Chapter 16: Return to Riluo City
Hui Yue did not go to sleep after receiving the Qi Grasping Pill, instead he moved into his bedroom, placed himself on top of his bed and started to cultivate.
Hui Yue allowed his consciousness to submerge into the meridians and flow together with the absorbed essence towards the lower dantian where he saw Lan Feng waiting for him.
Usually Lan Feng and Hui Yue communicated mentally without actually seeing one another, however from time to time, Hui Yue would create a copy of himself with his consciousness, an imprint of his soul, much like Lan Feng was, and the two would sit down within Hui Yue’s Qi cave to discuss important subjects.
Today was one of these days. So far Hui Yue had had to rely solely on his own patience to refine Qi from essence, but since both he and Lan Feng had incredibly high standards it was obvious that they needed to seek outside help in shape of medicinal pills if they wanted to progress at a decent speed.
Hui Yue was perfectly aware that although he was to start relying on medicinal pills, gaining Qi that way had its limits. The more foreign Qi from pills that was mixed into the internal dantian, the more unstable the Qi spiral would become. Adding too much foreign Qi without taking the time to perfectly merge it would end in Hui Yue losing control of his entire cultivation base.
That being said, Hui Yue was not worried about hard work, nor did he mind spending a lot of time merging the two types of Qi together, as it would increase his cultivation speed by half. This was an increase which Hui Yue needed dearly considering he was about to embark on the final three stars within the Student rank.
‘We are unable to really plan anything before we know how much we will be paid for this Qi Grasping Pill,’ Hui Yue said with a sigh as he looked at Lan Feng. ‘If we do not gain enough coins to buy a memory stone we only have one option, but I do prefer if we can avoid it,’ he continued with a sigh and Lan Feng nodded.
‘Although we can ask the Black Auction House to provide the stones for us, it will put us in even greater danger.’
Lan Feng had previously said that this would be their final option, however if they were to use this option it would be the same as telling the Black Market Auction house that these high ranked martial art skills all were known by Hui Yue, and it was likely that some experts would kidnap him in attempt to force more skills out of him.
Even if the Black Market Auction House itself did not have any intention of making a move against Hui Yue, there was always the chance of them selling the information about him to the leading families within the city.
‘I have a way to make them keep quiet,’ Lan Feng said smugly while looking at Hui Yue, who was still looking slightly unsettled while thinking about the risk they were about to take on.
Hui Yue looked at the blue phoenix after hearing his words, waiting for the continuation of the previous sentence.
‘You forget that so far I have been hiding myself,’ he said with his usual arrogance, ‘if I were to release my aura everyone will see us as a Saint ranked expert.’
Hui Yue could not help but whistle slightly in admiration, ‘I highly doubt that anyone is interested in attacking us after seeing your cultivation.’
‘That’s true,’ Lan Feng agreed, ‘but remember, I am only able to release the aura of my cultivation. If anyone were to attack us I will only be able to release one, max two, attacks with my true strength. Firstly, our body can’t handle the power and if I use more power than that, it is likely that the body itself would disintegrate from the high energy outburst.’
Hui Yue nodded, as he knew about this from before. Lan Feng had informed him that their body was currently only able to contain Hui Yue’s cultivation. Another thing was that Lan Feng did not currently have any way to gather essence and refine it into Qi as he did not have his own body. Not refining Qi also meant that he was unable to refine the Qi into Spiritual Power, and no Spiritual Power meant that he could not create his ultimate power source, Wu Wei.
The only way for Lan Feng to gain some strength was by sitting within Hui Yue’s Qi cave and slowly absorb a few strands of Qi from the Qi spiral. However, as Lan Feng needed to use his soul to refine the Qi into Spiritual Power it definitely took a lot longer time than it took for Hui Yue to use the same cultivation method to refine essence into Qi.
Hui Yue slowly allowed his consciousness to regain control of the body, and he opened his eyes while starting to stretch his stiff body. Without noticing it, hours had gone by, and the rising sun had started to shine in through the windows, telling Hui Yue that it was time to get ready for departure.
A couple of hours later a wooden carriage pulled by two massive magical horses was moving away from the Riluo City’s Royal Academy towards the Riluo City itself. Inside the carriage were three children who were speaking together in a friendly and unrestrained manner.
