The gap grew in size, gradually revealing the scene of life within the walls.
A crowd within was presently engaged in chit-chat, laughing and drinking away. Out of the blue, a chilly gust of wind blew in through the gap, instantly sending shivers down their spines.
"Whos that!?" A few imposing experts jumped up and looked towards the hole in the wall.
The Scarlet District Mistress smiled sinisterly as she walked in, leaving the umbrella girl outside alone in the blizzard.
Miserable shrieks rose up abruptly within the small city; she knew that her big sis was absorbing blood and flesh for essence Qi again. This was the ritual offering to the Scarlet Dragon Tribulation shard.
She exhaled lightly. Because there was no heat in her body, her breath immediately blended in with the surrounding snowstorm and vanished without a trace. She was unlike the living, whose breath would appear in the form of white vapor as it was exhaled.
This was already the fourth small city.
As Yingying thought to herself, her hands subconsciously caressed the hem of her skirt. Under the snowstorm, the red umbrella shielded her from most of the snowflakes.
She twirled the edge of the umbrella absentmindedly. A pink love-knot tassel twirled slowly along with it, appearing before her eyes.
Looking at the love-knot tassel, the corners of Yingyings mouth naturally curled into a smile.
This was a gift that big sis gave her a long time ago as a token of love. She had always viewed it as a treasure and hung it inside her paper fansomething vitally important to her. This way, she could look at it anytime.
"You still have it!" Scarlet District Mistress surfaced from the gap. Seeing Yingying fiddling with the love-knot tassel, she smiled instantly.
"Yes I do have it." The umbrella girl Yingying nodded vigorously.
"Back then, we even wove it together from a single thread that we cut into two." Scarlet District Mistress walked to Yingyings side and wrapped her arm around her waist.
"Yes Yingying likes it." Gently, the umbrella girl held onto the love-knot tassel. She really fancied stuff like this that big sis had learnt from the living, and especially so for the deeper significance that it held.
"If you like it, Ill make a few more for you when were back." Scarlet District Mistress smiled.
"No this one is enough." The umbrella girl shook her head.
"Alright. Come, onto the next one!" Her eyebrows raised, Scarlet District Mistress strode off into the distance.
The umbrella girl followed hurriedly. She felt a lot more at ease in this place, which was a long way from Mountain-Edge City.
In the subsequent few days, Lu Sheng would sneak off in the middle of each night to absorb the inner Qi of experts. He targeted only those opposing the Ultimate Crimson Sect. As time passed, careful observers began to discover a pattern to the series of events. They could all guess that he was the one acting in the shadows.
For a few consecutive days, he once again sucked dry the inner Qi of more than thirty people in both Gong Zhi City and Li Huan City. Then, he sent his men to assimilate both factions into his rule.
With the inner Qi absorbed, he gained three and one drop of liquefied Qi respectively. Distributing them evenly between Ultimate Crimson Nine-Furies Skill and Yin-Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi, both skills were bolstered with two hundred years worth of inner Qi.
At this point, his originally simple Ultimate Crimson Nine-Furies Skill had now attained a terrifying nine hundred years worth of inner force.
Had it not been for the fact that the experts at Li Huan City got wind of the news and managed to escape in advance, he would very likely have achieved a millenniums worth of inner force.
However, after this spate of incidents, many surrounding experts began taking special efforts to conceal their whereabouts. It was now difficult to find a group of experts gathered together, unlike before.
Lu Shengs men gathered intelligence that the experts had dispersed themselves over great distances. Not only were they far apart, they were also always on the move. It was extremely difficult to track them.
Around this time, Zhao Jiaojiao returned from her task to search for precious herbs.
"This is the precious herb that you found?" Lu Sheng stared at the black metallic cabinet in front of him. His brows knitted tightly as he tried to determine what sorts of tricks this Zhao Jiaojiao had up her sleeve.
Zhao Jiaojiao had only been away for a short period, yet there was already a slight discernible difference in her aura.
Despite being held in the vile environment of the water prison, she had been able to sustain her Divine Prime strength. After coming out and receiving nourishment, there were now no limits as to how far she could go. It had only been a short while, but there already seemed to be some advancement in her strength.
"The cultivation seed that Sect Master planted in me is indeed unlike any other! Jiaojiao was able to attain enlightenment in these few days, and was able to successfully step into a new realm," Zhao Jiaojiao replied seriously.
"As long as you like it." Lu Sheng knew that the other party was referring to the Yin Crane Web. Lowering his head, he fixed his gaze upon the metallic cabinet in front of him. "Theres a living thing inside this?"
"Yes. Of the different precious herbs, I was only able to locate one of thema stalk of thousand-year-old Crushed Leaf Lotus. However, it was a pity that by the time your subordinate got there, all the Crushed Leaf Loti had been devoured by the living thing inside the metallic cabinet. I thought I might as well bring this living thing back along with me," Zhao Jiaojiao explained.
"Open it and let me take a look." Lu Shengs interest was immediately aroused. Presently, he was in a peculiar state. With nine hundred years of Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill cultivation and nine hundred years worth of Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi in him, the Yin and Yang were integrating within him and the feeling of transformation was growing stronger in him.
It was as if he was standing outside an unlocked door. A gentle push was all itd take for him to step into a whole new realm.
Perhaps the medicine that Zhao Jiaojiao had brought would provide this push.
Hearing Lu Sheng's order, Zhao Jiaojiao held the box in Lu Sheng's face and lifted the lid quickly.
