Once again, the saber blade in Lu Shengs hands exploded into countless shards which shot left and right. Soul Locking Spear was also knocked out of Gongsun Zhanglans hands by the massive force that came towards him at alarming speed. Knocked high into the air, it landed in the distance with a thud.
"DIE!!!" Lu Sheng roared in madness, his eyes widening. Lightning-quick, his palms slammed into Gongsun Zhanglans chest continuously.
Initially, Gongsun Zhanglan was barely able to resist his assault. Towards the end, however, he reached the end of his strength and thoroughly lost all resistance within a few breaths span.
"Boom boom boom boom boom boom!!!"
In the series of blasts, Gongsun Zhanglans eyes widened as he was forced backwards, his body shaking uncontrollably like a stalk of reed in the wind. Blood gushed out in spurts from his mouth.
Soon, the color of blood was thoroughly drained from his face. His entire body was like a puppet with broken strings, madly assaulted by Lu Sheng.
Lu Sheng thundered, his eyes bloodshot. He had completely lost his mind, both palms slamming continuously into Gongsun Zhanglans chest and abdomen frenziedly.
Drops of blood were dispersed in the wind, dyeing the ground around them a patch of crimson red.
"Big Brother!!!" On the side, his sister-in-law cried and dashed towards Lu Sheng.
Snapping out of his daze, Fang Zhidong too quickly shot towards them.
By then, Gongsun Zhanglans pupils were already dilated and out of focus. His five bowels and six viscera had been smashed into a pulp as Lu Sheng kept pushing him backwards.
With yet another heavy strike, Gongsun Zhanglans body was thrown up in the air, flew backwards and then finally slammed into the water behind him.
Lu Shengs face was contorted. Inner force from his entire body flooded into his palms, mixing together Ultimate Crimson Qi, Blood Fury Skill and Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill. Savagely, Lu Sheng struck the position in the water where Gongsun Zhanglan had plunged into.
A column of water several meters high exploded upwards, blasting open into countless drops of water above the river surface.
Gradually, threads of blood red emerged and spread across the surface of Cypress Pine Lake.
No one had expected the tide to change in an instant. Just a few seconds earlier, Gongsun Zhanglan had held the upper hand. Yet, in the blink of an eye, the battle had ended.
"Big Brother!" Gongsun Zhanglans tear-streaked sister-in-law, Zhang Huishu, dashed into the river. Without a care for the water that had risen above her knees, she struggled to pull Gongsun Zhanglan out of the water.
Close behind her, Fang Zhidong landed. Upon sight of Gongsun Zhanglans plight, he sighed and shook his head.
"He didnt make it," he glanced at Lu Sheng. This inflated body was the perfect marriage between strength and aesthetics. One look at it struck fear in the heart.
"He picked on someone the wrong size after all" Fang Zhidong had no intention to avenge Gongsun Zhanglan. The question of whether or not he was a match for Lu Sheng aside, he had his own family, his wife and daughters, to care for. To have delayed Crimson Whale Sect Master Hong Mingzi, he had already done his due and fulfilled his obligation to Gongsun Zhanglan.
Lu Sheng had expended almost all his inner Qi in that last series of frenzied assault. But it was in such moments that Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skills powerful Qi restorative ability was quickly demonstrated. In just a mere seven to eight breaths, Lu Sheng had recovered approximately half of his total volume of inner Qi.
"Why? You want to come at me?" Looking at the two who were staring at him, Lu Shengs mouth cracked open in a smile.
"Youve won," Fang Zhidong was impassive. He knew that he could not afford to be rash. Once he made a move, if he failed to succeed, he would even implicate everyone else in the Gongsun family; none of them would have a chance to live on.
The cruelty of the internal struggles in sects was something completely unimaginable to outsiders. Even if Sect Master Hong Mingzi decided to close the book on the matter, those under him, as well as Gongsun familys past enemies, would never leave them alone.
"ILL KILL YOU!!!" With bloodshot eyes, Zhang Huishu rose and was about to charge at Lu Sheng when she was struck in the back of her neck by Fang Zhidong and blacked out.
