"No, wait. Send it straight to Mountain-Edge City. Ill head there directly too," Lu Sheng changed his mind.
"See to the other arrangements. Im heading to the headquarters first," Lu Sheng relayed his instructions and made a dash on the horse towards the Crimson Whale.
He made no stops along the way. Still, by the time he arrived at the Crimson Whale, many high-ranking External Heads and Internal Affairs Emissaries had already arrived.
Crowd milled about in the harbor, including even some people from nearby sects and clans.
Lu Sheng had only just arrived when sect disciples dressed in red came to greet him and take care of his horse.
"Whyre there so many people today?" Lu Sheng asked with a frown, staring straight ahead.
In front of him was a company of men who had just arrived, bearing the flag of Eastern Mountain Society. At the head of the company was a white-bearded old man, who was whispering to the sect disciples leading them.
"Old Sect Master has issued the order for a grand assembly. All distinguished persons in the region will be coming to the Crimson Whale today," the disciple whispered in reply.
Lu Sheng flipped himself off his horse and boarded the Crimson Whale from its side. The front was way too crowded for him to enter that way. The number of different groups waiting to board from the front alone was at least five. Due to the inspections that needed to be carried out, progress was slow.
"Order for a grand assembly? What on earth happened?" Lu Sheng asked further.
"This subordinate is unaware as well," that disciple shook his head.
Lu Sheng spoke no further. His brows locked together in a furrow as apprehension mounted in his heart.
After boarding the ship, he made a beeline for the central great hall. Before he got near, he could already hear a loud buzz and commotion from within.
He walked along the corridor and into the great hall. What greeted his eyes was a sea of assorted flags belonging to different sects, clans, and societies.
The great hall was also filled with representatives of other factions.
Old Sect Master sat at the head of all. Beside him was Chen Ying and the External and Internal Affairs Emissaries, as well as Elder Wang, Elder Ouyang, and all the rest of the elders.
Seated beneath them were the two societiesShe Lin Society and Eastern Mountain Society. Their representatives had arrived as well. The seats belonging to both societies were occupied by distinguished men and women.
After them were representatives of the three clansTransformation Clan, Unity Path Clan, and Mountain Tiger Clan. The entire great hall was a sea of commotion and din.
Lu Sheng looked at the old Sect Master. Hong Mingzi also caught sight of him and nodded at him, motioning him over to take a seat.
Lu Sheng noticed that a young man sat on Hong Mingzis left. He was a young person who looked calm and composed.
This man was clearly sitting beside the Sect Master of Crimson Whale Sect, but was dressed in plain gray robes with a decorated sword strapped to his back. He had no airs to speak of about him, as if he was merely a common teacher in a school or the owner of a random bookstore. There was only a multifarious and mild aura around him.
Lu Sheng narrowed his eyes, then strode near.
"Junior Apprentice Brother, sit by my side," Hong Mingzi said softly, pointing at the seat on his right after Chen Ying.
Chen Ying was Crimson Whale Sects second-in-command. For Lu Sheng to be granted a seat right after him, it clearly meant that Lu Sheng was the third highest ranking person in Crimson Whale Sect.
Lu Sheng did not stand on ceremony. He strode over and sat down like a boss.
"Senior Apprentice Brother, what happened? Why the order for a grand assembly?"
Hong Mingzi forced a trace of a smile on his face as he introduced the young man beside him, "This is the person in charge of handling the situation right now, dispatched by the Zhen FamilyYoung Master Zhen Xun."
He turned his head and whispered to the young man, "Young Master Zhen Xun, this is this old mans junior apprentice brother, Lu Sheng. Presently, my junior apprentice brothers skills can rank among the top three in Crimson Whale Sect."
The young man nodded peaceably at Lu Sheng without a word.
Instantly, Lu Sheng realized who that person was.
The current leader of Zhen Familys team. A legendary Nobleman. Moreover, given his ability to lead other Noblemen from the Zhen Family, he must be a big shot among Noblemen.
Lu Sheng clasped his hands together at him with a respectful face. Zhen Xun merely nodded in acknowledgment.
