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Lu Sheng soon discovered many similarities between the mysterious mantras imparted to him by Grand Elder and the characteristics of many Prime Devil Sect foundational mantras he had read about in the library. Had it not been for the fact that he read so much, as well as the improvements to his memory caused by the general upgrading of his body, he probably would not have realized that.
As Grand Elder continued his lessons with Lu Sheng, he would occasionally take Lu Sheng to various spots in the sect. He would bring Lu Sheng even some restricted zones without reservations.
Often, He Xiangzi would be right beside them, but she would not speak a word. In truth, she understood that her teacher had already made a choice. Hence, all that she could do was to continue handling the miscellaneous duties of the sect silently as a form of service to her teacher and junior apprentice brother.
In such a strange atmosphere, the three of them spent another two months.
In these past two months, Lu Sheng broke through to Level Five with the aid of the Devil's Pool and entered Level Six in the first month. And by the end of the second month, he silently surpassed Level Six and entered Level Seven in Karmaless Skill.
By now, the expenditure of Aquarius Qi could no longer keep up with his cultivation. Upgrading to Level Seven had instantly wiped out ninety percent of his Aquarius Qi.
Lu Sheng estimated that he would need even more Aquarius Qi for the subsequent Level Eight of Karmaless Skill. If he still had no Yin Qi to pay with for the upgrade, he would most likely harm his own body. Moreover, Devil's Pool intensity was now no longer sufficient for him.
As a result, his progress was slowing down. Lu Sheng began shifting his attention to exploring the caves in Prime Devil Sect.
Some of those places were spots where Grand Elder had taken him. Some others were places where he explored on his own.
Gusts of bone-piercingly chilly wind blew among the empty Devil's Pools.
Lu Sheng walked forward slowly among them, his gaze sweeping past the unevenly shaped Devil's Pool caves on both his sides.
The bronze basins before these Devil's Pools had six or less incense sticks in them, representing that the density of Devil Qi within them was Level Six and below.
But they were not of much help to him now. Ever since Lu Sheng learned how his previous senior and junior apprentice brothers used to cultivate, he finally realized how sick he was.
Although the had only been cultivating in low density Devil's Pools, his physical flesh had attracted Devil Qi that had far exceeded other Devil's Pools in density. As a result, even Level Five or Six Devil's Pools were not as potent as his.
One had to understand that he had once drawn all the Devil Qi from the River of Poisoned Fog into his Devil's Pool, leaving none left for his apprentice brothers. This was not something that an ordinary Level Five or Six Devil's Pool could compare to.
"According to what teacher said, the Devil's Pool with the highest density in this stretch of the River of Poisoned Fog is Level Seven. And this is the only Level Seven Devil's Pool here..." Lu Sheng quickly found his destination.
It was a Devil's Pool with a bronze basin that had seven incense sticks stuck in it.
Just by standing outside the cave, Lu Sheng could feel gusts of thick, heavy Devil's Qi slowly drifting out from within. Compared to the density of the Devil's Qi that he had immersed his entire body in previously, the density of this Devil Qi was...
"A far cry..." Sighing, Lu Sheng was expressionless. "It doesn't even feel half as thick as the Devil's Qi I bathed in previously. But I guess I'll give it a shot."
This was already the spot with the thickest Devil's Qi in this stretch of the River of Poisoned Fog. If it still did nothing for him, then this entire stretch would not.
He was left with no other alternatives. The level of density he had experienced previously was now no longer sufficient to satisfy the requirements of his secret art.
Level Seven of Karmaless Skill needed Devil Qi stimulation that far exceeded what was needed previously. If the previous level of density was multiplied five or six times, it could perhaps barely suffice for Lu Sheng's current needs.
Glancing at the mouth of the cave, Lu Sheng sucked in a deep breath of air then strode past the basin and entered the cave.
Inky black, the interior of the cave reeked of a rancid odor. Messy bones and remains were scattered all over the ground. God-knows-what living being had died here and was emitting a foul rotten stench.
But Lu Sheng was unbothered by these things. Stretching his arms wide, he allowed his body to attract the Devil Qi around him.
Without using any attraction mantras, his own physical body was the best magnet for Devil Qi. Like leeches after blood, an inestimable volume of poisoned fog gushed madly to him, charging into every exposed pore on his body.
The sea of poisoned fog even formed a gale as it moved. Because it moved with such great speed and force, it formed a gust of poisoned fog.
Soon, they were gathered into several whirlpools of uneven size, madly rushing into Lu Sheng's body.
"Ugh..." Lu Sheng, who had long since been used to this change, merely frowned presently.
'This density is just a little bit stronger than before. Looks like this is the limit of this stretch of the River of Poisoned Fog. I need to go to a new stretch of the river. The Devil Qi coming from that stretch would be thicker. This place's no longer suitable for my current progress.'
Lu Sheng was clear that the level of Devil Qi stimulation he needed far exceeded that of other disciples.
Other disciples such as He Xiangzi needed at most a Level Five or Six Devil's Pool to reach Level Nine of Karmaless Skill. But it was a different story for him. Because his physical body was simply too strong, he needed proportionately much stronger stimulation.
After standing in the cave for a little longer, Lu Sheng grew impatient. Devil Qi at such a level of thickness was completely useless for him now.
He waved his hand abruptly.
The sea of Devil Qi was dispersed by the force of his palm. Lu Sheng turned around and exited the cave.
After coming out of the Devil's Pool, he took a last glance at the incense sticks in the bronze basin. Suddenly, he recalled how Grand Elder had incidentally mentioned the location of some other Devil's Pools.
'Looks like I can only go there...'
