Longcheng Pass had become the center of the turbulence on the entire continent.
The Great Moon Empire was working hard to rebuild the ten cities and nine places. Except for Longcheng Pass, the other 18 cities in the border area had all undergone a massacre conducted by the Western Qin’s army. When entered into any of the 18 cities, it felt like entering a purgatory. Many normal people would have a nervous breakdown at the sight of the tragic view there.
It was just like hell.
In complete silence, Li Mu followed the army of the Great Moon Empire burying the bodies of those civilians who had died a tragic death from one city to another. He went more taciturn each time he arrived in a city.
He saw the bodies of seniors, gruesomely dismembered; bodies of grandparents, burnt to death in their house. He saw a young mother holding a baby less than one-month-old that had been shot dead by an arrow. The mother looked in the deepest grief, but she was naked waist down, her private part a mess, and sporting a slash wound in the chest. He saw dozens of young men hanged in a tree, and the naked women who were killed beneath the tree were clearly their loved ones…
The barbed iron cages placed at the gate of the cities were filled with mutilated bodies…
The moat was dyed red with blood and the bodies piled up like mountains.
Many days had passed. A lot of the corpses had been half rotten. White maggots were wriggling in and out of the decaying corpses, and the air is permeated with the smell of rot.
Li Mu’s face went a little numb.
It occurred to him that Caicai and her grandmother buried in the huge grave would soon be like that… They used to be lovely, vigorous people. When they were alive, they all had their faith, dreams, and interests, but all that was deprived in just a second.
Closing his eyes, Li Mu could even hear the horrible, misery, and desperate howls those innocent people let out before being killed. The husbands were trying to protect their wives and children; the old men were trying to protect their beloved spouses; the mothers were trying to protect their children… All kinds of cries and screams seemed to have traveled through time and space and kept ringing in Li Mu’s ears.
Li Mu knew their death had nothing to do with him.
Those dead men and women were none of his business.
Still, he was at a loss.
It was not that he had not seen dead people since he came to that world. In fact, the people that had died in his hands were quite many… But after traveling around all the 18 cities in the border area that he had not visited before, he was somehow gripped by a certain kind of restlessness and loathing which he could not spit out.
Depressed as such, he even had not cared to deal with the injuries in the flesh incurred by the performance of the Endless Waves that day.
For several days in a row, Li Mu just kept collecting and disposing of the bodies of those innocent victims along with the soldiers.
The 19 cities formed the boundary line between the Northern Song and the Western Qin, which stretched nearly 1,000 miles. The soldiers and civilians slaughtered on the order of Emperor Qin Ming added up to more than three million. The tragic massacre was so large-scared that the less than 10,000 soldiers of the Great Moon Empire had to work day and night digging pits and burying the bodies. After three days, they still had not finished the work.
According to ancient books, the Sages were born with the qi of heaven and earth and so could comprehend the power of heaven and earth. For that reason, the will of the Sage could affect the Divine Way.
In the past few days, Li Mu was rather irritable, confused, and depressed. The skies over the ten cities and nine places were also dark and it occasionally rained. The time had been proceeding to late autumn. The temperature got lower and lower day by day, which prevented the occurrence of plagues.
Eventually, with the arrangement of Zhang San and Mu Qing, two ministers of the Great Moon Empire, the practitioners skilled with using fire and warlocks in the army directly began to burn the corpses, while those excelling at using earth were in charge of the burying work…
Li Mu worked along with them for the whole time.
He was nearly downhearted to the extreme. Too heartbroken to feel anything, he busied himself digging pits and burying the dead without stopping…
He kept working until Zhang San arrived in person and reported, “Your honor, Li Yushu, the Tang Master of the All Arts Gathered in One Faction in the Northern Song requests a meeting with your honor.”
By then, Li Mu should be regarded as the pillar of the Great Moon Empire, but he had no specific official rank for the moment, for even the Great Moon Empire had been in a sorry state. Thus, all the surviving military men of the Great Moon Empire addressed Li Mu as your honor.
“Request declined.” In the middle of digging a pit on the ground with both hands, Li Mu replied without looking back. His voice was a little hoarse.
