“A temporary residence seal will do,” Jiang Chen requested after hearing the explanation.
The other types were admittedly very good and he could pay the price. But even the ten years granted by a bronze seal was too much for him. He couldn’t possibly stay on the island for that long.
Three years would be an intolerable stretch, to say nothing of ten. His one objective was to leave Winterdraw, the sooner the better. One to three months would be enough. And if not, he could just request another. In any case, there were no possibility for a longer stay.
Captain eye-patch relaxed, but then couldn’t help complaining. A temporary seal? This kid is really a bit too stingy!
Yet he didn’t dare express his discontent in the face of Jiang Chen’s intimidating aura. “That’ll be a thousand sky spirit stones.” He soon returned with the seal after taking the money. “There you go. Don’t lose it now. Otherwise, don’t complain if you run into trouble in the city without a residence seal!”
Jiang Chen took it silently. With a short nod and a light step, he’d floated past the city gates and into the city.
Looking at his departing figure, the captain sighed in relief.
“Captain Yue, the kid doesn’t look short on money. He didn’t strike me as a penny pincher!” A guard mocked despite himself.
“I know, right? Wasting all that time for a simple temporary seal. Captain, he looks like a cash cow.”
“That’s right, isn’t it a pity to let him go just like that?” The guards weren’t honorable folks by far. With their status, they’d probably extorted more than one traveler entering the city.
A new face like Jiang Chen who seemed well-off to boot was an especially tempting mark. Their duty as guards? Inside the city proper, men clad in uniforms might be even more nefarious, since their victims were powerless in front of their status.
Someone other than Jiang Chen would’ve been intimidated by these fellows’ manners. The captain had cooperated so willingly because of the fear caused by the Evil Golden Eye. But he now had second thoughts with the immediate threat gone.
He had a hunch the young man was a cash cow. It’d be a regret of a lifetime if he couldn’t shave off his share of the fat. So, unbeknown to Jiang Chen, he’d used a little trick earlier despite his apparent respect.
Inside Sin City, the young lord’s first order of business was to familiarize himself with the place.
The city wasn’t the most prosperous he’d seen. It was far from Veluriyam, a publicly acknowledged metropolis in the human domain. No. Instead, his first impression was, so many people!
Unending tides of men and women filled the avenues, as if the island’s entire population had flooded the streets.
“Handsome guy, you must have come from far. Need an inn?”
“Lad, our Spring Pleasure Pavillon has as many girls as you’d like. They’ll take the best care of you. Why don’t you come on in?”
“Little brother, do you need to a place to rest? Our Rising Teahouse hosts countless cultivators. It’s the liveliest spot. You can learn a lot of news here.”
Thanks to his unfamiliar face, Jiang Chen was greeted by a flock of various solicitations from the entire avenue. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He’d finally experienced what was called true frenzy.
Sin City was the height of crazied frenzy. Everyone seemed to run off adrenaline and was very passionate. But thanks to God’s Eye, he could see clear as day the sinister thoughts hidden behind their hypocritical faces.
Naturally, he refused them and made his way past. His goal was a more proper-looking inn he could stop at for a time.
A shout suddenly exploded from the side, followed by vulgar swearing. “Little bastard, you’re half a month late on the money you owe the ninth master. Go on, keep hiding! Let’s see you hide beneath the ground if you can!”
A young man wearing ragged clothes slipped out from a side alley in the wake of the voice, people hot on his trail.
He grazed past Jiang Chen and hid behind the young lord’s back, murmuring, “Honorable brother, my brother, help me out. Ward them off.”
Jiang Chen had never been fond of being used as a shield. He frowned, about to free himself and leave. But the young man clung to his waist with both hands, imploring, “I beg you, help me, alright? Please.” His eyes brimmed with desperation.
“Let go.” Jiang Chen spread his arms and shrugged off the youngster’s hands.
