"Youve worked hard. Everyone, you are dismissed. Go and rest. Shunxi, well have to trouble you to personally make the trip for the upcoming transaction for grain," Qin Wumian flicked with one of his fingers. Instantly, threads of fine, formless inner Qi soared and landed precisely on the right shoulders of Li Shunxi and the others who were present. Inner Qi flowed like water and blended into the skin beneath their robes.
In that moment, Li Shunxi felt a shiver in his entire body. A warm, comfortable sensation flowed through him. He knew that this was the League Master inserting his own cultivation into their bodies, tempering their bodies and nursing any internal injuries they had. He cupped his fists hastily towards Qin Wumian in gratitude, then bowed respectfully and turned to leave with the others.
This sort of nourishment expended a tremendous amount of time and effort. Just this bit of nourishment emptied Qin Wumian's arduous cultivation for half a day. Moreover, this sort of investment was the norm in the Martial League; many men had received the same helping hand.
After the men including Li Shunxi had left, Qin Wumian gently lifted the bamboo cylinder and caressed the wax seal at its lid. Instantly, the red wax seal dissolved soundlessly into powder and scattered onto the ground.
He tilted the bamboo cylinder and retrieved from within a roll of thick, pale-yellow piece of paper and gently unfurled it.
Qin Wumian's face was calm as he held the paper scroll and read in detail. As he read more of its contents, his eyes lit up with the hint of a smile on his face.
Abruptly, the paper scroll was scrunched up into a ball and pulverised into yellow powder by inner force in the blink of an eye. Then, it fell through the cracks of his fingers and drifted out beyond the balcony, dispersed by the wind towards the pale-green pool.
"Men," Qin Wumian called out crisply.
"Greetings, League Master!" a figure cloaked in green athletic robes with his face covered by a green mask swiftly appeared on the courtyard under the balcony. He knelt on one knee while facing Qin Wumian.
"Invite Master Zhang Wuya here for a chat," Qin Wumian smiled.
The green figure stood up and launched himself into the air with a tap of both his feet against the ground. Faster than the eye can follow, he vanished into the air.
Zhang Wuya sat motionless in Deer Hall, his thoughts churning uncontrollably. Though his face remained impassive, the movement of his pupils under his eyelids and his pale clenched knuckles betrayed his present excitement.
Martial League was a united coalition in opposition to Noble Families and demons and ghosts of the Blood bloc, formed by both Divine Prime experts who were discontented with being enslaved by the present world order together with those Noblemen and demons of the Leaf bloc, who held a more benevolent stance towards mortals.
Hence, Divine Prime experts were equal in status with Noblemen of the Leaf bloc, not subordinate to them.
However, because of the very real chasm between them in strength, they experienced an extremely stifling and frustrating life in Martial League. Regardless of whether it was out on missions or some other errands, they had no choice but to rely on the Noblemen.
Even if the old fogeys represented by Zhang Wuya were all Divine Prime experts, they were purely martial arts practitioners who did not attain the realm of Bind at the end of the day. Thus, they were all regarded no differently from weak logistics support personnel.
That was why they have always been tasked with missions like logistical support and auxiliary intelligence. After some time, they became synonymous with the frail and weak group.
The scariest thing was that not only the Noblemen, but even many of the Divine Prime experts within their own group were gradually beginning to accept this status quo as normal! Mortals were destined only for supporting roles like providing logistical support and gathering intelligence. No matter how hard they worked, they would never be a match for Noblemen.
Had it not been for the League Masters hopeful news, as time goes on, the ugly names for us will only increase in the Martial League in time, Im afraid all the Divine Primes will see themselves as fit only for work for the old and weak.
Once they pinned all their hopes on seizing Divine Weapons and Devil Blades, how would their mindset be any different from those Noblemen of the Blood bloc?
Martial arts can surely create a path of hope for mortals, Zhang Wuyas thoughts churned. He gripped the handwritten edict from the League Master as if it was some kind of rare gem.
