Chapter 149: Invitation to a Banquet
Xu Min lifted an eyebrow; other than that, there was no reaction at all from him to show he had been greatly shocked by the innkeeper’s answer.
"Why would the Zhong family’s young master just murder a young woman?" Xu Min asked as if he was confused. He was not going to let anyone know that he was the young man the Zhong family feared.
"Honestly, it is all a little confusing," the innkeeper stated with a shake of his head. "The Zhong family has never told anyone exactly what was the reason. However, considering the actions of the young master, I guess she had declined his advances."
"Declined his advances?" This time Xu Min was actually surprised. That was not the reason that she had died, but it seemed that rumors had changed throughout the years.
"The young master of the Zhong family has a keen eye for beauties," the innkeeper said with a sigh. "He has taken the innocence from many a girl here. Thus, many families have chosen to send their daughters away instead."
"It seems that the young master is not very popular here in the city?" Xu Min asked with a smile. The innkeeper looked around nervously, checking to see if anyone was listening.
"He is not very popular because he keeps using his power to force all the beautiful daughters into servitude to him. He then abuses them and throws them away afterward. He is very infamous around here, but the patriarch lets him do whatever he wishes to do."
The innkeeper sighed deeply as he said this, and Xu Min shook his head. He had always known that the young master was disgusting, but to think he was such a brute was shocking.
Xu Min pondered for some time. He then smiled at the innkeeper, "can you tell me about the strength of the experts that reside within the Zhong family? I could use someone to spar with, but I need to know their strength," Xu Min instantly found an excuse to ask about the strength of the Zhong family and their guards. Fortunately, the innkeeper seemed to believe him as he nodded his head.
"Most of the experts are of the fifth-star, a few are the sixth-star, and I think there are one or two seventh-star experts."
"The Zhong family patriarch is of the eight-star level. He broke through not long ago. They held a great celebration," the innkeeper held nothing back and told Xu Min everything he wanted to know.
Xu Min smiled as he felt that he knew exactly what kind of strength the Zhong family controlled. After having constantly been recruiting guards from the surrounding areas, the strength of the Zhong family could almost rival that of the Tang family in Ri Chu City. Except they had fewer eight-star warriors.
Knowing they had easily managed to get rid of the Tang family, Xu Min felt no danger from the Zhong family. He was certain that he would be able to deal with them easily.
"Please give me your best room, and send some dishes upstairs," Xu Min requested with a smile. He then placed a few gold coins on the table. The innkeeper was shocked at first when he saw that there were more than a few gold coins; he had a hard time believing that this was for him.
But there was no one else present, and his greed quickly took over. He nodded his head and quickly stood up. "I will get a roast sheep ready for each of your companions and some of the regional delicacies to be brought up to your room as soon as possible, along with some of our finest wines."
Although Xu Min had not asked for the best dishes, the innkeeper was not dumb. He understood that if he wished to earn more, he had to invest something into this. Even if he slaughtered quite a few of his sheeps for this, it would still be profitable for him. He had never before had a customer who would give him more than one gold coin.
Xu Min nodded his head in approval when he heard what the innkeeper told him. He followed a maid who led him upstairs to a room on the highest floor.
The entire top floor had been made into one large room. It was a room where there were both a sitting area and a bedroom area. In the sitting area, there were padded chairs and a large table.
The room was so large that Cao Cao and Ye Ling could move around with no problems at all.
They quickly found some blankets on the floor and laid down on them. Both of them looked upwards towards Xu Min.
"We will wait a bit," Xu Min said smilingly. "I don't believe that they will prove to be problematic for us, but it would be good to see the Zhong family compound from the inside. Being invited would be the best plan of action."
Like so, Xu Min, Cao Cao, and Ye Ling spent their days in the city moving around behaving like general tourists that had come out from their home to see another part of the world.
They made friends with the citizens, and from time to time they would stay in the inn to cultivate. Everything was going according to their plan. One day when Xu Min was at the inn, Zhong family’s guards came looking for him.
"Sir Wang," one of the guards called out. It was Xu Min's alias, Wang Min. Xu Min looked at him with a smile on his face, "what can I do for you?" he asked gently as if he was talking to a good friend, favorable impressing the guards.
The guards could feel that ‘Wang Min’s’ strength soared above their own, but they did not know exactly how much stronger he was.
