Xue Wei was surprised when he saw how the maids were waiting for them, and even more so when he entered the mansion and was led to the dining hall where a feast had been prepared.
Although Xue Wei was surprised, his face did not display any of his emotions, while the others did nothing to hide their surprise, which made Tie Haolong chuckle.
He then lifted his sleeves and showed off a braided cord around his arm with a small bead placed within it.
"This is a communication device," he introduced. "It is a thing that allowed me to inform my family that we were on the way and have them prepare the meal in advance."
"These communication devices are very rare," Tie Haolong continued the explanation, and his face grew stern all of a sudden, his eyes solemn. "Only a handful exist within each of the noble families, and they are guarded as treasures. Only the important members are allowed one of these devices, and I was only granted one because I had to go to the recruitment camp."
Xue Wei almost snorted. Was Tie Haolong not indirectly stating that he was an important member of the Tie family this way?
But when he thought about it, he had to admit that it made sense. A family had to put value on the members that showed promising potential and to have made it to the Genius Camp showed that he had talent.
Finishing his time at the Genius Camp as one of the few third layer Earth Warriors showed that he was very much above the rest of the geniuses, only overshadowed by a few figures.
When such a genius emerged, it would be strange for the family not to consider him important in their ranks, and Tie Haolong also had a way of manipulating people.
During this time, everyone in the group, Xue Wei included, had already agreed that Tie Haolong was their leader. He was the one in charge of their group despite not being the strongest, and this in itself was quite a feat.
But Xiao Jie, Song Yuyan, and Gu Dixing had given him their full support; and they would follow him blindly in the future and had placed all their faith in him knowing what was the best for their group.
Xue Wei had conceded the position of leader to Tie Haolong simply because he could not be bothered to step up and take over.
He also knew that he would not be able to unite their team with his apathetic and uninterested personality, and worse, when fighting, he would not be able to keep a cool head and properly calling the shots.
The night was spent with all of them eating their fill at the feast. While Song Yuyan, Xiao Jie, and Gu Dixing were busy narrating their entire lives to Tie Haolong, Xue Wei was smiling as he listened to all three despite the bombardment of personal information.
Xue Wei could not help but raise an eyebrow in surprise. His impression of Tie Haolong was a scheming and shrewd person, but right now he was patiently listening to everything these people had to say with a smile on his face and even the right comments at the right times.
Xue Wei had to commend him for his way of accepting anything that was being said to him. He was hospitable, friendly, and attentive to their every need. He showed genuine interest in what they had to say, and he was happy to assist in anything he could assist with.
At the start, Tie Haolong had tried to pull Xue Wei into the conversation, yet after being met with single sentence answers and an apathetic expression, he quickly understood that it only made the conversation among the group awkward, so he decided to focus on making Xiao Jie, Song Yuyan, and Gu Dixing feel better.
Xue Wei had nothing against Tie Haolong and the others, but he did not know them either. He was always cautious when it came to forging new relationships.
He had already experienced it once, people trying to reel in his uncle through him, and it wasn’t as though his early experiences were any help in making him socialize with others - the thought of it alone made him recall nothing but the memories of being hurt by others. He was socially awkward when it came to strangers, and his only friends were Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou.
He had never really learned how to behave amongst other people, and he genuinely preferred being quiet and just listening to the others talk.
He wanted to know what they had to say; he wanted to listen and learn about them so that he slowly could get an impression of what kind of person they were.
So far, he was able to see that these four people were good people. They had an urge to distinguish themselves in the army, much like himself, and their age was very similar, so they had a lot in common.
Xue Wei ate his fill, drinking the wine and listening to the conversations. The more he listened, the more comfortable he became.
He was no longer on high alert, and he too knew that if he wanted to make things work in the future, then he needed to be good friends with these people.
Tie Haolong was shrewd and calculating, but he was not a bad person. He showed genuine interest in the others’ lives. Although Tie Haolong might have some ulterior motives towards Xue Wei, Xue Wei concluded that even if he were not the nephew of Primordial Beast Hunter Xiao Lei, the former would have behaved the way he was behaving now.
What Tie Haolong truly wished for was to be the leader of their group. If he could lead their group, he would be getting the most honor if their group managed to stand out in the future. However, at the same time, he would also take the blame if they did badly.
Xue Wei was not interested in taking command. He just wanted to fight and distinguish himself so that he, in the future, could become a great Primordial Beast Hunter.
As the night continued, Xiao Jie got drunk from drinking too much wine; Song Yuyan was also slightly drunk, but she quickly switched to fruit juice when she felt that her cheeks were turning flushed; and Gu Dixing, who had never before experienced a feast like this, had drank and eaten so much that he had collapsed under the bench, snoring loudly.
