After traveling through the night without much rest, Zhang and Wenji were currently being greeted by a beautiful morning sun and glimpses of a large city through the woods.
They were also able to catch sight of a few peculiar looking mountains, call the Black Devil Range, off in the distance as they came closer and closer to the city.
According to what Uncle Li had told Zhang, roughly one hundred years ago, Twin Blade City was but a small nameless village, like many of the other villages that were scattered throughout the surrounding area.
Just like any other insignificant village, it was oppressed and exhorted by bands of traveling bandits that roamed the surrounding mountains. For years, the area that would one day become Twin Blade City was ruled by a local group of bandits called the Silver and Gold Sword Bandits.
Tyrannical and cutthroat, these bandits killed whomever they wanted and took whatever they wanted, be it gold, silver, or even women. However, they all changed when they had kidnapped a certain village girl.
In actuality this village girl did not differ very much from the girls that these bandits had kidnapped before, to them she wasn't anything special, and her beauty could only be called average, however the one thing that set her apart from the rest, was that she was loved by a young man named Mang De.
After having his beloved taken from him and being beaten a half step away from death, in a grief and rage induced state, Mang De charged into the Black Devil Range and was not heard from for five days and five nights.
Believing her beloved had died and that no one could aid her, the young woman could only wallow in despair as she was forced to marry the leader of the Gold and Silver Sword Bandits six days after being captured by them.
However contrary to what everyone thought, Mang De actually didn't die in the mountains, rather he returned on the day that his beloved was supposed to be married off, with a pair of peculiar looking blades in hand.
During his trip to the Black Devil Range, Mang De had actually fallen into a hole in the ground and just as luck would have it this hole was filled with gold and treasure. Amongst the treasures found in this hole were a pair of golden blades that were said to possess the ability to cut through anything.
Using these blades that would be known throughout the land as the Twin Blades, the namesake of Twin Blade City, Mang De would rescue his beloved, slay the bandits and lay down the foundation for what would become Twin Blade City.
“Little brother, are you sure you don't want to stay with us?” Uncle Li asked Zhang as the caravan arrived at the gates of Twin Blade City.
“Uncle Li, we appreciate your hospitality, but I think you've helped us enough. Not only do we not want to overstay our welcome, knowing brother Zhang, he's already got a plan of what he wants to do once we enter the city.” Wenji said before Zhang could utter a response to Uncle Li’s question.
“We will be sure to visit you and the others often, but for now I have a few things I wish to accomplish when we get into the city.” Zhang said with a smile.
“Are you two sure? If anything, I can at least provide you two with lodgings until you've got your feet on the ground.” Uncle Li said.
“Uncle Li I think you have other things to worry about rather than the two of us. I'm sure you have a whole bunch of business to attend. Like for instance bridging connections and such.” Wenji said with a chuckle as she saw how persistent Uncle Li was being.
“Fine, however, if the two of you ever need something, simply go to the Li Trading company located in the center of the city and I'll do my best to help you. If it was not for the two of you, I don't know what could have possibly happened to Little Ming and his mother.” Uncle Li said.
“We will be sure to keep that in mind, Uncle Li.” Zhang replied while clasping his hands in a respectful manner.
“Also since this is your first time traveling to Twin Blade City, let me remind you that there are a few people you can't offend. If you meet anyone from the Jiang or Mang clan, as long as their demands aren't too outrageous, simply comply. Then there are people from the Tiger Claw Dojo, I heard their leader, Tong Xi is a core realm cultivator and not someone you would want to trifle with. These three powers hold the city entirely in their grasp and it is best not to get on their bad side.” Uncle Li said as a reminder to Zhang and Wenji.
“I will try my best to avoid getting into trouble, Uncle Li. However, sometimes, it is not you who seeks trouble but it is trouble who seeks you.” Zhang said as he thanked Uncle Li, and departed with Wenji and the pups.
After paying a small entry fee, Zhang and Wenji found themselves in front of a long snaking street filled brimming with liveliness.
“Alright let’s go find a place to stay before we start putting our plans into motion.” Zhang said before slyly grabbing Wenji’s hand and pulling her along.
“You…” Wenji's mumbled in a low tone but did not withdraw her hand and simply continued walking.
Upon entering the city, Zhang had bought a map off of one of the guards and using it he was able to smoothly navigate through the complex alleyways and intersecting streets that ran throughout Twin Blade City.
Instead of heading toward a small inn or a hotel, Zhang and Wenji continued to walk until they arrived at what was called the middle ring of the city.
“This place should be good. It's far enough from the center of the city that we won't be bothered by the so-called elites but close enough to where we won't have to worry about the pesky hooligans that reside in the outer ring.” Zhang to Wenji as they arrived on a moderately quiet residential area.
Believing it would be much wiser to buy a manner of their own instead of renting out a room in a seedy inn, Zhang had decided to stay in the city’s middle ring.
“That one over there looks to be for sale. Just our luck.” Wenji said with a light chuckle and bright eyes as she pointed into the distance toward a manor with a for sale sign stuck to one of the stone lions situated in front of its gate.
“Manor for sale, please ring the gong if you are interested in purchasing, serious buyers only. Kids who live across the street stop ringing the gong, I know where you live and will give you a good spanking.” Wenji said as read aloud the sale sign.
“Interesting.” Zhang muttered with a laugh as he gripped and pulled Wenji’s hand forward once again.
After a few dozen or so steps, the duo arrived in front of a moderately large gate that lead into what appeared to be a somewhat shabby looking manor.
