Chapter 66: Living in Darkness
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Book Pavilion. Basic Professions Room.

Bubai held a jade slip in his hand, etching its contents into his memory.

Which formula did Bubai choose?

In fact, Bubai was in favor of the Overload formula, not only for its market value but also for its intrinsic worth of learning additional symbols.

Alas, he took just one glance at the jade slip... The moment he glimpsed the sea of symbols, he immediately returned it to the shelf.

His decision wasn't rooted in a lack of confidence in his ability to master it. Rather, it was a strategic retreat, recognizing that an hour wouldn't suffice to commit all of the symbols to memory. His memory was impressive, but it still wasn’t at the point of omnipotence.

Plus, he had to allocate part of the hour to read the recommended "Basics of Array Linking"- essential knowledge for constructing a basic node.

Time was of the essence. He didn’t want to wait another month to acquire the basics needed to become a formation apprentice. Additionally, he had other expenditures planned for his contribution points.

Thereafter, upon briefly comparing the water condensation formula and the basic light formula, he found their complexities to be quite similar.

In the end, he decisively abandoned the water condensation formula.

Both he and Xiao Lan possessed the Fingertip technique, rendering the utility of such a node unnecessary in their tower. The node could, at most, add a minor convenience to their lives - a luxury they didn’t need with their limited funds.

Moreover, he harbored reservations about the uncertainty of selling the successfully crafted products. Even if he were to sell at a loss, there was no guarantee others would purchase them. Being left with worthless formation nodes in his hands was a risk he was unwilling to take.

The best way to win a gamble is to not gamble at all.

Ultimately, Bubai settled on the basic light formula. While it might appear as a risky move to use others' materials for practice, his decision was grounded in the precondition that he could successfully master the formula beforehand.

When weighed against the water condensation formula with this condition, the basic light formula emerged as the more practical choice.

Even if he mastered the water condensation array, it still posed a gamble on sales, a risk that the basic light array neatly sidestepped as tasks came with a guarantee.

Additionally, Bubai rationalized that the compensation for the loss of material wasn't a significant drawback. Both the water condensation and overload formulas also had material costs during the manufacturing process.

So, practicing with other people’s material didn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. At most, it would be a bit more expensive in terms of compensation.

“As long as I can master this, it would be pure profit. Though it is little, it will still be a steady stream of income. I can then invest that income into learning a more profitable formation, such as the overload array or one of the other niche formations popping up in the task boards.”

Bubai hurried out of the basic professions room with a smile.

Coming before Granny Shu, he respectfully saluted, his expression carrying a hint of apology, “Disciple Bubai thanks Shu Po Po for her advice and leniency.”

“Hum.” Granny Shu's tone bore a trace of dissatisfaction, yet she closed her eyes, rocking in her chair.

This time, without Granny Shu’s reminder, Bubai had slightly exceeded his allotted time.

However, the old lady was clearly turning a blind eye. It seems his efforts had paid off. This could be said to be an employee benefit.

Bubai saluted, “Disciple Bubai will return later to work overtime.”

Granny Shu didn’t respond, only opening one eye to sneak a peek at the grand entrance after Bubai had departed. “Cheeky young man. Hum, but it’s good that he is willing to stay late… fufufu...”

The ominous laugh echoed through the grand hall…

Outside, Bubai's keen ears perked up as usual, but today, there were no traces of the old granny's usual snarky comments.

Could it be that his promise to stay overtime had worked its magic?

Alas, the past couple of days had really made it challenging to gauge whether he had indeed stayed overtime.

Gazing up at the seemingly eternal night that enveloped the sect, Bubai strained his sharp eyesight to barely make out the currents of shifting sand raging beyond the protective barrier.

“Almost a week now, but it seems it will be another day without the sun.” A sigh escaped him as he rubbed his brows.

The absence of the sun for the past few days had really thrown his sleep schedule into disarray. In fact, it was one of the reasons he willingly worked overtime. He just couldn’t sleep well.

Were it not for his green Qi's rejuvenating effects, he might have fallen asleep due to exhaustion… something he actually hoped for. Unfortunately, his cheat worked wonders just like caffeine.

“Hey, hopefully this sandstorm goes away soon.” Bubai lamented as he made his way towards the West District.

West District. Formation Pavilion.

The large shop hummed with runic glows as Bubai pushed open the sturdy door. A soft chime announced his arrival, and the air was filled with the faint scent of incense.

The voluptuous middle-aged woman behind the counter looked up from her formation plate, a warm smile spreading across her average-looking face as she observed the customer.

This was Hua Gu – the shopkeeper of the Formation Pavilion.

