Way of the Devil - Chapter 56
Chapter 56: Crimson Whale (4)
Translator: Deep_Blue Editor: Kurisu
The three of them chatted for a while longer, continuing to down cup after cup of wine. Only after they had drunk themselves tipsy did they leave for their own homes.
After returning home, Lu Sheng rested for the night. With nothing better to do, he stayed home, awaiting the posting arrangements by Crimson Whale Sect. Actually, he could guess that the so-called time for the elders to convene and discuss was mainly for the purpose of investigating his background to ascertain whether or not he was a spy sent by a rival sect.
Only after such investigations were finished would he officially be a member of Crimson Whale Sect.
Therefore, he was not anxious.
Time passed day after day. In the blink of an eye, three days passed.
This time round, it was Elder Wang, Elder Ouyang, and a Deputy Sect Master who led a team to visit him at his place.
Deputy Sect Master Chen Ying  was Elder Wang’s senior, and also the second-ranked expert in Crimson Whale Sect. He was known in the pugilistic world as Eagle Claw King.
This man had fatherly eyes and kindly brows, with fully white mustache and hair. However, his physique was in tip-top condition; he was as sturdy and muscular as a young man in his prime. The blue and black knuckles on his large hands were protruding, making it seem as if he were wearing a pair of metal gloves. It was rather unsettling.
When he entered the doors, he smiled warmly and kindly at Lu Sheng.
“Pardon our intrusion! Junior Brother Lu, old man Chen and the rest are here to inform you of your posting arrangements.”
Lu Sheng instructed Little Qiao to make some tea while he himself sat with the guests.
“I wonder what posting arrangement Deputy Sect Master brings me today?” He seemed not to care in the least that the other party had shown him this much face by coming to his doorstep. After all, Elder Wang was an Internal Affairs Emissary; although his martial arts skills could not compare to External Affairs Emissaries, he was still an Intent Proficiency expert. It wasn’t an easy feat to defeat him in barely a few moves.
It was every sect’s dream come true to chance upon an expert of such a level. Moreover, this expert was of a shockingly tender age.
“Given Brother Lu’s ability, we have unanimously agreed to appoint you as an External Affairs Emissary. If it’s possible, we invite Brother Lu to head to the Headquarters together with us to meet with all the Elders, the Internal and External Affairs Emissaries, and the Sect Master. Then, you can officially assume your position,” Chen Ying said extremely politely.
Before he came here, he had also investigated into Lu Sheng’s background. The findings of the investigation instead caused him to abandon all thoughts of taking him in as a disciple.
It was very clearly indicated in Lu Sheng’s file that his Lu Family had met with an incident of a wailing ghost in the night. It had been nipped in the bud by him and a travelling Taoist.
Although they weren’t able to gather much other than that, he had been able to survive a Black Calamity, and such a perilous one at that. His skills were also highly impressive… this man was truly extraordinary.
“Head to the Headquarters? Can I do that now?” Lu Sheng couldn’t be bothered with the pleasantries. The main motivation for him joining Crimson Whale Sect was to learn better martial arts skills. To do so, he needed to enter the Martial Proclamation Library, and to enter the Martial Proclamation Library, he needed to perform some meritorious deeds as contributions to the sect.
And the main requisite to achieve that was to first take on an official role before contributing through his actions.
Naturally, Chen Ying agreed. The group of people swiftly stood up and left Lu Sheng’s abode to head straight for the Crimson Whale Sect Headquarters outside the city.
Lu Sheng and Chen Ying shared a horse carriage to themselves.
Chen Ying tilted his face to look outside the carriage the entire journey, speaking not a single word. Lu Sheng was also not a talkative person; he began to cultivate his inner Qi in silence.
He could tell that Chen Ying, like him, cultivated both the inner and outer forces. Moreover, his eyes shone brilliantly; clearly, he had robust inner Qi. However, he could not tell how he would fare in actual combat. Lu Sheng decided that he would find an opportunity to duel and try him out sometime.
“Little Brother, what are you views regarding the present Song Dynasty?” After a long moment, Chen Ying abruptly asked.
“Song Dynasty? My views?” Lu Sheng shook his head as he laughed lightly. “Nothing much. I don’t know much at all about the present-day government. Frankly speaking, when I was in Nine Links City previously and encountered a Black Calamity, it helped me see clearly how useless the so-called yamen authorities are.”
