The Eight Immortals Pavilion stood within the middle region of the Harmony Road, being the rare two-story wooden building amongst its immediate peers.
The design of the pavilion followed the format of the ancient architecture An Fei was familiar with, with numerous, sloping clay tile roofs with a central ridge extending from each corner.
Underneath, a skywell of acacia completed the exterior structure of the pavilion, a stark contrast compared to the plain rectangular buildings on its sides.
The second floor appeared slightly smaller than the rest, with numerous statues of phoenixes, dragons, tigers, and tortoises serving guard above each cornerstone of the roof.
The statues were constructed from quartz with a golden base, creating a subtle but prominent, imposing aura to settle into the surroundings.
The young girl discovered a small obelisk at the tip of the roof, causing her to tilt her head in confusion.
“That looks… oddly out of place,” An Fei remarked with a dry tone.
“Nothing to be said, however. What’s important is the interior, ah!”
The young girl hoisted the leather bag and secured its position on her shoulder, before merging with the stream of people entering the pavilion.
When An Fei stepped through the double wooden gates, the young girl couldn’t restrain herself from releasing a soft ‘oh’ of appreciation.
The interior was… quite different than she expected.
The first floor had been structured into four primary regions, with rectangular tables positioned at specific intervals to maximize the number of guests they could accommodate and retain enough privacy.
At the middle of each wall, the young girl spotted a set of sliding doors, of which appeared to serve as the private rooms of the pavilion.
The staircase to the second floor was actually an unusual concept that appeared discordant with the theme of the Eight Immortals Pavilion.
It was the first time that An Fei had observed a helix staircase stand in its full glory at the direct epicenter of the base floor.
The initial impression was quite the eyebrow-raiser, and the young girl gawked at the unusual design for a brief moment.
However, she soon returned to attention, for a young waitress seemed to be marching in her direction.
“Customer, what do you wish to be arranged?”
The waitress was dressed in a scarlet and gold qipao, with olive branch and phoenix inscriptions flowing around her shoulders.
The young waitress bowed towards An Fei, her innocent countenance staring at the unfamiliar guest.
“Oh…” An Fei quickly responded, her eyes scanning the young waitress’ figure for a brief moment.
“Could I get a single table, and could it be a little on the quieter environments?”
The young waitress paused for a brief moment, before her eyes flashed with understanding.
With a submissive nod, she led the young girl towards the table at the farthest corner to the left, where a customer had yet to be seated within the area.
As it was farther away from the enjoyable sights and atmosphere of the pavilion, few wished to conduct their meals at such an area, but An Fei found it comfortable.
When she glanced at the menu, the young girl paused for a brief moment before making her order.
The time of an incense stick later, and a bowl of dandan noodles and a plate of char siu had been placed before An Fei.
The young girl raised her hands to grasp the chopsticks placed neatly on the table, but glanced at the young waitress who had yet to leave the table.
“Does the pavilion request for payment after serving the dish, or when the customer leaves?”
The young waitress reaffirmed in her heart that the customer before her was definitely a foreigner, but retained the respectful expression on her pretty countenance.
Patting her chest at the young girl’s politeness compared to the usual foreigner’s arrogance, she dipped her head into a light bow, before carefully responding to An Fei’s casual question.
“The Eight Immortals Pavilion requests for payment after serving the dish, though the customer may issue the payment when they depart. The customer’s order… is a total of two silvers and six coppers.”
An Fei quickly nodded, her hands prying into the gray silk satchel once more. This time, with the aid of ample lighting and privacy, the young girl quickly withdrew the required coins for payment whilst musing in her heart.
The difference in price between commodities in the Harmony Road and Providence Road was quite steep, ah!
Having received the payment from the opposite party without any hesitation, the young waitress briefly froze in surprise.
However, remembering the strict lectures of the pavilion’s owner, she dared not challenge her duty, and quickly withdrew to serve another customer.
