Chapter 920 Good and Evil
The blue steel blade of the dagger shimmered as it pricked through the fair and smooth skin of her throat, eliciting a slight dribble of blood as the cold and sharp edge of the steel threatened to slice deeper inside to claim her life.
The curved dagger was flung out of Lan Yingying’s grasp.
“What do you think you’re doing? Trying to escape all this mess that you’ve wrought upon my student by seeking death?” Li Mu uttered with frost.
“What…?! W-What do you want, Master Li?” It was all Lan Yingying could do to not let her temper and anxiety get the better of her.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
But if she could dispel the gloom of suspicion that hung over her lover’s head with the price of her own head, then she would gladly pay it.
Li Mu ignored the question and instead looked at Shen Jia. “On your feet, son. You don’t get on your knees and start bowing like a simple-minded dimwit. Or have you forgotten what I had taught you? No man bends his knees easily. You ask for a clean death, but have you forgotten your sister?”
“Teacher, I…” Shen Jia stared at Li Mu incredulously.
His sister Shen Xiaoyue married an ordinary merchant five years ago. Married life had been blissful for her and the happy and peaceful days away from the strife of the Jianghu had been kind to her where she and her loving husband were blessed with a son and a daughter. How she would grieve if she heard about Shen Jia seeking death on his own.
“What are you waiting for? Get up.”
Shen Jia got to his feet at once. ”
“Do you admit that you’ve erred?”
“I have, Teacher… I have…” Shen Jia uttered before he even knew what he said.
“By what?” snapped Li Mu sharply.
“B-By…” Shen Jia wanted to say that he should not be in league with any Cultists, but when he looked up and saw the thin trace of blood across Lan Yingying’s throat, his voice failed him. He knew that Lan Yingying was not the brutal and cruel Daughter of the Demon people slandered about. Her cold exterior belied a tender and loving temperament deep inside. She was a kind young woman and a better person than all those champions, leaders, and chieftains now clamoring for her blood.
“What?” said Li Mu, “You lost your voice?”
Shen Jia hung his head because of the shame and guilt.
“Or do you suddenly realize that you’ve done nothing wrong at all?”
Shen Jia could not lift his head up at all.
“So if you feel that you’ve done nothing wrong, then why drop on your knees the moment you see me? Why bow if you are sure of your heart?”
Shen Jia looked up and stared at his mentor with disbelief.
Even Lan Yingying was shocked, looking as if she was doubting her own ears.
Li Mu suppressed the budding grief in his own heart and said very solemnly that the entire audience hall rang with his voice, “There is nothing right or wrong in falling in love. Good or evil, it’s in the men and woman; not in the love you shared with her. If you failed to defend her name before me just because of the alleged accusations made against her by the rest of the world, then you don’t deserve such a fine lady as her.”
Shen Jia’s eyes went as wide as saucers.
So was Lan Yingying, whose face looked absolutely surprised and stunned.
They knew what Li Mu was trying to say, its staggering significance and considerable implications to them both.
“Teacher, I…” Tears erupted and streamed down like an uncontrollable tide.
Li Mu placed a hand on his shoulders, “I told you before: a wolf doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep. Stay your course and leave it to others to prattle what they want; there are but only a measly few who could grasp the real truth of the world we live in, let alone fully master it… Look at you, now all grown up, yet here you are, bawling like a child. I know what I see. The girl’s love for you is as true as the morning sun. For you, she would gladly give up her life. So cherish her, and live — your life is no longer just yours anymore.”
As he spoke, the memories of those who were once important to him — Hua Xiangrong, Wang Shiyu, Bi Yan, and that mysterious woman in yellow—assaulted his mind with the force of a torrential deluge. As much as he missed them and longed to meet them again, he did not know if the day would ever come.
“Thank you so much, Teacher,” An elated Shen Jia gasped amid snot and tears of joy.
For the past few minutes until now, Lan Yingying had been in a trance. She could not believe that the most dangerous person in all of Molderad and the same figure that the Cult’s intelligence network had pegged as “He Who Must Not Be Offended” had not only not objected to her relationship with his student, but he had also expressed his approval. Only now did she wake up from her momentary stupor to find that it was all true. It really was true.
“This is not a dream!”
“What is the meaning of this, Master Li!?” An indignant Abbess Retribution demanded of Li Mu.
Just when everyone was expecting to watch the Aspect of Vengeance himself dispensing punishment upon his own student and his little lover, Li Zhiyuan surprised them all with a twist by proclaiming his approval instead!
“Meaning, you say? The literal one of course,” Li Mu smiled casually.
“The sides of Good and Evil don’t mix, Master Li,” The Grand Master of the Dragonhawks berated fiercely, “Did you not embark on a crusade yourself that saw the destruction of a number of wicked sects and orders that included the Priory of the Four Seas? You loathed men and women both foul and evil yourself! What? Are you going soft because it’s your prized student this time?”
More angry hoots and cries clamored from the thronging mob that swarmed the courtyard and the entrance of the main audience hall.
“The sides of Good and Evil don’t mix, I won’t contradict you there,” Li Mu smiled thinly, “But what defines Good and what defines Evil? Since when is that definition set into stone by the likes of you, hmm?”
“What the hell?! All of us here agreed so! The Cult is an evil sect and the whole world knows that! If they’re not evil, then what is?!” barked Abbess Retribution furiously.
