Chapter six - A wake up call.
Xiulan could see her breath turning to steam in the cool morning air. It was not winter yet but autumns where cold in the kingdom. The new year was held at mid-autumn in the kingdom. Xiulan had heard that that was an uncommon practice, but the world was large and as people said everything was to be found under heaven.
Xiulan had her knees tucked against her chest and tried to make as little noise as possible. She was watching Yen Wen stalk a stag. It was a beautiful beast with large antlers. All Xiulan could see though was a walking bag of gold:
Spiritual Stag – First level of Qi condensation. No mana core. Worth; 2 gold; Meat 5 silver; Antlers 1 gold; skin 5 silvers.
This one animal was worth enough to earn her the reward that the system had promised her when she first received it. Xiulan thought that she achieved it by earning more than the equivalent of more than a gold yesterday. For whatever reason the system seemed to want actual gold as opposed to the equivalate in silver. Xiulan would have to change her silvers into gold or just trade for a whole gold coin in the first place.
Yen Wen had clearly been hunting since she was a child. Xiulan thought that even without her level advantage Yen Wen could kill the stag. Yen Wen had moved to perhaps ten meters away and downwind from her prey. She drew an arrow and nocked it to her bow string. She waited until the stag turned its head before she rose and drew the string back in one smooth motion. In less than a second Yen Wen loosed. The arrow travelled at lightning speed and passed through the stags neck.
Yen Wens bow also cracked at the new Second Level Qi condensation strength Yen Wen had exerted. She looked at the bow dismayed. Xiulan stood up and ran over to Yen Wen. Xiulan hugged her from behind and asked, ”was the bow important? ”
Yen Wen grimaced, ”It was only a simple wooden bow, but I have had it for years. ”
Xiulan rubbed her nose into her lovers back, ”I will buy you a better one. As a reward for my mighty huntress. ”
Yen Wen pulled herself out of her reverie and turned to hug Xiulan back, ”I also want something to wear apart from these old furs. ”
Xiulan laughed and wriggled out of Yen Wens arms to run to the dead stag. It had died as soon as its throat had been punctured. Xiulan wanted to help Yen Wen to skin the beast and portion out its meat, but she received a warning from the system, ”warning! Host is a merchant. Merchants do not dirty their hands by helping to produce the goods they sell! ”
Xiulan almost jumped because the system was too load. She sighed and contented herself with playing with Yen Wens braided hair while her partner gutted, skinned and butchered the stag. Xiulan would have to content herself with selling the goods for a high price.
Later that day Xiulan and Yen Wen made their way back to Rockcreek. Xiulan thought that there might still be trouble waiting for them in town either from Kang Gang or Madam Chen but there was not much of a choice. In this remote corner of the kingdom there was not another market for many miles.
After an afternoon of seeking out the best possible prices Xiulan actually managed to sell of the stag at more than 2 gold. All told Xiulan received 3 gold for the spiritual creature. There were not many cultivators in Rockcreek that could kill any kind of spiritual beast even one at the first level of Qi Condensation.
Xiulan took Yen Wen to look for a new bow and some cloths, then as Yen Wen went into a sectioned off changing area Xiulan took out the whole gold coin that she had traded the antlers for. Bringing up the system in her mind Xiulan navigated to the rewards section and confirmed that she had earned a gold coin.
There was a quiet popping sound and then the gold coin in Xiulans hand disappeared. Xiulan was furious the system had stolen her gold! Before she could curse it however the system dinged, ”congratulations to the host for earning a gold coin! As they say you have to spend money to make money. The host will receive one Heaven grade combat technique for her lover: Yen Wen. ”
The system seemed awfully keen to appease her, so Xiulan let it go for now. She suspected though that the system was actually using her for its own ends. In the same hand that had been holding the gold a scroll appeared. It was old but made of strong paper. It exuded qi in a way nothing else did in the kingdom as if it were from a more qi dense part of the world.
At that moment Yen Wen walked out. She was dressed in a practical set of leather pants just like Xiulans own and a blue shirt that matched her eyes. She had a wooden bracer on her left forearm to protect it from her bowstring. Xiulan whistled in a parody of the lust brothel clients she had heard over the years, ”wow you look so hot Yen Wen. ”
Yeh Wen chuckled and did a spin on the ball of her right foot, ”I thought the blue would look good. ”
Xiulan replied, ”now all you need is a new stronger bow. I also have a present for you. ”
Xiulan offered the scroll to Yen Wen. Yen Wen immediately felt the qi from the scroll and looked at Xiulan shocked, ”where did you get this? ”
Xiulan winked and said evasively, ”I have my sources. ”
Yen Wen rolled her eyes at Xiulans secrecy but still took the scroll. As soon as Yen Wen grasped it the scroll turned into blue light and seeped into her skin. Yen Wen gasped and spasmed but remained on her feet. Then she looked at Xiulan in horror.
”A heaven grade technique? ” she hissed out, keeping her voice low to prevent eavesdropping.
Xiulan scuffled awkwardly on her feet, ”I… Ill tell you all about it later, okay? I do not want to sit around talking about it here. ”
Yen Wen seemed to agree that they should not talk about a heaven grade technique casually. The kingdom would go to war for a skill this profound.
Yen Wen kissed Xiulan on the lips, ”thank you, ” she said, ”I did not want to seem ungrateful. You just surprised me. This technique is also perfectly suited to me. It lets me empower my arrows with Qi and it has a hand-to-hand set of kicks and punches that work for when the enemy is up close. It could not be any better. ”
Xiulan smiled and they spent the next hour looking for a bow. Unfortunately, they soon found out that nobody in Rockcreek could make a bow strong enough for a cultivator. They would have to go further south before they could buy one or have one made. The Qi became denser closer to the coast of the kingdom and cultivators were more common.
Giving up they rented a room at the local inn. Xiulan was paranoid about Madam Chen finding her as the inn was right next to the Plum Blossom, but Yen Wen reassured her, ”you are not a slave anymore. Besides with me here Madam Chen does not dare to do anything. Besides as a cultivator she would be breaking kingdom law if she still insisted on enforcing her slave contract over you. ”
Hearing that Xiulan felt a little better. It was difficult to lose the habits of fear and subservience that she had learnt as a slave.
Yen Wen and Xiulan decided to spend lavishly on a large meal and the best ale that the inn had to offer. Afterall, thought Xiulan, the system seems to want me to spend to excess. It felt more like a gluttony or lust system inside of a merchant system. Just as the lovers were thinking about turning in for the night, they saw a furious Madam Chen stalk into the common room.
Xiulan tensed but Yen Wen squeezed her shoulder for comfort. Xiulan braced herself for the confrontation.
”There you are girl, ” exclaimed a red-faced Madam Chen, ”I have been looking all over town for you and you are here drinking and eating without a care in the world. The client who paid for your first time almost destroyed my brothel. Who do you think you are? You are coming back with me to earn off some off the damages. ”
Xiulan breathed out and remained calm, ”no I will not. If Kang Gang destroyed the place, then you can recoup your losses from him. ”
Madam Chen seemed shocked that Xiulan could disobey her command. Before she could speak again Xiulan pulled down the collar of her shirt to show that she had no slave tattoo, ”I am a cultivator now and you have no legal claim against me. ”
Madam Chen paled and reddened as she oscillated between fear and anger. Eventually she resolved herself and spat at Xiulans feet, ”I might not be able to touch you, but the Kangs can. This isn over Long Xiulan. ”
Madam Chen then stalked out even more furious than when she and entered.
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