Way of the Devil Chapter 20
"Brother Sheng has been practicing martial arts in secret by himself since young. So, his body's rather tough. Family head, you need not worry."
Uncle Zhao said with a smile.
"At first, even I hadn't expected that Brother Sheng would be that powerful. Those two were, after all, both experts whom I had tried but failed to arrest in my younger days. To think that, after all these years, they would fall into Brother Sheng's hands."
He had seen their wounds. Both had died under Heart-Shattering Palm.
However, he had no idea when Brother Sheng had mastered Heart-Shattering Palm; neither could he tell the extent of the skill behind those palm strikes.
After all, the mastery of this skill could not be told just from looking at the surface.
"That's for the best," Lu Quanan nodded. "Everything's fine. Back to normal. Let him get some rest and carry on with the plan to go learn martial arts in Mountain Edge City."
"Looking at Little Sheng's moves, I'm sure he must be extremely passionate about martial arts. Otherwise, there's no way that he would become so well-trained. So, I'm certain Little Sheng will be glad to hear that," Second Mother replied gently.
"Alright, alright. This was a false alarm. Everybody, go back to business. Little Qing will go back to reflect on herself. Stop wandering outside during this period. Just stay home!" Lu Quanan gave the confinement order.
"Ok…" Lu Qingqing too was scared out of her wits this time. Had her big brother come later by a minute, she would have been finished.
She needed time to recover emotionally as well.
News of Lu Qingqing's matter quickly spread throughout the entire Lu Manor like wildfire, spreading even to the other families in Nine Links City.
And, so did Lu Sheng's reputation as a martial arts fanatic.
These years, few knew of Phantom Head Blade brothers. Still, everyone learned of how Lu Sheng had arrested a few powerful fugitives with his sister and supposedly killed more than a few men.
Once this got out, Lu Sheng turned famous overnight.
Everyone in the manor started to look at Lu Sheng differently.
He was someone who had taken the lives of powerful fugitives!
Each time Lu Sheng was spotted, everyone feared him.
After all, which fugitive who managed to resist capture for years didn't have some tricks up his sleeves?
"That's very normal," Lu Qingqing sat in Lu Sheng's room, swinging both her legs back and forth and chewing on an apple in her hand.
Because of how she had nearly lost her modesty previously, she now no longer headed out every day.
She got used to hanging out in Lu Sheng's room instead, attempting to persuade him to investigate the Xu family tragic case with her.
"Now in Lu Manor, apart from you, Big Bro, and a few martial arts masters like Uncle Zhao, those among the guards who have seen blood before are pathetically few in number. That's how the servants used to look at me too," she seemed to have grown used to it. "Speaking of which, if master and seniors knew that I had such a powerful big bro like you, I wonder what kind of expression they'd have… it's fun even just imagining their faces!"
Lu Qingqing laughed.
Gripping a brush, Lu Sheng was composedly practicing calligraphy.
"Brother Xu's case should and must be investigated! It's just not the right time yet," he said somberly.
"Brother Xu… died such a terrible death!" Lu Qingqing's eyes began to redden as she thought about that.
"Don't worry. One day I'll get to the bottom of this," Lu Sheng put his brush down and looked at the giant word sprawled across the paper: "endure".
The match against two Strength Proficiency experts this time gave him some awareness of where his limits lay.
Every single Strength Proficiency expert was someone not to be trifled with, possessing their own exclusive trademark skill. Needless to say, they were much more powerful than the average martial arts trainees.
Although he had attained full mastery of both Black Tiger Saber Technique and Heart-Shattering Palm with the help of the Modifier, it wasn't a simple matter of one plus one equals two for him to face off against two opponents at once.
When two Strength Proficiency experts teamed up, their combined might was more than the sum of its parts. One must realize that it took twice as much energy to deal with them as when fighting against one.
If there was just one more Strength Proficiency expert who coordinated well with Lin Brothers, then he would have met his end there and then.
Lu Sheng pondered that.
