The underground market was located beneath a manor in the suburbs of Qianchong City. Before heading over, Zhang Xuan and Zhang Jiuxiao had changed into leisurely clothes, assuming the roles of young scions heading out to play.

"It's said that the person who founded the black market in Qianchong City is an ill-fated scholar. The injustice he has faced from the bureaucratic system has made him harden his heart to the world, and he decided to forsake academics for martial arts. In order to vent the frustrations within him, he created the black market.

"In there, there's nothing that one cannot buy or do as long as one has sufficient money. Of course… the prices there are exorbitant as well. In fact, it could be said to be the greatest money sink in the Qianchong Empire!"

While advancing forward, Zhang Jiuxiao briefly introduced the black market to Zhang Xuan.

"Considering the scale of the black market, isn't it weird that the Qianchong Empire Master Teacher Pavilion and the royal family have left them to their own devices?" Zhang Xuan asked.

Since even an outsider like Zhang Jiuxiao knew about this place, there was no doubt that the royal family and the regional Master Teacher Pavilion were aware of its existence as well. Thus, shouldn't they have moved to strike down the black market instead of allowing it to develop freely, especially considering that they were gambling with the lives of others?

"The Master Teacher Pavilion and royal family do keep a lookout for the black market just in case it gets out of hand, but otherwise, they usually leave it be for stability considerations."

"Stability considerations?" Zhang Xuan asked in incomprehension.

Even though they had not arrived at the black market yet, based on what Zhang Jiuxiao had said so far, it seemed like the black market was effectively a lawless area, devoid of any security or rules. How could an existence like that in Qianchong City possibly contribute to its stability?

"The larger a city is, the more cultivators it has. There's always a lack of cultivation resources, so it's inevitable that cultivators will clash with one another to vie for them. As this is a fundamental problem, there's no way that the royal family or the Master Teacher Pavilion can stop them altogether," Zhang Jiuxiao explained.

"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.

In this world where strength reigned supreme, there was no doubt that raising one's cultivation realm was extremely important. However, given that the resources in the world were limited, there was bound to be conflict and strife over them.

No matter how powerful the Master Teacher Pavilion was, it could not possibly prevent such matters altogether. If it implemented forceful measures to put a halt to such conflicts, it might face serious backlash from the stifled cultivators.

"An underground black market might be unseemly, but it's a possible channel where cultivators can acquire what they need as long as they have enough money. And to earn sufficient money, they have to cultivate harder and battle. With such a channel, there is a lesser need for cultivators to engage in dishonorable actions such as stealing to obtain what they need. While there are quite a few casualties from the Ring of Death, there's no doubt that the security of Qianchong City as a whole has improved," Zhang Jiuxiao said.

Where there was light, there were bound to be shadows as well.

There were misfits even within the Master Teacher Pavilion, let alone the other cultivators. Without an avenue to vent their darker desires or acquire their resources, there was no knowing what extreme actions cultivators might resort to within the city.

As the saying went, 'A lake too clear will sustain no fish; a man too severe will find no companion.'

The existence of a black market was unlawful and should have been frowned on, but if it could reduce crime rates in the city, there would be a meaning to its existence as well.

Take his previous life for example, there was a certain occupation that was banned in several countries. But despite the authorities knowing where the people of that occupation operated, they still allowed its existence. It was not that they could not shut it down, but the occupation served its own role in society. It satisfied the needs of others, and through doing so, it reduced crime rates in that aspect.

If they really eradicated it altogether, that would potentially pose a challenge to the security of the society.

Such was the same for the Qianchong Empire's black market as well.

It was unlawful on the surface, but its existence could prevent societal problems from arising in the city. In view of that, the royal family eventually chose to look the other way when it came to their operations.

As for the Master Teacher Pavilion, as long as there was no grievous injustice being dealt and the matter would not harm mankind in general, it usually would not interfere. After all, its manpower was limited.

Thinking back, it was likely that Hongyuan City, Qingyuan City, and the other capitals should also have had such a place. It was just that Zhang Xuan had been too preoccupied with other matters, and he had never stayed too long in each city either.

Just as Zhang Xuan was in the midst of his thoughts, Zhang Jiuxiao said, "Alright, we have arrived!"

