A/N: For consistency's sake, the cultivation rank will be rank 1 to rank 9 from now on. Rank 1 has one spirit ring while rank 9 has nine.
Even from the peak of the library constructed in the depths of the institute, Nik could focus on the blurry image of Saint Judgement Hall. Glorious was one way to describe it, but the younger generation preferred to use Descended. Despite its past reputation and might, Saint Judgement Hall is now deeply infiltrated with aristocracies and other associations. Each faction looking out for themselves and thus, full establishing the rule of might make law even if the primary purpose of this hall was to ensure the proper execution of the law. If this hall were to reach its peak, the whorehouses would close down, the underground arena rings would be destroyed, and at least, everyone would still be able to enjoy all these entertainment facilities through citizens who are willing to perform the aforementioned services.
The hall looked grand. The perimeter of the hall was marked with pike fences on the four corners of, and two statues a tiger and a dragon both roaring towards each other, attached to the long staircase. The surrounding was sparsely populated since the commoners had no requirements of entering this political abyss and ruin their lives. But to people like Yang Xin, who had grown and learned to survive in this abyss, this place was a paradise. Countless benefits could be earned with snap decisions, while soul-shaking losses might occur even after years of planning. Such was the beauty of politics and horror of risks.
After spending a significant half of the afternoon with Asami, Nik now stood in front of this jade building. The jade resembled the purer types of marbles from his homeworld. Since Nik wasn't a passionate soul for architecture or pricey rocks for that matter, he didn't care if this building was constructed of jade or not. He patiently waited near the tiger's sculpture and waited for Yang Xin. Initially, Huyan Lanruo wanted to invite him to the expedition, but his commitment to meet Yang Xin today restricted him. Either way, the expedition truly didn't interest him once he found out that the major part was comprised of men, and Ray was also joining in. Nik now knew Ray well enough to understand that this exploration just became a substantial hunting ground for the succubus.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
Xiao Xue's back was pushed against the broad of the thick tree as she clenched her fists above her bosom and barked with a fierce expression. Though she might look pressured, if Lu Piao dared to turn his hands onto her after speaking such ignorant words, then leaving with a few broken bones was a grace Xiao Xue was willing to bestow.
"Can't you even do that for my brother, Nie Li? We both are engaged, and the fact that I always endured your beatings, you shouldn't merely refuse just because it doesn't feel right. Nie Li likes Ye Ziyun very much."
Xiao Xue's gaze turned sharp, and she glared at Lu Piao. "Endured? Piao, I am not going to honey trap my friend just because your friend likes her. Ziyun had already told us what happened. Wasn't it Nie Li who has been troubling her?" Xiao Xue questioned with a snort.
"Oh, come on! Can't you help me this one time?"
Xiao Xue finally couldn't control her irritation and sucker-punched her fiance before walking away with a stomp of her foot over his.
Lu Piao fell on his butt with a pained expression as he sighed internally. Deep down, Lu Piao already knew it was going to turn out like this. He knew his fiancee's violent nature, and even when he gave hope to Nie Li, it was merely an act to motivate himself to work out the courage and place his request. He could predict the result long ago, but the pain was brutal every time. Finally, after rolling around for a long time, Lu Piao sat up and exhaled deeply.
"Eeesh, that was savage of Xue." A voice interrupted Lu Piao's slow carriage of thoughts as he scratched his forehead with a deep sigh.
"Tell me about it," he barely completed his sentence when his eyes widened, and he turned his head. With his back leaned against a tree, Ray winked at Lu Piao with his pupils glimmering in pink color.
"Well, hello there."
Ray smiled beautifully.
Instead of her crumpled robe and shaggy hairstyle, Yang Xin dolled up by a slight margin, and the difference in the image made Nik smile. While his sassy self wished to point out that Yang Xin should simply try harder in dressing up, Nik was fortunate enough not to have turned hare-brained even after all the f.u.c.k sessions. If Yang Xin can dress up now, then surely, there must be other reasons why she didn't focus on her appearance before.
