Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Ye Chong was not aware of the disaster that befell the Three Aristocratic Families, but even if he was, he would have probably dismissed them immediately. He was not good enough of a strategist to take advantage of the situation, unlike Shang.
Just then, he had rescued an honest looking Flora Adept. This Flora Adept was in his thirties, and his was entirely covered with mud. He was trying to pick a barleygrass plant when he slipped and fell into a swamp. Ye Chong heard his anxious cries for help as he was nearby, and helped him out of it.
Flora Adepts were people who specialized in gathering plants in the wild. According to Lunatic Guan's chip, the occupation had as many specialization branches as the alchemy field in the Five Galaxies.
Ye Chong never imagined that he would meet a Flora Adept himself.
Zhao Ying was very grateful for his help. "Thank you very much, Sir. I would've died if not for your help." He rubbed his hands together, but found them to be covered in mud. Zhao Ying blushed and quieted down for a while before bracing himself and said, "Perhaps you'd like to visit my place?"
Zhao Ying's house was small and simple. His wife was not exactly beautiful, but she was warm and friendly. When she found out that Ye Chong had saved her husband's life, she was even more welcoming. His daughter was only about 7 years old, and obviously a shy girl. She hid behind her father's figure, her head poking out carefully as she studied the stranger with her tiny, curious eyes.
Linrose tea and marinated plum meat - the Zhao couple offered their best dishes to Ye Chong.
A honest couple and a shy but curious child - this absolutely normal family made Ye Chong feel a long forgotten warmth. He remembered his Papa, he remembered Mu and Shang, and he remembered Grandpa Qian. Those who knew him would notice how the cold, hard lines on his face softened a little.
After their meal, Zhao Ying chatted with Ye Chong, but it was apparent that the latter was not
used to conversations of this nature. Zhao Ying did most of the talking while Ye Chong listened. Now that the honest, good natured Zhao Ying met a person who was even more rigid and quiet than him, he spoke a lot more than he did that day than the past ten days in total.
From Zhao Ying's stories, Ye Chong found that the life of a Flora Adept was difficult. He could feel the emotions that filled Zhao Ying's plain and awkward descriptions.
Zhao Ying went to gather pants every day, while his wife would process the plants that he collected roughly. Their main source of income was through selling these roughly processed raw materials. The couple had never learned real alchemy, and were only amateurs. Hence, they often forced by customers to sell their things below market price. The two of them worked hard every day, with just enough to feed their own daughter.
"Ying, come over here, what should I do with this barleygrass?" Zhao Ying's wife asked.
Zhao Ying remembered his lucky reward today, that he had found a barleygrass. However, he sat down in dejection and said, "Never mind that, I don't know what to do with it too. Let's just sell it tomorrow. Just do your usual work, I'll accompany the good sir for a while and join you later."
Zhao Ying turned to Ye Chong and said with pained regret, "Sigh, we'll sell it cheap tomorrow. I don't know if it's still of value."
Ye Chong understood him. Barleygrass must be dried within five hours of picking it, or its value will be reduced by half at least.
"Let's go have a look," Ye Chong said lightly, and stood up himself.
Zhao Ying was caught off guard, and felt anxious. "Let's just sit here, it's too messy inside."
However, Ye Chong was already on his way inside before he could finish speaking. Zhao Ying could only follow him inside.
It was full of smoke inside, and it was an unpleasant smell. This was the result of many types of plants being dried together. Ye Chong could not help but frowned. From his professional perspective, this was very unsafe.
He saw a few simple and primitive drying tools. Zhao Ying's wife was sweating all over as she worked on the plants heaped on the side.
The fire was not controlled well, and her methods were wrong, and the order drying was also mixed up.
Ye Chong could not help but shook his head in his mind. No wonder their dried plants could not be sold at a good price. Alchemy materials prepared like this could only be considered as low class items.
Zhao Ying's wife was surprised to see Ye Chong inside with her. She quickly stood up, wiping her hands on her apron and she said with embarrassment, "How did you get in here? It's too messy in here!"
Just then, Zhao Ying arrived as well.
Ye Chong said nothing, but went straight to the drying tools. Zhao Ying and couple looked at him in surprise as he poured everything in the drying wok into the waste tank, and reached out with one hand.
"Get me the barleygrass."
Here in the room full of smoke, a young man worked in concentration with the drying wok. Beside him, a man and wife watched him with their respectful eyes opened wide, for fear of missing a single detail.
