The hall erupted at that announcement.
The folks of Diannan had their own thing—just check out the three countries the province bordered on, every single one of which had a tradition in practicing Tame Head. Many people of Diannan would travel out to visit such masters for help even before the recovery of the spiritual essence.
Of course, whether or not it worked was a different story.
Hence, the enthusiasm in the room was immediately ignited at the host's words. With the background of the owner of the auction, the guests were confident that they wouldn't lie over such matter.
The three gods of Myan! They were renowned figures of the entire Southeast Asia. The word around was that they had already reached a state of semi-human and semi-sorcerer and were capable of communicate with gods and ghosts and the like.
"The starting price is 30 million, anyone?"
Good god! The starting price was just announced and they were already bidding it up to 50 million. All those Tuhao looked like they were high on something, straining their necks and yelling out prices forever going up.
That Master Thant Tun stood on the stage watching the crowd in silence, his eyes flickering with mockery.
The stupid people of this country!
The financial incentive was the last thing that concerned him; he was only here on his master's order to set up a base for preaching in Spring City. It just so happened that these people initiated the contact and two parties fit in readily with one another, hence the auction.
They were going to make their fame among the dignitaries first and set up a solid foundation before slowly infiltrating the general public. He was fully aware of the fact that despite the permission the government gave, they were still facing the great obstacle of the Taoist community.
Thant Tun had taken part in the ghost-dispelling and was working with some priests then. He had made careful observation of these colleagues, noticing that those people's capability and Taoist skill were, well, not exactly what he had expected.
It had doubtlessly given him the (illusional) confidence, which had canceled out a great deal of the habitual intimidation from this neighboring giant country.
"78 million going once, anyone? 78 million going twice…"
After a dozen or so bids, those not rich enough had been eliminated and the price was going up at a slower pace. Only three or four potential buyers remained in the fighting ring.
With his mallet in hand, the host kept instigating, "78 million again, the last chance, anyone…"
Just then, a voice came from somewhere, catching the ears of all those present. A man slowly rose to his feet and said in a loud and unhurried voice, "I need a favor from master Thant Tun and I'm determined to win this bid. The Gao Family would like to thank everyone for being considerate!"
"The Gao Family? Not THAT Gao Family, is it?"
"Tsk, how many Gao Families can there be in Diannan?"
"Damn, why is he here?"
Momentarily, everyone was talking at the same time, indicating that this man was indeed some big shot. Meanwhile, no one was bold enough to raise the price and there was a brief moment of stage wait.
Seeing this, the man chuckled. "In that case, it was very kind of you all—"
He was interrupted like a choking duck, his remaining words stuffed back down throat, tumbling around in his stomach, demonstrating what "a pain in the a*s" meant.
The man's face darkened and turned to search for the bidder, whom he found in a booth not far from his. A slender figure sat on the sofa with one leg dangling over the other, ready to shoot out her mocking remarks.
"And you are? If you could tell—"
"Like hell! We're wearing masks, dude, and you actually told people who you are? I'm not stupid like you, okay?"
"Enough with you and me. Do you want it or not? Stop wasting my time!"
The man was shaking with rage and thumped back to his seat, yelling, "110 million!"
"120 million!" His competitor followed up right away.
OMG! Gu Yu was actually getting jittery. Although the purpose behind bringing her along was to mess around with the others, he had far underestimated his sister-in-law's ability in muddling up the water.
"Go easy on the price, ok? If you raise it too high and he gives up, we don't have the money."
"Then we don't give. What can he do to us… 150 million!"
Xiaojin rested her chin on her hand and raised her placard from time to time as if she was just switching channel with a TV remote control.
The hall fell completely silent apart from their calling. Some were frightened out of their wits for becoming the collateral damage from this fight, while others watched happily, not minding to see some more action.
The man clenched his teeth and shouted another price, his heated stare boring into the other booth, more than willing to swallow her whole this moment. There was only so much cash he could use and he was about to run out of it. If the other one raised it again, he would have to back off.
It might be a coincidence, for the other one was suddenly slowing down her bid.
At that price, the other side paused and did not make a sound for a while. The host asked hastily, "This lady over there, do you want to follow up on that?"
"Nope, my pocket money is running a little short lately. Let him have it."
"Um, in that case, if no one else would join in, our final piece of tonight goes to that gentleman at a record-breaking price of 183 million. Congratulations!"
The man ripped his mask off and smashed it on the floor.
The auction finished a little over nine o'clock.
Every guest received a little gift and an entrance ticket for the next event. Some did not leave right away, but went into the compartments for private conversations, while others went to the casino for some fun.
