After the meal, Lu Sheng took little umbrella girl to a newly built private sanctuary.
The previous one had been rendered unusable after being riddled with pits by him.
Lu Sheng took out all the trophies he had collected and placed them out before little umbrella girl for her to recognize them.
"This. What's it?" He held up the intricate little book and waved it in front of the little umbrella girl.
"This... only... sis... knows..." Yingying stammered.
"Are you sure?" Lu Sheng narrowed his eyes at her. "You must understand that although I can't kill you, I can keep you in the state of death forever. You know what I mean."
Shivers travelled down little umbrella girl's spine. It seemed like she was terrified of the state of death. She stared hard at the little book again.
"This is... a set of mantra... that sis obtained... by chance..." she stuttered on.
Lu Sheng's interest was immediately piqued. He continued questioning and learnt the use of this mantra from little umbrella girl. It was a mantra used specially by demons and ghosts and was impracticable by humans at all.
Moreover, the language used in the book was no human language. Rather, it was a language called Spirit, which not even little umbrella girl knew. Only Scarlet District Mistress could read it.
Although it was not of much use to Lu Sheng, it supplemented his Yin Qi supply at least.
He had long since sucked the book dry of Yin Qi and obtained about fifty units from it. These fifty units came at the right time, since he had depleted all his Yin Qi previously.
Presently, he was equipped with a total of three modes. The monstrous hulking frame of Yang Extreme Mode, the gentle and weak Young Master look of Yin Extreme Mode, and finally the mightiest Yin Yang integration mode.
In actual fact, there was no basis of comparison for him to discern how strong exactly his mightiest mode was. Even the last fight put him in comparison only with two Snake realm experts. There was no standard by which he could measure himself.
He labelled this mightiest mode the Destroyer mode. The power, speed, explosiveness, and defense of this mode were at the peak of his strength. It could obliterate all experts that Lu Sheng had hitherto met. Hence the name "Destroyer".
Moreover, while in this mode, he could continue to detonate liquefied Qi to boost his explosive power and damage. That was truly his strongest state.
"Then how about this?" Lu Sheng picked up the golden single eye he had acquired from the titan Chao Hu's body. "What does this do for me?"
Little umbrella girl had just opened her mouth when all of a sudden a change occurred in her pupils, turning from pale red to a slight tinge of white.
"Humph!" She tilted her head away. "You think I'll tell you?! Dream on!"
"Oh, you're Hongfang Bai now?" Lu Sheng chuckled. Her intelligence seemed to have been affected by the shrinking of her body and had become juvenile.
"So what if it's me? You think I'm that foolish Yingying, who's so easy to bully?" little umbrella girl continued coldly.
"How about a trade?" Lu Sheng pulled little umbrella girl up easily by the back of her collar singlehandedly.
"Let go!!" Little umbrella girl writhed and struggled, but was helpless against the strength of Lu Sheng's arm.
"No matter what, you lost to me in a fight fair and square. Am I right?" Lu Sheng asked.
"..." Little umbrella girl turned away silently.
"Don't you want to recover your lost strength?" Lu Sheng tempted.
"What do you want!?" Little umbrella girl immediately turned her head towards him again and shouted.
"Think about it. We had no feud between us. But it was you who provoked me first. Only then did I retaliate, leading us to this outcome. Whose fault is it?" Lu Sheng smiled. "So I'm actually not interested in either of you. Had it not been you who had been prepared to make a move against me, I wouldn't pick a fight with you."
Little umbrella girl thought hard and had no choice but to agree. From beginning to end, Lu Sheng had never provoked them. It was umbrella girl Yingying who first attacked the Crimson Whale Sect headquarters because of their conflict with Zhen Family. After that, a series of conflicts deepened their enmity, leading finally to the tragedy in the valley.
"Cooperate with me, or stay in this state forever." Lu Sheng put her down and remained sitting in his spot. "Make your choice."
"Even if I were to regain my power, would you let me go just like that?" little umbrella girl asked coldly.
"To be honest, I don't know either. But surely it's better than having no hope at all. What do you think?" Lu Sheng smiled.
Little umbrella girl remained silent for a moment.
She was balancing the pros and cons. Eventually, she decided that regaining her strength took precedence over everything else, and agreed to Lu Sheng's offer.
"Alright, I promise to cooperate with you as much as I can and refrain from harming your faction and interests. But you must help me to regain my strength under permissible circumstances," she said seriously.
"Deal." Lu Sheng nodded.
He picked up the lone eye.
"So, now tell me. How should I use this?"
Little umbrella girl looked at the lone eye.
"This is the Eye of the Titan, commonly called Golden Red Pupil or the Golden Wave Peal. If you don't mind it, you can graft it into your own body and develop an additional mutant ability."
"Huh? Graft?" Lu Sheng was stumped.
"Yea. After grafting, its power drops to half of the original. But that's still pretty decent. I remember that the lone-eyed titan race was once subjected to over-hunting for this. That was because the Golden Red Pupil was favored by a particular Devil Blade which liked to use it to decorate its sacrificial altar," little umbrella girl explained.