Eventually, only Tie Haolong and Xue Wei were sober, with Song Yuyan to the side. They looked at one another, their eyes clear and their faces both sprouting smiles.
It was clear that now they needed to have a serious talk.
"You are the strongest in the group," Tie Haolong began, and Xue Wei nodded his head. "That I am," he agreed.
"Your personality sucks," Tie Haolong continued, and Xue Wei nodded his head again. "That I cannot argue with," he said.
Tie Haolong was surprised when he heard this reply, but then he burst into laughter.
"I actually have nothing against you," Tie Haolong chuckled. "I respect your strength, your talent, and your fierce fighting style. When you fought in the arena, I was there watching, and I was surprised to see such bloodthirst, such inhumane fighting methods, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this world only has room for the fierce."
"To be honest, I kinda envy you. Your ability to go berserk like this is astonishing. Your talent is heaven-sent, and your special physique is once in a million."
"I fear that you are the kind of person that cannot succumb to anyone, incapable of listening to orders," Tie Haolong continued. "I cannot control you, but I can ride on your coattails and gain fame."
"Our group will, in theory, consist of four people who work together and one person who sweeps through the battlefield like the embodiment of war itself. Killing everywhere he goes and ensuring that no one survives."
Xue Wei said nothing. He knew that he was capable of keeping his killing intent under control, but he also knew that the killing intent was constantly growing and that he needed an increased cultivation base to be able to keep it in check.
Since this was the case, he did not mention anything about the fact that he could, in fact, if needed, fight in a cold, callous way devoid of emotion, much different to his fierce and emotional display from earlier.
"Our group is a group of misfits," Tie Haolong continued. "There is no need to mention you, but if we look at me, my strength lays in planning and preparation. This is great in many situations, but not so much when you are facing a bloody beast horde. Then you need to be able to think on the spot and make difficult situations. I have a wealth of experience from climbing the ranks of my family to back me up as the leader, but truth be told, even I wonder if I am suitable for the role."
Tie Haolong gave a self-mocking smile and shook his head. "Well, either way, I am better than you," he sighed after a bit of thinking, and his conclusion just served to make Xue Wei chuckle. It was true that although Tie Haolong had some faults and shortcomings, they were much better than the ones Xue Wei had.
"Although you don't speak much, and although you are seriously antisocial and lacking in every aspect when it comes to knowing how to act when being part of a group, you are not a bad person," Tie Haolong said after a bit of silence, and Xue Wei could not help but snort. Was he praising him or insulting him? It was hard to say.
"I dislike you – no, I envy you... but I also revere you, look up to you, and wish to befriend you," Tie Haolong finally said, and then he laughed out loud.
"I must have been drinking more than I thought I had," he muttered after a bit of time, and Xue Wei smiled wryly.
"We can be friends," Xue Wei said after a bit of time. "After all, we have already opened up to each other and shared some wine. We understand one another. Although we are different, we can still be friends."
"Be friends..." Tie Haolong paused after muttering the two words, his mind abuzz with thoughts that only he knew, but slowly a splendid smile grew on his lips. "We can be friends. Of course we can!"
"We start as friends. Fight side by side. Our trust in one another is not something that is built in one day. It is something that we will nurture slowly. All of us will have a brotherly connection for life when the ten years are up. We will face dangers, brave life-and-death situations, but only by relying on each other will we have a chance at survival."
"We are friends from today onwards – so in the future, you can call me brother!" Tie Haolong smiled, and then he swayed a little before his face slammed against the table, his snoring resounding in the hall.
Seeing this, Song Yuyan giggled. She was still slightly tipsy, but it was not so much that she had lost control of herself or in any way had become incapable of separating truth from fantasy.
She had listened in on their conversation casually, and she had been surprised by how frank Tie Haolong had been, yet even more surprised when Xue Wei had acknowledged them as his friends. She understood that this was a great development.
She then looked at Xue Wei who was seated opposite from her and raised her glass. "Xue Wei, my friend, I apologize for not toasting to you with wine, but I fear the prospects of getting drunk. Since this is the case, allow me to give a toast for our newfound friendship with fruit juice!"
Xue Wei said nothing, but a small but warm smile was evident on his lips as he lifted his cup and clinked it against her cup.
"To our newfound friendship!" he too said before emptying the cup in one go and slowly sliding down from the bench, as drunk as the other three men.
"Oh, my." Song Yuyan giggled a little more before sipping her fruit juice and shaking her head in amusement.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
ART PAGE! come and have a look at Xue Wei! - New art added of the Ice Harpy!
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Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking