Chapter 83 Auction House
The Duanmai City was crossed by boat along the Huai River, which ran through the bustling city. They broke through the thick, dark toxic mist and saw a different view.
The water here had a faint red color, and countless paper lotus lamps floated on the vast river.
Pei Jing was bored and took a lotus lamp. He found the paper material a bit strange, with a small flame and a foul smell of lamp oil.
He raised it high but didn’t look for long.
Ji Wuduan said, “No need to look. The paper is made of human skin, and the oil is corpse oil.”
Pei Jing put down the lotus lamp, and a slight smile appeared on his lips. “Interesting.”
The night was blurry, and in the distance, there were three elegant and magnificent high-rise buildings standing in the middle of the water, with figures bustling on top.
The wind carried a seductive scent of incense, and pleasing music played on various instruments, making people feel slightly intoxicated.
There were many boats like theirs on this red river.
It was crowded, with influential noble families surrounding each other, destitute wandering immortals with independent bows, and even strange individuals hiding in the darkness.
Yu Qinglian had investigated this place for a long time and had a good understanding. She sat on the edge of the boat, dipping her feet into the river.
Yu Qinglian took out a hairpin and played with the lotus lamps. “Duanmai City was built by the City Lord four hundred years ago. The auction here has all kinds of things, including unidentified elixirs, artifacts, and even cauldrons. It took me some effort to find out about this place. Tianyan City is gradually closing its gates, and the only entry permit I know of is right here.”
Every lamp her hairpin touched emitted visible black mist, and the resentment dissipated in the fragrance.
Yu Qinglian frowned. “Even skinning and extracting oil from the dead is cruel. What kind of place is this? With such accumulated grievances, aren’t they afraid of consequences?”
Crimson Iris grew drowsy on Feng Jin’s shoulder. The fragrance seemed to have a slight intoxicating effect, making its eyelids heavier and heavier.
Feng Jin looked around and said casually, “Keeping it will only lead to trouble sooner or later. It’s better to extinguish it tonight.”
Although Ji Wuduan appreciated the beauty of death, he looked down upon these lotus lamps as mere scraps. He glanced around with disdain and said with a plain expression, “I have no problem with that.”
Pei Jing wanted to ask, “What about my entry permit?”
Yu Qinglian put her hairpin back in place and said, “Those who want to enter Tianyan City are all heinous criminals pursued by the world for committing serious crimes. Money is the last thing they lack. So I guess the entry permit should appear as the grand finale.”
Wu Sheng said, “It seems we can only wait.”
Pei Jing listened to her. They were both Nascent Soul cultivators, capable of easily eradicating an entire city, let alone a small auction.
Suddenly, the sound of nails scraping against the boat’s hull reached their ears.
Pei Jing lowered his head and saw a bloated, disfigured water ghost with swollen features emerging from the water. Its hands, covered in leeches, clung to the boat, its eyes filled with intense resentment.
Pei Jing and Wu Sheng stared at it for a while, wide-eyed.
Then, he reached out and patted Ji Wuduan’s shoulder. “Come here, I’ll show you a beauty.”
Ji Wuduan believed him and leaned forward, asking, “Where?”
The Young Master of the Ghost Realm and the female ghost locked eyes.
After a momentary pause.
Bang! Water splashed everywhere!
Before the female ghost could react, she was struck heavily and sank down, gasping for breath.
Ji Wuduan, on the other hand, suddenly stood up, gritting his teeth, and launched an attack towards Pei Jing.
The other three had anticipated this scene and couldn’t help but burst into laughter.
Pei Jing leaned back slightly and laughed, “Sorry, I forgot about your fear of ghosts.”
Ji Wuduan scoffed.
Ghostly blue flames and ashen-white moth-like creatures approached fiercely.
Next to Pei Jing stood Feng Jin.
Feng Jin was quite interested in watching them fight, but suddenly felt his shoulder empty.
He reached out and grabbed Crimson Iris, who was about to fall asleep, and held him in front of his eyes.
Pei Jing said, “Can you please not be so impulsive? Learn from me, even when you hit me, I don’t fight back.”
Feng Jin turned his head, nearly exploding with anger, “Pei Yuzhi!”
Crimson Iris jolted awake, surrounded by flames and moths, and was frightened, screaming shrilly and flapping its wings, trying to fly away.
The sacred beast of the Phoenix Clan was not to be trifled with. The gusts of wind from its wings blew all the ethereal ghostly flames and white moths over to Yu Qinglian’s side.
