Chapter 20: Giving Face
The black cloaked men no longer paid attention to Hui Yue, whose nerves gradually relaxed. Instead they turned towards Lord Rong Liang, and looked at him. It seemed to Hui Yue as if they were speaking, but it was impossible for him to hear anything from such a distance.
Lord Rong Liang was showing a very humble and respectful pose, and he seemed to be agreeing with whatever had been said, as he nodded his head and slightly bowed to the cloaked men.
Hui Yue was puzzled as he saw how the City Lord was showing such hospitality and respect towards these black cloaked men, and it was obvious that they were someone of either a superior rank than him, or unknown experts.
Who are these men? Hui Yue contemplated as he observed the opposite balcony. Why would Lord Rong Liang show such respect and humility towards others? Perhaps, it could be the Royal family? Hui Yue thought shocked as his eyes widened beneath the conical hat and he observed the men in more detail, however no matter how much he stared, he could see nothing else than seven black cloaked men seated down, and Lord Rong Liang standing up next to them
It made perfect sense that they were sent by the royal family, as the two skills up for auction were incredibly outstanding.
While waiting for the auction to start, Hui Yue observed the other balconies, and when his eyes fell onto the one next to Rong Liang, a snicker appeared on his face.
Inside this balcony were five men seated while another five guards were standing behind them, looking stern. One of the five people sitting down was a child approximately the same age as Hui Yue, whom he instantly recognized as Wang Ju Long.
Although Hui Yue had somewhat expected to see Wang Ju Long partaking in the auction it was still something that caused him great enjoyment. If the Wang family was to buy the skill, it would be akin to wasting a notable amount of money, however, if they were unable to buy it, they would instead suffer from jealousy, causing the atmosphere within the family to drop slightly.
This was an incredibly petty way of thinking, and even Hui Yue knew how petty he was, however, he lost all his reasoning whenever something involved Wang Ju Long. It was obvious that the previous fight, which ended in a draw, had caused a slight trauma to Hui Yue. Hui Yue had never found his equal in his previous world, meanwhile, the first person he fought in this world was equal to him.
Though this person was hailed as a genius, which brought little redemption to Hui Yue’s broken self-confidence, he refused to acknowledge that Wang Ju Long was his equal. He would definitely show who was the better one in due time, especially as soon as he manages to finish the business with this auction and gain some strong medicinal pills.
Truthfully, Hui Yue did not wish to currently be at the Black Market Auction House. To attend the auction itself was incredibly risky. With this many people present it was easier for even the slightest mistake to be noticed and his cover to be blown.
Unfortunately, Hui Yue had no other option. Whenever a student were to leave the academy, the student emblem would write down the name and time that this said student left. If the teachers got hold of the information that the said student had been missing in the timeframe where the expert had arrived they would investigate.
It was obvious that no one would assume that Hui Yue was the said expert, nevertheless it was not entirely unlikely for him to be a disciple. Especially considering the amount of high ranked martial art skills he had been putting on display so far.
This in turn would bring a severe amount of danger to the student Hui Yue rather than the expert ‘Li Fen’.
In the end, Hui Yue had decided to go all out with his imaginary expert persona, due to Lan Feng having promised that he was capable of protecting the two of them, should it come to a direct conflict. Even if he could not win, Lan Feng was certain, that when he stopped focusing on a merged aura, he could at least bring them to safety.
At first, when the guests had begun to arrive, Hui Yue had been filled with excitement to see how much profit he could earn from these two skills, however, that excitement had been changed to apprehension once the black cloaked men entered the fray. The apprehension in turn had changed into annoyance that burned inside his gut as he looked at Wang Ju Long.
Lan Feng was currently unable to make fun of Hui Yue, as his full focus was on controlling the aura, and it was obvious that the annoyance had been burning for much longer than what it usually did. Eventually, Hui Yue sighed deeply and scolded himself in Lan Feng’s stead. He made his gaze slip into the next balcony where another sight made him frown slightly.
This balcony clearly belonged to the Deng family. Hui Yue had expected to see Wang Ju Long and to some extend the Rong twins today, maybe even Ma Kong. However, he had not expected to see Deng Wu.
