Spiritual Wind City was located hundreds of kilometers away, a prosperous metropolis in the middle of the federation.
In the center of the city stood a jade-like, rosily-shining skyscraper, which was the headquarters of the Zephyr Guild, one of the top hundred sects in the federation.
Wind was blowing hard on the rooftop. A handsome man whose hair was long enough toreach his waist had a greedy expression, his face aglow from the lights of the city below him.
His long, silver hair was motionless in the blowing wind.
The man took a deep, deep breath that seemed to be absorbing all the opulence of the city into his stomach like a giant whale which was sucking water.
Weirdly, his chest did not inflate despite the deep breath.
After more than a minute of inhaling, his cheeks were finally flushed in satisfaction. But there was no sign of exhaling. He turned around.
"Young master, the Mountain Sea Sect firmly declined our merger proposal yet again."
Respectfully, a subordinate handed over a crystal processor to him.
Qiu Guanyu, the young master of the Zephyr Guild, known as the 'shark', replied calmly with a cruel smile, "Just another futile, dying struggle. A prey that has been bitten in the middle of their body by me can never get away, right?"
He liked the feeling when his prey rolled over and over in his mouth, only to be shredded, chewed, and swallowed in the end.
Qiu Guanyu was an admin-type Cultivator. His path of Cultivation had been building up the Zephyr Guild by leading it to swallow other sects.
Every time the Zephyr Guild took in a sect and became bigger than before, boundless power would be absorbed by him and improve his capability significantly.
Business was war!
For Qiu Guanyu, swallowing other sects in business was a way of Cultivation, just like fighting the demon beasts was for the battle-type Cultivators.
Eyes closed, he seemed to have heard the cries in the Mountain Sea Sect whose every method had come to a dead end. Countless power was crowding in his blood and soul.
When the Mountain Sea Sect was fully embedded, his strength would arrive at a new peak!
"Young master, right now, we still have the chance to negotiate with the patent owner of the Demon Beast Detector and make a new deal with him. There's no need to waste so many resources buying out the Mountain Sea Sect."
He was Qiu Guanyu's trusted subordinate. That's why he was bold enough to propose a different plan.
"You mean, that guy 'Li Yao'?"
Qiu Guanyu squinted and said, "He is not a nearsighted guy. Quite on the contrary, he is very shrewd. He must've already realized that his Demon Beast Detector has tremendous value. If we go to him right now, he will know that it is probably more valuable than he thought and thus quote an unacceptable price for us.
"I like to give other people opportunities. But only once. It depends on them whether or not they grab it.
"Last time, I gave him an opportunity by sending someone to talk with him, but he turned me down.
"He wants a second chance? Come and beg me!"
Seven days later, on a spiritual airship to Serpent Mountain Village located in the south frontier which had been known as 'the most chaotic city of the federation'.
Serpent Mountain Village was formally known as 'Serpent City'. It had been a small fishing village on the south border of the federation. But over a hundred years, it became a super city with a population of over ten million.
Serpent City was a very special city that claimed to be 'a place without laws'. It boasted the largest black market, casino, and grey industries that verged on the illegal in the entire Star Glory Federation.
With enough money in pocket, one could buy strengthening drugs with amazing performance and yet of instable quality; one could buy all kinds of attack magical equipment that had been banned by the government due to their uncontrollable might; one could even buy Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures of unknown backgrounds here.
If one did not have enough money on hand, one could fight and gain fame in the thrilling fight clubs with one's own hands.
In short, Serpent City was just like the 'underground ghost city' in every city of the federation, only a hundred times bigger and more extravagant. One could say that it was a 'super underground ghost city' at service of all Cultivators.
The federal government, if determined, of course had the power to demolish the city. But as the ancient saying put, 'he who is mighty tends to break the rules'. The Cultivators were too strong to be bound by government's rules on everything, and they hoped that there was a space where they could do whatever they wanted.
Many Cultivators were in a lot of stress due to years of fighting in the wilderness and wandering on the edge of death. They needed a place to let out their pressure too.
It wouldn't be difficult to get rid of the Serpent City in reality. But it would be another thing to demolish the Serpent City in every Cultivator's mind.
This was how humanity worked. Cultivators were human beings, too, who had their bright side and their dark side. Suppressing darkness did not mean that it would be gone; it would only lead to greater trouble once it was accumulated.
Therefore, the government might as well designate a special area for their catharsis.
For example, Li Yao, who had got a batch of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures and did not wish their background to be known, could go to the black market of the Serpent City to sell them off.
