Chapter 969 Fame, Power, and Greatness
Six days before winter came, in the Year of Man 12789 in the Battlefield of Chaos—equivalent to the Year of Mutants 13247, the Year of Beast 1987, and the Year of Angels 12789 respectively—ten Justiciars of the Military of Man attached to the Drakonid Cohort garrisoned at Lauffeuer have their first contact with the Traitor of Man known as Li Mu. A fierce battle broke out in the desolate wilderness outside that ended in the Justiciars grievously wounded and humiliatingly defeated.
This was the third time the Justiciars were defeated since the inception of the institution of Juticiars.
The first and second defeats of the Justiciars were at the hands of the High Chieftain of the Beast Race Zhong Dajun and the High Champion of the Mutant Race Lin Zidong respectively. Both humans at first, their names were not yet known to the rest of the world of the Battlefield of Chaos until their triumphs over the best fighting force the Military of Man could field. Time would later show that their victories were well-deserved, for they eventually became figures whose name command both fear and respect.
Therefore, when word of the Justiciars being defeated reached far and wide, it made heads turn in marvel.
More so, since the captain of the Justiciars leading this time was none other than the best swordsman among the Justiciars of the Drakonid Cohort and one of the Four Blademasters—the four best Justiciars stationed to Legion Kommodore—Shangguan Buwu, also known to friends and foes alike as “The Manic Sword”. His appointment as captain of the squad responsible for this sortie alone indicated the Military’s resolve in wanting to eliminate Li Mu, which was not all, for the rest of the squad were distinguished and powerful Justiciars too. All that only served to make their defeat all the more inconceivable.
Sure enough, the name of Li Mu was beginning to send ripples across the Battlefield of Chaos.
Then again, the Military of Man, in all its vengeful pettiness, spared zero delays in making known to the whole world what a wicked monster Li Mu was: the brutal mass murderer responsible for the Oststern Incident, killers of the acolytes of the Sons of Lightning Lei Cang and Ming Yu, and the massacre of Drakonid Prefect Liu You and another eighteen of his comrades…
Uproar and shock swept across the domains of Man on the Battlefield. One could argue that such savagery -or insanity-could not go unrestrained and unpunished and Li Mu, as many quarters believed, must be eliminated quickly.
Up in the upper echelons of the Military of Man, the assessment of the Traitor of Man was known only to a select few, but many who walked the corridors of the Military’s most carefully guarded sanctums all knew that Li Mu must be on the List of the Condemned—the list of the most wanted individuals by the Military—by now. At the thirty-seventh place, in fact. The rest of the thirty-six Traitors of Man before him were some of Man’s most dangerous and deadliest enemies since Man made landfall here many millennia ago. Purported to be wicked and depraved, every single one of the thirty-six names could easily invoke panic and horror: the infamous lord of the Xenoses and the prime enemy of mankind in the Battlefield, High Chieftain of the Beasts Zhong Dajun, the lord of the Mutants, followed closely by the race’s High Champion Liu Zidong and so on.
Each and every race in the Battlefield of Chaos has a similar list and most of the names on the list were the leading figures of opposing races.
But to some, being placed on such a list and being placed alongside some of the Battlefield’s most fearsome names was something to be celebrated – a hallmark of fame, power, and greatness.
which were also traits now being gradually associated with Li Mu’s name.
That explained why others around the Battlefield were ecstatic to hear his name.
“Woof! That’s him! Woof! That’s my pet for ya! He’s just arrived and look at the ruckus that he’s caused!” said the white Husky excitedly as it tapped its paws furiously on the cracked screen of the Mate 100 cellphone in one of its many gaming binges since it arrived here. It threw its head back in laughter, “But this pet of mine must have picked up some bad habits. Traitor of Man! Wow! Why don’t you offer him an invitation, Dajun? Looks like he ain’t going to survive long staying with the humans.”
Another human dressed in Nike sports attire was playing Tetris on his iPad. With not so much as a glance at his canine companion, he muttered, “Lend me your phone for a year, and I might consider your request.”
