"Elder Xi has gone missing? Along with the more than dozen men who went along with him deep into the mountains to conduct the search?" He lightly rolled the paper into a ball. In a swish, the paper turned into black ashes in a flash and dispersed through the gaps in his fingers.
With Scarlet District collapsed and Ashoka Manor withdrawing, all the remaining wandering ghosts have been swept up by his experts. Stronger Anomalies would not appear in the short term.
As for stronger supernatural beings who possessed some intelligence, they now knew Crimson Whale Sect's name, having lost the protection of Scarlet District. Crimson Whale Sect experts merely had to identify themselves and these beings would leave.
And those which were weaker could easily be dealt with by the sect's inner force experts.
Zhao Jiaojiao and Xu Chui, for example, have been busy cleaning up ghosts of that level.
The entire Northern Lands entered an unprecedented period of peace and stability. And Lu Sheng's reputation grew with each passing day, bright like the noon sun.
And yet, an Elder had disappeared in such a time of peace and prosperity. This was a serious provocation to the Crimson Whale Sect.
Lu Sheng briefly explained the mistakes in Lin Honglian and Yuan Zhong's moves, then made them practice on their own while he headed for the Sect Master's study.
Seated in the study, he read the documents heaped on his desk carefully. Ever since receiving Zhao Jiaojiao's reply previously, he had not received any more messages in the past ten days or so.
Given Zhao Jiaojiao's personality, her silence was likely because she had either met with some trouble, or because she was having so much fun killing that she forgot the official business.
After some thought, Lu Sheng instructed, "Get Ning San to come and see me."
"Yes, sir." A guard quickly relayed his instructions.
Before long, Ning San, who had already been in the Crimson Whale, strode into the study full of sweat.
"Ning San greets the Sect Master!" He knelt to the floor on one knee respectfully.
"Already at Intent Proficiency?" Lu Sheng was surprised. Ning San was one of those who had received his Yin Crane Web inner force impartation. Yin Crane Web quickened the speed of cultivation for inner force experts by leaps and bounds. Yet, even then, Ning San's jump from Strength Proficiency to Intent Proficiency caught Lu Sheng off guard. By usual standards, it should have taken him several years to achieve that state.
"Erm... I grasped the true meaning of my martial art one day by chance. I guess I've mastered the intent of the Mountain Penetrating Fist," Ning San said humbly. Rather than breaking into Intent Proficiency through accumulating inner Qi, he had entered the realm by his own enlightenment and insight.
Although experts who entered Intent Proficiency this way did not have as much inner Qi as the former group, their foundations were more stable. Given the same amount of inner force, they could strike with greater power. Of course, this meant that while he had entered that realm, his inner force cultivation was still insufficient.
In the beginning, that was how Lu Sheng himself has entered Intent Proficiencyby grasping the true intent of Black Tiger Saber Technique.
On the other hand, it was Xu Chui, whom Lu Sheng had pinned such high hopes on, who had been unable to grasp the true intent of his martial arts. In the end, Lu Sheng had injected inner force forcibly into him to help him past that threshold.
"Since you've attained Intent Proficiency by enlightenment, you can come along with me," Lu Sheng instructed. Ning San was careful and observant. It was very useful to have him around to handle all sorts of matters that may crop up.
"Er... your subordinate has only just attained this breakthrough. Is it a little too early..." Ning San hesitated.
"Doesn't matter." Lu Sheng smiled. "I'll lend you a streak of inner force. Do not use it except as your last resort."
He lifted up his right palm and walked to the spot before Ning San.
In that moment, his palm struck Ning San's forehead in the dead center like a streak of lightning.
"Szzzzz" Huge volumes of Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi gushed madly into Ning San's body.
After his battle with Scarlet District Mistress, Lu Sheng had absorbed another century's worth of inner force from the Divine Prime experts in Martial League. Now, he injected it all into Ning San.
Ning San trembled and shook violently. The inner Qi gushing into him expanded and distorted his muscles. Even his bones were beginning to mutate.
Like Xu Chui, Ning San's body was beginning to mutate under the sudden injection of such a great amount of Yin Yang Jade Crane Aquarius Qi.
Only eighty out of the hundred years of inner Qi had gone into him when Ning San began to spurt out a mouthful of blood. His aura quickly deflated and it seemed like he had reached his limit.
Only then did Lu Sheng quickly retract his hand.
Eighty years of inner Qi plus his own cultivated inner Qi base essentially maxed out the limits of Ning San's body.
The in-pouring of so much inner Qi in such a short time caused Ning San's left forearm to inflate. The skin on his arm turned black and red, and black hair began to emerge out of it like fine spikes.
The force gathering in his left arm was growing stronger and stronger, till it began trembling involuntarily. Ning San could not help but press his arm on the floor to suppress its vigorous shaking.
"Relax... just relax..." Lu Sheng smiled. "This is because the potential in you has been activated. I was only a catalyst."
Under the control of Yin Crane Web, Ning San quickly began to feel the resistance in his left arm subsiding. Very quickly, he was back in control of his newly born left arm.
The black hair and blackish-red skin quickly returned to normal.
Ning San had long since heard from Xu Chui that Sect Master had the ability to develop the potential hidden in the human body. Hence, while he was astonished to see the mutation occur on his left arm, he did not panic.
