The three high nobles covered the northern, southern, and the Eastern portion of the city while the City Lord's mansion and the headquarters of various institutes were constructed on the Western portion of the city. The ease of accessing the upper echelons of the institutes that cater to the needs of the city made most of the leaders of the middle-level aristocracies and the high nobles build the mansion of their main family here while the sites of their branches were spread across the entirety of Glory City.
In the Sacred Family's main estate that only housed the direct family members of the current patriarch Shen Hong a curvaceous woman with her flaming red hair worn in a large bun walked through the long corridor. Her gait was practical and seductive. Taking the left, the woman entered a spacious hall. On a grandeur throne sat an old man. White hair, wrinkled skin, and features on his face. In front of him knelt a blue-haired youth. It was Shen Yue, Shen Xiu's nephew, and the old man's Shen Hong's son.
"Greetings, elder brother." Shen Xiu lowered her head and paid her respects. Her fiery personality was completely hidden away and her eyes were dull enough to resemble a corpse.
"Has Ye Han returned?"
Shen Hong kept his gaze on his son. A genius he created after going through many women in his life. In terms of martial spirits, Shen Yue's Three-headed nine-tails demon fox was a monster that even surpassed Shen Hong's Phantom Fox in raw might.
"Ye Han is still venturing into the Star Dou forest. His arrival does not seem imminent."
"Hmm," Shen Hong nodded as he changed his direction of inquiry, "How goes Shen Yue's education?"
A slight splendor returned to Shen Xiu's eyes as she gazed at Shen Yue with warmth, "He will be taking up the Genius class after this semester. He will also be allowed to venture into the Star Dou forest alongside the principal to chose a spirit ring for himself."
"Hmm..." Shen Hong finally moved his gaze from Shen Yue to Shen Xiu. His eyes scanned Shen Xiu from top to bottom as her heart clenched internally, Droplets of sweat escaped through her forehead as Shen Hong spoke darkly, "Who allowed you to wear the clothes outside the wardrobe I prepared for you?"
With a gulp, Shen Xiu opened her mouth, "Brother- I"
"And... is that Shen Yue's mother's hairpin? I don't want you wearing any unnecessary accessories. This is your final warning."
Shen Hong spoke faintly yet a tremendous wave of energy barraged Shen Xiu's body.
"Shen Yue, I will be secluding myself for some time now. I expect satisfactory results from you."
Turning his head, Shen Hong pointed out Shen Xiu, "And I expect the Snow Wind Family to issue a letter to ask your hand in the marriage for Ye Han. You only have a year."
Shen Yue's and Shen Xiu's bodies trembled as they nodded.
"Papa! What are these clothes doing in my room!"
The door to the Huyan Family's patriarch's office was slammed open as Huyan Lanrou stuttered in with garments in her hands and a huge pout on her face. With righteous indignation, she threw the clothes towards the burly man on the other side of the table and pointed at him, "These are way too plain!"
Huyan Xiong, the angry girl's father, sighed and rubbed his forehead as he saw multiple clothes sprawled on his table. His designs were nowhere to be seen.
"But Rou'er, these designs are the best one the family came up with after years. More than half of the city wear our clothes... and you always choose that pervert's design."
The man's tone was laced in helplessness as he collected the clothes from his desk and folded them neatly.
"Are you calling me a pervert, Papa?!"
Lanrou exclaimed with an astonished expression and eyes that could burst into tears within moments.
"No, no, no! Of course, not!"
Huyan Xiong sweated as Lanrou pouted and turned on her heels, "I will buy my own clothes, hmph!"
A large fist sent a porcupine-armored middle-aged man stumbling backward before he crashed into the adjacent wall as the crowd grew wild.
"She did it again! Korra, the Berserk Bear, defeated the Rank 32 Pin Master while being a Rank 13 Spirit Master!
That's a record people!"
The crowd cheers grew louder. This was one of the underground rings established by the Divine Family to provide entertainment to those who could afford the price. Since the construction was on the papers and the fighters came into the ring voluntarily to earn their living, the Divine Family's fight club grew more prominent.
