Chapter 29 - Rules
Xu Yi took the iron ball out of his waist pocket and started to observe it, with growing fascination.
Last night, Xu Yi had tested this iron ball and had put it in one of his palms. Once he managed to flow his strength and qi to his palm, the iron ball could change into various forms of weapons. The most impressive one, was a long and pointy spear, roughly three Zhang  in length.
What excited Xu Yi the most, was that the changing process only took a mere second, remaining absolutely soundless while it changed. This made it a perfect weapon in a real fight, as opponents wouldn’t realise the mere existence of it, until it was already too late for them to escape.
However, Xu Yi had mixed feelings towards this iron ball. On one hand, he really, really liked this ball. However, on the other hand, he was sure he wasn’t the only one who was interested in it. If he wanted to permanently possess this iron ball, he had no choice but to elevate his level of cultivation in Wu Dao, in case anyone from a higher realm would come by and try to snatch the ball.
Currently, he was only a newcomer in Guanan. He had to familiarise himself with the local situation as soon as possible. Obviously, the best candidate to consult about this issue, would be Teacher Zhou.
The Iron Cat Alley was rather hard to find – the alley was so narrow that only two people could squeeze along each other.
A pair of old men was playing chess, squatting on the threshold. Xu Yi walked towards them and inquired about Teacher Zhou’s residence. Finally, with great efforts, Xu Yi found Teacher Zhou residence, which was a shabby cottage.
The weather was extremely cold that day; Teacher Zhou was sitting on a bamboo chair, with a thick blanket covering his body. While his rhythmic snoring sound lingered in the air.
Xu Yi stepped in front of Teacher Zhou, as he had figured out a brilliant idea to wake him up. Putting the urn of wine on the nearby table, Xu Yi opened the lid, letting the fragrance come out. Suddenly, as expected, the sleeping Teacher Zhou jumped up, as quickly as the response of a cat when its tail was stepped on.
“I haven’t drunk any wine for three days. Look, I feel so lassitude without wine. That’s why I am lying on this damn broken chair. In this world, only wine can wake me up. Haha, I just dreamed that I had died from the lack of wine. Soon I turned into a ghost and I kept chasing you for the two kettles of wine you owed me. Now, you’re actually here! What a coincidence!” Teacher Zhou slapped his own cheek to make sure he wasn’t still dreaming.
Teacher Zhou hastily went into the kitchen, dashing out with a ladle. He then dipped the ladle into the urn, and scooped some of the wine up.
“Excellent! This must be the ten-year old wine from the Drunkard Workshop. You sure are generous to me!” Teacher Zhou generously sipped the wine.
Teacher Zhou carefully ladled out the wine and poured it into a cup. He then sealed the urn and carried it into the kitchen. Later, he held the cup, sipping the wine enjoyably.
“What do you want from me? I know an urn of wine is equivalent to more than two kettles. Today, I will take as many question as possible. Hey, don’t dilly-dally. Or else the bastards in the Black Dragon Palace will find you.” Teacher Zhou said.
“How do you know about this?” Xu Yi was rather surprised.
“Young man, it has been years since someone killed these evildoers in the name of the ‘Laws and Decrees of Empire Yue’. You’ve done a great job and the news has already travelled from Hibiscus Town, all the way to Guanan. You’ve already become rather famous!” Teacher Zhou replied, with a proud expression.
“Now, that the Guanan government knows what I’ve done. Would the Black Dragon Palace still dare to come for me?” Xu Yi asked, as he felt rather puzzled about this.
Teacher Zhou sipped the wine before he answered Xu Yi’s question. “You’re absolutely right. Many government officials are in favor of what you did. At least, you represented the authority of the government, as well as the ‘Laws and Decrees of Empire Yue’. You know, I heard that General Gao, the guards leader in Guanan, swore to protect you. Nevertheless, the Magistrate of Guanan said: ‘Without rules, nothing can be done.’ Young man, you have to prepare yourself for the fight.”
“What? What do the rules mean here? Can you be more specific, please?” Xu Yi urged Teacher Zhou.
“Alright, have you ever heard of the proverb, which says, if you have money, you can make even the devil turn the millstone. Even though General Gao intended to protect you from any fight, the Magistrate didn’t agree to his proposal. You know why? There’s an old rule, that if someone invites you to fight, you have to accept, otherwise you’ll be banished from Guanan. The Magistrate wouldn’t be so silly, as to break this rule simply because of you. Once the rule is broken, their profit chain will also be broken. Because anyone who sends out an invitation to fight, shall submit a certain amount of money to the government. It is commonsense, that they don’t want to lose this business by breaking the rules. Do you understand? I suggest you prepare yourself, the sooner the better.” Teacher Zhou replied with a subtle smile.
“Ah…I see. But I still have some confusion about these fights. I heard from General Gu, that once the government accepted the ten golden coins submitted by the inviter, the fight would automatically come into effect. But what if the inviter is in an ocean of qi, while the invitee is well below that state, will he still have to accept the fight? If he rejects the fight, will he still be banished?” Xu Yi had been worried that the Black Dragon Palace would perhaps send someone far beyond his ability. If this was the case, then he was doomed to be beaten to death.
Teacher Zhu stroked his mustaches and continued: “The bloodsuckers, oh, I mean the government officials who design this game aren’t a bunch of fools. They won’t allow such loopholes to exist, or they would quickly lose their long-term business. It may surprise you, that the money annually received from these fighting events, account for more than two-thirds of the total taxes collected in Guanan.”
“The officially approved fights have certain rules that have to be followed, that is, any inviter and invitee should be on roughly the same level of cultivation. For example, if an inviter is in the state of an ocean of qi, while the invitee is only in the state of a forged body, then the government won’t approve it. Plus, the peak state of a forged body is also not allowed to fight with anyone below the peak state. That’s the rule. Kid, don’t worry about this.”
Xu Yi felt extremely relieved after hearing this. If the opponent was in the forged body stage, he felt rather confident in achieving victory.
Teacher Zhou glanced at Xu Yi and warned him: “I know what you’re thinking about right now. Since you’ve got a powerful soul, you’re not afraid about anyone in the forged body realm. However, remember well, that there’ll always be someone who has even greater talents. Don’t be cocky. If you underestimate the power of the Black Dragon Palace, you’ll have lost before the fight even starts. They’ve got numerous peak state cultivators! If you’re to survive, you have to be the number one in the peak state.”
Xu Yi was taken aback by Teacher Zhou’s insightful remarks, especially when his overconfidence was discovered. Actually, he was a little bit horrified as he couldn’t seem to hide anything from Teacher Zhou.
“I hate the long face that you wear. Are you mad at me? I’m simply telling you the truth. Look, when you killed the young lord of the White Horse Palace, your ability in Wu Dao was no longer able to be hidden. As for your soul, we had a couple of discussions several days ago. Anyone below the state of an ocean of qi won’t ask those questions about the soul, but you did. That’s why I know you have a powerful soul.”
“Only those who have experienced the force of the soul, will ask such questions. For your age, it’s almost impossible to have reached the peak state. The only way that I can convince myself to believe this, is to believe in the shocking power of your soul.”
: Zhang: a unit of length, equal to 3.3 meters.