Way of the Devil

 
 

Way of the Devil Chapter 37


"Why do you wear long shoes? Isn't it warm?" Lu Sheng asked casually. "Actually, your legs are the most attractive part of your body."

Startled, Chen Yunxi bowed her head, her face flushed.

"You don't like long shoes...? Then from now on, I'll reveal more of my legs… just for your eyes only…"

Lu Sheng was merely making a causal remark. Never did he imagine that…

The atmosphere between the two of them had turned rather strange. Neither of them spoke as they walked slowly on the lawn.

Lu Sheng fell into a momentary daze.

It had been half a year.

In that half of the year in which he was in recovery, he had not encountered the supernatural again. Neither did he hear any news of Duanmu Wan or Yan Kai. It was as if all that had happened to him was merely an illusion and everything had now been restored to the usual peace and banality.

If not for the vigorous inner Qi cycling endlessly within his body, if not for his ability to summon the Deep Blue Modifier at his beck and call... perhaps he would really think that he was living in a peaceful world without any supernatural entities.

"Brother Lu…" Chen Yunxi called his name softly all of a sudden, interrupting Lu Sheng's reverie.

"What's the matter?" Lu Sheng paused in his steps.

Chen Yunxi looked down, her cheeks boiling hot as she whispered, "My Dad… would like to invite you to my place as guest and have a meal together."

Lu Sheng was stunned. Was he going to meet the parents now? But he and Chen Yunxi weren't even a couple yet. Wasn't it a tad too soon?

"Brother Lu's unwilling?" Sensing Lu Sheng's hesitation, a shred of disappointment crept onto Chen Yunxi's face. "It's just a casual meal… Daddy… just wants to see what kind of person you are."

Lu Sheng was speechless. He liked Chen Yunxi, but they were not at that stage yet. Moreover, things were developing too fast for his liking and he wasn't sure what to do now.

After a moment's silence, he said, "This student would also like to see what kind of person the wealthy and renowned Old Master Chen is."

Upon hearing that, Chen Yunxi's face broke out into a smile. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed, then. My Dad's just an old man who likes to pull a long face. But in private, he's actually very childish!"

Lu Sheng laughed along. But in fact, he felt surreal. Or rather, he felt out of place.

The next step, if the other party's family was in agreement, was for him to bring Chen Yunxi to see his own father and Second Mother. Then, after the two families decided on the engagement, they'd prepare the betrothal gifts, pick an auspicious date and then get married.

Of course, that was if everything went smoothly. But, honestly, he wasn't intending to get married so early.

"The Annual Examinations are almost upon us. If you're chosen, which institution would Brother Lu like to attend? This affects the future direction of our official appointment and how high we can go.

I've hired some experts to solve the last year's test question. There're five different ways of answering it. If Brother Lu needs them, let Yunxi send someone to deliver them to you, is that alright?" Chen Yunxi asked softly. "It can't go wrong to do more practice questions and try to guess at the Examiner's intentions for this year."

"I… in that case, many thanks to Yunxi," Lu Sheng deliberated and eventually accepted her help. But his heart was actually confused.

If all things went smoothly, he would attempt the Governmental Examination; after that was the Scholar Examination and finally the Imperial Examination. If he could pass all these examinations, he would eventually obtain a formal appointment. And he wouldn't just be a minor official… flying high and far was to be expected.

But...

So what?

He suddenly recalled the things that Duanmu Wan had mentioned to him. If they were real, then what was the point in becoming a court official?

"As long as we pass the Annual Examinations, we would be recognized as degree-holders in the city and considered scholars. We would be exempted from taxes and even if we were idle for the rest of our lives, we would still live comfortably off the land. This is the dream of many--I'm sure Brother Lu is already fully confident," Chen Yunxi said softly.

"Perhaps…" Lu Sheng smiled and no longer said a word.

No one knew about his other identity. No one knew that he was a powerful expert well-versed in both inner and outer force, and could fight Demonic Ghosts with the strength of his saber technique. Even Strength Proficiency pugilists wouldn't last for more than ten moves before him.