The latter muttered, “Just my luck. To think a big fella like you won’t help a guy in danger! I was wrong about you.” He turned around to slip away like a rabbit.
But Jiang Chen easily grabbed his wrist. “Don’t be in such a hurry to leave. You’ve taken the wrong thing.”
He forcibly pried open the youngster’s hand, revealing a storage ring. It wasn’t Jiang Chen’s, but the one the giant had asked him to give his daughter, Fang Yingying.
Jiang Chen hadn’t left the island yet, so naturally hadn’t completed this task yet. But since he’d accepted it, he ought to do his utmost. In either case, he wouldn’t let a petty thief benefit from it.
Not even sheepish at being exposed, the young man shrugged with a giggle. “You’ve got it back, so can you let go now?”
Jiang Chen glanced indifferently at him. The burly fellows who’d chased after the young man had stopped in their tracks, staring at the young lord with eyes round as saucers. It was quite obvious that the flashy chase had been a premeditated ploy.
Jiang Chen snorted. His eyes cold, he warned, “Stay away from me!”
The hulks grinned mischievously. It was merely a failed scam. It wasn’t their first, nor would it be their last.
The little incident didn’t disturb Jiang Chen’s mood. Rather, it’d helped him come to a better awareness that even the most innocent-looking do-gooder was filled with evil in the city. Crime awaited at every corner. He had to be fully on his toes.
He continued onwards, undaunted by the interlude. People ebbed and surged in the street ahead. However, a young girl knelt at the intersection, a reed-like item stuck in her hair.
A middle-aged man lay in front of her, looking on death’s doorstep, his face waxy yellow. A signboard was erected in front of them: Selling myself to save my father.
The girl looked pitifully tender kneeling on the ground, her head hanging low, quiet sobs racking her body. Now and then, she wiped the middle-aged man’s face with a cotton cloth.
More and more gathered around her, attracted by the spectacle.
“Hehe, this wench sure is pretty. Her young figure is real fine!”
“Isn’t she? She’s slim and curvy in all the right places. Hehe, what a tempting beauty.”
“Damn it, is that living corpse her old man? He’s half-dead with a foot in the grave, what’s there to save?”
“Haha, once he croaks, I’m down for ‘adopting’ her.”
“Go to hell. A pig like you wants to snatch such a fine flower?”
Jiang Chen glanced their way as he passed. The dying man had clearly been poisoned. His condition was severe and unlikely to be faked. But none of the onlookers seemed wanting to offer help. Sarcasm was the only thing on display.
Some were even waiting for her father to breathe his last before wanting to scam or even just take the girl.
The eyes were the windows to the soul. The tears swimming in her eyes weren’t fake. Not even the most skilled actor could feign such sorrow.
For some reason, sudden compassion stirred. Jiang Chen was reminded of Lin Bi’er and Lin Hui’er begging him to save their father. However, the young girl in front of him was noticeably different in temperament to the two sisters.
He halted his steps just in time to hear a lecherous laugh from an old bald man. “Little girl, your father’s poison is incurable! Unless you have enough money to invite the Pill Immortal from Spring Mountain Hall, but he charges several million sky spirit stones for one consultation. You can’t afford that sum even if you take apart your old man’s bones and sell them all. I say you’d better prepare you father’s funeral. As a man of virtue and mercy, I can help put your affairs in orders. I also happen to lack a daughter. How about I adopt you?”
The girl shook her head vehemently without even looking up.
“Lass, don’t listen to that old fart’s nonsense. He has no good intentions at all. Don’t let him fool you! What about me? I’ll help you bury your father and take care of you in his place. I’ll keep you safe.”
“Don’t believe any of them. They’re all trash cut from the same cloth. Lass, look at my thick eyebrows and big eyes. I can’t be a bad man, can I? In this city, few are as upstanding as me! I’m known for helping those in distress…”
The scene of these big bad wolves crowded around a little rabbit made Jiang Chen speechless. Sure enough, depravity had seeped deep into the city’s very fabric.