"Old Zhang, have you arranged your men? And the route? The manuals must be original copiesthats the League Masters instructions," a lanky middle-aged man strode into Deer Hall. Several young men followed after him, all cloaked in pale-green half body leather armor. Each of them also wore a white band around their foreheads with a fingernail-sized green jade fixed on the area between their eyes.
They were the experts arranged to escort the transaction by League Master Qin Wumian. The middle-aged leader among them was named Guan Nian. The team who followed him was his Green Squad.
"Its done! Long been done! This trip concerns the grain supply in the valley. Of course I wouldnt dare to be careless!" Zhang Wuya stood and blasted loudly.
He was eighty-nine this year. Ever since enlisting in the league ten years ago after attaining Divine Prime, he had been leading the other Divine Prime experts in the league and overseeing all logistical support in the entire organisation. At the same time, he was one of the strongest Divine Prime experts in the entire league.
"Alright, alright. Why dont you stay home this time round, Old Sir? With me around on this trip, no mishap will happen," Guan Nian patted his chest.
It makes no difference even if you dont go, he mumbled in his mind.
Although he was indeed grateful towards these respectable Divine Prime martial arts practitioners who saw to their logistical support responsibly and diligently, he was genuinely unimpressed by these stubborn old souls who refused to admit their inferiority and kept insisting on proving themselves to be on par with Noblemen using martial arts.
Why refuse to admit that theres a difference in our strength? If youre weak, just focus on providing logistical support! Isnt it good teamwork for everyone to play different roles and work together? Leave the fighting to us. Well leave the transport of rations to you. Whats wrong with that? that was once his public comment at a certain occasion.
But these old fogeys just could not take it lying down. Their power was obviously lacking, and yet they simply refused to admit it. Every day, they would brag and rave about certain candidates that they believed were the top representatives of the martial arts world.
The candidates in those lists were claimed to be top martial arts experts among humans. But, truth be told, he had once dispatched men to test them out. They couldnt even hold their own against his weakest subordinate, who had fought them with one hand.
His weakest subordinate was merely a Single-Vein expert of the Bind realm who had cultivated secret arts. But even then, there was no question about who would come out on top.
Each time he saw the hopeful look on Zhang Wuyas face as he monitored the progress of these anticipated stars, he could not find the heart to tell him the cruel truth. Humans they need some fantasy and hope to live on.
"Old Sir please dont tell me youve found some star of hope again this time? This was the exact look you had on your face when you found Zhang Songyu previously," Guan Nian said helplessly.
"Cut the crap. Zhang Songyu recently went into solitary training. He must have had some inspiration. When he comes out, theres a big chance hell make huge progress and even break through mortal limits!" Zhang Wuya blew hard on his beard and glared.
Guan Nian shrugged helplessly. He didnt have the heart to reveal that Zhang Songyu was now in solitary confinement because of his injuries from his fight with his subordinate. Had he truly revealed that, this old fogey would surely faint on the spot. He might even drag him to the League Master and lodge a complaint against him.
There was no way he was going to endure several hours of argument with this old man.
"Fine, fine, fine. Whatever you say. Now that you mention it, whos the one transacting with us this time? Wheres the League Masters handwritten edict? Its rare that he would task both myself and Zhong Yunxiu out on this mission together."
"This time, this time" at the mention of this transaction, Zhang Wuya was filled with excitement. "This time, the man transacting with us is the Number One Expert of all Northern Lands. The true star of hope among us martial arts practitioners!!! Crimson Whale Sect MasterLu Sheng!"
"Lu Sheng? Crimson Whale Sect Master? Isnt Crimson Whale Sect Master the old guy surnamed Hong? The one whos Master of Crimson Sun Sect? I remember borrowing a map from him in the past," Guan Nian asked.
"Lu Sheng is the new Crimson Sun Sect Master. Hes a prodigy who cultivated his sects Ultimate Crimson Mantra to extreme heights. I hear hes even trained in hard body skills, saber techniques"
"Fine, fine, fine. Dont talk to me about martial arts, Im not interested. Back to business, business," Guan Nian interrupted Zhang Wuyas long-winded discourse. He was interested only in the powerful secret arts activated by the power of bloodline. As for martial arts, whats the point in discussing them when they cant even block the lightest rub from a secret art attack?
