Chapter 247: Entertainment Material
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong looked to their respective sides and saw the stalls by the sides of the road. Some were selling crystals, diamonds, emeralds, and white jade jewelry in the Old World’s style. Some had different-sized LCD screens and portable computers. Some had canned food, clothes, and other supplies. Some were simply selling all kinds of miscellaneous items.
“Contains entertainment material from the Old World…” Long Yuehong read a paper signboard.
It wasn’t hung up and was placed in front of one of the stalls. This stall’s main business was the repairing of Old World computers.
Upon hearing Long Yuehong read the words, Bai Chen—who was driving—warned him seriously, “It’s best not to touch that.”
“Why?” Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong asked in unison.
Bai Chen recalled and said, “When I roamed the wilderness, I knew a very powerful Ruin Hunter. He was roughly half as capable as Team Leader.”
Jiang Baimian was observing the lively street with interest and laughed when she heard that. “Whoa, I’ve become a standard for measurement?”
Bai Chen didn’t respond to her jest and continued, “Once, when he explored a city ruin, he found a portable computer that didn’t have any major problems other than a flat battery. Later, he got someone to fix all kinds of small problems and traded for a new battery meant for it. He eventually managed to boot that computer…”
As she had to avoid a pedestrian crossing the street, Bai Chen paused before she could finish her sentence.
Long Yuehong tried to make a guess. “Something terrifying happened in the end? The Old World’s entertainment material on that computer hid some kind of danger?”
“No,” Bai Chen said truthfully. “After he found the entertainment material on the computer, he became obsessed with it and stopped exploring city ruins. He relied on his past savings and connections to set up a small business in First City and barely managed to make a living. Furthermore, he wouldn’t leave the computer even when the shop was busy. He didn’t bother about focusing on his business or scaling it up. He only wanted to stay in front of the computer—constantly clicking the mouse and tapping the keyboard.”
Finally, Bai Chen concluded, “He was originally a very ambitious and capable person. He might have one day been able to get his own manor, but he ended up wasting his life away just like that.”
Long Yuehong oohed and aahed.
“How terrifying—those Old World entertainment material.”
Shang Jianyao excitedly said, “I want to challenge it and see if my will can emerge victorious when facing the Old World’s entertainment material.”
During the discussion, Long Yuehong glanced at his team leader and realized that she had her mouth tightly shut. Her cheeks had slightly bulged, and her body was trembling slightly as if she had a hard time holding in her laughter.
Team Leader must’ve come into contact with the Old World’s entertainment material in the past… Just as this thought flashed across Long Yuehong’s mind, Jiang Baimian laughed until she couldn’t straighten her back.
“Haha, Little White, you look so cute when you’re serious! Haha…”
Bai Chen pursed her lips and didn’t respond.
Jiang Baimian wiped the smile off her face and said seriously, “But we definitely can’t let Shang Jianyao touch the Old World’s entertainment material.”
Just the radio programs, the music list, and the end-of-year performance had made Shang Jianyao’s imagination go into overdrive. Wouldn’t it be pandemonium if he were to come into contact with the rich and complete entertainment material from the Old World?
“You don’t trust me?” Shang Jianyao protested.
“No, I don’t trust the Old World’s entertainment material. I’m afraid that they will be corrupted by you.” Jiang Baimian blatantly lied without any hint of guilt.
She felt that this should be the most convincing ‘reason.’
As expected, Shang Jianyao replied, “You have to be thankful that it’s the proud me now.”
“…” Jiang Baimian’s eyes darted up as she slowly exhaled.
The jeep drove for a while longer. Long Yuehong saw someone setting up a platform by the side of the road with a black-covered book in hand. He was speaking to the surrounding crowd from a raised platform. Some people were also holding thick books and constantly chatting with the pedestrians…
“There are indeed more religions here.” Long Yuehong sighed with emotion when he combined the information he had previously obtained.
As the smart robots of Mechanical Paradise didn’t believe in religion, nor did they care if others were religious, many originally secret religions surfaced. They established cathedrals, temples, or pavilions to preach in public.
As for an organization like the Furnace Church—which could publicly hold activities in the Linhai Alliance—they had no qualms at all. Not only did they build a cathedral and send a Dedicator, but they also directly turned themselves into the Tarnan Services Center for many merchant associations and teams from the Linhai Alliance.
Of course, the other premise of proselytizing was that there were people who needed proselytizing, and Tarnan had no lack of people.
Before receiving the information that Han Wanghuo had given them, the Old Task Force imagined that Tarnan was mostly made up of robots. Humans were caravans, hunters, and trade representatives that came and went—transients. Furthermore, there weren’t many of these people combined. This was because only a few factions knew of Tarnan and were permitted to trade with Mechanical Paradise.
Even if every faction sent several caravans and Ruin Hunters—who were in charge of protecting them—the total population here wouldn’t reach the standard of a medium-sized settlement.
