Chapter 93 I Am at Fault
It was true that the Dianshi janitor commanded all the military forces in the county and had the power to punish his subordinates.
A second ago, this gangling young Dianshi janitor who was squinting launched a strike as fast as a flash of lightning and hacked off Ma Junwu’s arm.
The whole process happened so fast that many people did not have time to react.
Evidently, the strength of the young Dianshi janitor named Ning Zhongshan was way superior to that of Ma Junwu.
While everyone on the scene was still in shock, Zheng Cunjian, who was wearing a savage sneer in the seat of honor, slowly took a sip of his tea as if nothing had happened.
Chu Shufeng, the other abruptly-appointed county official, gave a smile, and then said, “In the county government building, Ma Junwu openly defied his superior and attempted to assassinate Mr. Zheng. I reckon there must be somebody who put him up to this. Guards, take him to the prison and interrogate him with severe torture until he confesses who his accomplice is.”
Upon hearing that order, those armored soldiers who had long been waiting outside flooded in and drew out their weapons before directing them at Ma Junwu.
Since the original guards in the county office had been replaced by the forces of Chan’an government, now the entire county office was practically under the control of those newcomers. Like rats in a hole, Ma Junwu and the other old officials had no chance to fight back.
“You… frame me… His Honor Li will not let you get away with this!” growled the pallid-faced Ma Junwu in rage.
But except for that howl, he did no more attempts to repel.
Feng Yuanxing and Zhen Meng were also overwhelmed by both astonishment and indignation.
“How come those from the Chang’an government dared take such a crazy move?” They wondered in disbelief.
Reluctantly, the three allowed themselves to be taken away.
“I’ll go to the prison, too. I’ll interrogate those scums in person!” Li Bing suddenly stood up and tossed his wine onto the floor before yelling, “Look how I torture them to death!” In fact, he had already come up with a dozen of horrible means to get back at Feng Yuanxing and the other two.
“Go ahead,” Zheng Cunjian approved with a smile, “as long as you don’t kill them.”
Li Bing’s lips widened into a nasty grin as he answered, “I’ll make sure of it. Don’t worry, I’m also unwilling to let those underdogs die a quick death.” Then, he led his men to head for the prison. After taking only a few steps, he looked over his shoulder and hissed through his tightly clenched teeth. “By the way, that Li Mu, I’ll never let him off hook. I’ll flay him alive, yank his tendons out, and drink his blood.”
Ning Zhongshan, the new Dianshi janitor, clarified, “I’ve sent my men to search this place. They found no trace of Li Mu in the county government or his training room.”
“What did you say? He escaped?” Li Bing started shouting again, unable to accept that fact. “Do your job, Zheng Cunjian! No matter what, you must get Li Mu back. If not, I won’t let any of you live a peaceful life!”
At this moment, Li Bing was almost driven mad by his wrath.
Having been scolded like that, Zheng Cunjian and Ning Zhongshan both looked a little awkward.
To save them from embarrassment, the new Deputy county magistrate Chu Shufeng spoke with a smile, “Young Master, it’s highly possible that Li Mu had already left the county office when we arrived. But no need to be mad, Young Master. He can’t be on the run forever. With a few tricks of mine, this Li Mu will certainly come back on his own accord. For now, please take your mind off him and go vent your anger in the county prison. You’ll surely be satisfied.”
“Well, your words are relatively pleasant to hear.”
Li Bing nodded with gratification and then took off with his guards.
The Heartless Scholar took another swig of tea but did not say a word, as if he was lost in thought.
In truth, Li Bing’s rude behavior did make him feel very humiliated in front of everyone. However, he reined in his fury perfectly.
Because he was very clear that he was relying on the power of the magistrate of Chang’an. As long as he still wanted to maintain that connection, the youngest son whom the magistrate adored most was the last one he dared upset.
“Mr. Zheng, I was told that Li Mu is quite protective towards his men. If we arrest those who are very close to him, he might be forced to turn up.” suggested Chu Shufeng, his hook nose on his round face twitching slightly, exuding a hint of viciousness.
“Those close to him? But Feng Yuanxing, Zhen Meng, and Ma Junwu are all Li Mu has, right?” Ning Zhongshan doubted with a frown.
“Hahaha, that’s not right. Your honor, you only got half of it. As far as I know, Li Mu’s closest and most trusted cronies are not the three officials. Instead, they are his two little attendants.” Chu Shufeng corrected, smiling confidently.
“Little attendants?” The Heartless Scholar was intrigued.
Still smiling, Chu Shufeng explained, “Yes, the two little attendants named Qing Feng and Ming Yue are his real family. I’ve dispatched a team to search every corner of this place. Although they didn’t find the girl called Ming Yue, they did spot the boy, Qing Feng. Now, he is locked up in the backroom.”
Zheng Cunjian gave a pleased smile and nodded. “Are you referring to that sharp-tongued little guy at the gate of the county office?”
“Great. Now, go ahead with your plan.” Zheng Jiancun waved him away. “He is so young but already so glib. Who knows how good he will be at arguing when he grows up? I really should take out some of his teeth to make him learn this lesson.” Zheng Cunjian muttered to himself.
In the backroom.
Staring at Chu Shufeng who loomed in front him, Qing Feng looked dazed, as if he was already frightened out of his wits.
“Kid, aren’t you very talkative? Why did you turn dumb? Hahaha.” scorned a deputy general who was harshly told off by Qing Feng a moment ago.
Qing Feng did not reply.
The new Deputy county magistrate looked rather indifferent.
“He is, after all, just a kid. No matter how argumentative he is, a little bluff can put him to dumbness.” He murmurred internally, a little disappointed.
“Take him.” Chu Shufeng ordered.
