Seeing that Li Mu was so close to Caicai, the stout middle-aged Ula Budo looked quite sullen. He quickly whispered something to the heavyset general in red leather armor next to him.
That general looked up at Li Mu, as though he were memorizing his features by heart.
Li Mu, however, did not mind his stare at all.
“This bro looks quite unfamiliar to me,” Zhou An remarked, his eyes darting to Li Mu.
But just as Wu Beichen opened his mouth to say something, Li Mu beat him to it. “Never mind me. I’m just a peddler from another city. I just arrived in Longcheng Pass today. General Wu once helped me with my business, so I dropped in to say hello to him.”
Generally, Li Mu did not want his whereabouts to be exposed unless he had to.
Zhou An sniggered.
“Lately, the situation in the border area is rather on edge. Some spies have sneaked into Longcheng Pass. The city is not safe at present. Little bro, it’s really surprising that you dare come to Longcheng Pass to do business at this juncture. Anyway, you’d better be careful. After all, weapons can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad ones.”
As no trace of internal qi fluctuation could be found on Li Mu at the moment and his clothes were distinctly different from the traditional custom in the border area, Zhou An certainly reckoned he was one of the conservative non-locals like Granny Cai and her granddaughter. Plus, given that Li Mu looked quite young, perhaps only a few years older than Caicai, the boy and the girl might be intimate playmates in childhood. And the affection Caicai showed when she was murmuring with Li Mu seemed to have evidenced that already.
“Thanks for General Zhou’s warning.” Li Mu said with a cool face, still seated in his chair.
Zhou An raised his eyebrows and made to say something but gave it up at last.
He paid no more attention to Li Mu but turned to Caicai and Granny Cai. “Listen, Ambassador Ula Budo is held in high regard on the vast pasture. His status is as distinguished as a lord in an empire. He’d like to adopt Caicai and take her to further her study on the vast pasture. As long as you two agree to it, you can set off for the vast pasture first thing tomorrow. Doesn’t Caicai love learning sword skills? You know, Spider Shrine is an ancient and respected institution on the vast pasture. There are numerous marvelous secret sword-using methods there. Caicai can pick any of them to study… Well, I bet a great number of girls are envying Caicai’s luck now.”
Granny Cai shook her head.
Caicai also insisted, “Like I’ve told you many times, I don’t want to go to the pasture or to be some pasture man’s adopted daughter.”
“Well, such a good opportunity won’t come to you twice,” warned Zhou An, his face slowly turning stern.
Wu Beichen bellowed, “General Zhou, what are you up to by repeatedly demanding us to give Caicai to that pasture man? Is the security of the borders of our Western Qin Empire depended on sending our girls to the pasture?”
Void of expressions, Zhou An said, “I also have Caicai’s best interest at heart. She is too young to understand what she should appreciate.”
“Please go away.” Caicai disliked those men very much and showed them the door straight away.
Zhou An sighed with disappointment and looked over to translate Caicai’s remark to Ula Budo and his men.
The pasture warriors instantly looked furious and attempted to say something. But Ula Budo waved them down, gave Caicai and the rest of her company a cold laugh, and turned around to leave.
Zhou An also shook his head and led the armored soldiers of the Iron Sword Camp out of the yard.
Wu Beichen and the other frontier soldiers all looked indignant.
Having observed all that by the time, Li Mu came to realize that although the armies at the borders claimed to be united as firmly as a plate of iron for centuries, the truth was they were probably not that harmonious as people assumed they were. That also indirectly confirmed that the current Western Qin Empire was on the wane.
An hour later, Li Mu left Granny Cai and Caicai’s place.
Reluctant to part with him, Caicai accompanied Li Mu on his way out until he came to the end of the alley.
After turning down Caicai, Wu Beichen, and the others’ proposal to see him off, Li Mu marched down the road alone. On his way back, he was still pondering whether he should give it one more shot to talk Granny Cai and Caicai into leaving the border area. Because he had sensed an extremely spooky atmosphere looming over the Longcheng Pass, as if they were merely enjoying the last tranquility before a terrifying storm.
By then, it was fully dark out there.
In an alley that was about a hundred meters away from Longcheng Inn, Li Mu abruptly halted in his track.
Because four figures just appeared in his way.
There was about one hour to go before the Longcheng Pass was put under a curfew. Only a few people were still on the streets. Therefore, when the four figures showed up in a line, Li Mu knew they were blocking his way on purpose. And the most important thing was Li Mu recognized the four men as the four pasture warriors standing behind Ambassador Ula Budo from Spider Shrine today.
Li Mu cracked a smile.
He did not bother to ask them why they cornered him in the alley but lunged straight at them.
A few seconds later, Li Mu strolled out of the alley.
And in the dark and winding alley behind him laid four heaps of fine dust that almost could not be captured by bare eyes.
When Li Mu got back to Longcheng Inn, he visited Guo Yuqing again and learned that Qiu Yin, the Broadsword Man, still did not come, and no new messages from him had arrived, either. Although they were very surprised at that, the two were not anxious, for they trusted Qiu Yin very much despite their short encounter. Given Qiu Yin’s character, he definitely did not stand them up deliberately. Perhaps there was really some unexpected incident, so they might as well wait for a few more days.
The darkness deepened.
After the curfew was fully imposed, the entire Longcheng Pass sank into perfect quietness for a whole night. As lights in the houses were extinguished one after another, the place was completely devoured by darkness.
“Brother Mu will come and rescue me!”