Interrupted by Guan Nian, Zhang Wuyas anger rose to his cheeks, turning them red as beetroot. But he could do nothing about it.
"I just want to remind Captain Guan. Sect Master Lu possesses extraordinary power. Perhaps he can be persuaded to join"
"Old Zhang, why dont you just call yourself this old man like the rest of them? Youre already so advanced in age. And not to mention that this Sect Master Lu is at most a Divine Prime, how does it matter whether or not he joins us?"
Guan Nian understood that these Divine Prime old folks have lived their lives under the illusion that there must be a possibility for martial arts practitioners to hold their own against Anomalies and Noblemen one day. But the truth was the truth. Countless times proven. Their dream was but a mere wishful thinking.
"Alright, no more delays. Pack up, we should get going." Guan Nian reminded, "Show me the handwritten edict quickly. We need to confirm the time and place."
Exasperated, Zhang Wuya threw the handwritten edict towards Guan Nian.
As one of the top experts in the league as well as an outstanding assassin among the Double-Veined Noblemen, Guan Nian had a close friendship with Zhang Wuya and could talk frankly with him. But, like the other experts in the league, he harbored no hopes for the future of these Divine Prime mortals and their martial arts.
Truth be told, that was a normal situation and something within expectations. Each time they heard of the rise of a powerful martial arts expert, they would realize upon close investigation that he or she turned out to be of Nobleman lineage. After several such occurrences, everyone came to expect little of martial arts.
Qin Wumian had assigned Guan Nian and Zhong Yunxiu on this trip because the two of them were most well-disposed towards mortals. It was easier for them, with the accompaniment of Zhang Wuya, to establish a closer relationship with Lu Sheng, since he was a pure mortal cultivator without any Nobleman lineage.
Guan Nian read the edict, ignoring the part about how Lu Sheng had defeated Scarlet Districts Deputy District Mistress head-on. Such similar descriptions had previously been applied in the reports on other hopeful stars as wellonly for them to realize that it was a farce after much time and manpower spent on investigation. That was not to mention that Scarlet Districts umbrella girl had only just battled Zhen Family.
Such cases were simply too common.
Night fell. The full moon hung high in the sky.
In the harbor where the Crimson Whale was docked, over a dozen ox carriages were prepared and parked. Large sacks of grain were hidden under sacks of clothing on the carriages.
These carriages were disguised as carriages carrying old clothes. Only, under the layer of clothes, there was grain.
Lu Sheng brought a total of five thousand catties of grain. Each sack contained fifty catties. Altogether, the carriages carried a hundred sacks, no more and no less.
"Are we ready?" on a black horse, Lu Sheng turned to look at those behind him.
"Were ready," Ning San ran over and whispered. "Sect Master Chen Ying and Elder Duan are asking when well set out. The ox carriages move slowly. If we dont set out now, we may reach only after dawn."
"Lets go then," Lu Sheng said calmly. If he could establish a connection with the mysterious faction behind Li Shunxi through him on this trip, then perhaps he could obtain more powerful martial arts in greater quantities within a short time. He was now short on hard-body skills. All those in the sect were no longer effective for him. Only higher-levelled hard-body skills could provide the necessary stimulation for his Yang Extreme Mode.
Gazing at the ox carriages, numbering over a dozen, Lu Shengs eyes narrowed. His mind was on his cultivation base.
Hard-body skills are like the vessel. Inner force is the water within the vessel. Once inner Qi liquefies, only by continuing to strengthen and enlarge the vessel can one contain more and stronger inner Qi.
I need to prepare in advance by gathering more hard-body skills so that my cultivation wont stall when my body is one day unable to contain all the liquefied inner Qi.
"Preparations are complete."
"Preparations are complete!"
"Preparations are complete!"
Beside the ox carriages, the disciples shouted one after another. Lu Sheng lifted his hand unhurriedly.