Lu Sheng made up his mind and walked into the darkness without hesitation.
Devil's Pools. They were essentially small holes formed by the corrosion of the rock wall beside the river due to the fog rising up from the River of Poisoned Fog. They were discovered by the pioneers of the Prime Devil Sect, who had exploited the diluted poisoned fog to cultivate their Devil secret arts.
That was the story behind Devil's Pools.
And if all that these Devil's Pools contained was the vapor evaporated from the River of Poisoned Fog, how toxic exactly would the actual River of Poisoned Fog itself be?
Lu Sheng was itching to find out.
There happened to be just one spot in Prime Devil Sect where he could make physical contact with the actual water of the River of Poisoned Fog.
Without making any stops, he flew along the Devil's Pools and the winding tunnels for a distance of several li.
Finally, he spotted a pitch-black forest of stone pillars, each as sharp as a spike.
The forest of stone pillars was nestled in a large empty cavern. Beneath the stone pillars, thick and heavy Devil Qi floated like a sea of fog. And under that sea of fog was the sound of water splashing about.
A pungent, acrid smell filled the air.
Lu Sheng did not examine the forest of stone pillars. Instead, he shifted his gaze to the stone walls on both sides of the cavern. Quickly, he found his goal.
They were small caves hewn by man.
These caves were unmarked by any bronze basins. According to what Grand Elder had said, they had been hewn when the sect's strongest ancestors had come to cultivate.
Within them, one could make physical contact with a small volume of the water in the River of Poisoned Fog. Back then, such Devil's Pools were restricted only to the strongest experts in the sect; only they had the right to cultivate here.
'This is the place... Burial Stone Forest.' Lu Sheng sighed lightly, feeling a burning sensation in his lungs.
Even the air here was filled with Devil Qi that was thicker than what he had attracted to himself earlier.
'This is a good place indeed.' Lu Sheng surveyed his surroundings, borrowing the light reflected off the light green luminescent algae on the top of the cavern.
Without further ado, he leapt into the air with Light Void Force Step Skill. In the blink of an eye, he launched himself into the air like a cannon ball.
With his right foot, he kicked off against a stone pillar and leapt into the air again. After flying for a while, he kicked off another stone pillar with his left foot, changing his angle and shooting towards a cave in the deepest part of the stone wall.
Lightly, Lu Sheng landed in the cave, which was big enough only to accommodate two or three people. It was pitch black inside, and white bone powder and scraps of clothing were scattered everywhere on the ground.
'These should be left behind by the ancestors and pioneers of the sect,' Lu Sheng guessed. He sensed the density of Devil Qi in the cave.
It was many times stronger than before. Not only could it satisfy his present needs, it would not be a problem for the subsequent few levels in the future as well.
"This is the place. What a treasure of a spot!" Lu Sheng found a relatively cleaner spot and sat down cross-legged. He was about to deactivate the resistance put up by Karmaless Skill and let his body be assaulted on all fronts.
Suddenly, as he sat down, he felt something hard press against his backside. Quickly, he reached down and picked up a hard object.
In the faint glow of the algae, Lu Sheng could just barely make out the shape of a ring. It was an ordinary black metal ring, with nothing special about it.
There were no patterns or embellishments on it. It merely looked like a half-finished product made of a rough piece of metal curled up together.
But the moment he picked up the ring, Lu Sheng's eyes widened in surprise.
"This is...?" He stood up again and looked down at the spot where he had just sat on.
A wind-dried, shrivelled arm of a corpse lay across the ground. The ring had fallen off the index finger which was broken from the arm.
But none of these were what surprised Lu Sheng.
The true reason for his reaction was that the ring contained Yin Qi!
'There's not much, but it is Yin Qi indeed!' Lu Sheng slowly held the ring up to his eye level.
He could tell that the owner of the ring had kept it in good condition. Not only were there no scratches on it, the fact that it could withstand the extreme corrosive effects of the poisoned fog demonstrated that it had clearly been specially treated.
Lu Sheng turned it around in his fingers several times, checking to ensure that it was indeed just ordinary black metal. But as for how it could remain without rust after so long, he had no idea.
'Since I can find Yin Qi on this item, I'm sure I can find it on others too.' Excited, Lu Sheng stood up and began searching the cave.
Because of the interference of Devil Qi, however, his senses were greatly diminished. He had to be very near the items to detect the presence of Yin Qi. That was how it was with the ring earlier.
Hence, Lu Sheng squatted down and began feeling the ground with his hands.
After searching for a while, he found yet another item with Yin Qi.
It was half a copper mirror.
If the ring contained at least ten units of Yin Qi, this copper mirror contained at least several dozen units.
'To think that I'd find such a yield!' Lu Sheng was overjoyed. 'Just when I was worrying about being unable to upgrade Karmaless Skill further, here the universe comes delivering Yin Qi to my doorstep.'
By now, he had a theory of how Yin Qi was produced.
Lu Sheng gradually came to understand that Yin Qi was formed under two prerequisite conditions:
One: The Yin Qi item must have been an object that was deeply treasured and loved by its owner.
Two: Right before the point of death, the owner had to repose all of his or her will and emotions on it.
When these two conditions were satisfied, the item would easily become an item with Yin Qi.
Moreover, the amount of Yin Qi on the item depended on how strong the owner was as well as how long the owner had been reposing his or her feelings and will on the item.
'In other words, both these items were the most beloved objects in the possession of the sect's ancestors here,' Lu Sheng guessed.
Now that he had attained Level Seven in Karmaless Skill, he had long since developed a certain resistance to the poisonous fog around him. That was why he was able to sit in the cave quietly, controlling himself so that he did not attract any poisonous fog.