Ye Yunhai stood at the center of the deck of the armored dragon ship as he looked arrogantly at Ye Que. He said righteously, "So this is what you base your confidence on. No wonder you have the courage to come to the General's Manor to return to your ancestral roots. Let me guess your cultivation. Rank 2 martial artist? Rank 1 martial artist? It must be a result of your good fortune accumulated over three past lifetimes. That's why you must know how to be grateful and not dream of coveting things that you're not worthy of."
"There's always someone better than you out there. Don't assume that you're all that impressive. There are so many people stronger than you."
Then, Ye Yunhai waved his hand at Lin Mei'er. "Don't lower yourself to the same level as this uneducated country hick. How would he know what Yuxie wine is? I fear it's probably his first time even hearing about it. Let's go. I'll personally pour a cup for you."
"Elder Brother Yunhai." Lin Mei'er's expression immediately changed the moment she laid eyes on Ye Yunhai. Forget about her viciousness and fierceness earlier, she now looked like a cute and helpless girl. Her every frown and smile was delicate and gentle. She smiled so happily that her eyes bent to form a straight line, amplifying her charm to its extreme. "You're so kind."
The commotion had drawn the attention of other guests.
"So this person is an illegitimate child."
"Did he think that the General's Manor is a place that anyone can enter at will?"
"I heard the old General Ye used to be a frivolous playboy in his youth. His handsome looks made him a pretty boy loved by all in Luoyang City. There were innumerable women who adored him. It's inevitable that he'd leave a few 'romantic debts' behind but if every one of them goes to the General's Manor to return to their ancestral roots, wouldn't that be maddening?"
"Well, it's understandable since he wants to play up to people of power and influence. It's just that he thinks too highly of himself."
"It looks like Ye Yunhai and Lin Mei'er are getting married. That's going to be a couple with connections in both the court and Jianghu. Second Madam played her cards well this time. Seems like Xiao Huating and Ye Yunhai will be presiding over the General's Manor from now on."
The crowd chimed in one after another and soon made Ye Que out to be an ignorant kid who came from the countryside to Luoyang City with the dream of leeching off the General's Manor. This also proved that regardless of whatever era it was, that the influence of gossip and rumors remained as great as ever, so much so that what was black could also be whitewashed. If Ye Que was mentally weak even by a little, he would have died of anger.
Would Ye Que be angry?
Of course, he would. However, if you were to ask him to argue with the bystanders, it was absolutely impossible for him to do so. He didn't have the mood to do so either. He wouldn't pay these people any mind.
This was how he saw it: If he was bitten by a dog on a street, was he going to turn around and return the favor?
Humans were humans; dogs were dogs. There was an intrinsic difference between the two.
Even so, even if Ye Que wouldn't go and bite others, it wouldn't stop others from coming to bite him. Ye Yunhai and Lin Mei'er hadn't left for long before a young man walked over with a cold expression.
"I'm Dao Shisi, Lin Mei'er's senior brother. Since my junior sister isn't skilled enough, let me learn from you as her senior." Dao Shisi slashed the air with his right hand and the saber inside the scabbard in his left hand automatically flew out. The saber landed on his palm.
"Man and Saber as One!"
The crowd took a sharp intake of breath. The Extinctive Sword Manor House was impressive, indeed. Manor Master Lin Shan had just broken into the Post-celestial Realm, but his disciple had already entered the Pre-celestial Realm.
"I heard Dao Shisi has become the Eldest Senior Brother of the Extinctive Sword Manor House," someone muttered.
"Eldest Senior Brother? If he's called Dao Shisi (T/N: Dao Fourteen), that means he's the fourteenth disciple of Lin Shan. If he wants to be the Eldest Senior Brother, he must prevail over thirteen people. He's really terrifying," someone commented in a quiet voice.
"Rumors had it that Dao Shisi adores his junior sister, Lin Mei'er, since young and dotes on her more than Lin Shan does. Looks like we're in for a good show this time. Ye Yunhai attacked with his mouth, but not his hands. Dao Shisi is really leaving that kid no way out. He has every intention to kill him."