Rong Xing was still showing slight disagreement against Hui Yue selling his medicinal pill, however Rong Ming quickly told her to stop butting into Hui Yue’s plans and that their friend was capable of making his own decisions. Instead Rong Ming insisted on Hui Yue joining them for dinner that night at the City Lord’s mansion before the three of them would return to the academy together.
Hui Yue was looking out the window throughout the whole trip towards the Riluo City, and the landscape changed quickly from mountain terrain into rural villages with fields and farmers. Hui Yue himself had lived within a small village for ten years of his life, but during those days he had focused completely on cultivating.
Now while he was looking out the carriage window, he could not help but compare this world with his old world. Although this world was filled with experts who had incredible strength and could control magic. Beasts that Hui Yue had never seen before were the most common creatures around, but while looking at the labourers, Hui Yue could not help but feel that these farmers were living a hard life, a life which could easily be improved by relying on some of his knowledge from his previous life.
He chuckled slightly as he thought of how this world seemed superior in every way, however the majority of the inhabitants were living a much tougher life than what could be seen in a modern society.
Hui Yue was no hero. He had no intention of stepping up and spending his time to implement various changes which could benefit the poor. What Hui Yue saw whenever he looked out the window was profit.
Hui Yue had already realized that what he was about to do now was not something that could be done often. Selling Martial Art Skills and Spiritual Art Skills were a risky business and although a lot of money were involved, it might end up becoming a problem in the future.
He had also realized that City Lord Rong Liang had given many commoners the opportunity to become experts. The children which had joined the Martial Art School were not going to return to the usual lifestyle of their parents. Some of them were studying at the Royal Academy where others had continued their cultivation at home.
The ones who went to the Royal Academy would usually get a career within the military or as a guard for a noble family where the majority of the self-cultivating youngsters would become mercenaries and a few of the higher ranked would work as guards.
Having all of these cultivators within Riluo City had caused it to be highly valued by the Royal Family as they produced a high amount of soldiers. At the same time these mercenaries caused the trade within the city to flourish and often allowed for treasure to be auctioned off at the Black Market Auction House.
The downside of all these experts was that the city was lacking people when it came to certain areas of work. There were not enough farmers outside the city, nor were there enough carpenters to keep expanding the growing city.
Hui Yue felt his lips curling slightly while remembering the blueprints of various simple but very effective mechanisms. However, all this knowledge of his was only useful for certain noble families or even the City Lord.
The hard part was not creating the blueprints but selling them to Rong Liang without the City Lord knowing that it was him.
Hui Yue sighed, but he was still fairly cheerful as he saw the tall city walls rapidly approach them. Even if Hui Yue had other options of earning money it was something he needed to slowly think though when he had returned to the academy. Currently he had no intention of changing the plan he and Lan Feng had agreed upon.
Instead, Hui Yue dismounted the carriage as soon as they had crossed the City Wall, and quickly slipped into the stream of people who were rushing through the busy streets. He was currently wearing his worn out garments from his home village, and his hair was tied up beneath a conical hat made from bamboo.
The hat was one that Hui Yue had created while being at the academy. It was inspired by the conical hats that was used throughout southern Asia. Its current purpose was not to block the sun, instead it was for the sake of masking Hui Yue’s unusual characteristics.
Hui Yue was striding through one street after another, and slowly making his way towards the centre of the City where the majority of the market squares were located. Although Hui Yue easily could have gotten here quicker if he had stayed on the carriage, he also knew that he would have gained an incredible amount of attention as everyone within the city was capable of recognizing the carriage as belonging to the City Lord Mansion.
As Hui Yue made his way through the streets he also took the time to observe and analyse the different shops. The outskirts of the city were mainly residential areas, where big compounds where build very similar to the City Lord Mansion, although these belonged to various noble families.
Between these family compounds were elaborate roads that lead towards the city centre, and all the roads used for noble families usually contained beautiful mansions at the sides, belonging to the richer merchants or traders. Some of them belonged to guards or mercenaries who had gained success in their cultivation. These houses were considered the middleclass and all of them had their own courtyard and outbuildings.
