Following the lead of the Taoist, the two of them entered the Jasper Palace. On both their sides, they would spot other Taoists leading other sect members as well.
Among these disciples of varying sects, there were some who chatted amicably with each other and traveled together. There were also those who eyed each other warily, as if they would pull out their sabers at any time. Some stood together, debating with each other.
The two of them from the Prime Devil Sect continued to the deepest part of the palace, following the Taoist's lead. On the way, some sect disciples would talk to them.
But upon hearing that they were from the Prime Devil Sect, they would either indicate that they had never heard of it before, or pass them by directly and ignore them.
In their eyes, the Prime Devil Sect was merely a puny sect that was about to fall out of the Hundred Lineages. It was not even worth their effort talking to them.
The duo including Lu Sheng went through a few courtyards. The layout of the Jasper Palace comprised a large main path that cut across the palace and side halls for sect members to live in on both sides of the path.
Lu Sheng also saw disciples from other sects who were led to other halls like them.
But none of were as few in number as them. The smallest group among them comprised seven or eight people.
"The Grace Garden is in the deepest part of the Jasper Palace. The shrine is now divided into five sectors. Your sect has been allocated in the fifth sector," the guide introduced.
"Mm. How about our meals?" He Xiangzi asked softly.
"Meals are provided by the Divine Fragrance Court. All upper three grades sects have designated monitors. There'll be absolutely no problem.
Regarding internal matches, all the sects across all five sectors can challenge each other freely. Each person can enter five matchesexcluding challenges by others. Whoever has the most victories will clinch the number one spot," the guide explained the situation.
As they continued towards the Grace Garden, they passed by many other halls. People were being assigned living quarters in them. Many sects already had their disciples out on patrols, checking out the surroundings.
Midway, Lu Sheng caught sight of a young man and a lady seated and playing chess from the corner of his eye.
The man was dressed in black robes, his long sleeves billowing in the wind. A white tall crown adorned his head, and a green jade tablet was hung on his chest. He reeked of the aura of an erudite from the past.
The lady was no more than twenty years old, but looked as dignified and solemn as a Buddha statue in a temple. Her beautiful features emanated compassion. She was clearly slender and well-figured and much of her svelte waist was exposed, yet she did not provoke any lust.
As the two continued taking turns to lay pieces, the expressions on their faces remained sober and solemn.
"These two are?" Lu Sheng had seen many Noblemen and members of the Hundred Lineages. But this was the first time he had seen a lady with such an extraordinary aura. The rest of the people around were ordinary in comparison.
The guide's gaze following the direction in which Lu Sheng pointed, and he immediately smiled.
"Those two are Heaven Lotus Sect's Master Cang Songzi and God of Halberds Sect's Divine Lady of the Earth."
"Isn't this the living quarters for the lower three grades sects?" He Xiangzi asked out of curiosity.
"Indeed. But these two are part of the security force stationed here. They're not participating in the matches this Meeting," their guide replied.
The duo including Lu Sheng caught on to the subtext. Simply put, these two were too strongway above the limits of an ordinary disciple. To have them participate in the match would be like bullying kids.
Lu Sheng could not help but cast another glance at them.
"Let's carry on."
"Alright, let me continue the orientation," their guide continued from where they had left off.
As they listened to his explanation, the two of them soon arrived at the Grace Garden, where the Prime Devil Sect had been assigned.
Although the Prime Devil Sect was near falling out of the Hundred Lineages, it was presently still a member nonetheless. Hence, it was assigned large living quarters sufficient for several dozens.
The living quarters were called the Grace Garden and comprised a main hall, two side halls, and several dozen bedrooms around them.
Lu Sheng could not be bothered to attend the meeting in the afternoon and so sent He Xiangzi instead.
Basically, it was a bunch of people gathering together listening to the old Taoist from the Jasper Palace who was in charge of this Hundred Lineages Meeting introduce the various sections and details of the competition.
He himself stayed in the room, inspecting it for any hidden surveillance. Besides that, he also felt that the second Devil Will heart was about to hatch at anytime. He was holding his breath in anticipation of the heights he could attain after cultivating Devil Heart Dao to the ninth level.
