Chapter 32: He Tong's Trial
Xue Wei had broken into the realm of the eight-layered Ordinary Warrior, and his body continually enhanced itself while taking nourishment from the energy present between the heavens and the earth.
"As things are now, there should be no opponents for me here in the Heping Kingdom within the Ordinary Warrior rank," Xue Wei mused to himself. He was well aware that he was within an impoverished kingdom and thus the martial arts legacy was somewhat limited, but he still felt a bit of pride when realizing that he was able to jump ranks while fighting.
Although he could not fight an Earth Warrior just yet, he had confidence in his ability to escape. He was also certain that Manager Su’s protection would deter quite a few people from trying to attack him.
After reaching the eighth layer of the Ordinary Warrior rank, Xue Wei returned to cultivating and training. He did not waste even a single moment as he knew that his strength was truly too little.
Xue Wei was not only cultivating in this period of time. After having talked with Wang Xiaoyun about Lingyun Town, he had spent some money to get information about the Northern Taiga and the specific incident related to Lingyun Town, which gave him a whole lot of information.
The entire town had been killed by a passing Primordial Beast. It was a really rare episode, and many Primordial Beast hunters had done everything in their power to hunt down whichever Primordial Beast had done it.
After a bit of time, they blamed it on the Ice Harpy, something that made sense to Xue Wei. Wang Xiaoyun had said that they were hunting the Ice Harpy, so for her to know the history of Lingyun Town was normal. What did puzzle him, however, was that there was no information about any surviving child.
All this information confused Xue Wei, but he knew that he would get no answer before he had talked with Xiao Lei about it. Furthermore, he knew that it would be a long time before Xiao Lei returns. It was likely that they would not meet before a decade later, since Xue Wei had to be in the army for a decade.
Putting the worries on the backburner, Xue Wei sighed as once more focused on getting stronger. No matter how many questions he had, he understood that strength was needed to get the answers. In order to be with Wang Xiaoyun, Xue Wei needed more strength. He needed to be powerful!
While Xue Wei and Manager Su spent most of their time cultivating, the whole of Tiankong City was filled with gossiping and disbelief.
He Tong hated Xue Wei. Everyone knew this fact, and they were well aware that this young man had been chased earlier by unknown cultivators – yet, for once, he had been chased by a Sky Warrior, and he had survived it.
Everyone knew that Xue Wei had a movement martial art. Although it was astonishing and rare, no one had truly managed to fully grasp what it meant until now. To be able to outrun a Sky Warrior when one was only an Ordinary Warrior was a heaven-defying feat. Although Xue Wei had run blindly and constantly changed directions, these people did not know about it.
They were certain that Xue Wei had simply outrun He Tong, and that he had strength far outstripping his Ordinary Warrior rank.
Because of this, everyone was eager to show their goodwill towards Xue Wei. If he had this kind of strength already, no one knew how much he would grow in the future. It was likely that he would become another Xiao Lei, a Primordial Beast hunter with a great many beasts slain.
Beasts were born either Mortal Beasts, Fierce Beasts, or Primordial Beasts. A Mortal Beast could never become a Fierce Beast, and a Fierce Beast could never become a Primordial Beast.
Although Primordial Beasts, in general, were stronger than Fierce Beasts, they were weaker at birth, and a Primordial Beast could not start cultivating before the age of thirty.
Primordial Beasts aged much slower than humans and Fierce Beasts, but they were born with an inborn strength that made it near impossible for others to attack them, and they were exceptionally protective of their young ones as their reproduction speed was slower than the other races.
Primordial Beasts could control Fierce Beasts. Just like a tamed beast had to follow the orders of a Diviner, the Fierce Beasts also had to follow the orders of Primordial Beasts. The only beasts that could go against the Primordial Beasts' control were tamed and mortal beasts.
Xiao Lei had hunted down more than ten Primordial Beasts. These beasts were all of varying age, but all of them had a strength similar to that of a Heavenly Warrior.
If Xue Wei could kill just one Heavenly Warrior Primordial Beast, then he would be a hero of humankind in the Kingdom of Heping.
Since Xue Wei was likely to become such a hero, everyone wished to show their goodwill. Many came to the mansion to deliver presents, or to just say that they would gladly witness against He Tong. Even those who had not truly seen anything had already heard enough about what had happened between He Tong and Xue Wei, and thus they wanted to be of use.
Manager Su sent everyone to Shen Bingwen. Shen Bingwen had already promised that he would deal with the case against He Tong. Since this was the case, Manager Su was not shy about using him as manual labor.
Xue Wei was unaware of the sudden rise in fame he had gotten, but he would not have cared even if he had been aware of it. These people had looked down upon him for years already. They had disliked him, and some even hated him. For them to suddenly want to become friendly with him was clearly because they saw that, now, he had the potential to become a great Warrior while simultaneously having the backing of two Heavenly Warriors.
Xue Wei continued to train all up until the day of the trial. He then went to prepare, put on his finest clothes, and tied his hair up in a beautiful bun on top of his head with a small golden crown tying it up.
