Alright, forget it. I don't need you to submit to him completely. But if someone really comes carrying my token, you must at least cooperate with him and support him fully with resources, manpower, and intelligence. Any problems with that? Tell me honestly," Shangyang Jiuli said seriously.
Lu Sheng kept his smile, too, and thought for a moment.
"Rest assured, Young Miss Jiuli. As long as the person's requests serve your cause, your subordinate will certainly support him without reservation."
Shangyang Jiuli finally rested assured with his reply.
Although she was the one in control over the Northern Lands in name, the true person who held sway over things was Lu Sheng.
As a Three-Vein Level expert, although Lu Sheng's strength could not be compared with hers, he was considered one of her top assets. Moreover, he was still young and who was to say how far he could go in the future?
Hence, it was still unwise to burn bridges with him.
A capable talent like him who could stabilize such a great territory like the Northern Lands would be in high demand no matter which Noble Family he was placed in.
That was not to mention that Lu Sheng had stepped into Three-Vein Level at such a young age. Even within Shangyang Family, he would be considered an elite.
That was the reason why Shangyang Jiuli rather valued Lu Sheng.
If there were a couple more talents like him under her command, she could just hide somewhere in the mountains and focus entirely on cultivating.
"Alright. Talk to me about any major incidents during this period. And how are things going exactly with my younger brother?" Shangyang Jiuli asked in detail.
Lu Sheng recounted how Shangyang Ce had left on a ship after defeating his opponent, without hiding any facts. After that, he mentioned how Scarlet District Mistress had gone on a killing spree lately as well as how she had disappeared along with Ye Moling.
Initially, Shangyang Jiuli was rather composed. But upon hearing that two great Manor Lord level experts had disappeared, her face turned grim.
"In that case, then trouble's really lurking over the Northern Lands. Do your best to maintain the status quo and secretly investigate what force or faction is behind all these. Once you discover any lead, do not do anything that would alert them. A force that can overpower the Manor Lord level is not something you can trifle with," Shangyang Jiuli instructed.
Presently, Lu Sheng was her prime asset. Should any mishap happen to him, she would suffer a great loss.
She had counted the men under her. In terms of strength, there were many who were on par with Lu Sheng. Yet when it came to management ability, not a single one could be found to be comparable with him.
"Your subordinate understands." Lu Sheng knew that his present identity on the surface was a subordinate under Shangyang Jiuli's command. But he was happy with it.
All along, Jiuli had never interfered with his affairs. Instead, she had been focused on cultivation, in pursuit of a higher realm. As long as he gave her sufficient resources, he was entitled to dropping her name and using her reputation. This was extremely helpful towards keeping his true strength a secret.
The two of them continued to chat further, with one of them doing the asking and the other the answering. A little while later, a red silhouette descended from the skies. It was a blood-colored bird, with a furled note tied to its leg. Lightly, the bird landed on the stone table. Shangyang Jiuli caught the bird gently and removed the note from its leg.
"Alright, I got to return to the Family immediately. If you meet with any irresolvable matter, just light up the token and I'll send someone to help," she said.
"I understand." Lu Sheng nodded solemnly.
"Hopefully, by the time we next meet, you would have made a leap forward in strength." At that last sentence, Shangyang Jiuli stepped forward and shot into the air towards the distance, her robes spreading out in the wind and billowing behind her like a pair of wings. She glided like a giant bat and flew several hundred meters out in the distance. Then, leaping again, she rode on the momentum and continued soaring into the air.
Lu Sheng watched her till she disappeared. Then he kept the incense box and straightened himself.
'It seems like a good idea so far, having her as my shield.' The corners of his lips curved upward in a smile. Then, in a flash, he leapt towards the distance and vanished in the thick forest in the blink of an eye.
He made a beeline for the sect. The mark on Chen Yunxi had disappeared with the death of Scarlet District Mistress.
All of Scarlet District's forces dispersed overnight and were silently eliminated.
He began making contact with the surviving remnant of Martial League as well. One by one, he cast his Yin Crane Web, which easily evaded the detection of ordinary experts given its top-notch ability to hide itself.
Before long, these experts discovered in surprise that their inner force was improving by leaps and bounds. The speed of their cultivation growth was several times that of previously and their inner Qi shot up as if without any bottlenecks.
Naturally, however, the inner Qi volume they could hold was limited by their bodily constitution. The most among them was a hundred years' worth of cultivation; that was already extremely impressive.
Lu Sheng intended to come reap his harvest several years later. With such great numbers, the amount of inner Qi he could reap was considerable.
Time trickled by gradually. Half a month had passed.
The disappearance of Scarlet District Mistress and Ye Moling, as well as the several Ashoka Manor experts before them, consecutively plunged the various factions of the Northern Lands into fear and worry. No one among them dared to make any bold moves.
All factions began retracting their claws and behaving themselves. As a result, an unprecedented peace and calm came upon the entire Northern Lands.
But such calm was short-lived for Lu Sheng.
"HAHAHA!! Lu Sheng, you didn't expect that I wasn't dead, did you? I, Hongfang Bai, have climbed out from hell just to seek revenge from you!! DIE!! PHANTOM SPIRIT FIVE SLASHES!!"
Lu Sheng slapped the midget charging towards him onto the ground. He was getting a headache just from looking at her.