Zhang San nodded and went back.
Another day passed by.
When Li Mu was collecting the bodies of those slaughtered in Huju Pass, Zhang San came again and spoke with an embarrassed look. “Your honor, the son of the Zhu family, a noble family with a history of 1,000 years asks to see you.”
“Declined.” Li Mu gave him the same reply.
Zhang San opened his mouth to say something. But in the end, he swallowed the words back and left.
Two hours later, he went back to Li Mu again.
“Qi Huai, Principal of the Wendao Academy, hopes to see your honor.” After a short pause, Zhang San added, “Principal Qi has come to discuss martial arts with your honor and exchange notes. He is the second strongest practitioner of the Holy Clan, Wendao Academy, and a predecessor who already entered the Sage Realm 100 years ago.”
The Qi Huai from the Wendao Academy was once the man of the moment in the Divine Land. He was the brightest star 100 years ago who had aroused quite a sensation at that time.
“Declined.” Still, Li Mu did not change his answer.
He had kind of gotten himself into a dead end.
Like Guo Jing in the Legend of the Condor Heroes, Li Mu was mystified. He was reluctant to use martial arts against others. All he thought about was where the road was taking him and what the point of studying martial arts was.
Many people of great wisdom could overcome thousands of obstacles but often could not see through small issues and would not let go.
Truthfully, Li Mu knew very well that that was wrong.
Even so, he still couldn’t let go.
Zhang San looked hesitant. Finally, he didn’t say anything and took off.
“What? He declined?”
A hint of sinister appeared in Qi Huai’s face.
Southern Chu is a region of rivers and lakes. It was also abundant with miasma and poisonous insects. Every place had its own way to raise its people. Thus, people living in Southern Chu were inclined to be more wrenched and insidious. Qi Huai was a typical man from Southern Chu.
He had attained great achievements when he was a teenager and entered the Sage Realm a century ago. By then, he was more than 150 years old. For ordinary martial arts practitioners, a 150-year-old man was considered middle-aged. But for Sages, he seems to still be at the beginning of his life and about to proceed to his prime. And the Wendao Academy was the protective Holy Clan of the Southern Chu. So, as the second strongest of Wendao Academy as well as the second strongest of the Southern Chu, Qi Huai’s status was extremely distinguished.
After entering the Sage Realm, Qi Huai worked hard for a century for more improvement. This time, he had come out of his closed-door training in order to compete for the number one practitioner with the other heroes in the world. He had traveled up to the Great Moon Empire claiming to exchange notes with Li Mu, but in truth, he had come to challenge the world’s top one who had just settled himself on the throne.
But to his surprise, his request had been rejected.
“Is it because your honor’s injuries haven’t healed?” Qi Huai looked at Zhang San and asked with a dark look.
Zhang San said, “His honor is doing fine. It’s just that he doesn’t want to fight anyone recently.”
Qi Huai gave a faint smile and remarked, “I’ve heard that the Li Mu in the Western Qin is the most unscrupulous guy. Whoever his broadsword is directed at, he will never beat a no retreat. But after he sat in the throne as the top one in the world, it turns out that he also started craving for bubble fame and began treading as on eggs, am I right?”
As soon as that remark came out, the entire main hall of the government of Longcheng Pass burst into an outcry.
The soldiers of the Great Moon Empire had regarded Li Mu as sacred. How could they allow other people to defame him?
Mu Qing, the blind old man, slammed the end of his iron stick heavily against the ground like a provoked old ape. Then, he snarled, “Since Qi Shuchang is not a man vain about fame, why did you pick this time to come to Longcheng Pass and challenge his honor?”
It was wildly rumored that Li Mu was seriously injured after the battle against Emperor Qin Ming.
That news already spread to the ears of the military men of the Great Moon Empire. The people of the Great Moon Empire were enraged at that news and immediately made some clarifications against it. But their voices were soon drowned in the surging storms. Lately, all kinds of vile figures had come to Longcheng Pass either openly or stealthily. They threw down gantlets to Li Mu in public and tried to provoke him in private. Those men had stirred up tons of trouble in Longcheng Pass as well as the rest of the border area.
