in.
Staring at the rising sun, Li Mu felt pride and aspiration was filling up his chest.
“I finally made it home.” He exclaimed.
This time, he did not climb in from the backside of the mansion. Instead, he rounded the thick woods and reached the gate of the county office.
“How come the guards stationed at the gate are different?”
“Not only the personnel are changed, but also their uniform and equipment! Who are those strangers in black iron armor?”
Li Mu was a little astonished by the change.
Carrying all his confusions, he strode towards the gate of the county office.
“Stop!” Two armored guards directed their spears at Li Mu and snapped, “The county office is out of bounds to unauthorized persons. Don’t go further, otherwise, we’re allowed to kill you.”
“It’s me! They don’t know me?”
“Are they new employees?” Li Mu could not believe what he had heard.
But he did not get mad. With a beam, he emphasized, “I am the one living here. You two don’t know me? Hahaha, well, your ignorance has been forgiven. Now, get back to your positions.” As he said those words, he headed straight inside.
“How dare you!” One of the guards belowed.
“You’re courting death!” yelled the other guard.
They did not buy a word of what Li Mu just said and thrust their spears at him.
“Umm?” Li Mu’s expression instantly altered.
“Why are the two guys being so ruthless?” He wondered, a little annoyed.
“If folks come here to file a suit or apply for any other service, they might get hurt! I’ve lectured Feng Yuanxing repeatedly that the bureaucratic evil practice must be abolished and we shall make things easier for the folks. But why, today, the two little guards are still holding the old abominable attitude?”
“How on earth does Feng Yuanxing adminster his men?”
Thinking of that, Li Mu was suddenly enraged.
He reached out and gripped the end of the two spears lunging at him. With a slight flick, he sent the two guards clutching the other end of the spears flying backward who then fell heavily onto the ground.
“Tell Feng Yuanxing and Ma Junwu that the magistrate wants to see them.” Li Mu ordered as he crossed through the gate.
At this point, he heard the footsteps of multiple men.
A group of guards in black armor rushed towards the gate. Two men in general’s uniform whom Li Mu had never met before were taking the lead, and they determinedly blocked his way.
“Audacious thug, dare to trespass the county office! Arrest him!” One of the general-uniformed men shouted.
The guards instantly set up their bows, positioned their spears, unsheathed their broadswords, and surrounded Li Mu.
“What the hell?” Li Mu yelled inwardly.
He was not an idiot. Having received a series of strange treatment, he absolutely noticed something was not right.
“There are so many black-armored soldiers, carrying totally different weapons from the original guards of the Taibai County, and I recognize none of them…where on earth did all those men come from?” Li Mu was thoroughly puzzled.