The present him was growing stronger and stronger with each passing day as his Black Fury Qi increased day and night.

Black Fury Skill and Jade Crane Skill. With the two combined together, they complemented and supported each other. One tempered his physical body while the other healed it and helped it recover, forming a perfect cycle.

In the eyes of Chen Yunxi and Song Zhenguo right now, however, he was but a young master who had come from a wealthy family in Nine Links City. In contrast with others who had come from the countryside, Lu Sheng didn't have the down-to-earth aura they had. He carried a more refined and learned air than others. But, that was all.

'But, in this kind of living environment, what point is there even if I'm decked in an official's robes? If the Demonic Ghost faction--Mortal-Sweeping Manor--comes in pursuit, I'd still be helpless. I can only rely on myself… in these circumstances, am I still going to earn a martial degree like Old Dad asked me to?' He felt very out of place with the people around him.

From a distance, he could hear laughter and revelry from the pavilion, giving him a strange sense of isolation.

"Brother Lu, I heard that the dried plums on West Village Street are rather tasty. There're also a number of dried fruits stores there. How about we go explore it together tomorrow night?" Chen Yunxi suggested in a gentle voice. "Tomorrow's a big festival--Dancing Dragon Festival; it's always been very lively in the past few years."

"Sure…" Lu Sheng had nothing to do while waiting for news anyway--he had sent men to collect information about Crimson Whale Sect. Then, he spent a large sum of money to purchase many expensive herbs. The bit of money he had was now almost spent.

Without money, his training and physical nourishment had slowed down and he needed to find a way of generating more income as soon as possible.

He continued strolling with Chen Yunxi for a while longer. This girl went on and on about the interesting things that she had encountered in school as well as their classmates. She seemed to be in high spirits.

After accompanying her for a few more steps, the two of them began walking back. Everyone had drunk a little too much in the pavilion and so they started to take their leave and return home.

Having bidden Chen Yunxi and Song Zhenguo goodbye, Lu Sheng slowly headed back.

As he crossed the moat, a few mountain-folks carrying baskets on their backs were chatting as they entered the city.

"The ban on Cypress Pine Lake is about to lift, isn't it?"

"It's about time. I have my fishing nets ready at home. Once the fishing ban ends, I'll go pull up a good yield," an old farmer laughed.

"If there's no high tide, this year's yield should be good. After all, the ban period has been so long."

"True that."

The mountain-folks swayed into the city, their backs full of mountain produce and vegetables.

Listening in on the side, Lu Sheng smiled too.

"This place is so much more peaceful than Nine Links City…" he exclaimed.

Lu Sheng returned to his living quarters soon. Presently, he was living in a small house near the city gate. The two-story building had a winery on its first floor. The apartment on the second floor was his Lu Family's property, comprising three units, merged together as one.

For convenience's sake, Lu Sheng did not make meals at home. Rather, he had ordered his meals from a restaurant beside the winery and would eat there every day at fixed times.

After his meal, he returned to rest. Instead of cultivating inner Qi, he simply consumed some blood-supplementing medicinal paste and turned in early.

Early morning the next day, he hailed a horse carriage and went straight for West Village Street.

Seated in the horse carriage, Lu Sheng was still feeling tired. Thinking that his body's nourishment was insufficient, he reached for the waist-pouch he carried with him everywhere.

He reached inside the waist-pouch, retrieved a red pill and was about to swallow it when he felt that something was odd.

He thoroughly examined his own body from top to toe. Suddenly, he reached into his sleeve and found a faint-yellow note inside.

The note had been furled and discreetly stuck to the inside of his sleeve. He felt it only when he had reached backwards for his waist-pouch.

"Eh?"

Lu Sheng took out the note and slowly unfurled it.

A clear and tidy line of words was written on it.

