It was a peaceful morning while the birds sailed through the sky and searched for their morning food. The worms in the ground hurried to dig deeper into the soil before their feathered friends noticed.
In a small hut, enormous waves of essence surged around a small boy of eight years old. From the outside, everything appeared normal and not a trace of the essence leaked. The servants swept the entire corridor without realizing anything was amiss.
“Phew, I think the essence in my core increased by another dozen drops. This is exhausting, after hours of cultivation and I only increased my essence by a mere few drops!”
Calron sighed while he slowly got up from the mat. If the Voice had been here, then he would have definitely smacked Calron! Those few drops of essence had been refined to its purest state and even a single drop of that essence contained an astonishing amount of power. It was already shocking that Calron had cultivated a dozen drops in just a few hours! Unknown to Calron, this method of directly cultivating liquid essence would bring countless benefits to his core in future!
“Where is this Fatty, he said he’ll take me somewhere good and he still hasn’t shown his face yet!”
Calron muttered while putting on some clean clothes.
After a few minutes, a red-faced Fatty appeared in front of Calron’s door.
“Sorry, big brother! I got held up in some important business.”
Fatty wheezed out the words while resting his arms on his knees. His face was completely red as if he had just ran around the entire school and sweat dripped from his forehead as Fatty continuously wiped it away on his shoulder.
“Don’t lie to me, Fatty! You were probably just wolfing down Gretha’s food!”
Calron said while giving Fatty a hard look. Under the intense scrutiny by Calron, Fatty instantly wilted.
“Ahh, forgive me big brother but she cooked sausages for breakfast, and you know how long it’s been since I’ve eaten those delicious things!”
Fatty said while joining his hands and miserably pleading in front of Calron. After spending such a short time with him, Calron already knew Fatty’s silly antics, so he didn’t really mind.
“Haha, Fatty, let’s go! You better take me to a nice place otherwise, hmph!”
“Don’t worry, big brother, I promise you’ll not regret coming to this place! Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t heard of this place before!”
Fatty inquired with a slight raise of his eyebrows.
“I’ve only been here for a few days, so it’s natural I don’t know much about the surrounding areas. Besides, none of the other disciples were very welcoming.”
Calron explained while Fatty nodded his head. Although the same was true for Fatty as well, it was only by chance that he discovered this place.
“Alright, let’s go!”
Fatty shouted while dragging Calron behind him.
“Uh…what’s this, Fatty?”
Several small strange looking lizard creatures were being grilled on sticks, outside a large booth. The lizards had double forked tails and didn’t seem to have much meat on them. The vendor was a sweaty pot-bellied man who kept rotating the sticks over the grill. His sweat dripped onto the meat, but he didn’t seem to care as he still kept roasting them.
Calron turned his face away in revulsion and even Fatty seemed a bit embarrassed by the situation.
“Forget about him, big brother, look around you! Anything you could ever want will be for sale here! Food, weapons, pills and even cultivation techniques! Isn’t it amazing?”
Fatty exclaimed with a spin on his heels. He seemed to be really enjoying playing the role of a guide for Calron today.
Calron gazed at the whole marketplace and it was exactly as Fatty stated. There were vendors selling all kinds of merchandise with buyers bargaining for cheaper prices while the vendors pretended to be cheated of profits. There were many strange goods being sold, but Calron had to agree that everything he could think of was available in front of his eyes. He even thought he saw some caged beasts!
Calron realized that they were just at the start of the marketplace and that it actually went a lot deeper inside, with the quality of shops increasing, as the closer one got to the center.
This place was absolutely crowded! There were various kinds of people, from merchants to martial artists, just loitering around the shops. Calron even spotted a few disciples from the Red Boar School.
Giving a final disgusted gaze to the sweaty man grilling lizards, Calron started walking forwards as Fatty soon followed him.
Fatty continued his non-stop prattling on the different types of exotic food that were available here, while Calron paid close attention to what was being sold in the market. If he had any money, then he probably would have been tempted to buy almost half of the items he saw in the past few minutes!
All of a sudden, Calron stopped in his footsteps. Fatty realized after a while that Calron wasn’t following him anymore, so he rushed back to see what delayed Calron.
In front of Calron were countless bottles of pills. Some were colorful, others were ornate with designs, and the rest were simply dull. Even their shapes varied as some of the pills were either spherical or cylindrical, and there were even some that were shaped like a cube!
A fifteen-year-old youth sat behind the counter and lazily stretched across the chair. Seeing Calron’s curious gaze, he spoke in a nonchalant tone.
“The colorful ones are five copper squares, the square ones are seven copper squares and the rest are all three copper squares. No discounts. If you are going to bargain, then just leave right now.”
Seeing the uncaring attitude of the vendor, Calron was slightly taken back. He thought the vendor would be trying to convince him to buy his goods but it was the complete opposite.
“Big brother, what’re you doing here? All these pills look pretty but their actual medicinal effects are very low! Real pills would not be sold for just copper squares. You need to be careful when buying something, as most of them are plain junk! Let’s leave!”
The young vendor didn’t seem to mind what Fatty was saying and just gestured with his hands for them to shoo away.
It seemed like they were still in the cruddy part of the market as Fatty explained that the best goods were closer to the center of the market, but Calron was pretty sure Fatty was about to say “foods” rather than goods.
Sometimes a few older girls passing by would swoop down and pinch Fatty’s cheeks as they cried out how cute he was, but Fatty would just shrug them off and continue walking. Calron was sure he saw a glint in Fatty’s eyes but he left it alone. He knew from the beginning that Fatty already had a destination in mind, so he simply enjoyed the journey.
It was thrilling for Calron to see all these new things so he just absorbed all the scenery, smells and noises. It was a chaotic jumble of sensations but it felt good to have his mind distracted from cultivation.
Just as both Fatty and Calron were walking, a huge crowd seemed to be gathering to the side of the market.
“Rare magical beast for sale! It’s your once in a lifetime chance to buy one! Hurry up and bid before your neighbor does!”
A loud boisterous voice sounded throughout the marketplace. It was clear that the man was using his essence to amplify his voice. The announcement exited Calron!
“Fatty, let’s check it out! I’ve never seen a magical beast before!”
“But, but we’re almost there. It’s probably a stupid first rank beast anyways, what’s so special about them?”
While Fatty continuously whined, Calron just dragged him towards the crowd. There were hardly any gaps to squeeze through and most of the people were taller than both Calron and Fatty, so they were unable to pass through the cluster.
“Fatty, get on the ground, we’ll crawl through their legs.”
Without waiting for an answer, Calron immediately crouched down and started tunneling through the gathered people, while Fatty just stood there with a blank stare on his face. Calron was obviously skinny so he would have no problem passing through other people’s legs, but what about Fatty?
“Big brother, I hate you!”
With a tearful cry, Fatty got on his hands and knees, and started crawling behind Calron. Every once in while, one of the standing bidders would kick Fatty in the rear as he passed by them. Stifling his tears and curses, Fatty continued forward.
While Fatty was getting kicked around, Calron had already reached the front of crowd. As soon as he laid his eyes at the sight in front of him, his mouth dropped open.