Chapter 23 - Raising a Gu is like raising a mistress
The sun had already set.
The sunset glow was still burning in the sky. The mountains far away in the distance were covered in a thick layer of grey ash, gradually turning to black.
In the academy, a day's class was over. The students walked out from the academy in groups of twos and threes.
"I'm really happy today, I learnt quite a few things. Especially how I got to learn how to use the Moonlight Gu."
"The way the moonblade flies in the air looks so cool. It's too bad that my talent isn't enough, so in the future I can only be a logistics Gu Master, I won't be able to go onto the battlefield." The young teenagers happily chatted away.
A few of them called their friends over.
"Let's go and eat, we can drink some rice wine while we're at it, what do you think?"
"You guys go on first, I need to go to the store beside the academy's Gu room and buy a grass puppet. It will be easy to practice at home with it."
Fang Yuan went to the Gu room alone.
The academy's Gu room kept quite a few Rank one Gu worms. There were many types and variations, and Fang Yuan's Moonlight Gu was taken freely from inside.
Once in a while the students would have a free chance to pick a Gu worm. If one wanted to get extra Gu, they would need to pay up.
In this short time Fang Yuan had no wish to refine any other Gu. He walked to the building beside the Gu room - it was a small store.
In the store there were seven students, each of them negotiating over the counter with the store owner for buying grass puppets.
"It's you, junior." The Rank one Gu Master responsible for the store was in his twenties. When he saw Fang Yuan, he automatically greeted him while bargaining with his customers.
Fang Yuan was taken by surprise, finding out that this Gu Master was Jiang Ya. It was the young Gu Master that had taught the hunters a lesson in the inn.
"Ah, it's you senior." Fang Yuan nodded his head, his face expressionless.
Jiang Ya took out a grass puppet from the counter behind him, passing it to the student who purchased it. At the same time he threw Fang Yuan a friendly smile and asked, "Did junior brother come here to buy a grass puppet as well? If you want me to leave one for you, you just need three pieces of primeval stones. These things sell like hotcakes, right now there's only seven left, if you wait any longer there won't be any stock left."
Jiang Ya's attitude towards mortals was arrogant, but towards people like Fang Yuan, he was very kind and sincere.
Fang Yuan shook his head, laughing secretly as he thought, this Jiang Ya really did know how to do business. The grass puppets were made with the Scarecrow Gu. Even after including the primeval essence that was put in, the final cost should not be more than one and a half primeval stones.
"Senior, this isn't fair. It should be first come first serve, why leave any for him?"
"Three pieces will be three pieces, here's the primeval stones, give me a grass puppet."
The youngsters in the store were all worried when they heard that the store only had seven puppets left. They stopped trying to negotiate, and took out their stones to buy it.
Very quickly, seven satisfied teenagers walked out.
"Does my junior want to buy a grass puppet?" Jiang Ya laughed as he asked, "It seems like they were sold out, but actually there's still the eighth puppet stowed away below the chest. If junior doesn't buy it now, you will miss the opportunity."
Fang Yuan had no interest towards the grass puppet. He shook his head and pulled out a piece of primeval stone, putting it on the counter. "I want to buy ten moon orchid petals."
Jiang Ya was stunned. He looked Fang Yuan deep in the eye, taking away the primeval stone and pulling open the counter drawer. Then he took out a paper bag, saying, "Ten pieces of moon orchid flower petals, not one less. Please make sure."
Fang Yuan checked the goods on the spot and found no mistake with it. Finally he left the small shop.
Gu have to be fed.
A Gu Master refines Gu, uses Gu, and at the same time needs to raise Gu.
Refining a Gu was difficult; there was the risk of counterattack. Using a Gu was not easy; one needed a lot of practice. The knowledge of raising a Gu was even more extensive and profound, because there were all kinds of Gu worms and their food were exceedingly strange. Some needed to swallow soil, some needed starlight, some required tears and some fed on the clouds from nine skies.
