10 Conclusion

Yuan Tu had many thoughts about what would happen today, but being imprisoned was not one of them. Looking at the direction the day was heading, it seemed like that would become reality soon enough.

Yuan Tu had been holding his breath in dread of the judgment that was about to come.

Li Peng declared,

"Yuan Tu. You have falsely accused Lin Mu of theft, and have attacked him along with other peasants which were also incited by you. You have but one chance to speak in your defense."

"I… I… I'm innocent, Sir Supervisor. I was only trying to protect the mayor's property and not let the boy steal any spirit apples."

"I yelled at him because he came back to the town when you exiled him Sir, and attacked him so he would learn his lesson and not come back."

Li Peng raised his eyebrows and stated,

"I never said I exiled him, did I? I had him thrown out of the town, but he was not explicitly exiled. His punishment was for his property to be confiscated, and be thrown out of the town by the guards, not exile."

"But... but Sir Supervisor, I thought you meant to exile the boy when you threw him out... I just assumed."

With an amused tone, Li Peng spoke,

"Oh? Since when can mere peasants assume the judgments of officials? Hmm, have you lost sight of your standing?"

Yuan Tu's back was covered in a cold sweat, once again, upon hearing the supervisor's words. Yuan Tu could not speak, feeling as if there was a lump stuck inside his throat.

Looking at the frozen face of Yuan Tu, Li Peng continued,

"Well then that settles it, now hear your crime."

"Yuan Tu was found to be guilty of falsely accusing Lin Mu of theft, inciting a crowd to attack Lin Mu, and delaying the process of harvest - which was of the utmost importance."

"I order Yuan Tu to receive twenty lashes and to be imprisoned for a month."

"Guards, take him away."

Upon hearing the supervisor's orders, the guards promptly held Yuan Tu, who had a dumbstruck expression, and then pulled him away to receive his punishment.

Lin Mu was a little surprised at hearing the supervisor's judgment. He had intended to only save himself from false accusations, but did not expect for Yuan Tu to be punished instead. He turned to the three mercenaries, not knowing why they would change their stance so fast on seeing the plate which Li Peng had shown them. Still, he was joyful that they had acted as the witnesses and told the truth.

After declaring his judgment, Li Peng shifted his gaze towards the peasants that were standing around. Gathering strength in his voice, the supervisor shouted,

"WHAT ARE YOU ALL STILL DOING STANDING AROUND!? GET BACK TO WORK IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE PUNISHED AS WELL!"

With frightful expressions the peasants rushed back to their work, no longer having any intention of bullying Lin Mu.

"Tell the village head to speed up the mercenary's security checks and let them pass; they're disturbing the work here." Li Peng said to a guard, who then dashed in the direction of the town to let the village head know the supervisor's orders.

The leader of the mercenary trio nodded his head in a gesture of thanks and walked away towards the mercenary caravan, thinking in his head that they at least got some benefit in coming here and testifying.

Once everyone was gone, the supervisor looked at the boy who was dressed in brown hemp robes with patches all over - showing the age of the garment. The boy had a skinny physique, seemingly because of a lack of proper nutrition, and his hair short and messy.

"Go away now, your presence will only further disturb the peasants working here."

The supervisor spoke with a hint of impatience in his voice. Hearing Li Peng's voice, Lin Mu, who was looking at the mercenaries, turned back and cupped his hands in salute. Bowing his head, Lin Mu spoke,

"Thank you, Sir Supervisor, for upholding justice and freeing me from false accusations."

Li Peng nodded his head in response and went back to his work, not wanting to linger here anymore. Seeing the supervisor walking away, Lin Mu thanked his stars for surviving this conflict. He took a moment to think before walking towards the trio of mercenaries.

Seeing the boy approaching them, the mercenaries had puzzled expressions. Lin Mu faced the three mercenaries who were standing beside the carriage, which had the steel-back wolf carcasses in it.

"Thank you for testifying and helping me prove my innocence, kind sirs."

On hearing the boy's words, their puzzled expression resolved and the mercenary who had talked to Lin Mu before spoke.

