"Family Head is resting in the garden," the servant hurriedly replied.
Lu Sheng nodded and entered the Manor. Right after stepping into the Manor, however, he was struck by surprise.
Behind the doors, right in the middle of the grounds, was Lu Yingying, with whom Lu Sheng was seldom in contact. Presently, she was kneeling on the empty ground in the middle of the Manor, enduring the scorching heat from the glaring sun, biting her lips without a sound.
Her usual fair and clean appearance had turned into one drenched thoroughly in sweat. Her clothes stuck to her skin tightly, and line of salt had appeared on her back, left behind after her sweat evaporated.
"This is?" Lu Sheng frowned and waved a guard standing nearby over. "Whats the matter with Fifth Young Miss?"
The guard replied helplessly, "Fifth Young Miss got involved with some scholar from the Institution sigh" he subtly gestured at his stomach.
"She got pregnant, but the scholar disappeared. Rumor says that hes been confined by his family, who would die before approving of the marriage between them. They also hurled many nasty insults at Fifth Young Miss after learning of it, Old Master flew into a rage and even disowned her in a moment of hot temper and told her to get lost"
Lu Shengs frown deepened. Some time ago, he had heard that Lu Yingying was going out with a scholar, who seemed to hail from a fine background. He had thought that everything would go smoothly and that she had at least found her bliss. Little did he expect that this was what it would come to.
"Got it. Carry on," Lu Sheng understood the situation and strode into the house. After exiting it from the side of the "Prosperous and Prominent" signboard hanging in the middle of the main hall, he arrived at Lu Manors garden.
Lu Quanan was sitting in a corner of the garden, his face ugly. The two iron orbs that he usually toyed with in his hand were presently still.
"Dad," Lu Sheng strode over and seated himself on a stone stool beside Lu Quanan. "What happened with Fifth Sis?"
"Youre here! Perfect timing. Little Sheng, your Fifth Sis got involved with some big family in the city, and is even bearing their seed!
Look at her! Look at her! A young lady in the prime of her life getting pregnant before shes married. And I only found out after noticing her growing belly. Yesterday while shopping, she suddenly vomited and fainted. And thats how we discovered about the baby. Now the word has spread and everyone is saying that my Lu Family is an uncultured family from the countryside with no manners and upbringing. And that the females in my house are all sluts!" Fire arose in Lu Quanans heart as he went on.
"How about that scholar?" Lu Sheng frowned. "Any idea which family hes from?"
"I do know which family, but I dont know who it is exactly! She wouldnt say! Shed die before telling me, saying that she doesnt want to tarnish his reputation!" That was what made Lu Quanan the most furious. The reputation of others mattered more to her than the Lu Familys. She had not yet married into that family and yet was already siding with them.
"But shes a pregnant lady. Its not good to let her kneel under the sun, is it?" Lu Sheng said gently.
"Little Sheng, you should be someone capable now. Im not sure how powerful you are in Mountain-Edge City, but at the very least your suggestion some time back to stock up grain has proven your foresight, so Im sure you arent doing too badly. Help me check whos the scoundrel who brought this calamity on Lu Quanans daughter! My Lu Family may be small, but were not a carpet they can trample over!" Anger consumed Lu Quanan.
"Leave it to me," Lu Sheng nodded.
This family was a mess. Lu Yingying had always been a selfish, apathetic, and gain-seeking person. Who would have thought that her heart would be captured so easily and that she would be even bearing a child?
After lunch, he meditated and cultivated inner force for a while in his bedroom with the help of some medicinal powder from the sect.
Because he had exhausted his supply of Yin Qi, his cultivation now could only help to consolidate his inner force.
As for hard body skills, after mastering all four hard body skills like Golden Veil Skill etc., he found no gains from practicing otherssuch as Jewel Pillar Skillafter that.
After careful examination, he realized that the level of stimulation needed to cultivate those other hard body skills no longer had any effect on him given his current cultivation base.
Take one of them for example. To cultivate it to its highest level, one needed to whip ones own body with an iron whip. But iron whips now could not even scratch Lu Shengs bodyeven if he whipped himself with it till it snapped.