Moreover, his fleshly body far outstripped the strength of the Prime Devil Sect disciples in the past. This meant that he had absorbed way more of the essence of the River of Poisoned Fog than the average Prime Devil Sect disciple.
He had done some rough calculations on his own. Compared to the volume that the body of an average disciple could take, he had probably absorbed thirty to fifty times more essence of the River of Poisoned Fog.
Take He Xiangzi, for instance. Lu Sheng had once tactfully asked her about the details of her cultivation in the Karmaless Skill.
It did not take much for him to calculate how much of the River of Poisoned Fog she had absorbed. This gave Lu Sheng a highly objective basis of comparison.
He Xiangzi had left for the meeting as the sect's representative. Lu Sheng had not stayed in the Grace Garden for too long when a loud sound erupted from outside.
"Chen Shi! Come the hell out right now!!"
A shrill male voice rang out from nearby living quarters. While the voice was clearly shrill and feminine, it was clearly trying to pass off as deep and rough, making it sound inexplicably awkward.
"You hacked off my Senior Apprentice Sister's arm earlier. Now, are you gonna come out and break both your arms yourself, or am I going to come in and rip out all four of your limbs?" that feminine voice said coldly.
"Feng Junhai? You sat out the meeting? Works well for me. I might as well get rid of you too. I was just feeling that this section was a little too crowded for my liking." A composed deep voice rang out.
Lu Sheng sat in the side hall. Soon, sounds of fighting erupted outside.
A pathetic scream, the boom of a collision, and the blast of an explosion. Some secret art was used.
The fight dragged on quite a while, breaking the peace of the area.
He had not expected that the fighting would begin so early. Those in charge of the area did not bother to interfere. Instead, it seemed like they were already prepared beforehand to let them do whatever they wanted.
It took a long time of fighting before it got quiet outside.
Lu Sheng quieted his mind, sensing the second Devil Will heart which was about to hatch. The first was the human-faced snake which seemed to pollute and contaminate the mind. He was looking forward to find out what ability the second had.
The heart hatched in Devil Heart Dao was different for different people. That was because no two persons' mental and inner states were the same.
'Ordinarily, most first Devil hearts hatched are the Snake of Bitterness, according to the records.' Lu Sheng glances at the man-faced snake emerging beside him. This was indeed the Snake of Bitterness. It had pretty much the same form and ability as was described in the records.
'The function of the Snake of Bitterness is to hamper the opponent's mental focus. It's also the one with the least practical use.
If nothing goes awry, the next one should typically be the Lion of Rage. A lion burning with black toxic flames which can help in actual combat. Its might depends on one's depth of cultivation.'
Lu Sheng shut his eyes. Black smoke emerged and encircled him gradually. Soon, a black heart the size of a human head appeared before him.
A purplish red symbol was flashing at its center.
'Guide one's own heart. Find and discover one's own yearning, the most vivid parts of one's memory'
Lu Sheng focused his mind and held his breath, then began hatching the Devil heart using the steps recorded on the manual.
Just then, a loud boom interrupted his state of intense focus.
The sound had come from none other than the main entrance to the Grace Garden.
"Wastrels from the Prime Devil Sect, come out now!" A familiar voice, reeking of arrogance, rang out over the entire Grace Garden.
Furious, Lu Sheng rose up with a frown.
All he wanted to do was to attend the Meeting peacefully and keep the current ranking. Why would such trash always keep jumping out to annoy him? Wouldn't it be nice if they could just fight in the matches amicably?
'I've got to strike them hard, but I can't kill them completely. Oh, it's tough' Lu Sheng slowly walked out of the side hall and gazed towards the middle of the main courtyard.
A tall and slim man was standing at the door with his hands behind his back, his gaze sweeping over everywhere. It was Li Du, whom he had met in the inn previously.
The other person beside him seemed to be his junior apprentice sister. In dark blue robes and pants, with a large pitch-black bow on her back and her long hair billowing in the wind, she looked rather attractive.
"You're from the Prime Devil Sect?" It only took Li Du a single glance to recognize Lu Sheng.
At first, the Nine Bells Sect had their eyes set on the Prime Devil Sect's headquarters, and hence their Alternate Cave Sect has no choice but to back out of the fight. After all, they were far from being a match for the Nine Bells Sect.
