The guests filled the hall of the cabin. The Mortal World Pavillion didn't whet their appetite. First, they announced the winner of the Queen of Flowers title this time and it was unsurprisingly the lady who danced the Raiment of Rainbows and Feather, Miss Bai Yu. She was also named the host of the auction today. The combination of treasures and a beautiful woman was indeed a treat for the senses.
"Esteemed guests, the auction will begin very soon. Before then, please allow me to explain some simple rules. The items up for auction this time have been entrusted to us by a third party. There's no shortage of valuable items and precious treasures, but there might also be counterfeit items with defects. Whether or not you'll be able to fulfill your wish will have to depend on your judgment, knowledge, and experience."
"The rules of the Mortal World Pavilion state that you must pay if you win the bid and that no returns are entertained."
"I hereby announce that the auction has officially begun! Please bring out the first item!"
Bai Yu, who had changed into a luxurious robe, came forward with a tray in hand as soon as she spoke. A red cloth was draped over the tray. "The first item is the Frosted Clouds Life-revitalizing Pill. It can extend your lifespan, improve your concentration, and solidify your foundation. If an ordinary person consumes one pill, he can extend his lifespan by three years."
Several guests raised their bid cards without waiting for her explanation to end. The treasures of the Mortal World Pavilion were indeed popular. Moreover, they were also skilled at grasping people's minds. Most of the guests here today were ordinary folks with very few being practitioners. What was the most precious to ordinary people? Naturally, it was their life.
Extending one's lifespan had always been the dream that everyone chased after since time immemorial. The pill could add three years to one's life. No matter how expensive it was, there would definitely be people falling over themselves to buy it.
"The bidder makes a 10,000 taels of silver bid." Bai Yu's voice had barely faded and not even ten seconds had passed before the price of the Frosted Clouds Life-revitalizing Pill increased by tenfold.
Qian Shuxiao shuffled closer to Ye Que and asked quietly, "Sir, how you do like the item? Do you need me to bid for it?"
Without waiting for Ye Que's response, he added, "The reason I attended this flower-viewing drinking banquet is to exact revenge. I'll come clean without fearing you laughing at me, Sir. I also attended an auction by the Mortal World Pavilion last year and spent a thousand taels of gold to buy a bunch of so-called treasures. But after returning to Luoyang and verifying the items, most of them were defective counterfeits. For some reason, this became known to the public and the entire Luoyang City laughed at me for half a year. No matter what, I must recover my dignity this time."
"All the items were counterfeits?" Ye Que asked in surprise.
"Not all but every item was several times pricier than their actual prices."
Ye Que mulled over it before replying, "Rest assured. I'm here. You won't be overpaying this time."
Qian Shuxiao's face lit up with joy. "Then I'll leave it to you, Sir. Then, do we bid for the Frosted Clouds Life-revitalizing Pill?"
Ye Que curled his lips in disdain. He couldn't even be bothered to look at the pill. Even a quick sniff of the item was enough to tell him whether it was authentic. "How effective can a pill concocted out of fire weaver, lingzhi mushroom, Bbulnesia Sarmientoi, and some multi-colored ginseng be? It's only useful for ordinary people. Now that I think about it, it probably wouldn't add three years to the user's lifespan. How could a small sect like the Frosted Clouds Sect produce such a high-quality item? They're bluffing."
"Items of such quality are everywhere in Qingqiu. It's only good enough to cheat ordinary people. I think even 5,000 taels are too high a price for that thing. The Mortal World Pavilion is really skilled at business, indeed. Just by giving their every item an impressive name, they can flip their prices tenfold and more. Items entrusted by a third party? It's just an excuse."
"If you want something like that, all you have to do is prepare all the ingredients and give it to me. I can refine more than one hundred of such pills in a quarter of an hour. Moreover, I can guarantee that they're a hundred times more effective than that pill."
