“Qian Yu, your tailored robes have been finished!” Zhao Xieren’s voice rang out early in the morning as she knocked on the door to Qian Yu’s room.
“Good morning you two,” Opening the door, Qian Yu saw Zhao Xieren and Bai Jia, who had been living at the Zhao Family estate in the capital.
“Luckily, they were done before tonight,” Bai Jia said. Following the initial three days of the tournament, the crown prince had announced a banquet, inviting the 48 participants who made it through and special guests from abroad.
“Here, take a look at it!” Zhao Xieren took the robes out of her storage device.
Qian Yu’s heart stung a little as he saw the robes. ‘A couple spirit stones for clothes!’ Qian Yu bit his teeth and sighed. They had gone to one of the most popular tailor shops in the inner district, and with Qian Yu needing a set of imperial robes quickly made for him, it cost a couple spirit stones.
“Alright, let’s see it,” Qian Yu grabbed it and took a look before putting it on.
It wasn’t thick linen robes like the ones from the Ice Arts sect or the rogue cultivators ones. Instead, it was completely made of silk. Specifically, Qian Yu had decided to get one with a mainly black silk body. It still had several layers to it with lighter shades of gray, offering contrast to his wear. Of course, it wasn’t that simple and yellow dragons were embroidered into the robes.
*Splash!* Bai Jia walked up, summoning a small orb of water and dropping it on Qian Yu’s head.
“Let’s fix your hair up a little,” Bai Jia said as she went and started fixing his hair.
A smile undeniably appeared on his face as he felt Bai Jia lovingly fix his hair. Once done, Qian Yu took a quick glance at the mirror before turning to the others, “How is it?”
“Master, it looks great!” Zhen Yue was completely excited seeing Qian Yu’s outfit.
By her side, Sun Hong nodded, “It does fit you well.”
“Alright, you can take it off for now,” Bai Jia said.
“Anyways, Zhen Yue, can you go over etiquette with him? Me and sister Bai have other things to prepare for,” Zhao Xieren turned to Zhen Yue.
“Of course, I’ll do that,” Zhen Yue nodded. It was Qian Yu’s first time attending a social event like this and it was an important place to build potential social connections.
“You guys have something else to do?” Qian Yu asked.
“Of course! Unlike you, we need to prepare jewelry, hairpins, makeup, and more!” Zhao Xieren said. Other than Qian Yu, Zhao Xieren and Bai Jia with their noble statuses were able to receive an invitation to the banquet as well.
“Ah, yes, that’s true. Anyways, what about you Sun Hong? Do you want to go shop with them?” Qian Yu asked.
“No, it’s fine. I’ll take this time to learn more about etiquette from Zhen Yue as well,” Sun Hong shook her head.
“Okay, we’ll take our leave then,” Zhao Xieren quickly left with Bai Jia following her.
The hours passed quickly as Zhen Yue taught Qian Yu and Sun Hong. Qian Yu already knew some minor details about etiquette but nonetheless, there were small bits of information that he learned. As for Sun Hong, who knew little of proper etiquette, she benefited the most.
By the time the sun was setting, Zhao Xieren and Bai Jia returned.
“Hehe, sorry about that, it took longer than expected,” Zhao Xieren said. She had beads of sweats on her forehead but the bright smile showed that she was far from tired. She had never been fond of events like this but the thought of going with Qian Yu had filled her with vigor.
“Indeed, we had to go back and forth between the shops and sister Zhao’s house. Still, how do we look?” Bai Jia said with a smile.
The two girls were gorgeous. Unlike Qian Yu though, their clothing wasn't outside the norm as they had previously worn beautifully designed dresses and robes before. Rather it was the extra steps they had gone through besides their clothing that made them stand out brighter than ever.
For Zhao Xieren, she wore a green and white dress. The inner layer and centerpiece of the dress was white and covered with small diamond patterns and tied together by a light green sash. Past her shoulders and to her wrists, she had on an outer layer robe with a darker green tone. Her normally straight black hair had been braided, falling to one side of the chest. Hints of makeup decorated her lips, cheeks, and eyelashes and she had on various accessories including necklaces and earrings.
As for Bai Jia, she had on a very familiar robe. It was the same one she had worn when she left the sect and visited her family. Blue and golden, it was similar to Qian Yu and had designs of dragons on it as well. Her long brown hair had been tied into a bun with a coiling dragon hairpin intertwining into it. She too had faint traces of makeup, nothing too heavy, giving more detail to her already beautiful face.
“Who are you two?” Qian Yu joked, seeing the two beautiful girls.
“You guys look amazing!” Zhen Yue had a hint of envy in her eyes. Behind her, Sun Hong didn’t say anything but her eyes were carefully analyzing the detail in their outfits.
“Ahem, thank you,” Zhao Xieren blushed.
“We should go, let’s not be late,” Bai Jia reminded.
“Alright, let’s depart,” Qian Yu nodded. He had already changed back into his imperial silk robes.
Their destination wasn’t far from the inn as the banquet was held at a mansion in a private area of the inner district.
Half an hour passed as they arrived at the gates to the private mansion.
“May I check your invitation?” one of the dozens of guards asked.
“Here are our invitations,” Zhao Xieren said as she handed him three wooden slates that had some markings and designs on them.
“Alright, thank you,” the guard took a few seconds to check their authenticity before letting them into the private territory.
It was a large area and gazing along the path that was cleared of snow, they could see the mansion in the distance. It wasn’t like the large courtyards he had seen in the noble district and instead, it was a simple but large two storey building. Elsewhere, there were various pavilions with small tables and chairs fit for small groups to converse in as they appreciated the trees and wildlife of the territory.