"Well, well, what do we have here?" she purred, her eyes lingering on Bubai who stood before her. "Back for more supplies, little formation boy?"

With a composed face, Bubai returned her smile. "Hey there, beautiful sis. I'm here to trade my formation plates for some formation balls."

Her laughter filled the air like tinkling wind chimes as she drew a finger along the display of formation products, "Of course, darling. I did mention you might need them last time. But first, let's discuss the terms."

“What's the exchange ratio?"

Her finger tapped rhythmically on the counter. "Hmm, for your plates, big sis can offer you a special deal. Three balls for the price of one, and for every three plates, you get a bonus gift. Quite a steal, don't you think?"

Bubai nodded eagerly. "Deal. I'll take it.” Who wouldn’t?

Hua Gu's laughter resonated again, and she called out to a young, tender shop girl nearby. "Xiao Wudie, dear, go fetch some formation balls for our young friend here."

Bubai’s attention was briefly drawn to the girl, gesturing and bowing in silence. Mute?

As Xiao Wudie scurried away, Bubai refocused his attention on Hua Gu who had leaned closer, her curves accentuated by the tight-fitting gown she wore as she rested her hand on the counter.

Her eyes briefly swept over his face before scanning his other features, and she licked her lips provocatively. "You know, sweetie, these formation balls can be quite tricky. While my little assistant goes prepare your supplies, would you like some guidance on formation balls? Big sis could enlighten you on some… basics."

Bubai chuckled nervously. “Hahaha…”

Hah! This cow wants to eat tender grass! You wish!

The streets outside the Formation Pavilion were bathed in a soft glow from the lanterns hanging above, casting a dim light on Bubai as he stepped onto the sandstone street, a muttered curse escaping his lips, "I knew it. How could there be a special deal?"

He had hoped to save a bit on his formation balls, but it seemed that luck was not on his side. In the end, he still had to pay full price with no bonus. “Just two balls per plate, but it should be enough.”

Originally, Bubai had planned to practice on formation plates - its plentiful, flat surface fulfilling its role as the default material for learning nodes.

However, the basic light array had changed his plans.

Crafting some artifacts required a different approach because formation plates were typically too large to integrate.

Thus, artifacts commonly used a formation core, typically in the form of a solid spherical ball made from Weeping Willow wood.

These formation balls were also used for special formation nodes, but those were formulas that Bubai didn't have access to.

So, it really seemed like he was narrowing his options by walking this route, but…

“More balls, more experience.” Bubai grinned, even when knowing the journey ahead would be more difficult.

In fact, imprinting on the curved surface of the ball posed a slightly higher difficulty. However, Bubai had already factored this into the complexity when he chose the basic light formula.

Of course, he still needed to master the mini Qi-battery to power his light array. Otherwise, the resulting product wouldn’t be the core of a lamp, but a hand-powered light.

Unfortunately, such a product held little appeal to cultivators with better alternatives like night vision eyes and illumination techniques.

Even Bubai had fairly decent night vision after the nourishment from his green Qi, and he knew Foundation Establishment realm and above would unlock the spiritual sense...

“The bodies of cultivators were truly filled with mysteries…”

Too bad he can’t take on the role of a research-oriented wizard. After all, the basis of research can’t escape the word “money”.

Bubai sighed, his gaze sweeping across the less populated streets as he made his way back towards the Book Pavilion.

The afternoon seemed calm, with the occasional passerby moving in shadows, their figures hasty.

On the way back, his keen ears detected pitiful cries emanating from a dark corner up ahead.

“No- please, don’t! Let me go!”

“Help, someone help!”

As Bubai walked past the corner, his gaze briefly swept over the scene. In the dim light, he spotted a woman entangled by a couple of men, her distress evident.

One of the men threw him a warning glare, and he noted the inner disciple emblem on the aggressor's waist. So... Bubai resumed his brisk pace, the pitiful cries fading as he ventured farther into the darkness.

Save the lady in distress? Bubai wasn’t an idiot.

The sect might turn a blind eye to the atrocities within the residences of its disciples, but in public… do you really think the women from the Law Enforcement Hall are blind?

The only reason they weren't intervening in this scenario was that they were well aware of the truth.

Once again, the members of this sect really know how to play.

Bubai wasn’t going to ruin their twisted enjoyment and offend others for no reason.

“But only a couple of days in the darkness, and the members are already showing signs of spiraling out of control…”

He didn’t know if it had something to do with the awry cultivation methods of the sect. Perhaps this was a hidden danger of being a demonic cultivator.

He just hopes this sandstorm isn’t what he suspected, or... he will live in darkness.