The "regional" phase was over.
Each sect sent people to the gathering place of the Meetingthe Melody Temple.
In the Silent Mountains, the Melody Temple was the largest base of the Heaven Lotus Sect. It was also used daily for the cultivation of average disciples.
The members of all the sects in the Hundred Lineages headed towards the Melody Temple one by one.
At this stage, there were basically only the upper three grades left, who would compete for the top rank. The middle grades and the lower grades were only here to spectate.
However, because the allocation of resources hadn't been determined yet and the discussion between the sect masters wasn't finished, all the sects had to continue to participate until everything was settled. Therefore, this became the place where the elites from the upper three grades or the middle three grades could display their ability.
Asking around, He Xiangzi figured out the general situation and confirmed that the Prime Devil Sect was above four other sects. Finally letting the stone in her heart drop, He Xiangzi looked happy and relaxed again.
Having stabilized their ranking, Lu Sheng achieved one of his goals. He couldn't care less about the remaining proceedings.
Because he still had to wait for the final results, he followed the crowd and came to the Melody Temple.
The Heaven Lotus Sect arranged for the Prime Devil Sect to be seated beside the few sects they knew. After settling down, it got kind of boring. The previous period of time was pretty tense and filled them with anxiety, but now, there was nothing to do.
After watching several so-called three upper grade's people fight, Lu Sheng didn't notice anything special. They were only at the Bind level. As a relatively powerful man even in the Snake realm, it was naturally not interesting for him.
So, he decided to just stay in his room and cultivate. The outside was very lively, but the residence area was quiet and peaceful.
While everyone else was busy watching the event, he used this Meeting as a chance to train outside instead.
After a few days, the Meeting was still not overthere were at least two days left. His third Devil Will Heart had yet to become active too. So, with nothing better to do, Lu Sheng decided to go sightseeing as a way to kill some time.
The Melody Temple. The back of the mountain.
Bushes and shrubs, trees and sprouts, all of them lush and swaying with the wind.
At first glance, everything was green. Moss green, bright green, dark green, and yellow green. The different kinds of green seemed full of life with white waterfalls as the background.
The entire Melody Temple was built on a lonely mountain. Except for a small path leading up, everywhere else was untouched by human hand.
In addition, there was a green jade-like stream that flowed around the mountain.
Lu Sheng was dressed in a long scholarly robe, his person a picture of light green as he slowly followed the path by the stream that wound up the mountain.
Every now and then, there'd be a wooden stake stuck into the ground next to the road. Each stake was linked with the nearest other stake with a chain, parts of which were rusted and therefore dark-red.
"...Chen Tian of the Bronze Script Palace... is the winner..." A distant voice sounded from the top of the mountain. It was the noise of the big rank competition at the Melody Temple.
Lu Sheng wasn't surprised by it and walked to a wooden stake to enjoy the view of the clear, sparkling, light-green water. In his spare time, he liked to relax himself completely like this. He didn't have to think at all and could just chill, like a machine coming slowly to a halt. One hour of such rest, and he could persevere.
"...The afternoon is fight for the top ten sects. Don't you want to go to see?" There was a faint voice in the distance. It sounded like a young woman.
"What's the point? They're superior to us, and just looking won't let us change that. Don't you see that many of the lower three grades already left?" a male voice answered quietly. "Instead of talking about such boring stuff, why don't we stay together a little longer We haven't been intimate for so long..." Ripples crept into the man's voice.
"Don't... Don't touch! Don't touch there!!" the woman protested in a low voice.
Lu Sheng was a little stunned. He glanced in the direction of the voices, and faintly saw a woman and man, both dressed in light yellow robes, embracing each other and engaging in some improper activities.
He recognized this style of the clothes. Only the servants in the Melody Temple wore them.
He didn't go bother them. The only reason he was able to hear them talk was because of his unnaturally strong senses. They couldn't sense him at all because of the distance.
As Lu Sheng stood there by the stream, he was bombarded by increasingly louder and more ecstatic moans from their direction. Helpless, he could only go find himself another place to relax.
While walking along the bank towards the courtyard of the Melody Temple, small black wooden huts appeared in the distance one by one.
These huts came in sets of ten, each forming a "" shape together, which were further arranged in the form of a giant triangle.
Lu Sheng stood in front of the iron chain, his hand resting on a wooden stake while he looked off into the distance.
"As it turns out, taking a break and breathing in some fresh air at the countryside sometimes isn't a bad idea." He took a deep breath and the air carrying the scent of the fresh vegetation filled his lungs, making him feel comfortable and relaxed.
"Clang, Clang, Clang."
Vaguely, he heard some distant sounds carried by the wind... almost like the crisp sound of hitting something.
Lu Sheng looks towards the direction where the sound came from and saw a narrow path, almost completely covered by the bushes and grass on both sides. It looked like it hadn't been used by anyone in a while.
The sound came from deep down this path.
He looked to both his left and right and didn't see any signs put in place by the Heaven Lotus Sect. Normally, if there was anything important or dangerous around, the Heaven Lotus Sect would put up a sign nearby with what to pay attention to written on it.
Lu Sheng was bored, anyways. He couldn't hasten his Devil Will Heart, and yin Qi items weren't found easily. He had to wait for the Meeting to end before he could act without any restrictions.
He hesitated for a moment, then walked in front of the path. He pushed aside the shrubs and grass and slowly walked in.
