Killing with your eyes is not uncommon.
Mo Li frowned deeply. As far as he knew, the title of State Teacher began on the border of XiLiang Country a hundred years ago. The people of that country believed in Buddhism, so the State Teachers of XiLiang were all virtuous monks, and the monks only use their official names.
The name Meng Qi is not a monk’s name.
“Fifteen years have passed since the fall of the previous dynasty. Is that person still alive?”
“Some people say they’ve seen him, and some people say that he died a long time ago.” Magistrate Xue calmly said while stroking his beard, “This old man mentioned this man because he’s the most mysterious and unpredictable Master I have ever seen.”
“Oh?” Mo Li was interested.
Although he’s not interested in arguing about strengths and shortcomings or being the best in the world, his body, after being transformed into a human form, is real. He’d still feel hungry, and injuries are still painful. The spiritual qi in his body is not much different from a martial artist, but it’s better to use it for raising the ginseng, teasing the fox, and hugging the python. Zhushan County is a small place with no martial arts masters. Magistrate Xue and Elder Qin are both elderly, so it’s difficult for Mo Li to find an opponent.
Magistrate Xue frowned when he saw Mo Li’s expression.
“Don’t be careless. Meng Qi is a man with a perverted temperament and unpredictable strength. Back then, there were rumors that he was a ghost and not a human being, and that every night of the full moon, he would turn to cannibalism. Of course, these are all rumors. 22 years ago, when this old man stumbled into the Great Capital, I once met Master Meng, and in retrospect, I still have a lingering fear.”
Magistrate Xue couldn’t help holding the teacup to warm his palm.
“…my whole body went cold, like falling into a frozen river or an ice lake in the middle of winter.”
Mo Li became thoughtful. Magistrate Xue then added: “It’s not an illusion, but a real feeling. This old man practiced a partial set and walked the evil way. When this old man is young, I was eager to achieve success, and didn’t even skip the ice cave method.”
He felt a sharp tingling pain in his body, his limbs quickly numbed, he couldn’t make a sound as his consciousness blurred…
“Is Minister Xue alone, or…?”
“It’s like this.” Magistrate Xue solemnly said, “At that time, I was a small official who was waiting for a letter of appointment from the Office of Ministry. I got frightened and passed out. Meng Qi had never entered Jianghu, so there are no rumors about him and Elder Qin might not know him. Good fighters have no great merits, ah. Those who have no reputation are the most terrifying because the crisis has been silently resolved by them beforehand, or the people who knew their secrets are dead…”
Mo Li immediately put away his curiosity about this mysterious master.
——he promised his teacher and Xiao Tang that he’ll come back safely, and if some troubles can be avoided, it’s better not to touch them.
“I’m concerned about the Jianghu and have no interest in other things. Thank you, Minister Xue, for your advice.”
Magistrate Xue nodded and said: “After the fall of the previous dynasty, there’s no news from State Teacher Meng. Some people say that he died, but this old man doesn’t believe it. To kill such a person is as difficult as soaring to the sky, but it’s not that difficult for such a person to disappear.”
At this time, Elder Li came back.
He took a very detailed map of PingZhou Prefecture, including villages and market towns.
In fact, this map and the related household register are important documents of the government, so others are not allowed to read them at will. However, Zhushan County is a forgotten place. Now, Magistrate Xue only gives the prefecture a symbolic amount of tax, silver, money, and food every year. If it weren’t for fear of attracting attention, he wouldn’t even give this money.
The world is in chaos, the Kings are rebelling, so many places don’t submit to the law.
Even if the scourge of war wasn’t spreading, it’s just maintained at a superficial level.
Zhushan County is small and poor, so the Court doesn’t pay any salaries. Magistrate Xue simply compared the tax and silver paid by the predecessor. First, deduct half, and then deduct the salary of himself and his officers, and the rest can be given. If there were people from the Capital, Magistrate Xue would take the guards down to the fields to plant, avoid them, and not have a good mood when they met. In fact, the people’s life in Zhushan County has more than doubled in the past two decades.
The county government in Zhushan County doesn’t follow the Imperial laws on normal days. Otherwise, how could they open the warehouse as soon as possible? The State owned the warehouses in every county. Even in the case of disaster relief, with no declarations and no approval, tampering with it is a serious crime, and being ousted from office is already light. Even the county records are not something you could see if you want unless you have fame or your deeds are contained in it.
