Chu Li and Lee Yue stepped into the house of exotic plants, The Floral House.
One street away from The Floral House was the heart of Chong Ming Town, crowded and lively, buzzing with traffic. However, The Floral House itself was quiet and empty, as if two worlds were put beside each other.
The facade of The Floral House looked old and weathered. It was flanked by a few antique and ornament stores that looked on the verge of closing down, but not much else besides.
Chu Li wasnt put off by this. He knew that their funds followed the season; their income stream only thawed in certain times, and in that time they would collect as much water as it could.
He waded through the curtains of The Floral House, where a wide hall opened up before him, and his nose was greeted with with a soothing smell. On an antique display rack were multiple different pots, containing various unique plants.
An old man at the center with a hair in a complete shade of white white sat beside an antique-looking table, leisurely sipping a cup of tea in his hand.
As he saw the two customers enter the shop, he greeted them with a smile, wrapping his arms around.
"Hello, do have a nice look around, both of you."
Chu Li and Lee Yues eyesight were immediately drawn to the Moonlight Orchid. Its leaves were a curved bright green, glossy and hydrated. They look as if they were arts of jasper, a beauty so ethereal that it seemed extraordinary.
The old man approached them with a smirk on his face,"I see you like Moonlight Orchids?"
"Of course, who doesnt?" Lee Yue replied.
"How much time does this one have left, shopkeeper?"
"It was just imported here not long ago!" The old main raised two fingers;
"At least two months!"
"Ten days." Chu Li smiled.
Lee Yue slapped his waist.
"Mr. Shopkeeper, peel your eyes back, wider!"
"Heheh.. So youre people from the Public Houses?" His expression changed ever so slightly, "I apologize, then, if that is the case. I guess I had better be truthful. Yes, it will indeed live for ten days." He wrapped his hand and smiled. "This is the only Orchid imported from the island this year. Another such flower would take another year to come by! This old man still has a family to feed, dont expect me to let it go for cheap!"
"Stop trying to play the victim, it wont work on us!"
There are never honest businessmen in the world. To be able to open a store here, it was impossible for them to be poor. It was obvious that they were laced with money.
"Give me a price!" Chu Li leisurely touched the Moonlight Orchid.
The aura of the orchid rushed into his body, completing a cycle of the Minute Pulse technique.
He pushed out all the energy in a single breath, subduing his happiness. This energy was the purest of all! One year! Only one year was needed to build his foundation with this!
Before a word could leave the old mans lips, the sound of footsteps came from the door. A young man stepped into the house, dragging the curtains open and bending over politely.
"Sister, after you !"
"I would much rather you go in first, brother!"
A stunning young man made large strides into the house. His face was as clear as jade, his brows and eyes sword-like. Longsword strapped to his waist, he appeared full of energy, and looked around with an air of pride. It was none other than Zhuo Fei Yang Zhuo.
Behind him were two beautiful ladies. One was graceful, and the other one was Zhao Ying Zhao, skin as fair as snow.
Chu Li and Zhuo Fei Yangs eyes connected, and sour expressions overcame their faces.
Chu Li looked at Zhao Ying.
He activated the Omniscient Mirror, then silently sighed in relief. Luckily, Zhao Ying had not taken a liking to Zhuo Fei Yang. She even brought another woman as a partner.
"Why are you here?" Zhuo Fei Yang questioned Chu Li.
"Thats interesting, theres no reason why I cant be, is there?"Chu Li replied with a cold laugh.
"A servant of no ranking who cant even afford grass, and now hes here window shopping just to satisfy his cravings? Pathetic."
"Oh, my! Young Master Zhuo Fei Yang sure likes to stick his nose everywhere!" Chu Li remarked sarcastically.
Lee Yue could feel the atmosphere beginning to sour. They were in the presence of Zhuo Fei Yang, a genius. If they actually threw down, nothing good would come out of it!
