Way of the Devil - Chapter 111
Chapter 111: Malice (1)
Translator: Deep_Blue Editor: Kurisu
“What?! She Lin Society’s upper echelon has vanished?!”
Hong Mingzi stood up suddenly in Crimson Whale, dumbstruck.
Not only him, but Chen Ying and the Internal and External Affairs Emissaries and Elders were shocked as well. The atmosphere was tense; everyone remained silent.
“She Lin Society… their Chief is a Spirit Focus pinnacle expert… how could they…” Chen Ying pondered, eyes wide open in shock.
Back in his prime, he was only about as strong as She Lin Society’s Chief. But now, even this man had disappeared without a trace. Didn’t that mean that if he had been the target, he would have been wiped off the surface of the earth without a trace too?
An Internal Affairs Emissary whose face was as pale as paper whispered, “Could they have fled…”
“Absolutely impossible!” Hong Mingzi shook his head. “That lad, Zhang Yuandong, isn’t one to shy away from trouble or shrink in fear.”
“Why on earth then…”
When they had all settled down from their shock, they unanimously came to a particular realization.
To have been able to wipe out the huge She Lin Society and make these Spirit Focus experts disappear so easily, one could guess at the level of power and force that was involved… who else could perform such a feat apart from those beings that were the Noble Families’ enemy?
Hong Mingzi looked haggard and weary as he heaved a long sigh. The recent series of events had overwhelmed him, spiraling out of his control.
His gaze swept across everybody on both his sides. All Crimson Whale Sect’s top experts were gathered here. Apart from some External Affairs Emissaries dispatched out on missions, this room represented the top strength of the entire sect.
But then, so what? Faced against Scarlet District with its ghosts and Anomalies, they were merely chicken and dogs—unable to put up a fight.
Up till now, not many people knew about Zhen Family’s abnormal behavior. Most of them were kept in the dark.
“This matter… we’ve got to report it upstairs, don’t we…?” An Internal Affairs Emissary suggested.
“Whether or not it’s been caused by those beings must first be investigated thoroughly,” Elder Ouyang said solemnly. “On another note, why don’t we see External Head Lu here? I heard that the’s gone into solitary confinement?”
Ouyang Ningzhi and Elder Wang were the first two people who knew Lu Sheng. In the context of such trouble, everybody’s hearts lurched at the mention of Lu Sheng.
External Head Lu Sheng’s grand name was already familiar to everyone in Crimson Whale Sect and even the other sects in Mountain-Edge City.
Killing the Deputy Sect Master, razing Song Manor to the ground, commanding Soaring Eagle Squad… etc. These increased his influence in Mountain-Edge City, giving other factions great pressure to defer to him and even offer up part of their original profits.
Although Lu Sheng did not make many moves, each time he did so, he left a striking and indelible impression etched in their minds. His prowess and ferocity constantly replayed itself in their minds.
“External Head Lu is still in confinement and thus has not come to attend today’s routine meeting. But I will relay instructions to him,” seated in a forgettable position, Jade Lotus spoke up.
As the third most powerful expert in the sect, Lu Sheng’s name carried great weight with everyone.
“The trouble this time has occurred near Mountain-Edge City, which happens to be within External Head Lu’s jurisdiction. How about all of us first hear External Lu’s opinion before we carry on with our plans?” Another External Affairs Emissary suggested. The meaning was obvious—Lu Sheng should take the lead in investigating this incident.
Jade Lotus looked at him, “My lord is in a critical stage of his solitary confinement. I fear that he’s unable to handle the matter for now. Given the urgency of the matter, why don’t we nominate another person to carry out the investigation?”
“We’ll shelve this matter for the future,” Hong Mingzi surveyed the people before him and knew in his mind that nobody would be willing to handle this thorny case.
Everyone had made up their mind that as long as nobody took up the case, it would eventually fall on Lu Sheng, who was responsible for Mountain-Edge City.
