Chapter 120: Entrance Fee
The reunion with Sha Yun and Little Poppy was rushed as the snake-woman wished to get out of the humid tunnels as quickly as possible. Neither Wang Ju Long nor Deng Wu disagreed as they remembered the many days spent waiting for the Dragon Corps to arrive. By now they were sick of looking at their dark surroundings, hearing the sound of growling demon beasts and breathing in stale air.
The tunnels were similar to the maze they first encountered upon entering the dungeons, but unlike the maze, this place was packed with magical beasts and the further in they went, the stronger the beasts became. That was with the exception of the wolves they met the first day they entered the tunnels. No beasts seemed to provide even a fraction of their resistance.
Sha Yun once more insisted on carving her own path through the walls, but Hui Yue stopped her. Fortunately, both Hui Yue and Sha Yun were now capable of using their affinity with Earth to find the most used way, the way leading towards the next gate.
During their trip, Hui Yue started by stubbornly keeping all the beast cores, the beast blood, the bones and meat, however after a few days even Hui Yue was tired of the constant amount of materials which were coming his way causing him to leave them to Little Poppy, allowing the flower to devour all it wished for.
Although Little Poppy ate hundreds of magical beasts all these beasts did not seem to do much for his evolution. Hui Yue assumed that it was at a bottleneck in its own cultivation.
Although it seemed as though it would not require much effort, Little Poppy was a flower that was normally very weak and it was incredibly rare to see them grow to the size as this one had grown. Only by relying on cultivators to kill immense amounts of beasts which it was allowed to devour could it have a chance to turn this large and this ferocious.
Having grown up within the tunnels in an environment where the strongest survive rather than being raised by a cultivator in a kennel, this flower had managed to grow to a size unimaginable by others. However neither Hui Yue nor Wang Ju Long were aware that this flower was everything but ordinary. To Hui Yue especially, it was nothing but a glutton.
Days upon days were spent moving through the dark tunnels, yet suddenly the tunnels changed from the crude appearance they had before.
The walls had an appearance much like one would expect in a dungeon, and the air was stale and humid. There were almost no magical beasts around here, however signs of attacks were visible as though someone had been killing the beasts that were moving into the area.
Seeing signs of other people, Hui Yue did not dare take any chances as he brought out the black cloaks and they once more wore them to hide their faces and abilities.
The walls were soon lit up by light stones and the stale air turned normal as Hui Yue and the entourage moved closer and closer to the gate.
He had long since sensed the gateway through his affinity, however the gate was not the only thing he noticed, he also felt how many groups of cultivators were moving through these tunnels, hunting down magical beasts which explained why no magical beasts were to be seen.
Walking by random groups, no one seemed to pay any attention to Hui Yue and his group causing him to feel relief as they inched on towards the gate.
Walking to the gate, Hui Yue saw that there were guards stationed on the inside too. Guards which seemed to all be Master ranked.
The four guards were standing in front of the gate itself while a fifth person was seated behind a table with a big box behind him. On the table was a sign saying ‘Entrance Fee’.
Seeing this, Hui Yue could not help but wonder whether or not they used the same kind of currency within this kingdom, however, upon closer inspection he saw a small leaflet which showed twenty beast cores for one person. Below it was another form for currency, and this was obviously something which Hui Yue had never seen before.
Walking towards the counter, Hui Yue withdrew eighty beast cores which they had gathered during their trip in the dungeons and although there was some regret in seeing his beloved beast cores vanish, Hui Yue showed no hesitation as he handed them to the man behind the counter.
Looking at Hui Yue and the group, the man pointed at the flower saying nothing but extending his hand once more, making Hui Yue sigh internally as he withdrew another twenty beast cores. To think that even plants had to pay such an exorbitant price to be allowed entrance into this second cave.
Having paid the entrance fee, the four guards in front of the gate stepped aside and the gate made from heavywood slowly opened up, allowing entrance to the four cultivators and the oversized flower.
Entering into the gate none of them knew what they should expect from this second cave, however their expectations were grand as they looked at the world unravelling itself in front of their eyes.
Unlike Cave’s End, this gate was placed in a town and Hui Yue stared shocked as he stepped through it. He could see how this city started right at the cave wall then spread like a half moon from the cave itself out into the surrounding areas.
The city was far more urbanized than Cave’s End City and it reminded Hui Yue of Riluo City as he looked at the many citizens rushing back and forth.
Looking behind him, Hui Yue saw how the gates were guarded by over a hundred guards. A long queue was leading towards the gate, and seeing the table at the entrance Hui Yue guessed that the price to enter the tunnels was as extravagant as the price to return to the city.
