Way of the Devil - Chapter 102
Chapter 102: Closing In (2)
Translator: Deep_Blue Editor: Kurisu
Crimson Whale, third story.
“Greetings, Master Uncle,” in the garden, a fine-looking man and a woman clasped their hands and bowed before Lu Sheng respectfully.
Lu Sheng nodded casually. He knew the two of them—they were the two disciples whom his senior apprentice brother had recently taken in.
“Is your master in?”
He headed straight for his senior apprentice brother’s quarters after hurrying back from outside only to bump into these two fellows all of a sudden.
One of them was Lin Honglian, while the other was named Yuan Zhong. Both of them were only about fifteen or sixteen years old, but were rather gifted. Hence, they were recently taken in by Hong Mingzi as disciples.
“He’s resting inside the Blossoms Pavilion.”
Lin Honglian replied crisply. Although she was a lady, she had a much more straightforward personality than her senior apprentice brother. Presently, she was sizing Lu Sheng up in curiosity. She had long since heard from her master that this master uncle of hers was a heaven-sent prodigy, shockingly having attained the realm of Spirit Focus before reaching twenty-years-old. Without a doubt, he was the sect’s most astonishing talent in the past century.
She had imagined many different appearances her master uncle might have, yet little did she expect that he would look like this.
Bald, brawny, muscled, with two giant choppers crossed behind his back like a cross.
Devoid of any brows or eyelashes, his hairless face gave off an even more ferocious and merciless look, striking fear in the hearts of the onlookers.
Lu Sheng strode to the Blossoms Pavilion and quickly disappeared behind the bend, leaving the duo behind as they released their breaths and relaxed visibly.
“That’s the sect’s famed powerful master uncle Lu?” Yuan Zhong stuck out his tongue and whispered.
“Yes. I wonder how powerful he is exactly. When we’re free, we can ask him for an advice or two!” As martial arts maniac, Lin Honglian was fearless, her face filled with excitement.
“Are you insane?” Yuan Zhong exaggerated, “Did you see master uncle’s muscles? His arm is as thick as both of yours together! One strike from his pair of giant sabers would claim your life!” Yuan Zhong stared incredulously at his junior apprentice sister as if she had gone mad.
“The situation now doesn’t look too good. Master said that we’ll only stand to gain by drawing closer to master uncle,” Lin Honglian said in a hushed tone.
“That may be so…” Yuan Zhong hesitated, “but, master uncle looks really savage…”
“Can you grow some balls? With your lack of guts, I’d be ashamed to be recognized as your junior apprentice sister!” Lin Honglian chided.
“Let’s go see what master and master uncle are talking about,” silently, she sneaked towards the pavilion in the garden.
“Take a seat.”
Hong Mingzi half lay on his bench, gazing at the bright sky in the distance with narrowed eyes. From his angle, he could peer through the arched goldfish-patterned roof, which blocked the sun, towards the azure blue sky.
Lu Sheng imitated his posture, sitting down on another bench next to him. The bench was woven of rattan and was cold to the touch.
A breeze blew into the pavilion, carrying with it a floral fragrance.
“Junior Apprentice Brother, you have come so hurriedly. Have you come to raise some particular matter?” Hong Mingzi knew what Lu Sheng had been up to recently—training martial arts and some queer activities like collecting antiques and burial artifacts.
Although he was intrigued, he understood that everyone had their secrets and so had no intention to pry into it. He himself, for example, had his own secrets that enabled him to lord over the number one sect of the Northern Lands for so many years unchallenged.
Lu Sheng scrutinized Hong Mingzi.
His complexion was better than it had been—his skin was ruddier than before and his formerly wrinkled face was also filling up. On the whole, he looked significantly younger.
“There is something I’d like to ask you, Senior Apprentice Brother, about,” he admitted candidly.
“I can roughly guess what it is you want to ask,” Hong Mingzi chuckled. He reached for a piece of pear cake on the stone table beside him and put it in his mouth, tasting it slowly.
