Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
The Spirit Creek Battlefield boasted an abundance of World Spiritual Qi, which was why its environment was extremely beautiful. Lu Ye, Yi Yi and Amber were able to take in all the sceneries on their path while they continued to travel to the House of Wintry Blossoms. In fact, there was probably no one on Lu Ye’s cultivation realm who had seen and heard more of the Spirit Creek Battlefield than him.
He had left Green Cloud Mountain and begun his journey to the Crimson Blood Sect as a Second-Order Spirit Creek Realm Master. He had traveled the roads for at least five months before he became a Fifth-Order Spirit Creek Realm Master.
Now, he was on a long journey once more.
Although cultivators often left their nests to experience the world once in a while, the vast majority of their time was still consumed by cultivation.
Naturally, Lu Ye was more knowledgeable and experienced than his peers.
Today, a travel-worn Lu Ye and Yi Yi had arrived at a bazaar.
Unlike the ones in the Outer Circle, this bazaar was clearly busier and more prosperous. After all, its main customers were no longer budding cultivators between the Third or Fourth-Order. Everyone who roamed the bazaar—or the entire Inner Circle for the matter—was at least a Sixth-Order cultivator.
The name of this bazaar was very simple. It was called the Divine Trade Bazaar because it had been formed around the Divine Trade Association. There were many, many more of its kind across the Inner Circle and Core Circle.
While cultivators usually spent Contribution Points to purchase rare materials from the Vault of Providence, the same could not be said for daily necessities and generic cultivation resources. After all, it wasn’t easy to earn Contribution Points. The need for trade naturally gave birth to many bazaars.
Lu Ye had visited several bazaars in the Outer Circle, but this would be the first bazaar he visited in the Inner Circle. As he explored the place and took in the sights, he discovered that it was very different from the bazaars he knew.
For starters, the layout of the buildings was tidier, and the streets were cleaner. There was a good mix of independent cultivators and sect cultivators as well.
Yes, independent cultivators existed in the Inner Circle and Core Circle as well. Maybe it was because they were used to a loner’s life, or maybe it was because they carried certain pursuits that would not fit well with a sect cultivator’s lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, these independent cultivators had chosen not to join a sect.
Moreover, sects generally did not welcome independent cultivators who had reached the Seventh-Order or higher. There were several reasons. They could not ascertain if their background was clean. It would be dangerous if the prospect turned out to be an enemy spy. Two, it was difficult to secure their loyalty. At their level, they might not be able to adapt to a lifestyle where they must answer to a sect’s beck and call.
In the Outer Circle, most Third and Fourth-Order independent cultivators still had a good chance to join a sect. But the higher their cultivation, the harder it was for them to join a sect.
The existence of independent cultivators wasn’t unique to Spirit Creek Realm either. There were Cloud River Realm, True Lake Realm and even Divine Ocean Realm independent cultivators.
The vast majority of independent cultivators would choose to become the associate of a sect’s Outpost to enjoy their rich World Spiritual Qi. However, there was a small minority that chose to be completely independent because a Qi-rich environment was the only benefit of becoming an associate. Not only that, they would have to answer to the sect’s summons if the latter had need of their services.
Since they weren’t willing to subordinate themselves to a sect in any way, they had to find another way to earn their cultivation resources. Hence, the Divine Trade Bazaar. Barring a very small minority, the vast majority of independent cultivators were highly dependent on the Divine Trade Bazaars to make a living.
An independent cultivator’s life was full of poverty and hardships, but it could not be denied that they also enjoyed the greatest degree of freedom.
The main reason Lu Ye had come to this Divine Trade Bazaar was to catch a good night’s rest. He also wanted to update his 10-point map.
It had been nearly a year since he had spent an obscene amount of money to purchase this map. He was sure that some of the details were no longer accurate.
Besides that, this was a good opportunity to process all the useless loot in his Storage Bag, such as his share of the booty he had received from Silverlight Island. Although he had sold most of it to the Vault of Providence, there was still some that was taking up space in his Storage Bag. That was why he wanted to exchange it for cultivation resources.
As he entered the Divine Trade Association, he noted that the layout was exactly the same as the one he visited in the past.
A manager led Lu Ye to a private room and listened attentively to his requests. Then, he took the items he gave him and left to process the request.
Lu Ye poured a cup of Spirit Tea for himself while he waited. It immediately brought back some memories. Back then, he made sure to drink until his stomach was full every time he entered the Divine Trade Association because the Spirit Tea contained a bit of Spiritual Power that he could use to improve his cultivation…
He was seriously poor back then, so poor that he tallied his Spirit Pills every few days for fear of running out. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case anymore. If he lacked cultivation resources, he could simply rob them from an enemy cultivator. He was even able to accumulate a sizable amount of precious Contribution Points.
About an incense stick later, the manager returned with an updated 10-point map and a bag of Spirit Stones and Spirit Pills. Lu Ye checked the contents before confirming that the goods were delivered, and the bill settled.
With that done, Lu Ye requested for a room to stay in the Divine Trade Association. It was processed accordingly as a matter of course.
A short while later, Lu Ye sat cross-legged in the best room of the third floor and inspected his 10-point map closely. However, it looked practically identical to his old map as far as he could tell. It probably meant that not much had changed in the past year.
Anyway, the map informed him that he was only half a day away from the House of Wintry Blossoms’s territory. Thanks to his earlier experience, he decided to head straight for their ore vein.
He had opted for a more conservative approach with the Sky Pillar Sect at the beginning because he was only a Seventh-Order cultivator and a newcomer of the Inner Circle back then. Now that he was an Eighth-Order cultivator, he believed he could afford to be a little more aggressive. Worst case scenario, he would just escape from his pursuers. Yep, he could not see anything wrong with the plan.