"Only half of its strength... forget it." Lu Sheng did not bother to ask about the process of grafting. Given the extent of his manipulative abilities over his body, it was not a difficult thing to accept or reject a new object into his body.
"And how about these corpses? What's the best way to use them?" Lu Sheng took out Ye Moling's corpse, as well as the mess of remains left behind by Scarlet District Mistress and Yingying, locked in embrace.
"YOU!!" Little umbrella girl was seized with rage.
"Come on, I'm just recycling." Lu Sheng was unbothered.
"You're humiliating me!?" she screamed. Suddenly, she leapt and pounced at Lu Sheng's face, only to be seized easily in Lu Sheng's grasp and pressed to the ground.
"Alright, stop fooling around."
"RETURN ME MY REMAINS! YOU PERVERT! I'LL TRADE YOU FOR IT! TRADE!!!!" little umbrella girl screamed hysterically, thrashing about. At last, she saw through reality. She could not fight him. She could not run away from him. She could only accept defeat.
"Ok. You said it." Only then did Lu Sheng release her.
Hongfang Bai grunted angrily, then dropped to the ground. Staring at the remains spewed on the ground, she was exasperated.
"The method you used to control Yingying can be used to control a puppet. I know a special art that creates a puppet substitute body. Do you want that?"
"Oh?" Lu Sheng's eyes lit up. He had felt for a while that although he himself was strong, his subordinates left much to be wanted and could not guarantee the safety of his friends and family. But this puppet substitute sounded like it would be powerful. Perhaps...
"But such substitute bodies need enough materials and resources to make. And they're extremely difficult to make. Even I am only but a novice in it," little umbrella girl added quickly. "I'll teach you the method of initiation, and you return me my remains!"
"Deal!" Lu Sheng nodded.
The two of them conversed for several hours in the sanctuary before they finally came out.
But somehow, after coming out, Lu Sheng felt as if the guards around him cast rather queer glances at him.
The fatigued look on little umbrella girl when she came out of the sanctuary especially made the people around them look at them weirdly.
Fortunately, he could control little umbrella girl with the Yin Crane Web and prevent her from saying anything she should not say.
This time, he obtained a secret art from little umbrella girl called Strings Manipulation Art. It was a technique of controlling puppets in combat using strings.
No wonder he had never seen Scarlet District Mistress use it. Just the use of the strings alone turned this secret art into something pretty useless.
And little wonder why Scarlet District Mistress would make a full copy of the secret art for Lu Sheng without any reservation.
The two of them exited the private sanctuary with Hongfang Bai following behind Lu Sheng. It took her a hop and a skip every other step to barely keep up with his speed.
She glanced at this man before him secretly.
'Back then, I wasted no less than a hundred years on this skill, and even emptied Scarlet District's resources into it.
Come on, study it! Study hard! Just like how I jumped into this black hole back then, making no progress in my cultivation for a hundred years. Then, my chance will come' Hongfang Bai thought maliciously.
The two of them entered the study.
Lu Sheng pulled his chair back and sat down.
"You mentioned something about 'secret art' earlier? 'Mutant ability'? What're those?" he asked suddenly.
Hongfang Bai was caught by surprise.
"Apart from our freakishly powerful bodies, demons and ghosts possess all sorts of abilities. Isn't that ability of yours to suddenly boost your power drastically a type of secret art? Why're you asking this? Don't you already know?"
Lu Sheng took a while to realize that she was referring to his liquefied Qi detonation.
"Alright then." He interpreted special arts as the innate abilities that demons and ghosts possessed. Chao Hu's golden beam from his lone eye and Scarlet District Mistress' phantom spirit body were all examples of that.
He sat down and began looking through the reports from Jade Lotus. Typically, Jade Lotus would only report on matters of great importance.
Jade Lotus was responsible for managing Mountain-Edge City. As for the other regions, Lu Sheng had tasked several Elders to take charge of them. For instance, Soaring Eagle Squad, under Xu Chui's command, was responsible for nearly thirty percent of the sect's territory. Even Zhao Jiaojiao was entrusted with another thirty percent.
Speaking of Zhao Jiaojiao, Lu Sheng frowned. She was simply put a martial arts fanatic. Although he had subdued her, her cultivation was increasing with each and every passing day, since she was originally a Divine Prime to begin with and now possessed the bottleneck-less Yin Crane Web which allowed her to grow rapidly.
Although she had only recently been put in charge of those areas, the appearance of the supernatural was the rarest in the cities under her charge. Many times, word of ghosts had only just begun to circulate when she charged in immediately and wiped them out.
Casually, Lu Sheng browsed through the intelligence report submitted by Zhao Jiaojiao, then quickly switched to the last report on another region governed by an Elder.
"Eh?" Suddenly, he paused.
He picked up a piece of paper. The date written on it indicated that it had been sent a month ago. The contents of the paper caused his eyes to narrow.
After reading its contents, he put it down on the table lightly, his fingers drumming against the tabletop slowly.
Bright daylight shone through the window and fell on the yellowed paper, lighting up the single line of words on it.
"Ring Pendant City's branch leader Ye Hongnanmissing in action for thirteen days. Whereabouts unknown."