Just by taking Fang Yuan's current three Gu for example, the Moonlight Gu required moon orchid petals, two meals a day. In the morning and night one meal, every meal two pieces of flower petals. Meanwhile for the Liquor worm, it needed to drink wine. A jar of green bamboo wine could support it for four days. As for the Spring Autumn Cicada, it was even more peculiar as it drank straight from the River of Time, maintaining its vitality.
The River of Time supported the flow of this world. It was not far away in the sky but very near at hand, flowing by every person's side. Every move made by every living creature required the push of time.
Time was like flowing water, hurriedly gliding forward. The River of Time was invisible and colourless, while in reality all living creatures were actually surviving and living in the waters of the River of Time.
After buying the bag of moon orchid petals, Fang Yuan went to the inn to buy green bamboo wine. The Liquor worm could also drink some turbid wine or rice wine to live. However with this kind of second-rate wine the amount it needed to drink would increase, and it would need many jars everyday. After calculating, Fang Yuan decided it would be better to buy green bamboo wine straight away. Not only would it be more worth than buying second-grade wine, it would also not arouse suspicion.
"Young sir, you've come." The workers in the inn had already known Fang Yuan. Fang Yuan passed him three pieces of primeval stones directly, saying with a familiar ease, "Give me a jar of green bamboo wine and make me a few good dishes. You don't need to give me the change, just put it here first. At the end of the month when it amounts up to one stone, you can subtract from my bill with it."
Even though Fang Yuan no longer stayed at the inn right now ever since he moved to the academy dormitories, he would always have a meal here when he bought wine.
"Alright. Young sir please take a seat, the dishes will be sent over immediately." The worker echoed, leading Fang Yuan to his seat. He took the cloth on top of his shoulder and gently wiped the table before leaving. Indeed as the worker said, the dishes were very quickly served.
Fang Yuan ate and calculated at the same time in his mind, "A piece of primeval stone can buy me ten pieces of flower petals. The Moonlight Gu consumed four pieces everyday. A jar of green bamboo wine costs two pieces of stones, and it can support the Liquor worm for four days. In other words just to raise and feed the two of these Gu, I would need to spend nearly one stone everyday."
It does not seem like much, but in reality this was very costly. The monthly living expenses for a mortal family of three only used up one piece of primeval stone. From the starting of refining the Gu until today, sixteen days had already passed. Just to raise the Gu alone Fang Yuan had already spent fourteen and a half primeval stones.
"I have acquired the Flower Wine treasure, taken away Fang Zheng's bag of primeval stones and also got the first place reward. My primeval stone assets once reached up to forty-four pieces and a half. However in the early days of refining the Gu I wasted six pieces and a half, then I used fourteen pieces and a half on feeding these Gu. My living expenses cost half a piece, and today I am probably left with twenty pieces."
Fang Yuan took out his money pouch. He opened it and looked inside. The bag contained pieces of primeval stones inside. Each of these stones were greyish white in colour, their shapes ellipsoid and the volumes equal, the size similar to a duck egg.
After counting he found that he really only had twenty pieces left. In other words if this continued on then Fang Yuan would only be able to go on for half a month with the remaining stones he had left. He was not like his peers - they had relatives and friends to help them out, especially with the case of students like Gu Yue Mo Bei and Gu Yue Chi Cheng who were loaded with primeval stones.
Fang Yuan could only think of a way himself.
"Uncle and Aunt have already cut off my living expenses, but every weekend the clan academy would give out three pieces of primeval stones as subsidy to every student. Looks like I would need to show off in the moonblade assessment in three days and take that ten primeval stone prize." Fang Yuan chewed the food in his mouth while he pondered.
His current age was just at the age where the body was growing. Without realizing it all the rice and dishes had entered his stomach.
Taking up the sealed green bamboo wine jar, Fang Yuan lifted his feet and started walking, leaving the inn.
"Young sir, young sir." The inn worker chased after him from behind and said, "Just to tell young sir something, but in less than a month the trading company will arrive to the village. By convention they would always buy the green bamboo wine in our shop. Young sir loves our green bamboo wine and always buys a few jars every week, so the innkeeper ordered me to tell young sir about this matter. The green bamboo wine in our store has limited supply, so after we sell it to the trading company I'm afraid we would be left with very little."
