18 – The Banquet Is a Ploy
After the third rounds of wine, Hua Tianji suddenly spoke: “I see that you have mostly finished eating. Now, I hope that you have a nice time socializing.”
“Thank you for your kindness, Gate Master Hua!” Everyone answered in unison.
Xue Qilin, who was focused on fighting with a freshwater fish, was startled, and her hand jerked, sending the fish tumbling.
With a plop, the fish tumbled out of her plate and fell on the table.
Xue Qilin gawked at the fish with a side that had yet to be eaten, and silently mourned for a long time.
Then, she slowly put down her chopsticks and looked around.
“Huh? Why are you standing up? Is it over? What about dancing?” Looking at people leaving their seats and walking around, Xue Qilin asked in surprise.
Luo Qing, who has just dispatched a young man who had come up to socialize, turned around and said: “As Martial World representatives, we don’t care for such regulations. We aren’t officials. Naturally, we don’t have the habit of dancing. We care about martial arts demonstrations.
“… Young Ancestor, do you want to go for a walk?”
In response, Xue Qilin handed Luo Qing her rice bowl, which was still less than half full.
She had stayed up all night, waiting in vain. To catch up on sleep, she slept half a day, and missed breakfast and lunch. As a result, she hadn’t eaten for nearly half a day. She only now got to eat something. Naturally, she wasn’t in the mood to go for a walk. She just cared about stuffing her mouth.
“I see, let’s sit down then.” Luo Qing responded. She seemed to have eaten her fill. From time to time, she would just put some food into Xue Qilin’s bowl. As for Gong Tianqing sitting on the other side of Xue Qilin, she had put down her chopsticks some time ago already. She sat there quietly, only occasionally looking around, curious.
As far as Xue Qilin could tell, Gong Tianqing was at the age when her curiosity was at its peak. If it wasn’t for her timid character, she would have asked to leave the table by now.
Thinking till here, Xue Qilin spoke: “Little Qing, if you want to go for a walk, then go ahead. You don’t have to seat here and keep me company, I can eat by myself. Oh, and you too, Little Qing .”
Gong Tianqing looked at her in surprise.
Xue Qilin pointed to a group of young girls chatting in the corner with her chin, and signaled Gong Tianqing to go join them.
Then, Gong Tianqing looked at Luo Qing with a look of expectation in her eyes.
“Since Young Ancestor has spoken, you should accept her good intentions.”
“Thank, thank you, Young Ancestor.”
“What are you thanking me for?!” Xue Qilin wrinkled her nose, and then waved her hand a few times as if shooing the other away. “… Hurry up and go. If you wait any longer, you’ll get tied down by them. By then, you won’t be able to leave even if you want to.”
At the same time, Xue Qilin glanced at some boys walking towards them, most of whom had their gazes set on Gong Tianqing.
Startled, Gong Tianqing left her seat and walked towards the group of girl in the corner at once.
My Little Qing is out of your league! Xue Qilin looked at the group of boys, who looked dispirited due to Gong Tianqing’s departure, out of the corner of her eye, and snorted.
Assuming the look of – come closer at your own peril, Xue Qilin looked around and made all those eager to come over and socialize give up.
Then, realizing that Luo Qing was still sitting next to her, she asked kindly: “Little Qing, you don’t want to go?”
Luo Qing shook her head and responded with a wry smile: “I’m much bigger than them. We have nothing in common.”
Much bigger? Is she talking about her age? Xue Qilin first took a look at Luo Qing’s chest, but when she noticed that Luo Qing’s size was only average, she thought about her age.
“How old are you, Little Qing?” As the saying goes, age is a woman’s secret, a taboo to steer away from, yet Xue Qilin didn’t hesitate to ask.
Luo Qing was stunned for a long time, but then answered aptly: “I’ll be 30 in a few days.”
“Is that so… what, 30?!” It’s not a lie, is it? Xue Qilin was so surprised that she accidentally raised her voice and attracted the gazes of many people.
Luo Qing blushed in a rare fashion. It seems that the gazes of the surrounding people left her a little embarrassed.
“Sorry, sorry, I was careless for a moment.” Xue Qilin noticed this and quickly apologized.
“I thought that you were just a little older than Little Seven. Unexpectedly, there’s a difference of more than 10 years.” This time, she lowered her voice by quite a bit.
Luo Qing stared blankly for a moment, not understanding why the other party would say that, “We who practice martial arts age slower than ordinary people. Palace Master stepped into the Earth Realm at the mere age of 16. I reckon that her appearance won’t change much in the next 20 years.”
“Oh, I forgot about that.” In a sudden realization, Xue Qilin clapped her hands. She had nearly forgotten about this.
Qi Guiyuan once mentioned that the martial practitioners aged a lot slower than ordinary people, and their life span was obviously longer. This difference would become more and more apparent with the increase in cultivation. After their cultivation base reached a certain point, they could even freely control their appearance, and achieve the effect of rejuvenation.
I’m clearly 30 years old, yet I look like a little girl. Because I inherited half of Qi Guiyuan’s power, I rejuvenated.
Of course, Xue Qilin’s situation was special, even unique. After all, no one would change genders like she did.
“Young Ancestor, how…”
Seeing the complex look on the other side’s face, Xue Qilin’s heartbeat accelerated. Did she spotted some clue?
Luo Qing hesitated, then finally sighed in vexation, “Young Ancestor, you had it though.” Her was voice laced with pity and empathy.
Xue Qilin was stunned for a moment, unable to make heads or tails, “What do you mean?”
“According to Palace Master, you have been locked by your teacher in the Sword Mound to practice cultivation since you were little. Isn’t that so?”
