Chapter 156: A Dao Master's Invitation
"If said this is young friend's greatest harvest, nothing can surpass these five thousand spirit stones…" Qi Zongkai enviously held tight a piece: "Our Golden Dipper Hall has been established for over a century, yet this one-time opportunity of looking at so many high-grade spirit stones is certainly rare."
"Oh?" Xu Yangyi asked, cool and collected: "Is a high-grade spirit stone so precious?"
"Not only is it is precious…" Just as Qi Zongkai was about to speak, he suddenly didn't know what to say. He said somewhat enviously: "An ordinary Qi Condensation cultivator, a middle-stage one, treats a medium-grade spirit stone like a treasure. A high-grade one… is an item that only Foundation Establishment seniors are capable of enjoying. Unexpectedly… you, a Qi Condensation cultivator, possess a present estate that already surpasses a majority of Foundation Establishment seniors."
Sighing, he straightened out his complexion and said with a friendly tone: "Young friend, you must engrave it into your mind, spirit stones can only be converted from low to high. No one will exchange from high to low."
"The cultivation world's hardest currency to spend is in fact the medium-grade spirit stone because a high-grade spirit stone is already divided into the attributes of the Five Phases. The stone in young friend's hand is a fire-attribute spirit stone. After Foundation Establishment, the world is very much different. Too many talismans and magik treasures require spirit stones of corresponding nature. A medium-grade spirit stone is absolutely incapable of achieving these functions."
Xu Yangyi sucked in this information like a sponge and promptly cupped his hands: "Senior, a spirit stone is a consumable item. Isn't it that they're growing fewer and fewer in modern times?"
Qi Zongkai was dazed and shook his head: "Strange to say… but spirit stones… have never decreased. Do you know of the Chinese cultivation world's largest bank, China Kaiyuan Bank? They're under the banner of the CSIB. Ancestor Hiddenscent once suggested that even if the cultivation world ceased to be, it would be impossible for spirit stones to be completely exhausted." 
It seemed there were still a few old stories here that he didn't know of. Xu Yangyi didn't have that great of a curiosity and laughed: "Many thanks for the teaching."
"This can't be regarded as a teaching, however, for young friend Xu to repeatedly be so polite, could it be that young friend doesn't favor old me? Is this any good way to express your thanks?" In his heart, Qi Zongkai inwardly sighed. This child was bound to become a man of great ability in the future. Today, Xu Yangyi could even be said to have taken both the royal crown and yellow robe and would one day ascend to the heavens.
However, the other surprisingly lacked a shred of arrogance. He had been so obvious with his olive branch, yet Xu Yangyi was in no way like an ordinary Qi Condensation cultivator. After great destiny, a Foundation Establishment cultivator had expressed good will, but Xu Yangyi was promptly clueless. On the contrary, Xu Yangyi had pondered it over and over again.
Steadiness of wisdom wasn't to say it was unique to merely vision. The auctions of Qi Zongkai's Golden Dipper Hall had witnessed so many people to sufficiently rank the top ten best seeds!
Humans were somewhat lowly. The more they couldn't seek something, the more treasured it was. At this moment, Xu Yangyi's caution after obtaining a great destiny instead further allowed Qi Zongkai to firm and deepen the connection of both parties sentiments.
Of mind to plant this good karma, he laughed loudly and vanished his smile: "This time, the Golden Dipper Hall will only take spirit stones. We won't take a fraction of the rest."
"I have a teensy request…" Qi Zongkai took a great leap, his gaze scorching hot: "If… the pill master has some new work next time, is it possible… to let our hall plan it?"
"This was the Dao of Pill's first auction. The timing was also a little bit too rushed. Next time, I guarantee it! We'll have the best planning team! Publicity team! At the same time, all auction businesses take 10%. Our Golden Dipper Hall will only take 5% of the profits. Among this, an additional extraction of 2% of the profits will be given to young friend! How about it?"
"That will depend on the pill master's opinion." Xu Yangyi said and smiled, not responding. The cultivation world's auction houses weren't limited to just this company.
"Hehe, naturally. I only hope young friend can inform our firm before the next auction…" Qi Zongkai's gaze faintly sparked, and he enthusiastically gripped Xu Yangyi's hand. A small and delicate ring slid onto Xu Yangyi's finger.
