Chapter 387: The Feng Banquet

Feng Bo nodded at Yun Ruoyan, then continued, “The head of the Feng family’s fortieth birthday will be in two days’ time. I expect the Pis will make a move then.” He then outlined his plan for guarding them on the day of the banquet, then refined it with their suggestions until everyone found it faultless.

On the day of the banquet, the heads of the other six families all showed up for the celebration, each bringing massive quantities of gifts and men. The streets were quickly clogged up by carriages from the other six cities and by the gathered populace of the Feng city.

The guards of the Feng city seemed to be needed everywhere to maintain order, and the city was quickly short-staffed.

“The head of the Pi family’s here as well,” a nobleman exclaimed, extending his head out of his carriage and peering at the Pi family procession.

“Where?” Another noble hurriedly mimicked the first nobleman’s gesture. “Oh, I see it! They’ve brought quite a big procession!”

The Pi family had sent four full carriages. More than two dozen swordsmen paraded in front of the carriages, giving off the impression of a stately and prestigious procession.

“Are they here to celebrate or to show off?” the second noble scoffed. He was from the Chen family, which leaned more to the side of the Fengs than the Pis.

“Who cares?” someone else called out. “Let them fight. We’ll just watch from a distance.”

“If these two families really go to war with each other, none of us will emerge unscathed,” the noble replied.

Pi Yan sat within the largest and most ostentatious of the Pi carriages, while Pi Batian rode a horse by its side. “Father,” Pi Batian called out, turning toward the carriage.

Pi Yan parted the carriage’s curtains with his hand, then turned toward his son. 

“Master Shade will be waiting for us in the inn.”

Pi Yan nodded, then let the curtains fall again.

The six families’ carriages were all led by the Feng city guards to different inns. The Pi delegation was brought to a rather isolated part of town. The moment Pi Yan left his carriage and entered his rooms, a cold wind blew past him, and Master Shade appeared within.

“Lord Pi,” he murmured, bowing.

“No need for the formalities, Master Shade.” Pi Yan removed his black overcoat and handed it to Pi Batian, then sat down at the table. “How’s the situation with Yun Ruoyan?”

“As usual, there’s been no peculiarities,” Master Shade replied. “Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo are more valued in the Feng city than I thought, so if we’re unable to capture both of them now, we may not have any chance of doing so in the future.”

“If all goes to plan, we’ll certainly capture at least Yun Ruoyan, and hopefully Li Mo as well.” Pi Batian exclaimed confidently. “I brought more than two dozen swordsmen into the city in the guise of a merchant caravan, and another two dozen during this visit. These fifty swordsmen are all infinitesimally close to being sword saints. According to my investigation, there aren’t many guards here in the Feng city, and most of them are only ninth-rank blademasters. Even if our plan were exposed, we’d still be able to snatch Yun Ruoyan by force easily.”

Pi Yan and Master Shade smiled.

“Everyone in Yun Ruoyan’s manor received an invitation to the Feng family head’s festivities tonight. We can accost them as they’re returning to their manor after the banquet,” Master Shade explained.

“I’ll handle Li Mo,” Pi Yan stated. “Master Shade, you’ll be responsible for capturing Yun Ruoyan. Tian’er, you’ll clear out our path with your swordsmen.”

Once the three of them had planned out that night’s activities, all they had to do was wait. Pi Yan and Pi Batian rested briefly within the inn. In the afternoon, a few swordsmen arrived to lead them toward the Feng manor for that evening’s banquet.

As they entered the manor, they saw Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan departing from a carriage. Pi Yan and Pi Batian stared at them, and Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan stared back. As their gazes met, tension and sparks of hostile rivalry filled the air.

“Lord Pi, Young Master Pi, please come this way.” Feng Yicheng stepped out of a side door of the Feng manor, glanced at Li Mo, then plastered a smile on his face as he greeted the Pi procession warmly.

Pi Yan narrowed his eyes and turned away from Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan. Pi Batian snorted, then followed Feng Yicheng and his father through the side door.

The front of the Feng manor was impressively crowded, and the heads of the six cities were all brought inside the Feng manor through a side door. However, the smaller families and less important guests all had to wait in line at the front of the Feng manor. According to plan, Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo wouldn’t be treated as special guests and therefore also had to wait in line with the crowd.

“Father,” Pi Batian murmured, turning toward Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo once again. “Didn’t Master Shade state that the two of them were important guests to the Feng family?”

“No matter what, they’re still just two groundhogs from a lower realm,” Pi Yan scoffed. “Giving them a manor to reside in is more than sufficient.”

