The wind howled harshly through the courtyard in the night, sweeping the dried leaves on the ground up in a whirlwind.
Lu Sheng surveyed the scene before him. Finding no one, he hastened his steps and went around the bedroom to the backyard. Two individual latrines were built in the backyard, isolated from the rest of the buildings.
As Lu Sheng approached, he caught sight of a silhouette of a person standing outside the latrine. This person seemed to notice his arrival as well, and visibly put on their guard.
Lu Sheng was startled. He walked closer for a better look and realized it was the handsome Young Master who was also an inner force expert from previously.
Presently, this man was gripping onto a short sword in his hand. His pupils sparkled brilliantly, clearly indicating his state of vigilance.
"This Brother, did you come looking for missing people too?" Li Shunxi asked after recognizing Lu Sheng.
"Missing people?" Lu Shengs eyes narrowed. An apprehensive sense of foreboding crept up in his heart.
"Whats wrong? Dont you know, Brother?" Li Shunxi stopped in surprise.
"My two brothers went out of the room to visit the latrine. Its been a while but they havent come back. I was worried and so came out to check on them," Lu Sheng explained simply. 
Li Shunxis faced turned dark, "In that case, two more people have gone missing."
"What do you mean, Brother?" Lu Sheng took a few steps forward and peered into the latrines through the gap left by the ajar wooden doors. A foul stench drifted out from within, but the narrow space inside was thoroughly empty.
Lu Shengs face fell.
"You mean all those from earlier the ladies and guards who came in with you"
"Have all gone missing, without exception," Li Shunxi whispered. "Theres so many of them. Perhaps theyre trapped somewhere."
"Lets try searching for them. The manor is merely of this size. Perhaps we can find some clues," Lu Sheng suggested. He licked his lips as frustration burned in his heart. He had lost two men before even laying sight on the true enemy.
Li Shunxi nodded. The two of them made a quick round around the backyard and soon found a kitchen in its corner.
Li Shunxi first shoved open the door and entered, short sword in hand.
The wooden door swung open without a sound, revealing a dust-covered kitchen space.
Overturned woks and shards of smashed porcelain covered the floor. Spider webs formed a thick cover over the stoves. Some rotten and decomposed leftovers were spilled all over the floor in a corner.
"How long has this kitchen fallen out of use for?" Li Shunxi frowned. He glanced at Lu Sheng and noticed that there wasnt much panic on his face. Evidently, this was not his first encounter with the supernatural.
"Youve met with ghosts before, havent you, Brother?" He asked casually.
Lu Sheng was surprised. This wealthy Young Master actually seemed pretty experienced.
"Yes, Ive encountered such strange things in the past."
"No wonder," Li Shunxi took a second glance at Lu Sheng. "In my opinion, the missing people have been temporarily trapped. Therere so many of them. No matter how fast those things are, they wont kill them all so quickly. And Ive also checked earlier and didnt detect any traces of poison."
"Youre certain of it, Brother?" Lu Sheng asked.
"Pretty much," Li Shunxi replied earnestly. He squatted and began to examine the footprints and marks on the ground.
Perplexed, Lu Sheng followed him as he moved. Before long, they came to the entrance of the kitchen's underground cellar.
"Im surnamed Li. Named Shunxi. How may I address you, Brother?" Li Shunxi grabbed the ring attached to the stone door that sealed the cellar and lifted it with great force.
A foul odor gushed out at them.
"Last name Lu. Names Sheng. Other name--Yue Sheng," Lu Sheng answered concisely.
After the stench cleared slightly, they peered into the cellar.
Lu Sheng took out a flint stone and struck it hard. Yellow sparks burst out. In that momentary flash, both of them caught sight of a few bodies lying supine on the cellar ground.
"Theyre here indeed!" Li Shunxi heaved a sigh of relief, then jumped down swiftly. "Brother Lu, guard the entrance for me."
"Alright," Lu Sheng too breathed out in relief when he saw the bodies lying in there.
Duan Mengan was indeed among them. Apart from him, there were two ladies and two guards. All of them appeared to be lying in the cellar in a coma.
One by one, Li Shunxi lifted them out of the cellar. Lu Sheng took hold of them from him and laid them on the kitchen floor.
Soon, the two of them had lifted all five unconscious bodies out of the cellar.
"Theyre all still breathing," Li Shunxi put his cheek above one of the ladies nose. "Have you noticed whats wrong with them, Brother?"
He looked at Lu Sheng and saw that his face remained impassive, his eyes steady. Instantly, Li Shunxi understood that Lu Sheng was no simple character either.
"Brother Lis got a way?" Lu Sheng asked.
"Naturally. Watch this," pride briefly colored Li Shunxis face as he took out a piece of paper-like black material. He bit on his index finger and dabbed his blood onto the paper.
Then, he imprinted the material onto the foreheads of each of the unconscious bodies.
Lu Sheng watched in silence, with neither a word nor movement. Before long, those lying on the floor came to their senses one by one.
"Where am I?"
"Qingqing, are you alright?"
"Little Miss! Have you been hurt?"
"Young Master!" Duan Mengan walked over to Lu Sheng with a face full of shame, his head hung low.
"Everythings fine as long as youre alright. Wheres Ning San?" Lu Sheng asked.
"" Duan Mengans head lowered even lower, not daring to look Lu Sheng in the face.
Lu Shengs face remained composed, but his eyes grew colder. "Well talk when we get back."
However, Li Shunxi suggested, "I dont think we should split up now."
