Lin Mu had spoken, yet no one seemed to be replying to him. He stood still in awkward silence for about ten seconds before someone responded. It was Hong Luo who seemed to be feeling strange and nervous too.
“Greetings, brother Lin Mu. You are right at the time.” Hong Luo greeted.
The other mercenaries except for Leader Teng and the whip wielding woman stood up after seeing Hong Luo initiate the greetings. They could not tell what had happened, but their current situation felt more stressful to them than when they actually fought deadly spirit beasts.
Leader Teng forcefully tried to regain his composure as he stood up and cupped his hands in greeting.
“Greetings brother Lin Mu, my name is Teng Donghai, and this is my team.” Leader Teng spoke.
Everyone then started to introduce themselves to Lin Mu. One could tell that they were rather nervous and seemed to be paying extra attention to etiquette.
“Greetings, I am Xiong An.” Greeted the Brawny mercenary.
“Greetings, I am Long Da.” Greeted the mercenary with an axe on his back.
“I’m Yi Duyi.” Said the short mercenary.
“And I am Hao Xiao.” Said the whip wielding woman.
Having heard everyone’s names, Lin Mu felt a little satisfied. At least for him, the awkward silence was a little painful. Having finished with the greetings, Hong Luo invited Lin Mu to sit along with them. He offered him his chair and asked a mercenary that was passing by to bring him another.
Respectfully taking the offer, Lin Mu sat down and looked at the mercenaries, waiting for them to start. He had been observing their conversation, thus he wanted to know how they will be proceeding. This was a little off course for him, as originally he had expected that he would need to guard the camp by himself and the Hei Corps.
While he would be guarding in person, the members of the Hei corps would be patrolling in silence by hiding in the distance. Lin Mu knew that they had more experience in matters such as these, thus did not worry about them not appearing. He had already been informed beforehand that they will send him a signal when they appear.
Having received his chair, Hong Luo sat down to discuss the plan.
“So brother Lin Mu, we were just about to start with the plan. Luckily for us, Leader Teng and his team returned early from their hunt, so we hopefully won’t have to worry as much.” Hong Luo spoke.
The other mercenaries simply nodded in agreement, showing that they had already discussed them.
Lin Mu was wondering, though, what did they know about the incident in the town. He wanted to know if they had any opinion on it and if they knew that it involved him. So that later he knew how to make decisions in the future with them. While walking in the town he had heard people talking about all the other related people, but somehow there was no mention of him.
‘Did Hei Wan hide my involvement somehow?’ Lin Mu wondered.
“Have you all heard about what happened in the town today?” Lin Mu questioned.
Everyone’s faces turned a little serious upon hearing Lin Mu’s words.
“Yes, we know what happened today. Though it was certainly very unexpected.” Hong Luo replied.
“Not just unexpected, it was outright strange I would say.” Long Da spoke.
“Indeed, no matter what, we still need to be alert. If they can kill the town head and the vice captain in the broad daylight, then there’s no limit to them.” Xiong An added.
Lin Mu listened to the words of these mercenaries and confirmed that there seemed to be no information about his involvement or even Xiao Lu’s anywhere.
‘This should make things a little easier.’ Lin Mu thought.
“So what are we going to be doing tonight?” Lin Mu questioned after having confirmed his doubt.
Leader Teng, who had been listening silently until now, spoke.
“We already have the common mercenaries patrolling and have also told them to stay alert. Everyone has been assigned shifts so that the posts are always manned. This already covers most of the area of the camp, so what we’re going to do is split the entire camp into seven regions.”
“One for each of us.” Hao Xiao added.
Lin Mu nodded in understanding. The plan seemed fine and he couldn’t tell how else they could improve it more, except for adding more cultivators. But right now, all they had was these many people. Suddenly Lin Mu realized that the two other mercenaries that were with Hong Luo in the morning seem to be nowhere nearby.
“Where are the Ming brothers?” Lin Mu asked, turning to Hong Luo.
“Oh, they’re in the town. Earlier, one of the representatives of the new High official came to meet us. They wanted to ask a few questions, thus I talked with them. They also wanted some statements from the other mercenaries, so I sent them along with the Ming brothers.” Hong Luo answered.
Lin Mu felt a little strange upon hearing that Hong Luo had sent a pair of mute brothers on a task like this.
“But aren’t they mute?” Lin Mu asked with curiosity.
“Yes, they are, of course. They are not there to talk, though. They have gone along as protection for the other mercenaries.” Hong Luo replied.
