In the middle of the stage, Dan Fei’s painted brows moved slightly as she smiled. “Alright, first, we will go by the usual rules. Everyone will present their birthday gifts and when all the gifts have been presented, the lordmaster will personally choose three and award them places. Those who are awarded these places can ask the lordmaster questions and seek his guidance. First place can ask two questions. Second and third can both ask one. These are the rules, is everyone clear?”
“Sister Dan Fei, we all know these rules.”
“Yes, sister Dan Fei. Let’s start with presenting the gifts! This time, I’m going to place no matter what the cost!”
Standing behind Ye Rong, Jiang Chen looked at the expressions that yearned for action amidst the fervent atmosphere, thinking that all of this was a bit strange.
Logically speaking, for such an erudite and otherworldly person like the lordmaster, how the birthday gifts from these youths interest him at all? And to list this as a regular segment that recurred every year?
No matter how he looked at it, Jiang Chen didn’t think the honored tutor was a man who craved riches.
But if he wasn’t someone who lusted after wealth, Jiang Chen didn’t understand it why he would place such importance on this segment either.
Jiang Chen couldn’t help but cast a curious and surprised glance at the lordmaster. Ye Chonglou’s eyes had been half lidded, and he’d turned a deaf ear to the riotous atmosphere present.
In the instant that Jiang Chen looked over, the lordmaster’s eyelids suddenly lifted and his meaningful gaze just so happened to meet Jiang Chen’s.
Jiang Chen smiled awkwardly, as if he was a peeping Tom caught in the act. But, he had no misgivings and immediately shifted his gaze away.
On the main table, the lordmaster seemed to have carelessly opened his eyes as well, and he didn’t pursue Jiang Chen with his gaze. The look in his eyes was leisurely as he slowly closed his eyes again.
Jiang Chen paid no heed to this small interlude. Rather, it was Ye Chonglou whose heart was slightly stirred. Privately, he was a bit surprised. “The young man standing behind Ye Rong seems to be a new face? Has he possibly trained in some art of mental strength? My footsteps of the heart just now controlled even the spirit realm practitioners, but he was the only one who did not seem to be affected by me?”
The lordmaster’s strength was head and shoulders above everyone else, and with a single thought, he could grasp all movement within a radius of ten li. When he walked with the footsteps to disturb the rhythms of the heart just now, he had been mentally calculating the rhythms of the heartbeats of those present, using that to define the level of training of the young ones present.
Including Dan Fei, there were 24 present, but he had actually captured two kinds of rhythms.
There was actually a fish that’d escaped the net!
Although Jiang Chen could break free from the control of the lordmaster’s footsteps of the heart, but he could not prevent himself being identified from the crowd.
The lordmaster had been a bit joyful in the beginning, thinking that the level of training of a particular prince had advanced by leaps and bounds to the point that said prince could fight back against his footsteps of the heart.
But in the end, he’d discovered that the fish that had escaped the net wasn’t a prince, and wasn’t even a spirit realm practitioner at all. It was a young man he’d never seen before.
Judging from his age, this young man seemed to be even younger than a few of the princes.
At the moment that Jiang Chen’s gaze had moved in the lordmaster’s direction, the latter had sensed this and gained a spontaneous interest to probe Jiang Chen.
He had ended up discovering that the little fellow who’d snuck a glance at him wasn’t under the slightest bit of pressure. When their eyes met, he’d carelessly moved his gaze away.
“This little fellow is rather interesting. Which house’s young master is he?” Some curiosity grew within Tutor Ye’s heart. It had been a very, very long time since he’d met such an interesting young person.
In reality, he held a birthday banquet every year because he wanted to test the young of the kingdom and see if there were any surprises.
Naturally, the so-called offering of gifts naturally wasn’t because Ye Chonglou coveted these items, but because he wanted to make use of this opportunity to inspect the younger generation’s temperament and powers of comprehension.
However, all of them held the mindset of competing with each other in presenting beautiful and fascinating gifts, hoping to curry favor with him.
They were unaware that what he valued wasn’t these items, but the bearing and disposition they displayed through the segment of offering gifts.
It was a pity that year after year, the young people present never understood his intentions.
In actuality, the lordmaster didn’t even look at the items offered. He’d hand them over to Dan Fei to send to the Myriad Treasures Palace and sell them all.
Dan Fei privately arranged for all the funds gleaned from the sale to go to charity. They were donated to the impoverished citizens within the kingdom who needed help, or used to develop poor practitioners with potential but no family background or backing.
None of the young folk present knew about any of this.
Standing behind Ye Rong, Jiang Chen could also faintly detect Ye Rong’s nervous mood.
Indeed, Ye Rong was more than a bit anxious. More accurately, he was nervous to obtain a favor and worried that he would lose. He’d come prepared this time as well.
He wanted to take the lead in the segment of offering gifts and gain the honored tutor’s favor. He could obtain the chance to seek knowledge from the honored tutor himself, and obtain the honored tutor’s favor and good inclinations.
But, Ye Rong was also well aware that although he had made his preparations, so had the other princes. Everyone was smart and knew that this was the one good chance that came around every year to curry favor with the lordmaster. No one would let go of this opportunity easily.
“Honored tutor, student Ye Dai has walked through all sixteen kingdoms to obtain a scroll of the “Yellow Dragon Watching the Seas Painting”. It is said that if a spirit realm practitioner diligently studies this work, they will be able to increase their mental strength, receive inspiration, and even use it to prolong life! I offer it to the tutor in hopes that the honored tutor will have many happy returns!”
“What? The Yellow Dragon Watching the Seas Painting? Even spirit realm practitioners can use it to increase their mental strength, and prolong their life?”