"Did you wait for a long time?"
Yang Xin inquired while posing for a brief second during her pace. Instead of a loose alchemist robe covered by a deep-blue jacket that was the doctor's equivalent of the lab coat, Yang Xin sported a silver cheongsam with black flower prints. To match the black borders of her top, Yang Xin dazzled her surroundings with a 'flow' form of pants. The two panels of her cheongsam stuck to her curves tightly while her pants grew in space as it flowed down. Yang Xin even wore her hair in a curled ponytail with a significant portion of her bangs pulled backward, and her second eye getting exposed to the world. Once again, Nik's sassy version wished to point out the difference.
Suppressing his amused self, Nik shook his head. "Not at all. You are just in time," he said with a smile. Yang Xin waited for a few breaths, and Nik really didn't disappoint her as he scrutinized her from head-to-toe. Though Yang Xin had a serene expression, it has been a long time since she even sprinkled make-up on her face just to make her eyebags look less significant. She already has a concoction for this problem, but it takes time for the eyebags developed for years to recede naturally.
Instead of stating the obvious, Nik inquired, "Say, why don't we discuss the terms somewhere else?"
His words made Yang Xin hesitate a bit. The duties of the alchemist association were not something Yang Xin could remove from her shoulders easily.
She really wanted to have fun, too! Why else would she even dress?
Seeing her expression, Nik continued earnestly, "Do not worry, we will be discussing the matter of our partnership."
His words made sense, and she finally nodded. Since the association's main building is constructed near the hall, Yang Xin didn't ride a carriage and walked here on foot. Before Nik turned, Yang Xin spoke up, "There is a lavish inn Moon a few minutes away. Why don't we"
"Instead of a restaurant, why don't we try something else?" Nik interjected and then pointed a few meters away towards the line of stalls. These vendors especially catered to the officials within the hall and were quite famous. Nik wanted to try them out. When Yang Xin looked at the stalls, she thought for a while and then shook her head.
"I have a better place then."
Saying this, Yang Xin took the lead and walked towards the direction she came from while Nik gave the line of stalls one last look.
'Maybe another time,' he sighed internally and followed Yang Xin. The seven stalls were known for their blast of taste. Since Nik had never experienced anything like that, he thought trying the dishes out today wouldn't be a bad thing.
The western region of the city was controlled by all the associations and the city lord collectively while the remaining three regions came under the control of the three high nobles. Now that the Sacred Family was no more, instead of letting another power rise, the Snow Wind Family and the Divine Family divided the northern region among themselves. This was merely a temporary gain. The moment another Rank 6 spirit master rise to prominence, the families would have to let go of the northern region.
These seven stalls owners were a group of cook that traveled the entire Glory City on foot for years, experimenting on dishes and acc.u.mulating experience before settling in the western region. The only reason their stall wasn't filled to the brim was due to their price being astronomical. Even the recently closed Star Restaurant couldn't compete against these seven stalls regarding their prices.
As Nik followed up to Yang Xin, he looked at her profile for a moment.
"Is there something on my face?"
Feeling the long, silent stare, Yang Xin brushed the strands of hair behind her ear and inquired without matching Nik's gaze.
"Nothing on your face, but you know, since we haven't reached the place to discuss serious matters, why don't we chat while moving? Let's get to know each other a little bit."
Yang Xin heard Nik and thought for a while without giving any reaction to the lingering stares of the strangers.
"Sure," Yang Xin agreed, "Well, I don't have many tales to recite. So, why don't you start?"
"Hmm, all right," Nik nodded and then smiled, "Here's a story that the city doesn't know."
The pair was walking across the sidelines of the street as Yang Xin swept her gaze past any and every stall that sold trinkets. Who knows, she might find something she likes. Meanwhile, Nik began his story, "So, here's the thing, before I left the Gin Family, I actually found a treasure."
His opening instantly attracted Yang Xin's focus as Nik continued with a face filled with emotions, "That treasure was extremely potent. It was the main reason why I even left my family in the first place."
