"It is strange indeed. Theres never anyone seen coming or going to and from this Manor, nor is there anyone tidying the premises in the day. I wouldnt have thought that there were actually people staying here" Duan Mengan explained in hushed tones.
"Just be careful. Were here to investigate the earlier missing persons case. Well keep watch tonight and see what happens; most of those people went missing at night. I shall wait and see exactly what sort of thing can cause an expert like Wu San to disappear so mysteriously," clutching onto the hilt of his saber, Lu Sheng sat down quietly and closed his eyes.
The other two, whose hearts were initially beginning to thump loudly in fear, calmed down significantly after seeing how their Boss didn't seem worried in the least.
"With Young Master around, things will definitely go smoothly," Duan Mengan assured himself, at the same time also speaking for Ning San to hear.
Ning San had been somewhat unsettled, but after hearing these words, he was more at peace.
Lu Sheng sat upright on the bed as he usually did at home, beginning to circulate his inner Qi and closing his eyes to rest. On the surface, he seemed as still as a lake. However, his five senses remained on high alert as they took in his surroundings, taking utmost precautions.
Similarly, Duan Meng'an appeared to be resting, but actually remained on guard. Ning San likewise found a chair to rest in. Instead of splitting up into their rooms, all three of them remained in this one together instead. It was easier for them to look out for each other this way.
Not long later, a flurry of activity could be heard from outside.
It seemed that quite a few people had entered; most of their voices were female.
"Little girl, where are the adults in your home? Why havent they come out?" A crisp female voice asked.
"My Big Bro is concocting pills and cant be interrupted. Please lower your volume and dont bring the light out, or my Big Bro will be mad. Its really scary when hes angry," Song Yunjuan advised in a whisper.
"Dont worry, were just here to stay the night. The mountain path has been obstructed by a landslide, so we really have no choice but to seek shelter here. Well leave first thing in the morning," another woman said gently.
"Thank you for your understanding," Song Yunjuan nodded, then seemed to be bringing the newcomers to their respective rooms.
Lu Sheng stood up and opened the room's door to take a look outside. A row of men and women, torches in hand, was currently following Song Yunjuan towards the rooms opposite.
Four women were in this band--all Young Missus whose dressing clearly revealed that they werent ordinary folk. Their appearances were comparable to the women in the circles Lu Sheng used to hang out with, who were children of wealthy families in the smaller cities in the countryside.
The four women even brought along their four bodyguards, who were all thickly set men armed with sabers. However, merely a glance at their steps told Lu Sheng that these four were nothing more than ruffians with brute strength. Perhaps they knew a thing or two about saber basics, but in reality, their power was limited.
The only place where Lu Shengs gaze lingered for more than a moment was on one of the four women. She was young and looked pretty and cute, with pleasant features.
That lady had a very comforting air about her, coming off as warm and harmless as a little white rabbit. It was very endearing. Instantly, Lu Sheng was reminded of Qiaoer at home.
Just as the three of them looked at the other party, the other group also noticed them.
Seeing Lu Sheng and his mens build and composure, the four bodyguards immediately went on their guard. One of them whispered softly to his Young Miss. Very soon, all four of the Young Missus also looked in the direction of Lu Sheng with a strange expression on their faces.
Not that they were feeling antsy, but one of the women, who looked meek and gentle, suddenly seemed like she wanted to give something a try.
"Young Master, that woman has a knife hidden in her sleeves," Ning San whispered. He was referring to the gentle-looking girl.
"Oh? You can tell?" Lu Sheng arched his brow.
"Yep. I suffered bitterly in the past. Afterwards, after observing for a long while, I was able to see through the regular patterns of peoples behavior," even Ning San knew to analyze the patterns of behavior he observed. Such knowledge and learned insights typically fell within the domain of the aristocratic rich. For him to have such brains, it was no wonder that he was able to rise through the ranks to be a small leader in Crimson Whale Sect.
