As Zhang Yang gazed at the naked 100 yuan bill, he didn’t feel as if it was too little. To him, 100 yuan was already a lot. It was just that this bare 100 yuan bill lacked a red envelope; this didn’t seem too great. 
“Are there any more red envelopes?” he asked.
“Nope. What are you afraid of? Look, there’s plenty of people who didn’t seal their gifts in a red envelope.” Liu Biao pointed at some people in the process of giving their gifts.
Zhang Yang began sweating and coughed awkwardly. Those people were holding bank notes that barely even fit in their hands; of course they couldn’t fit it into a red envelope. In fact, now that he looked closer, those people held neat stacks of bank notes in their hands. Fucking stacks of money. He fully understood this was a whole different world.
“Let’s go, let’s go. I’ll go first.” Liu Biao had an unparalleled look on his face that made Zhang Yang certain that Liu Biao had very thick skin. Way too thick, he thought, as Liu Biao dragged Zhang Yang closely behind him into the crowd of gift-givers. Liu Biao, who was both big and strong, managed to successfully push and squeeze his way to the front of the crowd.  Then he slammed his small red envelope onto the table, loudly announcing himself. “Liu Biao!”
The other gift-givers had various expressions of stunned shock. Their gazes collectively pinned the red envelope to the table. They had seen plenty of arrogant and outrageous people, but this “Liu Biao” took the cake. Such an imperious asshat even had the gall to be so proud over such a tiny red envelope.
“You got a problem?” Liu Biao raised his chin. “I know Seventh Brother!” Satisfaction shone from his expression, even making the thick-skinned Zhang Yang feel embarrassment.
However, Liu Biao’s words were effective. Immediately, the surrounding people’s expressions changed. Even the people responsible for recording the red envelopes gained looks of concentration. They hurriedly opened up the envelope and carefully wrote down Liu Biao’s name and his 100 yuan contribution. They even put a special mark next to Liu Biao’s name.
“It’s your turn.” Liu Biao laughed and pushed Zhang Yang forward. In his hand, Liu Biao twirled the cigarette he’d received in exchange for his gift. 
“Umm, ahh…” Zhang Yang stammered. “I’m Liu Biao’s friend.” Zhang Yang pulled the crumpled 100 yuan out of his pocket and gave it over.
Everyone stared. After deliberating for a moment, the recorder took the 100 yuan bill and wrote down Zhang Yang’s name. After another moment of consideration, he wrote down a small row of words next to Zhang Yang’s name: Liu Biao’s friend.
“Gimme that.” Liu Biao took Zhang Yang’s cigarette and pulled him out of the crowd. “You don’t even smoke. It’s better to give it to me. This is the top tier of Furongwang’s products, Diamond Furongwang. It costs a hundred big ones.”
“Ah…ah? Just this cigarette is worth over a hundred?” Zhang Yang’s eyes bulged out. To him, if a pack of cigarettes cost even a couple tens of yuan, it was already too expensive. If it was over a hundred? That was unthinkable.
“Of course! With Boss hosting this banquet, of course he’d be giving this kind of cigarette!” Liu Biao threw a condescending look at Zhang Yang’s small town worldview.
Zhang Yang’s mouth flopped open and closed, speechless. It was clear by Liu Biao’s satisfied face that he knew this cigarette was worth over 100 yuan each, yet he’d only brought a 200 yuan red envelope. In the end, he had even split it into two red envelopes. On this entire planet, Zhang Yang figured only Liu Biao would be able to do something this embarrassing. And with such shameless satisfaction, too!
“Oh, right.” Zhang Yang suddenly had a thought and an inkling suspicion. “Do you actually know this ‘Boss’ who’s hosting the banquet?” Zhang Yang narrowed his gaze at Liu Biao.
Liu Biao coughed as he answered. “This uh…I know him.” He coughed again.
“But he doesn’t know you,” Zhang Yang stated. “Right?”
“Yeah,” Liu Biao said, his voice weak.
“And you still told me to come get food with you?” Zhang Yang said, outraged. “You didn’t dare go by yourself to sneak some free food—you actually called me, too!”
“Didn’t you say you were hungry? Shit, how come you’re blaming me now?” Liu Biao said. “Look, look…it’s all delicious and precious food. Are you not eating? We already gifted our red envelopes!”
Liu Biao acted as if Zhang Yang didn’t know good from bad. Or, Zhang Yang considered, as if Zhang Yang was looking a gift horse in the mouth.  Zhang Yang felt and heard the sigh escape his lips.
“I’ll eat! Why wouldn’t I eat?” Zhang Yang said. He rubbed his stomach, realizing he was indeed hungry again. After all the ruckus earlier, that little bit of black poison bread he’d eaten had already lost its effect.
“Good bro!” Liu Biao laughed heartily.
Together, they followed the crowd and found a remote table. As they settled into their seats, it became clear no one at the table recognized Liu Biao. This made Zhang Yang wonder what Liu Biao really did outside of school.
