Way of the Devil

 
 

Way of the Devil Chapter 25


"Creak…"

Lu Sheng shut the windows tightly and turned around to survey the room.

He took off his coat and hung it on the wooden rack behind the door.

Then, he opened a cupboard. Inside, he found a few pieces of dull-looking ladies' clothes Sister Yu used to wear. Closing the cupboard, Lu Sheng went over to examine the dressing table.

The simple dressing table was devoid of any embellishments. Only a copper mirror was placed in the middle on top of it.

Some pink powder was scattered in front of the copper mirror. Lu Sheng picked some up with his finger and held it up to his nose.

'Just normal women's cosmetic powder.'

Lu Sheng suddenly frowned.

'I remember that Sister Yu wasn't one to use cosmetic powder.'

"HOO…"

Suddenly, a gust of chilly air blew over, causing the candlelight to flicker unsteadily.

Lu Sheng swiftly gripped his saber and surveyed the room.

"SWISH."

From the gap left in the slightly ajar door, corner of a white robe flashed past.

Lu Sheng quickly strode over.

'I clearly remember that I closed the door when I came in.'

He touched the wooden latch. An opened lock still hung from it. Opening the door, he stepped out into the corridor to take a look.

It was cold and empty, without a single soul in sight.

Cold air continuously gushed in his direction.

Lu Sheng's gaze swept around once and discovered nothing amiss, so he returned to the room.

"KA-CHA!" The door shut tight.

Walking to the side of the table, he sat down and placed his saber on the tabletop, his hand still holding onto it.

Thus, he sat as he waited for the supposed wail to echo within the room.

The candlelight's lonely glow grew dim.

Time passed gradually.

With the support of Jade Crane Skill, Lu Sheng did not feel tired in the slightest. He remained vigilant as he sat beside the table, awaiting the wailing.

After a while, since he had nothing to do, he accelerated the circulation of Jade Crane Skill at his will.

This life-force skill was way too stable, anyway. There was no way it could be destabilized even if he wanted it to.

A long period passed without his notice.

Finally, a cockerel's sharp crow broke the silence. The darkness outside the window had gradually lifted, turning into a faint white.

Only then did Lu Sheng all of a sudden realize that he had sat there for a whole night.

'Where's the woman's wail? There was nothing the whole night.'

Through the windows, he could see the faint rays of light cast by dawn.

Lifting his saber, Lu Sheng stood up and stretched his body.

He opened the door and walked out. Some light had penetrated the corridor. He came into the courtyard of the Lily Flower Room. The empty utensils from yesterday's meal lay there untouched.

He could faintly hear people conversing outside the yard. Lu Sheng walked over and pushed the doors open with strength.

His old Dad Lu Quanan, Lu Yingying, Lu Yiyi as well as his other family members had already been waiting outside for a while.

Seeing the doors open, everyone jumped in shock and took a step back.

But recognizing Lu Sheng, Lu Quanan hurriedly approached him.

"Little Sheng! You okay!?" His face was full of concern.

Lu Sheng saw that everyone was carrying a torch. When some guards arrived, they were even holding unsheathed swords and sabers in their hands. Confusion arose in Lu Sheng's heart.

"What's wrong? What happened?" He asked loudly.

Lu Quanan heaved a long sigh. "Last night in our house, another person went missing."

"HUH???"

Lu Sheng's eyes immediately opened wide.

Second Mother Liu Cuiyu came forward and recounted the incident.

It turned out that while Lu Sheng was keeping his night watch, the rest of the manor had come near and they, indeed, did not hear any woman's wail.

At first, nothing was out of the ordinary. Those among the guards who were on patrol duty went on patrol as they were supposed to. Many people stayed in their rooms, saying that they would rest. But, actually, most of them could not sleep and stayed up to wait for the outcome.

But then, something went wrong.

"Bajun, he… he said he was going to the latrine, but he never came back…"

A slightly rotund woman sobbed as she held a handkerchief.

