"Alright, we shall go and have a look together," replied Maltese with little bit of interest. He had already heard about the skeleton parts from his teacher way back before, but as far as he remembered, the craftsman was known to be an elderly… Did that old man amble his way here? The Nine Gates City? The parts notorious for their limitation in stocks, it was an unaccustomed sight to see them among the insiders of the Sanctuary, where most of them had only heard of the names at most, they had hardly seen the actual object before. And Maltese was one of them.
Maltese viewed the tainted green plate carefully with growing interests. "That day was a cloudy day, I, Monkslay got my steed to the market and snap! I took this fine plate! And…" Monkslay at the side was proudly presenting his experience throughout the mundane purchase process of this skeleton parts at a beheading price.
Hm, interesting! Maltese with a Metallurgy minor did have some insights regarding the potential of other kinds of materials. This skeleton plate for example, it had a very strange texture and the crafting was well done. Maltese sneaked it over a scanner from his pocket… What… To his horror, the hardness was identified to be much higher than the usual enhanced alloys in the market, while its durability was thrice of titanium.
This is made out of only bones? When did the bodies of these mutated lifeforms become this tough? Maltese’s surprise erupted.
As he compared the pros and cons between metallic parts and skeleton parts, he became more intrigued. Fiddling the plates, his curiosity, his attention had gone over skeleton parts and the elderly who crafted these.
Ye Chong noticed that wherever he went, there had to be two or three people tailing him from far away. They were dubious in his eyes but under the aid of Mu’s intelligence, the conversation they had as well as their identity had been distinguished. Those were the guardsmen sent by the Sanctuary to protect Ye Chong, but they also shouldered the duty to watch him.
Ye Chong who had nothing better to do decided to start loitering in Nine Gates City, trying to find that very pearl in the sea like the Blue Sandstone. There were strange people from all walks of life, weird things from all categories of mall. Like this reagent which rapidly promoted the melting process of metals, it intrigued Ye Chong greatly along with the other magical things. These things were not "magical" without a price however. They often came with a terrifying price tag. That number of digits on the tag of points required… even for someone who would be considered as half a millionaire like Ye Chong with the points in hand could not keep up with these insane purchases.
So Ye Chong had no other choice than to increase the production of skeleton parts daily to maintain his purchases for the moment. Mu at the same time also seemed to be rather astonished by the number of bizarre-looking people in Nine Gates City.
After the continuous purchases Ye Chong made on these weird items with weird names he could not even mention because they were so weird, he finally stopped. With Mu’s assistance he managed to eavesdrop the entire conversation exchanged among the men behind him, it was entertaining he must say. Their conversation not only encompassed the secrets and rumors within the Sanctuary, but also the scorching spite towards Ye Chong’s leisure yet tiresome wandering.
Thanks to the leisure yet tiresome wandering however, Ye Chong was allowed to lay his hands on a variety of peculiar items while learning the city better.
For instance, the source of bones in the market. Yes that would be valuable information to Ye Chong the skeleton artisan.
Apparently the bones in the market were supplied by the pilots in bulks, including those from the Sanctuary and those who got detained. The mutation process among the biological lifeforms had become significantly briefer over the time, as their physique strengthened and their survivability improved, making them harder to capture, harder to kill. The skeletons from these lifeforms were the main source of bones in the market. They were treated as the byproduct of the pilots’ hunting however, since the main income of points did not come from selling these skeletons, rather it came from the wages rewarded by the Sanctuary for completing the tasks of hunting the lifeforms.
Unlike the mutated lifeforms, the outlandish primary creatures discovered on some of the primeval planets had been taken to the spotlight, as their bones were the latest darling to the chemists. Since these bones alone had already defined a new possible combination of chemical formulation. Skeletons of such kind were extremely costly in the market and similar to the skeleton parts. They often disappeared the moment they were registered online. These primeval planets were uncultivated and obviously dangerous as well. It was as if venturing into the abyssal unknown to the pilots who headed there cautiously for their missions. Still, if the pilots made it back home, pouches of sparkling points would be awaiting them. High amount of points would be credited to the account, which was something for people to envy along with the valuable loots from the run. Thus, in spite of the hassle and the risk, the participation was active as ever. The Sanctuary also was greatly motivated, considering how the expedition program could bring them potentials of discovering new species, new resources… or the best, new type of ores.
"Ye." Mu had something in mind, a way that allowed Ye Chong to obtain more bones of premium quality, though the idea was from Shang apparently. It was just that Mu acted as the channel to reiterate his plan word by word, "We shall minimize the cost to achieve maximum profit!" And that was when Ye Chong remembered the fact that Shang was also a true lunatic over economy…
Despite that, Shang’s idea piqued his interests.
Days lapsed and right when everyone started getting used to camping before the trading market to hurriedly throw their points over the newly-from-the-oven skeleton parts by the mysterious crafter, a request popped up. And no doubt skeleton parts became the center of attention once again.
The crafter stated, "I would no longer offer my works for sales, instead, if any pilot could provide me bones that are hardly seen in the market, the pilot could get a skeleton part from me for free."
Concisely the message was written yet impulsive the message was to people in Nine Gates City. It had transformed into the hottest topic the moment it was submitted to the announcements.
All the pilots who had obtained the parts from official purchases before were glad in dark, as handling points was much easier than digging out a piece of skeleton that would be considered "rare" to a master craftsman; while those pilots who had yet acquired the parts were in anguish figuring out a way to get some juicy bones to trade.