Finally, now that they were seated and out of harm’s way, Zhang Yang could properly observe the banquet hall. Though the party hadn’t yet started, the dishes already sat served and placed. There were no chopsticks. Once the banquet officially began, everyone would start eating at the same time.
The hall was extremely large and held at least 60 tables. Most of the tables were already almost filled, yet the stream of people entering the hall looked unending. The whole affair appeared chaotic, but it was very quiet, too. It was extremely weird. This banquet hall had hundreds of people in it; however, there was hardly any noise which definitely made everything have an aura of strangeness.
The vast hall was beautifully decorated; in the middle, a couple of grand pillars stood tall and decorated with coiling golden dragons that were so lifelike they looked as if they were about to fly away. This was an extremely high-grade hotel.
Looking out of the hall, there was a great wall of glass. It was massive. And the entire glass wall was spotless without even one speck of dirt or smudges from fingerprints. A neat row of magnolias spanned from one end of the wall to the other. This embellishment of greenery and natural color exuded a sense of richness and nostalgia of carefree and happy times.
After examining the decorations, he observed the people. With just a glance, Zhang Yang felt amazed. In the entire hall, only Zhang Yang wore a casual tee shirt. No matter if it was the sophisticated looking ones, or the coarse looking ones, every single male had donned a neat western suit. The only differences being in the color and style of their white-collared shirts and ties.
“It doesn’t look like there are a lot of people that snuck in,” Zhang Yang said. Although he didn’t spend a lot of time messing around outside with Liu Biao, his eyes were still pretty sharp. These people didn’t look like the normal thugs he’d see around town. The majority of them had gentle expressions resing on their faces. Occasionally, there were a couple fierce looking fellows, but even they always maintained meek expressions. This was completely different from Liu Biao’s normal crowd of rotten eggs.
“Lower your voice.” Liu Biao pulled on Zhang Yang’s sleeve. “Those guys are mostly businessmen or the bosses of certain places. Don’t be fooled by their gentle appearances here. They are all people that we can’t afford to offend.”
“Ah…oh, right…who do you think that Seventh Brother is?” Zhang Yang asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve never heard of him. But, it looks like he isn’t any worse than Boss Xiao.”
“Who’s Boss Xiao?”
“You idiot! Boss Xiao is the host of today’s banquet.” Liu Biao sighed. “I wonder when I’ll be able to get to the level of Boss Xiao. Just hosting a banquet would net a few million in red envelopes!” Liu Biao made a noise that sounded like a whine. “When can I be that successful?!” Liu Biao bemoaned.
“A few million RMB?” Zhang Yang’s eyes almost fell out. Even though this was an astronomical value to Zhang Yang—hell, even 100 yuan was a lot to him—but he had to admit, he was pretty used to hearing people talk about how some guy had a couple million. Still, he definitely did not have a clear understanding of how much a few million actually was. How big a stack would that be? Like the width of his finger? Hand to shoulder? Fucking higher than he was tall? He had no clue.
Liu Biao chuckled. “Let me tell you—by hosting this banquet, Boss Xiao has received at least 10 million. Look at how many people are in this great hall alone! There’s still the second and third floor. Those people put at least tens to hundreds of thousands in their red envelopes. After including the catering expenses, this banquet will raise around 8 million, easy.” Liu Biao’s expression was especially arrogant as if these millions all belonged to him.
Hearsay. Liu Biao didn’t know shit. However, after hearing this, Zhang Yang thought back to what he saw at the red envelope tables and figured Liu Biao wasn’t too far off. If you just calculated based on the number of people, 3 to 5 million would be easily achievable.
“What did Boss Xiao achieve recently that would have him throwing this banquet?”
“This…” Liu Biao coughed, showing his discomfort. And most likely his very little knowhow about anything important. “I’m not too sure,” he admitted. “They say that he successfully took over a couple of underground gambling rings,” Liu Biao said. “The entire C City region’s underground powers came to congratulate him—”
“Lower your head,” Zhang Yang interrupted him. “Lower your head.” Zhang Yang grabbed Liu Biao’s neck and pushed him under the table. He himself also squatted down under the table. The other people sitting at their table all stared dumbly at them.
“What are you doing?” Liu Biao struggled free of Zhang Yang’s hand before crawling back up. Liu Biao shot an apologetic smile at the other guests.
“Xiao Yi Ran,” Zhang Yang said, still ducking his head. “It’s Xiao Yi Ran.” He pointed toward the other side of the glass wall. A tall, slender girl wearing a pure white dress traipsed toward the main entrance of the hotel. A thoughtful and melancholy expression rested on her face.
She hadn’t looked inside yet.
: “Yuan” is Chinese currency also known as RMB. 100 yuan converts to roughly $14.69 USD.
: “big and strong” replaced the original idiom that said Liu Biao was as “tall as an ox and as large as a horse.”
: Gift givers usually receive a token of gratitude for the gift. In this case, the token of gratitude is a cigarette.
: The sentences concerning knowing good from bad and looking a gift horse in the mouth came from the Chinese idiom that said it was as if Zhang Yang was “a dog that bit Lu Dongbin without recognizing his good intentions.”