In the crisp, cold night.
The stone door rolled away slowly with a rumble. Slowly, Lu Sheng exited from the sanctuary, exhaustion written all over his face.
After cultivating arduously for many hours on end, which required utmost concentration of his mind and strength, he was practically drained. Even though he was presently in his prime, his body in tip-top condition and his energy surging, he had found it almost unbearable.
He walked to the courtyard, where he let out a long breath. Lu Sheng actually felt extraordinarily comfortable internally.
After soaking in the medicinal bath consecutively so many times and absorbing so much medicinal strength, Im just one step away from initiating into it it wont be long, even Lu Sheng couldn't dream of truly initiating into Golden Veil Skill in such a short amount of time.
Originally, this sort of hard body skills required at least ten days to half a month before one would be able to initiate into it. However, because of his foundation in hard body skills, as well as the aid of the precious medicinal bath and Golden Fragrant Ointment, it was understandable that the time needed for him to progress had been shortened by so much.
'Ill go into seclusion for a day again tomorrow! I should be able to truly initiate into Golden Veil Skill by then. At the same time, Ill employ the Modifier to upgrade it to full-mastery! Lu Shengs pair of eyes glistened brightly in the night.
I just don't believe that I cant stand up against Anomalies! If one hard body skill wont do, then two! If two don't suffice, then THREE! Ill keep stacking them up, and see for myself exactly how powerful a real Anomaly is!
A ball of fire burned deep within him. He had long since noticed that this desire had been buried into the deepest part of his being.
It was a thirst for battle, the ultimate longing for a sense of thrill.
Rather than a dull and boring life, he much preferred living life on the edgewhere he yearned to battle to his hearts content!
After my seclusion tomorrow, I will begin to gather objects with Yin Qi. Desperate times call for desperate measures; whoever dares to refuse to hand them over, Ill hack them to death with my saber! Lu Shengs eyes were bloodshot. Licking his lips, Lu Sheng turned to return to the sanctuary, where he began another period of uninterrupted seclusion.
Early the next morning.
Chen Yunxi stood within Eastern Mountain Institute in her long white dress, which fell just above her knees to reveal a set of fair, slender legs. Her delicate and taut skin seemed to glimmer like white jade under the sun.
She had tied a black ribbon around her waist. Her long hair flowed in the wind and her crescent-shaped earrings dangled and flitted around constantly. Coupled with her exquisite countenance and her voluptuous figure, she attracted many comments from other students, who felt sorry for her.
If her legs had been slightly shorter, that would be ideal.
That was the unspoken consensus amongst everyone present.
Chen Yunxi walked through the large doors of the Institution, her gaze falling onto the many students coming to and leaving from the main study block. Then, she looked to the fan-shaped canteen to the side, where students had their meals.
"Xixi, why are you here? Didn't you say youd go to the village school to be a teacher?" A close friend who saw Chen Yunxi from afar instantly ran over to greet her warmly.
"Yaner, do you know if Lu Shengs here?" Chen Yunxi held onto her good friends arm as she asked gently.
"Lu Sheng? I didn't see him. Its been a while since he last came by here, ever since he got on the honor roll previously. Where would he find the time to hang around here like us? He probably needs to rush to prepare for the Governmental Examinations. Why? Hasn't he contacted you?" Yaner was surprised.
She was one of those friends who had witnessed how her good friend, Chen Yunxi, and Lu Sheng had gradually gotten closer to each other. Although Lu Sheng was rather passive from beginning to end and it was always Chen Yunxi who took initiative, the two of them had looked somewhat compatible, at least on the surface.
Even though Chen Yunxis legs were too long and thus physically flawed, she came from an impressive family. If Lu Sheng were to really get together with her, his subsequent days would definitely get a lot more comfortable.
This Mountain-Edge City was unlike an average small city; it had tens of cities of the same scale as Lu Shengs hometown under its jurisdiction. How could a wealthy family from that sort of small city compare to one from here? This was a large, nucleus metropolis that could compare to prefecture capitals.
"He hasn't come by at all?" Chen Yunxis beautiful pair of eyes darkened.
