"Wandering the Jianghu with a Xiao flute and a sword; a jar of wine solves all emotional worries. Turning over the mortal road with both feet; treating the sky like a lid and the ground like a furnace."
Two poem verses were engraved on the hull of the armored dragon ship, inscribed with the name "Mortal World Pavilion".
Legend had it that the Mortal World Pavilion had a history that spanned several hundred years. In the beginning, the pavilion peddled information involving the Jianghu. Later on, when its influence expanded, it even got involved in the Cultivation World. In the recent hundred years ago, it even began selling rare treasures, immortal beasts, and raptors. It was said that every master of the Mortal World Pavilion possessed profound cultivation and omniscience. Every master was rumored to have the ability to make astronomical observations and break dragons' veins. Even the imperial family and nobles revered them.
Since this was a flower-viewing drinking banquet that the Mortal World Pavilion organized, the level was surely extraordinary. The final valuable treasure was worthy of anticipation.
The armored dragon ship stopped in a spot in the river where the waters ran deep. The hull was thirty-two meters long and nine meters wide. The ship was four-story high. From the looks of it, it ought to be an altered imperial ship retired from its military duty.
There was already a group of people gathered on the deck, all of them wearing luxurious clothing and speaking with grace. Evidently, they were offsprings from influential families. After handing their invitation cards over, Ye Que and Qian Shuxiao were invited into the dragon ship.
"Sir, please take a look around as you please. I'll have to excuse myself to handle some matters regarding the quotation for the auction. The banquet ought to have begun. You can appreciate it first; there ought to be a talent performance later," Qian Shuxiao whispered to Ye Que.
"Go ahead. You don't have to worry about me." Ye Que waved his hand.
Those who could enter this dragon ship were all wealthy and respectable people. Those invitation cards were unlikely to be free of charge. Thus, the service was also superb. Since the Mortal World Pavilion prided itself as the symbol of quality goods, it wouldn't bring shame upon itself. Everything was available here from good wine to culinary delicacies, all free for the guests' consumption.
An ancient song featuring tinkling tunes drifted from the front. Following the melody, a white-clothed young woman put a lively dance with her long sleeves flying high as she moved. The seven purple-clothed women behind her were all holding a musical instrument each: a standing bell, a long zither, a pan pipe, a flute, a Chinese harp, a wind instrument, a vertical reed instrument. Seven different kinds of tunes came from seven different kinds of ancient instruments made out of metal and stone. The sounds of bouncing pearls and vibrating jade made one sink into a state of infatuation.
"The night gently descends upon Weiyang; under the green-jade clouds, the dancers perform the 'Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers' as immortal tunes play. The sound of flute fills the space; the palace atop Mount Li remains empty on a full moon."
The person, the song, and the dance harmonized to form an exquisite rendition of Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers.
Not far from the young woman was a wicker basket. A small wooden plate with the words "Bai Yu" was placed next to the basket. The basket was already full of flowers by now. Short of an unexpected incident, this young woman named Bai Yu ought to be the Queen of Flowers this time. She could be considered as having answered everyone's expectations and fully deserving of the title.
The young women who took the stage after Bai Yu were unable to put on a performance that rivaled the splendor of the Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers. It was now close to midday and the guests of the banquet were gathering at the bow of the ship. Having spent a hundred years cultivating, Ye Que realized that he hadn't joined such entertaining activities of the Human World for a long time. Allowing joy to wash over his mind and body now could be considered as a way of cultivating the mind and freeing himself from boredom.
"Pour me a cup of Yuxie wine."
Ye Que was strolling as he pleased when a lily-white hand came from his side and held a jade cup in front of him. Ye Que looked confusedly at the person beside him.
He saw a woman who was handing him a wine cup with one hand. She twisted her slender waist ever so slightly to speak to the person beside her. "I've told you that this Yuxie wine is a famous wine in the previous dynasty. From filtered water and bluish-green waves come Yuxie wine. Get drunk and you'll not wake for a thousand days; the taste remains unchanged even after ten years. I must savor it today. Mortal World Pavilion deserves its name indeed; it's so lavish in its service."
