Chapter 17: The Unknown Expert
The sun was high on the sky, leaving the streets bathed in sunshine and a scorching heat caused waves of warm air to constantly rise from the hot roads. Each street and road was filled with people who were bustling to and fro, pushing their way through the massive hordes of citizens.
A small boy with white hair was slipping past these busy adults, moving with a certain smoothness which allowed him to proceed much quicker than the hurrying grownups, however no one seemed to notice this youngster.
This youngster was obviously Hui Yue. He had previously visited a shop which specialised in memory stones, however the shopkeeper had instantly thrown him out as he assumed that this young child was a poor commoner who wished to steal his goods.
In the small childish hand were three silver coins, but although Hui Yue had gained these in a legit way, he knew better than to take them out. The shopkeeper had already deemed Hui Yue a criminal, and a poor child with three silver coins had obviously stolen them from a rich citizen. In turn, taking them from a thieving little child would not trouble anyone.
This had caused Hui Yue to not linger around and instead sprint back into the street where he vanished within the masses.
‘Let’s head to an inn,’ Lan Feng said with a carefree voice as he thought of the extra coins they had gained. Buying two memory stones did not seem as a problem, and the two needed a place to sit down and go through their plan again. The sale of the pill had taken longer than expected, and although Hui Yue had the whole day at his disposal, he still needed to visit the City Lord’s mansion later on during the day.
Walking through the busy street, Hui Yue quickly found a big inn where he ordered a standard room for the day at the price of a few copper coins. Upon reaching the room, Hui Yue slowly opened his bag and pulled out a few items.
The first thing that fell into Hui Yue’s hands was a piece of smooth fabric. This was the high quality robe that he had been given earlier by his village upon his departure.
Hui Yue had was aware that he could not wear the robe unless he wanted to give a lead towards his person, but instead he pulled up the blue layer pants and shirt that was placed below the robe. Those two garments should be fairly neutral and not something that he had been seen wearing any time previously.
After changing his clothes into the blue set, the white robe was carefully placed back into the old bag and a conical hat was taken out. This hat was one that Hui Yue had made during his spare time at the Royal Academy, and it was made from bamboo shoots that he had found within his courtyard.
This conical hat was inspired by the ones used in his old world, but unlike those, this one was not supposed to guard him from sun nor rain but rather keep his face hidden. He had crafted it with that in mind, and while tying up his hair and taking on the hat, no one was capable of seeing anything else than a smooth white chin and beautiful red lips.
Finally, Lan Feng took a deep breath, and released his aura, allowing it to surround Hui Yue. A gasp escaped the shocked young boy as he felt how ripples of energy was released from within him, causing the air to constantly vibrate around him. Layers of energy was protecting the body and they were like waves that originated within the Qi cave where Lan Feng was present, before they rushed out into the surroundings and finally was dissolved.
To be able to get close to Hui Yue while this aura was active, one needed to be an expert of at least King rank. Another option was that Lan Feng would allow for one person to enter the protective space, which in return would allow the person to benefit greatly from the excess energy ripples.
Hui Yue himself could feel how his Qi spiral was surging within his body. It was turning like a hurricane at such a high speed that Hui Yue no longer could see any Qi threads and instead saw a white tornado, and he felt how this tornado was constantly absorbing and refining the aura which Lan Feng was releasing.
Although Hui Yue had not gained any boost to his strength, he still felt as if his senses were much sharper than before as he made his way out of the inn. It seemed as if Hui Yue was no longer walking like before but rather floating across the street.
This aura was not limited to Hui Yue and everyone who came close to him could feel it. The citizens who had been bustling through the road, even the ones who previously pushed their way through with no care for their surroundings politely moved aside to open a path for Hui Yue to walk through.
It was obvious for everyone present that this was an expert who did not usually belong within this city, also it was an expert that far exceeded the current noble families which were boasting of having King ranked experts as their family leaders.
Hui Yue did not move with great speed but took his time as he made the way towards one of the market places. He could have gone to the same shop as before, but he had no intention of assisting anyone who previously chased him away.
