"Zhang Dong from the United Element Sect!"
Zhang Dong walked through a large door while one of the servants announced his name. There were some people already on the inside and they started whispering around. He had really gained a lot of infamy for this party and he could see it in the other's eyes.
'Just need to frown and look like the biggest asshole in the room, then they will leave me alone…'
He moved forward while trying to emulate some of the haughty young masters that he had come across in his life. He was clearly giving the 'Do not approach' signals and hoped that people would just ignore him.
This so-called banquet would last for a couple of days as they had some events prepared. While the junior members would try to win some prizes they as the nascent soul elders would just watch.
This was also why he didn't bring his disciples here. With them not in the race they wouldn't be able to beat up any young masters. Thus he wouldn't need to interfere when their uncle or grandfather got involved.
The inside of the palace was covered in gold and other precious metals that were high in spiritual energy.
The inside of the banquet hall looked quite nice. It had tables spaced out covered in costly velvet-like materials that also radiated Qi energy from them. They were obviously made from some special silk. This table cloth was probably worth more than someone's life down in the lower regions.
There were several large crystal chandeliers up on the ceiling lighting up this large hall. Everything here looked like a mix of eastern and western noble decor. With your usual flying golden dragons and phoenix patterns everywhere.
There was also a second level to this banquet area, on the upper level were probably the spots for the sects that arrived a day later. He would be designated to a spot on the bottom floor or at least that is what he had thought. While he was looking for the table he would be occupying with his group of elderly people another servant walked up to them.
"Ah if it isn't grandmaster Dong, your seats have been moved, please follow me!"
Zhang Dong looked at the man then performed a side glance over to his group. They were also surprised just as much as him. Feng Maling moved forward and was the one to call out to the servant with a question.
"Why have our seats been moved, could you explain yourself?"
She raised her eyebrow and looked at the serving-man with doubt in her eyes. When last-minute changes were happening it mostly didn't bode well for the recipient.
"You don't have to worry, honorable seniors, the city elders have decided to move you to a VIP spot after your magnificent performance in the arena!"
The man was quick to respond as he knew what the old lady was getting at. Instead of bad news, it turned out to be good, they would even get to sit next to the more prominent sects.
"Is that so? That's marvelous, we should move then don't you think, Patriarch?"
The granny smiled as she knew that this was an honor for a smaller sect like theirs. It showed that the people in this city were keeping an eye out for them and they were showing their respect.
Zhang Dong on the other hand narrowed his eyes while looking at the servant. This caused the man to flinch and sweat in fear. He knew that this senior here had a short fuse and if he got slaughtered by him the city elders would probably not do much about that.
'God damn it…'
Zhang Dong cursed in his mind, he wanted to be avoided and just sit in the corner while the old farts discussed some cultivation philosophies. He couldn't refuse the better seats as it would be rude but this would just place him in the spot where the stronger sects were. A spot where more troubles could arise.
"Yes, we should go…"
Zhang Dong nodded while the person that came to get them turned around. He quickly showed them the way while some of the other sect masters looked on with envy. They didn't say much but everyone could tell that they were quite salty. Going up to the higher level meant that you were being accepted into the more prestigious sects. At least from the standpoint of the people that were hosting this event.
After walking some they were led to a larger booth. It looked like one of those that you would see in a theater and was sticking out slightly. There were various other ones like this all around the top floor and the sect members had ample space to sit in.
The servant was quick to do his bow and walk away. Zhang Dong sat down in the front seat of honor and was now overlooking the rest of the banquet hall. His sect was the first one to get their second level seating so he could examine all of the other cultivators coming in.
There was not much to do so he took his time to count the seating arrangement. On the floor he was on there were nine other booths. This probably meant that there were no more than nine other sects that were on a higher level. He knew that the three that surrounded his land should be in that category.
��I'm probably occupying Dark Palm's old booth or something as they were considered quite strong, wonder what the six others will be…'
He knew a couple of names but he was mostly focused on the three closest problems that were draining him from spirit stones. He still wanted to keep appearances up for the time being but now he was getting edged into the privileged section. If the other sects decided to test him again, he might have to make a move. He hoped that his little show of power would make them think twice.
