Shangguan Xiu, garbed in a black robe, frowned as he walked down the street in Milky Way City. Two Cultivators of the seventh level of Qi Condensation, also wearing black robes, walked behind him. From the looks on their faces, they seemed to admire Shangguan Xiu quite a bit.
Accompanying Shangguan Xiu in his inspection of the city, they walked past the shop Meng Hao had just ducked into.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever. Even if it wasn’t, no one would have been able to see anyway, because of the wide bamboo hat that covered his face. His gaze swept around the place he had entered.
It was a pill shop, only one story high and not very large. Racks filled with pill bottles filled the small space. The bottles were obviously empty, although on the surface of each one was written the name of a pill along with a price.
Off in the corner, a young man sat cross-legged. Other than him, Meng Hao was the only person in the shop.
Meng Hao walked along, examining the names of the various medicinal pills. Eventually, he found a bottle upon which was written the characters “Earthly Spirit Pill.” It instantly caught his eye.
“So it’s worth three hundred Spirit Stones….” Meng Hao frowned. The copper mirror required two hundred Spirit Stones to duplicate an Earthly Spirit Pill. Although there was a bit of difference in the two prices, it wasn’t very much.
Seeing Meng Hao muttering to himself, the man sitting cross-legged in the corner opened his eyes and coolly said, “Earthly Spirit Pills are from the Southern Domain. We don’t have many in stock, only five.”
Meng Hao nodded. Looking around one final time, he made to leave, but then suddenly stopped. “Do you happen to have Foundation Establishment Pills?”
When the man heard this, he smiled, although it contained a barely perceptible air of doubt. “Fellow Daoist, this must be your first time in Milky Way City. Foundation Establishment Pills can easily run over one hundred thousand Spirit Stones. They are truly precious. Unfortunately, we don’t have any in stock at all. I’ve only seen one in my entire life. If you are really interested in purchasing one, you’ll have to go to the Milky Way Workshop.”
“So expensive!!” said Meng Hao, his voice filled with awe. Hearing his tone of voice, the young man’s doubt seemed to disappear. He could tell that Meng Hao was simply inquiring, and didn’t have the resources to actually make such a purchase.
Hearing Meng Hao mutter to himself enviously about the incredible price of Foundation Establishment Pills, the young man ignored him and close his eyes again.
Meng Hao left the shop and moved along down the streets of Milky Way City, his eyes shining. Moments later, though, he frowned, for two reasons. One reason was that it didn’t seem it would be that simple to sell medicinal pills and magical items. The other reason was Shangguan Xiu.
“He was wearing a black robe, and was accompanied by more black-robed Cultivators. Those robes are the same ones worn by the city guards. It seems that after leaving the Reliance Sect, he didn’t join another Sect, but rather came to this place.” Meng Hao lowered his head. Instead of leaving, he continued to stroll through the city, checking out shop after shop. As he did, his frown deepened.
It seemed that pills for every level of Qi Condensation were available here. On the one hand, there weren’t a huge amount of pills available, but on the other hand, the prices were not much higher than what he would have to pay to duplicate them. In other words, the profit margin would not be very high.
“Forget about Medicinal Pills. I’ll go check out some magical items.” Meng Hao turned, heading down a different street. There were many Cultivators coming and going, their Cultivation bases of various levels. Most seemed to be between the third and fifth levels. Meng Hao had only seen three Cultivators who, like him, were at the eighth level of Qi Condensation. Their faces were covered, making it impossible to see their faces clearly.
There were many Treasure Pavilions here. Meng Hao visited them one by one, carefully examining their wares. Soon, evening fell. Meng Hao sighed. Low-level magical items fetched a high price, but nothing close to the hundred thousand Spirit Stones he wanted. To get that much, he would have to sell nearly one thousand flying swords, but such an astonishing event would attract unwanted attention. He simply could not do such a thing.
His other magical items varied in price, but none alone would earn him that many Spirit Stones. And if he sold all of his magical items, it would attract too much attention.
What he wanted to do was handle everything at once, then leave immediately.
Meng Hao currently sat cross-legged in a room in an inn. “If I really want to sell the Foundation Establishment Pill… I have to do it very carefully,” he said to himself quietly. “I can’t act rashly.”
Milky Way City wasn’t very big. By the evening of the second day, he had explored the entire city. Finally, he ended up standing across from a luxuriously decorated building. Muttering to himself, he walked toward it.
An inscribed board above the main door read, “Milky Way Workshop.”
It was three stories tall. Meng Hao wandered around the first floor, but was prevented from going up to the second. To gain access to the second floor, one must produce evidence of a large number of Spirit Stones.
Meng Hao didn’t force the issue. He turned and walked around for a bit looking at things, as if he were just an ordinary customer. Finally, he left.
He sat cross-legged back in the inn, frowning to himself. “There’s only one door, guarded by three Cultivators of the eighth level of Qi Condensation, and one of the ninth level…. I can’t go up to the second floor, nor see past the curve of the stairs. Everything on the first level is ordinary items, without any spiritual energy… I need to know what’s on the second level. You can tell by looking at the windows on the outside that there is an abundance of spiritual energy there. But the windows are sealed tight.” After a long moment, he pulled out the copper mirror.
