Chapter 128: Library
After putting the canned food, energy bars, and compressed biscuits that needed to be exchanged for coins into an unmarked cardboard box and handing it to Shang Jianyao, Bai Chen shook open the tent cloth to cover the Orange rifle, the Berserker assault rifle, the Tyrant grenade launcher, the Death rocket launcher, the various ammunition rounds, the first-aid kit, and the remaining supplies.
This way, one couldn’t discover anything of value if they only looked in through the window.
Upon seeing this, Jiang Baimian nodded indiscernibly, her eyes filled with praise.
After packing the trunk, Bai Chen turned around and saw Long Yuehong’s confused expression. She simply explained, “It’s easy to hide from serious bandits, but it’s difficult to guard against petty thieves. Auntie Nan’s place isn’t too orderly.”
In places that were too orderly, outsiders were relatively eye-catching.
Jiang Baimian smiled and added, “When we return, we have to move some things upstairs and place them by our side. Only then can things be safe.”
She didn’t mention the continuation of night shifts and monitoring the jeep from the second floor because she didn’t know what trouble they would be embroiled in next. Maintaining their energy was a relatively important matter.
Sometimes, in a situation where one had insufficient sleep for days, one’s reaction would be half a beat slower or even a full beat slower when something unexpected happened—even if they felt energized and fine.
Humans could make sensory mistakes, especially when it came to their self-awareness.
Long Yuehong nodded, not fully understanding. He saw Shang Jianyao carrying the cardboard box and walking to the courtyard exit by Ah Fu’s Gun Shop.
The alleys were relatively narrow in Weed City, allowing only one car to pass through. The buildings around them were more than ten meters tall. This resulted in only having abundant sunlight at noon every winter that could chase away the coldness.
But when they left the alley and came to the main street, the sunlight became warm. It warmed them, and the wind was not that biting.
Jiang Baimian looked at the pedestrians coming and going and said to Long Yuehong and Bai Chen, “Two of us will each form a team and widen the distance between us a little. The characteristics of a team of four are too obvious.”
Without needing much explanation, Bai Chen immediately understood her team leader’s meaning and quickened her pace with Long Yuehong.
Soon, the two teams were about five to six meters apart.
Long Yuehong looked around curiously. “There’s no public cafeteria here? There are quite a number of people in noodle shops and restaurants…”
This didn’t match his imagination of wilderness nomad settlements.
Be it Moat Town or Qifeng Town, they were closer to what he expected in this regard.
“There are many foreign Ruin Hunters here,” Bai Chen explained in the simplest words.
Long Yuehong knew this fact very well. He even knew that Weed City was a spot where supplies were exchanged amongst three major factions. There were many people coming and going every day, but it was a little quiet during winter. However, he didn’t understand what this had to do with his question.
Bai Chen glanced at him and continued, “Most outsiders won’t stay long in Weed City. Every time they come, they will stay for two weeks at most. They will either stay in motels or rent short-term rooms. There’s no place to cook.”
“Is that so…” Long Yuehong finally understood.
This was an impossible situation inside Pangu Biology.
Even if one went to other floors to visit their relatives and friends, they could return home quickly or be invited to stay overnight. Therefore, there were no hotels or rooms rented by the day in the underground building.
As they spoke, Jiang Baimian suddenly quickened her pace and rushed forward. She spoke as if she were a stranger asking for directions. “Will there be more people in this alley at night?”
She was referring to the alley opposite the South Street Slave Market.
Bai Chen recalled and answered, “On winter nights, there’s nobody outside except in the West Street area.”
“Thank you.” Jiang Baimian smiled brightly. She then returned to Shang Jianyao’s side.
“Team Leader’s acting is really good…” Long Yuehong praised sincerely.
Bai Chen didn’t say anything else and continued walking toward Central Square.
Compared to other places in Weed City, this place appeared very spacious. The ground seemed to have been repaired and was relatively flat. In the middle of the square was a stone statue of a human. It was of an elder holding a gun in one hand and a book in the other.
He had a thin face and wore a hooded robe that didn’t seem conducive for movement. His slightly sunken eyes were watching the humans coming and going in front of him.
“Is this the illegitimate son, Xu Erde?” Long Yuehong asked with interest.
“Yes.” Bai Chen circled around the stone statue and walked toward the municipal building in the north. “Actually, the most accurate title for him should be Weed City’s governor. However, everyone is more accustomed to calling him castellan. Yes… There’s also a tax collector who directly answers to First City. The kiosks also come under him.”
Long Yuehong wanted to ask what ‘tax’ was, but he felt that he had asked too many questions along the way. It was better to ask next time.
Before long, they arrived in front of the municipal building.
This was a four-story building. It was brownish-yellow in color, and there were some flower beds in front of it. Nearly ten windows had their shutters open at the municipal building’s ground floor. Many people were lining up in front of each kiosk.
