Flipping himself off the horse, the young master strolled into the village.
"Why dont you come out? Havent you been trying to draw us out?" His voice rang out as he surveyed his surroundings.
"Now, Ive come."
As his voice fell, a figure appeared in front of the old well in the middle of the village.
It was a person clad in black robes, with long unkempt hair falling all over its shoulders, its arms hanging limply by its side.
The figures head was bowed, preventing a clear view of its face. It simply stood facing the Young Master. Aside, the horse Lu Quanan had left behind had vanished into thin air. Only a bag of rations lay beside the well.
"Weve long laid down an agreement not to cross over into each others affairs. Whats the meaning behind your attacks?" The Young Master demanded coldly.
All that came in reply was an iron ax shooting towards him, heading straight for his flank.
Spinning rapidly, the ax split the air apart, producing the sharp sound of friction against the air. Then, lightning-quick, it slashed right across the Young Masters temple.
Blood splattered into the air.
The Young Masters brains were split open by the ax. A finger-deep gash appeared on his head. He stood still on his spot without a flinch.
"Is that an attempt at intimidation?" Shockingly, the Young Master remained staring at the strange figure before him, emotionless. The palm-length wound on his head began to close up and heal rapidly on its own, just like the closing of a flower that had just blossomed. In a matter of seconds, the wound on his temple had vanished without a trace, as if no injury had been there before.
The ax fell to the ground on the side, dust and mud sticking to it. Peculiarly, not a drop of blood stuck to its head. [ED/N: An ax's head is its metal partas opposed to its wooden shaft]
The Young Masters face was composed as he strode towards the figure at the well.
About half a miles distance away from the village, along the mountain path
Leading twenty of his subordinates on horses, Lu Sheng stood silently on the winding mountain path, peering towards the direction of the village.
Presently, he was halfway up the mountain and could see the plateau on which the deserted village sat. For the ordinary person, perhaps the distance would have been too far for clear sight. But Lu Sheng was different.
He gazed intently at the Young Master at the mouth of the village. He, too, had witnessed that bizarre scene.
His brain was hacked in two and yet he could recover. Is he even human? his brows locked together into a tight knot, frustration rising in his heart.
He had seen ghosts and even Anomalies. But this was the first time he had seen a Nobleman in action. It was completely different from what he had expected.
'Or perhaps that isnt a Nobleman? Maybe that young man is also a supernatural being thats part of the forbidden grounds' Lu Sheng surmised. Yet, right before his departure, old Sect Master had taken special effort to remind him that if he were to see a smiley young man dressed in green walk alone into a forbidden zone as if it were nothing, that must be someone from the Zhen Family.
'Are all from the Zhen Family that bizarre?' Lu Shengs brows scrunched up further.
Atop his horse, one hand gripped onto his saber hilt while the other held onto the reins.
'Noble Families are the only existence that can battle supernatural beings thats what Duanmu Wan told me. So what makes them powerful enough to resist such mighty beings?' Lu Sheng was reminded of Duanmu Wan as well as Daoist Yan Kai, whom he suspected was also a Nobleman. But he could not tell what extraordinarily powerful methods or skills they had.
Yan Kai, for example, merely relied on his own blood to kill ghosts. His performance back then in the temple was not even as impressive as what Lu Sheng was presently capable of.
"Arent we going over, External Head?" Someone from Soaring Eagle Squad asked softly. Their ocular powers could not hold a candle to that of Lu Sheng and thus they were unable to see what was going on in the village. Needless to say, they had no idea why Lu Sheng had stopped in the middle of the road.
Lu Sheng stared at the Young Master who was entering the village until the mud houses hid him from view. Only then did he take a deep breath.
"Lets go take a look."
The company of men slowly went down the mountain, drawing closer to the deserted village.
They had traveled using a shortcut and so were much faster than ordinary travelers. However, this shortcut was very narrow. Only experts with good hand-eye coordination dared to walk that route by the cliff.
Following the mountain path, they descended the mountain. Lu Sheng brought the men to the mouth of the village without entering it. They all alighted from their horses.
The horses seemed uneasy, breathing out heavily, trying to turn around and get away from this place. But the men held them tight by the reins and tied them to a thick tree by the path.
Apart from Lu Sheng, the rest of them actually had no idea what kind of mission they were here to accomplish. All they knew was that it was Lu Shengs orders and that this mission carried some danger and needed caution.
"Are we going in?" The Soaring Eagle Squads leading expert, Duan Hongying, asked Lu Sheng.
"No hurry. Someones already inside. We just need to wait outside and lock down this area. Dont let anyone enter or exit," Lu Sheng instructed.
"Understood!" They dispersed, setting up sentries all around the village.
The twenty of them spread themselves apart and surrounded the village, each remaining within sight of the other.
Lu Sheng fell into a moment of thought as he stood outside the village, listening intently for the commotion within.
Some people seemed to be battling in one of the mud houses. Though not much noise reached outside, it was clearly discernible to him.
'Noble Families what kind of power do they possess?' Lu Sheng was gripped by curiosity.
In reality, he was now the number one expert of Crimson Whale Sect. Even if the old Sect Master were to fight against him with his life, Lu Sheng would still emerge the victor.
Including the ghosts that he had previously encountered, Lu Sheng had honestly never run into mortal danger. Hence, a compelling urge arose within Lu Sheng to figure out where he stood in the eyes of the Noblemen.
Gripping his saber hilt tightly, Lu Sheng stalked into the village.
The sounds are coming from that largest mud house on the right.
