With the sizzling sound of corrosion, Lu Sheng pulled back his finger forcefully all of a sudden. His index finger was thoroughly shriveled.
His face fell. After a moment's thought, he raised his hand again.
Moving to an angle out of Grand Elder's line of sight, his finger transformed, expanding and turning black. His nails extended, turning razor-sharp like the edge of a blade.
This was his Yin Yang integration mode. Ever since cultivating secret arts, Lu Sheng's command of the muscles in his body had become even more intricate and relaxed. Now, he was able to transform even small parts of his body into different modes.
Yin Yang integration, plus inner Qi detonation!
A glint of determination flashed across Lu Sheng's eyes.
If he were to try, he would try something big. Presently, his strongest Mode was Yin Yang integration and liquefied inner Qi detonation. Under such a mode, the strength of his body had long since trampled over the middle three grades of the Snake realm. Though he had not yet witnessed the power of the upper three grades, Lu Sheng believed himself to be in that band.
'Let me see how far away I am from the might of a Divine Weapon Master at my full power.'
Once again, he extended his finger towards the front.
Like a stone mill, that massive force in the air turned slowly.
Lu Sheng felt as if his finger was being squashed by something huge and incredibly heavy. Intense pain stabbed into his heart. Hurriedly, he pulled back his finger.
His entire middle finger was black, dry, and shriveled. Even the liquefied inner Qi within it had vanished mysteriously into thin air in an instant.
"This" The coldness of disappointment washed over him. Only now did he finally experience for himself the vast chasm between the power of a mortal and that of a Divine Weapon.
'This... this doesn't seem like a product of cultivation!' Lu Sheng recalled that massive, impersonal force he experienced a moment ago. That sort of retaliation seemed more like some sort of reactive mechanism, as if he had caused a small gear on the fringe of a large piece of machinery to turn a little.
'Could it be that the supposed Divine Weapons and Devil Blades are actually war weapons left behind by ancient civilizations?'
Lu Sheng was very confident in his own physical body. He believed that those whose bodies were stronger than his own in this time and worldeven among Noblemen and demonswere extremely few in number.
In fact, he almost represented the topmost league of this world in terms of physical strength. Yet even such strength was as fragile as paper under the power of mere Holy Weapon fragments.
That was not to mention that the power of Holy Weapon fragments paled in comparison to that of a complete Holy Weapon. In turn, Holy Weapons merely possess one percent of the power of Divine Weapons and Devil Blades.
It went to show just how terrifying the might of Divine Weapon Masters who wielded them was.
"Do you sense it? The power of Law." Grand Elder's deep voice rang out behind him. "Noble Families who wield such poweror rather, rely on it... I think you can imagine the heights on which they stand."
"Teacher, is there no way to stand against the Noble Families?" Lu Sheng asked.
"Divine Weapons and Devil Blades possess independent personalities and thoughts. They cannot be tamed. But such power cannot be resisted by human strength.
That's why we've been trying to forge our own Divine Weapons and Devil Bladesbasically the supposed Holy Weapons. And as for the result, as you can see, we've failed. We've merely succeeded in creating something that looks the part but lacks its power. While we've barely been able to control them, their might and agility pales in comparison to that of true Divine Weapons," Grand Elder replied in a tone of resignation. "You simply can't imagine what an inestimable cost the Hundred Lineages paid to make those Holy Weapons during that part of history."
"Forging our own Divine Weapons and Devil Blades, eh?" Lu Sheng repeated.
"That's right. It's the only way that could work. Divine Weapons and Devil Blades are the most powerful force in all that is known. Nothing much can resist it. Any faction that's capable of wielding such power becomes the undisputed strongest force in the world." Grand Elder nodded in confirmation.
Such war weapons... were hard to stand up against indeed. [ED/N: War weapons... basically the author's way of emphasizing they're like rockets and planes rather than pistols and machine guns]
Lu Sheng glanced at the blue pool. He could imagine the difficulties and sacrifices that the sects made in their attempt to forge the Holy Weapons.
