Way of the Devil Chapter 675: Crane King Cave 2
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Then, Longhe Zhi ordered a lockdown on the information. He told Lu Sheng that his miraculous encounter could only be known by the three highest-ranking members of the sect.
The crane demons came up with the same story. They were wandering demons who wanted to find a place to rest from the exhaustion of the journey. They coincidentally bumped into Lu Sheng, and were convinced by him to join the Clear Crane Sect.
Lu Sheng agreed to all this. He knew that this was to avoid unnecessary attention. After all, a magical herb that could enable a person to break through that many tiers in one go and turn animals into demons in one go could only be a famous divine pill of the legends.
If word of this got out and reached the ears of elites and great demons with profound cultivation bases, the sect would surely attract disaster.
To return the favor, Lu Sheng contributed the Great Clear Crane Enlightened Skill he derived without charge. He allowed the three highest-ranking members of the Clear Crane Sect to cultivate it with him.
When the three of them saw this, they were immediately shocked. Whenever there was something that they were unclear about, they would consult Lu Sheng and obtain detailed answers.
This happened a few times, and after that, the attitude of the three Taoists toward Lu Sheng started to change.
There were many prodigies born with innate intelligence that shocked the world. Some of them were born extraordinary, and some of them were reincarnations of immortals.
The three of them vaguely treated Lu Sheng as a person with good fortune who was born with amazing talents.
Half a month later, after Sect Master Longhe Zhi's careful observations, he decided to impart the sect's core mantra, the White Feather Mantra, to Lu Sheng.
Throughout his detailed observation, he discovered that Lu Sheng's temperament was extremely stable and complete. Although he had emotions like anybody else, the tenacity of his temperament and the sturdiness of his Taoist heart was extremely rare.
He did not have any of the common flaws in his character. His conduct was unlike a young, secular man in his twenties.
With the Great Clear Crane Enlightened Skill and the incident with the crane demons, Longhe Zhi and the others were of the opinion that since Lu Sheng was capable of maintaining his original heart throughout such rapid growth in his cultivation base, there should not be any problem with him cultivating the White Feather Mantra with his temperament.
Hence, after the examination ended, Longhe Zhi finally and officially decided to impart the White Feather Mantra to Lu Sheng.
At this moment, Second Master Uncle Bo Ruqing, who had just returned from visiting a friend, suggested that the Clear Crane Sect start to publicize the fact that the Moon Prince's crown prince, Taoist Hezhen, Huang Jing was born with a Taoist body and wonderful natural talents.
This was to lay the foundations for Lu Sheng so that he could display his cultivation base in the future. When that time came, he would be able to naturally unleash his real strength.
This was also done to cover up any traces of the alleged magical herb.
Lu Sheng was not idling away all this while, either. He was ranking up his competence every few days. Soon enough, he possessed a 1,500-year competence.
After obtaining the White Feather Mantra, he swiftly converted his competence into cultivation base according to the methods contained within.
The Pure Qi cultivated through the White Feather Mantra was denser and more concentrated than that of the Great Clear Crane Enlightened Skill. It even contained a completely new energy which Lu Sheng did not understand.
He spent three days to completely convert his 1,500-year competence into the White Feather Mantra.
After the conversion, his cultivation base was now about 1,500 years. He had exhausted more than 500 years of cultivation base throughout the conversion.
Even so, he was still much more powerful compared to Longhe Zhi and the others.
The special traits of the White Feather Mantra were largely similar to the Great Clear Crane Enlightened Skill. There was only one difference.
After Lu Sheng converted his competence into cultivation base, he clearly felt his metabolic rate plummet. It was now reduced to a fraction of what it once had been.
The energy he needed for his daily activities was now provided by the White Feather Mantra.
This piqued his interest greatly. He decided to take some time to carefully study the key points of the White Feather Mantra.
At this moment, another minor sect, the Water Needle Sect, which had formed an alliance with the Clear Crane Sect had sent a disciple over to invite Sect Master Longhe Zhi to attend the bi-annual spiritual land religious assembly.
After giving another string of careful instructions to Lu Sheng, he taught him the sect's only Art with damaging properties so that he could protect himself. Then, he brought a crane demon along and left.
He was clearly going to show off.
The spiritual land religious assembly was actually an occasion where the minor sects gathered and discussed the allocation of land among themselves.