After he put away the 10-point map, Lu Ye took out a thick book and began flipping through the pages. At the same time, he assembled and disassembled a Glyph on his hand. His movements were a lot better thanks to his daily practices; a clear indicator that he was slowly but surely deepening his understanding of the Way of Glyphs.
The night passed in the blink of an eye. The next day, after waking up to a wonderful night’s sleep, he took a bath and changed into a clean set of clothes. Then, he walked down the stairs feeling like he could challenge the world itself.
To his surprise, the hall was almost empty. In fact, he couldn’t see anyone besides the employees of the Divine Trade Association.
At first, he thought the place was empty because it was early in the morning. Then, he stepped out and found that the streets were almost empty. It was as if most of the cultivators had left the bazaar overnight.
Lu Ye frowned. What the heck was going on here?
Yi Yi suggested, “Do you want me to ask around?”
After he gave her a nod, she turned around and called out to the female receptionist standing in front of the entrance of the Divine Trade Association, “Good morning, sister. Do you know what’s going on here?”
The receptionist answered, “I heard that something called the Rift of Fortune has appeared.”
“And what is that?”
The female cultivator shook her head. “That’s all I know.”
She probably wasn’t lying because she was just a Fourth-Order cultivator. She wouldn’t even be in the Inner Circle if she wasn’t affiliated with the Divine Trade Association.
Meanwhile, Lu Ye had already gone back into the trade association and sought out a manager. “Does the association have information on the Rift of Fortune?”
The manager immediately broke into a wide smile. “But of course, sir. Which level of information would you like to purchase?”
“Give me the best one you got.”
Truly, things were different from what they used to be. Back then, buying a single 10-point map had felt like gouging out his heart. Now? Let’s just say that money wasn’t a problem anymore.
“Very well. Please wait a moment, sir.”
A while later, the manager returned with a jade slip and said, “Thank you for your purchase. That would be nine hundred Spirit Stones.”
He did ask for the best information they had, though whether it was worth the money remained to be seen. Lu Ye wordlessly paid the fee before stepping aside to inspect the contents of the jade slip.
Half a cup of tea later, he set down the jade slip and felt Yi Yi’s curious gaze on him. He passed her the jade slip so she could inspect it as well.
According to the information in the jade slip, the Rift of Fortune was an independent space not unlike the Chess Sea, but smaller. Moreover, there were many types of Rift of Fortune. Sometimes, it looked like something straight out of a painting. Sometimes, it looked like the depths of hell itself. And sometimes, its environment was constantly changing and unfathomable.
One thing was certain though, and that was each and every rift contained valuable treasures any cultivator would like to get their hands on. It could be precious natural resources, secret arts, secret books and even Heaven-Grade cultivation techniques.
Currently, cultivation techniques were in a state of polarization in Jiu Zhou. All cultivation techniques beneath Heaven-Grade were cheap enough that even independent cultivators could afford them without difficulty. It was why Lu Ye was able to purchase the Red Lotus Sky Mnemonic for the cheap, cheap price of a few Spirit Stones from the Mystic Sect. Even an Earth-Grade cultivation technique was worth only dozens of Spirit Stones at most.
On the other hand, Heaven-Grade cultivation techniques were absolutely priceless. There was only one way to obtain one, and that was to buy it from the Vault of Providence using Contribution Points.
It took a minimum of one thousand Contribution Points to purchase a Heaven-Grade cultivation technique. Moreover, the cultivation technique was keyed to the buyer. Anyone who tried to teach it to someone else would be punished by the Heavens.
A thousand Contribution Points wasn’t a huge sum for Lu Ye because he could slay most enemies with ease, not to mention that he was a Legate. If necessary, he could just pay himself a monthly wage of Contribution Points.
The same could not be said for the other cultivators, however. Some people could accumulate Contribution Points throughout their cultivation lives and still not make enough to purchase a single Heaven-Grade cultivation technique. It was why countless people were stuck in the Ninth-Order.
It wasn’t like they could skip the cultivation technique either. A Heaven-Grade cultivation technique was the key to ascending to Cloud River Realm. To put it simply, one could not become a Cloud River Realm cultivator without a Heaven-Grade cultivation technique.
This was why cultivators of opposing factions were more than willing to murder the hell out of each other. One might even say that their kill count directly affected their future.
This was why the Rift of Fortune was highly attractive to all cultivators. They effectively saved themselves over a thousand Contribution Points if they were lucky enough to pick up a Heaven-Grade cultivation technique from the rift.
The information provided by the Divine Trade Association was extremely comprehensive. It was because they purchased every bit and piece they could from cultivators who had survived the Rift of Fortune before compiling them all into one neat little jade slip.
There was a reason the information was as expensive as it was.
According to the jade slip, the Rift of Fortune could appear on any corner of the Spirit Creek Battlefield at any moment. While it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, it definitely took a good bit of luck to stumble across one.
Of course, every time a Rift of Fortune appeared, all nearby cultivators would enter it to search for their fortune.
This was why the bazaar was so empty right now.
Unfortunately, the Rift of Fortune only lasted around a day before vanishing. It wasn’t always discovered immediately upon appearing either. Add to the fact that there was usually a delay before the news were spread, and it meant that the number of cultivators who actually got to enter the rift were few and far between.
There was even one time where the Rift of Fortune was discovered when it was close to disappearing. The cultivators had arrived just in time to see it vanish before their eyes. It was a painful experience to say the least.
After he had fully digested the information, Lu Ye asked the receptionist at the entrance a couple more questions, before exiting the Divine Trade Association. Taking out his boat Spirit Artifact, he flew into the sky.