To Wu Qi's surprise, Yan Dan actually threw a private celebration party for him and Lu Chengfeng. Not many people were invited to the party, but those who attended were definitely the important ministers who formed the core of Great Yan Dynasty.
The first reason for the celebration was for the intelligence that Wu Qi brought back to them. Yan Dan paid no attention to the losses of Qin army, as the causalities of tens of thousands of soldiers would never hurt the foundation of Great Qin Dynasty, and such a number of soldiers meant nothing to Yan Dan as well. What he regarded as important was the intelligence concerning the important personnel of Qin Dynasty, the cultivation technique practiced and magical treasures possessed by Ying Zheng, and all the different magical techniques used by the generals and important ministers of Qin Dynasty.
This intelligence was the reason why Yan Dan conferred Wu Qi the title of a Duke, and gave him 1/5th of the province on the south bank of Huai Yang as his fief. While Ying Zheng knew nothing about the generals and important ministers of Great Yan Dynasty, Great Yan Dynasty had already learned of the situation concerning him. In term of strategic planning, Great Yan Dynasty had taken a huge step ahead.
As for Lu Chengfeng's meritorious deed of slaughtering seventy thousand barbarians from Brotherhood of Mountains and destroying the collusion with the Gao Ling Kingdom, although it was considered a pretty excellent deed of valor, it got overshadowed by Wu Qi's contribution. Yan Dan merely gave a few words of praise to Lu Chengfeng and allowed him to sit firmly in the position of West Supervisor, but that was all about it.
After drinking to their heart's content for almost half the night, Yan Dan called upon all his important ministers to discuss the strategy against Great Qin Dynasty. With Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng's current status, they did not have the rights to sit in such meeting. Thus, they simply left and returned to their mansion. However, on their way back, Wu Qi was accompanied by two extra persons: Xiong Jin and Xiong Yin. These two brothers were the eldest and second uncle of Xiong Qing and his brothers, each possessing the cultivation base of Nascent Soul realm. They were lower-grade Spirit Beasts who had awakened their unique bloodline: Iron Boned Ground Bear. Although their cultivation bases were only at the beginner-stage of Nascent Soul realm, their overall strength was more than enough to fight head-to-head with middle-stage Nascent Soul human cultivators.
Both of them were the personal guards Yan Dan gave to Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng. Although Wu Qi just came to Ji City for less than one year, only goodness knew how many enemies had he attracted during this period, and some of them came even without any proper reasons. Yan Dan found it rather embarrassing actually, and that was why he gave Xing Jin and Xiong Yin to Wu Qi.
The night passed without any other events. In his own abode, Wu Qi took a good night’s sleep without any pressure or worries. Only then did he wake up lazily in the next morning, cleaned himself and put on fresh clothes with the help of a few serving ladies. Then, he thought for a while, and finally took out a few beautifully crafted magical treasures which he looted from catfish-flood-dragon and roughly wrapped them using a piece of silk cloth. He called upon a few men and got ready to pay a visit to Princess Zhang Le at the Garden of Zhang Le outside the city.
It had been a few months since he last met with her. Wu Qi feared that Princess Zhang Le might get angry at him for not looking for her for such a long time. The other reason for paying her a visit was because Wu Qi actually missed her.
Surrounded by a large group of demon bears and guards, Wu Qi came to the entrance of the mansion, and he saw Hai Yuntian across the street, who was clad in a green cloth and was poking his head out, peering towards the mansion's direction. Obviously, this Hai Yuntian intended to come over to the mansion, yet he did not have the courage to stroll before Duke Yan Le's Mansion. That was why he simply waited across the street.
Wu Qi was surprised to see Hai Yuntian. He quickly beckoned to the man and said, "What are you doing there, Hai Yuntian? I thought I've told you that if you have anything interesting to let me know, you can come straight to Duke Yan Le's Mansion? You can just wait for me at the gatehouse. Why are you standing there like a fool?"
Seeing that Wu Qi had recognized him, Hai Yuntian quickly ran towards him excitedly, bowed and said, "Finally you've come back, Marquis! I've been trying to look for you in the past few days, but they always told me that you're not here. Today is the last day for this year's 'Rare Treasures Conference'. Hence, I'm here again to see if I can bump into you and inform you about it. There are strict rules in Duke's Mansion. How could I wait in the gatehouse?"
Wu Qi smiled and patted on Hai Yuntian's shoulder while saying, "It is my fault. I have not been in Ji City for quite some days already, and I had forgotten to ask somebody to inform you about that. Hmm, what is that Rare Treasures Conference? And what do you mean by the last day of it?"
