Way of the Devil

 
 

Way of the Devil Chapter 4


"This is a basic saber technique that a wandering priest imparted to me when I met him by chance in my youth. In the pugilistic world, it can be considered a third-class martial art. But don't underestimate it because of that. It's got its strengths. Third-class secret manuals are good enough to make it into restricted libraries of great sects.

Take it back and read it seriously, including the detailed posture diagrams. Follow them and practice by yourself for now. If you're sure that you want to learn this technique after browsing through it, come to me afterwards. But regardless of whether you decide to learn it or not, you must remember to return this booklet to me."

Zhao Dahu carefully handed the booklet over to Lu Sheng.

"Alright!" Lu Sheng understood that this likely was Zhao Dahu's crown jewel.

While he handed it over to him so easily, it by no means implied that Lu Sheng could learn the saber technique simply with the booklet alone.

Training in martial arts was highly demanding; it required many corrections of the details. It was not something one could learn easily by following some instructions on a booklet.

"Many thanks, Uncle Zhao!" Lu Sheng received the booklet with great care.

Carrying the Black Tiger Saber Technique booklet, he went straight back to his bedroom and closed the door. Alone, he lit the candles, flipped open the booklet and started reading its contents.

Black Tiger Saber Technique - though it was termed a "saber technique", it actually contained only a total of three moves.

All three were offensive moves.

No defensive moves, no evasion techniques... only offensive moves.

The first move - Tiger Kill.

The second move - Tiger Might.

The third move - Tiger Roar.

The moves were simple: they were basically three different saber strokes, each having different strengths and effects.

Lu Sheng looked at it briefly and roughly understood it. Simple as those strokes were, their might depended on one's familiarity with them as well as one's strength and speed.

Strength and speed, in turn, relied on one's body coordination when employing force.

Hence a mantra came along with those three saber strokes as part of the package.

The so-called mantra was essentially a guide to thought and mental activity, applied to daily life, which maximized the power of the saber technique. It was basically what people termed as adjusting the mental world.

Stroke techniques for adjusting The External, mantra for adjusting The Internal: the two combined to achieve the ultimate integration of one's mind, body and soul.

The Black Tiger Mantra was divided into three levels. There were no special names for the levels; they were simply called Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

Only when one mastered the mantra and became familiar with the external stroke techniques as described in the booklet could one be considered as having achieved full mastery of the saber technique.

Lu Sheng closed the booklet lightly and sat by the table in silence for a long while, unceasingly memorizing all the challenging parts of the Black Tiger Saber Technique and revising them over and over again.

Then, he called out in his mind. "Deep Blue."

Immediately, the Deep Blue Skills Modifier screen appeared before his eyes.

Enclosed within the blue-bordered frame were rows after rows of small boxes. The box in the first row of the first column, at this moment, displayed his present status.

Lu Sheng --

Martial Arts:

Black Tiger Saber Technique: Uninitiated."

The display was very simple and contained only the Black Tiger Saber Technique that he had just browsed through once.

'It really… it really wasn't a hallucination!' Lu Sheng's body stiffened immediately.

Not out of fear, but... out of excitement!

This world was way too dangerous.

He was originally content to be a parasite, living without care or worry for the rest of his life. But now it felt like he had just fallen into a snake's den and became surrounded by many poisonous snakes. If he were to accidentally fall prey to one of them, he would instantly become a minor character in some horror myth - dead beyond death. [1]

'But now, there's finally a glimmer of hope… if this modifier really works…' Lu Sheng suppressed the excitement within his heart and began recalling the cheating device's functions which he had written into its code.

The Deep Blue Skills Modifier had only one function, and that was to modify the martial arts skillset of the main character in the game.

It could modify the level of one's martial arts directly into the pinnacle level of complete mastery. But what it could not do was modify one's level of familiarity with the martial arts, blood volume, strength, speed, inner force… etc.

The only thing it could modify was the level of the martial arts that one was already initiated in.

'The only thing I can modify in this box is this Black Tiger Saber Technique. How do I begin the modification?' Lu Sheng began fiddling around.

Alone in his bedroom, his hands were subconsciously flipping through the booklet, but his attention was actually focused on the Deep Blue Skills Modifier in his mind.

He scrutinized the modifier, over and over again. Quickly, he discovered a tiny button right at the bottom of the modifier.

On it was written: Begin Modification.

'This is it.'

With a thought, he pressed deeply onto the button, as if with a finger.

Immediately, the entire screen flashed, and he suddenly felt that he could control everything in the Modifier at will.

It was a miraculous feeling. But rather than dwelling on it, Lu Sheng's attention quickly focused entirely on the Black Tiger Saber Technique.

The status display after the Black Tiger Saber Technique read "Uninitiated". But in that very moment, when he focused his attention on it, its status jumped in a flash. It turned into "Initiated".

Delighted, Lu Sheng eagerly focused his attention on Black Tiger Saber Technique.

Very swiftly, the Black Tiger Saber Technique jumped again and turned into Level 1.

After that was Level 2, Level 3…

"It's done!" Lu Sheng was filled with delight. Looks like the modifier worked indeed.

But, just as he was ready to kick back and relax, the Black Tiger Saber Technique jumped again!

"Level 4!!"

The Black Tiger Saber Technique jumped to Level 4 in one sitting!

"Boom!"

Just as the Black Tiger Saber Technique advanced to Level 4, Lu Sheng felt a loud boom go off in his mind.

A splitting headache came upon him and his body began trembling violently as if he was struck by lightning.

He collapsed onto the table. After a long period of recovery, he finally lifted his head with difficulty.

It felt wet beneath his nose, and he sniffed out a hint of blood's smell.

Lu Sheng lifted his hand and gently rubbed on it. It was dark-red blood.

