Chapter 18: First transaction
Lu Mingshu immediately sought out Hui Niang once she'd left the Truth Courtyard.
The Nine Jade Palace's workers, who'd been chosen from the Jiulü Province, were the ones mainly responsible for the chores in the sect. They were registered in the Nine Jade Palace, thus they could be conferred techniques.
The Nine Jade Palace also had some hard labor that required more manpower than it had available, thus they would occasionally hire external help. As they were external hires, these people wouldn't be registered in the Nine Jade Palace's register. Not only were the jobs they did extremely tiring, they even had low status and were basically laborers.
Since Hui Niang and Ah Sheng weren't from the Jiulü Province, their only choice was for them to become workers if they wanted to stay.
When Lu Mingshu found Hui Niang, she was in the midst of washing laundry.
The Nine Jade Palace was located in an elevated and cold area, and December would arrive soon. As such, the icy cold water that Hui Niang used from a nearby creek had caused her hands to turn red and swell.
When Hui Niang realized that Lu Mingshu was present, she hastily got up and wiped her hands. "Miss…"
One look was all it took for Lu Mingshu to know that the money she'd given Hui Niang had been useless.
She stayed silent as she took out a few more banknotes.
Hui Niang panicked when she saw the banknotes. "Miss, this…"
"Hui Niang, take the money. I need you to help me buy some herbs from below the mountain."
Hui Niang's heart calmed down when she heard this. "Miss, what do you need me to get you?"
Lu Mingshu handed a piece of paper to her.
Hui Niang carefully looked through the list, then pocketed it. "I'll get Ah Sheng to go down the mountain and buy herbs for Miss tomorrow."
"Remember to get some herbs for your hands." Lu Mingshu added.
When she saw Hui Niang's gradually reddening face, she continued, "Aunt Hui, please don't think about suffering on your own. If you're suffering, I'll suffer too. I know that the both of you have an enormous amount of goodwill towards me, but if you don't want me to constantly be worried, you can't continue to wholeheartedly endure hardship, just for the sake of giving me a good name."
Hui Niang lowered her head. "I truly am useless. Madam entrusted Miss to me, yet I…"
Lu Mingshu lightly smiled. "How are you useless? Don't I need someone to help me in descending the mountain right now?"
Hui Niang's grasp tightened on the banknotes she'd received from Lu Mingshu, but she remained silent.
"Listen to me. Do less of this hard labour, and try not to tire yourself out as much. Both of you should spend your days well so that you have the ability to take care of me."
Hui Niang wiped tears away from her eyes and softly answered, "Alright, I'll listen to Miss."
Lu Mingshu sighed in relief when she heard Hui Niang. Afterward, they discussed a few more issues before Lu Mingshu set off to return to the Green Jade Valley.
Currently, Lu Mingshu's only option was to continue doing things as she had been. For the sake of their future, she needed to think of another way to give Hui Niang and Ah Sheng a better life.
The sun had already set by the time she returned to the Green Jade Valley.
Liu Jizhen didn't ask her how she was, nor did Lu Mingshu speak of it.
Both of them ate their dinner, then returned to their respective houses once they'd cleaned up. Now that Liu Jizhen had a disciple, he'd made some changes to his lifestyle. For example, how often he showered had increased. Even though he didn't care about his appearance, he was still, at the very least, not filthy.
1Lu Mingshu didn't enter the Heavenly Wheel immediately. Instead, she took out a pen and a piece of paper. She jotted down everything she had related to opening one's meridians, then carefully recalled everything relevant she could from the Heavenly Wheel and jotted it down.
Once she'd jotted it all down, she began to compare it all.
Besides The Spirit Pill, there were only a few basic techniques used to awaken one's meridians. The only difference among most was the complimentary herbs added to the Pill's recipe in order to increase its efficiency. Thus, the reason that secret recipes weren't to be divulged to an outsider from the various Sects and Clans was due to these complementary herbs. Based on what she read, the grade of the complementary herbs used in the creation of the Spirit Pill would affect how much one's potential was unlocked when they awakened their meridians.
Lu Mingshu continuously pondered over which complementary herbs would be best to use. However, she couldn't rashly decide, thus she entered the Heavenly Wheel.
She found the message she'd previously seen about items on clearance and browsed through the message's wares.
This dear clearance friend was most likely a collectionist, as he had practically everything in the belongings he exhibited, so much so that they didn't seem to be limited to a single world. A vast majority of them were just basic technique manuals and books, which were commonly referred to as garbage. Not many people would want them, yet it would be a pity if they were simply thrown away.
After browsing the sender's wares for a while, she sent him a message.
[ Big brother, do you have any secret recipes for awakening one's meridians? ]
The person was actually present when she sent him her message, as a reply quickly came.
