Due to the core seeds, gemstones and crystals were rare. That was why both aristocrats and tribesmen living far from cities loved gemstones. Rare items tend to be considered precious. That was why the people with high living standards and not struggling to feed themselves loved rare beautiful rocks.
A long time ago, King City did not have any betting houses. The term gambling was only for bored people to play a few games to kill time. Sometimes they would place bets during fights but that was it. However, as the population grew, some people saw betting houses as a business opportunity and partnered up to open a gambling house primarily for profit.
The largest betting house in King City was known as House of Fortune. House of Fortune was the most famous betting house on the entire mainland since its headquarters were in King City. Other businesses also expanded to a similar scale but since they were founded later than House of Fortune, they never became as famous.
More and more betting houses wanted to enter King City too since it was the richest place on the mainland. Huge fortunes could be made from the clients there but due to House of Fortune, they still could not penetrate this market.
Since its establishment, House of Fortune would organise all kinds of bets, using various methods to determine the winning and losing sides and rewards. If it was a large game, the news would spread all over the city.
It was the same this time- the beating drums meant that a large game was available for bets now!
Although they were mentally prepared, no one expected this. Most people stared at the crystal as thick as an arm, their eyes glazed over.
This-this-this… this is ridiculous! A crystal this size must be very expensive, how could you place a bet with it? My heart would ache for the rest of my life if I lost it on a gamble!
They only gambled to kill time, making small bets. Everyone had different intentions, some were here to pass time, others to join the conversation, some to gain some information or make connections in the community. Of course, there were also addicts that spent more. The betting house had seen nobles bet using all sorts of expensive items but they had never seen such a large crystal in their lives.
Sunlight refracted through the clear crystal, forming a seven-coloured ray on the table. Thye almost forgot to breathe.
Forget about the crowd, even the dealers were stunned. Some wanted to touch the crystal but their hands trembled, terrified of breaking it.
“Abuli, you don’t even know what the bet is about, how could you place a bet like this?” The Drumming and Pu tribesmen crowded around while other tribesmen also came over.
They did not follow Shao Xuan into the palace, for the ones who did were either Flaming Horns or tribes with missing tribesmen. They were arranged to stay outside the palace and since they had nothing to do, they decided to explore King City. Perhaps buy some souvenirs if they saw something they liked, it was a rare opportunity to come here after all.
They had just started to shop when they heard about the betting house. There were sometimes bets within Flaming River Trading Point too so they had seen bets before. There were diagrams drawn on the betting table, one of them being the Flaming Horn’s double horn totem. Before they could enquire, Abuli had rushed forward.
Ever since he arrived, Abuli had turned into a prodigal rich man. The feeling of buying a large number of goods with the wave of an arm was such a rush. Now that he had the Flaming River Alliance and the other tribes behind him, Abuli became increasingly eager to show off his wealth. However, he had just overdone it by slamming his crystal on impulse. When he met the looks of contempt from the entire room, he was suddenly snapped back to his senses.
This was not Flaming River Trading Point, the rules and game were probably different. He did not even know what a Heaven and Earth Agreement was. He started to regret his actions. He had lost his composure and was not behaving like a chief at all.
“What is a Heaven and Earth Agreement?” asked a Longboat tribesman.
The dealer did not mind that these people did not know anything. They profited most from people like that after all.
“A Heaven and Earth Agreement is when a party in agreement with King City leaves a mark in the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book. Different people leave marks of different sizes on the book. See this on the betting table? This is the current ranking of all the six aristocratic clans based on the size of their marks.” It was the same as the earliest ranking of the six clans.
The dealer did not elaborate that this list was made during King City’s early days. It used to be an indicator of their strengths but there had been many changes since- for example in this list, the Yi family ranked second with the second-largest mark in the book. Yet they were a half-crippled clan now.
“Simply put, the more powerful the person, the larger the mark made on the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book.”
This explanation was easy to understand. When Abuli saw the seven sections on the table, he understood the system.
The dealer continued to explain the bet. The table was divided into seven sections, six of them filled with the characters ‘Ji, Yi, Mu, Feng, Chao, An’, also the surnames of the six great aristocratic clans. An empty space was allocated next to these characters. The seventh section was left empty. On the other side, there was a space labelled as ‘Flaming Horn’.
They would be betting on where Flaming Horn would rank, which clans their mark would surpass. That section was where they could put their chips. If they thought Flaming Horn’s mark would be smaller than all six clans, then they could put their bet in the empty section. If they thought Flaming Horn’s mark would surpass all the clans, they could put their bet on ‘Flaming Horn’.
The spot where Abuli placed his crystal meant he believed that Flaming Horn would surpass all six clans. That was something nobody would bet on, hence why everyone looked at Abuli like he was dumb.
How could he think the Flaming Horns could surpass the Ji family? That was the funniest joke in the world!
Although in reality, the mark made on the book was not directly correlated with strength, till this day no one could surpass the Ji family. In fact, no one had ever surpassed the Yi family either!
The dealer spoke very quickly and Abuli did not really understand all of it. However, Abuli had studied the language intensely during his journey here and could figure out the dealer’s general intent.
“Oh, that was just because he did not understand the rules? Would you like to place a new bet?” advised someone else from King City. Their intent was not kind but rather they wanted to see the dealer disappointed. If the crystal remained in this position, it basically meant it would belong to the dealer soon. They would not get it back. It was impossible for Abuli to win this bet!
