Chen Meng stood in the training courtyard, waving his sword around with practised precision. He was trying to incorporate Lu Tianzi's advice into his current sword skills.
With each swing, he felt that he was getting closer and closer to his goal. But just when he felt like he was about to touch upon an epiphany, a voice from behind broke his train of thoughts.
"Chen Meng, why don't I see the travellers? Are they not with you today?" Bo Xie approached with grace, his hands tucked neatly behind his back.
"Sir Lu told me that the training is cancelled for today. He probably has something planned," Chen Meng answered honestly, trying his best to conceal his irritation.
"Sir Lu? Training?" Bo Xie raised an eyebrow at the youngster. "I might not have seen you around the village much these days, but what is this all about?"
"I'm sorry, sir. The reason why I haven't been in the village much is because I have been receiving guidance from Sir Lu regarding my combat and cultivation techniques," Chen Meng let out an awkward smile. "Please allow me to do so for a while longer. Once they leave, I will certainly work doubly hard to make up for my absence during this period!"
"What? Are you out of your mind?" Bo Xie chided with furrowed eyebrows. "The issue here is not about earning your keep! How can you just take the words of some random stranger seriously and practise what he told you without consulting me? We don't even know who he is, what if he meant you harm? Don't tell me… you didn't reveal your full cultivation technique to him, did you?"
"Sir Lu would never do that! If he wanted to harm us, he won't even need to resort to such measures!" Chen Meng retorted.
"Oh gods, you really revealed it to thim?" Bo Xie widened his eyebrows in shock. "We did not allow you to practise the strongest cultivation technique of Xian Village just to have you reveal it to strangers! This won't do, I have to talk to the village chief about this!"
Just when Chen Meng was about to argue back, another village warrior rushed up to them in a panic.
"Sir, you need to see this!" the warrior urged breathlessly.
"What is this? Speak clearly, what happened?" Bo Xie turned to him in irritation.
"It's the travellers! They… you should go over and see it for yourself!" the warrior insisted.
The frown on Bo Xie's face deepened.
"What are you waiting for? Come with me and see just what happened!" Bo Xie shot a glare towards Chen Meng.
"Y-Yes, sir!" Chen Meng hurriedly followed along.
Although he was of the same cultivation level as Bo Xie, the latter was much more senior in the village, and could be considered his mentor. Bo Xie's much richer fighting experience also meant that he had a certain advantage over Chen Meng. Thus, their statuses in the village were not exactly equal.
Of course, many of the villagers regarded Chen Meng as a genius, and were confident that he would surpass Bo Xie in the future. But until then, Bo Xie was still the absolute leader of the warriors, and Chen Meng had to obey his orders.
Even along the way, they could see a large number of villagers rushing in the same direction.
There was no doubt that they were all heading there in order to check out what happened.
When the group of three arrived, their eyes subconsciously widened in absolute horror.
Right in the middle of the courtyard, the massive body of a winged beast lay motionlessly on the ground.
Most of the villagers have already arrived from all corners of the village, and were all whispering among themselves while surrounding this beast. However, none of them dared to go close, instead forming a wide circle around the perimeter of the courtyard.
After all, no one knew if that unmoving beast was dead or alive!
Lu Tianzi stood in front of the beast, waiting patiently as the number of people continued to increase.
"Could that be…?" Chen Meng muttered under his breath, his heartbeat began to hasten.
Right at this moment, a fit looking middle-aged man stepped out from the crowds, taking nervous steps towards Lu Tianzi.
"Village chief!" Lu Tianzi greeted him with clasped fists.
"May I know what is this all about? The thing behind you… what is it exactly?" the village chief stopped about ten metres away from Lu Tianzi.
Even the village chief could not help but feel some pressure from the massive beast behind Lu Tianzi. Ten metres away was about the nearest he dared to stand.
"Eh?" Lu Tianzi was surprised for a moment. "Don't you recognise the God of Pestilence? Could it be that you have never seen it before?"
"The God of Pestilence?!" the village chief might have already guessed it, but hearing the confirmation from Lu Tianzi still sent shivers down his spine.
This winged beast is the God of Pestilence that had plagued the village for generations?
And Lu Tianzi actually managed to slay it all by himself?
Is this for real?
Not just him, but the surrounding villagers all gasped in shock when they heard what Lu Tianzi said, before quickly breaking out into loud discussions.
"As I thought!" Chen Meng exclaimed with a grin.
That darned God of Pestilence is finally taken care of!
"Is this really the God of Pestilence? Is it… dead?" the village chief gathered his wits together and asked.
"That's right," Lu Tianzi nodded. "The God of Pestilence is dead, and its carcass lies behind me. The reason I am showing you this is to tell you that from this day on, there is no longer a need to sacrifice your precious food for offerings!"
The village chief took in a deep breath.
If what Lu Tianzi said was true, then the pressure on Xian Village would really be eased significantly!
However, that would give rise to another problem…
The loud voice drew everyone's attention to its owner, an elderly villager who was pointing towards Lu Tianzi with trembling hands. "How dare you claim that this beast is the God of Pestilence? Do you want to bring a calamity to Xian Village?"
