Extreme heat emanated off Lu Shengs body.
His skin quickly turned red as large amounts of liquefied Qi began circulating in his Yin Crane Web at high speed, much faster than before. Moreover, it was still getting faster and faster as the seconds ticked by.
This is the moment that will decide everything.
Lu Sheng understood that not many herbs still had an effect on him now. Golden Fragrance Ointment had also become purely a health supplement to him after repeated usage and the growth of his body.
Any medicine was most effective when first consumed.
Enduring the scorching sensation within him, he stuffed the bloodied pulp in his palm into his mouth and hurriedly swallowed it.
Massive amounts of inner Qi erupted from his skin and pores. The cold Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi and the scorching Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill radiated in the sanctuary, covering every inch of space in it through the blood web.
Lu Sheng felt the flesh pulp enter his throat and slide down into his stomach like a ball of fire. Heat emanated from his stomach and spread all over his body in a frenzy.
The transformation occurring in his body was accelerating. The four-footed dragons flesh was also turning into heat, then was digested into inner Qi and added into the cyclical flow of inner Qi in Lu Sheng.
Inner Qi grew both thicker and in volume.
The density of inner Qi in the sanctuary also increased. Two forces of inner Qi of different nature collided with each other in the air, mixing with each other. Gradually, as time passed, they melted into a pale hue.
Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies inner Qi was a pale red.
Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi, in contrast, was a pale blue.
Boom. Something seemed to have erupted.
Immediately, Lu Sheng felt an icy cold sensation pervading his body. But in the next second, he felt a scorching heat boiling him.
Going from hot to cold, then back to hot again like this, fine gray-black substances began appearing on his skin.
A pale yellow goo was also expelled from his body.
"Its starting" Excited, he shut his eyes and emptied his mind, leaving everything to that transformation.
Lu Sheng did not know how long this process would take, but he knew that this solitary confinement would enable him to step into a brand new realm for the first time ever since he began practicing martial arts.
In the blink of an eye, it was Nine Beauty Festival.
After a year of famine, the worst was finally over for the Northern Lands. Some who lived in the countryside, like landowners, villa owners and businessmen, began to get active again, reopening their business during the Nine Beauty Festival and holding some sort of promotion.
Because of Lu Sheng's heavy-handed suppression of ghosts, much of the Northern Lands was now free from the activities of ghosts. Every once in a while, one might appear, but an expert would quickly be dispatched to deal with it.
The long-awaited peace brought about the renewed activity of farmers, fishermen, and hunters. And as the hunters hunted the dangerous beasts, they were also indirectly safeguarding the safety of the nearby forests.
At the same time, the labor of the farmers and fishing activity of the fishermen staved off the progress of the famine.
Scarlet District Mistress' targets were all experts. She did not cause any trouble for ordinary mortals. Hence, the ordinary folk were hardly affected by her. Moreover, she had recently shifted her hunting ground away to other regions, allowing the major cities everywhere to return to peace.
Out of their own initiative, Crimson Whale Sect's sect members organized their own Nine Beauty Festival celebrations. The Elders and Internal Affairs Emissaries made no effort to stop them. On the contrary, they took the opportunity to join in the liveliness.
Apart from the Crimson Whale, all branches everywhere responded enthusiastically as well, hanging up pink floral Nine Beauty loops on both sides of their doors.
Not only that, they even invited the teachers from the learning institutions to pen some couplets.
All along, such trivial matters had been in the hands of Jade Lotus and the other Internal Affairs Emissaries, who would discuss them and make decisions. However, this being the first major festive celebration after the famine, the entire sect wished for Lu Sheng to appear and host the celebration.
Under the cajoling of all, Jade Lotus had no choice but to head for the Crimson Whale and try Lu Sheng.
"Is Sect Master still in solitary confinement?" Jade Lotus stood in the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Hearing the reply from the guard, helplessness appeared on his face.
"Yes, sir. He's been in solitary confinement for several days," the guard replied respectfully.
"Can't he host even such an important festive celebration?" Jade Lotus felt it was a pity.
"Er... Sect Master has instructed that none is to disturb him during his confinement," the guard replied carefully.
"Is that Jade Lotus?" All of a sudden, a clear, deep, but frustrated voice rang out from inside the sanctuary.
"Yes, sir." Jade Lotus perked up and quickly bowed.
"Just handle the celebration yourself. No need to ask me. For the time being, I won't be able to host it," Lu Sheng said calmly.
Jade Lotus hurriedly nodded in acknowledgement.
"In that case, Jade Lotus takes his leave." He turned and was about to leave.
"Hang on!" Lu Sheng called him. "Is Nine Beauty Festival today?"
The question had come out of the blue, but Jade Lotus had to reply nonetheless.
"Today's the blooming of the Nine Beauty Flower?" Lu Sheng asked again.
"To be precise, it's tomorrow. Usually when we speak of the blooming of the Nine Beauty Flower, we're referring to the second day of Nine Beauty Festival. Tomorrow is when the flower blooms most spectacularly," Jade Lotus hurriedly replied.
Lu Sheng fell into silence.
"Alright, I got it. You may leave."
Baffled, Jade Lotus left.
In the sanctuary, Lu Sheng was sitting cross-legged on a round mat. Thick smog covered the room, enveloping his body without any sign of dissipating.
