Way of the Devil

 
 

Way of the Devil Chapter 6


The stroke was fast and furious; it was as if it had been practiced innumerable times.

Lu Sheng's body executed it by instinct.

He saw the ball-shaped black shadow pouncing towards him get struck by the saber and felt the backlash from the blade striking something hard. Borrowing the momentum from the huge impact, the long-hilted saber swept away the oncoming black shadow.

"BAM!"

The black shadow slammed into the ground, rolled over a few times and emitted a pained growl. The torch cast its light onto it now that it appeared in its range.

It was a wild wolf! Its waist had been cut wide open by his saber!

Before he could think about it further, two other wild wolves pounced towards him from the dark.

His body reacted in the first second by instinct.

Tilting the long-hilted saber leftwards, he blocked one of the wild wolves with its long hilt. Then, with a swing of his body, he threw that wolf onto the other beast.

"Bang!"

These two effortful motions left him wanting in strength. He was but a frail and skinny rich man's kid not too long ago, after all.

The two wild wolves were thrown into the distance, hurt.

Panting heavily and red-eyed, Lu Sheng lifted his saber and unleashed a Tiger Kill on the nearest wild wolf!

The blade sliced down from above, inclining slightly. His wrists vibrated vigorously - they shook thrice continuously, as per the rate dictated by the mantra.

"Whoosh!"

The roar of a fierce tiger seemed to ring in the air.

Struck with fear, the two wild wolves trembled and their movements lapsed by a beat.

At that instant, light flashed across the blade of the long-hilted saber. One of the beasts was beheaded on the spot with a clean saber stroke.

The tip of the saber had also nicked the other wolf's neck, and blood was rapidly seeping out of it.

Lu Sheng mustered up his strength and struck again. This time, it was Tiger Might.

His forearm vibrated four times, employing a different level of force each time. The strength of his entire body was channeled into the saber.

Tiger Might emphasized speed more than Tiger Kill did, compromising slightly on strength in return. Nonetheless, it wasn't something the fragile neck of a mere wild wolf could withstand.

Before the wolf could dodge, it was struck squarely in the neck by the long-hilted saber that sped up drastically without warning.

"Splat!"

The wolf's head fell on the ground.

Lu Sheng sucked in huge mouthfuls of air, panting heavily.

The continuous series of big movements had left a layer of sweat on his face.

"HOWL…"

One more wild wolf remained - the one which went for the meat.

Now, it went around a rock, its two green eyes staring furiously at Lu Sheng.

'My body's too weak after all…' Frustration gathered in Lu Sheng's heart.

However, his face remained impassive. He understood that when facing off against a wild beast, one must never back off or show even a hint of fear.

"Eh!?"

Both his eyes opened wide in a stare as he glared fiercely at the wolf.

The last wild wolf focused its stare on him for a moment longer before slowly retreating backwards. Finally, it completely slipped into the darkness.

Only then did Lu Sheng breathe in relief.

Actually, his stamina was almost completely spent. Both his arms were sore and weak, even to the point of trembling when grasping his saber.

If that wild wolf had really pounced on him... while he was certain that he would survive, he wouldn't remain unscathed either.

He waited till he was sure that the wild wolf had really left. Then, Lu Sheng retrieved the torch and left hurriedly in the direction of Nine Links City.

With this trip, he now knew where he stood.

Uncle Zhao had once mentioned his glorious past in connection with the wild wolves outside the city.

After achieving full mastery of his saberplay in his youth, he had once been surrounded and attacked by three wild wolves. Armed with nothing but a single-handed saber, he slaughtered all three wolves at the cost of a mild injury to his forearm.

This had already set a terrific battle score.

The wild wolves in this world were completely different from those that Lu Sheng knew.

Their bodies were larger - each one much larger than the wild wolves on Earth. They were much stronger as well.

Almost the same as the big golden retrievers people kept as pets. [1]

Another difference between wild wolves here and on Earth was that those here gathered in packs of three to five. Very rarely would there be large packs of them.