Although one couldn't call it run down, this manor was in shambles. Roof tiles were missing or broken, many of the paper windows were riddled with holes and the place gave an all-around dirty presence. Upon seeing the state the manor was in, instead of being taken back, Zhang’s eyes actually lit up.
“You seem rather excited.” Wenji said with a chuckle as she saw how bright Zhang’s face had become.
“It looks like it is our lucky day. Let’s go find out if there is anyone around.” Zhang said with a chuckle as he arrived in front of a mid-sized gong that was placed in the middle of the manor’s gate. A second prior to striking the gong three times, Zhang noticed an odd puddle off at the corner of the gate but did not pay it too much attention to it.
“Coming!” A voice belonging to what sounded to be a middle-aged man could be heard after the sound of the gong rang through the air. Within the voice, one could sense eagerness and excitement mixed together to create anticipation.
Before long a middle-aged man with a stern yet warm features came out from within the manor. As silly as it may seem, at first the middle-aged man looked extremely happy but the second he caught sight of Zhang and Wenji his eagerness was replaced with a trace of anger.
“Which one of those brats sent you! Was it that weird one that keeps coming here to take a piss in front of the gate?” The middle-aged man yelled angrily.
“Piss? Front gate?” Zhang mumbled as he suddenly realized what that puddle in the corner of the gate was, prompting him to instinctively move in the opposite direction while pulling Wenji with him.
“Mister, we were hoping to inquire how much the owner of this manor was hoping to sell it for.” Wenji asked as the middle-aged man arrived in front of her and Zhang.
“I’ve had enough of your pranks! Tell me where those snot-nosed brats are, or else I’ll give you a light spanking also.” The middle-aged man yelled.
“I’m sorry but we don’t know what you’re talking about, we simply want to know how much this house is being sold for. If the price is right, we’ll take it.” Zhang said in a calm tone.
“Chen Bao, you little bastard! Stop trying to prank me! Don’t think I’ll fall for your tricks again! What kind of fool would I be if I believe two teenaged kids could afford to buy a manor!” The middle-aged man yelled as he walked passed Zhang and angrily screamed to the manor on the opposite side of the street.
“Let’s go look for a different place, it looks like he doesn’t want to sell…” Wenji said with a sigh as she tugged on Zhang’s sleeve.
“Let me try one more time.” Zhang said with a chuckle as he flipped his hand and retrieved a single gold coin from his interspatial ring.
“Mister, I don’t know who you think is trying to prank you but I’ll give you this if you calm down and answer our question.” Zhang said as he lifted up the gold coin and presented it to the middle-aged man who looked back at him with a confused expression.
“Take it… Before I change my mind and decide to buy another manor… I’m sure this isn’t the only one in the city up for sale.” Zhang said as he saw the middle aged man act somewhat hesitant.
“It’s it’s it’s real!” The middle-aged man yelled as he took the gold coin from Zhang and bit into it.
“Young master! How may I, Zhong Cheng, be of service to you!” The middle-aged man said as sparkling gold coins appeared in his eyes.
“How much for this house?” Wenji asked in an impatient tone.
“Although this place holds a lot of sentimental value, however for a bargain price of ten thousand gold coins, I might be willing to let this place go.” The middle-aged man said while rubbing his hands while smiling.
Hmmmm, five thousand gold coins.” Zhang said as he made his way into the manor, walking into a large courtyard.
“Five thousand gold coins for this place? Why don’t you do rob a bank?” The middle-aged man yelled in an astonished tone.
“Many of the roof tiles are broken, meaning a lot of water must have made its way into the buildings, which could possibly result in the wooden beams holding the buildings being soaked by water and rotting. If I buy this place I may have to knock down all of the buildings and rebuild it from scratch. Good luck getting five hundred gold coins once the wooden beams snap and the buildings crumble in on themselves.” Zhang said in an insightful manner.
“Rotten beams? Topple over?” The middle-aged man mumbled as he fell into deep thought.
“I don’t like waiting for I’ll give you an extra five hundred gold coins if you make up your mind within the next ten seconds…” Zhang said with a yawn while Wenji looked at him with a face full of intrigue.
“Deal! Let me go get the deed.” The middle-aged man said as he stuck his hand out and shook hands with Zhang before running off into one of the dozen or so rooms circling the courtyard.
“So why did you want to get this place if it’s going to fall apart?” Wenji asked with a slight giggle.
“You see that? That’s sandalwood, and judging by its color, it should have come from a tree that had been around a thousand years old. Even if you allow the rain to batter it for a few hundred years, that wood would still not be even a tiny bit damaged. If we were to tear down the place and sell the sandalwood, we could probably hundreds of thousands of gold coins.” Zhang said in a soft whisper while chuckling.
“Should I be amazed at how you were able to spot the sandalwood from a mere glance or at how you were able to barter this place into a bargain.” Wenji laughed.
“Let me remind you, my family have been merchants for countless generations and spotting a good deal is what we are best at.” Zhang said with a grin while puffing out his chest.
Although Zhang wasn’t lacking wealth at the moment and could actually be considered very wealthy, after being taught the art of haggling for many years, he couldn’t help himself.
“Young master, if you can sign here and give me five thousand and five hundred gold coins by the end of today, this manor is yours.” The middle-aged man said in a cheerful tone.
“I’ll give you six thousand gold coins if you can help me gather a bit of information before you leave.” Zhang said as he pulled a sack filled with gold coins out from his robes.