Now that I had a storage ring, I finally understood the joy of shopping.
I bought everything I could possibly want or need, and with the three cubic meters of space, there was plenty of room for hoarding. I bought ten days' worth of non-perishable rations and enough water to last me thrice that, then a couple of robes in my size and more raw cloth and some sewing materials for making more. Then the jars of acids, sulfur, and saltpeter were tucked away into a chest and secured with clay powder so they wouldn't be jostled around after summoning, and the little treasures I bought were all tucked away into another chest.
I also had another chest of more mundane stuff: seasonings, herbs, and spices for cooking I could recognize; smelling salts, willow bark, mint leaves and peppermint, needles and gut; cooking oil, beeswax, candles, eating utensils, cooking pots and pans. Then I had some sacks of oats, firewood, cotton, charcoal, and realgar powder—for keeping snakes and animals away while camping. Uncle Wei was the unfortunate victim to come with me to get all that, and with all the back and forth bartering I did to minimize my costs—not to mention try my hand at some arbitrage—I even ended up with a net gain of two gold and forty-seven silver coins out of my personal budget of five gold.
Uncle Wei was eyeing my latest deal, trading ten kilos of beef for eight kilos of raw iron. "Remind me again why?" he said.
I led him away from Merchant Street, but eyes everywhere followed us. A kid doing all sorts of weird stuff was bound to arouse suspicion sooner or later, not that I was doing anything illegal. We stopped at an away corner away from scrying eyes. I looked left and right to see if there was anyone nearby. There were none.
"I want to see how bad I can run this economy before anyone catches up," I said.
"What a precocious kid," he said with a grimace. "But that doesn't explain why you're getting so much iron."
I waved a hand in a dismissive gesture. "It's nothing important, just a personal project."
Uncle Wei knit his brows and pursed his lips. "I'm starting to regret coming with you," he said.
I passed him a gold coin. "In for a penny, in for a pound."
He sighed and said, "You'll be out of my hair in a few days anyway."
We went back to the market and I did a few more deals: the raw iron for hides of leather; leather for wax candles; candles for seed grains; and seeds for more raw iron than I started with. All these I took note of thanks to Brain Charger's capacity for memorizing and my Inventory to seal the deals as fast and quiet as possible. Another man's surplus was another man's deficit, this was true for any economy, and to have both a bartering and monetary system in place was just too easy to take advantage of.
The guy who traded me the iron for seeds also sold his pottery grade clay for cheap, and from there I eventually got myself another helping of seeds which I brought back to him for raw copper this time around. The copper I then sold to the empire treasury for an equal amount of copper pieces, which I then used to buy a shit ton of charcoal. This I then used to trade for some fine furs from some nomads who came from the North, and the deficit they paid for with a sack of fruits that reacted to my spirit power.
After the deal, we made sure to disappear as fast as possible.
"You sly rascal," Uncle Wei said with the widest smile, "you actually scored these kinds of treasures from this skulking around of yours?" He lifted the sack up and down. "This roughly thirty jin of Snow Lotus would surely help your cultivation at least rise a rank or two at your age, just make sure to eat them after every meal until you finish them."
"Lucky me then," I said, and stored the fruits into my ring. If not for their lack of knowledge, those nomads wouldn't have traded these as just change for some thirty kilograms of coal—though admittedly those would surer save their asses than a bunch of fruit that could increase spirit power.
Piqued with my good fortune, I set out to find more things that reacted to my spirit power.
I found another from a travelling farmer looking to sell off his goods further North. He had a pouch of medicament leaves for relieving fatigue is what he called them. He was looking for some furs to travel with, but only had a budget of about fifty copper coins, he also asked if I could strike him a deal for some camping goods. I just passed him what I already had, and he gave me what I wanted.
After we made like the wind, I showed Uncle Wei the stuff.
"Dragon Zoysia this time?" he said gob smacked. "These are perfect for refining spirit cleansing medicines and helps recover spirit power, you sure have a knack for picking out treasures."
"I'm finding the merchant life more and more enticing by the minute," I said.
Uncle Wei frowned and said, "I think it's safer to just have you continue on the path towards becoming our sect's future master."
Some of the furs I got from the nomads I then sold to a clothing and textiles store and got about fifty meters of rope and some balls of twine which I forgot to get earlier. I then restocked on what I traded out for the Dragon Zoysia and got dried meats to go with the flat breads.
My next conquest was a black pearl from the sea I bought off a merchant reselling fish and other foodstuffs. It came from a differently colored clam, but only very slightly. It had a tinge of grey against the other all white clams, and I had to buy it directly for a gold coin together with half a kilo, but that was nothing compared to what I got.
