The room was filled with soft light that made one's mind relax and comfortable, and the faint fragrance of incense made one's bone nearly melt in extreme coziness. Amidst the gentle voices and lovely giggles of the beautiful serving ladies, Wu Qi laughed and played some games with them, turning the finely prepared feast into a great mess, while unknowingly finishing a few jars of fine wine.
This had always been the case, as the fine wine in any brothel was fragrant and rich in taste, yet they would never contain too high level of alcohol. This was done purposely, because if the guests were drunk, how were they going to enjoy the fun at night? The wine in the brothel was just for merry-making, similar to the girls in the brothel, gentle, sweet, and rich in taste, yet could never be treated as a true love.
After finishing a few jars of fine wine, Wu Qi did not force out the alcohol with his ability. Instead, he sat half-drunk in the room, chatting and merry-making with his company of serving ladies. When he was aroused by the laughter and alcohol, he invented a story of how rich his non-existant father was, and how many coaches and merchants he owned. Then, he pulled out many gold ingots to reward the serving ladies. He had no idea how many gold ingots he gave them, and at the end, he began to throw pearls, gemstones, and fine jades to them.
The owner of Hidden Sword Pavilion was a rather smart man. When the gold and jewels given out by Wu Qi reached a total value of about fifty thousand gold coins, a few teenage girls that were a few times prettier than the current serving ladies came into the room. With boundless hospitality, they invited him to a room located on the fifth floor, which was double the size and even more luxuriously decorated than his previous room.
Another fine feast was already prepared in the room. No matter it was the ingredients used, the skill of cutting the ingredients, or the control of the heat when cooking them, everything was better than the feast found on the lower floor. Not only that, the beauty of the serving ladies here was just half-step away from those true beauties who were capable of overthrowing a state with just their visages. There were a few ladies with slender and soft figures sitting behind a veil in a corner of the room. They were playing music with traditional stringed and woodwind instruments, filling the room with light music that sounded like the moaning of girls in the spring night.
But too bad, when it came to Wu Qi, the taste of the tender and gentle entertainment meticulously designed by Hidden Sword Pavilion had changed completely.
Upon hearing the soft music that was filled with a strong hint of lust, Wu Qi instinctively recalled the scene he saw during the spring night in Meng Fortress, how Xiong Qing brothers were screaming and yelling while fighting a naked battle with those big, fat she-bears. The image of numerous black and hairy bodies flashed in his mind, which gave him a fright and made him shudder, waking him up from the alcohol immediately. Shaking his head, he pulled out a handful of pearls, emeralds, and some other jewels, and threw them at a serving lady standing right next to him. He breathed out a long sigh and said, "Come, let's play the finger-guessing game for merry-making!"
The serving ladies of Hidden Sword Pavilion were all well-trained. They were experts in zither-playing, chess, calligraphy, and painting, but when it came to the finger-guessing game which only men who lived the life of an adventurer could have mastered, it was something rather tough for them. As a result, the dozens of beautiful and charming serving ladies were defeated by Wu Qi easily, and each of them was forced to drink one full jar of fine wine, having their eyes rolled and falling to the carpet on the ground. Wu Qi laughed nastily, then simply placed one of his legs on a soft couch, humming a little tune while pouring and drinking himself, enjoying the moment leisurely.
Very soon, another group of serving ladies came by. In a flurry they helped those drunken serving ladies up, but Wu Qi ordered them not to. The serving ladies had no choice but to obey, and lined up the drunken serving ladies in a row on the ground, which made for a very magnificent scene.
Wu Qi kept laughing out loud. Every now and then, he would turn to look at those serving ladies standing right next to him, whose faces were filled with awkward expressions, and then those beautiful serving ladies lying in a row on the floor, whose faces were blushed with alcohol and remained unconscious. Then, he would pour himself some wine and drink it up. Only he himself knew how fun and enjoyable this was.
After spending some time in merry-making, the sky outside had already gotten dark. More and more patrons had rushed into Hidden Sword Pavilion, while more and more gorgeously dressed ladies had entered the rooms to accompany their distinguished guests. Intoxicated by the beauties and fine wine, the number of rumors were growing, both reliable and unreliable ones. They were being told from the mouths of the ever-increasing patrons, which included the rumors concerning the murder of the armored guards of the Eighth Prince's mansion.