His eyes were unfocused and every single spot all over his body was sore. His body felt devoid of any strength; even standing up took a great deal of effort from him.

Lifting his arms, he saw a terrible-looking patch of white on the skin at the back of his palms. He couldn't keep his eyes open and felt extremely sleepy.

'These are symptoms of a serious blood loss!' Though Lu Sheng did not have medical training, he at least possessed some basic common knowledge... enough to know that he might be suffering from a serious blood loss.

Sitting by the table, he just barely propped himself up and kept the booklet. Then he collapsed onto the bed to rest.

"Little Qiao!"

"Yes, Young Master? What are your instructions?" Little Qiao asked softly outside the door.

"Go… cook me some red dates porridge and add some ginseng into it. Use an aged one," Lu Sheng said with great difficulty.

That was the good thing about being a rich man's kid. Average families treated normal ginseng as a life-saver, not to mention aged ginseng. Which family could eat it as a tonic like Lu Sheng was about to do?

Little Qiao acknowledged and quickly ran to the kitchen to relay his instructions to the cooks.

Lying alone on the bed, Lu Sheng rested for a long while, but his vision remained somewhat dark and he felt devoid of strength in his limbs.

Yet, ignoring these sensations, he stretched out his arm and, to his surprise, a practiced muscle memory and intuition that was the result of years of familiarity and practice with saber flooded from his palms into his mind.

The three moves of the Black Tiger Saber Technique and the three levels of its mantra had unknowingly become etched indelibly onto his mind.

He now thoroughly comprehended the three stroke moves, even the hidden subtleties behind them. Not only that, he also understood inside out how the mantra complemented the different strokes.

"It really worked!?" Lu Sheng closed his eyes, his heart in ecstasy.

The experiment had succeeded.

Although it had consumed his blood and mental energy, it was worth it in exchange for the full mastery of the Black Tiger Saber Technique.

'But, the Black Tiger Saber Technique clearly has only three levels. So where did this fourth level come from?' That was what baffled Lu Sheng.

Moreover, the fourth level of the Black Tiger Saber Technique now felt extremely familiar to him in his mind.

It was as if… as if he created it personally in the first place!

The subtle philosophy and ideological underpinnings hidden within it were not something that a person of this world could conjure up, rather, it seemed to be the product of modern scientific theories of force.

Although he was just a civil servant, he had at least taken classes on engineering, sports, science and the likes.

Before he could continue that line of thought, Little Qiao brought the porridge over.

"Coincidentally, some blood-restoring porridge was cooked for Third Young Miss, also with red dates as its main ingredient. But Third Young Miss doesn't want it, so I brought it over for Young Master. This is Lily Red Dates Broth, good for calming the mind and restoring blood. I've also added ginseng into it. Do you want it, Young Master?" Little Qiao asked softly outside the door.

"Bring it in," Lu Sheng replied softly.

Little Qiao gently pushed open the doors and walked in. But immediately upon entering, she saw the trace of blood on Lu Sheng's collar.

"Mas…Mas…Mas… Young Master, what happened to you!!?" Little Qiao was so shocked she almost spilled the porridge on the floor.

Lu Sheng grimaced.

"I'm fine."

"You still say you're fine! You've even vomited blood!" Xiao Qiao's face had turned pale with fright.

"I really am fine…" Lu Sheng replied helplessly.

Little Qiao hurried to serve Lu Sheng the bowl of porridge in her hands. "Come Young Master, drink some hot porridge first."

With her assistance, Lu Sheng finished the entire bowl of porridge, one mouthful at a time.

Having finished eating, he felt more at ease.

He began to recall in detail all of the assorted pieces of information and experience pertaining to the Black Tiger Saber Technique that had suddenly popped up in his mind.

Strangely, these were stored in his mind as if they were there right from the beginning. There was no difficulty involved in comprehending them and he felt as if it would be a piece of cake for him to execute them in practice.

If not for the current state of his body, he would have searched for a saber in the arena and begun practising.

After he had finished the porridge, Little Qiao quickly left for the pharmacy to look for the Lu Manor's doctor-in-residence. She was still worrying about Lu Sheng's health.

Lu Manor possessed its own exclusive doctor - a thin elderly man sporting a goatee.

Carrying a giant medicinal chest on his back, he hurried over.

He sat down beside Lu Sheng's bed and touched his pulse. After that, his brows unknotted themselves.

"It's nothing much, just a loss of blood. Also, too much mental energy had been expended. He just needs to rest for a few days," he pulled out a slip of paper and began scribbling a tonic prescription on it.

"Take this to the pharmacy, and feed the Young Master with it twice a day for ten days and he'll fully recover."

"Thank you, doctor."

Lu Sheng heaved a sigh of relief. It was exactly the same as his own diagnosis.

Not long later, Lu Fang aka Lu Quanan also arrived.

"What happened?" He had come with his second and third mother. [2]

Lu Sheng's own mother had died of sickness a long time ago. It was his second mother who raised him.

His second mother Liu Cuiyu was mild-mannered and treated others with great generosity. She raised him like her own child, without any differential treatment between him and her own children.

"It's just some blood loss from practicing martial arts. It's nothing," one by one, Lu Sheng explained to his family members.

As the eldest son of the family, he was to inherit the family's enterprise in the future and become its central pillar. Anything that happened to him would naturally immediately draw other's concern.

[1] ED/N: Literally rice weevil, figuratively sponger, parasite.

[2] ED/N: The author literally seems to be saying second and third mothers… I'd rather use "wives" but it'd sound even more awkward later, so... Well, taking into account that it's a different world, I guess it's okay to allow the author some leeway for differences in common sense there (if it's intentional, that is…).