Ye Que looked a little annoyed now. The reason he attended this flower-viewing drinking banquet was to see if he could obtain some materials to forge magic treasures of the Cultivation World or spiritual herbs that could enhance his cultivation. He never thought of creating trouble here. His attitude was tempered through a hundred years of cultivation and all of his sharp edges had long been dulled until he was no longer a temperamental person. Right now, he was just afraid of troublesome things.
However, even if he didn't go out seeking trouble, trouble would still come knocking anyway.
Like a wise saying in the three worlds went, "Where there are people, cultivators could be found. People have no freedom to act independently when cultivating."
Ye Que scanned the crowd around him before shifting his gaze toward the determined-looking Dao Shisi. He sighed a little helplessly. "These young and inexperienced brats these days really don't know the perils of cultivating!"
"What does true cultivation look like? What are the regulations of the three worlds?"
"Either way, all those nonsense about formidable heroes with long swords and the tender sentiments of beautiful women are just a legend. Those are created to attract group after group of people to join without fear. This is all to replenish the young blood of the Cultivation World."
"The real three worlds are a wasteland soaked with blood that is full of order and power. They can't contain the dreams and hot-blooded recklessness of the youth. Dreams are things you lie to the lower-rung disciples about. When you spill too much blood, you'll die."
Ye Que neither moved nor spoke. He wore only a bright smile on his face.
Right when the serious mood reached its peak, a burst of melodious music reverberated. In the blink of an eye, two experts from the Mortal World Pavilion inserted themselves between Ye Que and Dao Shisi.
"Sir, the flower-viewing drinking banquet is a place for everyone to relax and enjoy themselves. Battling and murdering aren't a good idea. It'll be a waste of this beautiful scenery on this river. I ask that you two show me some face and refrain from fighting," said a clear, sweet-sounding voice. The guests turned around in unison and saw that it was the young woman who danced the Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers, Bai Yu. She made a small bow at everyone as a sign of good fortune.
"This is the Mortal World Pavilion. Those who don't adhere to the regulations may get off this ship," the two experts from the Mortal World Pavilion added at the tail of Bai Yu's words.
One party was playing the hero, while the other was playing the villain.
They had shown both Ye Que and Dao Shisi every courtesy. If both of them didn't accept it, they were free to leave. The ability of the Mortal World Pavilion to handle emergencies was truly extraordinary.
Ye Que wasn't bothered as he had encountered such situations one too many times. He indicated to Miss Bai Yu that he was alright and pointed to Dao Shisi. The crux of the matter was the latter's response.
A brief moment later, Dao Shisi stopped putting up a resistance and returned his saber back to its scabbard. His expression was still grim, however. He still looked as if he wasn't going to let Ye Que go and stared fixedly at the latter for some time. Suddenly, he raised his hand. "I can deal with Junior Sister's matters some other day. Since the Mortal World Pavilion is the organizer of this flower-viewing drinking banquet, you all have the right to determine the regulations. Fine then. I want to ask this person. How did you board this dragon boat?"
"We all heard what Young Master Ye Yunhai said earlier. He grew up in the countryside and this is his first time coming to Luoyang. Even though his skills are decent, he's nameless. After all, we all know you need an invitation card to attend this flower-viewing drinking banquet. I'm very curious as to how you obtained the invitation card. Or perhaps, you didn't have an invitation at all and sneaked in through other means?"
Dao Shisi glanced at the crowd and said loudly, "Everyone, you saw his skills earlier. He's equally matched with my Junior Sister. It's not a challenge for him to slip in unnoticed."
He arrived in front of Ye Que in a few steps and pointed to outside of the ship. He emphasized every word as he added, "Follow the rules of the Mortal World Pavilion. If you don't have an invitation card, please leave this place immediately. This place doesn't welcome swindlers. Scram out of the long boat!"