'I'm just wandering around aimlessly anyways, might as well take a look at what the Melody Temple looks like since I'm already here.'
After following the small path down its length, making a left turn followed by a right turn, going around a flowerbed and even through a cave, Lu Sheng finally saw the picture before him change.
A huge cave appeared before him, its ceiling about five or six meters high and pitch darkness inside. Three large words were carved above its entrance: Cave of Intolerance.
The clanging sound wasn't as frequent anymore, only occasionally coming out of the cave once or twice. There wasn't anyone around, and there was a thick layer of dry leaves on the ground, which issued crisp sounds as one stepped on them.
"This is the place where the Two Saints of the Heaven Lotus lived a thousand years ago." A clear and gentle male voice came from behind Lu Sheng suddenly.
"The Two Saints of the Heaven Lotus?" Lu Sheng turned around, only to see that behind him stood a strange white-haired young man clad in white, his eyes dark-red.
The young man's clothes were white like snow, his hair reaching his waist. His body looked delicate yet his height equaled that of Lu Sheng.
"The Heaven Lotus Sect once had two earth-shaking figures, the Two Saints of the Heaven Lotus," said the young man in a soft voice.
"At that time, when the noble families were scrambling for supremacy, sects were merely buds that had just started to grow. Demons and ghosts were rampant. When the Two Saints of the Heaven Lotus traveled around the world and felt the suffering of the people, they established an organization called the Twin Leaf Palace."
"I've heard about this before," said Lu Sheng, nodding. "The Twin Leaf Palace was the predecessor to the Hundred Lineages. It gathered a lot of power from the destroyed noble families, and grew to become extremely powerful."
"That is the predecessor of the Leaf Sect," the young man said. "But the first disciples of the Leaf Sect had been under great pressure. At that time, the strongest noble families united to pressure the Two Saints. In their desperation, the Two Saints decided to act secretly."
"So, how does this relate to me in any way?" Lu Sheng said doubtfully.
With his senses, he'd naturally noticed the presence of the man behind him. However, since the latter didn't cover the sound of his footsteps and displayed no malice, he didn't care about him.
The young man smiled a bit.
"Senior Apprentice Brother Liu mentioned that he'd met an interesting young man at the Jasper Palaceseems like he meant you. Lu Sheng, the sect leader of the Crimson Whale Sect, the gatekeeper of the northern territory gate, one of the key subordinates of the Shangyang Jiuli from the Shangyang Family, and the current first seat of the Prime Devil Sect... am I right?"
"That's right." Lu Sheng nodded. "And?" Everything said so far could have been discovered through an investigation, as long as one was interested and spent just a bit of effort.
"Do you want to know how, in spite of the noble families' threat, my sect and the Hundred Lineages can still remain independent, not being annexed?" asked the young man.
"I am a bit curious, but I don't want to know," Lu Sheng replied lightly.
"Eh..." The young man was stuck. He was expecting a different reply, thus he no longer knew how he was supposed to continue with what he was going to say.
"I now understand why Senior Apprentice Brother Liu said you were interesting."
Lu Sheng said calmly, "If you know a lot, it's hard to have nothing to do with it."
"But you're already in trouble." The youth shook his head. "The Three Sacred Gates are already watching you. Do you know what kind of danger your subordinates, family, and friends in the northern territory are in right now? To be honest, had there been no information from the Three Sacred Gates, we might not have noticed you at all."
"Of course I know. But as long as the Shangyang Family is still behind me, I will not worry about it," Lu Sheng said lightly.
"The Shangyang Family cannot always be drawn in to do difficult tasks for you. They will sooner or later find out," the young man said with a serious expression.
"Before they find out, I'll find new people to rely on," Lu Sheng replied.
"This is why I came to find you." The young man smiled.
"Can you hold your own against the Three Sacred Gates?" Lu Sheng asked.
"What do you think?" the teenager asked in return. He smiled very happily, as if it had been a long time since he saw something that sparked his interest. This kind of pureness and sincerity revealed deep within his eyes even moved Lu Sheng a little.
He never saw someone smile so purely before.
"We are the Leaf Sect. It is an alliance formed by the strongest people within the Hundred Lineages. We have people even within the noble families," the young man continued to explain.
"But even that wouldn't change the fact that you guys don't have a Divine Weapon Master. Without that, everything else is just a fantasy," Lu Sheng concluded, hitting the nail on the head.
"Eh..." The young man hesitated, falling silent.
After a long while, he slowly let out a sight. "You're right, but in your Prime Devil Sect, you wouldn't get many resources or develop much at all. If you join us, you'll be able to cultivate more and better, and we can even send people to the Northern Territories to protect your friends, family, and subordinates. Why wouldn't that be enough?"
"There's no thing as a free meal in this world. What I get will eventually be spat back out." Lu Sheng shook his head.
"Since that is the case, you may go back and take your time to think about it. If you make up your mind, you can come back here at any time. The Heaven Lotus Sect doesn't stop anyone from coming here, so you can come whenever you wish," the young man said with some regret.
"Alright." Lu Sheng didn't outright refuse. More friends would mean more opportunities, not to mention that the other party was from the Leaf Sect. The Leaf Sect always upheld their morals and wouldn't indiscriminately kill innocent mortals. They considered the ritual and blood offerings as evil and illegitimate methods of development, and advocated getting rid of Divine Weapons and Demon Blades, staying away from ritual and blood offerings and working hard to become stronger.