When the shopkeeper walked into the store humming a little tune, what he saw was an empty shop as usual, but the shop assistant was holding a booklet and his eyes were blank, looking like wildflowers that had been ravaged by the wind.
The shopkeeper smiled profoundly, then suddenly his expression changed, and he said sharply, “Xiao Li, what are you doing? Why are you standing in a daze instead of working properly?”
The man got such a fright his hands shook and almost dropped the booklet. “Shopkeeper, all the talismans in our shop have been wiped out!”
The shopkeeper glanced at the counter calmly. “Aren’t there a few left?”
The assistant glanced over. There really was a pile of yellow talismans left in the corner of the counter. But how would anyone buy those charms? By virtue of the beast-suppression charms, even the other daily-use talismans and the light-body talisman that had been praised to the sky were wiped out by the customers, but no one bothered about this stack of talismans.
To be honest, every time he mentioned it, he would get chills up his spine and kept anticipating that he would get beaten up. The eyes of the others also looked at him as if he was an idiot.
At this moment, a young man in a green robe hurriedly entered the shop. He looked at the empty counter and immediately lamented his bad luck! He had immediately gone back home to get more spirit stones after returning from the beast fortress, but it was still too late!
The green-robed youth sighed and was about to leave but the shopkeeper was heard saying, “Customer, are you here to buy a talisman?”
The green-robed youth, “All the talismans are gone. What else can I buy?”
The shopkeeper pointed to the corner of the counter. “There’s more!”
The green-robed youth followed that direction and saw a pile of yellow talismans lying pitifully on the counter as if abandoned.
The young man pursed his lips, grumbling in his heart that a charm that no one wanted must be no good, but he could not rebuke the shopkeeper’s intentions, so he asked, “What talisman is that?”
Shopkeeper, “Fetal Sculpting Talisman.”
Youth, “Never heard of it.”
The shopkeeper smiled mysteriously, the wrinkles on his face like withered bark. “This is the most expensive and best talisman in this shop. It can improve the aptitude of a cultivator’s spiritual root. It is only available for sale in this shop, so it’s normal if you haven’t heard of it.”
The young man was taken aback before he started laughing wildly until he was out of breath.
The assistant on the side thought, he knew this would be the result! He had acted out similar scenes several times with the waves of customers just now, and it was full of tropes!
The green-robed youth finished laughing and said, “Shopkeeper, although you are of a mortal body, you should also know that spiritual roots are innate and cannot be changed. Unless there are people with great fortunes who can find rare treasures in the world, or those who practiced forbidden arts, but the process is painful and most of them have little effect. Now, are you telling me that a little talisman like this can improve the aptitude of the spiritual root?”
He turned and asked the assistant, “Do you believe it?”
The assistant did not believe it either! But he couldn’t be so honest, so he said, “Although the effect is small, the owner said that the main spiritual root can be purified and the miscellaneous spiritual roots can be eliminated…”
The more he spoke, the smaller his voice became, and the green-robed youth laughed until tears formed in his eyes again. “How much are you selling this talisman for?”
Assistant, “500 spirit stones per piece.”
The young man in green robes laughed sarcastically and was about to speak when he saw a woman clad in jewels standing beside him at some point, and she said generously, “The Fetal Sculpting Talisman, is it? I’ll take all of it!”
Except for the shopkeeper, the other two people in the shop were stunned. Then, they looked at the woman with sympathetic eyes, and the shop assistant even subconsciously said, “No one has bought this charm before, so…”
The shopkeeper coughed a few times and interrupted the useless teammate in time, before saying with a sense of righteousness, “So, you are the first customer and will enjoy a 20% discount. It will only cost you 400 spirit stones per piece.”
The assistant came back to his senses and quickly said, “Yes, that's what I meant.”
The woman raised her eyebrows and said heartily, “Can't I buy it if someone else hasn't bought it? I’m not short of money.”
She was none other than Jin Baozhu of Nine Heaven Academy. A few days ago, her subordinates learned that there were more shops selling talisman in Whitehorse Street. Jin Baozhu came to visit unannounced today—but all other talisman shops were competitors of their Ruyi Merchant!