Hai Yuntian quickly replied smilingly, "It is a wonderful event! I know that you are a cultivator, and this Rare Treasures Conference is an auction where one could find all sorts of rare treasures, those that only can be used by cultivators. There are even extraordinary treasures that nobody can tell the origin of! It is held every ten years, and lasts one month every time. Today is the last day of this year's auction, and the day that all the best treasures will be put up for auction."
Wu Qi was surprised by the news, and quickly asked for more details from Hai Yuntian. Although Ji City did have a Market of Four Seas where one could find various extraordinary and rare objects, it was actually focused primarily on ordinary tradesmen and itinerant cultivators who were not supported by any sects. The market did contain many extraordinary objects, but if one wished to find the real supreme-grade treasures, he would still have to find them in the Rare Treasures Conference that was held once every ten years.
The participants of this event included all the merchants, influential and wealthy clans, sects that cultivated Dao of Immortals, and formidable cultivators. Many extraordinary treasures that one could never find in the Market of Four Seas would only be auctioned during the event. As a matter of fact, during the last Rare Treasures Conference, one of the best treasures that was auctioned on the last day of the event was a Gold element Acquired Pearl, and was auctioned off to the Chief General of Great Yan, Yue Yi, with a fief of thirty cities.
Upon hearing that, Wu Qi's eyes brightened immediately. He already owned Acquire Pearl of Fire Element and Water Element, and now he got the news about an Acquire Pearl of Gold Element. Could it be that the Heaven was trying to make him gather a complete set of Acquired Pearls of Five Elements? So, it was auctioned off to Yue Yi? Wu Qi took note in his mind, and decided that when he had some free time, he would pay a visit to Yue Yi's house. Leaving the pearl that cost thirty cities in Yue Yi's hand was just a waste of an extraordinary treasure.
He hesitated for a brief moment, the nodded and said, "You do remember what I've told you and came to inform me about something good. Tsk, I was about to go meet Princess Zhang Le, but it seems it won't hurt if I do it tomorrow. Where is that Rare Treasures Conference? Quickly bring me there!"
Hai Yuntian quickly answered with much bowing and nodding. Wu Qi then asked someone to prepared him a ride, and off they went to the venue where the Rare Treasures Conference was held.
The event was actually co-organized by the Imperial Clan of Great Yan, all thirteen Immortal Dao Sects, various influential clans, and the largest merchant in the city. The tax paid by this event held once every ten years to the empire was an astronomical figure. For a grand event such as this, of course it would never be held in a small space inside of Ji City, but in a venue that was prepared specifically for it.
Eighty miles east of Ji City, in a place surrounded by a few little mountains was a lake with beautiful scenery. The lake measured a few miles from edge to edge, and in its center, a lofty, three floors high platform made from white jade was erected. The lofty platform was where the auction of Rare Treasures Conference was carried out. Around the lake, halfway up the little mountains were many finely constructed pavilions and houses, which could house over several tens of thousands of people at the same time, allowing the prestige guests that participated in the event to bid for anything they liked from within.
Inside each pavilion and house, one could find specially made formations, which allowed the prestigious guests to have a clear image of the items being auctioned on the auction platform, and could also press on a button located on the formation to bid their price. If the guests had any questions concerning the item, they could also go straight up to the auction platform and inspect the item personally. Cultivators could fly straight to the center of the lake, while boats were ready for ordinary people. Everything was prepared for the sake of convenience.
While listening to Hai Yuntian explain to him about various secrets and fun facts concerning the auction, Wu Qi and his company had arrived at the venue of the Rare Treasures Conference very soon.
After going through a round of strict inspection, Wu Qi was welcomed to a little mountain eastward of the lake, into a prestigious guest abode that was reserved specifically for Duke Yan Le. The organizers of the auction were well informed, they knew the relationship between this newly promoted Duke Tianyun and Lu Chengfeng. Thus, they sent Wu Qi straightaway into this abode that consisted of three blocks of three-floored buildings, specially built and luxuriously decorated.
On the top floor of the adobe was a balcony, tens of feet in both its width and length, and covered with a thick layer of carpet. Standing there, one could have a clear line of sight straight at the white-jade platform in the center of the lake. The small formation that was used to bid in the auction was hovering right in the center of the balcony, and could move around freely according to the guest's will. The formation was made using purple-gold, and on its outer shell were five buttons made from crystals of five different colors, each representing a different figure: one thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand, one million, and ten million gold coins.
