When everyone saw that the show was over, they dispersed in confusion. The young man knew that he had escaped a disaster and cupped his fist to Chen Mo in gratitude.
“Your Servant is Xiang Feichen,1 juren of Jiang Province. That prince of King Baisha is honestly unreasonable. Princess Yanyu is violating the rules of the Divine Warrior Examination. To think that he’d still want to take her side, this is too unfair to us juren.” Xiang Feichen still harbored doubts.
Chen Mo saw that he was very serious, unlike an embittered, nasty character, so Chen Mo asked: “What proof do you have that you’re so certain she is more than twenty years old?”
“Your Servant’s father once had business at Lord Jiangnan’s mansion. My father personally saw that Jiang Yanyu’s birth date was four years earlier than mine. Your Servant is eighteen this year. Would you say that her participation in the Divine Warrior Examination isn’t fraud?”
“Perhaps your father misremembered?”
“No way, back on the day Jiang Yanyu was born, the Jiang Mansion was covered in a light drizzle2 and mist. Luan birds were perched, an auspicious sign. He remembers this especially clearly.” Xiang Feichen solemnly vowed.
This was actually the first time that Chen Mo had heard such a background. But Star World already had a legend, that when the Heavens showed phenomena, then there would inevitably be myriad geniuses born into the world. With Jiang Yanyu’s qualifications, this was only right, but no matter how he looked at it, Chen Mo still felt that something was fishy.
The imperial court could not possibly be unclear on such an important matter.
“Don’t you have any other proof?” Chen Mo asked.
“Justice comes from a person’s heart. Otherwise, no matter how outstandingly talented Jiang Yanyu is, she can’t possibly have broken through Thunder Tribulation cultivation before twenty.” Xiang Feichen seemed rather stubborn.
Chen Mo did not mind this point very much, “I’d advise you not talk about this anymore. A man of character has no need to entangle himself with something like this. As long as you become very strong, why should you bother about others? Are you telling me that if Jiang Yanyu doesn’t participate, you can win?”
“When you’ve increased your own strength, you won’t be splitting hairs over other people’s successes and failures.” Chen Mo patted him on the shoulder.
This eighteen year old was older than himself, but at first glance, it would have instead appeared that Chen Mo was even older.
Xiang Feichen was taken aback. He carefully thought over Chen Mo’s words, “successes and failures,” as if he understood now that the more he bickered about Jiang Yanyu, the weaker he would make himself appear. Thereupon, he sighed: “Your Servant does not have vision like Brother’s, I am ashamed.”
“Your Servant wonders what Brother’s name is?” Xiang Feichen cordially asked.
“Your Servant is Chen Mo.”
“Chen Mo.” Xiang Feichen felt that this name was apparently a bit familiar: “This conversation today has really cleared my head. When we get to Chang’an, I have to invite you for a meal, Brother Chen Mo, don’t refuse.”
The two of them walked the road together. Chen Mo learned that Xiang Feichen and Jiang Yanyu were juren from the same city, so he curiously asked many things pertaining to Jiang Yanyu.
Currently, Princess Yanyu was very prominent in Great Chong Dynasty, and everyone was talking rumors about her superior talent, how formidable she was, and so forth. According to the rumors, it would have been no surprise that she was a Star General at this age.
As far as Chen Mo understood, things like gossip were always a bunch of falsehoods, increasingly distorted the more they grew. However, what he learned from Xiang Feichen was indeed a bit surprising. Jiang Yanyu was indeed very exceptional. In the provincial and metropolitan examinations, she did not meet with even the slightest trouble. Even Xiang Feichen could not help but concede that Jiang Yanyu was able to take the top position in Jiang Province without using even thirty percent of her capabilities. This was also a reason he felt this was unfair – this was honestly too upsetting.
Early morning, the two of them arrived at Chang’an.
Chang’an was the Great Chong Dynasty’s number one metropolis. The city walls were several dozen zhang tall, with a spectacular True Dragon totem carved along the ramparts. It spread across the city walls, vivid and lifelike. Every first time visitor to Chang’an was unavoidably astounded by the sight before their eyes. At this time, Chang’an was guarded by a massive military force. Chen Qingzhi’s recent incursion into Chang’an had shocked all levels of society. Even now, he could still see many Thunder Tribulation cultivators operating magic weapons as they stood guard.
