Under the curious gazes of other Starfall Mountain elders, Han De and Ning Bi were now sitting in the VIP balcony at the auction house. Ning Bi's advancement to the 7th stage naturally resulted in waves of congratulations from disciples and elders. Han De had just brushed them away and sat on the front row seat. He just wanted to buy the 2 items as soon as possible and get the f#$% away from this city.
'Crystalized Tenacity… It can't actually be a crystallization of sweat, right?'
'Well whatever. It's not like I'm the one that is going to swallow it...'
Han De's attention was on the presenter. He was purposefully avoiding looking at the other attendees. Due to the weakened position of the sect, he was going to aggressively bid on the 2 items, but he still had to pay attention to the other ones to determine danger levels. He had 5 Transcendent masters with him, but he wasn't going to drop his guard. If he could bring such masters with him, so could others.
With the clear sounding bell, the auction had finally started. The first item was getting presented.
"This sword is determined to be an artifact from the Moonstone Sage era. It can channel Metal Qi and is made out of Gold Essence. More knowledgeable masters probably have already recognized it. Yes, this is the legendary Unbending Visage, the sword of the Moonstone Sage's disciple, Joyous Tiger! Bidding starts from 20 thousand spirit stones. Minimum increment is one thousand."
Han De watched as a wave of praise came from the seats on the ground floor. He tried to get a read on the sword with the System but he was too far away.
'Damn, should've just sat down in the front row instead. Shit.'
"150 thousand spirit stones. Please give my Lin family some face."
'Ah, it already started.'
Han De looked at the Lin family representative and the other now red-faced bidders. The Lin family was a rather small family compared to the Han family. Apparently it still had some pull within their small circle though. No one else was bidding after what he said.
"150 thousand spirit stones going once!"
Han De thought about it and increased the bid.
"151 thousand. This is an auction. If your face is going to drop because you can't afford something then either sit silently or just go back. Don't bring your antics here."
Han De could see the Lin family representative's face go white. He listened to the murmurings of the entire auction house but didn't say anything else. He had stepped on too many toes recently, this act of bullying Lin family was just giving Brass Stallion city some face. Which auction house would be happy if attendees used their powers to suppress other bids? Plus, Han De had always found Xianxia auctions way too obnoxious, so this was a double win situation for him.
The person that made the first bid looked at Han De. After seeing his indifference, and the Lin family representative's face, he tentatively chose to increase the bid.
Of course, Han De didn't bother. It was a Metal Qi sword and practically useless for him. Seeing that he wasn't going to bid anymore, everyone else continued.
The Lin family gritted their teeth and placed the highest bid so far. "300 thousand!"
The Lin family bid didn't scare anyone thanks to Han De's words, but sudden price bump put it above everyone else's budget and the Lin family eventually won it for a meager 300 thousand spirit stones. It was a bittersweet moment for the Lin family. They still got it for a relatively cheap price, but somehow offended Elder De of the Starfall Mountain.
* * *
Watching the situation from his seat of honor, Tan Renhsu narrowed his eyes.
His son, Tan Xiaodan rolled his eyes.
"See father, I told you. It is impossible to not offend this guy. It's not my fault!"
Tan Renshu didn't hide his disappointment in his son. This brat didn't have any business sense whatsoever. His only saving grace was that his cultivation was relatively high. He turned his gaze towards his grandson.
"Yes, Great Elder."
Tan Enlai was the son of Tan Xiaodan. However, unlike his father and his bigger siblings, he actually did have some business sense and was silently getting groomed by his grandfather.
"It seems Elder De of the Starfall Mountain wishes to cooperate with us in something."
Tan Renshu nodded while Tan Xiaodan's eyes grew big.
"What nonsense are you spouting! Cooperate!? What cooperation?! How dare you say something so absu-"
Tan Renshu shook his head. Still, he chose to explain.
"Enlai is right. In the first place, Han De had only ever come to an auction once, and that was a decade ago. His actions from what you described were designed to explicitly give face to our family. Perhaps his purpose isn't the auction or a transaction, but he is already here and he is already giving us a signal. With the rise of the Starfall Mountain, there is no loss for us if we accommodate his demands even if they are unreasonable."
Two behind his back were in deep thought, albeit they were thinking about completely different things. Tan Renshu continued.
"I will meet him after the auction. Make sure to give priority to them in anything they demand."
