Way of the Devil Chapter 39
Lu Sheng recalled the way and walked towards the chamber that he had visited earlier.
After entering the main hall, he took a left turn up the wooden staircase.
When he arrived at the entrance of the chamber, Lu Sheng saw the red lantern hung outside it and could not shake off the chill rising in his heart.
Suddenly, a wisp of cold air brushed passed him. Lu Sheng swung around--in that moment earlier, he felt as if something had drifted past him from behind.
'Mortal-Sweeping Manor has already been destroyed. Logically speaking, there shouldn't be any more of the supernatural still coming after me. Perhaps I'm too sensitive,' Lu Sheng didn't see anything, which somewhat allayed his fears. He turned back once again and reached out to push the door of the chamber.
The door gently opened. Two big red lanterns also hung inside, lighting the interior in a bright red glow.
"Anybody?" Lu Sheng called again as he walked in tentatively.
Suddenly, a dry, parched voice came from behind Lu Sheng.
He spun around and saw an old woman, standing at the entrance of the chamber with a white lantern in hand and her eyes staring widely.
This old woman had wizened features; her face wrinkled layer upon layer like the bark of an old tree. Carrying the lantern, her muddled old eyes stared intently at Lu Sheng.
"Little fellow, you shouldn't be on board the boat at this hour."
"I dropped something here. A waist pouch. So, I'm back to look for it," Lu Sheng plastered on a smile.
"I see… then go find it, find it, find it," the old woman remained expressionless. Wordlessly, she turned around and headed towards other chambers with the lantern in hand.
Lu Sheng watched as she departed. Only after the old woman had disappeared past the chamber door did he walk over to close it.
He turned around and looked at the arrangement within the chamber.
The two large lanterns that hadn't previously been there currently hung high on one side of the walls. Bright-red rays lit up the entire room with a crimson glow.
Gingerly, Lu Sheng groped about near the seat that he had sat at earlier. Indeed, in a small crack next to the seat cushion, he found his missing waist pouch.
He untied the waist pouch. Within the brown-black leather pouch, his gold and silver notes, the slip of paper, and the small paper packet with powder left behind by the Demonic Ghost were all inside, intact.
Collecting the waist pouch and re-attaching it behind his back, Lu Sheng straightened himself. He glanced around the chamber again; the glow from the lanterns seemed to have gotten even redder.
The sense that something was amiss crept into his heart.
'Gotta go,' Lu Sheng walked hastily to the chamber entrance and reached out to pull at the door.
The door actually wouldn't budge in the slightest!
Lu Sheng was alarmed and exerted greater force with his hands. A door that originally should open with a slight pull now seemed as if there was a great weight braced against it. Even given Lu Sheng's current strength, it could only budge a mere small crack.
'Something's wrong!' Alarm bells went off inside Lu Sheng's head. He circulated his inner strength and pulled fiercely.
The door thrust open violently. The sturdy wooden handle of the door broke apart under the intensity of the force. Lu Sheng shot out like an arrow along the corridor and flew downstairs, speeding through a few twists and shooting outside.
Alighting from it, Lu Sheng looked back at the pleasure boat.
It was still the same pleasure boat, its upper deck empty and without a single soul to be seen. The alarm bells within Lu Sheng's mind finally ceased, clearly sensing that the threat was no more.
He took one last deep glance at the pleasure boat, then turned and sped off towards the city.
He headed straight back home. Lu Sheng opened the door and then flicked his hand to lock it. The pitch-black room was icy cold, without the warmth of human presence.
He slowly made his way to the study table and groped around for a flint stone. He struck it to produce some sparks, which he used to light the candles.
The faint yellow candlelight caused the lower half of his face to be fuzzily lit.
'Perhaps the pleasure boat has got something to do with the supernatural. Who knew that after the Mortal-Sweeping Manor it would be the turn of a red-decked pleasure boat. I'd initially even wanted to relax and chill for a couple of days then begin cultivating a new inner force skill. Now, from the looks of it, there's no need to wait anymore. I should make whatever preparations I can first.'
Lu Sheng left the study table and approached the bed in the room. From beneath the bed, he pulled out a heavy, intricate metal trunk. The trunk was secured fast onto the floor with sliding grooves, and could never be removed by an ordinary person.
He carefully felt out and retrieved a small key from within his waist pouch, which he inserted into the trunk. With a twist, it opened with a slight sound, "KA-CHA."
Inside the trunk were two small light-brown booklets with cloth covers.
Lu Sheng took out one of them and held it in his hands, after which he closed the trunk and locked it.
'Green Pine One-Thought Formula'
Clearly written on the booklet were these five words, largely emblazoned across the cover like blazing dragons and dancing phoenixes.
Lu Sheng gently flipped the first page open. After the brief overview he had read previously, there was that picture of the lone pine on the precipice.
He looked at that drawing with rapt attention for a moment. Then, he closed it and sat down cross-legged on the bed, beginning to calm himself and clear his thoughts.
He had cultivated this life-force skill on and off for a long time. Perhaps because it conflicted with the inner force skills he had practiced previously, each time he felt that he was about to congeal a sense of Qi, it would be instantly consumed by Jade Crane Skill.
This time was no different. Very soon, Jade Crane Skill circulated rapidly within him, swiftly crushing his mental image of the Green Pine One-Thought Formula. In its place, a soaring crane within him seemed to let out a long loud cry.
'Ai…' Lu Sheng opened his eyes. 'The inner force skills conflict with each other. Don't tell me I'm doomed to be stuck on this level? Is there no way to advance?'
In the moment of frustration, his hand unconsciously grabbed onto his waist pouch and squeezed lightly. As his fingers squeezed onto the paper packet containing the powder, he suddenly jolted.
