Chapter 366: Master Gu's Business
Wang Changqing continued, "Mortals that live on these islands must perform labor or pay spirit stones; otherwise, they aren't allowed to reside on the island. Because of the Immortal Techniques that were placed on these islands, there is no need to fear assault from heavenly winds or demonic beasts. As such, us mortals may live without fear. In addition, the Immortal Masters' powers are remarkable. Whenever us mortals travel afar, we spare no effort to hire one or two Immortal Masters to accompany us. That way if we come across any demonic beasts while at sea, we will have a chance at living. Naturally, the Immortal Masters that agree to be hired would be comparatively free when compared to those previously mentioned."
"Heavenly wind?" Han Li was puzzled upon hearing those words.
He knew about demonic beasts, but hadn’t heard of this "Heavenly Wind" before.
"The previous land that Immortal Master resided in didn't have attacks by heavenly wind?" The old man appeared to be marveled.
"I saw no heavenly winds where I previously cultivated. What are they? Something comparable to demonic beasts?" Han Li calmly asked without care.
Although Wang Changqing felt doubtful, he still gave Han Li a sincere explanation, "Heavenly winds, demonic beasts, and ghost mists are known as the three great natural disasters in the Scattered Star Seas. There is no need to speak of demonic beasts. Immortal Master surely knows about them more than I, but it should be known that most of the demonic beasts of the sea are beyond huge and are proficient in water attribute demonic techniques. Us mortals have no way of dealing with them. Only Immortals are able to strike them down."
"As for heavenly winds, they are hurricanes that occur twice a year that sweep through the entirety of the Scattered Star Seas. The areas it passes suffer from monstrous sea waves, destroying lives and shelters. If we were not on an island protected by immortal techniques, us mortals would face certain doom. It is also said that if an Immortal were to be dragged into a heavenly wind, it would be extremely difficult to escape, and they would likely die within." Wang Changqing appeared fearful as he said this.
"And the ghost mist? What kind of natural disaster is that?" Han Li expressionlessly continued his questions. He wanted to understand these three natural disasters clearly, so that he would be better prepared if he happened to come across them.
The old man paused for a moment before continuing. He was truly shocked that the cultivator before him truly knew nothing about the circumstances of the sea or the most mysterious of the three greatest natural disasters, the ghost mist. Where was this cultivator from? Could it be that he came from a place of dry land? But this place was the Scattered Star Seas. Apart from the nearby sea territories, there were no large territories of land to speak of.
Restraining his bafflement, Wang Changqing continued to give Han Li an explanation, not daring to neglect him, "The Ghost Mist is the most fearful and mysterious of the natural disasters of the Scattered Star Seas. It is a black mist that often drifts erratically across the sea. Any life trapped within that black mist will not escape from it. If mortals see it, their death is already decided. As for cultivators, they are no exception either; if cultivators see it, it will be far too late for them to escape as well. Although this mist is terrible, it only appears at certain locations. It never approaches the larger islands. So long as one takes precaution, it is possible to preserve one's life. As a result, this particular natural disaster has killed the fewest people despite being the most fearsome." The old man revealed some joy as he spoke.
Han Li sunk into thought after he heard this, 'What kind of cursed place is this? According to what was said, my plan of finding a small island with Spiritual Qi to cultivate in seclusion is worthless. Otherwise, I might run into the heavenly wind or ghost mist and meet a miserable end."
Having seen that Han Li appeared displeased, the old man became apprehensive.
'Could it be that I've said something to offend the Great Immortal?'
While the old man was anxious, Han Li muttered to himself before asking, "That Master Gu from before, why does he want me to go to his residence on Stalwart Star Island? Also, where is this boat currently heading?"
Han Li stared at the old man with a face revealing neither joy nor anger.
The old man's heart thumped when he saw Han Li's indifferent expression and he couldn't help but hesitate.
How could Han Li not see that there was something wrong? He eased up his expression, saying, "Mister Wang, be at ease. I am only asking this to clearly understand the present circumstances. After all, I can't just casually agree to Master Gu's request without knowing anything. If I only have to help with a few minor errands, I wouldn't mind taking a trip to Stalwart Star Island."
Wang Chanqing knew that he could no longer stay silent; else, he would greatly offend this Immortal and be certain to face a bitter outcome. Thus, after a dry cough, he smiled and spoke while trembling, "This old man begs Immortal Master to not blame him. In truth, this matter wasn't meant to be concealed. It was just that Immortal Master hadn't asked."
Han Li sardonically rolled his eyes in his mind when he was given these evasive words. Still, the old man tactfully gave an immediate explanation of the situation.
Originally, this ship had just finished making a trip for business and was en route to return to Stalwart Star Island.
As for Master Gu, he was not born and raised on Stalwart Star Island, but from one of Stalwart Star Island's subsidiary islands instead. But after he became prosperous from business, he had recently decided to move to Stalwart Star Island.
The truly lucrative business involved traveling to large, far away islands, which only mortals of Stalwart Star Island were capable of doing. Mortals that were born on the main island and those born on subsidiary islands held differing statuses.
Master Gu's business was originally reselling goods among the subsidiary islands. Only after moving to the main island did he take his business a step further.
But after they arrived on the main island, Master Gu made an astonishing discovery. The business of long distance trading between the great islands wasn't something one could casually participate in. This business had been previously allocated to a set number of parties. Only ten clans on the island were able to participate in this extremely lucrative business.
In addition, these ten clans were not fixed and unchanging. They were decided in a magic battle that was held every three years.
If a clan wishes to step into this business, they must request an Immortal to undergo this competition. Only with their Immortal's victory in the challenge would they be able to acquire the permit to conduct trade between the great islands.
When Master Gu learned of this, he lost his head from panic.
Because he had previously only performed short distance trade, he had never hired any cultivators as there was no threat from demonic beasts. As a result, he knew pathetically few cultivators! He originally intended to wait until he had acquired a business and slowly amassed the large sum required to hire one. But now, it was far too late.
He had received this information close to the date of the next three year magic battle. He couldn't possibly have the time to look for a cultivator to hire!
Although there were many cultivators at Stalwart Star Island, a majority of them were proud and arrogant. Only a pitiful few were willing to enter employment under a mortal and most of them would only lend their assistance if they had some relation beforehand.
As for the ten cultivators he was somewhat acquainted with, they found it embarrassing to participate in the challenge. Running short on time, Master Gu was unable to find any willing cultivators on Stalwart Star Island.
Without any better option, he took a trip to deliver goods back to the island he was born on, and he took advantage of that opportunity to ask for the assistance of a distant relative who had some relation to a cultivator. But he truly didn't expect that this particular cultivator had left on a distant journey.
Master Gu had been truly left dumbstruck.
But now, Han Li, a foreign cultivator, had entered his boat. Having finally found a cultivator despite his previous disconcerting failures had left Master Gu overjoyed. Although he didn't know the level of Han Li's cultivation, it was better than being forced to give up and wait for another three years! Therefore, he had previously attempted to rope Han Li in at all costs and have Han Li fight on his behalf.
Having heard this, Han Li was left completely speechless.
When he heard that cultivators were hired by mortals to go to sea, he found this unbelievable. But now having heard that cultivators fought magic battles on behalf of mortals for the qualifications to do trade between large islands, Han Li was temporarily at a loss for words.
It seemed that although cultivators in this area were an aloof and remote crowd, they did not feel that it was beneath their dignity to work under mortals. Instead, it seemed that mortals and cultivators shared some sort of tangled relationship here.
However, he'd rather avoid participating in a magic battle for Master Gu's long distance trade qualifications. He was not so desperate for pay.
But he still felt somewhat uncertain. With a faint smile, he slowly asked, "Mister Wang, I am truly inexperienced. I still have something I must consult with you about."
"If there is anything Immortal Master does not understand, please ask! This old man will do his best to answer!" The old man respectfully replied with haste.
"I find myself at a loss. If one wanted to carry goods between islands, why would they have ordinary mortals ferry them across the sea? Are Immortals unwilling to use their storage pouch and other such magic tools? Isn't flying both faster and safer?"
Chapter 367: Settling Down with a Guarantor
Wang Changqing bitterly smiled in response.