“Yeah, place a new bet. I suggest placing it behind the Chao clan.”
“I think behind the An family would be good.”
“Don’t you remember the time a Flaming Horn guy slapped the Lu patriarch out of the city? I think it’s best you place your bet behind the Feng clan. Maybe they’re stronger than the Chao and An clans?”
Everyone started to discuss once more.
The dealer’s face turned green, then white, so furious his veins started to bulge. He wished they would all shut their mouths.
“What is going on?!”
A low voice rang across the betting house. It was not loud but clear enough to be heard over the crowd.
The crowd fell silent.
Abuli looked over to see a middle-aged man with a long beard walk out. His silk robes did not hide his bull-like muscular physique. He had a large scar on one side of his face, making him look terrifying.
The person who hit the drums was stunned for a moment, then retreated to make way for this man.
“Sir, this is what happened…”
A staff member stepped forward to explain the situation.
The middle-aged man stared at the crystal on the betting table, his eyes glistening. He was the boss after all, so despite feeling excited, he maintained the solemn calmness on his face, regarding Abuli and his group. “I am head of the House of Fortune, Bo Yi. I believe they had already explained the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book betting rules before this.”
Abuli was busy staring at Bo Yi’s beard, it fluttered in two directions when Bo Yi spoke. Abuli didn’t hear what he said so he merely asked “Huh?” in a daze.
Stupid person with a lot to spend, very gullible. This was Bo Yi’s first impression of Abuli.
Without waiting for Abuli to speak, Bo Yi continued. “What about this: since you’re all not from around here, I understand you aren’t familiar with our rules. We’re only human, even some youngsters in King City don’t know how to place bets on the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book. But you understand the rules now, right? I’ll give you another chance to place your bets again, what do you think?” He deliberately spoke very slowly, and loudly but emphasizing every word so everyone could hear him clearly.
“Sir…” The staff member panicked and wanted to advise Bo Yi but Bo Yi stopped him.
Bo Yi did not even look at the staff member scratching his head in panic, his eyes fixed on Abuli’s group. “What will you choose? Or will you choose to believe in Flaming Horn?” He changed his phrasing on purpose. Believing in Flaming Horn did not have to mean believing that they would surpass the six great clans, nor must they place bets. But what would this group of foreign tribesmen choose?
“I’ll choose to believe in Flaming Horn, of course!” Abuli did not seem to intend to take the crystal back.
The corner of Bo Yi’s lips curved upwards. Just as he expected! That giant crystal was theirs now!
Looking away from Abuli, Bo Yi turned to the people around him. “Would you all like to place your bets too?”
Drumming tribe’s Qing Yi and Pu tribe’s Yi looked at each other. They took out pouches of water moon stones they had planned to spend on a shopping spree.
“Same as Abuli, I will bet on Flaming Horn.” Yu tossed a pouch over.
The pouch of water moon stones landed on the section labelled Flaming Horn. Everyone could see the water moon stones inside from the open mouth.
Since both continents had already begun to trade and the Longboats were selling water moon stones at a high price here, these King City folk had seen water moon stones before. They even thought water moon stones were more valuable than crystals, never had they seen so many in their lives! There must be twenty stones inside!
With trembling fingers, Bo Yi reached to shield the mouth of the pouch from light. He had only covered it partially but could already see the stones’ bright glow. These were good-quality stones, not those dull, poor-grade ones! Bo Yi’s heart raced.
“Ssss---” The crowd inhaled sharply. Another big spender!
“Same for me,” said Qing Yi.
Slam! A larger pouch of water moon stones landed on the ‘Flaming Horn’ section. Bo Yi checked its contents. It was another pouch of water moon stones of even better quality.
The crowd gasped even louder.
Bo Gu of the Gu tribe did not even speak. He took out an animal skin pouch he carried with him and placed the pouch of ground eye stone on the table. Top grade stones rolled out of the open mouth and looked like eyeballs in the sunlight. They seemed to move in the light from different angles too.
The crowd erupted in shock. All generous spenders!
The Longboats and other tribesmen did not stand around either, all placing their bets on the same section.
The crowd was stunned by the pouches of jades, crystals and gemstones, their eyeballs about to fall out of their heads. They gasped and gasped in surprise until they were numbed but the cheers never stopped. The ever-growing crowd remained excited as ever, and the increasing number of people made the cheers louder. They could only express their feelings by shouting now.
Someone swallowed his saliva, along with many in the crowd. Some even wiped the drool off their chins.
They were all King City folk or traders who frequented King City. They thought they had seen it all but this was the first time they saw so many good-quality treasures in one place!
Even the Ji family would not pull out this many gemstones at a time!
Insane! The tribesmen from the other side of the ocean were all insane!
Bo Yi was so excited his face turned red.
These stones were all theirs! All of it!
The number of people banging the drums increased from one to five, even switching to larger drums. They banged hard, as if about to break their drums. The crowd felt like their eardrums would explode.
The entire King City could hear the rumbling drums, more and more people came to the betting house to watch. More people placed bets too but no one touched the section labelled ‘Flaming Horn’. Of course they must join a bet they already knew the ending to! They were here to profit.
Bo Yi stared at the increasing pile of treasures on the table, starting to calculate the value of these goods, thinking of maximising his profit.