Some said that after the Eighth Prince learned his loyal armored guards were murdered by someone on the street, he was seized with anger and immediately brought a large group of guards to rush to Master Hu's house, intending to seek revenge. However, not long after they entered the house, the Eighth Prince was seen leaving the house with a deadly pale face, and he ran back to his own mansion in dejection, without saying a word.
Wu Qi was quietly listening to these rumors. Suddenly, a strange smile emerged on his face.
Sounds of many footsteps were heard, as a large group of burly men, each clad in a purple-red silk robe, walked up to the stairway. Very quickly, they spread out and deployed into many lookout posts across the corridors. After that, a few men with imposing appearances walked up slowly. Through the stairways they came all the way up to the topmost floor, into the largest room located to the north of the tower. From Wu Qi's room, he could see an extra large balcony right outside the door to that room.
A perfect silence reigned the entire Hidden Sword Pavilion. Some of the patrons recognized the man, and they were whispering to one another. From their conversation Wu Qi learned that among the few men, the one with the most impressive bearing was the Third Prince of Gu Tai Dynasty. He was the man who was in charge of the Gu Tai Dynasty's army headquarter, a man with deep roots in the army. Half of the soldiers in the border armies of four directions had pledged their loyalty to him.
Among all the Princes, only the Eighth Prince who took command of the armies in the cities around Tai City could have sufficient soldiers to confront the Third Prince. As a result, the confrontation between them was the most intense. According to some rumors, someone once saw two armies with the same banner of Gu Tai Dynasty battling at the outskirts of a city northeast of Tai City. It was a violent and brutal battle, with a total casualty of over several thousands soldiers. Evidently, the parties who fought the battle were two armies that were loyal to these two Princes.
The Third Prince was a middle-aged man with a pale facial complexion and a skinny face. He looked weak and spiritless, as if he were just a scholar. However, only Wu Qi could see the wisps of white mist that were vaguely emanating from his body. That was the unique sign of all the White Cloud Immortal Sect's disciples, having their energies transformed into auspicious white clouds that lingered around them. Those with more profound cultivation base would have the white clouds look more obvious. Patriarch Jiang Yun, for example, had the white cloud emanating from his body begin to vaguely fuse with the Heaven and Earth due to his cultivation base of Heaven Immortal realm. Wherever he went, he could turn the place into an ocean of clouds.
Among the few men that came together with the Third Prince, there were two of them who Wu Qi was rather familiar with. If his memory served him well, he once saw these two men standing among the crowd of Great Zhao's emperor and ministers. They were not human beings, but demon cultivators. Just like Xiong Wanling and the others, they were both Imperial Advisors invited by Great Zhao, demon cultivators with cultivation base of Nascent Divinity realm. However, what their names and their cultivation bases were, Wu Qi could not remember right now.
Not long after that, another group of burly men clad in silk robes swarmed into the tower. It seemed they were very familiar with the ways, as they came straight to those personal guards who were here earlier with the Third Prince, then stood right next to them, shoulder to shoulder, keeping guard at all the important spots throughout the entire tower. Obviously, the two groups of guards did not like each other, as when they were standing right next to each other, they kept pushing and slamming the person next to them with their shoulders, generating noises of bodies slamming that filled the air. Those who did not know what was going on might think the noises were coming from a group of several hundred men and women that had their bodies slamming into each other.
Immediately after that, another few men with imposing manner came walking up. A bright gleam shone from Wu Qi's eyes, as he saw a few men who he was very familiar with. To his surprise, he saw Xiang Ta and Xiang Zhuang from Great Chu. In the meanwhile, from the whispers of the patrons, he learned that the man who led the group was the Eighth Prince of Gu Tai Dynasty. The man who walked side by side with him, the burly man with an impressive manner, was none other than Xiang Yu!
When he saw Xiang Yu, Wu Qi shrunk back his neck instinctively, as this was a fierce foe who was very difficult to deal with. If he discovered Wu Qi was here, perhaps he might draw his sword and come straight into Wu Qi's room! Wu Qi carefully touched the Black Dragon Spirit Ring, putting a few magical treasures in a place where he could pull them out immediately. Then, he placed the spirit talisman given to him by Patriarch Jiang Yun in the most convenient spot. Only then did he breathe out a sigh of relief, sitting comfortably in his room to watch the scene of bustle.
Not long after that, another group of guards charged up the stairway, and they too took their position at the important spots in the Hidden Sword Pavilion. Therefore, the noises of bodies slamming became louder and more rapid, as the three groups of guards were exercising their strength to push and slam one another. The atmosphere became so fiery that some of them nearly drew their swords and spears to fight.