Lu Sheng jogged back to the city gates. When the light of the torches on the city walls came into view, he felt a sense of relief.

Rolling up the clothes on him, he hid the blood-stained spots and his long-hilted sabre, took out his travel pass, and strode towards the city gates.

***

"Brother Sheng, Brother Sheng, listen to me! This ain't ordinary stuff. Right after reaching Zi Hua City, I had people bring it here from over there.

Rumor has it that in the Central Plains it is considered the Number One Legendary Stone. Countless merchants and nobles bid and fought for it. Finally, in an accident, it fell into the river and the waves brought it to Zi Hua River. Then it was fished out of the waters by the fishermen of Zi Hua City.

I can't tell you the twists and turns of this story in just a few words. If not for…"

"Do I look like a fool to you?" Lu Sheng gently waved his fan and looked at a fatso before him with a faint smile.

This fatso was called Zheng Xiangui. He was the second son of the boss of the Precious & Famous Auction House in Nine Links City.

As well as Lu Sheng's best friend from his past.

Lu Sheng and he grew up as brothers from another mother. They clicked impeccably with each other and went through all troubles together, sharing thick and thin. [2]

It's just that Zheng Xiangui had a bad habit. It was his tendency to wallow in greed.

In his own words, he would say that even biological brothers had to keep clear scores, otherwise their relationship would sour sooner or later.

Both of them were sitting in Goldfish Restaurant's Peony Room. A well-endowed lady dressed in pink sat beside the fatso, reclining in his arms.

This lad was now staring at Lu Sheng with a pained expression.

"Brother Sheng, now that's where you're wrong. Your brother here took great pains to find a rare treasure. And now here he is, giving you the opportunity to bid for it in private before it gets auctioned. It's fine if you don't value it, but how can you ridicule me?" Fatso pointed at Lu Sheng, looking as if he was immensely grieved.

"Alright, alright. Don't pull that trick on me. Have you gotten news about the martial arts manuals I'm looking for?" Lu Sheng continued to ask.

He came looking for this blood brother of his in order to gather more martial arts manuals.

One Black Tiger Saber Technique was not enough. Not even close.

He finally understood the chances of survival out in the wild an expert like Uncle Zhao had.

No wonder he had never heard of anyone journeying out in the distance alone. Out in the wilderness, wild beasts were abundant. For anyone to venture out all by himself was to court death.

Even Uncle Zhao, Zhao Dahu, famous in Nine Links City, was able to deal with just three wild wolves on his own. Maybe four, at the very most. Any more and even the Nine Links City's supposedly top-notch expert would have to surrender.

"With stuff like martial arts manuals, it's hard to tell genuine apart from fake. Not only that, many of them have hidden snares within them. Even if they were genuine, some of the methods written inside will lead to lifelong handicaps if you make even a small mistake and practice them for long. What do you want this for, Brother Sheng? Without a master to guide you, there's no use no matter how many manuals you buy," Zheng Xiangui asked out of curiosity, rubbing his white jade thumb ring.

"You're quite in-the-know." Lu Sheng chuckled. "I naturally have my uses for them. Don't bother yourself with that, just find me a few to begin with."

Zheng Xiangui shrugged. "Well, I guess there are a few. Two martial arts manuals were deposited for sale by a client just recently. We've gotten a master to examine them. They should be genuine. But without a master, nobody dares to practice them."

"What's the asking price?" Lu Sheng asked straightforwardly.

"Hey hey, Brother Sheng, with this special relationship going on between the two of us, why act so polite?" Zheng Xiangui started giggling like a woman.

"Can you stop being so disgusting?" Lu Sheng was speechless. "Name a price, come on, I'm in a hurry."

"I can only sell you one. The other one has been reserved by another VIP," Zheng Xiangui said with a smile.

"One will do. Did you bring it?" Lu Sheng raised his eyes.

"Brother Sheng understands me well after all. Seeing how you were going after it, I directly brought it over," Zheng Xiangui took out a thin grey booklet.

