Inside the bamboo forest.
The individual in the conical bamboo hat wore ordinary rough cloth clothes, height not that tall. However, he gave off a type of feeling as if he was as tall as a great mountain peak.
On his back were two rectangular cloth strips, one long one short, a deep and cold aura was released from them. These should be two bladed weapons, just that they were wrapped under cloth, impossible to see clearly.
“What did you seek me out so urgently for?”
The bamboo hat was raised slightly, the face underneath actually also hidden under a black towel, only a pair of eyes with a bit of ridiculing cold radiance flashing past, his tone full of arrogance. “If it is for your son, then there is no need for you to say anything… In the end, this matter is because you wanted to climb higher, it has nothing to do with me.”
After a slight pause, he added with a bit of ridicule, “It was also your luck that I just happened to have some matters to tend to, or else even if you sought me out so urgently, you wouldn’t have a chance to meet me so quickly.”
“Ma Hongjun underestimated him. With the other party’s strength, there should be no way he miscalculated.”
Xu Ningshen who seemed to have aged considerably since a few days ago, becoming much more thin and pallid, gave this person a look, saying with a bit of resentment, “He ended up in the other party’s hands, this is the real reason why I sought you out so urgently.”
“Ma Hongjun miscalculated?”
The one under the conical bamboo hat stared blankly for a bit, clearly finding this rather unexpected. He became quiet, but after just a few breaths of time, he shook his head, saying, “I apologize, in that case, you can only head to Dragon Snake and become a roving bandit.”
Xu Ningshen suddenly raised his head, his face going cold, saying fiercely, “What are you trying to say?!”
“You don’t understand what I’m trying to say, but I understand your intentions.” The one in the conical bamboo hat waved his hand, indicating for Xu Ningshen to not get excited, saying with a calm voice. “You want to tell me that since even Ma Hongjun miscalculated, then the other party is definitely not some small fish who can’t produce much of a splash. However, the more this is the case, the less I can do anything, because compared to the great matters I am currently shouldering, this matter is too insignificant, not enough for me to risk having any accidents. Moreover, Ma Hongjun only knows you, there is no chance of him involving me.”
“Even if I could help you kill Lin Xi and all other people in the know, with the people he now involved, just how great of a disturbance would this cause?”
The one under the conical bamboo hat looked at Xu Ningshen, his cold eyes suddenly filled with fanatical flames. “That is why right now, you shouldn’t think about how you can blackmail me into protecting you, you can only choose to stand on my side. I can ensure that you can escape into Dragon Snake Mountain Range, and then someone will come to support you. I can also leak out some information to you, there are definitely people who wish to act against Lin Xi… Right now, with Ma Hongjun landing in his hands, as long as he says something, he will inevitably obtain great merit again. That is why if nothing unexpected happens, I will also have him head to Dragon Snake Mountain Range, let you personally get the chance to get revenge for your son.”
Xu Ningshen’s entire body trembled, the gloominess on his face immediately disappearing, hard to see exactly what he was thinking.
The one under the conical bamboo hat saw that Xu Ningshen was still hesitating, the feverish expression in his eyes becoming even stronger. “You don’t need to feel reluctance over your trifling official rank in Yunqin in any way, I am heading to the western border… as long as we succeed on this great matter, as long as you stand on my side, your future achievements will reach far beyond your imagination!”
“Western border?” When he heard these two words, Xu Ningshen suddenly recalled some rumors, his breathing couldn’t help but stop momentarily. He opened his mouth, yet couldn’t immediately say anything.
The one under the conical bamboo hat looked at Xu Ningshen, slowly repeating, “Think it over yourself, with your current situation, is it better to follow that old castrate or is it better to set your resolution and follow me? You are an intelligent person, I believe that you will make the right choice… but you need to make your decision quickly, because I don’t want there to be any mishaps… I am going to quickly send you to Dragon Snake Mountain Range.”
Xu Ningshen remained quiet for a moment.
His expression became even more pale. Suddenly, his body moved, kneeling down on one knee before this bamboo hat individual.
He didn’t say anything, but just this kneeling already completely expressed his attitude.
“Alright… The things I promise you, all of it will naturally be completely done.”
The one under the conical bamboo hat nodded.
All the way from Dragon Snake Mountain Range to now, Xu Ningshen threatened him into doing quite a few things. However, even though Xu Ningshen now knelt down before him, he didn’t feel much happiness, because compared to the important matter he had to carry out, it already seemed just that insignificant.
His head subconsciously turned, looking west.
Lin Xi’s forehead swelled slightly, producing a strange wave of yellow color, as if there was a piece of hard light yellow armor stuck to his forehead.
Several breaths of time later, his forehead returned to normal. Meanwhile, his entire neck swelled slightly, as if there was a faint yellow ring of hard armor wrapped around it.
Lin Xi shook his head in a bit of a rigid manner. The strange yellow color completely disappeared, his body returning to normal, but his expression instead became more and more serious.
Jiang Xiaoyi and Second Grandpa Zhang looked at the fat merchant who already sat up, their expressions also extremely nervous and serious.
The three of them had just heard a somewhat outrageous story.
Wei Xianwu, Stone Third and Ma Hongjun, the three of them were the children of commoners in Dragon Snake Border Pass, some odd job workers. Just like all of the children who grew up in the border, the three of them also naturally became workers for the border army.
When they were transporting some military supplies from one military camp to another, the three individuals and an official soldier just happened to run into a battle between two cultivators.
That sole official soldier was precisely Xu Ningshen.