Raising his head, Zhang Xuan saw a massive manor right before him.

Before they could walk into the manor, two middle-aged men stood in their path and demanded, "Token!"

Surprisingly, they were both Primordial Spirit realm experts, and they emanated a powerful killing aura. With just a look, it was clear that they were veterans who had killed many enemies in battle.

Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist and passed an object over.

A middle-aged man took the object and examined it closely before passing two black cloths over, gesturing for them to cover their eyes.

Following Zhang Jiuxiao's lead, Zhang Xuan wrapped the black cloth around his eyes, and he realized that not only did it hinder his sight, even his Spiritual Perception was impeded, preventing him from clearly perceiving his surroundings.

Under the lead of the two middle-aged men, they walked for roughly ten minutes before the cloth around their eyes was finally loosened.

A massive mall came into sight. There was a huge crowd milling about, and they extended all the way to the horizon. Even though they were underground, the brilliant glow of the Night Illumination Pearls had the entire area brightly lit as if it was day.

"This…" Blinking in wonder, Zhang Xuan began scanning his surroundings.

He had been to plenty of trading halls, markets, and malls, and even though the scale of the mall before him was not too big, the items that were on display were truly astounding.

Walking past the various vendors, Zhang Xuan's eyes narrowed in astonishment. "Is that the Black Goldcrystal Ore? It's actually on sale here?"

The Black Goldcrystal Ore was a treasure that Wu Yangzi had left behind in his heritage. It was known to be extremely rare, such that it could not even be found anywhere in Qingyuan City. Yet, in this black market, it was actually placed on public display!

Despite seeing all of this with his own eyes, Zhang Xuan still found it difficult to accept.

Noticing Zhang Xuan's expression, Zhang Jiuxiao chuckled softly. "Even though the Black Goldcrystal Ore is rare, it isn't completely unobtainable. It isn't that surprising for it to be on sale here."

He had also been like that the first time he entered the black market, hardly daring to believe the treasures that were being sold so casually around him. However, after seeing more of it, he had gradually grown used to it.

"Cultivation technique manuals, Saint intermediate-tier artifacts, intelligence… As expected of a black market, they really have everything here!" Zhang Xuan remarked in awe as they walked along the street.

It was really as if everything was on sale there, regardless of whether the item was lawful or unlawful.

Upon seeing a store that sold cultivation technique manuals, Zhang Xuan stopped and asked, "Are there are Half-Leaving Aperture realm and Leaving Aperture realm cultivation techniques here?"

"We do. Depending of the tier of the cultivation technique manual, we will charge different prices!" the elder watching the store replied lazily.

The black market also had its own guards to maintain security. As such, the vendors did not fear that their good would be snatched.

"Oh? How much do they cost?" Zhang Xuan asked.

Gesturing to the board beside him, the elder replied nonchalantly, "Take a look at it yourself."

Saint intermediate-tier cultivation techniques and battle techniques cost roughly ten concentrated high-tier spirit stones at the minimum. Naturally, those of lower tiers were slightly cheaper.

The price of a single book was still acceptable for Zhang Xuan, but if he had to buy the thousands of books required for him to successfully compile a Heaven's Path Divine Art, that would really be a huge expenditure.

"How many Half-Leaving Aperture realm and Leaving Aperture realm cultivation technique manuals do you have?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"I have a total of 327 for Half-Leaving Aperture realm and 52 for Leaving Aperture realm. They are all on the shelves there. They have been sealed, so don't bother using your Spiritual Perception to scan them. If there's a book you are interested in, fork out the money and I'll copy down a new one for you. Don't worry, the cultivation techniques we have here are all complete and detailed. We even have the Crouching Dragon Art, which the Qianchong royal family practices, and the Supersonic Severing Swordsmanship that Pavilion Master Yue practices. The prices are very fair as well," the elder said with a proud wave of his hand.

Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan looked at the bookshelves before him. There were quite a few books on them, but they had been sealed with some kind of special formation, making it impossible to view their content through Spiritual Perception.

However… When had Zhang Xuan needed to rely on Spiritual Perception to read a book?

Sweeping across them with his eyes, he muttered in his mind, Flaws!


The shelves of books immediately materialized in the Library of Heaven's Path.

