"Nothing escapes the keen eyes of an Elder."
Gong Suo Xin grinned seductively, her sensual charms oozed through every inch of her voluptuous figure.
Her manners exuded confidence - no guessing required. Qiong Hua Dan has been lost for generations. It was apparent to all that the entire cultivation community yearned for it. The tremendous powers of the Qing Hua Dan would inspire anyone who possessed it to search for the secret to unlocking its formula and unleashing its spiritual stone.
"Take my advice. Unless the Qi Zhen Pavilion has been hiding alchemists that are gifted decipherers of fragrances, or the most extraordinary alchemists that the world has yet to see, don't waste your time." Ling Xian smiled faintly, a spark of confidence danced across his face. The possibility of someone decoding Liao Cang Qiong's modified formula was a thought Ling Xian refused to entertain.
"I mean you no offense, Elder. The alchemists you speak of only exist in myths. The Qi Zhen Pavilion is home to many gifted alchemists, but I assure you we hide no such talent." Gong Suo Xin did not protest. In her mind, no one has succeeded in recreating Qiong Hua Dan because no one had seen it. However now, with Qiong Hua Dan safely in her possession, she won't have to wait long to harness its powers.
What a shame. She was destined to be disappointed.
"Believe what you will." Ling Xian shooked his head. "I am only interested in the price of the Qing Hua Dan."
His gaze shifted towards the group of flush-faced cultivators clustered inside the Great Hall. All of whom were powerless to conceal their excitement at the mention of Qiong Hua Dan.
[Such demand… perhaps I should brew a few more.]
Though he quickly rejected the thought. The spiritual stone needs a lot more time to mature.
"Rest assure Elder, you will receive the exact amount the last Qing Hua Dan sold for." Gong Suo Xin smiled, as suggestively as ever.
Ling Xian did not stir. The first Qing Hua Dan was sold for 38,000 spiritual stones.
His heart skipped a beat. 38,000 spiritual stones! Excessive!
The second Qiong Hua Dan went under the hammer. Deal sealed at 40,000 stones.
As promised, Ling Xian would receive, in spiritual stones, the value of the highest priced bid on the third Qing Hua Dan. For 40,000 plus 40,000 plus 38,000 minus an administrative fee, Ling Xian would receive a total of 110,000 stones.
Ling Xian was pleased. [110,000 spiritual stones for an hour of work, Alchemy is a lucrative career indeed!]
Inside the box, others were becoming green with envy. However, such honor was not reserved for the ordinary, or the unexceptional, or even Master Fang who lingered at the doorstep of becoming an Eighth-Realm Alchemist.
"What an achievement, Elder! Three Qiong Hua Dan for more stones than what an ordinary cultivator would ever see in his entire life," Ye Xiao Tian cried.
"Good fortunes," Ling Xian responded softly, "I came upon the formula quite coincidentally."
"Written in the Cosmos, they have yet to choose me!"
Ling Xian returned a faint smile and returned his gaze towards Gong Suo Xin. "Master of the Pavilion, would you give me a peek into the earthly treasure you spoke of?"
"Do make haste slowly, Elder, all in a moment's time."
Before the echoes of voice fell, a dazzling elixir of unearthly beauty exploded out of thin air, and surrounded by spectra of inexplicable tints, dusted under a magnificent glow.
The elixir mirrored the shape of a nine-petal flower. Five petals exuded various hues of brightness while the other four took differing shades of grey, lingering near death.
"The Soul Flower, re-incarnated nine times, is the most elusive elixir. The flower heals and elevates the soul. It is a treasure of both Heaven and Earth. But much to my disappointment, when I came face-to-face with it at the Qi Zhen Pavilion, only five petals bloomed. No one knows why, but its powers are considerably weakened," explained the middle-aged man.
The Nine-Time Reincarnated Soul Flower!
Every cultivator ever lived has been visited in his dream by this Flower of supreme power.
It was the voice of Liao Cang Qiong, echoing throughout Ling Xian's subconscious.