Reality overturned this misconception. Before Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and the others left Redstone Collection, they had already known that there was a large number of local residents in Tarnan.
They came from three sources: The first were members of the caravans and their descendants.
Tarnan was controlled by Mechanical Paradise, and private fights were forbidden. The public order was relatively good, and it also had a powerful armed force. It didn’t have to worry about being attacked by bandits or other factions. To many people, it was simply paradise.
In the Chaotic Era and the early years of the New Calendar, this was an irresistible attraction. Back then, many caravans and many city states’ trade groups had personnel who either used official means or methods to defect from their original factions. They stayed behind and settled here. After all, there were too many ownerless houses in such a well-maintained city ruin.
Back then, the Linhai Alliance had yet to be established. Mechanical Paradise transacted with many city states in that area. Later, these city states—which were outside the polluted zone—formed states and then, as states, formed an alliance.
In fact, it was all thanks to Mechanical Paradise’s help. This included, but was not limited to, sending robot volunteers, providing water purification technology, and resisting the Superior Heartless.
The second source was the wilderness nomads in the surrounding area. Such a peaceful city that allowed the exchange for necessities made every nomad here unwilling to leave.
The third group was foreign Ruin Hunters. Around Tarnan—including the Mount Chilar area—were many city ruins that attracted many Ruin Hunters. They inevitably discovered such a safe haven. After living in Tarnan for a period of time, a large portion of them chose not to take risks elsewhere and stayed behind. They lived by reclaiming farmland and exploring the various ruins in the area. They also established the local Hunter’s Guild.
Of course, the premise behind the establishment of the local Hunter’s Guild was the signing of a memorandum with Mechanical Paradise to ensure that the hunters’ various actions were restrained. They were not to take the initiative to reveal Tarnan’s existence to the outside world.
The jewelry, appliances, and miscellaneous items on sale in the stalls by the side of the road were all found from the nearby city ruins.
Previously, Omnidirectional Commerce’s Miens had mentioned that Tarnan’s robots didn’t eat or farm. This resulted in the lack of fresh ingredients here. Everyone could only rely on canned food, biscuits, and energy bars for a living, but that was pertaining to ‘outsiders.’
All local residents cultivated farmlands, but since they were in the mountains and the soil was poor, many areas were still polluted and unable to be farmed. Therefore, the food and vegetables produced were only enough for their families.
The livestock they reared would occasionally be sold.
In other words, it wasn’t like people couldn’t buy flour, rice, vegetables, and other supplies in Tarnan. It was just that they were more expensive and not worth it. Many caravans and Ruin Hunters would rather get it from somewhere nearby.
As they spoke, the jeep finally passed through the lively street and entered a quieter area.
The street lamps here were still bright. Tarnan didn’t seem to lack electricity, but only a few houses had a yellow or white glow.
Behind the many windows were vacant rooms.
“I thought Tarnan was already considered lively and prosperous, but it isn’t able to fill every room in this city ruin.” Long Yuehong compared Tarnan to Weed City.
“This is a semi-secret place after all,” Jiang Baimian said casually.
Long Yuehong looked around and suddenly sighed with emotion. “Compared to Swamp Ruin 1, this is a small city. Such cities are definitely everywhere in the Ashlands. Before the Old World was destroyed, this place was mostly filled with people, but it was still a small city…”
Even a city that wasn’t even one-fifth filled could be considered lively in the present-day Ashlands. How prosperous was the Old World back then?
Shang Jianyao immediately echoed, “Yeah.”
He then said, “So, are you going to recite with me?”
“Recite what?” Long Yuehong was a little confused.
Shang Jianyao replied seriously, “In order to save all of humanity, I volunteer…”
It wasn’t Jiang Baimian who interrupted him, but Bai Chen. She stopped the car in front of a hotel.
This hotel was called Serene Dream. It was about 200 to 300 meters away from the busiest street. It originally seemed to be a hotel in the Old World, but it had been renovated and modified.
This was a place recommended by several smugglers in Redstone Collection. It was said to be the most comfortable.
After parking the jeep in front of the hotel, Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and the others walked to the front desk through the automatic spinning door.
During this process, Shang Jianyao deliberately followed the door’s rotation. Just as he was about to head back out again, Jiang Baimian pulled him back.
Long Yuehong was also curious about the door that spun on its own when it sensed their approach.
This was an application in his field of expertise.
Sitting at the hotel’s front desk was a woman in her thirties. She was Ashlandic and wore a thick, colorful, and unique skirt. Her facial features weren’t bad, and she had a rather charming bearing.
As she twirled her hair, she smiled at the guests. “You have made a wise choice. If you go to places in the city where nobody lives and find a room to sleep in, you might very well encounter…”
At this point, she paused and said in a creepy tone, “Ghosts.”
Shang Jianyao was immediately excited. “Where? Where?”
“…” The woman suspected to be the hotel owner was dumbfounded.