“Brother Chen Mo, have you been to Chang’an before?” Xiang Feichen noticed that Chen Mo was very composed, not showing the excited mood other warriors had when the national capital revealed itself.
“Once, when I was small.” Chen Mo nodded.
Xiang Feichen was relieved: “Chang’an’s Longjing Bamboo is apparently very famous, a concoction served to the court. Brother Chen Mo, let me treat you, consider it my gratitude.”
“There’s nothing you need to repay.” Chen Mo smiled and said.
Xiang Feichen replied: “I feel we have a connection. We can look out for each other in the court examination, won’t you do me this honor.”
Chen Mo saw that they still had time. He was in no hurry to return to the mansion, so he acquiesced.
The Delicious Fill Pavilion was Chang’an’s greatest restaurant, where some of the retired chefs from the imperial court came to impart their experience. It was claimed that one could enjoy the food served to the imperial court. The restaurant enjoyed great fame among Chang’an’s nobility, and it was absolutely packed practically everyday.
Xiang Feichen had a friend in Chang’an who served as a minor official, and having known that Xiang Feichen was coming, a reservation had already been made. “Brother Chen Mo, if you wouldn’t mind, why not stay at my friend’s place. Although it’s shabby, it’s much more comfortable than an inn.”
“Many thanks for your kindness, but there’s no need for the trouble. I have arrangements.” Chen Mo politely declined.
Xiang Feichen did not press further.
When they arrived at the Delicious Fill Pavilion, it was swarming with people, as expected. Outside, a young man in long garb had been waiting a long time. Upon seeing them, he quickly walked over.
Evidently, this young man was Xiang Feichen’s friend who was employed as a petty official in Chang’an.
Before Xiang Feichen could introduce Chen Mo, that young man said: “Feichen, about time you guys got here. I was saving this spot for a really long time. If you came later, I wouldn’t be able to keep it.”
The young man then said to Chen Mo: “I’m called Luo Sheng.3 Let’s hurry and go in.” Perhaps he was afraid the reservation had been cancelled from waiting too long, but they quickly entered the Delicious Fill Pavilion without completely making introductions.
Once seated, Luo Sheng waved his hand and called over a waiter.
“What do you want to eat, order anything you want. Feichen, you’re going to participate in the court examination today. I’ll have let you down if you don’t eat to your satisfaction.” Luo Sheng laughed.
Xiang Feichen ordered that Longjing Bamboo Shred Soup.
“What would this customer like to eat?” The waiter asked.
“Dried Fortune Sea Cucumber and a Five Colors Tenderloin.” Chen Mo had eaten these before and felt that these two dishes were more to his palate.
“Then, you have chosen excellently, customer. The average person cannot order these two dishes.” The waiter said.
Luo Sheng used an astonished gaze to look at Chen Mo: “Does this Brother come here often?”
“I heard about them.”
“Would you customers like anything else?” The waiter asked. At this moment, he noticed the shopkeeper beckoning to him from faraway, so he apologetically departed first.
Chen Mo followed the waiter with his eyes and watched that shopkeeper say something to the waiter. Behind the shopkeeper were five or six fancily dressed youths. Surprisingly, they were Tang Lun’s group. “I think we’re about to be driven out.” Chen Mo drank his tea.
“Driven out? I, Luo Sheng, am acquaintances with this shopkeeper. He dares drive us out.” Luo Sheng was disdainful.
At this time, the waiter ran over.
Luo Sheng ordered some more dishes, but the waiter apologetically said: “Big Brother Luo Sheng, I am really sorry. The shopkeeper has just commanded that we can’t serve you today. Come tomorrow for an apology feast.”
Luo Sheng expression sank. To have sat down in a public place and then be forced away, this would cost him face. Although Luo Sheng had long served as a minor official, this would be an enormous blow to his authority if word got out. “Do you want to make me smash this table?”
