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Pinching the ring in his hand, he first absorbed the Yin Qi on it.
Yin Qi gushed from the ring, through his fingers and into his body.
One unit, two units... five, ten, twelve!
'To think that there're twelve units of Yin Qi in here! Not bad!' Lu Sheng was by now able to estimate the volume of Yin Qi.
Then, it was the copper mirror.
He picked up the broken copper mirror and placed his palm flat across its surface to maximize the contact area. Immediately, like a broken dam, a wave of Yin Qi gushed into him.
Ten units, twenty units... thirty... thirty-five...
'Add to that the Yin Qi I had left... and I've got forty-odd units of Yin Qi.' Lu Sheng put down the mirror and a satisfied smile appeared on his face.
This was entirely an unexpected surprise. Although a few dozen units of Yin Qi was not much to him now, it was just the right amount to upgrade the Karmaless Skill.
'Alright. Now it's time to release Devil Qi and receive stimulation.' He sat down cross-legged and tossed the ring and copper mirror aside. Gradually, the muscles and skin all over his body began relaxing, opening the pores that had been sealed by Karmaless Skill.
Slowly, wisps of toxic fog began gathering rapidly towards him.
The thickness of the poisoned fog made Lu Sheng experience the pain he had undergone when he had first made contact with Devil Qi once again.
Like soaked in acid, his body was being dissolved and corroded, sending stabbing pain and numbness all across his body. Aquarius Qi activated quickly, healing the corroded body tissues and organs.
'Let's begin. Let's see what changes this secret art will cause to me after upgrading. It's so exciting...' Lu Sheng slowly shut his eyes. 'Deep Blue.'
The light blue Modifier screen appeared before him.
Lightly, he pressed the 'Modify' button and his gaze landed straight on the Karmaless Skill's row. Without hesitation, he clicked the 'Upgrade' button behind it.
The entire screen shook as Yin Qi was consumed. In about several breaths, it came back into focus again.
As Lu Sheng expected, the description on the screen was now refreshed.
'Karmaless Skill: Level Eight. Special Effect(s): Level Eight Body Strengthening, Level Five Devil Intent.'
'Didn't take much to break through. Not much consumption either... Just five units of Yin Qi.' Lu Sheng released all the pores on his body once again.
Devil Qi flooded towards him, growing in density as it was attracted to him by his body. It was almost liquefying.
Countless beads of black water emerged on Lu Sheng's skin, and then were rapidly absorbed into his body. Compared to the fog, the toxicity of this liquid was higher by leaps and bounds.
But to the present Lu Sheng who had mastered Level Eight Karmaless Skill and now possessed a stronger resistance to poison, the stimulation caused by the poisoned fog was once again reduced.
'But if I'm outside, without the stimulation of Devil Qi, I might not have been able to achieve the breakthrough so easily,' Lu Sheng pondered.
To a large extent, the cultivation of the Karmaless Skill depended on the stimulation of Devil Qi. Apart from such external stimulation, not even Yin Qi alone could upgrade Karmaless Skill.
Or perhaps, even if it was able to, it would certainly require much, much more consumption of Yin Qi than otherwise.
'Since I've found such a gem of a place, I've got enough Yin Qi, and Grand Elder has also explained the details and important points of the subsequent levels in Karmaless Skill, I might as well try to break though all levels at one go and fully master the Karmaless Skill.' Seeing that the expenditure of Yin Qi was so low, Lu Sheng began to form such a thought in his mind.
The Karmaless Skill was merely one of the many foundational skill in Prime Devil Sect. It was not even considered a middle-tier secret art. The subsequent secret arts were all linked together as a family. Only after one mastered a secret art would one be qualified to cultivate the next secret art.
Previously in the sect, even the strongest disciple, Fei Huangzi, had only just broken through the Karmaless Skill and barely begun training the next secret art.
If one had to talk about a first seat in the Prime Devil Sect, only Fei Huangzi could fit the bill. And yet that lad Fei Huangzi was at most below Five-Vein Level. That just went to show how much weaker Prime Devil Sect's secret arts were compared to those of other sects.
For a first seat of such standard to think about fighting for a ranked spot at the Hundred Lineages Meeting, it was a pipe dream.
'Strike while the iron is hot. Again!' Lu Sheng stared at the thickening Devil Qi around him and decided to upgrade Karmaless Skill yet another level.
'Upgrade again to Level Nine!' With his mind, he pressed hard on the 'Modify' button behind Karmaless Skill.
Originally, Lu Sheng had thought that this upgrade would be a piece of cake too. But little did he expect that the consumption of Yin Qi accelerated this time.
But along with Yin Qi, the Devil Qi fog around him was also depleting fast!
The sea of Devil Qi had formed a giant whirlpool, drawing into itself all the Devil Qi within a ten meter radius around it. By the time the Devil Qi reached Lu Sheng's body, it had congealed into liquid form, forming dew drops that covered Lu Sheng's skin before being absorbed into his body swiftly.
The entire cave tremored. Gusts of Devil Qi howled as they flew about around Lu Sheng.
Lu Sheng now felt no pain. It was a completely different experience from before. Faintly, Lu Sheng felt as if his soul was being split from his body. His soul was floating an inch above his crown, looking down and gazing at the sea of black fog gushing into his body. Then, as he watched his own body, he noticed an extraordinary transformation happening to it.
A layer of faint black membrane was growing out of the surface of his skin.
"THIS IS...??!" As Lu Sheng gazed intently at it, he began to find that stuff incredibly familiar.
