Chapter 301: The Black Lion
Looking at the inn in front of them, both Hui Yue and Cai Jie were staring agape. The house seemed so run down that no one would think it was safe. Loud sounds of glasses clanging and people partying could be heard through the broken down door. The scent of beer and food wafted out through the shattered windows and the door. Glancing at each other Cai Jie finally shrugged as they opened the door and entered the shabby looking inn.
Entering both were astonished to see that although everything was worn, the room was not as destroyed as they had expected. As soon as they stepped inside, the room quieted down, and Hui Yue saw everyone turned to look at them. The man behind the counter looked suspiciously at the two men who had come in. Hui Yue sighed as he headed towards the man.
“I am here to visit a friend who is residing here right now. His room is on the second floor, door seven,” Hui Yue said with a low voice, but because the inn was so quiet, everyone heard him. Hearing the words, everyone suddenly turned hostile, and Hui Yue could not help but sigh. If he truly had to fight the experts within the inn, then he could easily massacre them, especially with Cai Jie by his side.
“Just go tell him that Hui Yue is here to speak with him,” He sighed once again, and the man behind the counter made a gesture with his hand after which a young child rushed up the stairs towards the second floor. Looking around the room, he found that there were commoners who had no cultivation base alongside cultivators with ranks all the way up to King. There were no emperors, nor were there any Saints around but every other rank was present. Everyone observed these two unknown men that had arrived at the inn making them all alert.
Saying nothing Hui Yue just waited for the young child to relay the information, and after a few moments, they suddenly heard a door slamming against the wall followed by feet rushing down the stairs. Moments after Gao Yan was seen on the stairs. His hair was disheveled, and his eyes searched for the person who had come to see him. The moment he saw Hui Yue a large smile was evident on his face and he rushed towards him, his arms outstretched ready to give his friend a hug.
“You should have told me that you were coming!” He exclaimed loudly as he dragged the white-haired young man into a hug. The sudden show of affection caused everyone within the room to stare slackjawed. Gao Yan was definitely not known as a person who was overly affectionate so for him to treat Hui Yue this way one could easily tell that he was a very special person.
“Hey, how are you doing? We are here for some information. We hoped you would be able to assist us,” Hui Yue said with a smile as the older man withdrew from the hug. The older man instantly nodded his head, and his expression turned serious. “I am doing good. It’s good to see you. Let’s head upstairs, and I will give you all the information you could need.” He said as he turned around and started to walk towards the stairs leading up towards the second story. This time, no one tried to block Hui Yue or glare at him and his companion; instead, they showed interested glances and great curiosity. It was incredible how quickly the general opinion of the two changed in such a short amount of time.
As soon as they had left the lower floor, the inn suddenly changed. It no longer looked shabby and rundown, and although it was not elaborately decorated, everything was made from sturdy good materials. The stairs did not creak; the walls were not filled with mold as one would have expected when looking at this inn from the outside. Looking at the room, it seemed both warm and sturdy completely different from the outside. Seeing Hui Yue’s clearly curious glance, Gao Yan smiled at him, “We don’t want people coming in here by mistake,” He explained. “This is our headquarters, and I work with the lower class citizens of all cities. The shop needs to look like a place that our clientele would visit.” Hearing the reason, Hui Yue had mostly guessed it, but he still nodded thankful to have it clarified.
On the second floor, there were seven doors on the left side of the hallway while the right side was filled with windows. Some were broken while others were painted over, completely fitting the style of a terrible, worn down inn.
“The floor upstairs has regular rooms,” Gao Yan said, “But on this floor, although there are seven doors only door seven leads into a room. If anyone tries to open the other six doors, an alarm will trigger, and it’ll be impossible to leave the building.” He said as a sinister expression flashed across his face, but it did not stay for long. It was so brief that Hui Yue almost questioned himself about whether or not he had truly seen it.
Moving to the seventh door, the older man opened it easily and went through. He was closely followed by Hui Yue and Cai Jie. Both were greatly curious about what it looked like inside, and they quickly looked around. Chests filled with memory stones were standing in front of the windows, and big bookshelves were placed on the walls. There were six desks and behind each of these desks was a person. These people seemed to have various strengths, professions, and amounts of wealth. Some were poor beggars, and others were maids from fine houses. Some were cultivators while others were merchants. The number of people within the room was quite astonishing. As soon as one left the room, the men behind the desks left the chamber through the entrance. A few moments later he would return with a person that Hui Yue recognized as one of the people sitting in the inn just moments before.