He quickly wrapped his hands and tried to slip in a sentence, "Haha..Brother Zhuo! Lady Zhao! I am Lee Yue of the East Garden!"
Zhuo Fei Yang glared at him with a silent gaze of ice.
Clad in a lake green gown, Zhao Ying smiled at Lee Yue, "Brother Lee."
Zhuo Fei Yang, still looking at Chu Li from above, "Ninth ranker, still going to stay? Good servants dont obstruct their masters, you know?"
"Zhuo Fei Yang Zhuo, its really unbelievable that you take people seriously when they call you a genius."
"Of course Im a genius!" Zhuo Fei Yang brimmed with pride "It doesnt matter how smart you are, anyway, youre still a weakling with no foundation, no?"
"Ha.,even if you are a genius at martial arts, youre still an idiot without a brain!"
Zhuo Fei Yang clenched his teeth, regarding Chu Li the same way he would look at garbage, "Martial arts are everything in this world, Chu Li! Im a rank eight Protector, and Ill reach seven by this year. What about you? Still a servant without proper ranking. Youll have to spend another twenty years to even reach rank eight, assuming you dont go and slip up! With your terrible personality, theres no way that wont happen!"
"Even if your martial arts are amazing, with your level of intelligence the only thing youre good for is being some random guard. Theres nothing else you can do!"
"Thats still leaps better than what you can do!" Zhuo Fei Yang replied.
"Zhuo Fei Yang! Chu Li !" Zhao Ying stomped her feet, frowning.
Zhuo Fei Yangs expression softened in an instant, before asking Zhao Ying gently, "What do you think about this Moonlight Orchid?"
"Its very pretty, but far too expensive!" Zhao Ying shook her head, refusing to budge. Zhuo Fei Yang tore his gaze from the orchid while smiling and said,
"Zhao Ying, let us go elsewhere. Its off-putting to stay in the same room with a certain piece of trash."
"Chu Li..." Zhao Ying sighed apologetically. She knew that bringing the two together would inevitably cause trouble.
Chu Li signaled his nonchalance to the matter, but he felt disheartened watching them leave together.
"Phew" Lee Yue took a long sigh, looking at Chu Li helplessly, "Brother, you.."
Zhuo Fei Yang was a true genius. He would definitely become a big name in the future, it is in his best interest to not anger him, or there might be consequences.
Chu Li disregarded Lee Yue,
"Please name your price, Mr Shopkeeper."
The old man smiled. "We have a deal, two hundred taels!"
"Such a dishonest businessman." Lee Yue shook his head, taking the bank note.
"Hold it!" A voice came as the curtain was dragged open, revealing a young man walking into the room; he was the Protector behind Zhuo Fei Yang, thin, tall, and relatively good looking.
Bai Zhi Jie, rank nine Scribe. Smiled to everyone he saw.
This time however, he was not equipped with a smile and confronted the old man.
"Ill offer three hundred taels!"
"Young Bai Zhi Jie!?" Lee Yue called out, his eyes widening.
Bai Zhi Jie had always given Lee Yue a nice smile and called him brother anytime they met, but what could have caused the sudden change in his character? It was as if he had changed into a completely different person!
"Well, Mr Shopkeeper?" Bai Zhi Jies eyes were deliberately pointed away from Lee Yue, only staring down the old man.
"Well" The old man hesitated.
He looked over at Chu Li, and then Bai Zhi Jie. He would fare well to not offend the people from the Public Houses, but with prospects of a huge profit right in front of him, it was hard for his heart to pass up the offer.
He turned his head over to Chu Li, and smiled in apology.
Chu Li spoke, "Five hundred taels!"
"Six hundred taels!"
"One thousand and one!" Bai Zhi Jie stared at Chu Li, cold as ice, "Youd better think twice before deciding whether to compete with Master Zhuo Fei Yang or not!"
Chu Li looked at Bai Zhi Jie and smiled, "Ten thousand!"
