Lu Sheng shook his head and spoke no further. Picking up his things, he left the boat in a haste and summoned Ning San and Xu Chui to rush back towards Golden Jade Greenhouse.
Once he returned to the greenhouse, he looked for Jade Lotus at the first possible moment to arrange for them to relocate back to Mountain-Edge City. There was a sizable population as well as the Court there. Perhaps the Scarlet District wouldn't dare to attack as brazenly in fear of angering every other Noble Family.
However, they wouldn't have any misgivings doing so out here in the wilderness, far from civilization.
"The Liu sisters are nowhere to be found??? Whats that supposed to mean?" Lu Sheng stared, mouth agape, at the empty-handed men whom he had called to fetch the sisters.
"External Head, there was no response after your subordinate here knocked onto the doors. So, I got a fellow female sect member to break in from the windows. There was only this letter on the tabletop, as well as this little box, that were left in the room," the subordinate presented the items respectfully.
Sitting in the main hall, Lu Sheng received the letter and the little box.
What surprised him was that the little box was actually a jadeite box, which was cold to the touch. Perhaps it was a fine item that the Liu sisters had brought out from their house.
"You may be dismissed; go withdraw ten taels of silver for yourself from the accounts room," recently, the prices of good had inflated. The purchasing power of a tael of silver had dropped to only eighty percent of what it used to be worth previously. Hence, these ten taels of silver were roughly equivalent to eight thousand dollars, which was about the average persons monthly income and considered a fair amount.
"Many thanks, My Lord," the subordinate promptly left.
Sitting alone in the main hall, Lu Sheng unfolded the letter.
We sisters cant do much to repay Young Master Lus great kindness. Weve only this Floral Enhancement Pill, which can help gather ones essence and Qi and aid you, Young Master, in your advancement.
Many days ago, we could feel the premonition of a great disaster on its way. In order not to cause harm to others, we have no choice but to take our leave first. If we were to meet again, we would definitely repay this debt. Liu Caiyun, Liu Qin.
Lu Sheng placed the letter down and heaved a low sigh. Given their capabilities, leaving at this time may allow the Liu sisters the chance to avert this situation. It was perhaps for the best.
If the two of them could travel thousands of miles from Yun Province unscathed despite their poor skillsets, they most undoubtedly harbored a great secret or had a great backing. However, he didn't have the time to consider this now.
I must upgrade my hard body skills as soon as possible. I still have those Yin Qi items that I collected previously. I can advance some more!
That very night, Lu Sheng and Jade Lotus led the more than hundred sect members who had settled down at the Golden Jade Greenhouse, as well as the trio of Ning San, Xu Chui, and Duan Mengan, back to Mountain-Edge City. The group put up at the Rich & Brilliant Casino, the largest of its kind in the city.
Lu Sheng took time to make a trip back home. There, he reminded Lu Quanan to avoid leaving the city in this period at all costs, before making his way back to the casino.
Having heard his warning previously, Lu Quanan had stocked up a considerable amount of rations at home. He had activated all his men and was able to stock up more than enough food for the hundred plus people under him for at least a year. In fact, they could have gotten even more if not for the short time frame they had to prepare in. Still, they had a secure contingency plan in place.
Subsequently, Lu Sheng arranged for all the sects men in the city, including the Soaring Eagle Squad, to double their efforts and speed in stocking up food. At the same time, he instructed the Headquarters to keep an eye out for any news from the other sects and clans beyond the city.
As for himself, he handed all administrative matters over to Jade Lotus, whom he instructed not to leave the city. Then, he declared that he was entering seclusion.
Within the sanctuary.
Lu Sheng sat cross-legged in the middle. Behind him, an enormous word was plastered across the wallsSilence. Pitch-dark stonewalls lined all four sides of the room; it cost considerably much to build this place.
He placed a small bottle of golden-yellow ointment in front of him. A rich medicinal aroma and dense warmth spread out from within it.
This newly concocted ointment is indeed extraordinary. No wonder one such portion is worth over one thousand, Lu Sheng looked at the ointment before him, impressed.
Such a tiny bottle of ointment was only sufficient for three doses, yet its cost was shockingly high at a thousand taels of silver.
If it were in his past life, this would have cost millions. If he didn't enjoy such status and wielded such power and influence, then he might not even have been able to procure the necessary medicinal ingredients even if he had the money.
This is none other than the second to none holy item for cultivating hard body skillsGolden Fragrance Cream. Just one mouthful during cultivation can transform this into Qi essence, which can build up Yin and nourish the entire body.
Lu Sheng had to search around for a long time in the dispensary before he could purchase this one and only bottle of Golden Fragrant Cream on credit from the person-in-charge.
Originally, this was meant to be diluted with water and soup to divide into a hundred portions for the consumption of a hundred men.
Instead, it had been wholly snatched up by Lu Sheng.