"Mm, I really havent seen him around in a long time. Perhaps hes been buried in his studies at home, to prepare to do well in the examinations?" Yaner guessed. From the expression on her good friends face, she could roughly come up with a few negative scenarios.
"Why don't you go ask around someplace else? Or find his good friend Song Zhenguo?"
"Yea" Chen Yunxi smiled bitterly. She looked again at the time; it was getting late. That young master would be arriving very soon. It was time for her to head back.
"Forget it, I was only trying my luck."
"Do you want to go Lingering Fragrance Restaurant for a good meal?" Yaner had a bubbly personality and was always fond of eating.
"Forget it, I gotta head back. I have something on at home," Chen Yunxi forced out a smile.
"Oh thats a pity the new dishes by Lingering Fragrance Restaurant are pretty good," Yaner was disappointed.
After bidding her friend goodbye, Chen Yunxi nonetheless couldn't help but make a visit at Song Zhenguos old classroom. None of the many people whom she asked had seen the both of them around; perhaps they had really decided not to return to the Institution anymore.
As for Lu Shengs house, she had already made a trip there previously. The doors had been shut tightly, and even the servant-girl Qiaoer had moved away, her whereabouts unknown.
With nothing else that she could do, Chen Yunxi had no choice but to turn her horse carriage around. Regretfully, she made her way back home.
"Welcome, Young Master Wang, to our humble abode; your presence really lights up this humble dwelling," Chen Daozao accompanied Wang Shunyong as they sat in the main hall. One servant-girl after another served up plates of fine wine and delicacies.
"Old Chen, hurry up. Ive waited for a long time for that peculiar item you mentioned previously. Now that its finally arrived, bring it out quickly for me to take a look!" Wang Shunyong was barely twenty years old and very young. Other than being preoccupied with the fine arts, literature and poetry verses on a day-to-day basis, his other interests lay in all sorts of bizarre and eccentric objects.
He termed all these peculiar items, objects that he found interesting to while his time away.
He had heard that this Old Chen, Chen Daozao, had recently procured some rare toy. Coincidentally, the other party had even specially invited him over to admire it. He thus gladly accepted the invitation, and rushed over anxiously the moment he was done with his breakfast.
"Theres no rush, Young Master Wang. That thing needs to be first prepared thoroughly before its suitable for presentation," Chen Daozao was all smiles.
Hearing that, Wang Shunyong tried his best not to come across as overly anxious and suppressed his excitement.
A while later, a beautiful woman approached leisurely with an intricate silver plate in her hands. Surprisingly, there was a rectangular copper mirror that was placed within the plate.
That mirror was rather sturdy and as thick as a palm.
"Here here here, Young Master Wang, this is the curious object that I talked aboutthe Heaven and Earth Mirror!" Smiling broadly, Chen Daozao lifted the copper mirror and handed it over to Wang Shunyong.
"Heaven and Earth Mirror?! What a bold name!" Wang Shunyong was stumped for words as he quickly received the mirror and examined it carefully. "Does the name mean that theres more to this mirror than it seems?"
"Young Master is indeed astute!" Chen Daozao laughed. "All you need to do is give it a light shake."
Hearing that, Wang Shunyong immediately shook it.
A light crisp sound could be heard coming from the mirror, as if some mechanism had clicked. The original surface of the mirror actually slid to the right to transform into a painting of the same color as the copper mirror, depicting a red-crowned crane in a mountainous landscape.
"Eh???" Wang Shunyong was instantly intrigued. He stared intently at the painting, admiring the details that were included to portray an extremely lifelike form, which made it seem as if there were really an actual red-crowned crane that was taking a sip in the mirror.
He shook it again, resulting in another swift "Ka-Cha".
The surface of the mirror rolled over once again, surprisingly revealing yet another painting. This time round, it depicted a vivid image of an unending field of all sorts of flowers blooming brilliantly.
"This skill impressive! Its definitely the work of a master!" Wang Shunyong was pretty talented in painting and calligraphy, so naturally, he was able to tell the level of skill in these paintings at first glance.