"She must have had some training. Otherwise, its unlikely that just a few women would dare to come out into the wilderness by themselves. If they met with any real danger, even having some bodyguards around would be of no good use. Besides, who knows, some of the bodyguards may also have ill intentions," Lu Sheng remarked lightly. He did not detect any brilliance in the gentle girls eyes, which made it plain that she did not cultivate inner force. But Lu Sheng paid more attention to her movement and steps and surmised that her slender and gentle physique also made it unlikely that she was an outer force expert.
"No need to bother with these people. However, there is someone else worth noting," Lu Sheng looked at a man standing at the back of the group.
He was a young master with handsome features who carried himself elegantly and confidently. A white oil-paper umbrella in hand, he was dressed in long robes as white as snow which contrasted starkly with his jet-black hair. This gave him a suave and distinguished look, with the bearing of a dragon among men.
What bothered Lu Sheng was that this young master was clearly not a part of the young womens group. Moreover, his eyes sparkled with a particular shine; apparently, he had cultivated inner force skills.
"Be careful, this person is trained in inner force," Lu Sheng cautioned, then returned to his bed to rest.
As for Duan Mengan and Ning San, they both took a good, careful look at that Young Master and committed what they had heard to heart. Then, they closed the door and also returned to their respective places to rest.
A cold breeze howled about as the wooden door was slowly pushed open.
Song Yunjuan coughed lightly before turning round to face that handsome young master and said, "Big Brother Li, this room is for you. Youll find all you need in this room. Although some things are rather aged, I hope you wont mind."
That Young Master Li smiled and replied kindly, "No problem--its already a blessing that I have a somewhere to lay my head this evening. Theres a chance of rain tonight; Im already beyond grateful that you, Young Sister, are willing to take me in."
His voice was pleasant and gentle as he spoke, and there was even an attractive and alluring quality about it. Song Yunjuans face flushed slightly from shyness.
"In that case in that case, Ill take my leave. Have a good rest."
Young Master Li smiled and added, "Oh right, may I ask if the three men in the opposite room are also here to take shelter for the night?"
Song Yunjuan nodded, "Yep, they only just got here earlier. Its so strange, why are there so many people who came today all of a sudden?"
The sparkle in Young Master Lis eyes flashed. Smilingly, he nodded, his expression as warm as before. "Those three look like theyre not to be trifled with, they look somewhat sinister."
"Young Master Li, you think so too? I was quite afraid earlier. But with so many people who dropped in, Im not that frightened now," Song Yunjuan smiled lightly. "You get some rest, Ill be off to sleep too."
"Mm, go on. Youre still young, so take care of your health," Young Master Li looked at Song Yunjuan compassionately.
"Mm," turning around, Song Yunjuan skipped away.
Young Master Li waited till he saw her enter a large room in the middle and shut its doors before he turned to enter his room and shut it.
In the dark, he slowly groped around for a piece of flint stone, which he struck to light up a candlestick within the sleeping quarters.
A candle as thick as a forearm lit up and gave off a pale yellow glow. Then, a small lantern was lowered over it and covered the rays, causing the light to instantly grow softer.
Young Master Li could hear the incessant chatter of the group of women next door. He shook his head lightly, 'Something seems fishy about this Manor. Light cannot be brought outside the room, and though theres a big bro, its the younger sister who comes out to receive the guests.'
Li Shunxis curiosity was somewhat piqued. He had come out for a stroll to relax, and had unexpectedly met with an obstruction on a nearby stretch of road. Left with no alternative, he had no choice but to seek shelter here for the night. Who knew that there would be such an intriguing matter.
'And then there are the three men opposite. They look like well-trained, muscular men who are obviously members of a sect. They even had identical symbols on their sleeves, though under the dim light it was impossible to see which sect it is. From the looks on their faces, it seems theres a problem with this Manor that they have come specifically to address.'
Li Shunxis interest in the matter instantly grew even more.
