Chapter 9: Change
In the past few days, Bai Yunfei had bought plenty of things to study and research the Upgrade Technique. The items in particular were the accessories he bought; items that weren’t cheap even despite being the lowest quality ones. When it came to eating, Bai Yunfei wasn’t as frugal as he was before. His body was malnourished from his previous lifestyle. Now that he needed to train, a proper diet was needed so that it’d match with his new lifestyle.
He had used up all his money already, but Bai Yunfei had already a plan for that.
Walking out onto the remote streets of his current residence, Bai Yunfei crossed over a series of alleyways and into the more bustling streets in the center of the city.
“Pl—please….let me go, I’ve a wife and kids to feed with this money back home. Please be merciful and don’t take everything away….”
Just as he walked past the opening of one alleyway, a fearful voice could be heard pleading to another from the left side of the dark corridor.
“Shut the hell up! You got any more valuables hidden away on you?! Take them out or I’ll snap your leg!” A ruthless voice snapped in response. A series of chuckles seemed to follow after that.
This was yet another act of the strong bullying the weak for money.
Matters like this weren’t uncommon at all in the city, especially in the more poor and destitute places in the city. The Bai Yunfei of before would often come across such an event, and he’d more often than not would have to fork over the daily wages he earned. Things like this would always happen in groups of three or five, sometimes, they’d even carry weapons to make it even more impossible for the person to resist. To make matters even worse, no one would ever lift a finger to help another out.
Bai Yunfei had a faint nagging feeling to leave, but even when his legs shifted slightly to turn away, a sudden sensation forced him to come to a pause. A dark shadow crawled across Bai Yunfei’s face as he looked back to the alleyway.
“Haven’t….haven’t I managed to get rid of all my cowardice? Oh, come on Bai Yunfei! You’re still thinking about running away? Before, you could’ve justified this by saying you were powerless. But if you run away now, could you still say the same without guilt? Even if all sorts of bullshit injustice happen in this world, we can’t sit by the side and watch as one happens right in front of us!”
Walking into the dusky alleyway, Bai Yunfei was quick to see the situation in front of him. Three fiendish middle-aged surrounding a skinny middle-aged man. Each of the three men were holding a dagger, and one of them was holding a money bag while simultaneously frisking the skinny man….
Rather than hiding himself, Bai Yunfei strode into the alleyway. The middle-aged man surrounded by the three others had been the first to notice him. His face lit up at the sounds of incoming footsteps, but when he saw that the owner was just an ordinary young man, his mood deflated almost instantly. On the other hand, the three middle-aged men were at first startled by Bai Yunfei’s appearance. But when they saw just who the newcomer was, they all let out a sigh of relief. Giving each other a look, they all began to laugh out loud.
“Ha! So there’s even people who’ll come up to us willingly!”
“Hey kid! Consider yourself unlucky to meet us! Hurry up and take out all your valuables and we’ll let you leave!”
One of the three stalked towards Bai Yunfei with a cruel look on his face. Another one quickly moved to behind Bai Yunfei so as to block Bai Yunfei’s means of escape.
Perhaps it was because of Bai Yunfei’s nonchalant expression that unnerved the man, but he raised the hand holding a dagger to wave it menacingly at him, “Hey brat, did you hear me or not? Hurry up and take out your valuables or you’ll regret it!”
Bai Yunfei was no stranger to people like him with attitudes like this. He knew that hesitation like the type he had before would only result in the other man beating him down without mercy nor hesitation. Of course, his money would be taken as well.
There was a difference to this even today however!
Bai Yunfei wasn’t the weakling he was before.
Today, he was a….soul cultivator!
Disinclined to waste any words with people like hmi, Bai Yunfei swiftly moved his right hand upwards to grab at the wrist waving in front of him. Tightening his grip just ever-so-slightly….
The distinct sound of bones being broken echoed throughout the quiet alleyway and startled those that were standing in it. When the man whose wrist was snapped let out a blood-curling shriek, his hand went limp and dropped the dagger in it. Seizing the dagger, Bai Yunfei then landed a kick onto the man’s throat, sending him tumbling away onto the ground several meters away.
The victim clutched at his wrist while curling up in a fetal position to moan in anguish.