But when she asked around, she guessed who the owner of this shop was. As she had always trusted the owner, no matter how unfathomable something was, it always seemed to be taken for granted by Jing Yue?
Therefore, when she heard about the effect of the fetal sculpting talisman, she wanted it all. If the shopkeeper did not exaggerate, let alone 500 spirit stones, this talisman would be difficult to buy in the future even if the price was ten times more!
The young man in green saw that she was a cultivator and said in surprise, “Fellow Daoist, are you really going to buy it? Do you… believe it?”
Jin Baozhu smiled like a blooming flower. “What business is it of yours?”
The young man in the green frowned, disliked her attitude, flicked his sleeves, and left.
This time, the shopkeeper did not stop him again but took out the talisman and said apologetically to Jin Baozhu, “I’m sorry, there are only six left in our store.”
Jin Baozhu, “It’s okay. I’ll take what you have.”
Shopkeeper, “I like decisive customers like you. We are also conscientious merchants so we have to remind you that this talisman cannot be overused. At most, you can only use one per month. If you overdo it, it will negate the effects and damage the quality of the spiritual root instead. And according to the different spiritual root aptitude of each person, the effect is also different.”
Jin Baozhu took out the spirit stones. “Okay, I understand.”
After speaking, she left like a gust of wind.
The assistant stared at the completely empty counter, dumbfounded.
At the same time, someone in the opposite teahouse exclaimed in shock, “Impossible!”
Jing Yue calmly held a cup of tea and took a sip.
Not to mention Gu Xia’s disbelief, even he didn’t expect that his vision would be transformed into reality so quickly. Based on the theory of the Spirit Devouring Art, he successfully modified the method used by old man Tianxiang to extract the spiritual roots of others and nurturing his own. That is, by first separating his own spiritual roots, and then extracting the miscellaneous spiritual roots. By doing so, although the effect was minimal, there was no need to merge with the spiritual roots of outsiders. The spiritual root would maintain its integrity and reduce the hidden dangers of instability of the spiritual dais.
However, this set of techniques couldn’t be exposed to the public to prevent people with impure intentions from maliciously using it, and also avoid creating more people like old man Tianxiang.
Therefore, Jing Yue thought of using the talisman as a medium.
Seeing that all three of them were skeptical, he asked one by one, “Gu Xia, metal and wood spiritual root? Wang Xiaoli, metal and fire spiritual root? Zheng Bai, water and earth spiritual root? Well, it's quite comprehensive.”
The people in the academy were all well qualified, and most of them with double spiritual roots or better.
Jing Yue took out three talismans from the Qiankun bag. “One for each person, try it out. This talisman is very difficult to refine, so I only have three. You must cherish it. I’ll be collecting money in the future.”
They looked at each other and Gu Xia said, “Right here?”
People were walking back and forth in the teahouse.
Jing Yue, “Just keep your mind calm. You are just getting rid of a miscellaneous root, not guiding Qi into your body, so what is there to be afraid of?”
Blue phoenix, who had been obsessed with the face-slapping plot, turned around and couldn't help but criticize, “That’s right. Do you still need a private room just to sweat it out?”
Unfortunately, only Jing Yue could hear it.
Gu Xia hesitated for a moment before hardening his resolve. Laozu couldn’t possibly harm them, so just give it a try! Seeing him so decisive, Zheng Bai and Wang Xiaoli also gritted their teeth and closed their eyes.
After activating the talisman, a strange external force entered the body, forming a perfect circulation through the big and small acupoints and the meridians. That force was quite balanced, neither too much nor too little.
Although Gu Xia couldn’t see it, he felt the separation of the originally merged spiritual roots for the first time. Gradually, this feeling became clearer, and both the metal and wood spiritual roots became purer.
Gu Xia subconsciously led this mysterious power to the metal spiritual root. He knew that his metal spiritual root was a tiny bit more than the wood spiritual root. If the two roots could achieve an absolute balance, then his aptitude would be considered one in a million.