Although he did win this time, it was a narrow victory. In the end, even his saber had been broken and he had ended up with numerous wounds riddling his body.
'I guess I'm still too weak… In the Xu family tragic case, just the number of Strength Proficiency protectors amounted to four! Add to that the countless housemen and servants... to slaughter all of them without a sound within the span of a single night… that kind of power… just thinking of it gives me the chills.'
Once this thought surfaced, Lu Sheng felt that his own preparations were far, far too inadequate.
He needed stronger power, stronger martial arts!
"Big Bro, what's on your mind? How about going shopping with me?"
Lu Qingqing waved her hand in front of Lu Sheng's face, anticipation shining in her eyes.
Ever since she was saved, she had become another person before Lu Sheng. Her temper had mellowed significantly, becoming gentler and more feminine.
"Qingqing, do you know of inner force?"
Lu Sheng responded with a question instead of answering her.
"Inner force… I've heard master mention it," Lu Qingqing nodded. "Inner force experts are different from us outer force practitioners. Their training is gradual and takes a long time. Normally, without three to five years of cultivation, they're no different from an average person. Why do you ask, Big Bro?"
"Your master… does he know any inner force experts?" Since he was unable to locate Duanmu Wan, Lu Sheng intended to look for a breakthrough through Lu Qingqing.
"Well, he does know a few. Master has two good friends—both priests who cultivate life-force Qi skills," Lu Qingqing replied.
"Life-force Qi skills… are there those inner force experts with legitimate fighting skills?"
"That… I've never heard of any."
Lu Qingqing's reply left Lu Sheng disappointed. But it was also to be expected.
Even the mysterious Duanmu Wan could produce no more than a few life-force Qi skills. Lu Qingqing's master was merely an outer force expert with a bit of fame. The odds of him knowing inner force experts were slim.
"Why? Big Bro's thinking of training inner force? I heard that stuff's very iffy and time-consuming… the training process is fraught with risks and it's not even very powerful. How can it be faster to attain or stronger in battle than outer force training? What's the point?" Lu Qingqing could not understand.
"I have my plans."
Lu Sheng began to form calculations in his mind.
Mountain Edge City. He did truly intend to go there, but with this matter arising, it really wasn't a good time for him to leave Nine Links City—especially considering the great distance between the two cities.
His family in this present life has been very good to him; his old dad, second mum, Uncle Zhao and the others all treated him very well.
He would hate it if something were to happen to them while he was away.
Moreover, in this time and age, if something really did happen, where could he hide and find refuge all by himself?
Lu Sheng also sensed that his old dad Lu Quanan was dispatching him to Mountain Edge City to draw him away from a certain something.
"A storm is coming…" he heaved a long sigh. Looking at his naïve Second Sister Lu Qingqing, his heart suddenly felt heavy.
'If I really leave, perhaps I can hide from danger for a moment. But I can't always be hiding. At the end of the day, I've still got to face it. I should quickly grow while the conditions at home are good and there's no lack of money. Until I have the strength to protect myself—that's the right path.'
Road to Mountain Edge City was really too long. Lu Sheng already had other plans.
Inner-plus-outer training—integrating inner force and outer force—that was the best direction towards great power which came to his mind now.
Suddenly, he recalled the secret manual that he had burnt a hole in his pocket to obtain—the incomplete Black Fury Skill.
'Although it's incomplete, it's the only manual I have in my hands right now. To heck with it.'
Listening to Lu Qingqing's incessant chatter beside him about the interesting trivia from her days as her master's disciple, Lu Sheng began recalling Black Fury Skill's force movement routes silently.
He had previously spent quite a period of time practicing Black Fury Skill and so remembered the Level One Initiation mantra.
Seeing that Lu Sheng was distracted, Lu Qingqing left in disappointment after going on for a while.
Little Qiao entered after that to bring Lu Sheng a pail of water to wash his face. Then, she served him his medicine.
Lu Sheng did not say a word at that time. He kept his focus entirely on Black Fury Skill's intent routes while performing those tasks.
