Plundering the Heavens
Chapter 23: Demon Pellet
Translator: Myriea_ActiasLuna Editor: celllll, Nou
“Shixiong, I don’t mean this in a bad way, but asking someone to exchange their Ore Essence Powder for the sake of a Demon Pellet really is a bit much. Ore Essence Powder is an essential ingredient for the Poji Pellet 1 , and you can only get it with a lot of wealth or by completing dangerous sect missions. I’m afraid you won’t ever find it in the Black Market….”
“I just came to try my luck. I wasn’t expecting to find it anyway, but if I never came, I wouldn’t have the chance to get lucky. Worst-case scenario, I’ll have my contacts in the inner court try to see what they can do for me. Besides, this Demon Pellet is many times better for cultivation than Spirit Stones, so even if I don’t end up exchanging it for what I want, keeping it isn’t a major loss.”
Although Hou Qing stood his ground as though nothing could change his mind, the other person was clearly reluctant to give in. “Well, does it matter even if you get your hands on the powder? A Poji Pellet needs more than just Ore Essence Powder to be made, and there are over a dozen more ingredients you’ll need on top of it. Even if you do manage to gather all of the ingredients, you won’t find an alchemist to help you make it….”
“That’s none of Shixiong’s concern. Aside from the Ore Essence Powder, the other ingredients are rather easy to buy,” Hou Qing said before showing a faint smile. “As for an alchemist, there are some I’m familiar with; no need to worry.”
“Ah, well, if that’s the case!” Seeing he was getting nowhere, the other man gave a heavy sigh and left.
After hearing the exchange between the two, Fang Xing immediately understood what all of it meant. ‘The rumors in the outer court said Hou Qing has already reached the peak of tier three, but it seems he desperately needs Ore Essence Powder to make a Poji Pellet to break through his bottleneck. Since the sect has strict control over the pellet, the only way to obtain it is through crafting it from scratch or successfully completing sect missions….’
Ore Essence Powder was fine powder refined through special methods—known only to a few large sects and clans—from Spirit Stones. It was an excellent raw material and was used to craft various pellets, the Poji Pellet in particular.
For the first stage—the “Spirit Stage”—of cultivation, the primary bottlenecks were between tiers three and four, between six and seven, and then finally for the mastery of the ninth tier. The easiest and most successful method of breaking through was by taking a Poji Pellet at each of the bottlenecks, but all of the pellet’s raw materials were under strict control by the sect. Those who wanted the materials had to come up with a lot of money or do specific jobs to receive them as rewards.
This was the method used by the sects and large clans to control the fate of all cultivators throughout the world. The sect might turn a blind eye on the Black Markets, but they would never allow such a crucial ingredient for the Poji Pellet to be leaked outside sect doors. It could be said that if there was even a hint of Ore Essence Powder being sold here, the Black Market would instantly be shut down. Yet Hou Qing clearly didn’t want to give up, and was even willing to exchange a rare Demon Pellet for it. Of course, it was almost guaranteed he’d return home empty-handed at the end of the day; something like Ore Essence Powder couldn’t be obtained by ordinary people.
As Fang Xing observed from afar for an hour, he saw about five people come up to Hou Qing to suggest trades of their own. Some of the items had even Fang Xing feeling envious, yet Hou Qing was unmoved no matter the offer. When it seemed as though Hou Qing had given up and was about to leave, Fang Xing finally rose to his feet, walked over, and said in a low voice, “I will need to verify the Demon Pellet first.”
Hou Qing’s eyes suddenly grew wide. “Shixiong has Ore Essence Powder?”
Fang Xing deliberately put on a scowl and angrily whispered, “I’ve never seen such an idiot like you before. Even in the Black Market, who the hell dares to show off Ore Essence Powder? The second it was found out, the sect would search each and every last one of us!”
Hou Qing hesitated, but his eyes showed a glimmer of hope. “My apologies, Shixiong, for being so impatient and reckless. Yet I dare to ask, does Shixiong really have such a thing?”
“Heh, Ore Essence Powder is some seriously precious stuff; how could I have it?” Fang Xing ridiculed with a sneer.
Hou Qing took a few moments to suppress his anger before continuing, “Are you toying with me?”
“I’ve been here listening to your conversations most of the day. Even if you wanted me to toy with you, I wouldn’t waste so much effort!” Fang Xing replied in a profound manner.
It was true that Hou Qing had noticed the man sitting on the side listening for quite a while, and hope sprouted within him once more. “What does Shixiong mean?”
Fang Xing sighed. “I can get my hands on the powder, but it’s very risky!”