Arriving closer to the mansion, they saw various ponds and creeks filled with orange and white fish, something abnormal in this weather but most likely done with the help of various arrays.
The doors to the mansion were wide open and many people were already there, conversing with the others.
“Wow, there's at least a hundred people here already,” Qian Yu looked around dozens of large tables in the main banquet hall. By the sides of the hall, there were isolated rooms with smaller and fewer tables.
“We got here half an hour early and the amount of people here will probably double or triple,” Zhao Xieren guessed.
“Zhao Xieren!?” A voice rang out the side of the hall, attracting Zhao Xieren’s attention.
She turned to the side, seeing who it was before looking back at Qian Yu and Bai Jia, “Aiyah, formalities…”
“I’ll go drop by and talk with the other nobles. I’ll find you guys later,” she said as she left and headed towards a group of nobles.
“What should we do? Just go sit at a table or something?” Qian Yu looked around. He was only here because he pretty much had to go and not attending would be rude and not appreciating the crown prince’s goodwill. Social connections were good but Qian Yu doubted anyone important would bother with him who was only at the early stage of soul foundation.
“Hello young master Qian,” before Bai Jia could say anything, a voice interrupted from the side.
“You are?” Qian Yu asked as he exchanged a confused look with Bai Jia.
“I am a humble servant tasked with inviting you to see my mistress,” the man replied.
“... Very well, lead the way then,” it was unexpected but Qian Yu nonetheless agreed, wondering who wanted to see him.
The man bowed as he led them away from the main banquet hall and towards one of the smaller rooms. At a table of four in the corner of the room, a group of two were seated and happily chattering.
“Hehe, hello there!” the beautiful girl laughed and greeted them.
“Greetings princess Jiang Wuying,” Qian Yu bowed as he instantly recognized her to be one of the important and special guests that had been introduced.
“No need to be so formal,” she waved her hand.
“This is my younger brother, you know him,” the princess pointed her hand at the boy next to her.
Taking a look at the other person, Qian Yu saw it was none other than Jiang Hai who he had fought a few days ago. Unconsciously, he stepped back, seeing their relationship.
“Don’t worry, we don’t have bad intentions,” she chuckled.
*Bop!* the princess gave her younger brother a light slap on the back.
“Greet them,” she said lightly, but it was like an order.
“H-hello,” Jiang Hai said without a hint of his cockiness from before. In fact, he seemed to be sulking a little, most likely from his loss still.
Seeing their attitudes, Qian Yu returned to normal as he bowed, “Greeting to prince Jiang Hai.”
“Come, come sit,” the princess invited them to sit at the table.
Qian Yu nodded as he took a seat next to Jiang Hai. Meanwhile, Bai Jia had taken the seat between the princess and Qian Yu.
“You are?” Jiang Wuying looked at Bai Jia.
“My name is Bai Jia from the Bai Family of the Central Union,” Bai Jia said as she gave a short bow. She too was someone of high status and as someone from a different continent, she didn’t need to give that much respect to Jiang Wuying.
“The Bai Family?” the princess muttered as a quick look of surprise appeared on her face.
“Anyways, Qian Yu, it was amazing to watch your fights. Even though they were fights at the early stage of soul foundation, they were thrilling and exciting. I thought you were going to lose both of them but you suddenly managed to come from behind and won,” the princess said excitedly, not bothered by the fact that her brother had lost to him.
“Thank you for your praise,” a smile appeared as Qian Yu saw her lively actions.
“Ahem, that’s all I had to say, I will have to return to the main banquet hall now. If you guys don’t have anything to do, I hope you guys can get along with my brother. He’s still not quite old enough to be going around with me,” princess Jiang Wuying asked.
Qian Yu thought for a few seconds, realizing he had nothing reason to decline before agreeing. They were in the perfect area. He had been invited but Zhen Yue had told him he was just a side character so staying in the smaller rooms by the side of the main hall was perfect. Only those with important standings would be in the main banquet hall.
“Alright thank you,” the princess said as she left the table, leaving behind her brother with Qian Yu and Bai Jia.
“I-I’ll beat you next time!” Jiang Hai suddenly stood up and pointed at Qian Yu.
“Hahaha, we’ll see about that,” Qian Yu laughed, seeing how the little kid changed just right after his elder sister left.
“What are you laughing about! I’m serious! I’ve never lost to anyone before and next time, I won’t be so careless!” Jiang Hai blew air out of his noises.
Smiles appeared on Qian Yu’s and Bai Jia’s faces as they exchanged gazes. He was a complete kid, without any idea of the world. The fight had happened a few days ago and he was here, still mulling about it. Yet it was also an innocence that made him hard to hate.
“Alright alright, I will look forward to the future then,” Qian Yu stopped teasing and said a little more seriously.
“Good, good,” Jiang Hai nodded his head.
“Ah, I finally found you guys,” Zhao Xieren’s slightly tired voice came from behind them.
“Phew, it took a while to get through all those nobles,” Zhao Xieren said as she took the seat that the princess had sat at early.
“Eh?” Zhao Xieren saw Jiang Hai now.
“Zhao Xieren greets prince Jiang Hai,” she quickly greeted him.
“Ah, hello there,” Jiang Hai said casually. Likely, he didn’t know anything about politics anyways.
“What happened while I was gone?” Zhao Xieren asked.
“Ah, it’s nothing much…” Bai Jia started explaining.