“Who wants to smash the table. I want to see that. Who is so bold as to dare smash This King’s dinner table.”
Suddenly, an icily arrogant voice came from behind them.
Luo Sheng and Xiang Feichen turned their heads to look, and their expression promptly changed.
The one who spoke was none other than Tang Lun and his group. Right now, a bold and powerful man clad in golden armor was also at Tang Lun’s side. That man had a square face, sword-like brows, and eyes like lightning. He was like a fierce tiger, emitting an intense murderous aura. From his clothes, this man was clearly a bodyguard of the imperial court.
“So it turns out to be Lord Pang Xinghai, this is truly a coincidence.” Luo Sheng recognized this man as the imperial guards’ Commandant of Exemplary Arms.4 His tone was immediately much more respectful.
Chen Mo saw that his Three Flowers had reached the stage that unified spirit and flesh. The man’s skin was glossy and clean-shaven. His restrained strength demonstrated he had already undergone at least the trial of Lesser Thunder Tribulation’s First Layer.
With each layer of Thunder Tribulation, the cultivator’s magic energy would increase a level. They could easily steamroll a Three Flowers Gathered Overhead warrior.
“Let us eat together, my treat.” Luo Sheng smiled.
“We have reserved this table. Leave.” Pang Xinghai expressionlessly ordered.
In a public place, with so many people watching, Pang Xinghai did not give him even a bit of face. Luo Sheng was extremely embarrassed, but against the Commandant of Exemplary Arms, he did not dare resist. He was nothing more than a mature Three Flowers Gathered Overhead, not even a Saint Of War.
“There are rules, you people don’t even understand etiquette. We reserved this first.” Xiang Feichen was a jinshi. He also had some pride.
“Although you said you reserved it first,” The shopkeeper promptly stepped forward to mediate: “When you left just now, this spot was vacant. Therefore, we gave it to this sir. Luo Sheng, we cannot serve you this time, please understand.”
He gave Luo Sheng a way out, and the man’s expression finally warmed a bit.
Luo Sheng surreptitiously gave Xiang Feichen a look. Despite the latter’s pride, he did not want to implicate his friend. Seeing Luo Sheng say as much, Xiang Feichen in turn said nothing more.
“Since this is a misunderstanding, then there is no other way.” Luo Sheng said, embarrassed.
As he said this, he pulled Xiang Feicheng to his feet.
But it was very obvious that Tang Lun did not want to leave things at that. “This friend of yours said a few very unpleasant words about Princess Yanyu a while ago. I want him to apologize right now, admit his mistakes, and that will be it.”
Luo Sheng paused and looked at Xiang Feichen in confusion.
Xiang Feichen’s expression turned a complete red from rage. He grit his teeth: “There are rules, do not bully others intolerably.”
Tang Lun sneered.
Pang Xinghai was bewildered. After Tang Lun recounted the exchange from before, this expressionless man immediately showed a savage grin.
The others in the restaurant stared at them. Everyone heard Tang Lun’s words clearly and were in an uproar.
“You surprisingly think that Princess Yanyu is concealing her age, perhaps you are just a coward.” Pang Xinghai assessed.
“I am not lying!” Xiang Feichen roared.
“You talk big but are not afraid of biting your tongue. If you do not apologize today, then This King sees that the court examination will have no need for a juren like you.” Tang Lun was overbearing, as if he could not wait to show the whole world that he was currently repelling evil in the name of Princess Yanyu.
“If you do not apologize, do you want me to take action against you?” Tang Lun sneered. He extended his hand, reaching for Xiang Feichen. This claw was aimed at his neck, to make him kneel.
Xiang Feichen was just about to counterattack when that Pang Xinghai’s eyes moved, his thoughts locking onto Xiang Feichen. The man’s body stiffened.
Just as he was about to be taken, a gale swept forth and seized Tang Lun’s wrist.
“Brother Tang Lun, there is no need to be so aggressive.” The young man drinking tea to the side finally intervened.
Tang Lun’s eyes narrowed, sneering even more, as if saying, I was waiting for you to make a move.