Chapter 151 – The Auspicious Casino
Li Qingshan said, “Is the Academy of the Hundred Schools really that great? So much so that you think of it constantly, sir?”
Zhou Wenbin said, “That’s the foundation of Great Xia, the place that gathers all the young talents across the fifteen hundred kilometers of the Clear River prefecture. Of course, it’s a good place. What do you think of my talent for cultivation?”
Li Qingshan praised, “Sir, you are obviously outstanding to have reached the sixth layer of Qi Practitioner at your age and become the magistrate of an entire district, standing above millions.” He could not help but sigh inside. It spanned one thousand five hundred kilometers. That was the size of western Europe. Just what kind of sight would it be for all the talents in an area as large as that to gather in one place, cultivating and learning together?
Zhou Wenbin shook his head with a bitter smile. “How am I outstanding? I’m just barely the average. As for my status as a district magistrate, true prodigies have no need for these additional factors for cultivation. They would never waste time on governing people. All they need to do is focus on cultivation, and they will make it further than me.”
He was a sixth layer Qi Practitioner, yet he was barely the average?
Li Qingshan was slightly surprised. “There are many generations of people of talent in the world. There’s no need to underestimate yourself, sir.” He was not surprised by the fact that there were many people better at practising qi than him, as he understood that his talent for practising qi was nothing special, and he had only just started. He did not have any guidance either, constantly relying on common pills like Qi Gathering pills.
It was very likely for those from large Qi Practitioner clans to begin cultivating since young. They would be able to resolve their queries by asking powerful masters or seniors, and they would eat precious pills that he would not have even heard of. If their cultivation talent was just rather decent on top of all of this, they would be prodigies of cultivation.
Whether it be time, resources, or talent, there were plenty of people that surpassed him. There was nothing unfair about having people at a higher cultivation than him. This was what a head start was. Regardless of the world or age, this would always happen. Compared to grumbling, he might as well put in some more effort instead. Were those kings and lords really just born more superior than everyone else?
Zhou Wenbin said, “Your commander Hua Chengzan is the same. Although he comes from a renowned clan, he has always remained in the Academy of the Hundred Schools to study. Even now, he has yet to completely leave it. When I see him, I even have to call him senior brother! There’s a saying that that the talents of the world all emerge from the hundred schools. You really should consider it!”
“Then I must check it out in the future. When that time comes, I hope you can help me out, sir.”
Li Qingshan had once heard from Gu Yanying that Hua Chengzan was a tenth layer Qi Practitioner. Gu Yanying had even lectured him to stop hanging out with women so much. Back then, he still did not really have a perspective on what a tenth layer Qi Practitioner was, but now, he understood just what that meant. He had opened all of his extraordinary meridians and was a single step away from the first heavenly tribulation. Even if Li Qinghan daemonified, there was no way he could defeat someone like that.
Zhou Wenbin said, “This falls within my duty, so you can’t call it help. I’m basically under no constraints in Jiaping city, and there’s not really any work I’m forced to do either. It’s all up to me. However, there is something I must do, which is choose a hundred talented men and women every year to send them off to the Academy of the Hundred Schools to study.”
The requirements were surprisingly lax. Li Qingshan asked, “That simple? As long as you have the talent to cultivate?”
Zhou Wenbin said, “Entering is easy, but remaining is difficult. How long you can remain there for will be up to your own ability.”
Li Qingshan pondered silently for a while. “Oh right, do you still need money, sir?”
Zhou Wenbin said, “Ever since I became the district magistrate, there hasn’t been a single time when I don’t need money. Looks like you’ve reaped quite the harvest this time!”
Li Qingshan took out several million taels of silver notes and handed it all over, dismissing it as all from the Qian family. He obtained over fifty Qi Gathering pills from Zhou Wenbin, and as a result, the number of pills on him broke three hundred once again. It would be enough to last him a short while.
