Chapter 15 – Dinner Party
Night fell quickly upon the Ye manor. The halls and corridors were heavily decorated with big, red, festive lanterns that brightened the mood and interior. In the banquet hall, the leading figures of the family wore long-lost smiles.
With the recent events, the leaders of the family had nothing but struggles and obstacles to overcome, and it was pleasant and refreshing having something to celebrate.
In the spacious banquet hall, grandpa Ye Zheng Qing was sitting at the family head’s seat, right at the head of the table. The old man was surrounded by an aura of power. He was around seventy years of age, and although all his hair had long since turned white, his face had a healthy, red glow, which showed he was in great shape, due to his cultivation and years of training.
To his left was Ye Wei’s big uncle, Ye Hai; second uncle, Ye Han; his dad, Ye Yi; and little uncle, Ye Yu. To his right were the talents of the younger generation: little aunt, Ye Jing Jing; male cousins: Ye Zhong and Ye Xuan; and the female cousins: Ye Qiu and Ye Ling.
Big uncle, Ye Hai, was a one star condensing prime Warrior, while his dad, Ye Yi, and uncles, Ye Han and Ye Yu, were all ten star Warriors.
For big family dinners, like this evening’s, the seating plan was very detailed and well thought out — the stronger one was the closer they would be seated to the head of the house. Less talented individuals, like Ye Wei, were placed in the corners of the hall which was next to his mother. Despite the clear segregation, the family members had healthy relationships between one another, unlike other big families where the less important members could rarely join a conversation between the stronger members and elders.
Ye Wei’s eyes were focused on the person sitting at the head of the table, as he was admiring Ye Zheng Qing’s aura. Although he had the eyes of a strong, experienced eagle, the skin around them showed a slight weariness. ‘It must be the recent drama,’ Ye Wei thought.
He felt a bit uneasy and helpless and wished he could share his grandfather’s burdens.
“This is the first dinner party we’ve had in more than three months! We are all gathered here today to celebrate Jing Jing’s seven star Warrior breakthrough!” Ye Zheng Qing’s masculine voice echoed throughout the fully seated banquet hall.
Ye Zheng Qing patted his youngest daughter’s shoulder, feeling very proud. He raised his head to look at his family: “I hope all the young folks can be motivated and inspired by Jing Jing. Train hard and become something to bring honor to our family!”
“Congratulations, little sis! The Ye family has gained a seven star Warrior, let’s toast! To my little sister!” Ye Hai stood up and said, raising his glass with a big grin on his face.
“You are a condensed stage Warrior, I still have a long way to go!” Ye Jing Jing raised her glass and emptied it into her mouth simultaneously.
“Indeed, you’re not at big brother’s level, but you’re going to overtake me soon, right? Let your second oldest brother offer you another drink!” Ye Han laughed and raised his glass.
“Thank you, brother!” Jing Jing emptied another glass without hesitation at all.
Ye Jing Jing was very straightforward with everything, even masculine in some ways. She was very different compared to the ladylike women in other big families: twenty-six, unmarried, and still living in the family manor. She had a great personality, a people person, and she was usually the third in command after grandpa and Ye Hai, making decisions and taking care of the family when those two were away.
Little aunt has always taken care of Ye Wei since he was a toddler; she once said “I will take care of the young ones in the family and help you kids establish yourselves, even if it means not getting married! Watching you grow is a great cause, and I will be satisfied and pleased.” He had always thought that little aunt was kidding, but as he thought about it his eyes got a bit wet upon seeing her still standing by her words after all these years.
Little aunt was truly a family woman.
“Dig in!” The big and harmonious family put a smile on Ye Zheng Qing’s aging face as he picked up his chopsticks and started the feast.
There was great joy throughout the banquet hall, but everyone had a common and unspoken worry, thus they were not fully relaxed. The bitterness could be felt, seeing as there was a family crisis going on, after all.
Everyone ate and chatted, trying to temporarily put the negativity aside.