If the guest saw a treasure that could not have its ownership decided even after the bid had reached over ten million gold coins, he could press on a black crystal button beside these five buttons, and that would allow the guest to communicate directly with the host of the auction, and offer anything from a mineral vein, city, or even a piece of land to exchange for the treasure. After Wu Qi heard Hai Yuntian's introduction of the rules and the value represented by those crystal buttons, he could not help but have cold sweat break out from his back. With so little possessions of his, what kind of treasures could he buy here?
He stood on the balcony and ran his eyes to the surrounding areas, and realized that those pavilions around this abode all belonged to the supreme nobles of Great Yan Dynasty. The abode to his left belonged to the East Supervisor of Great Yan Dynasty, Duke of Yanxi, while further up the little mountain, about two hundred feet away from Wu Qi's abode sat the abode occupied by Prince of Ren, Yan Xianchen.
While Hai Yuntian was introducing the owners of the surrounding abodes, on a nearby little passage paved with white sand and shed by green bamboos, Wu Qi suddenly saw Princess Zhang Le. Her face looked weary and was surrounded by a group of Palace Guards, as they walked slowly in his direction. Wu Qi was struck with great joy. Without the slightest hesitation, he sprung up in the air, stepped lightly on the bamboo and threw himself towards Princess Zhang Le like a gentle breeze.
When he was still hundreds of feet away from her, Princess Zhang Le and those people around her raised their heads up and saw Wu Qi.
Seeing that it was Wu Qi who came, those Palace Guards who were about to draw their weapons immediately stopped their movement.
Suddenly, a joyful look emerged on Princess Zhang Le's little weary face, and a smile that was hardly refrained was seen blooming. But in a blink of an eye, she immediately clenched her jaws tightly and stomped her feet heavily. She rested her arms on her hips, tilted her head up and widened her eyes while staring at Wu Qi, portraying a look that she was really angry, and waiting to see how Wu Qi was going to comfort her anger. It was a typical look of a teenage girl.
Wu Qi chuckled, and was about to greet Princess Zhang Le, but then he heard a faint dragon cry echo out.
Unexpectedly, a handsome young man spun out from behind Princess Zhang Le's back. He was clad in a white war robe stitched with myriad flowers. A silver 'Pixiu' crown was mounted on his head, and on his feet was a pair of boots made using white rhino's skin. His face had a silvery hue, his eyes were bright like the brightest stars in the night sky, and everything about him was fair and blinding white. Upon his debut, he thrust a spear right into Wu Qi's heart, then cried out loudly in a stern voice, "What an audacious assassin! How dare you to assassinate the Princess of Great Yan!"
It was an eighteen feet long silver spear that looked like a lightning bolt when thrusting out, its body densely carved with nine tiny and interlocking flood dragons.
The spearhead was extremely sharp, and a few feet long, bright silver beam that faintly shot out from its tip. Together with a wind-breaking noise that struck pain in one's ears, the spearhead had almost reached Wu Qi's body right after it was thrust out. It left behind a long silver tail several hundred feet in the air, and at the instance the spearhead was almost pierced through Wu Qi's body, the tail was still coiling in the air before Princess Zhang Le's face.
The handsome young man who thrust out the spear leaped forward and came before Wu Qi, his eyes filled with a cold gleam as he punched both fists out like thunder.
One punch went straight to Wu Qi's chest, and the other one went right onto his dantian. Clearly, he was trying to kill Wu Qi with this strike.
The one spear and two fists brought up a very strong wind that shattered the surrounding bamboo trees. Long and narrow bamboo leaves flew messily in the air, piercing through the air like some high-speed arrows.
Wu Qi backed off hurriedly while crying out furiously, "Where does this mad dog come from? Why does it try to bite me in broad daylight?"
The silver spear and both fists followed Wu Qi and smashed forcefully down, then the young man shouted out, "I'm Yue Xiao, the lineage grandson of Chief General Yue Yi. Some people call me the Silver Flood Dragon! Nasty assassin, surrender now and face your death!"
Wu Qi's face turned cold. He snored coldly and said, "Yue Yi's grandson? So, you're just a grandson? Scram!"
Suddenly, Wu Qi fell backward and thrust his right leg upward aggressively. After going through the hardships in the depths of Meng Mountains and absorbing part of catfish-flood-dragon's blood essence, the strength of Wu Qi's muscles had gone way beyond Yue Xiao's imagination. Meanwhile, his movement was incredibly fast, so fast that none could see how he moved by the time his leg had already heavily slammed into Yue Xiao's abdomen.
A miserable shriek rang out, as blood sprayed and spilled in all directions.
 Pixiu - A Chinese mythical hybrid creature, commonly, but incorrectly referred to in the West by the Greek word "chimera", and considered a powerful protector of practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a strong, winged lion. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixiu)