As he walked, Bai Yunfei slowly began to upgrade the ten ‘Superior’ daggers he had traded for.
Unknowingly, the rising sun had become a setting sun. The harsh sunlight of day had become a comforting twilight as the sky began to dim.
“Equipment quality: Superior.”
“Upgrade level: +8.”
“Attack power: 155.”
“Additional attack power: 66.”
“Upgrade requirement: 61 soulpoints.”
Bai Yunfei glanced at the dagger in his hand before returning it to his space ring while in thought. “It has already reached 200 attack points by +8, that’s enough to put it on par with a soul item. If I upgrade it past +8, it should gain an additional hundred attack points. That’s enough to be a human-tier soul item. Equipment of the ‘Superior’ tier has a chance of being destroyed after the eighth upgrade. It seems like only soul items can be upgraded to +10 without an inherent risk of being destroyed.”
“I’ve only upgraded four daggers and my soulpoints have been used up halfway. I’ll resume my thoughts after this then.” Considering his own situation, Bai Yunfei’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve used up about 1500 soulpoints or so. With my original 3600 soulpoints, I wonder how much longer it’ll take before I become a High-grade Soul Sprite…”
“I’ll wait for my soulforce to come back before I continue upgrading.” Bai Yunfei glanced up at the sky, “It’s getting late. I’ll find somewhere to rest for the night! Why is it that I haven’t seen anyone yet? How excellent my luck is…”
Bai Yunfei grumbled and moaned to himself as he walked for another half an hour before he suddenly stiffened. Seeing a group of people in the forest not too far away, Bai Yunfei saw a tent being dragged out along with a campfire. Several people sat around the fire and had a pile of things stacked right next to them.
“They have to be transport merchants.” Bai Yunfei thought back to the merchants he had once come into contact with every so often in the cities; these men weren’t that different from the ones he had seen before
Bai Yunfei felt overjoyed to see these men. Quickening his steps, Bai Yunfei soon came to a stop near the chattering group.
“Who goes there?” As soon as his figure came in close proximity of their area, the group had been alerted. Three robust-looking men immediately stood up to look at Bai Yunfei. Several others were still seated, but their hands inched vigilantly to the the weapons at their sides as they scoured the area.
A security team for the transportation of goods would generally consist of several fighters of decent aptitude. Against a group of powerful mountain bandits they might be useless, but against an ordinary group of thieves, these fighters were more than enough to guarantee safety.
“There’s no need to be nervous, I mean no harm. I am by myself.” Bai Yunfei smiled amicably before realizing that the sky was already far too dark for anyone to see. Instead, he waved his hands to show that he was harmless while he spoke polite words to them.
“What are you doing?” A man with thick eyebrows looked at the youngster in front of him. Despite his stance loosening a tiny bit, he was still questioning Bai Yunfei.
Coming to a stop just ten meters away, Bai Yunfei displayed a rather embarrassed look on his face, “I, uh, I’m just a young adult traveling the world. After an entire day of traveling, I finally found people and wished to share a meal. Are you all merchants? I hope that I can travel with you for some ways or pay for it if need be.”
“Han Yue, this young man here has to be all by himself.” Laughter could be heard from behind one of the larger men as a small-looking merchant came into view.
He wasn’t too tall, but his beard was quite long, and his eyes seemed a little unfocused. Overall, he had the air of an astute person without a roguish face. On the contrary, the smile on his face made him seem very friendly. With a nod to Bai Yunfei, he laughed, “Haha, you’re quite the jokester. Us crossing paths here is merely fate. If you wish to travel with us, then I don’t see the problem with that. I, Huang Wan, may be a small time shopkeeper, but even I don’t scrape after every bit of coin that comes my way. Don’t even mention money and just come with us as you please!”
“Is that so? Then you have my thanks, boss Huang!” Bai Yunfei warmly smiled and clasped his hands together in greeting. With a nod to every other man that was near him, he slowly made his way to the center where everyone else was.
“What should I call you, little one?” Huang Wan pulled Bai Yunfei to the side of the fire pit. Without the air of a shopkeeper to him, Huang Wan sat down with Bai Yunfei, and handed him a well-roasted chicken thigh.
“Ah, are you heading to Guyi City as well, little Bai?”
“Yes. I found myself lost within a forest just a few days ago. It was only today that I managed to make my way back out, but the trip was rather boring. Seeing everyone gathered here, I just had to approach. I hope no one minds my intrusion.”
“Now now, none of that talk. We are on our way to Guyi City as well. You’re welcome to travel the rest of the way with us.”
“Thank you, boss Huang. I have some strength to my bones, if we ever come across trouble, I can lend my hand to help.” Bai Yunfei had found Huang Wan’s sincere and honest way of dealing with people rather refreshing.
“Oh? Are you a martial artist as well?” Huang Wan gave a surprised look to Bai Yunfei before shaking his head, “Haha, there is no need to worry about anything. This time, we have two rather indispensable figures in our group. With them here, even a bandit brigand would be dead men walking if they picked a fight.”
“Oh?” Bai Yunfei was skeptical, “Who are they?”
Huang Wan gave a look around to see if the coast was clear before whispering, “They’re two soul cultivators!”