Chen Ying glanced over at Lu Sheng, shaking his head lightly. “Junior Brother, that’s actually a misjudgment on your part.”
Lu Sheng’s face remained the same, “How so?”
Chen Ying coughed a couple times. When he calmed down, he said slowly, “Has Junior Brother ever heard of something called Aberrations?”
“Aberrations?” Lu Sheng’s expression changed almost imperceptibly. “I’ve only met with very powerful and strange ghosts, are those what Deputy Sect Master means by Aberrations?”
“No… to be very frank with you, we Crimson Whale Sect have had our own fair share of dealing with the run-of-the-mill supernatural matters. However, those can only be referred to as ghosts, or Black Calamity,” Chen Ying’s eyes gradually turned somber, as if he were beginning to immerse himself in his past memories.
“I remember one year when I traveled with Sect Master to the Central Plains to take part in the Martial Alliance Rally. On our way back, we met with a Daoist. The Daoist spoke for a long while with Sect Master and shared with us about this.”
He paused for a bit before continuing.
“That Daoist said that ghosts and Demonic Ghosts, at the end of the day, are merely ghosts. Even an ordinary mortal who has attained an extremely high realm in his cultivation would be able to deal with such filthy things.
However, above ghosts is something called Aberrations. This is a league that ordinary mortals have no hope or possibility to reach. He cautioned Sect Master that stuff like ghosts and small demons are weak and mentally scattered. They are dim-witted and senseless creatures. However, the advanced form of ghosts are Aberrations; the advanced form of demons are Devils. Aberrations and Devils–no matter how mortals cultivate, there is absolutely no way that we would be able to stand up against them. If you meet one, the only way to live through the encounter is to RUN at first sight!”
“Aberrations… and Devils…” Lu Sheng turned grim. He had thought that these were perhaps exactly the ‘demons’ and ‘devils’ Duanmu Wan had mentioned previously. These were merely generic category labels in the first place, but he remembered that Duanmu Wan had only mentioned ‘demons’ and ‘devils’–but not Aberrations. It wasn’t clear if she had missed that out, or if there was some other reason.
“Yeah… we Crimson Whale Sect look formidable, don’t we? Yet still, all we’re able to deal with are ghosts, small demons, and the like. When it comes to Aberrations or Devils, we’ve only met one up till this day,” Chen Ying’s face twitched, as if even now, he was still shaking in fear at the memory.
Lu Sheng asked somberly, “What happened?”
He seemed to have the premonition that the matter had definitely ended badly.
A pained look flashed on Chen Ying’s face. Looking at Lu Sheng, he replied dazedly, “Crimson Whale Sect originally had four Deputy Sect Masters.”
Lu Sheng’s heart lurched. He knew that, currently, there were only two Deputy Sect Masters in the Crimson Whale Sect.
“Our old Sect Master, he… he too was grievously wounded. He fell from the pinnacle of his power, and is now riddled with ailments… the most pathetic thing is that, because of this, his few sons are now still fighting with each other, wrestling for power and control over Crimson Whale Sect. But how could they know? So what if they gain control over the entire Sect? We don’t even have a clue what kind of entity the Aberration that caused all this ruin is… not even after losing so many men,” Chen Ying helplessly added.
Lu Sheng kept silent. This was not something that he, a newly joined Sect member, was in the position to comment on.
The two of them sat facing each other silently. After a short while later, the coachman’s voice rang out, “Sect Master Chen, we’re at the Headquarters!” 
Chen Ying broke into a smile. Regulating his emotions, he opened the carriage door and was the first to alight.
“Come take a look! The Crimson Whale Sect Headquarters may not be what you imagined. It’s impressive alright, but it’s also a bit strange.”
Lu Sheng followed after him, alighting. To his surprise, the sight of Cypress Pine Lake greeted him.
In the middle of the lake lay an enormous black-and-red ship, resting silently on the surface of the water like a massive whale.
Rays of sun fell from the azure sky onto the crystal waters, brilliantly illuminating the gigantic ship, especially the white flag erected on the highest mast of the ship.
Two large words in blood red were written on it: Crimson Whale!
The entire ship was an oval, with a whooping eight-stories rising up from the deck. All around the body of the ship, black metal chains, each as thick as a person’s thigh, were packed closely together to anchor it in place. However, these chains seemed to be merely the width of a strand of hair when compared to the relative enormity of the ship.