Regular Qi Practitioners experienced a limited frequency of ingesting pills. However, to a daemon like him, he could never get enough of them. He would be forced to budget it carefully. If only there was a day when he could eat pills as he wished.
Moreover, the Qi Gathering pills he obtained from Zhou Wenbin all had fantastic purity and quality. Every single one of them was tiny. Although their effects were the same, they were much smaller than Qian Yannian’s Qi Gathering pills.
“Were these pills refined by you, sir?”
Zhou Wenbin said, “I once studied beneath a renowned master of the school of Medicine who specially focused on alchemy and apothecary. It’s just Qi Gathering pills, so it obviously proves no difficulty to refine.” The materials for Qi Gathering pills were relatively easy to collect as well. As the magistrate of an entire district, a single order of his could prompt countless people to go searching for medicinal herbs.
Li Qingshan thought about how if he had the opportunity, checking out the Academy of the Hundred Schools would be quite a good idea. It was impossible for him to seek guidance over refining pills, creating talismans, or formations from a person he just came across on the street. It would be best if he formally studied a little instead. Out of wealth, companionship, method, and environment, he could not go without companionship.
But now was still not the time. There were many powerful Foundation Establishment cultivators in Clear River city. It would be very easy for Xiao An to be discovered if he just hid in the jar like this. He needed to rebuild the boy’s body first.
Li Qingshan stood up and bid farewell, leaving the government office. He did not travel in the direction of Clear river, but westward instead. He left the city along the main path.
Thirty-five kilometers away from Jiaping city, within the Auspicious casino of Silver Mountain town.
Although Silver Mountain town was just a town, it was more prosperous than most cities, as there really was a mountain of silver here. Who knows how many silver mines were hiding beneath the mountain, and who knows just how many people had struck it rich overnight and lost their lives on another night.
Although the Auspicious casino was a casino in a town, it was no worse than those first-rate casinos. Moreover, it welcomed everyone, regardless of wealth, treating everyone the same. As long as you had silver, you could gamble and try your luck there.
Whether it be the mine owners who had suddenly struck it rich or those miners who worked in precarious situations, they would all come here to try their luck.
Under the brilliant lantern light, curses, laughter, and roars of anger poured into everyone’s ears. The smell of sweat, smoke, and perfume mingled together.
Everyone’s gazes were firmly fixed on the gambling table. They clenched their hands as their eyes widened. Their expressions changed and twisted with the numbers on the dice. There was pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy.
However, the expressions of the gamblers would often end in anger and sorrow. Only Shi Jixiang1 remained in pleasure and joy. He was the boss of this Auspicious casino. He held two large, golden spheres in his hands as he constantly looked around. His chubby face seemed like a smiling buddha’s, always plastered with a smile. When he looked down from the second floor of the casino, there would be benevolence in his eyes as well. What a group of idiots!
Two large men carried up another man as he struggled. “Boss, we’ve caught him.”
The man knelt on the ground and wept. “Boss Shi, great hero Shi, grandfather Shi, please, I beg you. I’ll give my mines, my property. I’ll give it all to you. Please show some benevolence and spare my family!”
“If I spare you, who’ll spare me?”
“Then, could you please extend the loan. I will definitely gather all the money for you.”
Shi Jixiang said, “If you are in debt, you gotta pay it. That’s how the world works. Even your wife and daughter are busying themselves in the joyhouse. You’re a man, so how can you just loaf around? Why don’t you get into the mines and put some back into your work?!”
“Y- you actually…”
Shi Jixiang sighed helplessly. “People can die, but debts can’t. If you vanish, what am I supposed to do?”
“Shi Jixiang you son of a bitch! The dice were rigged… you cheated me… Even if I die, I’ll never spare you!” The man suddenly lost control of his emotions. He owed this usury a snowballing debt. He would never be able to pay it back in his lifetime. The only fate waiting for him was dying in the pitch-black depths of the mines.
However, before he was even done, he was knocked out by a slap from a large man beside him.
