Chapter 269: Underground Trade Fair
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Novel Saga
Hou Sai Lei reappeared at the door after some time, and nodded to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu understood his signal. Then, his body moved and followed Hou Sai Lei.
Shi Mu soon found himself in a room with relatively simple decoration.
A white-faced middle-aged man was seated on a sandalwood chair. He was clad in a grey robe. His eyes swept over Shi Mu. Then, his gaze returned to Hou Sai Lei who stood beside Shi Mu.
"Deacon Quan, this person is the Senior Mu I just mentioned about. He's one of the subordinates in Qian City's sub-altar. There exists a very strong bond of friendship between us. We two were indulged in a general discussion while passing through Pi City when he inquired about the matters related to the sea-trip. But, the matter of going to the sea always falls in the jurisdiction of the Main Altar. This reminded me of Deacon Quan since he has direct access to the highest authorities. Honorable Quan also has a friendly relationship with many people in the cult's Main Altar. So, Honorable Quan could introduce us to someone," Hou Sai Lei cupped his hands toward the white-faced middle-aged man, and said in a flattering manner.
Shi Mu also wore a smile as he cupped his hands in obeisance while facing the white-faced middle-aged man. After that, he took out the Dark Moon Order and passed it to him.
Shi Mu had concealed his martial warrior's aura this entire time, but he hadn't masked his magician's cultivation. So, his whole body was faintly emanating the magic power waves of a Star-Ranked magician at this time.
"Oh... So, this is our honorable friend Shi Mu! It's nice to meet you. Your Excellency is planning to set out on a sea trip for hunting sea beasts, right?" The white-faced middle-aged man glanced at the Dark Moon Order in Shi Mu's hand. But, he didn't hold out his hand to receive it.
"Honorable Quan sees through the matters as if they are covered with glass. He has indeed made a correct guess," Shi Mu put away the token, and replied.
"The fact is that there was no difficulty in going to the sea for hunting sea beasts in the past. In fact, a person could go to the sea by the cult's canoe once every two months as long as he was registered to the Quyang City. However, the situation has changed these days. I would advise Your Excellency to drop this plan in order to avoid running a fruitless trip," the white-faced man said.
"How can you say this?" Shi Mu was dumbfounded.
"This matter is related to the Main Altar's matters that haven't been announced yet. So, it will be inappropriate to speak more about it," The white-faced man shook his head, and revealed an expression of helplessness.
"Honorable Quan, this matter is very important to me. I'll be deeply grateful to you if you can give us some light in this direction," Shi Mu drew out ten low-grade spirit stones from his Vast Earth Ring, and placed them on the middle-aged man's table in a gentle manner.
"Fine! After all, neither is this matter considered a secret... nor were you an outsider to begin with..." The white-faced middle-aged brushed his sleeve in a gentle manner, and received the spirit stones therein. Then, he thought for a moment and spoke in a lowered voice.
Shi Mu and Hou Sai Lei leaned a bit closer to him as they assessed the situation. Then, they revealed a serious look, and it seemed as if they were listening to him with keen attention.
The two people listened to the middle-aged man's narration for some time. Then, they finally understood the crux of the matter.
The fact was that the Dark Moon Cult's high-ranked authorities had planned to select a group of people. This group would be assigned to go and explore the Western Continent which was situated on the other side of the Yellow Sea. It was reported that the place was blessed with a plentiful amount of practice resources. In fact, they were far greater than the Eastern Continent's resources. Moreover, a large number of evil demon-beasts resided there, and they were obviously great for offering sacrifices.
However, the selection quota for this operation was very limited. The higher authorities of the Cult had eventually arrived at a decision after a round of discussions. And, they would only select 200 elite disciples through competitive matches. In addition, they had decided to suspend their sea-trips in order to focus on coordinating this operation.
The selection process would take place in Quyang City - the Capital City of ancient Xixia country after six months.
However, they had also planned to hold preliminary selection competitions in a dozen or more cities' sub-altars prior to the main selection process. And, Pi City was also one of those primary selection sites.
The preliminary selection competition that was to take place in Pi City was scheduled to be conducted one month later. After that, the winners would proceed to the Quyang City.
Shi Mu got up, and expressed gratitude to the white-faced man after he had listened to this explanation. Then, they exchanged a few words. After that, Shi Mu left the room along with Hou Sai Lei.
The two people reemerged in a certain street in Pi City. There weren't many pedestrians on this street at this time.