Deng Wu was considered an averagely talented boy. His personality on the other hand was very unlike anything that belonged to a descendant of the Great Hundred Names, and the people who were brought to an auction of this scale would usually be considered very important within the family. To see Deng Wu present caused Hui Yue concern. It was obvious that Deng Wu was not entirely what he claimed to be, but his behaviour was so obvious that Hui Yue could not help but think that he intended for Hui Yue to notice.
And as if Deng Wu could read Hui Yue’s mind, he turned around, looking at the conical hat wearing expert and sent a knowing smile, clearly informing Hui Yue that he could see through the disguise of the esteemed ‘Li Fen’.
A sigh escaped Hui Yue’s lips, as he got the feeling that not everything would go according to plan, however, there was nothing he could do about it. For now he just sat down to continue scanning the rest of the guests.
Looking over the audience, Hui Yue noticed Shan Ping seated together with Wang Jingshen. For some reason, the older brother had not qualified to sit with the Wang family’s top brass in their reserved balcony, causing Hui Yue to raise an eyebrow in surprise.
Apart from a few youngsters here and there, the majority of the guests sitting at ground floor were all middle-aged, and none of them seemed to be here for the sake of actually buying and using the skills; they were here for the sake of hearing which kind of skills it would turn out to be and how much they would fetch. This auction was history in the making, and everyone within Riluo City wished to be a part of it.
Hui Yue was starting to grow bored as he watched how the horde of people turned into a small stream and eventually only one or two people would walk through the massive doors at a time.
Eventually the guards closed the two massive doors, and the room was turned dim as the lights slowly died down.
This, however, did not take long, as all speech stilled and a loud clapping could be heard. Multiple floating crystals lit up, sending a gentle light around the room, most intense around the stage.
The manager himself was standing on top of the stage, a polite smile on his face as he kept clapping his hands until the full attention of the crowd was upon him.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the manager started with a genuine smile on his face, “the auction today only contains two items, but these items are far above anything we have ever sold before here at the Black Market Auction House.”
The manager started walking around on the stage, and the entire audience was breathlessly listening to every word he uttered.
“These items are just like the rumours say, two memory stones containing high ranked skills.” Upon saying this, the Manager made a dramatic pause to allow the audience to relish in the words he had said.
“The first of the memory stones that will be auctioned off contains a King Middle ranked Martial Art Attack skill. The name of the skill is Qi Burst and it activates the full amount of Qi that a cultivator has and releases it in either a kick or a fist attack.”
As soon as the words King middle ranked martial art attack skill was said, the entire hall exploded in disbelief, however, it almost instantly quieted down as no one wished to miss out on the description of the said attack.
To have an attack which released the entire Cultivation base was incredibly strong. Much stronger than most other attacks, and it could be used in so many different ways. Another shock was that this skill possessed so many possibilities for those who were listening, however, Hui Yue himself could not help but snicker upon seeing their hopeful expressions. He was perfectly aware of how hard they were to activate, so those who were to buy these skills would definitely be unable to use them.
“We will auction this skill off first,” The manager continued, “but before we do so, I wish to introduce you to the expert to whom we owe this chance by selling such elusive skills.”
As the manager said this, he raised his hand and led the entire audience’s eyes towards the balcony where ‘Li Fen’ was sitting, hiding ‘her’ face below the conical hat.
“Her name is Li Fen, and this expert deserves great respect and gratitude for appearing in our small city and allowing us this opportunity, although she knows no one in our fair city,” the manager was about to continue his praise of ‘Li Fen’, however, his speech was interrupted by a subtle laughter.
This laughter was not so loud that it could be considered directly insulting, however, it was definitely loud enough for the entire hall to hear it, in which the gazes left Hui Yue and moved towards the source.
A sigh escaped Hui Yue’s lips as he looked at Deng Wu who was still laughing subtly and looking at Hui Yue with a glimmer in his eyes.
“Young master Deng, do you find this expert funny?” The Manager asked with a dreadful voice. He imagined that ‘Li Fen’ would gain a bad impression of the Black Market Auction House due to this young master, however, he was only the manager of the Black Market Auction House. He was not in a position to start a fight with the Deng family.
“My apologies,” Deng Wu said, while wiping a tear away from one of his eyes, “You see, Li Fen and I are good friends, and it was slightly awkward to hear such praise of her.”
