The pair drew many sets of curious eyes when they entered the Black Market. After a few subtle glances to assess the newcomers, they went back to their own business. Yan Guo gestured for Shi Die to follow him as they walked further into the Black Market. Shi Die could certainly see that the Black Market was massive. He couldn't even see the other end of it and he had sharp vision.
"This place is massive. I can see why you said that we'd be able to find anything we needed. How does nobody notice the Underground when it's so massive? Your father is one of the major powers and he's not even considered the strongest person in the city. How is it that nobody has bothered to shut it down?" Shi Die was whispering madly in Yan Guo's ears since it would be unwise for others to know that it was his first time prowling around the Black Market.
Yan Guo whispered back at Shi Die. "The Underground is well-protected, not just by those that control the Underground but also by the powerhouses that lurk in the city. Even they rely on the resources that they can get from the Underground. The Underground is basically richer than the city yet illegal in nature. Nobody bothers trying to do anything about the illegality of the entire Underground but this is a world where anybody would do anything just to survive."
Shi Die mulled over Yan Guo's words and found out that what he said held some truth in it. Even he would do anything to survive, no matter if it was illegal or not. The only thing that he wouldn't do would be sacrificing his friends for his own gain. Yan Guo, seeing Shi Die's understanding of what he had said, continued on with his explanation. "Even if they tried shutting it down I'm very certain that they wouldn't be able to destroy the factions. The Underground is a bloody battlefield. Fighters are forged in the fires of battle."
"I could say that compared to the blood-drenched fighters of the Underground, the powerhouses in the city are usually more inexperienced compared to them. Not that they are weak or anything because there are certainly strong powerhouses that can take on the leaders of the major factions but the majority of the city cultivators don't have the battle-hardened senses that they have."
"Either way, trying to shut the Underground down would be foolish since it ruins the economy for the entire country and too much blood would be shed."
Yan Guo pulled Shi Die over to the massive entrance that literally read out "Auction Tavern." He could see that there were more people mingling around in this portion of the Black Market compared to the one that they had entered initially. Yan Guo explained that more people were going to be lurking around in the Auction Tavern because they were there to snatch up items before any others got there. It was also considered the central trading point in the entire Underground.
No matter if they were from the first, second or third layer of the Underground, they would try their best to make it to the Auction Tavern since it was where everything was sold. Certainly, there were markets and auction houses in the first and second layers but they definitely weren't as expansive as this.
Nobody paid them a single glance as they wandered around. Shi Die found it strange that it was named Auction Tavern considering that everything that they had seen so far since they had entered the area had shown no relation to taverns. His curiosity was getting ahead of him again. "Yan Guo, why is this portion of the Black Market called the Auction Tavern?"
Yan Guo blinked owlishly. "I'm not actually quite sure. I know there is an actual tavern which hosts all the Auctions but I've no idea why they called the entire area the Auction Tavern. It's rather strange, now that I think about it."
Tian Bai had woken up from his nap and was offering his own little comments. "It's probably for convenience. You wouldn't want to be remembering all the names of specific places. It's much simpler to just call an entire area a specific name and leave it like that."
Shi Die acknowledged Tian Bai's words but then tilted his head as he thought of something to ask Tian Bai. "How would you know so much about the human culture. From what I've heard from Ye Xiu, you've never even been to a civilisation for humans."
Tian Bai simply stared at Shi Die like he was dumb. Yan Guo was doing the same. Yan Guo decided to answer the question for Tian Bai. "All Qi Beasts inherit memories from their predecessors. Surely one of his ancestors has been to a human civilisation. Even if they haven't, it is commonly known that even Qi Beasts have their own cities. Don't forget that Qi Beasts are just as smart as humans."
Shi Die had the decency to blush. It wasn't that Shi Die was ignorant about Qi Beasts because he was stupid, no it was simply because it was thought to be common knowledge and nobody had ever taught him about it.
Tian Bai started to move around on Yan Guo's head. "There's something here that smells similar to that blasted love drug that the bitch drugged Ye Xiu with. I'm just going to assume that it's the actual love drug and that we'll need to find the antidote for it." Tian Bai was uncharacteristically serious and was actually snarling when he mentioned Hua Fei in a derogatory manner.
Yan Guo nodded seriously in response to Tian Bai's reaction. "Point us in the direction of the smell. If we can get ahold of the potion that Hua Fei used then it'll be much easier for us to find the antidote. I can always ask a person for the specific antidote for any substance as long as I hand it to them. This'll definitely help us in finishing things much faster. I'm surprised that Shi Die didn't notice."
