"If youve really got no idea, you can spend money on storing up grain," Lu Sheng hinted subtly.
"Store up grain?" Aside, Uncle Zhao was astonished. "Has the situation become so dire?"
"More or less. Outside the city, even peasants dont dare to travel too far away from the city. Large plots of land are left unploughed. No matter how much grain has been stored, therell come a day when its finished. Therell probably be a famine next year," Lu Sheng said softly.
"Ill go back and begin making preparations" Lu Quanan shut his eyes, not wishing to continue the topic any further. At the end of the day, Lu Chenxin was his son. The kind of feeling he had from looking at his sons corpse was not something that Lu Sheng could understand.
Sensing his Old Dads reticence, Lu Sheng did not disturb him any longer. He led the Crimson Whale Sect disciples away from the Manor.
Mountain-Edge City remained gloriously splendid at night. The night market on the streets made them look like rivers of light, slowly moving a huge number of stall carts, lanterns and oil lamps along.
It was a spectacle of prosperity, without any hint of the recent troubles at all.
Lu Sheng rode gradually along the street. Looking at the commotion and liveliness of the crowd around him, a wave of fatigue suddenly washed over him.
Ever since coming into this world, Ive been laboring day and night to become stronger, practicing martial arts to fight against the supernatural. If I had not entered this world, Lu Family would probably be like Big Brother Xus family by now, wiped out and sacrificed completely, Lu Sheng stared into the area in front of him, to his right. A boy received a small round wooden drum from his mother, shaking it in high spirits to produce crisp beats.
Even if the people in this world remain in the dark and completely defenseless, they continue working hard to live on, like wild grass, Lu Shengs face was impassive. But theyre merely surviving.
Passing by the little boy, he saw a group of drunk Institution students singing ahead of him. Three sheets to the wind, each of them yelled with abandon, shocking passers-by into forming a wide space around them.
"Hahaha, a thousand cups leave none drunk, a thousand scrolls leave one erudite! Brother Chen! Brother Song! Again!" A student lifted his empty hand as if a wine cup was within, baring his chest and completely oblivious to the annoyed glares of passers-by.
The rest of them roared in laughter and joined in the ruckus.
"Miss Hongers really got some kick! Next time burp Ill still choose her!" The company laughed again.
Lu Sheng glanced at them, then rode slowly past them. On both sides of him, Crimson Whale disciples followed closely. Wherever they went, people hastily kept away from them.
Those moving in his style were the embodiment of people whom average people cannot afford to mess with.
After traveling a distance further, Lu Sheng suddenly pulled on his reins, slowing the horse to a halt, and looked at a small stall selling glutinous rice balls by the side.
At a small table in the corner, two dirty and ragged beggars sat prim and proper.
The two of them cut a peculiar sight. They were clearly beggars who were covered all over in filth with hair as messy as a hens nest and bodies shrunken to the bones. Yet they sat with impeccable posture and bearing on their seats, their backs as straight as pine trees.
Lu Sheng stared at the two of them with narrowed eyes, waving his hand to gesture his subordinates into halting.
He alighted from his horse and let his men lead the horse away. Then he strolled towards the stall and sat.
"This Master, what sort of glutinous rice ball would you like?" Seeing that Lu Sheng had an extraordinary air about him, the stall owner hurried over to serve him with a wide grin.
"Anything. Give me the same as what theyre having," Lu Sheng pointed at the two beggars.
The stall owner was a middle aged-man. After hearing Lu Sheng, his face turned awkward,
"Sir, you must be joking. Those two lads are eating whats made of leftover materials in my stall. Theyre not eating good glutinous rice balls"
"Arent they paying for their food?"
"Thats a good one. Where will these two kids find money from?" The stall owner chuckled as he shook his head. "These two girls have been wandering nearby for many days, picking rotten vegetables and bones that have been thrown away for food. I was moved with pity for them."
"Thats kind-hearted of you. Are they foreigners?" Lu Sheng looked at the two beggars. He had noticed that the owner called them "these two girls".
"Dont they seem so? Theyre refugees who escaped from famine elsewhere. But both kids have got integrity. I told them Im giving the food to them for free, but they rejected. It took me a while to persuade them. In the end, I had to tell them that I was selling it to them but was allowing them to pay back in the future. Only then were they willing to eat," the stall owner shook his head.
"Since theyre girls, how can they still wander on the streets and not be abducted?" Lu Sheng was surprised.
"Erm about that you just have to look at their faces and youll know," the stall owner replied helplessly.
Lu Sheng asked no further and ordered a serving of meat-filled glutinous rice balls. Then he sat on his seat, looking at the two beggars.
From the first instant he caught sight of them, he had sensed an aura off them that was different from that of average mortals.
Though separated from him by more than ten meters, the aura on each of them was like a ball of fire in the dark night, clear as day, immediately attracting Lu Shengs attention.
They were two strands of faint, subtle Yin Qi.
Such aura which apparently belonged only to ghosts was now emanating from two live beggars. Hence, Lu Sheng halted and came in to investigate.
Remaining on his seat, he secretly eavesdropped on the conversation between the two beggar girls.
"Sis, arent you eating? If you dont eat, its going to get cold," the shorter one among them whispered. Her voice was clear and crisp, like the sound of metal striking porcelain.
"Ive already eaten three. Its your turn," the taller among themthe elder sistersaid. Her voice was hoarse, but discernibly feminine and carried within it a sense of calmness and composure.