Under the wave of cheers, Korra reverted to her human form. Her forearms punctured and even her fists were mutilated. A long gash on her back kept the blood flowing as Korra panted and slowly made her way out of the ring.
She had really done it this time!
Fighting a Rank 32 Spirit Master with three spirit rings was harder than she could have expected. The greater the number of spirit rings are, the larger the number of tactics and strategies one's opponent can come up with. So fighting a spirit master with three spirit rings was more than 8 times harder than fighting a spirit master with two-spirit rings.
"Hahaha! Korra, you did great! Here's your pay!"
A kind-looking youth with a scar around his neck grinned and passed three demon spirit cards to Korra.
"Just arrange the usual one for me."
In reality, even if she was handed thirty thousand demon spirit coins in the form of three cards, she knew that the medics from the divine family with specialized healing spirits would bite out a huge chunk from her earnings. Keeping her with the net earning of 7000-8000 demon spirit coins.
The youth smiled and nodded.
"Well, are the classes beneficial at all? I can help you apply for an early exam."
A mustached man patted Xiao Ning'er's head and asked warmly as the girls shook her head.
"The classes are informative. I would like to keep going. If that is not against the wishes of the family."
Xiao Ning'er spoke dispassionately. Hearing her tone, a pang of guilt struck the heart of the Patriarch of the Wing Dragon Family. Had it not for his own weakness and dull thinking, he would have never fallen to the conspiracy of the Sacred Family. While their family could pay the debts in the long term, the Sacred Family offered an easy way out by presenting Shen Fei's hand to take Xiao Ning'er's hand and marry both of them. Of course, the elders jumped at the chance and arranged Xiao Ning'er's marriage with one of the most famous philanderer of the city, Shen Fei Shen Yue's elder brother.
"What is she doing here?"
Shen Xiu pointed towards Korra. Unlike yesterday, Nik could see that both of them Korra and Shen Xiu looked quite worse. Still, they did not present any obvious causes for his concern.
"She is here to train."
Nik replied to the breathless Shen Xiu, who had already exerted herself for hours. Every time she fell, she would sincerely rest before pushing her body against its limits.
"Oh, did my appearance hurt your feelings once again?"
Korra snickered. She had brutal experiences backing her claim when she said that she could easily beat most of the teachers of the institute. Korra was only here for the resources. Every six months, a trip is arranged for the senior and the genius classes to assist the students in picking their spirit rings. That is what Korra is here for. The only difference between the senior classes is that the Genius block has its own cafe and the student block doesn't.
Korra's remark made Shen Xiu gloomy as she snorted and continued her training. She had other things to focus on than a stranger's mocking.
"All right, you know the routine."
Nik smiled towards Korra and made her complete a single lap around the training field as a warm-up and then made her start the technique routine while focusing n her and Shen Xiu's movements. Just like Korra, Nik, too, was waiting for the half-yearly trips to the Star Dou forest. But before that, he had to build a good and solid relationship with each one of the students he will be trying to increase the ranks of so that when they reach rank 30, Nik's contribution is truly awarded. The first person he wanted to start building a bond with was Shen Xiu.
Of course, it was hard. Nik had already found that beneath the brash and fiery personality hid a distant woman who only held mockery for the world. The cause, was, of course, unknown. But finding that cause would be the first step in truly understanding Shen Xiu. It would take time and effort. But with no apparent apocalypse up his ass for the next 2 years, Nik had plenty of time.
"You look tired. Didn't catch enough sleep?"
Nik remarked as he noticed the uncharacteristic lethargy in Korra's movement.
"What did you think would happen if you called me to train so early?"
Korra shrugged and punched both of her fists out before pulling her palms in and bringing her hand back towards her body.
"Me? Hmm," Nik thought seriously before smiling, "A thank you?"
"Yeah, right!" Korra snorted out a chuckle and moved her body. She could feel the pull on her muscles and the obvious feeling of exhaustion. Her body was improving by the slightest of margins and Korra could feel it. And she had to admit it... this feeling was incredible.
While the duo continued, there was no sign of Huyan Lanrou and Xiao Ning'er. Nik could only sigh before returning to his room to get ready for the classes.