Such a gesture was within expectation for someone of his identity.
Not bothered by it, Lu Sheng sat down without saying a word. After all, in Zhen Xuns eyes, he was but a leader in Crimson Whale Sect, a dime a dozen under Zhen Familys command. It was already very polite of him to have looked at him in the eyes.
Thereafter, more members of Crimson Whale Sects upper management arrived. Each time someone strong arrived, Hong Mingzi would introduce them to Zhen Xun one by one. The high and mighty Nobleman showed no impatience; his manner remained peaceable and mild.
After realizing who he was, all the members of the upper management sat on the edge of their seats, as if they were facing a formidable foe, shaking with trepidation at the thought of upsetting him. The atmosphere turned awkward.
After nearly an hour, all personnel from Crimson Whale Sect had been introduced. The representatives and leaders from the other sects were present as well. The great halls doors gradually swung shut. Hong Mingzi lifted his arms.
A deep drumbeat reverberated in the hall.
"SILENCE!" Hong Mingzi projected his voice.
The cacophony in the great hall died in a matter of seconds. Each factions leader kept his or her subordinates in line and all their gazes were directed to the front.
"Old Sect Master Hong, ever since Crimson Whale Sect received the authority to call for a grand assembly more than ten years ago, this is the second time youve used it. Have you invited us here regarding the recent chaos outside the city?" Eastern Mountain Societys Deputy Chairman asked loudly from his seat.
"Indeed. There's been no lack of trouble in the Northern Lands recently. All sorts of peculiar cases have been happening without end, threatening to rip us apart with panic. Thats not a good sign! As the dragon head of the Northern Lands, can Crimson Whale Sect suggest any measures to stabilize the situation?" She Lin Societys Chairman asked loudly.
The rest of those present nodded in approval. Indeed, the recent events have culminated in large losses for the various factions. Unidentified deaths have increased greatly as well. Even the citizens inside Mountain-Edge City lived in fear now, not to mention those outside the city.
Although everyone tried to live on as if nothing had happened, the clear-headed ones could tell that the situation had completely spiraled out of control.
Hong Mingzi coughed twice, then waved his arms to gesture for silence.
"Indeed, you are right. The situation in the Northern Lands has recently been getting out of hand. Hence, we Crimson Whale Sect have invited all of you here to address this matter."
He stretched out his hand towards Zhen Xun beside him.
"This Young Master Zhen Xun has come precisely to defuse the situation."
Like magic, the name rapidly spread across the lips of the top brains in the room. The originally impatient crowds faces changed when they heard his name. Except for some newly emerged experts who were perplexed, none of the rest was ignorant of Zhen Familys name.
Silence quickly descended onto the room. Some among them who had committed affairs that they felt guilty about found cold sweat breaking out on their backs, unsure if this Young Master from Zhen Family would call them about it.
Smiling, Zhen Xun rose slowly.
He surveyed the hall, satisfied with the power and impact caused by his name.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he may not have had grand airs but his voice rang clearly across the hall; all of them could hear him. "I represent the Zhen Family and would like all of you present to assist me in two matters."
He stood. Everyone in the hall, including Hong Mingzi, immediately stood up as well.
"Our greetings to Young Master Zhen Xun! May may we know what Young Master requires of us?" Eastern Mountain Societys Deputy Chairperson said respectfully and nervously. His question echoed what was on everyones mind.
Zhen Xun smiled, "I want all factionsall personnelto search for all forces associated with the Scarlet District."
"Scarlet District?" Shock flashed across Hong Mingzis face.
"Thats right. Scarlet as in the color. District as in a subdivision of a city. Theyre the true source of the present chaos," Zhen Xun nodded. "Additionally, I want a name list containing all distinguished persons who have recently entered the five major cities. All foreigners with features that are out of the ordinary must also be recorded on the list."
That was an extremely massive undertaking. The five major cities were the five largest cities in Northern Lands, including Mountain-Edge City. These large cities saw an inestimably large traffic flowing through them every day. To filter out those with features out of the ordinary was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Standing by the side, Lu Sheng gradually realized what Zhen Xun was doing. He was borrowing the intelligence network of mortal organizations to screen and fish out all potential enemies.
