Meng Qi: Let me handle this.
In fact, there were several villagers around Mo Li.
Everyone had rushed over from the direction of the village chief’s house.
In his panic, Zhang Dezhi just wanted to get away as quickly as possible. Without even looking, he pointed and said, “There was someone in his family who used to be an official in the Chu Dynasty. Later, he escaped to our small village. My father mentioned it before. He brought several large boxes with him at that time!”
The old Confucian scholar’s gaze swept over Mo Li, thinking that this young man was indeed not ordinary.
Country folks couldn’t produce someone like this.
The other villagers were both shocked and angry, unable to hold back from saying, “Zhang Dezhi, what nonsense are you talking about?”
“This young man just arrived in our village yesterday. How would you know what his ancestors did?”
Zhang Dezhi was taken aback, realizing that the person he was pointing at was Mo Li.
The old village chief came over, panting and supported by his son. His beard was trembling with anger. The other villagers hadn’t caught on yet, but he was clear-headed.
“What nonsense are you spouting, Zhang Dezhi!”
The old village chief felt distressed and furious. He vaguely sensed that the old Confucian scholar who had brought Zhang Dezhi here was very strange.
They were a small village. They couldn’t afford to offend even the minor tax collectors. Every year’s corvee had to be greased with money, so that the villagers could return intact, instead of coming back with broken arms and legs, or returning sickly and dying.
“… What did he say?” The village chief looked at the old Confucian scholar uneasily.
He dared not look too obvious. He hoped this person didn’t have a formidable background.
The old Confucian scholar’s attention was still on Mo Li.
Among the group of villagers, Mo Li was out of place, and unusually calm.
When Mo Li heard the words “gold silk,” he confirmed that Zhang Dezhi had overheard their conversation last night, and moreover, Zhang Dezhi had mistakenly thought it was something from the village chief’s house.
Mo Li’s expression remained unchanged, but he felt a hint of regret inside.
If he had secured the gold silk armor more tightly and shown more concern for it, today’s unexpected situation might have been avoided.
At this point, he had to figure out what Zhang Dezhi had been spreading outside, how many people had heard it, and what the background of this old Confucian scholar was. Was he also here for the gold silk armor?
Mo Li thought as he discreetly observed his surroundings from the corner of his eye. He was searching for the sand rat.
—Not on the ground, nor in the corners by the wall.
Apart from those who went to the market, there were women and children who couldn’t move quickly. Almost everyone left in the village had gathered here due to the commotion. With such a commotion, Meng Qi couldn’t possibly have missed it. Could he be hindered by something?
Lacking experience in the martial world, Mo Li’s expression might not reveal much, but his covert observations couldn’t escape those who were attentive.
The old Confucian scholar narrowed his eyes and smiled, apparently believing that Mo Li was feeling guilty and wanted to flee. He thought that Mo Li’s calm demeanor was just an act. Regardless of whose descendant Mo Li was or how he knew about this place, the fact that he was afraid indicated he wasn’t capable of much.
Unaware of the thoughts swirling in the old Confucian scholar’s mind, Mo Li was more concerned about the sand rat.
While Master Meng’s martial arts surpassed his own, there was no cause for worry. However, the sand rat was a different matter.
What if the sand rat suddenly couldn’t transform back into a human? What if Master Meng’s illness suddenly worsened, and he collapsed right here?
The more Mo Li thought about it, the more he realized his decision to let the sand rat go out to gather information was inappropriate. Lost in these concerns, he suddenly saw a familiar figure moving on the nearby wall.
The plump and round sand rat was strolling leisurely along the earthen wall, walking back and forth, repeating the process several times.
Not only did Mo Li notice him, but others did too, including the old Confucian scholar of unknown identity.
Because this audacious rat was simply too conspicuous. Where could one find such a daring rodent? And so plump! Could it have been fattened up in the rice jar?
One of the villagers instinctively grabbed a bamboo pole to strike, but the plump rat leaped swiftly onto a tree by the wall, hiding among the leaves, completely out of sight. The villager was astonished, wondering how this rat, so fat it seemed it couldn’t even move properly, had suddenly become so agile that they couldn’t even hit it?
Indeed, Meng Qi, in order to not worry Mo Li, intentionally revealed himself. He thought he was strolling elegantly and gracefully, but in the eyes of the villagers, he was just a chubby figure struggling to move due to his excess weight.
“Whose rice jar has been stolen by a thief? I saw a huge rat!”
“…Well, not exactly huge, just extremely fat!”
“No, I need to go back home and check!”
The villagers grew nervous and almost forgot about Zhang Dezhi.
“Silence, all of you!”
The old Confucian scholar’s roar was filled with inner strength, something ordinary folks couldn’t withstand. They felt as if their heads had been struck, their ears ringing, and their surroundings spinning. A few of the more frail ones even collapsed to the ground.
Mo Li instinctively countered the force with his inner strength, ensuring that those around him and behind him remained unharmed.