"Young Manor Master, you're a warrior among women indeed. Your knowledge is impressive," the others near the woman praised.
"You're too kind. It's simply because my father enjoys good wine and I've gained some knowledge from him." The woman called Young Manor Master smiled brightly after receiving compliments.
"I heard Manor Master Lin has broken through the Pre-celestial Realm several days ago. Is it true?"
"It's true. My father is now in the Post-celestial Realm."
"Congratulations! Congratulations! Please send my regards to Manor Master Lin if the chance arises."
The young woman's identity became clear with just a short conversation. She was Young Manor Master of the Extinction Sword Manor House, as well as the only daughter of Lin San and the fiancee that Xiao Huating found for Ye Yunhai, Lin Mei'er.
"Didn't you hear me? Pour me a cup of Yuxie wine." Lin Mei'er spoke to Ye Que for a second time. Moreover, she was also looking him up and down this time.
Following Lin Mei'er's gaze, Ye Que looked around and soon realized that he was wearing the same clothes as the waiters of the flower-viewing drinking banquet: the same grey shirt and trousers. Even the material of their clothes was similar. The guests all around were all dressed in silk gowns and dazzling garments.
Ye Que had been wearing the same clothes ever since returning to his youth and coming to Luoyang to return to his ancestral roots. If he remembered correctly, this was a new set of clothes that he custom ordered before leaving his hometown. Yet he was now mistaken as a waiter. Ye Que wasn't angry. Rather, he felt more like laughing.
"I'm not a servant of the Mortal World Pavilion. If you want wine, you can help yourself or find someone else for help." Ye Que didn't take the jade cup from Lin Mei'er. In his opinion, his explanation was sufficient.
Ignorance wasn't a crime. This young woman wasn't purposefully trying to offend him.
"You're not a servant of the Mortal World Pavilion? Then which family's servant are you? Who's your master? Tell him that Lin Mei'er is borrowing his servant to pour a cup of Yuxie wine." Lin Mei'er didn't withdraw her hand after hearing Ye Que's explanation.
"Remember to fill the cup to the brim."
The innately charming woman was looking at Ye Que with an elegant yet terribly arrogant expression. She was just like a white swan. The reason she was able to make such an unreasonable demand in a matter-of-fact way was that she was the Young Manor Master of the Extinctive Sword Manor House and her father was called Lin Shan. In addition, she was also about to become the daughter-in-law of the General's Manor.
Ye Que narrowed his eyes and smirked. Then, he completely ignored Lin Mei'er and walked past her. He found it to be a waste of life to converse with a mannerless woman like her.
"What an audacious person!" the person next to Lin Mei'er said indignantly. However, upon closer look, the person's indignant expression was laced with a hint of teasing. "Heroine Lin, aren't you very powerful? Why can't you even find someone to pour you a cup of wine? Looks like your Extinctive Sword Manor House still isn't influential enough. Your reputation isn't strong enough to strike fear into others. Even a servant who dresses like that dares to disregard you."
"That's right. You mustn't let him off so easily. You must teach him a lesson," said another person who wasn't afraid of causing trouble.
Lin Mei'er felt a fit of inexplicable anger after hearing all these peculiar words and soon the fire overwhelmed her mind. In the first place, she had a bad temper and enjoyed looking good in others' eyes. Ye Que had embarrassed her. The way she saw it, this was a plain and simple provocation. He was essentially humiliating her.
"Moreover, what's that final expression on his face? What did he mean with that smirk? Did he think I didn't notice? How dare a servant like him to laugh at me! What right did he have to mock me? How dare he?"
