Sophie's first observation of the dinning room was that it was the size of a hall with large statues from notable artists lining the walls. The crystal floor sparkled in the light giving off a sense of elegance and class.
There was a single long table with over eighty chairs in the center of the room, but the duke and his daughter simply sat next to one another at the head.
"Why haven't I seen any servants?" Sophie asked in a puzzled tone.
"I wasn't sure if you would be comfortable having people see your new physique, so I ordered all the servants to stay away for the rest of the evening. It will be impossible to hide this forever but there is no proof or link to your insectoid lineage. I have yet to see another member of your mother's race even after years battling on the frontier," replied the duke.
"We just need to claim that your mother was part of an uncontacted race in the outer rims."
What he did not mention to his daughter was that he wanted her new form to be an advantage during the class evaluation. Her cultivation base had already risen to stage four of the qi body and with two months of intense training, he was confident that she should be able to barely qualify for a spot.
Rome was not built in a day and cultivation foundations should never be rushed.
It was very tempting for early stage cultivators to boost their level with enhancing drugs or serums before the university exam. This would leave them with a shaky Dao heart that would ruin any chance of breaking into the higher realms.
Sophie relaxed and cheerfully talked about small topics with her dad before a low grumble from her stomach interrupted the conversation. She blushed furiously when her father gave a small laugh at her expense.
"Alright X-34 bring the food in," Rokan shouted loudly.
A tiny robot entered the room with three plates of white boxes held up by its frail-looking metallic arms.
With a small buzzing noise, it dropped two plates in front of Sophie while the remaining plate was given to the Duke. Sophie curiously looked at the white boxes and opened one to find a single vial of nutrient solution inside. She gave a strange look towards her father.
Was money tight?
Nutrient solution was created to fill biological needs with differing levels of quality depending on the manufacturer. Still it was typically used to feed the poor while the rich of society ate rare meat from mutated beasts that aided in their cultivation.
Her father just gestured slowly towards the vial, so Sophie unscrewed the cap and downed the contents.
"HmmNot bad at all", Sophie muttered.
The taste was rather flavourless but for some reason she felt a warm energy entering her body which filled her with energy. But she still felt a gnawing sense of hunger, so she reached out for another one.
And another one.
Maybe one more.
Well there are three plates of the stuff!
Rokan looked at his daughter happily drinking vial after vial of nutrient solution and felt his heart sinking in his chest.
He just wanted to see if his daughter needed compact nutrients after her transformation
But by god. his little girl's appetite was as ferocious as her mother!
This high-grade solution was densely packed with nutrients and each vial had a cost of twenty thousand Enas which was more than the monthly salary of a middle-class family.
It should be noted that one vial was enough for a body stage cultivator, yet his daughter just kept on going without any signs of stopping anytime soon.
Even for a rich man such as himself this was not an expense he could just shrug off. What if she required this amount of nutrients for every meal! A small stinging sensation of pain and sorrow was felt from his wallet.
Sophie only later on would learn that her father invested in several business ventures that very day to fund his daughter's enormous appetite.
"Ahh that's the good stuff," Sophie leaned back with a small smile of contentment as her stomach was finally full.
She saw her father peeking at her from the corner of her eye with a strange expression of astonishment crossing his face. Sophie looked down and realised she had drunk every vial from all three platesleaving none for her father.
A guilty look crossed her face, but her dad just sighed in exasperation and ordered the poor robot to return with more food.
Fortunately, her father did not allow the awkward mood to continue and shifted the conversation to the four great universities.
"So, I think I can assume by you taking these two months off from school that you want to try to enter one of the four universities? "he asked.
Sophie spoke with determination, "Yes I want to become strong enough to protect myself and prove that I deserve to inherit your house."
"You don't have to prove anything no matter what outsiders say about you. My daughter will always be my one and only heir," came a sharp retort.
"Thanks dad," Sophie said bashfully. Sui Meng had never met a man more loving and caring than the original host's father. Even though he had a few quirks, she could tell the reason why her mother fell for him.
"But let's talk about the four universities. I will have to look at your progress at the end of these two months. If I think it is too dangerous for you to take part in the trial then you need to listen to me and not participate," the duke warned sternly.
Sophie nodded slowly in acknowledgement.
Rokan had to make sure that his daughter understood the dangers of taking part in the trial process that could sometimes be fatal.
The four great universities were founded by each of the races that made up the core of the Earth Federation. Any individual under the age of twenty was allowed to participate regardless of age or status.
Each planet would send a certain number of representatives from the top high schools to add to the pool of candidates. The candidates would then be divided into new groups of roughly ten thousand members and taken to different testing sites which tended to be uninhabited planets or lunar colonies.
The test would take place over a month and participants would be forced to enter a survival game where the top five hundred would have a guaranteed entry spot to one of the universities of their choice.
It was also possible that candidates outside the top five hundred could be scouted as well but this was only for notable exceptions.
Every single one of these candidates were geniuses in cultivation and stood at the peak of their respective age group. For even a minimum chance of making it to the cut off point, they would have to be at least qi body stage nine.
With such a gathering of talent, it would be foolish to make the young seedlings fight to the death so each candidate was equipped with an amulet that would activate a protective barrier upon fatal damage towards their host being detected.
The supervisors also monitored the site closely to ensure that accidents did not occur.
However, the duke having been through the survival game before, was painfully aware that if the barrier was a split second late to deploy, it would lead to instant death.
The thought of his little girl being in that situation made his blood run cold.
Maybe the discrimination would not be terrible amongst the commoner students, but no noble would dare to team up with her.
She would have to survive on her own.