In the middle of that sneak attack just now, Long Chen had realized his opponent’s true intentions. Although he had appeared to be trying to kill him, that was just an act.
What kind of assassin would reveal his killing intent before striking? No real killer would make such a basic error.
And that person hadn’t had any true killing intent, only a murderous aura. Although each attack was powerful, he had obviously been holding back.
It was a completely different style from an assassin. So at the last moment, Long Chen deliberately lost and allowed himself to be sent flying. He concealed how much spiritual energy he had and pretended to be injured.
As he had expected, this ‘killer’ immediately left. Did they think he was an idiot? Those people who had been coming over were just ordinary people who he could have easily killed first before leaving.
But the killer had acted startled and retreated hastily. Long Chen snorted disdainfully at such shoddy acting.
He knew that person definitely had to have a high status who was too prideful and believed himself to be infallible.
Although he didn’t know why he had been tested, Long Chen knew there would definitely be a follow-up. Otherwise, all of this would have been meaningless.
“Brother Long, you really are early haha.”
As he was considering this, he ended up walking into the public plaza, and Shou Hou shouted out to him excitedly.
The plaza was several miles wide, and countless lanterns dozens of meters tall had been set out. But since it hadn’t turned dark yet, they hadn’t been lit.
Crowds of people were bustling in the plaza. All kinds of constructions were being finished.
Despite not being lit, the countless varied lanterns were still a spectacular sight.
Young men and women were all over the plaza and starting to play. The sound of conversation filled the air, and occasional bell-like laughter would ring out.
But some of those laughs were extremely unpleasant to listen to. Who knew whether those braying laughs were always like that or whether it was due to this being a special occasion, but they caused one’s hair to stand on end.
The women were holding hands and having fun, while at the same time, secretly stealing glances at the men. Although it was almost autumn, the plaza gave off a fresh feeling of spring.
Some of the men truly were doing as Long Chen’s mother had said and had picked a high spot early on. Some of them were on high rocks, some on bridges, their hands waving a fan in front of them in a flirtatious manner.
What shocked and caused him to be speechless was that some of them were acting like roosters and being excessively lewd.
“Shou Hou, this is the legendary Phoenix Cry Lantern Festival with handsome men and beautiful women?” Long Chen almost couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Uh… brother Long, we’re early. The truly beautiful women haven’t come out yet. Only those people without confidence come this early,” he awkwardly explained. But as soon he said it he backtracked. “But brother Long is definitely an exception.”
Long Chen truly had come too early. He blamed it all on his mom and had an urge to cry. But as the sky gradually darkened, more and more people started to show up.
These new additions were definitely a grade better than the ones who had gotten there so early. At the very least, their laughs were not so frightening. It was pretty good in terms of both numbers and quality.
“Haha, brother Long, you really came.” Shi Feng had just arrived, quickly noticing Long Chen and Shou Hou who were hiding in a corner.
“Haha, brother Long, you really are dashing today.” Fatty Yu and the others also came in succession and came to greet Long Chen.
“Fatty Yu, you aren’t bad either. You’ve lost quite a bit of weight. In the past, we didn’t even know how you managed to squeeze into places,” joked Shou Hou. Everyone also laughed.
As they were having fun, more and more people ended up showing up, and the plaza became completely full.
The young people were all in small groups within the crowd and quietly chatting. But all of their gazes were roving around, looking for targets.
“Long Chen, let’s join them. It’s almost time for the lantern festival to begin,” said Shi Feng.
Fatty Yu and the others were already feeling a bit pressed. But since Long Chen never said anything, they had only waited beside him patiently.
Actually, Long Chen really didn’t want to go into the crowd. But not wanting to be rude, he still resolved to enter the huge crowd of people.
As soon as Long Chen’s group entered, they attracted many people’s attention. One reason was because they were one of the last groups to join.
But this group of people was also very special. Tall, short, fat, skinny, there was someone for everyone’s taste.
“Huh, who’s that? How handsome! How come I’ve never seen him before?” One woman immediately let out a surprised shout.
Long Chen was definitely not bad in terms of looks, but it hadn’t reached the point of amazing and awing people. But as for whether a flower was pretty or not was decided in the eye of the beholder.
Beside fatty Yu, Shou Hou, and the others, even the dark-faced Shi Feng appeared much more handsome than normal.
“You don’t know? That’s Long Chen, the Border Suppression Marquis’s Long Chen.”
“Heavens, he’s Long Chen? The Long Chen praised as the capital’s number one in the junior generation?”
“I heard he’s even a Pill Apprentice and might even become grandmaster Yun Qi’s first disciple.”
Gossip about him filled the air, and many women sent furtive gazes his way. Some of the bold ones actually started to shout his name.
Sweat started to roll down his face. Long Chen had never seen such a battle, and no matter how thick his face was, he still couldn’t block it all out.
“Brother Shi, you go to the front. Fatty Yu and Hou-zi, you guys come up a bit more too.”