"Yes, Great Elder."
* * *
15 items were sold so far. The most expensive one was a Nascent Soul realm spiritual pill, followed by an ancient zither. Sold for 2 million and 1.6 million respectively. Han De kept his eyes open but he didn't spot any escape items. Not one. The presenter was now bringing the 16th item.
"This Mysterious Bead's origins are unknown. We couldn't even determine its age. It is most likely from the Ancestor era and was part of an Immortal realm or higher spiritual artifact. Although it is just a single bead, it's effects are quite miraculous. When kept near, it can continuously purify Qi during cultivation. The amount of purification is small, but it is cumulative. The starting price is 200 thousand spirit stones. The minimum increment is 10 thousand."
<Young master this is bead is unusual. It is->
<Crystalized Tenacity. I know. Don't worry.>
Han De cut off Transcendent master. He swiftly made a bid.
Amongst the surprise of the entire floor, Han De thought about something. He asked the same master that talked before.
<Do you know how Crystalized Tenacity or similar things manifest themselves?>
Silence followed his question. On the floor, the auctioneer was in an awkward situation.
"2 million from Starfall Mountain Sect Elder, Elder De."
<We are not exactly sure how such things get manifested. This one should've manifested during a prolonged life and death situation. Perhaps during a tribulation. Ancient texts refer to them as recognition of Heaven and Earth's will. Unfortunately, this one is too small and useless...>
"2 million going twice!"
Han De nodded but didn't say anything else.
"Mysterious Bead sold for 2 million spirit stones to Elder De of the Starfall Mountain. Congratulations!"
'One down, one to go.'
Han De kept patiently waiting. He didn't bother with explaining his purchase.
Auction attendees were rather puzzled that such a small bead could attract the attention of Starfall Mountain. No matter how they looked, it was just an ordinary bead. Even if was part of an Immortal treasure that was no longer the case. Few of the higher realm masters narrowed their eyes. The only possibility they could think of was that Han De had actually found the original treasure.
An Immortal realm treasure was a rare thing, small and mid-sized sects would actually throw them away if they found one to avoid the calamity that inevitably followed such items. Only large sects could afford to have them. However, for a sect like Starfall Mountain, Immortal treasures weren't that valuable.
There were many types of spiritual items. Weapons, tools, defensive charms, mobile formations, attack talismans. One type of spiritual item was the rarest, and that was the type that helped cultivation. Spiritual items that helped increase one's cultivation were incredibly rare. Even Qi Condensation level ones would become sect legacies that would help nurture the next generation.
Some higher realm masters obviously knew about the implications of it. Ming Emperor's deal with Han De, Zhao family massacre, and now this bead. Those that could recognize the pattern fell in deep thought. The announcement of such a thing was aimed at someone, but for who, they didn't know.
During all of this, a certain brown-robed man was sweating profusely, despite being a Nascent Soul expert. Han De wouldn't recognize this man, nor would he recognize his robes. If he could look at his storage ring though, he would have a clear idea on which faction he belonged to upon seeing large boulders and an absurdly large sheet of spiritual iron.
'I-I need to convey this to my brother. N-NO! I can't leave right now. If I leave I'll gather suspicion. I must stay put. NO! I should bid at something. Yes! Bid on whatever maybe win a useless item then I can sneak out.'
Fortunately for the brown-robed man no one paid any attention to him. Even if the Transcendent masters noticed him they would just dismiss him as a regular guest. Han De himself was purposefully avoiding eye contact with anyone else. Keeping a low profile was slowly becoming his religion.
* * *
The auction was now at its 67th item. According to Brass Stallion, there were a total of 100 items. Sadly, Han De couldn't spot anything that he or Ning Bi could use. He kept discreetly checking her reaction but it seemed like she thought none of it was worth anything. This perplexed Han De.
'This girl has maximum luck. Why is there nothing that can catch her attention? There should be something here that can help her soar through the heavens. What's going on…'
"5.2 million! I can do this all day! I have nothing but money in my pockets!"
The current item was an ancient spear that could enhance Water Qi. Materials it was made out of was quite expensive too. The handle was made out of a single Golden Ivory chunk that came from a Unity Realm spiritual beast. The blade itself was made out of solid Star Iron with an Azure Lotus core. Han De had already forgotten about the name of the spear, but it really looked nice!