"A minor bit of appreciation." His gaze was rather unwilling to part from the ring. It wasn't until a few seconds pass did his gaze shift: "A Hectogreen Ring. Inside is a hundred square kilometers of space. It is a self-established world with soil, a spirit foundation, and even ten specialized kilometers for simulating all kinds of harsh environments to save and develop spirit vegetation. Inside, spirit vegetation can grow freely. All that's needed is a sufficient filling of spirit stones. However, you must absolutely remember that the inside is still only for packing spirit vegetation."
A good item, eh… Xu Yangyi studied the second ring on his finger and smiled as he received it.
"Consider it a tiny greeting gift." Qi Zongkai lowered his voice and narrowed his eyes: "If… the sir is willing to deliver a refined medicinal pill in the future to our hall for sale, we're ready to forego the expense. A free sale."
Xu Yangyi cupped his hands: "But… the Golden Dipper Hall doesn't seem to have a sale channel?"
"Maybe we do, maybe we don't. That will depend on what the sir says." Qi Zongkai faintly smiled. Just as he opened his mouth, the spatial entrance of the vortex suddenly dazzled minutely. A Qi Condensation cultivator with eagerness written all over his face quickly stepped in.
After the cultivator bowed, he immediately said a few words at Qi Zongkai's ear side. The light of Qi Zongkai's eyes flashed, and he brandished his hand to have the other leave. He then firmed his features and said to Xu Yangyi: "Originally, I wanted to stay with Fellow Daoist and then chat for a short while. It seems that'll just have to be next time."
He studied Xu Yangyi heavily: "Ancestor Ancientpine summons you, young friend. This truly is an enormous opportunity."
Xu Yangyi's eyes brightened, and he nodded, his expression placid. Ancientpine would definitely want to meet him. Now, he was buried and hidden beneath the roaring sea that was a great power. It could even be said that a turn of the hand could call clouds and a flip of the hand could call rains. Even several Core Formation had been provoked to lock weapons by him. There were some matters that others were unaware of that only he and Daomaster Ancientpine clearly understood.
For the sixty-forty split, Ancientpine was sure to want to meet him. Following closely, he discovered to his surprise that his shadow had become a pitch-black magik array at some unknown time. His entire person slowly sunk into the center of the array!
As if he was steeped in a river, his body's surroundings were soft. After a few seconds, as he opened his eyes again, he was already situated in a splendid, grand palace.
The entire grand palace took the color black as master and motif. The ends were unseen, and countless pillars with dragons coiling around them were arranged on both sides. Below a few pillars, there were Foundation Establishment cultivators who were standing there with hanging hands and tranquil expressions. In the middle, Xu Yangyi's gaze followed the continuous white carpet so that he looked upon a black throne.
Three qilins carved from an unknown material constituted this throne. On the throne was an old man with a full head of gray hair. He wore an ancient-style changpao, and one of his hands was leisurely stroking the left-side qilin armrest. The other hand was propping up his head covered in wrinkles, and one of his legs was carelessly crossed on top of the other. In his seven apertures, rising black qi burned like a blazing inferno.
It was quiet, extremely quiet. It seemed that in this place, no one whatsoever could talk loudly. It appeared as if Xu Yangyi had arrived in an ancient court hall, and the man on the qilin throne was the ruler of a country.
The spiritual pressure wasn't scattered and overflowing but rather considerably reserved. Nonetheless, in this place, it was a reservedness akin to solid matter. In all directions, the shadows beneath the treasure light seemed to have eyes, monitoring this court hall which looked to have no limit.
Rays of spiritual sense streaked over Xu Yangyi's body. Maintaining his coolness, he walked ten meters before the throne and took a knee, hammering his fist on his chest: "Featherwood Guard's rank Xingtian Legion commander, Xu Yangyi, pays respects to Daomaster Ancientpine."
There were no words, and Xu Yangyi held his original position. He only felt a faintly discernible gaze measuring him. From inside to out, it was careful and attentive.
A first showing of strength? His expression was towering and motionless. Revolving the qi within his body, he withstood the terrible spiritual pressure that even now was almost able to cause him injury.