"Since this is Young Master Zhen Xuns request, we will certainly get it done!" She Lin Societys Chairman was the first to express assent. The rest of the leaders quickly followed suit.
Who among those seated on the high seats here were not well-informed individuals? Zhen Family was the true ruler of the Northern Lands, as well as Crimson Whale Sects backer. That was old news to all.
Every year, Crimson Whale Sects immense revenue would be wiped out cleanly. That was because it was all offered as tribute to Zhen Family.
"Since all of you understand what Ive said, then Ill entrust the gathering of intelligence to Crimson Whale Sect. After a period of time, Ill send someone here to check on the progress. Any problems?" Zhen Xuns gaze swept across the hall.
"We will certainly obey Young Masters orders!" Hong Mingzi was the first to reply, a standard lackey-smile on his face.
Lu Sheng was speechless. This was the first time he had seen his senior apprentice brother behaving in this manner. No wonder he was the Sect Master of the number one secthe knew his place.
"We will obey!" The rest of the factions did not dare to differ.
Zhen Xun briefed them on what sort of people to look out for before strolling out, hands behind his back. Before long, he was riding away on a Crimson Whale Sects horse.
The hastily arranged grand assembly was dismissed just like that.
None among the leaders at the meeting left feeling as relaxed as they did when they had come. Each one of them looked heavy-hearted, ready to comply with Zhen Familys orders to arrange for eyes everywhere.
Lu Sheng was about to leave too when he was asked to stay by the old Sect Master.
"Senior Apprentice Brother, why have you specially asked me to stay back?"
In the Sect Masters library, Hong Mingzi sent everyone else away, leaving Lu Sheng alone in the room with him.
"Junior Apprentice Brother, a great change is coming. You must prepare yourself for it," Hong Mingzi said to Lu Sheng gravely.
"A great change?" Lu Shengs face turned solemn as well. Old Sect Master must have had a good reason to stop him.
"Yes," Hong Mingzi nodded. "For over twenty years, Ive been in contact with Zhen Family. They have always responded decisively, even brutally. Theyve always been steady and thoroughthats their style. But this time, something is off. Young Master Zhen Xun isnt doing things like how Zhen Family used to. I have a nasty premonition about it."
"Senior Apprentice Brother, are you certain?" Lu Sheng's expression became grave at the news as well.
"Im certain. Zhen Familys moving too hastily this time," Hong Mingzi continued. "Of course, it may be that Im being oversuspicious. But it never hurts to be prepared. Junior Apprentice Brother, you must be cautious. Zhen Family seems unstable"
"Got it" Lu Shengs heart turned heavy.
He departed after visiting the library. All the way back, his mind was on this matter.
Given Hong Mingzis personality, he would not tell him these things out of the blue. He, Lu Sheng, had come from a decent and clean family and entered Crimson Sun Sect. He was his junior apprentice brother and his personality and character were transparent to all. It was natural for Hong Mingzi to drop him some special hints.
He was truly treating him as family.
'Zhen Family is unstable if I need to make preparations, what should I do?' The matter pressed heavily on Lu Shengs mind.
In the Northern Lands, the Zhen Family was the one carrying the fight against the dark supernatural forces. They enjoyed all the wealth and resources that the Northern Lands had to offer; in exchange, they provided the Northern Lands with security.
Once this massive protective shield fell, the ensuing trouble wouldn't be just trouble... it would be hell.
Hi dear readers! Deep Blue here! I know the question on many of your minds is: "is Lu Sheng's hair gonna grow back???" Many of you have asked me this, and I won't give any spoilers here for the pleasure of other readers! But if you post this or any other question in the spoilers channel in Way of the Devil's Discord server, I'll answer it! Come join us at this code: qkFVEaP
Also, I know many of you have been craving faster releases, and I'm really glad u guys enjoy it so much, but old Deep Blue here is translating as fast as I can T.T For now, multiple releases a day seems a distant goal. But I'm working towards increasing the release rate from 5 days/week to 7 days/week in the near future! Cheers! :)