The area where Bai Yunfei and his group were seated at was near the very front of the theater, but since it was also in the corner, not much conversation could be heard there.
The auction house continued to fill up with more and more people, and with group of people seated, the noise levels in the place grew in degree as friends and acquaintances greeted to each other.
Bai Yunfei continued to look around the place with equally increasing curiosity. There were a few people that’d introduce themselves when they met Bai Yunfei’s gaze. Some of them were the elders of so-and-so school, or young masters of the so-and-so house, but most of them were talented youths of their generation.
And after hearing Zhao Xiluo’s introduction of these said people, Bai Yunfei found himself even more curious than before.
The very start of his quest to reach the Crafting School was beget with people trying to kill Bai Yunfei. Only the later half of his adventure was relatively more relaxed, but since he was traveling by himself, Bai Yunfei never found the opportunity to understand even more about the ‘circles’ of the soul cultivators.
Him joining the Crafting School was hardly different either. Aside from a few more simpler situations, Bai Yunfei was still very ignorant about the soul cultivators of the world.
So when Zhao Xiluo introduced every single person Bai Yunfei asked about, he felt as if he was in some sort of fantastical epic with how there were so many capable soul cultivators there were.
Just as the the auction house was halfway-through with being filled up, the entrance to the place started to grow loud with noise, earning the attention of everyone else.
Craning his neck to look towards the source, Bai Yunfei could see two imposing figures come walking through the entrance and into the main halls. One of the two figures was Tang Jing, and the other person was a tall young man in purple robes.
Their very entrance became the focal point of the entire auction house. No sooner did they appear in the place did everyone around them try and greet them.
Smiling and greeting people as they continued on their path, Tang Jing and the other male continued on towards the direction of where Bai Yunfei’s group was. When pointed to by Tang Jing, the other male looked to where Bai Yunfei was with surprise.
Before long, the two arrived to where Bai Yunfei was. “Haha, brother Bai, brother Zhao, and sister Kou, allow me to introduce you to the eldest son to Marquis Xuanyuan, Xuanyuan Jie.” Tang Jing spoke as soon as they were within earshot.
“Xuanyuan Jie!” Zhao Xiluo smiled politely in pleasant surprise, “My apologies for not recognizing you here, master Xuanyuan….”
Nodding his head, Xuanyuan Jie returned the greeting, “You’re too kind, brother Zhao. This one came to hear of your excellence among the new students in the Water School a while back. Even now, I can see how skilled you are myself, brother Zhao.”
“Brother Xuanyuan, your words make me blush with shame! How could what little strength I have compare to you? You’re one of the empire’s Ten Prodigies!” Zhao Xiluo sighed, while he had some talent to say the least, there was no way he felt that he was on par with Xuanyuan Jie. The other person was a Soul Exalt and was ranked as one of the most prestigious prodigies; that meant he was a genius of his generation.
“Haha, not in the slightest. I’m ashamed to say it, but there’s far more geniuses stronger than I am, they just don’t like the spotlight.” Xuanyuan Jie laughed modestly before turning to Kou Tingting.”And you must be the lovely daughter of senior Kou Changkong of the Crafting School, correct? How fortunate I am to have met such a beautiful woman today. Since you and brother Zhao are here in Mo City, allow me to play the host and welcome you around the city.”
Rising up from her seat to curtsy to him, Kou Tingting smiled, “Thank you for your kindness, lord Xuanyuan, brother Zhao and I will be sure to visit another day.”
He turned to Tang Xinyun next, “Miss Tang, it’s been a long time since our last meeting. I heard you joined the Crafting School and became the disciple of the third elder there, congratulations!”
Tang Xinyun smiled, “Thank you, lord Xuanyuan, I’m happy to see you again as well.”
Only Bai Yunfei was left to greet now. Xuanyuan Jie turned to Bai Yunfei last, “And you must be brother Bai Yunfei, correct? What an amazing talent you are to have senior Zi Jin take you in as a disciple after twenty years of isolation. Looking at you, I’m sure there’ll be an upset in the top ten prodigies in the coming years….”
