As they talked, Lu Sheng introduced Zheng Xiangui to Chen Jiaorong, but the latter was obviously not very interested in the Zheng Family.
In his eyes, someone like the son of a local tycoon in a fringe city wasn’t even qualified to enter his social circle.
That applied even to Lu Sheng. Had it not been for his sister’s constant boasting about Lu Sheng, he really wouldn’t have given a hoot about who this person was.
But things were different now, of course. Lu Sheng had saved his life. Thereafter, he had asked around; all said that they had seen the pleasure boat light up in raging flames and could see the fire even from several miles away.
After learning about what had happened, he broke up in cold sweat all over his body. As a result, up till now, he still dared not board any boats. Looks like he was really traumatized...
After learning about the other person’s status, Zheng Xiangui was clearly eager to curry favor with him. Neither Zheng Yu’er nor Lu Sheng could stand to see it, yet they knew that this was his character. In his own words, "a true man knows when to play it hard and when to play it soft."
As the conversation went on, Lu Sheng gradually spoke less and listened more, replying only occasionally. Everyone knew that this was his personality and so wasn’t bothered by it.
While listening, Lu Sheng’s gaze casually swept across the crowd. Suddenly, his gaze was fixed on an old beggar huddling in the corner.
This old beggar was clearly behaving differently from others. Despite being in the heat of summer, this was the Eastern Mountain Institution, located at the foot of the Eastern Mountain and thus was wet and cold all year round, even at the height of summer. It was extremely humid.
But this old beggar was different from the norm. He had placed an old cotton jacket beside him and put on only a torn and tattered thin garment. There he sat on the cold freezing ground, content to leave his cotton jacket beside him instead of putting it on.
Furthermore, Lu Sheng could even see the fine beads of sweat covering the beggar’s forehead from where he was. He was mumbling something faintly in his mouth, his eyes dazed.
Lu Sheng scrutinized the beggar. Suddenly, a strange feeling possessed him. It was as if… as if this beggar was very much like him.
‘He’s got to be at least in his sixties or seventies, and looks completely different from me in terms of both his physique and look. Why would I think that we’re alike?’ Lu Sheng mused. While Chen Jiaorong was getting interested in Zheng Yu’er and starting to chat with her, he slowly stepped towards that old beggar.
That was his style--if something came to his mind, he would act on it. Without hesitation.
Walking up to the beggar, Lu Sheng’s shadow fell on more than half of the beggar’s body. "Old man, it’s so cold here and yet you’re dressed so thinly. Are you very warm?"
That old beggar lifted his head and looked at him, his eyes murky and dark. "Warm… warm… it’s not warm? Is it warm? It’s not warm? Is it warm…" he started mumbling, looking out of sorts.
Lu Sheng frowned, shook his head and was about to walk away.
"You’ve seen ghosts!!!" Without warning, the old beggar’s voice suddenly rose in volume. "Oh, Body of Half-Yin, Body of Half-Yin… I also have a Body of Half-Yin. I’ve seen many ghosts… even been possessed… You’re like me… like me…"
"Ha… Hahahah…." the old beggar started laughing like a fool.
"Body of Half-Yin?" Lu Sheng paused in shock and sized up the old beggar carefully.
Given this man’s clothes and dressing, one could judge that he had been rather well-off in the past. Even if he weren’t wealthy, he’d at least have come from a middle-class family. How did he land up in this state?
"What’s the Body of Half-Yin?" Lu Sheng asked. His curiosity was piqued.
The old beggar paused, then started to mumble away. After a long while, the murkiness in his eyes finally cleared slightly and he seemed to turn a little more sober. Carefully, he looked at Lu Sheng and said, his voice trailing off every now and then, "You’re like me… we’re both Bodies of Half-Yin… those who’ve been possessed by ghosts when they were young, or who’ve seen many ghosts… are all of such a body… will die… attract ghosts… will die…"
Lu Sheng tried to make out what he could but remained puzzled. Looking at this old beggar, he just couldn’t shake off the feeling of familiarity and affinity he shared with him. It wasn’t about the looks; but rather, it was something deep within them that resembled each other.