This woman was the sister of Lu Sheng's biological mother, Sun Yan. In other words, she was his little aunt, Sun Zining.

The one who went missing this time was Lu Sheng's cousin—Zhang Bajun.

Lu Sheng was not on close terms with Zhang Bajun. This fella loved gambling and was a good-for-nothing. Lu Sheng disliked him and would often lecture him.

Hence, the fella never liked Lu Sheng either and usually avoided him.

Little did he expect that he was the one to go missing this time round. Lu Sheng's brows were locked in a furrow.

"I didn't sleep a wink at all last night. I sat in the room, listening for any sounds, but didn't hear any woman's wailing." Upon hearing his words, everybody's hearts grew cold.

"What on earth is going on!"

Little aunt Sun Zining started to howl in tears.

"Zining, don't get anxious. I'm sure there's something we can do," Second Mother pulled her aside to console her.

"Let's go to the Main Hall first. We'll discuss how to deal with this together," Lu Quanan sighed.

Helpless, all they could do was to first leave this place.

Lu Quanan gathered Lu Sheng and a few other immediate kin, including the eldest uncle.

The doors to the Main Hall were shut tight. The few of them sat on their own seats, the mood gloomy and oppressive.

Eldest Uncle Lu Anping was a thick-browed, big-eyed, square-jawed and sober-looking man.

He wore a half-body silver-scale armor common during the Song Dynasty, with an ornamental curved saber on his waist. Sitting beside Lu Quanan, his face was solemn.

"The question now is whether or not we should let the yamen authorities intervene," Eldest Uncle said slowly. "If we still can't find the source, I'm afraid we've got no choice but to borrow some external help."

"It's easy to invite a god in, but hard to send a god out… ai!" Lu Quanan sighed. This was the umpteenth time he had sighed today.

In the last few days, he was taxed to his limits and now looked a lot more aged than he should.

Lu Sheng sat on the lowest seat of honor, silent. [1]

Lu Quanan looked at his son. "Little Sheng, have you got anything to say? You're the future head of the Lu family. In the future, the family estate and business will belong to you in their entirety. Under these circumstances, have you got any ideas about how we should solve this problem?"

Lu Sheng shut his eyes for a while before opening them again, about to speak.

"Bad news, bad news!"

Little Qiao's voice suddenly rang out from outside the door.

"Young Master! Brother Sheng! The men in the Manor are about to flee!"

Lu Sheng rose immediately and strode towards the doors to open it. Little Qiao was waiting in front of the doors, her face flushed.

"Young Master, with one more person missing in the Manor, the guard Commander Wang Chong seems to have fled in secret, leading quite a few men with him! I got the message from the sisters and hurriedly ran over to inform you."

"Fled?"

Lu Sheng's eyes glared.

He had guessed that panic would spread and result in some people escaping. But never did he expect that it would happen so early.

"Where's Wang Chong now?"

"No idea. We only realized it once they were gone. Zhao Fanghu and gang are now gathered in the courtyard. I'm scared that they're thinking of running away too," Little Qiao hurriedly added.

Zhao Fanghu was another leader among the guards and housemen.

"How many of them are gathered?" Lu Quanan rapidly asked.

"Not sure, but a lot!" Little Qiao quickly replied.

"I'll go take a look!"

Lu Sheng's face sank. He strode towards the courtyard. Lu Quanan and Eldest Uncle Lu Anping followed with dark faces as well.

The few of them arrived at the courtyard soon after.

Over twenty people had already gathered in the courtyard—mostly housemen and guards, with a few servant ladies among them.

Panic was written all over their faces.

Some of them were already holding onto their packed luggage, ready to leave Lu Manor anytime.

Upon seeing Lu Sheng and the rest arriving, the buzz and commotion among them died down slightly.

"Who wants to leave?"

Lu Sheng walked to the front of the group and asked coldly.

"We all do!"

A male guard stepped forward, happening to be none other than Zhao Fanghu. Fear and panic showed on his face.

