The young woman wore makeup that made her seem young and pure. However, there was something about her that made it obvious she was a paid courtesan, which lessened her appeal. Overall, though, she was quite beautiful.
Smiling, the burly man hurried over to lead Hou Yunqing to a nearby table. “Brother Yunqing, I’ve been waiting for you. Come, come. Have a seat with me.”
Only when Hou Yunqing gave an apologetic look to Bai Xiaochun did the burly man finally notice him.
“You must be new around here,” he said with a smile. “But you’re a guest nonetheless. Any friend of Yunqing’s is a friend of mine. I’m Li Youdao. This banquet is being held by my Li Clan in honor of Emissary Lingfei. It was a bit rushed, so things aren’t as well planned out as they should have been. Please, forgive me for any inadequacies.” Looking very pleased with himself, he pulled Hou Yunqing and Bai Xiaochun over to the tables, where they all sat down. The young woman sat down quietly next to Li Youdao, looking very lovely and demure.
“Things really were far too rushed,” Li Youdao said. “The only beverage I could get my hands on was this spirit alcohol brewed from tier-1 high-grade spirit medicine. If I’d had more time, I could definitely have procured some product made from tier-2 high-grade spirit medicine.” He sighed, and yet, it was impossible for him to cover up the look of pride on his face. He and Hou Yunqing had been secretly competing with each other for years, and at long last he had this chance to put him in his place.
It was at this point that the young woman sitting next to Li Youdao spoke up.
“Youdao,” she said flirtatiously, “don’t be so modest! It would be hard to find another clan in the Eastwood Continent that would entertain so many people with spirit alcohol brewed from tier-1 high-grade spirit medicine. Even a small glass could be sold for several hundred spirit stones!”
Her flattery was like music to Li Youdao’s ears.
“Ah, what are a few hundred spirit stones?” he said. “It’s just spirit alcohol. Come, come, Yunqing. You and your friend have to try this stuff. It’s really hard to find it anywhere in Eastwood City.” With that, he waved a servant over to fill glasses for Hou Yunqing and Bai Xiaochun.
Hou Yunqing looked a bit embarrassed. Despite the fact that his clan was quite well-off, he had only ever once tried spirit alcohol brewed from tier-1 high-grade spirit medicine. After hesitating for a moment, he smiled wryly and took a sip.
Bai Xiaochun looked at the alcohol curiously. After sniffing it, he couldn’t help but be disappointed; clearly, the impurity levels were quite high.
Li Youdao seemed very satisfied to see Hou Yunqing’s reaction, but when he saw the expression on Bai Xiaochun’s face, he was less than pleased. After looking him up and down, he decided that, not only would he put Hou Yunqing in his place, he would crush his friend at the same time.
“Brother, are you not satisfied? Ah, don’t worry. This banquet we’re throwing for Goddess Lingfei is a bit rushed, but we still managed to get some rare foods to serve. I’ve heard that Goddess Lingfei always talks about how much she misses the Spirit Stream Sect. Therefore, the Li Clan has spent a lot of money to get some spirit tail chickens to remind her of her home.
“Men! Serve the spirit tail chicken!” Laughing heartily, he waved his hand, and a servant rushed over carrying a golden platter. There on the platter was a fully roasted spirit tail chicken!
The platter itself looked quite expensive, and as for the three-colored spirit tails, they were arranged very artistically. The chicken had been roasted to a deep amber color, and looked extraordinary. Apparently, it had just come out of the oven, causing a wonderful aroma to fill the area. Quite a few other guests looked over in shock.
“A spirit tail chicken!? Wow, the Li Clan is so rich!”
“Every table gets a spirit tail chicken? Look, those clearly weren’t raised around here. Where did they come from!?”
Hearing the reactions of those sitting in the area, Bai Xiaochun blinked in surprise. “Isn’t that just a spirit tail chicken?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the beautiful young woman sitting next to Li Youdao scornfully said, “Prince Yunqing, your friend here really knows how to run his mouth. Isn’t that just a spirit tail chicken? It makes it seem like he’s eaten a lot of them.”
Li Youdao looked gravely at the young woman, as if he didn’t approve of her tone. However, the truth was that he also felt that Bai Xiaochun was trying to be a big showoff. Inwardly, he was starting to get irritated, but outwardly, he made a polite explanation.
“Friend, I’m afraid you don’t understand. These spirit tail chickens aren’t ordinary in any way. They weren’t raised by my Li Clan, they’re from the Spirit Stream Sect!
“More specifically, they’re from the south bank of the Spirit Stream Sect!” Even though his words were spoken softly, many people in the area heard them, and soon, gasps rang out.
Even Hou Yunqing couldn’t hold back from gasping at Li Youdao’s display of wealth.
Li Youdao was very pleased at the reaction he was getting from Hou Yunqing and the crowd. Looking very proud of himself, he continued to offer further explanation.
“The spirit tail chickens from the south bank of the Spirit Stream Sect were rare enough to begin with. However, a few years ago, a bandit known as the Chicken-Thieving Fiend caused a sharp decline in production. Nowadays, spirit tail chickens from the south bank can only be acquired at auction, and for an extraordinary price at that. They’re very easy to identify. They have green bones and beautiful tail feathers. They look completely different from other types of chickens.