"And what about secret arts?" Lu Sheng asked all of a sudden. "Against such power, what chances does the cultivator who attains the highest realm of achievement in the secret arts have...?"
"The master of the Prime Devil Sect's Karmaless lineage, Ancestor Yun Shan, once did some research on that," Grand Elder replied. "His conclusion was this: secret arts manipulate ordinary elements. But Divine Weapons and Devil Blades are themselves personifications of fundamental Laws.
It's as laughable as a mortal trying to fight demons, ghosts, and the supernatural world with martial arts. All one achieves when one practices martial arts to its peak is to fatten oneself for ghosts to feed on."
"Ordinary elements? Fundamental Laws? What's the difference?" At the sound of such jargon, Lu Sheng paused and asked further.
"It's just a simple conceptual difference." Grand Elder shook his head. "To use an analogy, if we use fire to cultivate, Divine Weapons use the flames of the sun. They're powerful near myth-like weapons. That's the difference."
Lu Sheng nodded. He roughly understood.
"Ordinary elements refer to all forms of energy that can be manipulated to amplify one's power after cultivation... just like the inner Qi of mortal and our Devil Qi.
Fundamental Laws refer to all forms of energy that exist on a completely higher plane than ordinary elements. They cannot be manipulated and their might is extremely powerful. They're not even in the same league.
Take, for example, the Devil Blade, Tri-Sun Cauldron, which once caused the great drought in Yin Province. It contains limitless Tri-Sun True Flame within it. Before it, the actual power of the Noble Family Heads is like a splash of water in a big oceannegligible.
That was how the several Noble Families in Yun Province were wiped out. Finally, their Divine Weapon Masters came out of their seclusion and joined forces with other Noble Families outside of the province before they finally barely managed to suppress the Tri-Sun Cauldron.
At that time, crimson clouds covered the skies. Everywhere the eye could see, the land was cracked and water boiled and evaporated into steam. Thousands of lis were dyed red... and that's an understatement," Grand Elder exclaimed.
"Look at me, I've digressed. All I'm saying is that the cultivation of secret arts involved only ordinary elements.
But Divine Weapons and Devil Blades are fundamental Laws in nature. No matter how strong you become through cultivation, you're merely increasing the volume of ordinary elements. But elements and Laws exist on two entirely different planes. No matter how much and how powerful the elements you can muster, they're futile against the power of Law. Can you blow a hole through steel with your breath?"
Lu Sheng sucked in a deep breath of cold air. What Grand Elder told him now was the essence and distillation of countless generations' worth of experience gathered by the ancestors and seniors of the sect who had exchanged for it with their lives after they had failed to resist the power of Divine Weapons with their power.
Today, his path was no different from theirs.
It was the first time, the very first time, that he personally identified with the sect.
They were the same. They were all men and women who were fighting to break free from this Divine Weapon and Devil Blade-controlled world.
"Alright, we've seen enough. You've witnessed the power of Law. Let's go out." Grand Elder sighed.
"Yes." Lu Sheng nodded.
Together with Grand Elder, they leapt into the air and quickly returned to the mouth of the cave from which they had entered.
On their way back, Grand Elder mentioned the Hundred Lineages Meeting which worried him.
"The Hundred Lineages Meeting's almost upon us. When it comes, we all need to fight. Including your Senior Apprentice Sister He Xiangzi. The two of you will have to shoulder many challenges.
Our Prime Devil Sect is small and weak now and will certainly draw many treacherous scum who eye our sect's resources. Little Sheng, no matter what, you must remember thisact within your limits.
Regardless of victory or defeat, resources are inanimate. People are the most important thing. We can always earn more resources. But if we lose our lives, then everything's truly gone!"
Lu Sheng nodded solemnly.
Grand Elder continued, "Now, the two of you are all that's left of our Prime Devil Sect. I've imparted all secret arts to you. If you've got problems with the Phantom Listening Skill's lineage, you can always ask me. But if it's other lineages, I can't help you. I know you've got extraordinary talent, but you've got to act within your limits. Focus on one thing at a time. Only then can you climb higher."
