Chapter Seven Debt
Even though the Qin Dynasty did not stop ordinary citizens from carrying weapons or holding some public competitions, more powerful weapons, cultivation equipment, and cultivation manuals were forbidden from being traded.
The things that a cultivator wanted to obtain were mostly not permitted to be traded.
But those things hid in the Fish Market like fish under lotus leaves. The Fish Market had formed naturally and the businesses were not legal.
How could a market like this at the border of Changling manage to survive for so many years under the eyes of such important people?
A young foreigner to the city with thick eyebrows felt puzzled by this.
He held a slightly worn yellow paper umbrella, and wore short black gauze robes that the people of Changling would rarely wear. He did not wear shoes and went barefoot.
The worn yellow umbrella in his hand was large, but in order to cover the person in front of him, a small part of his body was soaked due to exposure exposed to the elements.
The person in front of him was a short youth dressed like a scholar. His face was narrow and his features delicate, especially his skin which was white and flawless.
Looking at the raindrops that dropped off the layers of roofs in the Fish Market, the heavy-browed young person frowned. He couldn’t help but ask the young person in front of him. “Master, how could this market continue to exist?”
The person dressed like a scholar laughed coldly. “This kind of market can only stay here due to the two prime ministers’ wishes.”
The thick-browed young person looked with puzzlement at him.
“Illegal business will usually bring higher profit. High profit will have more people bring in more things without regard for their life.”
The young person dressed like a scholar said coldly, “In these years, the reason that many precious and rare treasures could reach Changling, and the establishment of relationships with primitive countries overseas is not just because of the Wei River, but also this Fish Market. For those people high up in court, they can obtain things they could not obtain before from here. Consequently, they silently allow this place to continue to exist. Of course, the people who do business here know what kind of peace is needed here so this is a market larger than any other in the country but even safer and well-managed.”
“You have to understand one thing, any business has to bring people more benefit so that people will be interested in doing business with you. The great majority of people will not scheme with a tiger. They will not easily trade with those people who are much higher in status than them and could eat them in one gulp.” The young person dressed like a scholar looked at the thick-browed person and said calmly, “Because this basic rule exists, I am confident in coming here for a discussion.”
The Fish Market’s paths rose and fell, many of them muddy and hard to walk. Dozens of passageways layered on top of each other. For people who did not usually come here, it was a maze.
Yet for the great majority of businesspeople in Fish market who did not like those who roamed around randomly, they would not object if the paths became more complex and harder to walk.
The rainy day was dark, and the shops covered by the huts caused the paths to be darker. Only a few stores had put up lanterns.
The occasional lights were abnormalities that flickered in the wind.
Many people were still in the Fish Market. Ding Ning folded his umbrella and used it as a staff as he made his way with familiarity to the deepest parts of Fish Market.
Due to the storm, the Fish Market’s usually dry mud ground was now flooded with water. The water was just half a meter away from most foot bridges. Many small boats and wooden buckets floated around in the muddy water below the foot bridges.
Following along a swaying wooden bridge made from planks, Ding Ning waked into a very small tower.
This was a very small print shop that sold ink and paper.
The store owner was a widow over sixty. Because she did not have many expenses, and many of the transactions in Fish Market required seals or handprints, as the only print shop, her ink sold well, and she could make a living.
Because there usually wasn’t any business, this white-haired old woman was sitting and drinking tea in a crude cup before she saw Ding Ning. When she saw Ding Ning, her wrinkled face suddenly had a warm smile. she took out a plate of nuts from a nearby shelf and waited.
“Why did you come in the rain?”
This old woman was relieved seeing that only Ding Ning’s grass shoes were wet. She took out another pair of grass shoes for Ding Ning to put on.
Ding Ning smiled and did not refuse. He washed his feet at the edge of the tower, and then put on the clean worn grass shoes. Then he examined the rooftop and the walls of this building.
There were leaks on the roof and the walls, but they did not appear serious.
Ding Ning was relieved as well. He sat down on the bench next to the old woman and said, “I worried when I saw the heavy rain yesterday and wanted to see you. But I had some business, and I was delayed until now.”
The old woman laughed. She became happy whenever she saw Ding Ning.
“What problems could there be?” she laughed and said, “you frequently repair my building uses more effort than those ship repairmen. I think if the rain is heavier, and rains for a few more days, all of the buildings here will leak, but not mine.”
Seeing her smile, Ding Ning’s mood got better. He grabbed some dried nuts, chewing as he asked, “is there something you need to buy? I will get them for you.”
“My firewood, rice, oil and salt are all still full. So just rest.” The old woman shook her head. Looking at Ding Ning’s slightly pale face, she couldn’t help but shake her head again, and asked affectionally, “Did you eat lunch?”
“I did, pickled cabbage and fish noodles.” Ding Ning smiled.
The old woman was slightly displeased and said in a firm tone, “Then eat dinner here.”
“Alright.” Ding Ning nodded to indicate his agreement. “I want to eat pancakes.”
“I will make braised fish and pickled chicken legs for you.” The old woman glanced at him accusingly, her eyes full of meaning. “The pancakes are really that good? You were young back then. When you came here, it was normal for me to make you pancakes. Even now, you still think about the pancakes. If you did business, and you helped someone do things for so many years just because of a pancake, you will have lost greatly.”
“No losses.” Ding Ning smiled and said, “I mostly just keep you company, talk to you, listen to your stories, and ate a lot of free meals.”
The old woman shook her head, her eyes complex. “Keeping company and talking to me is the biggest blessing for a lonely old person without any relatives. Many people in Changling have died in battles. There are may people of my age, but rare are the ones that have the same good fortune as me.”
Ding Ning did not say anything and chewed on dried nuts like a squirrel.
On a winter day many years ago, he passed through here. The gentle old woman had given him a warm pancake. After that, he frequently came here to see the old woman, and do what he could.
But he knew very well this was not the matter of the pancake.
Because he owed her.
He owed many people. He could only hope that he could pay it off or compensate them.
After chatting for a while with the old woman and hearing her talk about recent events in Fish Market, Ding Ning bid farewell and left. He roamed around for a while, and then turned to go deeper into the Fish market.
At this time, Song Shenshu should have entered the Fish Market.
Song Shenshu was a minor librarian official, and someone Ding Ning was familiar with.
But unlike this old woman with her print shop, Ding Ning did not owe Song Shenshu. Song Shenshu owed Ding Ning.
In the past years of silent observation, Ding Ning had learned some of Song Shenshu’s habits, and knew what problems he encountered in his cultivation at present.
So he was certain that Song Shenshu would come today to get the Fire Turtle Gallbladder and appear in front of him.