'Level Five' Lu Sheng saw that there was indeed a button for martial arts extrapolation behind it. In actual fact, there was no indication on the button that it was meant only for martial arts extrapolation.
That was but his assumption.
As long as there was sufficient Yin Qi, such a button would appear behind all martial arts. Coincidentally, he had already attained the pinnacle level of all his previous martial arts. Hence, when he pressed the button, it resulted in extrapolation. Presently, however, Ultimate Crimson Mantra had seven levels in total and there was no way for him to cultivate it to its pinnacle level in the short term. That was how he came to see, for the first time, the button appearing after a martial art that had yet to be mastered at its pinnacle level.
Lets give it a shot, Lu Sheng focused his attention on the button behind the Ultimate Crimson Mantra and tapped it.
On the Modifier, Ultimate Crimson Mantras box blurred, becoming clear once again after two breaths.
"Ultimate Crimson Mantra: Level Six. Special Effect(s): Intensified Fire Poison, Four-fold Tremor, Intensified Incendiary."
It really worked!?'
Overwhelmed with joy, Lu Sheng examined his own skill.
On the surface, it seemed as if it had merely been upgraded to Level Six. But he clearly sensed the warm flow of inner Qi thickening by more than a fold in his body. All over him, his wounds started to itch.
I cant see much use for the Tremor effect. But earlier, when I fought the lantern lady, my hits seemed heavier than I had expected. Thats probably the might of the Tremor effect. Now, its four-fold. It should be even more powerful.
With his inner Qi upgraded, Lu Sheng sensed that his cultivation had deepened. Perhaps his strikes were stronger now too. But, he was still a distance away from being able to fight beings like the lantern lady head on.
That lantern lady if I hadnt set my mind to exchange a body of wounds for the opportunity to grab onto her if it had been someone else, not me they would have been tormented to death.
He looked at the Modifier again. All buttons had disappeared. Clearly, Yin Qi was no longer sufficient to continue.
Since Yin Qi can upgrade skills too, then I can simply search for and gather items with Yin Qi everywhere. Or even actively hunt ghosts, Lu Sheng made up his mind to focus on upgrading his skills without caring about other worries. As long as he kept getting stronger, he was sure that there bound to be a way to deal with them. He refused to believe that he would still be unable to deal with a few ghosts given his law-defying Modifier.
With the Yin Qi from the silver hairpin exhausted, he kept it and went to bed.
After a night of deep sleep,
Lu Sheng awoke and had breakfast early the next day, before sunrise. Then, he made a beeline for the Crimson Whale.
On the third story of the tower atop the ship, he found the Old Sect Master in the pharmacy, consuming white stone powder.
The suns beams shone into the pharmacy from the side windows, landing onto a yellowish bronze pill cauldron about the height of a man, illuminating the crane and bird motifs carved onto it.
Dressed in plain white, old Sect Masters left hand seemed obviously distorted and was anchored to his neck with a piece of wood.
He was unsurprised by Lu Shengs visit.
"Junior Apprentice Brother, looks like you fared even worse than me."
"Senior Apprentice Brother, you too" the corner of Lu Shengs mouth twitched. He fell speechless at the sight of old Sect Masters plight.
"Forbidden zones arent that easily guarded," old Sect Master sighed. "So many incidents have occurred one after another in such a short time. The mortals cry when deities fight. Just these minor demons and minor ghosts are enough to be quite a handful for us."
"How does Senior Apprentice Brother deal with those extremely fast ghosts?" Lu Sheng made this visit primarily for answers. Old Sect Master had lived so long. As the present Sect Chief of Crimson Sun Sect, he must have some tricks up his sleeves.
As expected, a faint smile appeared on old Sect Masters face at the question.
"I knew youd ask me this, just like I asked my Master back then."
He rose, walked to the window and gazed out through it.
Cypress Pine Lake flowed without end, its waves slapping onto the sides of the Crimson Whale as it was carried by the wind.