Manager Su had also prepared. Although the clothes he wore were of the highest quality, they were all completely black and made him look like a servant. There was nothing fancy about Manager Su's appearance.
When one looked at the two, Xue Wei and Manager Su, one could instantly see that it was a young master and his servant, yet when they saw the fierce look within Manager Su's eyes, everyone felt a chill run down their spines.
Xue Wei walked first, with Manager Su following right behind him. The two walked towards the City Lord's mansion where the court was located, intending to be part of He Tong’s judgement. They were both the prime witnesses and also the ones who wished for He Tong to be crippled.
When they arrived, half of the courtroom had already been filled with people. The rest were streaming in through the open door; some had ugly expressions on their faces, while others looked calm and collected.
The audience was split into two. One group wished to gobble up the other, but both understood that this was just pro forma judging. Two out of three Heavenly Warriors had already decided on the fate of the head of the He family, and thus he would be unable to avoid his fate.
Those who were his comrades were swearing in their minds. They too wished to rip Xue Wei to shreds, but they would never do so as they knew how valuable the young warriors were to the kingdom.
When they had been at the front lines, they were still valuable, but many returned to settle down or carry out other chores that kept them far away from the battlefields.
Had He Tong succeeded in killing Xue Wei, it was not a question about allowing He Tong to live. He would have been executed on the spot as Manager Su clearly looked at Xue Wei as his benefactor, but had Manager Su not managed to break through, it could have gone either way.
Shen Bingwen would not make too much of a fuss for a dead genius, while Li Fang would do all in his power to protect his supporter.
Unfortunately, things had escalated far above and beyond what He Tong had expected. Not only had he failed to kill Xue Wei, but Manager Su had also broken through to become a Heavenly Warrior.
A listless and despaired He Tong was led into the courtroom. His hair was messy and his clothes disheveled. His eyes were dim, and it was clear that he had finally calmed down and realized what exactly he had done.
Having come to terms with everything, he was naturally also aware of the punishment that would follow. Shen Bingwen and Manager Su would cripple him.
Although his family might be able to sustain itself for some time due to the Elders in the family, it was without a doubt that He Tong would not be able to maintain his position within the family. Although the family would survive, He Tong was going to live a life worse than death.
Not only this, but he also realized that all the actions he had made had turned him, and his family, against the commoners. These commoners would use his shops and restaurants much less now than they had before, and only travelers who had no idea of his deeds would buy their wares unless they lowered their prices.
As He Tong was placed in the courtroom, the entire room was filled to the brim, and it was pindrop silent.
Shen Bingwen started by calling up Xue Wei to give testimony, and following him came Manager Su. Both honestly recounted the incident, not withholding anything. Xue Wei even displayed his movement martial art to prove that he could move fast enough to stay alive.
After them came a bunch of commoners who had noticed what had happened. And finally, He Tong was questioned.
"He Tong, leader of the He family, has committed a great offense," Shen Bingwen said seriously. "After careful deliberation with the involved parties and in light of the fact that the victim did not die, we have decided only to cripple your cultivation, allowing for you to continue your life."
No one was surprised with the verdict, but everyone was rather shocked that Shen Bingwen made it sound as if he had been merciful.
He Tong's face paled, and Li Fang gritted his teeth. Li Jian, who was also present in the hall, stared at Xue Wei with eyes that looked as if they would slice him into pieces.
But a decision had been made, and no one could do anything about it. Even Li Fang was powerless when Manager Su and Shen Bingwen worked together.
As the case finished, everyone started spreading the word. Manager Su personally took on the task of crippling He Tong, and a group of He family members picked him up and brought the collapsed He Tong back to the family with them. Although he was their family head, the Elders that had been present knew that things were likely to change now and that Li Fang definitely had his plans with the He family.
In the Shen family, everyone was cheerful. Shen Bingwen was walking around with a great smile on his face, and he felt that a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders as Manager Su was his new backup.
With Manager Su's assistance, his position was rock solid in Tiankong City. Although the city lord expected Li Fang to be filled with pent-up anger and frustrations, he also admired Li Fang and knew that he would never venture down the path of wickedness for the sake of reaching his goals.
"Was this heaven's retribution?" Li Fang whispered to himself with half-closed eyes in his study.
"I have spoiled my son too much, and he has gone down the wrong road. I know of all the atrocities he has committed, but I never said anything about it. Now, he has caused two of my followers to lose their most promising members of the younger generation and a strong backer."
"But worst is the fact that Manager Su managed to break through! That old man has never been even close to breaking through all these years, so how come he suddenly broke through now?"
"Young man, what if I could give you everything you wanted?" A voice suddenly sounded in the room. Li Fang stood up in shock and looked around, yet no matter where he looked, he saw nothing.
"Do not tempt me!" he yelled. "I will not be someone else's puppet, and I will not go against my martial heart!"
"That is too bad," the voice laughed with a dry laughter that sounded as if the dead were coming back to the land of the living.
"At least I know that your son will accept me," the voice mocked, and the room was eerily quiet all of a sudden. Li Fang turned deadly pale.