The auction continued inside the Great Hall of the Qi Zhen Pavilion.
Tension from the latest episode began to subside. Treasures that were subsequently presented brought excitement back amongst the crowd.
The sixth item up for auction was an amulet, an ancient talisman known as the Amulet of Broken Air. It pierces through cosmos in the blink of an eye, an essential instrument for escaping one’s enemies.
A priceless artifact that can save your life! The object was highly sought after and became the property of Ye Xiao Tian, mayor of the City of Qing, for the price of 47,000 spiritual stones.
Items that followed were all unique in their own rights. They were artifacts equally as precious and priceless as the Amulet of Broken Air and all eagerly snatched up by a crowd of enthusiastic buyers. This auction was a tremendous success for its host, the Qi Zhen Pavilion.
However, none of what happened after was of any concern to Ling Xian. Fussing with the porcelain teacup in his hand, Ling Xian said with a hint of curiosity, “Manager Gong is full of surprises. Revitalization Dan, Soul Flower, and Amulet of Broken Air, any one of them could be the star of an auction at the City of Qing, but all appeared in a single auction. Incredible.”
“Not at all. These objects are indeed precious, but Elder only went for the Soul Flower. Clearly, the others are quite ordinary. Gong Suo Xin was new to the Qi Zhen Pavilion and was desperate for an occasion to solidify her status. She chose to display her most treasured artifacts without anticipating this bizarre and unexpected chain of events Ling Xian had inadvertently initiated and escalated.
“If I had gone after every artifact, Qi Zhen Pavilion would have lost its capital investment,” Ling Xian snickered. Evidently, if he had wanted it to end poorly for the mistress in front of him, he could have.
Gong Suo Xin let out a reluctant smile. “If Elder saw something he fancied, I would have offered it to him without reservation.”
“Is that so?” Ling Xian raised an eyebrow. “I fancy this, the Xuan Yuan Flag. Hmm… 20,000 stones to start I believe. Since someone has offered 40,000, my offer is 45,000. Thoughts?”
Xuan Yuan Flag was the item presently under the hammer. The crowd had gone wild for it. 70,000 would not have been impossible. 45,000?
“Not a chance!” Gong Suo Xin clenched her teeth. A flash of annoyance danced across her narrowing eyes. “What a belligerent bully this man is!”
“Only a joke, only a joke.” Ling Xian burst out laughing. “It’s time I left. You may hand me the spiritual stones and the Soul Flower.”
As he spoke, Ling Xian stood and walked away.
Everyone followed his gesture, stood and bowed. “Safe journey, Elder.”
Gong Suo Xin moved gently across the room, accepted the Soul Flower from the middle-aged man and then led Ling Xian into the VIP guestroom. She handed Ling Xian a travel bag, honored him with a cup of tea and bid him farewell. “Elder, come visit the Qi Zhen Pavilion should you wish to trade your treasures. Especially, the Qing Hua Dan.”
“But of course.” Ling Xian accepted her offer of tea. He lowered his lips for a taste, then glanced up and spoke, “I have some business to discuss with you, Manager, something that could be of tremendous value for both of us.”
“Please continue, Elder,” Gong Suo Xin’s eyes sparkled.
“Have you heard of the Lake of Ecstasy?” Ling Xian hesitated for a moment. The Lake of Ecstasy is a magnificent but elusive artifact of mythical proportions. On his own, it would be nearly impossible to locate it. Qi Zhen Pavilion possesses a wealth of resources and trades artifacts known to be lost to the world. Perhaps she can help him track it down.
“Hmm…” Gong Suo Xin pondered for a moment, her eyebrows raised.
Images of pain and suffering shifted through her mind. She tried to speak but held back.
Seeing her reaction, Ling Xian suddenly understood. “You have heard of it, and you know of its whereabouts.”
Gong Suo Xin fell silent; her mind was battling. Then the battle was over, and she lifted her gaze.
“I indeed do know the whereabouts of the lake, what I don’t know is how much the information is worth to you.”
Ling Xian was startled by this revelation. The Lake of Ecstasy is an object of unmatched power. When it awakens the second immortal, his powers will propagate.
However, Ling Xian has observed that the manager was hesitant at first. Then her stance changed and she openly revealed her knowledge. He became suspicious. “What do you want in return?”
“A promise,” Gong Suo Xin beamed.
“Oh? What can I promise?” Ling Xian responded playfully.