This bid was made from a VIP balcony near Han De. After the alluring female voice made her bid, no one made a single sound. The previous bidder calculated his remaining money and found it was a few hundred thousand short. He had boasted big but now couldn't deliver. Thankfully he was a shameless fellow.
"Since this lady wants this spear, I will give you some face and let you have it. I am nothing if not magnanimous!"
Han De knew about most of the bigshots thanks to his lackeys' extensive report. Despite that he couldn't place her anywhere on the list from the voice alone. His suspicion was confirmed by one of the Transcendent experts.
<Young master, this bidder has reddish-brown eyes as you described. Even as old as I am, I also have to admit she is quite the beauty. She is alone too.>
Han De nodded as he answered.
<Keep an eye on her.>
Auction continued. Han De couldn't find a useful item. Ning Bi didn't give any reaction to any item. Han De had checked, but her luck was still 10 and didn't drop. 'Xin Qiang' also didn't bid for anything else. He didn't want to do it, but in the end Han De started looking at the attendees out of boredom. Aside from the initial arrogant family representative A and the occasional cliche Xianxia lines, the auction was completely normal.
'I don't know if I should feel happy or sad.'
"And now for the 90th item. After this, we will have a small break before the last 10 items. Please be advised."
The presenter brought forward a box.
"90th item is a spiritual herb called Seven Colored Soul Lily. I'm sure I don't have to make an introduction to this item, nor do I have to remind everyone of how rare it really is. This Seven Colored Reminiscence Lily, most commonly used for the Origin Separation pill that allows one to increase chances of breaking into the Unity Realm, still has more than 95% of its efficacy remaining. Starting bid is 10 million spirit stones. Minimum increment half a million."
Box slowly opened. A gentle wave of spiritual energy gushed out of the box. Everyone in the auction hall could feel the herb stimulate their soul. This proved the authenticity of Brass Stallion's claims. The presenter hurriedly closed the jade box after a few seconds.
Before even the after-effects of the spiritual herb had vanished, a bid came from the alluring voice one again.
This spiritual herb was the one that Han De needed. Once he was able to register the actions of Xin Qiang, Han De felt furious and raised the bid.
Along with Starfall Mountain elders, everyone's mouth was agape at the auction hall. So far this was the most expensive item of the auction. 2nd place still belonged to the spear that Xin Qiang previously bought for 8 million.
Ignoring the exclamations coming from the crowd, Han De looked towards to balcony.
'She intensely looked at Ning Bi. Only backed off once I threatened her. Now she is aggressively bidding for the only item that I cannot afford lose.'
Han De narrowed his eyes. Towards the auctioneer he said: "Hold it." Then he signaled the 3 Transcendent masters.
<Bring me to her room.>
Han De appeared at the VIP suite used by Xin Qiang. On her beautiful face, Han De could see a tinge of worry.
"Take her ring, unseal it and give it to me."
Transcendent masters weren't courteous. They used their Qi to forcefully remove her ring. Han De leisurely sat next to Xin Qiang looked inside the ring.
'I was sure there would be boulders and other useless items but this…'
As he was looking, Xin Qiang was finally feeling fear. Although Transcendent masters did restrain their aura, she instinctively knew they were a much higher level of existence than her. The pressure she felt was very similar to the family matriarch exuded.
'Wow, that's a lot of money, even for me. Just short of 500 million spirit stones… What's this? Oh… Undergarments… Let's move on.'
A minute had passed since Han De told the auctioneer to put bidding on hold. Tan Enlai had already instructed everyone to comply with any of the Han De's requests. There was an awkward silence on the auction floor.
'She really doesn't have any suspicious items… Was I wrong? No, it can't be. Everything is too coincidental.'
Unsealing of the storage ring was done by a Transcendent master. Han De didn't know, but this master had also undone different layers of sealing done inside the storage ring. This level of intricate work was something that was rarely seen. That master didn't tell Han De, but he was sure that there were some secrets inside this ring. Subsequently, Han De saw a simple but elegant white scroll case with a red-colored accent. Out of curiosity, he took it out. He didn't even look at Xin Qiang, but if he did, he would've seen the unbridled panic in her eyes.
[Blazing Sun Scripture (Mortal)]
Power: Very Weak
Stage: Up to Dao Sovereign realm.
Roots: At least 65% Fire roots
Notes: Already known by the host.