Prime Devil Sect, stone pillar.
On the square around the stone pillar, groups of Prime Devil Sect disciples shouted as they trained their bodies in preparation for cultivating Karmaless Skill and absorbing Devil Qi.
The stone pillar, with blood-red symbols flashing on it, stood silently in the middle of the square, just as it had for the past hundreds and thousands of years.
But no one noticed that cracks were slowly creeping up like a spiderweb from the bottommost part of the pillar which was deeply embedded under the surface of the ground, where no light could reach.
The cracks spread all the way down into that mysterious sealed stone chamber.
A giant black cauldron lay at the center of the stone chamber. Black smoke encircled it, almost covering the entire surface of the ground in the stone chamber.
The cracks began from under the cauldron and spread up to the walls on both sides, and then crept from the walls to the stone pillar. The base of the stone pillar was actually connected to this stone chamber. Like blood vessels and meridians, the blood-red symbols flashing with red light were spread all over from the pillar to the base on the cauldron.
But deep in that spot where no eyes could pry, the red glow was diminishing, replaced by a gray, hazy fog.
The City of a Thousand Sails.
A massive fortress in the wilds.
This was the fortress garrisoned by the court's Divine Might Army. As the garrison army of The City of a Thousand Sails, they protected the nine cities around them. This was the largest garrison as well as the biggest prison with the most number of criminals kept in the area.
Black city walls taller than ten meters formed a circle, fencing up the area in the middle.
Within those circular walls were orderly black houses, packed densely together. Many criminals, all dressed in prisoner robes, milled about leisurely.
These criminals had blank looks and their eyes seemed glazed over. They kept mumbling something on their lips, but nobody knew what they were talking about. Some of them wandered about on their own, some others stood in a corner blankly in groups of three to five. Still others squatted in corners doing nothing except for staring blankly into space.
None of these criminals had chains on them. Then entire prison was enclosed by an invisible force field.
Under the accompaniment of the warden and several officers, Huang Fu climbed up the city wall and surveyed the scene.
"How long has his situation been going on?" His brows locked together in a furrow.
The warden kept wiping sweat off his face with his handkerchief.
"It's been been half a month"
"A total of more than two hundred exceptional prisoners have all become like this?" Huang Fu asked again.
"Yes" The warden looked down, not daring to lift up his head.
"Such a big pandemic, such high contagiousness and you discovered it only after half a month?" Huang Fu was furious. Even if the court had Huang Family as its backer, his West Infinity Court had more say in the vicinity of The City of a Thousand Sails and White Bell City. Yet this warden had taken half a month to notice and report this phenomenon.
"This may may my Lord please calm his anger. We have our reasons. This type of contagious disease is very hard to notice. The patient merely looks a little sick on the surface. We couldn't ascertain if he or she has been infected right from the start" the warden explained helplessly.
Huang Fu breathed out at length.
He could tell that these people exhibited the same symptoms he had seen on the culprit in the previous serial murder cases. His eyes were dazed, as if all intelligence had been extinguished within him, yet could still move freely. If he was not wrong, then it was highly likely that these people were like that murderersomething wrong had happened to their hearts.
"What about the ordinary prison sector?" Huang Fu asked.
"The ordinary sector is unaffected save for a few minority cases. But we quarantined them in time," the prison warden hurriedly replied.
Huang Fu shook his head. Just then, Bai Xiu, who had gone off to investigate by himself, came back as well. He quickly climbed up the wall and joined him.
Huang Fu looked at him, only to see Bai Xiu shaking his head in disappointment to him.
"Exactly the same?" he asked.
"Exactly the same," Bai Xiu sighed.
"Take your leave first. We'll summon you again should we need you," Huang Fu dismissed the officers around him with a wave.
The officers quickly took their leave. Cold sweat had broken out on their foreheads; it went to show how nervous they were.
When all had left, Huang Fu sighed at length.
"The situation's grave. Together with previously, a total of more than a thousand people have gone mad. They bite and hit anything they see. And this disease is highly contagious. It takes almost just a single physical contact to be infected."
Bai Xiu nodded. "My men tested it out and discovered that the hearts of all who're insane will dissolve rapidly, and they eventually end up without a heart. If this goes on, and we still can't find ground zero, I'm applying for deployment of the Four Fates Army."
The Four Fates Army was responsible for the safety of this land. It represented the armed forces of the Hundred Lineages and was formed by the most powerful troops of four sects. Each division of the army was led by its Sect Master as its general. The deputy general was sometimes the first seat or Deputy Sect Master.
Bai Xiu was the Deputy General of Wan Shun Palace and thus was qualified to deploy the troops.
"No, the Four Fates Army cannot be deployed easily. Especially during this critical time" Huang Fu turned down Bai Xiu's suggestion. "I've set up an investigation team to focus on the leads. Let's wait a few more days. We also need to ascertain what are the Court Master's plans. Now that the alliance meeting is almost upon us, there must be no disruption."
"I get what you mean." Bai Xiu nodded.
"Let's wait a little further a little further wait for word from the Flying Feathers Sect" Huang Fu breathed out at length and closed his eyes in thought. Suddenly, a rumor he had heard but neglected surfaced inexplicably in his mind.
