Yingying had learnt to be good. Quickly, she produced a charcoal pen and a piece of paper which had been on her and begin scribbling a line.
"The Hundred Lineages comprise the destroyed Noble Families or Noblemen of declining and disappearing bloodlines. There're even demons and ghosts among them. Discontent with the fading of their bloodlines, they built an organization resembling a mortal sect.
They've got their own rules of inheritance. In order to face the massive power of the Nine Great Families of the Central Plains, they formed the Hundred Lineages Alliance."
After Lu Sheng had finished reading, she put the paper down, erased the writing on it using some unknown method, then began scribbling again.
"The average Noble Family creates its own mantra that targets its own Divine Weapon or Devil Blade bloodline. Even if outsiders were to learn them, these mantras would cause only harm.
The Hundred Lineages, on the other hand, are a different story. They've got their own system that's supposedly able to impart mantras that're practicable by most Nobleman lineages. But naturally they're much weaker."
"Oh, I see... isn't that basically a sect with extraordinary powers?" Realization dawned on Lu Sheng.
Yingying quickly scribbled again.
"They're not a sect. They're more relaxed than that. I've been there myself. The atmosphere there's more like a sort of exchange."
"Since you've been there too, why didn't you and Hongfang Bai join one of the Hundred Lineages? Weren't you in need of mantras?" Lu Sheng was puzzled.
"Sis once killed an Elder in the Hundred Lineages and robbed him of his mantra..." Yingying's voice trailed off.
Lu Sheng immediately understood what had happened. Little wonder... perhaps Hongfang Bai had obtained that small mantra booklet by killing someone too.
'The question now is whether or not I should accept Shangyang Jiuli's recommendation to head to the Central Plains and join the Hundred Lineages. Logically speaking, entering this Hundred Lineages and acquiring their mantras should be the dream of many ordinary men' Lu Sheng hesitated inwardly.
"Is Sect Master hesitating because of Chen Yunxi?" Yingying quickly scribbled another line.
"Yeah... we're engaged. And now it's time to marry her." Lu Sheng nodded.
"Then do it. But given your status and identity, the role of your primary wife might be too large for her," Yingying wrote.
"You know about this?" Lu Sheng said curiously.
"It's in my memory," Yingying wrote earnestly. It seemed like she, too, had a complicated past before she became an Anomaly.
...Which made sense. Anomalies were known to be the elites and kings of ghosts. Even the average ghost required extremely strong bitterness and feud to form into being. Anomalies required even tougher conditions.
"I'm planning to take Yunxi with me. As for whether to take her as my primary wife or secondary wife..." Lu Sheng paused. "Yunxi treats me with full sincerity. I ought to make her my primary wife."
He did not need any political marriages anyway.
Yingying did not reply, having gone back to pressing clothes. This was Lu Sheng's decision; she had no reason to interfere with it.
Lu Sheng gave it some more thought.
Rapidly, he penned a reply, inserted it into the copper tube and fastened it on the snake-headed crow's leg. After feeding it some water, he tossed it into the air lightly.
The crow immediately shot into the skies and disappeared into the snow in matter of seconds.
Lu Sheng stared in the direction in which the strange bird departed.
"Such a good opportunity... how can I let it slip? Central Plains... it's about time to go take a look. The Nine Great Families of the Central Plains and the Hundred Lineages..." This was a godsend opportunity for him to fully understand the Noble Families and their bloodlines. If his cover was to be blown in the future, it'd be hard to find a chance like this.
"Since I've got to go anyway, I might as well take Yunxi along with me to the Central Plains. On top of that, the Lu Family of the Northern Lands need to be settled. Martial League's mess needs to be cleaned up as well. And there're those precious herbs on that map... and Three Sacred Gates..." A whole host of issues remained to be resolved.
Lu Sheng intended to find out the date and time of the Hundred Lineages Symposium so that he could settle his affairs in the Northern Lands well.
Very soon, on the fifth day after Shangyang Jiuli's first letter, her second letter arrived.
When he got the letter, Lu Sheng was in the study of the Crimson Whale, inspecting the figures reported about the snow disaster.
This time, Shangyang Jiuli's reply indicated that the Hundred Lineages Symposium was to be held in three months. Time was still plenty. This time, Lu Sheng did not hesitate. He replied immediately with his agreement to participate.
After released the strange bird, he began assigning his men with duties to prepare for his wedding.
Mountain-Edge City, Chen Family.
Chen Yunxi was holding on to the letter she had just received. On it was a series of arrangements concerning Chen Family's Chen Yunxi's wedding with Lu Family's Lu Sheng.
This was what her father, who had just returned home, had passed to her at the first possible instant while instructing her to take note of the time frame lest she be caught in a rush.
What surprised Chen Yunxi thoroughly was that Lu Sheng, with his present status, would still be willing to take her as his primary wife.
"Little Yu, go get Daddy here." Faced with such an arrangement, Chen Yunxi was unusually calm. Although she was overjoyed, she understood that the role of the primary wife also meant huge complications and trouble.
Her handmaiden Little Yu quickly left, and came back into the courtyard with Chen Daozao shortly.
"Daddy." Chen Yunxi curtsied. "About the arrangement for me to be the primary wife, I object."
Chen Daozao had initially put on a tender, fatherly manner, having assumed that his daughter had been perplexed by some question which needed his answer.
But the first words that came out of Chen Yunxi's mouth had alarmed him.
"What...? What did you say?!?" Chen Daozao's face fell, his lips tight. All traces of his smile earlier had vanished without a trace.
"I said I can't be the primary wife..." Chen Yunxi replied seriously.