"Our Crimson Sun Sect naturally possesses more than one inner skillthe Ultimate Crimson Mantra. To be specific, we also possess several first-rate combat martial arts passed down through the generations," Hong Mingzi said softly.
A look of earnestness came upon Lu Sheng.
"May Senior Apprentice Brother please advise."
Hong Mingzi smiled and turned around.
"Each of these martial arts is deep and profound, building upon Ultimate Crimson Mantra as its foundation. The stronger your Ultimate Crimson Mantra, the more powerful these combat skills," he paused. Then, he continued, "I wont elaborate on the rest. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. Your senior brother here will just tell you about a saber technique appropriate for you. Youre already well-versed in the long saber and palm techniques. Both of them carry some definite similarities. This saber technique should be sufficient to supplement your inadequacy in offensive strength."
"May Senior Apprentice Brother please teach me," Lu Sheng rose as well and said somberly.
Hong Mingzi smiled and nodded, "This saber technique is called Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique.
"Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique? I like this name," Lu Sheng licked his lips.
"This saber technique requires the use of a heavy weapon. The heavier the better and more powerful. Its specially designed to complement the Tremor ability of Ultimate Crimson Mantra," Hong Mingzi explained.
"Tremor ability?" Lu Sheng mused, "Then can I use a hammer? Hammers are heavy. Wouldnt they be even more powerful?"
"Er well, it didnt say you cant" Hong Mingzi was stumped by the question. This was clearly a saber technique, but Lu Sheng thought out of the box and came up with the idea of using a hammer instead.
"After mastering this Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique, youll be able to deploy an inner Qi web with Ultimate Crimson Qi. Its area of effect is very large, making it extremely effective against speed-type opponents," old Sect Master continued. "Are you interested to learn it?"
"Of course," Lu Sheng said without hesitation.
"The strokes arent difficult. Its mainly about pairing them with the mantra. Let me explain it briefly and youll see what I mean" Hong Mingzi began explaining to Lu Sheng the specific method of cultivation and points to take note of regarding Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique.
There were only a total of two strokes, with over ten transformations and permutations. Lu Sheng quickly learnt them all.
A box appeared on the Modifier for Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique.
The duo worked till noon, one of them teaching, the other learning.
"Oh, Junior Apprentice Brother, what level have you attained in cultivating Ultimate Crimson Mantra? Was the conversion from your previous skill successful?" Hong Mingzi asked as the thought popped up in his mind. "Its fine if youd rather not say."
"Level Four," Lu Sheng did not mention his recent breakthroughs, stating only his previous level. He was indeed at Level Four by the time he had completely converted Blood Fury Skill.
"Mm, about the same as I estimated. Ultimate Crimson Qi at Level Four is good enough to activate Changing the Heavens in Seven Days Saber Technique. Shouldnt be a problem handling an average ghost or a small demon," Hong Mingzi nodded.
"Senior Apprentice Brother, Ive got a question but Im not sure if I should ask," Lu Sheng pretended to hesitate, a frown on his forehead.
"You and I are brother disciples of the same sect. Were the only two living members of Crimson Sun Sect; when I die, youll be the Sect Chief. Whats there you cant ask?" Hong Mingzi waved his hand casually. "Go ahead."
Lu Sheng tidied up his thoughts before speaking, "Id like to ask: Noble Families and demons or ghosts where exactly are they stronger than us?" He whispered, keeping his voice as low and soft as possible.
But, with his profound cultivation at Level Six of the Ultimate Crimson Mantra, old Sect Master naturally had acute senses and immediately heard his question as clear as day.
Instantly, the smile on his face dissipated, and his brows locked together in a furrow.
"Ive spent several decades researching this problem. Only after that did I arrive at a postulation."
Hong Mingzi nodded.
"Did you imagine that these high and mighty beings would have much contact with mortals like us? All I had to work with were bits and pieces of information acquired through eavesdropping as well as some clues from my observations. I deduced the answer from those."
"May Senior Apprentice Brother please enlighten me," Lu Sheng requested.