But none of these mattered to Magistrate Xue, because before he arrived in Zhushan County, the county government warehouse was so empty that even the rats starved to death, and the county records were not compiled.
There are neither scholars, nor nobles, nor famous squires. Even the county school wasn’t functioning. The former Magistrate quickly handed over the seal like a hot potato.
In addition to the Magistrate, there were only two assistant officials: one deputy and one officer.
At that time, to save money and food, he dismissed all positions in the small county. County Deputy Elder Chen, never expected his title to be transferred all his life. At the age of seventy, he still wore this official title, but now he’s simply an elderly being cared for at home with all his official duties left to Constable Qin.
So Elder Li and Constable Qin quickly caught on. One is doing the work of the county deputy, one is doing the work county officer.
Elder Li unfolded the map and put it on the table.
Mo Li compared the mountain roads he had walked in his memory and found that Qi Mao Mountain was really nothing. The three hundred miles surrounding it was only part of the northwestern part of PingZhou Prefecture. Looking south, several mountain ranges traverse the southern part of PingZhou Prefecture.
“If you walk along Qi Mao Mountain to the northwest, you’ll be in the territory of the barbarians. Through those grasslands is the Kunlun Mountain.”
Mo Li’s heart moved. Kunlun Mountain has had fairy legends since ancient times, and there are many records.
“Going through PingZhou Prefecture, to the east is YongZhou. If you want to go to the Great Capital, you must take this road.”
“No, I plan to go north.”
Mo Li decided to leave and go east to Tianshan since there are precious herbs there. To the north is Kunlun that had so many strange things. Although the journey is a bit far, and a little barren, it’s better since no one would bother him.
“Alright.” Magistrate Xue seemed to have expected it a long time ago. He smiled, “Physician Mo should wait a moment here, and this old man will go and give you a seal.”
Saying so, he went to the study. When he came back, he had not only a seal but also a letter.
“This old man has something to ask for help.” Magistrate Xue put the letter on the table and said with a smile, “This old man’s daughter married in a neighboring county. Physician Mo has also seen her. Now that the snow covers the mountains, people can’t travel. May I ask if Physician Mo could make a detour with this letter?”
This wasn’t a difficult task, so Mo Li agreed.
When he received the seal, he was stunned, because although it has his name, it wasn’t the seal for Zhushan County.
QingZhou is in the east, close to the sea, and is probably three thousand miles away from Zhushan County.
Magistrate Xue nodded and said: “Yes, it’s the seal to QingZhou Prefecture. The staff there has good calligraphy. We’re the same age, and I could imitate his handwriting, so I used it smoothly. You don’t have to worry about the seal. It’s very realistic and you can’t pick out any mistakes.”
No, this isn’t what he’s struggling with. Mo Li thought about it seriously. Magistrate Xue was afraid that he would “get into trouble” after he went out, and even went to the trouble of solving it in advance so that no one would trace his origin.
“Thank you, Minister Xue, for the suggestion. I can go out without the seal, and will try not to use it.”
Going over the city wall can save on city gate tax!
Thinking of the peaceful situation in Zhushan County, Mo Li quickly accepted this approach.
Magistrate Xue touched his beard in satisfaction and asked: “Elder Qin’s ancestral home is QingZhou, so can you speak the QingZhou dialect?”
Mo Li nodded.
“I don’t know when Physician Mo will leave?”
“This old man is busy with county affairs, so I won’t send you off tomorrow. Elder Li, see off our guest on behalf of this old man.” Magistrate Xue also didn’t serve tea either and watched Mo Li leave. When the second hall was empty, he shook his head and wondered.
“I always feel like something will happen if he goes out this time.”
Magistrate Xue had an ominous premonition, but he didn’t have the ability of foretelling. He didn’t know where that odd feeling came from, so he could only keep it in mind.
He said to himself: “I don’t know what that Qin Lu is thinking. His disciple has enough skills, but he doesn’t fit into the world. This world is not peaceful, so how can nothing happen? But…”
As long as he didn’t encounter Meng Qi, even if something happens, it wouldn’t be that dangerous.
Magistrate Xue thought about it, then let go of his worries.
Three days later, XiaoHe Town, Ma County, PingZhou Prefecture.
