Way of the Devil Chapter 32
Lu Sheng heaved a sigh in his heart. In this family, the only people whose safety he was concerned about were his old Dad Lu Quanan, Second Mother, and Little Qiao.
As for each and every other person in the family, they were rather unfeeling towards one another. Lu Qingqing was done for, yet none of them had grieved too much. Even younger sister Lu Yingying could utter words such as this—it just went to show how cold-blooded each of them was at their core.
Although he and Lu Qingqing did not share a close relationship, when he thought of Second Mother's situation as well as what Yan Kai had said earlier, his originally hopeful outlook plunged to low depths. Disappointment crept into Lu Sheng's heart.
He remained downcast. Only after some time did his mood recover.
Although he was an ordinary mortal, he had the Modifier. Even if he could not cultivate the exorcists' methods, it didn't necessarily mean that he was weaker than them.
He did not believe that relying on his own strength was insufficient to deal with the supernatural, be it demons, devils, ghosts or monsters.
"Regarding Qingqing's incident, we'll give it a rest for the moment. In the future, when we get the opportunity, we can find a physician to heal her. However, there is another matter that we cannot afford to put off now.
I heard from Taoist Yan Kai that within Nine Links City there's still quite a number of ghosts hiding somewhere. We need to take adequate precautions," Lu Sheng said gravely.
"Still quite a number?" Lu Quanan exclaimed. As for the rest, looks of shock appeared on their pale faces.
Previously, it was impossible for them to defend against this type of ghosts by merely relying on their strength in numbers. And yet, there was still quite a number of such ghosts!?
"This is RIDICULOUS!!!" Fifth Mother suddenly stood up and shouted in a fit.
"SHUT UP!!!" Lu Quanan slapped hard on the arm of the chair.
Fifth Mother was scared out of her wits and shuddered, getting back into her seat.
Lu Sheng's gaze swept across the family members. The expression of every single one of them became the color of frosted-over eggplants, their bodies listless. Fear and helplessness could be seen in their eyes.
"So, my suggestion is, since it is still safe now, our Lu Family should leave Nine Links city immediately."
Lu Quanan shook his head.
"That's not possible now. The higher-ups have given clear orders that none of the four big families are allowed to leave Nine Links City. Previously, I couldn't understand how this order came about. Now that I think of it…"
Lu Sheng felt a chill down his spine.
'Did the government officials intentionally coordinate this? Or was it just a coincidence?'
"What if we left in small groups?" Fourth Mother asked in a low voice. "Isn't Big Brother around…"
"That won't do," Lu Quanan shook his head. "Earlier, when I went to the city gates, Big Bro didn't come to see me. Instead, he sent a letter to inform me that even the Prefect was also not allowed to leave the city."
There was a deafening silence in the room. Everyone looked towards Lu Sheng.
Earlier, it was Lu Sheng who had been able to help them tide over a desperate crisis and settled the matter of the female ghost's wails in the Manor.
"Now..." Lu Sheng lowered his head as he said grimly, "We can only stay within the Manor. Try to buy and stockpile more food items, some grain and meat to keep as our food reserves for the long term. We need to be sufficiently prepared that we'll be trapped for a long time."
"You're right," Lu Quanan regained some of his spirit for the moment and nodded.
Just then, a huge tremor shook the ground and caused it to sway.
Shockingly, a thundering sound of explosion rang out in the west part of the city!
Lu Sheng quivered, jumped up and flew out of the Main Hall as he looked towards the sky in the West.
There, scarlet-red flames soared high into the sky. Apparently, something had exploded and resulted in a raging fire.
The bright-red flames lit up half the sky in Nine Links City!
From the distance, countless sounds of wailing and shouting could be heard, interspersed with chaotic screams for rescue from the fire.
"I'll go take a look first!"
Lu Sheng could not see the situation clearly from the inner yard, so he quickly explained to his Old Dad Lu Quanan before bolting off towards the main entrance of the Manor.
He had just left the entrance when he got the servants to bring a horse over.
Lu Sheng noticed that on the street in front of the Lu Manor's main entrance, quite a number of men, armed with swords and sabers, was rushing in the direction of the great fire.
