AIP - Chapter 98: Growth
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In a flash of light, a person appeared at the entrance of Tiger Roar Valley. It was Tang Jie, with a big cloth bag slung across his back.
He heard mocking laughter at his ear. Several students standing outside the valley had taken note of his miserable state and mistakenly believed that he had been driven out by some fiend beast.
Frankly speaking, he really was in a rather sorry state. His clothes had been burned while dealing with the tree sprite and his body had been left like a beehive from the stone and gravel kicked up by the fiend tiger. No matter how formidable his body was, he couldn't recover that fast. He was covered in wounds and made for an alarming sight.
Tang Jie couldn't be bothered with them. He leaned against a tree to rest for a while.
When his bag suddenly lightened, he knew that Yiyi had woken up, realized that the environment had changed, and turned back into a flower. Only then did he open up the bag, whereupon he saw a dazzling green rose resting atop a pile of herbs, beautiful and alluring.
Tang Jie chuckled as he grabbed the green rose and put it away. He then walked with heavy steps up to several villagers and threw the bag over. "How much is all this?"
A villager looked through the contents and said, "With that wolf skin you're wearing, 121 coins in all."
"Give me some clothes."
The villager chuckled, took out a set of rough clothes, and threw them over at Tang Jie. "This set is new. It's for free."
"Thank you." Tang Jie found a deserted place to change his clothes, after which the villager counted out the spirit coins and handed them to Tang Jie. Patting him on the shoulder, he said, "This is pretty good for your first time."
"But it was still a loss," Tang Jie softly said.
"That's commonplace. It's fine as long as you were able to stay alive. This Tiger Roar Valley is for you to experience the dangers of the outside world. Such lessons can't be bought even if you had a thousand gold coins," the villager commented, seemingly coming from a place of experience.
Tang Jie chuckled. "I would be more willing to exchange those lessons for a thousand gold coins."
The villager was taken aback, and then he broke out in laughter. He waved Tang Jie away, in no mood to argue.
Tang Jie returned to the Carefree House with his hundred-some coins, rather frustrated.
Though he had made money on this trip to Tiger Roar Valley, most of that profit had gone into Yiyi. He hadn't made much of his return in actual cash.
He still owed Wei Tianchong two hundred spirit coins. He still had three spirit coins, so in other words, he was still missing seventy-six spirit coins. He couldn't think of a way to make up this gap.
It left him with quite the headache.
In the end, after thinking back and forth, he decided to use the pills he used for cultivation to cover the bill.
Xie Fengtang had given him ten bottles of spirit medicine, and he had the bottle of Essence-Refining Pills from Wu Xing, and Zhuang Shen had some pills. As he had been using them sparingly, he still had a lot left over. If he really had no other option, he had enough to cover his expenses.
He currently had a very simple method of distribution for cultivation. His resources went to cultivating the Parting Classic while his time went to cultivating mantras. In any case, he had a five-cycle Jade Gate, so even if he didn't use any medicine, he could get into Mortal Shedding in ten years without a problem. Thus, he wasn't in a rush to elevate his cultivation realm.
Once they were back in the Carefree House, Yiyi jumped out from Tang Jie's bosom and shouted, "Big Brother, I got bigger!"
Tang Jie squatted down and smiled at Yiyi. "You did get bigger, but you're still a small thing."
"I hate you! People grow slowly, you know!" Yiyi put her hands on her waist and shouted at him.
Tang Jie swept her up in his arms and hugged her. "Yes, yes, Yiyi will ultimately grow into a big girl. But just growing big isn't enough. You also have to develop some skills. Tell your big brother: did you get any new skills?"
"Of course!" Yiyi pointed at a wildflower in the courtyard. "Big Brother, watch!"
That wildflower turned into a green rose.
Sweat appeared on Tang Jie's forehead. "Didn't you already know how to do this?"
"Yes, but I couldn't do it at will. Now, I can transform a lot at once, and I don't need to drink your blood. I just need to rest for a bit. Didn't you want to sell them for silver? You can do that now!" Yiyi wildly gesticulated as she spoke.