Being grabbed unceremoniously by two armored guards, Qing Feng stumbled and was shaking all over.
“I’m sorry, I admit I’m at fault…” He whispered to himself as if battered out of his senses.
The deputy general put on a more compassionate sneer and said, “Well, little guy, it’s too late to beg for pardon.”
Qing Feng appeared to not take in those mocking words and continued to mumble to himself, “It’s my fault. I was overconfident. I put His Honor Ma and Secretary Feng and the others in this hell… I…” He broke off, forcefully pulling his hairs in chagrin.
Being aggressive and uncompromising.
That was the strategy Qingfeng adopted the first day when they took the office.
That was why Ma Junwu and Feng Yuanxing chose to offend Zheng Jiancun just now.
But this little attendant was still too young and too confident to realize his limit.
He believed he already thought of everything and could predict the consequences correctly. According to his prediction, with all those aggressive things Li Mu had done, even if the Chang’an government sent people here, they would hold some scruples and dare not do anything outrageous.
However, when he was told by the guards that Ma Junwu’s arm was cut off, Feng Yuanxing and Zhen Meng were also sent to jail to be interrogated, he came to understand that those from the Chang’an government were truly unscrupulous and had no respect toward laws and regulations.
He had underrated the danger in the officialdom as well as the dark side of bureaucrats.
Also, he had thought lightly of certain men’s arrogance and insanity.
“It’s me who got them there.” Qing Feng’s heart ached at that thought.
When he was escorted to the rack, the little attendant was still bitterly blaming himself.
He knew it was his misjudgment that made his friends suffer like that.
If he didn’t choose the “go aggressive” strategy but another tact, perhaps they would not be in such a dire circumstance even if they were landed in prison.
Ma Junwu, in particular, had entertained the dream of becoming the best archer of the Control Battalion of Guanshan Pasture in the Holy Clan since childhood. He had been working incredibly hard to realize that dream. But now, with one arm lost forever, how could he shoot arrows anymore?
“Guards, knock his teeth off and hang him up.” Chu Shufeng commanded coldly.
Although he did have compassion for this little attendant, he was not the soft-hearted type.
“You unlucky boy, why did you happen to offend Mr. Zheng? Well, it’s your fate to blame. You followed the wrong master.” Chu Shufeng said in a lukewarm voice.
“Let me do it.” That deputy general raised his hand to volunteer.
Then, one by one, he hammered off Qing Feng’s front teeth with the handle of his broadsword.
“Hahaha, brat, how will you pick at people now?” The deputy general let out a blast of brutal but excited laughter.
Qing Feng’s pretty face was covered in blood, his mouth swollen and lips smashed, for that deputy general deliberately beat his lips with the handle as he knocked off his front teeth, making his misery even more unbearable.
However, Qingfeng did not make a noise. During the whole time, he had never tried to dodge the attacks. On the contrary, he had held his head up and goggled at the deputy general intently.
“Fu*k, you son of a bitch…” cursed the deputy general, a little flustered by the creepy gaze.
A twinge of guilt seized him out of the blue. He paused and then snarled, ” How dare you glower at me like that? Do you think I will be scared? Remember, my name is Qian Cheng. If you want to seek revenge, just come to me… Still glowering? I’ll gouge out your eyeballs right now.”
But at this point, Chu Shufeng warned, “Stop it! It’s enough. Mr. Zheng doesn’t want this little kid dead. He might come in use someday in the future. Don’t kill him in case you ruin Mr. Zheng’s schemes.”
That deputy general named Qian Cheng unwillingly gave up that plan.
“Guards, hang him up.”
Chu Shufeng pointed at the pole that was about 30 foot high beside him and ordered the guards to rope Qingfeng and hang him up there.
It was a hot day. Sunlight was scorching the land.
Being hang on the high pole and exposed in the sun and the wind was quite a cruel torture.
“Go spread the message out that if Li Mu doesn’t come back, this little brat will be hung on the pole until he is dead.”
Chu Shufeng issued that order in a callous voice.
In a cave by an underground river behind the Nine-dragons Fall.
Li Mu and Guo Yuqing were talking enthusiastically like a couple madly in love. They never ran out of topics. When they brought up some subject they both were interested in, they could not help but excitedly gesticulate with hands and feet.
Li Mu and Guo Yuqing were both martial arts geeks. For them, the most important thing in life was learning martial arts.
Li Mu had been longing to be a chivalrous swordsman taking adventures all around the world since he was a child. Guo Yuqing, by contrast, simply enjoyed the sense of achievement in practicing martial arts. He did not give up practicing even when he was hiding in Taibai Mountain to avoid his persistent opponents who had tried to haunt him down for years.
When these two pure geeks were put together, they could feel the chemistry coursing through them with only a few words.
Time seemed to be flying as they were absorbed in their conversation.
Actually, during their stay in the cave, Guo Yuqing left once. But he soon came back with the wine that he had stored in his house for five whole years and happily shared it with his friend after informing his wife that everything was fine.
“Saints living in old time used to write essays while drinking and they left us many beautiful stories. Today, you and I can practice archery with liquor. Let’s get hammered.” Guo Yuqing yelled and sprawled his legs.
In the past five years, he never had such a gratifying drink like today he had. He felt like time was turned back to the days he was on the vast pasture.
“Practice archery with liquor? How wonderful! Drink up!” echoed Li Mu.
He too was super thrilled. Spurred by the excitement, he directly held the jar up and gulped.
It was the first time Li Mu felt so warm and relaxed since he came to this planet. It was almost like he and Guo Yuqing had returned to the Earth and were drinking beer after skipping the evening self-studying session.
With good wine and close friend aside, how could he not enjoy himself to the full?
Therefore, Li Mu threw himself into a wild celebration.
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