Those who won the bids went to a room upstairs to fetch their goods.
"This is the stone you won. Please examine it and make the payment when everything checks out."
Gu Yu paid the four million and held the stone in his hands. It was twice the size of a basketball but only as heavy as a glass. His hands did not feel weighed down at all.
It was irregular in shape and had an uneven surface like any other ordinary raw jade stone.
People were going to and fro and this was not a good place to examine it closely. He only weighed the it in his hand and chuckled. "It feels hollow inside. Let's call it Hollow Stone."
"You and my sister couldn't be more perfectly matched in you naming skills," Xiaojin commented hopelessly.
"Haha, maybe, but we hold the certificate to name it, so from now on, it is nothing but Hollow Stone." Gu Yu grinned.
That was right. The celebrity mottos were celebrity mottos because they were words of famous people, even if the words were nonsense. Such as:
"Love is honey, so sweet that it hurts."—Albert Einstein (just kidding)
"Here is your talisman. Please keep it close. Would you like our escorting service?"
"What's your price?"
"500,000 for addresses within the jurisdiction of this city and 700,000 to a million for other addresses in the province."
"I'll be fine, thanks."
While Gu Yu and Xiaojin were bantering there, a middle-aged man entered the room and quickly fetched a talisman—that evil-dispelling one. He had just spent eight million on it, but now suddenly seemed impecunious and did not want to spend money on the security service.
The man seemed in a rush and went back downstairs promptly, heading out of the building.
The street outside was dimly lit and had the look of an old, wet alley. He walked with his head down and a hunched back. Every now and then, he would touch an inside pocket with his right hand, feeling the talisman inside.
To him, it was no longer a talisman, but the fate of his entire family.
"Tap, tap, tap!"
The only sound in the quiet old alley came from his own footsteps. He made a few turns and arrived at the crossing of two alleys.
He turned left. A couple of steps later, he was suddenly stopped by two people blocking the road. He immediately swerved around, but saw three other strong men blocking the other exit.
Right after that, a sleek-haired foppish man swaggered into sight, smirking. "Hey, Brother Yu, where are you going in such a hurry?"
"Tao Ran! Why are you here?" The man turned pale.
"Save your petty tricks! I knew you'd come all along and was waiting here all night." The foppish man pointed with his chin. "What's in your pocket? Oh, you bought something nice, didn't you? To save your family? Haha, listen to me: your little family is done! Period. God himself won't be able to save you!"
"Tao Ran, that's enough! We share the same family name and are from the same clan after all. Why can't you just let me go?"
"Cut the crap. Just give it to me and I'll ask them to go easy on you, for old time's sake."
The man seemed to be an honest and upright type not good with words, nor had he any advantage physically. His face went scarlet with rage as he lowered his head abruptly and cried out aloud. He then bolted.
"Hold him down!" shouted the foppish man.
His underlings were all professionals and quick to react. One of the strong men grabbed the man by his shoulder and made a forcible move. Thump! The man was turned by 180 degrees and smashed to the ground like a dead fish.
A pain ran through his back and he lay there moaning, his head all dizzy.
"Told you. We wouldn't have to go through this if you just gave it to me."
The foppish man shook his head, stepped on the man's stomach with one foot, and bent down to take the talisman. His fingertips had just reached his clothes when there was a "whoosh!"
As if a gale had just blew through the alley, he was in the air all of a sudden and flew sideways like a kite before smashing down onto the ground. A stone fell down after him, and even rolled around a little.
"Holy sh*t! With a rope around it, I can make a flying hammer out of it."
Xiaojin was shocked by the impact herself and ran to them in hastily. She didn't even use much strength to throw it, but that was way too effective!
"Who are you?"
The underlings shouted angrily. Some went to check on their boss, who was now lying there motionless with his ribs crushed.
"You don't know who I am? Superman-in-mask! Heard of that name before?"
Xiaojin made her grand entrance with a horse stance and two open palms—the posture master Wong Fei-hung was famous for in the Jet Li movies.
The thugs couldn't care less about the ridiculous title of this person. Since their boss was hurt, they had to avenge him. The five strong men roared angrily and rushed forward together, ready to encircle her.
"Grabbing the sparrow tail!
"Parting the wild horse's mane!
"Yee...haa… single wip! Double lash! Waving the pipa!"
She yelled random names for her movements as she steered through the five men like a butterfly making its way through a garden. Her graceful movements had an elegant beauty about them... like anyone was going to believe that!
"Thump, thump, thump!"
"Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah!"
