Chapter 17: Aunty of the Ghost Market
An hour later.
Li Yao walked alone on the main street under an intoxicating evening breeze. He thought back to when Helian Lie’s head was covered in lobster, scallops, and sea cucumber and to the image of how he’d run away with his tail between his legs. Once again, he could not hold back from laughing at the top of his lungs.
His life had actually changed over a day and a night. It hadn't even been 30 hours, and yet a wonderful reversal had happened!
Just a day ago, he was confronted by Helian Lie. Like a mouse confronted by a hungry wolf, he couldn’t resist at all. Even breathing lightly became impossible for him.
A day later, he actually made Helian Lie slip and fall flat on his face. He had forced this Adonis of the Crimson Nimbus Second into defeat, causing him to flee.
If those crazed Helian Lie fangirls within the school saw what had happened, they would probably all dislocate their jaws in shock!
Is there a more miraculous reversal that could happen on this earth?
As for Zheng Dongming’s warning, he did not take it seriously.
An indescribable confidence faintly permeated upwards, originating from the depths of Li Yao’s marrow. Although he was certain that he still was no match for Helian Lie, he knew that once he went through a period of cultivating, he would certainly break into a new horizon of heaven and earth that was unbounded and wide, ferociously trampling Helian Lie beneath his feet!
“Helian Lie. Yesterday, you insulted me, calling me trash. Today, you wanted to slap me across the face. I will firmly remember these two matters deep in my heart.”
“Three strikes and you’re out. If you behave well, if you straighten your character, if you conduct yourself with your tail in between your legs, and if you cease provoking me, I will be disinclined to handle you, for I am a great person of great magnanimity.”
“But if you insist on stubbornly continuing with your foolhardy way, if you continue to bumble about in front of Li Yao the Vulture, your next scene won’t be as simple as today’s!”
Unbeknownst consciously to Li Yao, a biting cold air like that of a forty-six-thousand-year-old ancient cultivator had manifested and coiled around his body.
Right now, he was originally preparing to head home for a night’s rest. Tomorrow, he would go to the Underground Ghost Market to buy the knockoff Strengthening Drugs. However, at this moment, he suddenly changed his mind and strolled towards the elevator that led underground.
Only 99 days remained until the university entrance exams.
He had to strive for each minute, snatch up every second, and grasp for every bit of time in order to cultivate. Then he would stun the world at the university entrance exams!
“Helian Lie, didn’t you say that we, students of the common class are all mishmashes of fish, are all pieces of trash? If this ‘piece of trash’ unexpectedly scores higher than you in the university entrance exams — what kind of ‘thing’ would that make you?”
Every major city within the federation had an underground ghost market. It was a unique landscape that belonged to the common social class.
In Cultivation Era 40,000, peace did not necessarily exist. The right path and the devil’s gate. The human race and the demon race. The conflicts between the various powers of influence caused constant unrest. The Star Glory Federation had also been in a state of war for a long time.
Every Strategic Cultivator Hub in the Federation had 10,000 feet excavated from the ground during their initial construction. They built refuges, air-raid shelters, sewers, and ventilation wells.
Each of the various underground facilities were interconnected with each other, forming a tangled and complicated knot into a maze-like dark fortress. And the underground city kept a large amounts of food, fresh water, and other living necessities in stock. They used spiritual energy to envelope and seal these goods, forever preserving the goods in their freshest state.
In the worst case scenario, even if the surface had been overrun and occupied by the demon race, humanity could still defend by retreating into the underground fortress. The various supplies were enough for several hundred thousand people to survive on for at least a decade.
And the underground arsenal contained the most secret of hidden weapons of artifacts and flying swords that could, in an instant, mobilize a hundred thousand soldiers for a counter-offensive opportunity, lying in wait.
However, at this time, humanity was enjoying its golden years of prosperity within the Heaven’s Origin Sector. The Star Glory Federation had continued to pioneer and enlarge its territory within these several hundred years. With strategic military offensives, they broke through mountains and cut down citadels. The military presence that once existed in the olden days gradually waned as territorial frontiers became hinterland. And so, the underground fortress also unintentionally lost its military significance.
No one was sure when it began, but several members of the poverty class slowly emmigrated into the empty underground space, living and reproducing in great quantities underground.
Or perhaps, at first, it was because they were forced to flee underground due to the combined pressures of the ever more expensive housing and sky high costs of living on the surface. However, they quickly discovered that the facilities of the underground world were completely intact and that there were wide and vast amounts of open space. It was much better than the slum housing on the surface.
