A dead silence!
So dead that it froze the air!
Everyone felt both their brain function and heartbeat had stopped for a brief moment. A couple of seconds later, when the air seemed to begin flowing again and the smell of the blood slowly spread out, screams were finally coming out of the building.
Far away as they might be, they were still able to faintly make out the head in Gu Yu's hand. Instantly, the entire compound was taken over by panic and terror.
The security personnel at the entrance were all the more confused. Job description told them they should arrest the man immediately. However, instinct said otherwise. Hence, they stayed as quiet at cicadas on a late autumn day. Most of the loud comments came from the pedestrians and passengers of the vehicles coming and going outside, who, because of the partially blocked view, thought the scene caused by some commoner applying for an audience with the authorities to appeal for help.
Having taken out Guan Pan with a single strike, Gu Yu flipped his hand around and the head disappeared. He turned around, looked at the two frozen high-ranking officials, omitted Zhang Juan, and talked to Mu Kun alone. "I need to get back to Songjiang River. Maybe you could join me."
"Oh, sure, no problem!"
Mu Kun came to himself. Calming himself down a little, he took the driver's seat himself.
At the sound of the engine, the SUV was started, then slowly drove away from the entrance.
No one dared stop them. Zhang Juan watched the vehicle disappear in the distance, still shaking from what had just happened. The man had travelled 300 km out here, decapitated the enemy in a heartbeat, and left promptly! In the past 12 hours, Phoenix Mountain, the cultivators, and the Taoist skills had together shattered his belief and resistance into pieces!
Night, cold weather.
With the high beams switched on, the SUV drove along the highway, throwing behind it the lonely view of the night. The road stretched on as if there was no end to it.
Gu Yu sat in the back row, adjusting his breath with closed eyes. The series of combat (or playing the tough guy, if you like) today had consumed a great deal of his vital essence, especially the last strike which, despite the effortless appearance, was in fact very energy-consuming.
The Small Moving Technique was a very flexible Taoist skill. The amount of energy required would completely depend on the object one wanted to move: the distance, the form of the object, etc.
Why did the couple act as if they had hit the jackpot when they found this technique from the "Book on the State of Mind of Black Bead"? Because they realized right away of its value.
What he achieved today was a perfect demonstration.
The SUV drove on at a steady speed. Despite his age, Mu Kun was not worn out by this strenuous day. He was on good terms with Phoenix Mountain and knew the man wanted to talk in private.
"Mr. Gu, that was a very fast and precise strike. You've got us on our softest spot."
Mu Kun was perfectly calm by now and could think straight again. He couldn't help by sigh. "You killed a man in public—an official, for that matter! Had it been the deed of anybody but you, we would hunt the culprit down and bring them to justice at all costs. But what you did… sigh, that was so cunning of you!"
"You think too highly of me. I'm not that clever." Gu Yu opened his eyes and went on, "I didn't kill those police officers because they were innocent men. I killed Guan Pan because that's what he deserved."
"Deserved? Well, if you say so."
Mu Kun shook his head with a bitter smile.
The sense of propriety was essential in dealing with affairs in the human society. He was a military man once, then made a career in the bureaucratic world. Together, they had taken up the better half of his life, which only made him more aware of knowing where to draw the line.
That was why he was greatly impressed by Gu Yu's ability to work the delicate situation.
Back in Changqing Village, had Gu Yu killed off all twenty police officers and the two deputies, the only thing waiting for him would be a massive manhunt. The government would spare no effort in destroying Phoenix Mountain.
Maybe the couple and Long Qiu would be able to escape, but they would never be able to return to Phoenix Mountain. They would be wanted persons on a national level. Moreover, Father and Mother Jiang, Xiaojin's parents, and even the families of Uncle Fang and Grandpa Shui would be incriminated.
But Gu Yu didn't do that. Instead, he took out Guan Pan, the mole from Shamanism.