“Alright, next item. Recently, many riots have broken out all over the Northern Lands. Three cities in the North, including Yuan Li City, have all sent requests for reinforcements and asked for extra manpower to handle the mess. Which of you are willing to go?” Hong Mingzi’s voice was deflated.
The previously tense atmosphere instantly heated up as many of them fought for a place to embark on this mission. None of them wanted to stay in the seemingly safe but actually deeply chaotic Mountain-Edge City.
Watching them, Chen Ying shook his head.
In the sanctuary.
‘So this is the kind of outer force skill that resembles body shrinking skills? After this hard body skill is practiced to full-mastery and trained to its pinnacle, it gives one full control over every inch of muscles and bones in one’s body.’
Lu Sheng sensed the extraordinary changes going on in his body. The change appeared shocking on the surface, but was actually merely a strengthened version of body shrinking skill or those skills that manipulated one’s body shape.
Basically, it forcibly suppressed his originally huge body size into its present size. Once he burst out in full strength, he could morph back into his previous mode in the blink of an eye.
‘Stacking these hard body skills up can raise my physical strength to an inhuman level. At the same time, it solidifies my body and makes me invulnerable to weapons, greatly boosting my defense. But only inner force skills can truly inflict damage on ghosts and Anomalies,’ Lu Sheng stood still, a sparkle in his eyes.
‘I just wonder if my present physical body can still be upgraded one level further,’ presently, although he was unsure how strong he had become exactly, he was sure that he had attained at least the realm of Bind.
But Noblemen and Anomalies and Scarlet District didn’t just have the realm of Bind. With Zhen Family gone, he needed to prepare himself for all potential dangers now.
‘Scarlet District… what kind of faction are they? Only by knowing thine enemy can thou secure victory. Looks like I’ve got to start gathering intelligence. At the same time, I’m out of Yin Qi but I’ve still got two more skills, including Jewel Pillar Skill, that I have yet to cultivate. I need to look for Yin Qi as well,’ immediately, he recalled Chen Jiaorong’s jade pendant.
Exiting the sanctuary, he left the courtyard and immediately saw a team of subordinates waiting outside.
“Reporting to External Head, the Chief and Deputy Chief of the city’s She Lin Society have disappeared together. The Prefect and yamen have invited you to attend a meeting. Also, the sect has called for a routine meeting. Lord Jade Lotus has gone to the Headquarters in your stead,” the subordinate standing guard was part of a personal bodyguard team that Lu Sheng had ordered Ning San to put together.
This team was given the best treatment and resources. Then, they were each given a copy of a simplified version of Bear Wrestling Arm. Lu Sheng had divided it into two levels and imparted the first level to them.
Despite the simplicity of the skill, it reaped effective results. The men were now able to block most assassination attempts with sharp weapons. They were also each equipped with a leather armor. It was a piece of cake for each of them to handle three or five opponents at one time.
This was his own force.
In principle, he was not allowed to impart the sect’s martial arts to them. But as long as he didn’t overdo it (Bear Wrestling Arm was only the first level of a simplified version), there wouldn’t be much of a problem.
“The Prefect and yamen?” After becoming External Head, Lu Sheng had not met with officials before. This would be the first time.
“What grade does Mountain-Edge City’s Prefect belong to?” He asked causally.
“Er…” the one who had reported to him responded with a blank look.
A guard standing beside him quickly replied, “In response to my lord, Mountain-Edge City is considered a Prefectural capital city but it’s not huge. So, the Prefect in the yamen here is ranked somewhere between the Fourth to Fifth Grade.”
“Oh…” Lu Sheng nodded. Nine Links City’s Prefect was merely a Grade-Seven official—truly not in the same league as this place.
But now, in the eyes of Crimson Whale Sect which was backed by Zhen Family, a Grade-Four or Five official was insignificant indeed and was not qualified to summon him to a meeting.
But he thought again. If Scarlet District were truly to launch a full frontal assault, then he would be overwhelmed. It wasn’t that bad of an idea to attend this so-called meeting and see where the court stands on this situation.