In half a heartbeat, the five men screamed almost in unison as they flew away and dropped motionless to the ground.
Xiaojin stood there with her hands behind her back, mimicking the pose of the legendary master from Kung Fu movies as she nodded to herself. "This Fallen Flower Sword Palm Movement of mine is indeed incredible."
"T-thank you for saving my life." Just then, that man stumbled to his feet and went up to her in confusion. "If I may ask who you are, please. Have we met before?"
"Why, you've seen through me. You guessed it right, I am none other than the untraceable swordsman who specializes in stealing the heart of all young ladies by the name of Fair White… ouch!"
"White my a*s! Speak Chinese!"
Gu Yu smacked Xiaojin on the back of her head, and she stumbled as the mask almost fell down from her face. She then worked it back on.
"This is not a good place to talk. Shall we go somewhere else?" He smiled.
The man hesitated a little. Realizing that he was in no position to fight back, he gave in. "Ok."
"Hm? That a pretty one, isn't she?"
In a luxurious car parked at the other end of the ally, that Gao person raised his eyebrow and became intrigued.
After the auction was over, he followed Gu Yu and Xiaojin out to try to pick up a fight. Damn it, he had to pay an extra 100 million because of the interruption. Anyone would have gone mad!
He shadowed them all the way here and stumbled upon Xiaojin taking justice into her own hands. Despite her capability, the Gao fellow did not think much of it and was going to kill her off right away. However, when the mask slipped off and revealed the half of a pretty face behind it, he could not turn his eyes away.
"Humph, you dared cross me. You'll regret the day you were born!"
He snorted and turned to the other side. "Master, is there a way to make her obey my every word and be my bi*ch?"
The interpreter translated for him right away. With his eyes half closed, Thant Tun casually gave his answer.
"The master asked, would that be your first request?" said the interpreter.
The man hesitated for two seconds. He only had three requests in total and to use one in such a way seemed like a waste. However, the moment he recalled what happened during the auction, he was infuriated. "Yes!"
"%#[email protected]%^, @#￥%..."
"The master said it could be easily done. He will use an Erotic Tame Head and the woman will come to you herself and be at your mercy. However, it requires something from her body—hair, nail, skin, etc."
"That's easy. I'll give it to you asap."
The man darted another look at Xiaojin and closed the car window. The car then slowly drove away.
Baita Road, Zhenqing Temple.
The temple was of a central courtyard construction with five tiers and three courtyards. It was also the biggest Taoist building complex here in Spring City, which mainly worshipped Patriarch True Warrior, or the True Warrior Great Deity.
Nighttime, the quiet courtyard.
The abbot Chen Qingyou arrived outside a meditation room, where he called out, "Junior Brother Shi, may I come in?"
"Please, Senior Brother," replied the person inside.
Chen Qingyou pushed the door open and entered the room. Inside sat a Taoist priest as graceful as an immortal, who was also modest in keeping his splendor to himself. It was none other than Shi Yunlai himself. They were both men of the Longmen Sect and since Chen Qingyou had both joined the sect earlier and was older in his age, he was naturally the senior brother.
However, in this time of change, the status of the priests in their sects was determined by the level of their cultivation. He was not going to parade his seniority and said with respect, "Sorry for interrupting Junior Brother's meditation, but a message has just arrived. I am here to deliver news—Tame Head master Thant Tun of Myan has made his appearance in the city."
"Thant Tun? Is he the pupil of the so-called Three Gods?"
"I am new around here and don't know these people very well. Exactly who are these Three Gods?" asked Shi Yunlai.
"The title of 'Gods' was actually given by their fellow people of Myan. All three are extremely old beings that have been practicing unnatural skills since an immemorial time. As a result, they have turned into some semi-human and semi-ghost creatures. The small country is limited in their knowledge and deemed them 'Gods'. It is a laughing matter to those who know better."
Chen Qingyou was relatively subjective in this aspect and went on, "I have been here for over a year now and gathered some information on these three. They are said to be two male and one female, all three biological siblings. They have shown great talent since childhood and were taken in as pupils by the previous Black Magic Ghost King, from whom they learned to practice Tame Head. It was said that all three are over a hundred years old, but there is no way to verify that. All we know is that their skills are strange and sinister. I would advise not to underestimate them."
"Of course. Senior Brother can have my word on that." Shi Yunlai nodded.
"In that case, shall we take action now?" asked Chen Qingyou.
"Not yet. Like the ancient saying goes, to wage a war, we need a pretext. Let's wait until they raise some commotion. We can then make our appearance."
"No problem. I'll leave you in peace."