"Wuu wuu wuuu... Yingying, Yingying hurts..." the little girl, dressed in a loose red dress and holding a red umbrella in her hand, hugged her head. She crawled and propped herself to a squatting position and began crying.
One day, he had gone out to run an errand and come back only to find that the love knot left behind by Scarlet District Mistress and Yingying had disappeared. What replaced it was a red-colored ball of flesh about the size of a watermelon.
Just as he was about to hack the bizarre ball apart with his saber, it suddenly cracked open. A little girl no more than ten years old, holding a red umbrella and clad in a red dress, pounced out at him.
Those features on her face were basically a loli version of the umbrella girl, Yingying.
She held up a red umbrella large enough to cover her entirely and wore a dress of adult measurements. The long hem of the dress 'trawled' behind her.
The moment she emerged into the world, she cried out for revenge against Lu Sheng arrogantly. In the end, she had tripped on her own dress and fallen flat on her ground, fainting.
Lu Sheng hesitated, but did not kill her in the end. Instead, he planted his Yin Crane Web in her then kept her alive in the sect as a lucky mascot.
This was the first time he had seen a demon who could be reborn after being killed. Now that was a rare specimen worthy of research.
But little did Lu Sheng expect that this brat would turn the Sect upside down in a mere few days.
Little umbrella girl could not cause much damage since she could only smack heads with her red umbrella. With her strength, the worst she could do was to knock bumps into people's heads; it was painful but harmless.
Everyone assumed that she was some relative or niece of Lu Sheng and thus put up with her, allowing her to run free in the Crimson Whale.
Who would have expected, however, that that sparked little umbrella girl's competitive nature. Others' endurance and laughs at her made her feel insulted.
Her power had plummeted to such a state all because of Lu Sheng and so she pinned all her hatred on him.
And this led to her current behavior. Every now and then, she would launch a sneak attack or carry out an ambush. It had become as normal as eating.
Although she could not do any damage, she could at least annoy Lu Sheng.
"Yingying, don't fool around with your sis next time. Go back and have your lunch like a good girl. Did you shower yesterday?" Lu Sheng lifted up little umbrella girl and seated her neatly on the chair.
"Yes, I showered..." Yingying replied obediently, casting a furtive glance at Lu Sheng with a trace of fear.
"Let's eat." Lu Sheng picked up the tub of rice on the edge of the table and half a grilled lamb, then began eating and chewing.
Only he and little umbrella girl were at the table.
All sorts of delicious food were laid on the round table. With a small children's wooden bowl, Yingying picked food from the dishes with her chopsticks.
"Tell me. Should I call you Yingying? Or Scarlet District Mistress?" Lu Sheng asked in between mouthfuls of rice.
"I'm... Yingying... Sis'... name... is called... Hongfang Bai..." Yingying stammered in reply.
Worried that her stammering and stuttering would anger Lu Sheng, she could not help but glance at Lu Sheng again.
"Looks like you don't hate me?" Lu Sheng arched his brow.
"I don't hate... it's too tiring to be like sis... this... is good too... with Yingying's... body, she can... take it easy..." Yingying replied softly.
Realization dawned on Lu Sheng. After some further questions, Yingying finally explained what had happened, stammering.
It turned out that although Yingying was a Prey Ghost, her true form was that of an Anomaly. In other words, she was an Anomaly turned Prey Ghost. Initially, she did not possess much in the way of intelligence. But Scarlet District Mistress chatted with her out of boredom every day, regarding her as a true sister. Only then did she begin to develop sentience.
At the final critical juncture, Yingying's intense desire and will for her sis, Scarlet District Mistress, to stay alive eventually induced an irreversible transformation between Scarlet District Mistress and herself.
She had integrated Scarlet District Mistress into herself. Both of them were thus reincarnated together.
'Anomalies cannot die.' Lu Sheng suddenly thought of this theory. Initially, he had assumed that the alleged undying nature of Anomalies was simply because others did not possess enough strength to break their black membrane.
But now, umbrella girl's black membrane had been broken, and yet she could still be reborn, albeit losing all her power.
Suddenly, his mind went back to the assorted Anomalies that had popped up across the Northern Lands in the past few years.
Each time the Noble Families eradicated an Anomaly, they would pop up again after an extremely short intervaltypically several years.
That was why the Noble Families needed huge sects like them to gather intelligence for them so that they could continue suppressing newly emerging Anomalies.
"Can the Noble Families really kill Anomalies?" Lu Sheng asked abruptly.
Yingying shook her head to express her ignorance on the matter.
Staring at little umbrella girl's face, he suspected that even Noble Families could at best make Anomalies disappear for a longer period of time. In actual fact, they were unable to wipe them out completely.
"Have you and Scarlet District Mistress worked out who will appear when?" Lu Sheng asked again.
Sharing the same body brought about many problems and repercussions, not to mention the body of a little girl.
Yingying's personality was gentle and meek, while Scarlet District Mistress' personality was rash and hot-tempered. The two of them were polar opposites.
"As long as sis wants to, Yingying can... at any time..." Yingying spoke fluently for once. Clearly, she was very serious.
'What on earth are Anomalies?' Lu Sheng pondered in his heart, baffled. But since Yingying and Scarlet District Mistress, as demons and ghosts, have survived, he could seek answers from them.
That was the key reason why he did not kill them a second time.
Moreover, he had always wanted to figure out the origin and composition of Yin Qi.