"This manual doesn't have any moves. It's simply a special strength technique. One price, a hundred talents!"

"Let me take a look first," Lu Sheng stretched out his hand.

A hundred talents was equivalent to ten thousand dollars. This fatso also really dared to ask.

Fatso chuckled and placed the booklet in his hand. Taking the manual over, Lu Sheng flipped through it and read in detail.

This manual seemed like it was part of a larger book from which it was ripped. It so happened to contain some content on strength.

Looking at its contents, the cultivated strength was termed Jade Force.

According to the manual, full mastery of the skill allowed one to begin accumulating force from all over the body right from the very first move. The accumulated force, once completed, could raise one's striking speed and strength explosively by a great margin.

Lu Sheng looked at it. Its technique didn't seem to overlap with the Black Tiger Saber Mantra and so could be stacked with it.

But he was not looking for this.

He was looking for those inner force Qi skills - manuals which could strengthen his physique and mind.

From the pathetic state he landed himself in after using the Modifier once, he could tell that he needed to improve his physique in order to reduce the aftereffects of using the Modifier.

"Do you have those legendary inner force Qi manuals?"

"Inner force Qi manuals?" Zheng Xiangui rubbed his chin.

"Brother Sheng, you got me in a fix now. If there really was such stuff in the market, not to mention whether they're real or fake, they'd be snatched up in the blink of an eye."

"You yourself said that it's hard to distinguish real from fake. You should have copies of such in your family warehouse, right?"

Lu Sheng, too, was in-the-know. A business like an auction house would certainly make a copy of the manuals they release for auction to keep as surviving copies.

Having run an auction house for so many years, the Zheng family must have had accumulated more than a few such copies.

"Oh, those… Brother Sheng. Even I cannot guarantee that there's any one genuine among them.

If only one in a hundred is real, we'll be lucky. Until today, no one has been able to cultivate any Qi from them. You sure you want them?" Zheng Xiangui hesitated. "As your brother, I'll give you a piece of advice: don't play with those surviving copies. If anything goes awry, you'll damage your body and there are no means to fix that."

"You've got a way to find them?"

Lu Sheng raised his brows. Fatso's expression was a familiar one to him. Each time he displayed such an expression, it meant that he did know an answer, but was hesitating whether or not he should say it.

"Well, I've got a way… Brother Sheng, the kind of a manual you want… there indeed is one like that in this upcoming auction," an awkward expression appeared on Zheng Xiangui's face.

"Why didn't you say so earlier?" Lu Sheng's brows twitched.

"It's not that your brother didn't want to say. It's that this stuff is going to be placed on auction in the Black Meeting…"

"Black Meeting?" Lu Sheng understood instantly.

A Black Meeting was an anonymous auction during which clients hid their faces and names. The items brought out for auction were also often "unclean"; more than one of them was something blood was spilt over as well.

Those who liked to attend the Black Meeting were mostly those who lived on the edge and were dangerous gangsters.

"Can you arrange for me to attend?" Lu Sheng, however, had made up his mind to attend.

No average gangster would dare to provoke the Lu Manor anyway.

Just counting strong housemen, the Lu family had thirty or forty of them. Not to mention several experts like Uncle Zhao among the ranks of its estate guards.

Old Master Lu Quanan also possessed inseparable connections with the yamen authorities and could expect the help of the army when he encountered trouble.

With a powerful family background like that, he really needed not fear any ordinary gangsters.

[1] ED/N: The only Chinese subspecies of wolves that would barely fit the bill is the Mongolian wolf, being roughly the same or barely smaller compared to golden retrievers (unless there's something I missed). Most other wolves like the Tibetan wolf or the wolves in the West are much bigger. Maybe the author meant St. Bernard or a similar dog breed? It is indeed bigger than any Eurasian wolf subspecies I know of.

[2] ED/N: Brothers from different mothers is an idiom, meaning that they were as close as brothers. I almost fell for it...