Hong Mingzi took out another packet of white stone powder. This was a relaxant that had mild hallucination-inducing effects and was very popular in Mountain-Edge City. There were no side effects from consuming it, yet it helped to relax ones nerves.
"Noble Families, Anomalies, Devils. These are the true overlords of this world. They are the deities and the devilsthe origin of all legends and myths," Hong Mingzi said slowly with a hint of reminiscence.
"To say the least, there are two facts about them."
He raised two fingers.
"Firstly, these three beings cannot die."
"Cannot die!?" Lu Sheng was shaken.
"Thats right, they just cannot die," Hong Mingzi said bitterly, "No matter what method we use, unless they kill one another, they cannot be killed by mortals. As for the reason, I have not discovered it. Im still researching it. Otherwise, given our strength, even if there may be a gap, it wouldnt be such an insurmountable chasm."
Lu Sheng recalled the little girl from Song Manor and fell into silence.
"Secondly, they have a kind of power that is extremely lethal to us mortals. They term this power: Bind.
"Bind?" Lu Sheng replied.
"Indeed. Bind as in to bind up," Hong Mingzi sighed. "Devils, Anomalies, and Noblemen are innately gifted with the power they call Bind from birth. Other beings like ghosts and demons must cultivate it.
Only after attaining the level of Bind can one resist the lethal poison all around them, one which kills at the slightest touch. Otherwise, any physical contact with them, except when they suppress and contract their own power, would be fatal."
"Bind" Lu Sheng fell deep in thought.
"They cannot die, and their entire bodies are covered in lethal poison that kills with a touch. Thats the power of Bind. Even if you or I touch it, itd be a handful to handle. Apart from expending massive amounts of inner Qi and cutting off the affected flesh immediately, theres no way to nullify it at all," Hong Mingzi put down the white stone powder in his hand.
"Based on the intelligence I gathered from eavesdropping, Bind is a realm of power, a level. It is a natural transformation that occurs to one after attaining a certain height in cultivation. Any fully formed Anomaly, Devil, or Nobleman would possess the power of Bind. Unless they contract it of their own will, any mortal who touches them will die."
Lu Sheng recalled how physically close he had gotten with Duanmu Wan. Cold sweat broke out on his back. If Duanmu Wan had been careless for the slightest moment and accidentally failed to contract her power of Bind, he would probably have been rotting away by now. When he had touched Zhen Yis hand print, which was left behind unintentionally, with his finger, he had been forced to cut the affected part of it off to avoid the spread of the poison. If he had come into direct physical contact with him
"Then Song Manor?" He abruptly recalled from his memory.
"That was an Anomaly which had yet to form fully. Why else would it be so weak? To us, that is a dangerous place. But to those in that word, it is but a mere half-formed, aborted and abandoned ground," old Sect Master explained. "But dont worry, Ive observed that the power of Bind dissolves on its own within a joss sticks duration after leaving its owners body. And, it cannot spread or expand."
"In that case, Senior Apprentice Brother, have you ever come into direct contact with the power of Bind before?" Lu Sheng asked. "Among us martial arts cultivators, is there any possibility of resisting such power? Or of attaining such a mode?"
"Resist?" Hong Mingzi shook his head. "Impossible. With this old mans skills, I can rank among the top three in all Northern Lands. Even in Central Plains, I would have a place among the top-notch experts. Any higher and I would be a Divine Prime expert, on the very pinnacle of the Dao of martial arts. Yet even then, it would still be impossible.
Moreover, regarding attaining such a level, your senior apprentice brother here did use to guess that the power of Bind was a naturally induced reaction after one achieves a certain level. But later on, I discovered it was not so," Hong Mingzis eyes narrowed. "Be it its poisonous nature, or its defensive ability to isolate and protect its owner, the power of Bind is like a layer of eggshell. It covers these undying beings thoroughly. Unless one is able to break through it, one would not even be able to lay a scratch on them, not to mention breaking through their indestructible bodies."