Chapter 298: The Upper Class
Everyone, including Hui Yue, looked at Cai Jie with keen interest. Hui Yue was someone they had heard about before, but this young man no one knew anything about. With his appearance and the fact that he traveled together with Hui Yue, one would have expected him to be well known or at least someone would have mentioned him, yet it seemed that no one had even noticed that a golden haired young man was traveling with the Grand Marshall of Shenyuan.
Contemplating for some time and tapping the wine glass with a finger, it was clear that Cai Jie was considering how to introduce himself. Finally, he rose from his chair in a slow manner. Showing that he was in no rush nor was he able to be rushed by others even when they looked at him with such curiosity as they did now.
“I go by the name Cai Jie,” He started his introduction with something that both Hui Yue and the City Lord knew. “I am an adventurer. I have traveled to places you have never heard about and seen things you will not believe. My past is not important nor is my reason for traveling. As for why I am following this youngster around, it is actually very simple. He and I have the same goal in life. Although I have traveled alone for many years, I am grateful to find someone with the same goals as myself, and therefore, I now have someone to tread this path with.”
As he finished speaking the City Lord opened his mouth, and he was just about to speak when Hui Yue shook his head with an apologetic smile on his face. “Even if you ask, I am afraid I cannot tell anyone what my goal in life is,” He said with an incredibly polite expression and a soft voice. His words made the City Lord frown for a few moments but seeing the sincerity in Hui Yue’s eyes, he nodded instead of continuing the discussion.
Instead, the large man stood up once more and clapped his hands. From the many doors in the room appeared servants. So many servants that there was one for each guest. In their hands was a bottle of wine. Going to one guest each, these servants quietly poured a glass of wine before they withdrew to the walls. There was exactly one servant for each guest and, looking at the other guests, these servants seemed to always serve the same person as they were being thanked by the guests who used their names. Hui Yue and Cai Jie both nodded to their servants as they looked at the table filled with food, uncertain if even half of this banquet would be eaten.
After the servants had withdrawn the City Lord said while smiling to all his guests, “Please dig in. Enjoy the food we have found for you, and please feel free to eat as much as you can.” Having finished his words, the City Lord sat down and instantly reached out to grab the first, best, tray in front of him. Having grabbed the tray, he piled food onto his plate. He licked his lips as his eyes gleamed. He was clearly excited about the food on his plate. Seeing that the City Lord started to get food, the many guests mimicked him. They also started piling up food picked up a little bit of everything. Hui Yue and Cai Jie, who had never been to a banquet like this before, both mimicked the guests. They each took a little bit of everything feeling curious about what they were eating.
Although the atmosphere had been tense at the start while the guests were looking at Hui Yue and Cai Jie with both worry and hesitation, they quickly started small talking with each other and the tense atmosphere slowly melted into one you would imagine belonging to such a high-class gathering.
“So young man, how did you end up in Shenyuan?” The City Lord suddenly asked while stuffing his face with a roasted leg from some animal. It looked very much like a chicken drumstick, but after closer examination, Hui Yue ruled out chicken because the meat was black and its size was closer to a turkey. Hui Yue pondered for some time whether or not to answer honestly, but in the end, he decided to be vague. He was still uncertain which kind of position he had gained in Taiyang after being the Grand Marshall of the Shenyuan Army.
“I was traveling and eventually I had no other possibility than to enter Shenyuan. Honestly, I was very curious about Shenyuan since I knew nothing about it.” He answered as he politely ate some food from his plate. Eating the food, Hui Yue had to admit that it was very high quality, but he was unsure if he could eat such rich food every day now that he was accustomed to living off as little food as possible.
Although the other experts were conversing with one another and a buzzing atmosphere was evident within the room, as soon as Hui Yue spoke everyone quieted down a bit to hear what he was saying. It was obvious that these guests were incredibly curious about what the two newcomers had to say. The City Lord quickly understood that although Hui Yue had confirmed that he was the Grand Marshall, he had no interest in telling exactly what or how he had done things. A smirk appeared on the City Lord’s face as he approved of this. Although Hui Yue was supposedly quite young, he understood the real value of knowledge. Hui Yue had previously been very outspoken. He had told his secrets to his good friends, and he had talked about his origins with Wan Qiao. He had told Xu Piao about the world above on their first meeting as well. Through trial and error, Hui Yue had learned that it was best to keep one’s knowledge close, and he had a small smile on his lips while looking at the City Lord.