Having confirmed the direction, he skulked towards the mud house.
Walking up to the window, his breath thickened as he peered in through it.
It was pitch black within. Nothing could be seen.
Lu Sheng frowned and pressed himself nearer the window in an attempt to get a better look.
"What are you looking at? Can you tell me?"
Without warning, a gentle voice rang out from behind him.
Lu Sheng jolted in shock and spun round immediately, almost unsheathing his saber in a slash.
"You!!!?" Lu Sheng hastily retreated two steps before realizing that the man who had suddenly popped up behind him was the green-robed Young Master who had entered the village earlier.
His face was carrying a peaceable smile as he had stood silently and unarmed behind Lu Sheng.
The distance between them was hardly two-meter wide.
"Who are you?!" Lu Sheng growled. The other party was actually capable of stealing up on him undetected; he had never seen such movement skill before.
"Me?" The Young Masters smile did not fade in the slightest as he replied, "Im Zhen Yi. Youre from Crimson Whale Sect, here to handle the aftermath, right? Therere no longer any ghosts here. But it needs to be closed off for ten days. No living being must enter this place."
"So its Young Master Zhen. You said no living being?" Lu Sheng quickly bowed respectfully.
"You may understand it as no human being," Zhen Yi smiled.
"Got it," Lu Sheng nodded.
"Good," Zhen Yi smiled and nodded. "Handle this place then. Remember: after I leave, no one is to enter."
"Yes, sir," Lu Sheng bowed.
"Oh, and next time, tell Hong Mingzi not be so brash" Zhen Yi pushed himself upright with his hand on the windowsill. Then, he turned around and strode off in the distance.
Lu Shengs head remained bowed until he was thoroughly gone and disappeared from sight. Only then did he slowly raise his head.
Turning around again, he saw a clearly discernible black palm print on the window sill.
A complicated look flashed across his face. Gently, he reached out and touched the palm print with his finger.
A shocking, intense pain stabbed his finger and drove into his heart, rapidly spreading all over his body like a virus.
Lu Sheng watched as the flesh on his index finger swiftly turned black, then withered as if poisoned or doused with strong acid. The flesh quickly shriveled like a deflated balloon.
Resolutely, he quickly cut off the flesh on his fingertip without regret.
The lump of black flesh fell on the ground and quickly dissolved into black smoke. All of Lu Shengs inner Qi gushed towards his finger madly, continuing to resist the remnant black flesh.
"What terrible poison" Lu Sheng sucked in a cold breath of air. His forehead was drenched in beads of cold sweat, induced by the intense pain, and veins popped up prominently on his neck. He scrutinized the black areas on his finger. After consuming a massive amount of inner Qi, the blackness finally faded away gradually.
A spot of black flesh, the size of a sesame, took a whole eighty percent of his inner Qi, comprised of both Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill and Ultimate Crimson Mantra, to suppress. And, it was barely suppressed at that.
Lu Sheng lifted his saber and carefully gouged out this part of his finger too.
Despite the pain stabbing right into his heart, he endured the intense agony and finished the job.
'Noblemen is the gap between us really that vast?'
His heart grew heavy. He looked at the black palm print on the windowsill again.
'I should no longer stay in this place,' hastily, Lu Sheng turn around, intending to leave immediately.
All of a sudden, a package on the rim of the well caught his eyes. It was a dark-red bundle with a giant word "Lu" embroidered on it.
Its the cloth used exclusively by my family! Lu Shengs heart shook. Hurriedly, he strode over, picked up the bundle and opened it gingerly.
Some rations and a letter were in it. Without hesitating, Lu Sheng ripped open the letter.
It was left for Lu Chenxin, detailing the directions towards Mountain-Edge City as well as the signs they would leave behind along the way.
Its a letter left for Lu Chenxin. That means my family was here in this village, and Lu Chenxin went missing," Lu Sheng quickly analyzed what had happened. Thankfully, no major accidents happened to them. Lu Chenxin wasnt a decent chap to begin with. His life or death isnt of my concern. But his thoughts took a turn, I remember when I first made the trip to Mountain-Edge City, there wasnt any village here. Why didnt any mishaps occur here until my family was on the way and passed by?
He exited the village. Zhen Yi was no longer to be found. Only Crimson Whale Sect experts were to be seen, standing guard around the village.
Lu Sheng hid the wound on his finger in his sleeves.
"Guard this place closely. Forbid anyone from entering. Two of you, go back and arrange for reinforcements who will take shifts with you to come!"
He began deploying the men. Just these twenty men were definitely inadequate to lock down this place; more men were necessary.
After relaying his instructions, Lu Sheng rushed back towards Mountain-Edge City without pause.
His family was currently in the midst of relocating. Should any trouble happen to them along the way or should they enter other forbidden zones, they would be deep in trouble. He needed to check on them.
His gut instincts told him that this accident was no mere coincidence.
Riding at full pelt, Lu Sheng kept going along the main path. Time gradually passed and dusk began to fall.
He had pursued them for a long time and his horse was beginning to run out of steam.
At the same time, Lu Familys carriage team was gradually emerging in Lu Shengs field of vision along the main path. They seemed to be in disarray.
Lu Sheng heaved a sigh of relief. Shaking the reins, he sped up towards them. Yet, before needing to draw near to them, he could see that a giant red lantern hung from one of the horse carriages.
The red lantern hung from the entrance of the carriage. Moreover, through the window, two more red lanterns that looked exactly the same could be seen inside the carriage.
Instantly, Lu Shengs gaze was trained on them.