Well, that turned things very awkward. By every standard there was, the authorities would be the side having a guilty conscience—a feeling that was comparable to when one wanted to throw up but could not and ended up swallowing it back down 1 .
Ever since the two sides started working together, Phoenix Mountain had been operating by stepping just on the yellow line. They might have seemed to have crossed it, but what they did was in fact within the tolerable limit. As for where the limit stood depended on the fluctuations in the strength of both sides. Had this happened back then, Phoenix Mountain would not have been confident enough to act this way.
"With what has happened, those above will have to declare their attitude. I think someone will be here tomorrow," reminded Mu Kun.
"We're going back to Bai Town tomorrow," replied Gu Yu.
"Oh, I see."
Mu Kun expressed his understanding of that. Darting a look at the rear view mirror, he saw that Gu Yu had closed his eyes in meditation again. He did not disturb the man further.
As a matter of fact, men in Mu Kun's position were concerned with matters much more beyond what they had talked about. For instance, they were all men of the innate state, but why was there such a great discrepancy between the abilities of Phoenix Mountain and that of the monastery? How were those scarlet flying things made?
Moreover, the government did not think much of the strength of individual cultivators, deeming that modern weapons could surpass them all. Now that a lesson had been taught, would they change their future strategies?
And there was the matter of Shamanism. There were ongoing disputes within the government and some would not even believe its existence. As for now, well, at least to Mu Kun himself, this Shamanism sect was a malicious tumor! They were able to instigate a strife effortlessly, which made him shudder just to think about the depth and channels of the infiltration.
The two arrived at Songjiang River around ten o'clock that same night.
Mu Kun went to take a room in the government guest house and Gu Yu returned to Shui Yao's hostel, where Xiaozhai and the two younger ones had arrived before he did. Xiaojin had gone to bed very early from all the fright she had gone through.
"How are things looking?" asked Xiaozhai.
"Everything's all right."
He did not go into details and asked in return, "How did it go with you?"
"Not bad, only that Jin Jin might still have some toxin remained in her. We'll need the spiritual ginseng to treat her."
"Let's lose no time, then. I'll go up the mountain in a minute and we'll head back tomorrow morning."
"Yeah. Take Xiao Qiu with you. She can help."
The two turned to tend their own affairs after a brief conversation.
Gu Yu and Long Qiu took the wooden box and set off for the top of Changbai Mountain right away, the vast, dark night sky ahead of them. It was a very long journey and they would probably not get back until early next morning.
Xiaozhai returned to her room and sat down by the bed, watching her little sister in silence.
Asleep, the girl looked like a little angel. Her small face half buried in her thick hair and under the warm orange light, her skin looked as glossy as if it was covered by a layer of transparent gel.
She wiped away a streak of hair falling over Xiaojin's lips. The girl muttered something and immediately grew restless. Still asleep, she opened her mouth and bit Xiaozhai's finger.
Xiaozhai pulled back lightly, but could not get her finger back. She reluctantly kept it there.
Growing up in Changqing Village since she was little, Xiaozhai obtained her temperament after seven or eight years living with her master, during which time she was greatly influenced. She gave the impression of being mild, graceful, and with a high EQ, but was in fact a free and unruly girl that couldn't care less about anything.
For all these years, she barely had any friends. Shui Yao was sort of a childhood playmate, but she had not been keeping in touch in later years. She actually cared very much about those close to her, although the number of people in that category had never been big.
Xiaojin was a close family member and her fellow cultivator. With those two identities put together, she cared for Xiaojin so much that she almost could not let the girl out of her sight—regardless of the fact that she was "ruthless" towards the girl on a daily basis.
She was still lost in her thoughts when there came a knock at the door. She squeezed the girl's cheeks in with the other hand and the latter opened her mouth. She the got her finger back.
It was sleek with saliva.
She went to answer the door and found Shui Yao standing outside.
"Not sleep yet?" he asked a pointless question.
One look at the man and Xiaozhai knew he wanted to talk. "Jin Jin is asleep. Let's take a walk."
