"Northern region of Veluriyam Capital, Bluesky Nation, Goldtower City…" By next morning, Jiang Chen had memorized all the roads and pathways on the map in the jade token. He kept a low profile when he left Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Once he'd exited the main territory of the Capital, he activated Kunpeng Meteoric Escape, which increased his speed by three times.
The feeling of absolute speed cheered him up a little. He was worried about his father, but there was little he could do. Worrying wouldn't help the situation one bit. The only thing he could do right now was find his father as quickly as he could. Father, the heavens will surely favor a good person like you. Please be safe so that we may reunite one day. If someone really took mother away, you can rest assured that I will set things straight. It doesn't matter how powerful mother's family is. I will not turn a blind eye to this!
He was no longer the same person as before. He had improved by leaps and bounds and could now hold his own in the Upper Eight Regions. Also, he was the young lord of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, the future ruler of Veluriyam Capital. Nobody would ever dare to ignore a person of his stature.
In the past, Jiang Chen would have taken three to five days to travel from Veluriyam Capital to Bluesky Nation. But now, he reached his destination in just half a day's time. There was at least a hundred cities and nations, big and small, under Veluriyam Capital's rule. Each nation or city was on par with a third-ranked sect. There were some even on the same level as a second-ranked sect, but not that many of them. Veluriyam Capital's most important stronghold in the northern region was a notable nation on par with a second-ranked sect.
The gate checks were much more lenient this time because Jiang Chen was traveling to Goldtower City from the inner regions of Veluriyam Capital. When he entered the city, he realized how influential the Veluriyam Pagoda was in the entire region. There were also three pagodas in the middle of Goldtower City. They copied the layout of the Veluriyam Pagodas at a one-third fraction.
It seems that Bluesky Nation has a great sense of belonging with Veluriyam Capital. That's a good thing. Jiang Chen immersed himself in the hustle and bustle of Goldtower City. It couldn't be compared to the main district of Veluriyam Capital, but this was the most bustling city Jiang Chen had ever seen outside of the Capital.
The Prancing Pony was a second-rate inn in the city. It was a place mostly visited by wandering cultivators and located in a more isolated part of Goldtower City. It was built on a bigger piece of land because of the distance, which was why the inn grounds spanned further than most. When he arrived at the inn, he matched it with the map in his mind. Brother Ji said that the information station is right over here.
Jiang Chen was dressed plainly in a disguise. He seemed just like a common wandering cultivator. The associate didn't seem particularly enthused when he saw him.
"Will you be staying? That'll be three thousand spirit stones for a night in the sky grade rooms. There's a five percent discount if you stay more than three days. The earth grade rooms are one thousand spirit stones a night, and the regular rooms are three hundred spirit stones a night. The same discount applies for all three rooms." The associate had memorized his lines well, but there wasn't the slightest hint of a professional smile on his face at all.
"I'm looking for someone." Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
The associate immediately frowned when he heard those words. "You can register for bounty missions over there." The Prancing Horse Inn ran as an inn and also as an information station. They also provided bounty and headhunting services.
"I'm looking for Niu Wuhua."
"Niu… you're looking for Steward Niu?!" The associate was surprised at first, but his surprise quickly turned into mockery. "There are at least ten cultivators looking for our shopkeepers every day. However… they don't recognize these visitors most of the time. Esteemed guest, you're not asking for our shopkeeper so you can ask for handouts, right?" It was evident that the associate didn't think that Jiang Chen was qualified to meet the shopkeeper. He was judging based on appearances.
Jiang Chen smiled and didn't mind. He swept his eyes across the counter to find someone easier to talk to. Someone dressed as a manager coincidentally walked out from a door behind the counter and heard the associate's words. He frowned immediately. "Xiao Wang, you're not minding your tongue again! How many times must I tell you to not be impudent and disrespectful to the customers?!"
The manager was clean shaven and seemed a little scholarly. He was much more likable than the associate.
"My sincerest apologies, dear customer. This associate is new and is still rather unfamiliar with our rules." The middle-aged attendant apologized.