These books were indeed high quality, but it was a pity that they were lacking in quantity, so he was still unable to compile a complete Heaven's Path Divine Art.

There's really the royal family's Crouching Dragon Art and Pavilion Master Yue's swordsmanship… Isn't this black market a little too powerful? Zhang Xuan exclaimed internally after swiftly browsing through the books in the Library of Heaven's Path.

On his journey here from Tianxuan Kingdom, the cultivation techniques practiced by the royal families had all been confidential secrets. Outsiders would never be allowed to even come close to them, let alone lay their hands on them. Yet, for them to actually appear in a black market like this, placed on public display for sale… this was really frightening in another way.

Seeing that Zhang Xuan was scanning through the books, the elder asked casually, "Which one do you wish to buy? I'll have it copied for you."

"There's no need for it…" Zhang Xuan shook his head.

Since he had already collected those books into the Library of Heaven's Path, there was no need for him to waste precious concentrated high-tier spirit stones on them, not to mention that he did not have the money to afford any at the moment anyway.

On the other hand, seeing that Zhang Xuan would not be buying anything, the elder turned his head away coldly, not wanting to waste any effort on him anymore.

There were plenty of people who would ask him for the prices of his cultivation technique manuals just to put on a show despite not having the money to afford them. He was already used to it.

After leaving the book vendor, Zhang Xuan continued proceeding ahead. There were really all kinds of valuable treasures on sales, and even grade-7 pinnacle pills could be found here and there.

Zhang Jiuxiao pointed to the area ahead of him and said, "Zhang shi, the shop up ahead is the place where one can trade items for concentrated high-tier spirit stones. If you have some spare high-tier spirit stones or other miscellaneous artifacts, you can have them exchanged for concentrated high-tier spirit stones. However, the prices will be pushed down, so you might not get a good exchange rate."

Turning his gaze over, Zhang Xuan saw a store with a long and narrow reception. There were two attendants on wait there, and there were hardly any customers to be seen.

Walking up, Zhang Xuan took a look at the exchange rate listed on the wall, and his mouth began twitching uncontrollably.

It sure was a huge scam.

Under normal circumstances, the exchange rate for high-tier spirit stones to concentrated high-tier spirit stones was 1,000:1. However, the store actually tripled it, turning it into 3,000:1.

In other words, he had to exchange three thousand high-tier spirit stones for a single concentrated high-tier spirit stone!

Most cultivators would pretty much have to bankrupt themselves just to trade for a single concentrated high-tier spirit stone here.

At the same time, the average price for Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle Saint intermediate-tier artifacts would be around ten concentrated high-tier spirit stones, but over here, it was only worth three. Even Leaving Aperture realm Saint intermediate-tier artifacts were only worth six.

Well, Ding Ding is still rather valuable, worth about roughly thirty concentrated high-tier spirit stones… Zhang Xuan stroked his chin as he swiftly calculated the price of the Golden Origin Cauldron.

Even though plundering the Ten Great Kings and Qingtian Emperor and the sales of the Cloudmist Flower had earned him a fair sum, all in all, that only added up to roughly sixty thousand high-tier spirit stones. In order to raise his soul cultivation, he had expended quite a number of them, so he only had roughly forty thousand of them left at the moment.

In other words, he could only trade for ten concentrated high-tier spirit stones in this store!

That did not even come close to the value of his Ding Ding!

Zhang Xuan pondered hard for a moment before eventually shaking his head. Forget it, that fellow has been rather loyal to me, so I can't really sell it.

Sighing deeply, Zhang Xuan walked up to the attendant.

"I want to trade for concentrated high-tier spirit stones."

"How many do you need?" the attendant asked nonchalantly.

"How many can I trade all of this for?"

Hong long!

With a loud boom, a huge bunch of high-tier spirit stones, weapons, medicinal herbs, ores, and the like fell to the ground, raising a cloud of dust in the area.

"So many items?"

The attendant rose to his feet in astonishment.This is a saying usually used as a philosophy toward governance. Basically, what it means that a rule too authoritative could result in a backlash from the populace. If you were to impose all kinds of lofty ideals and strict rules upon the populace, even if out of goodwill, it's unlikely that the common populace will be able to accept it. Sometimes, it might be good to leave some grayness between the black and white, as well as to leave some space for others to breathe.



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