Another one of them was Cloud-Piercing Hand. After full-mastery, one could break the spikes laden on an iron plate by striking his palms continuously on them.
But one palm strike from Lu Sheng now would not merely break the iron spikes, but even dent the iron plate itself.
The additional benefits from hard body skills were entirely useless to him now.
His cultivation was now focused on consolidation. In actual fact, most martial arts no longer offered him any room for growth.
Since hard body skills were no longer useful to him, Lu Sheng began studying the accumulated inner force mantras in the sect in an attempt to break through Level Nine of Ultimate Crimson Nine Furies Skill.
It was a pity that the volume of Yin Qi required for him to step into the next level was too great at his present level. One or two ordinary Yin Qi items were totally inadequate. This was the reason why he kept searching for Yin Qi items.
After completing his daily cultivation quota, Lu Sheng stood up slowly.
Qiaoer served the chilled plum soup specially prepared for him.
"Is Fifth Young Miss still kneeling?" He asked.
"Yes, shes still kneeling" a look of sympathy filled Qiaoers face. "Old Master has given the firmest instructions that no one is to go near her. If shes to die from kneeling, then so be it."
Lu Sheng shook his head. "Give her some water. Say its from me."
Qiaoer was overjoyed.
"Yes!" She was no longer willing to put up with it any further. To make a pregnant woman kneel under the searing sun like that was almost tantamount to sentencing her to miscarriage.
Since Lu Sheng had spoken, even the Family Head would show him some face. After all, the person with the most authority in the Lu Family was de facto none else but the Eldest Young Master.
Qiaoer put down the plum soup and dashed out. Lu Sheng shook his head without a word and emptied the bowl of its contents into his mouth.
After some rest, he left the Manor for Xiao Hongyes Xiao Manor.
He was to attend as the spokesman of Shangyang Family, while Xiao Hongye represented Ashoka Manor and Taoist Bai Feng attended in the capacity of the Intelligence Agency Chief, speaking for the Royal Family behind the court.
Together, the three of them held sway over the situation and stability in all of the Northern Lands. Hence, such gatherings between the three of them, though not plenty, were not few either.
Lu Sheng heard the rustling of bamboo before he arrived at Xiao Manor. At the doors of the Manor, Xiao Hongye, with his concubine, greeted him in welcome.
"Brother Lu, come on in quick! Taoist Bai Feng and I have been waiting for you. The dishes have gotten cold," fatso Xiao lamented with a wide grin.
"Squire Xiao must be joking. How would I dare to let you and Taoist Bai Feng wait?" Lu Sheng responded with laughter. "Lets talk more inside."
Both of them entered through the doors of the Manor and walked along the corridor guarded by housemen. Finally, they entered a small hall in the innermost part of the Manor.
Taoist Bai Feng was already waiting in the hall. Apart from him, a long-haired young man with sharp brows and sparking eyes was seated in the hall. The young mans face had the word arrogance written all over it when Lu Sheng entered. Even towards Xiao Hongye, his attitude was nonchalant, as if he had not noticed their entrance.
"Please, take a seat, take a seat," Bai Feng quickly rose with a smile.
"This is?" Lu Sheng looked at the young man. There had to be some peculiar reason for this outsider to join the trio.
"This is an expert in the Dao of sword who has wandered through many countriesLing Feng, Young Master Ling," Taoist Bai Feng introduced. "Although Young Master Ling was born in the Ling Family famed for their saber technique, his Silver Veil Sword Technique is extraordinarily powerful. Presently, hes traveling the world to challenge famed experts all over the land. Hearing that Brother Lu has an outstanding saber technique, by which you have trumped even the former Number One Expert in all the Northern LandsHong Mingzi, Sect Master Honghe has come to exchange pointers with you."
Some mysterious intent seemed to be hidden in Taoist Bai Fengs smile.
Lu Shengs heart humped. He was not from any Nobleman lineage, but rather, an ordinary mortal who had been working his way up.