They would pitch their strengths against each other to see who had become stronger or weaker. Those who became stronger would be able to own more mountain forests and rivers.
Those who became weaker would have to surrender part of their territory.
Lu Sheng had just recently joined the sect. Although his cultivation base was profound, it was not appropriate for him to show his face this early on. Hence, he did not go. However, it was still acceptable to bring the crane demon and show the others.
A crane demon of a Taoist sect was not regarded as a demon. It was called a crane spirit.
Longhe Zhi wasn't stupid. He did not bring a few more in one go. He merely brought one, which was already enough for him to display his strength.
A morphed demon could play a pivotal role in actual combat. Ordinary minor sects could possibly be heavily wounded by it if they were not careful.
Hence, it was enough to just bring one.
Longhe Zhi left with a triumphant smirk. The two other master uncles indulged in their own interests. One of them was engrossed in cultivating his word art, while the other was engrossed in visiting his friends and travelling. None of them were managerial material.
In the past, whenever Longhe Zhi left, the sect would be in disorder. Nobody managed them, and the disciples did whatever they wanted to.
It was different now. With his status as the sect master's direct disciple and the great martial strength of crane demons, Lu Sheng held the reins of the Clear Crane Sect.
The first thing he did was to carry out a census.
There were 325 disciples.
After subtracting the disciples who were out and about, 281 disciples were stationed around the Taoist temple.
There were many small Taoist temples scattered among the patchy mountain forests where the Clear Crane Sect's disciples stayed. Some of the mountain forests further away were also managed by resident Clear Crane Sect disciples.
Although the Clear Crane Sect was not skilled in killing, it was still more powerful than the average pugilists.
On top of that, they were skilled in raising crane flocks. They did not fear any wild beasts.
After the census was done, Lu Sheng seized the opportunity of not having a superior and reorganized the Clear Crane Sect. He formed a supervising team that would not allow any disciple to idle away. Every disciple had to carry out their own duties.
At the same time, there were 12 crane flocks within the sect. Lu Sheng sent his crane demons out and subdued them all.
The crane flocks took the crane demons and him as their king. They would attack wherever they were ordered to. Lu Sheng could not ask for more obedience than this.
When the second and third master uncles returned from their indulgences and saw the orderly sect, they were instantly stunned, with their eyes bulging and jaws dropping. They became even lazier to manage the sect, and left it all to Lu Sheng with no qualms. They returned to their secluded cultivation to become immortals.
The Qi-recovery rate of the White Feather Mantra was much higher than that of the Great Clear Crane Enlightened Skill. Lu Sheng used this trait to incorporate more spirit-prompting threads into it. He began selecting the strong and intelligent cranes and started large-scale demonization.
Pure Qi incorporated with spirit-prompting threads was merely used as energy for the white cranes to demonize. In truth, as long as there was enough energy, it was not difficult for the white cranes to demonize and morph.
The main difficulty for ordinary beings to turn into demons was the overly long period of energy accumulation. Animals could only instinctively absorb the essence of the heavens, the earth, the sun, and the moon with extremely low efficiency.
Lu Sheng had picked 12 cranes as the first batch to be demonized.
He named the cave in which Bai Songzi was still incubated the Crane King Cave. The 12 white cranes led the several hundred white cranes in the vicinity. Two of the original red-crown cranes were among them as well.
After accomplishing all this, Lu Sheng's cultivation base was now at 3,000 years. He left the management of the sect to the crane demon Little Zhen. Then, he went away from the Taoist temple for a while and returned to the prince's mansion.
In these tumultuous times when things could change without a moment's notice, he had to keep in touch with the happenings in the outside world.
The fall weather was clear and refreshing. Fallen leaves scattered everywhere.
In his embroidered robe, Lu Sheng walked along the mountain forest path covered with fallen leaves at a composed yet quick pace.
The layer of dry yellow leaves under his feet was thick and soft, looking as if a carpet had been laid on the path.
With his 3,000-year cultivation base, he could easily control the airflow around himself with his extremely dense Pure Qi.
While he traveled alone, he managed to return to the vicinity of the Moon Prince's mansion in half a day.
The Pure Qi here seemed to be an aura that could attach itself to and merge with any material. If attached to the air, it could form clouds and carry him along against the wind.
However, the rate of Pure Qi consumption also differed according to the material it was attached to.
