Chapter 135: Profound Heaven Spring Hunt [Volume 3 - The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]
The spring hunt was a traditional social activity for the empire’s nobility, held to show how the Great Qin was founded through martial might and that the nation’s roots were never forgotten. Because hosts, participants, and hunting sites were all different, the event was separated into many divisions.
The Profound Heaven Spring Hunt Qiqi was about to attend was of the lowest rank, directed solely at aristocrats of the younger generation rank seven and under, including their attendants, who also couldn’t exceed rank seven.
The spring hunts established specifically for those rank seven and under also included Imperial Garden and Northern Sea, two other grand hunting events. Of these, Northern Sea and Profound Heaven were of the same level, while the Imperial Garden was hosted by the imperial household. Its standards were the highest: the core successors of the four grand households would all be present, and every aristocratic family would send its direct line of descendants to participate; as for landowning households, besides specific astonishingly talented individuals that received invitations, no one had the qualifications to attend.
The threshold for the Profound Heaven Spring Hunt wasn’t that high. This time, two grand households marked the very beginning of the attendance list, followed by the Swallow Cloud Zhao and Highland Song clan, seventeen or eighteen lower-middle aristocratic families, and several hundred landowning households.
Qianye stared at Song Zining’s name for a while, but a wave of irritation suddenly assaulted him. He knew the residual effects of the bloodline promotion had shown up again. After the nine normal blood energies had combined into one, they became so much stronger that even the golden or purple blood energies were unable to devour them. As a result, they periodically fell into waves of anxiety that actually affected Qianye’s feelings indirectly as well.
He exhaled lightly, put down the materials, and walked into the quiet room next door to start cultivating the Combatant Formula. More origin energy could not only sustain his regular bloodline, it could also faintly restrain the chaotic bloodline movement within his body and allow his blood boil state to be more easily controllable.
Two days later, a flying goose-level airship that could traverse the continent lifted off from Xichang City, slowly leaving the Evernight Continent behind and entering the boundless void. The airship looked like a multi-story boat, and the main building, reaching up to seven stories, was composed primarily of blue jade and decorated with auspicious beasts, filled with a hint of ancient appeal.
At this time, the atmosphere in the top floor of the multi-story boat was tense. Qianye stood in front of the window, appearing to be looking outside, but he wore a gloomy expression and his face was filled with anger. Two young girls dressed in light jackets and draped dresses stood, trembling in fear, in front of him. One held a tray with both hands.
Sitting on a long couch on the other side, Qiqi smiled like a blossoming flower. She was wearing an imperial noble lady’s traditional garb: wide sleeves, silk girdle, and a gorgeous black ornament with blue embellishments. If her sitting posture was a little more composed, she would be the perfect model of a noblewoman. However, she reclined against an armrest without the least bit of bearing, her right hand propping her chin up as she sized Qianye up and down.
“You agreed to protect me!”
“I didn’t agree to wear this kind of thing.” Qianye shot a glance at the tray in the young girl’s hand loathingly. That was a set of clothing identical to the clothes and jewelry Qiqi had on. They were women’s clothes!
Qiqi replied smilingly, “Look, I intentionally picked this type of traditional dress. The only difference between the male and female versions is the side at which the sleeves are unbuttoned. The male version has an unbuttoned left sleeve while the female version has an unbuttoned right sleeve! It’s not noticeable unless someone pays close attention. Come on, you only need to wear this for the first day! Once we’ve settled in, you don’t need to meet any more outsiders!”
As it turned out, according to the rules of the spring hunt, though Qiqi had brought many attendants and bodyguards with her, only nine people could form a group after entering the hunting grounds. Any staff in excess could serve as logistics or hunt alone.
The spring hunt lasted a month, of which fifteen days would be spent entering deep into the hunting grounds. Qiqi was the first daughter of an aristocratic family, so she certainly couldn’t just mingle about with a crowd of big men. In terms of etiquette, she needed at least one female companion to eat and sleep with. As for what Qiqi had reported to the attendance list, that female companion was precisely Qianye.
Qianye was deeply skeptical of this kind of questionable etiquette.
Qiqi lobbied with great determination, “Look, Aunt Lan is rank eight so she can’t take part in the hunt. These girls are all only rank two or three; entering the core area of the hunting grounds just means sending them to their deaths. You agreed to protect me!”
These days, the effects of Qianye’s overconsumption of blood still hadn’t disappeared completely, so he felt particularly fidgety and impatient. At this time, he didn’t want to argue with Qiqi anymore, so he turned and walked to the door.
Qiqi jumped up and grabbed ahold of him, “It’s not like I can be in a tent with other people! If you were to sleep together with me, without mentioning anything else, just my family’s old grandpa would hack you to pieces.”
