Chapter 9: The Competition
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Your words are so rude they’re starting to become amusing!” exclaimed Chu Li with a smile, shaking his head.
He then turned to Gu Litong and Zhou Yuting. Still shaking his head, he said, “I believe your original plan was to spread a rumor until you convince everyone that it’s true? Huh… wouldn’t it be better if you focused on more positive things, rather than using this vulgar strategy?”
“Don’t lecture me!” Zhou Yuting sneered, “Now, let’s talk about you Chu Li. Chasing fame to the point of insanity. You dare commit such a crime!?”
“Zhou Yuting, I think it would be best if you kept your mouth shut.” Chu Li looked towards Gu Litong. “You really are someone to meet in person. Who would have thought you were actually such a character? I’m actually disappointed. Very disappointed.”
“Is there anything you’d like to say?” Gu Litong scoffed.
“Gu Litong, are you able to raise the orchids?” Chu Li replied.
“What do you mean?” Gu Litong frowned.
“I’m just worried about you.” Chu Li smiled as he shook his head. “Tricks as low as this? Did you think that I wasn’t prepared to be questioned? The Moonlight Orchid isn’t an easy plant to raise!”
Gu Litong’s expression turned sour. “I thought it’s already adapted to the weather?” He inquired.
“Yes. However, with their unique personalities, they need special attention to be understood. They are especially fragile in nature.” Chu Li smiled.
“How insidious. You still have more up your sleeve!” Gu Litong sneered.
Chu Li nodded. “This is so satisfying! How delightful. Hahaha!” Li Yue laughed to his heart’s content. He picked up his cup and gave himself a healthy gulp.
Gu Litong and Zhou Yuting’s expressions worsened even further, their eyes staring at Chu Li with rage.
“Gu Litong, I’ll give you an extra year. Will you be able to figure out the orchid?” said Chu Li, still shaking his head.
“Of course!” Gu Litong scoffed, “I would’ve succeeded earlier, but the Floral House ran out of orchids!”
“That’s great! We’ll supply the Moonlight Orchids for you. Once a month, twelve per year. And we’ll see if the famous Gu Litong can succeed!” Chu Li continued.
“Since you’ve already figured it out, why even worry about it!” Gu Litong exclaimed.
“You are lacking in confidence, Gu Litong.” Chu Li smiled.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Chu Li. Luck won’t be on your side forever!” Gu Litong replied coldly.
Truly, luck was required to successfully breed the Moonlight Orchid. Gu Litong had already done a whole year of research, but was lacking any notable progress. He had even bought soil from Moonlight Island, and even that proved to be useless.
He figured that the secret to breeding the Moonlight Orchids lied in the island itself. Even if the environmental factors were perfectly replicated for the plant, the orchids still wouldn’t grow without this special ingredient…
“You’d better be careful, Chu Li.” Zhou Yuting scoffed.
Chu Li raised his eyebrows. “Are you threatening me, Zhou Yuting? Perhaps you want to…”
“Of course I wouldn’t disobey the rules of the Public House!” Zhou Yuting broke into a smile. “However, outsiders might not show such mercy”.
“Then I should inform the judiciary!” Chu Li shook his head. Zhou Yuting’s tricks were tasteless; completely unrestrained and devoid of morals.
“You think the judiciary cares about you!?” Zhou Yuting said with delight, “I was only joking!”
Chu Li put down his cup. He leaned in towards Zhou Yuting, stopping just short of his cheeks and whispered, “If I’m injured, no one will be able to care for the Moonlight Orchids. Many of them will perish. Think about it, how much will you lose? Will the Public House protect you just because you’re Mr. Zhou’s son?”
Zhou Yuting’s face was replaced with one of apprehension.
“Let me tell you something, Zhou Yuting.” Chu Li continued.
Zhou Yuting looked at him, restless.
“Other than your family, you have basically nothing in possession. Yet, you’re happy even while you’re being used by Gu Litong? Mr. Zhou will surely be disappointed if he knew of this..” Chu Li chided.
“Silence!” Zhou Yuting shouted. “Leave my father out of this!”
What he hated the most was when people mentioned that his father was the only reason he became what he was today. Every word Chu Li said was like a knife throttling his heart.
“Zhou Yuting,” Chu Li said in mock surprise, “What are you without Mr. Zhou? Do you really, actually believe that you’ve obtained all you have with your own two hands?”
“Chu Li!” Zhou Yuting shot up and slammed the table. “You’re asking for it!”