"Thank you for your grace, Sect Master!" he exclaimed in excitement as he knelt on the floor.
Just that few seconds made him sense that his strength had grown drastically.
Lu Sheng nodded.
"Alright, go make the necessary preparations, then come with me to Tea Town." The disappearance of an expert in whom he had planted Yin Crane Web meant that he had one less fruit to reap for inner Qi. Whether it was for Crimson Whale Sect and the safety of the Northern Lands or the upgrading of his own inner force, Lu Sheng had to investigate it.
And perhaps he might even find some Yin Qi to absorb.
"Yes, sir!" Ning San acknowledged in reverence.
After he left, the study once again returned to silence. A petite figure slowly walked out from behind a shelf.
"As expected, another one of those twisted, wicked methods. Not only can it manipulate others, it can even turn others into a demi-demon form..." little umbrella girl said somberly.
"Demi-demon? You're mistaken. They're still human." Lu Sheng smiled.
"A human like a demon? You think I'd fall for that? Call a spade a spadethey're demi-demons! Many experts are experimenting with this too anyway." Little umbrella girl snorted. "Oh, and the mantra I cultivate needs me to consume bitterness. You promised to help me regain my power!"
"Of course. So, do you want to come along with me? I'm sure this case has caused much bitterness." Lu Sheng smiled.
"Would you be at ease to let me out of your sight anyway?" little umbrella girl asked coldly.
"Glad you know it." Lu Sheng pinched her chubby cheeks.
Under the control of Yin Crane Web, little umbrella girl's attempts to dodge and maneuver away were in vain. Against her will, her body stood still on the spot, allowing Lu Sheng to pinch and rub her cheeks, and even pushed her head against Lu Sheng's palm cutely.
Her smooth cheeks were pinched into a ball of chubby fats, then released.
Unable to shut her mouth, a breath of air escaped little umbrella girl's mouth, causing a strange pop.
"YOU!!!" Her face flushed red and purple immediately. "I"LL KILL YOU!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!" She raised her hands and clawed towards Lu Sheng's eyes.
Lu Sheng ignored her rage and avoided her scratches. Rising to his feet, he began browsing through books on the shelf.
Little umbrella girl could only stand there and bellow in vain. No matter how she writhed, struggled, pulled, and scratched with her upper body, her lower body was fixed to the ground without a budge under Yin Crane Web's control.
"As far as I know, Anomalies are the hardest to track. I wonder what are Anomalies exactly, from the point of view of you demons and ghosts?" Lu Sheng asked casually.
"Promise you'll never humiliate me ever again! And I'll tell you!" Weary of struggling, little umbrella girl said sternly.
His reply came too fast.
Little umbrella girl's jaws hung open, with a series of reasons to persuade Lu Sheng ready in her mind but prevented from being expressed by Lu Sheng's quick reply.
Simply, Lu Sheng explained the Tea Town incident.
"What do you think are the possibilities for this case?"
"A clear-cut Anomaly." Hongfang Bai calmed her emotions and said coldly, "Most Anomalies possess extremely powerful, persistent will. Without satisfying that persisting will, the Anomaly will never die or rest. Our supposed method of controlling Anomalies is simply using some special techniques to make the Anomaly think that some particular person has invaded its territory. It's not true manipulation."
"Then do you know how Anomalies are formed?" Lu Sheng asked again.
"You've got to ask Yingying that. I'm not an Anomaly so what would I know about it!" Hongfang Bai shrugged. "Based on my many years of understanding, isolated Anomalies are easy to direct and control. But if you meet a type of especially troublesome Anomaly..."
Although she was upset with Lu Sheng, she still cooperated and answered him.
"Come to think of it... compared to that class of Anomalies, I rather think that YOU are the Number One Anomaly! I just wonder who's stronger?" At that, Hongfang Bai began laughing deviously.
"I'm looking forward to the moment when you encounter them. The expression on your face..."
Lu Sheng slapped her till she fell on the ground.
"Little children should not act like adults," Lu Sheng said casually. "And... what's this class of Anomalies you mentioned?"
"HOW DARE YOU!!"
Lu Sheng delivered another slap.
After a fit of struggling, little umbrella girl sat on the ground with her cheeks swollen, glaring at Lu Sheng with fierce anger.
"Those bad Anomalies are unlike Yingying. They're more like shrivelled black flowers, the filthy water under the bridge... they feel extremely foul and impure." Hongfang Bai humphed. "I once crossed paths with them. They wanted to nab Yingying, but I intercepted them. But even then, I could not catch up with them."
"Oh? Nabbing Anomalies?" Lu Sheng arched his brow. "Any way to recognize them?"
Hongfang Bai nodded.
"There is. It's their trademark that wherever they go, people around them would naturally be sucked of their life force. They can't sleep, and they're low-spirited - like they haven't slept for ages."
"Oh?" Lu Sheng suddenly fell into a daze, as if he had seen that somewhere.
It was in Tea Sect.
He recalled that mirror...
"Have you ever heard of a mirror with its back carved with a phoenix, fox and cat?" Lu Sheng asked gently.
"Phoenix, fox and cat? Don't... don't tell me you're referring to a stained-glass mirror?" Hongfang Bai's eyes widened suddenly.