Chapter 31 – Qinghua
Xu Yi was in the middle of the street, observing his surroundings, when a round-faced man popped up with an exaggerated smile. The stranger bowed to Xu Yi and introduced himself: “It must be your first time coming to Easter City. If you aren’t escorted by a local guide, you’ll probably go astray in this vast city. Luckily, I’m a local guide, who is familiar with the different buildings and people in this city. I’d be more than happy to offer you my services.”
“I’m not used to these fancy words, just give me an acceptable price, ok?” Xu Yi straightforwardly replied.
The guide felt a little bit embarrassed by these straightforward words, which left him flabbergasted.
Without spending another second on this so-called ‘guide’, Xu Yi strode down the street. He felt rather confident, that in such a large and populated city, guides were as common as the tiles on the street. He figured that it shouldn’t be impossible to encounter a better guide.
“Five gold coins! No bargaining!” The guide ran after Xu Yi and cried out loudly. He made his living by guiding people throughout this city, how would he make ends-meet if he was to let every potential business opportunity walk away like this.
“What?!” Xu Yi was taken aback by this crazy price. Yesterday, he spent only two taels of silver for an extravagant meal. If the five gold coins were exchanged into silver, even by the official rate, it’d be enough to cover for all the food he could possibly consume in an entire year.
The guide carefully watched Xu Yi’s response. Soon, he explained: “I’m not just simply a guide, you know, I’ll also be responsible for answering all the questions along the way. Oh, also, my bargaining capability will surely save you lots of money, if you decide to purchase anything here that is. For outsiders like you, the merchants will rip you off. Believe me, you’ll lose a lot more than a mere 5 gold coins without me!”
Xu Yi kept walking, showing no interest at all. Indeed, Xu Yi intended to compare the prices before he settled down on a deal. After all, he had a long list of items he intended to buy, which would surely cost him a small fortune. Right now, he had to be rather cautious with his money.
Nevertheless, the guide sticked very close to Xu Yi, very much like he was an unshakable sticky candy. He bombarded Xu Yi with negative examples of newcomers, who’d saved their money by refraining from hiring a guide. All of these examples ended in the big local shops ripping these people off.
“Shut up! You don’t have to explain all these details to me, I really don’t care that much about it. Honestly, my main purpose of this trip is to purchase some medicines, which will cost at least two hundred gold coins, I suppose. Now, listen clearly... I’ve got a plan.” XuYi was rather annoyed by the guide, who was buzzing around him like a mosquito.
Soon, Xu Yi leaned close to the ear of the guide and whispered: “My plan is, you help me do the bargaining and I will let you take 10% of the money that was saved from the original quota. Hey, man, think about it. Let me know if you accept it or not. If not, just get out of my way already!”
Now, that the fight between the Black Dragon Palace and himself was unavoidable, Xu Yi was desperate for the medicines, that were required for cultivating the Dominating Strength-technique, no matter how much they’d cost. But, right now, he had basically no clue, about where these medicines would be found and how much they’d actually cost him. At this moment, he was just like a headless chicken who was lost in the wild jungle. What the guide offered was actually a timely help to Xu Yi.
“Deal! I totally accept it!” The guide instantly replied, jumping and dancing as if he had just won the jackpot. Xu Yi couldn’t help but roll his eyes, as this guide looked like a true clown.
The guide calculated that, what Xu Yi offered, might very well exceed five gold coins. He was familiar with the market, and usually, he could persuade the shopkeeper to take the deal at a 30% discount. Now, since Xu Yi’s estimated budget was two hundred gold coins, if the shopkeeper quoted three hundred for all of the medicines together, he was confident to get it at around two hundred. Which meant, that he’d help Xu Yi save around one hundred gold coins in total. According to the 10% commission, he would end up making at least 10 gold coins.
After a while, Xu Yi and the guide exchanged names. The guide was called Yuan Qinghua, a senior guide with nearly eight years of experience.
Along the way, Qinghua kept introducing local scenic spots and gave anecdotes about these places, occasionally, he would also insert his own opinions, full of witty remarks. Xu Yi was quite amused by the guide’s company.
When they passed over a stone bridge, in the near distance, the boisterous fighting arena caught their attention. The arena was about three Zhang  in height, and twenty Zhang in width. Walking closer, they saw two strong candidates, who were intensely fighting with each other, while sweat was streaming down their faces.
“If you’re interested in that fight, why don’t you gamble on the results? I’ll even give you some tips if you want.” Qinghua said, as he pointed at the arena.
“Gambling? What do you mean?” Xu Yi got completely caught off-guard.
Qinghua was also shocked that Xu Yi didn’t even seem to know what gambling was. However, he then cleared his throat and explained patiently: “All fights will end up with a winner and a loser, right? Viewers will bet on the candidates and if their candidate wins, they’ll win a nice amount of money. As you may know, there are hundreds of fights going on in Guanan, if it wasn’t for the gambling, no one would watch, let’s say, two candidates who are only in the middle state of a forged body.”
“I couldn’t agree more with you. But how can the viewers know the cultivating state of these candidates?” Xu Yi nodded, but he still felt slightly doubtful.
“Haha, the cultivating state of each candidate is indicated by the flag placed on the corner of the arena. Look, in Empire Yue, we have five colors to represent our social status. This arena mimics that standard, categorizing candidates into five groups by five different colors. Purple, black, white and green represent four different level in the forged body realm. If you take a look at the flag, it’s white, right? Then these candidates are in the middle state of a forged body.” Qinghua colorfully explained, with a big smile on his face.
“Gold, purple, black, white and green. Why does the forged body realm use four colors? What about the other realms, there’s only one color for all of those?”
“When a cultivator surpasses the realm of a forged body, it will be a turning point in his life. He will be invited by celebrities and high-ranking officials, or probably become one of their hangers-on. I haven’t seen a gold flag raised up ever since I was born. Plus, in recent years, those prominent families gradually formed alliances with each other. Whenever a dispute would occur, they’ll mediate it behind the curtains. That’s why, there is almost no fights going on between cultivators in higher realms.” Qinghua further explained.
“Ah…I get it. My apologies, I still have one other question. What if one of the candidates intentionally disguises his level of cultivation and bets on himself to reap the money? Oh, I know, there will be policies to avoid such scenarios from happening. I just want to know how? Forgive me, I’m a curious boy.” Xu Yi was hungry for more information about these fights, so he eagerly asked away.
With the help of Qinghua, Xu Yi quickly familiarized himself with the local environment.
: Hey guys, quick question. Do you guys wish that the length Zhang is kept in its original form, or would you guys find it better if we change it into meters?