Chapter 111 Laying the Groundwork
Li Mu sounded quite resolute, implying his strong confidence.
At that declaration, Zheng Cunjian’s heart contracted with shock.
The Heartless Scholar could not help wondering what on earth had happened to the Second Young Master over the past eight years, because this Li Mu was so different from the little boy in his memory it seemed that he had changed into another person—not only his strength became freaking strong but his character also grew much more decisive and stauncher.
It suddenly occurred to Zheng Cunjian that maybe the magistrate had made a huge mistaking by throwing three punches against the Second Young Master and cutting his son off. He felt one day his old master would really regret it.
But when he was still in the shock, Li Mu already began to plan out the trip to the Chang’an government in his head.
He had put down his foot on that decision.
In fact, there was a slew of reasons for him to take that trip.
Aside from doing it out of the sympathy for that miserable mother, he figured he was supposed to assume some of the responsibility of the real Li Mu since he had come to this planet and impersonate that young man.
After all, he had benefited a lot from being the county magistrate thanks to the real Li Mu.
When he first arrived on this planet, in particular, he might have lived a very hard life if it had not been that he had that identity as his cover.
Now that he took advantage of the real Li Mu, he should do something for him in return.
Since the real Li Mu in this world already fell off a cliff and disappeared, his imposter was somewhat obliged to shoulder the responsibility and bear the consequences incurred by the acts the real Li Mu had done.
The visit to the Chang’an government was undoubtedly full of peril.
Still, Li Mu insisted to go on that trip because he has his own faith to stick to.
To him, it was acceptable to fear death, to play dirty, to run away from danger, to surrender to the powerful… However, there was one thing he firmly disapproved, and that was being irresponsible.
The old faker once told him that there could only be two reasons for a man refusing to do a task: One was the task was beyond the depth of his capability, the other was it was beyond the boundaries he set for himself. Wicked as the old faker was, he firmly believed that a wise man should know what he could do and what he couldn’t do, and he also gave Li Mu many lectures about it.
Hence, after establishing that the trip was something he should do, Li Mu did not want to waste time, even though the place he would visit was highly dangerous.
“As long as I still have the faith I stick to, it won’t hurt to be a saint for a change.” Li Mu murmured to himself.
Li Mu felt quite good after making that decision.
But he certainly could not go off at half-cock.
He still needed to do some investigation and make relevant preparations before he headed for the Chang’an government.
At that time, the ones who knew the Chang’an government best in the current Taibai County were precisely Zheng Cunjian and Li Bing. The former was the devious schemer of that treacherous magistrate of Chang’an; the latter was his youngest son. Irrefutably, the two were living files of the Chang’an government.
“Thank god I didn’t kill these two brats today. I’ll make them write down the power distribution of the Chang’an government and the names of the experts they employed before compiling a specific record book.” Li Mu thought quietly.
He already had a rough plan.
But he did not intend to carry it on right away.
Instead, he continued to interrogate Zheng Cunjian.
“What’s the background of that Supervisor Xu who came here today?” probed Li Mu.
Zheng Cunjian’s face instantly showed a hint of awe and fear.
“Supervisor Xu was from the Supervisory Department of the Chang’an Government. As you know, the celebrated experts in Jianghu are not stringently subject to the laws of the three empires on this continent. To administer and discipline those rogue experts and the sects they formed, the Supervisory Department came into being. It is a martial arts administration institution established by the top nine Holy Clans and the dominating figures of the three empires. The Supervisory Department has a wide range of power—to investigate, to hold trials, and to reach verdicts and so on. After years of development, the institution is practically placed above most of the laws of the empires. The experts working for it are from the top nine Holy Clans and factions at the sixth-grade or higher… That Supervisor Xu was one of the experts of the Yellow Sand Clan. He had served for the Supervisory Department of the Chang’an Government for three years as one of the 72 Supervisors they employed…”
Zheng Cunjian replied without holding anything back.
Actually, Li Mu already knew about the Supervisory Department attributed to the history lecture Qing Feng crammed into his brain at dinners.
He also understood the special position the Supervisory Department took up in the entire power structure of the world.
“Yellow Sand Clan? A six-grade faction? Does it have something to do with the Qing Sha Clan or the Sirius Clan?” inquired Li Mu. Generally, a clan was a faction that had a pretty long history, which shall not be underestimated.
“The Yellow Sand Clan is one of the six greatest clans that can trace back to ancient times. It already exists over several thousand years,” explained Zheng Cunjian.
Hearing that, Li Mu reckoned he knew what to expect.
“Fuck, those are all badasses!”
“How long will it take for the Supervisory Department to discover I killed Supervisor Xu?” continued Li Mu.
Zheng Cunjian knew what the county magistrate was getting at. After musing for a moment, he answered, “Supervisors are allowed to move around within his jurisdiction. They usually wander about with no one keep track of their exact whereabouts. Considering that this time Supervisor Xu did not come here on account of an official mission, if we block the leakage of that news, I believe the Supervisory Department of the Chang’an Government won’t find out within a short spell. Probably we can keep it covered up for about three months.”
“Three months?” Li Mu was surprised.
“That’ll do it.”
Given that the Cultivation Method Li Mu adopted was magically efficient, his strength had been growing exponentially. He had only landed on this planet a couple of months ago, but his power was already quite amazing. At that rate, he definitely could uplevel his power in three months. Then, even if the Supervisory Department came after him, he would have no fear.
However, he was also aware that the three months was not guaranteed.