"The problem is that I don't need silver anymore!" Tang Jie wanted to cry.
Though silver could be exchanged for spirit coins, selling off ten baskets of flowers would only get him two or three spirit coins. If he had that time, he might as well find a job in the school.
"Your abilities have to keep up with the times…" Tang Jie solemnly and sincerely said.
"Oooooh…" Yiyi's voice dwindled away as she replied, not fully understanding what was being conveyed.
After some thought, she said, "What about this?"
She pointed at the green rose, and the green rose began to rapidly grow to the height of an adult man, with the corolla also growing larger.
"That's rather interesting. You can make plants grow… Only green roses?" Tang Jie looked at Yiyi.
Yiyi firmly nodded.
Tang Jie sighed.
"Anything else?" he asked.
Yiyi somewhat unwillingly said, "There's just this left."
She pointed at the green rose again, upon which the green rose came to life, its giant corolla suddenly opening like a mouth, revealing sharp teeth. It bit down on Tang Jie's arm, but it wasn't able to bite through.
Tang Jie was rather interested. "Mm, not bad, but it doesn't seem strong enough…"
Before he could finish, ptoo! The corolla spat out a green glob of liquid onto Tang Jie's skin which made Tang Jie dizzy the moment he saw it.
"It's venomous? Not bad!" Tang Jie excitedly said.
The green rose could attack and spit venom. It was far from “bad”.
But Yiyi pouted in dissatisfaction. "It's so ugly."
Her standard for evaluating her abilities was very simple: did it look pretty or ugly?
The green rose nurtured by her talent lacked the elegance of a green rose and appeared more like a vicious man-eating flower. Its green mucus was even more disgusting, so it was small wonder that she didn't like it.
Tang Jie asked, "How many of these can you make at one time?"
Yiyi replied, "I can only make one at a time, after which I have to rest, but it will stick around."
As expected, her magic power was lacking.
Although she had eaten the sprite core of the tree sprite, it didn't mean she had the strength of the tree sprite. Right now, Yiyi could just barely be considered even a lower-grade sprite. But as time progressed, she would naturally get stronger. Unlike humans, sprites didn't have such rigorous requirements when it came to cultivation.
Of course, the disadvantage of natural growth was that it was very hard for sprites to increase their cultivation speed without chance encounters like this.
"Right, can this flower obey your orders?" Tang Jie asked.
"Of course," Yiyi proudly replied. Saying that, she pointed at the green rose and shouted, "This is my big brother! You're not allowed to bite him!"
Sure enough, the flower corolla drew back.
"I can also make it bigger or smaller." Yiyi pointed again. "Shrink!"
The green rose shrank back into the earth.
"Not bad, not bad," Tang Jie nodded.
This single green rose Yiyi had nurtured was actually very limited in the damage it could do.
But this plant could stick around, so more could be raised. If he gave her enough time, he could have an entire field of venomous roses, relying on numbers for victory. It was incredibly useful while also costing less than a formation.
One sprite core, one demonblood pill, and a few days of weakness had been exchanged to get Yiyi this spell art, and it had been well worth it.
Unlike cultivators, sprites found it very difficult to learn spell arts through external methods. Their spell arts were mostly the result of the flesh and blood they devoured coupling with the special traits of their bodies.
However, it was hard to say what spitting venom had to do with Yiyi's special traits.
Regardless, Yiyi's getting this ability was good news, and Tang Jie was so excited that he hugged Yiyi and gave her a big kiss.
"Ah! Ew! Ew! I'm a girl! You're not allowed to kiss me!" Yiyi furiously turned her head away, rubbed her face against the ground, and then spat.
Ah, I guess I see it now, Tang Jie helplessly thought.
The next morning, Tang Jie went to Wei Tianchong and returned the puppet and money to him.
Wei Tianchong checked over the puppet several times, and only after confirming that it wasn't damaged did he ask Tang Jie how his trip into Tiger Roar Valley had gone.
Tang Jie gave a rough summary of his time in Tiger Roar Valley. Of course, he skipped over his fight with the tree sprite. All he said was that after he escaped, he made a few more rounds of the valley, after which his time ran out and he returned.