A black shadow shot out without warning.
Lu Sheng grabbed the black shadow, lightning-quick.
"Pah!" The black shadow was held tightly about its middle, writhing intensely but in vain. Lu Sheng's strength was far too great for a small thing like it to wrestle free.
"A four-footed snake?" Lu Sheng stared in surprise after recognizing it.
A four-footed snake was also termed a lizard. Lu Sheng had not expected that this would be the thing that had eaten the precious herb.
But this four-footed snake was not like the regular lizard. Its front half was a shiny emerald green, while its back half was inky black, as if it had just crawled out of ink.
A bizarre symbol was on its head.
According to the orthography of the Song Dynasty of this world, it was the character for "dragon".
"Could it be that this thing is called a four-footed dragon?" Lu Sheng asked amusedly.
"Sect Master is wise indeed. This thing is truly called a four-footed dragon and loves to feed on precious herbs. This four-footed dragon is mature and must have swallowed countless precious herbs. Its essence blood within its body must be a great tonic," Zhao Jiaojiao explained seriously. "Moreover, it also has a scientific name called 'Blood Dragon', recorded in the literature on medicine."
At her mention, Lu Sheng recalled that he had come across records of this animal in related books in the past.
At that time, however, he had assumed that it was merely a legend that could have been falsified. Hence, he did not pay it much attention. Only now with Zhao Jiaojiao's mention did he recall it.
"Indeed. I've heard about it too..." Lu Sheng pinched this palm-long four-footed dragon and nodded slightly.
Suddenly, he felt a swollen ache in the hand used to pinch it.
Gently, he placed it back into the box and opened his palm. Shockingly, a swollen layer of purplish black had emerged on his palm. He was poisoned.
Lu Sheng was stumped. At what level was his Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi now? He had nine hundred years' worth of cultivation in it! How could he still be poisoned? And the poison had even penetrated through his skin.
"Alright, you've worked hard. Go take a rest. For the time being, don't go too far," Lu Sheng instructed.
Zhao Jiaojiao acknowledged and retreated, leaving him in the study alone to stare at the black metallic box. Without direct contact with its source, the poison in his palm quickly dissipated.
After observing it for a while, Lu Sheng carried the box and headed straight for the pill room.
Before long, Lu Sheng found the records on this animal in the writings. As expected, this animal was itself a type of rare medicine. Zhao Jiaojiao had not wasted her efforts in bringing it back.
He placed it in a special metal cage designed for breeding. Quickly, he placed some particular herbs into the cage and poured strong alcohol into it, according to the instructions in the writings. This was to force substances that were harmful to humans out of its body.
After that, he washed it in medicine.
According to the records, four-footed dragon should be eaten raw to maximize its medicinal properties.
After the proper handling, Lu Sheng headed straight for his sanctuary and declared a solitary confinement.
Presently, he was just a step away from that transformation in his body. The Yin and Yang inner Qi were locked in an extremely peculiar state in his body. That fragile balance between them made him sense that his incubation phase was accelerating.
Massive amounts of inner force burned without end like fuel, releasing energy that induced the transformation. But the speed at which they burnt was still a step away from breaking into the higher speed that was needed to cause radical change.
A shapeless ball of inner Qi lit into flame in Lu Sheng's palm.
This was a formless flame visible only to his eyes. It was a flaming tongue formed entirely of his Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies inner Qi.
He sat alone in the sanctuary, countless thoughts flitting through his mind.
Scarlet District Mistress may already be suspicious of me. Once she's done dealing with her enemy from Wandering Heart Society, she's going to come for me sooner or later.
So, I need a breakthrough as soon as possible. I need greater power!
Lu Sheng glanced at the window of the sanctuary. Piercing light penetrated through the large amounts of iron bars.
The shafts of white light lit up the black walls of the sanctuary. Through the pencil straight iron bars in the window, one could see the cloudy sky.
Sometimes, when he was too exhausted, he would relax by staring at the sky just like that.
Even for a person with an innate love for excitement like Lu Sheng, it was tiring at times to walk between the world of Noblemen and demons all by himself.
At times, he too would wonder what sort of repercussions would burst forth if those Noblemen and demons learnt that he was merely a mortal who had attained his present cultivation purely through the path of martial arts.
"Perhaps I'd be locked up like Zhao Jiaojiao had been." Lu Sheng chuckled.
Zhao Jiaojiao had been locked away for several decades. Had it not been for the departure of the Zhen Family and his sudden visit to the dungeon, she would probably stay locked away till she died.
"Strictly speaking, Zhao Jiaojiao did have hopes of breaking out of Divine Prime and stepping into a new realm. It's a pity... I'm not a second Zhao Jiaojiao..."
The shapeless flame expanded abruptly. Lu Sheng gently opened the black metal box. The four-footed dragon lay in fear against the inside of the box, unmoving.
Lu Sheng grabbed the lizard and dangled it before his eyes.
Less than a meter away from him, the lizard's strange smell wafted into his nostrils. It smelled like the spiciest chili, hot and penetrating straight into his lungs.
Lu Sheng lifted the lizard up and raised his head.
He held the four-footed dragon in his palm and squashed it. With a splat, it turned into a lump of bloodied flesh. Vermillion juice leaked from the gaps between his fingers and flowed into his gaping mouth.
Copious amounts of blood dripped into his mouth, causing his body to heat up rapidly.