"Nine Beauty Festival... that's when Wandering Heart Society strikes." While in solitary confinement during this period, umbrella girl kept him informed about the happenings in the outside world through his guard.
Lu Sheng reached out and touched a black envelope placed on the ground in front of him.
He already knew the contents of the letter. It had been sent to his study by that mysterious Wandering Heart Society. After his guard had discovered it, it was passed to him.
He had read its contents. There was a place and time on the letter. The time was tomorrow.
Lu Sheng understood what they meant. This was a letter requesting his support. The place and time were of their planned assassination of Scarlet District Mistress.
In the past few days, umbrella girl had kept him updated on Scarlet District Mistress' whereabouts. They had been heading east, following the flow of the river in the frozen plains. By now, they had gone far from Mountain-Edge City and were nearer the warmer Central Plains.
But that was merely several hours' distance to experts like them.
Such boldness. Looks like the war tomorrow is upon us. Beneath his unchanged external appearance was an aura of profound depths and unhurried casualness. Beyond that, however, all traces of his training in martial arts were invisible, hidden. He looked no different from an ordinary young master who had only just recovered from a serious illness.
In that case, I've got to begin my arrangements... I've still got about forty units of Yin Qi. He paused. Deep Blue.
As he called out mentally, a pale blue screen emerged before him.
Yang Extreme Dao... perhaps I can extrapolate one level higher
The sky was a sliver, like a vertical eye half-shut. On both sides, cliff walls towered steeply over several hundred meters high.
White beams of sunlight shot down, only to reveal the roughness of the grayish-black cliff walls.
Beneath the cliff walls was a ribbon of a clear river, as if vast peace was flowing through the valley.
Waves lapped gently against the surface of the emerald river. Winding from the distance, the river flowed on towards the plains.
Presently, a boat floated on the river with two ladies in it, one standing and the other seated.
The one standing had short white hair. The muscles all over her body looked strong and made her look like a panther, ready to pounce on her prey at any moment. Explosive force was hidden in those long and thick limbs.
The lady seated on the boat, on the other hand, looked gentle and radiant. A red paper umbrella was spinning in her hands. Her uncovered feet were splashing in the water, causing the water to foam.
A gentle gust of air blew past, shaking the trees on both shores. Fine petals of the Nine Beauty Flower were carried by the wind and fell like rain towards the surface of the river.
"Sis... I really wish... that we would go on like this..." Umbrella girl caught a petal flying towards her. A heart-warming smile flooded her face.
"If you like, I'll have the Nine Beauty Flower planted all around Scarlet District," Scarlet District Mistress replied gently as well. "But I wonder if such days will remain possible..."
Suddenly, her voice froze and her eyes turned fierce as she glared at the surface of the river right in front of her.
At some unknown point of time, a human head had appeared above the surface of the clear river in front of her.
It was the head of a bizarre man who had only one eye.
"We let you get away the last time. This time, I won't be so careless anymore." The bizarre man slowly rose out of the water. Under his head with the single eye was an even more massive grayish-black body.
Scarlet District Mistress glanced towards her left and right with a slight tilt of her head.
Two similar heads, with only one eye each, had emerged from the surface of the river like the first one. However, they were both smaller than the one in front of her.
Behind her, a lady in white robes who sat cross-legged on the surface of the river appeared, a black mask covering her face.
"How did you find me?" Scarlet District Mistress' face turned ugly.
"Regardless of how we found you, hand over the Scarlet Dragon Tribulation shard and gouge out your own eyes. Then I can let you leave," the single-eyed titan before her growled.
"Do you think that's ever possible?" A trace of scorn appeared on Scarlet District Mistress' face. "Only four of you have come from Wandering Heart Society?"
"What's wrong? You don't think the four of us are enough to make you stay?" The single-eyed titan lifted up his massive cudgel, which was about as wide as Scarlet District Mistress' body.
"Make me stay?" Scarlet District Mistress extended her right palm. Slowly, a slender, translucent saber appeared in it.
"You better think of how to stay alive instead."
Both of them struck at the same time. Two large waves smashed into each other as both of them collided into each other.
The translucent saber flashed thrice, then released an incomparably massive and formless wave of heat which landed precisely in the middle of the cudgel.
"CLANG CLANG CLANG!!"
Three sharp clangs rang out. The single-eyed titan roared and struck with all its might. The massive force sent Scarlet District Mistress flying backwards. But at the same time, the cudgel cracked and split into two halvesit was broken in just a single hit!
The other three single-eyed titans charged at her and surrounded her. Despite their hulking frames, they moved uncannily fast. Their cudgels howled in the wind as they swung past Scarlet District Mistress.
Merely the gusts of wind caused by the weapons alone already caused the surface of the river to explode into showers of water. The four of them seemed to have formed some queer formation, surrounding Scarlet District Mistress and umbrella girl. Moving at high speed, they continuously obstructed Scarlet District Mistress' attempts to break out of the siege.
Watching anxiously on the side, umbrella girl was helpless. The weakest among the four assailants was at Seven-Vein Level; umbrella girl would not even be able to penetrate the black membrane. Apart from being a burden to Scarlet District Mistress, she was entirely useless.