"This was a fair death match. May I ask External Affairs Emissary Lu to show mercy? I, Fang Zhidong, guarantee that the Gongsun family will not seek revenge," Fang Zhidong clasped his hands together towards Lu Sheng.
"Sigh" the duo including old Sect Master had come to the shore by then. Staring at Gongsun Zhanglans body lying in the water, complicated feelings stirred in Hong Mingzis heart.
This Crimson Whale Deputy Sect Master who had lorded over the Northern Lands for over twenty years had died in a duel just like that.
No one could have foreseen this.
Originally, Hong Mingzi had thought that Lu Sheng would be at a slight disadvantage, yet not to the extent that his life would be endangered. As long as he intervened in time, there shouldnt have been much of a problem. But a pity
"Guarantee?" Lu Shengs body slowly recovered to its normal state. Glancing at Gongsun Zhanglans corpse in the water, a mocking look came on his face. "Who do you think you are? What has it got to do with you whether or not I spare the Gongsun family?"
"Junior Apprentice Brother, theres no harm in agreeing. Gongsun Jing shes all thats left," old Sect Master Hong Mingzi sighed. "The rest of them, be they godsons or goddaughters, are all merely in name. Gongsun Zhanglan could not produce an heir. His parents had died when he was young. He fought alone to become stronger and finally found his younger brothers family with great effort.
A few years ago, his younger brother died too, leaving only Gongsun Jing and his sister-in-law behind. And now even Gongsun Jing"
Only then did Lu Sheng understand the Gongsun familys plight. It seemed that Gongsun Zhanglan was the sole pillar propping up the entire family.
Seeing that Fang Zhidong was looking at him sincerely without so much as a temper, Lu Sheng heaved a long sigh, instantly losing all interest in pursuing the matter.
"Since Senior Apprentice Brother has spoken, I promise not to cause trouble for the Gongsun family." After all, it was left with only Zhang Huishu. Gongsun Zhanglans foes were plenty. There was absolutely no need for him to personally finish the job; all that was needed was for him to let out the news, and many experts will come like sharks smelling blood.
"Many thanks," having secured Lu Shengs promise, Fang Zhidong tucked Gongsun Zhanglan and Zhang Huishu under his arms and made a run for the distance, quickly vanishing into the forest.
With his opponent gone, Lu Sheng rapidly activated his Qi, directing Yin-Yang Jade Crane Qi to the wound on his waist and the internal injuries he had suffered at the start of the match to catalyze and accelerate his bodys recovery. Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill also forcibly contained Soul Locking Spears poison to a small region on his waist.
"Senior Apprentice Brother, may I borrow a saber?" Lu Sheng borrowed a saber from Hong Mingzi and used it to dig out a large chunk of flesh on his waist.
This chuck of flesh had turned black. A foul stench emanated from it. Clearly, Soul Locking Spears poison had congealed into clots that blocked the blood vessels.
"Junior Apprentice Brother, this duel has truly been an eye-opener for your senior apprentice brother here. Both you and Gongsun Zhanglan threw out trump cards one after the other. And, in the end, he still landed up being openly slain by you," Hong Mingzi exclaimed.
Lu Sheng smiled. In reality, all things being equal, he was no match for Gongsun Zhanglan. However, his inner Qi was seriously way too thick and his Qi replenishing abilities way too strong. Towards the end, Gongsun Zhanglan had run out of inner Qi. Had it not been for that fact, Lu Sheng would unlikely have won; at most, both of them would have been wounded. And, he was likely to have been the one with the more serious injuries.
"Ive long wanted to taste what its like to fight to the death. Now Ive had my fill at last," a look of satisfaction flooded Lu Shengs face. Hurling the chunk of flesh into the river, he pressed hard on the wound at his waist.
Ultimate Crimson Mantra activated at accelerated rate. His palm became intolerably hot, cauterizing the wound on his waist in a matter of seconds.
"Lets head back first. Ive gotta tidy up and rest."
"Since Junior Apprentice Brother won the duel today, you might as well take over as the Deputy Sect Master. When I get back, Ill dispatch someone to assist you in handling the miscellaneous duties. You just need to deal with the big matters, what say you?" Hong Mingzi suggested.