A guess formed in his mind. The reason why it was so difficult to learn Black Fury Skill could have been because, like Jade Crane Skill, there was supposed to have been an initial Qi movement diagram added to it.
Jade Crane Skill's Qi movement diagram was an immortal crane with its wings stretched out, about to fly.
Perhaps Black Fury Skill had something like that too, just that it wasn't in the manual.
'That diagram's like an overview, coordinating the entire body's inner Qi movement routes.'
Too bad he had too few materials on inner force with him and was thus unable to conduct a systematic research and come up with any reasoned theories.
His only option was to just remain focused on practicing Black Fury Skill while nursing his wounds.
In the blink of an eye, several days had passed again.
Yet another strange incident occurred in Nine Links City.
Somebody had discovered a child's graffiti on the perimeter wall of a side yard on the city's outskirts.
The graffiti looked like it was drawn with charcoal. Some people kept watch over the wall to see whose kid was so mischievous.
Unexpectedly, within a night, more graffiti was mysteriously added to the perimeter wall, undetected by anyone. However, not a single soul had been spotted.
The Xu family massacre, the Wang Villa well incident, the missing hunters… and now this mysterious graffiti on the wall.
This series of incidents had everyone in Nine Links City like cats on hot bricks.
Someone even reported that he heard a blood-curdling scream from outside the city. He mustered up his courage and ventured out to take a look, only to see signs of a fight between ferocious beasts and traces of blood left on the ground.
However, the prefectural yamen announced the order to cancel the request for assistance.
One morning, Lu Quanan had been summoned to the prefectural yamen with the same three family heads as usual.
When he came back, his face looked foul.
Lu Sheng inquired about it but he kept silent, remarking only that there was a conflict with the Prefect which made everyone unhappy.
Thereafter, Lu Quanan made contact with Lu Sheng's uncle, Lu Anping—the deputy commander of the garrison.
In all these years, the reason why the Lu family had been able to hold their own was not only thanks to Lu Quanan alone. Eldest Uncle Lu Anping was also a strong pillar that held up the family.
Both of them conversed in the study behind closed doors for a long time before finally emerging from inside.
Then, someone spotted the eldest uncle leaving Lu Manor hurriedly.
Although he resting and cultivating in his own room, Lu Sheng was continuously observing the situation in the prefectural yamen through Lu Qingqing and Little Qiao. Not to mention, second mother, fifth mother, Lu Yingying, Uncle Zhao… and all others would visit him very now and then.
At this moment, all of Nine Links City apart from the Lu Manor gave Lu Sheng a sense of living with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head.
Just then, Uncle Zhao sent someone over, saying that Little Eight's whereabouts had been discovered. He had fainted in one of the houses along that street. By the time he was found, he had been starved to a bag of skin and bones.
"Little Eight? Did he say what happened to him? Why was he left alone in that house?" Lu Sheng asked.
The one who came to pass on the message was a guard under Uncle Zhao's command; he shook his head.
"He didn't say much. He just kept repeating that he rushed over that day as fast as he could. But not long after entering that street, he suddenly fainted. When he came to, he saw us."
Lu Sheng frowned. "Is that true?"
"True. Uncle Zhao has already confirmed that other sources corroborated with his testimony. It was indeed as Little Eight said."
"Then that's strange…"
Lu Sheng shook his head.
"You may leave first."
"Yes." The guard left swiftly.
In the courtyard in front of his room, Lu Sheng paced around.
His wounds had long since more or less recovered. Now, he was just practicing Black Fury Skill, awaiting the moment he would be able to sense Qi.
As long as a thread of Qi was sensed by him, he would rapidly upgrade the inner force skill. He was bent on truly making Black Fury Skill a part of his strength.
Just then, Lu Quanan hurriedly entered the yard with two housemen trailing after him.
"Sheng'er, you've rested quite a while. How about setting off today?"
Lu Quanan's face was calm and serene. In his hand was a black silk bundle, which was the money for the journey that he had prepared for Lu Sheng.