The city was bustling with energy and although Hui Yue and the others were wearing cloaks, no one seemed to notice.
Looking around, Hui Yue saw that the majority of the citizens looked rough and that they might not be citizens after all. It was highly likely that they were mercenaries.
Looking around, Hui Yue also noticed how the entire place was filled with shops selling plants he had never even seen before. This was quite remarkable considering he had spent a large portion of his spare time within the library at the Royal Academy.
Even Wang Ju Long, the one who specialized in plants, furrowed her brows as she wondered which herbs they could be.
Looking around, Hui Yue was relieved to see that there were inns, quite a few actually, and while moving towards the closest one, Hui Yue could sense that the mercenaries had started to notice that these four people and the giant flower were new arrivals.
Hui Yue walked with the same steady steps towards the inn, seemingly ignorant of the many stares coming their way. Everyone quickly retracted their gaze as Hui Yue entered the inn, vanishing into the shadows of the house.
Inside the inn, the entire ground floor was made into a bar and restaurant. The room was lit by sunshine which shone through the windows, however, it was not strong enough to allow for a clear view. Because the room was dimmed, but also filled to the brim with people.
Ignoring the many guests who were staring at Hui Yue, the white-haired young man moved towards the counter where the barkeep was standing, intently staring at the four arrivals.
This cave was many times bigger than Cave’s End. It certainly contained more than one city, however all mercenaries were within this one. Mercenaries were people who sold anything for money, whether it be their materials they gathered from the tunnels, themselves to do dirty tasks or join armies, and even information.
Information was something everyone needed even the mercenaries themselves, however, none of them had ever heard nor seen this group of people before, making them all feel alert especially due to their complete lack of a cultivation base. Even the barkeep who usually was fairly rowdy turned mellow by the time Hui Yue had reached his counter.
“Two rooms with two beds in each,” Hui Yue said as he reached the counter not allowing for room to be dismissed and the barkeep quickly nodded his head. There was no hostility within the voice he had heard, just an aloof arrogance which belonged to nobles.
“Will young master be paying with demon cores or with demon coins?” The barkeep asked gently and Hui Yue furrowed his brows as he heard the two terms. Although the name was different, Hui Yue instantly recognized demon cores as beast cores. What demon coins were was something he did not know.
“We will be paying with demon cores,” Hui Yue said without hesitation and handed over one hundred beast cores.
Each room was ten beast cores a day and they needed a few days to gather information once more. They also needed a way to earn demon coins, as although Hui Yue had plenty of beast cores he wished to use them for his inscription and the attacks with Metal, however, now he was seeing his stockpile constantly being lowered.
Receiving two key stones, Hui Yue tossed one to Wang Ju Long before he gestured with his head for the others to follow. As if they had never noticed the silence within the bar itself, they all moved upstairs, looking for their rooms.
While Hui Yue and his friends were walking away silence rung throughout the entire bar and as soon as the shadows had vanished, murmurs started to be heard within the bar as many mercenaries began to ask around. Had anyone heard of this new mercenary group in town? Why would they hide their appearance so thoroughly? How had they managed to completely hide their cultivation base?
Many questions were asked, yet no one seemed to have the answers. Eventually the question was very simple, who were they? The fact that they paid with demon cores meant that they had come from the tunnels, in spite of that, no one had seen them before. Could they truly be from the trash place known as Cave’s End?
Along with the questions came the realization that these four people were not normal cultivators and the fact that they had chosen to pay with demon cores was quickly spread around. Those four cultivators had to be incredibly rich, however, as long as their cultivation base was hidden, no one dared provoke them.
Although tempting, many of the mercenaries within the city were used to living a dangerous life and their senses kept telling them to stay away from this mysterious group who had just arrived.
Rumors were spread through the entire city within a mere hour of Hui Yue and his friend’s arrival and the rumors also quickly died out as soon as everyone knew about them.
While Hui Yue and Deng Wu were seated within their room, cultivating, Wang Ju Long and Sha Yun were doing the same in their own room, resting and improving their cultivation as the city turned back to normal, the streets once again bustling with loud noises.
Seated within the inn, Hui Yue had no idea how his arrival had stirred a turmoil within the city, causing all the mercenaries to have various theories as to who the four friends were.
Some guessed that the newcomers were in truth some strong young masters who were on a trip to try hunting in the tunnels for the first time. Others guessed that Hui Yue and the entourage were originally from Cave’s End, and that the trash cave finally managed to produce some cultivators with a decent cultivation base. Yet others thought that they were spies sent out by the Dragon Corps.
No matter who they were and what they did, it had become the source of much consideration and even though they did not speak about it, every mercenary within the city kept contemplating their own personal theories.