Shi Fengchen walked into the room. He took out a thick pile of files from a hidden drawer of the closet and opened them up on the desk.
These files were about Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu.
Last year, the investigation by the Pure Heaven Bureau was prohibited, and these files were placed in the storage house, collecting dust, until he brought them home secretly ten days ago.
Shi Fengchen turned pages of these files, and saw the words and pictures that he had already memorized very well. The files recorded the murders of seventy-four lives and countless bloody scenes.
These pictures flashed in front of his eyes and overlapped with the scenes in his memories.
"Is a Cultivation practitioner able to kill others at will?"
Shi Fengchen closed the files and remained silent before saying, "I'll never let the Green Mountain Sect have another Immortal Taiping."
He had a bad impression of the Green Mountain Sect. His impression had been reinforced by the behaviors of the disciples of Liangwang Peak that he witnessed a few years ago when he was in charge of the Pure Heaven Bureau in Nanhezhou.
The so-called "hatred toward evildoings" was merely an excuse for cruelty and atrocity. Such a style of the Green Mountain Sect would sooner or later raise some disastrous individuals.
They were those who would disturb the human world.
Shi Fengchen connected Zhao Layue with that disastrous person due to her Cultivation talent, status, future, and her style of acting.
Therefore Zhao Layue had to die.
He couldn't tell anyone about this matter, since what happened to Immortal Taiping was the biggest secret in the Cultivation world, and the worst scandal of the Green Mountain Sect.
If he used this fact as a reason for his action, everybody would think he was mad. Nobody would believe him, and the Green Mountain Sect would kill him immediately.
He planned to meet the Emperor in person and tell him about the concern, but Royal Concubine Hu hadn't called him again.
Shi Fengchen couldn't see the Emperor. What else could he do then?
In the last year, he had been thinking about how to kill Zhao Layue, but he failed to find an effective method.
Until a few days ago, he had enough spare time to check on the recent files. He found a discrepancy out of blue.
The Duanli pills used in the imperial palace were supplied by the Pure Heaven Bureau. The consumption of the pills had been considerably reduced lately.
Royal Concubine Hu had been favored by the Emperor in recent years; anyone would be able to figure out what the reduced usage of Duanli pills meant.
Shi Fengchen suspected that the Emperor had no intention to hide this fact.
He managed to contact the Crown Prince palace and tell them about this. They were shocked as he expected.
The reaction from the Crown Prince palace showed him that those advisors and courtiers working for Crown Prince were really stupid. They failed to understand this was a test staged by the Emperor.
He should use such an idiot as the Crown Prince for his own purposes.
The courtyard door opened with a creaking sound.
Shi Fengchen was stirred from his deep thoughts and walked out from his room after putting away those files.
A servant-like youngster locked the door behind him. "Master, you're back!" he yelled happily while looking at Shi Fengchen.
The youngster, holding a basket full of vegetables, walked with some difficulty because his legs were handicapped.
Shi Fengchen said, "I told you many times already; don't call me 'Master'."
"Okay..." the youngster said in a low and careful voice while looking at his face,
Shi Fengchen couldn't help but laugh out loud.
The youngster felt extremely happy after seeing Shi Fengchen's smiling face. "I bought some fresh bok choy, and I'll fry it with the preserved meat this evening," he said in a louder voice.
Shi Fengchen wanted to say that he had already eaten, but he could only shake his head after seeing the youngster's happy face. "Just cook a little bit," he said.
Watching the small and thin figure bussing by the stove, Shi Fengchen eyes looked worried.
This kid was Wang Xiaoming, whom he found at a ruin many years ago.
Back then, two Cultivation practitioners from the West Ocean Sword Sect and the Kunlun Sect had an appointed fight. Their combat on the Funiu Mountain ended in a draw.
It was said that the two opponents enjoyed each other's company afterwards. They drank a few cups of famous Queshe tea on the Cloudy Boat, wishing that they should have met earlier.