"A million thanks to both of you. Im Gong Ruqing. This is my sister Gong Rumeng. If it hadnt been for your rescue, we probably wouldnt see daylight again," the mild-mannered lady who had hid a sword in her sleeves was among them.
Her sister was that girl who was as cute as Qiaoer.
"Thank you once again, Young Masters, for your rescue. But weve still got companions trapped in here. Can we request your help once more to find our remaining companions?" Gong Ruqings sister, Gong Rumeng pleaded. "We know were asking for too much. But as compensation, were willing to offer notes worth a hundred taels of gold."
"Oh?" Li Shunxis brows arched as he glanced towards Lu Sheng. Among all present, only Lu Sheng was someone he was unable to see through. Looking at his dressing, he seemed like someone from a wealthy family. Li Shunxi guessed that he was more or less the same as himself--someone who lived by an alias, but was in actual fact an expert harboring extraordinary skills.
As the Young Master of a wealthy family, many details such as ones bearing and dressing could not be altered so easily. Given Li Shunxis keen and perceptive powers of observation, he had long since detected the difference between Lu Sheng and the two men beside him.
On most days, he was shut in the manor. Moreover, because he had many rivals, he had had to hide his true strength to hide some cards up his sleeves. Consequently, he had always lacked the opportunity to interact with the world outside and had no idea what level his strength reached.
Now that he had run into a peer in similar straits as himself--a Young Master in disguise who hid powerful and extraordinary skills--his heart was itching for some serious sparring. He desperately wanted to exchange pointers with him.
"What does Brother Lu think? Shall we help?" Li Shunxi gazed at Lu Sheng.
Lu Shengs face was dark. He had to admit that this Li Shunxi had some methods. He took another glance at him.
He had come to investigate this manor in the first place. Little did he expect that he would lose one of his men before even figuring out what was wrong with this place. This irked him and made him reluctant to leave just like that.
"Alright then. I agree too," Li Shunxi smiled. "Lets go. Since you were taken to this cellar from your rooms, there must be traces left behind in your rooms. Lets go back and take a look.
Of course, the most essential thing is to first find that young girl. Shes one of the owners of this manor. She and that pill-concocting Big Brother of hers, I heard."
"Thats right! It must be that little girls fault! And her brother must be an evil person too! If we see them, weve got to arrest them first!" Duan Mengan shouted in an uproar.
"SHUT UP!" Lu Sheng glared at him.
Immediately, shivers ran down Duan Mengans spine. Not a word came from him again.
The group assented to Li Shunxis suggestion and rapidly made a beeline for the middle room in the courtyard.
In the pitch darkness, the courtyard was deserted. The group came to the main bedroom.
"Boom boom boom!"
Forceful knocks rang out. Dust was shaken off the top of the door frame and caught in the wind, causing some coughs among the group.
Another few knocks.
The room's door swung open by itself.
Li Shunxi glanced at the two guards shaking in fear, then stepped into the room.
Lu Sheng was the second to enter. Only then did the rest of the group hurry to enter.
"Is there anybody here?" Li Shunxi grabbed onto something and hid it in his sleeve as he shouted at the top of his voice.
In the left part of the room, a giant pill cauldron sat there. In the right part was dust-covered and weather-beaten furniture, including a bed. It was thoroughly deserted. An icy coldness permeated the room.
The bold Gong Ruqing walked up to the bed and pulled back the bed curtains.
Without warning, a ball of black shadow pounced out of the bed.
"STRIKE!" Li Shunxi hurled his hand outwards, hitting the black shadow with precision.
A blood-curdling scream rang out from the black shadow, then it fell onto the ground with a strange infant-like shriek. It was a fist-sized black bat!
Gong Ruqing jumped in fright and retreated quite a few steps backwards. A trace of blood hung by the side of the bats mouth.
"Whyd there be a bat in this place???"
"Thats a Yin Bat. Heheh, no ordinary place can breed this stuff," Li Shunxi looked at Lu Sheng with a faint smugness on his face.
But seeing Lu Shengs dark face which remained impassive, without any hint of surprise or amazement, his heart fell into disappointment.
"Does Brother Lu have any expert insights?" He asked.
Lu Sheng glanced at him and replied calmly, "None. Brother Lis methods are impressive indeed. Im impressed. Nonetheless, we should find those still missing as soon as we can. I doubt well find that little girl and her Big Brother anytime soon."
Li Shunxi narrowed his eyes at Lu Sheng, attempting to guess what he had discovered. But he didnt ask. "Lets go then. Since the Yin Bat came out, I think were not far away."
Not having found anyone, the group exited the main bedroom and began searching the other rooms one by one.
In the process, Li Shunxi killed five more Yin Bats in a row. One of them was simply too fast and managed to land a savage bite on a guards neck, almost killing him.
Had it not been for Li Shunxis quick reflexes, the guard would not have been able to keep his life.
Thereafter, all of them, including Gong Ruqing and Gong Rumeng, grew in admiration of and dependence on Li Shunxi. The admiration of two pretty ladies made Li Shunxi especially smug.
He kept glancing at Lu Sheng, but saw no reaction from him. Only, his face seemed to grow more and more solemn as minutes ticked by without them being able to find any trace of the missing people.
 ED/N: Latrine again. Is it me or are the latrines in this world dangerous? ...Toilet specters? Souls of the dead who died of heart attack after finding out the toilet paper was used up, and who are now searching for replacement? Or is it that the ghosts and whatnot there just have some unusual hobby? XD