The man that came up to the sixth floor this time was the Sixth Prince of Gu Tai Dynasty. Following beside him was a very charming lady, and Wu Qi knew her. She was the Master of Enchantment Palace, Su Mei'er. A man was seen holding her waist and walking up together with the Sixth Prince, who was none other than Lao Ai.
Wu Qi sighed softly and shook his head. As expected, Su Mei'er and Lao Ai had been in a league. He was not surprised by that. They were a pair of adulterer and adulteress, and it would be strange if they did not bind with each other. The cultivation techniques practiced by both of them were simply a perfect match, and they ought to be a pair.
However, since Su Mei'er had sized Ying Zheng's Prime energy, she was very close to the realm of Heaven Immortal. Once she managed to transcend and became a Heaven Immortal, Lao Ai's backing would become even sturdier. Lao Ai was a man who would become bolder when he gained a great support. Once Su Mei'er really transcended and became a Heaven Immortal, only goodness would know what kind of crazy things he would do.
Suddenly, Wu Qi looked down and shook his head with a puzzled look on his face. He knew there were twelve peak-stage Nascent Divinity disciples of White Cloud Immortal Sect and Tranquil Vimalā Sect who had transcended their thunder tribulation, attaining the righteous fruit of Heaven Immortal, which was something none of the emperors and ministers of six dynasties were told. However, why had these twelve newly advanced Heaven Immortals not transcended? And how were they going to transcend? Where would they be transcended to? Also, Patriarch Jiang Yun and the others were also Heaven Immortals. Why were they still here?
After a brief moment of pondering, Wu Qi shook his head and murmured under his breath, "There must be some secrets in this. I will find it out in the future!"
He looked at Su Mei'er viciously, thinking that if Su Mei'er transcended her thunder tribulation and left this place accidentally, perhaps she would be able to come back here for an extended period of time. If that really happened, could that meant Lao Ai would lose the bait along with the fish, gaining nothing in the end?
While he was maliciously wishing Lao Ai would lose all the bets, the Sixth Prince had entered a room on the sixth floor and sat down comfortably.
A perfect silence reigned the entire Hidden Sword Pavilion. From the first floor to the six floor, none of the patrons were making a sound. Among the eight Princes who stirred up a restless commotion in Gu Tai Dynasty recently, three of them were here in the Hidden Sword Pavilion. If any of the patrons were not careful and provoked them, what awaited them would be a total disaster.
Numerous serving ladies of Hidden Sword Pavilion were running along the corridors like butterflies swarming through the flowers, bringing various delicious dishes and fine wine into three separate rooms.
All of a sudden, from the room where the Eight Prince was came a hoarse, deep voice that sounded like the clashing of metals, "My elder brothers, what is the errand that brings you here today? Could it be that you are here to fight with me in the auction of the beauty?"
From the room of Third Prince, a soft, rather feminine voice rang out, "Do what you like here. I'm just here to watch the fun."
Then, a very unpleasant voice that sounded neither like a woman nor a man came from the room of the Sixth Prince, "Eighth brother, I've my eyes upon the young miss from Zi clan as well. Well, who wouldn't want an unrivaled beauty with extraordinary talents like her? Who can come out with a higher price will win that the bid, it is natural and obligatory!"
The Eighth Prince laughed coldly, and was about to say something, but the soft and feminine voice of Third Prince echoed out again, "Listen to me, both of you. This place belongs to Eldest Brother, and we are bound by the rules set by him here. Why don't we show him some face and act according to his rules? Those who can come out with a higher price will win the bid. Not only both of you, those who have their eyes upon the young miss of Zi clan can call their bid as well!"
The Sixth Prince and Eight Prince did not say anything again. Then, the Third Prince chuckled and said in a flat tone, "Everybody, according to the rules set by my Eldest Brother, those who come into Hidden Sword Pavilion will be the patrons with equal status. Now, make merry to your heart's content, and let's wait for the grand event that will take place later tonight! The only and beloved daughter of the previous minister of rites has become a courtesan, and she will be auctioned tonight. Those who have a deep pocket can go ahead and bring her home. Together with my Eldest Brother, I guarantee you that none of us here will seek revenge on you after the event is over!"
As the Third Prince's words echoed throughout the Hidden Sword Pavilion, a great commotion immediately broke out. Cheering and shouting of finger-guessing filled the air once again, nearly bringing the roof down.