Gongsun Zhanglan slammed violently onto the corner of the red wooden table, causing it to collapse.
His face was ashen. His blood boiled as he looked on at his niece whose body was scorching hot as she lay there, fighting for her last breath.
"A BUNCH OF TRASH!!!"
He glared at the subordinates by the side, their heads bowed and not daring to make a single sound.
"Young Miss asked you to bring her there, and so you did?! She also asked you to go and die, so why havent you done so yet?!"
"Sect Master! It was Young Miss who wanted to go see exactly what kind of character the person who snatched away her position was, and she wouldn't take no for an answer. She gave us no other choice but to go" an elderly man with a head full of white hair explained helplessly.
Gongsun Zhanglan was also aware what kind of temper his niece had. She had paltry skills, and was always looking to beat the competition with her smarts. With such an inflated sense of ego, it was really very challenging for the average person to deal with her.
He also knew that it was useless to vent his anger on these subordinates now. Gongsun Jing was the one who had initiated the confrontation, and Lu Sheng could very well argue that she had shown disrespect to someone of a higher rank.
"Fire poison inner force!" It only took a bit of investigation before Gongsun Zhanglan was able to discern what sort of injury the palm strike inflicted on his niece was.
He brought Gongsun Jing into the inner room, where he gently removed his nieces clothing around her chest. Even when covered by her intimate inner garments, he could still see a reddish-black shape of a palm imprinted onto the space between her breasts. That was the last straw that caused him to blow his top.
"Such a vicious palm strike! This could have sent Jinger to the grave!"
If she did not have a corresponding cool, Yin-nature inner force to counteract the effects, then this palm strike might really have claimed his nieces life. Although the strike itself was not particularly brutal, the fire poison within was exceptionally ruthless; it burnt away at Gongsun Jings life force unceasingly with every second.
"This palm strike"
Gongsun Zhanglans face was white as a sheet of paper. He lightly touched the edge of the palm-print, which instantly caused his index finger to feel a burning hot sensation.
"LU SHENG!" His eyes flashed with coldness. If the Sect rules hadnt prohibited the internal killing of another sect member, then perhaps Jinger wouldn't even have been able to return breathing.
"Jinger!" Suddenly, a petite and gentle woman pulled apart the blinds at the door and walked in. Seeing the miserable scene before her, she stood by the side sobbing as tears rolled down her cheeks uncontrollably.
"What are you crying for!?" Gongsun Zhanglan coldly rebuked. "Ill take care of it! Ill make that Lu Sheng PAY!"
"Go, send someone to invite my sworn brother Fang Zhidong to come and save her. Then, issue a challenge to duel to that External Affairs Emissary Lu. Doesn't he want to duel with me? Ill gladly oblige!"
"But Big Bro!" That woman was shocked and rather worried.
"No buts. We can try settling this according to Sect rules, but it was Jinger who stood in that brats way first. Shell be deemed the one in the fault for disrespecting someone of a higher rank. At the very most, his fault would be fixed as having delivered too harsh a blow and he would be reprimanded and made to reflect for a few days, and fined some money. Given Hong Mingzis shrewdness, there would definitely be no goddamn consequence. Itll be utterly meaningless.
If we want to act, then we need to be ruthless and issue a challenge for a death match," Gongsun Zhanglan finally made up his mind. In reality, Lu Sheng was but a blade belonging to the old Sect Master; if he wanted to continue to plant his own people, then he would need to first remove this blade.
"Alright. Big Bro, do take extra care. This persons palm strike is indeed formidable. Its a pity for our Little Jing" the woman began to wipe away at her tears again as she spoke.
"If my reputation wasn't at stake, then I wouldn't even give two hoots about Hong Mingzi. What more some Lu Sheng?" News of the exchange between Lu Sheng and Hong Mingzi in the little garden had already reached his ears through his informants. He had a rough idea of Lu Shengs prowess; although powerful, he was still quite a distance behind himself.
'This persons talent is extraordinary, progressing at an alarmingly fast pace; he is also younger than I am. He needs to be rid of as soon as possible,' Gongsun Zhanglan wasn't the type to dilly-dally. On the spot, he made arrangements for his sister to go to the study to pen down the challenge. This time round, he wanted to thoroughly incapacitate Lu Sheng and extinguish Hong Mingzis hope.