Instead he moved towards the centre of the city where the many market places were located. Hui Yue was not dumb. He knew that his sudden appearance had caused a few people to follow him and keep him under observation. Although Hui Yue would not usually notice these people, he was capable of doing so now that he had merged with Lan Feng’s Saint aura.
A smile appeared on Hui Yue’s face as he felt the people following him, and he walked toward one of the smaller markets. The smaller markets were controlled by the minor noble families, and the shops that resided within these usually survived by selling staple items at a cheaper price than the bigger market places.
The bigger marketplaces were able to take a bigger price as these places usually had higher grade magical items and medicinal herbs together with medium ranked martial art skills. The smaller markets were usually frequented by the mercenaries while the upper-class were the ones who went for the bigger markets.
If Hui Yue had arrived at the marketplace earlier with his old clothes, it was very likely that he would have been barred from entrance, however with his current appearance and the extraordinary aura that he showed, no one dared stop him.
The guards which were guarding the market place all glanced at Hui Yue with admiration and a slight fear, while the customers once again made space for Hui Yue to move around as he pleased with no one in the way.
Hui Yue took his time while walking around the different stalls, sweeping his eyes over low grade medicinal plants, empty scrolls, low ranked martial art skills, low grade magical beast cores, low grade magical gems, weapons of lower quality, armour of lower quality and memory stones of lower quality.
Memory stones were originally a black gemstone with no actual abilities, however each of them had a certain ability to absorb spiritual energy and transfer into tools which could be used for recording, tools that could be used as keys or even storage tools.
A low grade memory stone was one which had managed to take in a slight amount of spiritual energy and changed into a stone which could perhaps record one Martial or Spiritual Art Skill, it could record a real action for a short time and keep that one action or it could be used to send one message to another person.
Due to the lack of Spiritual Energy it was usually used as a container of Martial and Spiritual Art Skills. The memory stone would shatter when the Spiritual Energy ran out, and that would usually happen if the stone had been used a few times. This did not matter whether it was a Martial or Spiritual Art Skill, a recording of a fight or even a message to a friend.
Considering that Hui Yue and Lan Feng had been paid three silver coins it was possible for the two to buy a medium grade memory stone, however the lower grade were actually more beneficial as they could only be viewed by a few people before they would shatter.
When the memory stone was only able to be viewed a few times, it would cause the buyers to limit which people were allowed to try and activate it, which would reduce the chances of it being learned by anyone. Secondly, although someone would insert the knowledge into their heads from the memory stone, they could do nothing with it before they managed to activate it, that included creating new memory stones.
Hui Yue still had remnants of worry from the whole plan of selling high ranked Martial and Spiritual Art Skills, but whenever he felt Lan Feng’s soul he felt an unexplainable excitement and a certain amount of schadenfreude which he could not understand.
‘Lan Feng,’ he said while looking at a stall in front of him, ‘what is the reason for you be this excited?’
Although the two souls were able to sense each other’s moods, it was impossible to really understand one another.
‘Let me tell you a story,’ Lan Feng said with a patient voice, very similar to how Hui Yue had been told bedtime stories when he was a child. ‘A long long time ago there lived an expert. This expert sold me two skills of a high rank. One was a Martial Art Skill while the other was a Spiritual Art Skill. The price for these two skills were incredibly extravagant, but they also seemed to be way above average in ability. In the end I bought the memory stones containing the two skills, only to see that I was unable to activate them. I had to try it four times before I finally succeeded in learning the Martial Art Skill, and the memory stone shattered on my final attempt. The Spiritual Art Skill on the other hand still causes me some problems. It is created for someone who has an affinity for Water, so I ended up spending thousands of years of research before I managed to activate it.’
It was obvious that the Phoenix still felt some pent up rage whenever he thought about what had happened back then, as he continued his speech.
‘To be honest, it really pissed me off, and later on when I tried to find the cultivator to get revenge I found out that someone else had killed him instead. Imagine how I felt. Pissed off but unable to do anything about it, but no more! This time it is my turn to screw over someone naïve and stupid. I need to feel like these two skills actually have some value to them!’
