Ancient Strengthening Technique

AST 0054 – Challenge from Hundred Miles City

“Could this be… Iron Essence? A material that was tougher than iron by at least a 100 times!”

If this stone-like thing was really the fabled iron essence, then it could be considered as having obtained a treasure. In any case, Qing Shui had already discarded any thoughts he had of saving his money. He was prepared to go all out, and was determined to purchase this. Money, after being spent can always be earned again, but if he missed the chance to obtain a treasure, who knew how long would it be before he could come across another chance like this again.

“Old man, how much do you want for these two items?” Qing Shui decided to go straight to the point as he did not want to waste time haggling over the price for the items.

“There was once someone who offered me 80 taels of silver for this tree branch, but I didn’t accept then. However, now in order to survive I have no choice but to sell it. Little Brother, if you are willing to take out 80 taels of silver, besides this tree branch I can throw in the dark stone for you as well.”

Without any hesitation, Qing Shui immediately took out the banknote which Qing Yi had given him, and paid the old man for the two items. After obtaining the items, he immediately deposited them inside his spatial realm, rubbing his hands in glee.  In the other stalls nearby, Qing Shan and Qing Shi were still haggling over the prices of other curios with their respective sellers.

In the blink of an eye, Qing Shui was only left with 20 taels of silver. But in his eyes, the two items he had just obtained was definitely worth much more than that. Qing Shui knew that even with 1,000 or 10,000 taels of gold, one would not necessarily be able to purchase such treasures.

Walking to where Qing Shan and Qing Shi were, Qing Shui discovered that they were both currently looking at a piece of jade in the shape of a pendant. Qing Shui knew nothing about the jade, be it the grading of the purity, or the pricing of the jade. However, from the heated expression in Qing Shan’s eyes, Qing Shui knew that his cousin was hooked. The crafty seller obviously did not miss Qing Shan’s heated expression with his sharp eyes.

“Yo, little brother, this jade pendant is obviously of the top grade. Look at the clear green color, the cutting and the solidity of it!” The middle-aged seller enthusiastically promoted his wares.

All merchants were crafty in nature, Qing Shui could feel that, this seller in front of him was someone who had already perfected the arts of selling. In his previous world, such a person would be called a master salesman. Be it the tone of voice, the amount of hesitancy used, the enthusiastic sharing of information, the smile, the way of speaking; all of it was meticulously designed to make the customer feel at ease. How many would be able to resist it?

“Qing Shan, how much does he want to sell it for?” Qing Shui smiled lightly as he took note of the way Qing Shan was clutching it. Thinking in his heart: You fool! Don’t you know what a poker face is? Just by looking at you, one would already know that you are determined to buy it, after seeing this, if the owner doesn’t butcher you, then he would be the idiotic one!”

“50 taels of silver.” Qing Shan creased his forehead as he replied.

Although Qing Shui did not know jade, he knew that any grade of jade that 50 taels of silver would purchase, would certainly not be any good stuff. It may even be the lowest grade of jade.

“50 taels of silver? That expensive? Forget it Qing Shan, earlier when I was strolling through the streets, I noticed another booth not far away from here. Among the wares, there was even a jade pendant that looked similar to this! The other seller was only selling it for 10 taels of silver, let us go take a look. We could always come back here later. Qing Shui interjected, foiling the plots of the crafty merchant.

“Is this true? How far away is it? Does the jade pendant really look the same?” Qing Shan’s heart was moved. Silently observing the expression of the merchant, which ranged from urgency to panic, Qing Shui knew that his plan was going to be successful.

“Oh the booth is really near to here. Rest assured, the jade pendant looks exactly the same, and not only that, I heard that the other booth was giving out some freebies if you purchase their jade pendant too. Let’s go!” Qing Shui beamed with a wide smile.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t panic, the price is always negotiable. How much would you young sirs be willing to pay for this jade?” The crafty merchant almost cried when he saw that Qing Shan was leaving.

“Hmm, how about 10 taels of silver in addition to you throwing in that little jade lion over there?” Qing Shui, after replying, pointed his finger in the direction of a tattered looking small carving of a jade lion. Ever since his experience with the Yin-Yang pendant, Qing Shui had begun to take an interest in worn and tattered things.

(TL: is Qing shui’s new profession a rags & bones man? xD)

Initially, the crafty merchant thought to renegotiate, but after seeing the steely glint of determination in Qing Shui’s eyes, he could only blame his luck and accepted the offer.

“Qing Shui, this lion belongs to you, thank you. Luckily you were here, if not I would be sucked dry by that black-hearted merchant. After all, I only have about 50 taels of silver on me” Qing Shan stated before happily passing the jade lion over to Qing Shui.

“Hehehe, how could there be another similar jade pendant? The moment I saw the merchant, I could already tell that he was a black-hearted guy. To think that he would fall for my bluff.”

