Chapter 592 – Banquet (Two)
After breaking through to Foundation Establishment, Qian Rongzhi obviously did not remain as a regular Scarlet Wolf guard. She visited Gu Yanying and stayed behind as a White Wolf guard.
Li Qingshan frowned. He could sense that Qian Rongzhi’s bearing had changed yet again. The cold and sinister feeling had basically vanished from her, but Li Qingshan would never forget about her insanity.
This woman has become even more dangerous. Anyone who gets on her bad side will probably face quite a lot of trouble.
However, he was unaware that to Qian Rongzhi, his changes were even more startling. In her eyes, he gazed around complacently, like a vicious tiger roaming through the forest, proudly displaying the character for “king” on his head. However, his teeth and claws were all hidden away, refusing to show his fierceness so easily.
TL: As you all know, tigers have stripes, and the Chinese character for “king” is 王, so it looks like tigers have the “king” character on their foreheads.
Originally, I thought I could reduce the distance between us, but I didn’t think he would still be so powerful!
As they both thought about each other, a young girl with thick eyebrows, large eyes, and a bright face called out loudly, “Big sis, over here!”
Li Qingshan noticed that she was wearing the uniform of a White Wolf commander and how her seat was only slightly behind Gu Yanying’s.
He thought, She must be Gu Yanying’s assistant, the White Wolf commander! I didn’t think she’d actually look like this. She might still look like a young girl, but her real age must be far greater. That only proves she possesses extremely great talent. She reached an extremely high cultivation at an extremely young age, so the rate at which she aged obviously slowed down, which is why she still looks like a young girl.
Gu Yanying said, “Under formal circumstances, you need to call me commander or ma’am.”
“Does it even matter?” The young girl pouted. Her behaviour and mannerisms resembled a young girl’s too.
However, with what he had experienced at the entrance, Li Qingshan dared not underestimate anyone. He stared straight at her. Although her aura was completely hidden away, he could still see certain things with the senses of the spirit turtle.
Sure enough, she was also a Golden Core cultivator!
The young girl immediately shot a glance at Li Qingshan and said harshly, “What’re you looking at?”
Li Qingshan lowered his gaze again like he was embarrassed.
Si Qing smiled. “Little sister Bao’er has run out of patience a long time ago. Let’s just treat it as a reunion of acquaintances today, so there’s no need to rigidly adhere to all these rules. Please sit down!”
As soon as Gu Yanying sat down, the young girl huddled over, leaning against her side. “I’ll sit here too!”
Originally, it was a seat for Gu Yanying and Si Long, followed by seats arranged according to each person’s identity and cultivation, yet she insisted on sitting with Gu Yanying. Fortunately, the seat was quite large, so it was not a squeeze even when they sat together.
Si Qing frowned. “If a bumpkin doesn’t know any etiquette or courtesy, so be it, but Si Bao, you cannot break the rules!”
“Hmph, you’re a prince, and I’m a princess! Why should I sit slightly behind you? Si Qing, I only called you elder imperial brother to show you a bit of face! Would you believe me if I say I can beat you up until you call me big sister?”
Si Bao leapt up and snorted with great contempt, raising her bushy brows. The bearing she gave off was no weaker than Si Qing’s, and it was rather similar to his.
“Your humble elder brother will naturally be there to experience it during the next Gathering of Dragon Ascension. I’m only afraid you don’t have the courage to participate!”
Li Qingshan was very surprised. From their conversation, the two should both be descendants of the imperial clan. Having reunited after so long, even if they were not close, they still should have been able to cope with each other. He had never expected them to break out in full dispute, on the verge of fighting, over the simple issue of seating.
They were basically like two street thugs who could break out into a vicious fight with a simple, “The fuck you looking at?” “The fuck’s wrong with staring at you?” They did not exhibit the self-restraint and patience that descendants of the imperial clan and Golden Core cultivators were supposed to possess at all.
“Alright, Bao’er, just sit wherever you want to sit. Look at you, you’re behaving like a fighting cock.” Gu Yanying pulled Si Bao back, and Si Bao leaned against her, whispering in her ear, “Heh, I’m just cutting him down to size first and showing him what’s what!”
Li Qingshan saw there were two seats to Si Qing’s left and right, except they were located slightly towards the back. They were beneath Si Qing but above everyone else behind, possessing a status roughly equivalent to Si Qing’s. Two people sat there. When Si Qing and them entered the hall earlier, only they had not stood up to greet them.
One of them was a military general dressed in armour. His great beard was peppered with grey hairs, dangling from his chin all the way to his chest. He sat there valiantly with his eyes wide open as if he was glaring at Si Bao.
The other one was a pale-faced scholar. He propped up his chin with one hand while swinging a black feather fan gently in the other. Within his sunken eye sockets were a pair of deep and serene eyes, also gazing at Si Bao.
“Please calm down and sit, your highness. What benefit will bickering with a woman bring?” Not only did he completely look down on Si Bao with the tone of his voice, but he also seemed to stand on equal footing with Si Qing.
“You’re completely right, brother Jia.” Si Qing returned to his seat and sat down before declaring the start of the banquet. However, the atmosphere in the hall only grew heavier. It did not seem like a joyful banquet.
Li Qingshan was about to make his way over to the empty seat beside Han Qiongzhi when Gu Yanying waved at him. “Qingshan, you should sit here. It doesn’t look good if it’s empty!”
Li Qingshan did not hold back. He arrived at the secondary seat to Gu Yanying’s side, crossing his legs and sitting down boldly, earning him another glance from Si Bao. That was originally her seat.
The many White Wolf guards behind him were stunned. This was not merely an issue of seating. Cultivation, age, and experience had all been taken into account precisely to determine who sat where perfectly. It could basically represent their identity and status within the Hawkwolf Guard, and it was also a form of the most basic courtesy.