The moment it touched my storage ring, the pearl melded into it, turning its matte grey metal into a lustrous black, but the biggest surprise was when my Inventory expanded by another two cubic meters of space. It was exasperating how having spirit power gave so many advantages over normal people.
We prowled the rest of Merchant Street for another target and my senses pointed me to another peddler selling chunks of ore and raw gems. I let the smallest trickle of my Domain wash over the random rocks and got a response from the adult fist-sized greenish rock with blue specks of something shiny.
I reached out to get it, and accidentally touched someone else's hand, as a warm giddy feeling spread from my Domain and seeped into my Crown. The hand shrank back, and I saw it was a young girl's who looking at me with the brightest eyes. She had pink shoulder-length hair cut to a straight edge, and was wearing a fine silk robe of white decorated with rhinestones.
"Sorry," I said to her, then picked up my target and turned to the peddler. "How much, uncle?"
"Twenty copper," the peddler said, his eyes darting between mine and the girl's.
"Hey!" said the girl, "I saw that first." Her hands were balled into fists at her sides and she puffed up her cheeks.
I paid for the piece and let my Domain fill into every nook and cranny of it together with some spirit power. Then, I turned to the girl and said, "You were the one to retreat first."
Now that I had a better look, she was taller than me by about an inch, and she had the emblem of the Seven Treasure sect on her clothes. Her expression shifted from a slight frown to a baffled grimace. "You'd actually talk back like this to a lady?" she said.
The rock was starting to warm in my palms so I pushed more into it to check for any effects. I pouted my lips at her. "Please, big sister, junior is simply an avid collector of fascinating rocks."
I saw an old man behind her step up to the side, as a pressure bore down on me like the sharp edge of a blade pressed against my head for a split second. I fell back a step when the spirit pressure disappeared. The old man's gaze fell on me, and besides him being stronger, I also knew better than to step on the toes of someone who looked ancient enough to be dead but was still kicking.
I looked up to the man with the wispy tufts of hair on his head, then back to the girl and knit my brows. "Your grandfather?" I asked with as confused a look as I could manage. Meanwhile, lines of cold sweat trailed down my back.
The girl puffed out her chest, "Of course," she said. "That's my grandpa Sword."
I looked back at the old man, who nodded to me and said, "Little one, would you mind letting my little Rongrong here have that rock?"
By now, the stone was already somewhat hot—an unexpected reaction, but it wasn't worth the mess these two could bring if I made a fuss. And to be called by a name other than his own, I wouldn't be surprised if he was a Titled Douluo. I sighed and played stubborn, huffing with a grunt.
"Wouldn't you rather show off to the cute sister," this grandpa Sword said with a smile. He had a serene and natural air to him when he wasn't feeling murderous.
I looked at the girl he called Rongrong, and he wasn't wrong with calling her cute. Her cheeks looked soft and there was a taut and supple glow to her young skin—and I was sure this girl's spirit power was about as high as mine. Her complexion was something I've only ever seen on other spirit masters, and none of my just as well fed and well cared for cousins looked as… pristine as her, for lack of a better word.
"Fine," I said. "And…" I looked back to this grandpa Sword. "Yes," I said, then looked down. "She is pretty indeed." I extended my hand to Rongrong, presenting her the rock.
She took it without hesitation, and smiled something bright. "I'm glad we could come to an agreement, little brother."
I looked at her straight in the eyes and sighed. "And as an apology," I said, and pulled out an inch-long and wide uncut ruby from my ring. "Here."
I passed her the gem, and a smile lit up on her face.
"Now," said the old man, chuckling. "Aren't you a little young to be making moves on my granddaughter?"
I put my hands together and made to bow only very slightly and said, "Sword senior, junior only wishes to properly apologize to the beautiful lady." To lower one's head was something nobility wouldn't do, and auntie was sure to drill that into me in the little time I spent in her Moon Pavilion.
"A fine gentleman then," said the old man. He bowed slightly as well before turning to Rongrong. "Come now Rongrong, your father will be looking for you soon."
"Yes grandpa," she said and did a slight bow my way as well.
When she turned to leave, I raised my hand as if to chase after something and said, "Umm, wait, please." The two looked back. "If this Tang Jin would be so bold, may I know sister's name?" I bowed from the waist and closed my eyes hard, going as low as near fifty-five degrees, the lowest a noble should ever lower themselves. I looked up from my bow but kept my body bent, and smiled Rongrong's way.