But none had expected that the Nine Bells Sect would suddenly go down like that. The disciples they had sent to this Meeting were merely here to go through the motions as well.
That gave rise to Li Du's ambitious thoughts. The Alternate Cave Sect was known for cultivating five uncommon acupoints.
They firmly believed that cultivating these five uncommon acupoints was the key to unlocking all sorts of unbelievable secret arts and abilities, and that the Devil Pools in Prime Devil Sect could help stimulate these acupoints to a certain extent.
Li Du's uncle was the sect master of the Alternate Cave Sect. Being the relative of the sect master, Li Du himself naturally made the rise and fall of the sect his personal concern.
Quite a few sects of the lower three grades had expressed interest in the Prime Devil Sect's headquarters. Hence, the moment he sensed an opportunity, he hurried over in case others would get to his prize ahead of him.
"You're Lu Sheng?" Li Du sized him up coldly.
A weak scholar.
That was his first impression of Lu Sheng.
The paleness of his face flagged him out as being deficient in blood and Qi. Had he been from any other sect, Li Du would act with caution. But he was from the Prime Devil Sect. What was there in their secret arts apart from some toxic fumes and unspeakably crude combat moves?
"That's me." Lu Sheng nodded slightly in response.
"Where's your first seat He Xiangzi?" Li Du looked left and right, trying to spot He Xiangzi.
"You're looking for her? I can pass on the message for you," Lu Sheng said earnestly.
"It's nothing much, really. I just want your Prime Devil Sect to back out of this Hundred Lineages Meeting. It's not like you'll be able to secure a place on the rankings, will you?" Li Du sneered.
Lu Sheng gave it a few seconds' thought. Then, with all seriousness, he held up three fingers.
"One eye, two legs."
"What?" Li Du stared dumbly, completely at a loss to what Lu Sheng meant.
Without warning, a blood-curdling scream rang out beside Li Du. Hurriedly, he turned and looked. His junior apprentice sister presently had her fingers stabbed into both her eyes!
Large volumes of blood were gushing out from her eye sockets, dripping on to the floor.
"Senior Apprentice Brother!! Save me!!" His junior apprentice sister cried her heart out, but could not control her actions in the slightest. Still, her fingers were wriggling about involuntarily in her eye sockets.
"I!!??" Li Du was shocked dumb. But quickly, he snapped to his senses. "Wait a bit, Junior Apprentice Sister, I'm going to save you!!"
Immediately after saying that, he dashed in front of his junior apprentice sister.
In exactly the same fashion, he stabbed his fingers into his own eyes.
Incredulously, Li Du had gouged his eyeballs out just like she did.
"Junior Apprentice Sister!!" he yelled. "What's happened to you?? Junior Apprentice Sister?! Why can't I see anything now too??!"
A moment later.
The two of them crawled their way out of Prime Devil Sect's entrance without any eyes or legs with great difficulty.
"Junior Apprentice Sister!!"
"Senior Apprentice Brother!!"
Lu Sheng slowly shut the doors, staring speechlessly at the man-faced snake swimming around him.
He had released it only experimentally. Yet little did he expect that this thing would be so powerful it was sick.
'The records explain that the man-faced snake causes a mild disruptive effect to the mind, resulting in confusion' He felt as if the records he had read were false. To have caused others to gouge out their own eyes and hack through their own legs how is this in any sense of the word "mild"?
Li Du was after all a Four-Vein Level expert. Even if that was within the Hundred Lineages system, a cut below that of the Noble Families, he undeniably remained a god-like figure in the eyes of ordinary mortals.
'If not even such a level can handle the disruption of my man-faced snake, what kind of effect would it have on mortals?' Lu Sheng's face turned somber. Because he knew that the ability of his man-faced snake was not target-specific. It was an area-of-effect skill.
Hey guys! It's old Deep Blue here! Hope you enjoyed our new translator Xintuz's first chapter in the previous release! The next approximately ten chapters or so are from him as well and will be released every other day. Enjoy the read!
P.S. the previously mentioned "Abberant Cave Sect" has been retranslated as "Alternate Cave Sect"