However, he would still have to find a place to sell them if there were no Serpent City, in which case he'd need to make secret transactions with the potential buyer which might lead to a gang fight due to mutual distrust.
In light of this, Serpent City was kept as a sanctuary for the darkness and lawlessness of the Cultivators, as depicted in the saying 'when the water is too clear, there will be no fish living in it'.
Right now, the government had two, and only two, ironclad rules for Serpent City:
Firstly, the affairs inside the Serpent City should be handled within Serpent City. Any matter that was out of the range of Serpent City should be left alone.
Secondly, the conflicts among Cultivators should be settled among Cultivators and wouldn't be investigated unless either party asked to, even if there were murder cases. Moreover, it was strictly forbidden for Cultivators to harm the interests of ordinary people, and if anyone did, the guilty Cultivator would be sentenced with much severer punishments than outside.
The two iron rules had been well carried out.
Right now, the daily cash flow of the Serpent City was at the scale of billions. Major forces of the city were all endorsed by top sects of the federation, who worked together to maintain the order of the city and would never allow any psycho to interfere with their business.
For the ordinary people, not only were they safe under the current system, they could also benefit from the affluent Cultivators who were not hesitant to give them tips as much as 30,000 or even 50,000 after winning a fortune in a casino.
Therefore, the ordinary people approved of Serpent City as well.
Five hours later, the spiritual airship landed on the suburb of the Serpent City.
Li Yao took the spiritual subway to downtown.
Walking on the street with palms and coconut trees on both sides while the sea breeze brushed his face gently, Li Yao felt nice and cozy when he saw the citizens walking and talking in laughter.
It never occurred to him that the most chaotic city of the federation, a place without laws, could be as peaceful as other metropolises and so much more elegant that the underground ghost city of Floating Spear City.
However, Li Yao was not going to let down his alert so fast.
He had pinned two 'Face Twisters' inside his mouth, which was a kind of special magical equipment that could twist the user's facial muscles by unleashing special bioelectricity. Wearing them, it seemed that Li Yao had done a plastic surgery.
Through spiritual energy manipulation, his height had also shrunk by a large degree.
Right now, Li Yao seemed to be a ten-year-older low-level Cultivator who was ready to enjoy himself a little bit after brutal battles on the Grand Desolate Plateau.
People like him were everywhere in the Serpent City.
He was carrying a grey military backpack which contained some Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures of little value. A chainsword was swinging on his waist to add to his disguise.
His trump cards were all inside his Cosmos Ring. The reason why he was delayed for seven days was to refine more attack magical equipment.
Other than the regular stuff, he'd also brought fifty Hellfire-Lightnings.
This time, he didn't forget to bring Little Black and also hid it in the Cosmos Ring.
It would be best if everybody just left him alone. If he was pissed off, he could just throw the fifty Hellfire-Lightnings to their base and fly away on the Black Wing. Nobody would ever be able to catch him.
While thinking about that, Li Yao reached a building under a sign that read 'Bountiful Treasures Pavilion' and walked inside.
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion was one of the largest black market in Serpent City. Although it was called a 'black market', it was most famous for good service and thorough safety measures.
Trading with the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion might be a little bit less profitable, but the process would always be fair and square.
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion even offered security guards that could escort their customers until they were out of Serpent City.
Should anything happen to the customer who traded with the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion, its endorser would find out the suspect drastically and eliminate him in a way that was much crueler than the secret police.
The first floor of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion was a hall for the exchange of common materials, where dozens of Cultivators in similar clothes to Li Yao's were doing their business busily.
They all looked up in amazement, as a beautiful, elegant lady walked out and greeted the newcomer, "Mr. Fang, nice to meet you. This pavilion is honored by your presence. This way, please. Our manager, Mr. Lin, has been waiting for you."
Fang Ping was a pseudonym that Li Yao made up for himself.
It was an ordinary, almost boring, name that couldn't possibly be related to his identity or his past.
While he was on his way, he already reached out to the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion and sent a hologram of the forbidden scales of the mutant lion dragon to them.
The precious material instantly made him a VIP of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion, which even assigned a senior client manager for him.
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion even offered to pick him up from the station. But Li Yao rejected because he didn't want to flaunt his possessions.
"That guy must have got something really valuable!"
"A fortune! A great fortune for sure!"
"I hope that I will be invited to the VIP room and talk to a special client manager face to face one day!"
Many low-level Cultivators were looking at Li Yao with pure jealousy.