Her eyes widened before she looked up to her grandpa Sword with lips pressed tight, and the old man nodded back with a small frown. She turned back to me and cleared her throat and said, "I am Ning Rongrong." She smiled again, then quickly turned back and pulled her grandpa along together with her.
I stayed there standing with a stupid grin on my face until I was sure they were long gone—then I ran for the nearest dead-end alley with uncle Wei following close behind. When I was sure we were finally alone, I collapsed to my knees and threw up everything in my stomach.
"Little Jin!" uncle Wei said, then started rubbing my back. "That was Sword Douluo Chen Xin just now," his voice was wavering. "What happened to you back there?"
Holy shit that guy really was a fucking Douluo! "One thing led to another," I said, standing myself up and dusting off my clothes. Good thing none of my lunch splashed on my clothes. "His spirit power touched me and it was the single most frightening thing I've ever experienced." It was like a great big axe suddenly chopped me in half, or like I fell face first over a sword turned edge-up, like I had no choice but to get killed.
"Why would you even try to woo his granddaughter in front of him?" His face was all sorts of annoyed, surprised, and impressed.
"What?" I spat out some leftover bits. "I did that to find out her name."
"Why would you even risk offending someone clearly from the Seven Treasure sect?" He shook his head. "Hell, that girl is most likely even the heir of the clan to have one of their two Douluo guarding her."
I took out a water skin from my Inventory and washed away the bad taste. "No, I'm sure this Ning Rongrong is their heir and she most likely had innate full spirit power when she awakened." Wait… but she was surely older than me, so maybe I'm wrong in this.
"Was that rock worth all that?" he said, looking me over for anything out of place.
"It might have been," I said. "But in a way, getting to know a potential future heir to one of the two other great sects is already good." And she also found that stone in some manner like I did, and for sure it was related to my Crown. There was also that warm giddy feeling that started from my spirit. Maybe their Seven Treasure Glazed Tile Pagoda has some relation to my Amber Crown?
After that run-in, I kept up my trading, selling, and buying, and at the end brought in a haul of: five kilos of Snow Lotus fruits, that black pearl that expanded my ring's storage, the pouch of Dragon Zoysia leaves, a good profit of about seven gold and twenty-three silver coins, and about seventy-two kilos of raw iron. All that iron I'd have to convert to steel somehow, and even if I couldn't, I can at least make a hand cannon and some rounds from it. For the propellant though, I'll first need to nitrate some cotton into nitrocellulose.
We later arrived home, tired, but otherwise successful.
"What did you do this time?" grandpa Shan asked. I'd already told him and auntie of what I did yesterday, and my amazement at finding my pretty ring. I summoned the spoils of my conquest, and he opened up the sack and pouch respectively. "You have a sack of Snow Lotus!" He smacked his forehead. "How much did you have to spend for this?" his voice was filled with a twinge of apprehension.
"I traded it for some sixty jin of charcoal," I said, "they also gave me some furs for it." Though the deal was actually for the fur, but no one needed reminding of that.
Grandpa Shan narrowed his eyes at me and said, "Charcoal?"
"There were some travelling Northerners looking to warm their houses," I said, "so I get them what they needed."
"But I've never told you of Snow Lotus before." He looked at uncle Wei. "Did you teach him?"
Uncle Wei shook his head.
"No grandpa," I said, "I was able to find them with my spirit." I made sure to not speak of my Hammer when the non-sect members were present, so everyone at least knew I was a variant spirit carrier with a frightening rate of cultivation.
"Such fortune," he said. He then fingered through the smaller pouch and looked inside, taking one of those half-inch long leaves. He smelled it before putting it back where it came from. "And Dragon Zoysia? You truly have Dragon Zoysia." He was shaking his head slowly and rubbing at the small bald spot on top of his head.
"That I got from a farmer looking for camping goods," I said.
"Are you sure you're not just lying or was swindled?" Grandpa Shan asked.
"I verified it myself," said uncle Wei. "Little Jin here really did manage to pick out all of those."
"Also," I said, pulling out all the iron I traded for. "Would you happen to know of any smithys nearby we can trust to do something for me?"
Grandpa Shan at this time had his lips now forming a deep frown. "You ask me that when your spirit is—"
"Oh!" I said, interrupting grandpa. "I also found this pearl that expanded my storage ring. It now has a total size of twenty-five cubic cun.
"Amd what do you have planned for all this," grandpa Shan said.
"I wish to have something made that I thought of just a few days ago," I said. "And it's a metal tool that would theoretically allow anyone some semblance of fightning back against at leatst spirit masters below the thirtieth rank.