On the first day after the message was announced, Ye Chong had only received 3 pieces of bones, even though one of them happened to be at the very high-end on both appearance and quality wise. Soon after, Ye Chong sent a set of skeleton parts to the person via the trading system without hesitation.
The effect of this demonstration was unexpectedly impactful to the public. Almost in less than an hour, the happening of this lucky man was already made known to everyone else in Nine Gates City. The fact that he was able to trade a piece of bone for a set of skeleton parts was driving everyone crazy.
The second morning, Ye Chong scratched his back as he entered the collection room. "Let’s see what chicken bone I’ll have to bear wi… today…" Ye Chong stumbled upon the metal cases piling a hill before him. He was literally dumbfounded, his mouth was half open, his eyes zoned out instantly. The expression froze for the next 10 seconds!
Gosh! Are these people mad? These are just parts, skeleton parts, do you need to be this desperate?
It took the whole day for Ye Chong to pick the few best bones from the piles. That was not the problem… "This is the problem." Ye Chong was wailing as he counted the number of top-end bones he selected… there were literally 30 few of them, which meant he had to create the same number of sets of skeleton parts in return…
I’m killing myself, I’m so killing myself? Ye Chong was having headache as he had only created about 60 few sets ever since he got there. And in one day half of them would be gone. What about the following days? Helplessly he succumbed to overclock himself, striving to produce more parts to fulfill the demands.
On the third night, Ye Chong rubbed his swollen eyes as he hurried his way to the collection room. Out from his workshop, through the corridor, he reminisced the endless night he spent rushing the production of the parts. Those moments he missed closing his eyes while maximizing his efforts, even though he only managed to produce only about 30 pieces of common skeleton parts in the end. And these parts were unfinished… since the production was quite time-consuming by nature.
Okay, now I will head to the collection room and see…
Where did my room go?
Ye Chong was astounded…
Where did the corridor go?
The collection room, the outside of collection room, the following corridor of the collection room were flooded by metal cases containing bones. And judging by the rumbling coming from the room inside, the delivery seemed to have yet ended… The automatic delivery machine was still weaving in and out of the room after laying down one metal cases after another. There were also a huge case flying to his way, which Ye Chong wondered if the corridor could even fit half of it.
This much of metal cases! This much of bones! How many pieces are there? No… How many parts do I have to make? Why do I feel like I’m the slave to the deal instead of the buyers… Ye Chong had dried his tears and seriously hoped that Mu would give him the signature fainting treatment right away. "Dammit Shang! You and your genius idea!"
The first thing to do of the topmost priority was to stop that cursing request announcement straightaway! The people at the market was wondering what could have happened to the mysterious crafter upon seeing the disappearance of the notice which lasted only for 3 days. Speculations brewed among them.
Nevertheless, Ye Chong did not have time for those speculations. "I have works to do!" He could imagine his to-do list bombarded by the number of skeleton parts he had to produce. Simply put, most probably he would have to spend the rest of his vacation before the Level 4 Trial on the production itself!
The development was absolutely uncalled for. On the first day, the first batch of bones arrived generally because of curiosity by the people. They wanted to test the validity of the message, since it was the first time such an unfair trade request was made in the market. Most of the pilots kept a reserved attitude towards it.
Till that moment when one man declared his success of obtaining the lovely parts, everyone seemed to have been stimulated as they began snapping up every remaining rare pieces of bones in the market, which caused the price to skyrocket over the night!
That happened on the second day, while on the third day, the Sanctuary kicked in. Of course, the flood was caused by them. No doubt, the Sanctuary was the biggest player in Nine Gates City. They held the most resources and also they had the highest demand of quality parts like the skeleton parts for their pilots. So they would hold onto every single opportunity in sight. Old Ge, the master to Ye Chong’s skeleton artistry had always been depicting indifference towards the Sanctuary’s request, thus the scarce amount in the group. It just felt like a piece of steak being fed to a group of sharks.
The Sanctuary spent the past two days collecting rare bone pieces and had lobbed everything they got on the third day, since these bones would do them no good other than wasting the slots in their inventories after each run, "Might as well we get them traded for some useful parts!" The pilots were motivated especially when they were very much exposed to the use of skeleton parts in their machinates and they were highly aware of the excellent performance of the pieces. The Sanctuary even evacuated the entire floor where Ye Chong stayed just to fit the pieces. They also forbade every other personnel than Ye Chong himself from entering the floor. You could say they lost their heads over it.
Well, nonetheless, one could imagine the burden Ye Chong had to shoulder.
Maltese also sent a set of skeleton to Ye Chong’s place, which was a result of his blood and sweat, trying his very best to get from his instructor. He might be addressed as a pilot like the others, he was still a non-combat trainee in actuality, so he could never get loots like rare bones to exchange for these bewitching parts. But he was smart, he knew his instructor had skeleton of a very peculiar creature, so… "Please sir! Please. This is my biggest plight! Please!" He got to the instructor place and attempted every technique of negotiation, "How about this! If you give me this skeleton, I promise I’ll be the best pilot ever!" Begging, promising, offering for trades… "Where are you going sir! Please! Listen… Come on stay for a second!" Stalking, chasing, pouncing… the instructor almost got driven up the wall. He put up his white flag to him when he handed him the set of skeleton with both hands.
"C…C…" In the room which was dimly lit by the flickering lamp, the pair of bloodshot eyes trembled as it blinked, Ye Chong was draining every ounce of his vitality to finish the orders he got enslaved to… "Curse you… Shang…," he mumbled countless times, expressing his overwhelming spite towards Shang. He could feel his brain blasting at any second...