It was then that Bai Yunfei discovered a single tent, pitched a hundred meters away, with two people sleeping. He saw them through the raised up tent flap. Bai Yunfei was accustomed to not using his soulsense to scour the area. He usually restrained his soulforce to the best of his ability so that a soul cultivator would completely miss him unless they were actively seeking him with their soulsense. The two soul cultivators within the tent were clearly the same as him, but Bai Yunfei wouldn’t press to much about their identities. Not only was it rude, it would incur objections from everyone.
For some strange reason, whenever Bai Yunfei looked at the tent, he felt a strange feeling. It was almost as if he felt something bad was about to happen…
Perhaps it was because Bai Yunfei had been staring at the tent with some shock, but Huang Wan thought Bai Yunfei was startled to hear the fact that there were two soul cultivators here. With a pleased smile, he laughed, “The goods I’m transporting this time are quite precious, so I came myself to see it through. At the same time, I am the most relaxed I’ve ever been in my career. I wonder why these two soul cultivators designed their trip to accompany this small merchant, but without them, I would never risk this trip! I can only hope now that no bandit will come and try to test their luck. To anger soul cultivators would be leading a lamb to a slaughter!”
Bai Yunfei looked away with a faint smile. He didn’t want to show off and say that he was a soul cultivator as well. If possible, he wanted to play the part of an ordinary civilian just a little longer. It was usually a refreshing time when he did.
“Boss Huang, I’ve wandered around the forest for several days without rest, so I’m quite tired and wish to rest. If… If I could ask for the arrangements to be made.” Bai Yunfei polished off the chicken thigh and politely declined the cups of wine handed to him for a canteen of water instead as he spoke to Huang Wan.
“Oh, there’s no problem at all!” Huang Wan looked left and right as if afraid of accidentally waking up the soul cultivators before speaking in a low voice, “Tianming! Come on over!”
“Yes yes, I’m coming, I’m coming.” A puerile voice could be heard from another tent to the side as a fifteen to sixteen year old laborer youth came running out. His clothes were clearly not his own since they looked quite big on him. With his sleeves flying over his hands, the youth came running toward Huang Wan with a smile, “Uncle Huang, I’ve laid out the beds in every tent for everyone to sleep in.”
“Haha, thank you for your hard work, but I’ve said before you don’t need to be so proactive. It’s almost as if you live for these odd jobs.” Huang Wan laughed while the other men to the side began to tease Tianming. Some of them had even rubbed Tianming’s head with exaggerations of his diligence.
Bai Yunfei was startled to see this youth, for he… he was a soul cultivator! However, his strength was lower than Bai Yunfei’s, nor was he suppressing his soulforce. Although he wasn’t deliberately releasing it, the amount of soulforce that was leaking out from him wasn’t enough for a regular person to notice, but for someone like Bai Yunfei, it was as clear as day.
Curiously, Huang Wan had just been ‘worshipping’ soul cultivators, but his treatment of this youth was exemplary ordinary. This youth had to be pretending to be an ordinary person in front of everyone else.
“This is little Bai Yunfei; he’ll be traveling with us, so bring him to a tent rest in.” Huang Wan spoke before turning back to Bai Yunfei. “Little Bai, this is Tianming. You’ll be sleeping with him tonight.”
“Ah, okay. Then I’ll have to thank brother Tianming for his troubles.” Bai Yunfei nodded his head.
“There’s no troubles at all. Brother Bai, if you’d follow me, our tent is on the right side.” Tianming smiled and waved his hand. Pulling Bai Yunfei along, they began to walk toward a tent at a corner of the camp.
Entering the tent, Tianming began to tidy up the hay to roll out a sleeping mat for the two. Then taking out another two pillows from his knapsack, he placed them down with a satisfied nod of his head. He then whirled around to look at Bai Yunfei.
“Brother Bai, let’s introduce ourselves formally now! I’m Ye Tianming. Ye as in the leaves of a tree, and Tianming like the dawn that comes after night! Pleased to make your acquaintance brother Bai Yunfei!”
The innocent and straightforward eyes of Ye Tianming had nearly caused Bai Yunfei to laugh out loud. This was clearly a naive youth new to the ways of the world, but it was because of this naivety that made Bai Yunfei feel a lot closer to him.
“I’m Bai Yunfei, Bai as in white and Yunfei as in the floating clouds. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Tianming.”
“Where is brother Bai headed?” Tianming sat on a mat with clear curiosity in his voice while waited for his question to be answered.
“I’m heading to the Pingchuan province, you?”
“Me? Haha, I came out to play around for a while, so I’m preparing to return home. Once I reach Guyi City, I’ll head on to my home in Gaoyi City.” Tianming smiled as if he had been on a ‘sightseeing tour’ around the place. His eyes began to light up, “Hey, we’ll be traveling on the same road now! Who knows, maybe we’ll be traveling again with each other! Brother Bai, what do you think?”
“Eh…” Bai Yunfei didn’t know how to respond, but with a quick reaction, he replied, “Sounds fine to me. Having someone guide me is what I’ve been looking for all this time. Did you just join with this merchant group as well? With your status of a soul cultivator, it’s quite interesting to see you enjoy working these odd jobs…”
“Not at all, not at all. It’s just that I’ve never done stuff like this before back home. Plus, soul cultivators are people too, but I never thought that being a soul cultivator would make me better than anyone else…” Tianming shook his head with an embarrassed smile. Merely seconds after he finished speaking, his eyes flew wide open in absolute shock at what Bai Yunfei had just said.
“You… you know that I’m a soul cultivator?”