Dumbstruck by the sudden development of events, everyone in the alleyway but Bai Yunfei and the victim were motionless. It wasn’t until Bai Yunfei had already landed the kick onto the first man that the man behind Bai Yunfei let out a loud cry and swung his dagger down onto Bai Yunfei’s back.
Bai Yunfei was well prepared to defend himself even before the cry could be heard however. Leaning to the side so that the man’s arm brushed past his shoulder instead, Bai Yunfei reached out and grabbed onto the man’s right hand. Once again, the sounds of bone snapping in two could be heard before Bai Yunfei snatched at the dagger that fell from the man’s hand.
Yanking forcefully with his arm, Bai Yunfei didn’t even bother to wait for the man to stoop over from his pain to latch onto the man’s lapel. With a tightening of his muscles, Bai Yunfei somehow managed to toss the bulky man next to the first downed man as if he was a burlap sack.
In practically no time at all, two of the three thugs had been thrown down without Bai Yunfei even taking a single step.
The very last one, the one still holding a dagger and money bag in his hands stood off to the side with his jaws dropped wide open from shock.
Walking up to him, Bai Yunfei held out his hand. “Give it to me.”
In a daze, the man obediently handed over the dagger to Bai Yunfei.
It was only then that the man snapped out of it. Like the man they were just mugging, the third man’s eyes were filled with fear. Hurriedly thrusting the money bag into Bai Yunfei’s hands as well, he took a second longer to think the situation before then taking out his personal purse. Like the first bag, he handed over his own to Bai Yunfei.
With both bags of money in hand, Bai Yunfei handed them over to the still slack jawed victim; “Go. Be careful from now on.”
Snapping back into awareness, the man gave Bai Yunfei a fearful look, but he accepted the bags of money anyways. It took several moments for the man to recollect himself enough before he could give Bai Yunfei a deep bow, “Tha—thank you….”
Bai Yunfei watched the man run out of the alleyway first before he turned his attention back to back to the last standing person.
By now, this person was so afraid of Bai Yunfei his hairs were sticking straight out from his body. Holding both hands behind his back, the man managed to mumble out a few words, “I...I already gave you the money. Don’t hurt me…”
“I never said that I’d spare you if you handed over the money. In any case, both your brothers are hurt while you’re not. Does this make sense to you?”
When Bai Yunfei walked out from the alleyway, he looked completely unharmed like even before he walked into the alleyway to begin with. There didn’t seem to be a change in any place on him besides his eyes where it looked slightly brighter than before and on his lips where the faintest of smiles could be seen.
When that victim from earlier bowed to him and said ‘thank you’, Bai Yunfei felt the walls that had been built around his heart come crumbling down. This was a sensation that made him feel even more happy and even more understanding….
“So, this is what it feels like to help another….”
The ‘Treasured Armory’ was the best weapon store in the city. All sorts of high-quality weapons adorned the interior of the store, and many of the most wealthiest liked to shop here, whether it was for their gaudy nature or for their sharp armaments for battle.
Entering the place, Bai Yunfei walked up to the counter to talk to the shopkeeper polishing a dagger. “Boss, I’d like to sell a weapon.”
Looking up to cast a brief glance at Bai Yunfei, the shopkeeper dropped his head back down to resume polishing his dagger, “Go to another store, we don’t buy bad quality goods here.”
“You should take a look first.” Bai Yunfei dropped a dagger onto the counter. This was one of his +9 daggers; based off of the current sharpness of the dagger alone, he should be able to sell it for a decent sum of money. He actually had a few +10 daggers, but he wasn’t so stupid as to sell them off right now.
Looking up to examine the ordinary-looking dagger on the countertop, the man began to speak rather impatiently, “It’s just an ordinary dagger, what else is there to it? The smithy next-door sells one for twenty coppers. Kid, you trying to start trouble here or what?”
Bai Yunfei didn’t feel like getting into an argument with the man, so instead, he took the dagger and held it above the counter so that the tip was facing downwards. When the dagger was about thirty centimeters above the surface, he let it go.
“Tzk”. Like if dropping into the soft earth itself, the dagger pierced straight through the ironwood counter up to the hilt!
“Wha—how the…” The look of impatience on the shopkeeper’s face was nowhere to be seen now that he witnessed the dagger fall practically straight through the countertop. In his shock, he spoke, “How could a sharpness like this be possible?!”
