Jiang Chen decided to visit the seven great factions one by one. He could hopefully learn more of the inner workings of this place after doing so.
A round of visitation was enough to garner rudimentary understanding. No single faction was kind hearted or passive. Each had a base of operations, sufficient authority, and more than enough manpower.
Out of the seven, three were families, two were gangs, and the remaining two were coalition-style organizations like the Southsky Alliance.
An organization was more loosely knit compared to a family, but they had the advantage of more manpower and resources. The Southsky Alliance had its roots as a mercantile organization.
It had begun as a purely financial entity. When the merchants forming it gained prominence, they began to want for status and prestige. After recruiting a more combat-capable force, the Southsky Alliance was the result.
It was one of the stronger factions among its peers. Its largest advantage was in numbers. It had many friends and even more connections. Most importantly, it was more principled in its behavior compared to the families and gangs. It conducted the money-making side of the business via legal commercial means.
The other factions – the families especially – had little interest in mercantile work. They had few enough people, and the younger scions of said families didn’t want to waste their time on something as menial as buying low and selling high.
Jiang Chen ended up buying a guarantee from the Myriad Prosperity Gang. The name was rather basic, like one the gangs of the mundane world would use. But in Sin City, the Myriad Prosperity Gang was a faction to be reckoned with. It was the darkest, most lawless, and most vicious of the seven.
He was currently in one of the gang’s branch buildings, purchasing the spot recommendation with residency seal in hand.
“Your surname is Jiang? Jiang Huang?” The man responsible for handling the paperwork inquired with some interest.
“Yes, Jiang Huang.” Of course he wasn’t going to use his actual name. ‘Jiang Huang’ took one character each from his name and Huang’er’s.
“Not bad. Thirty thousand sky spirit stones. Money first, paperwork after.”
Jiang Chen took out the required sum without a change in expression and handed it to the man. The stones were quickly tallied and checked before there was a loud announcement. “One guaranteed recommendation for Jiang Huang.”
Everyone receiving a guarantee was given a unique jade slip as proof. Thirty thousand stones had vanished into the air for this little token.
“In three days, take this jade slip to the selection grounds. The exact location is in sacred grounds within the city lord’s residence.” The Myriad Prosperity Gang was reasonably polite to a paying customer. At least they were doing as advertised.
Jiang Chen returned to the inn after securing a slot for himself in the competition.
Surprisingly, there were a group of city guards standing near its entrance again. They were the same ones who’d come yesterday to pick a fight. However, fewer were gathered here than yesterday. The presence of a leadership figure was another notable difference.
The man at their helm wore light armor and a battle cloak. His appearance was wild, almost like he’d just walked off a battlefield. The city guards were overjoyed after spotting Jiang Chen in the distance. They pointed him out to their leader instantly.
Jiang Chen raised an eyebrow, killing intent flashing in his heart. Hadn’t these guys slunk away yesterday? Why did they dare show themselves now? Did they think that his warnings had only been for show?
He was mildly frustrated. Were these guards going to restart the conflict from yesterday?
Jiang Chen wasn’t pathetic enough to enjoy being provoked repeatedly by the same group of people. Even if I give up on the selection, even if I have to leave Sin City, I’m going to kill these bastards today! His anger was well and truly flaring up.
He walked straight into them, neither avoiding them nor taking a detour. Despite not intentionally puffing himself up, his majestic steps radiated an indescribable poise and aura.
The guards were a bit uncomfortable when they saw Jiang Chen’s displeasure. Some looked rather fearful.
“It seems you lot forgot the warning I gave yesterday,” Jiang Chen declared coldly as he strode closer.
One of the guards hurriedly shook his head. “No, no, sir, please don’t misunderstand. We’re not here to pick a fight with you today. Our Commander Yong here wanted to see you.”
Jiang Chen glanced at the lightly-armored commander. Standing in a crowd of guards, he was clearly a cut above the rest. He cupped his fist towards the commander without needing an introduction. “You must be Commander Yong.”
The lightly-armored cultivator nodded slightly, but his gaze didn’t leave Jiang Chen’s face. Evidently, Jiang Chen was being scrutinized.
“What’s your surname, friend?” Commander Yong’s voice was deeply masculine and magnetic. It was easy to form a good impression about him just by listening to his voice.