"Use a small fire. Apply equal force in both hands, and don't use water. The order of wok-firing is from bottom to top, from the roots to the shoots. The roots should turn a burnt yellow, and the stem into a light purple. The leaves should be brushed and cleaned with water for three times every round, and the leaves should be thoroughly dried before starting each round.
When the final product was presented before the Zhao couple, Zhao Ying could not help but shudder. By the looks of this dried barleygrass, it would definitely sell at a good price!
The honest Zhao Ying did not spend much time dwelling on how much the barleygrass could sell, but instead focused on remembering every detail that Ye Chong had described earlier. He knew that with this skill, they would never have to live so poorly anymore!
Seeing Zhao Ying's thoughtful expression, Ye Chong could see that his message was
message was received in the way he intended.
Bang! Zhao Ying pulled his wife with him as they kneeled and knocked their foreheads on the ground heavily for three times with grateful expressions. This honest man could only repay the young man for giving their lives a chance with the simplest of ways.
"Not bad, not bad at all. It's dried well, this barleygrass looks excellent. I say, Zhao Ying, this does not look like a work of your quality." The customer, Old Zhang raised his head and took a glance at Zhao Ying, then at Ye Chong beside him. He knew better than anyone of Zhao Ying's skills. The latter's processed materials were only bought by few people in the city.
Zhao Ying chuckled good naturedly and said nothing. Old Zhang noted his reaction, and smiled. "Alright, the Gods probably remembered your hard life and rewarded you with blessings. For this barleygrass, I'll offer you 50 altwhite silvers, what do you think?"
Zhao Ying nodded vigorously. That sum would be enough to last the family for awhile. Seeing Zhao Ying's gratefulness, Old Zhang could not help but smiled as he produced 50 altwhite silvers. However, Old Zhang was focused more on the silent, expressionless young man who was with Zhao Ying.
Zhao Ying accepted the 50 altwhite silvers carefully, kept them in a bag with even more care and kept the bag close to him.
"Gramps, do you know how to go to Line Shaft City?" Zhao Ying asked Old Zhang. It was for Ye Chong.
"Line Shaft City?" Old Zhang eyes went to the silent Ye Chong and replied evenly, "Why? Zhao Ying, do you want to go to Line Shaft City? It's very far away."
"No, no," Zhao Ying answered honestly, shaking his head. "It's my friend here who wants to go, but he doesn't know the way. I thought of asking you, since you're more knowledgeable, and must surely know about it."
Old Zhang explained with a nostalgic low voice, "I've been to Line Shaft City when I was young, but the place is very far away, and I can't tell you the specific directions off the top of my head."
"Then of my head."
"Then do you have a map?" Ye Chong asked. With a map, his journey to Line Shaft City would be greatly simplified. With Moon King's speed, he can go there whenever he wanted. The return trip would probably take less than an hour.
"A map?" Old Zhang looked at the young man, surprised. He shook his head and said, "No. These days, who wouldn't keep their maps away like it's a secret treasure?"
Zhao Ying panicked as he heard the man's reply, but Ye Chong remained calm.
"The young man sure can keep himself composed," Old Zhang thought to himself. He continued, "However, there's a trade company from my group heading to Line Shaft City soon. I can ask for you if they'd be willing to bring you with them." Old Zhang was familiar with making these arrangements. Trade companies had security escorts, and there was strength in numbers. Many would ask to tag along for their journeys.
After some thought, Ye Chong replied, "I'll be very much grateful, Gramps."
Old Zhang went to his group, and soon ushered Ye Chong and Zhao Ying to join him. He led them to a middle aged man.
To Zhao Ying, the middle aged man was the image of authority. With his magnificent clothing, it was no doubt that he was a man of status. To Ye Chong, however, the man's face had an unhealthy pallor. His skin looked loose, like the kind of person who looked stronger than he really was. His clothing was too eye catching, and unsuited for physical exertions.
"This is Caravan Leader Yu," Old Zhang introduced the man to the two.
The middle aged man had two mustaches that curled slightly upwards at the edges of his mouth. He had high cheekbones, and his eyes looked sunken. He stood there and yawned twice throughout.
"Who's going to Line Shaft City?" Caravan Leader Yu asked lazily.
"Me." A short and slightly chilly answer reverberated in the air. Caravan Leader Yu immediately jolted awake. He began to study Ye Chong, his narrowed eyes revealing a certain sharpness in the man. "Oh, young man, what business do you have at Line Shaft City?"