No matter how disdainful Ye Que was, the Frosted Clouds Life-revitalizing Pill was ultimately sold to a plump man for 11,000 tales of silver. The moment the man received the item, he immediately opened the bottle and swallowed the pill as if he was afraid of someone snatching it out of his hands. After eating it, he wore a look of contentment.
The second item up for auction was soon brought out.
"Jade Dragon Jadeite Bracelet, an item for women that originates from the Jade Dragon Spring of Mount Shu. If the user wears it, it can help her maintain her youthful looks and improve her appearance. If she dips the bracelet in her face-washing water, it can make her skin fairer and lovelier. If she wears it during summer, the bracelet will relieve her of the heat and lower her body temperature. This item starts at 10,000 tales of silver."
Evidently, the second item was targeted at the beautiful women present at the banquet today. What beautiful woman could resist the words "maintain youthful looks and improve appearance"? Even Lin Mei'er's eyes brightened. She inadvertently used additional force when holding Ye Yunhai's hand.
"You like it?" Ye Yunhai asked her softly.
Lin Mei'er nodded firmly without hesitation.
Ye Yunhai rubbed her head affectionately and then raised his hand to bid. "50,000."
"The Young Master of the General's Manor is generous indeed to raise the price by fivefold with the first bid." Someone else wanted to buy the bracelet as well but withdrew her hand after glancing at Ye Yunhai.
Looking around, most people had stopped trying to bid. Even a blind person could see that this was the first present that Ye Yunhai would give his fiancee. They would incur hatred if they tried to steal what those two coveted. Moreover, Ye Yunhai had named 50,000 tales of silver for his first bid. The bracelet was decent， but it couldn't match up to the life-revitalizing pill. The bracelet was good to look at but had no true purpose otherwise. After weighing the pros and cons, no one bade again.
"Sir, what about this bracelet?" Qian Shuxiao had already decided that he would question Ye Que about every item regardless of whether it was good or bad.
Ye Que glanced at the stage. "It's an ordinary jade artifact with an invisible Taoist talisman added to it. A year later, the talisman will dissipate on its own and the bracelet will return to its original form when the time comes."
"Is that so?" An idea came to Qian Shuxiao. "60,000."
Qian Shuxiao wasn't an ordinary person. Others might fear Ye Yunhai but not him. The amount of money that the Qian Manor gave as part of their offering to the court wasn't something that ordinary people could imagine. Each time the court launched a crusade against the tribes, they would go to the Qian Manor to raise funds and provisions for the troops. It was understandable that the death-exemption plates accumulated in the secret warehouse in the Qian Manor over the years were now as many as 10. Moreover, there was also an unseverable emotional connection the family shared with the imperial court. Even the current Imperial Consort was Qian Shuxiao's biological paternal aunt.
The General's Manor?
There was no telling which side should be more concerned!
Ye Yunhai frowned after hearing someone bidding and raising the price. He followed the voice to see who was so impertinent. When he saw it was Qian Shuxiao, he snorted and muttered, "Idiot!" However, he didn't look surprised. Qian Shuxiao had always been a frivolous Young Master and an infamous prodigal son. It was quite ordinary for Qian Shuxiao to fight him for the bracelet.
"70,000." Ye Yunhai once again raised his hand. His bottom line was 80,000. Past that mark, he wouldn't even pay even a single tael more.
Qian Shuxiao took one look at Ye Yunhai's expression and thought it over before saying, "75,000 taels."
"80,000," Ye Yunhai said without even thinking about it. He had decided that he would let Qian Shuxiao have it if the latter increase the bid again and then laugh at him. In his opinion, a frivolous Young Master like Qian Shuxiao wouldn't quit after just bidding once or twice. This was the nature of auctions. One could get addicted after repeatedly asking to raise the bid and sometimes even fail to stop.
However, the reality was always different from one's imagination. After Ye Yunhai made his bid, a moment passed without anyone speaking. No one raised the bid!