'Ive been laying my pieces in Crimson Whale Sect for so many years. You think this little punk is enough to turn the tables? What a joke!' A murderous glint shone deep in Gongsun Zhanglans eyes.
At the Golden Jade Greenhouse in Mountain-Edge City.
Among the properties under Crimson Whale Sect was a large patch of greenhouses on the outskirts of the city. It was especially reserved for growing plants for the rich and famous.
It was vast and bright inside the greenhouse. In one of the largest greenhouses, there was a huge patch of empty ground that was exclusively for the purpose of sunning flower petals to produce dried flowers.
Ever since Lu Sheng found out about this particular property a few days back, he had taken a liking to this place. The fragrance of flowers permeated the air and reinvigorated ones senses; the air was so much fresher here than in the city.
Other than the subordinates keeping guard at the doors, everyone else, including the gardeners, had been chased out by him.
Strolling slowly among the sea of red and yellow flowers, Lu Sheng retrieved from his chest that small clay vial. He removed from within a single red pill about the size of a grain and gulped it down.
'The Crimson Yang Pill is indeed legendary,' Lu Sheng could very obviously sense that the tiny pill had dissolved the moment it entered his mouth. Very swiftly, it agitated his oral cavity to secrete copious amounts of saliva that evolved into a scorching heat wave that descended along his throat, directly into his stomach.
Very soon, he could feel an immense, warm sensation that emanated out from his stomach and his abdomen. His entire body felt warm and fuzzy.
There is a total of seven levels in Ultimate Crimson Mantra. With senior apprentice brothers guidance, it was very easy to sense Qi and become initiated in it. After nursing my body for these last couple of days, I can perhaps try to break through into the first level today.
Nowadays, it was very difficult for him to find a quiet place to secretly modify his martial arts skills. At the place where he stayed with Little Qiao, he could always feel that there was someone spying on him. Moreover, because he had such a heightened sense of awareness now, the presence of the large number of people who passed by on the street below easily distracted him and made it difficult for him to concentrate.
Thats why, after having taken over Wu Sans entire assets, he had searched high and low for a suitably quiet place. Finally, he had found among his properties this patch of greenhouses.
A part of these greenhouses produced fresh flowers to be sold in large quantities to the wealthy customers and officials who used them to decorate their backyards. Another part of these was used to produce dried flowers to be made into medicine and sold to the traditional Chinese medicinal stores in the city. Another portion was used to make the fashionable flower teas that were in huge demand in Crimson Whale Sect for their beautifying properties. It made for quite a prosperous business.
Walking onto the patch of empty ground strewn with flowers, Lu Sheng stood still. Eyes closed and hands behind his back, he seemed to be taking in the faint fragrance of the flowers.
Nobody would have guessed that he was making a breakthrough now.
Deep Blue, he called out silently.
The square frame of the Modifier appeared before him. At the top, a long row of martial arts options could be clearly seen.
Lu Sheng scanned it from top to bottom and soon found among them what he was looking for--Ultimate Crimson Mantra.
Ultimate Crimson Mantra: Initiated. Special Effect(s): Level One Tremor Force.
Theres a special effect even at the Initiated Level? Extraordinary indeed! Lu Sheng was inwardly rather pleased. He focused his spirit and calmed his Qi to regulate himself both physically and emotionally. He waited until his entire body had completely relaxed before he slowly pressed onto the button in the Modifier with his mind.
The entire Modifier flashed violently and entered into the modifiable state.
Upgrade Ultimate Crimson Mantra to Level One.
Lu Sheng had long since learned the entire first level of Ultimate Crimson Mantra by heart. Presently, what he worried the most about in regards to the modification was still whether his body would be able to bear it.
With a CHI, the selection for Ultimate Crimson Mantra on the Modifier quickly grew blurry. Very soon, it became clear again.
Ultimate Crimson Mantra: Level One. Special Effects: Level One Tremor Force.
Success!' Lu Sheng was overjoyed. At the same time, he could feel his body undergoing changes. More than half of the Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill reserves had been depleted to leave behind a pathetic scrap. Both Yin and Yang energies within him were also wiped out in a split second; who knew how long he would need for it to be replenished.
The strangest was Blood Fury Skill; its inner Qi was actually constantly converting into Ultimate Crimson inner Qi for the Ultimate Crimson Mantra. Although the rate of conversion was extremely slow, it provided an impressively endless source of Qi.