The Prancing Pony was a business. They would never want to offend their customers. Besides, one should never judge others by their appearances. There was no need to offend others, even if they were only a wandering cultivator. The world of martial dao was simply too chaotic. Offending someone could potentially result in a series of disasters. The associate had been too tactless and in fact usually offended at least five customers every day. He would have been fired from the inn in less than ten days if his brother-in-law wasn't one of the shopkeepers here.
The associate felt humiliated after being reprimanded. "Manager Qiu! What do you mean by being new? I've been working here for at least eight months, alright? You have no right to say that I'm unworthy! This one here doesn't know the rules, alright? All he talks about is looking for someone, and even mentioned Steward Niu by his name! I'm only teaching him manners! Is that such a big deal?"
Teaching him manners? Manager Qiu snorted coldly. How could he teach something he knew nothing about to others? That was the joke of the century! However, the manager didn't want to pursue matters further in front of the customer. He didn't want others to think that the inn had management issues.
"Xiao Wang, just let it go for now," he responded noncommittally and looked back over. Manager Qiu promptly got back to Jiang Chen. "Honored customer, you're here to see Steward Niu?"
Jiang Chen smiled, as he had a good impression of Manager Qiu. "Is Niu Wuhua the shopkeeper here? I'm not sure if we're speaking about the same person."
This complicated things a little for Manager Qiu. "Dear customer, why are you asking to see Steward Niu if you don't know his identity?" he asked with a wry smile. Manager Qiu was starting to agree with Xiao Wang. Was this unremarkable guy here to ask for handouts? Steward Niu was well known for being charitable. He had helped many with their financial woes and was loyal to his friends and generous to the needy. He was actually a heroic figure in Goldtower City.
"Is he here or not?" Jiang Chen was running out of patience.
Manager Qiu sighed gently. "It's been a few days since he's come to the inn."
"Oh? Doesn't he own this inn? Why wouldn't he come? Has he run into some trouble?" Jiang Chen frowned.
"His inn? That won't be true in a short while," Xiao Wang interjected with a cold laugh.
Manager Qiu was obviously unamused by Xiao Wang. He conveyed his displeasure thoroughly with a cold hard glare. Xiao Wang was also incredibly thick faced and just leered back, as if he had done nothing wrong. He obviously didn't respect Manager Qiu very much.
Jiang Chen sniffed coldly at Xiao Wang. "With an associate like him, I can understand why the Prancing Pony is going under."
It was almost as though he had stepped on Xiao Wang's tail. The associate recoiled in fury and began to throw out expletives like a firecracker, "You damn bastard! What are you trying to imply with that? Are you here to pick a fight? Somebody get in here! This man is here to pick a fight with the Prancing Pony!"
A group of fighters swarmed into the inn from behind after they heard Xiao Wang yell. They seemed incredibly vicious.
"Which bastard is it? Where'd he get all that brazenness from? How dare he cause trouble in our inn?!"
"Little brat! Is it you?!"
Manager Qiu immediately tried to resolve the situation. "Leave, all of you! This is the front of the inn! We're here to do business! How can you be so rude in front of our guests!"
The fighters glanced at Manager Qiu, but none of them backed down. Xiao Wang yelled arrogantly, "This bastard is clearly not here to do business! I'm almost certain that he's only here to pick a fight! Our inn's reputation will be ruined if we don't show him who's boss!"
There wasn't all that many people in the inn's hall. A few wandering cultivators were there, but none of them wanted to be involved. They were only interested in watching from the sidelines.
Jiang Chen clicked his tongue disapprovingly. A manager powerless against a mere associate! Moreover, the fighters were ignoring the commands of a manager and instead following the orders of an associate. Management here was a mess. He began to doubt the authenticity of the inn. Did Brother Ji make a mistake? How can a place as disorganized as this have valuable information? It wasn't that he didn't trust Ji San. His first impression of the inn was simply rotten beyond belief.
The group of fighters was actually quite strong. Three of them were at initial sage realm, while the other three were at half-step sage realm. They were good enough to serve as punching bags. Jiang Chen's gaze swept across the fighters. "What, are you going to fight me?" He sounded cold and ruthless.
"Brat, you've insulted our inn! I'll let you go if you kneel before us and apologize."
"If you don't, we'll break your legs and make you crawl out of the inn!"