Thinking of this, Lin Mei'er clapped the wooden chair under her and rose to her feet. She stared fixedly at Ye Que as she walked up to him. The hands that she kept behind her was beginning to slowly accumulate power. Having trained in martial arts since young, her strength was very close to that of Rank 2 martial artist. Coupled with the fact that her father would pour True Energy into her to nurse her meridians every few days, she had every confidence to prevail over a genuine Rank 2 martial artist. If it was a life-or-death battle, she was confident that she could escape unscathed thanks to the secrets of the Extinctive Sword Manor House.
Now only ten steps away from Ye Que, she had already targeted more than ten large acupuncture points on his back. With a quick point of her fingers, she could make it so that Ye Que would be bedridden for three months.
Lin Mei'er never thought of killing Ye Que but she must vent her anger and prevent others from looking down on her. This wasn't only about her, but also the Extinctive Sword Manor House and perhaps even the General's Manor.
"Or maybe Xuanshu Acupoint?"
Lin Mei'er had finished gathering power in her fingertips. Right now, she was less than three steps away from Ye Que. She had already imagined the course of events that would occur later: She would bypass Ye Que from his left, using her right finger to point at his Xuanshu Acupoint. Ye Que would feel dizzy for two seconds, giving her enough time to move the chair next to her behind him. When he falls, she would step aside. From afar, it would look as if he had fallen asleep.
"I'll just use 70 percent of my power; that's enough to make him bedridden for three months." Taking in Ye Que's physique, she thought, "I'd better go with 50 percent. This person is too thin and weak. If I kill someone in the Mortal World Pavilion, it'll be quite troublesome. Father said I can't cause trouble for my husband's family before marrying over. I have to be a wise and virtuous woman."
"Alright, I'll use 50 percent of my power," Lin Mei'er muttered. She then bypassed Ye Que from his left and abruptly thrust the right hand that was behind her back all along. She pointed at Ye Que's Xuanshu Acupoint while grabbing a chair with her left hand. All that was left was for Ye Que to faint.
However, the scene she imagined didn't come to fruition.
"The sensation isn't right! I hit the air instead!"
A light bulb went off in Lin Mei'er's head. She had expected Ye Que to faint in advance or even screech but never imagined that she would slip up. She was a Rank 2 martial artist and a famous heroine from a reputable family in the Jianghu, after all. She was the Young Manor Master of the Extinctive Sword Manor House.
"How could I have failed to ambush a little servant?"
"This isn't logical!"
She swiftly stopped, turned sideways, and gained a firm footing. She looked at Ye Que, who was still wearing a faint smile as if he was teasing her.
"How dare you!" Lin Mei'er bellowed. She poured energy into the soles of her feet and got close to Ye Que with a single step. Her power was now twice as strong.
Even though this was a close-combat fight, Lin Mei'er was showing a quick and violent demonstration of the "Flexible Finger-sword" technique. She targeted the weakest Gates of Vitality of the human body each time. In the beginning, she still looked calm and composed. However, she soon looked somewhat surprised.
After demonstrating the twenty-one moves of the Flexible Finger-sword technique, she was stunned to discover that she didn't even manage to touch the corner of Ye Que's sleeves. Never mind injuring him or making him bedridden for three months.
Right then, Lin Mei'er finally understood why Ye Que would disregard her and even show a mocking expression. He had the qualification to do so and had already seen through her cultivation. Yet she still dared to make him pour her a drink and call him a servant.
Sayings like "no matter how good you think you are, there is always someone out there that is better" and "the frog at the bottom of the well" were all referring to her attitude earlier.
Even though Lin Mei'er didn't stop moving her hands, her face was already burning red.
If she didn't exert all her strength, she would be too ashamed to show her face.
"This person has no shame. He has such high cultivation yet still dresses that way. He's clearly playing dumb to take advantage of others! How detestable!"
Out of the blue, Ye Yunhai's voice resounded. Simultaneously, two experts of the Mortal World Pavilion quietly walked over to them.
"I was wondering who it is. So, it's the illegitimate child of our General's Manor. You're really a persistent ghost. How unexpected that a poor youngster from the countryside is entitled to enter the dragon ship."