"What's your view on this selection process?" Shi Mu glanced at Hou Sai Lei and asked.
"Senior Mu, can it be that you are interested in participating in this selection?" Hou Sai Lei asked.
"Yes." Shi Mu nodded.
"Forgive me for being blunt, but the cult will verify the identity token of each disciple for such an important selection competition. So, merely possessing a Dark Moon Order token won't be sufficient this time. Wouldn't it be better if Senior Mu were to become a disciple of the Dark Moon Cult instead?" Hou Sai Lei moved two steps forward, and whispered in a suggestive manner.
"It won't be so simple to join the Dark Moon Cult, right?" Shi Mu asked.
"You only need to attend a ceremony to worship the Dark Lord, and your spirit will be baptized at that ceremony," Hou Sai Lei replied.
"I don't have any intention to join the Dark Moon Cult. So, you consider this matter once again. Is there no other means to participate?" Shi Mu shook his head and asked.
"Oh, that's right! Based on previous years' competitions... the competition for preliminary selection is set up in various sub-altars. However, special envoys are dispatched by the Main Altar. And, these special envoys are responsible for supervising these matches as well as deciding the number of people who can participate. So, we could request Deacon to help us in making contact with that special envoy at a designated time. We will have to spend some spirit stones to buy a spot in the competition. In fact, this doesn't seem to be a difficult matter. Moreover, your identity won't be inspected again before the main selection process after you have gone through the preliminary selection process," Hou Sai Lei pondered over this matter for a moment. Then, he explained.
Shi Mu nodded after a momentary consideration.
Thereafter, the two men started to look for a temporary accommodation in this city.
Shi Mu rented two ordinary rooms in a family inn after half an hour or so; it was situated on the eastern side of the city.
The rooms didn't look very large. However, each room could isolate and protect the guest's spirit sense from outside interference. Therefore, the price that they were charging was very alarming. In fact, the rent of two rooms reached up to 12,000 silver per day.
Such an alarming price gave a powerful jolt to Hou Sai Lei.
This seemed to be related to the approaching competition for the sea trip.
The Dark Moon Cult's Main Altar hadn't formally announced this matter yet. However, many people seemed to have gotten this information from the rumors that were circulating in various channels. Therefore, the influx of people who aspired to participate in this competition had already begun.
The majority of these people were the disciples of the Dark Moon Cult. However, there were many others who had converged here to seize this opportunity in order to make a huge fortune.
The Pi City wasn't a big city. Therefore, the rooms in the inns were suddenly in great demand due to the emergence of an increasing number of people in the city these days. Naturally, the prices of these rooms soared.
However, Shi Mu still had more than ten-thousand spirit stones in his bag at the moment. So, he didn't care about the expenditure.
Five days later... in the evening...
In a certain remote alley in Pi City...
Shi Mu was clad in a black gown. He stood in front of the entrance to a dilapidated residential courtyard. Hou Sai Lei was dressed similarly, and stood behind Shi Mu.
The fact was that Hou Sai Lei had obtained information from one of the cult's members two days back.
A large number of people had rushed towards Pi City from all directions. They were either cult members or outsiders. In fact, all kinds of people had converged here. Some were good, while some were bad. Therefore, some of the influential people of the city had planned to take advantage of this situation, and had decided to hold an underground trade fair in the city. It was said that there would be plenty of rare things in this fair. This news had also piqued Shi Mu's curiosity as soon as he had heard about it. So, he had planned a trip to explore this fair.
Hou Sai Lei stepped forward and knocked on the door. Shi Mu followed him at a moderate pace.
"Dong... Dong... Dong Dong Dong." Altogether five knocks on the door were heard; two long and three short.
"Squeak" the sound of the door opening was heard a moment later.
The courtyard's door opened up, and two young men appeared before their eyes. They wore green trousers, while the upper part of their bodies was bare. They stood behind the door with a vigilant look on their faces as they sized up Shi Mu and Hou Sai Lei in a cautious manner.
Shi Mu used his spirit sense, and swept over these two men. He found that both of them were Hou Tian consummate stage martial warriors.
Hou Sai Lei didn't wait for them to speak anything, and took out a jade token. It was faintly emitting waves of magic power. He held the token in front of the two men. The two green-dressed men's countenance relaxed. Then, they moved sideways to give them the way.
Shi Mu and Hou Sai Lei appeared in an underground space below that residential courtyard after some time. They were dressed in a long black gown; this gown also had a head covering on the top. So, only their eyes could be seen at the moment.
