"How about you?" Lu Sheng had a complex opinion of Li Shunxi. Initially, he had become friends with him with the intention to invest in him. Later, both of them faced the same enemyAshoka Manorand he had lent him a helping hand.
This time was a coincidence as well. Had it not been for the fact that the old Officiator from Ashoka Manor had killed one of his sect members for no rhyme or reason, he would not have gone back to kill him.
Uncannily, due to a series of coincidences, he happened to save Li Shunxi.
And now, this man was the bearer of the Jade of Secrets and possessed the power of foresight. Not only that, he swore to destroy Ashoka Manor. This completely changed Lu Shengs perspective of this man, as he had hitherto been regarding him as an ordinary mortal.
"Im going to the Central Plains. Thats where the other bearer of Spirit Giant Blood, which Ashoka Manor is trying to find, is," Li Shunxi said.
"Brother Li is leaving. Is there someone you know in the Central Plains?" Lu Sheng asked.
"No warrants for my arrest are everywhere now. How would anyone dare to keep me?" Li Shunxi smiled bitterly.
Lu Sheng contemplated for a moment.
"In that case, you can head to this place. If you need, you can stay there temporarily while you familiarize yourself with the area and plan your next course of action." The location he gave was the branch set up by a Soaring Eagle Squad member he had dispatched to the Central Plains.
Then, he gave him detailed instructions on how to get in touch with them, and explained that he must go there in disguise.
Li Shunxi was filled with gratitude. In the next few days, Lu Sheng arranged for the sects expert in disguise to teach Li Shunxi about it, and also gifted him with a big packet of gold leaves.
Because of the distance, the banks in Central Plains may not necessarily accept silver notes from the Northern Lands. Although they were all under the rule of the same court in name, real power fell in the hands of the Noble Families lording over each region. The central banks silver notes were not accepted in the various lands either. Actual silver or gold was more practical.
Several days later.
A boat painted black all over was parked on the surface of the lake.
Lu Sheng saw Li Shunxi and Bai Qiuling off in the harbor in person. He stood before the boat to give his final farewell.
"Brother Lu, words cannot express my gratitude. I will repay your favour in the future!" Li Shunxi clasped his hands together at Lu Sheng.
"What are you talking about, Brother Li! Were brothers. Such talk is too distant!" Lu Sheng said with the greatest magnanimity. Back in Twin Eagle City, he was actually about to leave when he happened to save Li Shunxi by a fluke.
Truth be told, even if he had known that Li Shunxi was there and that trouble was about to break out because of the evil jade, he wasnt sure if he would have gone back to save him just because of that.
Of course, such things are better left unsaid. Since he had unintentionally sowed a favor, then let that accidental favor remain.
"Uncle Lu Qiuling dares not forget your grace for saving her!" Bai Qiuling looked haggard, her eyes dull and no longer full of spirit. But at least there was now a glint of the hope of revenge in them.
"Qiuling, I believe youll succeed." Lu Sheng nodded and patted her shoulders.
"Oh yes, I worked on this through the night yesterday. I hope itll be of use to Brother Lu," Li Shunxi suddenly took out a piece of pale yellow oil cloth, rolled it into a scroll, and handed it to Lu Sheng.
"You must open it only after you get back!" he instructed solemnly.
In order to make it, he had expended nearly half of the essence blood sacrificed by Liu Qin to operate the Jade of Secrets. He himself had contributed much of his blood as well, harming his own life force and cutting short his own longevity. But finally, he was able to repay a little bit of Lu Shengs favor.
Lu Sheng received it in puzzlement, but did not open it. He nodded to Li Shunxi and kept it.
"As the mountains stand and the rivers flow, Brother Lu, well meet again!" Li Shunxi clasped his hands together at Lu Sheng a final time.
"Well meet again!" Lu Sheng cupped his fists together as well.
The two boarded the boat, unfurled the sails and let the wind carry the boat away into the distance slowly.
Lu Sheng stood in the harbor and gazed at the leaving boat until it completely vanished from his view. Only then did he turn to leave.
Behind him, Xu Chui, Ning San, and a whole lot of Soaring Eagle Squad experts were awaiting his orders.
"Sect Master, weve got an urgent memo from down the rung," Xu Chui stepped forward and handed a sealed letter to Lu Sheng.
Ripping the wax seal apart, Lu Sheng unfurled the letter and read it.
The contents of the letter were related to the Shangyang Family. Shangyang Jiulis younger brother, Shangyang Ce, was about to duel with someone in the Northern Lands. It was a death match.
Now that Shangyang Jiuli was in solitary confinement, this matter fell in Lu Shengs lap.
But Im supposed to be a Three-Vein Level Sect Master. Even if others believed that Im of some Nobleman bloodline, its a bloodline long in decline. Shangyang Ce was already at Four-Vein Level since two years ago, and is probably at Five-Vein Level by now. A duel of this level is not something that I can interfere with based on my cover identity. I just need to write about this to Shangyang Family," he decided.
"Relay my orders. If anyone hears commotion breaking out in the forests near Half Leaf City, lockdown that place and prohibit entry or exit by mortals. Lift the ban only after Twin Fire Festival," Lu Sheng arranged.
Xu Chui quickly went to relay the orders.
Lu Sheng immediately made Ning San arrange the route back home.
In the horse carriage, he waited for the team to set off and the carriage to stabilize before he took out that scroll of cloth from Li Shunxi and laid it out on the table.
For him to have been so serious about it, this must be something extraordinary," Lu Sheng pinched a corner of the cloth and slowly unfurled it.
