"Hey, Sect Fellow Shi Mu! You're earlier than I expected. Have you retrieved the sword?" Fang Bozheng asked as soon as he saw Shi Mu.
"I always live up to my words!" Shi Mu said as a light flashed, revealing the large ancient sword in his hand.
Everyone present along with Fang Bozheng was stunned to catch a glimpse of what was in Shi Mu's hand. Seeing that the sword was none other than the remnant of their heirloom, they were shocked and all fixed their eyes on Shi Mu.
Fang Bozheng immediately reached out for the ancient sword with a big smile across his face.
"I didn't expect Sect Fellow Shi Mu to be this good. Since you've successfully retrieved the treasure, is the thief dead as well?"
"Well, almost," Shi Mu's eyebrows raised as he chuckled.
Fang Bozheng was stunned but before he could even react or say another a word, Shi Mu curled his fingers into a fist and threw a punch trailed by a golden shadow. The hit landed and surprised Fang Bozheng.
The golden shadow fist fell on the remnant sword and it shook violently but it was able to stabilize itself.
"Shi Mu, what do you think you're doing?" said Fang Jingde, who was sitting on the side shouted with anger. He was ready to slaughter Shi Mu right then and there.
"You imbecile! How dare you attack the leader of the clan..."
"You're asking for death..."
Everyone present screamed in shock and horror as they began unleashing their spirit weapons.
"Hold!" called a voice from midair.
Everyone in the room glimpsed as they turned their sight to the ragged man who was slowly making his way down to Shi Mu's side.
"Shi Mu, how dare you join the traitor and attack our clan! What is the meaning of this?!" Fang Jinghai roared in anger.
"You disgusting idiot, do you not recognize my voice?" the ragged man frowned in anger and yelled back.
Fang Jinghai was stunned for a moment and was about to shout back in anger. However, someone tapped his shoulder, seemingly asking him to hold his tongue.
He looked back and realized that it was Fang Jingde motioning him not to speak further.
"This voice... Are you the real leader of the clan?" a lean old man suddenly cried out.
"But what happened to your face..." another person screamed right after.
"All of you, I am the real master of this house, Fang Bozheng! That man is Jin Wugui. I've been fooled and slandered as a villain. In desperation, I fled with the sword in my possession," the ragged man screamed in anger as he raised his arm and pointed at the fake Fang Bozheng that was holding onto the Ancient Imperial Sword.
"Jin Wugui? Didn't he die on the outskirts of town three years ago? But nobody was left... Could it be..." someone immediately exclaimed.
"Don't listen to this traitor's lies. I'm the true leader of this clan. Now that the Ancient Imperial Sword has been recovered, kill the traitor! Since Shi Mu is on his side, kill him as well!" Jin Wugui commanded as he waved the sword in his hand in their direction.
Not a single person present acted on his commands immediately.
Everyone's eyes moved back and forth between the two people. Obviously, they were unable to fully determine what was going down and who they should trust.
"One question then, leader Fang. For the past three years, why did you have me increase the intensity of digging up the resources in the mine?" Fang Jingde suddenly turned around and asked loudly, shocking Jin Wugui.
"Minerals are an important resource in our family, hence the increase of intensity of mining. What's the problem?" Jin Wugui snapped back.
"If I remember correctly, the Fang clan's main concern and tradition is to train the future generations to live within their means. There was no need for them to go to hell and back to support a certain someone. What is your reason for going against this teaching?"
"Those were different times in the past. Now that the Fang clan is in the midst of a crisis, it's only natural that we need sufficient resources to support us!"
"Then why has the income of the clan not increased?" the lean old man asked.
"One question, leader Fang, in our clan..."
Ever since Fang Jingde started asking questions, the other clansmen began to ask the fake "Fang Bozheng" questions one after another. It was apparent that they had begun to doubt.
"Haha... To distinguish the real and the fake is actually much easier than you know," Shi Mu suddenly laughed out loud before Jin Wugui could say a word.
He immediately stepped out and punched in Jin Wugui's direction.
Another huge golden shadow of a fist emerged!
Jin Wugui immediately brought up the sword and swept away toward the golden shadow fist. However, only a dim light glowed around the sword. It was like any other typical blunt iron slamming into the shadow.
The large Ancient Imperial Sword fell off Jin Wugui's hand and flew out instead.
In midair, the face of the ragged man - who was the real Fang Bozheng - sank a little. After a while, he caught the sword and grasped tightly onto the handle.
As soon as the Ancient Imperial Sword was in his hand, the body of the sword immediately swayed and a number of ambiguous sword shadows emerged, as an array of platoons appeared behind it.
"Without the blood of the Fang clan, how dare you swing the sword like it was your own? Don't be foolish!" Fang Bozheng screamed as he pointed the head of the sword.
"Thousand Shadows Swordsmanship! This is the real leader of our clan!"
"This man must be the real Jin Wugui then? But his appearance... How?"