It was in this fashion that the number of underground dwellers grew. The underground world had already grown by a flourishing extent after going through several hundred years of development. Although it was somewhat inferior, the underground world’s bustling noise and excitement far exceeded that of the surface’s land of prosperity.
This place wavered on the edge of the law, existing in a grey area; it had its own unique social order and ethos.
To put it simply, merchandise had somewhat unknown origins in the underground ghost market. The residential environments were somewhat of poor quality. There were a little bit more thieves and a little bit more pickpockets. The food was a little bit unsanitary.
However, if one was able to overlook these somewhat insignificant “inconveniences”, one would be able to enjoy an incomparably low cost of living and experience a myriad of completely different cultures and customs from that of the surface world.
“Bang! Bang!” the old spiritual energy powered elevator shuddered violently, letting out monotonous sounds of striking, and headed several hundred meters underground towards the Ghost Market.
The air changed, carrying with it a trace of dirt that faintly blended with the smell of people’s cheap perfume.
Li Yao took a deep breath. He was like a fish returning once again to water after having flopped ashore for a long time. His entire body become reinvigorated again.
He liked mingling within the Underground Ghost Market much more than in the Upper East Side. If it wasn’t for the convenience of being near the Artifact Graveyard to scavenge, he would certainly choose to rent directly within the Underground Ghost Market. The rent was 50% cheaper.
Three minutes later, the spiritual energy powered elevator stopped at the entrance of the marketplace where the noises and clamor of people rang. Li Yao pulled heavily on the rusted iron fence, pulling it open with ear piercing creaks. A burnt smell with an arousing feel assaulted his face.
Every structure within the Underground Ghost Market shared the same composition and only differed by a little. Since they were initially employed following military building fortification codes, numbers were used to mark out the districts.
Li Yao entered District No. 59.
This was a well-known culinary street. The ingredients had a suspicious history, having gone through all sorts of unimaginable and bizarre means, and were transformed by the culinary arts into the Ghost Food and Drinks that were famous far and wide. The taste was guaranteed to cause people to even swallow their own tongues, provided that they don’t research the manufacturing process too deeply.
The piping hot lard rice cake stickers... The golden searing of deep fried stinky tofu... The blutwurst made from a blend of garlic, pigs blood, and horse meat and most importantly used oil that was produced by simmering lamb tail to delicately saute the product. Then an additional sprinkle of the Black Crystal Salt, a specialty product from the great northwestern Demon Beast Wasteland was added. The blutwurst caused people to urgently take a bite, burning their tongues. The half congealed blood paste blended with the lamb tail oil slipped down the throat before one could even begin to chew. One only felt the warmth of spring blossom in their body, relaxing and stretching the entire body as it opened every pore. It was something unexchangeable with even the most free and everlasting of immortals!
It's said that quite a few cultivators could not resist the ghost food and drinks. They often changed their guises to come and eat to their hearts content.
Even though he had just stuffed himself an hour ago at the sumptuous buffet, Li Yao moved to feed himself. He bought 5 blutwurst sausages and stood in front of the vendor, squinting his eyes in pleasure.
A thirty year old aunty hugging a baby squeezed in. Rushing in his face, she said in a low voice, “Young lad, are you interested in jade slips?”
She withdrew a leather bag from beneath the baby’s sling. Reaching her plump hand inside, she snatched out three jade slips and spread them out in her hand.
The bodies of these jade slips sparkled clear and translucent. They flowed with brilliant lights and vibrant colors, emitting a rainbow of ripples. The colors converged in front of Li Yao’s eyes, becoming three names.
<<Female Cultivator Baijie>>, <<Youngster Sword Immortal Ahbin>>, <<The Sly Master Medicinal Refiner>>
“Too old. I’ve seen them already.” Li Yao swept a glance and remained unmoved.
“These are different. These are high fidelity remasterings that have gone through refinement by powerful cultivators from scratch. Every jade slip contains 900,000 imprints of telepathic will. The definition is at least 10 times higher than normal. Every stem of hair can be seen clearly and distinctly. I guarantee that for you, young lad, once you watch it, you will never forget it. Once you watch it, you’ll want more!” the aunty made her spiel with great enthusiasm.
“......still, forget it. I came out to kill time and didn’t bring money with me. I’m truly sorry for the inconvenience. When I’m back, I’ll be sure to help out your business.”
He got rid of the jade slip selling aunty with great difficulty and also finished eating his five blutwurst sausages. Li Yao wiped his mouth feeling perfectly satisfied. He walked calmly without hurry into the public restroom at the culinary street’s corner.