[Yes, Master!] Ling Xian has never heard of the Soul Flower, but upon hearing of its powers on the soul, his eyes brightened. This Flower would be his.
Ling Xian has always dreamed of acquiring a powerful object for Liao Cang Qiong. Which was not an easy feat, so this opportunity was not to be missed!
Most cultivators understood the value of the Soul Flower. Even if they never used it, it could be sold for an immense fortune. This was a risk worth exchanging their entire wealth with.
Master Fang desired the Flower too. However, upon sensing competition from Ling Xian, the Master contemplated a moment, let out a heavy sigh and decided to withdraw from the auction.
Competing against a famed cultivator for the Soul Flower would not be wise.
"Let the bidding begin. 20,000 spiritual stones to start, in 5,000 increments!"
Before his voice trailed off, shouts and mutters exploded across the Great Hall.
"25,000!" A large bearded man shouted.
"What an insulting offer?! 35,000!" A purple-robed young man followed.
In a flash, the price of the Soul Flower escalated to 45,000.
Ling Xian observed the enthusiastic crowd for a while in silence, his eyes sparkling.
The voice was calm and composed but thunderous to the ears of every bidder in the room. It was apparent to all Ling Xian was determined to win.
In the crowd, there was a collective gasp for air. Silence followed.
All eyes fell on Ling Xian.
Cultivators who previously lusting after the Soul Flower suddenly snapped out of their imaginations. Their hope replaced by uncertainty, panic, and fear.
The completion level!
The words rained on the crowd as color began to drain off their faces. A cloud of hesitation rolled across the Great Hall. The cultivators couldn't help but ponder, "Challenge his bid? He seems perhaps not the worst person to reason with, but how would he react?"
The tension was reaching a boiling point.
Inside the Great Hall, Ling Xian's softly uttered words suddenly became deadly pairs of invisible hands that firmly grasped every cultivator hostage around their necks, slowly suffocating them by forcing their own unspoken words back down their throats.
No one dared to challenge him.
No one had lost their mind. The one in completion level was evidently not interested in losing.
After a prolonged period of silence, the most persistent of cultivators finally shook their heads and surrendered any attempt at competing with Ling Xian's proposal.
The cultivation community can be a frightening place. Looting, killing and annihilating of objects and people were common occurrences.
Offending an Elder for an object, even one as invaluable as the Soul Flower, would be considered a foolish act.
"So…" the middle-aged man, seeing the situation, revealed a hint of embarrassment. He glanced over at Gong Suo Xin and narrowed his eyes. With his gaze, he begged her for an intervention.
Gong Suo Xin felt a shooting pain in her chest but managed a smile nonetheless. "I underestimated him. This price he's offered, who in their right mind would compete with that and risk inviting his wrath?"
Ling Xian paused a moment, unsure of what was happening. Though he quickly recognized the situation: if no one wanted to compete with him, who was he to insist? A great price for the Soul Flower! "There are no other bids, what are you waiting for?"
"O-Of course, the hammer is going down now." Gong Suo Xin hesitated but quickly regained her composure and signaled the middle-aged man.
Permission granted. The middle-aged man dropped his hammer and announced, "no more bids, the Nine-Time Reincarnated Soul Flower sold to this Elder for 50,000 spiritual stones!"
"Next up, the sixth item up for auction," the middle-aged man continued. Ling Xian was no longer engaged. He turned and smiled at Gong Suo Xin. "Thank you for gifting me such treasure. I shall not forget."
Gong Suo Xin felt a twitch in her heart. Perhaps it was bleeding. The Nine-Time Reincarnated Soul Flower, the ultimate symbol of power sought after by all, living or deceased. She sacrificed immensely to acquire it, but now it was gone, sold for peanuts.
Regrettably, the circumstances were sealed.
Ling Xian did not violate any rules of the game, nor deviated from any unspoken customs observed within the cultivation community.
She had no ground to withhold the flower.
She could only lash out in silence at the cowards that called themselves cultivators.
However, who could blame them? Ling Xian was in the completion level, and that made him the supreme master of the City of Qing.
A supreme being without equal!
Who would dare to compete?!