All along, he has been worried that he would be exposed. Once others discovered that he was of mortal background and yet was able to hold his own against Noblemen, there would be repercussions and reactions of unknown proportions.
And now, Taoist Bai Feng had found someone who wished to challenge him. Inevitably, this made Lu Sheng wonder if Bai Feng had found something which made him suspicious of him.
"Sect Master Lu," Ling Feng slowly stood up, gripping onto the hilt of his sword behind his back. "Ive long since heard of the fame of the Northern King of Swords. Though hes a mere mortal, there must be some impressive aspects about him. Little did I expect that he would so quickly be replaced by you. But, well, since were both of Noblemen lineage, we can have a fair duel. What do you think?"
Lu Sheng gazed at him. Despite his arrogant and belittling facial expression, his demeanor and breathing exhibited serious caution. Clearly, he was not as arrogant as he pretended to be.
"Young Master Ling is a skilled master of the sword. But, it's a pity, I dont use the sword," he said impassively.
"Why turn me down, Sect Master Lu? This junior has traveled far and wide, challenging over a hundred famed experts. But upon hearing that Sect Master Lus black membrane is of the extremely rare, colored variety, I came specially to exchange pointers with you. Will you really avoid a duel with me? Thats not the guts and dare that the master of a sect ought to have," Ling Feng said. The aura on him grew increasingly sharper, as if he were an unsheathed sword. Thick and heavy, the aggressive aura was not to be defied.
"Its just a friendly duel. Brother Lu, why not let us witness the heroics of your previous battle?" Xiao Hongye cajoled.
"Thats right, thats right. Ive long since heard of Brother Lus extraordinarily tyrannical and extremely powerful Changing the Heavens Saber Technique. I only saw it once from afar in your previous battle and havent gotten a second chance to observe it," Taoist Bai Feng added.
"What do you think, Sect Master Lu?" Ling Fengs sharp gaze stared Lu Sheng down.
Glancing at Xiao Hongye and Bai Feng, then the sword in Ling Fengs hand, Lu Sheng thought for a while.
"Alright then. Since both of you want to see the saber technique Im familiar with, Ill exchange a couple of pointers with Brother Ling."
"In that case, lets head to the underground arena. Under this Manor, Ive dug out a large arena dedicated to the practice of martial arts. It'll come in handy today," Xiao Hongye immediately suggested.
"No need," Lu Sheng turned to smile at Ling Feng. "Its just a matter of one stroke. Here will do."
"!!!" shivers went down Ling Fengs spine. In that moment, his hairs stood on end, as if some terrifying predator had locked its sights on him. Shocked, he kicked hard on the ground, ducking to the left.
A giant black claw slammed on his forehead.
His last thought flashed across his mind.
A giant hole had been cracked open in the wall of the hall. Lu Sheng grabbed Ling Fengs head with a single hand and smashed it on the wall of hard stone. Brain matter and blood splattered all over.
His right arm, having expanded to twice the usual size, was no longer like that of a human. Slowly, it pulled Ling Feng out of the wall.
"See? Its over," Lu Sheng smiled at Taoist Bai Feng and licked the blood splattered on his lips.
Seated on his seat, Bai Feng clutched the armrest tightly, the smile on his face growing stiff.
Ling Feng was dead.
Xiao Hongyes smile faded too. Although he was just a Nobleman in decline who went around challenging others to duel, he was a Nobleman after all. But Lu Sheng killed on a whim without any restraint.
Ling Fengs black membrane did not even stall for time; it was as if it had not existed. Lu Sheng broke it by brute force. Without his black membrane, he was no longer indestructible.
Most importantly, not only did Ling Feng die, he died too quickly. They did not even have opportunity to test Lu Shengs skills.
"Sect Master Lu is truly the Number One Expert of the Northern Lands, hohoho" Xiao Hongye laughed with his weird laughter, breaking the awkward moment.
"Lets keep that as a mealtime joke between us. If that ever gets out there, Id become the butt of everyones jokes," Lu Sheng replied humbly, contracting his arm and cleaning the filth on it off Ling Fengs robes.