Feeling some relief, Hou Qing quickly added, “Your shidi here has a Demon Pellet, crafted from a beast core of a third-tier beast and equivalent to one hundred Spirit Stones when used for cultivation. If Shixiong is able to get me three ounces of the powder, this pellet will be the payment!”
‘One hundred Spirit Stones? I need this!’ Fang Xing shouted within his heart, but on the surface he seemed to be completely unfazed.
“Is this too little?” Hou Qing nervously asked. He’d been waiting here all day, and Fang Xing was the only one who said he could get his hands on the powder. It was not easy for an ordinary outer court disciple to get their hands on it.
“A Demon Pellet… no, that’s definitely a fair trade. But… to be quite honest with you, although I can get my hands on it, there’s way too much risk. If any of this discussion ended up leaking, it wouldn’t just be me, but even my father would…. Well, there’s no reason telling you that. I’ll tell you what, I can get the powder, but you have to sweeten the deal a little….”
When Hou Qing’s eyes glistened and was about to speak, Fang Xing suddenly raised his hand to cut him off before fiercely continuing, “And I must warn you, if I get the powder for you, you better keep that mouth of yours shut. If there’s so much as even a hint otherwise, I’ll make sure you regret it. At the very least, you won’t be seen in the Qing-Yun Sect anymore!”
Although Fang Xing hadn’t even waited until after establishing the price to start making threats, this actually put Hou Qing more at ease. He couldn’t help but to think, ‘He mentioned his father the moment he opened his mouth. It seems his father is also in the Qing-Yun Sect and might even be in a high position of power. He’s probably a second-generation ancestor 2 if he’s threatening me like that. It makes sense; only someone like that might be able to get access to Ore Essence Powder….’
“Of course, Shixiong, my lips are forever sealed. Besides, my clan does have some power as well; if someone were to ask where I got the powder, I can just tell them my clan got it for me. This won’t cause Shixiong any problems,” Hou Qing quickly vowed.
“As long as you know what to do. Also, and price needs to be discussed!”
After some time of thought, Hou Qing answered, “On top of the Demon Pellet, how about another thirty Spirit Stones?”
Although Fang Xing cried with happiness within, he deliberately bit his lip with dissatisfaction. “Make it forty!”
“Deal!” Fang Xing agreed with a wave of his fist.
Hou Qing let go of a long breath. “When can you get it?”
Fang Xing appeared to think hard on that one before answering, “Nine days from now. Go to the hills outside Hualin Valley before midnight. Wait for me there and only show yourself at the sound of three claps. Bring everything.”
“Okay. Thank you, Shixiong.” Hou finally relaxed and gratefully cupped one fist in his other hand.
Fang Xing nodded his head before suddenly commanding, “What the f*ck are you still doing here?”
Confused at such a change, Hou Qing unhappily asked, “Why are you cursing at me?”
“Not only that, I want to strangle you to death! Are you going to continue sitting here like an idiot and tell the whole world you’re looking for Ore Essence Powder? Since I’ve already promised to get you some, you’d better not let another person know that you’re after it. If I hear anything about our trade—even a whisper—the deal is dead!”
Suddenly understanding what Fang Xing meant, Hou Qing wiped the sweat from his forehead and whispered, “Thank you for the reminder, Shixiong. I’m leaving!”
Fang Xing hadn’t purchased anything himself, but the thought of scamming Hou Qing had left Fang Xing in extremely high spirits. He hummed a song to himself as he left the Black Market and began to work on his scheme.
After discovering how desperate Hou Qing was to find Ore Essence Powder, Fang Xing’s earlier interaction with Hua Qianzhi had become all the more meaningful. Ore Essence Powder was truly hard to get, so how could someone like Fang Xing offer it in exchange? But that was only true for real Ore Essence Powder, and he had a counterfeit master!
That same night, Fang Xing rested his head in his arms and devised a plan.
In the early morning of the next day, Fang Xing took out the robes he wore as a daotong and placed them on together with the Mask of Wanluo to change into a suitable appearance. Rather than transforming into an adult as he had last time, this time he changed himself to look like a child only slightly older than he was. He picked up a bronze mirror and studied himself making different faces before deciding on one that was most suitable: shy and bashful, almost like a little girl. Once everything was ready, Fang Xing hummed some light tunes and walked towards the cottage entrance with exaggerated sways of his hips.
With only a few steps, however, he suddenly remembered he was supposed to be playing the part of a shy daotong; there wasn’t a need to move like this, was there? He settled for a normal walk instead.