The south of the city lacked the big noble clans and the middle-class mansions, instead it was filled with narrow streets made from stamped down soil, and small sheds were build next to each other, cramped together. Some were only one storey where other’s had an additional house build on their roof.
This area belonged to the poorest part of the citizens and these would perform any kind of work they could get. Some worked as cleaners throughout the city while others would travel into the rice-fields and work as seasonal workers.
Gao Yan was from these areas and so were all his friends. The families here had gained a hope in their everyday life when Lord Rong Liang opened the Martial Art Schools and allowed for their children to cultivate, to get a way to gain a stable income for themselves and their families.
Hui Yue had quickly walked through these areas, and as he moved closer and closer to the centre he also saw different markets placed throughout the city. These markets were all fenced in and had a couple of entrances. These entrances were governed by a couple of guards whom were wearing the seals of different noble families.
It was obvious that the marketplaces were owned by the noble families and that the shops within had to pay taxes to be allowed to do business. Hui Yue had glanced at these markets, but he quickly decided against entering.
Firstly, he was currently wearing poor clothes which made him look like a poor commoner, and the likelihood of being granted entrance was slim. Secondly, the shops within the markets were likely to pay less when they bought items as they would have to pay tax to the nobles.
Hui Yue kept walking down street after street, looking for a shop where he could sell his pill, and after almost reaching the west entrance he saw a small sideway where a student had left a shop in a hurry, his hands clutching his chest, while constantly looked fourth and back.
Hui Yue sighed in pity as he looked at this boy. It was obvious that he was carrying valuables and with his current attitude drawing attention, Hui Yue was fairly certain that this boy would not make it back home without being robbed on the way.
Unfortunately, as the boy saw Hui Yue, his eyes grew in size and he tumbled the other way, rushing as fast as his legs could carry him. Hui Yue looked at the retreating boy, and a slight laugh escaped his lips as he could not help but find it entertaining. However, he did not have the time to observe this boy any longer, and instead, he removed his hat before facing the shop in front of him.
It was a small shack that seemed to have withstood a hurricane. The ceiling was filled with holes and the nameplate over the door was hanging from one corner, swinging in the slight breeze that was trapped within the narrow streets.
With big letters stood ‘Apothecary Yung Kai Kin’ however the paint which the name had been written with was peeling off, and a few letters were almost impossible to read.
At first glance, Hui Yue had the feeling that this shop would be too poor to afford his pill, however upon seeing how the other student had clutched his chest, Hui Yue decided to enter and give it a try.
Hui Yue quickly removed his hat and allowed his hair to fall down, a white mist seemed to appear within his eyes, replacing the sharpness with a nativity suitable for a ten-year-old.
He hesitated slightly before a hand pushed open the door, and Hui Yue slowly entered the shop. At first everything was dark. No light shone inside the shop, and the only light source came in through the doorframe from the street outside.
The dull light allowed Hui Yue to see cabinets and counters made from glass with what once was medicinal herbs within. Some of the cabinets were empty while the few plants that Hui Yue did see had long since dried out or withered from improper treatment.
Everything within the room was filled with dust and dirt, clearly showing that nothing had been touched for a very long time. The only thing which was dust free was the glass counter.
The room was so small that only a few children the size of Hui Yue could fit in it, and currently no one else was present. Behind the counter was an open doorway into another dark room, and a heavy scent was emitting out. This scent did not smell clear or healthy like the medicinal pills which Hui Yue’s father usually brought home, nor did it smell sweet or tempting like the medicinal pill he had gained the previous evening. This scent was thick and heavy, causing Hui Yue to become slightly drowsy, however his Qi was moving much more rapid than usual.
Suddenly a sound could be heard from within the room, and a shadow appeared within the doorway. Hui Yue focused his eyes on the shadow and he could not help but narrow them slightly as the shadow turned into a person.
This woman was as unusual as Hui Yue was. Hui Yue had hair as white as the new-fallen snow, however this woman had golden hair which reminded him of cascading sunshine. Curl after curl was framing her face, and her eyes were a golden hazelnut brown. As Hui Yue looked into these eyes, he felt as if his soul was being drawn from him, and a wisdom which did not suit her appearance was hidden far beneath.
