"Yeah, Level Two." Lu Sheng's heart tightened. In actual fact, he had already covered part of the truth. Actually, he was already in Level Three and close to upgrading it to Level Four.
But considering that the skill only had nine levels in total, he claimed to have attained only Level Two.
But even then, Grand Elder's mouth gaped wide open, without any sound coming out from it for a long while.
When was the last time a disciple broke through to Level Two so quickly? He could not recall it. It was very, very, very long ago.
Such talent... and yet he had chosen to come to the Prime Devil Sect. Probably it was really because the Prime Devil Sect possessed a library that dated much earlier than that of other sects?
In other words, he had really come for the books. After all, it was a piece of cake for him to have joined any other bigger sect.
Grand Elder stared at this disciple who had joined the sect for no more than a couple of months, overjoyed and disbelieving. It felt as if he had found the silver lining in the dark cloud.
Earlier, he had gone everywhere in search of a talented disciple in the hopes that he could pass down the spark of the sect in his final days. In that way, even if the sect's grounds were seized and the sect was destroyed, their inheritance could continue.
But right now, when a truly outstanding prodigy was standing right in front of him, Grand Elder felt an inexplicably surreal feeling, like the first sight of rain after a long drought.
He too had once considered if Lu Sheng might possibly be a spy from another sect, sent to gain his trust. But he had denied this possibility immediately.
If Lu Sheng truly belonged to another sect, especially in a small sect, a disciple of his caliber would be hidden like a prized treasure lest he be snatched away by others.
Larger sects, on the other hand, would not care for this little bit of inheritance that belonged to the Prime Devil Sect. They could easily find two, three, or even more Prime Devil Sects at will. But it was not as easy to find a prodigy disciple who could potentially become the future pinnacle expert in the sect.
'To have broken through to Level Two when other disciples would need at least a year. This is excellent talent... But I've got to keep monitoring him. If the sect's inheritance gets passed down to the wrong person...' Suddenly, the two other remaining disciples popped into Grand Elder's mind.
One was Fei Huangzi. By now, it was plain that he harbored evil thoughts. Grand Elder had been fooled by his act previously.
The other was He Xiangzi, who was honest to a fault. She might have been number one in terms of loyalty and trust in the sect, but her talent was truly... After nineteen years of hard work in cultivation, she was still stuck in Level Nine of Karmaless Skill.
At that thought, Grand Elder sucked in a deep breath of air.
"Do... do you feel uncomfortable on any part of your body?" Karmaless Skill required the stimulation of the middle of one's brows using Devil Qi. To be exposed to too much Devil Qi in a short span a time would overload one's body. That was why he asked that question.
Lu Sheng knew what he meant. In the other party's eyes, his performance was out of the ordinary. He had still been too fast.
"I'm ok. Nothing's uncomfortable."
"That's good, that's good. Let me see you activate Karmaless Skill." Grand Elder seemed to be much more interested now than before.
Lu Sheng meditated on the Yin Flame face as he tensed his body. The muscles on his body began vibrating. But he kept the vibration under control so that it exhibited what was natural for Level Two.
"Flame of intent lights up on its own. Not bad, not bad!" At one glance, Grand Elder could immediately tell where Lu Sheng stood. He was already at the most ideal stage that disciples of the sect could achieve.
"Next, let me explain some key points of the subsequent stages of Karmaless Skill to you..." Instantly, he became passionate and enthusiastic, even though his face remained placid.
Lu Sheng sat down and began listening attentively to this exclusive morning lecture.
Four hours flew past. When Lu Sheng stepped out of the cave, he was surprised to see Fei Huangzi leaning against the wall at the mouth of the stairs.
Fei Huangzi glared at him coldly, a mysterious glint sparking in his eyes.
"Humph!" He snorted and left.
Lu Sheng watched as Fei Huangzi left and disappeared in the darkness.
The days went back to their rhythm as before.
Morning lessons, reading books, cultivating, resting, morning lessons, reading books, cultivating... and so on and so forth.
Lu Sheng's Aquarius Qi was soon fully replenished, allowing him to upgrade Karmaless Skill again.
After returning from the library, Lu Sheng shut his cave tight and heard the bell toll slowly.
Standing by the window, he peered outwards and saw the shadows cover a large zone of the cavern. The red glow of the stone pillar dimmed as well.
It was night again.
Lu Sheng shut the window, sat down on his bed cross-legged and entered a meditative zen.
"Aquarius Qi is fully replenished. Grand Elder has also explained the subsequent two levels clearly. Now I can try to upgrade Karmaless Skill." As was his usual routine, he focused his mind and held his breath as he began meditating on the Yin Flame face.
The pale-blue Modifier screen emerged in response and floated before him.
With great familiarity, Lu Sheng pressed the Modify button and it tremored. The upgrade button appeared behind most of the skills on the screen.
Quickly, he found the newly appeared Karmaless Skill.
'Karmaless Skill: Level Three. Special Effect(s): Grade Three Body Strengthening.'
'An ordinary foundational tempering skill. But as the foundation for future skills, it's simple yet essential. Let's try it out and see how much of an upgrade it can bring to my body now,' Lu Sheng thought to himself. Then, shutting his eyes, he focused his entire mind on the button behind Karmaless Skill and pressed it lightly.
"Upgrade Karmaless Skill to Level Four."
The box blurred all of a sudden and Lu Sheng clearly sensed that nearly a sixth of the Aquarius Qi in him vanished into thin air.
Before long, the box, along with its contents, came into clarity again.
'Karmaless Skill: Level Four. Special Effect(s): Grade Four Body Strengthening, Grade One Devil Intent.'