‘That does make more sense.’ Lin Mu thought.
“Now then let’s discuss the positions.” Teng Xiaolian spoke.
Everyone nodded and intently started to listen.
They talked for an hour before everything was finished, and everyone separated. Lin Mu was assigned the position that was to the northwestern part of the camp. It was in a relatively safe area and had plenty of mercenaries patrolling.
“Seems like they deliberately assigned you this position,” Xukong spoke.
“Yes, senior. Their misunderstanding is quite advantageous for us.” Lin Mu replied.
“Indeed. Falsehoods, deceit, illusions and schemes, these are perhaps some of the strongest weapons that can be used to fight an enemy without actually fighting them. You can defeat an enemy even before they know that you are their enemy.” Xukong stated with a sagely tone.
Lin Mu carefully listened to senior Xukong’s words and comprehended them. He could truly see the benefit in senior’s words, thus wanted to completely understand them. Perhaps one day these would become his own weapons.
“Though Senior after hearing the mercenaries’ words, it seems like they think of me rather highly. I can’t seem to understand their comparison. Is it really that big of a deal becoming a Core Condensation realm cultivator at the age of twenty?” Lin Mu questioned.
“That is a good question. Considering the level of this world, I would say that it is indeed quite impressive reaching the Core condensation realm at the age of twenty. But, if you consider an average across the worlds, it is rather common. In fact, it is not that uncommon for there to be people who reach the Nascent soul stage at that age.” Xukong answered.
Lin Mu felt his horizons broaden upon hearing senior Xukong’s words.
“When do you think I would reach the core condensation realm, senior?” Lin Mu curiously asked.
“Well, that is up to you. The process itself is rather straightforward, thus all you need to do is cultivate with all your heart. But if I consider your current pace, I would say that you should reach the core condensation realm within two years.” Xukong answered.
Lin Mu imagined the day that he would be reaching the realm and wondered what it would feel like.
While Lin Mu was lost in his thoughts, strange sounds seemed to be coming from the side of the Forest. Most of the people were used to them, and even he himself was used to these sounds as they were common.
But the sound that came just now was extremely strange and unnatural. It was as if someone was dragging a blunt rod over a wooden plank. It was gruff and seemed to be faint. Lin Mu instantly became alert and looked around, but saw that none of the mercenaries seemed to be aware of the sound.
“They can’t hear it. Your sensitivity to the sounds is higher because of your spirit sense.” Xukong spoke.
“I should investigate it, perhaps?” Lin Mu questioned.
“No, wait for a while. It seems to be coming from far away in the forest. It won’t be wise to go there right now.” Xukong replied.
Lin Mu nodded and then spoke,
“Then I’ll wait and see if the sound continues. If it does, I’ll inform the others. Or if it comes closer then I’ll investigate it myself.”
Xukong did not speak anymore, and Lin Mu took this as a sign of understanding.
Lin Mu did not have to wait long either as the sound only got more loud. It seemed to be coming closer and closer. Five minutes later it had reached close enough that even the other mercenaries seemed to be able to hear it.
Seeing that everyone was now alert, Lin Mu decided to act.
“Sound the alarm. We may have a potential problem.” Lin Mu spoke to the other mercenaries.
“Yes, sir.” The mercenaries replied and ran away swiftly to inform the others.
The mercenaries had already been informed about Lin Mu and were instructed to follow his commands, thus they did not hesitate one moment before acting on it.
“Let’s see what this is.” Lin Mu muttered as he withdrew the short sword from its sheath.
Lin Mu walked forward and stood near the edge of the forest, with other mercenaries standing at his back, all alert and ready to defend.
The sound kept on coming closer, and now Lin Mu could also hear something else along with it. It was the sounds of someone’s footsteps. Soon a faint silhouette could be seen appraising from the trees. It seemed to be humanoid and seemed to be dragging something.
The mercenaries threw some torches near the forest to illuminate it and see what the thing that was approaching was. Even though the rest of the mercenaries couldn’t tell what it was, Lin Mu with his better eyesight already knew.
It seemed to be a heavily injured man dragging a large shield on which another person was lying. The man had a broken spear on his back that would tap and drag on the shield as he pulled it. The man seemed to be struggling and stumbling to pull the shield and the man that was laid upon it.
As they got close, Lin Mu could also see the person that was lying on the shield. It was also a man, but he was covered with a cloth. But from the limbs that were exposed from the sides, Lin Mu could tell for sure that it was a man.
When the injured man finally came in the illuminated portion, Lin Mu finally recognized him.