'Please don't worry, Young Master. In an attempt to control a terrifying ghost, Mortal-Sweeping Manor has met with a great calamity and the entire faction was destroyed. They have no time to spare on their small grudge with Young Master. Wan.' [1]

Expressionless, Lu Sheng rolled the note again and kept it in his waist pouch.

'So it turns out that Duanmu Wan's been keeping tabs on me…

Mortal-Sweeping Manor has always been the greatest foe for me to be worried about. A powerful faction in command of Demonic Ghosts… based on my present strength, there's absolutely no way I could resist them. To think that they'd be destroyed just like that…' Lu Sheng again keenly felt that this was an extremely dangerous world he was living in.

Having kept the note, he waited for a while longer before the horse carriage gradually came to a halt. It had arrived at Yang-Seeking Tower, where he had arranged to meet with Song Zhenguo and Chen Yunxi. [2]

Lu Sheng alighted and saw that the entrance to Yang-Seeking Tower was flooded with a large throng of people, some going in and some coming out.

Twelve stories tall, the red Yang-Seeking Tower was shaped like a stupa. Presently, every floor under the tenth floor was packed like a can of sardines with spectators, who had come to watch the dragon dance. [3]

Opportunistic hawkers were hawking their goods, their yells incessantly echoing everywhere around them.

Lu Sheng pushed his way through the throng into the tower and climbed up to the tenth story. Gradually, the crowd around him thinned and he no longer had to elbow his way through.

"Is this Young Master Lu?" He had barely stepped onto the tenth story when a servant-lady came to verify his identity.

"Over here! Over here Brother Lu!" Song Zhenguo and the rest were waving in his direction.

Chen Yunxi was among them too. She put on a long, slim-fit green dress, which showed off her svelte figure perfectly.

A head of long hair flowed down gently, tied up in a green lace at the end.

Lu Sheng was all smiles as he approached them.

"Thanks to all of you for getting me to such an awesome height!"

Song Zhenguo waved his hands rapidly, "Oh, you're the one doing us a favor! Yunxi pulled some strings and specially arranged this banquet for you, oh great Young Master Lu."

"Yes, yes! If not for Miss Yunxi, the highest we could go would probably be the ninth floor. We certainly can't come up here to the tenth floor normally," another student laughed along. He was surnamed Wang and named Ziquan, and was from Zi Hua City. He was as handsome as Song Zhenguo and was on pretty good terms with Lu Sheng.

"No way, it was just a coincidence… a coincidence that I met someone I knew…" Chen Yunxi was embarrassed, her face blushing as she stole a glance at Lu Sheng.

Lu Sheng sighed inwardly, then smiled at Chen Yunxi and seated himself.

The group began to drink and joke boisterously, composing several of what they thought were artful poems. The atmosphere was warm and lively. Lu Sheng was arranged to be seated next to Chen Yunxi. Two ladies had come along, one beside Song Zhenguo and the other beside an aloof-looking student from the institution. It seemed like they were all couples.

"BOOM!"

Suddenly, a magnificent golden firework exploded outside Yang-Seeking Tower, turning into a giant peony in the night sky.

"It's begun! It's begun!!" The crowd cheered and rushed to the edges of the tower to admire the fireworks.

[1] ED/N: It's stated quite vaguely so it's unclear whether it was the entire Mortal-Sweeping Manor that has been destroyed or a big part of it (the sentence in the raws says faction/power/influence, but since they "have no time to spare" on MC, it suggests there are some who survived)--at least at this point.

[2] ED/N: Yep, Yang. However, it likely has nothing to do with Yang energy--there's something called 'Yueyang Tower' in Yueyang, north Hunan (China), which is one of the 3 most famous pagodas in China. Perhaps the author was lazy as this one differs by the first character only--or perhaps it's the opposite, the author included some sneaky joke/reference here, and we don't realize it :3

[3] ED/N: Stupa is a kind of Buddhist temple (or a holy place that happens to be a building, sorry, I'm not too familiar with Buddhist stuff) with a dome (round roof).