No matter what, Blood Fury Skill is not as intact as Ultimate Crimson Mantra, and it even has some unknown side effects. Now, since they are all Yang-nature inner force, its a good thing that it has been converted. Saves me the trouble of having to worry about any problems in the future.
Not only was Lu Sheng not flustered, he was very determined.
In the middle of the greenhouse, brilliantly red and yellow flowers and plants were packed tightly. The air was very pure.
Lu Sheng stood in the middle, his eyes closed and breathing regular. He carefully investigated whether his body had been spent in any other ways.
'The body is still deficient in Yin. Previously, Blood Fury Skill and a few other body tempering skills were neutralized and brought into balance by Yin-Yang Attraction. Now, however, this equilibrium has been toppled. Ultimate Crimson Heart is so much stronger than Blood Fury Skill, and also much more tyrannical in its strength. Naturally, the previous equilibrium wouldn't hold,' Lu Sheng made sense of it all. Slowly, he retrieved a black jewelry case from his sleeves.
He flipped open in a plop. Sitting within was a curly lock of black hair.
'Just about time to give it a try. The importance of Yin-Yang Attraction to me goes without saying. If Im unable balance my body, then there will inevitably be many negative side effects and impact on my temperament. Moreover, when I upgrade skills in the future, Ill need even more robust inner life-force skills.'
Lu Sheng had made up his mind way earlier. This time round, he would use the hair he got from Song Manor to extrapolate his life-force skills.
Biting lightly on his index finger, he dripped a drop of blood onto the hair.
White steam-like mist began to pour out vigorously from the hair, immediately absorbed by Lu Shengs finger the moment it came out.
In that instant, he could feel a cold sensation flooding into him from his finger, travelling along his palm into his forearm, arm, and chest, then violently gushing into the small of his diaphragm. 
Such powerful Yin Qi!' Lu Sheng was shocked.
Yet in that split second, all the Yin Qi vanished in the blink of an eye, as if there was something that wiped it clean. Not a trace of it was left.
Begin martial arts extrapolation?
A dialogue box abruptly surfaced before Lu Shengs eyes.
Lu Sheng swiftly confirmed. Calming himself, he focused on Yin-Yang Attraction.
Extrapolate Yin-Yang Attraction to Level Four, he commanded. Yin-Yang Attraction itself only had two levels. However, after his previous extrapolation, it had arrived at Level Three. This time, it was going to be extrapolated to Level Four.
The Modifier frame trembled vigorously and began to grow blurry.
After more than ten seconds, the entire frame once again grew clear.
Unknown skill: Level Four. Special Effect(s): Accelerated Qi Replenishment. Yin-Yang Equilibrium. Accelerated Recuperation.
Lu Sheng felt out the new skill in detail. This skill took the previous circulation route of Yin-Yang Attraction as the foundation, and at the same time absorbed a large proportion of Black Tiger Jade Crane Skills meridians. Presently, this new inner force was rapidly absorbing all of Black Tiger Jade Crane Skills inner strength to transform into its new inner Qi. As for the overall quantity of the inner Qi, it was slightly less than those of Yin-Yang Attraction and Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill combined, but its quality was a lot purer.
If the sensation that Lu Sheng got from the previous two skills was akin to that of two soothing, gentle threads that coursed within him, then this present new skills inner strength was like a stream of icy cold jadeite in the fluid form that circulated unhurriedly inside him.
This new skill is an altered version of Yin-Yang Attraction that has absorbed and fused Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill Lu Sheng really hadnt expected something like this.
He looked at the martial arts skills on the Modifier again.
Indeed, the selection for Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill had vanished without a trace. Clearly, it had been wholly consumed by the new skill.
In less than an hour, all the inner Qi that belonged to Black Tiger Jade Crane Skill had been entirely converted into the new skills inner Qi. The entire volume of inner Qi surged incessantly within him, vigorous beyond compare.
Since it has integrated the unique traits of both of these skills, then this new skill shall be named Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill," Lu Sheng wasted no time in naming it.
The new Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill had already far surpassed the earlier lowly life-force skill, Jade Crane Skill. Instead, it had upgraded to an incredibly advanced life-force skill that Lu Sheng had never imagined it could become.
After the new inner force tapped into the unique strengths of different skills and completed its evolution, Lu Sheng could clearly discern a difference in the current state of his body.
 ED/N: Diaphragm? It's a muscle between chest and lower parts of the body.