"Immortal Master jests! Although there are a few Immortals with storage pouches, they are incomparably precious. How could they lend them to us mortals and ferry our common items? Furthermore, every transaction between the large islands consist of great quantities. An Immortal's storage pouch may be wondrous without comparison, but it can only hold so much. Even more so, Immortals wouldn't do something so beneath their dignity as freighting goods!" Wang Changqing gave Han Li a careful explanation.
Han Li nodded his head without speaking and sunk into contemplation with narrowed eyes.
After a long while, Han Li indifferently said, "Master Gu wishes for me to act on his behalf, but I am powerless to do so. Because my cultivation isn't high, me agreeing would only shame him. I request that Mister Wang report to Master Gu that he should find someone better qualified. As for the service of bringing me to Stalwart Star Island on his boat, I am able to offer a few spirit stones in remuneration."
Han Li spoke slowly and clearly, but his voice was cold and detached.
When the old man heard Han Li's rejection, his face paled slightly.
He then pitifully pleaded, "Great Immortal, please assist my clan's master! In order to pursue this business, Master Gu already paid a great price to the ship's staff. Master Gu has also paid a great sum of spirit stones for the right to participate in the challenge. If he does not acquire the qualifications to trade between the great islands, the Gu Clan will surely go bankrupt. Us laborers will also lose our jobs and will have to find different opportunities."
"My cultivation is truly inferior. Also, I do not wish to provoke any quarrels upon arriving at Stalwart Star Island!" Han Li expressionlessly shook his head in blunt refusal.
Seeing that Han Li's refusal was certain and that his tone was strict, Wang Changqing didn't dare to continue his pleading. He could only resolve his spirit and chat about the local customs with Han Li, telling him urgently needed knowledge.
An hour later, Han Li noticed that the old man's mind was wandering. He sent him away to rest, telling him to come back when his mind was clearer.
Wang Changqing had felt tired for quite some time. Seeing that Han Li had shown him consideration, he didn't decline and followed his suggestion.
After the old man left and respectfully closed the door, Han Li couldn't help but sigh. Although he had some wealth on hand and even held some spiritual medicines that benefited mortals, he didn't have the slightest intention of giving any to the old man. He couldn't possibly reveal his wealth in this unfamiliar land! Otherwise, he might provoke unnecessary trouble; even fatal disaster wasn't an unlikely possibility.
With that in mind, Han Li sat down cross-legged on the bed. He then swallowed a "Yellow Dragon Pill" and began refining his Qi.
He must restore his cultivation as soon as possible. After all, strength truly speaks loudest, regardless of what land one resided in.
After meditating for only a short moment, he heard faint footsteps from outside his room.
Although Han Li didn't open the door, he had released his spiritual sense outside earlier and could see everything that occurred. The old man called Wang Changqing had returned with Master Gu closely following behind him with an appearance of great worry.
Han Li wrinkled his brow. It seemed trouble had come for him. It was obvious that this Master Gu hadn't given up yet and came to bother him.
Were this the Heavenly South Region, Han Li could stop them in their tracks with an ice-cold shout, and they wouldn't dare to enter. But he was a new arrival in an unfamiliar land. He mustn’t appear too unreasonable.
Without waiting for the two to knock on the door, he said with a mild tone, "Please come in! The door isn't locked."
Master Gu and Wang Changqing were shocked. But then they immediately realized that this Great Immortal had invited them in. They hastily tidied up their clothes before respectfully entering the room.
At this moment, Han Li had already gotten off the bed and was now standing with his hands behind his back.
"Great Immortal, Master Gu wishes to personally discuss this matter with you. Could Great Immortal please give Master Gu an opportunity?" Wang Changqing had previous contact with Han Li and knew that this Immortal wasn't someone to be deceived. Thus, he directly stated his business for coming.
Han Li first glanced at the old man. Then he smiled and said indifferently, "Of course he can. But you should first advise Master Gu to not set his hopes too high!"
Wang Changqing revealed slight embarrassment, but he gave an honest explanation to the middle-aged man regardless.
The middle-aged man's face blanked upon hearing this. But immediately after, the middle-aged man said something that first startled Wang Changqing before causing him to reveal a queer expression.
Han Li watched detachedly from the side and remained expressionless.