"It seems that you want to go all in, brother Chu."
Chu Li smiled.
Bai Zhi Jie hesitated, eventually stomping his feet at the end.
Chu Li wrapped his hands, "Admirable. You win!"
After which he turned and left. Lee Yue stared daggers at Bai Zhi Jie, turning around and following suit.
Chu Li strayed away in the crowd along the main street, anger still burning in his chest. He did not even feel the slightest bit of victory, even after making Zhuo Fei Yang spend this much for no reason.
There was only one other alternative to get the Moonlight Orchid, and that was to wait till next year. One whole year! There was a chance that, in that period, Gu Li Tong might have successfully bred them, and Zhuo Fei Yang would have risen to a seventh ranked Protector. Going up a rank is beyond a possibility at this point! His training would be going nowhere as well!
Lee Yue looked at his gloomy face and tried hopelessly to persuade him, "Brother, just let it go. Zhuo Fei Yang is incredibly wealthy, theres just no way we can win him."
Chu Lis expression soured. He was not in the right mind to play around anymore, and he immediately returned to the public house.
The next morning, while Chu Li was training in the dasiphora parterre, Lee Yue ran towards him, "Brother! Something bad is happening! Really bad!"
Chu Li looked puzzled.
Lee Yue ran over as he called out to Chu Li.
"Zhuo Fei Yang is being outrageous!"
"Out with it!" Chu Li rushed Lee Yue.
"Z-Zhuo Fei Yang, he wants to change his Scribe!"
Chu Lis face became gloomy,"To me?"
Lee Yue nodded as he smashed his fist onto the floor, "This is just bullying! This is intolerable!"
Chu Lis face darkened in a shade of complete infuriation.
He was bullying someone merely a rank below him! Sure, there were differences in pay between the Protector and Protectors, but their status was one and the same. A rank eight Protector could match a ranked nine Scribe, and vice versa.
Zhuo Fei Yang had asked for Chu Li from the Herb Garden. Chu Li knew that the Herb Garden would not dare offend Zhuo Fei Yang; it was a good move.
Being a Protectors Scribe was an easy job, with the Protector being out for ten months a year doing missions outside the Public House. The Scribe could stay and do whatever he or she pleased. A Protector earned many rewards from his missions, and they even received extra income. Simply giving out a little to the Scribe was enough to guarantee a luxurious life.
There was no reason to deline.
That was certainly commendable of Zhuo Fei Yang; the chap had definitely improved. This move definitely wasnt lacking in ferocity or cunning.
"What do we do now?" Lee Yue asked anxiously.
If Chu Li were no longer here, he would not be able to sleep well anymore! The plants of the East Garden were delicate and fragile, easily infected, and indeed do so very frequently.
"I guess its come down to this!" Chu Li proclaimed.
"What is it!?" Lee Yue asked hastily.
"I will draft a dueling declaration, and you, shall send it for me." Chu Li explained.
"Youre going to challenge Zhuo Fei Yang?" Lee Yue asked, "Isnt that a little too risky?"
Chu Lis swordsmanship was the stronger of the two, but Lee Yue wouldnt be his opponent this time around. There was no guarantee of victory.
"Ill give it a shot." Chu Li smiled.
"Ha...you and your guts." Lee Yue sighed helplessly while shaking his head. Chu Li seemed to not be bothered to give a beavers bottom about it. In fact, it seemed like he had it in him to attempt anything under the sun.
Chu Li returned to the garden and put two invitations to paper. One was to challenge Zhuo Fei Yang, and the other, an invitation to Zhao Ying to come as a spectator.
"Whyd you invite Zhao Ying?" Lee Yue asked, confused.
"We cant guarantee Zhuo Fei Yangs integrity in the match if we dont."
"Would he go that far?"
"The man isnt as upright as you think he is. He can stoop to many lows!"
"Alright then..." Lee Yue agreed, hesitantly.