Chapter 262: A Bet From A Shady Looking Man
I was momentarily at a loss, since I was on a new planet, a new area, and a new world, I needed to understand the basic stuff about this area before I could proceed any further.
"You seem to be at a loss, need a helping hand? For a price of course," a shady-looking young man came at me, rubbing his hands together.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"No one important, but I know stuff, and you clearly look like a newcomer. Hey, I can guide you and show you around, and I promise I won't scam you, as many others will," the man said.
"You realize your words make you less trustworthy," I said.
"I do, but I speak no lies. For a few top-grade spirit stones, I can help you find anything you need, how about that," he said.
Usually, I would have refused him since he said that the price of showing me around will cost a few 'Top Grade Spirit Stones'.
Back in Si Xue, Top Grade Spirit Stones weren't something you find on the road, but the fact that the token to get admitted to the Heavenly Academy's test costs hundreds of thousands of Top Grade Spirit Stones made it clear that it was the base currency for these cultivators.
"Hmm, right, I need to know more about this place," I said.
"The city? I can tell you about that for free," he said.
"No, the planet, as you said, I'm a newcomer and I like to know about the places I'm in," I said.
"That's more like it then, how about you follow me now. A few faces are looking my way and I don't like it when someone tries to poach my clients," he said.
I followed after the young man as he began explaining.
"This city is called Chun Lun, it's a planetary hub for s.h.i.+ps that travel across s.p.a.ce and through the vast expanse, though I'm sure you know this since you came here. As for the planet, it's called Shangri, it has a great history of being one of the largest neutral planets. Though it exists within the domain of the Water King, it's not a place where he can rule with an iron fist. Battle is forbidden here," he said.
"Through the whole planet? I find that hard to believe," I said.
"Oh, you bet it's forbidden, though the usual fight can break every now and then, mostly nothing too serious, and if in case a death were to occur, the killer will either have to pay an exorbitantly disgusting fine or…" the man looked at me and crossed his thumb under his neck.
"Seems like a nice place to live," I said.
"Oh, trust me, don't let peace fool you, many find ways to kill off people, they just need to make sure that they're not discovered. But you don't need to worry about that," he said as he continued moving forward.
"There are a lot of good inns here, but I'd recommend the Golden Carp Inn, the owner is a very rude woman, but she makes the best food in town. Also," he said as he pointed at me, "You should make sure to keep your cultivation grade a secret, no matter your level, and make sure to not give the guards any reason to annoy you. They're backed up by the Water Palace, and can be pretty cruel when they like."
"Thank you for the advice. I would also like a map," I asked.
"A map? That shouldn't be too hard, nor cost much," he said as he pointed at a building in the distance.
"See there, that's a scam shop, anything they sell there is stupidly expensive and well decorated, the best trap for newcomers, the only thing they sell at a relatively decent prices are maps, you can get some from there, and don't let them sweet talk you into buying their 'Secret' and never before seen treasures, you'll be the one-millionth person who had seen this never-before-seen treasure, so be careful," he said.
"Noted," I replied.
"Now, I can tell you a lot about the history of this planet, but to be completely honest, it's pretty irrelevant to you," he said.
"How would you judge so?" I replied.
"Simple, you're here to take the Heavenly Academy exam, so I strongly doubt that you're interested in the population, climate, or the ten thousand dynasties that ruled over Shangri," he said.
"Impressive," I said. "You're right, I'm more interested in the exam," I replied.
"Good, then how about we move somewhere more private, I feel more talkative when I'm drunk," he said grinning.
I frowned at him, I know where this is going in but I had to stop him in his tracks.
"I only have ten top-grade spirit stones, I can't afford anything too expensive I must decline, I would still be more than willing to offer them to you as compensation for your help. I'll have to apologize I can't afford your services if they cost more than what I currently have," I said.
The man's face turned to shock, then pity, "Man, you're not broke, you're dest.i.tute, how the heck did you even afford to get a token…" he said.
"A lot of savings," I said.
The guide sighed, "I usually would never do this, but don't worry about the cost. I've seen many like you, the hope of a town, city, or an entire plant even, sent here to give your all for the academy, only to fail miserably. This place is only for people with deep pockets. You're telling me you only have ten Top Grade Spirit Stones, that's not gonna be enough for even a meal here," the man shook his head.
His words made me feel pretty awful, people treating Top Grade Spirit Stones like they're nothing here, means that dest.i.tute is an understatement to my case.
"Thank you, I'll see if I can figure things out my way," I said.
"Wait… you know, I'm willing to take a bet on you," he said.
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"You see, how many people do you think come here for the Heavenly Exam?" he asked.
I looked around for a while and said, "Seems like a few tens of thousands…a day," I said.
"Exactly, and how many do you think can even succeed in the exam?" he asked.
"I haven't the slightest clue," I replied shaking my head.
"Not more than a thousand cultivators are admitted to the Heavenly Academy each year," he said.
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This made the situation even more disgusting. The price of the token, of hundreds of thousands, even millions of cultivators, funneling into the Heavenly Academy, for only a thousand to get admitted… that's rough.
She didn't chase after them, didn't even bother with them, and said, "At least a table is empty Lang, what are you having? The usual I suppose," she said.
"Yes, same for my friend here," he said.
"Your friend… let me guess, another dest.i.tute? Still willing to take bets on them kinds? You'll end up broke, you're the worst information broker I've ever seen," she said.
"Well, one day it'll pay off," he said.
"Your pockets, and his funeral," she said, then shouted loudly, "TWO FRIED TENJIN CRABS AND TWO PUNK HAZARD DRINKS!" she said, and immediately "YES CHEF!" sounded through the kitchen.
"Quite boisterous," I said.
"That's the best thing about this place," Ji Lang said.
"Also, isn't she forgetting something?" I said.
"You mean the dine and dash idiots? Don't worry about it, you'll see for yourself soon enough," he said.
Sooner than I thought, Lua came over with two ma.s.sive plates one in each hand and four jugs of wine in between her fingers, I still don't understand how she could even carry them, but she did so with ease.
She placed the plates in front of us, it looked like soup, but there was a strangely colorful crab within the soup, and the drinks themselves looked strange.
Each of us got one blue almost frozen and one red boiling drink.
"Dig in!" he said and pulled one of the crab's legs snapping it then chugging in the meat, and by the G.o.ds did something I didn't think anyone would do, he began munching on the sh.e.l.l.
"The sh.e.l.l is the best part, give it a try," he said as he continued eating like a monster starved for ages.
I dug in and began eating, and I was immediately introduced to something my taste pallet had never had before.
The taste was something out of this world, which was ironic. The thing wasn't the taste alone, my cultivation base itself felt as if it was roiling and improving with every bite.
I continued eating, feasting on a delicacy of another world, and found nothing but praise to be said on something so delicious that I could probably kill for.
Surprisingly, Ji Lang didn't touch the drinks, as spicy as the crab was, he didn't really use the drink to dose down the spice.
I on the other hand like to have my food with a sip of good wine.
And just as I grabbed the wine, I noticed a small quiver on Ji Lang's lips and realized that everyone in the restaurant was looking at me, antic.i.p.ating what is to come.
I guess this drink isn't as simple as it seems...
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