'This paper packet… contains the bit of powder left behind by the Demonic Ghost previously, doesn't it?'
He lightly opened the packet. Shockingly, there was a lump of black powder inside, yet he seemed to remember that it wasn't of this color previously.
'In the very beginning, I was able to activate my special ability because of the stone left behind by the water ghost and that piece of cobblestone. From the look of things, don't tell me…' Lu Sheng looked at the powder and a bizarre thought surfaced in his mind.
He mouthed resolutely.
Instantly, a blue frame appeared before his eyes.
Lu Sheng looked at the Modifier screen, where there was still no selection for the Green Pine One-Thought Formula. He hesitated for a moment, before taking another look at that powder.
He reached out and tilted the paper packet, releasing all the powder into his palms.
From the moment he first obtained the powder, he had been very careful not to let it come into direct contact with his skin in case it was a corrosive or poisonous substance. However, now that he was at the end of his tether, he might as well give it a try. If things went awry, he'd immediately fling the thing away at worst.
Next, he bit into the forefinger of his other hand viciously. Cutting through the fingertip, he squeezed out a drop of blood that he then dripped onto the powder.
Indeed, as soon as the drop of blood touched the powder, streams of white smoke suddenly floated out. Very soon, the black powder turned into white powder, as if its color was fading away.
Lu Sheng could feel strand after strand of cool Yin energy permeating from his palms and flowing into his body.
'Begin martial arts extrapolation?'
The cool Yin energy was absorbed by something in his body in the blink of an eye and disappeared. Almost in the same instant, an inquiry surfaced in the dialogue frame of the Deep Blue Modifier.
'As I thought!' Lu Sheng was elated. The skill appeared as he had expected.
Earlier, he already had his suspicions when he noticed that a fourth level appeared in his Black Tiger Saber Technique. This Modifier probably extrapolated the martial skill to the next level according to the information reserves in his brain, thereby resulting in the creation of the fourth level of Black Tiger Saber.
However, no matter how he had studied other martial skills after that, a similar situation had not occurred ever again. He then grew doubtful.
Now, from the looks of it, perhaps it was because he did not have any surviving ghost artifacts. That had likely caused him to be unable to continue martial arts extrapolation to a higher level all this while.
'Initially, it was because of the case of the Xu Family being wiped out that the cobblestone was able to activate the Modifier. Now, it depends on this powder left behind by the Demonic Ghost. Looks like this special ability of mine really cannot be separated from ghosts,' Lu Sheng chuckled bitterly in his heart.
Lu Sheng composed himself as he looked at the inquiry in the dialogue box before him.
'Begin martial arts extrapolation?'
After selecting the option, Lu Sheng instantly felt a strange sensation. It seemed as if all the martial arts within the Modifier could be extrapolated and integrated.
All these martial arts and skills were the result of him grasping all the necessary knowledge and developing a sense of self-awareness. It was akin to him reorganizing and restructuring the information reserves in his mind, which were then recalibrated to find new kernels that would serve as the base for redeveloping the martial arts.
It was like using building blocks to construct a house, with a whole host of different designs available for choosing.
Moreover, beside the martial arts listed in the Modifier, a few buttons available for choosing also appeared.
Which ones could be extrapolated, and which ones could not--it was all displayed crystal clear.
Lu Sheng scrutinized it from top to bottom.
'If Black Fury Skill could be used as the base to absorb other systems, that would be ideal… Jade Crane Skill can also provide the main structure, and even Black Tiger Saber can act as the base… Heart-Shattering Palm's not bad too,' Lu Sheng hesitated a little. However, he soon felt somewhat helpless. 'It's a pity there's too little of that powder, and that there are only these few to choose from.'
Within the Modifier, he saw that there were only Jade Crane Skill and Black Tiger Saber that currently were available as options.
'Only these two are available...?'
He made up his mind and pressed the button behind Jade Crane Skill.
'Inner force skill is, after all, the most important foundation.'
After selecting it, all buttons disappeared and the entire Modifier gradually grew blurry. Lu Sheng could feel the bulk of his knowledge and understanding of Jade Crane Skill within his mind getting livelier of its own volition. Moreover, it fused together with the contents of the manual within his memory, and began to constantly conflict and collide against each other. In the blink of an eye, countless ideas and inspirations were created.
In the short space of ten breaths.
Lu Sheng shut his eyes, then gradually opened them again. A whole new aura, piercing and cold, emanated from his body.
The different ways in which Jade Crane Skill and Black Tiger Saber generated force were now impeccably merged together. This was thus the highest extrapolation for Jade Crane Skill, a result of the Modifier making use of Lu Sheng's knowledge reserves. Through fusing with the technique for generating force in Black Tiger Saber, this created an explosive-type inner force that was more powerful than the original Jade Crane Skill.
This form of a new inner force skill retained the original effect of hardy endurance and recovery power while adding to it a rather murderous explosive strength.
'This type of new inner force skill borrows the technique of force generation of Black Tiger Saber, and actually extrapolates a life-force skill to merge it with the destruction power of battle-type inner force skills… such an extrapolation is indeed powerful!' Lu Sheng was deeply moved. 'If I had more of the powder, or more of that cobblestone left behind by the water ghost from back then, then perhaps I could extrapolate other skills as advanced as Black Fury Skill.'
He felt out the new inner force skill. It seemed that with the increase in explosive power, the original self-recovery ability of Jade Crane Skill was also strengthened a sliver.
'This is no longer considered Jade Crane Skill. Since it integrated with the force generation technique of Black Tiger Saber Technique, henceforth, it shall be called Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill then,' he mused.
In that same moment, the name for Jade Crane Skill as displayed in the Modifier changed to these five words: Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill.