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The Dragon

The Dragon By Oct 25, 2023 3 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Adventures in the Wandering Market

“Senior Sister Zhong, I didn’t do it on purpose…” Gu Fuyou clutched the talisman in her hand, feeling that her explanation was somewhat inadequate, and perhaps it was better not to explain at all.

Zhong Michu gently brushed aside a bundle of hanging wisteria flowers with the back of her hand and stepped out.

Ah Fu trotted over to her, and Zhong Michu gently stroked its chin. The creature lowered its head, nuzzling against her.

Zhong Michu asked, “Are you going home?”

Her voice was calm and neutral, neither annoyed nor pleased, just as usual.

A warm breeze blew along the mountain path, leaves rustling, flowers fragrant, time stood still in tranquility.

Watching the sunlight drape over Zhong Michu, Gu Fuyou suddenly felt at peace, her eyes curving like crescent moons as she responded, “Yes.”

Oddly enough, she knew Zhong Michu wasn’t mad.

“I’m heading to Wantong City first. The Wandering Market is set to open there this year. After that, I’ll return home.”

“Wandering Market…” Zhong Michu echoed, the meaning behind her words unclear. Gu Fuyou asked, “Have you been there, Senior Sister Zhong?”

Zhong Michu often took her time answering questions. Gu Fuyou wasn’t sure if she was being hesitant or just thoughtful. After a considerable pause, Zhong Michu finally replied, “Never. I’ve only heard of it.”

She then affectionately patted Ah Fu’s head and wished, “Safe travels.”

It was unclear whom the wish was meant for, but Gu Fuyou chose to believe it was directed at her.

A sudden thought struck Gu Fuyou, “Senior Sister Zhong, do you want to come with me?”

The thought had barely done a full circle in her heart before it escaped her lips without consulting her brain.

Zhong Michu looked somewhat surprised but declined.

Gu Fuyou wasn’t surprised. Even though rejection was expected, her conviction grew stronger.

She felt that Zhong Michu did want to go. Baseless as this belief was, it persisted, thinking, if wrong, then let her be fanciful.

“Senior Sister, let’s go together. The Wandering Market is bustling. There are automatons, transformation masks, candle-fire dragonflies; all sorts of curious gadgets; date cakes, molten heart pastries, jerky, and all manner of snacks. Rare spiritual beasts and plants, myriad strange spiritual treasures and magical artifacts, you might even find rare artifacts at low prices. If lucky, you might find something that could help you achieve a breakthrough to the Nascent Soul Stage. There are also various magical duels; competing with others is the fastest way to gain experience and improve cultivation. The wonders of the Wandering Market are beyond description. In short, it’s a must-visit for practitioners.”

“Plus, it’s the time for the Flower Festival in Wantong City. The flowers are in full bloom, a beautiful sight to behold. It’s the finest summer pastime. You must try their flower tea; I’m sure you’ll love it.”

Gu Fuyou spoke animatedly, gesturing to Zhong Michu, painting a vivid picture, wishing she could bring all that excitement right before her.

“I…” Zhong Michu intended to refuse again, she should have, as her master and several teachers had told her to stay in the mountains, but hesitated when the words reached her lips.

Gu Fuyou secretly signaled Ah Fu behind her back. Ah Fu moved behind Zhong Michu, nudging her downhill while making playful noises.

“See? Ah Fu wants you to go.”

Gu Fuyou gently tugged on Zhong Michu’s sleeve, pulling her downhill with a smile.

“I want you to go, too. I’m the only one going to the Wandering Market this year, and I’m scared. Senior Sister Zhong, please accompany me. Look, if I get into trouble there, I’ll have to call you anyway.”

“Gu Fuyou, I’m going to inform the master first…”

Seeing her finally relent, Gu Fuyou was overjoyed. She lost her composure and grabbed Zhong Michu’s wrist, smiling mischievously, “No need, I want Senior Sister Zhong to be like me, to be a bad student.”

Gu Fuyou is a fool, thinking Zhong Michu is really like a river clam, hard on the outside but soft on the inside. She must have been a vibrant person before, and it’s all the fault of the Xuan Miao Sect elders, making her so cold.

She’s going to turn Senior Sister Zhong back!

“Ah Fu, quickly, push Senior Sister Zhong to the teleportation formation before she changes her mind.”

Gu Fuyou grabbed Zhong Michu and ran ahead, while Ah Fu pushed her from behind. Although Zhong Michu could resist, she did not.

The two of them and the beast hurried down the mountain. Gu Fuyou threw a spirit stone, the teleportation method activated, and in an instant, they were already on the central avenue of Wantong City.

The houses were luxurious, and the streets were wide. Most passersby were cultivators, either riding rare and exotic beasts or flying on swords.

Gu Fuyou said, “Sister Zhong, today we’ll just wander around. I’ve sent a message to Sister Zhu, and tonight we’ll rest at her place. Ah Fu, keep up!”

On the day the market gates were opened, the streets were busier than ever, noisy with people. Gu Fuyou had to raise her voice to speak.

She didn’t rush ahead but waited for Zhong Michu to step out of the teleportation formation, with her and Ah Fu on either side, still fearing Zhong Michu might change her mind and leave.

Zhong Michu stopped and looked back at her.

Gu Fuyou immediately grew anxious and, together with Ah Fu, blocked her path, “Senior Sister Zhong, wrong?”

Zhong Michu sighed softly, “I don’t know the way.”

Only then did Gu Fuyou walk side by side with her, heading towards the eastern part of the city.

Wantong City was built against the Changshou Mountain Range, nestled within its slopes. Outside the East City lies the Moon Exit Pass, and beyond that stretches the famous and perilous Yunduan Grand Canyon.

This time, from the East City to the entire Yunduan Grand Canyon, everything was within the market’s boundaries, and it was impossible to see it all in one or two days.

Gu Fuyou took Zhong Michu into the market around noon and only strolled around the area.

Still, there were countless novelties that caught their eyes.

In the past, Gu Fuyou always followed her elder brother, who took the lead. This time, however, she had brought Zhong Michu, who had never visited before. Having been here several times herself, Gu Fuyou felt a sense of responsibility as a host and was determined to ensure Zhong Michu had an enjoyable experience.

She insisted on showing Zhong Michu every interesting item and buying delicious food for her to try.

After a while, with a bunch of snacks in her arms, Gu Fuyou nibbled on a weird-tasting candied fruit, then looked into the small mirror in her hand and giggled.

“Senior Sister Zhong, look!”

Zhong Michu turned her head and saw Gu Fuyou sticking out her tongue, which had turned a bright green.

Zhong Michu said nothing.

Gu Fuyou then fed some of the candy to Ah Fu, and the two made a fuss.

“Come and see! Freshly unearthed raw stones! Take a chance, and you might become wealthy! Gamble and transform your straw hut into a celestial mansion!”

Zhong Michu’s attention was drawn, and she walked to the stall, seeing several stones of various shapes, unremarkable and just looking like ordinary rocks.

The chubby shopkeeper, his belly large as he fanned himself, noticed Zhong Michu’s elegance and assumed she was from a prestigious cultivator family. Eager to engage her, he said, “Miss, would you like to try your luck with some raw stones? Judging by your appearance, you’re bound to have good fortune. I’m sure you’ll uncover treasures!”

Gu Fuyou approached and asked, “Senior Sister Zhong, do you want to try this?”

Seeing Gu Fuyou, the shopkeeper greeted her, saying, “Well, it’s a case of ‘the flood washes away the Dragon King temple’* – family not recognizing family! Turns out she’s a friend of Third Gu.”

Gu Fuyou laughed and said, “Stop pretending we’re related, we’re not family! Boss Biao, I haven’t forgotten that your raw stones hardly ever reveal treasures.”

In this world, there are many spiritual items, including Lingzhi mushrooms growing on mountains and earth spirits born underground; there are also blood pearls and corals from the seabed, as well as various spiritual pills from spirit beasts. Over the years, these items can become enveloped by soil and broken rocks, layer upon layer, until they appear as nothing more than rocks, their spiritual energy barely perceivable.”

These are referred to as “raw stones” by people.

Many merchants sell these raw stones, and if a buyer is lucky, they might uncover an inner pill from a rare spiritual beast. If they’re unlucky, they might just get a spirit stone.

This kind of gamble greatly excites the gambling spirit in people, hence this business is widely popular, and more and more people are trading raw stones.

If one manages to get a spiritual object from a raw stone, and the value of the spiritual object is higher than the price paid for the raw stone, then one has struck it rich.

