Chapter 81: An Invitation

The following morning, all of them woke up with a headache. They had either been sleeping on the hard ground of the banquet hall or laid across the hard table, so their entire bodies were aching slightly from the uncomfortable positions. 

As they awakened, all of them, apart from Xue Wei, had a sheepish expression on their faces. Although Xue Wei felt rather embarrassed too, he did not show it on his face. 

Tie Haolong, who now looked very unkempt, with untidy hair and crumpled clothes, cleared his throat. 

"Please follow me. I will lead you to the chambers you can use for the next two days until our first deployment as soldiers." 

"I imagine that we will not be using our rooms much," Tie Haolong continued, "so I suggest we prepare and tidy ourselves a little before we head out for the Golden Chambers' shop again. Given that a day has passed already, our armors should be finished by now, yes? I am sure you are all as eager as I am to see the finished product in preparation for the war against the Primordial Beasts and their hordes."

The others nodded their heads. It was obvious that all of them needed to change their clothes and freshen up. Their hair was a mess – strands had loosened from their buns – and framed their faces, and their clothes were wrinkled and not very suitable for them to wear in public. 

It was easy to smoothen out the fabric of the fierce beast silk, but although they were capable of doing so, the clothes still reeked of wine and food. They clearly needed to be cleaned. 

Xue Wei was led to a small but cozy set of chambers. It had a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. He headed straight for the bathroom to freshen up, tidy his hair, and wash his face. 

He quickly untied the red ribbon that held his hair in position and allowed for all of it to cascade down from the top of his head, after which a smile appeared on his lips. 

Xue Wei's hair was long and lush; it was black like a raven's feather and had the same shine to it. 

With experienced hands, he once more gathered the hair on top of his head and tied it with another ribbon. This second ribbon was, like the first, made from the same kind of silk as his Fierce Beast robes. 

He then stripped out of his clothes and washed himself before he adorned a set of the clothes he had worn when he first entered the capital. 

Although they were not made from Fierce Beast silk, they were still better than wearing something that smelled of wine and food. 

He then washed the clothes and activated the flame in the clothes itself, watching as the flame danced on top of the fabric. It was hot enough to burn anyone who tried to touch it, but it also made the water dissipate into steam, vanishing into thin air. 

Having dried his clothes, Xue Wei was about to change into them again when he decided to keep them for when he was about to march out of the city. 

He was likely to be treated to yet another, albeit smaller, feast today too. As a result, it was possible he would end up drunk once more, which would make the clothes smelly again. 

Although it was easy to clean them, doing so would also wear down the silk. The more often it was cleaned, the more worn down it would become, especially the silk that Xue Wei had picked that had the element of fire. This element would become destroyed upon too many washes, whereas it would not have mattered if he had picked Fierce Beast silk with a water attribute.

This was also why the water-attribute silk was in higher demand than its fire-type counterpart despite being less luxurious. Fire-type silk was more volatile and could perform better in fights, but it was also more fragile. Most noble-born within the capital wore clothes that had been created from water or ice attributed Fierce Beast silk. 

Tie Haolong was like the others; his robes were made from Fierce Beast Silk with the water attribute. The water attribute was not so powerful, but Fierce Beast silk regardless of attribute was a layer of protection by itself. Furthermore, even if the water silk did not grant you the ability to directly attack, its utility in creating water orbs and slowing down the enemy was not to be belittled. 

After having freshened up, all of them met outside the Tie Mansion, and Tie Haolong raised an eyebrow in surprise when he saw what Xue Wei was wearing. It was not until now that he understood why he had purchased more robes - he simply did not have enough of them so far. 

Together, the group made their way towards the Golden Chambers. At the same time, they all chatted with one another. Despite Xue Wei being silent throughout, none of the others felt that the silence was oppressive. Instead, it was comfortable. 

Song Yuyan was smiling mysteriously while Tie Haolong walked with light steps and behaved as if  there were no problems whatsoever. Becoming friends with Xue Wei was a benefit for both him and his family, and he could not help but feel gratified about how last night's talk had gone. 

Xue Wei was the same. He had acknowledged the others in this group as his friends and genuinely viewed them as such. This made him feel warm and fuzzy in his heart. For someone with so few friends, he had now gotten four more. 

Although he was not ready to consider them brothers or sisters just yet, even he was looking forward to fighting by their side and one day becoming martial siblings with them. 

Without saying anything, Xue Wei vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that no harm came to these four people, that he would do everything in his power to protect them.