Qianye retorted: “Me changing into women’s clothes doesn’t mean I’ll really become a woman. Us sleeping in one tent, how could your family’s old grandpa just not know about it then?”
“Of course he’d know. That’s not a big deal.”
“But you just said he would hack me to pieces.”
Qiqi replied, “He only cares about the Yin Family’s principles and conduct. As long as what’s in the materials and the person that appears in front of everyone is female, then he’ll also act like he doesn’t know.”
Qianye simply didn’t know how to respond. He had also seen the damned materials. Qian Xiaoye! Could it be that Qiqi actually thought adding a “xiao” character in the middle of his name would make it sound feminine?
Just like that, the airship slowly sailed through the path of stars above the sky while Qianye was fuming. It reached the middle part of the strategic town Jinzhong on Qin Continent and slowly descended.
The Profound Heaven Spring Hunt was organized by the regional general and governor of the place, Duke Wei, and the hunting field was set at the Profound Heaven Mountain Range to the west of Jinzhong. It was said that the ley lines of this mountain region were extraordinary and that it contained huge deposits of precious minerals. The flow of origin power in this place was extremely chaotic, which was why all kinds of fearsome beasts and rare or unusual plants appeared in the area. Moreover, Duke Wei would even throw in a bunch of dark race warriors into the hunting field simply to add to the difficulty of the spring hunt.
The Empire’s spring hunts, regardless of its rank or standard, all emphasized actual combat with real swords and guns. The Western Frontier Spring Hunt, meant for those above rank seven and under Champion rank, involved directly facing other tribes and rebel armies in small-scale military campaigns.
The Spring Hunt Main Camp had been set up in Duke Wei’s side courtyard at the base of the Profound Heaven Foothills. It was called a side courtyard, but its scale was equivalent to that of a small city. Although over ten aristocratic families and over one hundred landowning households participated every time, even with the addition of attendants and guards that numbered over ten thousand, the side courtyard could easily make accommodations for everyone.
Qiqi led Qianye and a group of attendants and guards at Jinzhong City’s airship base, then switched onto a mini airship and headed towards the Spring Hunt Main Camp. As a core character in the Yin Family’s young generation, Qiqi already had dealings with the children of many aristocratic families; when she had arrived at the Main Camp, there were actually already over ten young aristocrats that had specifically come to the airship base to welcome her.
Qiqi was originally an existence that received the most focus in crowds, but when Qianye appeared behind her, he received countless fiery gazes in just a split second.
In the end, he put on the same wide-sleeved clothing as Qiqi’s and draped down his half-length black hair. His face didn’t even need too much makeup. All he did was dressing up the corner of his brows for a bit so that the features that were a little too sharp were mellowed down. The end result was an intoxicating countenance.
Qianye and Qiqi were almost sharing the same height. Qiqi was feeling especially good today, so her phoenix eyes were curled into exceptionally lovely crescents. However, Qianye’s eyes were incredibly icy as if he were gathering killing intent just by standing there. These young aristocrats were intoxicated by the beautiful sight for a time when they saw the two twin-like girls.
Anger surged from Qianye’s chest for being looked at with such eyes. The impulse to explode on the spot nudged him.
Qiqi was pretty good at dealing with such a scene, and she chatted and joked around with both familiar and unfamiliar aristocrats. It wasn’t until the carriage sent from Duke Wei’s side residence had arrived, and Qianye followed Qiqi up the carriage before slamming the door hard to cut off the young aristocrats' passionate gazes, that he said coldly, “I dislike this identity.”
Qiqi immediately said in appeasement, “We’re just showing your face in public at the beginning. It’ll be over after tonight’s feast!”
The carriage moved swiftly along the road and entered the courtyard assigned to the Yin family. It was a big place with multiple entries at the front and at the back. Not only was it decorated with fake hills, ponds and gardens, there was even a small pool of hot spring at the back. The environment was unspeakably beautiful, quiet and in good taste. The outer courtyard had several rows of single-story houses that could fit over hundreds of personal attendants and bodyguards, but Qianye didn’t have an accommodation to himself since he was Qiqi’s “female companion”. He was assigned to live in the room outside the master bedroom.
Normally, the spring hunt participants would rest for an entire day at the side residence to relieve the fatigue of their long journey. The next morning, a number of personal attendants and bodyguards would depart to their forward bases in the inner region of the Profound Heaven Mountain Range to set up accommodations and logistics. The masters themselves leading the team would only depart after everything was done.
That was why Duke Wei had invited all participants to a dinner feast, starting off the spring hunt with it.