"Is that the case?" When Fang Yuan heard the news, he frowned slightly. To know someone and tell apart the conversation, Fang Yuan had five hundred years of experience. The shop worker and the young Gu Master Jiang Ya spoke with similar meaning, however Fang Yuan could naturally tell the difference with Jiang Ya's tricky words and the shop worker's truthful words.
This matter was a little troublesome. Fang Yuan needed to feed the Liquor worm and he needed a huge amount of green bamboo wine in the long run. If this inn ran out of stock then he would have to use huge amounts of second-rate wine to feed the Liquor worm.
It was not possible for him to drink several jars a day. After a while people would be suspicious. After thinking about it, Fang Yuan took out ten pieces of primeval stones and said, "Then I'll buy another five jars. I will need you to carry them for me and follow me to put them in the academy dormitory."
"Alright, young sir." The worker immediately accepted the primeval stones.
The moon orchid flower petals could only last for five days without any special storage means, so Fang Yuan would only buy a bag every time. However the green bamboo wine could be kept for a very long time, thus there was no problem with this.
A few workers followed Fang Yuan into the academy dorms and placed the wine jars under his bed, and then they bid their leave. As he saw the money pouch that had suddenly flattened down in his hands, Fang Yuan heaved a sigh.
Refining a Gu is hard, but raising a Gu is also not easy.
This is also considering the fact that he had his five hundred years of previous life experience, so he did not need to practice using his Gu, meaning that the consumption rate of primeval essence would be lessened and thus saving him a huge sum of expenses.
For those at his age around him, they would need to practice using the Moonlight Gu and would need to waste primeval essence. To increase proficiency, one would need to practice many times. When too much primeval essence is consumed, primeval stones would have to be used as a supplement since the recovery rate is too slow. To buy a grass puppet it costs three primeval stones as well. All this is money.
"Fortunately my Spring Autumn Cicada feeds on time and not anything else. Otherwise I would have long gone bankrupt, I would never be able to support it." Fang Yuan suddenly felt very lucky.
The more high-end the Gu, the greater the food consumption needed or the more precious and rare the food required would be, thus the more difficult it would be to keep. A level Rank two normal Gu worm would cost up to around one to two pieces of primeval stones a day.
It is good enough if the food is purchasable. There were some Gu that required food that was relatively difficult to find, some of it did not even circulate in the market.
Just like the Spring Autumn Cicada's food being time, this was actually more precious. After all there was a saying, an inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.
No matter how much money you have, can you buy time?
In theory a Gu Master can refine an unlimited amount of Gu. As long as you can refine it, whether ten, a hundred or a thousand worms is possible. You can refine as many Gu as you wish to.
But in reality a Gu Master normally only had 4-5 Gu.
The biggest reason is because it is hard to afford.
The higher the grade of the worm, the more expensive it would cost to feed and raise. It often gave a Gu Master too many difficulties to cope with, making them have unceasing headaches over it.
Another reason was - unable to use.
To use the Moonlight Gu to throw out a single moonblade attack, one would need to use up 10% of primeval essence. A C grade talent Gu Master could run out of primeval essence in their apertures after launching three to four attacks.
To raise so many Gu, wouldn't it be a waste if one couldn't use them anyway?
Thus in the Gu Master's cultivation there was a saying going around: Raising a Gu is like raising a mistress.
To keep a mistress you would need to buy food, clothes, a house etc. It is very expensive and the more you have the more costly it is; a normal man cannot afford it.
Even if you keep so many, a man's energy is limited; he cannot use them all. Would you raise them just to look at them?
When the rank of the Gu Master increases, so does the food standard of the Gu worm. Thus please refrain from seeing how a Gu Master has no limit to the number of refining Gu; in general a Gu Master only keeps around 4-5 Gu of his level.
If the number of Gu was raised higher, the Gu Master would go bankrupt!