Steward Liu stammered as he said: “Impo…ssible, the Black Wind Camp is very far from us, they never came here before…” His was the greatest household inside the village, the first door the Black Wind Camp would be knocking at would be precisely his.

“I heard that those villages close to the Black Wind Camp all strengthened their defenses and built perimeter walls. That’s why they gave up looking near them and searched farther away. Now that winter’s coming, they also need to stock up on food to live through the winter. Steward Liu, those few grain depots of yours are all full right!”

“Don’t tell me the government will just turn a blind eye?” Li Qingshan only learned then that even mountain bandits had a saying about “autumn hunt.” For hunters, fall was the season the wild beasts were at their plumpest, while for mountain bandits, the ordinary people who’d just harvest the fruits of their toils during fall were also at their plumpest.

“Hmph, the government office collects their money year after year, then they say they’ll send armed forces to suppress the bandits, but they end up doing nothing year after year.”

Steward Liu said: “Then… then what should we do? Worthy nephew, why didn’t you take back some men with you?”

Dragon Li flicked a bad-tempered glance his way. How was he unwilling to take people back to the village. However he was but one disciple among many in the sect, not the Iron Fist Gate’s master. His apprentice brothers were good when it came to eating and drinking together, but it was absolutely impossible to have them go face to face with the mountain bandits of Black Wind Camp.

That said, back in the days it was thanks to Steward Liu that he’d managed to become the Iron Lion’s disciple, so he couldn’t lash out and reprimand him on the face of this old affection. He only said:

“I alone will be amply sufficient. This time the Black Wind camp master will certainly not come himself, most likely it’ll be one of the bandit bosses. As long as I report my master’s name, they’ll also need to give some face. However, we also need some people to put up a front. Qingshan…” Dragon Li looked hopefully at Li Qingshan. He would feel a little more confident with such a master at his side.

Li Qingshan was a little doubtful about his words. The others came from so far way, would they really retreat after merely hearing a name. But either way he wouldn’t let someone trample over this little village that’d birthed him and raised him. He cupped his fist and said: “Justice doesn’t allow for refusal.”

Dragon Li felt rea.s.sured as he obtained his commitment. With the help of a third-grade master, he had a much greater grasp about this matter. This was also an exceedingly crucial reason why he had accommodated Li Qingshan to such a degree.

Village Chief Li and Steward Liu organized some workers and servants to make preparations, also gathering some weapons. Although the news had yet to leak out, the atmosphere tensed up nevertheless.

Steward Liu said falteringly: “Worthy nephew, do we need to run away?”

Dragon Li said: “There’s no need for that, they came to loot, they won’t commit murder or arson for no reason. Only, Steward Liu, you probably will have to bleed a little this time.”

Steward Liu let out a long sigh. What must be must be. He could leave, but his family properties couldn’t leave.

Those few people waited quietly inside the house. The two brothers Tiger Li and Panther Li held sword and spear yet were so afraid their sweat couldn’t stop flowing down. They kept reminiscing about such and such fearful rumor about the Black Wind mountain.

Dragon Li looked at his own two brothers, then looked at Li Qingshan who was resting with his eyes closed without a single change in his demeanor. He sighed in his heart. If you had half his guts, I’d be willing to take you to Suncheer City.

“Clang clang clang clang!”

The sky wasn’t yet dark when the sound of a gong suddenly echoed outside the village. This was a sentry arranged outside, a nimble young man with keen eyes and sharp ears picked by Steward Liu.

Dragon Li said: “They came!”

Li Qingshan suddenly opened his eyes. This group of mountain bandits had big guts, they actually dared to plunder in broad daylight.

The sound of the gong suddenly stopped.

The few men hurried to the entrance of the village. They saw a cloud of dust heading their way from afar, and in the wink of an eye it was in front of them. There were several dozen people, whether tall, short, fat or thin, and each of them had a face filled with evil countenance. Their leader rode a short horse that could travel the mountain roads, and his hand unexpectedly carried a human head dripping with blood.

“Little Six!” Steward Liu cried out. This human head was precisely from the young man he had sent out as a scout. He was unexpectedly killed just like this. Steward Liu was so scared his calves became soft as he looked at Dragon Li. Didn’t you say they wouldn’t murder for no reason?

Dragon Li’s eyebrows knotted together at the middle and he said in a low voice: “They’re trying to establish their might by killing someone!” Then he hugged his fist and said in a clear voice: “This one is Iron Fist Gate’s Dragon Li, which boss from Black Wind Camp has presently come?”

