Way of the Devil Chapter 34
"There's no need to talk about price. I'm not short of money anyway. It's just that even Wan'er doesn't have the kind of item Young Master seeks. That kind of skill isn't even as useful as a life-force skill. To us, extending our longevity is much more useful than cultivating these stuff with pathetically low damage.
But… Wan'er does have a good idea."
"If Young Master would really like to learn, we Noble Families also have great sects and gangs organized by mortals under our command. This kind of inner force mantra can be found in one them. Young Master can choose to join one based on your preferences. Wan'er can even recommend you one, how about that?" Duanmu Wan proposed gently.
"That won't be necessary. If you would, it'd be great if Miss Wan'er can give me some information about the sects and gangs in the region," Lu Sheng requested boldly. Although he had no idea why Duanmu Wan regarded him so highly, he wouldn't trouble someone else for this favor if he could help it. Since he had already owed her a favor regarding inner force mantras, he might as well trouble her further.
"Let Wan'er have somebody send that over after I get back," Duanmu Wan smiled. With dazed eyes, she lifted her hand and was about to reach inside Lu Sheng's robes.
"Miss Wan'er, please respect yourself!" Anger arose in Lu Sheng's heart. He did not want to develop any relations with a woman of unknown background. Not to mention that this woman was taking him as a replacement for someone else. What if this woman suddenly went crazy one day and lost interest in him? Then he'd be left in a pitiful state.
"Just call me Wan'er…" Duanmu Wan's sensuous eyes lit with passion, her cheeks blushed and body hot. She seemed to be truly consumed with desire.
She reached towards Lu Sheng's waist.
"Miss Wan'er," Lu Sheng grabbed on to her hand. "If you're taking me as a replacement for someone else, then not only are you lying to yourself, you're also disrespecting your own body."
"Disrespecting?" Startled, Duanmu Wan looked down and fell into silence.
After a long while…
She suddenly heaved a long sigh.
"That's right… Wan'er wasn't like this in the past…" she turned disinterested in a flash.
Lu Sheng took two steps back without a word and merely stared at her.
"In this region, the largest sect is the Crimson Whale Sect. The skills in that sect are pretty interesting. If Young Master is interested, you can check it out. But that sect is really too small. If Wan'er has the opportunity to do so in the future, I'll take Young Master to a different place—the Central Plains. The sects in that place are way stronger than the Crimson Whale Sect."
"Many thanks to Miss Wan'er. I'll look out for any news about it. As for the future, let's leave it till then," Lu Sheng made a mental note and clasped his hands together.
"Still calling me Miss? Haven't you already touched my body?" Duanmu Wan lamented as she looked at him.
Stunned, Lu Sheng was about to speak when he suddenly noticed Little Qiao peering in from afar outside the window. The window had not been shut properly and Little Qiao was presently staring at them through it, wide-eyed and dumbstruck.
It so happened that he and Duanmu Wan were in an extremely intimate position, with her hand on his waist and arm in his hand. The two of them were glued together and looked extremely intimate.
"Alright, I shan't tease you anymore. I've got things to attend to, so I'll leave first," Duanmu Wan stepped backwards lightly and her smile faded.
"Young Master… be honest, do you think that Wan'er is a very bad and promiscuous woman?" She looked at Lu Sheng with a look of inexplicable hope and anticipation, as if wishing for him to give a different answer.
Lu Sheng was caught in a fix.
She had helped him twice and given him so much useful information without cost. There was no way he could bring himself to tell her that she was a promiscuous, bad woman.
He had always had a soft spot for those who showed him favor. Whoever was good towards him, he would be good to them. Yet right now, he was really caught in a dilemma.
Lu Sheng deliberated over his words, carefully examining the Duanmu Wan before him.
Presently, despite her sexy clothing, Duanmu Wan seemed to be hiding a faint trace of gentleness and purity. She seemed like a well-behaved girl-next-door, asking him timidly what was wrong with herself.
"I guess Miss Wan'er is alright. Everyone's got his or her own way of dealing with the world. You're just slightly more open-minded than others," Lu Sheng said in full sincerity. After all, in his previous life, there were plenty of people on Earth who were much more liberal than Duanmu Wan. Some of them even put themselves out there on the internet stark naked for countless millions to view. Hence, in his eyes, Duanmu Wan was merely slightly more independent and unique than others.
When Duanmu Wan asked her question, she was staring at Lu Sheng very seriously.
To her surprise, Lu Sheng's words felt sincere, as if they had come from his heart rather than being a mere consolation. Such an attitude of acceptance was drastically different from what she had seen on many others whom she has asked the same question.
A complicated expression flashed across Duanmu Wan's eyes. Subtly, some unexplainable waves were surging in her heart.
"Although I don't know what Young Master wants so many inner force mantras for, I've still got two books here. I'll just give them to you," she looked down so that he could not see her face. Rapidly, she took out two booklets and placed them on the table.
"Wan'er's got to go," she was already hurrying out of the house as her voice faded.
Lu Sheng only just registered what had happened and hurried out in chase only to see the courtyard totally empty. In the blink of an eye, Duanmu Wan had vanished.
Stunned, he stood in the yard for a while before collecting his thoughts.
He returned to the Guest Hall and picked up the two booklets placed on the tabletop. On them were written: "Yin Yang Attraction" and "Green Pine One-Thought Formula".
They were precisely the two manuals that he had not chosen when he had bought an inner force manual from her the first time. Looks like Duanmu Wan truly had only these three inner force skills on her. At that time, she had offered them perhaps merely for kicks or because of some other complicated intentions.