The old village head saw the staggering villagers and turned pale. He realized they had encountered a “master,” the kind of figure often described by storytellers – someone who could easily demolish a tavern and topple market stalls with a single word.
How had they managed to provoke such a person?
The old village head quickly restrained his son and anxiously said, “This honorable guest…”
Since he couldn’t come up with an appropriate term of address, neither ‘great hero’ nor ‘valiant warrior’ fitting, the village head had to muster his courage and inquire, “Might I ask what brings you here, esteemed guest? Our village is small and impoverished, so there isn’t much here.”
Zhang Dezhi suddenly jumped up, pointing at the village head and loudly declaring, “Last night, I heard it very clearly! Fellow villagers, do you know why that flying thief came? It was for the treasure in his house! It’s gold silk… Well, it’s gold for sure, and very valuable! I think the guy who came to our village yesterday was also after it!”
The villagers were quite shocked, not because the village head’s house had a treasure, but because they were baffled as to how Zhang Dezhi knew about it. How did the flying thief know about it? The young man who came to the village yesterday was easy to talk to, unlike a bad person!
Mo Li didn’t say a word. He didn’t even spare Zhang Dezhi a glance.
The old Confucian scholar stroked his beard contemptuously and said, “Young one, under whose tutelage do you study?”
“It is impolite to inquire about others’ affiliations before introducing oneself, isn’t it?” Mo Li waved his hand toward the village head, indicating they should leave quickly.
“Hmph!” The old Confucian scholar snorted disdainfully and arrogantly stated, “Let’s see who dares to leave.”
Knowing this person was here for the Gold Silk Armor, Mo Li decided to take responsibility for the situation.
After all, he was the one who brought the Gold Silk Armor here, and it was accidentally seen by the thief.
Mo Li glanced up at the tree crown where Sand Rat was hiding, then said coldly, “Wise people speak clearly. It seems you’re here for the Gold Silk Armor!”
The old Confucian scholar’s eyes lit up, confirming his suspicion.
“Young one, since you’re also a person of insight and managed to track us here, as long as you hand over the Gold Silk Armor, I’ll spare your life.” The old Confucian scholar kicked Zhang Dezhi, who was about to say something, aside. Zhang Dezhi fell to the ground and didn’t get up for a long time.
Zhang Dezhi’s wife was summoned by someone and, dressed in tattered clothes, rushed over when she saw the scene. Panicking, she tried to support Zhang Dezhi.
“What’s happened to the Dezhi family? Why are you dressed like this?”
With tears streaming down her face, the woman was speechless. Zhang Dezhi spat out two mouthfuls of blood and passed out.
Frantically calling for help, she received no assistance from the villagers. They were busy aiding those who had been stunned by the sound.
Only the village head’s son approached and questioned her. Tearfully, she revealed Zhang Dezhi’s gambling habits.
“That’s right, this guy lost everything at the gambling den. He boasted about pawning a treasure to recover his losses. When no one believed him, he swore on a curse, disclosing your village’s troubles with thieves and mentioning a golden treasure. He even pawned a small golden toad half a year ago, claiming it looked like it was dug out of the ground.” The old Confucian scholar spoke maliciously, smiling as he appraised the villagers, as if he wanted to gauge their reactions.
However, he didn’t witness any mutual accusations or fights; he only saw the villagers looking at him with incredulous eyes.
Though the villagers didn’t know what exactly the village head’s family possessed or what this Gold Silk Armor was, they weren’t foolish. They understood that Zhang Dezhi’s baseless claims could bring a lot of trouble to the village.
Because Zhang Dezhi usually disguised himself well, and the village was small with close relationships, no one could have imagined his true nature.
Mo Li wanted to divert this person’s attention and said, “There is no Gold Silk Armor in this village, and no one knows about such an item. In fact…”
The old Confucian scholar’s figure expanded, his fingers formed into a hawk’s claw, and he suddenly lunged forward.
Mo Li easily evaded it, surprising the old Confucian scholar. However, he continued to sneer, “Young one, your lightness skill is impressive. Unfortunately, your words are useless to me. The golden toad that the gambler pawned belongs to Cangfeng Temple, and the Gold Silk Armor is aconnected to them as well!”
“The Gold Silk Armor is in my possession. If you want to take it, feel free to try!” Mo Li decisively declared.
He preferred having someone responsible for the treasure rather than letting others speculate about its whereabouts, thus sparing the village from trouble.
The old Confucian scholar’s eyes glinted with killing intent as he strangely exclaimed, “Very well! It saves me the trouble!”
At this moment, Zhang Dezhi was shaken awake by his wife. He opened his mouth and screamed, “Murder! Murder! So much blood!”
Seeing the old Confucian scholar, he recoiled in fright and, upon recovering his senses, sobbed to the villagers, “He… He killed everyone at the gambling den! And also the people at the pawnshop! I didn’t want this, run away quickly!”
The crowd erupted in chaos. Zhang Dezhi grabbed his wife and ran, stumbling several times and sustaining injuries.