“This… the step that the first prince has taken with this is simply too big? What else can we bring out to compete with him now that he’s shown off this treasure?”
“It’s over, it looks like no one else can have a shot at being number one then. Damn it, damn it!”
“The Yellow Dragon Watching the Seas Painting?” At that moment, Ye Rong’s heart also spasmed as his mouth was filled with bitterness. All sorts of depressing thoughts surged to the front of his heart. “This Ye Dai! He’s definitely invested a lot in this. His actions are to completely end everyone’s thoughts about attaining number one!”
Ye Rong was not willing to take this lying down and didn’t want to accept this, but he was also resigned. As the first prince, the power on Ye Dai’s mother’s side was the strongest amongst all the princes. The amount of resources that he’d received since small had also been the most.
Ye Rong’s birth mother was just a regular imperial concubine, with no power or influence. Even though he’d tried hard since he was small, he’d naturally fallen behind first prince Ye Dai in many areas since birth.
And now, the segment of offering gifts once again fully illustrated the differences between them.
After offering such a gift, Ye Dai was in fine fettle as he stood in the center of the area with his tall body, observing the reactions of those around him and enjoying the feeling of being admired and envied by all.
He’d always chased after the feeling of being so far removed from the masses and reality that others could only look upon his back. This was also what he’d always striven for.
His goal was to become Crown Prince, inherit the throne and control the entire Skylaurel Kingdom, making everyone cower beneath his feet!
Whoever affected his pursuit of this goal was a thorn in his side!
After Ye Dai had offered his treasure, Ye Qiao, as the second prince, naturally couldn’t indicate his weakness. Although his gift was also quite fine, but the gap was too great when compared to the Yellow Dragon Watching the Seas Painting. He was about to find some pleasantries to conceal the timidness in his heart when Ye Dai suddenly spread out his hands, “Don’t be in a rush, number two. My followers have always admired the lordmaster and have also prepared their gifts.”
Some of the expressions on the faces of those gathered became a bit ugly!
It wasn’t that followers couldn’t give a gift, but their participation had always been optional and voluntary. They usually followed closely after their masters had offered their gifts.
However, Ye Dai was indeed domineering. He hadn’t spoken up earlier or later, but instead, waited for the precise moment that second prince Ye Qiao had been about to speak. Speaking out so suddenly was undoubtedly a deliberate slap in the face.
At the same time, it was setting an example to others. The followers of the first prince have also offered gifts, do as you will now!
My followers have given gifts. Can it be that you believe that you are more favoured than the first prince so you can avoid giving presents?
If these people’s followers hadn’t prepared gifts, then it would further depict how thorough the first prince’s considerations were. Even his followers had prepared gifts, look at how much he respected the honored tutor!
From this perspective, it would also offset how generous, magnanimous and thoughtful the first prince was, as well as how well the first prince conducted himself!
Ye Qiao’s expression grew ugly after suffering a setback from Ye Dai, and he took one angry step backwards. Although he was the second prince, but he couldn’t very well be openly hostile towards Ye Dai on an occasion like this.
Since he couldn’t erupt in open warfare, he could only pinch his nose and hold his anger in.
It could be seen that Ye Dai had made exquisite preparations this time. The five followers he’d brought were all his confidantes. They were people that Ye Dai had steeled his heart in his desire to elevate them, and would be his future pillars of rulership when he took the throne in the future.
Having them offer gifts was naturally to give them a chance to display themselves in front of the lordmaster and make themselves known to him, leaving behind a good impression.
Although Xin Wudao and Liu Can usually stuck their noses in the air and were domineering beyond belief, they were as meek as mice at this moment and used almost obsequious attitudes to offer their personally prepared gifts. They had also all prepared a small speech to offer their birthday felicitations.
The honored tutor only nodded his head slightly, displaying neither sadness nor joy. It couldn’t be seen from his face if he was happy or displeased.
He was so noncommittal that it didn’t seem to be his birthday banquet at all.
However, Ye Dai wasn’t worried. He knew that this was the honored tutor’s personality. At his age, wealth and riches will not make him happy or unhappy. What he cared about would certainly be face and the feeling of being respected by others.
One had to say, Ye Dai’s gamble had been made with great resolution.
After that, the second prince’s gift was a kirin jade pendant that had been carved extraordinarily exquisitely. The kirin was an auspicious representation of longevity. Moreover, since this piece of jade was a fine piece at the spirit rank, it had the effect of calming the heart and mind. It was a rather nice item to gift to the elderly as a birthday present.
Except, for anyone else, this might have been a very rare and valuable gift but the honored tutor was the spirit king protector of the kingdom. He likely had at least eight hundred of something like this at home, if not a thousand.
Although Ye Qiao’s followers had also prepared some gifts, they paled far in comparison to the ones that Ye Dai’s followers had prepared.
Third prince Ye Zheng had sent a spirit medicine ingredient of the spirit rank. It was quite rare and it was clear that the third prince had spent some time and effort in searching for it.
This item was relatively more appealing than the second prince’s jade pendant.
The third prince’s followers had also prepared some presents as a gesture of respect, but their value were about the same as the followers of the second prince Ye Qiao. Although they were nice items, but there was nothing terribly interesting about them.
The pressure on Ye Rong was even greater now. He discovered that he’d made a grievous mistake. It wasn’t that he hadn’t prepared any presents, but that he hadn’t made Jiang Chen and the others prepare gifts!
Whether it was Jiang Chen, Tian Shao or Lin Qianli, Ye Rong hadn’t had them prepare anything.
This was because in accordance with previous tradition, the gifts from followers weren’t considered much at all. No one would make a big deal out of this.
But today, first prince Ye Dai had purposefully called out the followers’ gifts. This move had caught Ye Rong a bit by surprise.
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