The Nine Cauldrons

Book 2 Chapter 23:«Earthly Ranking»

In the middle of the main road in Yi City stood a large, three-story building. A board hung on the gate. Written on the board in large letters were three golden words– Wan Xiang Tower!

In an alley 40 meters away from Wan Xiang Tower.

“Qingshan and I are going to Wan Xiang Tower. You guys go with Old Wang to the end of the street to sell these furs. We will meet up in this alley afterwards,” Teng Yongfan said, then glanced at Teng Qinghu. “Qinghu, you have never been to Wan Xiang Tower. Do you want to come shopping with us?”

“Of course I want to!” Teng Qinghu proudly lifted his head.

“Then you should hand over your weapons to Old Wang for now,” Teng Yongfan said. “Qingshan, hand over your spear. Weapons are not allowed in Wan Xiang Tower.”

“Such strict rules!” Teng Qingshan gave his steel spear to the his clansmen.

Afterwards, Teng Yongfan, Teng Qingshan, and Teng Qinghu headed towards Wan Xiang Tower. In front of the gate of Wang Xiang Tower, two valiant women with swords at their waists stood there welcoming every customer with warm smiles while informing them not to bring any weapons inside.

Qingshan’s group was dressed like hunters and walked in without being stopped by the two women.

“This place really is big.” Teng Qinghu’s eyes widened.

Teng Qingshan was surprised as well. The space inside Wan Xiang Tower was quite large, capable of housing more than a hundred traders by itself. Yet, this was only the first floor.

“Qingshan, Wan Xiang Tower has the patronage of people from many different backgrounds. In addition, there are various items here to cater to your every need,” Teng Yongfan said. “The first two floors are for selling various goods. As for the third floor… no outsider is allowed to enter. Although the items in the third floor are exceptional, their prices are very expensive.”

Teng Qingshan looked over the merchandise on the counter and sighed, “Wan Xiang Tower is so generous to display precious goods such as these. They aren’t even concerned of being robbed!” Teng Qingshan glanced around and found special guards patrolling among the customers.

“They probably have some masters with inner strength to prevent people from stealing.” Teng Qingshan thought.

Teng Qinghu stared at a bracelet with big eyes, “Isn’t this a Blue Flower Stone bracelet? We happened to find one fairly large Blue Flower Stone in mountains. That was only worth 100 taels of silver. A large stone like the one we found can be made into more than 10 bracelets, but the price for this bracelet alone is 120 taels of silver?”

The vendor behind the counter shot a glance at Teng Qinghu with scorn.

With one look, the people saw that they were poor mountain folks from their dress and that it was simply impossible for them to afford such a fine bracelet.

“Alright, let’s take a look inside.” Teng Yongfan frowned and stared at Teng Qinghu. After walking a few steps, he said in a low voice, “Qinghu, don’t be so superficial. Don’t you know that your behavior is embarrassing us?”

Teng Qinghu just smiled and stopped talking.

“Father, what do you want to buy?” Teng Qingshan asked.

“I want to buy some materials to manufacture weapons. After forging the Frost Jade Sabers, almost all of our materials were used up, so I need to restock our supplies. This is the only place in Yi City that has such materials.” Teng Yongfan walked further inside. “Let’s go to the counter to look for weapon materials and widen your horizon.”

Normally, when a villager came to Wan Xiang Tower for the first time, they were all stunned from sight.

However for Teng Qingshan, Wan Xiang Tower was much smaller and had fewer goods than the shopping malls in his previous life, so he wasn’t surprised at all.

Teng Qingshan’s group arrived at the stand selling weapon manufacturing materials.

“What a messy place.” Teng Qinghu murmured.

Indeed, this counter had different kind of metal, stone and even some powder. In short, the goods here looked very conspicuous, but the prices were really high.

“Qingshan, look.” Teng Yongfan pointed at a blog of silver metal with special pattern. “This is called Star Pattern Steel. It could be said that it is the steel with the highest toughness and the best material to make a spear! Of course, the price is high as well.”

When the merchant behind the counter saw that Teng Yongfan knew about this material, he happily bragged about its qualities: “Even a legendary invincible master who reached the innate true origin would have a hard time breaking a spear made of Star Pattern Steel.”

“Innate true origin?” Teng Qingshan was surprised.

As told by the , innate true origin masters could be born in a world filled with Spiritual Qi of Heaven of Earth.

“What!” Teng Qinghu stared at the tag below the metal, “One Jin of Star Pattern Steel is worth one Jin of gold?”

Teng Qingshan was shocked by the price as well.

The Star Pattern Steel had an the same value as gold. In this world where gold could buy many things, 1 tael of Star Pattern Steel was the same as 1 taels of gold or 100 taels of silver.

“Star Pattern Steel is heavy, and in order to make a spear, one would need 100 Jin of Star Pattern Steel.” The seller smiled. “That means 100 Jin of gold, or 100000 taels of silver! Only wealthy people or strong fighters could afford this.”

Teng Qingshan took a deep breath.

Unbelievable! 100000 taels of silver Just to make the shaft of a spear? The treasury of Teng Jia Village stored only about 20000 taels of silver.

“Millennium Coldsteel?” Teng Qingshan stared at a black stone near the Star Pattern steel and could feel the freezing pressure it emanated just by standing next to it.