"What?" Lu Tianzi frowned in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"The God of Pestilence is the absolute ruler of this land, ensuring the safety of Xian Village as long as we continue to send it offerings. How can it be a beast like that, much less killed by the likes of you?" the elderly man continued in an agitated manner. "Village chief! Please get rid of the travellers before calamity falls upon us!"
"That's right, how can that be the God of Pestilence? What nonsense!"
"This really is blasphemy! Hopefully the God of Pestilence will not blame us for this!"
"Get rid of the travellers! They haven't contributed a thing to the village, and now they have even brought us such trouble!"
"Get rid of the travellers!"
"Get rid of the travellers!"
Before they knew it, the villagers had started chanting in protest.
"This…" Faced with such a situation, even the village chief was at a sudden loss for words.
From beside Lu Tianzi, Nanlan Qianxue clenched her fists tight, enraged by the turn of events.
Lu Tianzi looked at the chanting villagers, momentarily unable to fully comprehend the situation.
The beast that plagued the village is finally gone, slain by him. But not only are the villagers not happy about it, they even want to get rid of him?
What the hell is wrong with them?
"What the hell is wrong with all of you?!" Chen Meng shouted out in frustration, stepping into the middle of the circle. "Sir Lu helped us get rid of the God of Pestilence, and here you are blaming them for it?"
"Chen Meng!" Bo Xie hurriedly called out from behind him. "Don't get involved in this!"
"Why shouldn't I?" Chen Meng argued in irritation. "Or should I just stand by and watch as our saviour gets pinned with blame? Is that what a warrior of Xian Village should be doing?"
"How can you take the side of the travellers, going against Xian Village?" the elderly man yelled at Chen Meng. "You have been spending too much time with the travellers. Your thoughts have already been tainted by them, blind to the state of the village!"
"What?" Chen Meng replied in disbelief. "You are the ones who are blinded by your skewed beliefs! The God of Pestilence is nothing but a vile beast! Please get that through your thick skulls and wake up to reality!"
Gasps sounded out from the villagers, and even the elderly man was taken aback by the forceful retort.
"Chen Meng, mind your manners! Is that how you speak to an elder?" Bo Xie chided.
"I will speak to him with manners if he deserves it, just like how I am speaking up for Sir Lu because he deserves much more than your blame!" Chen Meng refused to back down.
Lu Tianzi let out a deep sigh. He had roughly understood the situation by then.
The villagers had been led to believe that the God of Pestilence was some sort of guardian deity, and that they had been offering their food to the guardian deity for protection.
In their eyes, something like a guardian deity could not possibly be gotten rid of by mere humans.
By claiming to have slain the guardian deity, Lu Tianzi had insulted their faith, thereby triggering such a violent response.
"It's all right, Chen Meng," Lu Tianzi patted the young man on the shoulder.
Even though Lu Tianzi was actually younger than Chen Meng, the way he carried himself made him feel like the older one instead.
After all, he had already been through a lot in his life, far more than Chen Meng had.
In fact, now that he was being surrounded and cursed at by the villagers, Lu Tianzi could not help but feel a sense of déjà vu.
Back then, he had tried to help expose the schemes of others, trying to free the city from lies. Yet wasn't he treating with disdain as well?
What an ungrateful race.
No, that's not it.
Be it demons or humans, they were all the same.
However, Lu Tianzi did not blame them.
In this chaotic world where there were no pre-written rules, what right did anyone have to determine what was right, and what was wrong?
In the end, the ones with strength set their own rules, and the ones without strength had no choice but to abide by them. With the passing of time, the weak might grow accustomed to the system, and even be resistant to further changes.
When people with the ability to flout these rules appeared, others tend to feel intimidated by their existence since it threatened the existing system. Thus, others could not help but reject these people in their hearts, preferring to get rid of them so as to return to the comfort of the original system.
This was a system created by the strong, for the strong.
In order to survive in such a world, Lu Tianzi knew that he had no choice but to grow stronger.
Only with strength would he be able to protect his loved ones, and more importantly, himself.
And only with strength would he be able to break through the shackles of the existing rules of this world, becoming one of the strong, and gain the ability to set down rules of his own.
That was how even when faced with all these angry villagers, Lu Tianzi felt a surreal calmness.
In the context of Xian Village, someone of his level could already be considered as one of the rule setters.
With his current strength, not to mention himself, even Nanlan Qianxue would have no problem levelling the entire village. Thus, he could not help but feel amused at how these villagers were showing their hostility this openly.
Perhaps they had lived in this secluded village for too long, such that they had forgotten how dangerous the world truly was.
"What is your take on this, village chief?" Lu Tianzi calmly turned towards the village chief. "Do you feel like getting rid of me too?"
Nanlan Qianxue similarly turned her attention towards the village chief, waiting to hear his reply.
Upon witnessing the cold composure of the young couple before him, the village chief nervously swallowed a mouthful of saliva.
He understood that if he failed to handle this situation properly, Xian Village could very well be eliminated altogether!