Nine Astra Skies

Mad Snail

153 Hao Pharmacy

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Daylight.Unfortunately, the Nightwind was gone, which meant they could only walk. Little Wingsy followed closely behind Ye Chen, inspecting his surroundings full of curiosity. From time to time, he would raise many questions about certain things like mystical and Celestial Beasts though Little Tanuki answered all of it patiently.

With Little Wingsy around, it felt like Ye Chen had a translator with him. Now, he no longer needed to guess what Little Tanuki meant. 

It was interesting to listen to the conversation between Little Wingsy and Little Tanuki as they discussed mystical and Celestial Beasts. Ye Chen tried to pick up some of the more noticeable words. Being a quick learner, perhaps, he would be able to catch on in no time.

Once the trio arrived at a small town, they immediately headed to a restaurant to satiate their hunger. Following that, Ye Chen bought two new steeds for traveling purposes and ten livestock consisting of cows and lambs for the chef to roast to be stashed away in the armguard. He had realized just how ravenous an appet.i.te Little Wingsy had. The little boy never once chewed his food, only swallowing it whole. In the blink of an eye, he had stuffed an entire lamb down his throat though his stomach looked just the same. 

A child with such a large appet.i.te was bound to attract attention wherever they went. Ye Chen did not wish to remain in the town for long or people might start thinking that they were abominations. The moment he had gotten his necessities, they departed swiftly.

Traveling along the highway, they made their way to the capital.

The highway was filled with commoners. People who dragged along mules and horses, transporting goods back and forth. Ye Chen checked with many of them and they were heading to the capital just the same. This was not even the main route that people used to travel but it was teeming with people from all over the place. One could imagine just how busy the capital would be.

"Brother Ye Chen, Miss Tanuki said these tanukis aren't the same as mystical or Celestial Beasts. Most tanukis can shapeshift once they've grown three tails and the later they learn to shapeshift, the more powerful their abilities. She doesn't know why she has yet to learn how to shapeshift despite growing six tails already," Little Wingsy spoke with a mouthful of lamb shank in his mouth.

"Right." Ye Chen nodded. It seemed Little Tanuki's abilities were considered powerful among her own kind then. 

"Miss Tanuki says she hopes she can shapeshift soon." Little Wingsy added.

"Huh? I thought the later, the better. Wouldn't that make her abilities stronger too?" Ye Chen was confused. He looked at Little Tanuki. Little Tanuki was red in the face, there was a charm to her. Ye Chen finally realized what she meant.

Little Wingsy curiously looked at Ye Chen and Little Tanuki with those large eyes. Why was Brother Ye Chen quiet and why was Miss Tanuki so shy all of the sudden? Adulting is complicated. Whatever, lamb shanks were the best.

Since tagging along Ye Chen, Little Wingsy had managed to savor many roasted lamb shanks and beef. He was incredibly happy. With Brother Ye Chen and Miss Tanuki around, he had an endless supply of meat to savor daily!

The trio had crossed three counties. The capital was now within their sights. Nothing bad happened as they traversed through the highway. They managed to speak to the vendors and witnessed interesting events along the way, all of which deepened Ye Chen's understanding of the Xiwu Empire.

In a world of chaos, human lives were nothing but insignificant, like weeds by the roadside. 

Ye Chen sighed. With his powers alone, he could not bring about much change. So long as he stayed true to himself, maintained his current form, and always did good, that was all that mattered. 

Large groups of cavalries patrolled the highway intermittently. Apart from keeping the highway bandit-free, they did not pick on the vendors nor extorted them. Everything here was running with order.

Yin Mengtian was right. Great Emperor of Mingwu was a good man except problems were festering deep within the empire. The Xiwu Empire had cultivated numerous talents in the past and they were considered a stronghold by their neighboring countries. Unfortunately, about seven or eight hundred years ago, they started to fall from grace. Following their war with the Nanman Kingdom, the Xiwu Empire was on a slippery slope to ruin.

Following the group of businessmen, they could see castle walls hundred meters in height that were erected along the hills.

"We've arrived at the border. Once we're through here, it'll be the capital inside!" The businessmen cheered. They came from various places and braved through a series of misfortunes and challenges. Some had traveled for days, others for months or longer. They were finally at their destination; how could they not be happy?

Ye Chen tailed along with the group, paid two dollars for the entrance fee, and pa.s.sed through the gates.

A large group of cavalries guarded the border. Tall, built soldiers clad in silver armor were stationed every one, two meters or so along the castle wall. They remained ever-so vigilant and mighty.

Ye Chen wondered which general governed the border. He found the way the general handled his troops interesting.

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Long stretches of houses appeared the moment Ye Chen entered the order. They were old and rather rundown. People come and go on the streets and businessmen stopped by here for a rest. Many restaurants, inns, and brothels situated at the border, with ladies all dolled up trying to attract a potential customer.

Ye Chen strode into the pharmacy with a middle-aged man manning the counter. The built man looked to be in his forties. One look at him and Ye Chen could tell he cultivated too. He was at least Eighth level. The man was sipping tea at the counter while ten of his men got down to work. 

At the Hao Clan, members who typically lacked education were sent to man the clan's business affairs. To see an Eighth Level combatant stationed at a store was proof of how meticulous the Hao Clan was when it came to segregating members of different ranks.

People come and go into the pharmacy. Most were here to purchase herbs, with common herbs being the most bought commodity. The most prized herbs were hidden away in a metal cabinet behind the counter. One scan of Ye Chen's Astral Body and he could tell it contained lots of goodies.

The metal cabinet looked st.u.r.dy and there was a huge lock in its place. It was obvious that the Hao Pharmacy knew the value of their prized herbs!

The Hao Clan bought and sold herbs throughout the Xiwu Empire. They would collect countless herbs annually, some of them rarer ones. The ones that they had no use of, they placed it up in the pharmacy to be sold. Most of the Xiwu Empire's apothecaries were regulars in the pharmacy.

Ten customers were in the shop yet none of them purchased any of those prized herbs.

Coming across a customer who would have a taste for prized herbs was a rarity for a large store like the Hao Pharmacy. Yet when one showed up, the revenue that they would earn was sure to be greater than months of regular herbs' worth of sales combined!

Ye Chen set his sights on the cabinet with prized herbs. The man manning the counter got excited. He had seen people from all walks of life and he could tell Ye Chen was a cultivator from a martial arts clan with just one look. He had a tanuki with him who looked like a Second or Third Level mystical beast to him. The amount that disciples like Ye Chen would willingly splurge on medicines and herbs were ten or hundred-fold compared to the regular customer.

"Can I help you, sir? Are you looking to p.a.w.n some medicines or herbs?" The man got up from behind the counters and greeted him courteously. "Old Man Hao Xu from the third generation of Hao Clan from Xijing." As he spoke, he attempted to gauge Ye Chen's worth and his background.

"I can p.a.w.n my herbs and medicines here?" Ye Chen asked curiously. He did not expect the pharmacy to provide such services.

"Yes. The Hao Pharmacy collects an a.s.sortment of rare and prize herbs and medicines and we provide reasonable prices." Hao Xu twitched his brows. How could Ye Chen not know that? Perhaps he was a runt from a rural village.

Most large businesses or deals were handled by Hao Xu. The smaller ones were dealt with by the workers of the shop. Then again, since he had approached Ye Chen, he dared not walk away. 

"What do you need? Are you looking to buy or sell?" Hao Xu asked calmly.

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