Qing Shui was concurrently fiddling around with the jade lion while strolling about the streets, chatting with Qing Shan and Qing Shi. After half a day, he still had not discovered anything out of the ordinary with the jade lion. “How could there be so many treasures lying about” Qing Shui sighed. While Qing Shan, ever since he bought the jade pendant, had been infatuated by it to the point where he took the jade pendant out for admiration every few minutes. Shaking his head, Qing Shui could not understand why Qing Shan was so in love with that ordinary piece of jade. If it was him, he would only be obsessed to this extent if the jade had the same mystical properties of his Yin-Yang Jade Pendant.

After which, they wandered to an even more bustling street. Not to mention, the stores on both sides of the street were more luxurious looking. There were tailor shops and most importantly, weapon stores!

“Let us go to the weapon store!” Qing Shui led the way as they entered into the luxurious looking store.

The difference between weapon stores and blacksmiths were that in weapon stores, all of the equipment was already made and ready for sale. While for the blacksmith, you would have to place your customized order, and decide on the length of the weapon, which materials use for forging, the shape, etc ,etc

As he entered into the store, Qing Shui eyes sparkled with luster. There were a myriad of weapons of all varieties lying about here: Sabres, Spears, Swords, Staves, Axes, Whips, Tridents, Halberds, Hook Swords, Hammers, Chakrams.

From Qing Shui’s estimation, there were at least about 30 different varieties of weapons. As he scratched his head in puzzlement, he pondered… Weren’t there only 18 types of weapons? Suddenly, in an instant, the hair on the back of his neck stood up, and Qing Shui could sense a glare filled with killing intent directed towards his back.

Swiftly turning around, ai, the paths of enemies were bound to cross indeed. Situ Bu Fan, along with five to six other teenagers, had just entered the weapon store too. That malicious gaze belonged to Situ Bu Fan, it seemed as though Qing Shui had left a huge shadow in his heart. To think that Situ Bu Fan could recognize him just from his back view alone.

Qing Shui could clearly feel the sense of rage emanating from Situ Bu Fan. After all, Qing Shui did embarrass him greatly. A young master from one of the four great clans of Hundred Miles City, losing to a country bumpkin who was five years younger than him? If that was not embarrassing enough, how about a 3rd Grade Martial General, losing to a 3rd Grade Martial Warrior, losing to someone an entire realm below him.

Ignoring Situ Bu Fan, Qing Shui swept his gaze across the other youths standing beside him. All of them were decked out in expensive looking garbs, and had hints of arrogance embedded between their brows. Seems like these youths were from the various large clans and powerful factions that hailed from Hundred Miles City.

“To think that you dare to step into my Hundred Miles City. I was just about to go to the Qing Village to look for you. Thanks for saving me all the trouble.” The current Situ Bu Fan no longer had the pretentious look about him that was prevalent back when he stood upon the Qing Clan’s arena.

“This was the country bumpkin that defeated you?” With disdain heavily filling his voice, one of the youths at the side of Situ Bu Fan exclaimed.

From the looks of this youth, he was about 25-26 years of age. Without knowing why, Qing Shui was filled with the same revulsion just like when he stared at Situ Bu Fan.

Birds of a feather flock together, these bunch of of rich men’s sons grew up in the loving embrace of a protective bubble. Such humans always seemed to be looking down at people while they did not realize that they were nothing but frogs in a well.

“Yes, this is the guy who sneak attacked me. I never expected his strength to be so huge, and lost due to a moment of carelessness.” Situ Bu Fan hatefully exclaimed, twisting his words to maintain an aura of righteous fury. Qing Shui gawked. This was the first time that he saw someone who was a better actor than him.

After the words were said, not only Qing Shui, Qing Shi and Qing Shan found it ludicrous as well and started laughing uproariously.

After laughing, Qing Shi disdainfully replied, “Sneak attack? To think you have the gall to say such nonsense. That day, Qing Shui magnanimously gifted you three moves. To think that a revered Martial General couldn’t even defeat a Martial Warrior with a three move advantage. Not only that, as a Martial General, you couldn’t even stand up to one of his attacks. Vomiting blood and even getting knocked unconscious? Pei! Your face is even thicker than yo mama ass.”

(TL: Pei = sound of spitting. The yourmama joke was not in the raws, just something i added to spice up the conversation xD)

Qing Shui laughed, never did he expect that the honest looking Qing Shi, was also capable of using psychological attacks.

However, that last sentence was the limit of Situ Bu Fan. “ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I WILL KILL YOU! FIGHT ME.” Situ Bu Fan’s whole body was shaking from barely suppressing his anger, as he shrieked madly while glaring at Qing Shui with bloodshot eyes, akin to a raging bull.

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