Even when Si Bao wanted to sit with Gu Yanying, Si Qing had criticised her as discourteous. By doing this, Gu Yanying was essentially ranking Li Qingshan higher than everyone else. This was not a trivial matter, earning him many envious gazes. They all conversed with their soul sense.
“Who is he?”
“I think he’s called Li Qingshan, the Scarlet Hawk commander of the Clear River prefecture!”
“Only a Scarlet Hawk commander? He’s merely at mid Foundation Establishment, so why does he deserve to sit in front of us?”
“Li Qingshan? Don’t tell me he’s that renowned coward, the commander of secluded cultivation?”
Ever since Li Qingshan became the Scarlet Hawk commander, he had left everything up to Hua Chengzan. Apart from investigating Burial Mound mountain with Hua Chengzan, he had not handled a single formal affair. He had made quite a name for himself among the Hawkwolf guards because of this.
Si Qing took note of this. “Looks like Yanying really does favour this child very much. I need to warn you then. You better not let him die at my hands later on.”
Before Gu Yanying could reply, Si Bao chimed in, “I don’t think you have that ability!” At the same time, she said to Li Qingshan through her soul sense, “Kid, you’re sitting in my seat, so let’s see if you have the right later on.”
Li Qingshan was confused. What are they on about? They talk like they’re about to fall out with each other and battle it out. He vaguely realised that Gu Yanying probably had another reason in mind for choosing all of his arcane artifacts so seriously.
“Alright, then we’ll go with a battle to the death then!” Si Qing roused with vigour. Excitement filled his face, clearly displaying the interest he felt.
“There’s no need for that. Just victory or defeat will be enough.” Gu Yanying waved her hand with a smile.
“Battles are dangerous. There’s only a thin line between life and death. He might not necessarily get the opportunity to forfeit and beg for mercy.” Si Qing took a sip of the alcohol in the cup as he smiled murderously.
As they spoke, various delicacies that Li Qingshan had not even heard of were served up one after another like running water. In particular, the jugs upon jugs of fine alcohol were faint in colour and gave off no fragrance at all, but it was like a fiery explosion when Li Qingshan took a sip. A heavy fragrance directly rushed through his mind as the fiery, scorching sensation plunged right into the bottom of his heart. It was indescribably satisfying.
“It’s easy to get drunk on this alcohol, so don’t be greedy. There are still matters to deal with later on!” Gu Yanying specially warned Li Qingshan with her soul sense.
“Don’t worry. The more I drink, the more energetic I become. Just what is it that’s so serious?”
“You’ll obviously find out later.”
At this moment, the sound of traditional stringed and woodwind instruments rang out from behind a heavy curtain. An extremely moving note trembled as the rising and falling singing invoked an inexpressible sorrow of parting. Even Li Qingshan could not help but be fazed by it, listening on quietly.
The smell of flowers assaulted the hall. Petals of flowering crabapples scattered in the hall with the wind, pure-white, pink, and bright red.
Women dressed in thin clothes with elegant figures glided over like fairies from heaven. They danced with the music, reaching the centre of the hall before suddenly spreading out, giving off rings of haze like blooming flowers. They revealed a slender woman in the very centre, but she wore a white mask, faintly outlining a flowering crabapple.
The women in the surroundings were already so glamorous, so Li Qingshan could not help but imagine how beautiful the woman in the centre would be. Li Qingshan found the woman’s figure to be slightly familiar.
The music gradually sped up, and the dancing gradually increased in intensity. They constantly changed their postures as they glided through the empty hall, enough to dazzle everyone while giving off a mesmerising sensation.
As they all drank the fine alcohol in their cups and watched this mesmerising performance, everyone seemed enchanted. However, Li Qingshan noticed that Si Qing remained indifferent, filled with boredom. Though, the military and civil officers to his left and right did watch on closely.
Gu Yanying raised her cup and toasted from afar. “Si Qing, this dancing might pale in comparison to battle dances, but it’s still quite a special performance!”
Si Qing said, “With how indulgent his lifestyle has been, it’s no wonder that the Marquis of Ruyi would die. I heard he actually also had improper thoughts towards you. He’s basically as reckless as he can get. If you had actually accepted him, the crown prince would probably pay a visit to the Ruyi commandery and personally execute that toad.”
Si Bao said, “Imperial brother, don’t you work so hard just because you want to replace big brother Ming and become the crown prince yourself?”
“What nonsense. How can I be compared to imperial brother Ming? I’d be fortunate if I can just consolidate my position as the Marquis of Ruyi.”
Si Qing’s expression changed before gradually recovering. In the end, he cast his gaze towards Gu Yanying again. Whether he could consolidate his position as the Marquis of Ruyi would completely depend on her.
After the Marquis of Ruyi Jiang Fu and the great general Han Anguo had fallen in battle, only Gu Yanying remained out of the three major pillars. She had already become the person with the greatest authority in the entire commandery.
Gu Yanying had remained in the Ruyi commandery for such a long time. She had a powerful background and was easygoing, treating people generously. As a result, all cultivators of the Ruyi commandery, whether they belonged to the Academy of the Hundred Schools or the sects, would show her some respect. She could even influence the Daemon race and change the overall situation of the Ruyi commandery.
For example, the startlingly-powerful and sinful Northmoon daemon seemed to have quite a friendly relationship with her. As a result, as soon as Si Qing arrived in the Ruyi commandery, he invited none other than Gu Yanying first to a banquet under the guise of catching up. It was all so that he could probe her out and determine who was dominant.
Gu Yanying changed her posture, spreading out her legs and crossing one over the other. She accepted the alcohol Si Bao offered up and drank it all. She smiled. “Then that’ll depend on just how capable you are.”