XieRong only wished to take Li Jia and FeiHong along with her despite her first aunt's wishes to bring some more maids.
She wore a simple plain light blue dress with long sleeves so that she would not attract too much attention. The only thing she wore which was remotely expensive were hef mother's keepsake. FeiHong was dressed the same way in a light pink dress. They had fake reputations to build.
They were about to leave, when XieRong heard someone call her.
RuiLing walked over to them. XieRong noticed that she was very a simple olive dress very much unlike her usual bright and vibrant dresses.
"This lady knows that you both are new to Qianhe, so this lady will be generous and spare some of her time to show you both around."
"This little sister will not trouble elder sister. Li Jia can show us around," XieRong replied curtly.
She was amused as well as exasperated at her elder sister. She was too much like grandfather, who felt that admitting to one's fault was shameful and a sign of weakness.
RuiLing felt a little dejected, but she knew it was her fault. She had not said the right words. She had caught hold of XieRong by her sleeve and after a while she lowered her head.
"I-I am sorry," she squeaked.
"I will try and change, I want to start over and learn from you. I realise that even though I may be older, I am not very experienced."
RuiLing had talked to her mother and had realised how true XieRong's words had been. She had indeed acted like Fa MeiLien, arrogant, cruel, and ignorant. She had been unkind to her servants and to the people she had deemed beneath her, never knowing how much they helped look after her. She thought that it had been their role in life to be loyal to her, when in fact it was not. She had cried when she learned that one of her servants had died ingesting poison that had been meant for her when she was only a little older Mu Lan. A noble lady had tried to poison her in order to get rid of future competition for her own daughter at a banquet.
XieRong and FeiHong looked at each other.
-What do you think, FeiHong? I'm okay with it but since you were the one she bullied, I'll let you decide.-
"It's okay, eldest sister, I forgive you," FeiHong said when she saw the desire to try to change in RuiLing's eyes.
FeiHong knew it hadn't been easy for this proud cousin of hers to apologise to them, and how could she remain angry at someone who didn't know any better and had behaved like she had in her past life.
"But elder sister must remember that to act like elder sister is pitying us and it will be better if elder sister dresses in her usual fancy clothes."
Qianhe city was not as bustling as the Capital, with small shops and vendors scattered amongst the many residential homes, however it still had a lot to offer in terms of clothing and other accessories.
A Shi Chen had passed when the three girls started to grow hungry.
"Elder sister, isn't there a restaurant we can go to?"
"Actually, I was just taking you there. Do you see that tall building?"
XieRong did see it. It was the tallest building there was.
"That's Weimin restaurant, where all the nobles in the city and cultivators who want to go to JingShen forest, eat."
"Why would cultivators want to go to JingShen forest?"
"Because apart from the Northern Mountains, it is one of the places that holds rich Spiritual energy and is accessible. There are other places, but they are either too dangerous, or no one knows about them."
"Then why doesn't elder sister cultivate in the JingShen forest? Doesn't the Guo Estate own a part of it?"
"We do own some of it, but that's not where the spiritual energy is concentrated. It's towards the heart of the forest, where I am not allowed to go until I am twelve. Father says I'm not strong enough yet, even though I'm already at the mid soul gathering realm."
The restaurant was huge, busy with more people she had seen throughout the city.
"First young miss Guo, should I show first young miss and these young misses to your usual table," a waiter asked as soon as he saw RuiLing.
RuiLing nodded her head and all of them followed the waiter.
XieRong looked around the restaurant as she was led to the first floor of the building. The lower most floor was filled with waiters in dark brown uniforms running around with orders and bills.
The waiter led them to a table by the window.
"There are two reasons this restaurant is famous; one, for their food," RuiLing said, as she sat down and pointed her finger outside the window,"and two, for the clearest view of Qianhe city's duelists' ring."
"First young miss Guo, the duel will start in a quarter Shi Chen. Is first young miss interested in betting today? The bets will be closed in two joss sticks time."
"Send someone to take our orders first."
"Elder sister is allowed to bet?" XieRong asked. Her mother would have never allowed her if she were eight.
"Yes, well, as long as I don't exceed five hundred silvers, I can bet. Mother and aunt don't allow it, but father said it would help me learn. I never understood what he meant by learning, but I bet anyway. Do you want to try? I'll lend you money."
-Jie, there's no harm in trying. I know you've been watching the teacher at Fa Residence train Fa MeiLien. Besides, we have more than enough money to pay RuiLing back.-
"Okay, I'll try. But how do I know that people from outside won't cheat?"
"Silly! There are barriers around the ring. No one would place their bets if they weren't completely sure that people couldn't cheat!"
RuiLing called the waiter to place their bets.
"Mister, who are competing? How many people have place their bets today?" XieRong asked, looking out her window onto the concrete ring.
"Young miss, the competitors are the old man on the right and the man on the left right next to the ring. More than three hundred people have bet so far with the odds in favour of the young man."
XieRong studied both the competitors.
The man on the left looked lean and athletic while the old man was drunk and currently dead to the world.
She felt both their presences.
The man was a cultivator in the mid dantian formation realm while the old man held no cultivation at all.
However, she could tell the old man had more experience in battle than the younger man did. With her vision getting better with her cultivation, she could see the old man had callouses formed in his hands. His body was also fit and strong.
She just hoped she wasn't wrong in her judgement of the old man.
"Mister, I would like to bet five silver taels on the old man."
"Are you sure young miss?"
"Are you sure XieRong? The man on the right looks much stronger."
XieRong started to reconsider her decision when FeiHong spoke up from beside her.
"Yes, elder sister is sure."
"I see, then."
RuiLing paid the waiter and held off on betting herself as she would have to use all her money if XieRong lost.
The waiter quickly collected the bet money and ran off leaving a token with them.
"Elder sister, what is on the other floors?" XieRong asked, still looking outside her window watching as a crowd quickly gathered around the ring. A huge crowd would always gather near the duelists' ring as it was forbidden to fight using the elements anywhere else in the city except there. People could either sign up to fight, challenge the person in the ring, or accept a challenge from them.
"The second floor of the shop is like this floor, the third floor is full of private rooms as is the fourth, the fifth and final floor belongs to the owner of this restaurant, no one knows what it is used for or who he is. Rumour is, that the owner is a rich young lord from the neighboring west continent."
They ate a rather small meal, their previous hunger gone as they waited for the fight to begin.