In the depths of the vast pasture, the first snow of that year had continued lavishly for two hours. Small snowflakes gradually grew into large and fluffy ones. The withered yellow pasture was soon covered by white snowflakes. Looking in the distance, all you could see was white land enveloped in darkness.
On a hill that was about a hundred meters in height, Shangguan Yuting, who was wearing a white silk dress and holding Daji, the little white fox, in her arms, remarked with her pride and an unbending air to Jiang Qiubai, the handsome man with long blond hair sitting several feet away from her.
The little white fox barked in Shangguan Yuting’s arms. It bared its snow-white pointed fangs towards Jiang Qiubai, as if echoing her remark.
Jiang Qiubai had been looking up at the sky the whole time.
The starry sky over the vast pasture was extraordinarily beautiful. Even during that long night with heavy snow constantly falling, fist-sized stars could still be seen twinkling in the sky. Ever since he first stepped onto the vast pasture, that blond-haired man liked admiring the sky from time to time, as though he was an alien traveler missing his hometown that was sitting on the other end of the sky.
“You’ve told me that a thousand times. I know, Li Mu will come and save you, because he is surely a responsible man. Yet, the one I’m waiting for is precisely him. So, no need to emphasize that to me.” Jiang Qiubai said in a very attractive deep voice.
If ignoring the fact that he had broken the tactic deployment in the Knife Hut and kidnapped them here, Shangguan Yuting and Daji, the little white fox, could almost agree that Jiang Qiubai was a charming man with a graceful bearing.
Within a one-hundred-meter radius of him, no snowflakes could get in. In the area, it was warm like spring. Even the wilted plants around him had become green again.
An eccentric incantation was roaming around the area.
“Brother Mu will beat you!” Shangguan Yuting added.
Jiang Qiubai smiled at her and said, “Really? I’m very much looking forward to it. Anyway, how on earth does it feel to be defeated?”
Daji yelped in a high-pitched voice, as if saying he was really good at boasting.
It showed its white teeth and barked at Jiang Qiubai rather menacingly.
Jiang Qiubai looked at the little white fox with a beam and commented, “How cute she is!” Then, he abruptly opened his mouth as well. His two protruding canine teeth that were not particularly long suddenly grew longer and thicker. The teeth elongated at an alarming rate and passed his bottom lips, dribbling blood-colored saliva like a pair of pointed teeth of a wolf king.
At that moment, Jiang Qiubai’s pretty face instantly turned ferocious and violent. And a tide of wild aura that resembled that of an ancient beast made the entire pasture shudder. However, that aura only lingered around for a second.
What he just displayed was an awfully frightening dehumanization.
The little white fox started shivering at once. It quickly cringed back to Shangguan Yuting’s arms and buried its head in her chest like an ostrich.
Jiang Qiubai soon withdrew his elongated teeth and his face turned handsome and elegant again. Looking proud of himself, he bragged, “When it comes to baring teeth, I have never lost to anyone.”
Shangguan Yuting tenderly caressed the little white fox. She felt sorry for it, for it was Brother Mu’s favorite pet after all. She shouted angrily, “You, a powerful martial arts expert, should intimidate a little beast. How detestable you are to bully the weak!”
“Little beast?” Jiang Qiubai said with a smiley face. “If this one carrying the original bloodline of the Nine-tailed is just a little beast, few on this land can be called large beasts.”
Shangguan Yuting cast a suspicious look at the little white fox and repeated, “The Nine-tailed?”
She was even more inexperienced than Li Mu in terms of the ways of Jianghu.
Jiang Qiubai nodded. Then, he said scathingly, “It seemed you didn’t know that at all. Well, turns out that your Brother Mu doesn’t tell you everything he knows, does he?”
Shangguan Yuting’s gorgeous face revealed a hint of contempt.
“He wants to use this childish trick to tarnish the image Brother Mu left in my mind? Humph, no way! There must be a perfectly good reason that Brother Mu has kept this from me. I know he is right no matter what he does.”
Jiang Qiubai, yet, did not say one more word.
Because something else just occurred to him.
When he transformed into the Wolf God just for a second, the aura he issued was exceedingly dreadful. Even the beast carrying the original bloodline of the Nine-tailed trembled in fear after it saw him transforming. But why didn’t Shangguan Yuting, a girl who had just reached the Natural Realm, show a sign of fear at all? By principle, in that flitting instant, the girl with the beauty of a fairy on the moon should have turned pale on the spot.
“But how did she remain so calm?”
Jiang Qiubai then set his eyes upon Shangguan Yuting and measured her from head to feet. Then, he slightly narrowed his eyes.
A shrilling wail woke up the Longcheng Pass that was still fast asleep in the dead of night.
Next, balls of fire shot up from every district in Longcheng Pass and brightened the sky. After that, beats of military drums mingled by roars and howls were heard. Frontier soldiers in silver armors rushed out of their camps. They broke several lines of defense down the road and converged into a silvery tide which flooded towards the east gate of Longcheng Pass…
“Iron Sword Camp rebelled!”
“Zhou An went against us!”
Enraged and bitter howls sounded everywhere inside the city.
Nobody ever expected that the first crisis in the border area since Western Qin’s resurgence was triggered by the internal conflict of the border armies. The blazing fire that lit up the sky over Longcheng Pass ignited a catastrophe that would soon sweep across the entire Divine Land.
You’re reading Chapter 322 – A Blazing Fire on readnovels.co. Wish you happy reading! Follow more great stories at action novel.