"Great Immortal, our Master Gu says that so long as you lend your assistance, the Gu Clan will bestow a large sum of spirit stones to you, regardless of whether this matter results in victory or defeat. If you truly manage to win the rights for the Gu Clan to perform trade between the great islands, Master Gu is willing to even become your guarantor, allowing a foreign cultivator such as yourself to become an official resident of Stalwart Star Island. Most of all, the Gu Clan is willing to respectfully offer three-tenths of the three year trading profits to you, even if you do not wish to take up an official position at Stalwart Star Island.
Once Wang Changqing said this, his gaze became dim as if he found Master Gu's offer to be incredulous.
Han Li was somewhat surprised and stroked his chin. Baffled, he asked, "What? In order to live at Stalwart Star Island, one needs a guarantor? I never heard you say this!"
Although Han Li's words were mild, Wang Changqing broke out in a cold sweat and hastily explained, "Immortal Master misunderstands! Foreign Immortals at Stalwart Star Island can be divided into two types. One type is there for a temporary stay. They are unable to hold office and generally live there for a few years, leaving or staying depending on their own preference. The other type have guarantors from the great nearby clans and are able to stay as long as they wish. Not only do they have to pay less spirit stones to stay on the island and have the ability to follow the formalities to obtain a permanent residence, but they also have the qualifications to hold office and have the right to participate in the decennial Great Spirit Land Contest. Depending on one's performance in the contest, they are given land with a corresponding density of Spiritual Qi. This old man neglected to mention this to you because finding a guarantor for a foreign cultivator on an island as large as Stalwart Star Island is an exceedingly complicated matter." Fearing that Han Li would misunderstand, Wang Changqing explained this all in a single breath.
Han Li's expression became gloomy afterwards. Han Li doubtfully asked, "What happens to those cultivators who aren't able to find a residence on Stalwart Star Island? Are they unable to acquire a place to cultivate?"
The old man replied, "Of course not. Those Immortals from subsidiary islands are able to participate in the competitions. However, they can only participate in the main island's contest in order to obtain places of cultivation. As for why Stalwart Star Island is the main island, that is because the island has the best spirit veins and densest Spiritual Qi in the local sea. The other islands possess greatly inferior spirit veins in comparison."
With all this information, Han Li's expression incessantly switched between clear and gloomy.
These rules were an obvious tactic for the cultivators of the main island to ensure they held higher cultivation. All cultivators wanted a cultivation area that held great Spiritual Qi! Regardless of whether they were nurturing spiritual herbs or cultivating, it was always better to have a place with denser Spiritual Qi!
Han Li tightly tensed his brow and paced back and forth with a lowered head. He then raised his head and turned to look at the middle-aged man surnamed Gu who held an expectant expression.
Seeing that Master Gu held such a hopeful expression, Han Li sighed and slowly said, "Please inform me about the cultivation levels of the other cultivators that will be fighting. If I can handle them, I will make an exception and fight on your behalf!" Han Li revealed a helpless appearance.
Wang Changqing became overjoyed and hastily gave the middle-aged man a translation, causing him to become rapt with joy.
Afterwards, Han Li inwardly mused, 'If those cultivators aren't Foundation Establishment, by relying on my puppets and incisive magic tools, I should be able to win without a problem, even with my current meager cultivation. As such, I should still be able to cultivate the Three Essence Revolutions Technique. Naturally, I'll also want to cultivate that External Reincarnation technique and Great Development Technique. They should prove to be effective lifesaving measures.'
Four days later, a large cheer echoed throughout the huge ship. They had finally reached Stalwart Star Island.
Han Li followed the lead of Master Gu and Wang Changqing as they excitedly handled the formalities on the island for Han Li. After all, an unfamiliar cultivator to the island must be reported at the docks in order to avoid being mistaken for a malicious intruder.
As Han Li followed after the two, he silently sized up the entire port. He was left with the impression that it was truly grand! Regardless of the quantity or size of the ships, it was fundamentally incomparable to any of the small ports from the Heavenly South Region.
Unexpectedly, there were seven other remarkably huge ships similar to Master Gu's ship already moored at the port. Smaller ships naturally numbered many times more.
Although Han Li didn't count carefully, he estimated that about three hundred ships were docked at the harbor. As for the crowd of people bustling about the harbor and ships, it was far more than that.
This was the first time that Han Li saw what he thought to be an ocean of people'.