After telling his tale, Tang Jie summarized, "Tiger Roar Valley has all kinds of vicious fiend beasts, and getting anything out of there isn't easy. At my current level of strength, it's still very difficult for me to profit from my harvests. It's only thanks to Young Master's puppet that I didn't come out with a loss."
"'Didn't come out with a loss'?" Wei Tianchong pointed at the medicine in his hand. "You even used your medicine to cover your debt!"
Tang Jie chuckled. "I already used some of what I got, so I lacked the money. But, Third Young Master, this was my first time, so there was a lot I didn't understand, and some mistakes were inevitable. Next time, I'm confident that I can get much more."
"You want to go again?"
"Of course. Third Young Master, in my plans, Tiger Roar Valley is my future revenue source. Even if I only make fifty spirit coins per trip, that's five hundred coins after ten trips."
"But it takes too much time," Wei Tianchong said with a shake of his head. "You need a whole day for Tiger Roar Valley, and you might be able to make several dozen spirit coins out of it, but since you delay your cultivation for an entire day, you're not guaranteed to gain more than you lose. Moreover, Tiger Roar Valley isn't like cultivation where you can make steady progress every day. There might be a day where you're unlucky and get chased by some fiend beast until you're forced out of the valley. That would mean a loss of two hundred coins, several days of work."
"Naturally," Tang Jie casually replied. "But just like how I gathered information and analyzed opponents for you, it's all about probabilities. So long as I'm strong enough, my probability of winning is higher than the probability of losing. While trips to Tiger Roar Valley are somewhat like gambles, they're still established on a foundation of strength. With my level of strength, I'm confident that I can win more than I lose."
"Then why not wait a little longer until you're stronger and more confident?"
"I'm an impatient person."
Wei Tianchong appeared amazed. "Really? Doesn't seem like it to me!"
Tang Jie helplessly said, "Then I'll give you another reason. The puppet is done, so following our plan, you need to rent it out. Given the value of the puppet, I think that thirty coins a day for the rent is worth it, but other students might not think so. That being the case, why not just rent it to me?"
"Then what do I do about the sparring ground?"
"You don't stand much of a chance of getting into the top five, so it doesn't matter if you have a puppet or not. It would be best if you focused on improving yourself first."
Wei Tianchong thought it over and nodded.
Tang Jie laughed and then extended his hand. "Then I would like to request that Young Master lends me another two hundred coins."
"I knew it!" Wei Tianchong helplessly took out the money and gave it to Tang Jie. Suddenly, he said, "Hold on. Tang Jie, I feel like something isn't right here."
"Third Young Master, what's wrong?"
"Look here." Wei Tianchong started to count on his fingers. "I was the one who lent you the money for the valley's entry fee, I bought the spell art for you to learn, and I also spent money on the puppet you're using. I haven't even spent this much money on my own cultivation, so why am I spending all my family's money on you? Have I become Tang Jie's banker? No, I'm not even a banker. A banker gets interest…"
Tang Jie tipped back and laughed. Leaning on Wei Tianchong, he said, "Young Master, what are you saying? I'm renting it, you know, renting!"
"That's not right either. You're the one renting the puppet, but you also proposed the rental fee of thirty! I didn't even state a price!"
"Then forty," Tang Jie firmly said. "Third Young Master, you can't rent a puppet at that price on the outside!"
"Their puppets don't seem better than mine. I feel like I could rent this puppet for fifty coins without a problem!"
Tang Jie chortled. "Third Young Master is a generous soul who has always treated his servants well. How could you haggle with us over a measly ten spirit coins?"
"The problem is that it's ten spirit coins a day…" Wei Tianchong stroked his chin.
"Talking about money damages relationships, Young Master!" Tang Jie gravely said.
Wei Tianchong let out a long sigh. "Bringing up relationships hurts my wallet, schoolmate!"
Though he wasn't at all familiar with modern ways of speaking, it seemed that he had managed to learn without a teacher.
In the end, they negotiated a rental price of forty-five coins each time, with a 10% discount if he booked the puppet for the entire month.