The struggle between the two cultivators was extremely intense, one died and the other was seriously injured.
Moreover, the cultivator who died, before dying from his serious injuries, shouted at these four who had just happened to walk past, saying that the other party was a spy mixed in their army, a cultivator from Great Mang.
At that time, the seriously injured individual was also at his last gasp.
Ma Hongjun and the others, at the time, were only small odd job workers in their teenage years, never truly witnessing real blood and slaughter. Before this type of scene, they were obviously scared out of their wits, it was naturally the soldier Xu Ningshen who made the decision.
At that time, Xu Ningshen said that to guard against the unexpected, he was going to settle matters, that if the three of them were scared, they shouldn’t watch.
The three of them were scared out of their minds. When they heard these words, they immediately ran into the distance. However, the three of them were all intelligent people, after running far away, they felt like something wasn’t quite right.
How great was the merit of capturing a cultivator? Since Xu Ningshen had the courage to kill, why would he be scared of the unexpected? If he wanted to settle matters, why didn’t he choose to immediately return to the camp? It was because the camp wasn’t far away, and for better or for worse, they had heard that Great Mang cultivators would choose suicide when there wasn’t a chance of life, yet this Great Mang cultivator, even though he was seriously injured, didn’t seem to have any intentions of ending his own life.
After realizing that the situation didn’t make sense the more they thought about it, the three of them thought of another idea, to have Wei Xianwu first run back to the camp, so that if the other two didn’t return, then it definitely meant they suffered under Xu Ningshen’s hands.
The other two, after waiting for a bit, saw Xu Ningshen return. They immediately said that Wei Xianwu already returned to the camp, directly stating their suspicions, demanding that Xu Ninghsen brought them back to see that person’s corpse.
Just as the three expected, Xu Ningshen secretly carried out a transaction with that seriously injured cultivator.
Helpless to do anything else, Xu Ningshen could only negotiate with them, exchange with the cultivation method he obtained.
At the time, the three of them threatened Xu Ningshen, saying that they already told the secret to others, if anything happened to the three of them, then the secret would directly be exposed.
Xu Ningshen was only an ordinary soldier at that time, it was not that easy for him to deal with the three of them. Together with his reservations towards that cultivator to begin with, scared that the cultivator would silence him, he didn’t dare act rashly. Afterwards, out of fear that Xu Ningshen would scam them in this transaction of cultivation methods, the three of them always followed Xu Ningshen.
As time went on, after fighting together through vicious situations, the relationship between the four instead became subtly tangled, relying on each other.
Ma Hongjun’s cultivation talent was the highest among the four of them, his cultivation the most formidable among the four, but his actions were the most undisciplined and out of control. One time, because of a small matter, he killed a colleague, and was thus sentenced to death.
Xu Ningshen and the others used some connections to exchange a scapegoat. From then on, Ma Hongjun was hidden in the dark, but because they all understood his nature, not even Wei Xianwu and the others would easily use him to handle matters since they were afraid of starting trouble for themselves.
Jiang Xiaoyi reached out a hand, his entire palm also slowly swelling, as if growing a layer of light yellow thick armor.
“This method is only a soul force operation method, it might only be useful when staking it all.”
When he sensed the changes in his palm, Jiang Xiaoyi turned around, looking at Lin Xi seriously and saying, “Lin Xi, do you find his words trustworthy?”
Lin Xi frowned slightly, not immediately replying to Jiang Xiaoyi’s words. He instead looked at Ma Hongjun who was sitting on the ground, his entire body shaking slightly, asking, “Why didn’t you all ascertain that cultivator’s identity?”
“At the time, we wanted to know, but Xu Ningshen refused to tell us, saying that that person felt that the more people who knew, the easier it was for trouble to develop. Moreover, at the time, the three of us were too young.” Ma Hongjun wiped his hands on his sleeves out of habit, saying, “Later on, I was condemned for execution in the border army, but ultimately saved, so we learned that that person’s status and abilities were definitely extraordinary, feeling that the less we knew, quietly doing what we had to do, the safer it would instead be for us.”
Lin Xi nodded. He turned around, looking at Jiang Xiaoyi and said with a nod, “Even though this story of his sounds preposterous, the more preposterous the story, the higher the chance that it is true. It is because if he had the heart to come up with a story, he could have came up with an extremely honest story… Also, verifying whether or not this really is a method of Great Mang’s Thousand Devil Nest isn’t too difficult. There should be quite a few people who have faced cultivators from Thousand Devil Nest in the border army.”
With a light pu noise, Ma Hongjun who was sitting on the ground fell down weakly.
His cultivation was destroyed, experiencing too much torment during the last night and day. Right now, it was as if the trial was finally over, his mind finally relaxing, unable to support himself anymore, going unconscious.
“What are your plans?” Jiang Xiaoyi’s expression was serious, his brows furrowed as he asked. It was because he also felt that the preposterous story Ma Hongjun told might be true… Meanwhile, if what he said was true, then either Deer Forest Province or Dragon Snake Border Army had a hidden great figure from Great Mang!
“We’ll just have Zhou Nianshan make a report.” Lin Xi looked at Jiang Xiaoyi and said, “This matter is already far outside of our current domain of authority.”
Jiang Xiaoyi nodded, releasing a bitter smile.
They originally thought that this was merely an assassination out of brotherhood, never expecting that there was this type of muddy deep water hidden behind.
A hidden Great Mang expert, for new Green Luan students like him and Lin Xi, really was a bit too distant.
1. Thriving Prosperity’s third shop keeper, the Iron Calculator, has a similar name