“Our backer’s recent activities seem to be getting quieter recently. However, they should be preparing for launching a major counteroffensive. No need to worry about this. I’ve just communicated with upstairs.”
“What about what you said previously…” Lu Sheng was puzzled.
“That was likely a false impression on my part. After all, Zhen Family has been running the place here for so many years. How can they fall just like that? A titan like them wouldn’t collapse easily,” old Sect Master seemed to have received some unknown piece of intelligence and appeared to be in high spirits.
Lu Sheng had no idea where his news came from, but decided that the situation must be under control if that was what his sly and cunning senior apprentice brother thought.
“Alright, then. It’s just that I was feeling rather uneasy. Ever since that conversation with you, Senior Apprentice Brother, I’ve been paying attention to such news.”
“Don’t worry. Soon. Soon, we’ll hear about it,” Hong Mingzi waved his hand in a smile. “At the end of the day, Scarlet District isn’t a match for Zhen Family. As long as Zhen Family’s top brass makes a move.”
“That’s good to hear,” Lu Sheng heaved a sigh in relief. If Zhen Family truly fell, then the entire Northern Lands would truly be in deep trouble.
Although the North was under the court’s governance in name, it was in actual fact controlled by the various sects under Zhen Family’s command. The court had merely established a yamen staffed by ordinary mortals for administrative tasks to govern it in name only. They had no real power, it was all just appearances.
That was precisely why Crimson Whale Sect’s upper echelons were able to treat top officials in Mountain-Edge City as equals.
“Fret not. Oh yea, have you seen my two new disciples? Ever since listening to your suggestion, Junior Apprentice Brother, I thought that Crimson Sun Sect is indeed too small. If we keep going like this, sooner or later, we’ll be heading towards extinction.
So, after thinking it through, I decided to take in more disciples. Talent is secondary. Character is primary—first is respect for elders, then it is perseverance and persistence. As for martial arts, there’s bound to be some martial arts system suitable for them given the scale of my Crimson Whale Sect.”
Lu Sheng laughed inwardly. Senior apprentice brother was getting on in his years, but his sons were a disappointment. They were merely interested in squabbling for power. Hence, he was beginning to regard these two new disciples as his own children instead.
“As long as Senior Apprentice Brother is satisfied. Oh yes, is Ultimate Crimson Mantra the only mantra in Crimson Sun Sect?”
“Yes. Ultimate Crimson Mantra is an unparalleled martial art—the product of a fusion of three different inner force skills, completed through the labor of generations and generations of sect masters.
When cultivated to Level Seven, it towers over this world in its might, achieving Divine Prime!” At those words, Hong Mingzi beamed with pride. “This mantra is our core legacy and inheritance passed down through the generations. Mastering it would lay the world at your feet.”
Divine Prime was the highest realm that could ever be possibly attained by ordinary mortals. Extremely few people could ever reach such a realm. Moreover, any Divine Prime expert must at least be eighty or ninety years-old according to Lu Sheng’s calculations—unless he or she had met with some miraculous encounter.
“That may be so. But I just want to expose myself to more mantras to broaden my horizon. At the same time, I’ve been practicing hard body skills, you know that. Is there a hard body skill of a higher level in the sect? I want to dig into this area,” Lu Sheng voiced his thoughts.
“You can do that. But, Junior Brother, you must remember this principle: greed leads to indigestion. Your senior apprentice brother here is a case in point. I tried to cultivate a life force skill to neutralize the excessive heat poison of Yang-type inner force when my own foundation was yet unstable. A pity that I got distracted because of that, compromising my foundation, resulting in me being limited to Level Six of Ultimate Crimson Mantra with no hope of ever making any progress,” Hong Mingzi’s voice was filled with regret.
Lu Sheng consoled him, leaving out the fact that he had already achieved pinnacle mastery of Ultimate Crimson Mantra.
In fact, not only did he do so, he had even fused other martial arts principles with it, resulting in a breakthrough and forming the incredibly powerful Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill.