That period Zheng Cunjian deduced was calculated based on the precondition that the news was perfectly blocked. But now, he already set free the disciples of the Taibai Sword Faction who had witnessed the death of Supervisor Xu. If by any chance one of them spread out the news, Supervisory Department’s retaliation would absolutely come much faster than he speculated.
Therefore, Li Mu knew he should not be so optimistic as to believe the disciples of the Taibai Sword Faction who plainly held a grudge against him would never rat on him.
“Damn it! I surely shouldn’t make any decision in haste. Or I’ll have to cope with the aftermath…” Li Mu groaned, clapping a hand to his forehead.
“Seems that I have to speed up with my original agenda.”
After giving it a thought, Li Mu asked again, “By the way, have you destroyed all my personal belongings?”
Zheng Cunjian’ heart almost jumped to his mouth. He lowered his head, looking scared and wrong-footed, which delicately disguised his true emotions. “It’s my fault. It’s all my fault. I thought they were useless, so I… I had them destroyed…”
He broke off and did not mention that he sent three odd clothes and shoes away.
That was because there were a series of critical issues linking to the objects. He would rather risk his life than let slip of that important secret.
Li Mu did not notice Zheng Cunjian’s expression, so he let go of the topic.
Those items were merely memorials of his life on Earth. They were not very important or anything. Although losing them was a pity for Li Mu, it was not something that enraged him.
After that, he asked the scholar more questions about other issues before drawing an end to the interrogation.
Being put into shackles specially made to take out their chances of breaking out, Zheng Cunjian and Li Bing were thrown into two different storerooms at the back of the county government to write down all the information about Chang’an, such as its force distribution, city structure, and location of factions…
All the things they knew about Chang’an, no matter how trivial it was, they had to put it in detailed writing.
Further, in order to prevent the two from loafing on the job, Li Mu set a minimum number of words they must write per day. If they failed to produce that worth of information, they would be deprived of food and water and put in detention in a dark room without any shaft of sunlight.
“If I find the things you write down not satisfying enough, I will land you in hell.”
Li Mu told the two menacingly.
The two were both terrified and started writing with no effort spared.
During the meantime, Li Mu stayed in the training room to reflect on what he learned from today’s battles and summarize the recent gains and losses.
In the past few days, Li Mu had pulled through several fierce battles and also obtained a number of rewards.
The one at the Nine-dragons Fall affected Li Mu especially strongly. After that fight, he not only reshaped his body but also mastered the third move of the Zhenwu Boxing. It even gave him the opportunity to communicate with Guo Yuqing, an expert with unfathomable strength, and caused him to learn that magical power was totally different from internal qi and finally grasp the new kind of power.
Those experiences made Li Mu realize that it was time to review and organize the knowledge the old faker intentionally or unintentionally taught him back on Earth.
He might find certain truth about martial arts in any random remark the old faker once mentioned.
To put it a little more exaggeratedly, after easily mastering the magical power of lightning by following the instructions of the old faker, Li Mu now was under the impression that even the fart of the old faker smelled pleasant.
Accordingly, everything the old faker did might be valuable. So, Li Mu was going through all the lectures and things the old faker had done so as to build up a clear system of martial arts cultivation.
The first field he tapped was the ‘geomantic omen’ and the ‘formation’ that the old faker frequently babbled about.
The old faker could often pull off a trick with the two matters.
When the old fake went out for religious rites on holidays, Li Mu almost accompanied him every time. Thus, influenced by what he constantly saw and heard at those events, Li Mu learned a lot about them. The two things were deemed as a sort of superstition on Earth, but he wondered if it was possible that on this planet they would be remarkable powers.
Li Mu decided to start with ‘formation’.
Because he planned on laying formations around the county government.
If the formation was really so mighty as what the old faker had described, he would be able to protect the entire county government with a maze constituted by specifically arranged rocks, trigs, and trenches. Like the Eight-Diagram tactics set up by Zhuge Liang, the famous strategist living in the period of the Three Kingdoms, his formation would keep away hordes of troops and horses.
That way, if the county government was attacked again someday, he could fend off the enemies and keep his friends and subordinates intact, instead of leaving no leeway for Qing Feng and the others and causing them to be pulled up against the wall like what happened this time.
Time flew by.
In a blink of an eye, three days passed.
During those days, Li Mu went out once and counted the various designated resources delivered by the Sky Dragon Faction, the Huya Faction, and the other sects being blackmailed. Due to the immense pressure Li Mu imposed upon them, this time those factions showed their strong power of execution and successfully sent the items Li Mu demanded to the county government.
Piles of assorted jade, ancient trees, flowers, bugs, fishes, and rocks were categorized and placed at the gate in order. And special guards were dispatched to guard the resources. The odd change naturally drew the attention of many bypassers.
Under Li Mu’s order, the servants made an inventory of all the items.
Those factions that turned in all their share of the ransom were also staying in the county, anxiously waiting for the moment they could take their seniors out of the prison.
Soon, Li Mu published the list of the hostages he would release, but he did not let them out right off, because he needed to buy some time so as to make sure no one would leak the message of Supervisor Xu’s death.
Another three days went by.
Li Mu finished sorting out the old faker’s ‘theoretical science of formations’.
As he combed through the sporadical pieces of information, he also learned the subject bit by bit.
He even did various experiments, which gave him excellent feedback.
Then, he started to set formations in the vicinity of the county government and launched a major renovation of the old mansion to adjust to the new defense facility.
Just like that, a brand new power was about to descend upon this world.
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