As soon as Lan Feng finished the final sentence he broke into a loud, and rather insane, laughter. Although this in one way had caused Hui Yue to question the reasons as to why Lan Feng suggested that they sold Martial Art Skill rolls, it also calmed him down after knowing that not even the phoenix had been able to activate them easily.
While it was true that the boy was feeling a certain amount of relief, the divine beast inside was feeling a cheeky satisfaction upon imagining how it would be after successfully selling the memory stones, and Hui Yue finally shook his head before picking out two of the lowest grade memory stones that he could find.
These memory stones were only capable of being able to hold a Martial or Spiritual Art Skill for up to three viewings, and although this sounded like incredibly little, it had no actual influence on whether or not the skill would sell for an astonishing amount at the Black Market Auction House later on.
After picking up the stones, Hui Yue turned his face towards the stall-owner.
“I wish to purchase these two stones,” he said with his childish voice, causing the surrounding observers and commoners to assume that the hidden expert was in fact a woman. The figure was lithe, only a metre and a half, while the shape was frail. The skin was pale and the voice was high pitched but comfortable, much like a slow steam gliding past the beautiful landscapes.
Although the expert seemed to be a woman, the shopkeeper still looked at this person with the utmost veneration and fear while bowing deeply.
“Milady, please do not offend this humble servant and accept the stones as a token of my respect,” he managed to say with a shivering voice and a slight stutter.
Looking at this unknown expert, the shopkeeper assumed that it was one who was merely traveling through the city. The garments were clearly men’s wear, however they were made from fabric which was not usual around these parts. Also the hat which she was wearing was something which he had never seen before, however it had been crafted with such care and precision that no one would think of it as being created on a whim.
Hui Yue shrugged carelessly upon hearing that the stones were a gift. He was after all not a wealthy person, his entire fortune consisted of a little less than three silver coins.
Hui Yue did not care much for being mistaken as a woman once again, and this time it was a benefit as it could further help to remove any suspicion from him. He thanked the shopkeeper and turned around, getting ready to leave the market as he noticed how the shop he had left suddenly had a boom in their visitors.
All the commoners from the market were rushing towards the stall, buying their items from him. Even if he had gifted two memory stones of the lowest quality, it was obvious that the benefits to the shopkeeper were not minor either.
A smile appeared on Hui Yue’s face as he strode out of the market and moved directly back to the inn where he had been checked in.
He did not go to the counter but instead directly towards the room he had rented. During the return to the inn, Hui Yue was perfectly aware that he had been followed by the informants of all the major factions within the city, and the next part of his plan was crucial.
Upon entering his room, Lan Feng quickly withdrew his aura, and once again contained it within himself, while Hui Yue rushed to switch his clothes back to the farmers clothes he had been wearing before. The conical hat was quickly packed down together with the garments and hidden within his bag, before he jumped onto the bed and sat down in meditational stance while cultivating.
It did not take long before Hui Yue heard the sound of people moving around outside in the hallway and sounds of complaints could be heard through the old doors. A smile appeared on Hui Yue’s face as he tried to focus on his cultivation.
A few minutes later, his door was forced open and the landlord together with a group of three men dressed in black was standing outside, looking into the shabby room with the poor cultivating child.
Hui Yue looked as if he had been scared silly, and he stared upon the intruders with big eyes and slightly trembling hands. The three black clothes men moved away almost instantly and the landlord gave the child a slight nod before closing the door behind them.
The next hour was spent cultivating while these three black clothed men searched through the entire inn, unable to find what they were looking for, and a cheeky smile appeared on Hui Yue’s face as he saw them exit the inn. Finally, it was time to pick up the two memory stones and imprint them with Lan Feng’s Martial and Spiritual Art Skills.
While looking at the stone in Hui Yue’s hand, it was the size of half his palm and it had not been carved in a nice shape. It was as rough as it had been when the mercenaries had found it. The stone had a black surface and there was no shine to it. It was obvious to see that this was a low grade stone, which excited Hui Yue even more.