Boss Biao laughed, “That can’t be, Third Gu, you must be mistaken.”

Gu Fuyou didn’t comment but said to Zhong Michu, “Zhong Michu, if you want to try this, we should go elsewhere. There are several other places selling raw stones that are better than this one.”

“Ah, Third Gu, as honest as heaven and earth, the raw stones here are definitely the most reasonable,” the shop owner protested.

Zhong Michu had been eyeing the stones on the table. Upon hearing Gu Fuyou suggest they leave, she pointed to one and said, “I want this one.”

The boss brightened up and quickly responded, “The lady has a keen eye, picking out the best one at first glance.”

Gu Fuyou followed Zhong Michu’s gaze. The stone was about the size of an ostrich egg, round and moist, covered in green moss. It emitted a marine odor, and the spiritual energy emanating from it was faint, barely noticeable.

It looked extremely ordinary, with nothing seemingly special about it.

Zhong Michu asked, “How much is it?”

A glint appeared in the boss’s eyes. Directly asking the price usually indicated a wealthy customer. After a moment’s calculation, he stated, “150,000 spirit stones!”

Gu Fuyou exclaimed, “150,000? Are you trying to rob us?”

The boss replied, “Third Gu, I swear on heaven and earth, I even gave you a discount because of our relationship. This raw stone has quite the backstory. It originated from beneath the deep-sea mud of the East Sea, buried at least ten thousand meters down, and has been there for at least ten thousand years. Ninety-eight years ago, a massive tsunami in the East Sea brought it to the surface, and a fisherman found it. After changing hands several times, it finally ended up with me.”

“Quit your boasting!”

“Ah, I dare not speak nonsense. There is definitely a spiritual object in this raw stone. I, Boss Biao, stake my reputation on it! 150,000, not a penny less.”

Zhong Michu replied, “Fine.”

However, after agreeing, she faced a dilemma. She rarely came down from the mountain and seldom carried spirit stones. This unexpected trip with Gu Fuyou meant she hadn’t brought any with her. She was about to use her jade plaque – a token representing the status of a disciple from the immortal sect, which can be used as collateral in place of spirit stones.

Seeing her genuine desire for the stone, Gu Fuyou gently stopped her, saying with a smile, “Senior Sister Zhong, there’s no need. I have some spirit stones. If you truly want it, I’ll buy it for you.”

Zhong Michu set down her jade badge, saying, “Alright, I’ll pay you back once we return to the sect.”

In her heart, Gu Fuyou thought there was no need for repayment. “If you really like it, 150,000 spirit stones aren’t a big deal,” she thought. However, feeling oddly embarrassed, she didn’t voice her thoughts.

Gu Fuyou addressed the merchant, “Alright, 150,000 it is…”

Before she could finish, a voice interrupted, “200,000. I’ll take this raw stone.”

They all turned towards the speaker, a man in his thirties, with a pale face, hair streaked with white and black, dressed in a purple robe, wearing a blood vine bracelet inlaid with silver on his left wrist.

“Ah, if it isn’t Master Yu from Wanyao Pavilion,” Boss Biao greeted, glancing back at Gu Fuyou.

Gu Fuyou said, “Hey, there’s a thing called first come, first served.”

Yu Dongsheng haughtily replied, raising his chin slightly, “300,000.”

The merchant turned to Gu Fuyou with a smile, “Third Gu, you know how it works—highest bidder wins.”

Knowing full well the rules of money speaking louder than words here, Gu Fuyou coldly huffed, “So you think I can’t match? 400,000.”

Yu Dongsheng calmly responded, “500,000.”

The stakes had been raised.

Gu Fuyou wasn’t foolish; this wasn’t about picking a fight; it was clear there was something within this raw stone.

Translation notes:

the flood washes away the Dragon King temple (大水冲了龙王庙) – A Chinese idiom indicating an ironic misunderstanding among people who are on the same side or part of the same group or family, causing them to have a conflict, harm or unintended consequences.

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Previous: Chapter 22

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dadin
dadin
8 months ago

98 years ago.. hmmm

I Live For The Gay, I Will Die Being Gay
I Live For The Gay, I Will Die Being Gay
3 months ago
Reply to  dadin

ZM is 92….. Well… Something is fishy here (pun intended)

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Hmmmm aaa auctions are so annoying!!