He walked through the mountain forest for some time. He caught a glimpse of the silhouette of a high wall of the garden behind the Moon Prince's mansion.
He immediately hastened his pace, continuing forward for several hundred meters.
"Who goes there!?" Suddenly, there was a shout among the forest. There was a glint of metal. There was clearly an archer who had his aim on him.
"It's me." Lu Sheng raised a wooden token and shook it.
The token was unique. It was made by compressing three types of wood with different colors. The huge circle in the center which resembled a Tai Chi diagram could clearly be seen.
When he saw the token, the hidden guard immediately lowered his bow.
Lu Sheng continued on for several dozen steps, and was greeted by a guard.
"Greetings, Crown Prince. His Highness has returned. When he heard about your return, he ordered you to meet him at once!"
This guard had one blind eye covered by an eyepatch. He reeked of blood. It was clear that he had just returned from the battlefield, and was not yet back to normal.
"Understood." Lu Sheng had only been away for slightly more than a month. He did not expect the Moon Prince to be back so soon.
He entered through the garden past the inner court. He ignored the greetings of the bowing servant girls and guards as he went directly to the Moon Prince's study.
He curved his fingers and knocked on the door.
"Enter." The Moon Prince's voice was laden with exhaustion. "Close the door behind you."
Lu Sheng's chest tightened. He opened the door and went in.
There were no servant girls inside the study. The Moon Prince sat alone before his desk, bare-chested. A basin of red-hot coal was on the desk along with pliers, a knife, and tongs.
The most eye-catching feature was a huge black centipede sprawled across the Moon Prince's chest.
The centipede was as long as two palms. Its densely packed legs were tough and looked fierce. Black Qi seemed to drift out of its mouth as well.
"What's this!?" Lu Sheng's expression darkened. His plan had not yet begun, yet his host's father had run into such trouble.
"Your Uncle Hong is dead. He shielded me from a fatal blow. This is what's left of the opponent's attack," said the Moon Prince with a helpless expression.
"Who did this?" Lu Sheng asked in a deep voice.
The Moon Prince's expression soured. He moved his lips, but did not say anything.
"The reason I'm back this time is because I have something to tell you." His eyes wavered. His expression was slightly difficult to interpret.
"What is it?" Lu Sheng asked.
"Firstly, promise me that you'll send your mother back to her home with the Ning Family. Do it right after this," instructed the Moon Prince.
"Secondly, there's a metal box in my bed chambers. The key is in a hidden compartment behind the painting on the wall. You know how to open it. Take what's in the box and leave the prince mansion. You can go cultivate or anywhere else. Just leave this place and never look back."
"What happened?" Lu Sheng, whose gaze wavered slightly, asked in a deep voice.
"Nothing happened. Don't think about this too much. You should go away and wait it out. I'll take care of everything." The Moon Prince tired hard to look calm.
If it had been the previous Huang Jing, he would have been easily fooled. However, Lu Sheng would not buy this. With a single glance, he could tell that the Moon Prince was putting on a strong front.
Lu Sheng kept quiet for a while, and then displayed a smile. "Alright. I'll leave shortly."
"Remember, don't come back too soon," said the Moon Prince with a straight face. "Alright, go grab the stuff. Don't dally. Take it and leave." He could sense that the other person was coming. This was the time.
Lu Sheng stood up, turned around, and left the room. He headed toward his own quarters.
It was a coincidence that the Moon Prince was in trouble and wanted to turn the tides of the events. It was time for him to bare some of his fangs.
"Little Rong," he called out softly.
A silhouette appeared in the shadows beside Lu Sheng. It spoke in a gentle female voice. "Father."
"Are you ready?" Lu Sheng asked casually.
Lu Sheng smiled. He had not yet set up the grand scheme. He could not lose his status as the crown prince this easily.
The Moon Prince could not die. Whether it was for this host's feelings or his current needs, he could not die.
He would kill anyone who wanted to kill the Moon Prince!
As the only son of one of the dynasty's three mainstay princes, his status brought him great convenience no matter where he went.
The original Moon Prince Mansion was an important land for the secular world. However, in the eyes of cultivators, it was a sieve full of holes.
From this moment on, he would slowly modify the Moon Prince Mansion into a dragon's pond and tiger's den.
The Moon Prince Mansion and Crane King Cave would be merged into one from this day on.
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