[ I have them! I have all sorts of Basic Technique manuals! Anything that you need is available! Don't hesitate to tell me anything you need! We can discuss this more in a private chat. ]
Lu Mingshu thought.
[ May I ask what a private chat is? ]
She'd only just asked when a streamer suddenly flew out from one of the leaves and transformed into a circle of airflow in front of her.
A rugged voice was then emitted from the airflow circle, "Brother, what do you want?"
Lu Mingshu jumped up in shock.
She calmed her nerves, then said, "Big brother, I want a secret recipe meant to awaken a Martial Practitioner's meridians.
The brother was shocked when he heard her voice. "Eh, so it's a little girl? You aren't very old, right?" However, he didn't wait for an answer and immediately continued, "It seems like you're from the line of Martial Practitioners. No problem, I have at least a dozen relevant secret recipes on hand. I'll go ahead and peck them all up for you!"
1Lu Mingshu instantly felt happy, but worry soon took over her. "That… what do I need to give you in return? Silver…? Un, I still have some, but I have to go to the bank first…"
"No need, no need!" The brother heartily laughed. "I can earn silver anywhere. As such, wouldn't it be silly if I earned silver through the Heavenly Wheel?"
"But… I don't have anything valuable…" Almost all of her money had been used up during her trip to Xichuan from Dongyue. She only had a single stack of banknotes left now. When Lu Mingshu recounted her possessions, the most valuable item that she had was actually the jade pendant that the Young Master Lian Zhen had given her.
Speaking of which, that Young Master Lian Zhen was really quite odd; Although the pendant had a pretty colour, and had the Big Dipper engraved on it—one star slightly larger than the other six—it looked to just be a keepsake.
"I'm guessing that you don't have anything valuable on you, as what you want are these Basic Technique manuals. However, I'm having a clearance sale. No matter what, everyone will always gain some small advantages. How about this: Do you have any books? I love collecting books, so if you can bring me some useful books, I'll accept them in return for the manuals."
Lu Mingshu immediately thought of the Book Collection Pavilion in the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion. There were lots of books there that nobody wanted, plus her Master definitely wouldn't object to her desire to read.
"I do have some! What kind of books do you want?"
"Secret Technique manuals, geography books about the mountains and plains, historical classics, folktales… It doesn't really matter to me."
Lu Mingshu thought for a moment, then said, "Big brother, I'll need some time to copy these books, but I'm not sure if you can wait…"
"Copy them? There's no need for you to!" Who would've thought that he would then say, "Here, let me teach you a method that will make a copy for you, and allow you to send it to me."
Lu Mingshu was stunned the moment the door to a new world opened up.
This person's number in the Heavenly Wheel was 14336, and once the two had grown slightly familiar with one another, he forthrightly asked her to call him Brother Six. Afterward, he decided that he would address her as Little Sister Seven, as her number ended in a 7. Even though they hadn't had much of a relationship prior to this, he'd managed to bring them closer together.
(TL note: Lu Mingshu's no. is 15127)
Brother Six was a very warm-hearted person. He taught her how to initiate a private chat with someone, and also taught her the method to copy books with. Afterward, they agreed on a time to contact each other again.
Lu Mingshu let out a sigh of relief when she left the Heavenly Wheel.
She'd finally resolved the issue of awakening her meridians.
The next day, she asked Liu Jizhen if she could read at the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion.
Liu Jizhen simply threw a bundle of keys towards her and told her to do as she pleased.
Lu Mingshu held onto the keys as she passed through the middle of the mountain and embarked on a stone path.
It had already been 500 years since the Nine Jade Palace was founded, and nearly 400 years since the founder had died in a seated position. Despite how much time had passed, the Heavenly Ascension Pavilion's books were still in very good condition.
Stone rooms were arranged neatly and orderly on both sides of the stone path, while bookshelves lined the walls. The bookshelves were covered in a rare perfume and had a board over each shelf, both of which protected the shelves from collecting dust.
The library had still gone a long time without maintenance however, thus the papers had turned yellow with age and had become fragile.
Lu Mingshu carefully unlocked the lock to the library and removed it, then swiftly entered the Heavenly Wheel.
The Heavenly Wheel was a projection of reality, thus the original version of a book wouldn't enter it. Instead, its projection would. This projection was exactly the ‘copying method' she'd been taught by Brother Six.
Brother Six had told her that books were a very special exception inside of the Heavenly Wheel. You'd normally need to construct a special channel if you wanted to take other things out of it, but books were an exception due to the most important thing about them being their content.
Once she'd busied herself with the projections for a while, it had almost reached the arranged time for her to contact Brother Six.