“By the by, I’ve heard all about the Cult of the Orient. They’re just the patsy for whatever accusations the great religious sects are pinning on them. The first crusade on them was nothing but a one-sided slaughter aimed to cripple the Cult. More than half the blame is on your sanctimonious scum. You’re no better than them yourself since you employ despicable methods, you’re accusing them of using as well. So what qualifies you as good while they’re evil?” Li Mu snorted with apparent disgust.
Li Mu has nothing but the deepest and people who could never stop hurling holier-than-thou rebukes at others while they were just as depraved and deceitful as the average John on the streets.
But what he just said could almost make him Public Enemy Number One.
“Do you know, Master Li? When you said those things, one might almost think you’re one of those Cultists,” sneered the Grand Master of the Dragonhawks.
“How you love to hurl accusations,” Li Mu casually dismissed that. “Too bad that what you’re attempting is nothing but frivolous nonsense to me. That question of yours just now, what defines good and evil, no? Well, listen closely.
He paused. Pointing at himself, he announced with a very clear and calm voice, emphasizing on every syllable, “Me. I define what is good and evil. If I say it’s good, then so it is. If I deem something evil, then it must be. Get that?”
No one could comprehend how imperious that actually sounded.
It was not just the leaders and chieftains of the twenty or so great sects and orders, but even Lu Chuan and the rest of the Creed of Divinity and Lan Yingying could barely resist taking a long and deep breath as they struggled to understand what they had just heard.
It was something that many might have wanted to say, but few ever had the chance nor courage to do so. To say anything along the lines of issuing a threat was the perfect recipe for suicide in the Jianghu anywhere.
“Have you been in solitary training so long that you’ve lost touch with the world, Master Li?” The Grand Master of the Dragonhawks hissed coldly, “Not even the Patriarchs of the great religious orders dare say anything like this. What right do you have to issue such a threat?”
“By right of being the most powerful one here,” Li Mu grinned thinly with another not-so-quite veiled threat.
For a decade he had never stopped training, yet he had not yet tested how much he had improved. Was anyone going to give him the chance to do so?
Few could ever hope to survive a blow from him.
“What about that being with his trident?” Li Mu thought all of a sudden. If there was anyone that was a rival to Li Mu, that would be him. Not the Grand Masters of the five great religious sects. Not the leaders and chieftains now congregating right before him. They were nothing but specks of dust to him.
“Are you saying that you’re taking a stand against humanity?” Abbess Retribution thundered with fury.
“Humanity?” Li Mu cast a disdainful look at the nun, “Don’t you ever get bored? Try saying something I don’t know. The things you say just get repeated so many times that I can almost recite your script backwards. Get imaginative. So if I’m playing along with your little playbook, should I just ask if a lot of you here can speak for the rest of humanity? Well, that’s bad, because I’m not. So what if you can represent all of humanity? Are you wishing to take a stand against me?”
Clearly, the nun did not expect Li Mu to respond with such a domineering reply that for one moment, she did not know what to say.
The Grand Master of the Dragonhawks opened his mouth as if to say something harsh and pious.
“I’d think twice about saying anything snarky if I were you,” Li Mu snapped, “People have been known to regret saying things to me and the weed on their graves are now as tall as a meter.”
Dreadful as the tempest and yet stronger than even the foundations of the earth, all who defied the Aspect of Vengeance risk suffering his wrath.
The Grand Master of the Dragonhawks shuddered and stiffened. Whatever it was that was so nearly close to spouting out of his lips was choked back inside while he turned blue and green from the shame and embarrassment.
As a widely respected personality who enjoyed considerable influence in all of Molderad, he did not think that he would have to suffer such indignity at the hands of the Aspect of Justice. Li Zhiyuan was only just twenty-one when he displayed his Class X superiority during his destruction of the Priory of the Four Seas a decade ago. Then came the worldwide proclamation by Nie Renlong, admitting that his duel against Li Mu ended in a draw. That would mean that Li Mu was already in Class XI back then. So what would he be today? Class XII?
He wouldn’t dare antagonize such a figure. Not in a thousand years.
So did the rest of the champions and warriors who clogged the entrance into the main audience hall. Each and every one of the balked under Li Mu’s stern gaze and hung their heads in silence.
“Very good. It seems that the lesson of the Priory of the Four Seas is not yet lost on you even though it has been more than years. Begone, all of you! You don’t even realize how you are just the bait in this entire debacle… If this were ten years ago… I daresay that the number of heads here wouldn’t even be enough to fill up the sinkhole at the jungle behind this stronghold.”
It was not a loud proclamation, but somehow, he has the gift of ensnaring the attention of literally everyone in the chamber and the message was enough to send anyone into disappointment, chaos, and rejection.
“What are you waiting for?” Li Mu barked, “Waiting to attend my student’s wedding? Or do you want me to send you off myself?”
“Send you off” sounded more like “Sending you off into the underworld”, that many trembled at the notion quietly without a word of protest and they left.
Like a tidal wave, the entire mob began to spill out of the stronghold. In just ten seconds, the courtyard of the stronghold once again returned back to its former peacefulness and silence.
“You shall regret what you say today, Master Li,” warned the Grand Master of the Dragonhawks. “The five great religious sects will hear about this.”
“Oh? You have my thanks then,” Li Mu dismissed coolly, “Do let the whole world know about this too while you’re at it.”