Xu Min had not masked his strength; nonetheless, these guards were merely five stars. They could not fully place Xu Min's strength with their own, making them feel in awe by his achievements at such a young age.
Xu Min was happy. He was not acting right now; his smile was genuine. He was getting closer and closer to his revenge.
"We are here on behalf of our patriarch. He desires your presence at his mansion where they are hosting a banquet tonight. The patriarch has heard about you and your accomplishments and would love to meet with you in person."
"Your companions are more than welcome to join you. The patriarch admires fierce beasts such as them," the guard continued. Cao Cao and Ye Ling nodded their heads in approval.
They had been worried whether or not they would be invited. Although they were considered companions, they were still beasts. Not many accepted beasts in their mansions. Even if they had human-like intelligence, they still had the beast-like instincts.
Xu Min was sure that they had invited the beasts because of wanting to curry favor with him. This also made Xu Min laugh. To think that those who hated him so much would want to curry favor with him; it was simply laughable.
"I would love to meet the local hegemon as well," Xu Min said smilingly. "We will join you for this banquet."
Xu Min prepared himself to leave, Ye Ling shrunk his size similar to a big dog, and Cao Cao condensed himself so much that he had coiled himself around Xu Min's neck.
Although the banquet did not start before the evening, Xu Min decided to follow the guards back that moment with the intention of looking at the surrounding areas.
Both guards were eager to show him around. "This is the road that leads directly to the Zhong family compound," one of them said excitedly.
"The Zhong family compound is located just outside of the city. Their land has many fields where medicinal herbs are harvested year round." The other guard continued where the first stopped. Obviously, both of them were eager to talk about the place to this powerful warrior Wang Min.
"Once a year the Zhong family will head towards a major city called Honghe city where they will purchase new servants. They usually buy younger children that will be trained to be guards or workers in the fields. I was purchased many years ago. Because of my ability to cultivate, the Zhong family told me to become a family guard."
Everyone noticed the pride in the guard's voice. Xu Min remembered when he also thought the best future he could get would be becoming a family guard.
Sighing, he shook his head. However, the guard misunderstood his sigh. He became silent since he had assumed this grand warrior was pitying his low talent.
"Just in front of you is the Zhong family compound!" the other guard sensed awkwardness, and he changed the subject. He pointed in front of him to show them the familiar buildings to Xu Min.
These buildings had not changed much since Xu Min had left. The only difference was that a large number of experts were patrolling around the wall which surrounded the buildings.
Xu Min was surprised. Many young men were patrolling, men Xu Min's age, but all of them were nothing more than four-star warriors and even below.
"Halt!" one of them called out when they saw some figures approaching the wall. However, when they recognized the guards, they bowed their heads. It was clear that the guards sent to pick up Xu Min were of higher rank than these patrolling guards.
"We are here to bring young master Wang Min to the banquet tonight," one of the guards declared with pride in his voice. His words caused all the young experts to look over at Xu Min.
They had all heard about this young-looking expert that had appeared from the outside world. He had traveled far and wide, and his cultivation base was incredibly high.
Seeing this rumored expert face-to-face filled them with curiosity and excitement. They could see that this ‘Wang Min’ was indeed a powerful expert, and he seemed so young! Many of the experts sighed in their hearts, feeling either jealousy or admiration.
"We cannot tarry here," one of the guards said, feeling important. He led Xu Min through the gate leading into the compound, allowing for him to see a familiar scene appear in front of him.
Servant boys and girls were running back and forth; servants were walking towards the fields after having finished their breaks. Members of the Zhong family, which was massive, were either on the training fields or moving around in groups.
Some were doing chores, others were busy training, and some were on their way to go to town. Many young members, Xu Min, could only guess which had been in the group to humiliate and beat him when he was a child, now all nodded to him in a friendly manner. Although they did not know exactly who he was, they knew he was special since he was escorted by guards.
"Are you Wang Min, the famed expert that we have heard so much about?" a young woman asked coquettishly as she looked at Xu Min, her long eyelashes fluttering.
Xu Min instantly recognized her. Her name was Zhong Mei. She was a young woman who had followed and approved of the young master in everything he had done, which including enjoying in watching Xu Min be beaten.
The killing intent within him was ignited, but he kept it suppressed. Rather, he smiled politely and nodded his head, "yes, that is me, and who might you be young miss?"