Each of these men moved deftly on their feet, as if they were all well-trained. Moreover, they looked towards the fierce fire not with looks of astonishment and fear, as Lu Sheng would have expected, but rather with a sliver of greed and anticipation.
Although Lu Sheng barely stood at the entrance for over ten breaths of time, he had already seen three waves of these well-trained men running past the Lu Manor entrance.
Some of them rode on horseback as they dashed ahead madly while others charged forward on foot. Both men and women were present, ranging from the young to the old.
However, most of them were not from Nine Links City or its vicinity.
From the looks of their dressing and appearance, they were more exquisitely and delicately made up than the locals, with many small trinkets and adornments on their bodies. One look was all it took to tell that they were from the Central Plains.
He waited till the servant, who was just as unnerved, walked the horse over with much effort.
Lu sheng patted the sturdy horse, which was thoroughly spooked and struggling madly, intending to flip himself up on it. Then, he gazed upon the group of well-trained men passing by on the street, and was shocked to see two familiar faces in the crowd.
Duanmu Wan, along with the male guard who constantly shadowed her, were both riding in the direction of the fire on horseback.
Duanmu Wan was dressed head-to-toe in black veil, with a conical wickerwork hat on her head. A bit of her lithe body remained barely visible through the gauze material of her clothing.
As she passed by the Lu Manor, she likewise saw Lu Sheng and exclaimed in surprise with a slight 'eh'.
"You're not dead yet?"
She suddenly blurted out those words as she nudged her horse to slightly lower its speed. She stared at Lu Sheng as if he were some exotic animal.
"What does Miss Duanmu mean by these words?"
Lu Sheng's face darkened; he did not understand what she meant.
"Interesting." Duanmu Wan smiled a little. "Seems like we are really quite fated. I'll come and find you after this."
Lu Sheng still had more questions, but Duanmu Wan urged her horse along and increased speed as she and the male guard sped towards the fire.
Just as they left, that man likewise looked at Lu Sheng in astonishment.
That look seemed as if…
As if he were looking at a man who was supposed to have been dead, but was shockingly still alive.
Lu Sheng climbed onto the horse, intending to follow along.
However, a voice called out to him at once. It was Yan Kai.
"Young Master Sheng, it's best that you don't butt in. This matter has nothing to do with you."
The three of them, Yan Kai, Duan Rongrong and Zhuan Feng, were all rushing in the direction of the fire.
Seeing that Lu Sheng also intended to follow along, Yan Kai could not help but offer a word of advice.
"What does Taoist-sir mean?" Lu Sheng asked grimly.
"This massive fire was deliberately started by a Great Demonic Ghost. The air of grievance there billows to the heavens; any ordinary mortal who nears it will lose his mind and endanger his life!" Yan Kai said solemnly. "Even if Young Master Sheng has extraordinary martial arts prowess, there is no other way this situation would play out."
"But I saw quite a number of people rushing over there earlier…" Lu Sheng was doubtful.
"Those people are looking to die, none can save them. Besides, it seems someone has specifically lured them over," Yan Kai said indifferently.
Lu Sheng fell silent.
A serious incident had occurred near his house, yet he could only look on wide-eyed, without any idea of what had happened. This made him feel miserable.
Seeing that Yan Kai had advised him out of good intentions, he clasped his hands together in salutation.
"Many thanks for Taoist-sir's reminder."
Yan Kai nodded hastily towards him. Then, with Duan Rongrong and Zhuan Feng, all three sped in the direction of the fire.
Seeing this, Lu Sheng instantly understood that Duan Rongrong and Zhuan Feng perhaps also had certain special abilities, and were no ordinary mortals.
Or rather, they had other intentions to begin with which had brought them specifically to Nine Links City—this small insignificant city near the frozen northern ocean.
Having understood that, he once again flipped himself off the horse and shouted towards Yan Kai.
"Taoist-sir, Miss Zhuan Feng, why not let me arrange a few horses for you to get there faster!"
Yan Kai was startled, but soon realized that Lu Sheng was selling him a favor.