The words said by Deng Wu caused the entire room to turn completely silent and questioning gazes were swept across ‘Li Fen’ who had been sitting like a statue the entire time so far.
Hui Yue understood Deng Wu perfectly. Deng Wu had no intention of exposing Hui Yue, but on the other hand, he did wish to use the fame of an extreme expert to gain some face and prestige for his family.
Considering that his real identity would have been exposed, had it been anyone else to realise his secret, Hui Yue quickly decided that giving Deng Wu face would not be too hard a task.
‘Li Fen’ nodded ‘her’ head, before standing up in the balcony. “Young master Deng and I happened to meet not too long ago and developed a great friendship. I am secretly very pleased to see that young master Deng managed to show up today.”
After having said that, Hui Yue sat back down on his chair and turned his head towards the manager. Deng Wu’s smile had steadily increased while listening to Hui Yue’s words, and he felt grateful to be given that much face. He made a slight bow toward his friend.
“I am terribly sorry, Manager,” Deng Wu said while turning back to the manager, “please excuse my intrusion.”
With a deep bow, Deng Wu moved back to his chair, and completely ignored the gazes of jealousy, surprise or admiration that were shot his way.
Although the Manager had been opposed at the beginning, he was now happy as he gained some new information about the illusive ‘Li Fen’.
“Well then,” the manager said as he smiled to the guests, “let us, without any further ado, start the biddings for this Middle King ranked skill. The starting bid will be ten spirit coins!”
A collective gasp could be heard from the audience at the ground floor. It has to be said that a spirit coin was an immense wealth. The usual copper, silver and gold coins were made from metals, however, spirit coins were created from magical gems and infused with spirit power from an expert who had unlocked the middle dantian.
A noble family such as the Deng family, which specialized in different industrial productions throughout Riluo City, had a revenue equalling fifty spirit coins a year while a little more than half was dispensed on salaries and other expenditures. Only around twenty spirit coins would enter the treasury each year.
Four guards entered the stage and between them was a jade case with a transparent square body and a wooden underlay in which the low grade memory stone was placed upon a red pillow.
Greedy glints appeared within everyone’s eyes as they observed the white mist which swirled around within the seemingly ordinary black gemstone. The body of the jade case was massive wood which had been carved with various magical inscriptions to protect the item.
These cases which housed the memory stones could only be opened by the manager himself, and if anyone was to try and kidnap both him and the memory stone, it was obvious that the other guests present would prevent it from happening.
“Fifteen spirit coins!” The Deng Wu family suddenly started the auction, only to be instantly overbid by Lord Rong Liang.
“Twenty spirit coins,” was the steady voice that floated out from the City Lord’s balcony. The two families, the Deng family and the Rong family, kept fighting for the sake of the martial art attack skill with no other family bidding in. The Wang family did not even bid once.
Hui Yue had been observing the entire bidding war and noticed that Lord Rong Liang was only bidding on behalf of the mysterious black cloaked men.
“No one else? Two hundred and five spirit coins going once… two hundred and five spirit coins going twice… Sold to our very own City Lord, Lord Rong Liang for two hundred and five spirit coins.” The manager clasped his hands and the bidding ended at an extremely high price. To think that the Deng family had gone up to two hundred spirit coins alone showed just how interested they were in these skills, however, in the end, even they had to give up.
One of the black cloaked men stood up, and left the balcony as soon as the results had been announced, and Hui Yue assumed that this man was going to pay for the newly gained skill.
Hui Yue felt slightly conflicted upon seeing that it was Rong Liang who purchased the skills. The price was really quite extravagant. It should be fine, he thought to himself, it seems as if it is the black men who are purchasing it and not Rong Liang. Even if it is him, it is really none of my concern.
However, assuming that it was these black cloaked men bought the skill, their behaviour did not seem as if they had done anything out of the ordinary, Hui Yue was strengthened in his impression that these men were not to be messed with and firmly believed that they were affiliated with the royal family. Who else would have the power to back such rich and esteemed experts?
“We will now move on to the next skill,” the manager continued and clapped his hands, causing eight guards to enter with yet another transparent jade box that contained a gemstone completely similar to the one seen previously.