There’s also a mountain near Ma County called Ji Guan Mountain, not because it looked like a cockscomb, but because the cockscomb is a mountain. This place is not far from Ji Mao Mountain, and it happened to be on the north side of Ji Mao Mountain. From the map, it’s pressed on top of the head, so it’s called Ji Guan Mountain.
There’s a river below Ji Guan Mountain, and nearby is the richest town in Ma County.
It’s not as remote as Zhushan County and with the river connected to a waterway, you’d occasionally see caravans.
With this year very cold and the river covered in ice, the previously bustling pier had no one.
Mo Li stood at the entrance of the town and looked around, finding that this town was bigger than the town of Zhushan County, with three streets and more houses and courtyards. It seemed like he’d be looking for a while.
Speaking of Magistrate Xue’s daughter, she’s about the same age as Mo Li (in appearance).
Missus Xue’s husband is the grandson of Elder Chen, the county officer veteran in Zhushan County.
County Officer Chen has six sons and a large number of grandsons, so many that the elder couldn’t even remember all of them. The population became larger and there are more mouths to feed. Relying on Elder Chen’s salary wasn’t enough, so the grown-ups went out to make a living on their own. One of the sons did business in Ma County, got married, and had children.
Missus Xue’s husband was Chen Zhong, who came from this family.
In the early days, only officials and eunuchs engaged in business and they all used their servant names. Being a merchant isn’t really a good reputation, and it also affected their descendants during the Imperial Exams.
The Chen family didn’t care. Anyway, with the world in chaos, having a living is the most important thing.
Mo Li had seen Missus Xue’s husband. He was a big man with thick eyebrows and tiger-like eyes. He was full of muscles and had a tanned complexion. Staring down casually could scare a little child on the street.
It’s said that his parents used to run around but none of the daughters from good families were willing to marry him. As a result, when they went to visit their relatives in Zhushan County, he attracted Missus Xue.
The pair happily passed letters for two years, then Magistrate Xue waved his hand and let his daughter marry.
This incident shook both Ma County and Zhushan County. Everyone couldn’t understand how this fierce man got lucky. Is it because they match? But Elder Chen’s grandson couldn’t even count to ten, so why this one?
Although the folks in the countryside hoped their daughters find a man who could support the family with their great strength, the little master Chen is too outrageous. His slap could even fan the little lady.
Mo Li didn’t think it was weird. In his eyes, people can be tall and short, fat and thin, old and sick, or beautiful and ugly.
Mo Li hadn’t seen her since Missus Xue got married, and it’s his first time coming to Ma County.
From a distance, he heard the sound of firecrackers, and piles of people gathered in front of a certain house while shouting auspicious words and begging for money. The house was covered with red and colorful colors.
Before Mo Li approached, he saw a person coming out of the house. The street fell silent for a moment, and Mo Li took the opportunity to walk over.
“Yi, Physician Mo?”
This man has a very loud voice, which could be heard half a street away. It’s Missus Xue’s husband, Chen Zhong, wearing a satin gown and a clean-shaven face. Instead of looking rich, he looked even more scary, like a bandit leader going to a house and snatching their clothes.
“Why is Physician Mo here? It just so happens that my sister is getting married today. Why not come over for a toast?”
Mo Li quickly declined, saying that he came to deliver a letter to Missus Xue.
When Chen Zhong agreed, he dragged Mo Li through the door. When he married Missus Xue, everyone had a weird expression. Only Mo Li and Magistrate Xue remained the same.
“Me coming through the door in a hurry and without any gifts…”
“What gift. You don’t know my brother-in-law.” Chen Zhong turned his head, grabbed a servant, and said, “quickly go and ask for the Madam, just say she has a letter from her maternal family.”
The servant promised and ran away in a hurry.
He didn’t know why, but Mo Li suddenly remembered Magistrate Xue mentioning Meng Qi.
——Chen Zhong could also scare someone. It’s just that Chen Zhong only looked fierce.
Mo Li couldn’t help but smile. Chen Zhong began to brag about his home-brewed wine and that Mo Li must try it.
The atmosphere was lively when suddenly, there was a loud noise in front of the door. The plaque of House Chen flew in and broke into several pieces.
Following the group of soldiers carrying swords was a man in a sixth rank military uniform. With dark eyebrows, he looked at Cheng Zhong and Mo Li coldly.
“Are you Xue Zhu’s husband?” The military officer drew his sword and pointed at Mo Li.
Chen Zhong: “…”
Mo Li: “…”