Facing the attack from the sword technique, Jin Wugui did not back down either.
But as soon as he stretched out his arms, his body suddenly glowed with bright golden light. As his arms turned, the shadows of the sword were sucked in, shattering into pieces in the process.
"Haha... For the past few years, I took you for a total fool. What a waste!" Seeing as his real identity had been revealed, Jin Wugui snorted in anger as he spoke.
His finger suddenly rose a foot higher and his skin began to turn gray, revealing his original appearance.
It was the face of a middle-aged man who looked rather hazy. His forehead was prominent and his eye sockets were deep. He had a high nose bridge and sunken cheeks, resulting in his chin looking a little too sharp.
"Shameless! How dare you pretend to be the leader of my clan!" a firm-looking old man shouted in anger.
"This person is really Jin Wugui!"
"What a joke! Do you really think I've always wanted to be a part of this idiotic clan?" Jin Wugui said with a cold sinister smile.
An aura gradually circulated around his robes, advancing to that of mid-Heaven rank.
"Mid-level of Heaven rank..." Fang Jinghai said with a trembling voice.
"This man is actually a Heaven rank warrior in his mid-level of cultivation!"
Everyone present in the Fang clan saw this and could not help being extremely shocked.
Aside from the real Fang Bozheng of the Fang clan, the other clansmen were only in their early stages of Heaven rank. The two guards who were sent off for missions on behalf of Fang Bozheng were at least on par with Fang Bozheng himself.
For such an adversary, if their fortress was under attack, what was their possibility of winning?
Fang Bozheng began to show a hesitant look on his face. After a long while, he finally broke his silence.
"Jin Wugui, leave now. The grievances between us will be written off. However, if you step into my home again, I won't let this slide easily!"
Everyone present was bitter but did not object to Fang Bozheng's suggestion either. After all, if they were really going down a path where they had to battle, they would not only lose their home but suffered a heavy blow as well.
"Hahaha... You want me to leave that easily? That will never happen! Hand me the sword technique I desire or I will slaughter every single one of your clansmen right here without hesitation!" Jin Wugui laughed.
"How dare you..." Fang Bozheng held onto the remnant sword, his heart filled with bitterness.
If only he did not endure such hardship for the past three years in the mine, he would have been in his best state for battle. Even though he possessed the power of the Ancient Imperial Sword, he would be easily beaten and wounded now. Was it worth it to gamble with the life of his entire clan?
However, under the current circumstances, would there be anyone who could fight aside from him?
"Elder leader Fang, you promised to hand the Art of the Aquatic Drizzle so don't go back on your words!" Shi Mu suddenly said, shifting the eyes of the clansmen on him.
"Sect Fellow Shi Mu, the situation right now is direr than you can ever imagine. I..." Before Fang Bozheng could even finish his words, Shi Mu cut him off instantly.
"I said I would help you regain a foothold in your clan. Naturally, that would include getting rid of this fake as well. If he dies, there would not be any further problems, am I right?"
"Alright then... My clan's fate now lies in your hand!" Fang Bozheng looked at Shi Mu but finally bit his teeth and gave in.
"Elder leader, this guy is only at the peak of Earth rank. There's no way he could..."
Before Fang Jinghai could finish his words, Fang Bozheng cut him off angrily.
"You're nothing but a kid to battle someone like me. You ruined everything I've been working so hard for the past decades. I'll give you a painful death!" Jin Wugui roared in anger.
As soon as his voice fell, a golden light flashed in his hands, unleashing a golden bone whip that swept toward Shi Mu's neck.
Fortunately, Shi Mu prepared well. He immediately took a few steps back as his entire body lit up, wrapped in rays of golden light. As his flaming wings emerged from his back, he held onto the Wishful Steel Staff tightly in his hand.
The golden bone whip turned around in the air, sweeping back and forth.
Shi Mu's wrist turned and the Wishful Steel Staff swept out. The head of the staff was followed by black shadows as it moved. It collided with the whip, causing a loud sound.
The whip turned and wrapped around Shi Mu's black longstaff.
With strength from both hands, even if he slammed it down hard, he was unable to withdraw it. The staff was still firmly tied by the whip.
At the same time, Shi Mu was agitated as the scent had now passed down the staff.
His consciousness was slipping.
Jin Wugui roared in anger as he brandished his whip violently. The long whip twisted like a serpent, using huge and unparalleled force to attack Shi Mu.
Shi Mu felt his entire body turned light as his entire person was pulled into the air by an invisible force.
Jin Wugui retracted his whip, turning it into a circle of air fluctuation rushing toward Shi Mu.
Shi Mu felt thunder in his ears but it was too late for him to dodge it. As he was pulled down by the whip, he fell off from the air and landed onto the cold hard ground.
Fortunately, his body was now covered with gold scales, so the attack by the whip did not cause him much damage.
However, as Shi Mu got up to his feet from the ground, his sight was blurred. In just the blink of an eye, he was slammed from left to right by the whip once more.
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