Shi Mu's eyes moved as he examined his surroundings.
This underground place was very expansive. It was approximately a thousand feet in size. A stone table was set-up in the middle of the large circular open space. It was nearly ten-feet long.
Three or four hundred people had assembled in this room. Moreover, most of the people had a formidable aura around them. They were either Xian Tian warriors or Star-Ranked magicians.
Everyone was dressed a long black robe that was wider than them. Therefore, they were obstructing the effectiveness of people's spirit sense to a certain extent. Hence, everyone in the room looked almost the same apart from the height difference.
Shi Mu seemed very satisfied with this arrangement.
This fair couldn't be compared with the scale of Heavenly Yu City's Ascension to Immortality Auction. However, the presence of many powerful people could still be felt here. In fact, this trade fair had a pack of interesting things that made Shi Mu's heart beat fast for a while.
He looked for a place in the back row along with Hou Sai Lei. Then, he sat down and waited patiently.
Around a hundred more people entered the room in succession within half-an-hour. After that, the underground trade fair began.
"Ke ke, the time has come. I hope all friends have arrived here by now. The trade fair starts now," an aged voice rang from behind the stone table.
It couldn't be said when a man's silhouette had appeared behind that long table. He was attired in a long and green gown.
The voices of the people in this underground room gradually stopped. Simultaneously, an inquisitive look gleamed in everyone's eyes as they gazed toward the stone table.
"There is no limitation in this trade fair. Rare and precious stuff, pills, magic tools, and all other important things related to martial and magic arts can be traded here. However, everything will be price-marked by spirit stones only. And, a person can come to the table only once during the fair. In addition, both parties concerned have to pay a commission of 3% of the transaction price once the deal is done," the green-robed man once again opened his mouth to say.
The man's voice had barely faded when a droning sound of discussion erupted in the secret underground room.
Shi Mu nodded inwardly.
It was no wonder that the influential people of the city had held such an underground trade fair. Nearly five-hundred people were present at the scene right now. The transactions could only be done through spirit stones, and each completed transaction would be charged at 6% commission. So, the fair's organizers could probably reap a huge profit over the night.
Moreover, the organizers could collect a lot of rare resources in these kinds of underground trade fairs.
The privacy and security of buyers and sellers seemed to be taken care of in this trade fair. Therefore, everyone was ready to pay such a big commission for their transactions.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a slightly-impatient type of a person. So, I'll take the lead to offer a humble remark so that others may offer their valuable ideas," A thin and short black-robed man couldn't wait for the humming sound to subside. His stature rose and fell a few times before he arrived beside the long table.
Five or six people had also decided to step up. But, they were a step behind. So, they could only retrace their steps in resentment.
Shi Mu returned to the inn after two hours.
There was no stuff in this underground trade fair that seemed particularly valuable to him except for a "Charm Book on the Heaven-Trigram". This book had been passed down from the Dark Moon Cult.
The former owner's introduction had stated that dozens of high-level magic charms' secret techniques were recorded in this ancient book.
The fact was that Shi Mu also wanted to try some high-ranked magic charms since he could practice Star-Ranked formula arts now. In addition, he had a pair of spirit eyes to draw support from.
Consequently, Shi Mu had spent nearly one-thousand-five-hundred spirit stones, and had bought this book in one fell swoop.
This act had aroused a lot of attention as well as laughter at the scene.
After all, everyone knew that charm magician was a very expensive career to pursue. So, a person must belong to an influential family to maintain a steady flow of resources that could support their practice. Even a primary-level charm magician might fail to perfect his skill and gain accomplishment if he relied solely on his own strength. Therefore, this kind of ancient book that had been passed down from the Dark Moon Cult had appeared tasteless to many people gathered here.
However, there had been a few high-ranked charm magicians in Shi Mu's sect who had the ability to draw some high-level magic charms. And, they certainly had such kinds of ancient books on magic charms.
Of course, there was no shortage of people who would like seeing others do what they had loved to do once. But, there were also a group of people who had a hobby of collecting things.
And, Shi Mu had been evidently surrounded by the latter category of people at the trade fair.
But, such things obviously didn't matter to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu carefully removed Cai from his bosom, and placed him to the side. Cai was still in that sleeping state. After that, he sat down on a wooden bed, and stuck the grey jade of the "Charm Book on the Heaven-Trigram" on his forehead. Then, he started to read it in a careful manner.