When Bai Yunfei pulled out the dagger, the shopkeeper took it into his hands and examined it studiously. Taking out a test already marked with cut and stab marks, the man swung the dagger at a relatively unmarked area, only for the test tone to split into two.
“But how? How is this possible? From the make of the dagger alone, this shouldn’t be anything more than your average dagger. There doesn’t even seem to be anything special to the material at all either….”
Rather impatient, Bai Yunfei tapped at the countertop so as to break the shopkeeper out from his examining stupor. “Will you buy it or not, I’ll go to another store if you’re not.”
Startled by Bai Yunfei, the shopkeeper then realized that the young man in front of him was here to sell the dagger. Reevaluating him with a more insightful eye, the man began to smile and laugh, “Haha, little brother, how much do you want for it?”
Bai Yunfei narrowed his eyes. He didn’t know just how much these were supposed to cost, “Name your price and I’ll see if I want to sell it.”
The smile on the shopkeeper’s face deepened a bit, “Little brother, you must be in an urgent need for money, am I right? I’ll do you a favor and buy this dagger, but….” He talked as if buying the dagger was but an act of kindness to Bai Yunfei at first, but his words then took a sharp turn into a different topic, “Little brother, you should know yourself that my ‘Treasured Armory’ sells only the highest quality weapons. Those who buy my weapons are all people of importance, this dagger of yours—while quite sharp—is of ordinary make. There’s nothing else special to it. If I were to buy it, I’d probably not be able to sell it. Take a look at that dagger over there, the work of—”
“That’s enough! Do you think I’m a three-year kid?!” Bai Yunfei interrupted. The fact that the shopkeeper was getting more and more excited as he spoke was angering Bai Yunfei so much that he just had to stop him from saying any more bullshit.
What the shopkeeper was trying to do was try to disparage the quality of Bai Yunfei’s dagger so he could drive down the price even more. Bai Yunfei’s outburst had startled the man first, but when he looked up and met Bai Yunfei’s eye, the man’s body shook violently. He staggered back several steps, stopping only when his back bumped into the rack of weapons.
“You—ah, no—sir, might sir be a great soul cultivator?!” The shopkeeper gave a slight stammer.
“Oh? How do you know that?” Bai Yunfei was taken back, were soul cultivators that easy to find out?
“Sir….sir soul cultivator, please….please forgive this one for being so blind. Please don’t bother to argue with a lowly person like me….” Having Bai Yunfei’s confirmation, the shopkeeper was now bowing to him nonstop with his mouth uttering apologies again and again.
The shopkeeper was an ordinary person with no skill or talent to his name. Because of his inability, he held soul cultivators in awe. When he first opened up his store, he was able to get into contact with the sons to several of the more wealthier families. Many of these families weren’t lacking in soul cultivators; even if they were mere Soul Apprentice or Soul Personages. To the eyes of commoners like him, these soul cultivators were still a high and mighty existence.
Soul cultivators trained their souls, a powerful entity that all commoners believed to be something that exerted considerable pressure on them. Back when Bai Yunfei was glared down by Zhang Yang, the look both he and Zhang Zhenshan gave Bai Yunfei had been accompanied by a suffocating amount of pressure.
When the shopkeeper’s eyes made contact with Bai Yunfei’s angry eyes, there was that same amount of pressure the man would normally sense from a soul cultivator.
“Cut the crap and tell me the price of this dagger now.”
“Ye-yes yes….I won’t lie to you, sir lord cultivator. This dagger would be worth three golds at the very least…”
“I’ve four daggers, for ten golds, they’re yours!”
By the time Bai Yunfei walked out from the store, he was in an elated mood. Never did he think that +9 daggers would be sold for such a nice sum of money. With this amount, he wouldn’t have to worry about his expenses for some time.
Now that he had money, Bai Yunfei was determined to go out and buy several more things so he could study the Upgrade Technique even more.
“Junior Liu Meng, I’ve heard that the ‘Treasure Pavilion’ has a new arrangement of jewelry. Why don’t we take a look? Maybe you’ll find something you’ll like….”
From behind, the sickeningly familiar voice of someone trying to curry favor with another made its way to Bai Yunfei’s ears. Coming to a halt right besides a fruit stand, Bai Yunfei’s body grew as rigid as a plank of wood. Shaking slightly, Bai Yunfei’s eyes started to see red.