Way of the Devil

 
 

Way of the Devil Chapter 12


Hearing this, Lu Sheng's eyes shone brightly.

He had been unable to find powerful martial arts manuals in their complete form. Since that was the case, he could perhaps make up for quality with quantity.

Anyway, with the Modifier, he was able to cultivate martial arts at an astonishing speed, reaching full mastery with just a bit of effort. To cultivate a few more skills in this manner should very likely help him to achieve his objective.

In this world, demons, devils, ghosts and monsters could appear at any time. If he did not make use of time to quickly become stronger now, then when he really met with danger, what could he possibly defend himself with?

Thinking of this, Lu Sheng's eyes shone brightly again. He understood what Uncle Zhao meant.

There was quite a number of old fogeys who practiced martial arts in Nine Links City. For example, the yamen's previous Chief Constable Zhang Xun, whose Heart-Shattering Palm technique was extremely powerful. Now that he was older and without children, he was left without a successor.

He did not have many assets left and was living a hard life, unable to make ends meet. Often, he had to rely on old friends like Uncle Zhao to get by.

If Lu Sheng was able to use money and connections to pull some strings, it would probably be very easy to get him to pass the Heart-Shattering Palm technique on to him.

Back in the days, when Zhang Xun was younger, he was actually termed the Number One Expert in Nine Links City!

It was only when he got older that the others caught up to him. At eighty-six years of age, he was much older than Uncle Zhao, and his legs were no longer nimble.

When Uncle Zhao and the rest rose to prominence, he had already been retired for many years.

Nine Links City had no shortage of such former experts.

Lu Sheng's heart surged. If he were able to learn a thing or two from these people and master their skills to very high levels, it would cumulatively result in extreme power even if they were all Third Class martial arts.

"How is it? Young Master, if you are willing, I can get in touch with some suitable old friends for you."

Uncle Zhao also hoped to help look out for some of his old friends. Perhaps he couldn't bear to see his old friends living miserable lives in their evening years despite their capabilities.

Lu Sheng thought it over in detail.

"Uncle Zhao is right on point. However, which experts are you able to get in touch with?"

"Don't bother about which ones. Beware of biting off more than you can chew. What I can guarantee are the Heart-Shattering Palm and the Eighty-Four Swallows Pursuing the Wind Blade.

These two old friends of mine lost their heirs to enemy factions long ago. Now, they have no one to rely on and lead a tough life. They have long since intended to find a disciple to inherit their skills.

However, as the saying goes, martial arts are the hobby of the rich. When it comes to practicing martial arts, without sufficient resources to nourish the body, training hard will only harm one's health. So they didn't think it was right to put others in harm's way and thus didn't choose anyone," Uncle Zhao said ruefully.

"It just so happens that, Brother Sheng, you are bestowed with exceptional innate talent and are gifted above the rest. While we don't harbor hopes for the top-notch martial arts of the big factions and clans, it would be very impressive if you do master these two skills. It fulfills Brother Sheng's requirements, and also helps me look after a few good friends - killing two birds with one stone!"

Seeing him lay out his personal intentions and considerations, Lu Sheng's face turned somber.

"Since Uncle Zhao has given your word, then these two elders will both be my teachers. The manor will send them twenty talents of silver monthly as teaching fee."

Hearing this, Uncle Zhao could not help but smile.

"Brother Sheng is indeed magnanimous and compassionate…"

Actually, it cost barely ten talents of silver for one to learn an established skill from a typical martial arts academy.

Yet, Lu Sheng gave each of them twenty talents without reservations and therefore gave a lot of face to Uncle Zhao.

When word of it spread, Zhao Dahu would be able to hold his head up high in his circle of old friends.

"Brother Sheng, you continue with your practice, I will relay the news to my several friends."

Since the matter had been decided, Uncle Zhao also could not wait to rush to find Zhang Xun to relay the good news!

A while back, Zhang Xun had gotten the flu yet again. He initially had a body of iron, but had failed to maintain his health when he was younger and had suffered too many internal injuries. His health was now deteriorating and he lacked the money to care for his body.