"Young Master, we're people too. We've got lives as well! The trouble now in the Lu family isn't the work of man at all. It's a female ghost!"

His eyes were wide open and filled with terror.

"Absurd!" Lu Sheng interrupted him sternly. "Who gave you the guts to bewitch the rest with your wiles!"

"But I saw it myself! That white figure! You people from the Lu family, stop pulling us down with you into the gra…"

"SPLAT!"

Blood spilled all over the ground.

The guard's head flew up into the air all of a sudden, landing on the ground with a thud and rolling to the foot of a servant-maid, who was carrying a bundle in her arms.

"DEATH to any who bewitches others with their lies!!!"

Lu Sheng roared as he glared at the terrified group before him, his hand gripping his saber.

"THUD."

Only then did the guard's headless corpse collapse onto the ground.

"AH!!!"

The servant-maid screamed.

"SHUT UP!"

An air of savagery emanated from Lu Sheng. As his gaze swept over, the maid, still in the middle of her scream, covered her mouth in shock and sobbed uncontrollably.

When did the guards and housemen ever witness such a bloody scene?

Every single one of them was shaken and in tremors; their faces turned as white as sheet of paper and none of them dared to make a single sound.

"Get back to your posts, all of you! I'll kill anyone who tries anything funny!" Lu Sheng warned sternly.

Deep fear showed in everyone's eyes.

Compelled by Lu Sheng's tyranny, they then recalled that their young master was someone not to be trifled with as he had single-handedly killed several fugitives.

In the blink of an eye, everyone dispersed as if they were on the run.

Other guards who were not among those who had tried to flee earlier also cleaned up the corpse that collapsed onto the ground.

All of these housemen, guards and servant ladies had signed a lifetime bond when they entered the service of the Manor.

To think that they wanted to leave just like that! Did they really take the Lu family to be soft-hearted philanthropists?

After everyone dispersed, Lu Sheng turned around only to see Lu Quanan and Eldest Uncle Lu Anping staring at him with surprised and complicated looks.

"Extreme measures for extreme times. That's just a stopgap measure," Eldest Uncle shook his head.

"We just need to contain this for the time being. If we can't solve this in the short term, then even we ourselves need to go on the run," Lu Sheng said calmly.

"Looks like we really need to seek the yamen's help this time…" Lu Quanan sighed. "Good thing we've got you around this time, Little Sheng."

Lu Sheng's resolute handling of the situation proved to him that he was capable of shouldering responsibilities and displaying strategic thinking. That was a great comfort to him.

Lu Sheng said with determination, "Tonight, let me keep another night watch. I want to see what on earth dares to make waves in my family! Father, don't worry. Although I didn't make any discoveries last night, I did notice a clue."

"Really?" Lu Quanan's spirits lifted.

"As real as it gets!"

"Do you need me to dispatch some troops over?" Eldest Uncle asked in all seriousness.

"No hasty moves now. I'm afraid that more men will drag us down. Nobody knows what these ghosts can do. The extra manpower may get in the way. They can stand guard outside the Manor," Lu Sheng shook his head.

"That's true, Little Sheng. This time we're all counting on you!" Eldest Uncle nodded and patted Lu Sheng on his shoulder.

Despite being the Deputy Commander, he was after all not a man of the pugilistic world. Moreover, military officers of the Song Dynasty had not seen war in many years.

In actual fact, his position was earned through paper examinations on strategy and tactics. There was no direct link to actual fighting.

Privileging the civil office at the expense of the military had been a bad practice of the Song Dynasty for many years. Hence, right now, Lu Sheng became the backbone of the family.

"Don't worry," Lu Sheng recalled the corner of the white robe that he had seen. His intuition whispered to him a solution—if he managed to capture the person under the white robe, perhaps the case of the missing persons could be resolved.

[1] ED/N: Basically means that his position in the meeting is the lowest and he has the least seniority compared to everyone else.