Yu Qinglian was gazing at the red water’s surface, adjusting her floral hairpin and tidying her hair, lost in her own thoughts. Suddenly, a gust of demonic wind swept by, causing her vision to blur as her face was smeared with white filth.
The disoriented moth left traces of powder on her eyebrows and lashes.
The veins on the forehead of the Fushang Fairy began to throb.
Splashing sounds echoed as the water in the pond surged and took the shape of a whip in her hand.
Without even looking back, she swung the whip with a single motion, instantly tearing the boat’s canopy into pieces.
Wu Sheng supported his forehead and, to avoid causing too much commotion, formed a barrier with golden Buddhist scriptures using his fingers to protect the fragile boat.
The blood-red whip dispersed droplets of rain into the air.
The water, dyed red by the blood of countless deaths, showered down upon everyone’s heads. A foul stench filled the air.
Pei Jing looked disgusted and used Crimson Iris to shield his head.
“Squeak, squeak, squeak——!”
The majestic divine beast, startled by the ghostly flames, now had its face drenched by the river water.
Crimson Iris was so infuriated that its voice distorted. All it wanted was to take a nap—why was it so difficult!
Feng Jin couldn’t contain his anger and snatched Crimson Iris from Pei Jing’s hand. “Are you asking for trouble?”
In an instant, a tumultuous battle erupted on this side.
If anyone had been paying attention, they would likely have been stunned.
Pei Jing suppressed a laugh, knowing that as long as he dodged fast enough, the blame wouldn’t fall on him. So, he took the initiative and said to Ji Wuduan, “Exactly. I introduced the beautiful woman to you because I thought you couldn’t find a partner. If you’re not interested, there’s no need to be so furious. Look at the commotion we’ve caused.”
Ji Wuduan: “…Ha.” He was so angry that he felt like starting another fight.
However, there was no more time for their quarrels. Three tall buildings standing on the water’s surface, and the one in the middle rang a long bell, humming… resonating nine times without fading, and the music abruptly stopped.
The lotus lamps on the pond extinguished simultaneously.
Only the lights in the high building remained illuminated.
All five people on the boat shifted their gaze toward the scene.
At the top of the high building stood an empty platform, and an elderly man stood beside it.
Three enchanting beauties stood next to the old man, their delicate hands holding golden trays covered with red cloth.
Facing the crowd of thousands floating on the river below, the old man spoke in a deep voice.
“Enter my Three Thousand Intoxicating Blossoms, whether you are righteous or wicked, good or evil, all who come are guests.”
Immediately after, the old man, acting as the auctioneer, began explaining the rules.
However, Pei Jing didn’t pay much attention, as they hadn’t come here to be mere “guests.”
Suddenly, the area grew darker, and the boats on the river moved toward the center, creating a lively atmosphere.
Yu Qinglian had her feet in the river, sitting by the edge of the boat.
If someone could see beneath the water’s surface, they would be frightened. It was filled with deceased evil spirits, greedily surrounding her, longing for her but too hesitant to make a move.
She couldn’t be bothered with those little ghosts. At the moment, nothing was more important to her than her appearance. She unnecessarily complicated matters that could be easily resolved by a cleansing technique used by cultivators. With her fingers infused with wind energy, she gradually wiped away the dirt from her face using the water’s surface.
The golden bells on her wrist jingled, producing a clear and pleasing sound, attracting the attention of many.
The items presented at the beginning of the auction were ordinary and dull, so many people shifted their gaze toward her.
The beauty at the bow of the boat was applying makeup. Dressed in red skirt and adorned with golden bells, her allure seemed endless. A magnificent and extraordinary boat approached. A Foundation Establishment cultivator dressed in luxurious attire stepped off the boat. Although his cultivation level was low, his noble background was evident. Walking behind him was a hunched, frail old man, surrounded by an eerie black mist, concealing his cultivation level.
The Foundation Establishment cultivator had a chubby face, greasy and shining, with a sly smile that hinted at his lewdness. He handed a embroidered handkerchief to Yu Qinglian, his suppressed voice filled with desire, “Beauty, why not use this to wipe yourself?”
Yu Qinglian paused for a moment, thinking about the last person who had spoken to her so disrespectfully. Wasn’t it that old man from Zhonglian Village? In the past, she would have thrown someone like him into the water and fed him to the water ghosts. However, when she raised her eyes and saw the frail old man standing next to him, her pupils slightly contracted.