“Well, since you cannot go into detail, perhaps you can tell me a little about the empire that no one can enter. What is Shenyuan like?” He asked curiously, and Hui Yue came to the conclusion that it did not matter too much to give a rough description of the massive forest.
“Shenyuan is one massive forest,” He started. “The forest is split into many parts which are controlled by Saints known as the lords of the Forest. These Saints are the strongest existences within Shenyuan. One can challenge them at any time, and the winner will become the new lord.”
While Hui Yue took a breath to drink some of the wine, the City Lord asked a question, “How many of these lords are there in Shenyuan?” Although the question seemed harmless, Hui Yue used to be the Grand Marshall of the Beast Army, and he smiled apologetically once more as he shook his head, “That I cannot tell you, your excellency,” He answered. “I will say though that I have never heard about a kingdom or empire with more Saints than what Shenyuan has at their disposal. As for how many lords, I cannot tell you as the total is something even I do not know.”
Hui Yue expected that the City Lord would become upset with such an unsatisfactory answer, but the lord did nothing but nod his head. He was seemingly satisfied with the knowledge he had gained. The rest of the evening went by with the City Lord asking Hui Yue and Cai Jie about the war and the beasts only to mostly get vague answers and a lot of apologies. Even so, the City Lord was clearly satisfied with what he had gained, and he was smiling and laughing the whole time. In the end, just as Hui Yue expected, more than half of the food was left on the table and just before the experts started to rise, the City Lord noticed Hui Yue’s frown, and he chuckled. “Don’t worry. The leftovers will get delivered to a few orphanages across the city. Although I like food, I do not like waste. The poor children can enjoy the meal.” Clearing his throat the lord gently moved all the guests into another room. This room was a library with various comfortable chairs located in clusters all over the floor. At the back were tables and the City Lord made the guests sit down as he served small canapes, snacks, and various drinks. Tea, lemonade, wine, and water were all available.
Many of the guests ended up in various groups chatting with one another, some found books to read through, while others seemingly discussed gossip or politics from around the capital. The City Lord’s eyes surveyed the room, and a laugh escaped his lips. Hui Yue had a good impression of the happy go lucky City Lord, but he was also perfectly well aware that this large man had other sides to him than what he was seeing right now.
“Once a week we hold a dinner such as this one,” The City Lord explained as he sat down in a chair with three chairs by his side. Both Hui Yue and Cai Jie sat down together with him. “It will be my honor if you would like to come and join us every week.” “I am aware that Gao Yan is one of your friends, and as such there is not much knowledge about the city or gossip that will be news to you. But there are things about the upper class which is not discussed around the servants that we do talk about occasionally. Perhaps it will be beneficial to the two of you.” He offered, and Hui Yue contemplated for some time. He did not need to think long before he accepted. He was in need of allies and these experts all seemed to have important roles in the capital. Since he had the choice to ally himself with the upper class of the Taiyang Kingdom, he might as well take it.
“Thank you for the opportunity,” Cai Jie agreed as well. As for why he agreed Hui Yue did not know, but he did not ask either. He had long since understood that Cai Jie was an enigma. He was simply too hard to understand.
Hearing their answers the City Lord’s face lit up blooming into a large smile as he leaned back in his chair. “In that case, I think the best thing to do is spend the evening introducing you two to everyone,” He explained, and slowly Hui Yue and Cai Jie walked through the entire room introducing themselves and being introduced to others. These were the patriarchs of some of the most prominent families. Some of them were of the Great Hundred Names while others were Nouveau Riche, mercenaries who had managed to buy their nobility. Although some of these experts seemed uncertain about meeting Hui Yue, he noticed that all had admiration for him seeing that he had reached his rank at such a young age.
The dinner party ended very late that night, and Hui Yue wondered whether or not his friends were still waiting up for him. A tingling appeared inside his chest once more as he thought about finally reuniting with Wang Ju Long. His face sprouted a massive smile, and his feet picked up their pace. He rushed back to the house belonging to the Rong twins and all his friends.