“This skill we are displaying here is a middle King ranked Spiritual Attack Skill called Spiritual Tsunami. It is a Spiritual skill that requires affinity with water, and it causes an attack much like the skill from before. It releases the entire Spiritual Cultivation Base in a tsunami which crushes down on the enemy. This is the skill you want in a desperate situation!” the manager advertised while looking around, knowing that this skill would definitely go for an even higher price than the previous.
Within the city there was a constant fight between the noble families, and the highest rank these families had were king ranked. To a king ranked expert most of the time goes on cultivation and they do not have the time to actually create their own skills, so buying a skill which would be able to throw out their entire cultivation base would be seen as an ultimate attack gained without taking time from the cultivation aspect.
“Two hundred spirit coins!” the Wang family shouted out even before the manager had the time to come up with the starting bid, but instead of getting annoyed, the manager understood that he had to strike while the iron was hot.
“Two hundred spirit coins has been bid, who says two hundred and fifty spirit coins? Deng family? Deng family at two hundred and fifty spirit coins,”
“Four hundred spirit coins,” came a smooth voice from Lord Rong Liang’s balcony, and once again, Hui Yue was astonished by the lack of emotions on his face.
“Four hundred and fifty,” the Deng family bid in, but the bidder was gritting his teeth, clearly unhappy with the high price.
“Five hundred and five spirit coins,” Lord Rong Liang said once again with his calm voice, and this time it had made everyone quiet down.
“We have an offer for five hundred and five spirit coins,” the manager started as he noticed that there was a lack of other bids, “five hundred and five spirit coins going once… Five hundred and five spirit coins going twice… Sold to Lord Rong Liang for five hundred and five spirit coins.”
Murmurs began to instantly spread within the entire room, filling every nook and cranny with whispers. The City Lord mansion had just paid seven hundred and ten spirit coins for the sake of two skills. A sum of money which was so extreme that anyone who gained it would be able to retire, kick up their feet and live a life of luxury.
Hui Yue leaned back and was incredibly satisfied with the results. He was also certain that Lan Feng would be more than satisfied with the price they had gotten. Although a lot of people could live a long life for this amount of money, Lan Feng had warned Hui Yue that the life of a cultivator was expensive. He would need to spend a large amount of money for the sake of pills or magical items later on.
“Excuse me milady Li Fen, please follow me towards the Manager’s office to collect your money.” An attendant finally appeared after the entire room had emptied, and Hui Yue immediately stood up, following the attendant towards the third floor.
Upon entering the room, Hui Yue was promptly greeted by a bowing manager who led ‘Li Fen’ to a chair where ‘she’ sat down.
The manager produced a small golden stone and handed it to Hui Yue who looked much akin to a question mark. Fortunately, the manager quickly started explaining
“This is a specially created memory stone made by our very own king ranked expert from the Ma family. It currently contains your seven hundred and ten spirit coins, but it has yet to be bound with Qi, so I would suggest you to do so.”
“We are very grateful for the fact that you used our services and have not taken any fee for processing your order. Dealing with this order has given us a lot of prestige and we already earned our money back from selling tickets to this auction. Should you ever wish to sell in the future, then please do return to us once again, esteemed Master.”
Hui Yue nodded gently before turning around and walking out the door. Lan Feng had already kept the aura up for a very long time, and Hui Yue knew that they were boarding on the limits for how long their two auras could be merged together.
Hui Yue moved out of the Black Market Auction House as quickly as a summer breeze and he swept down the avenue before he noticed that something was amiss.
The auction had just ended and previously the auction house had been filled with people, however, as soon as Hui Yue had exited the front door, he had not seen one person, not even the guards who should be patrolling the area.
Hui Yue gritted his teeth and increased his speed while bolting through town, trying to reach the inn as quickly as possible, however, the city had turned into a maze, the alleys and roads had changed their appearance from before, and although it was now early night, there came no light from the moon nor the stars above.
Hui Yue was trapped within complete darkness, and he felt how he was followed by a group of experts. High ranked experts.
As Hui Yue turned around a corner he noticed a blur fly past his eye, and suddenly three men were standing in front of him in the alleyway, blocking his path. As Hui Yue had to stop, four men appeared behind him.
‘I cannot hold on much longer,’ Lan Feng said with gritted teeth from deep within Hui Yue’s Qi Cave.