Within a few breaths of time, Hui Yue had been unable to breathe, his eyes had gradually grown larger and he had lost his control over his body. A feeling of weakness and powerlessness washed over his body, but it vanished as soon as it had appeared, as the woman blinked her eyes.
Her body was well developed and Hui Yue would assume that she was around twenty years of age, but her eyes looked ancient and Hui Yue instantly regretted entering this store.
“What can I help you with boy?” the woman asked in a friendly voice, and she moved to her counter, where she leaned against the glass and looked at Hui Yue with interested eyes.
Hui Yue had felt how Lan Feng had hidden himself as he would whenever the two of them encountered Lord Rong Liang, and an alertness had appeared within his eyes as he quickly drew the jade bottle from a pocket.
This transaction had to be completed as quickly as possible.
“I heard from a friend that you might buy medicinal pills,” Hui Yue said quickly, but he did not move closer to the counter nor the woman. A feeling of danger kept appearing within his head, and although he managed to defeat the urge to instantly escape, he still had not managed to convince himself to advance.
The smile upon the woman’s face grew larger as she saw the alertness within Hui Yue’s eyes, and she made a beckoning gesture with her hand, causing the jade bottle to fly towards her hand in a speed so quick that even Hui Yue who had perfected Velocity Flow was unable to stop it.
The woman ignored the flash of worry that appeared within Hui Yue’s eyes, and instead opened the jade bottle in her hand while sniffing the medicinal scent that spread out. A slight furrow of her brows was then followed by a nod of her head before she once again sealed the lid and directly threw the jade bottle into the room behind her.
A large clattering sound could be heard as it collided with other items, but the woman did not seem to have any care about the sudden sounds, instead she grabbed a memory stone from her belt and from this memory stone withdrew a big sack. Within the sack sounds of metal scraping against each other could be heard, causing Hui Yue to guess that this was a purse.
Hui Yue knew about memory stones used as storage tools, however they were much more expensive than the average memory stone, so although the shop seemed as if it was run down and destroyed, it was obvious that this woman was not just any poor apothecary.
The woman had not moved her eyes from Hui Yue as she put her slender hands into the bag and withdrew a few coins which she handed to the white-haired boy. Without looking at the coins, Hui Yue made a light bow to the woman and instantly backed out of the shop. He felt as if he stayed much longer, he would be preyed upon by a mighty beast.
Outside the shop, Hui Yue once again wore his conical hat before rushing into a more trafficked road and slipped into the stream of people moving fourth and back.
After moving around for a short while, Hui Yue found another narrow street where he sat in darkness and looked at his hand, shocked to observe that the woman had paid him three silver coins.
The currency in this new world were coins much similar to what he was used to. A hundred copper coins were needed to get one silver coin, while a hundred silver coins were needed for one gold coin. Above gold coins where spirit coins which needed thousand gold coins.
Although medicinal pills were incredibly expensive three silver coins was a handsome price for a Qi Grasping Pill. These pills were created by all apprentice alchemists, and they needed to make an insane amount of them while practicing, so the pills which the Royal Academy rewarded the students were all considered fairly normal.
On would usually amount to one silver coin, perhaps two, but this woman had paid him three. This generosity did not please Hui Yue, instead it made him extra worried. It was obviously a gesture done to lure him back to her shop the following month, however Hui Yue leered slightly as he packed away the coins and moved back into the stream of people. He had no intention of returning the next month.
‘Smart,’ Lan Feng agreed satisfied, ‘although that woman is trying to lure you in, she did not scan you with her spiritual sense, nor did she use Wu Wei. There is no way for her to have noticed me, but in the future I suggest we do not get close to her. She is clearly not as simple as one might think.’
Hui Yue nodded, as he moved towards a shop which specialised in memory stones. The next part, and the most important part, of their plan was about to be executed.
Far back in a broken down shop was a golden haired woman still standing at the counter. A big smile was transparent on her face, and her brown eyes were shining with a light which had not been there before. As the woman looked out of the window the image of a young white-haired child appeared within her mind and a laughter escaped her lips as she turned around and moved into the dark room in the back.