A single pile of jade this size totaled several dozen million sky spirit stones. Hua Ming cleared his throat, completely ignoring the staff member’s mildly disgusted expression. “What kind of discounts are you offering?”
“No discounts.” The staff member glared at Hua Ming, clearly dissatisfied with the presence of such a pain-in-the-ass. What was the point of the kid?
“No discount? Don’t try to trick my employer here just because he’s a foreigner. I was born here through and through. Every jade vendor in Oriole Valley gives discounts, yeah? A man of his prominence definitely deserves one.”
“Who are you, if I may ask?” the staff member glanced at Jiang Chen.
“Hmph. My employer is an important guy from the Ten Divine Nations. You can guess at his actual identity. He’s making a rare visit to the Bluesmoke Isles. You don’t wanna leave a bad impression, yeah?” Hua Ming was certainly a master of pretension.
Jiang Chen grinned wryly when he heard how important he was supposed to be. Still, he didn’t deny it. Now that the words were out of Hua Ming’s mouth, he found no reason to clarify.
“Alright then.” The staff member gave Jiang Chen the once-over. “Since you’re a valued customer, we’ll give you ten percent off like our VIPs. If you buy a lot, fifteen.”
Jiang Chen suddenly grinned. “I’m just buying a couple pieces. Nothing too much.”
Both the staff member and Hua Ming almost keeled over in shock. Hua Ming had already made his boasts, but his employer had just said that ‘a couple pieces’ were all that were needed…
He’d thought Jiang Chen would spend millions the same way he had with the Heavencloud Ganodermas. A deal that big would have been wonderful.
A couple pieces?
How much was that worth?
The fellow’s expression became rather awkward. “If you don’t spend more than ten thousand, customer, I can’t really give you a…”
What was the point of giving a discount on less than three thousand sky spirit stones’ worth of goods? There was no precedent of that in the store.
“I don’t care, as long as your goods are high quality.” Jiang Chen was quite candid. Having finally managed to squeeze his way in, he imitated the others in picking at the jade.
Now that he was nearer to a pile of raw jade, the chain seal in his consciousness reacted in much the same way it had earlier. It was a very familiar feeling.
“So it is here.” He began a patient search.
First, he swept the raw jade in the cultivators’ hands. There was nothing special about any of those pieces, thankfully. If someone had gotten the prize he was after, that would be quite troublesome.
His biggest worry out of the way, his mark must be within the messy pile of unprocessed stone on the ground. Jiang Chen rifled through them leisurely, following the others’ lead. His consciousness was fully active in examining each and every piece of jade.
Having so many people helping the process certainly sped it along. Suddenly, his mind shifted. A piece of raw jade brought out by the others’ searching caused a reaction in his consciousness.
Is that the one?
Jiang Chen moved decisively to grab the raw jade. Just when he had gotten his fingers on it and was about to take it away, another hand grabbed onto the opposite side of the stone.
It was a hook-nosed, middle-aged cultivator. He peered at Jiang Chen through squinted eyes, his tone peculiar. “First come first serve, friend. This is mine.”
“I seem to have gotten my hands on it first, no?” Jiang Chen smiled.
“Oh? But I saw it first.” The hook-nosed cultivator was positively frigid as he fixed his eyes on Jiang Chen. “Follow the rules, buddy. You came later. You know what rules are, don’t you?”
Jiang Chen shook his head. “I only know that my fingers touched it first. It’s mine by all rights.”
Neither party budged an inch.
Upset, the hook-nosed cultivator leveled a glare. “You sure you want to fight with me over this?”
“Don’t get it wrong. You’re the one fighting.” Jiang Chen retorted coolly with steel in his voice.
The friction between the two men bothered the other patrons.
“Take it outside if you two want to argue. Don’t disturb the rest of us.”
“Exactly. It’s just a piece of raw jade, no? Pick another. Do you think you’re going to strike it rich on just that piece? Do you think you have that much good luck?”
“That’s right. You’re just wasting time and spit.”
The bystanders felt both parties to be fools. Only someone whose brains were fried would spend so much effort over a single piece of unremarkable jade. And neither was willing to give an inch??
Given Jiang Chen’s frustrating stubbornness, the other party opted for underhanded tricks. He sent a strong current of electricity into the stone, trying to show Jiang Chen up.
However, it only felt like an ant was crawling on Jiang Chen’s skin. It didn’t prompt a reaction at all. After refining the Thundercloud Cicada bloodline, he was immune to all poisons and electricity.
He smiled faintly with a sidelong flick of his eyes. “Are you trying to give me a scratch? Put your back into it. You gotta show me sincerity to make give up my prize.”