“Er… it is.” Concerning this point, Qi Guiyuan has already conferred on with her.
When she got the answer, Luo Qing lowered her eyes and said softly: “Although this might sound disrespectful, but I still want to say it… Young Ancestor, your teacher didn’t fulfill his due responsibilities. He didn’t teach you nor has given you what he should have.”
Her tone was complex, both angry and compassionate. She didn’t know if it was a misconception or not, but Xue Qilin still felt a vague sense of regret and guilt from her.
However, what Xue Qilin was more concerned with was why Luo Qing had this idea.
She probably thought that Xue Qilin, who was unfamiliar with this world, was oblivious to the ways of the world because she was locked in the Sword Tomb.
Whatever the reason, she could only be sure that the other party felt sad and indignant on her behalf.
She is a kind person… Xue Qilin thought rueful.
The atmosphere was a bit heavy. Xue Qilin wan not too found of it. When she was about to say something to liven up the atmosphere, she suddenly saw a figure, which left her dumbstruck for a moment.
“Little, Little Qing, what, what’s that? Is she cosplaying?” Xue Qilin pointed to the distance in alarm. At the same time, she grabbed Luo Qing’s arm and asked.
She was pointing to a girl. Different from ordinary people, this girl had more than one pair of ears.
There was another pair of ears, slender ears covered in short white fur bent forward slightly like a stooped old person, on top of the girl’s head. It was a pair of rabbit ears.
Luo Qing looked in the direction Xue Qilin was pointing, and then blinked her eyes, confused: “That’s a beast ear girl!”
“… beast ear?”
It took Luo Qing a bit of time to understand, and then she said, amused: “Young Ancestor, that’s Spirit Moon Valley’s Elder Bai.”
“That so… it’s strange! What I meant was – why does she have rabbit ears on her head?!”
“Ah, so this is what you wanted to ask… That’s because most people in the Spirit Moon Valley are martial beasts!”
“Martial beasts? Do you mean that this beast ear girl is the same as Twenty One’s Little White?” Xue Qilin was shocked, nearly standing up.
In any case, she couldn’t see how White Dragon who looked like a cat and the rabbit ear girl who looked like a human were the same.
“Oh, Young Ancestor doesn’t know. After martial beasts practice cultivation until the Earth Realm, they can take human form. However, there are some differences between them and humans, just like the Spirit Moon Valley’s Elder Bai. She is originally a demon beast called White Moon Rabbit. Therefore, after taking human form, she was left with rabbit ears.”
After hearing this, Xue Qilin felt dizzy.
Strange beasts practicing martial arts is one thing, but they can even take human form? Is this a Xianxia world or a Wuxia world? For the first time, Xue Qilin wondered whether this crinkled world had greater surprises to give her.
Let it be, it’s just a beast ear girl – in an open-minded fashion, Xue Qilin accepted this fact.
She liked girls with animal ears very much. Well, they were second only to lolis.
Of course, if there was a beast ear loli, the order might suffer a change.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Zhang Yu of the Heavenly Sword Gate.” A strong voice echoed in the hall. The speaker was a young man. According to his words, he was a disciple of the Heavenly Sword Gate.
Everyone’s gazes gathered on him. Zhang Yu cupped his hands towards the surroundings, and then raised his voice and said: “Today, in a rare fashion, the senior generation of the various sects gathered here. Why don’t we, the junior generation, swap pointers, and have the senior generation give pointers, gaining experience from the advice – teachers, everyone of the senior generation, what do you think?”
“Yes… Yu’er made a good suggestion.” Hua Tianji nodded his head, and then continued loudly: “The Martial World has been peaceful for a long time. Opportunities for the sects to swap pointers are rare, and it’s still a while before the Martial World Assembly takes place. I am indebted to you for giving me face by attending this celebration. It is rare for people from the various sects to gather, so it’s a good opportunity for everyone to swap pointers. However…” At this point, his tone changed: “When we see the junior generation spar, we, the older generation, will certainly itch to have a go ourselves. Moreover, the Merak Palace’s Young Ancestor, Senior Xue, is also present. Everyone, let’s challenge and interact with one another. What do you think?”
Hua Tianji’s words evoked a spirited discussion.
“Young Ancestor, Gate Master Hua is coming after us…” Luo Qing frowned and whispered in Xue Qilin’s ear.
“Yes, here we come! This banquet is really a ploy… Right, what do we do? Do we roll with the punches?”
“Palace Master doesn’t wish to be high-profile, she just wants to let them know that the Merak Palace has another Heaven Realm expert.”
“What about Ye Zhen?” Xue Qilin looked like she asked casually.
“… to intimidate. ”
Xue Qilin made a sound of surprise, and then pondered – which approach should I choose?
To be honest, she didn’t have much of an opinion formed regarding the development policy and operating style of the Merak Palace. After all, she was unfamiliar with many things.
Therefore, her primary consideration was herself.
If Hua Tianji continued with his antics, god knows how much trouble would befall her. Even if no one challenged her, she would still have to give some pointers.
Like this, Young Ancestor’s lack of martial arts knowledge will be exposed.
Thinking till here, the solution was obvious.
Xue Qilin made a decision without hesitation, then stood up, turned around and walked away.
“… Where are you going, Senior Xue?” Hua Tianji’s voice of astonishment came from behind.
“Nature calls!” Leaving this sentence behind, Xue Qilin quickly walked away, ignoring the countless surprised and suspicious gazes
 – The first Little Qing (小晴) is referring to Gong Tianqing, the second Little Qing (小青) is referring to Luo Qing