He was actually the young master of a government officials family. On the surface, he seemed like an ordinary young master, but he had picked up a few exorcist and demon-catching skills by himself. Additionally, he was gifted with innate intelligence and talent. Hence, he was able to learn several exceptional martial arts since young, resulting in an outstanding cultivation base. To top it all off, he had even ventured out of his house under cover and secretly resolved some incidents involving ghosts, accumulating quite a bit of experience.
However, his high-ranking father actually had no idea that his youngest son had acquired such impressive skills.
Li Shunxi concealed his abilities well on a day-to-day basis, without revealing even an inkling of his prowess. Only after sneaking out of the house in disguise did he dare to display his full strength to his hearts content.
Looks like this trip hasnt been wasted, Li Shunxis interest was aroused. Sitting by the table, he began taking out his instruments from his waist pouch and inspecting them one by one.
In the middle of the night.
Lu Sheng was sitting upright on the bed when suddenly, his eyes flashed open and glared at Ning San, who had wandered to the door.
"What are you doing?"
"Young Master, Im going to the latrine" Ning San had a pained look on his face; clearly, he was afraid.
"Ask Duan Mengan to go with you," Lu Sheng instructed, "Don't wander alone."
Duan Mengan was presently sound asleep against the chair, drool dripping down his face.
Left with no choice, Ning San could only go to wake him up.
"WHAT!? YOU WANT TO DIE!?" Duan Mengan bellowed furiously, clearly pissed off at having been awoken. He opened his heavy-lidded eyes and was about to blow his top when, in that moment, he saw Lu Shengs gaze bearing straight into his eyes. Lu Shengs radiant eyes seemed to pierce like an arrow into his being, instantly jolting him awake from his slumber.
"Accompany him to the latrine, don't let him go alone," Lu Sheng instructed.
"Yes" Duan Mengan wiped away his drool and got up begrudgingly.
"Im really sorry Brother Duan," Ning San felt miserable. Duan Meng'an flashed him a hateful glare, and they both left.
"Ka-Cha." The door closed behind them and Lu Sheng once again closed his eyes.
After about the time it takes for tealeaves to steep, the doors were slowly pushed open.
"Back?" Lu Sheng asked casually, "Get some rest. Ill keep watch for the time being."
Lu Sheng opened his eyes and saw that the room's door was open. Gusts of cold wind poured in through the doors, but no one was to be seen. It seemed like the wind had blown the doors ajar.
Frowning, he stood up and walked towards the door, gently shutting it.
Why arent those two back yet?
As he shut the door, he suddenly felt some resistance, as if someone was pushing against it from the outside. He could very clearly sense that someone outside was shoving hard against the door, preventing him from opening it.
His face darkened. Summoning all his strength, he pushed at the door hard and his entire body propelled outwards in escape.
His straight saber at his waist was already halfway out its hilt when he realized that there wasn't a single soul in sight.
Superstitious bullshit! Lu Sheng surveyed his surroundings, but as far as he could tell, the place was deserted. Without gathering a single clue, he finally returned to his room.
Just as he prepared to sit down again, Lu Sheng felt that the other two had been gone for quite some time. After the earlier incident, he was now rather worried.
Id better head out to take a look.
He propped up a candlestick and hung a lantern cover over it to protect it from the wind. Then, carrying it in hand, he again opened the door.
The wind beyond the door was unexpectedly harsh and extinguished the candle in Lu Shengs hand in the blink of an eye.
Instantly, the room was cast in pitch-black darkness. Only the pale rays from the moon from outside streamed in.
Lu Sheng quickly retrieved a flint stone and tried a couple more times. However, as before, the sparks were extinguished as soon as they were lit. Left with no other choice, Lu Sheng could only leave the candlestick behind in the room as he walked out and proceeded in the direction of the latrine.
There was no trace of light anywhere in the pitch-black courtyard; it wasn't even clear whether the other guests had all fallen asleep or something else had happened to them. There wasnt a single sound to be heard from them.
Slowly, Lu Sheng made his way outside, down the corridor. The latrine was commonly in the backyard of a house.
He exited the corridor, entered the yard, went around the side of the entire sleeping quarters and then walked towards the backyard.