As the scroll of cloth unfurled, Lu Shengs eyes gradually widened and his breathing thickened.
"This this is?"
His gaze landed on a row of tidy handwriting on the cloth.
"Eight-Tuned Lucky Flower. Consuming its flower bud can nourish the five bowels and temper extreme Yang. It can also vastly strengthen inner Qi density and thickness."
"Thousand Year Dragon Claw Vine. Cooking it and drinking its soup can increase longevity and nourish ones ligaments and bones."
"White Jade Ginseng King. Eating it raw with medicine can supplement ones life force, increase longevity, and clear the meridians."
One by one, the precise location of each precious herb and treasure was marked out on the cloth scroll. The cloth scroll was basically the map of the entire Northerns Lands. On the side of the map, the detailed growth characteristics and environment features of each herb were written in handwriting as tiny as insects.
Lu Sheng did a rough count and realized that over a dozen different precious herbs were marked on the map.
If these are all true, then its astonishing!
As Crimson Whale Sect also possessed its own medicine business and he had always been making trips to the pharmacy and dispensary, he had a rough knowledge of many of the herbs.
They were all precious medicine that commanded huge demand but had no supplythey were goods that couldnt be bought with money. All of them were extremely helpful for his inner Qi cultivation.
This was a priceless gift. A few of the herbs were even legendary herbs in the same league as the Vermillion Fruit.
If he could lay his hands on all of them and consume them, they would be a drastic tonic for his inner force!
Once he got back to the sect, he immediately dispatched men to investigate the locations marked out on the map to confirm them.
Duke Ashoka Manor, Central Plains.
Deep into the night, music could be heard ringing out from behind the tall red walls of the Duke Manor. Men and womens laughter could be heard as well.
The Manor was brilliantly lit. In the main hall, a handsome man whose appearance boasted both dignity and heroism was seated on the main seat, admiring the dancers graceful moves with the guests beside him.
Some of the lecherous ministers snuck their hands under the dresses of the ladies seated beside them. Yet, they kept a poker face on as they continued to converse with each other.
Duke Ashoka was already in his seventies, yet his face looked as youthful as a middle-aged mans. The Ashoka Gala he was presently chairing was one of his methods of drawing key ministers to his side.
The word Ashoka also meant carefree and worry-free. Naturally, it was a party free from worries, filled only with happiness and ecstasy.
Apart from the dancers, these ladies who were accompanying the key ministers were mostly mortal women whom his subordinates had abducted from various lands. Among them were young misses from big families, daughters of smaller ones, members of aristocracy, and even pretty village girls.
Another group among them were the relatives of the key ministers themselvestheir daughters, nieces, distant relatives etc. Many key ministers had formed alliances with each other here, creating a tight network of mutually-beneficial relationships.
Duke Ashoka looked at the scene before him with great satisfaction. Happily, he emptied the wine in his cup down his throat.
His gaze shifted from a key minister to another middle-aged key minister in his fifties. This was his new target.
But this man had a rather unique taste. He shunned other women for the females of his own family, and had even toyed with his own sister. And then after that was his own daughter, cousins... Even his own granddaughters were not spared. Every attractive female in his household had been toyed with by him.
And yet his family relied entirely on him. This righteous-looking hypocrite would often turn into Mr. Hyde when the doors are closed, making his entire household his playground.
But due to the importance of his appointment, Duke Ashoka had even specially provided him with large quantities of viagra to keep his body going strong and young.
Naturally, what the Duke received in return exceeded what he gave. One by one, many of his political enemies were neutralized.
Just as he was feeling smug, a young lady dressed in pink snuck into the hall and approached Duke Ashoka from the side. She leaned in and whispered something in his ear.
Instantly, Duke Ashokas smile faltered, but quickly reverted to normal.
"Gentlemen, this little Duke must take his leave for a moment. Please make yourselves at home. Everything here is for your enjoyment," he rose and declared.
"Your Highness, please go ahead. Dont worry about us."
"Indeed, indeed. Were very grateful for your generous hospitality. Your Highness should not delay your matters for us."
"Just send us more medicine."
A cacophony of laughter broke out.
Amidst the roaring laughter, Duke Ashoka smiled and slowly walked out of the main hall.
In the corridor at the side of the main hall, large red lanterns hung along the corridor dyed his face a savage red hue.
Two people had already been waiting for him in the corridora man and a woman.
The man was dressed in rich mans robes, decked in jewelry of gold, silver, and precious stones. About sixty to seventy years old, his hair had turned white.
The woman had a curvaceous and well-endowed figure with a slim waist and seductive look. Her tight-fitting red dress exposed half of her bosom and a large stretch of her thighs.
"Zhao Rong, Moling, speak. What happened?!" Duke Ashoka stared at the two of them with a foul face.
The red-clad lady, Zhao Rong, stepped forward solemnly. "In response to Your Highness, Bai Jiang has not sent word from the Northern Lands for a long time. Also, the matter about the evil jade has also met with an obstacle. Ghost Hair also"
"Dont tell me that the soul bells of the two Officiators are gone?" Duke Ashokas voice grew cold.
Zhao Rong bowed her head in silence.
Aside, Ye Moling said, "Your Highness. Presently, the most urgent matter is to find out who has been going against our Ashoka Manor. Two Officiators have gone off the grid, maybe even killed. This is an extremely rare loss for us in the past decade. We can always recruit more Officiators, but if the Ritual Offering is delayed, well be in deep waters."
"Thats right. Nows the critical period" Zhao Rong agreed.