It seemed as if a shadow prison was slowly gathering in the boundless grand palace. Like the surface of his body was burdened with a layer of heavy armor, he waited for the cage's time of gathering, the time of his fleshly body's collapse.
Daomaster Ancientpine's expression was absent of a sliver of variation, and he dimly watched Xu Yangyi like so. A minute, two minutes… a full five minutes passed, and Daomaster Ancientpine faintly smiled: "Absolutely outstanding talent… Fascinating." Not waiting for Xu Yangyi to sigh in relief, his next words were heard: "In that case, how about trying this talent out?"
BOOM! Just as his voice fell, as long as there was a place with light, shadows were absorbed as if by a magnet. They frantically rushed forth at Xu Yangyi! At this very moment, Xu Yangyi resembled a black hole, sucking in the whole area's shadows with the utmost might!
Xu Yangyi instinctually defended. In the turn of a wink, his qi revolved to the pinnacle, but in the next second, he had been forcefully suppressed.
Swoosh… A formless shadow attached to his body, almost like it was over five thousand kilograms! His fleshly body that had begun cultivating the Eternal Alchemy Canon had already underwent the first cycle of reforming. Although he didn't sense an obvious effect, he was in reality already far more powerful than a cultivator of the same stage.
However, right now, even he was still unable to restrain himself making a heavy groan. Back when Sun Wukong had been pressed down under the Five Phases Mountain, it was probably this kind of feeling… Xu Yangyi even sensed his bone were already making cracking noises! 
After an untold amount of time, his whole body's spiritual force suddenly dissipated. His eyes were slightly disoriented and it was then that he discovered the ground before him was surprisingly wet. It was his sweat.
"You may rise." Daomaster Ancientpine's voice was heard again.
"Yes." Xu Yangyi gritted his teeth and propped up his body. Presently, his body seemed to have been pressed over by a road roller. Every single one of his bones was aching terribly.
"Congratulations, ancestor!" Below, several voices spokes, different mouths expressing the same intent.
"Hehe…" The black radiance in Ancientpine's seven apertures softly flashed, and he leisurely asked the person on his left: "Jadesun, what is your view of this child's talents?"
It was young man wearing a well-ironed suit with his hair swept back. He bowed deferentially: "Answering, master-ancestor, to be capable of bracing himself for seven minutes under master-ancestor's Shadow Bind, his aptitude is above Jadesun's."
"Oh?" Ancientpine carried a sliver of a smile, his finger gently tapping an armrest: "Jadesun, how long have you been a member of my sect?"
Xu Yangyi seemed to realize something, and his gaze quickly sparked. He hung his head and suppressed the fiery emotions in his heart, mumbling silently.
"Seventy-eight years, master-ancestor."
"The disciples of my sect are all erudite scholars who discuss in smiles and do not associate with those of superficial knowledge. Come, Jadesun, tell me. Of the cultivators you have witnessed over the years, how does this child's talents rank?" 
In the present scene, everyone appeared to come to somewhat of a realization. Streaks of ambiguous spiritual sense, gazes bearing perhaps admiration or envy, looked towards the calmly standing Xu Yangyi.
Jadesun was silent for a few seconds. In the end, he raised his hand, cupped his hands, and said prudently: "He ranks in the top three."
"The top three?" Daomaster Ancientpine's voice distinctly carried a trace of a smile.
"Perhaps." Jadesun deliberated and said: "Fifty years ago, Shanghai's Paragon Hua Feihua entered Foundation Establishment with thirty-nine years of cultivation. He can be said to the top figure after Sunnihilator."
"Fifteen years ago, Gongye Linghua of Nanhe Province's Gongye Demon Clan came into being. His bloodline atavism attained 82%. He can be said to be the number one demon cultivator within the past fifty years."
Ancientpine faintly smiled. Soon after, his remark stunned everyone.
"This child ought to be first."
 Kaiyuan is the reign name of Tang Emperor Xuanzong. His era was considered the peak of prosperity for the Tang.
 In legend, Sun Wukong was suppressed under a mountain by Buddha for rebelling against the Heavens.
 Line from Tang Poet Liu Yuxi (772-842)