The man’s expression darkened. He began to consider Jiang Chen more seriously. He’d thought Jiang Chen was easy to bully because of his youth. A single warning should’ve been sufficient to make him give the jade up. But there was no reaction whatsoever to the attack. The man seemed to have tossed a rock into the ocean.
A staff member came up to mediate the conflict. “Gentlemen, don’t fight here. Otherwise, we’ll have to see both of you out.”
“I’m not fighting, friend,” Jiang Chen smiled coolly. “I just wanted to pick up the jade I’m interested in. Unfortunately, someone else wants to take the same piece from my hands.”
“Bullshit. You want to rob me of my prize!”
The staff member scanned both of them. “Sir,” he turned to Jiang Chen. “This is an honored customer of our store. According to the rules here, he has priority.”
Jiang Chen laughed when he heard. “He has priority even though I got it first? That only happens when it’s impossible to determine priority, no?”
The staff member frowned, feeling that Jiang Chen was stupid in his inflexibility.
“You both have your hands on it, so I can’t say which of you got it first. Perhaps you should be gracious and let this friend here have it. He’s a pretty well-known cultivator, you know? One of the Northcrown Five. Why not make a good impression by taking a step back?”
The staff member’s tone seemed fair, but was in fact biased towards the hook-nosed cultivator. A gang of five cultivators reasonably prominent in the world deserved accommodation, no?
The hook-nosed cultivator casually let go of his end, crossing his arms over his chest and looked at Jiang Chen lazily. The backing of the staff puffed himself up even more so. The look in his eyes was mocking, their meaning evident: you’re too fresh to compete with me, kid!
Jiang Chen smiled coolly. “Excuse me. I haven’t heard of any such group. You have your principles, and I have mine. I’ve never let anyone else have anything I take an interest in. Even if the king of the world were to come up and ask for it, I wouldn’t give it to him if he were rude.”
His words made every listener draw in a sharp breath. The cultivators who’d been picking through the jade a moment prior switched to scrutinizing him with a curious eye.
His stance was hard indeed. It was interesting that a young man dared speak like this, given his opponent and the store’s backers. Either he was fearlessly brave out of ignorance, or actually from extremely important origins. Perhaps he really was from the Ten Divine Nations?
The staff member frowned. The difficulty of the situation was palpable. The store wanted to do business in the end and couldn’t overstep its boundaries too much. Bias was acceptable, but limited. If he was too blunt, there would be suspicions about the legitimacy of the store itself.
The shopkeeper chose this moment to make himself known. He sidled over with a wide smile and a cupped fist salute. “Friend, please give me some face. The store will take back the raw jade to refrain from offending either party. As an apology, both of you can take three pieces of jade of the same size for free. It’ll be on the house. How about it?”
The shopkeeper had a keen eye. Since both parties were equally difficult to deal with, he had to mediate for a happy solution.
Jiang Chen smiled. “I’m only interested in what’s right. I don’t care about the piece of raw jade itself. It’s really quite insignificant. But are you sure, shopkeeper, that you won’t privately sell it to them later on? If you’ll swear an oath about that, I’ll satisfy you by giving you the benefit of the doubt. There’s tons of other jade here I can buy, yeah?”
He wasn’t going to be fooled. It was quite possible the shopkeeper was familiar with the Northcrown Five. The store was taking the jade back, but it might very well make its way into the hands of the hook-nosed man in the end. This was just a little trick, nothing more.
The shopkeeper stopped in his tracks. This was exactly what he’d wanted to do. His smile grew unnatural after Jiang Chen pierced his ruse.
“Friend, it’s not easy to run a store. Please, be a bit more understanding.” His tone instantly became much colder.
“My sincere apologies. I’m going to do nothing less than take this piece of raw jade.” As Jiang Chen said this, he took out five hundred sky spirit stones and put them on the counter. In the same motion, he put the raw jade into a storage ring. His movements were crisp and decisive.
His act angered both the store and the Northcrown Five.
The shopkeeper darkened. “Are you forcing the purchase, friend?”
Jiang Chen wasn’t interested in explanations. “Everyone buys like this. Why can’t I do the same? If others are simply buying, how am I forcing anything?”
He wouldn’t do it intentionally, but there was nothing wrong with starting a fight as he was in the right here. A conflict was no problem, really.
Hua Ming was positively green in the face. “What do you guys mean?” he struggled out. “My employer is a big shot from the Ten Divine Nations. Why’re you giving him trouble for buying a piece of jade to have some fun with?”
He might as well follow up with the ruse he had gone with earlier. It wasn’t like Hua Ming had another choice. If the claim was sufficiently intimidating, then that was that. If not, then… let the cards fall where they may!