“Something very simple. Kill everyone who guards the Lake of Ecstasy.” She never broke her smile, but someone dark lurked beneath that stunning beauty in her smile. Revealing layers of hatred upon layers of sadness. An emotional mix that was impossible to dissect.
“Murder using me as your weapon,” Ling Xian responded coldly, “but seeing that you speak honestly of your intentions, I won’t pursue this further.”
“I placed a bet with myself that you would agree to it.”
Unfortunately for Ling Xian, Gong Suo Xin understood too well of the importance of the Lake to him.
“You bet poorly,” Ling Xian replied. “It is important to me, but I won’t be your weapon.”
“You misunderstood me, Elder. This is just a matter of taking what we each need.” Gong Suo Xin attempted to mask her pain. “The Lake of Ecstasy belongs to THAT Clan. If you want it for yourself, you will have to defeat everyone who guards that Clan. For me, I only want everyone who guards the lake dead. Every one of them.”
“I do not have such an appetite for killing,” Ling Xian insisted.
Calmly, he continued, “what is between you and them stays between you and them. I only want to know of the lake's whereabouts. Ask me for something else in exchange.”
Gong Suo Xin shook her head, “Elder, you can’t do this alone. The Clan is powerful. You will never take the Lake of Ecstasy from them. Unless you trade it for something of equal power and value. However, if you had an item like that, what would you need the Lake for?”
“Seems you won’t divulge any further, I beg you farewell.” Ling Xian turned to leave.
“Wait!” Gong Suo Xin's teeth dug into her lip. She refocused her gaze. “Yun Zhou, Mount Luo Fu, the Wang family.”
“Very well, I shall remember this.”
A white dusty cloud appeared around his body as his voice fell. Ling Xiao disappeared as swiftly as he came.
Gong Guo Xin froze. Tightening her grip, she was overcome by a flood of emotions. “The Wang family, one day, I will destroy you,” she muttered.
The Painting of the Nine Immortals depicts a scene taken from heaven on earth – a paradise.
The shroud of cloud that announced the arrival of Ling Xian had barely materialized before a mocking sound broke the silence.
“Ah, the Elder from the completion level has returned. Please rest, I’ll fetch tea immediately.”
“Master Liao, do not mock me,” Ling Xian chuckled.
“Hmm… you are off living the luxury life, relishing the admirations bestowed on you. While I, lending you my power for nothing in return but a weakened soul.”
“Nothing in return? Look, I’ve returned with the Nine-Time Reincarnated Soul Flower.” Ling Xian smiled proudly, waving his hand and suspecting the treasure in midair.
Seeing the bedazzling spectra of light, Liao Cang Qiong nodded in satisfaction. “Not bad, you didn’t lose all conscience. When I’ve absorbed its powers, I’ll come back stronger.”
“Also, Master, I have news on the Lake of Ecstasy.” Ling Xian added.
“Let’s hear it.” Liao Cang Qiong’s spirits suddenly lifted. Awakening the second immortal was a matter of great important for him.
“Yun Zhou, Mount Luo Fu, the Wang family.” Ling Xian repeated what Gong Suo Xin had revealed to him.
Liao Cang Qiong frowned and paused a moment. Suddenly, his face lit up, “I see… ”
Ling Xian was confused by this but did not pursue. He sighed softly and thought to himself, [don’t waste your time, even Master is startled by the sound of this. I have no chance.]
“Time flies, across lands and oceans. After 30,000 years, that Clan still exists!” Liao Cang Qiong exhaled deeply, swung his sleeves, and took leave amidst a flower shaped cloud, leaving behind the echoes of this pensive reflection, “Leave it be, you are not ready to go there yet. Elevate your powers. When the second immortal wakes, I’ll think of something.”
Ling Xian nodded to himself, put his burdens behind, and wandered into a lovely field of green. He settled into a spot next to a lake reflecting magnificent shades of blue and began to meditate.
“Next stop, the Hidden Territory, but my powers are still lacking… I need to overtake the sixth peak over the next few days!” Ling Xian closed his eyes and refocused. His fingers tightened to form an intricate pattern, and swirls of Qi surrounded his body.
Absorbing this Qi, the powers broke through every muscle and stirred every vein.
With each breath, Qi traveled throughout his body, stronger with each inhale and exhale.
Gentle wind swept across the field, knocking his hat to the ground, and revealed a face as handsome as it was focused. Ling Xian sank deeper into his meditation, surrendering his thoughts and readying himself for the battles to come.
Seven days until the unveiling of the Hidden Territory.
5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2020 So Far