The level below them was really big while the one he and his people were sitting at was closer to the walls. He could see people walking in and getting seated. He had only twenty people with himself but some of the sects brought over a hundred.
Luckily the people had a similar thought to him at the time when he was getting married. Only people of the senior generation would be attempting the main banquet hall. The youngsters and less privileged would remain outside in a different location.
Some of the sects had more elder members than even he had brought along. Twenty wasn't really a high body count in this world where cities that had ten million people living in it were considered small or medium sized.
From the number of large tables and from how far they were separated from each other Zhang Dong knew how many factions would be here.
'Ten up here and about forty down there, which puts it all up to fifty sects?'
Zhang Dong tried recalling the map of the empire he was in. It was divided by the large sects into something that looked like states. They were governed by each sect separately and had different laws depending on them.
The lands that these powerful cultivators owned varied by size. How big the portion of the land was didn't really matter, what mattered were the resources in them. These resources could be anything ranging from spirit stones to even spirit beasts that you could kill and use as crafting materials.
The sects here were involved in a perpetual rat race. Everyone here was trying to one-up each other and somehow strengthen themselves. Their goal was a spot with the big three. Even if multiple of these smaller sects united and attacked one of the large powers they would probably lose out.
It wasn't a matter of cultivation or manpower. The two large sects and the large clan were just too entrenched in their positions. The number of defensive formations and structures was too staggering. What would await anyone that invades would be certain death from cannon fire or other various high level treasures.
Maybe if all fifty of these sects united under one banner they would stand a chance. Still, the sheer amount of dead bodies that would be produced in a war like that would be staggering. The other problem would be that the other empires would see this as a chance to invade. Making such a solution very improbable even less considering that most of these cultivators didn't like each other.
Slowly the cultivators in various robes were making their way inside. They were of different skin colors and various physiques. There were even female only sects that made some of the men here crane their necks towards them.
After a while he could finally see some of the top booths getting occupied by some people. He even noticed some familiar figures there, namely the people from the three sects that were surrounding his own.
The people from the Demon Subduing Sect were first to arrive, followed by the Dragon Gate Sect and finally the Limitless Sword Society. The third one that was the most antagonistic towards his own faction was considered to be slightly stronger than the rest. Mostly due to their fanatic sword arts and overzealous ways of training.
Most of the people there had that young lord mentality. They would go out of their way to duel other people and thus they earned a lot of battle experience along the way.
Soon after all the other sects showed up one, in particular, was an eyebrow-raiser. It was an elder that he noticed before, the one that was only in the middle stage of the nascent soul. It was kind of strange for someone like that to occupy the main position as almost everyone was a late stage cultivator.
That was the usual power level of an active sect leader. An old leader would only retire and move into the reserve elder side after someone at the late stage showed up to change them out. The only reason Zhang Dong could think of the man being here would be that the real sect leader was busy somewhere. There also could have been some accidents which made this situation suspicious.
'Well, not like it's any of my business…'
He thought to himself while looking at some people that were with him. All of the other people weren't noteworthy, no other nascent cultivators were with him. Most of them seemed even weaker than the baked potato grandma that he brought along. There was also a peculiar-looking young girl with them, she had blue eyes and long blond hair. She looked more like a western girl than an eastern one and her complexion wasn't as pale either.
He didn't have much to do at the moment so he continued glancing in their direction. He even took some time to look at their statuses with his system.
'Divine Fist Sect? Wasn't that supposed to be one of the strongest ones around? Why is this guy their Patriarch?'
After some snooping, the system's window appeared over the old man. His system's identification skill had somehow advanced further, so he could even see faction names or the positions the people had in factions if he wanted to. The system was showing that the old man there was the current Divine Fist Sect's acting Patriarch and not just some side elder.
He could think of a couple of reasons why this fact was true. The main one made him recall the old Zhang Clan. Before he came into this world it had lost its leaders as well in a botched expedition. Could this sect have suffered a similar fate?
While he was contemplating some possibilities the light dimmed in the large hall and some music began to play. A certain dandy looking man that he was familiar with walked out.
"Let me thank all of you gentlemen for arriving this day for the annual banquet."
Apparently it was finally starting, he moved his head down while ignoring the issue with the unknown sect. He had other things to worry about now and they mostly consisted of not standing out.
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