In his bag of holding, he currently had just a bit over ten thousand Spirit Stones. Gritting his teeth, he took out the Foundation Establishment Pill and placed it onto the copper mirror. It instantly sank into the mirror, disappearing. With a deep breath, Meng Hao began feeding Spirit Stones into the mirror.
When he put the ten-thousandth Spirit Stone into the mirror, a bright light shone out of it, and then a second Foundation Establishment Pill appeared. Meng Hao was prepared; as soon as the fragrant medicinal aroma began to spread out, he put the two pills into his bag of holding, looking around cautiously.
Because of his speed, barely any of the aroma escaped out, and therefore no one noticed.
He sat cross-legged on the bed, his eyes filled with thought. After a moment, he slapped his bag of holding, producing a long, white robe. This was some clothing he had obtained from Ding Xin’s bag of holding. He put it on, then hung Ding Xin’s jade identification slip around his neck. He stood and started to pace back and forth in the room, looking even more thoughtful than before.
At dawn, two days later, Meng Hao once again donned the bamboo hat, as well as a long outer garment which concealed the white robe underneath. Lowering his head, he left the inn.
He strode directly toward the Milky Way Workshop, arriving in a very short period of time. A cold-faced middle aged man sat there cross-legged, a Cultivator of the ninth level of Qi Condensation. Meng Hao walked past him, heading directly toward the stairs.
As he approached, a cultivator of the eighth level of Qi Condensation glanced at him.
“Show a minimum of ten thousand Spirit Stones to get access to the second level,” he said.”
“Beat it!” said Meng Hao, lifting his bamboo hat and glaring at the man threateningly. He filled his voice with as much arrogance as possible. “We’re in a small town in the insignificant State of Zhao, and you dare to block the path of Ding Xin?” All of the Cultivators in the room looked at him.
The eighth-level Cultivator stared at him in shock. In all his years, no one had ever dared to speak to him in such a way. But considering the arrogance and veiled threats contained within Meng Hao’s words, the man hesitated, unsure of how to respond.
The pleasant voice of a woman drifted down from upstairs: “Young Lord Ding, please come up.”
The eighth-level Cultivator let Meng Hao pass. With a cold snort, Meng Hao climbed the stairs. As he turned the corner, his eyes quickly scanned the entire second floor.
The pleasant voice from just now belonged to a woman wearing a gauzy dress. She smiled at Meng Hao.
The second floor was richly decorated, and looked much more magnificent than the first floor, filled with a dazzling aura. There were no racks of treasures, but rather an enormous incense burner in the middle of the room, so large that three people could place their arms around it. The thick aroma of incense wafted out from it.
The surroundings were luxurious but also refined. Several tables could be seen around the room, as well as ornamental rock displays. It was the type of place that would make one’s eyes shine just upon seeing it.
The woman standing there in front of Meng Hao appeared to be about thirty years of age. She was elegant and poised, and didn’t say anything at first. She simply smiled, making her seem very warm and considerate.
“Young Lord Ding,” she said, looking over him causally, “please have a seat. I am the second floor attendant. Please do not hesitate to tell me how I can help you.” She took a seat off to the side. When she caught sight of the white robe underneath his long outer garment, a look of surprise flickered in her eyes, and then quickly disappeared.
Meng Hao looked around thoughtfully. There were seven tables spread about in various positions. Without hesitation, Meng Hao chose to sit, not at a table next to the stairs, or a window, but right in the middle of the room.
“Do you have Foundation Establishment Pills here?” he said as he sat down, not beating around the bush. He stared at the woman, his expression somber.
When the woman saw him sit down where he did, her eyes flickered again, as if he had just confirmed something to her. And yet, she still seemed to be uncertain about something.
“There are not many things in the State of Zhao that we don’t have here at the Milky Way Workshop,” she said with a smile. “Of course we have Foundation Establishment Pills. The price is two hundred thousand Spirit Stones per pill.”
Meng Hao nodded slightly, then slapped his bag of holding. A pill bottle appeared in his hand. He flicked his sleeve, and the bottle shot toward the woman.
Her eyes flickered as she caught the bottle. When she opened it and looked at the contents, her expression changed to one of surprise.
“One Foundation Establishment Pill,” said Meng Hao coolly. “Name your price.”
“Young Lord Ding, you are quite audacious,” she said calmly, an unusual expression in her eyes. “You dare to casually hand me something so valuable. Don’t you fear that I might take it and flee?”
Meng Hao didn’t say anything. Staring at her coldly, he loosened his outer garment, revealing more of the white robe, as well as the jade medallion hanging around his neck.
It was violet-colored, and emitted a soft, flickering violet glow.
When she caught sight of the jade medallion, the woman’s expression changed.
“If you dare to swallow that pill,” said Meng Hao coldly, “Milky Way City will be reduced to rubble in less than a month.”
The woman’s expression changed several times as she looked back down at the pill bottle. She glanced back at Meng Hao sitting there. Having taken note of all the various clues regarding his identity, she finally smiled again.
“Young Lord Ding, please don’t take offense. I was simply making conversation.” She tipped the bottle over, sending the Foundation Establishment pill tumbling into her palm. Then she held it up and examined it closely. When her gaze fell upon the demonic face carved into the surface of the pill, her expression changed dramatically, and she stood up.
This chapter was sponsored by Krystle Rivas