Long Chen straightforwardly hid behind his friends, lowering his head while he walked. This relieved quite a bit of pressure on him.
After wading through the crowd for a bit, they arrived at a huge martial arena that was hundreds of meters wide.
“Long Chen, this martial arena is for finding the number one junior warrior in the Phoenix Cry Empire. Are you interested?” smiled Shi Feng.
“Definitely not. I don’t like being a trick-performing monkey.” Long Chen shook his head.
“Hehe, then I’m relieved,” laughed Shi Feng.
Long Chen was startled for a moment before realizing that Shi Feng was actually after that title.
“Good luck.” Long Chen extended a fist.
Shi Feng bumped fists with him and said, “Don’t worry. As long as it’s not you, then I should be ok.”
“Hey, you two are being rude. You keep ignoring our needs. Let’s go bros, we’ll take advantage of our time and go fool around,” shouted Shou Hou as he pulled the rest of the group away.
“Remember to meet back here in a while,” shouted back Shi Feng.
The two of them didn’t even know whether they were heard. The others disappeared quickly into the crowd, each looking for a target.
“Shi Feng, how’s your cultivation base?” Seeing no one was around, Long Chen quietly asked him.
“The peak of the first Heavenstage of Blood Condensation. In just a short while, I should be able to reach the second level,” Shi Feng replied gratefully.
The reason he had managed to reach his current level so quickly had been because of Long Chen’s assistance. The earlier someone entered the Blood Condensation realm, the greater it would benefit their future cultivation.
If someone only managed to break through to Blood Condensation after thirty, then that person probably would never be able to progress past the first Heavenstage of Blood Condensation.
Currently, Shi Feng wasn’t even eighteen but had broken through to the Blood Condensation realm. In the future, he would have over a thirty percent chance of advancing to the Tendon Transformation realm.
The Tendon Transformation realm was the level which the strongest existences in the empire were at. There were only three of them in the entire Phoenix Cry Empire.
Long Chen nodded. Such a speed meant that Shi Feng was extremely hardworking. But when he examined Shi Feng’s Dantian, he found that his Spirit Root was only of average quality. The Tendon Transformation realm would probably be the limit of his martial path. There wasn’t much hope for advancing further.
“Later, I’ll help you refine a Foundation Establishment Pill that will stabilize your foundation. With your work attitude, you should be able to break through to the Tendon Transformation realm before you’re thirty,” said Long Chen.
“Was the pill you gave me last time really refined by yourself?” Shi Feng was delighted by that offer, but he couldn’t help doubting it slightly.
“Interesting. If I didn’t refine it, then did I steal it?” Long Chen was a bit irked.
“No, but we originally thought it was grandmaster Yun Qi who gave it to you,” said Shi Feng lightly.
After all, Long Chen had completely changed in just the blink of an eye. He had gone from trash who couldn’t cultivate to becoming a Pill Apprentice. They were still surprised by this and so, they couldn’t help but make up some theories.
However, what Long Chen was telling him now meant that he had refined it himself.
“Right now, your foundation isn’t bad, but it’s not solid enough. The main issue is that at the initial Qi Condensation levels, your cultivation was a bit too rushed. This left a few faults on your foundation, so it will be an obstruction when you attack Tendon Transformation in the future. The Foundation Establishment Pill, which I’ll refine for you, won’t be able to fix all of those faults, but it will make it much easier for you to break through to the Tendon Transformation realm,” said Long Chen.
“Brother Long, I won’t say any words for courtesy. If brother has any need in the future, then just tell me and my life will be yours,” swore Shi Feng solemnly.
“Such words aren’t required between brothers. Whoa, what’s that?”
Long Chen suddenly saw a dozen guards with embroidered clothes walking over from the distance. They were holding some kind of huge objects in their hands, but he was unable to see their shape.
“Those are the princesses’ lanterns. The princesses will each hand-make one during the festival to bless the empire with luck,” explained Shi Feng.
The princesses? Then, he definitely had to have a good look. Unfortunately, he didn’t know which one was Chu Yao’s. As for those guards, they all marched behind a huge curtain which both faced the crowd as well as the martial stage.
The festivities had yet to truly begin, so they wouldn’t let the people see them too early. Even more guards started to appear, completely surrounding the perimeter.
Interested in what those guards were doing, those young people who were messing around also started shifting over.
The area became completely crammed extremely quickly. One of the women who hadn’t made it in time to get a good spot actually batted her eyes at a man, who immediately gave up his spot for her.
As for those men, they could only watch from a great distance. Even fatty Yu and the others could only stare from afar. After all, who had told them to go and chase after girls? All the spots closer to the stage and huge curtain were already taken now, so they could only stand in the distance.
Once everyone was seated, a phoenix carriage appeared and a shout rang out, causing all the guards to kneel.
“The Empress Dowager’s carriage has arrived!”
 Shou Hou is called Hou-zi by his friends. Hou-zi means monkey, which suits him since he’s so skinny.