“One year?” the white dog bared its fangs, “Go get your own one yourself!”
“Forget I said anything then. Let your pet suffer a little longer,” said the young stranger before he looked like he just remembered something, “He could do with some seasoning anyway.”
“Wait a second. What do you mean by ‘seasoning’?!” the white Husky demanded, “Do you know him?”
The young stranger paused his game and looked at the dog. Grinning proudly, he said, “You know what? I might know Li Mu more than you know him.”
“Nonsense!” the dog barked indignantly, “What shape is the birthmark on Li Mu’s backside? Is it a butterfly or a droplet?”
The young man paused to think. A second of bewilderment later, he scowled, “Have care of how you speak, dog. I could shut down the solar generators and you have only that one hundred batteries to rely on. They won’t last forever, you know?”
It wasn’t difficult for the dog to envision life without the bliss of mobile entertainment. By way of resigning defeat, it changed its tone, “How bout a guess? You can have my phone for a year if you’re correct. I have more than a thousand single-player games stored inside. It will be fun.”
The young stranger took a beat to think. There was a fifty-fifty chance that he might win, so he hazarded a guess, “The shape of a droplet?”
“A butterfly then.”
“Woof! Hahaha! Wrong! Li Mu has no birthmarks on his backside!”
What the—! Men! Seize this stupid hound and have him dragged to the mutt breeding pens!” glowered the enraged young stranger.
At the same time.
At the sacred mountain of the Mutant Race, the Phoenix’s Nest.
“The information you’ve requested, Your Highness.”
A beautiful Mutant lass cradling a crimson-red chest came, presenting an emerald-green pearl glowing with a soft and enchanting luster.
There was Bi Yan in a lavish dress. She rose from a throne made of countless, her radiant jade-green flowing with the streaming trails of her dress in her wake like a peacock’s tail. She picked up the pearl and bobbed her head approvingly. “Good. Off you go then.”
The beautiful Mutant lass retreated demurely.
Acid-green flames blazed in Bi Yan’s eyes before she magically infused the flames inside the pearl.
Deep inside the pearl, she could see Li Mu’s image appearing.
That was not all; all information about Li Mu, plus the codex for the Mutant Race language, surfaced.
“You just can’t go anywhere without leaving a wreck of trouble in your wake, can’t you?” she muttered under her breath.
At Thundercrest, the sacred mountain where the Master and Sons of Lightning made their stronghold.
A gnarly and misshapen old man grimaced with blood trickling out the edges of his lips.
“Still nothing. There’s nothing we can do. Someone is trying to cover his tracks.”
The elderly stranger growled as he stood in the center of the Hall of Valor, fuming.
“It’s ready, my lord,” reported an elderly manservant.
The hunch-backed old man nodded. “Very well. Fu, is there any news about Li Mu?”
“I’m afraid not, sir. Our people are still hunting him. They are scouring the wilderness out there as we speak,” reported the manservant dutifully. “But without the auguries, there is little we could do. That leaves us only the slow way. But we are in no shortage of manpower; it’s only a matter of time until he’s found.”
“The abundance of manpower is no guarantee of success. This Li Mu might seem alone. But clearly, he has help,” the wizened old man paused to think. “Fu. Go and supervise the search in my name. I’ll sleep better knowing that you’re in charge of the hunt.”
“But my lord,” the manservant called Fu protested feebly.
“Go,” insisted the misshapen old man.
“At once, sir,” the manservant with out of the Hall of Valor and rode on a mountain goat that was missing one of its horns to leave Thundercrest.
The old man ambled to his usual spot: a cave near a pool bristling with Lightning bolts.
A culvert leading from the pool to the cave allowed the liquid to flow inward.
It reached deep inside the bowels of the cavern where the liquid was channeled into the cave to provide sustenance to a jet-black lotus flower.
“The Black Lotus of Chaos,” remarked the hunch-backed elderly man with such a hushed tone as if he was speaking to himself. “The perfect vessel. Don’t disappoint me again.”