'Could all these have happened due to the legendary Devils? No, without a Gate of Flesh and Blood, no Devil can enter our realm without detection. And the Demon race has always been under lockdown as well. It's even less likely that they would seep out. In that case could it be the seals?'
One by one, the ancient seals flashed past his mind. Very quickly, a place where something wrong could likely have happened floated up his mind.
Cave of Ten Thousand Caverns!
'There's still about a dozen days before the first day of the moon. Since the alliance meeting hasn't begun, I should go check it out first,' Huang Fu decided in his mind.
"Oh, yes, Sister-in-law is about to give birth soon, isn't she?" Bai Xiu diverted the topic. "I've got no plans this afternoon again. I might as well go to your place for a meal. It's been a long time since I've last eaten Sister-in-law's cooking."
"Didn't you just eat it yesterday?" Huang Fu was speechless.
"That's all in the past. Like you said, it was yesterday! Why didn't you eat today's meals yesterday?" Bai Xiu argued as if he had all the logic on his side.
"Fine, fine, fine! You brat!" Huang Fu could not do anything about him. At the thought of his seven-month pregnant wife Rong'er who insisted on cooking personally despite her pregnancy, Huang Fu's originally anxious mind calmed down. A trace of gentleness surfaced on his face.
Jade-green flames burned in Lu Sheng's palm.
By the lake in the River of Poisoned Fog, he was holding a ball of Yin Flame on one hand. Around him, nine Yin Devils took the form of nine shadows of different shapes, devouring the water of the River of Poisoned Fog beneath them and then converting it into a sea of Devil Qi and channeling them into the Yin Flame, fueling it.
'It's safer to be back here. I won't be disturbed.' Lu Sheng had also released his Yin Devils to protect himself.
Even if they stood still, the Yin Devils constantly released various negative force fields that kept all weaker life forms at bay.
Ever since he had upgraded Three Yin Technique and his flame had been strengthened, the Prime Devil Qi that he obtained from burning Devil Qi was diminishing.
'If burning ten units of Devil Qi used to produce one unit of Prime Devil Qi previously, now it takes burning fifteen units to produce one unit of Prime Devil Qi. The expenditure has been raised significantly.' Lu Sheng frowned.
'Whatever. I'll just continue upgrading and see how it goes.' He could perceptibly sense that his body was growing stronger again.
Ever since he had cultivated the Devil Bodies, Lu Sheng felt that he was at least several times stronger than before. He was now able to come into physical contact with a Holy Weapon, which meant that he had successfully entered the upper three grades.
One who was in the legendary upper three grades in the realm of Snake was barely qualified to become a Divine a Weapon Master precisely because one was able to endure the radiation of a Divine Weapon.
And now he was able to touch a Holy Weapon shard. He should have stepped into the upper three grades completely and earned the qualification to master a Divine Weapon.
Of course, these were merely his guesses. In actual fact, counting his bloodline compatibility, he had long since surpassed the upper three grades in terms of physical strength. But he did not know it.
Other experts in the upper three grades, whether from the Noble Families or the Hundred Lineages, barely reached the standard only because they possessed bloodline that was highly compatible with their Holy Weapons and thus were subjected to much weaker radiation effects.
In other words, a Nobleman or member of the Hundred Lineages in the upper three grades could wield a Holy Weapon only because the Holy Weapon itself was willing to be wielded.
But in Lu Sheng's case, he could force himself on it without giving two hoots!
One needed a willing partner; the other could force himself on it the difference was obvious.
In actual fact, after Lu Sheng had collected all the Devil Bodies, he did not just acquire the power to touch a Holy Weapon but the power to suppress a Holy Weapon shard
Lu Sheng snapped out of his reverie and gazed at the Three Yin Technique row on Deep Blue.
'Since it works, let's try upgrading it again. I want to see what how far can I go with my Yin Flame using Mental Energy!'
At that thought, he suddenly thought of his Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill, which could also ignite invisible flames. It was a unique flame ignited by Yang-attribute inner Qi.
"It'd be best if I can integrate the characteristics of inner Qi with it"
As that thought formed in his mind, he focused his attention on Three Yin Technique's row.
'Unknown secret art: Level Four. Special Effect(s): Three Yin Flame, Flame Intensification Grade One.'
With his mind, he quickly pressed the button behind the row.
Mental Energy flowed rapidly. In the blink of an eye, twenty units of Mental Energy had disappeared. The screen blurred for several breaths before gaining clarity again.
'Unknown secret art: Level Five. Special Effect(s): Three Yin Flame, Flame Intensification Grade Two.'
Immediately after the upgrade, Lu Sheng felt as if his body had been thrown into a scorching furnace. Massive amounts of Devil Qi within him were ignited, converting into pure inky black powerful Prime Devil Qi. Furthermore, the process of purification freed up space within him which was quickly and unceasingly replenished by Devil Qi sucked in from outside of his body.
A slow whirlpool began to form in the River of Poisoned Fog with Lu Sheng at its center.
Several giant snakes swam on the outer perimeter timidly, hissing and growling in anxiety every now and then. Ever since Lu Sheng had ripped one of their companions apart, they would keep a wide berth each time they saw Lu Sheng.
Originally, they thought that Lu Sheng would leave after drinking a little bit of water. Unexpectedly, like once previously, he was devouring so much of the lake that its water level began to recede.