Chapter 129: Rookie Fresh Out of the Oven
Like most people in the noodle restaurant, Jiang Baimian only turned to look back at the streetside without leaving her seat.
Before long, the boss—who was in his fifties and reeked of oil and smoke—carried a tray and placed the four large bowls of spicy, oil-drenched noodles in front of Shang Jianyao and the others.
Amidst the intense fragrance that induced the munchies, Jiang Baimian couldn’t help but feel tantalized. She casually inquired, “The library caught fire?”
“Yeah.” The boss sighed and said, “But I don’t see any smoke coming from it. The fire probably isn’t big.”
Jiang Baimian glanced at Shang Jianyao, who had already picked up the bowl and lowered his head to slurp down his food. She then ‘curiously’ asked, “Have there been any fires recently, or something?”
She didn’t mind that such a question would make her look like a foreigner. Most people in Weed City were foreigners.
“It’s not like we have scorching weather!” The boss shook his head in denial. “I think it was done by those lunatics?”
“Lunatics?” Jiang Baimian appeared more intrigued.
The boss sighed. “Just as winter started, a bunch of donkeys suddenly appeared in the city. They’d stuff some paper under your door all day. On it are words like ‘the Old World was destroyed because of knowledge,’ ‘don’t learn anything that exceeds your instincts,’ ‘stay away from books and don’t think.’ Did you get that? Is that even human language? Is the paper free?
“These lunatics really ended up burning the library!”
As Jiang Baimian listened to Shang Jianyao eat his noodles, she restrained herself and asked, “Are the nobles not going to do anything?”
“No one knows who it is! How can they deal with it?” The boss was very happy to discuss this topic. His sideburns were extremely white, and his hair was very short. There were already some wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.
“That’s true.” Jiang Baimian lowered her expectations of Weed City’s public security. It was definitely incomparable to that of Pangu Biology.
Upon seeing that the boss was rather angry, she asked, “You guys seem to like that library?”
The boss wiped his hands on his white apron. “How can I not mind? The children rely on it for their studies and to recognize words.”
“There aren’t any schools in Weed City? That shouldn’t be the case.” Jiang Baimian had never heard Bai Chen mention this, so she tacitly imagined that they had schools.
The boss looked at the door. “There are, but ordinary people in North Street aren’t admitted. An ordinary family like ours can only rely on homeschooling. Fortunately, my grandfather’s generation knew a lot, and my father had undergone some formal education. Only then was I barely able to recognize most of Ashlandic and most words in the Red River language.
“How can I teach my child without books? The effects of doing so by solely relying on myself… Sigh, let’s not talk about it. I only hope that my grandson won’t be disappointing. I hope he will be able to recognize more words and read more books. He might have the chance to work at the municipal building. I don’t want him to be like his father, who doesn’t like books or know any words. He chose to be a Ruin Hunter and ended up losing his life!”
At this point, the boss recalled the library’s fire and cursed angrily. “That bunch of melon rind!”
Upon hearing the conversation between his team leader and the boss, Long Yuehong suddenly realized how difficult it was for Moat Town to maintain a public education system.
In the Ashlands, not everyone had the right to receive education. Most people couldn’t even read.
Upon realizing that there was the suspected existence of an arsonist, making the fire a coincidence, Jiang Baimian secretly heaved a sigh of relief and joked, “Boss, your dialect is pretty mixed.”
“Back when my grandfather’s generation established Weed City, people came from everywhere. They spoke all kinds of dialects, and some even spoke the Red River language. Over time, this gets into your head, and everything you say gets mixed up. Oh, hey there, what would you like to eat?” The boss stopped chatting when he saw new customers enter and went forward to welcome them.
Jiang Baimian glanced at Shang Jianyao, who was digging at the bottom of the bowl. She raised her noodles and smiled at Long Yuehong. “How’s the taste?”
“Delicious… It’s just… a little spicy…” Long Yuehong replied vaguely.
Jiang Baimian had already mixed the noodles when she was chatting. At this moment, she took a bite. The noodles had already soaked up the red oil, making it fragrant and spicy. As she chewed, it carried the unique sweetness of starch and a perfect sourness. She breathed in air filled with the fragrance of shallots, oil, and spiciness.
“It’s just too little.” Shang Jianyao put down his bowl and chopsticks and ‘helped’ Long Yuehong add on.
Jiang Baimian never mistreated her team members. She turned around and shouted, “Boss, another bowl. No, two bowls.”
She felt that one bowl was probably not enough. Although two bowls were a little too much, she could share them with Long Yuehong and Bai Chen.
Just like that, they ate until sweat broke out on their foreheads. This was an indescribable enjoyment in the cold winter.
They later settled the bill—it cost 18 Drace.
The small bowl of spicy oil-drenched noodles was 1.5d, and the large bowl was 3d. The Old Task Force ate six bowls in total, putting the total cost at almost 2 Orays.
After getting back two one-Drace notes as change, Jiang Baimian counted the remaining notes with a pained expression. “Money really gets spent fast!”
They had only exchanged for 10 Orays, and a single meal had cost them almost a fifth of it.
This bit of money could only last two days.