Soon, he noticed that a very small part of the metal spiritual root touched by the external force was extricated, transformed into murky air, and slowly seeped out of his body. Although the change was so small that it could be ignored, it was shockingly real.
Gu Xia was astounded. When the mysterious power disappeared completely, he could no longer control his emotions. As soon as he opened his eyes, he saw Wang Xiaoli and Zheng Bai’s looks of disbelief!
Everyone was shaking slightly!
What did that mean? It meant that there would be a storm of talismans in the cultivation world! Be it minor cultivators or great stalwarts, no one could resist it!
The person controlling the eye of the storm was Jing Yue and they were the witnesses of this phenomenon!
They were so excited that they said in unison, “Laozu…”
However, Jing Yue grabbed Ji-ji, pressed it on his upturned nose, and said incoherently, “Stop talking! Hurry up and throw out a body cleansing charm!”
He didn’t think it over thoroughly, forgetting the fact that getting rid of miscellaneous spiritual roots would cause a stench all over the body! Because he was a single spiritual root, he lacked the experience!
An untimely sneeze aggravated the embarrassment of the atmosphere. Many guests around clutched their noses while looking for the source of the odor. In the end, they looked towards their table.
At this moment, several of Jing Yue's companions wanted to bury themselves on the spot.
At the same time, Jin Baozhu also returned to her house in Bliss City.
Along the way, the servants respectfully greeted her. Jin Baozhu ignored them and directly shut herself in the room.
Jin Baozhu took out the talisman and examined it carefully, and confirmed that it was a pattern she had never seen before. She had seen all kinds of talisman since she was a child but could not fathom the intricacies within, so she couldn't help but look forward to it.
She was one of the rare three-element spiritual roots in the academy, of which the fire element was the strongest, followed by the wood, while the earth was the weakest. She was almost comparable to a double spiritual root, but it was just almost. If this talisman could really improve the aptitude of the spiritual root…
Jin Baozhu took a deep breath, sat cross-legged, and slowly activated the charm.
The silver runes penetrated the body little by little and began to circulate with the movement of the spiritual energy…
One hour later, Jin Baozhu’s skin was covered with a layer of black grime. She opened her eyes suddenly, her eyes flickered, and she clenched her fists subconsciously.
After she cleaned herself, she immediately sent a transmission talisman to her roommate in Nine Heaven Academy and asked the other party to apply for leave of absence on her behalf for seven days, while she took the flying magic weapon back to the Jin Family Ancestral Home.
Two days later, in the magnificent hall of the Jin family home.
“What did you say?”
A slightly plump middle-aged cultivator's eyeballs almost dropped from the eye sockets, staring at Jin Baozhu in astonishment.
Jin Baozhu, “I said I found a kind of talisman that can improve the aptitude of the spiritual root. If you don’t believe me, you can give it a try.”
She took out a talisman and handed it to the middle-aged cultivator. “Although I have tried it, I don’t know if this talisman is effective for the Golden Core stage.”
The people from other branches in the hall just thought she was mad and said with a smile, “We have been selling talismans in Ruyi for so many years. What sort of talisman have we not seen before? Fetal Sculpting Talisman? Hahaha!”
“Our eldest young lady is not someone who has never seen the world, so why did she fall for it?”
“She’s still young after all…”
There were many Jin family members with complicated interests, and the relationship was naturally not harmonious.
Jin Baozhu's father and grandfather had mediocre aptitudes, and at most they could only reach the Golden Core cultivation base, but this wasn’t enough to support the entire Ruyi firm. Therefore, the Heavenly Grotto Patriarch had set his sights on the next generation. In order to compete for the position of the next successor to the patriarch, the people from different branches usually disliked each other, especially Jin Baozhu, who was the most talented, they could only try to suppress her while being jealous.
Jin Baozhu’s father also thought of her as being ridiculous, but seeing her earnestness, it was difficult for him to refute his daughter in front of other branches, so he said, “Okay, I’ll try it in my room later.”
Jin Baozhu, “Father, try it here. If it succeeds, I have something to say.”
“Yes, older brother. Since Baozhu is so confident, why don’t you give it a try?”
“Well, let us witness the wonder too.”
This made it difficult for Baozhu’s father to react. He glared at his daughter, thinking that it was no big deal to be embarrassed or ridiculed, so he sat cross-legged and activated the talisman.
The others waited for the comedy to unfold, pointing at Baozhu’s father for a while, and then glanced at Jin Baozhu and snickered, but the more they waited, the more they felt something was wrong—Baozhu’s father never ended his meditation.
If the talisman was fake, shouldn’t he have ended his meditation long ago? If it was real… how could that be possible?!
It also lasted for about one hour. Amid the foul stench in the room, her father’s eyelids trembled, and everyone’s hearts tightened. They stared at him unblinkingly and saw the ecstasy and blankness in the eyes of Baozhu's father.
Jin Baozhu, “Father, I didn't lie to you, did I?”
The wife of the second brother stammered, “Big brother, it can’t be true, right?”
Baozhu’s father sighed, “The Fetal Sculpting Talisman can really reconstruct the body.”
Ignoring all the jaw-dropping expressions, he looked at Jin Baozhu solemnly. “What are your plans?”
Jin Baozhu, “I want Ruyi Merchant to sell this talisman on the other party’s behalf without taking a commission.”
“Without a commission?!”
That idea touched the nerves of many people and immediately caused an uproar. Baozhu’s father shouted, “Be quiet! Baozhu, tell me your thoughts in detail.”
Jin Baozhu’s eyes swept across everyone in the room indifferently, saying, “If there are no mistakes, the creator of this talisman is the new patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, Jing Yue.”
Jing-laozu was good at making talismans? Wasn’t Frostcloud Sect not competent in this area?
Everyone had doubts, but before they could speak, Jin Baozhu said, “For us, selling different kinds of talismans makes no difference to us, and selling the Fetal Sculpting Talisman on behalf of others will not take up more resources from us. So, let’s talk about not taking a commission. It seems that we are doing it for nothing, but in fact, there are so many benefits.”
“First, the fetal sculpting talisman is bound to cause a sensation once it is launched, and the demand will exceed supply. Moreover, the runes are extremely complicated and difficult to crack. This also means that we can make long-term profits from selling this talisman. Over time, Jing-laozu may not refuse to share any profits with us.”
“Second, although we are the most famous talisman firm in the world of seven continents, many veteran competitors are eagerly watching, and many up-and-coming stars are also waiting to take a bite at us. Doing business is the same as cultivation. Without advancement, there is only regression. We can seize this opportunity and use the fetal sculpting talisman to stabilize our position.”
“Third, Jing-laozu is extremely talented and has Frostcloud Sect as his support. Barring any accidents, he will reach the Return to Void stage sooner or later, and even the Tribulation Passage stage will not be a surprise. If we can form a long-term cooperative relationship with him, it is beneficial and harmless to us.”
Baozhu’s father, “But you are only talking about our profit. What good will it do to Jing-laozu? He can easily ask Frostcloud Sect to sell it on his behalf.”
Jin Baozhu, “Everyone knows that cultivation costs money. Even though he is the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect, he can’t only rely on the resources from the sect in later stages. He definitely needs his own source of spiritual stones, and the fetal sculpting talisman is most likely his way of making money.”
“If he allows Frostcloud Sect to do it for him, not to mention that Frostcloud Sect never sold talismans and must explore everything from scratch, just the fact that he belongs to this sect, won’t he be embarrassed to reap all profits without giving them any? As for the Ruyi Merchant, we have been proficient in the Talisman Dao for many years, and know most of the inner workings. We can help him sell the fetal sculpting talisman in any city within the seven continents and save him a lot of unnecessary trouble. More importantly, we won’t take a commission from him.”
“I think he can weigh the pros and cons.”
The lady from the second branch wanted to say more but received a nudge in her waist by the second master and all the words she wanted to say got stuck in her throat.