He picked the flower out of the water. Using its stalk as bones, its leaves as flesh, and its petals as shape, the old man arranged everything in the likeness of a man. Next, he retrieved a tiny medallion and used some form of magic to summon the soul that resided within the medallion and consigned it to the lotus flower-made human doll.
The doll blazed with a blinding brilliance.
Dark tendrils of phosphorescence swirled, circling the doll until it sprang to its feet and morphed into a life-sized human. A real man.
A real man of real flesh and blood.
Lei Cang skeptically studied himself with apparent incredulity. Next, he surveyed his surroundings. Then his face lit up with dawning comprehension. He dropped to his feet and exclaimed, “My sincerest thanks to you, Teacher. You’ve given me a new life. I shall remember this kindness for as long as I draw breath.”
“A Black Lotus of Chaos, that’s what you are from this day hence. Never forget that. I’ve given you the perfect body infused with both talent and destiny. Now into the pool of Iiquid, you go. This is the Essence of Lightning. You will immerse yourself here for one year while you meditate and train in preparation for the Sacred Deathmatch, which you will be participating in as a representative of the Sons of Lightning.”
So declared the Thunder Sage of the Nine Heavens, the mentor of Lei Cang.
“My thanks to you, Teacher,” repeated Lei Cang.
He stepped into the poor of buzzing electricity and began his meditation with the electricity tempering his endurance.
Out in the wilderness
The temperature has been plummeting most precipitously. Snowflakes have begun to form and were falling from the sky, showering the lands with a lazy sprinkle of white confetti. Frost petrified everything within sight with layers of ice, casting the world into a picturesque scene of colorless timelessness where nothing verdant green could be in sight.
Blizzards had capped the mountain peaks with a coat of white.
Three more days and the much-dreaded winter would arrive to beset the ordinary folk with despair and desolation.
White plumes of steam wafted over the bubbling surface of a hot spring deep inside a well-hidden mountain glen.
Li Mu was taking some time to give little Feng Xingyan some lessons in fighting.
The little lass’s eye injury was sharp force trauma caused by a foreign object and she still lacked the skill and power to heal herself. Fortunately, she has Li Mu’s special goggles that could amplify both her hearing and other senses to rely on.
Li Mu was training her in modified versions of the disciplines of the Xiantian Skill and the Zhenwu Boxing.
Feng Xingyan was hardly the first student Li Mu took under his wing.
But she was definitely the one that he had invested the most time and effort and the one whom he has the highest hopes for.
That was chiefly due to his guilt for her parents’ deaths, which he blamed himself for, and this impelled him to be more concerned about her wellbeing although this made him tougher on her.
Meanwhile, Schwarzdrachen was lying on a soft bed of grass beside the hot spring, dozing.
While Xiao Jianfei busied himself with training just by the pool.
He and Schwarzdrachen had rejoined Li Mu after making sure that his family was safe. Just like Li Mu, he has now been branded a fugitive of the Military of Man. He might not be given the same List-of-the-Condemned treatment as Li Mu, but as a former officer of the Military of Man who wanted nothing more than to serve faithfully and devotedly, this episode was his darkest nightmare come alive.
He did not know what made him come back to Li Mu, but his instincts told him that only by doing this would his many questions be answered.
For this reason, he did not refuse Li Mu’s offer to impart to him some skills.
“Concentrate your Qi. Let your senses project and feel all that is within and without you. Keep your mind clear and only then would you be able to see the greater picture… Keep steady…”
Li Mu was giving his instructions loudly to Xingyan.
All of a sudden.
Li Mu got to his feet. “Someone’s coming,” he said.
Schwarzdrachen cocked an ear and scrambled up as well, maintaining a fixed stare at the entrance into the glen.
A goat’s bleating slashed the ominous silence.
A goat with one of its horns broken slowly came into view amid the falling snow outside. Perched on its back was this elderly man with unremarkable features. His gnarly appearance, his modest roughspun clothing, and the apparent absence of any spiritual power belied the fact that this elderly man wielded enough power to suffocate the breathing of a powerful figure like Li Mu.