“Call Xu Chui and Ning San to accompany me,” he ordered.
Before long, his subordinates had called Xu Chui and Ning San over. Lu Sheng led the two men up onto a horse carriage and went straight for the largest organization with authority in Mountain-Edge City—the Prefect’s yamen.
Song Dynasty’s division of territory was as follows: Court, Province, Prefecture, County, Township, Town, Village—a total of seven levels.
Both Mountain-Edge City and Nine Links City were prefectural cities that governed many counties under them. But even prefectural cities were graded large, medium, and small. A large prefectural city was the only one in a province. A medium-sized prefectural city was a prosperous city like Mountain-Edge City. As for small prefectural cities, Nine Links City was a good example. Generally, cities were strictly separated into such different grades.
On the horse carriage, Ning San was sharing his knowledge on such matters with Lu Sheng.
“In the entire Northern province, Mountain-Edge City is ranked the third largest city. So, it has a really high grade. Moreover, the powerful Winged Honor Guards are garrisoned here.”
“I’ve heard of Winged Honor Guards’ reputation,” Lu Sheng nodded.
“The Army Superintendent of the Winged Honor Guards, Yuan Xu, is even an Elder of our Crimson Whale Sect. Even though he’s just an honorary Elder,” Ning San explained.
With Ning San’s explanation, Lu Sheng quickly understood the situation. Wing Honor Guards had often invited the upper echelon of Crimson Whale Sect to occupy positions like martial arts instructors. Both forces were on amicable terms with each other.
The carriage quickly arrived at the side entrance of the yamen. Lu Sheng and the two men quickly alighted and were invited in by the advisor who had been waiting to receive them.
Entering the inner courtyard and passing through a garden, the three of them finally met with the Mountain-Edge City Prefect—Li Rongxian, who was in the prime of his life—in the Welcome Hall.
Li Rongxian, other name Zhenyi, nicknamed the Resident of Mt Dragon, was a Grade Four royal ambassador. The Li Family from which he came had deep connections and networks in the prefectural city.
A pair of mustache sat above his lips. His face was solemn and his skin tanned. Presently, he sat on the main seat, fondling a greenstone seal in his hand.
Seated on his sides were two men. One of them was the Army Superintendent Yuan Xu, a square-faced burly man with large ears and sharp eyes. Decked in an Army official’s robes and equipped with a straight saber on his waist, he commanded an imposing presence in his seat.
The other man was a handsome, lanky Taoist, dressed in green robes and wearing a white cap on his head. Gold threads were embroidered into his sleeves. This was the mysterious head of Mountain-Edge City’s Intelligence Agency—Taoist Bai Feng.
“Bai Feng of the Intelligence Agency…” Lu Sheng’s eyes narrowed.
The Intelligence Agency was the department with real power that assisted the court in governing the great cities in major provinces. At the same time, it was the intelligence department that dealt with all sorts of supernatural matters.
Matters such as demons, devils, ghosts, Anomalies, disputes between Noblemen that required mediation… etc. Even high-rank officials like Mountain-Edge City’s Prefect had to consult experts of the Intelligence Agency before making any decisions in such matters.
Mountain-Edge City’s Intelligence Agency had always operated in the dark. But now, they had stepped into the light, catching Lu Sheng by surprise.
‘Could they have got wind of some news?’ Lu Sheng’s heart lurched. If news of Zhen Family’s desertion were to leak, there was no knowing how the court would react.
As for the others who were present, none of them were important enough for Lu Sheng to notice them.
“Oh, External Head Lu of Crimson Whale Sect has arrived,” the Prefect Li Zhenyi smiled. “Men, set up seats.”
Lu Sheng strode into the hall and sat on an empty seat on the left.
He represented Crimson Whale Sect, which called the shots in the underworld in Northern Lands. Hence his status would not be low. But it would not be high either. After all, he was not a government official.