"Devil Intent?" Lu Sheng recalled the introduction on the manual as well as the few occasions in which Grand Elder had mentioned it. If one cultivated Karmaless Skill perfectly, there is a small chance that Devil Intent might be birthed ahead of time.
The supposed Devil Intent meant, simply put, the worldly thoughts and desires of the mind.
Anybody would have such dispersed thoughts. They could not disappear. They could be produced at any moment, but could also die at any moment.
The meditation cultivated in Karmaless Skill was actually the process of gathering one's mental energy, purifying and training it in order to filter these dispersed worldly thoughts out.
But this did not mean that they would simply vanish thoroughly on their own.
'The worldly thoughts have been forced to leave the main body of one's thoughts after being filtered out. But this doesn't mean that they'll just disappear. If one's mind is strong enough, then these worldly evil thoughts would naturally form a mental field around the cultivator that could affect others' minds and create illusions.' That was Lu Sheng's own logical deduction.
'That's Devil Intent.' Lu Sheng opened his eyes and walked to the edge of the basin by the corner of the room. He stared at his own face in the reflection of the water.
Before the breakthrough, he looked extremely ordinary, like a mere mortal, thanks to Yin Extreme Mode's concealment abilities. But now, a peculiar evil aura was exuded off him. A look at him from a distance would fill one's mind with distractions and frustrations, putting one in fear of him.
'So this is the effect of the mental field? It seems pretty much like the rumored hypnosis techniques that can contaminate the mind.' At his mind's command, the effects of Devil Intent quickly receded.
The reflection of himself in the water immediately returned to its ordinary mortal look from before.
That was the effect of Yin Extreme Mode. The powerful Yin Extreme Mode could conceal all mental energy and resulting physical reactions.
As a form of thought, Devil Intent could also be controlled by Lu Sheng's Yin Extreme Mode.
"On top of that, my body seems to have become stronger and more solid again. There's a slight but negligible gain in defense as well..."
Despite his frown, he knew that this was only to be expected. His physical body was already too strong. He should already be thankful that a secret art of Karmaless Skill's class had any strengthening effect on him.
Presently, it was already very difficult for him to find any content in martial arts that could help him. Hence, Lu Sheng put all his hopes on the secret arts practiced by Noblemen. If even secret arts could do nothing for him, then all he could do was to accumulate inner force slowly and find Yin Qi to continue extrapolating his inner force skills in order to see if he could carve out an untraveled path for himself in the world of inner force.
But from the initial intent behind those inner force skills, the odds of being able to arrive at the level of Divine Weapons or Devil Blades were very slim... After all, no matter how much one extrapolated a skill, there was bound to be a limit. Even presently, he was beginning to feel that limit. Not even the Modifier could do anything about that.
Ninety-nine percent of inner force skills had been designed for gaseous inner Qi. None of them had anything to do with liquefied inner Qi. Moreover, many of the principles and concepts related to inner Qi remained superficial; this was of no help at all to Lu Sheng now.
In fact, even the creators of those skills themselves knew nothing about the natural qualities of liquefied Qi. They even used their faulty speculations to create seemingly impressive skills.
But there was nothing to be done about this. After all, some inner Qi displayed different properties and phenomena under different conditions. Many qualities were manifested only when inner Qi was liquefied. That was how Lu Sheng had reverse-engineered many of qualities and characteristics of inner Qi.
It was just like modern science. Many of the principles in molecular physics and macro physics were non-transferrable and not interchangeable.
So was inner force. Lu Sheng had discovered that many established ideas about inner force were wrong after liquefaction. They were no longer appropriate anymore. He had to experiment anew on his own.
'Hopefully secret arts will bring me the new direction that I need.' Lu Sheng sensed his own condition now. 'When day breaks, I'll make another trip to the Devil's Pool. I should be able to step into the next level in the few days.'
He pulled out a small box from under his bed. It contained the pill which he had instructed his subordinates to send himPrime Deployment Pill.
It was an invaluable pill used to nourish Qi and blood, containing many precious herbs mixed together. It was extremely effective in nourishing Qi and blood.
He had been counting on this pill to make up for the serious lack in his diet the past few months.
While the diet in the sect was balanced in nature, it was far too little in quantity for him. Each time Lu Sheng paid a visit to the Devil's Pool, he would need massive quantities of food to replenish his inner Qi from the consumption of Aquarius Qi.
Naturally, the sect's provisions were far from enough for him. That was why he had the Prime Deployment Pill.
He poured out two from the box, tossed them into his mouth, chewed on them, and swallowed them. Lu Sheng resumed his meditative posture. Having just upgraded Karmaless Skill, he needed to give his body some time to rest in order to make up for the hidden injuries sustained from the sudden breakthrough.
In the next few days,
Lu Sheng attended the morning lessons as per normal. Then, he would temper his body in the Devil's Pool like clockwork. Grand Elder also explained the subsequent steps in Karmaless Skill generously to Lu Sheng.
Lu Sheng's performance was a great source of comfort to Grand Elder. As long as he mentioned something in his lecture, Lu Sheng could easily comprehend it and commit it to memory.
Another seven or eight days passed by in a flash. Lu Sheng had just finished his stock of Prime Deployment Pills. Today, he had to go to the mouth of the cavern again to wait for his men to send him more.
Through the sect's dedicated messenger birds, he could easily send his memos to Crimson Whale Sect's men and receive intelligence about White Bell City.
Leaning against the mouth of the cavern, Lu Sheng stared distractedly at the gloomy torrential downpour.
"Missing home?" He Xiangzi appeared behind Lu Sheng out of nowhere and leaned against the wall just like him.