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This little "gamble" of Han Lingyun wasn't just based on luck or intuition. It came from reason and observation. In the memories of his previous life, Han Lingyun had been a wine enthusiast and with his high pay he sometimes participated in wine auctions for luxury bottles. The thing is, the same identical bottles or barrels are often sold in multiple lots, each corresponding to one parcel. His question then was in general, at which point would the lots with the lowest price be? Would it be the first lots? The last? Or somewhere in the middle?

The result isn't completely obvious and there is an argument that the price would rise as there are less lots: rarity increases the price. However, there are less buyers for the last lots as many would already have won their own lot already, and the wealthiest might be less interested in further bidding. On the other hand, nothing prevents some buyers to continue bidding on lots after they have won one too.

Well, what he found with his observations and research was that in most cases, the price tended to go down to reach a minimum near the end of the lots.

The reason for this phenomenon: is that there is always the fear to miss out, therefore humans want to secure a lot as rapidly as possible and are even unconsciously willing to pay a bit more for that. This has the effect that the 1st lot generally ends up at a significantly larger price than the later ones. Waiting for later lots has an implied risk. In essence, by buying the first lot, one is buying an additional insurance of having obtained the item.

The second point is that humans are not completely rational beings. In most cases, when a person obtains an item they desire and want, they will gain a sense of satisfaction. But when they obtain the same item a second time, they will still gain additional satisfaction but it won't be as high as on the first occasion.

 

Of course, all these are not strict rules and it might be the case that this won't play out in that way on that day, but on the long run, this waiting strategy would be more profitable.

 

Hence Han Lingyun was considering bidding for the lots at the 7th lot onwards. Wang Yimo, on the other hand, was thinking of buying the first lot.

When the price reached 300 000 crystals, Han Lingyun tried to interrupt her. "Yimo, I really advise to stop bidding, that's already 6 times the listed price."

She frowned. Han Lingyun had woken her up. Was what she bidding on worth it? She was still hesitating though.

Han Lingyun continued. "If you purchase another lot at a higher price than this first lot, I will pay the difference."

Wang Yimo took a step back from the front screen and breathed out. "Okay, okay. But I feel like I am gambling by letting this one slip away."

"Haha, it's all right, it's just some water with qi anyway. Your cultivation journey isn't depending on it."

"If the Night Lotus Auction House was to hear you disparage their Night Lotus Condensation Dew like this, they would probably kick you from their auctions."

"It's not wrong though." Han Lingyun shrugged.

 

In the end, the first bottle of Night Lotus Condensation Dew was sold for 360 000 crystals. Wang Yimo bought the second one for 300 000 crystals. She was so jubilant to win the bid that she jumped around and gave Han Lingyun a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you for the advice, Lingyun!"

However her mood rapidly soured as the 3rd and 4th bottles were sold for even lower prices, at 260 000 each.

Even the heat in the audience had died down as the biddings for the same items were getting a bit repetitive.

In the end, Han Lingyun won the 8th bottle for 180 000, or half the price of the first bottle! Even Han Lingyun hadn't anticipated the price to fluctuate that much.

He looked back at the events. 'I am mainly bidding against other kids who are more prone to buying impulsively with emotions. 180 000 crystals should already be a high price for the true worth of that bottle.'

Wang Yimo's face looked a bit dark as she realized that she had thrown away 120 thousand crystals.

As the last bottle was sold, Wang Yimo was scrutinizing as she asked. "How did you know that you would get the lowest price?"

Han Lingyun smiled proudly. "I didn't know, but it was an educated guess with some luck." He went on to explain his ideas on that situation which left Wang Yimo thoughtful.

"So, you were taking some risk but… It seems that you can predict what people will be doing most of the time, isn't that incredible?"

"It's not that extreme. And in fact, on a single instance like this evening, there is probably more luck than skill going on. What if some super rich disciple from the Cheng Huang School just decided to buy all ten bottles? I decided to take the risk because this bottle isn't vital to my cultivation journey."

Wang Yimo smiled. "Don't belittle yourself, you saved a good amount of money compared to me. Um, maybe next time I want to bid for an item, could you be my advisor?" She sheepishly asked.

"Hehe of course, I consider myself quite good in making rational decisions and not being impulsively led by emotions. So, yea, I think I could help you."

 

Hou Xifeng, the auctioneer, was trying to re-stimulate the crowd's interest after the repetitive bids for the bottles ended; a heated atmosphere always increased sale price.