Outside Nine Links City.
Duanmu Wan's figure floated and landed lightly by Lake Sui Yang.
The surface of Lake Sui Yang was as calm as a mirror. It looked just like a mirror, framed in white.
Around the lake were huge swathes of white forests. Fine snow covered leaves and branches, clothing the trees in dress of silver and turning them into ice sculptures all around.
"To think that there'd be a time when the famous Autumn Princess Duanmu Wan, who has three thousand royal consorts, would dress up like a little girl. That's truly worth my showing up for this meeting," an insidious-sounding, deep male voice reverberated around the area.
Duanmu Wan tightened the black shawl around her as her face turned cold. "Zhang Xinyuan. Have you come all the way here to the northern lands just to make a joke? Shall I help you gouge your eyes out? Let's see if you're still able laugh at that time."
"Heheh, don't be angry, Princess. Zhen Family and Mortal-Sweeping Manor are locked in war. Autumn Princess, you know Ye Lingmo. I've come to ask you, Princess, to help make introductions," the voice continued. No sight of any person was to be seen from left to right; there was no way to pinpoint his exact location.
"Make introductions? Have you prepared my compensation?" In a flash, Duanmu Wan's face had turned into an expression of gentleness and sensuality.
"I've long since heard of your rule, Princess. Of course I have your compensation prepared," the voice continued.
Duanmu Wan chuckled, her eyes spinning. "How about you consider spending a night with this Princess? Who knows? When I'm satisfied, maybe I won't charge you?"
"Forget it. The reputation of the Autumn Princess has long entered my ears. This old man still wishes to live for a few more years," the voice chuckled dryly. "However, if Princess reveals the whereabouts of that treasure and whose hands it now lies in, I can double the reward!"
"Scarlet Dragon Tribulation still remains in Taoist Crazed Heart's hands—no one has managed to lay his hands on it. A few days ago, Mortal-Sweeping Manor engaged Zhen Family in a massive battle, triggering Scarlet Dragon Tribulation's sacrifice and causing a huge explosion. All three factions suffered significant losses. If you and those with you want to intercept it, this is the best and last opportunity.
That's because too many have died, and Scarlet Dragon Tribulation is just about to complete its sacrifice…" Duanmu Wan swiftly added.
"Is that so…." the voice turned somber. "Thank you, Princess, for your information. The recompense will be handed directly to your family guard. I'll take my leave now," the voice faded into the distance rapidly until it thoroughly vanished from above Lake Sui Yang.
Duanmu Wan's smile gradually faded as well. She stared at the peaceful lake surface, her thoughts unknown to all but herself.
What happened in Nine Links City had moved Lu Sheng deeply.
After Duanmu Wan left and he had his lunch, he returned to his room to begin cultivating inner force. He had even left the kitchen instructions to boil great amounts of tonic gels and send them into his room so that he could consume them any time.
After this period of rest, he intended to cultivate both life-force skills he had just acquired.
Based on Jade Crane Skill's example, Lu Sheng could tell that life-force skills could replace mental energy and Qi for consumption when he upgraded other skills.
This stuff was like a reserve battery. During ordinary times, he was storing reserves. When it was time to use it, it would be of immense use.
Lu Sheng shut his room's door and sat cross-legged on his bed.
He gently flipped the Green Pine One-Thought Formula booklet open. Lines upon lines of handwritten words appeared, elegant and refined, seemingly the work of a woman.
Only one line was on the first page of the booklet: "As human beings, we are to imitate the green pine—unyielding in the wind, unceasing in the frost, undying in the most lifeless of lands."
Lu Sheng continued to browse. The second page was a diagram just like the one he had seen previously in Jade Crane Skill's booklet.
It was an old, dark green pine, growing horizontally out of a cliff with its roots entangled in it. Its needles and branches were thick and dense, emanating an extremely vigorous and thriving life-force.
This life-force skill emphasized only one concept, "stillness". Stillness of Qi, stillness of mind. The body circulated breath based on the most instinctive cycle, producing strands of the purest life-force inner Qi.
Because of Lu Sheng's foundations in Jade Crane Skill, he was quick on the uptake for this kind of life-force skill. Soon, he had already familiarized himself with it and began to meditate. This was not to say he was just sitting there quietly, but rather guiding his breath with particular postures and particular breathing techniques at particular times.
After practicing for a period of time according to the skill manual, Lu Sheng rose and consumed a piece of tonic gel, and was about to go back to cultivating. This time, he was intending to cultivate Black Fury Skill, using Deep Blue to upgrade it to its highest level.
"Thump, thump, thump."
Knocks rang out on the door.
"Young Master, Taoist Yan Kai and the rest are here," Little Qiao's timid voice sounded from outside the door.
Opening his eyes, Lu Sheng quickly got out of bed and put on his outer coat and shoes.
"I'll be there right away."
He left his room and headed straight for the Guest Hall. Yan Kai, Duan Rongrong and Zhuan Feng—all three of them were present.
"Young Master Sheng, how have you been? You seem in a good condition," Yan Kai clasped his hands together and said in a casual tone.
"Will the three of you please be seated," Lu Sheng smiled.
After the servant-maids served tea, they left and shut the doors and windows.
Only then did he continue, "Taoist-sir, what on earth happened last night?" Lu Sheng enquired again.
Yan Kai hid nothing and described in detail all that Duanmu Wan, too, had previously said. By the time he was done, an hour had passed.
His description was even more detailed than Duanmu Wan's. Perhaps out of guilt for ruining several of Lu Sheng's horses, Yan Kai answered Lu Sheng's questions very seriously.