As the layer of black membrane grew till it covered his entire body, Lu Sheng began to feel as if his consciousness was being pulled back into his body.
He looked at the Modifier screen again.
The newly appeared content on the screen left him gaping dumbly.
'Karmaless Skill: Level Nine. Special Effect(s): Black Membrane—Single Vein, Devil Intent—Embryonic Form.'
"It's actually black membrane!!?"
Lu Sheng was dumbfounded.
He had met many Noblemen as well as demons and ghosts of the Bind realm. All of them, without exception, possessed the well-known black membrane.
This was the fundamental reason behind the power of Bind realm beings—the watershed between them and mortals.
No matter what, mortals could never penetrate the black membrane of Bind realm. This was a law. An iron law. Moreover, black membrane originated from Divine Weapons and Devil Blades. They were formed by the light of Divine Weapons and Devil Blades illuminating the bloodlines of Noble Families, causing them to evolve, and then passed down through the generations.
In Noble Families, everyone knew that they were all born with black membrane. As long as the Noble Family's bloodline flowing in one's veins was thick enough, one would be born with black membrane. But nobody knew how on earth black membrane had started.
But now, Lu Sheng had witnessed the birth of black membrane with his own eyes.
'So condensing massive volumes of Devil Qi, and add to that a secret art that tempers and stimulates the physical body like the Karmaless Skill cultivated to its pinnacle... this would produce black membrane...?'
Lu Sheng found it incredible.
'No. This isn't black membrane, strictly speaking. It merely looks very much like it in form and aura. This is a protective layer formed by Devil Qi and Karmaless Skill!'
All of a sudden, he discovered the difference between them.
Black membrane was an invisible power that originated from deep within the bloodline that flowed in and out of the bodies of Noblemen. But this supposed 'black membrane' merely appeared on the surface of the skin. It was not integrated into the depths of his bones and bloodline. It merely looked alike on the surface.
Once he realized this, Lu Sheng heaved a sigh of relief. Or perhaps it was disappointment... he was not sure.
'But it works as well for me. I can easily use this stuff to pass myself off as a Nobleman. This way, I won't have to worry about getting my identity exposed in the future. At least, it looks like the real deal... even its aura feels like the real deal.'
Lu Sheng went on to look at the second special effect. Because he had attained the pinnacle mastery of Karmaless Skill—Level Nine, it was inevitable for another special effect to appear.
'Devil Intent—Embryonic Form.'
Lu Sheng gazed at this special effect for a moment. Suddenly, he exerted his will.
Without warning, a blurry translucent stream of Qi was congealed out of the black fog around him.
Like a fish, the arm-wide stream of Qi swam at high speed around Lu Sheng, emitting a faint eccentric howl every now and then, as if somebody was whispering and mumbling softly beside the ear. Subconsciously, it threw one into a state of confusion and frustration, filling one with the urge to turn aggressive and violent.
'So this is the embryonic form of Devil Intent when it's congealed together...' Lu Sheng scrutinized this stream of Qi encircling him. Faintly, he spotted a human face at the top of the stream of Qi—his face.
It made it look like a translucent fish with his face on it. A bizarre sight indeed.
'According to Grand Elder, this Devil Intent is not really a stream of Qi. Rather, it's one's worldly thoughts and desires cut away from oneself and congealed into matter. They could only be either released or kept, not controlled.
Any mortal who lay sight on it would be contaminated. Worldly thoughts and intentions would be induced within his mind, causing him to lose his mind. When used against an opponent of the same league, it was a weapon which could disrupt his or her emotions and judgment. At the same time, it was an essential method that would be used in a subsequent skill.'
Information about it appeared in Lu Sheng's mind.
'After Devil Intent has been congealed into its embryonic form, the next breakthrough would be to cultivate the subsequent Ghost Face Mantra,' Lu Sheng thought.
During this period of time, Grand Elder had been filling his mind with many mantras and formulae like filling a sack. He did not care if he understood them, he only cared that he memorized them.
Perhaps he too knew that Lu Sheng would be unable to understand the secret arts that he had memorized, but time was running short. The Hundred Lineages Meeting was nearly upon them. He had no choice but to do this in order to prevent the sect's inheritance from breaking.
But Grand Elder did not simply hand Lu Sheng all these mantras on a platter. With the important contents relating to the most profound secret arts, Grand Elder had messed up their order and sequence using a particular pattern before making Lu Sheng memorize them.
But against Lu Sheng who had specialized in coding in his previous life, such a basic form of encryption was of no use at all. It was like a lad pretending he had put on his pants when he had merely covered his butt with a piece of paper.
Without breaking into sweat, Lu Sheng easily unlocked the encryption and reorganized the secret arts into their original forms.
But because Ghost Face Mantra was the immediate subsequent skill after Karmaless Skill, Grand Elder did not encrypt it; he had imparted it to Lu Sheng as it was.
In the heydays of the Prime Devil Sect, when one mastered the pinnacle point of the Karmaless Skill, one could choose between several different branches which led to different end points.
But now, only the supposed weakest lineage which Grand Elder belonged to had been passed down. All other routes had been broken and left incomplete.
Hence, Lu Sheng had no alternatives. He had to cultivate Ghost Face Mantra.
'I've still got Yin Qi. I can continue to upgrade.' Lu Sheng sensed the situation in his body. The strength of his body had been increased by at least twenty to thirty percent. Even his inner force seemed to have been affected; the flow of inner force in his body was now impeded. But each time it completed a full cycle, the inner Qi that was produced was much thicker than before. Its color was also turning black—clearly an effect of Devil Qi.