Book 3 Chapter 33 Striving for Self-Improvement
The smell of medicine spread throughout the room. Ji Hong stood there as straight as a spear.
“Sigh…” Ji Hong sighed deeply and glanced at the dejected and handicapped Bai Qi. “Bai Qi, you fool! Originally, with your talent and background, our Gui Yuan Sect would’ve groomed you well. I am also old and will not keep my position as commander for long. After a few years, my replacement would definitely be chosen from the three lieutenants under my command. Among the three, you do not lose out to the other two in terms of skill, and furthermore, you are the youngest as well.
“Of course, our Gui Yuan Sect would choose to nurture those with potential. With your strength and your capacity as a core disciple, it would not have been impossible to take on the commander position. But now….”
After hearing Ji Hong’s words of comfort and regret, a deep feeling of sorrow grew within Bai Qi.
His prospective and glorious prospect was now turning into a dark and miserable future.
“Grandmaster!” Tears overflowed from Bai Qi’s eyes, as he cried out painfully, “I can’t accept this. I really can’t accept this! Grandmaster, you have to avenge me!”
“Crying, you’re still crying!” Ji Hong reprimanded.
Bai Qi’s master was Ji Hong’s disciple. Of course, Ji Hong was more concerned for this disciple of his.
Bai Qi resisted letting the tears within him flow out, but the sorrow in his heart remained.
“What is the point of crying? Who can you blame?” Ji Hong was disappointed that Bai Qi did not live up to his expectations. “If only you hadn’t intended to keep the purple gold to yourself……”
“Grandmaster, I… I intended to snatch the gold back for the Gui Yuan Sect.” said Bai Qi.
“You still make excuses!” Ji Hong’s face turned cold. “If it was within the mining area, why would you need to go through the trouble of following that hardworking laborer? When he was on the mountain and Hu Tong was searching that person, you could have ordered someone to search and expose the hardworking laborer. Why would you follow him for so long and only take action when he reached the foot of the mountain? There are five hundred members of the Black Armored Army awaiting your orders! Even if it wasn’t just three or four First Rated Warriors, even if there were a hundred First Rated Warriors, facing the five hundred man troop of the Black Armored Army, they would have put their tails between their legs and fled!”
Bai Qi’s mouth twitched. Not another word came out of his mouth.
An astute person could tell with one glance what Bai Qi was doing. Now that Bai Qi was handicapped, he wanted to keep some of his reputation intact.
After seeing Bai Qi’s devastated state, Ji Hong did not continue further.
“You are also a warrior of the Black Armored Army. Didn’t you just lose a leg and an arm?” Ji Hong chided Bai Qi. “In the history of our Gui Yuan Sect, the late Grandmaster ‘Liu Tian Xue’ had also lost both his arms. But even with just a pair of legs, he still created the ‘Agile Snake Kick’ and spread his name across the world.”
Bai Qi clenched his teeth and swallowed back his words.
Grandmaster Liu Tian Xue had at least two legs, but he only had one.
“Hmph, get that horrible look off your face!” Ji Hong had a sharp gaze in his eyes. “Let me ask you, currently, who is third on the«Earthly Ranking»?
Bai Qi jolted.
“Tang, Tang Han!” Bai Qi recalled his achievements.
“This Tang Han was also a renowned figure with huge potential. He has a towering figure amongst his generation and was listed in the«Hidden Dragon Ranking». When he was 21, all four of his limbs were crippled by his enemies! The tendons in Tang Han’s arms and legs were all torn apart, and he could only remained seated. He had not one ounce of strength left to defend himself! But he immersed himself in the art of concealed weapons, and studied meticulously for thirty years! When he showed himself to the world again, using only his unparalleled skills with concealed weapons, he annihilated over a hundred First Rated Warriors single-handedly!” Ji Hong remarked coldly. “Amongst the warriors in the Postliminary Realm, who has absolute confidence to defeat Tang Han? His mastery over the art of concealed weapons is profound. His«Falling Flowers of the Fairy»is a skill that even innate masters are wary against. If it weren’t for the fact that he became handicapped, restricting his mobility, it would not be impossible for him to clinch the top spot in the«Earthly Ranking»!”
There were countless Postliminary warriors across the Nine Prefectures?
There were seventy-two seats in the «Earthly Ranking». People were closely ranked and generally on par in terms of prowess. It all depended on their versatility in combat.
Bai Qi lowered his head.
True, Tang Han was in a much worse condition than he was. He could at least still exert power through his remaining arm and leg.
“I also hold Tang Han with great respect.” Ji Hong let out a deep sigh. “When he was crippled, what was the first thing that he did?”
“This……” Bai Qi flinched for a moment before he immediately replied, “Get married!”
“Yes, when he became crippled, the first thing he did was get married. He has nine wives, eight sons, and six daughters!” Ji Hong spoke with a deep voice, “Back when Tang Han was deeply immersed in his studies of the art of concealed weapons, he concurrently taught his children! Which of his eight sons are not experts in the field of concealed weapons? At the mention of ‘The Eight Heroes of Tang’, who does not give a thumbs up? In this world, who dares offend the Tangs? The reason Tang Han spent so much effort in nurturing his children is because he considered that if his own efforts failed, he could still rely on his children in the future! In this world, if someone mentions Tang Han, who does not respect him? But you became so morose when you became crippled!”
When Bai Qi thought of Tang Han, a ball of fire also grew within him.
He thought of many possibilities.
But just within a few moments, he felt demoralised again, as he thought, “The art of concealed weapons is profound and boundless. Even Master Tang, with his aptitude, took thirty years to understand it. Will… Will… Will I be able to do it?”