“This is our third boss. Tactfully pay out your money and food, spare your grandfathers some efforts, otherwise we’ll burn this broken village of yours!” A mountain bandit yelled those words, then other mountain bandits followed suit and shouted while fiddling with the weapons in their hands. Their faces all had a contemptuous smile, as if they were merely looking at a herd of lambs waiting to be slaughtered.

The third leader had grown a full beard on his ferocious-looking face. He threw the human head on the ground, and it rolled at Dragon Li’s feet: “Iron Fist Gate. If the Iron Lion were here, I’d immediately leave without saying a word, but what kind of thing are you?”

Tiger Li and Panther Li had been scared until their faces became the color of dirt and their legs were trembling when they saw the dusty cloud come to them. Their legs became even softer at this time and they fell sitting on the ground.

The mountain bandits laughed loudly: “The third leader is really awe-inspiring!”

Dragon Li’s expression had suddenly changed. He gasped a mouthful of cool air in alarm. Rumors had it that among the bosses of the Black Wind Camp, the one numbered third had the most cruel and most savage nature. He was moody and temperamental, and when looting there was nothing he wouldn’t do. In the eyes of the villagers around the Black Wind Camp, he was a figure even more frightening than the Black Wind Camp’s master.

But since the opposite side had asked him what kind of thing he was, it proved that he was still somewhat afraid of the Iron Fist Gate, hence asking his relation with the Iron Lion. Circ.u.mstances were stronger than men, so he could only endure the anger in his chest: “I am my old master’s last disciple. I knew that the third boss was coming and didn’t dare let you return empty handed, so I prepared a humble gift. I’d like your honored self to spare Crouching Bull Village for my master’s sake.”

Steward Liu trembled when he presented an embroidered box. The third boss’ horsewhip pulled and rolled, then the embroidered box flew into his hand, showing that his martial arts weren’t weak.

He opened the box. Inside was s.h.i.+ning white silver, but his expression gradually sank down instead: “One hundred taels, are you a beggar?”

“Great..great king, we’ve already done our best.”

“Before the sky darkens, I want to see one thousand taels of silver and one thousand pounds of grains. Otherwise, hmph hmph!” Saying there, the third leader suddenly licked his lips and smiled obscenely: “My brothers also need to borrow a few women to use for a bit. Don’t worry, this isn’t robbing, just borrowing. When we’re done using them we’ll return them to you as soon as next spring comes.”

The mountain bandits laughed lewdly together, “If some women can become our third boss’ wives, it’ll be their good fortunes.” “When spring comes, maybe the women won’t want to go back anymore!”

Dragon Li understood the most clearly that no women returned from the Black Wind mountain camp. They were all insulted and raped to death. He said in a loud voice: “Does the third leader truly not give any consideration for the Iron Fist Gate?”

Steward Liu was even more stunned by the numbers, and he stared blankly, unable to say a word.

“Don’t make me wait too long!” The third leader didn’t even look at Dragon Li. He whipped his head around and ordered: “You guys go hurry them up!”

More than twenty men giggled as they pa.s.sed by Dragon Li and the others. They went into the village and knocked from door to door. If they didn’t dare open the door, the door would just be broken before the bandits went in. Over a hundred villagers were herded out, just like how sheep were herded, a.s.sembling together with faces filled with fright. The barks of dogs and howling sounds of women and children crying rose in an instant.

The third boss watched this scene with a great laugh: “We’ll just rest in this village tonight!”

“This kid was only fourteen. He’d never done a single bad thing growing to this age.”

An extremely quiet voice suddenly sounded, so calm it seemed a little out of place in the present situation. But within that quiet was repressed a seemingly uncontrollable urge to kill.

Li Qingshan held Little Six’s head up from the ground and hugged it, gently stroking the eyes closed.

The third boss narrowed his eyes: “Who are you?” He hadn’t taken notice of Li Qingshan, because from the start when he’d tossed the head down, Li Qingshan had his head down and kept quivering from head to toes. He had thought it was from fear.

But the present Li Qingshan wasn’t trembling anymore, and spoke slowly: “This was a very good and a very clever child, his father and mother both cherished him very much.”

The third boss yawned: “What do you want to say?”

Li Qingshan suddenly lifted his head: “Today, you all have to die!”

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