She took the handkerchief with her fingers and said, “Thank you, Young Master.”
The Foundation Establishment cultivator was overjoyed. The beauty accepted his handkerchief, which meant she had accepted him to some extent!
Feeling more emboldened, he tried to get closer and flattered her, “Miss, may I know where you’re from? I am Xiao Zecheng, the second son of the Canghua’s Xiao family.”
The other four people on the boat sat in the darkness, silently observing this unfortunate fellow who had approached Yu Qinglian.
Pei Jing had some recollection of the Canghua’s Xiao family.
In the Canghua Continent, the first prominent family was the Pei family, followed by the Xiao family. However, when he was born, Pei Jing joined the Yunxiao Sect, so he had limited contact with the Pei family, let alone the other major cultivation families. But why would this second son of the Xiao family come to the Three Thousand Intoxicating Blossoms?
Yu Qinglian smiled faintly and replied, “Young Master, you may call me Qinglian.”
Xiao Zecheng’s eyes lit up. “Qinglian? What a beautiful name! What a beautiful name!”
Very few people in the world knew Yu Qinglian’s real name. She was generally addressed as the Fushang Fairy. And this fellow here probably wouldn’t even dare to imagine that the beauty before him was ranked fifth on the Wentian Rankings.
Yu Qinglian intentionally avoided looking at the old man and smiled as she asked, “Canghua is quite far from here. Young Master, why have you come all this way, going through so much trouble?”
Xiao Zecheng’s mind was clouded by beauty. “Ah, I… I came for the entry permit to Tianyan City.”
Cough. The old man beside him lightly coughed.
Xiao Zecheng was instantly creeped out. He glanced at the old man and then turned his head away. “If you feel cold, you can go back first. Don’t bother me.”
Yu Qinglian concealed her icy gaze behind her sleeve but quickly fabricated an identity in her mind. She swiftly immersed herself in the role and feigned a shocked expression. “Young Master, are you also here for the entry permit?!”
Xiao Zecheng was taken aback. “Ah, yes, you too?”
Yu Qinglian’s eyes instantly reddened with tears forming. “I… I…”
When a beauty shed tears, it was most captivating. Panicking, Xiao Zecheng tried to console her, “Oh no, why are you crying? Don’t cry, don’t cry. If you have any hidden troubles, tell me.”
Yu Qinglian, with teary eyes, mimicked the opening lines from romance novels.
She began, “Young Master, my life has been filled with hardships. I was the second daughter in my family, with an elder brother above me and four younger brothers below. Our parents were both Golden Core cultivators, and our family was harmonious, with love among siblings. But one day, a demon arrived, massacring my parents and kidnapping my elder brother, leaving me, a helpless young woman, alone and destitute. It was only recently that I discovered the identity of that demon, who was associated with Tianyan City. This time, I brought my four younger brothers here to obtain the entry permit, intending to seek revenge and find my lost brother.”
The four people behind her: “………”
Xiao Zecheng’s heart shattered as he witnessed the beauty weeping. He hurriedly said, “Oh, my dear, don’t cry. But if you rashly enter Tianyan City, it’s like walking into a death trap. How about you tell me the name of that demonic cultivator? I can help you seek revenge.”
Yu Qinglian wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes. “But I don’t remember the appearance of that demon.”
Xiao Zecheng replied, “Then perhaps you remember the cultivation technique he practiced. Outside the walls of Tianyan City, there is a gathering place for evildoers. Over time, they form factions and alliances. To my knowledge, there is the Palace, the Three Sects, and the Five Schools. Was he a demonic cultivator, a human cultivator, a ghost cultivator, or a Buddhist cultivator?”
Cough. The old man behind Xiao Zecheng nearly coughed his lungs out. His murky triangular eyes pierced through his wrinkled eyelids as he stared coldly at Yu Qinglian.
Yu Qinglian pretended to be startled, maintaining her tearful facade. Then, her eyes suddenly turned red, and her voice trembled. “Ah—! I remember, I remember. That person looks very similar to the old man behind you.”
Xiao Zecheng looked back and forth, raising his voice. “Who looks similar?”
Yu Qinglian sobbed, “Wuwuwu, I can’t remember.”
Xiao Zecheng’s eyes widened, stroked his chin, and had a sudden realization. He pointed to a black birthmark-like mark behind his ear. “Is it something like this black mark here?”
The old man wished he could strangle this useless fool. The wind blew, scattering the hair around the old man’s ears, revealing a black scar on his aged, yellowish-brown skin.