This was quite different from Xue Wei's usual thoughts of just improving himself and becoming stronger and stronger. He wanted to display his might to the Wayfarers and get the acknowledgment of Wang Xiaoyun's family, but now he also wished to protect these people. 

"Nine years," he muttered to himself. "After nine years, we will become brothers and sisters."

Although he had spoken slowly, his words had been heard by the others, and their hearts blazed with pride. 

When they walked down the street, they saw how every citizen of the Inner City would look at them curiously. They heard them talk about the new batch of experts going to the recruitment camp that was about to begin soon, and they also spotted an increasing number of groups of noble-born youngsters a year younger than them streaming into the city.

When they arrived at the Golden Chambers, they found that there was a whole queue outside the entrance; many were here to pick up their armors, while others had come to purchase Fierce Beast silk robes. 

Last year, when Xue Wei had come to the capital, there had been a lot of disturbances, and a lot of situations that had caused the entire capital to gossip about what he had done, about his talent and about his special physique. Yet it was different this year. 

No high profile figure had emerged from outside of the capital, and everything was rather peaceful. 

After picking up their armors and robes, the group went to a restaurant to eat a meal while chatting and discussing their next actions. 

"I suggest that we use my family's martial art grounds and have a few bouts against one another. We need to know each other's strengths and shortcomings so that we can assist one another when we are fighting side by side," Tie Haolong suggested, and the others nodded their heads. It was indeed a good idea. 

If they wanted to trust in one another, they first needed to know how they fought. 

However, just as they returned to the mansion, a flustered servant came looking for them. "Young Master Haolong!" he called out frantically.

"We have been searching for you all over the Inner City!" he complained, but Tie Haolong did not get insulted by this sudden outburst. Instead, he smiled and placed a hand on the servant's shoulder. 

"What is wrong?" he asked curiously, and the servant displayed a cushion he had in his hands with a letter on top.

"This came from His Highness the Crown Prince's palace. It was addressed to you, Young Master. We obviously dare not open such important information and could only scurry around the Inner City looking for you."

Tie Haolong's face alternated between excited and worried as he slowly reached out to pick up the letter. He then opened it and read it, and the more he read, the more puzzled he became. 

"It is an invitation," he said after a bit of time, "an invitation to join his banquet tomorrow night. It will be our last night in town, and he is hosting a great banquet for the ones who just exited the recruitment camp and also for the young geniuses that are going to enter the recruitment camp this year."

Tie Haolong frowned. "It is not unusual for His Highness the Crown Prince to hold such banquets, but it is the first time I have heard of him inviting both the new and old recruitment camp geniuses. What exactly is he planning?"

Although Tie Haolong was speaking to himself, the others could hear his words and understood that this invitation was no ordinary one. 

"Should we join?" Song Yuyan was nervous. If Tie Haolong was not certain as to what the aim was, was there a chance for it to become dangerous? 

However, after a bit of time, Tie Haolong's smile returned to his lips and he nodded his head. "We ought to show up," he had made his decision. 

"This is His Highness the Crown Prince. If we do not show up, we will be insulting him since he personally sent us an invitation. Also, if we want to know what is going on, the best way to figure it out is to actually participate in the event."

Xue Wei nodded his head. What Tie Haolong said made sense, but he still felt rather odd. As if there was something that he could not fully put his finger on, but he knew something was off.

"Oh well, it is just another banquet," Xue Wei sighed and shook his head as he mocked himself. "Since when have you been afraid of a banquet?" he asked himself, and he understood that no matter what, he had to go and see what was going on. 

"With Luo Zhirou's and Shen Mu's current situation of being affiliated with the Crown Prince, they ought to also be there," he continued his contemplation, "and I have not seen them for some time. It would be fun to catch up with them again and hear how they are doing."

Xue Wei did not have a communication device, so it was not possible for him to contact those two friends of his whenever he wished. He had to visit them in an old-fashioned way. 

Everyone in their group was filled with mixed emotions. Tie Haolong was puzzled as to what the Crown Prince was doing. Song Yuyan was slightly worried. Gu Dixing was very excited as he had never had the chance to even see royalty before, and Xiao Jie was rather collected about it all. 

Xue Wei had a feeling of discomfort, but at the same time he also wanted to know what was going on. 

"Well, for now, let us go to the training field and do some sparring. I suggest we try training with our armors on so that we can get used to how it is to move with them on."

Having said that, all of them headed to the back of the mansion where the training grounds were located. It was time to learn one another's fighting styles.

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Tinalynge's Thoughts

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Author: Tinalynge

Editor: Melinum

Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking

Proofreader: Tue

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