Lu Sheng stared silently at the gaping pit on the ground from a distance. It was because it was simply gargantuan.
Its diameter was more than twenty meters, and the walls of the pit were as smooth as a mirror. Stone and dirt had condensed into a bizarre blackish yellow crystal under high heat.
Wisps of black smoke wafted up from within the pit.
The eyewitnesses from the Hundred Temperings Sect were talking to the investigation team formed by the upper three grades beside the pit, as if debating something.
Many people had gathered around the pit, inspecting it. Lu Sheng's gaze swept over the scene and discovered a familiar face.
It was Yan Kai, whom he had first met in the Nine Links City. This guy was pulling along a sweet-looking young lady helplessly, saying something. But the young lady's head bobbed up and down excitedly as she kept trying to dig into the crowd, completely ignoring his feelings.
As if he had detected Lu Sheng's gaze, Yan Kai glanced left and right uneasily. Then, somehow, his eyes met Lu Sheng's gaze.
Time seemed to stand still for two seconds.
A chilly shudder crept down Yan Kai's spine. Immediately, he spun round and dashed off, pulling the young lady away with him. In a few breaths, he disappeared among the throng.
Lu Sheng's smile froze awkwardly on his face. He had been about to wave at Yan Kai in greeting, but now it seemed
Perplexed, he touched his own face. Was he that scary? He had even helped Yan Kai and his apprentice brother. But now, in the blink of an eye, he looked at him like he was looking at a ghost and even fled without a word. What was that supposed to mean?
Ignoring Yan Kai, Lu Sheng glanced at the spot where Teacher Liu Shanzi and company stood. They seemed to be discussing and explaining something about the pit to each other.
Seeing that none of them paid any attention to him, Lu Sheng drew near the pit, squatted down and pressed his hand lightly against its rim.
Hard, boiling hot, and incredibly smooth. Three sensations immediately entered his brain through his fingertips.
Lu Sheng pulled back his fingers and looked at his index finger. A faint grayish white was on it as if it had dabbed into some white ash.
The bizarre thing was that the white ash was continually being absorbed by his skin. After absorbing the white ash, his skin quickly wrinkled and lost its luster, becoming like the finger of an old man in his seventies or eighties.
"This is the power of the Time-Freezing Axe?" Lu Sheng frowned. He wished to know the extent of a Holy Weapon's power and how much difference existed between it and his own strength.
Judging based on strength alone, he was certainly no match for it. One look at the twenty-meter-wide pit in the ground was sufficient to tell that it had been caused in one strike, not multiple ones.
And even till now, there were remnants of that white powder-like trace in the pit. This trace
'Like the shards back in the Holy Weapon pool my physical body has no ability to resist it in the slightest.' Lu Sheng extended his fourth finger again. He channeled both Devil Qi and inner Qi to the finger simultaneously, then manipulated his fingerjust the fingerinto the Integrated Yin Yang mode.
His originally slender human finger turned into a frightening razor-sharp claw, covered in black armor.
While no one took notice, Lu Sheng swiftly made contact with the wall of the pit.
The amount of the white ash he touched this time was about the same as before.
He wished to see what would happen when his presently most powerful form came into contact with the remnant traces of a Holy Weapon's power.
But the result disappointed him again.
His Yin Yang Integrated finger, with both Devil Qi and inner Qi channeled into it at the same time, held on only slightly longer than before.
Previously, after touching the white dust, his finger had aged in merely five breaths. But now, it took six.
Rapidly pouring a sea of Aquarius Qi into his fingers, he healed the aged index finger and fourth finger. Because they were not merely wounded but completely aged, the process was akin to growing new limbs again; it took massive volumes of Aquarius Qi.
Lu Sheng expended a whole ten percent of his inner force to heal the fingers.
'Only a single breath's difference.' The result made his face turn ugly. 'This means that even with all my power today, I'm not much better than the average Nobleman when faced against a Holy Weapon.
Or to put it simply, before a Holy Weapon, I'm no different from any other Noblemenwe're all trash.'
This disappointed him.
He had originally been in high spirits because he was near mastering the Devil Heart Dao and the Prime Devil Secret Art. But now, he felt a heavy pressure weighing on his heart again.
'If the intruding enemies that night are able to wield Holy Weapons at will, then great trouble awaits. I've got to get ready as soon as possible.' Threatened, Lu Sheng stood up and glanced at the three first seats from the upper three grades in discussion nearby. All three of them were locked in deep frowns. Clearly, they were having a headache over the same issue.
As the leaders of this company, they would surely have guessed that Hundred Temperings Sect must have hidden many secrets from them for it to have necessitated the enemy to use a Holy Weapon.
But how would they treat the Hundred Temperings Sect and get the intelligence they wanted that was the question.
This sect, which suffered no great losses even under a strike with a Holy Weapon, seemed to be shrouded in mysteries and enigmas.
Lu Sheng approached his teacher and the others, catching word of them discussing the Hundred Temperings Sect.
"that second horse carriage has also always been tightly wrapped and covered. Nobody has ever come out of it. Had it not been for an ambush with a Holy Weapon this time, that pale-faced young man in the carriage might never show himself," He Xiangzi reported seriously.
"Power sufficient to resist a Holy Weapon must at least be from another Holy Weapon as well. These two tightly shut horse carriages among the Hundred Temperings Sect's company must be hiding some huge secret. Earlier, the investigation team wanted to inspect them, but now they've changed their minds and decided not to do so. And then things have dragged on till now without a conclusion," Zhan Kongning added on. "After displaying such strength, I think the upper three grades sects dare not offend Hundred Temperings Sect."
"I heard that the Hundred Temperings Sect visited the Northern Lands once a while ago. I wonder if they met some opportunity in the Northern Lands?" The Clan Master of Jade Sound Clan had arrived as wella svelte lady in red robes, with a scarlet fan in her hand. A green leaf was embroidered on the fan, which she would use to cover her coughs every now and then. She did not seem to be in the pink of health.
"You haven't fully recovered, have you, Qing Ye? There's no need for you to come along. The radiation here is very high, it's not good for your recovery," Liu Shanzi expressed his concern.
"It's alright." Jade Sound Clan's Clan Master Qing Ye smiled. Behind her, Yue Shengya, Li Xiuying and other ladies followed.
Yue Shengya noticed Lu Sheng as well and cheekily winked at him.
Lu Sheng nodded slightly in response.
These few sects quickly gathered together and begun studying the remnant radiation left in the pit. One by one, they tried touching the wall of the pit. Their result was the same as Lu Sheng's. All their fingers aged irrevocably.
All they could do after that was to cut off that finger entirely and let a new one grow out.
"Speaking of which, aren't you from the Northern Lands, Brother Lu? Have you ever heard of the Hundred Temperings Sect?" Zhan Kongning asked Lu Sheng in a whisper.
Lu Sheng shook his head. "I was mostly involved with mortal factions at that time. Within such circles, I didn't have many contacts."
"I heard that this pit was caused when the Hundred Temperings Sect used their Holy Weapon in direct defense," Zhan Kongning whispered ever so softly to Lu Sheng, as if he did not wish others to hear.
"Holy Weapon as well...?" Lu Sheng's heart skipped a beat. The Northern Lands... A pale-faced young man... Gradually, a faint possibility came to his mind.
"What level was the Hundred Temperings Sect at in the past?" he asked.
"One of the top few among the lower three grades I guess," Zhan Kongning replied honestly.
"Which means that their strength dramatically rose after they returned from the Northern Lands?" Lu Sheng confirmed.
"It should be so..." Zhan Kongning nodded slightly after some thought.
Lu Sheng's eyes narrowed. He suddenly recalled the Zhen Family, which was supposed to have left.
At that time, the Zhen Family had abandoned the Crimson Whale Sect in a hurry, giving up their foundations in the Northern Lands and fled with Scarlet Dragon Tribulation. Rumor had it that they had left for foreign kingdoms.
But he had always doubted this. One had to understand that there were only two routes to travel to a foreign kingdom from the Northern Lands. One led to Ju Rong Nation, and the other was to set sail for the depths of the Frozen Ocean.
He had picked up no trace of evidence that suggested either possibility. Perhaps he used to think that Noble Families possessed mysterious methods, etc., but now that he had more exposure to those circles, he roughly understood that all secret arts in Noble Families originated from Divine Weapons and Devil Blades. They did not simply exist in any shape or color one desired. They needed a basis.
That raised doubts in Lu Sheng's mind whether the Zhen Family had fled to a foreign kingdom. Rather, they most likely had hidden elsewhere.
'But what's that got to do with me?' Lu Sheng suddenly changed his mental track. 'Whether the Zhen Family's hiding in the Hundred Temperings Sect or has gone to some other land... it's all none of my business anymore.
I'm better off focusing on how to resist the power of Holy Weapons.'
Lu Sheng thought for a moment. Then, he took out a prepared jade box, scratched some powder off the rim of the pit, put it into the jade box, then closed it gingerly.
How powerful exactly was the power of Law, which Divine Weapons and Devil Blades possessed? Perhaps he could begin to understand it from this weaker version called the Holy Weapon.
What sort of gap existed between the elements and the power of Lawthat was what Lu Sheng hungered to know.
After investigating the traces of the Holy Weapon's power, the Prime Devil Sect, the Fine Garden Sect and the Jade Sound Clan joined one another, leaving the main company and setting off on their own.
And even among them, they did not all gather in one place. Rather, they dispersed for different directions at top speed.
The result was as expectedtheir journey was uneventful, uninterrupted by any trouble.
But what Lu Sheng and others failed to understand was that the true reason why they did not encounter trouble was not that they were not the target. Rather, some other reason was responsible for their peace.
Water splashed in all directions.
A wet human silhouette slowly climbed its way out of the river. A mildly glowing and unique-looking ax with a triangular symbol on it was in his hand.
It was a man covered in wounds that were rotting and turned gangrenous. Most alarmingly, some green poisonous spike was left in his scalp which seemed to penetrate nearly the entire brain.
After climbing onto the shore, the man struggled as he flipped himself over and lay supine on the shore. He breathed out in relief at length.
He was Lin Huandao, who had headed for the Water Illusion Palace.
"Chong Yuezi and the others are gone, eh... Who'd have thought... that young master would go so far for the sake of winning..." He sighed in melancholy as he gazed upwards at the white clouds in the azure sky.
"You were too arrogant and too presumptuous. Whom can you blame?"
Behind him, two bizarre women emerged, one black and the other white. They seemed to have been standing there right from the beginning, but turned visible only now.
"Yeah... I was too arrogant. I assumed that given young master's pride, he wouldn't go so far..." Lin Huandao laughed bitterly. "Looks like I overestimated him."
"Have you got any last words?" the black lady said placidly.
"Last words?" Lin Huandao shook his head. "Nothing. May Young Master Beikai watch his steps. He thinks that all will be well after he kills me. He doesn't understand how powerful the resident elders in the family truly are. Without seeing it for himself, he might never ever come to understand..."
"You mean to say that there're more planted around young master apart from you?" The white lady frowned.
Lin Huandao chuckled. "Give me a quick end. Lin Huandao died in an ambush on the Water Illusion Palace. That's not a bad way to write it. At least we can cast the blame on the Water Illusion Palace."
The black lady fell silent.
"As you wish." She slowly stepped towards Lin Huandao, who was lying on the ground.