“This is the ‘Crimson Whale’. Impressive, isn’t it?” Chen Ying introduced by the side.
“Impressive though it may be, it can’t really be considered a ship anymore. This giant can’t be sailed at all,” Elder Wang ran over and muttered.
“This huge lake is over ten li wide, and this ship itself already takes up a tenth of the area. Just maneuvering it will run the danger of colliding into the reefs in shallow waters. What’s the point of sailing it?”
It was also Lu Sheng’s first time seeing such an enormous ship, which was perhaps even larger than an aircraft carrier. In his free time, he had calculated that the ‘li’ measurement people in this period often used was roughly the distance of six hundred meters or so. As for what Elder Wang said, the width of this ship itself was already over six hundred meters–it was truly gigantic.
“Actually, this was not built to be used as a ship in the first place. Rather, it’s constructed as a water fortress,” Chen Ying laughed.
“Let’s go, the people inside have already come out to receive us.”
Sect members lined the path that joined the huge ship and the dock, keeping close watch. They were divided into two rows; a swordsman stood guard at short intervals.
Presently, there were already over ten men and women who had gathered near the sloping stairs to the boat. They were all looking in this direction.
Chen Ying laughed loudly and led the group towards the other party.
“Greetings, Sect Master Chen,” the group of them duly greeted. “Sect Master has been waiting for a long while.”
Chen Ying didn’t delay any further. Leading Lu Sheng and the rest in a single file, they quickly ascended the sloping stairs, crossed the path guarded by the sect members and arrived aboard the deck. Then, they walked into the main hall of the ship.
The main hall looked somewhat similar to a shrine. At the highest point sat a sickly-looking old man with grizzled white hair.
This old man was dressed in black-and-red athletic robes from top to toe and wore a dark-golden glove on his right hand. Although he seemed frail, he still carried a highly imposing and formidable air about him. His eyes were like a tiger’s, radiant and sharp. One look into them revealed the vigor and strength of his inner Qi.
As soon as Lu Sheng entered, he could feel at least five lines of sight immediately converging onto him.
Actually, there were quite a few others who were also in the main hall looking at him. However, their mental energy was incomparably beneath these five people.
These five lines of sight were exceptionally penetrating, and made one feel that their gazes caused the skin on one’s body to have a tingling and numbing sensation akin to the pricking of needles. Clearly, these were all famed experts who had attained extraordinary achievements in both inner and outer force cultivation.
Similarly, Lu Sheng no longer concealed the brilliance in his own eyes as he returned each and every one of those gazes.
Inwardly, he was rather excited to be able to see so many experts of the same rank as him all at once. Logically speaking, he was at Spirit Focus, and so were the other five. If they were to battle, it still depended on their movement techniques, strength, experience as well as tactics before it would be clear who would come out on top.
Almost as if sensing the eagerness and excitement to battle in Lu Sheng’s gaze, three of the five lines of sight instantly disappeared in a swish. Three people quickly lowered their heads as they avoided his gaze. A hardcore battle addict was the most troublesome in any sect.
Previously, one of the Deputy Sect Masters had just such a personality. He would run around to battle and exchange blows with experts all day long, causing much unspoken misery for members of the Sect. The last thing they expected was the appearance of another fella with the signs of being a hardcore battle addict.
Of the five experts, two of them were Sect Master Hong Mingzi and Deputy Sect Master Gongsun Zhanglan. The other three were all External Affairs Emissaries; they were also the ones who had swiftly avoided Lu Sheng’s gaze.
After Lu Sheng sent out his gaze, three of them disappeared in a heartbeat. That caused him to be rather annoyed. However, it didn’t matter–there were still the other two.
He gazed straight at the one seated highest–Sect Master Hong Mingzi.
“Indeed–a hero’s posture; a dragon among men!” Hong Mingzi’s voice sounded somewhat frail as he exclaimed smilingly, but it still carried great vigor and energy in it.
“The reason why Crimson Whale Sect has been able to lord over the North with unwavering clout is only because of fine young men like Junior Brother Lu here, who have constantly added new blood to our ranks.”
“Everyone here has now seen him. So, what are your views?” Deputy Sect Master Chen Ying also went up ahead to take his seat. Someone also approached Lu Sheng to direct him to a seat by the side.