Yu Qinglian’s eyes were filled with tears as she spoke in confusion, “It seems… yes.”
Xiao Zecheng slapped his thigh, “Ah, that makes it easier to find him! It must be someone from the Shigui Sect! You’ve found the right person. The elder behind me is from the Shigui Sect. Hehe, seeking revenge will be a piece of cake.”
Finally, the old man erupted in anger, grabbing hold of Xiao Zecheng’s clothes and pulling him back. “Enough!”
Xiao Zecheng, choked by the grip, freed himself and angrily retorted, “You’ve gone too far! Back then, when I saved you, what did you say? You were willing to serve me like an ox or a horse. Don’t forget that your life talisman is still in my hands!”
The old man was touched on a sore spot.
His face grew even darker and more sullen, but he released his grip and spoke in a displeased tone, “Young Master, I am concerned that this woman’s background is unclear.”
Xiao Zecheng replied, “Don’t be so quick to assume everyone is a villain!”
Yu Qinglian nearly burst out laughing.
The ship trembled slightly. Ji Wuduan approached, the light from the distant building casting a glow on the Young Master of the Ghost Realm. Clad in dark blue robes, with refined and pale features, he exuded a chilling aura.
He asked, “I wonder, what is the name of this old man?”
Yu Qinglian tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled, “Little Fourth Brother, why did you come out? Your body is weak, aren’t you afraid of catching a chill from the wind?”
Ji Wuduan furrowed his brow slightly as he glanced at her, but he remained silent, his gaze fixed on the old man.
Xiao Zecheng, noticing Ji Wuduan’s surprise, finally saw that behind the beauty stood four other individuals—her four younger brothers. They were seated apart from each other. One man wore a blood-red robe and a golden jade crown, exuding an air of noble elegance. A monk donned a golden and white robe, with eyes covered by white silk, emanating an otherworldly aura. Another person looked over with a gentle smile. Clad in a snowy garment, his clothes fluttering like a tipsy moon, his black hair crowned with a jade crown, his demeanor reminiscent of the moon in the sky, and a refined smile playing at their lips.
Xiao Zecheng was rendered speechless.
His heart filled with great shock.
As the old man took in Ji Wuduan’s appearance, his entire body stiffened on the ship, as if someone was clutching his neck, his eyes bulging out.
Meanwhile, in the intoxicating heights of the Intoxicating Blossom Tower, the auctioneer struck again. His voice rose high.
“Next item, the Entry Permit to Tianyan City, priceless, provided by Mr. Cheng. Guests, please present your treasures for exchange. The one that meets Mr. Cheng’s criteria shall be rewarded!”
The final item was revealed. The river bloomed with lotus flowers once again, and the light illuminated everyone’s expressions clearly.
The old man saw it all, understanding his fate. From between his clenched teeth, almost squeezing out, his black robe fluttered, and he extended his hand—yellow skin wrapping around white bones!
Ji Wuduan smiled, “Di Feng, one of the ten Elders of the Ghost Realm? I haven’t settled the debt for the atrocities you committed in creating the living dead. My father didn’t hold you accountable, but I still remember.”
The old man’s voice carried anger and fear, “Ji… Wu… Duan.”
The ship cracked in four places.
Elder Di Feng rose into the air.
Amidst screams, the people on the ship fell into the water, entangled by water ghosts, their screams echoing in the air.
The commotion drew the attention of everyone. The joy from obtaining the entry permit was overshadowed as the ship swayed in the turbulent waves.
“Why did they suddenly start fighting?”
The auctioneer was also bewildered and anxious. “What’s going on? We can’t let them cause a scene now.” He thought of the Nascent Soul stage cultivator inside the pavilion, Mr. Cheng, who had presented the entry permit. He quickly called for someone, “Hurry, fetch Mr. Cheng.”
The servant nodded and rushed downstairs in a hurry.
However, when he arrived at the compartment where Mr. Cheng should have been, all he saw was black blood oozing from under the door crack.
The servant screamed in a hoarse voice!
Inside the compartment, a young man cloaked in darkness casually crushed the grotesque Nascent Soul in his slender, pale fingers, blood staining his hand.
Floating beside him was a black butterfly, gradually merging and forming into a humanoid figure.
The shadow respectfully said, “What should we do with the entry permit?”
The young man calmly replied, “Destroy it.”
The shadow asked again, “And what about the people here?”
The youth’s voice was icy and indifferent, “Kill them all.”
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