79: Knowing The Hidden Knowledge Is Always The Best
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The night had passed and Lin Songmei’s body was finally no longer screaming at her. She felt refreshed, she felt... alive! Well, that wasn’t surprising, sleeping in an actual bed seemed to help out with the whole “not having a body that felt fifty years older than it actually was.” 

After waking up in an... awkward position. Songmei had managed to keep a level head as she untangled herself. It had just been a little disorienting to wake up in Mingqing’s embrace... 

Having gotten ready together, both deciding to put on some light makeup and dress a little nicer, the two of them had descended the elevator, going to get some late breakfast. 

“The screens are only playing two things...” Mingqing murmured, her eyes scanning the screens that were hung on the walls. “It’s just the two important press conferences from last night.” 

“Yeah... Now that you mention it, it’s just Xueli’s and the four cardinal spiritual beasts’ conferences.” Songmei confessed, looking around the room as well, trying to find a screen that wasn’t playing one of those. 

Last night, after they had fallen asleep, sometime during Xueli’s press conference, Songmei and Mingqing had missed the interview of the four holy beasts. These were rare events too! The last one had happened, what... ten years ago? 

Songmei remembered that even back at the orphanage, it had been a special event too! The staff had let everyone come down to the main dining hall, wheeled out an ancient television before playing the conference!

Songmei hadn’t understood a single word of it, she had been six after all, but it had been a good experience... It was entertaining just to see their faces. 

And now, looking at the replay of the press conference, those four important figures... hadn’t changed at all. If they had changed into the outfits Songmei remembered from a decade ago, she swore she wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. They looked like they were frozen in time!

“You’ve met all four of them, right?” Songmei looked up at Mingqing, who was currently picking apart a croissant. “I mean it’s fine if you haven't too, I just asked because I feel like you mentioned it yesterday.” 

“I have, yeah,” Mingqing nodded, stroking her chin while putting down her now eviscerated croissant. “They’re... interesting people, I guess? My parents had a meeting with them, so I met them In the hall. I was really young at the time though... maybe seven?” 

“Anything you remember about them?” Songmei sipped her soup, giving a quiet prayer for the croissant that was not being mutilated once more by Mingqing. “I went through a phase where I followed Vermillion Bird when I was younger, but there was like... Nothing about her.” 

“Yeah! They’re really secretive with their personal lives,” Mingqing agreed, eating her croissant piece by piece. “I do remember though, when I ran into them in the hall, I was with my brother. Black Tortoise and Azure Dragon are the more level-headed ones, but they’re also like... a little worse with children. White Tiger and Vermillion Bird were more energetic and also the ones that played with me a little.” 

Nodding while taking an extended sip from her soup bowl. Songmei sat there, keeping the soup bowl to her lips while buying herself time. 

What was she supposed to say now?? She had run out of things to say... and she needed something stat to keep this conversation going. This was a bigger issue than the potential consequences of Youhong running out of lychee jelly. 

“... Fancy...” Songmei answered with a murmur, having drained the entirety of her soup bowl. “I mean... that’s pretty cool to know I guess? I don’t think I’ll ever come into contact with them so it doesn’t matter too much...” 

“Yeah, they’re in a crazy different world from us,” Mingqing shrugged, eating her croissant piece by mutilated piece. “Want to discuss a little about our plans moving forward then?” 

Giving an “mhm” and a nod, Songmei leaned over, pulling a napkin out of the napkin holder present on their table. “You want to draw this time?” 

“Hm... sure. Just a warning though, I can’t draw even if my life is on the line,” Mingqing confessed, taking the napkin and pulling out a pen from her spatial storage ring. “So I’ll just draw a rough sketch of the three districts first.” 

Her tongue peeking through her lips, Mingqing sketched Westriver from a bird’s eye view. A central district flanked by two vast wings that were the northern and southern district.

“So we’re in central,” Mingqing began, putting a little circle of where they ‘were,’ a little like a You Are Here dot. “There’s a lot of different things we could do I guess...” 

Looking at the sketch, Songmei didn’t really know where to go from here. They could... train? That was their plan for the next few days. Songmei’s goal was to open up her fifth meridian, but that was just... the fifth one. She still had another fifteen to go. 

“We’re confined to the city for the next while, so... we just need to find stuff to do in the city, obviously, but which district do you want to focus on?” Songmei murmured, her finger tapping the side of the bowl as she thought out loud. “We’ll also get the rewards from the investigation mission we took on. We were also like... first, so we’ll be drowning in resources for a while.” 

“Totally, totally,” Mingqing chuckled, adding a little bullet point to the side to note that. “Lots... of... riches.” 

Finishing her little bullet point, Mingqing tapped her chin. “So, the city’s going to be a little chaotic for a bit... I mean it’s literally plastered on every screen in this cafeteria. That means... good? Bad? I don’t know... how does it really affect us? Does it at all?”

“It means we have to be more aware of hierarchical stuff and not getting caught in a turf war,” Songmei mused, a small smile breaking onto her face. This was her specialty! For once, she could teach Mingqing something! No longer did she have to be the one always being confused!!

This was her reckoning! Songmei couldn’t help but feel the smile on her face widen while beginning to explain to Mingqing how they should think about it. 

Well, of course, it still was a problem to like... 

You know... 

Get caught in a turf war... 

Hopefully that didn’t happen. 

Anyhow, they should be fine for the most part? It wasn’t like the city was full of crazy cultivators twenty stages above them or anything. This place was practically a beginner city! 

The only kinda worrying thing though was that Songmei did see a fair amount of groups that roamed the city. And more than a few of their markings. 

At one point, reading online about Westriver while they were hiking, Songmei had seen that there were mentions about the turf wars. It was apparently fine in the central district, because of the presence of the big sects, but in the northern and southern districts... 

Well, a particular article had summed it up as “Try mixing a dumpster fire with a small tornado, then fill it with bricks, but the bricks are also all chipped to be as rough and sharp as possible.” 

That was a rich description, and Songmei had given a like to the article, but then clicking the “expand” button, Songmei’s eyes widened as the writer went on to rant about how that literally happened to them and they were writing this article from their bed after getting eighteen lacerations to the body...

Worrying stuff. 

will probably update this tomorrow bc po (me proof reader) will get to it tomorrow...

uhmmm but also uhhhh- yeah... thank you for all the kind wishessss <3<3

also i'll respond to all the kind comments I got tomorrow i'm just kinda... bweh after having an extended "discussion" with my parents... T~T

Thanks for reading though everyoneeee!!

take care reader besties <3<3