“The Feng family must be deliberately provoking us if they’re sheltering these escaped slaves so openly,” Pi Batian murmured. “It might not be that they think so highly of them.”

“Lord Pi, Young Master Pi, please.” Feng Yicheng motioned for the two Pis to enter the reception hall, where the other five families had already gathered.

When Pi Yan and Pi Batian entered the hall, the Wu, Lie, and Chen family heads all rose and greeted them. On the other hand, the Hua and Zheng families only greeted them briefly after the other three families had done so.

As the crowd settled down, Feng Yanyang walked in from outside the hall. Dressed in a rich brocade, he smiled and greeted each of the gathered guests, especially Pi Yan. “Today’s my fortieth birthday, and I’m honored to have everyone gathered here,” he announced. “I was born late in the evening, so the evening banquet will be the main event of the party. Before that, please enjoy the afternoon tea to be laid out for you shortly.”

Despite how casual the afternoon tea was supposed to be, the Feng family had prepared extravagant delicacies. Almost all the gathered guests had already gone beyond the need for food for basic satiety, so they were particularly picky with regards to taste and presentation.

Despite having lost her good appetite ever since reaching the point in her cultivation where she no longer needed to eat, Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help salivate at the food that the Feng family had prepared.

That evening, as Feng Yanyang’s birth hour neared, the crowd gathered at the reception hall for the celebration. The Feng family had its roots in a lower realm. Their ceremonies were surprisingly similar to those of the Chenyuan continent, with unparalleled attention to detail and a commensurate increase in the time required to execute them. By the time the extended ceremony was over and the banquet began, it was already nightfall.

“Lord Feng, at forty, you’ve reached the pinnacle of power, and you’ve brought your family to greater heights than ever before. I hope you’ll continue maintaining good relations with the Hua family in the coming years!” Lord Hua, who was on good terms with Lord Feng, stood up from his seat and toasted Feng Yanyang.

“You’ve overpraised me, Lord Hua.” Feng Yanyang drained his cup of wine, then smiled. “The Feng family will always be happy to cooperate with other families. Together, we can all prosper and share in the profits.”

“Speaking of profits, the Feng family has really made a killing these last few years,” Lord Chen muttered, not particularly happily. “The spirit crystal veins in Peak Darkness have produced a considerable amount of high-grade and even sage-grade spirit crystals, sufficient for dozens of ninth-rank blademasters to break through to the realm of a sword saint! At this rate, the Feng family will soon hold a monopoly on power!”

The Chen family had always been a loyal retainer of the Pi family, and most of their trading ventures were with the Pis. After the Pis had lost jurisdiction over Peak Darkness, the three families most closely allied with the Pis had had their finances suffer.

Feng Yanyang simply smiled, offering no further reply to Lord Chen’s rather incendiary comments. Instead, with a stern look on his face, Lord Zheng criticized, “Lord Chen, aren’t you being a little too pessimistic? Fortune favors the bold. There’s no reason it couldn’t be one of our families who takes control of Peak Darkness next.”

Before the Feng family’s rapid ascension to power, the Pi family had governed Peak Darkness for nine consecutive years, amassing huge quantities of wealth and power. They had led the Mingyuan continent for many years, and if not for the sudden rise of the Feng family, their position as hegemon would only have been further and further entrenched, until the other six families were no more than token pawns.

The Feng family’s ascension was one of commercial and economic power, rather than in strength and dominance. By pursuing a relatively peaceful path to power, the Feng family had neither suppressed nor threatened the other families with brute force, and they had been far kinder to the other families than the Pis when they were in power.

Feng Yanyang suddenly smiled. He raised a cup of wine and toasted the crowd. “Since it’s my birthday, let’s have a happy reunion and not speak of such sobering affairs.”

“Hear, hear!” Lord Wu stood up. “How can there be no entertainment at Lord Feng’s birthday banquet? My warriors are more than happy to provide some entertainment for the gathered crowd!”

“Wonderful!” someone added. “This feast feels like it’s missing something without any sort of entertainment.”

The cultivators of the Mingyuan continent particularly favored the martial arts; entertainment at such banquets consisted not of music or dance, but of duels, challenges, and competitions. Watching swordsmen fight as they supped and dined was the foremost pleasure of the nobility of the Mingyuan continent.

“Let me be the first to get on stage!” a hulk shouted from behind Lord Wu. He had been the Wu representative during the seven cities’ tournament, and was as massive as a mountain. He strode to center stage, gathering the crowd’s attention, then suddenly pointed toward a guest. “You, I challenge you to a fight!”

The crowd turned in the direction he was pointing to find a black-robed man, none other than Li Mo...

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