His cultivation base was the equivalent of an ordinary mortal’s two hundred years’ hard work and accumulation. The strength of his cultivation had already far outstripped human imagination.
Had he mentioned the extent of his cultivation base to Hong Mingzi, he would not have believed it unless he truly demonstrated his skills. That would however expose his secret—the Modifier.
Exiting the garden, Lu Sheng saw Lin Honglian and Yuan Zhong again. These two new disciples of Hong Mingzi were sneaking around the entrance of the garden, looking as if they wished to eavesdrop but did not dare to.
Lu Sheng glanced at them speechlessly, shaking his head.
“Something’s the matter, both of you?”
Only then did the two of them shuffle nearer.
“Master Uncle… it was Honglian who dragged me here! I didn’t want to eavesdrop!” Yuan Zhong betrayed Lin Honglian without hesitation, causing her cheeks to redden and puff up in anger. She could not help but pinch him.
“That’s enough,” Lu Sheng growled, instantly suppressing the two teenagers who started causing a ruckus. “Have you begun learning Ultimate Crimson Mantra?”
“No, we have not. What we’re practicing now is the inferior Crimson Whale Mantra, complemented with the Crimson Whale Saber Technique and Crimson Whale Movement Skill. They’re all the foundational martial arts of the sect,” Lin Honglian answered hurriedly.
“Mm. Train hard. If you run into any difficulties, you may look for me any time,” Lu Sheng said blandly.
Since his senior apprentice brother Hong Mingzi had pinned such high hopes on both of them, there was no harm in him looking out for them a bit too.
“Many thanks, Master Uncle!” Both of them quickly clasped their hands together and bowed.
Leaving the two of them, Lu Sheng made a trip to Martial Proclamation Library.
Earlier, as he extrapolated Ultimate Crimson Mantra, a possibility came to his mind.
If he had sufficient Yin Qi as well as sufficient knowledge and exposure to martial arts principles, could he possibly extrapolate an extremely high-caliber mantra in one sitting?
‘The heavens may boast nine transformations, yet all I take is the flash of azure.’
This line of words suddenly popped up in Lu Sheng’s mind. It was a handwritten line left behind by one of the previous sect masters at the end of Level Seven of Ultimate Crimson Mantra.
It meant this: ‘The skies may shift among nine shades of color. However, I take only the color of the azure sky. The color of the azure sky, put simply, is the color of the crimson sun.
Ultimate Crimson, Ultimate Crimson. Such was its origin.
At the thought of that line, Lu Sheng suddenly recalled that besides Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill, he also had the hard body skill Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill as well as Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill.
‘Seems a tad too multifarious…’ his brows locked in a furrow. ‘Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill is a hard body skill. Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill is an inner Qi used for replenishment. But they’re basically all inner force skills. If I integrate all of the inner Qi into one, converting all my inner force into the same type to form the most powerful inner force skill, I wonder how mighty it would get…’
Yet instantly, he knew that he was being naïve. His inner force skills were of different natures; how could they be combined into one? Perhaps it would be possible only after he learnt a sufficiently wide scope of martial arts skills in the future.
‘Forget it. I’ve still got quite some contribution points. I can go look through the hard body skills and inner force mantras there and try to integrate whatever I can.’
Extrapolating an inner force skill further was simply too consuming.
Just upgrading one level of inner force was nearly equivalent to what it took to upgrade a hard body skill like Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill thrice.
And that’s only Level Eight. The consumption required for extrapolating Level Nine would probably be way greater.
Lu Sheng intended to first upgrade life-saving hard body skills like Nine Lakes Jade Crane Skill to the highest pinnacle possible.
He planned to integrate all hard body skills he could lay his hands on into one—as long as circumstances permitted—in order to extrapolate the strongest hard body skill ever.
At the same time, he might as well cultivate all those with conflicting natures that defied integration. Anyway, with the Modifier, he could stack as many hard body skills as he wanted.
As long as he had enough Yin Qi, he could cultivate all sorts of different hard body skills without end.