“Jiang.” This wasn’t Jiang Chen’s first time answering the question.
“Friend Jiang, I’ve been informed of the trouble between you and these guards. You’re not the one at fault. I’ve already harshly rebuked my foolish subordinates.”
“Haha, I’ve forgotten about all that already. My apologies for making you come all the way, Commander Yong.” Jiang Chen smiled candidly, making his own attitude clear.
“Very good. I didn’t expect you to be the type of man to bear a grudge regardless, Sir Jiang. Actually, I came here today to ask you to come somewhere with me.”
“Where to?” Jiang Chen was a bit wary at the prospect.
“Ah, please don’t overthink it.” The commander realized that his tone might have caused an undesirably adverse reaction. “I hear you rescued a near-dead patient yesterday. You diagnosed what poison he was inflicted with in a very short time, and created the antidote to save his life even more swiftly than that. I am very impressed with your medical skills.”
Jiang Chen smiled slightly. He didn’t lower his guard because of the praise.
“Just a mere coincidence. I’m not as good of a doctor as you think, Commander Yong.” He didn’t play along with the other man’s line of conversation.
The commander trained both eyes on Jiang Chen in patient explanation. “Sir Jiang, I’ll cut to the chase. A few days ago, my beloved wife was stricken with a strange illness. I’ve asked many pill dao masters, but none could figure out the reason for it. I’ve been extremely anxious these days because of it.”
“You should pay a princely sum to a pill immortal for help, Commander Yong.”
A so-called ‘pill immortal’ referred to empyrean rank pill masters, a level beyond pill emperor. However, any such professional required an exorbitant price to move even once.
Though Commander Yong was a commander, there were many other commanders in the city guard as well. He was a mid-ranking official at most.
Commanders were ruled by major commanders, who were in turn managed by the commander-in-chief. Only the commander-in-chief reported directly to the city lord.
Thus, a man of Commander Yong’s position and means would find it difficult to enlist the assistance of a pill immortal. Moreover, even if he did bite the bullet and spend all his wealth on a pill immortal, failure meant he would be left destitute with a sick wife. He would really have nowhere to turn then.
The commander didn’t wish to gamble in such a way before he was out of options. If he took and stumbled on this particular step, it would mean the end of his life.
He’d paid attention to the gossip between his subordinates about their failure at extortion The news of a medical master had made his seat hot. That was why he’d come to the inn today. He was at the end of his rope and desperately wanted Jiang Chen’s help in saving his wife.
“Ah!” Commander Yong looked sad when he heard what Jiang Chen had said. “Sir Jiang, I can afford a pill immortal if I spend everything I have. But what if he fails? When I’m left in poverty, how shall I save my wife then?”
A gleam suddenly appeared in his eyes. “I must ask you without any reservations to come with me, Sir Jiang,” he cupped his fist. “Whether you fail or succeed, I will owe you a big favor. Plus, I’ll pay you according to a pill emperor’s standards. How about it?”
The commander didn’t know why, but he had an almost single-minded expectation for the mysterious youth before him. The marvelous way that the guards had spoken about the young man’s exploits had moved his heart.
Commander Yong had even come earlier to interview Xing Hui about his experiences. He was able to glean much from the formerly poisoned man. The circumstantial evidence proved that this Sir Jiang’s pill dao skills were superb indeed. All of this came together to put the commander before the inn’s entrance, intent on engaging the newcomer’s services.
The young man’s dispassion evoked another comment from the commander. “Sir Jiang, I hear you wanted to participate in the city lord’s selection. If you are willing to come with me, I will get a spot for you in it for free. You’ll save the thirty thousand sky spirit stone fee.”
Jiang Chen was at a loss for words. Why hadn’t the commander come yesterday? He could’ve saved thirty thousand sky spirit stones if he had.
“Sorry, Commander Yong, but I’ve already acquired the right to participate in the competition.” Jiang Chen shrugged. “Still, I’ll come with you to resolve your plight, given your passionate invitation. I’ll be blunt about it. I will try my best, but I can’t guarantee success.”
Commander Yong was a decent enough man to go so far for his wife. Additionally, a commander for the city guard was useful to know. These factors decided that Jiang Chen would make a visit.