With that, they went downstairs and strolled around in the small backyard of the hostel.
It was deep into the night and freezing cold. Xiaozhai had a single shirt on with the first button unfastened, which was to Shui Yao's great envy. The man had wrapped himself up like a bear.
"I'm sorry about everything we put you through," Xiaozhai apologized the first thing; she was straightforward. "Theoretically, people of both the government and Shamanism will behave themselves from now on, but you're all ordinary people after all. Accident could happen. So, talk to Grandpa Shui. It's better if you could all move to Bai Town. I can keep an eye on you in that way."
"You are indeed my old friend! All those beatings were not for nothing!" Shui Yao grinned at this. "That's exactly what I was going to talk to you about! I've had the most exciting and colorful time since you got here! Man, once you get a taste of the real good stuff, you can never turn back. I'd be bored to death if I went on living in this place! Don't worry about my old man, I'll talk to him. It's just, well, there're also my parents…"
"They can come as well, if they want to," said Xiaozhai.
"Haha! Thanks a lot!" Shui Yao hopped around excitedly. "Don't you worry about this. I know how it works. Once I'm there, you won't hear about me doing indecent stuff in your names. I have made my name in Songjiang River and I will make one again in Bai Town! Anything you find inappropriate to do it yourselves, come to me! I'll do it for you!"
Xiaozhai smiled a half-smile, finding the declaration troublesome and funny at the same time. The guy'd play a perfect role of the head of the external division.
Heishui Province, Bing Town.
The door of a secret chamber was suddenly slammed open and a man rushed in. "Archmage, there has been an emergency!"
A veiled woman dressed in white lay on a quaint wooden bed. She opened her eyes at the voice and spoke softly, "Speak!"
"Our branch in Huang Village was raided and all twenty-seven men—the two errand-men included—died fighting. And Guan Pan in Xidu sub-bureau of the BIMAUP has also been killed."
"Who did this?"
"Gu Yu and Jiang Xiaozhai."
"I don't recall if we've crossed Phoenix Mountain. What happened?"
The woman had a unique voice. It was deep for her gender and had a gritty feeling to it. Within that huskiness was an alluring charm that tickled at the listener's heart.
Don't mistake it for the voice one would hear in the "exotic" quarter, where the alley was lined with low shacks twinkling in gaudy pink little light bulbs. "Physical therapists" marketed their service with half of their breasts hanging out. "Come in! Come in! 100 yuan for the full meal deal and 500 yuan for the night! Hot-and-cold t-bag, rimming, blowing—you name it, we have it! Invoice available if needed!"
It was the voice one would expect from a woman sitting alone in an inconspicuous bar. Her long hair hung loose over her shoulders as she smeared a little salt on the back of her fair hand, which she licked with the tip of her tongue before downing a shot of tequila.
Of course, right now, the man was feeling nothing of such charm. Cold sweat trickled down his face as he replied in a quivering voice, "They, they took it into their own hands out there in Xidu. The original plan was to provoke Phoenix Mountain and the authorities into fighting against each other, but, but…"
"But they ended up biting off more than they can chew?"
The woman slowly sat up and got off the bed. Her gait reminded one of a female snake that had just finished mating. She drifted closer to the man and said, "I was only in seclusion for a minute and you guys have made such a mess. How would you like me to punish you?"
"archmage, I have nothing to do with this!"
The man was evidently frightened, but dared not move even a finger. He only said, "I heard nothing of it, they were the ones carrying it out from the beginning!"
"Teehee, stop it. Am I that scary?"
The woman covered her mouth and chuckled, revealing a hint of her natural seductive power. "Go tell that fool Wanyan that he is to come here in person and ask humbly for pardoning his crime. Pass down my order: everyone stay put, no more petty tricks. I might not have been the boss long enough, but I wouldn't mind having a taste of their entrails…"
With that, she flipped her wide sleeves and a plume of white fog rose out of thin air. The woman disappeared.TL/N: Eww…