"We only did what was asked of us by that official, no need to thank us."

The mercenary waved his hand, intending for Lin Mu to leave. Understanding the gesture, Lin Mu nodded his head and walked away. He did not want to waste any more time before selling the pelts and horn, as well as searching for information about the alchemical pills.

Li Peng had reached his office and was sitting on a wooden chair, reading a ledger that was placed upon the desk. A sigh escaped his lips as he closed the ledger. Reaching for the teapot that was kept on the side table, he poured himself a cup. He downed the tea in one go. Finding it to be cold, he realized it had been sitting there since before he went to solve the conflict in the orchards.

He massaged his forehead with his hand, feeling tired from work as another sigh escaped his lips. Thinking about completing the harvest in time gave him a headache. 'I wonder if I should have asked for people from other towns and villages to help out in harvesting. Even if we increase the work hours, we would be cutting it close to the deadline and that's hoping that there is no other accident.'

Thinking about the accident caused by the boy named Lin Mu made him feel even more helpless. The loss had been more than he expected. Once he received the actual invoice for the loss of the spirit apples, he had almost lost his temper. He had wanted to fine the peasants even more, but knew that he could not as some peasants may not have enough money left to survive the winter.

The town could not afford anymore reduction in population. The plague last year had already hit them hard, making them lose around twenty percent of their entire population to it. If any more people died, the harvest next year would be even poorer than this year's - as there would not be enough people to harvest.

Li Peng clapped his hands to call a servant. No sooner than a few seconds did the door open as a servant walked in and cupped his fist in greeting.

"What do you need of this servant, Sir Supervisor?"

"How is the harvest progressing?"

"The peasants have been diligently working. The quota for today should be completed almost certainly and may even exceed it by a little."

Li Peng hummed in response before speaking,

"Tell the other servants to set up torches in the orchards. The working hours will be extended by three hours from today so as to speed up the harvest."

"It shall be done as you say. Anything else you require of this servant?"

"What about the man Yuan Tu?"

"I do not know sir. I'll call the guards, they'll know better."

"Yes, do that." Li Peng said while closing his eyes, intending to rest them for a bit.

The servant walked out of the office and returned ten minutes later with two guards who had taken Yuan Tu away. The two guards greeted Li Peng and waited for his orders.

"Has Yuan Tu been punished yet?"

"Yes sir." Chimed the guards in unison.

"Yuan Tu was given twenty lashes as Sir ordered and then put in the jail, located in the basement of the guard barracks. Tomorrow, he'll be sent to the prison of Southern town along with the other criminals to serve his sentence."

"That will be all." With his eyes still closed, Li Peng dismissed the guards.

The two guards saluted the supervisor and then turned around to leave, but before they could step out the door Li Peng opened his eyes and spoke once more,

"That boy, Lin Mu. What do you know about his strength?"

The guards stopped in their tracks and turned back to reply upon hearing Li Peng's question.

"When we seized the boy three days ago, he seemed to be in the second stage of the body tempering realm, Sir Supervisor."

"And what of the man Yuan Tu?"

"He should be in the fourth stage of the body tempering realm." The guards replied.

Li Peng felt intrigued upon hearing this. A boy in the second stage of the body tempering realm could resist the attack of a man in the fourth stage of the body tempering realm. This was definitely uncommon, to say the least. Not to mention that he was able to run even when a whole mob of peasants was chasing him. If it was any other person of his level of training they would have probably been crippled by the mob, if not killed.

Observing the intrigue in the supervisor's eyes, one guard hesitantly asked,

"Should we keep an eye on this boy called Lin Mu, Sir?"

"No, that would not be necessary. Alright, you're dismissed." Said Li Peng, upon hearing the guard's question.

The door of the office closed as the guards and the servant went away, leaving behind Li Peng - who had one hand on his chin while he tapped the desk with the finger of his other hand, immersed in his thoughts.

Lin Mu had just entered the Northern town, completely unaware of the events that had happened, and that he had unknowingly piqued the interest of the supervisor Li Peng.

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