He picked up the first stone and moved it to his forehead as he slowly closed his eyes. The rest of the imprinting depended on Lan Feng, and the phoenix slowly moved a feathered finger to his forehead where he pulled a thread of light out from between his eyes.
This thread of light slowly condensed into a small ball, shining much like a pearl, and under Lan Feng’s careful guidance it was moved through Hui Yue’s meridians until it reached the forehead, where it got pressed the final distance out of the body and into the memory stone.
As soon as the ball of light had left Hui Yue’s head, he slowly allowed his eyes to open, only to be blinded by a bright light as it entered the memory stone in front of him. It took a few minutes before Hui Yue was able to see anything again.
When he was, the memory stone no longer seemed to be as ordinary as it had been before. The shape was still rough and unpolished much like before, however the surface had gained a shine as if it was filled with a black sun, and from time to time could a slight white mist be seen travelling around inside of the stone itself.
Hui Yue could not help but feel excited when he saw that they had successfully trapped the first skill, and he quickly repeated the action. A wild feeling of joy appeared within his heart as he looked at the two stones within his hands and kept imagining just how much money they would sell for. Hopefully it would be enough to provide for quite some medicinal pills.
After finishing the two memory stones, Hui Yue quickly changed clothes once again, and waited for Lan Feng to release the aura, before he made his way out of the inn, once again walking slowly and allowing the different followers to see where he was headed.
Upon exiting the inn, Hui Yue could not help but frown slightly as he saw that the sun was almost about to reach the city walls, showing that it was in the afternoon and that Hui Yue was in a hurry if he wished to show up at the City Lord’s Mansion for the dinner which he had promised the Rong twins earlier.
Still Hui Yue knew that he would gain nothing if he hurried with this part of the plan, and he forced himself to slowly walk through the city, moving towards the Ma Family Compound.
The Black Market Auction House was not placed in the middle of the city like most other important business buildings, instead it was placed next to the Ma family’s own home so that they could provide the best security.
The Black Market Auction House did not have to hunt down customers, the customers made sure to travel the extra distance to have a chance of purchasing unknown treasures.
Although this place was called The Black Market Auction House, it was a big and popular building which was not considered illegal, nor was it a place which earned money from criminal activities.
The reason that it had gotten its name was because of the policy that the Ma family had followed from the start. When an item appeared at their auction, they did not care how it had been achieved by the seller. If they had stolen it or robbed someone, even if they had murdered the previous owners, it was nothing that the Black Market Auction House would care about. The same went for old heirlooms of declining families which was sold here, no one knew who the sellers were and anonymity was the key.
As soon as an item had been sold through the Black Market Auction House, the new owners had gained all rights to the item, and it could only be taken from them if the new owners wished to give it to others, sell it to others or if it had been taken from them by force.
Reaching the building made Hui Yue gasp in astonishment as he looked at the extravagant surroundings.
The road leading to the Black Market Auction House was paved with marble and on each side was a lawn which was groomed meticulously. The lawn was framed with big trees that had been groomed into squares, and jade statues could be seen placed in the middle of the lawns.
Behind the beautiful landscape was the main building which was adorned with gold on all the pillars. Magical beasts had been carved into the frames and statues of beasts had been created from marble and more jade.
The door was created from marble much like the pavement, but the doorframe and door handles were created from pure gold. All the colours were kept in white, red and black.
The entire premises was tightly guarded by groups of experts who would patrol in specific patterns and even the guards at the door were at least Grand Master ranked.
As soon as Hui Yue stepped onto the marble road and headed towards the Black Market Auction House, he noticed that the people who had followed him so far scattered and rushed away.
The white-haired child could not help but chuckle slightly as he noticed their movement. It was obvious that they were heading back to their homes with news of Hui Yue’s visit to the Black Market Auction House.
A new expert arrived in town and went for an Auction House. It could only mean one thing, treasure was going to go on sale, and everyone wished to have the first chance to acquire it.
Allowing these people to follow him for the entire day was exactly for this reason. It was to increase the amount of people who knew about the expert who went to the Black Market Auction House.
A smile was spread on Hui Yue’s face as he moved up the pavement, towards the front door.