As diverse items were sold one by one, the audience once again became excited as they enjoyed all the novelty. Some of the most popular items were those that would help directly at the competition such as weapons.

Indeed, personal weapons were not banned from the competition, but were regulated. A magic weapon was associated with a cultivation level through different criteria: the amount of qi it can channel, its sharpness and more. As a rule of thumb, it was not permitted to use a weapon categorized at a higher level than one's own cultivation. The same rules were applied for Talismans, formations or any outside tools. For example, the formations Han Lingyun would be allowed to bring were limited to causing a threat to mid-level qi condensation cultivators. It would also be impossible for a disciple to launch a talisman that contains the force of a foundation establishment level of attack.

These rules further favored disciples with higher cultivation, by allowing them to fight with slightly stronger tools.

 

The auction was playing with this by selling peak weapons for every level with inflated prices. Some were truly borderline and could be classified with a higher grade but there was an understanding between the auction house and the organizers of the rankings.

Han Lingyun found these inflated prices for slightly better weapons to be ridiculous. The disciples were not at a level where the fraction of a percent greater qi channeling would make a difference, especially when a similar gain could be made in days through traditional cultivation. Han Lingyun would much rather fight with weapons he was well acquainted with and used to than to splurge money on a new sword.

The flying sword he had bought when first reaching qi condensation was in fact classified in the lower range of mid qi condensation weapons, his thread was an early qi condensation weapon, and the formation arrays he brought were at the peak of mid-level qi condensation, taken directly from the wide choice at the Array Hall. He was already well armed for next week.

 

Another category of items that was very popular with the crowd and the bidders was the mysterious or unidentified items. One was a strange metallic box found in the Nightmare Forest: a forest populated by powerful magic beasts. Another one was a stone covered in unknown symbols, a third one was strange map made from the skin of a magic beast that didn't seem tocorrespond to any place on the continent.

Han Lingyun dismissed most as fakes or worthless curiosities. But one item intrigued him enough to bid. In fact, he nearly jumped when it was first presented.

It was a hand sized jade with strange circles and intercrossing lines carved on it. What made Han Lingyun raise an eyebrow was the unknown sensation Han Lingyun suddenly had when the jade was unveiled. At first, Han Lingyun could not understand where that impression came from. It was unlike anything from his 5 senses.

He glanced at Wang Yimo; she hadn't displayed any particular reaction when the jade entered the stage.

Han Lingyun sank deep in thought and tried to focus his mind to get a better feel for this phenomenon. It was extremely faint but consistent, like a pulse. Han Lingyun became convinced he wasn't imagining things. This was because, even though this pulse felt un-heard of, abnormal, and even slightly incongruous, Han Lingyun was struck by a sense of familiarity.

'This somewhat uncomfortable impression… It resembles that time in my previous life… that time when the Old Man touched my forehead with his finger. What is this thing? I need to get my hands on it no matter what, there is a non-zero chance that it holds some kind of secret. That Old Man was far too mysterious, if that jade has any link with him, this would be extraordinary.'

Han Lingyun was brought back from his dreams by the first bids.

 

Others too had been intrigued by the strange patterns on the jade. Even a couple elders considered studying it in more detail.

What limited the interest on the bidding war was the fact that experts from the Auction House had already analyzed the jade and its lines. If they were selling, it was surely because they couldn't decipher anything or that it didn't hold any useful information.

Obviously, if this item was here tonight, it hadn't been deemed worthy to be presented at an auction for elders. Even if that mysterious jade had some ground breaking secret, if the experts of a continent's superpower couldn't understand it, a lone core formation cultivator would most likely not fair better.

Han Lingyun still had to fight quite a bit to get his hands on that jade. In the end, his bid at 300 000 crystals was enough.

This was because a couple of Elders had been slightly interested in the jade, and as soon as Elders were implicated, the bids would suddenly soar! Han Lingyun was conflicted. On one hand, he was jubilant to bring home this mysterious jade. The hope of having found a treasure always made one's blood race. On the other hand, he was crying inside as he imagined having to justify this purchase to Elder Wen, as this jade would probably not find any use in the short term.

For the other thousands of cultivators present, the jade was just a punctuation in the long list of items that were displayed on that auction night.

 

After hundreds of all kinds of treasures had been presented and bought, Hou Xifeng announced that the next two items would be the last ones. By then, the sky had already turned dark but the atmosphere was boiling hot at the venue. The eyes of the cultivators were burning like torches. As custom, the most valuable items had been saved for last.

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