“Ah, this Millennium Coldsteel cannot be refined and was dug out from some remote location. It’s not as expensive as Star Pattern steel. One Jin of Millennium Coldsteel cost 2 taels of gold!” Teng Yongfan said. So the price of Millennium Coldsteel was 20 percent of the price of Star Pattern Steel.

Nevertheless, this was not something that Teng Qingshan’s group could afford.

“These materials…” Teng Qingshan gasped in admiration. In a world full of Spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, so many amazing materials were given birth. In his past life, Millennium Coldsteel existed only in books, not in the real world.

“Qingshan, you can browse through some of these merchant stalls. Once I finish buying the materials I need, I’ll come find you,” Teng Yongfan said.

“Alright, Father.”

Teng Qingshan and his cousin Teng Qinghu strolled around to look at other counters.

“Qingshan, Qingshan.” Teng Qinghu pulled Qingshan several times. Teng Qingshan looked at him with confusion. “What’s up?” As he said this, he glanced in the same direction that Teng Qinghu was staring at. He saw a handsome man in blue-green long gown and a cute girl in white marten coat walking into Wan Xiang Tower.

Many servants and guards followed them close behind.

“She is the daughter of that big salt merchant.” Teng Qinghu said in a low voice.

“Indeed, that’s her.” Teng Qingshan realized this as well, but his attention was on that man. “It’s the middle of December and a cold winter, yet this handsome young man wears only one gown and does not feel the cold. He must be an expert in inner strength.”

“Qingshan.” Teng Qinghu looked at them secretly and said in a low voice, “This rich princess is vastly superior to the girls from our mountain village. Look at her skin, her face… Even more delicate than the girls from the brothels.” As Teng Qinghu said those words, Teng Qingshan couldn’t help but become dumbfounded.

“If you want to take a glance, just go closer. After we go back to village, you won’t be able to see her any more.” Teng Qingshan smiled.

The girls in their mountain village worked under sun and wind. How could they compare to a rich princess who did not need to worry about working for her clothes and food?

“Hmm, let’s go closer.” Teng Qinghu was quite brave. He went towards her as expected.

“Brother Liu, you always brag to me about how strong you are. Well, where is your name on the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»?” As they approached, Teng Qingshan heard the girl asking the black-clothed youth.

“Qingyu, there were only a few heroes all over the nine states who are listed on the«Hidden Dragon Ranking». Which of them hasn’t practiced inner strength since early childhood? I began cultivating my inner strength too late… But I don’t care about the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»! My ambition is the«Earthly Ranking»! Anyone listed on the«Earthly Ranking»is a true hero!”

Li Qingyu covered her mouth and smiled. “You are not on the«Hidden Dragon Ranking», yet you say you want to be on the«Earthly Ranking»?”

The young man flushed, “Qingyu, don’t laugh at me, this is merely my ambition! Remember, my senior fellow apprentices inside Qing Hu Island are both on the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»and the«Earthly Ranking». What about your Gui Yuan Sect? Isn’t there no one on either of the Ranking lists?”

“Your senior fellow apprentices are strong, but it doesn’t mean you are strong as well.” Qingyu sneered.

“Alright, Qingyu, don’t get angry.” The young man tried to coax, “Didn’t you want to buy the current versions of the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»and the«Young Phoenix Ranking»? Lad, get us two books of the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»and the«Young Phoenix Ranking» each.”

Teng Qingshan saw the trader get four books, each book having the thickness off a finger. Three words were printed on the cover similar in a design similar to a dragon and phoenix dancing with each other: “Hidden Dragon Ranking.” The servants that stood behind the young man immediately paid 400 taels of silver for the books.

“400 taels of silver?” Qingshan wondered, “Four books cost 400 taels of silver? How could it be so expensive?”

Books should be very cheap.

When the handsome youth and the beautiful girl walked away, Teng Qingshan came to the counter selling the Ranking. Among all the books, three books stood out the most. They were the«Hidden Dragon Ranking»,«Young Phoenix Ranking» and «Earthly Ranking». The first two books were thick, while «Earthly Ranking» was quite thin.

While the first two books were worth 100 taels of silver each, the «Earthly Ranking»was only worth 10 taels of silver.

“What are these three books for?” Teng Qingshan asked.

The vendor took a glance at the young Teng Qingshan, smiled and said, “Youngster, these three books describe all training inner strength or some wealthy people who admired these heroes; as a result, these books were so expensive.

Hearing the vendor’s words, Teng Qingshan’s heart beat a little faster.

Although right now he knew there were eight super sects among the nine states, there were still a lot things he was not clear about.

“I want an «Earthly Ranking».” Teng Qingshan said and took out 10 taels of silver from his pocket.

As a leader of the hunting squadron, he got 10 taels of silver each month. In their clan, the leader of the hunting squadron, the Spear Arts Teacher, and the number one blacksmith contributed much to their clan, Therefore, the Teng Jia Village granted them an adequate pension. However, a salary of ten taels of silver was still low compared to some guards in Yi City.

Despite this, they devoted themselves to the village and wouldn’t ask for more than ten taels of silver.

“Qingshan, ten taels of silver for a book?” Teng Qinghu, who just shifted his attention from the salt merchant’s daughter to Teng Qingshan, noticed that he was spending ten taels of silver on a book.

“For me, this book is worth it.” Teng Qingshan smiled and bought the book from the vendor.

“Humph, if your father knew about this, he would scold you.” Teng Qinghu twitched his mouth.
However, Teng Qingshan just stood there and started reading his book.

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