Qi Huai, the second strongest practitioner in Southern Chu, had picked that time to travel all the way up there to challenge Li Mu. Even a fool could see what his real agenda was. He was just hoping to take advantage of Li Mu’s time of vulnerability, wasn’t he?
Qi Huai looked darkly at Mu Qing and smiled. With his hands folded on his back, he strode out of the main hall, shaking his head and muttering, “How could a blind understand what fame and benefits are?”
When he walked to the gate, he suddenly turned around. Something weird started to surface in his pupils. especially in the left eye. It appeared that a golden snake was slithering in it. A touch of gold flashed across his pupil.
Next, an invisible force burst out.
Mu Qing sensed nothing but an exotic force sweep at him. Very timely, he raised his walking stick to block the force. With a loud clatter, the walking stick exploded, and Mu Qing flew backward, hit the stone wall hard behind the hall, spilled a mouthful of blood.
“You…” Zhang San tightened his pointed broadsword.
Qi Huai gave a tiny smile and taunted, “The Great Moon Empire is now left with only a few useless troops. So, don’t overexert yourselves. Otherwise, the poor troops will shrink rapidly.”
With that, Qi Huai swaggered his way out.
Though looking furious, Zhang San did not dare to say anything.
Having gone through that ordeal, each of the surviving members of the Great Moon Empire was precious. Every sacrifice ought to be worth it. Since Qi Huai’s strength was too strong, it was meaningless to take on him by force. Zhang San knew he had no odds against him. He could not bring himself to start a hopeless fight.
Mu Qing was a Semi-Sage after all. It took him only a few moments to adjust his breathing before he came to his senses.
“His honor doesn’t seem to be himself.” Zhang San said anxiously. Those days, he noticed that Li Mu looked as if he had gone mad.
Mu Qing concurred with a nod. Despite his blindness, he was a very perceptive man. “His honor’s talent is unparalleled. It’s just that he has progressed too fast and his combat power is too strong for his age. As his strength has grown too fast, his cultivation of the mind might easily fall behind. Practitioners who merely focus on the enhancement in strength but not the mind are likely to go mad. Yet, that is not to say they’ve headed down the wrong path and turned into a devil when practicing Cultivation Methods. Instead, they are troubled by the devil inside them.”
Zhang San pressed, “Then, what can we do now? If His Honor can’t beat the devil inside him, what will become of him?”
Mu Qing answered, “If failing to get over the devil inside, it won’t hurt his progress in martial arts studies, but he will be living like a walking dead.”
“Will his honor get over it?” Zhang San frowned.
Mu Qing frowned and said, “He will, perhaps.”
He did not sound very certain about that.
“How long will it take?” Zhang San could not help but ask hotly.
Mu Qing wiped the blood from the corners of his mouth and said, “That’s hard to say. It depends on whether His Honor can figure it out himself. The enlightenment might come in just a second or in decades. The battle against the devil inside is all up to his inner self and has nothing to do with his cultivation.”
Zhang San breathed a sigh.
Why did the Great Moon Empire have to undergo so many disasters?
“As to those who come and challenge his honor, we’d better not tell him for the moment.” Zhang San suggested.
Mu Qing nodded. “Yeah, there are some loads that you and I have to carry, even if it is a bit difficult.”
“More and more people from assorted factions and noble families have come to this city,” Zhang San said. “We got to figure out a way to fix it. If not, those people will start to sound us out with more and more unbridled methods.”
“That’s no picnic.” Mu Qing sighed deeply.
At the same time, in an alley of Huju Pass 300 miles away from the Longcheng Pass, a faint cry of a baby coming from under the slab of the collapsed attic caught the attention of Li Mu, who was searching for bodies.
He lifted the slate and saw that in the arms of a dead woman lay a baby girl who was so weak that she was crying with the last bit of strength she had while desperately sucking her mother’s already stiff breasts. The thing that ran down her throat was not milk but blood…
All of a sudden, Li Mu felt as if he was struck by lightning.
At once, he took the baby girl out and held her in his arms.
You’re reading Chapter 421 – The Devil Inside on readnovels.co. Wish you happy reading! Follow more great stories at action novel.