Ji Hong cast a glance at Bai Qi and silently shook his head. This grand disciple of his had a smooth-sailing life and did not face any obstacles from a young age. Across the Nine Prefectures, with the daily amount of bloodshed, there were countless practitioners who were made cripples. Those who could rise from their handicap and make a name for themselves were rare, but those who could succeed all had great perseverance and determination.
“You haven’t even started and have already lost confidence. How could you ever succeed?” Ji Hong thought to himself.
“Grandmaster, do you think I……” Bai Qi barely said anything before Ji Hong replied, “If you want to achieve great accomplishments with your handicapped body, then you must seek self-improvement. As for the rest, you will have to slowly think for yourself. No one else can help you!” That being said, Ji Hong headed out of the room in big strides, leaving Bai Qi sitting on his bed in a daze.
Teng Qingshan and the four centurions gathered outside Bai Qi’s room. Although it was late at night, the torches lit up the surroundings brightly.
The door opened and Ji Hong walked out with a cool look.
“ You guys follow me.” Ji Hong shot a glance at the five and headed towards the front.
Teng Qingshan and the four centurions glanced at each other and quietly followed behind Ji Hong.
After walking for about a dozen Zhang, Ji Hong stopped in a dimly lit area.
“Teng Qingshan!” Ji Hong hollered.
“Commander.” Teng Qingshan bowed slightly.
Ji Hong turned ferociously, looking in his direction. “Let me ask you. It has been one day since the purple gold was stolen. Have you found out how it was stolen?”
“Not yet.” Teng Qingshan’s answer was concise. He did not try to justify himself.
Looking at Teng Qingshan, Ji Hong silently nodded to himself. He hated those who tried to shift the blame when they encountered problems. He could not help but compare Teng Qingshan with his grand disciple ‘Bai Qi’ in his heart, as he shook his head to himself. He then coldly said, “The purple gold mine is of huge concern! Our Gui Yuan Sect, the Sovereign, and the elders hold this case with high regard. I shall not punish you for your failure to guard the mine for now. But within ten days, you have to find out how the purple gold was stolen! The other four centurions, all of you shall assist Teng Qingshan!”
“Yes!” Teng Qingshan cupped his hands.
“Yes!” The other four centurions also bowed.
“If you find out the reason, then we will let the matter rest. If you cannot find it within the ten days…” Ji Hong’s face darkened.
“Commander, please be assured. I will definitely find out the how the purple gold was stolen within ten days.” Teng Qingshan firmly replied.
There were only a few methods for how the theft could have occurred. Regardless of traitors or a secret passage underground, there was one similarity. Among the hardworking laborers working in the purple gold mine, someone had to collect the purple gold. Therefore, there were definitely hardworking laborers who had lied when the soldiers of the Black Armored Army interrogated them. Normal soldiers would not be able to determine if someone was lying, but with Teng Qingshan’s expertise in interrogating as an assassin in his past life, it would not be hard to tell.
With Teng Qingshan’s methods, against these normal hardworking laborers, from their eyes and expressions, it would only take a few days to find out.
“Good!” Ji Hong laughed coldly. “I hope you are not just talking big!”
“Another thing.” Ji Hong’s eyes swept over the five. “The captain of the Huafeng city guards ‘Hu Tong’ worked with thieves from the outside! Has he been apprehended?”
“Commander, Hu Tong snuck away when the case blew up in the morning” Tian Dan spoke out.
“Commander, how shall we deal with Hu Tong?” Wan Fanxiang also inquired.
Ji Hong coldly replied, “The sect has always been stern with issues concerning the protection of the mines! Hu Tong worked with the thieves. Even if he is the captain of the city guards, it can’t protect him. Order the arrest of Hu Tong within Jiangning County City! Whoever can apprehend or kill Hu Tong will be awarded with a thousand taels of silver and a Human Class secret manual from our Gui Yuan Sect.
Kill Hu Tong?
Teng Qingshan sighed to himself. That Hu Tong was originally a captain of the city guards. But because of this case, he was to be executed without a chance to explain himself.
The purple gold was something the Gui Yuan Sect held in high regard. In addition, this time around, a lieutenant was crippled. Why would the Gui Yuan Sect show any mercy? They would rather kill the wrong person than let anyone escape. This was how the rules worked!
When dawn arrived the next day, Teng Qingshan ordered the Black Armored Army to conscientiously comb through the purple gold mine. The other four centurions also assisted Teng Qingshan, sending their subordinates to help.
Within a short while, the whole mine was filled with chaos.
After combing the purple gold mine for three whole days, they did not find any secret passages nor discover any traitors. Teng Qingshan immediately started to interrogate the miners. Accumulating ten Jin of purple gold was not something a miner could accumulate alone. Therefore, Teng Qingshan’s first step was—-
To find out who helped gather the purple gold from other hardworking laborers to hand over the purple gold to the Black Armored Army together.
A quick search revealed fifteen people, who were all recognized ringleaders within the hardworking laborers. They would often gather all the purple gold to submit together.
From these fifteen people, it took Teng Qingshan only half a day to confirm that there were three suspects!
It would be too easy!
The Black Armored Army interrogated the suspects with verbal threats, specifically mentioning the use of torture instruments and such. The Black Armored Army only needed to put up an appearance, and immediately one suspect quickly confessed. After one hour of interrogation, the other two also quickly confessed.
After all, these three were just commoners, and they had not experienced any special training. How could they resist specialized interrogation?
It turned out, there was more than one way to smuggle the purple gold out.
They also discovered the method used to smuggle the ten Jin of purple gold. There was a very small secret passage, and it was usually covered up by minerals and such. In addition, the place was very deep and inconspicuous.
Furthermore, there were many deep passageways in the mines; therefore, the search party was not able to discover the passageway even after three days of searching.