Night fell, and the biggest Martial Hall of the side residence was as bright as day. Maids were going back and forth, pouring excellent wine like spring water, and tasty food filled the tables endlessly until they resembled small hills. The young talents of many aristocratic families were gathered at one place. Most of the men were dressed in imperial uniform or martial uniform, while the noble ladies were dressed in dresses with wide sleeves and ribbons around their waists. When they moved, they looked slim, graceful, charming, gentle, and as beautiful as flowers.
Even among this many handsome men and pretty ladies, Qiqi and Qianye were still the focus of many people’s gazes. The duo was dressed in identical attire, but the qualities they exuded were totally different from each other. They were exceptionally eye-catching when they walked between the crowd.
Qianye followed closely behind Qiqi. He neither averted his eyes nor said a word. The various stares of passion or jealousy were making him really, really uncomfortable. The core bulk of the hunting team was limited to nine people only, which was why almost all families had chosen rank six and rank seven specialists to compose their team. In comparison to those people, Qianye was only at rank five. It made him look especially conspicuous.
The fact that Miss Qiqi took both men and women to her bed was known far and wide, and so some of these whispering discussions had criticized Qiqi for discovering another new plaything and bringing her to the hunting field without any sense of decorum whatsoever. However, these young aristocrats had not the slightest interested in Qianye’s strength. In private, they talked about his unique “quality”, a special quality inside the iciness that was mixed with a strong presence of killing intent. It made them feel so unbelievably excited to the point of trembling.
Qianye was staring with infinite gloominess at the tip of his feet while listening to Qiqi talking with a few familiar faces from the same province from the topic of tea parties to horse racing, when a dragged out announcement of guests resounded from the main entrance, “Song Zining, seventh young master of the Song Household is here!”
The noisy hall turned silent, and almost everyone’s gazes were trained at the main entrance. A refined and handsome aristocrat accompanied by a group of people young men and women entered the dining hall.
The young man was dressed in light green colored, ancient style wide sleeves clothing. He looked charmingly graceful and as gentle as jade. The smile he wore constantly in his eyes made everyone feel as if they were being bathed in the spring wind.
He wore no ornaments whatsoever on his attire, and the only thing that hinted vaguely of luxury was a row of jade buttons on his buttoned jacket. The natural blood jades that looked like they were entangled in smoke were great mediums of origin power and were worth ten thousand gold coins each. An entire set of blood jades with roughly the same size and quality, like the one worn by Song Zining, was practically priceless. The Song Household was the one family that had initially started out as a family of traders, and their conduct was the most gentle and friendly out of all four grand households. However, they were also the richest of all four grand households because of it.
Qianye immediately recognized that this seventh Song young master was his schoolmate back at the Yellow Springs Training Camp after a brief moment of surprise. But although Song Zining’s appearance hadn’t changed much after he became an adult, his temperament now was completely different from before.
The surrounding people were all talking quietly about this new talent of the Song household who had risen to fame like a comet in the sky. Song Zining’s conduct was extremely low key, and it wasn’t until the Song household had announced the successor candidate name list that he suddenly appeared in everyone’s eyes. Even the aristocratic families participating in the spring hunt today didn’t have much info on him.
The second Song Zining had entered the hall, the crowd immediately surged forwards and greeted him warmly. Some people had even used the tiny bit of relationship they shared with the Song family several hundred years ago as an excuse to get familiar with him.
Song Zining’s smile was as pleasant as a soft wind during spring; a little warm and intoxicating. Some noble ladies were starting to look at him with adoration in their eyes. While walking, he answered to everyone politely and concisely without missing a single person. However, those who observed him closely would notice that there were subtle differences of familiarity. Aristocrats were obviously given more attention than landed gentry, and those people whose families were placed near the top and were close to the Song household were granted more of his time and attention.
These little details sorely tested an aristocrat’s socializing ability. Song Zining showed not only perfect etiquette but also a complete lack of hesitation as he responded fluently to the horde of people in the blink of an eye. It fully displayed his wealth of knowledge and talent as an essential descendant of the Song household, and his performance prompted many seniors at the scene to make imaginary nods in their minds.
“I hate that guy a lot!” Qiqi whispered beside Qianye’s ears. She seemed to know about the puzzlement inside his mind and added, “It’s because I hate the woman beside him a lot.”
It was only then Qianye noticed that Song Zining was followed by several girls and among them was Ye Mulan. The girls occasionally talked with Song Zining wearing friendly expressions that seemed to hint that their relationships were uncommon. The richly dressed Ye Mulan stood out among all of them as she followed closely behind Song Zining with a cold and arrogant expression on her face. She never even graced the landed gentry and minor aristocrats around her with the corner of her eyes.
Song Zining saw Qiqi from afar and immediately walked towards her with a smile on his face. He strode until he was before Qiqi, but suddenly, his gaze moved past her and stopped right upon Qianye’s face. The gentle smile that looked like it would never change suddenly froze just like that.Previous Chapter Next Chapter