‘Could it really be the body nature that this old beggar mentioned? Body of Half-Yin?’ He mused in his mind.
"Hehehe… …" just then, the old beggar cracked up in laughter like a fool, with a finger pointed at Lu Sheng. "Half-Yin… attract ghosts… Half-Yin… Half-Yin…" he began repeating these two words incessantly.
Lu Sheng frowned and continued with a few more questions. But the old beggar would only repeat the two words "Half-Yin". And then said nothing else.
Admission to the examination began.
Helpless, Lu Sheng could only turn around and head for the entrance of the institution.
The examination was officially starting.
The Annual Examinations comprised of a series of three examinations. Eating, drinking and taking care of toilet needs were all done in the examination venue. Leaving the premises was strictly forbidden. When Lu Sheng finally ended his examinations and exited, it was already in the afternoon of the next day.
A group of exhausted candidates stumbled out of the Institution’s entrance.
Lu Sheng, on the other hand, looked no different from usual. As a top expert who cultivated both inner and outer force simultaneously, this little bit of exhaustion had no effect on him.
Once he exited the premises, he immediately looked towards the spot where the old beggar had been. As expected, he was gone.
‘Body of Half-Yin…’ the term kept echoing in his mind. ‘If the old beggar’s words were true, and the supposed Body of Half-Yin referred to people who have had many encounters with ghosts, then I’m really of such a body.’
After giving it some careful thought, he decided to look for someone whom he could ask about it.
‘What kinds of people are the most likely to meet a lot of ghosts?’ Lu Sheng’s mind spun. Before long, a place came to his mind.
Just then, Zheng Xiangui and the rest came out too. Each one of them was glum-faced and looked as if the world owed them a million dollars. Clearly, the questions this year were very challenging.
It was the same for Chen Jiaorong, who walked out with a frown. Chen Yunxi walked out beside him, but quickly hid herself behind her brother’s back the moment she caught sight of Lu Sheng, looking shy and coy.
Lu Sheng touched the spot where his eyebrows would have been before they were burnt and smiled helplessly. He had hoped that Chen Yunxi would give up on him when she saw that his hair had been burnt up.
Then, Song Zhenguo followed. Lu Sheng first chatted a little bit with Chen Jiaorong and his sister, then bade goodbye to them and went to a restaurant for dinner with the Zheng siblings and Song Zhenguo.
The meal lasted till the evening. After parting ways with them, Lu Sheng traveled out of the city to a place at the foot of the mountain.
A gigantic mountain range rose and fell to the left of Mountain-Edge City. Because it was shaped like deer antlers, it became known as Deer Antler Mountains.
At the foot of Deer Antler Mountains lay the largest cemetery on the outskirts of the city--Wan Feng Garden.
Lu Sheng headed straight into Wan Feng Garden as dusk fell, and found the groundskeeper at the gate.
The groundskeeper was a lame old man. His clothes were neat but tattered. A faint greenish hue colored his face, perhaps because he rarely saw sunlight, or perhaps for some other reason.
"Body of Half-Yin?" The old man swirled the wineskin in his hand after listening to Lu Sheng’s enquiry. He sized up Lu Sheng from top to toe and felt out the weight of the big copper coin he had just received.
"Young lad, did you run into something ‘unclean’? There is such a theory, but most people don’t call it Body of Half-Yin. The name we have for these people who’ve met many ghosts is Yang Sachet."
"Yang Sachet?" Lu Sheng repeated. Then, with a frown, "So there really are such cases?"
The old man looked at Lu Sheng in wonder. "Of course! To be honest, this old man has lived for many years and seen many people. I’ve seen many Yang Sachets too. But all of them died without living long.