Chu Li shifted in his seat, readjusted himself, before taking a sip of his wine. “Zhou Yuting, all I’ve done was give you a few nuggets of truth. Comparing this with what had just come out of your mouth earlier? It should be child’s play!”
“Chu Li! Just you wait!” Zhou Yuting stormed off, his teeth tightly gnashed together.
Gu Litong followed Zhou Yuting, afraid that he was up to something foolish. Chu Li must hold back his anger for now. If something were to happen, the Public House would not spare them punishment.
“Haha!” Li Yue laughed, his heart filled with incredible joy.
Chu Li smiled. He had finally secured his own foothold. Climbing up the ranks within the Public House definitely gave him more leverage and power. Else, he would only be bullied by them.
The both of them ate and drank like merry men, after which they went downstairs to have a nice stroll. The two friends soon arrived in front of a towering building.
The lights around the structure were stunning. The building was glamorous; like a palace in the sky, surrounded by the soft flaps of fluttering silk.
“Behold, The New Moon Brothel! Why don’t we have a look inside.” With enthusiasm, Li Yue invited Chu Li inside with the intent of dazzling the newcomer.
Chu Li shook his head and his hands vigorously. He had yet to complete his foundation building; to lose his virginity now would be inappropriate.
“Huh…” Li Yue shook his head and sighed. He had a feeling that Chu Li had just passed up something he’d regret for a long time to come.
Two of them then walked back, towards the south door of the Public House.
Lantern after lantern bathed the building’s exterior, bouncing off the numerous copper nails across the gateway entrance. Two marble lions guarded the entrance, their gaze fierce and their bodies adorned with gold.
Gu Litong and Zhou Yuting stood in front of the sculpture to the left, waving their hands to catch the attention of the approaching pair.
Li Yue scoffed, “You two fools. What do you want from us!?”
Chu Li moved closer. He wrapped his fists and greeted the both of them, “Is there something you want to discuss? Gu Litong, Zhou Yuting?”
Gu Litong saw Chu Li’s elated expression. He sighed in silence knowing how insidious the Public House actually was.
“This disingenuous b*stard! D*mn it!” screamed Zhou Yuting internally.
Gu Litong cleared his throat and smiled. “Chu Li, to be honest, I still can’t accept it. I still believe that it was due to a stroke of luck. I would like to challenge and learn from you.”
“And what would you like to learn?”
“The Cloud Pearl, have you perhaps heard of it?”
“It lightens the body and helps in detoxification. It can even enhance the Light-body Technique. It’s quite the spirit herb, maybe a rank seven?”
“Yes, the Cloud Pearl is hard to obtain. However, I currently have its seeds with me. You can try to plant it.”
“Has Gu Litong succeeded?”
“With luck, yes.” Gu Litong nodded with pride.
A rank eight Scribe had successfully grown a rank seven spirit herb. To top it off, a rare one too. He truly did deserve to be called a genius.
Zhou Yuting then handed a bag of seeds to Chu Li. “Take it, these seeds are very precious!”
Chu Li waved his hand off, refusing it. He smiled. “What a great plan Brother Gu Litong has concocted. What about this? If we were to get into a challenge, it would have to be from the Thousand Herb Garden!”
Since Gu Litong had already found out how to grow these seeds, it would just be a draw if he succeeded. On the other hand, a loss would put him below his adversary if he forced a level playing field.
Since Gu Litong has the Life and Death Scripture, he definitely would keep it in himself not to be careless. There would be no point in accepting this challenge.
Zhou Yuting grunted. “You’re just afraid of losing aren’t you?”
Chu Li looked square at Gu Litong. “If we’re going to compete, we’ll do it fair and square. No cheating.”
“… Okay, I’m in!” Gu Litong exclaimed in agreement.
Chu Li was cunning; he knew he wouldn’t be able to set him up. Now he had no choice but to try and take him down by sheer ability.
Chu Li replied, “Deal.”
He entered the Public House with Li Yue and rowed themselves back to the east garden.
Li Yue shook his head in fury. “Gu Litong, what a lowly person!”
Chu Li nodded.
Gu Litong was a petty man. He could not look at regular folk as equals to him, and on top of that loved disobeying the rules. Types like him needed to be shocked into submission before they would learn their lesson.
Gu Litong was aiming to destroy Chu Li entirely; from his physical well-being to his confidence in gardening skills. He wanted to demolish every shred remaining self-esteem that resided in him.