However, Shi Jixiang lost his temper at the man. “Why did you hit him with so much force? What if you end up killing him? Are you supposed to replace him in the mines for me? Tsk tsk, look, what a pitiful person. I can’t fall asleep whenever I see someone as pitiful as him, so don’t let me see him again.”
The burly man obliged and carried the man out.
Only then did Shi Jixiang recover his smile. He liked to gamble a lot, and he knew how to gamble very well. With his gambling techniques, he had brought ruin to several mine owners already. He had already become the largest mine owner in all of Silver Mountain town. As for the mine owners who did not gamble, he had plenty of ways to deal with him, as not only was he good at gambling, but he also possessed first-rate martial arts. He could spend tremendous sums of money to gather a group of good men who could both fight and oppress.
With those two things, he would become the only mine owner in all of Silver Mountain town, and he would continue smiling like that.
“It’s right here!”
Outside the main entrance, a young man held a piece of paper and confirmed the two words on the plaque above the entrance to be ‘Auspicious casino’. Afterwards, he strode in.
The guards at the entrance studied him and welcomed him with smiles. They did not try to stop him at all. Only once the young man had entered did they discuss with smiles, “Not a bad stature.” “Heh, he probably could do a year or two in the mines.”
Li Qingshan liked to eat and drink, and with his rather unsuccessful experiences of having women attend to him while dining, he had basically tried prostitutes already. However, this really was his first time gambling.2 He found novelty in everything, so he constantly looked around. He arrived before a gambling table. They were playing an extremely simple game of Big or Small3. As a result, he just casually tossed in one thousand taels of silver notes, betting it all on big.
This surprised the gamblers, but they had seen larger bets before. As a result, they just dismissed him as some ignorant young master who had managed to escape from his clan.
“The bets have been cast! Roll!” And just as expected, it was big.
Li Qingshan accepted his silver cheerfully before betting it all on big again.
A while later, the ruckus in the surroundings gradually vanished. The gamblers’ mouths all hung agape with mixed expressions as they looked at the small hill of silver notes and silver pieces in front of Li Qingshan. He had already won sixteen rounds consecutively. The dealer had been changed twice as well, but that was not enough to stop his winning streak. He threw all of that into a bet once again.
In the beginning, there were still some gamblers who gambled with him and managed to win some money, but now, there was no longer anyone bold enough to gamble the same as him.
A boy servant arrived beside Li Qingshan. “Brother, our boss has invited you to the second floor for a talk.”
Li Qingshan glanced upstairs and said loudly, “If you want to talk, then get down here and talk. What, you’re afraid of people winning against you while you run a casino?” He slammed the marble table and left behind a faint print on the thick, heavy stone.
Shi Jixiang finally could not smile any longer. Afterwards, he issued orders, Clear the casino and gather the people. A tough one has come this time, a second-rate master at the very least. He seems like he has come to make trouble. He can’t just be appeased with money.
Li Qingshan lowered his head and his lips curled into a smile. It would be for the best if you cleared the casino, and the more people the better. If you can gather a thousand people, I’ll burn some incense on your grave, if you have a grave that is.
1. Shi Jixiang’s given name, so Jixiang or 吉祥, can mean auspicious. This also means that the casino can be called the Auspicious casino, which is a name you would give to a casino considering the aspect of luck and good fortune, but the casino can also be called Jixiang’s casino. Moreover, there’s a Hong Kong movie from 1972 called The Casino, which shares the same chinese name as the name of the casino.
2. If you’re wondering why eating, drinking, visiting prostitutes, and gambling are listed together, there’s a Chinese idiom that basically describes the four activities. Basically, they go hand-in-hand for indulging in worldly pleasures. Li Qingshan wants to try them all.
3. Big or Small is a rather common gambling game in China. Basically, you just roll one or several dice and see whether the sum of the dice forms a larger sum (‘big’), or a smaller sum (‘small’). There’s more information here.