The medical fees from earlier were even lent to him by Uncle Zhao.

If not for this, he would not have thought to recommend teachers to Lu Sheng.

He really couldn't… just couldn't bear to see his good friend in such dire straits.

"As you wish, Uncle Zhao," still holding onto the saber, Lu Sheng cupped his hands.

Watching Uncle Zhao depart, Lu Sheng remained, standing alone on the arena.

He lifted the saber and once again practiced the Black Tiger Saber Technique.

Tiger Kill, Tiger Might, and Tiger Roar - separately, they were three different sets of combinations of saber techniques consisting of over ten moves.

While the three big moves were separate individual strokes, in reality, they each contained quite a number of independent saber moves within themselves.

For example, Tiger Kill consisted of saber moves targeting the front, moves targeting the back, as well as those targeting both the left and the right sides, as well as moves which targeted any hidden weapons, those against long-hilted weapons, others against heavy weapons…

There were many different kinds of such variations.

It wasn't just that one move that required practice.

As he trained, a servant suddenly ran to the side of the arena. The servant waited for him to finish practicing, as if he had something to relay.

Lu Sheng's brow furrowed. He speedily kept his saber and stood up, gazing onto the servant.

"What's up?"

"Young Master, there's a horse carriage outside. A young lady who introduced herself as Miss Duanmu claims that she has an appointment with Young Master, and is here to visit," the servant replied respectfully.

"Duanmu… Duanmu Wan is here, eh."

Lu Sheng's heart trembled slightly.

He had trained the Black Fury Skill ever since he got his hands on it, but till now, was still unable to become initiated in it.

This casted doubt on the authenticity of this particular inner force skill. Duanmu Wan had said previously that she could get her hands on inner force secret manuals, but there was no way to know if they were legitimate.

'Forget it. I'll just meet her first and then worry about it.'

Although the other party was a shrewd character, he wasn't one of those pampered young masters within the city who were unused to the ways of the world. If she intended to seduce him with some evil purpose in mind, there was no way he would fall for her low-level skills, no matter how many of them she was capable of.

"Invite her into the guest hall, I'll be there shortly."

"Yes."

The servant left.

Lu Sheng got the maidservant to prepare a basin of water, which he used to wipe some of the perspiration off his body. He then changed into a fresh set of white robes before heading to the guest hall.

Walking past the arena and a little flower garden, and then heading down a corridor, he arrived at the guest hall meant solely for receiving guests.

The guest hall's big doors were open, revealing a woman in a long purple dress seated primly to the right. The woman had a coquettish face, skin white as snow, and wore crescent-shaped earrings made from polished pearls. She carried a dignified and graceful air.

Remarkably, it was none other than Duanmu Wan.

Lu Sheng's third brother, Lu Chenxin, was also in the guest hall. Presently, he was enthusiastically trying to get intimate with Duanmu Wan.

Lu Chenxin was mesmerized as he stared at Duanmu Wan's chest. The faint view of a deep ravine could be seen beneath the white camisole covering her chest, and his eyes seemed to sink into it and could not be pulled away even if he wanted to.

"Cough, cough."

Lu Sheng lightly coughed twice.

Both of them immediately noticed him and turned their heads to look at him.

"Big Bro…"

Lu Chenxin's face flushed bright-red, looking rather embarrassed as he stood up.

"Since Big Bro is here… this lady Miss Duanmu came specially to find you…"

He stuttered a little.

"Third Bro, how about you head over to the kitchen first to get them to send over some sour plum soup? I'll manage over here."

Lu Sheng was considered rather wise in the family. He had quite a bit of experience, and conducted himself responsibly. Thus, his words carried quite a bit of weight among the siblings.

He wasn't frivolous like his peers, the other young masters.

Altogether, he had two biological siblings. Second Sis Lu Qingqing had ventured out to practice martial arts and had yet to return; Third Bro Lu Chenxin stayed at home, diligently reading the traditional sage books to prepare for future examinations, hoping to attain scholarly honor. [1]

As for Lu Sheng, he had even taken over the reins for a portion of the family's business a while back. His performance had long since affirmed Lu Quanan that he would be the one to take over the business in the future.