After hed made the necessary preparations, Lu Sheng took out the first manual on hard body skills from a pocket on his chest.
I have attained full mastery of both Nine Lakes Steel Chain Skill and the Bear-Wrestling Arm. Bear-Wrestling Arm may be a dime a dozen, but Nine Lakes Steel Chain Skill is a hard body skill of the Strength Proficiency level. Its quite powerful after achieving full-mastery, able to effectively resist the attack of a blunt weapon wielded by an average person.
In that case, I should cultivate the Golden Veil Skill that specifically targets stabs and slashes against sharp weapons.
With that, Lu Sheng rose and rang the bell.
Very soon, as per his arrangements, someone from outside lifted a tub of rich, black medicinal bath into the room. The medicinal bath filled up more than half of the entire bathtub.
Lu Sheng waited for the person to leave before speedily undressing himself and jumping right in.
A gush of piping hot current permeated ceaselessly through his skin, flooding into his body.
Without prompting, the Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill naturally circulated within Lu Shengs body to resist the heat. His skin soon turned bright-red, making him look like a thoroughly cooked shrimp. White steam billowed out constantly from his orifices; it was unbearably hot.
Golden Veil Skill was also a Strength Proficiency hard body skill. It had a total of two levels: Silver Veil and Golden Veil. Its main target of cultivation was the external epidermal layer. After attaining full-mastery, the skin would be as tough as hide, and capable of effectively resisting attacks and slashes from sharp weapons. However, it wasn't as effective against blunt weapons.
What Lu Sheng valued was precisely its effectiveness against sharp weapon attacks.
Submerging himself in the medicinal bath, Lu Sheng swiftly took the metal brush that had been soaking in the water earlier to gently scrub at his skin, just as Golden Veil Skill prescribed.
This brush looked no different from the average bath scrub, but was actually crafted entirely from black steel and exceedingly sharp at the tips. This was the requisite item for cultivating this specific skill that was mentioned in the Golden Veil Skill manual.
Lu Sheng sat in the bathtub, the metal brush in his hands moving tirelessly to scrub against his chest and back.
His movements were extremely light, but as time dragged on, he continued to apply greater and greater pressure and speed. His skin also grew redder.
His body had originally been bolstered by the full-mastery of two hard body skills and was extremely sturdy and tough. Now that he was cultivating a Strength Proficiency skill such as Golden Veil Skill, it naturally required only half the effort.
After a short span of time had elapsed, Lu Sheng could feel a distinct sensation of coolness expanding upwards from his abdomen. Then, all the pores over his body constricted suddenly and began to instinctively respond to the agitation of the metal scrub and absorb the medicinal properties of the herbal bath.
"Put out the fire! Quick, put out the fire!!!"
"FIRE!!! Wheres the wooden tub? Where are the firefighters!?"
"Here, quick, quick, QUICK!!!"
Chen Yunxi stood at the tower and looked on at the chaotic scene in the distance. Her brows knotted ever so slightly.
The sky lit up faintly. A streak of blue surfaced in the East, standing out in the vermilion sky.
Chen Yunxi, decked out in a white dress, had already been standing at the balcony for a while. Behind her was the study room, where she enjoyed tea, practiced her calligraphy, and read on a daily basis.
This was the Moon Reflection Tower, which was another five-story short tower that her Dad had built specially for her. From top to bottom, each floor was decorated by all sorts of her own paraphernalia.
"Yunxi, youre still observing the fire?" Just as she was getting lost in her own thoughts, a white-haired old man with a deep voice walked slowly into the room.
"I saw that the door was open, so I came in to take a look," the old man smiled. He was dressed in embroidered robes, and jade pearls carved with fish motifs hung at his waist. On his hands was a pair of glistening gloves, which were made of neither gold nor silver, but silk.
"Daddy that big fire is really scary how long has it been since Mountain-Edge City last had a fire as large as this?"
"Thats not a big fire however it can be counted as that now from what I heard, one of the underworld's sects got into trouble. None of these mafia figures are up to any good; extortion, blackmailing, sucking up our blood its best that theyre dead," this old man was none other than Chen Yunxis dad, the illustrious Old Master Chen Daozao whose wealth lined the streets of Mountain-Edge City.
This Old Masters story of his life was itself a legend. Having begun with nothing to his name, he had established himself and arrived where he was today through sheer hard work and perseverance in growing his business.
His original name was Chen Daozao (of a different Chinese character Dao), but he changed the Dao in his name later on in his life. The original meaning of his name condemned how he had been born too soon. 
He had grown up in an impoverished household, where both his parents despised him and blamed him for being an obstacle to his elder brothers route to success.
Yet no one had expected that decades later, he would be the only one from the Chen Family to soar to great heights. Although he was merely a businessman, both his family and business were massive, which far surpassed what the parents had imagined he could achieve.