However, these two Cultivation practitioners didn't know that their Cultivation battle had weakened a large section of the cliff wall.
On the same night a downpour caused the weakened cliff wall to slide. The mud and rocks swallowed a whole village at the foot of the mountain.
Of course, they wouldn't have cared that much, even if they knew of the incident.
This kind of events had happened many times in Chaotian, and imperial court and orthodox Cultivation sects had enough experiences to deal with them.
The Pure Heaven Bureau was a government office that cleaned up the mess left by the Cultivation practitioners, so to speak.
At that time, Shi Fengchen was a middle-level official in the Pure Heaven Bureau. Seeing the ruins by the mountain, he felt sad but not so angry, since there was not so much he could do.
According to the regulations, the imperial court would represent the two sects to compensate the villagers, and some responsible local officials might even help the villagers rebuild their houses.
The issue was that all the villagers had died. Whom would be compensated? Who would live in the rebuilt houses?
As Shi Fengchen was about to leave, he suddenly heard a faint cry in a pile of mud and rocks. He realized that someone survived.
Shi Fengchen fostered the infant, whose legs had been broken under the rocks. He chose a most common name for him in order for him to live a peaceful life.
From that point on, Wang Xiaoming had followed him everywhere doing trivial chores, from Yuzhou to Nanhezhou and to Zhaoge City.
Shi Fengchen hadn't taught him anything, not even basic reading and writing.
Currently Wang Xiaoming was working in the storage house of the Pure Heaven Bureau, and came back to visit Shi Fengchen twice a month during his holidays.
"Master, dinner is ready."
Wang Xiaoming's voice came out from the kitchen.
Shi Fengchen looked at the delicious fried bok choy and preserved meat in the dish on the stove top while holding a bowl of rice, saying, "Don't spend money so easily."
Though he earned a good salary, Shi Fengchen spend most of his money somewhere else. He was not wealthy, so he couldn't give Wang Xiaoming any money.
Wang Xiaoming said with a smile, "The preserved meat was given by Seven-Ten-Two, so it's free."
Shi Fengchen knew Qishi'er was one of Wang Xiaoming's colleagues, so he didn't say anything more.
After the dinner, Wang Xiaoming brought a cup of hot tea, saying, "Here, Master. Have some teas."
Shi Fengchen took over the cup and had a drink, narrowing his eyes.
The tea was the common household tea, but it tasted good enough as long as it was hot.
Wang Xiaoming found Shi Fengchen was in a good mood, so he asked carefully, "Master, when can I start learning from you?"
Shi Fengchen opened his eyes. "Do you really want to learn from me?" he asked, looking at Wang Xiaoming.
Wang Xiaoming's expression was very sincere.
Shi Fengchen remained silent for a while before saying, "In fact, I asked someone to check you out when you were younger. Your body type is good for Cultivation practicing. You should have a bright future in Cultivation."
Wang Xiaoming suddenly stood up and yelled angrily, "I don't want to practice Cultivation! I want to learn investigation from Master."
"Investigation needs brain power, but it has limited usage when facing absolute strength."
Shi Fengchen stared into his eyes and said seriously, "We're dealing with Cultivation practitioners. If you want to learn the ways of investigation from me, you have to practice Cultivation and become stronger than them...I had such a thought when I joined the Pure-Three Sect. Unfortunately, I don't have a good enough talent to get further along on this path, but you can."
Three days later, Zhao Layue went to the Mingcui Valley.
The Mingcui Valley was a common name, meaning its sceneries must be ordinary enough that it wasn't worth having a special name. Moreover, the road leading to the valley was difficult to walk on, so fewer travelers could be seen even during the best outing season.
The difficult road wasn't an issue for the Cultivation practitioners, so they could see more sceneries than the regular folks. Of course, they would also encounter dangers once in a while.
There was a small stream in the Mingcui Valley, by which stood a small Daoist temple ruin.
As Zhao Layue entered the Daoist temple, she discovered it was actually a formation.
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