“The seven on the left are the exchange kiosks.” Bai Chen led Long Yuehong to the line with the least people. “The blackboard in front has the exchange rates for the different supplies today. We can’t exchange using supplies that aren’t on it.”
“Are ours fine?” Long Yuehong suddenly felt a little worried.
“No faction will refuse food.” Bai Chen was very certain.
In fact, people like them who exchanged food for coins were a minority. Most people came to Weed City to exchange other supplies for food reserves. However, they had to use First City’s coins during this process.
Long Yuehong heaved a sigh of relief and curiously asked, “What should we do if there are supplies that can’t be exchanged? Head to the underground market?”
Bai Chen looked around as if she wanted to determine the length of the other lines. “You can also go through the streets and peddle them. Or you can spend some supplies and set up a stall in an official market. These are all considered relatively wasteful choices. After coming here a few more times and getting familiar with them, you can get to know the main buyers of different supplies and directly negotiate with them.”
At this moment, Jiang Baimian cupped her hands and pointed at Long Yuehong’s team with her chin. “Go line up there. I saw a public library by the side. I’ll go in and take a look.”
On the right side of the square was a white-walled building with multiple entrances. One of the entrances had a signboard: ‘Weed City Public Library.’
This was also one of the hallmark contributions of the greatest castellan, Xu Erde. Therefore, the stone statue had a gun in one hand and a book in the other.
Shang Jianyao glanced at Jiang Baimian and didn’t say anything else as he walked toward Long Yuehong and the others.
Jiang Baimian exhaled and watched it spread into a white mist in the air. She then came to the library’s entrance in satisfaction.
On the wall beside the entrance was a piece of paper. On it were words in Ashlandic and the Red River language: “Only citizens of this city and Official Hunters and above can borrow books.”
The Hunter’s Badge is really useful here… Jiang Baimian sighed and walked in.
This place was similar to Pangu Biology’s library. It was also made up of bookshelves and reading areas.
Jiang Baimian went straight for the former. She casually browsed through the bookshelves and quickly came to an inconspicuous corner. She pulled out a rather old, thick book.
The title was written in pure Red River language. It was translated as: Internal Revenue Code.
In the Ashlands at this stage, this was a useless book. It was mainly used to fill up the bookshelves; no one would borrow it.
Jiang Baimian quickly flipped to the 650th page of the book and folded it. She then took out a piece of paper and a fountain pen from her pocket. In this deserted area blocked by many bookshelves, she scribbled a sentence: “8 p.m., in the alley opposite South Street Slave Market.”
This was the way to contact the intelligence personnel. If it was completed before 2 p.m., 8 p.m. referred to 8 p.m. of that very night. If it exceeded 2 p.m., it meant the next night.
After folding the note, Jiang Baimian placed it in the middle of the book. She then pushed the book back to its original spot.
In front of the kiosk, Long Yuehong looked at the coins in his hand and suppressed his voice. “Isn’t this paper?”
Their supplies had been exchanged for a total of 10 Oray. At today’s rates, they could probably buy 12 pounds of raw pork. But these Oray were only thin, textured pieces of paper. On them were colorful patterns, a man’s side profile, and the number ‘1.’
“Outside of First City’s sphere of influence, they are indeed equivalent to paper,” echoed Bai Chen casually. “If you have a choice, it will be better to choose the gold and silver coins minted by First City.”
Unfortunately, this could only be chanced upon by luck.
“Then, let’s go have lunch quickly.” Long Yuehong suddenly felt like the money in his hand would quickly turn to paper if he didn’t spend it.
At this moment, Jiang Baimian had already returned and rendezvoused with them despite maintaining a distance.
Under Bai Chen’s suggestion, they returned to South Street, entered Time-Honored Noodle Restaurant, and ‘shared’ a table.
“Their spicy oil-drenched noodles are very delicious.” Bai Chen seemed to recall something, and her expression turned rather mellow.
“Spicy oil-drenched?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise.
It sounds extravagant! Is this the life of a large settlement in the Ashlands?
Bai Chen gestured at the boss for four bowls and said, “Weed City is very suitable for planting oil vegetables and chili. Many nearby manors produce them, so the prices are very low. However, the noodles in such a small restaurant aren’t very good. They aren’t as exquisite as what the nobles eat…”
At this point, Bai Chen suddenly paused and didn’t continue.
Jiang Baimian glanced at her and smiled. “I just hope it’s done quickly. Look, how long has it been since Shang Jianyao spoke?”
Just as she said that, there was a sudden commotion outside.
After a while, someone passed by.
The boss—who was making noodles—casually asked, “What happened?”
The people passing by pointed in the direction of the square. “It seems like the library is on fire.”
Jiang Baimian’s eyes instantly narrowed.