Chu Li headed back to the Moonlight Orchid’s parterre, knowing that the Nightmare Flower was his number one priority. The competition between him and Gu Litong was, in fact, just a side activity he participated in. It gave him entertainment.
The following day turned out just peaceful as yesterday. However, on the morning of the third day, Chu Li touched the Nightmare Flowers to train his Minute Pulse technique. The spiritual energy emanating from the Nightmare Flowers was purer than that of the Moonlight Orchid.
Chu Li was confident he could finish building his foundation within the next three months.
Suddenly, the sound of quiet, gentle footsteps reached Chu Li’s ears., he activated the omniscient mirror and could tell that it was Su Ru, walking towards them gracefully in her apricot gown. Floating, almost.
Chu Li stood up and wrapped his fists. “Chief Su Ru.”
Su Ru gently waved her delicate hand. “Forget that, did you challenge Gu Litong to something?”
Chu Li nodded. “It couldn’t be helped. He was more than aggressive about it. If I hadn’t accepted the challenge, he would look down on the East Garden.”
“That’s true, we can’t let the name of the East Garden be tarnished.” Su Ru frowned. “But, you should be concentrating on the Nightmare Flowers!”
Chu Li pointed at the plant. “They’re growing quite well, in fact.”
“Huh, is these are the Nightmare Flowers?” Su Ru widened her eyes, flabbergasted. “Are they really? They’re growing this fast?”
“They’re like fireworks. They take your breath away, if only just for a second.”
The Nightmare Flower only grew where no man could, in barren lands where no humans reside. It would break through the soil in just a month, and once blossomed, would decay shortly after. Its branches would then return to the soil, disappearing without a trace, just like the moment a sleeping dream met consciousness.
To find the seed of this plant was rare in and of itself, and yet, it was an even rarer occurrence for one to find a blossoming Nightmare Flower during its fleeting life.
Perhaps even more importantly, the Nightmare Flower only bloomed under the shade of darkness, for but a single night. Even if someone was indeed blessed enough to encounter one, it could be easily mistaken for bearing fruit instead of blooming.
“Can you actually make it bloom?” Su Ru asked hurriedly.
Chu Li nodded.
“… Then I’ll keep my eyes glued to it!”
“Chief, might you be trying to tell me when to harvest the plant?”
“Seems like nothing gets past you.”
“I’ll give it my full attention. It won’t get past me unnoticed…”
“If you actually plucked a Nightmare Flower, you would have pretty much accomplished a great feat! Lady Xiao will definitely award you generously!”
“I’ll give my all!”
“Trying your best is still not enough. You need to make sure it is done perfectly!”
“…Understood.” Chu Li nodded slowly.
Su Ru peeled her eyes off the Nightmare Flower. “The Thousand Herb garden is now in a huge fuss among themselves. They have no idea what to let you guys plant.”
“Surely they won’t be stumped?”
“Doesn’t stop them from taking this mighty seriously,” Su Ru shook her head as she said: “Lady Xiao is running out of patience and wants me to make a decision.”
Chu Li smiled. “And what has the Chief decided?”
“The Fairy’s Beard, probably.” Su Ru said, “It is the most luxurious food available, but it’s no longer in existence. All that’s left are some seeds stored in the Public House.”
“The Fairy’s Beard…” Chu Li scrubbed through his memory in search of the term.
It was indeed a unique plant. Worth nothing to the average human, but an amazing remedy for horses. It had the ability to enhance the bodily condition and strength of the steed that consumed it.
In nature, the Fairy’s Beard’s survival rate was exceptionally low. To even grow a sprout, its living conditions needed to be non-exceptionally perfect. Until now, no one had ever figured out what these perfect conditions were. Some say that it needed to be watered with fresh blood. Others claim that a huge change in the temperature was needed for germination. Some gardeners even say that that the manure of the king’s horse was its only fertilizer. There were all kinds of speculations pertaining to the precise requirements, and yet, none of them had ever been confirmed.
“Chu Li, can you really grow it?”
“What is the rank of this spirit herb?”
“Probably around rank six.”
“It’s worth a shot.”
“Alright, that’s that then!” Su Ru rubbed her delicate palms and said, “That’s everything. I’ll be leaving!”
She waved her hand, and with a graceful stride, she left. Her figure seemed to disappear out of his sight ever so slowly, and yet, she was gone before he knew it.
Chu Li let out a sigh of admiration. Her Light-body Technique was wonderful. It was truly admirable!