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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The Capital City of Neptune was a sight to behold, grand and breathtaking – a very magical underwater city on a super scale.
Right in the heart of the city was a magnificent, glittering crystal palace. It was as if someone had placed a mountain of crystals there. The carvings on it were a work of art, its craftmanship remarkable.
That was the Neptune Emperor’s palace.
With the crystal palace in the center, the Imperial City extended itself in all directions.
All around the city, you could see houses in the form of giant seashells and conches with colorful coral-decorated doors and windows. Instead of tiles, the roofs were dotted with pearls that glimmered like stars. It was like stepping into a fairytale world, an absolutely enchanting experience.
The streets were covered in a soft, fine white sand of which many of the merpeople traversed.
There were ‘Mutant Ninja Turtles’ with turtle shells growing on their backs, and ‘shrimp soldiers and crab generals’* with giant crab pincers and shrimp tails. There were even Bai Suzhens* who was half-human, half-snake!
It was like Ao Liancheng said, the merpeople’s outward appearances were very unusual, very intriguing.
Suddenly, a guy whose appearance nearly made Chen Xiaobei burst into laughter came swimming towards them, calling out, “Prince Liancheng! You’re finally back! The royals were looking for you everywhere!”
The human half of the guy was really fat, with a fat head and big ears like a little Budai while the lower half of his body, on the other hand, was Pipi Prawn’s body!
“What happened?” Ao Liancheng anxiously asked.
The fatty replied, “There’s unusual movement in the North Ocean! That ‘thing’ seems to be getting ready to head North!”
“What?! So fast?” Ao Liancheng’s expression turned grim, a flicker of fear visible in his eyes. “Grand Steward Pi, please take care of Childe Chen for me. He is my guest so please do not neglect him!”
Ao Liancheng once again turned into a fleeting red shadow speeding towards the crystal palace at the heart of the city.
Octopus man was overwrought when he spoke, “Childe Chen, please allow Grand Steward Pu to bring you around for some sightseeing. I have to go to the intelligence division! Don’t worry, I will do my best to find the person you are looking for!”
Octopus man too, left in a hurry.
“What in the world happened?” Chen Xiaobei wondered aloud. “They just left me here like that? Don’t they need me to treat the emperor?”
Grand Steward Pi said politely, “Childe Chen, there is an emergency in the palace. If Prince Liancheng doesn’t return, I will tend to you for the time being. If there’s anything you need, please do not hesitate to let me know!”
“I don’t need anything…” Chen Xiaobei thought for a moment and then asked, “Can you tell me what that ‘thing’ is?”
“Er… I’m afraid not…” Grand Steward Pi said nervously. “You are our distinguished guest. You cannot be involved in the matters of that ‘thing’ nor can I tell you anything about it!”
“I understand. I am just an outsider, I shouldn’t be asking these things…” Chen Xiaobei nodded, his eyebrows furrowed.
“How about I bring you around town?” Grand Steward Pi said. “Drinking, eating, and entertainment – whatever it is that you want to do, I can bring you there!”
Chen Xiaobei looked around and then suddenly cried out in excitement. “Pipi Prawn! Let’s go!”
“Huh?” Steward Pi looked at him quizzically.
“Oh, er… Grand Steward Pi, let’s go!” Chen Xiaobei was excited.
Chen Xiaobei came to the door of a store that hung a plaque with the words ‘Ambergris Corner’ written on it!
“Grand Steward Pi, does this place sell Ambergris?” Chen Xiaobei asked.
“They don’t sell. You have to gamble for it! If Childe Chen is interested, you can go in and take a look!”
“Gamble? How? I really would like to take a look!” Chen Xiaobei ran inside, bubbling with excitement.
There were many black rocks, large and small; the small ones came in the size of fists while the big ones were the size of fish tanks in different shades of colors and variety of shapes.
“These are not Ambergris, are they?” Chen Xiaobei asked.
Grand Steward Pi chuckled. “Ambergris are deposited nearby Spirit Channel’s seabed for many years – the shortest being ten thousand years, and the longest is one million years. Sand and stones attached themselves on the surfaces, and over time, as the minerals accumulate to form rocks.”
“You mean that by cracking these stones, I can get Ambergris?” Chen Xiaobei asked.
“Theoretically, yes; but realistically, no! Ambergris gambling is like gambling for stones in the other starfields. After you’ve chosen one, you have to pay for it before you open it. If there’s Ambergris, you earn; but if there’s none then you lose!”
“Oh! Gambling for stones!” Chen Xiaobei snapped his fingers. “There is something I don’t understand, though. The other starfield’s stone gambling businesses are all thriving, but why is it that this Ambergris gambling business so unpopular?”
There was no one else in the large store except for Chen Xiaobei and the steward. There was not even a shopkeeper within sight.
One could only imagine how bad the business here was, to the point that nobody cared about it.
Grand Steward Pi heaved a heavy sigh. “The business here was the most prosperous one in the whole city! But a few months ago, there was a problem with the supply. Nearly half of the stones were empty. Even if there was an Ambergris inside, the oldest was only about 10,000 years! There wasn’t a single high-grade one! Gambling has always been about using a small amount to yield greater rewards. With no high-grade Ambergris available, the customers, naturally, lost interest! The problem was with the supply of these stones, and that could not be solved. Gradually, this place became less and less frequented.”
Chen Xiaobei turned to look at the steward. “This problem with the supply has to do with that ‘thing’, right?”
“Err…” Steward Pi could not answer.
“If I guessing correctly, his majesty, your holy emperor’s illness is related to that ‘thing’ too!” Chen Xiaobei added.
“Ho… how did you know?” Grand Steward Pi was genuinely surprised. “That is top secret!”
“Ao Liancheng invited me here to cure the holy emperor of his illness,” Chen Xiaobei explained. “Before this, he also mentioned that there was barely any 30 to 50 thousand year Ambergris left! He said that this was a secret and that if I could cure his majesty, he would reveal it to me!”
“Oh…” Steward Pi nodded, and confessed, “You guessed correctly. The problem with the Ambergris supply and the holy emperor’s illness are tied to that ‘thing’! But I cannot tell you what that is!”
“Don’t worry, I won’t force you to tell me.” Chen Xiaobei shrugged. “Ao Liancheng probably won’t be back for a while. Why don’t we gamble for a bit?”
“Who wants to gamble Ambergris?” A mellifluous female voice came from the back of the store.
“Huh? Your highness, princess, why are you here?” Steward Pi asked.
“Princess?” Chen Xiaobei cocked his head to the side. “Mermaid princess? What does she look like?”
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