The Portal Of Wonderland - Chapter 68
The Hall of Wealth (with a note from the translator)
Shi Mu could only smile bitterly at this question. He wished he had come from a wealthy family - although he did, to some extent - so that he could have had an inexhaustible supply of all kinds of rare herbs, medicines, and pills. But the harsh reality was that he was now almost out of money and was barely a Houtian Warrior. Thinking of Stone Bai and Blue Phoenix's progress, he felt a considerable pressure bearing on him, making him unable to breathe freely. Plus, it only made the situation worse that the money he got from Auntie Zhen and the Fifth Master was now almost gone[A]. As of right now, more pills were needed to proceed with the Heavenly Elephant Art.
Moreover, he had also asked around about the Demon-killing Qi, required for practicing the Strong Ape Art[B]. This Demon-killing Qi could also be bought from the sect's market, but at a price far surpassing that of the Bone-Tempering Pill.
Thinking of this, Shi Mu answered Huo Mao with a forced smile, ’’How could I have come from some big family? I'm just an average guy, only having entered this sect by pure chance. By the way, I'm running out of money, is there any way disciples can earn it in our sect? Not including the matches and competitions, those are a given.’’ Shi Mu added a practical question eagerly.
Huo Mao threw Shi Mu a surprised look, it was incredible that a Practitioner without a strong financial background, like Shi Mu, would go out of his way to practice a really expensive art! If he had not known Shi Mu beforehand he would have thought he was a lunatic.
Now that Shi Mu had asked for help, Huo Mao decided to enlighten him. ’’Well, there is a way. Go to the Hall of Wealth, between the twelfth and the thirteenth mountain, and you will see all kinds of jobs available for both ordinary disciples and laborers. Some of the tasks are too much for a laborer, so that's where you'd outshine them with your great strength. Go and try some.’’ Huo Mao encouraged generously.
’’Really? I never thought there could be such a good place in our sect!’’ Shi Mu seemed to have heard the sound of silver coins happily rolling on the ground.
’’Brother Shi must have been training himself too hard. You should hang out with some of the others, everyone in our sect knows of this place.’’ Huo Mao gave a sudden bellow of laughter.
’’I think I should. Information is very important.’’ Shi Mu regretted in his heart and made a decision to try to become friends with other alert and informative guys.
The two enjoyed an easy trip to the blue-stone square and then went their separate ways.
Shi Mu used up all his remaining silver to buy the Bone-Tempering and Blood-Strengthening Pills before he left the valley and went straight to the twelfth mountain. He arrived at a magnificent two-story hall between the two mountains. It was high noon and the sun was baking the land with its harsh light, which made the hall glow with a faint luster. The immense gate was wide open, and black-robed disciples were coming and going.
A name was written in bold, vigorous strokes on the board hung above the gate, and said, The Hall of Wealth.
Shi Mu narrowed his eyes, catching a glimpse of the auspicious board, then strode into the hall. As soon as he passed the gate, a cool breeze caressed his face, and in front of him was a passageway, which was lined with torches positioned every three meters. The wavering torch fire illuminated the passageway, and some noise could be heard faintly from the other end.
After about a hundred meters there was a turn in the passageway. Shi Mu followed it and suddenly his eyes were almost blinded by strong lights.
He had made it to a huge, spacious hall, over a hundred meters in length and two hundred meters in width. The same torches dotted the walls, flooding the hall with light. Some ten-odd boards were set up in the middle of the hall, around which over a hundred disciples were scattered. The faint noise he had heard earlier were their exclamations, murmurs, footsteps, and discussions.
There were lines of blue and black characters written on the boards, with the black ones prevailing in number, the blues one being quite rare. Now and then, several black-robed laborers would walk up from the rear part of the hall, writing on the screens with either a blue or black brush.
Apart from this, some other laborers would have an uncolored brush in their hands, sweeping softly on some of the characters, which would disappear immediately.
Shi Mu chose a remote corner and started to observe the scene with amusement.
Right this moment, a black-robed laborer had just cleared a line of characters on a board and covered the spot with a new line of black characters. As soon as this was done, the laborer was surrounded by four primary disciples, one of them even reading the line out and shaking his head. Then, before the servant boy put away his brush, a primary disciple, whose left cheek had a birth mark on it, approached him with an eager look. The two were soon engaged in a conversation, and, after a few words, the laborer nodded his head, took out a nigh-black token from his shirt, and passed it to the birthmark guy, who excitedly tugged the token into his sleeve and left immediately. After he left, the servant boy took out a red brush and swept it across the previous black characters. A bright red mark instantly emerged above the black characters.
By now, Shi Mu had discovered that it was mostly black characters that had red marks, and the blue characters were barely marked. Besides, a line of characters would only be marked once;the exceptional case was rare.
Shi Mu believed he had managed to understand how the system worked. With a trace of confidence in his eyes, he moved his feet resolutely to the nearest board, where the first line of black characters immediately drew his eyes. It said, ’’Three Holy-wind Grass leaves wanted. Reward: three thousand silver. Time limit: three months.’’
Though Shi Mu knew not what did a Holy-wind grass looked like, the high reward made his eyes shine hungrily. Moving to the next line, he found it was also a task for some herb beyond his knowledge, but the reward was only five hundred silver, with an infinite amount of time.
Soon he finished reading the entire board and started on the next.
A quarter of an hour later, he had read all the lines on all the boards. Letting out a relieved sigh, he slowly calmed down himself: he was just too shocked. Most of the tasks were meant for pill-making or charm-making Adepts, for whom the reward was richer. Even one of the most common Adepts could take a task, like making a field of holy plants mature, and he would be paid several thousand silver. As for some more complex tasks for higher level Adepts, the reward was paid by holy stones most of the time! Even a holy stone of the lowest level could easily exchange for two to three million silver, and some holy stones were so rare that you wouldn't come across them in the market. Although holy stones cannot help a warrior's training, they are priceless to Adepts. They can absorb heavenly energy in them, and some stones are indispensable for making a magic formula.
Shi Mu had now grown extremely envious of Adepts. If he were an Adept, then he would not be standing here with a headache, worrying about making money so he could buy the requisite pills.
The thought that Xiao Ming was an Adept struck him. His heart pounded excitedly: What if he could be an Adept?! After all, who knows, you could have the talent to be an Adept and not even know it.