“However,” he lamented, “thanks to that despicable Chicken-Thieving Fiend and his demented crime spree, the south bank spirit tail chickens nearly went extinct!” With that, he proceeded to curse and revile the Chicken-Thieving Fiend. His female companion joined in, until all of the surrounding guests were echoing their sentiments.
In response to everyone rebuking the Chicken-Thieving Fiend, Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat awkwardly.
It was at this point that a new group of people arrived, a group of handsome elite clan members from the cultivator clans, who were clustered around a young woman. She wore a long white gown that resembled a blooming lotus, had the fairest of skin, and had her long hair coiled up and bound with a silver hairpin. She wore pearls and jewelry, and walked with a gentle grace. The starlight which reflected in her eyes made her look even more beautiful.
Unfortunately, her exquisite beauty was somewhat marred because of her furrowed brow; apparently she was concerned with some important matter. And yet, she did her best to put a smile on her face as she conversed in a low tone with one of the young men escorting her.
Although the young man did his best to conceal it, it was possible to see the passion in his eyes as he listened to her.
That young woman was none other than Du Lingfei.
She immediately became the focus of all attention. Furthermore, there was something about her, some energy or power that made everyone in her presence feel the urge to bow their heads.
Despite how many people were clustered around her, Bai Xiaochun instantly caught sight of her. At first, he almost looked like he was in a daze. They hadn’t seen each other for years, but she somehow seemed more familiar to him than ever. And yet, she was more beautiful than before. There was also something a bit more noble about her, perhaps something that had come from holding a position of power for so long.
She definitely seemed different from the rude and unreasonable beauty she had been when they’d first met. And yet, as the moments ticked by, that old version of Du Lingfei and this newer, more beautiful one slowly merged together.
Bai Xiaochun had grown in their time apart, and so had she. Thanks to her subtle control of affairs in Eastwood City, the cultivator clans were in harmony, something that most outsiders found unbelievable.
“Goddess Lingfei….” Li Youdao said, his eyes flickering with infatuation. Back when he’d first laid eyes on her, he had been somewhat attracted to her. However, it was only thanks to her deft manipulation of the cultivator clans that he came to be fully infatuated.
The courtesan sitting next to him paled in comparison, and she clearly knew that. In the face of the powerful Du Lingfei, she had no choice other than to lower her head.
At this point, Hou Yunqing leaned over to Bai Xiaochun and quietly said, “Goddess Lingfei came to Eastwood City with nothing. I remember her often gazing back in the direction of the Spirit Stream Sect, thinking about something. Who would have ever thought that she would do so well for herself? None of the past emissaries ever accomplished what she has. She kept the peace between the clans, bringing about a harmony the likes of which has never been seen before.
“Supposedly, some of the clan patriarchs were so impressed that they convinced the Spirit Stream Sect to renew her emissary commission several times over.”
Even as Li Youdao stared at her with glittering eyes, and Hou Yunqing was murmuring to Bai Xiaochun, Du Lingfei finished speaking to the young man next to her. Just as she was about to take a step forward, her gaze pierced through the crowd to land on Li Youdao’s table.
Her eyes went wide, and a tremor of disbelief ran through her. All of a sudden, it seemed as if everyone around her had vanished, leaving only one person behind in her world.
Breathing heavily, she started walking in the direction of the table. Everyone was shocked to see her acting this way, especially Li Youdao, who shot to his feet, trembling.
“Sh-she’s actually coming over to see me!!!” His mind began to spin, and his heart began to pump wildly. Unable to prevent the joy from filling his face, he immediately began to walk toward her.
“Goddess Lingfei….” he said. Even as he prepared more words to say, Du Lingfei walked right by without even sparing him a passing glance. His jaw dropped, and he looked stiffly over his shoulder to see Du Lingfei stop in front of the table and look at one person in particular.
“Bai Xiaochun, you’re here….” Even the way she stood there was enticing. Her eyes were beautiful, like shining moons, and everyone who looked at her couldn’t prevent their hearts from surging with passion.
The instant she spoke Bai Xiaochun’s name, the clamor of the banquet transformed into utter silence. Trembling, people began to turn to look at Bai Xiaochun.
Everyone knew that Bai Xiaochun was a Prestige disciple of the Spirit Stream Sect and the Junior Brother of the sect leader. The latest news was that he had recently gone to one of the Foundation Establishment Holy Lands.
“Yeah, I’m here,” he said, smiling. All of a sudden, he recalled that moment in the cave when they were fleeing from the Luochen, how she had sat next to the fire, her face ashen and yet oh so beautiful.
Hou Yunqing plastered a look of surprise on his face. Taking several dramatic steps backward, and stumbling down to his knees in the process, he pointed his finger and raised his voice as loud as possible. “Y-y-you’re… you’re Bai Xiaochun!?!?”
It was at that exact same moment that people from the various cultivator clans began to pull jade slips out of their holding items, as news came in from their clans.
Within moments, the surprise which had just gripped their heart turned into massive waves of shock. People began to gasp and look over at Bai Xiaochun, their minds reeling.
All of the various jade slips contained similar information.
“Bai Xiaochun reached Heaven-Dao Foundation Establishment! Any clan member who meets him should treat him with utter respect. Immediately notify the clan for a hefty reward!!”