Nodding quietly, Hui Yue understood that this was the place where all the information was being gathered, collected, and filed. This was the core of Gao Yan’s intel business. The people downstairs brought information and got coins as rewards. One could tell that his business was definitely going well. All six tables were filled, but at the very back of the room was a desk larger than the others. On this desk were memory stones and scrolls alike, all of them dumped in random locations wherever they had managed to find a place. Heading towards this desk, Hui Yue instantly knew that it belonged to Gao Yan, and he could not help but chuckle silently.
Standing at the desk, Gao Yan grumbled a little because of the look of the desk where many memory stones were scattered and in one of the drawers he found a storage stone in which he placed the many memory stones alongside the scrolls. Shrugging he looked at Hui Yue with a wry smile, “Usually, Xu Piao would be the one sorting and filtering the new information we gain, but unfortunately, he has been busy cultivating since yesterday for some reason, so I am stuck doing it myself.” He explained before he sat down. With a gesture of his hand, two servants appeared with a couple of chairs. As soon as they placed them in front of Gao Yan’s desk, the two servants instantly vanished from sight once more.
“I guess that one of the reasons you’re here is for information about the third prince,” Gao Yan sighed as he picked out a memory stone from his robes. “This one contains everything we know about the third prince. He is not often seen in public, so most of what we know comes from servants working at the palace. Most of it is from dubious sources so take it with a grain of salt,” He said as he handed the stone to Hui Yue who gratefully accepted it.
“Do you need any other information.?” Gao Yan asked while looking around and Hui Yue nodded his head, “I need all the information you can get me about the nobles invited to the City Lord’s dinner parties.” Hui Yue said, and Gao Yan nodded his head in return, but he did not move. “The City Lord’s dinners…,” He mumbled, and only after a few minutes did he stand up. He went to the bookshelf at the other end of the room and returned with four different books. Opening them, Hui Yue saw that these books did not contain pages, but they held memory stones. Taking a few memory stones from various books, Gao Yan finally laid down twelve stones. Sitting still, Gao Yan placed one memory stone after another to his forehead. A golden blue flash followed, and Gao Yan absorbed all the information, one stone at a time. As he stored it all in his memory, he picked up another twelve stones and placed these empty ones at his forehead like he had done with the previous stones. A silver blue light flashed once more, and the information he had stored in his mind was once more placed within a memory stone. Having made copies of the stones, Gao Yan gave a set to Hui Yue.
Accepting the stones, Hui Yue thought they were done, but Gao Yan quickly placed all the books back where he had taken them before he repeated the action with another twelve books. Once more he copied them and handed the twelve new stones to Hui Yue. This repeated a few times before Gao Yan finally picked up a massive book. Within this book were multiple memory stones and Gao Yan copied thirty-five stones after which he gave them to Hui Yue.
“The first twelve stones contain information about the twelve experts who are always there at the dinner party. The next twelve stones are guests who have been invited more than once. Then the next thirty-six are members who have been there once before. The final thirty-five stones are about the City Lord himself. That is everything we have about him. You should be able to learn quite a bit about him from all this information.” Gao Yan said to Hui Yue. The white-haired young man nodded his head to show he understood, and he could not help but feel very relieved with obtaining all the information he had from Gao Yan. About payment, Hui Yue did not mention anything and neither did Gao Yan. Both knew it was something which needed no mention. Hui Yue knew that Gao Yan felt like he owed Hui Yue for years already. Once upon a time, Gao Yan had been a cripple, someone who had lost all his internal energy which he had worked hard for, but thanks to Hui Yue and Lan Feng Gao Yan managed to increase his cultivation base rapidly. He managed to become far stronger than he had ever expected and all of this was due to Hui Yue. Back then Hui Yue had never asked for anything, and now that Hui Yue needed help he would obviously do his best; to ask for payment would mean that they were not considering each other friends.
Hui Yue and Cai Jie gained what they had come for and after giving their thanks to Gao Yan, the two young men left behind the dodgy looking inn and headed back to the mansion belonging to the Rong twins. Moving together, they found a small room with a library at the mansion. Everything was filled with dust, and they assumed that the room hadn’t been used in quite a while. Using a bit of their power, they managed to get rid of the dust, and then they slowly sat down in a chair each.
“Do you want to learn about the City Lord, or do you want to read about the many men who the City Lord invites to his mansion?” Hui Yue asked as he placed two storage stones in front of them. One was about the City Lord, the other for his guests. Sighing Cai Jie reached out and took the one for the City Lord. “Might as well take this one,” He said and withdrew the first memory stone which he placed to his forehead.