"Ive calculated. A glutinous rice ball can last us for about eight hours. If we eat sparingly, together with the soup, we can go without vegetable leaves for several days."
"I dont want to eat vegetable leaves again," the younger sister said.
"Neither do I. But we havent got a choice," the elder sister replied.
"Up till today, weve already owed favors from thirteen good Samaritans. I dont want to owe anyone anymore," the younger sister bent her head, about to take a bite, when she remarked.
The elder sister fell into momentary silence.
"Dont worry, Im keeping tabs."
The two sisters had clearly fallen into destitution, yet continued to speak in a prim and proper way. They spoke more like children of cultured and educated families than like the ordinary folk, and behaved with principles. They treated a mere matter as simple as eating a bowl of glutinous rice balls as if it was some serious affair.
Listening on the side, Lu Shengs curiosity was piqued. He rose and walked to the table that the two beggars were at.
"Listening to the both of you talking, you sound like literate people? Why dont you find a job as a scribe or letter writer?"
At the interrupting voice, both sisters raised their heads towards him instantly. One look explained to Lu Sheng why they were in such pitiful straits.
Blisters, packed densely together, filled their faces. These blisters covered their noses, mouths, eyelids, necks etc. Practically every inch of their skin was covered in blisters. Only two narrow slits remained where their eyes were. A revolting stench emanated from their bodies, like the odor of rotting flesh.
Lu Sheng also noticed that the blisters on the sides of their necks were slightly bigger than the rest. In the largest, he could even see some maggots wriggling.
As if having noticed his gaze, the elder among the sisters covered her neck with her hands
"I want to get them out, but I cant get them out cleanly. Its very itchy."
Lu Sheng scrutinized the two of them. If not for the absence of Adams apple and the faint swelling on their chests, Lu Sheng would not have been able to tell for certain that they were girls.
"Do you need assistance? I may be able to provide both of you with a job," he was very curious towards the two girls. It was the first time he had seen mortals with Yin Qi on them.
"Really?" The younger sister rose immediately, staring at him.
Beside her, her elder sister was in tremor too. She was clearly trying hard to suppress and contain her excitement.
"As real as it gets," Lu Sheng nodded.
"What do you want us to do? Were literate, we can do basic sewing and knitting. We can even do laundry or cook or whatever," the younger sister shot off rapidly.
"Do you know gardening?" A grin surfaced on Lu Shengs face. "Watering and fertilizing plants, trimming branches and leaves."
Almost at the same time, the pair of sisters answered in unison, their eyes sparkling.
After bringing the two beggars back to Golden Jade Greenhouse and putting them to work, Lu Sheng spent his remaining time practicing Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill. Before that, he first exhausted all his Yin-Yang Jade Crane inner force.
This time, he saw the effect immediately. Traces of faint numbness and itch spread all over the surface of his skin like heat waves. This was a characteristic sign of getting initiated into Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill.
This also confirmed Lu Shengs postulation about his conflicting skills. Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill was actually counter-productive when cultivating martial art skills that needed the body to be in a state of extremity. After this experience, he knew how to handle similar situations in the future.
"BAM! BAM! BAM BAM BAM!!!"
Lu Sheng struck the lump of black iron before him in a series of continuous palm strikes.
In the clearing in the greenhouse, a red pattern emerged on his forehead and his palms glowed crimson. Heat waves radiated outwards from his body. Within a two meter radius all around him, scorching wind raged in fury.
"Heart Shattering Palm!"
His final palm strike landed dead in the center of the iron lump, causing it to tremor violently.
Lu Sheng maintained his pose for a few seconds before slowly relaxing his hand.
The iron lump remained pitch-black. But if one were to touch it, one would realize that the huge piece of metal was boiling hot.
This was how Lu Sheng cultivated Ultimate Crimson Mantra. His Level Seven Ultimate Crimson Mantra was the pinnacle level of this inner force skill. There was no further progression to be achieved beyond it. He had no idea how to train his blood web. Hence, he came up with the idea of practicing it on a lump of iron.
Each time he struck with his blood web, he had to ensure that the blood web formed by his inner Qi could envelope the entire lump of iron. Then he would burn and torch the entire lump of iron. This was to train both his precision and control over the blood web.
The lump of iron was irregularly shaped and the height of a person. It was optimally suited for practicing the efficiency of the blood web against enemies of different shapes and forms as well as when cast from different angles.
In his final strike, he activated Ultimate Crimson Mantras Level Seven blood web with Heart Shattering Palm. The resulting effect satisfied Lu Sheng greatly.
Under the enhancement of Ultimate Crimson Mantra, the might of Heart Shattering Palm, originally a mere Strength Proficiency martial art skill, drastically increased. The Tremor effect which accompanied his strike caused the entire iron lump to shake intensely. If he had not intentionally aimed downwards, the lump iron weighing several thousand kilograms might just fly backwards.
"External Head, its meal time," Ning San said respectfully.
"Mm," Lu Sheng nodded. He was now initiated into Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill and intended to try upgrading this hard body skill directly with the Modifier after heading back to his room. With Yin-Yang Jade Crane Skill as foundation, there should not be any significant aftereffects to deal with. It was a Strength Proficiency external force skill, after all. Even if hard body skills were highly taxing, it was of too low a realm to pose much of a challenge.
His purpose in cultivating Nine Lakes Steel Chains Skill was also because it was a defensive martial art skill and could save his life at the crucial moment.
Sorry guys, I came home late last night and was so tired that I forgot to release yesterday's chapter! So here is Monday's chapter... thanks for the patient wait!