"Your disciple remembers." Lu Sheng bowed respectfully. Although Grand Elder was inferior to him in terms of strength, his teaching and advice have indeed helped him avoid going down many wrong paths. Hence, he felt that there was nothing wrong in honoring him as his teacher.
"Good. As long as you understand. In the future... in the future... sigh..." As he thought about the bleak future, Grand Elder was momentarily at a loss for words.
Lone Smoke City.
The Lin Family.
A tall tower rose up several hundred meters into the air. All sorts of silk decorations hung from the icy blue roofs all around.
The tower was like the house of a wealthy family ten times magnified. Rising up in the middle of the city, it was its most iconic and visible landmark.
All other buildings bowed before it.
On the observatory at the topmost story of the tower, a tall and slender man in white robes was surveying the large stretch of streets and buildings under the tower with his long sleeves billowing behind him.
The man's face could not be described as handsome, but it was as cold as ice. Moreover, his facial features were very angular and sharp. Together, they imbued him with a peculiar cold charisma.
Anyone who looked at him would involuntarily think of a frozen sapphire stone.
"Lin Huandao. What's going on with the losses among the Wandering Gods? I need a detailed explanation from you!" The man was looking at the scenery under the tower, but his words seemed to be directed behind him.
"Young Master Kai, it's just a small kink in the plans. The Wandering Gods seem to have met with an obstacle. But that's within our expectations as well." The man behind him was a tall, muscular man in red robes with mustache and sideburns that covered his face. Despite the interrogation, his face remained placid. Calmly, he continued, "Moreover, how can those supposed sect masters and elites call themselves 'Wandering Gods'? They're just cannon fodder. So what if they die? The Hundred Lineages is filled with trash like them."
"However weak the 'cannon fodder' is, they're nonetheless stronger than trash from outside," Lin Beikai said coldly, turning his head around to glare at the man. "The Wandering Gods are my forces. I built them up. Don't you think your hands are reaching too far?"
"Aren't your forces the family's forces, Young Master? Surely it's within reason for Huandao to use them? Why're you so upset, Young Master? As for the little bit of loss suffered..." Before Lin Huandao could continue, however, a sheet of paper slapped against his face.
"Is this what you mean by a little bit of loss?" Murderous intent seeped out from Lin Beikai. These family elders were getting out of hand. How dare they interfere with his own private forces? Did they really think that he dared not act against them?
Lin Huandao pulled the piece of paper down and unfurled it without getting angry.
"The Mirage Water Palace was stopped; two Wandering Gods gravely wounded. Three missing from the East Talent Sect. Three missing from the Prime Devil Sect. And the Hundred Tempering Sect's losses... EH?!!" Lin Huandao's pupils shrank suddenly. A solemn look fell on his face.
"I deployed thirteen Wandering Gods and seven Winter Generals. There should be eight Snake realms among them. To think that there'd be nine people lost from the Hundred Tempering Sect alone?"
"Is that what you mean by a little bit of loss?" Lin Beikai looked daggers at him.
"The plan this time was to reorganize the key targeted sects, recruiting those that we can and replacing or merging those that we can't recruit. This plan was designed by Young Master Kai in the first place. The losses may be a little higher than planned, but aren't they still within Young Master's level of tolerance?"
Firstly, I'm sorry again for the few days' break in release! Thank you for waiting patiently for this chapter!
Secondly, the chapter numbers are misaligned because, like I mentioned previously, one chapter was missing from the online platform we use. So I need to include the correct chapter number in the heading. I'll remind the technical team to fix the problem as soon as they can!
Thirdly, the new translator has already started working on a batch of chapters, so releases should be stabilising soon. If all goes well, we should see more chapters released per week!
Fourthly, I'm going to be at the webnovel fan meeting in Singapore... so if any of you are going too, I'll see you there! ;)