"Mr. Ye, a gentleman doesn't steal what someone else covets. Since you like the jadeite bracelet so much, I'll give it up to you. I'm sure Miss Lin will definitely like this jadeite bracelet worth 80,000 taels." Qian Shuxiao burst into laughter after he finished talking. He looked so smug that he deserved a beating.
After his laughter subsided, he quietly said to Ye Que, "I know you don't like this person, Sir. Today presents us with a fine opportunity to trouble him."
A brief interlude later, all sorts of items were put on display in succession. With the passing of time and the increasing excitement of the guests, the time it took for every item bid to be successful rapidly shortened. The guests also took a much shorter time to decide on each item and the decision-making almost seemed instinctual.
"This is the Birds Looking up to the Phoenix Green Jade Bamboo Fan from Mount Fengming. The user can summon fire with this."
"This is the Humane Copybook from the Sage of Calligraphy from the previous dynasty. The user can gain concentration and peace of mind from this."
"This is the Guanyin (a Bodhisattva) Pill from the Medicine Valley. The user will definitely get pregnant after consuming the pill and the infant will definitely be a boy."
"This multi-colored, three-hook jade pendant is from Mount Kun. If the user wears it all year round, his intellect will improve, and he will be able to read quickly."
In an hour's time, 47 items with differing functions were displayed before the guests. However, under Ye Que's advice, Qian Shuxiao didn't bid seriously even though there were so many times. In Ye Que's words: "Nearly all of these so-called treasures are trash that came out of the Cultivation World. They're either defective, about to lose their effectiveness or wicked items portrayed as good. They're poles apart from the exaggerated descriptions of the Mortal World Pavilion. They're so bad that they're not worthy of attention at all. Whoever who buys them will know how foolish they are after the fact."
Even though they didn't bid for any treasure, Qian Shuxiao didn't just idle around. He appeared to be wearing a foolish grin, but he was staring fixedly at Ye Yunhai and Lin Mei'er. Whenever he spotted them showing interest in an item and preparing to raise their bid card, he would follow suit and raise the price without anyone's notice. With Ye Que's verification, he had a good idea of the worth of the items on auction. Thus, he was able to stop bidding within the range that Ye Yunhai and Lin Mei'er were comfortable with paying.
One of them was the Young Master of the General's Manor and the other was a Young Manor Master of the Extinctive Sword Manor House. When it came to business and estimating the value of an item, how could they compare to Qian Shuxiao who grew up surrounded by abacuses?
Putting aside other things, he could tell from the expressions of Ye Yunhai and Lin Mei'er alone that they had become a little angry. It was evident to them that he was artificially inflating the prices. However, few people would believe them if they said it out loud. After all, Qian Shuxiao was infamous as a prodigal son who spent money like water. He was always the one who was fooled. When had anyone seen him hoodwink someone for the sake of money?
They had no choice but to suffer in silence.
"The following item is the Exquisite Afterglow Spice Bag. It's from the ten miles of ancient tombs in Youzhou. It's said that it will emit a unique fragrance that can reach a hundred miles if it comes into contact with sweat. It can also harmonize one's Yin and Yang. The starting price is 5,000 taels of silver."
Bai Yu had just finished talking when a momentarily stunned Ye Que narrowed his eyes and took a careful look at the item.
Qian Shuxiao, who had been observing to Ye Que all along, noticed something abnormal at once. "What do you think? Is there something strange about this thing?"
Ye Que was still expressionless, the same as he previously was. Without moving his lips, he transmitted his voice into Qian Shuxiao's ears. "What Exquisite Afterglow Spice Bag nonsense? A unique fragrance that can reach a hundred miles? Harmonizing one's Yin and Yang? Bah! Do you even know what that is?! That's obviously a Yin-and-Yang Pouch! The design is a little different, that's all. There's also a concealed seal placed on the pouch. You'll easily be fooled if you don't take a close look."
"Is it a treasure?" Qian Shuxiao asked quietly.
"Putting aside the fact that there might be items inside, the pouch alone costs more than 5,000 taels."