On the side, Elder Wang had not yet recovered from his shock at Lu Shengs victory. Now, hearing that Lu Sheng was to succeed as Deputy Sect Master, he immediately waved his hands.
"Old Sect Master, dont do that to Brother Lu. The Deputy Sect Masters duties and responsibilities are too heavy; the position will surely delay his martial arts cultivation. Its more suitable to give him the position after he attains full-mastery of his skills."
"Youre right that was my oversight," Hong Mingzi nodded in realization. "Lets talk about it after we get back."
Lu Sheng nodded, "But before returning, let me bid a friend goodbye first. She was the one who gave me a ride here."
Without waiting for the two of them to react, Lu Sheng ran towards the ship.
By then, the ship had docked by the shore, still under temporary repairs after running into reefs.
Atop the ship, the young masters and young ladies had been spectating until they saw Lu Sheng heading for them. Immediately, each one of them hid in their cabins in fright, refusing to come out.
In a matter of seconds, all who were left on the deck were Bian Su and her Grand Uncle beside her.
"Young Master!" Ning San hurried forward in salutation.
"Give me a moment; let me settle some stuff," Lu Sheng remarked causally and strode towards the duo including Bian Su.
Up till now, both of them remained in a daze. They were shell-shocked by Lu Shengs final physical transformation.
That aura and might, as well as the drastic rise in speed and strength, left them presently in awe and fright towards Lu Sheng.
Lu Sheng smiled at both of them, baring his teeth.
"On account of your favor of giving me a ride, Young Master Bian, you may look for me at the Golden Jade Greenhouse should you have the need. In the Northern Lands, Im a local, after all. If theres any trouble, I should be able to be of help."
Instantly, shivers ran down Bian Sus spine as she thought of Gongsun Zhanglans plight.
Just moments earlier, this man was bellowing like a mad sociopath. Now, however, he was smiling gently at her. And what did that other man on the side call him earlier? Young master?
Bian Su stole a glance at Lu Shengs bald head and bulging muscles, strong enough to skill an ox with one punch. HOW ON EARTH DOES HE LOOK LIKE A YOUNG MASTER?! She screamed in her heart. Outwardly, however, she could only reply awkwardly, "Young Master youre too polite"
"No, not at all," Lu Shengs curiosity was piqued. What treasure was this Young Master Bian carrying that so many vultures were circling her?
"Do you need me to get rid of that irritating scum for you?" He pointed towards the cabins.
"Er no need theres no need to trouble you, Young Master" Bian Su hurriedly added.
On her side, her Grand Uncle tugged at the corner of her sleeve.
"Young Master Lu. You probably can tell by now that my Young Miss isnt in a very good situation. If something happens, we may really need your help. Of course, we certainly wont let you help for free. We understand the gifts required," he replied with a smile.
"Mm" Lu Sheng nodded satisfactorily. This old fogey was rather self-aware. Lu Sheng had after all merely sat in their ship for a while; the favor he received from them was not truly sufficient to warrant his help.
His true motivation was of course his curiosity, as well as the possibility of him gaining something from this young lady.
He had heard some rumors from those scums that this Young Miss Bian was carrying something useful to himself.
"Just go into any casino with the word Gold in its name in Mountain-Edge City and mention my name. Therell be someone there to receive you. Ning San, stay back and give them instructions, Ill leave first," Lu Sheng ordered.
"Yes, Boss," Ning San quickly agreed respectfully. After witnessing how Lu Sheng had beaten Gongsun Zhanglan to death like a madman, his reverence and admiration for his Boss increased significantly once more. Unknowingly, his term of address for him had turned into Boss instead of Young Master.
"How many times have I said, call me Young Master!" Lu Sheng was immediately upset.
"Yes yes yes Young Master" sweat broke out on Ning Sans forehead.
Beside them, the duo including Bian Sus faces contorted as they repressed the urge to guffaw.
Without bothering with them anymore, Lu Sheng alighted the ship to look for old Sect Master.