In the end, she preferred the foreigner young girl over the others… especially as her voice was sweet and charming to hear, even if she had not spoken more than a few sentences…
An Fei released a light sigh at the departure of the waitress, firmly grasping the chopsticks to sample the bowl of dandan noodles.
A moment later, the young girl licked her lips in satisfaction, glancing at the bowl with interest.
Dandan noodles were hardly anything exquisite, and she had used to eat a large quantity at the street vendors in the southern regions of China.
The familiar taste of the sweet, spicy, and slightly tangy broth as well as the savory pieces of roasted meat and sweated vegetables was more than sufficient to satisfy the young girl and her astringent taste buds.
Given that the Eight Immortals Pavilion utilized higher quality ingredients when cooking the commonplace dish, the experience was of a higher realm.
Additionally, the scarcity of cultivators within the Bone Spirit Town prevented the pavilion from aptly utilizing ingredients infused with spiritual qi, acquiring another sigh of satisfaction from An Fei.
The char siu was unexpectedly subpar compared to that she had consumed daily in Jiang’an, causing the young girl to feed the strips of spiced meat to the small fox. To avoid being conspicuous, the young girl had fully loosened the drawstrings of the leather bag, angling the opened mouth towards her to feed the small fox in a low profile manner.
Having finally graduated from its torturous diet of vegetables, the small fox nearly burst into tears from the delightful experience of meat.
The little raven glared at the small fox’s ravenous actions with a tinge of disdain, but deigned to remain silent and sit obediently atop of the ledge of a nearby chair.
The young girl, the small fox, and the other customers of the Eight Immortals Pavilion continued eating their midday lunch in a relaxed and quiet manner, restricting themselves to their comfortable spheres of interaction.
Just as An Fei was about to bring another mouthful of noodles with a sandwiched piece of meat to her lips, the door of a private room burst open, and a lonesome figure was cruelly ejected.
“Tang Shiqi, don’t you dare think of touching ben xiaojie!”
The haughty voice belonging to a young maiden resounded from within the disrupted private room, the coldness and sharp tone of the words causing the ejected youth to wince in pain.
The youth groaned in pain, numerous cuts and bruises decorating his body as though he had just concluded a fierce fistfight.
“Xiao Yue, why must you be so cold towards your fiancé?”
Tang Shiqi retorted in a hurt voice, his fingers clenching into tight fists. The youth shakily stood to his feet, revealing a countenance full of determination despite his inability to properly stand.
“Our grandparents arranged this marriage before we were born, and the two of us grew up as children,” the youth protested with a gradually growing resolve.
“However, you want to reject our engagement just because that Fang Man? Other than a greater cultivation than me, what other properties does he have?”
An Fei who had been enjoying her meal in relative peace rose her head with a curious expression on her countenance.
When the young girl strained her ears, she could hear the other customers suddenly breaking into a fervent discussion.
“Look, that’s the Tang Clan’s Third Young Master, Tang Shiqi!”
“That illegitimate child of the Tang Clan?” another remarked with a dry tone.
“His mother was a concubine born a maid who was bullied throughout her entire life, and it seems that her child has obtained the same ill fortune!” the first customer waggled his chopsticks before spearing a deliciously cooked egg.
“That stroke of luck that engaged him to the Fourth Young Miss, Xiao Yue, of the Xiao Manor, seems to be a stroke of misfortune after all. Look! Even if his grandfather had arranged him the engagement, the other party won’t respect it at all, ah.”
Numerous discussions regarding the injured youth struggling to remain standing at the center of the Eight Immortals Pavilion’s ground floor continued to resound as though the crowd had received a shot full of chicken blood, talking about the Tang Clan’s influence, its state of cultivators, and the might and prestige of the Xiao Manor.
However, An Fei maintained her interest only on a single statement the youth had spoken.
A dispute between cultivators of the Bone Spirit Town?
They were supposed to be rare encounters given that they were so few in number compared to the regular populace, but she had encountered at least two on her second day.
Although, what relation did it have to her?
Their matters were theirs to solve, and An Fei would only continue to consume her meal with great relish.