Young Master, looking at you, I think you should be only a recently-formed Yang Sachet. It hasn’t been long, and it started because you ran into some unclean things awhile back, didn’t you?"
Lu Sheng’s eyes opened in surprise. He hadn’t expected this groundskeeper to be so perceptive. Nodding, he replied, "That’s right. I met some unclean stuff just recently. Sir, may I know if these Yang Sachets will meet with any sort of trouble?"
"No idea… but I hear that Yang Sachets are magnets for ghosts. So, none of them live very long. But of course that’s just a theory. Just take it with a pinch of salt. Life still has to go on," the old man waved his hand. "When you go back, engage a Taoist priest, perform the rites and have the evil purged. That should work."
‘Engage a priest?’ Lu Sheng shook his head inwardly. He had sought out those supposed priests in several temples around the city only to find that they were all frauds without any real skills.
If even such priests could capture ghosts, then he too would have been able to kill countless Demonic Ghosts with a slap of his palm.
"Are there any other methods, sir?" Lu Sheng frowned and asked again. He wanted to find out if ordinary mortals without his martial arts capabilities could find any self-preservation methods. The groundskeeper chuckled and threw a ghastly look at Lu Sheng,
"Methods…? Well, there is one indeed. Since Young Master was so generous with your coins, let this old man give you some directions."
The groundskeeper chuckled, then took a swig of his cheap wine. The smell of alcohol drifted out as he opened his mouth to speak, "In this Mountain-Edge City, there’re one sect, two societies and three clans. A nephew of mine once entered the sect--the Crimson Whale Sect. A pity he was embroiled in a conflict and died. But still, the connections remained."
Finishing, he looked at Lu Sheng with a face of anticipation, clearly waiting for him to demonstrate his sincerity.
Lu Sheng had come to Mountain-Edge City for a while, yet this was the first time he heard about the one sect, two societies and three clans. More importantly, when he heard the name "Crimson Whale Sect", his heart skipped a beat. ‘Isn’t this the Crimson Whale Sect mentioned by Duanmu Wan?’
Duanmu Wan was an enigma. Since she had said that Crimson Whale Sect’s skills were the most powerful in the region, then she was most likely right. What he lacked now was not skills, but rather, powerful skills. The average inner force skill wasn’t of much help to him anymore.
At his present level, only by finding stronger skills--ideally, ones that could even replace Black Fury Skill--can he continue to raise his strength without Yin Qi.
After all, Black Fury Skill only had these few limited levels. And stuff like Yin Qi… seemed like it had its own side effects too if one absorbed too much of it.
"But sir, how is it that I’ve never heard of the Crimson Whale Sect even though I’ve come to Mountain-Edge City for such a long time? You aren’t trying to fool me, are you?" Lu Sheng countered with a question.
The groundskeeper laughed deviously. "They’re an underground faction. What's the meaning of ‘underground’? Basically, what you can’t see with your eyes… that’s ‘underground’. Their shadow lies behind all the brothels, black markets and ghost markets in Mountain-Edge City, along every street and every district. Young Master, one look at you shows that you’re not lacking in money. Perhaps that’s why you’ve never noticed them in the past. But it’s a different story for the average person. Thefts, robberies, loansharking, extorting money, homicides, scams… all sorts of mess and troubles are related to them."
Realization dawned on Lu Sheng. This Crimson Whale Sect was essentially an underground organization. A mafia, but well-hidden.
He pondered over it, then took out a piece of silver for the old man as thanks.
"Good fine Young Master!" The old man grinned from ear to ear. "Crimson Whale Sect is filled with experts. Rumor has it that they’re a massive organization that’s an ally of the yamen in maintaining Mountain-Edge City’s security. I’m sure there’s someone in it who can solve Young Master’s problem."
But Lu Sheng wasn’t bothered with that. What he desired was more powerful skills. If he could find a way into Crimson Whale Sect, then perhaps he could acquire skills more powerful than Black Fury Skill.