The old Confucian scholar raised his hand for a palm strike, but Mo Li intercepted him, initiating a series of more than ten exchanges in an instant.
The old Confucian scholar’s attacks were ruthless and treacherous, while Mo Li defended impeccably, and he even seemed to have the upper hand.
The old Confucian scholar was greatly surprised and intensified his attacks.
“You’re planning to kill everyone here just to prevent others from knowing you have the Gold Silk Armor?”
Anger surged within Mo Li. He discerned that the old Confucian scholar’s martial arts were unorthodox, and the stench of blood accompanied his palm strikes. From his tone, it appeared he had no intention of sparing anyone in the village.
“Lately, martial artists from all over have rushed to the Imperial Tomb, yet you’re massacring people here so blatantly. Are you trying to eliminate witnesses or draw attention to yourself? Your actions are utterly foolish and abominable!”
Mo Li’s reprimand only elicited hearty laughter from the old Confucian scholar.
“Youngster, when you burn corpses, who will know who left the fatal wounds? What caused their deaths? Will anyone know? Today, since you’ve crossed paths with me, blame your bad luck and short life!”
With these words, he held nothing back, attacking fiercely and swiftly.
Each move was aimed at lethal points, crafty and ruthless.
The old Confucian scholar’s martial arts were high, and he had cultivated his internal energy for at least several decades. As Mo Li dodged, he struck and broke several tree trunks in succession.
The trees fell, but the sand rat was nowhere to be seen.
Mo Li remained completely focused on responding to the attacks. He needed to ensure that he didn’t inadvertently harm the fleeing villagers, so he had to withstand some of the attacks and keep the old Confucian scholar at bay.
The old Confucian scholar became increasingly alarmed as he fought. He had originally thought that dealing with this young person would be a piece of cake. However, not only did the opponent manage to withstand his attacks, but he also prevented him from moving forward, making it impossible to kill anyone.
With a feigned move, the old Confucian scholar fished out a handful of copper coins and hurled them forward.
Though the coins weren’t sharpened, they were infused with internal energy, causing even a light strike to break tendons and bones, and a heavy one to kill.
Mo Li swiftly leaped away, using his sleeve to catch most of the coins. If he were wearing wide robes instead of a common short shirt, he might not have missed any of them.
As Mo Li tried to manage the situation, he suddenly saw a figure darting past – someone whose aura was familiar, wearing his clothes and carrying his belongings.
Mo Li hesitated for a moment, then watched as the figure casually deflected the remaining projectiles. The second move unleashed an immense internal power that felt like colliding with a towering mountain, causing the old Confucian scholar to recoil in astonishment.
The third move was like the collapse of that mountain, inducing an earthquake-like effect.
The ground sank three inches, sand billowed, and flying stones filled the air.
In an instant, three moves forced the old Confucian scholar to retreat repeatedly. But this extravagant display of internal energy left him pale with shock, suspecting he had encountered a ghost – how could there be such a master in the world?
Meng Qi didn’t give him any respite.
If the previous attacks resembled mountains and torrents, this current attack was like the blazing sun.
The old Confucian scholar was drenched in sweat, struggling to withstand this overwhelming internal energy. His eyes stung.
–the man’s outer robe couldn’t bear the force, it was completely broken into pieces, and then revealed a stream-like golden color.
“Gold, Silk, Armor!”
The old Confucian scholar pronounced each word, his gaze devoid of greed.
Because a hand had appeared right before his eyes, the old Confucian scholar desperately retreated, but his opponent stuck to him like a shadow.
The immense inner energy transformed into substance, pressing down on the old Confucian scholar so he could hardly breathe. Many life-saving techniques couldn’t be employed, and he finally realized the situation was dire. He urgently sought to escape.
The two figures had already vanished from the village entrance, leaving behind a deep imprint on the ground. The surrounding earth and broken stones were scattered, as if two bears had engaged in a fierce struggle.
The marks extended all the way, leaving the villagers dumbfounded and unable to speak.
“Who are you?”
A hoarse shout from the distance echoed.
A melodious voice responded, “I am Meng Qi, the State Teacher of the Chu Dynasty.”
Following that was a spine-chilling scream.
The crowd was filled with fear.
Mo Li: “…”
Physician Mo had mixed feelings. He originally intended to shoulder the responsibility for the Gold Silk Armor directly, as he had already gained some degree of fame due to Golden Phoenix’ Young Master, and his reputation in the world of martial arts mattered little to him.
He wanted to let those people know that a mysterious expert has the Gold Silk Armor! However, Meng Qi unexpectedly saw through his plan. In the guise of the sand rat, he returned and wore the Gold Silk Armor, taking the trouble onto himself.
To muddy the waters, he even used the identity of the State Teacher.
Here comes the debut! Meng Qi, the State Teacher, is about to rise to fame in the martial world!
Finally, after N years, achieving fame!
Meng Qi, who was briefly mentioned in historical records and didn’t achieve widespread fame: Hmph.