"What was the treasure?"
Yang Xin interjected and asked curiously while Nik shook his head, "I'll tell you later. It concerns the suspense of this tale." He smiled and continued, "The moment I left the family, this treasure allowed me to become a martial genius, and even women were attracted to me. Honestly, it felt like a dream coming to fruition."
Yang Xin pursed her lips. Nik was still a martial genius, and from what she knew, his relationship with Lanruo, Shen Xiu, and Xue Yin was already confirmed. And such men usually have some beauties hidden away, too. 'Is he describing his current scenario?' Yang Xin thought before shaking her head, 'No, he clearly stated that this treasure convinced him to leave the family in the first place.'
"But, it didn't last for long. This treasure, if not controlled, started to corrupt the surroundings. It would make the women around me lose their minds after a while. It barely affected my martial arts."
Nik mumbled in bitterness before he looked at the engrossed Yang Xin. He smiled widely, "And now, I realize that the box wasn't a treasure, it was my charm, and by now, you will be feeling that you've been hoodwinked into hearing an elaborate self-praise."
He leaned down slightly and blew into Yang Xin's ear, breaking her out from the stupor as she glared towards Nik and sneered, "That was one elaborate scheme, all right."
Nik grinned and stood at an appropriate distance once again right next to Yang Xin and shrugged, "I want us to know each other better. By now, you should understand that I am prone to bragging. What about you? Any quirky qualities that can amuse a man?"
"Bragging is not amusing," Yang Xin retorted without replying to the latter half as Nik nodded, "It is if it's the truth."
"So, women lose their minds if in contact with you for a long time?"
Yang Xin waggled her eyebrows in mock while Nik licked his lips, "There is only one way to confirm this theory, in my honest opinion."
"Aside from bragging, you are also used to shamelessness," Yang Xin pointed out.
"An outstanding quality. Would you prefer a person who admires you greatly but never gathers enough courage to praise you even once and leave all the responsibility on you to initiate a relationship...
Nik placed three demon spirit coins on the stall and took a blood rose before presenting it to Yang Xin. " would you prefer a shameless man who isn't afraid of rejection?"
Yang Xin took the rose gracefully and brought it closer to her face, letting the petals brush against her lips. "Rejection can be harsh," she whispered while turning and walking forward.
"Only to the weak-minded."
Nik accompanied Yang Xin and admired the wide smile that couldn't be hidden by the rose. For the remaining half, Nik didn't push Yang Xin to tell a few tales about herself. There would be no point in doing that, and he might also lose all the progress he made with a few words.
Finally, the pair reached a slightly modest stall with an old man sitting behind with his eyes closed and his hand holding a fan and resting under the shade of the large umbrella.
"Old man Kon, are you in the mood to entertain my guest?"
Yang Xin whispered with a tinge of respect as the old man groaned and opened his eyes. His face was filled with wrinkles, and Nik couldn't even be sure if this man could move. But in the next breathe, the old man stretched his body and smiled widely, "Little Xing, why won't this old man entertain? Your guests are my guests, too."
Nik frowned when he heard this. Then, his eyes widened in a burst of inspiration. This old man just gave Nik the best catchphrase to get revenge on every angry husband that he had ever met.
Your wife is my wife, too.
Nik whispered under his breath and sighed in emotions.
He really needed to anger a husband now...
Wait, Nik suddenly thought.
'If a boy is annoying, and I get his mother... like Kaya, should I have said your mother is my mother, too would that make me a motherf.u.c.ker? Well, in my homeworld, I did f.u.c.k my mother... so I am already titled one.'
Nik then continued this line of reasoning, 'What about daughter and sisters, then?'
His eyes continued to brighten while the old man stood up and prepared his utensils. Since there were no chairs, the couple remained standing, and Yang Xin finally poked the stem of the rose against Nik's cheek and brought him out of his thoughts.
"What happened to you?"
She inquired with a distressed pout as Nik whispered sagely.