"RUBBISH!" Chen Daozao cut her short abruptly. "Do you know what you're talking about? It's the primary wife! That's the highest position in the backyard of a family!  And yet you say you can't do it? If you can't be the primary wife, don't tell me you'd rather be the concubine!?" he exploded, hot with anger.
"Given Lu's status and identity today, our family will certainly be under pressure if I were to be the primary wife. It's impossible for Lu to have only me as wife. His status today has determined that any wife or concubine he takes in in the future would come from a more powerful family background than I have. I can't possibly expect Lu's feelings for me to fuel my position as the primary wife. That's not sustainable.
Instead of letting things come to that, I might as well take a step back myself, give up this precious position and be his secondary wife." Chen Yunxi seemed to have seen through the issue thoroughly.
Chen Daozao was speechless.
Indeed. The gap between the power of Chen Family and Lu Family was too vast. Perhaps in a small fringe city, a merchant family like the Chen Family was something. After all, in places so far away from the central authority, local powers tended to bunch together. Their strength depended on their private army.
But in a heavily garrisoned city like Mountain-Edge City, where experts gathered like mushrooms, a private army that one could buy was of little consequence.
This was an important city to the courtthe quarters of an Intelligence Agency. The court and the authorities' control over the city far exceeded that of other places.
No matter how much money one spent, one could not buy a Spirit Focus expert. Not even an Intent Proficiency expert. A Strength Proficiency expert was much easier to get.
Chen Daozao, too, had raised up many Strength Proficiency experts. In fact, luck favored him and his investment had made him several normal Intent Proficiency experts. But that was all.
In Mountain-Edge City, the average Intent Proficiency expert was at most an elite. Only Spirit Focus experts could be considered the top echelon of the various sects.
Moreover, even if one were to develop a powerful Intent Proficiency expert, he would be snatched away by other factions to be their resident guest.
And in the eyes of those sects led by Spirit Focus experts, or the even stronger Noble Families behind them, merchants were but fattened pigs, no matter how rich they were.
"You... are right..." Chen Daozao's face changed from one shade of color to another. Many thoughts gushed through his mind. In the end, he finally realized that his daughter was much more far-sighted than he had been.
A secondary wife was truly an optimal position for her. Instead of taxing Lu Sheng's feelings for her, her voluntary sacrifice would make Lu Sheng feel guilty and attempt to compensate.
Moreover, a secondary wife was not like the low status of the concubine, who lived in the shadow of the primary wife.
"Let's do as you say then." Chen Daozao eventually agreed with her daughter's tough decision.
"Daddy's wise. We need to understand that too many wealthy families dream of getting into Lu's good books now. Even the Lord Prefect in the city once joked after a cup too many that he wanted to introduce someone to Lu.
And mind that the Lord Prefect knew about my engagement with Lu. And yet he still said that." Chen Yunxi had not been doing nothing all these while. As the wife-to-be of the Sect Master of the Number One Sect of the Northern Lands, she was under immense pressure.
Such position, such a status... any careless mishap by her would trigger a massive chain effect.
Her every word and action would be magnified and publicized.
Even if Lu Sheng could protect her from hurt or even suppress all rumors from spreading, she was a strong girl who did not want things to be done that way.
"Not only that, but I want to practice martial arts too!" Chen Yunxi added at the end.
"AH?" Chen Daozao's eyes widened.
In the study of the Crimson Whale.
"Secondary wife?" Lu Sheng held Chen Yunxi's letter in his hand, the look of surprise on his face.
But after some thought, he quickly understood Chen Yunxi's cleverness.
"Might as well. Go make the arrangements." He looked at the old maid before him.
She was a Divine Prime expert from Martial League who had just threw her lot in with him.
The old maid was surnamed Sun, called Mingzhen. Her alias was the Thousand Hands Flying Rainbow. She was a famed top concealed weapon grandmaster. Moreover, when she had been young, she had used to be an eager matchmaker.
"Don't worry, Sect Master. I'll be sure to settle this nicely for you and let Miss Chen Yunxi marry you happily." Sun Zhenming smiled as she leaned on her staff.
"I had intended to give her the position of the primary wife. But upon deeper thought, Yunxi's decision is the more appropriate one. We'll do it her way. As for the banquet, you make the arrangements. But nothing too exaggerated and tiring," Lu Sheng said softly.
"I understand, I understand!" Sun Mingzhen grinned and retreated.
Next, Jade Lotus and Ouyang Qi who had been waiting outside entered.
"Reporting to Sect Master, we found Senior Zhao Jiaojiao!" Jade Lotus' first line upon entering the study made Lu Sheng's eyebrows arch.
"Speak." He gazed intently at Jade Lotus.
"External Affairs Zhao was discovered this morning lying in the snow, gravely wounded. A total of 128 bite and maul wounds, inflicted by a beast, were found on her. Plus, she lost too much blood and fell unconscious. Now she's resting after taking the medicine concocted by the physician," Jade Lotus summarized.
"Gravely wounded?" Lu Sheng was caught by surprise. He knew how strong Zhao Jiaojiao was. After implanting Yin Crane Web in her already Divine Prime cultivation base, she was improving by leaps and bounds. Give her a few more years and she would have been able to break through Divine Prime and enter a new realm.
"Take me there," he said grimly.
Jade Lotus led Lu Sheng all the way down to the bottom of the Crimson Whale, towards the heart of the ship. That was the living quarters of the Crimson Whale Sect, inhabited by many sect disciples, experts and Elders.
Hurriedly, they got to a cabin thick with the odor of medicine.
 TL/N: In ancient China, the women's quarters were in the backyard of a large house. The Emperor's harem was likewise literally called the "Back Palace".