"Young Master is very sharp, this old man here is impressed. However, this object can do more than this, take a look here"
Outside the door.
Chen Yunxi stood by the bend in the corridor. In her hands was a silver dish, which held two cups of clear, dark-green wine. This was a fine wine that had been imported from overseas. One of these cups was prepared especially for Wang Shunyong.
She hid the sachet of drugs beneath her sleeves. Now, at this crucial time, she felt thoroughly miserable and was unable to command her body to move.
"Hahahaha. Young Master Wang, please make your way to the courtyard. This old man has something else for you to see."
"Something else? This young master would very much like to find out what is this second good stuff that you, Old Chen, have in store."
The sounds of two men speaking traveled from the bend up ahead; it seems they had moved to the courtyard.
This was the main hall of the Chen Manor. As they exited, they entered the Fine Flowers Garden, which was brimming with diverse species of flowers and plants.
Looking at the wine cups before her, Chen Yunxis eyes turned watery. The grievance and dejection within seemed to overwhelm and constrict her chest, choking her and making it difficult for her to breathe.
"Young Miss, its your turn now," the elderly housekeeper stood by the side, helplessly urging her. He was a trusted retainer of the Chen family and was also one of those in the know. Its just that to see the young miss he had watched over from her tender years landing up in such a state he also found it hard to take. However, there was no other way out.
"Yes" she used her sleeve to lightly conceal her face. In the end, Chen Yunxi still retrieved that packet of drugs, which she tilted to pour into the two wine cups. The fine white powder dissolved immediately into the liquid, vanishing without a trace in the blink of an eye.
She forced a smile out of herself to disguise the dazed look in her eyes. Then, she carried the plate and walked towards the courtyard.
Chen Daozao and Wang Shunyong sat opposite each other in the courtyard, chatting merrily. On the stone table before them was the Heaven and Earth Mirror that they had been fiddling with earlier.
Chen Yunxi walked over with the silver plate in her hands.
"Come come come, this is a unique Purple Jade Grape Wine that I personally purchased from the Ju Rong Nation in the East, unavailable anywhere else! You can see the splendor of the reflection off the wines surface; its one of the best. Young Master Wang, have a taste!"
Chen Daozao gestured for Wang Shunyong to take his pick. Either way, both cups had been poisoned. He had already taken the antidote earlier, and so did not fear the drugs effects; it didn't matter which one he chose.
As soon as Wang Shunyong heard that it originated from an Eastern kingdom, his face instantly lit up with curiosity.
"Since it is from an Eastern kingdom, then this young master must give it a try and see how it tastes!" Smilingly, he picked up a cup.
Chen Daozao and the elderly housekeeper, who stood by the side, stared nervously at him as he lifted the cup to his mouth.
As for Chen Yunxi, it was instead Lu Shengs face that flashed before her. Her vision grew more and more blurry.
Just at that precise moment, the doors to the courtyard were smashed open by a destructive force.
A bare-chested burly man with unruly hair charged in fiercely. A green dragon was tattooed on his chest, and his waist was thick and swollen. He seemed like a black bear clearing the way as he strode in.
Following closely behind the burly man were two columns of elite fighters, each of them fit and strong. Dressed in short black robes, they flooded into the area.
"Thats him!" The burly man hollered as he pointed an accusatory finger at the shell-shocked Wang Shunyong. "How dare you steal my concubine. Give him a good beating! Ill take responsibility for his death!!!"
Immediately, the gang of muscular men swarmed forward and forcefully pinned the ashen-faced Wang Shunyong to the ground, then thrashed him with all their might. Fists the size of pots rained down on him.
"Ah! AH AH AHHHH!!!"
Wang Shunyong fell to the ground, where he was pummeled viciously by the men.
To the side, Chen Daozao and Chen Yunxi were stupefied and looked on in shock. The group of manservants and house guards wanted to go up to stop the fight, but the other party had sent some men to restrain the so-called experts of the Chen Family.
As for the martial arts practitioners of the Strength Proficiency level, they didn't even dare to move a finger nor say a word when they witnessed the intensity of the fighting.