Yan Guo was teasing Shi Die and Shi Die noticed it. He didn't take offence from Yan Guo's words since he knew that Yan Guo was simply joking. Shi Die decided to retort back at Yan Guo with a sharp tone. "Maybe it's because I'm not that much of an animal, unlike Tian Bai. The only reason why he was able to remember the scent of the love potion was probably because he had access to Ye Xiu's mind. In a way, he can literally smell using Ye Xiu's nose."
Yan Guo frowned slightly when he heard Shi Die speaking in such a sharp tone but when he noticed his grin, he let his frown drop. He realised that Shi Die was just messing around with him and Tian Bai.
With that little moment finished, Tian Bai rolled his eyes and started tugging on Yan Guo's hair to remind him about what he had just asked him to do. Tian Bai started to direct Yan Guo and Shi Die towards a tiny store that was located in front of an alleyway. The person that was at the front of the store was an old man which had unusually sharp eyes, scanning the streets for trouble.
Tian Bai had led them into the shop and they had taken a single bottle of the supposed love potion. The man watched them move and noted the Qi Beast that seemed to be directing them. When Shi Die and Yan Guo made it to the counter to pay for the love potion, the man started to speak.
"That's very interesting. Such young children coming to the Underground to buy a love potion? I can't say much since you might be children that have ties to the Underground, meaning that your innocence has been lost for a long time. The love potion is for sale for a thousand gold." The man watched Yan Guo take out the necessary amount and paid it straight up. "You're certainly a rich little boy. That Qi Beast of yours is rather interesting as well."
Yan Guo noticed the creepy behaviour of the man, he offered no words to the man and quickly left the shop with Shi Die. Tian Bai was simply snorting at the behaviour the man had been displaying. "I'd love to play a joke on that creepy man but we aren't going to be here for long so let's just get going already."
They moved out of the streets and towards the tavern that Yan Guo had spoken about. Without taking a second glance back, they never noticed that the man behind them was certainly smiling. A grotesque and creepy smile but a smile nonetheless. "Ah... so it seems like Yan Shen's son has grown up. Very interesting. I wonder what changes he could bring to the Underground when he matures... He shouldn't worry about me though, I'm just here to watch." The man looked at the streets before closing shop.
Yan Guo and Shi Die made it to the tavern at record-breaking speed. They decided to move much faster since the man in the store had certainly creeped them out. The people inside of the tavern certainly looked at them for a while, wondering what would possibly bring two children to such a place before going back to doing their own things.
Yan Guo started to whisper to Shi Die. "We're here. Just a bit more before we head back. I don't feel like looking around anymore after that encounter. Besides, we can always come back to the Underground at a later date. We can even bring the others with us. It'll definitely be interesting for Shang Yang and Ye Xiu, considering that the knowledge of being able to buy rare ingredients would lure them in like little ducklings following after their mother."
Shi Die nodded. "Fine by me, that old man did creep me out quite a bit as well. My nose picked up on some very interesting smells in that shop and though the man didn't reek of danger, he certainly smelled like blood."
Yan Guo pulled Shi Die over to a line where many people were waiting. The majority of the people seemed to be men but there were some women as well that were also waiting. It took over an hour until they made it to the receptionist and the receptionist definitely didn't look friendly. She seemed to be scowling and they had heard her snarling at a customer that had managed to piss the receptionist off even more.
The lady snarled. "NEXT!"
Shi Die and Yan Guo walked up and the lady's face seemed to soften. It seemed to them that the lady certainly had a soft spot for children, though she still spoke in an irritated tone. "Name the item that you need and we shall find it for you. If the item is off-limits to you then identification will need to be provided to prove that you do have the proper requirements for us to sell you an item. Please remember that we respect our customer's privacy and we bear no insurance if you manage to lose your item after you leave."
Yan Guo and Shi Die blinked. It seemed like she had memorised what she had to say. Yan Guo, even with all the stories and information that he had provided for Shi Die, had never experienced the Auction Tavern so it was a first for both boys. Yan Guo blinked a few times before handing over the love potion that they had bought. "I'd like to find the antidote for this specific love potion. The price and requirements don't matter." He slid over his father's badge to the receptionist.
The receptionist glanced at the badge and slid it back over towards Yan Guo. "Wait here. One of the Finders will be here later."