When Ye Wei was half full, he excused himself and went outside for some fresh summer air, theorising ways in which he could use his rune knowledge to help his family get out of this unfavourable position. With his gift and Lin Zi Yan’s referral, Ye Wei should be skilled enough to become a disciple of master Yi.
There were only three Runemasters who lived in Green Moon City, and master Yi was the best and most respected of the three. If Ye Wei became his disciple, it would greatly improve the family’s reputation.
Ye Wei considered this possibility and decided that this would be his course of action. He clenched his fist tightly in determination, ready to turn this crisis around.
Big uncle Ye Hai also came out to the courtyard, heading straight towards Ye Wei while he was lost in deep thought.
Among relationships between his uncles, Ye Wei got along the worst with his big uncle Ye Hai. Ye Hai was always harsh and strict with Ye Wei. This contributed to Ye Wei’s fear of being close to and opening up to his big uncle.
Noticing Ye Hai approaching, Ye Wei lowered his head, trying to avoid possible eye contact, and thought of an escape plan.
“Ye Wei, where are you going!” Ye Hai shouted. He was not going to let his nephew get away.
“Big uncle…” Ye Wei unwillingly greeted him.
“Shouldn’t you be at South Star Academy right now? What on earth do you think you’re doing here?” Ye Hai was slightly irritated by Wei’s presence.
“I…” Ye Wei tried to explain himself but got cut off.
“Don’t tell me you skipped school? Could you put more effort into studying and breakthrough to the two star level?” Ye Hai questioned earnestly with a rough tone: ”Your cultivation is the worst among the new generation! All your younger siblings and cousins have overtaken you!”
Ye Wei wanted to declare that he had broken through to the two star level, but the words would not come out of his mouth. He noticed Ye Hai’s stern face and looked down at the ground again: “Yea, I will try my best!” He wanted to surprise his uncle with actions to prove his worth and shut up Ye Hai without using words.
Ye Hai was somewhat eased by Ye Wei’s submissive acceptance to his scolding: “At least you are listening. I will let you off for now. Our family is not doing too great at the moment, so your generation should train harder and contribute more to the family as soon as possible!”
Ye Wei didn’t think big uncle would him let him off the hook so easily, so he left the scene immediately. Having felt Ye Hai’s disappointment, Ye Wei was desperate to get stronger as fast as he could!
‘In your minds I have always been the worst, a bottom dweller. Well that is going to change, just you watch.’ Ye Wei swore to himself.
After Ye Wei walked pretty far, he turned a corner on his way back to the banquet. Right before he was about to leave Ye Hai’s sight was when he caught something out of the corner of his eye He stood still behind the wall next to him and peered forward.
Three figures stood there in the dead of night, in the deserted courtyard where his uncle had been standing; they were the three leaders of the Ye family.
“Ye Hai, how is the scroll business looking?” Ye Zheng Qing asked with a low pitched voice. He cut to the chase, hoping to have a better picture of how the most important issue was progressing.
“We lowered the retail price by thirty percent, but the figures are still suboptimal. There are more scrolls in the shop than there are customers.” Ye Hai sounded slightly depressed. “Scrolls the Du family sell can dish out thirty percent of the original stance’s energy, whereas our scrolls can only output up to twenty percent. They’re not selling any better, even with the price cut.”
A bitter smile emerged on Ye Hai’s face; despite his best efforts, the scroll business remained irreparable.
He uncle was the macho man of the family, and after hearing how washed up Ye Hai sounded, Ye Wei now realised how bad the situation really was.
“Han, how is the arms trade?” The head shifted his focus on to his second oldest son, who was responsible the other field.
The Ye family had its fingers in many different businesses, but arms and scrolls had always been the most profitable two!
“The Du family undercuts us by forty percent, only two pieces left our doors in the past two months! And one of master Yi’s men sent a message regarding the cancellation of our redistribution rights, if we don’t sell their goods. They will find another distributor!” Ye Han looked anxious, both of the family’s most profitable businesses were retail of others’ work, and the risk of getting cut off was increasing.
“The Big Three indeed, ruthless moves!”
“They are taking this too damn far!”