Jiang Baimian said to Shang Jianyao, who ate the most, “Let’s go to the Hunter’s Guild to take a look and get a badge. If we have to stay longer in the future, we have to earn money to support ourselves.”
At this moment, they had already returned to the streets and were in pairs again.
Shang Jianyao rubbed his stomach and said regretfully, “We should have replaced the second bowl with another type of noodles, the kind with meat.”
“As long as you can earn money, we’ll definitely do it next time.” Jiang Baimian didn’t mind that the fellow only had thoughts about eating. This was because their Old Task Force had taken a long detour and didn’t have much food left. Therefore, their current priority was to resolve the problem of survival.
Of course, there was a high chance that they had other means of obtaining supplies if they could contact the intelligence personnel.
On Weed City’s streets in the afternoon, the sun was no longer so hot. The howling, cold wind drilled into the pedestrians’ clothes.
This resulted in many people refraining from going out unless necessary. Apart from the Weed City patrolmen with submachine guns and the Ruin Hunters—who were in a rush to find food—the streets were abnormally empty and quiet.
After arriving at Central Square, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao turned into West Street. After taking a few steps, they saw the Hunter’s Guild that occupied an entire building.
Under the imitation flying eaves and corbeled columns were the words ‘Hunter’s Guild’—formed by mottled white walls and small light bulbs.
The latter had two languages. One could imagine how bright and eye-catching it would be at night after the electricity was switched on.
The rooms at the bottom of the guild were all connected, only leaving behind pillars and walls that couldn’t be knocked down. It formed a very spacious hall.
At this moment, a row of doors was open for people to enter and leave freely.
On the walls and pillars beside the different doors were the same black words: “Opening hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“Note: Our guild’s employees have the legal permits to carry firearms.
“Warning: Please consciously maintain order.
As Jiang Baimian browsed through the content, a team walked out of the Hunter’s Guild.
Two of them were rather eye-catching.
One was a robot. Its entire body was silver-black in color. Its lines were smooth, and its texture was obvious. Its eyes were like two light bulbs that flickered with a red glow.
The other was a man in his thirties. His appearance was ordinary, and his eyes were sharp. The five fingers on his right hand were long and iron-black. The corresponding section above his wrist was covered by his sleeve, preventing others from seeing it.
Mechanical arm… Jiang Baimian knew that her mutterings remained very loud, so she could only hold it in.
The Ruin Hunters that came and went looked at this group of people enviously.
Bai Chen’s gaze also followed them.
“An intelligent robot… Very impressive!” Long Yuehong sighed with emotion.
Even if they weren’t combat-type intelligent robots, they were still great helpers when out surviving in the wilderness!
They didn’t get hungry, nor did they get exhausted. They were not afraid of poisonous gases, ordinary firearms, or harsh environments. Furthermore, they could carry intense weights.
The only problem was the energy supply.
Unfortunately, fewer than three places had been able to steadily produce intelligent robots since the Old World was destroyed. As the ‘antiques’ gradually broke down or were destroyed, it was indeed enviable for a group to have such a ‘companion.’
In the past few years, many humans had survived all kinds of dangers thanks to intelligent robots. Even in the Old World, intelligent robots had not truly become mainstream.
Jiang Baimian sized them up for a while before retracting her gaze. She smiled and asked Shang Jianyao, who was beside her, “If you are given a chance to install a mechanical arm, what will be your function of choice?”
“Opening cans,” Shang Jianyao replied very seriously.
“…Very pragmatic.” Jiang Baimian gritted her teeth.
As they spoke, the two of them had already walked into the Hunter’s Guild’s lobby.
Attached to the ceilings were lamps that emitted a white glow. It seemed as if they didn’t need to save electricity.
In the lobby, many tables were scattered around the round platform in the middle. On each table was a machine that came with an LCD screen.
A gigantic screen hung above the large round platform, slowly scrolling through all kinds of missions.
Under the screen were windows. Black electronic devices were placed in each window.
At a glance, Jiang Baimian felt that she was in a completely different world from the outside world. The technological difference was worlds apart.
She then found an empty window and pulled Shang Jianyao over. Jiang Baimian looked at the clean and refreshing girl behind the window and smiled. “Registering to be a hunter.”
“Fill in the form. If you don’t know how to write, I’ll help you fill in the form.” The female staff member handed over two pieces of paper. Her attitude was neither enthusiastic nor arrogant.
The contents of the form were very simple. It included names, gender, age, and other conventional fields. Jiang Baimian took the pen by the window and filled it in.
It was quite difficult to come up with a fake name.
In order to prevent Shang Jianyao from having a chance to perform, Jiang Baimian helped him fill in the form.
After handing in the form, they took photos in front of the black instrument by the window one after another and recorded their fingerprints.
They quickly obtained two Hunter Badges.
The badge was brass in color. On the front were a blurry human face, a saber, and a spear. A chip was embedded in the back.
“You are now Rookie Hunters. Work hard and take on missions. You will soon become Official Hunters.” When the staff member handed over the badge, she gave them the standard blessings.
Jiang Baimian tossed her badge up and smiled at Shang Jianyao. “Let’s go and see what missions there are.”
Shang Jianyao then attached the badge to his chest solemnly.