What was more precious was that after he had his firstborn son, he had another daughter, Chen Yunxi. With two filial children, it could be considered that all his labor had borne fruit.
"Tomorrow, that young master Wang will be coming over to visit. You must make sure to dress up nicely; youll be required to host him," Chen Daozao urged.
"I don't like Wang Shunyong," Chen Yunxi muttered.
"That cant be helped. We are businessmen, and our livelihood lies in the hands of these official families. My daughter in these chaotic times, at the end of the day, our lives are not our own" Chen Daozao was also vexed.
He also didn't wish for his daughter to be the concubine of the son of the Deputy Army Superintendent, Wang Shunyong, but what choice did he have? It would have been easier to negotiate the matter in the past, but now that theres been one mess after another, most of the trade routes had been demolished. The citys resources had fallen to a new low, which resulted in much panic. The resource-rich Chen Family thus became the best prey for the high-ups.
Although they had regularly beefed up their connections, those links that they had bought purely with money couldnt be relied upon in times of crisis such as this.
Thus, even though this present course of action compromised his daughter, he would shove it down on her even if she disagreed.
Once Wang Shunyong, the only son of the Deputy Army Superintendent, arrived, all he had to do was to drug him let nature take its course then send a significant amount of gold, silver, and food over as dowry. By then, there was no escaping from giving Yunxi her status as his concubine.
Chen Yunxi felt helpless. She wasn't entirely sure what her father had planned, but they were father and daughter after all; she had long been able to hazard a guess or two about Chen Daozaos intentions.
Her elder brother Chen Jiaorong had only just entered into a marriage agreement with the daughter of the minister of the Ministry of Prisons.
The Minister of Prisons was the person who managed the prisons in the Prefects yamen and could be considered one of the top ten big shots in the whole of Mountain-Edge City. For them to be able to establish relations with a family of such stature, the Chen Family could be considered to have climbed the social ladder.
Speaking of which, although the Chen Family seemed rich and illustrious, in reality, it was dependent on the goodwill garnered through Chen Daozaos assistance to the Prefect many years back. Presently, however, this goodwill had depleted over the years, and would be used up eventually. Now that Mountain-Edge City had suffered such a disaster, they had to find another backer or the situation would spiral out of control.
"Xixi, Daddy has no other option. Do you have any idea what the other partys condition was when your elder brother Jiaorong proposed?" A trace of helplessness and powerlessness washed over Chen Daozaos face.
"What conditions? Wasnt it just ten thousand taels of gold and silver, ten sets of precious jewelry, and original works by famous literati?" Chen Yunxi asked, perplexed.
Chen Daozao looked at his innocent daughter and shook his head, a pained smile on his face.
"Thats just on the surface. What the Prisons Minister really asked of us was half of our Chen Familys assets"
"WHAT!?" Chen Yunxi was stumped.
Half of their assets that was simply
"If you succeed this time round, then we could perhaps retain twenty percent of the remaining half of our family estate. However, if you don't succeed" Chen Daozao smiled bitterly. Others might see his glory, but how many actually knew the pain that accompanied it?
It seemed like his estate was grand and imposing, but he was actually the coveted prey in many peoples eyes.
Chen Yunxi turned silent.
Her head lowered for a moment before slowly looking up again.
"Its good that you understand" Chen Daozao felt comforted as he nodded. Isnt raising ones children for the sake of preparing for a moment such as this?
"I think I will go to the Institution to take a look for the final time" Chen Yunxi said softly.
"Youre going to find that Lu Sheng again? He doesn't even want you, whats the point of going to look for him? Hes nothing but the prodigal son of a small family! Just because he knows some simple martial arts, he doesn't know whats good for him!" Chen Daozao was immediately riled up. Even though his business was doing very well, at the end of the day, he was not a member of the pugilistic world and did not know of the changes to the Crimson Whale Sects higher management. Naturally, he had not heard of Lu Shengs fame, and even if he had chanced upon it occasionally, he would have paid it no heed and assumed that it was another person by the same name.
However, seeing how his daughter clammed up stubbornly, his heart softened in the end.
Even if all went smoothly in his plan to drug the only son of the Deputy Army Superintendent Wang Shunyong, someone his daughter had explicitly rejected, and the Wang Family also claimed responsibility Yunxi would definitely suffer a lot of grievance and humiliation in the marriage, especially since she would be but a concubine her life was bound to be unbearably difficult from henceforth.
With that in mind, Chen Daozao heaved a long sigh.
"Go, go! But, don't let yourself be governed by your emotions don't be impulsive, or our Chen Family will really" he sighed again. Speaking no more, he turned to leave.
Looking onto her fathers retreating figure, Chen Yunxi could finally hold it in no more; she fell to the ground, tears streaming down her face.
 TL/N: His original name (Chen Daozao) literally means to "arrive early".