He strung his sentences well and his argument was reasonable. It seemed like Dao Shisi was determined to humiliate Ye Que. The guests around them also noticed that Ye Que might really have sneaked in, considering his attire. Otherwise, he wouldn't have dressed so casually. Even if he was a family servant and came here with someone else, he would definitely not have an invitation card in hand. If other guests with invitation cards strongly requested him to leave the ship, not even the Mortal World Pavilion could do anything about it.
The Mortal World Pavilion couldn't be the first to break their own rule.
"Mr. Shisi, where it is possible to let people off, one should spare them," Bai Yu said softly,.
Dao Shisi snorted after sparing Bai Yu a glance. "I'm just an unrefined person who knows only martial artists and not a thing about poetry and painting. This young lady, please know that Junior Sister is the only one in my heart."
"So, an insignificant Queen of Flower like you can shut your trap."
Dao Shisi then turned to look at Ye Que. "If you can't take out your invitation card, get the hell out of this place."
He looked at the two experts from the Mortal World Pavilion. His meaning was clear: This was their time to uphold justice.
The experts from the Mortal World Pavilion basically didn't give it a second thought. Expressionlessly, they told Ye Que, "Please show us your invitation card."
"Why aren't you examining his invitation card?" Ye Que pointed to Dao Shisi.
"Mr. Dao Shisi is the Eldest Senior Brother of the Extinctive Sword Manor House. He has attended events that the Mortal World Pavilion organized many times and we have met him before. That's why we don't have to verify his identity."
"Did you hear that? They don't need to verify my identity. But that won't work for you. You're an illegitimate child and a country bumpkin. What identity do you even have? I advise you to leave the ship on your own as soon as possible lest you embarrass yourself." Dao Shisi stood there proudly as he repeatedly sneered at Ye Que.
Ye Que didn't move and stood there by his lonesome. No one knew what he was thinking.
The sounds of the guests discussing became louder and louder. They were also gesticulating at Ye Que as they talked.
Some distance away, Ye Yunhai, who had his back against them, was pulling Lin Mei'er along by her hand. A victorious smile appeared on his face.
"Get out of my way."
"Get out of my way."
"Get out of my way, all of you!"
Suddenly, a fit of uproar came from outside the crowd.
"Who's asking Mr. Ye to leave the ship?"
A young man pushed aside the crowd and abruptly ran to join Ye Que's side. Qian Shuxiao, who had disappeared for some time, finally showed up.
"Who was it? Which audacious person dare to ask Mr. Ye to leave the ship?" Qian Shuxiao yelled while pointing at everyone.
"Was it you?" he asked viciously as he pointed at one of the guests. The guest responded with a shake of his head. Then, he pointed at Dao Shisi and the two experts from the Mortal World Pavilion.
"We requested that he show his invitation card. Without an invitation card, he can't join the flower-viewing drinking banquet," one of the experts from the Mortal World Pavilion said stubbornly. He knew it was impossible that Ye Que wouldn't have an invitation card. How could the magnificent Qian family of Luoyang be considered one of the richest families if they couldn't even obtain two invitation cards?!
"Invitation card?" Qian Shuxiao nearly burst with rage after hearing the explanation. He walked up to the expert in two steps and pointed at the latter's nose with all his strength. "Which eye are you using when you see that Mr. Ye didn't have an invitation card? How did he board the dragon ship if he didn't have a card? Is this how the Mortal World Pavilion treat their guests? I'm telling you, you're done for! You're freaking done for! I'll go and complain about you. I'll definitely complain about you! Someone like you wants to stay in the Mortal World Pavilion? If you belong to the Qian household, I'll definitely beat you until you're crippled!"
"Didn't you want to see the invitation card?" Qian Shuxiao stretched his hand into his bosom and fiercely fished out a stack of red papers. He didn't even care whether any of those were the invitation cards but he shoved them to the expert's face anyway.
"Is this enough? If not, I still have more! You're wasting so much energy just because of a damned invitation card. Let me tell you. Something like this? However many that I want is exactly however many that your flower-viewing drinking banquet will have to deliver to me!"
"And you're foolish enough not to ask around just how much money I spent at the Mortal World Pavilion!"