Considering the many situations that could crop up as they made their way over, it was important for them to conserve their physical energy.
He swiftly nodded.
"Then I'll have to trouble you!"
Lu Sheng was just about to get his men to bring some horses over when he did a double take.
"No, no need to bring any over. The stable is just right over here. Men! Bring Taoist-sir and the rest to the stable to pick their horses, they're free to choose any!" Lu Sheng commanded loudly.
"Young Master Sheng is a man of honor indeed!"
Yan Kai cupped his fists and hastily followed the guard to the horse stable.
Lu Sheng stood at the entrance of the Lu Manor with just a few guards who were oblivious to the situation by his side.
He gazed in the direction of the blaze, his thoughts gloomy.
The huge fire raged on for god-knows-how-long before it gradually subsided and was extinguished.
Lu Sheng also stood at the Manor entrance for that same length of time.
A flash of blue lightning streaked past.
The sky was enveloped in a picture of grey—it was unclear whether it was the billowing smoke from the fire or dark clouds.
Very soon, an endless sheet of rain descended from the sky, raining cats and dogs.
Lu Quanan also came out and stood next to Lu Sheng. Some servants specially held out a canopy to shelter them from the rain.
The torrential rain crashed onto the ground, causing a white, blurry layer of water vapor to form from the splashes.
The sky gradually lit up; dawn would soon break. A whole night's effort had passed by unknowingly.
Lu Sheng stood at the Main Entrance, seemingly lost in his thoughts.
He had a premonition that, somehow, the huge explosion and the blast from the night was something incredibly important.
And it had occurred right at the doorstep of his house.
It was a pity that he was not powerful enough, and dared not even go near.
He could tell that Yan Kai did not lie to him. What happened last night was really something out of ordinary mortals' league.
"The fire should have been extinguished by now. I received news that it was the fireworks store in the West of the city. A large pile of fireworks exploded. The fire was simply too huge and killed many people…" Lu Quanan sighed.
"Fireworks store…" Lu Sheng repeated the words and looked to the West of the city.
The sky had slowly turned bright; the horizon was entirely a mix of blue and white.
Lu Sheng tightened his grip on the saber on his waist and walked in the direction of the fire.
"Dad, I'll go over to take a look."
"Be careful," Lu Quanan urgently cautioned. He didn't have inside information regarding the fire, but simply felt that Nine Links City had not been peaceful recently.
Lu Sheng left the Manor and headed straight in the direction of the west part of the city.
At the beginning, he wasn't able to see anything much until he got nearer and nearer to the site of the fire.
The colors of the streets and houses gradually changed into a picture of greyish-black. There was quite a number of ordinary folk who lined the streets, holding onto their luggage, blankets and the like, without a home to return to.
There were sounds of crying, chatting, and other noise and din that permeated the air. It was absolutely chaotic.
Lu Sheng sped onward for another stretch of road.
Soon, the people in the area grew fewer and fewer. Houses that lined both sides of the street were thoroughly charred. Some of the houses had collapsed into rubble from the fire; a gaping hole stood where the roofs used to be.
From time to time, bits of charred bones and ashes could be seen on the ground. Skeletal remains such as these were scattered all over.
The closer he went, the more alarmed Lu Sheng became.
There was an innumerable amount of skeletal remains. Who knew how many people died in the explosion and fire last night?
Very soon, Lu Sheng arrived at the epicenter of the explosion and fire.
It wasn't some fireworks store, but rather another manor that belonged to the Prefect Song Duanchi—the Pearl Manor.
The entire Pearl Manor had collapsed, changed beyond recognition. Countless piles of ruins lay around in all sizes, looking like many oddly shaped tombs.
Lu Sheng saw that he wasn't alone. There was also quite a number of individuals from the pugilistic world, armed with swords and sabers, who were loitering in the vicinity and seemed to be searching for something.
All these pugilists kept a distance from each other, a look of vigilance in their eyes. They carried a somewhat imposing manner, and were clearly none of the local well-trained men from the Nine Links City.
He also saw that these pugilists would, from time to time, dig up some miscellaneous rubbish items from within the rubble and swiftly gather them into their arms.