Grandpa's eyes brightened at that. "Then we will address this once we get back from Yu Xiaogang." He nodded and said, "Very good little Jin."
"Also, grandpa," I said, and he turned to me, gesturing to go on. "I met with Sword Douluo and the future heir of the Seven Treasure sect just earlier," I said.
He raised an eyebrow. Then uncle Wei stepped in, "And little Jin here also tried to woo her."
"Surprising that the heir to Seven Treasure would be a girl," grandpa said. "And you like her?" He had on a smile I'd only ever seen on TV, the kind that said, 'I know what's going on.'
"She was indeed beautiful," I said. "But that's irrelevant right now with us being so young, though she looked older than me because of her height. I also have reason to believe she had full innate spirit power when she awakened."
Grandpa nodded, and said, "What about Chen Xin?"
"He seemed livid for a moment," I said, "but calmed down after I gave Rongrong a ruby to make up for buying the rock we both saw at the same time."
"Did he threaten you to give up that ore?" grandpa asked. It was obvious I didn't get it after that incident.
"No," I said, "he didn't threaten me, but he did the next big thing by releasing some spirit power and making me feel like I'd been chopped in half."
I then pointed at uncle Wei who said, "But this wave little Jin told you of, I wasn't able to feel, so it might be some property of his spirit."
Grandpa Shan considered that for a moment and said, "Yes, we truly do need to reach Xiaogang soon, and with little Jin's haul, the twentieth rank wouldn't be too far either.
Auntie finished her lessons for the day then and joined the conversation. "What's this I heard about a lady?"
Grandpa Shan shrugged, "Our little Jin here dared to ask for the Seven Treasure sect's princess' name."
"That must be Ning Fengzhi's daughter, Ning Rongrong," auntie said, "I've met her a few times before, but her temperament wasn't very good."
"Really?" I said. "She was meek enough when I asked for her name."
A light shone in the other three's eyes, and auntie crouched down to look at me at eye-level.
"Is this true, Jin?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, "but I did it out of necessity instead of because I had a crush on her."
She raised an eyebrow at that. "It's perfectly alright to find yourself looking at girls from time to time," she said. "And if you happen to like boys, then at least provide the sect with an heir first."
"I'm not even five, auntie!" I raised my tiny arms. "Marriage is way too far down the line to even be considering at a time like this."
Auntie smirked. "I never said anything about marriage."
Uncle Wei and grandpa Shan put on some shit-eating grins.
"Why are we even talking about this?" I crossed my arms and turned away from them.
"To think our little Jin is growing up so fast," said grandpa Shan.
"And is such a lady killer too," added uncle Wei.
The next few days until we left weren't as eventful, and I was no longer able to find any more things that reacted to my spirit power after meeting Rongrong and Sword Douluo, so that was unfortunate—but mere coincidence, I think not. I instead passed the days spending time with auntie and getting to know the people we hired as guards and cultivating in place of sleep to best take advantage of the Snow Lotus fruits. In those five days, I gained as much as a quarter of the way towards sixteenth just from diligently cultivating and making sure to eat those fruits correctly.
On the day of our departure, a smaller carriage than what we used to get here with was parked in front of the Moon Pavilion.
"Little Jin," auntie said, hugging me one last time. "Please promise me you'll behave on this trip?" She stared straight into my eyes and the warmth started spreading to my cheeks.
"I promise I'll be good," I said.
"No more of your shenanigans with fiddling with Titled Douluos, alright?" grandpa Shan added. Also, I doubt grandpa will ever let me live this down.
"I second this condition," uncle Wei added from the side.
"I won't be as careless next time," I said.
Aunt Yuehua knocked on wood. "Let's hope there won't be a need for a next time."
Grandpa Shan nodded before leading me into the carriage, and since we both had spirit tools, we technically had no baggage to speak of. I stuck my head out of the rented car, it was lower in quality to auntie's but since I was going to keep cultivating anyway, the means didn't matter much. Eating my fill of the Snow Lotus fruits over the past five days made my cultivation shoot up from the start of the fifteenth to all the way to half to sixteen in those five days, and since we had another two weeks to Nuoding, I should be able to reach the sixteenth rank in no time and maybe also reach nearer the seventeenth.
"Take care you all," auntie said as our cart started our journey.
We left Heaven Dou empire capital at around eight in the morning, and made good time over the next two uneventful weeks reaching Nuoding city on the appointed time instead of the expected fifteen or sixteen days, I also reached the sixteenth rank then.
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
Please switch to the pop-up to complete the payment.
Complete daily missions to get rewards.Learn more about the rules
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.