Because Lu Sheng was bound to be the one to manage the family's finances in the future, his younger brother and sister, as well as the rest of the members of the household, all counted on him to provide for them in the future.

In the day-to-day matters, everyone treated him with some measure of respect to curry favor with him.

"Brother Sheng, I just happened to bring over a pot of sour plum soup, I'll give it to you guys. It's been chilled, very tasty."

Fifth Mother, who had been passing by, smiled as she walked in from outside the guest hall with a pot of sour plum soup in her hands.

Fifth Mother was the fifth woman the household head Lu Quanan had married. However, she was not his wife, but a concubine instead.

Unlike the first three, Fifth Mother and her daughter, younger cousin Lu Yingying, would need to depend on Lu Sheng for a living after Old Master Lu Quanan passed on.

Therefore, although she was Lu Sheng's Fifth Mother in name, more often than not she and younger cousin Lu Yingying treated Lu Sheng with deference.

After all, once Lu Quanan passes on, Lu Sheng did not have any obligation to support the mother and daughter pair. In order to prevent them from being chased out of the house, it was necessary to butter up the future household head, Lu Sheng, in advance.

"You're too kind, Fifth Mother." Lu Sheng hurriedly went over to receive the sour plum soup and laid it down. "I can handle it over here, please head back first."

"Yes yes yes, Brother Sheng you entertain your guest first." Smiling, Fifth Mother left hastily.

Before leaving, she looked at Duanmu Wan with jealousy. She was only slightly over thirty this year, and although she maintained her looks well and surpassed others in appearance, she paled in comparison to Duanmu Wan.

"I'll leave a bit earlier," Lu Chenxin also quickly took this chance to leave.

Soon, only Lu Sheng and Duanmu Wan were left in the guest hall.

"Does young master still want secret manuals?"

Seeing that there weren't others around, Duanmu Wan smiled slightly as she asked.

"Miss Duanmu is indeed impressive. I hid my identity and disguised myself, yet you were still able to find me here," Lu Sheng's face betrayed not a hint of emotion.

"You're kidding, Young Master Lu. In the whole of Nine Links City, who else is such bosom buddies with Zheng Family's Zheng Xiangui, and has so many resources within the family? By roughly matching the height and physique, it is not difficult to identify you, young master."

Duanmu Wan smiled gently.

"It's not difficult to do so only for Miss Duanmu. Ok, enough with the nonsense. So, what secret manual has Miss Duanmu brought for me? I'll say first though, I'm only interested in those inner force manuals."

Lu Sheng said casually in an unhurried and calm tone. He did not lose his cool just because his identity had been exposed.

"Naturally, they're all inner force manuals."

Duanmu Wan extended her slender arms to retrieve from her sleeves three small booklets, placing them lightly onto the small side table one by one.

All three light-green small booklets were sewn together with needle and thread. Clearly emblazoned across the cover were some large characters: "Green Pine One-Thought Formula", "Jade Crane Skill", "Yin Yang Attraction".

Lu Sheng's face remained emotionless as he gazed over all of them.

"Miss Duanmu is indeed open-handed. Except… how will I verify whether these secret manuals are authentic?"

"That's simple," Duanmu Wan smiled lightly. "These three types of inner force skills are all exceedingly easy to get initiated in. Just cultivate it for a day, and you'll be able to sense the Qi. However, on the other hand, it is difficult to achieve full mastery in any of them. Thus, it is easy to establish their authenticity."

Then, with a change in tone, she added, "As for whether there're any alterations or omissions in them, young master, you'll have to trust Wan'er. Otherwise, no matter what secret manuals are placed before you, I'm afraid young master will be suspicious regardless."

"Miss Wan'er is right to say so," Lu Sheng's heart leapt with joy. If it were just as the other party said, that all three secret manuals were extremely easy to initiate, then compared to the Black Fury Skill, these three skills were way, way more suitable for him.

Translator's Thoughts

Deep Blue Deep Blue

[1] ED/N: While I'm not quite clear, it seems to be a term referring specifically to fame and glory gained through notable achievements in Imperial Examinations.