Although the Jin family members usually fought covertly and overtly, those were matters of benefit distribution within the clan. If Jin Baozhu’s proposal came to a realization, the entire family would profit from it, and only fools would stand in the way! If they couldn’t even comprehend this point, Ruyi Merchant wouldn’t develop to the scale it was today.
“Since all of you have no objections,” Baozhu’s father took one look around and said, “Baozhu will have to work hard on this matter first. It's okay if it doesn't work.”
“Yes, we will remember your credit.” It was a rare occasion for the others to look upon Jin Baozhu kindly.
Jin Baozhu, “I will try my best.”
A few days later, Nine Heaven Academy.
“Are you saying Ruyi Merchant wants to sell the fetal sculpting talisman on my behalf for free?”
Jing Yue looked at Jin Baozhu who suddenly stopped him with a little surprise, and asked with a smile, “How do you know I made the fetal sculpting talisman?”
Jin Baozhu smiled calmly. “This matter is not difficult to inquire. Presumably, Jing-shidi didn't intend to deliberately conceal it. At this moment, the talisman is still unknown, but it won't be long before all the cultivators are attracted. At that time, Jing-shidi won’t be able to keep up with just one store, so the Ruyi Merchant is willing to share your worries.”
Jing Yue smiled and said, “Won’t you be making a loss then?”
Jin Baozhu was about to talk when Jing Yue continued, “No, you won’t. Let me guess. You must be thinking that the purpose of my refining talisman is to earn spiritual stones, and Frostcloud Sect has no knowledge about talismans. Letting you take care of it will maximize the profits so there is no reason for me to refuse. As for Ruyi Merchant, not only can it stabilize its position by relying on the talisman, but also establish a relationship with a patriarch, so there is no disadvantage to it.”
Awkwardness appeared on Jin Baozhu's face.
“Well, perhaps you also thought that if our cooperation went well, I’d even let you share in the profits, and the no-commission clause will become history. How great!” Jing Yue nodded solemnly. “Jin-shijie, you have a crafty mind indeed.”
Jin Baozhu, “…”
She didn’t know what expression to put on at the moment. Was there anything more shameful than being called out? Jin Baozhu's countenance changed and her shoulders finally drooped in frustration. “Actually, we…”
Jing Yue, “Sure.”
Jin Baozhu, “Huh?”
Jing Yue chuckled. “Since this arrangement is good for both parties, I certainly agree. Moreover, I do intend to share the profits. Let’s make it ninety ten. Having a common interest is the cornerstone of our stable cooperation.”
The disappointment in Jin Baozhu's eyes instantly turned into ecstasy and even looked a little distorted. She cleared her throat and said, “Really?”
Jing Yue, “I’ve been waiting for someone to approach me. We really hit it off well.”
Jin Baozhu, “…” Did we? Aren’t you playing on the court alone?
Now that they had decided to cooperate, the next step was to discuss the details. The two chatted for more than an hour and Jing Yue said, “The rest will be left to professionals like you. Happy cooperation.”
Jin Baozhu, “Don’t worry, we won’t let you down.”
After Jing Yue left, Jin Baozhu stayed on the spot and pondered—all rhetorical scenarios she had imagined were useless. Jing Yue was leading her by the nose the entire time.
Jin Baozhu shook her head. She once heard that this patriarch was not good at doing business, while she had lived for more than seventy years and immersed in the ways of trading since she was a child, but she actually hit a brick wall with this opponent. How was that not good at doing business?
Haha, if anyone dared to say that in front of her again, she would give them an earful of melon seeds!
Author’s Notes: Divine bragging
Shopkeeper: Xiao Li! what are you doing?
Li Siwei: Crunching words!
Ji-ji: Are you short of money too? You’re a Laozu of a generation!
Jing-jing: The more you practice, the more money you spend. If you rely on the sect to support you, no matter how big the sect is, you can’t afford it unless you exploit the disciples. In my previous life, I also sold medicine to get around.
Ji-ji: I get it. It's like you have a company, but you only spend but don't earn, or spend more than you earn, you’ll sell medicine sooner or later!
Jing-jing: Ji-ji is so smart (he didn’t understand actually).