Despite not knowing what the ‘Empire’s Top Ten Prodigies’ was, Bai Yunfei could make an educated guess that Xuanyuan Jie was one one of them and had remarkable talent. Having not a bad first impression of him, Bai Yunfei replied in an equally polite voice, “Brother Xuanyuan praises me too much. I’d never hope to even hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with brother Xuanyuan with what meager strength I have.”
“You’re still young, brother Bai. Give it a decade or two and I’m confident you’ll be known throughout the continent, haha….In the future when you become successful in the art of crafting, I hope you will not refuse me if I come with a request for a soul armament.”
“Brother Xuanyuan, what a ridiculous notion. If the time comes, there’d be no way I’d refuse your request.”
After a decently long conversation with everyone, Xuanyuan Jie and Tang Jing both left the area. Reseated now, Bai Yunfei asked Tang Xinyun, “So, Xinyun, what’s with this ‘Top Ten Prodigies’?”
“At first, it was meant to be a list to see which soul cultivators did the most good deeds. But when more and more people learned about it, it became a popularity contest. Rankings are based on the strength of any upcoming soul cultivator, and the strongest ten are called the Ten Prodigies. It’s not 100% accurate, but the ones that are on the rankings are without a doubt beyond strong for their generation.” She explained.
Zhao Xiluo piped up next, “Actually, your senior Jiang Nan was once a part of that list, Yunfei. But the list changes every three year, and since Jiang Nan spent ten years in hiding to train, he fell out from the public’s eye and was replaced by another prodigy.”
“Oh? Senior Jiang Nan was once a part of that list?” Bai Yunfei asked.
He felt relieved, however. With Jiang Nan’s strength, it wasn’t strange at all to be on the list.
The question of Xuanyuan Jie’s identity came up after that, “Oh, Xiluo, if Xuanyuan Jie is the son of the lord mayor of Mo City, is he a student of the Heavenly Soul School then?”
“Of course,” Xiluo nodded his head, “his father, the marquis Xuanyuan Hong is a core student of the school. Xuanyuan Jie himself was carefully taught the teachings of the school since young, and if nothing goes wrong, he’ll become the lord mayor of Mo City in several decades.”
While he was answer Bai Yunfei’s question, Zhao Xiluo felt something strange and turned to the side as if realizing something. “Eh?” He spoke in surprise, “Didn’t think those two people would come here too.”
Following his gaze, Bai Yunfei turned just in time to see two twenty-seven or twenty-eight year old males come walking over.
“Haha, Zhao Xiluo, it really was you; what a coincidence to see you here too.”
The one who spoke then was the male on the left. He had long hair that floated slightly as he walked and the eyebrows on his face were as sharp as a sword when he smiled towards Zhao Xiluo. When he saw Kou Tingting, he looked slightly surprised, “Junior Kou, you came here as well?”
Smiling, Kou Tingting replied, “Haha, senior Zhong, long time no see.”
“Hehe, one of my seniors told me before that the auctions in Mo City were always a blast to see, so junior Kou and I decided to make a detour here before heading for the Crafting School. How surprising to see brother Zhong and brother Yang here as well.” Zhao Xiluo greeted the two newcomers before turning around to introduce Bai Yunfei to them.
“Brother Bai, allow me to introduce these two. This is the junior headmaster of the Fire School, Zhong Liyan. And this is my second senior from the Metal School, Yang Lin.”
“The junior headmaster of the Fire School and a senior of the Metal School!” Bai Yunfei mentally remarked with surprise. He had no idea that these two people would have such high statuses.
Yang Lin was the one with shorter hair and rather average appearances, but his eyes had such a staunch look of determination in them that it was practically as sharp as a sword. Looking at Bai Yunfei, he started, “Brother Zhao, this is…?”
Instead of letting Zhao Xiluo introduce him, Bai Yunfei did it himself, “Bai Yunfei of the Crafting School, pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Ah, so you’re a junior student from the Crafting School. If you’re friends of Zhao Xiluo, then you’re friends with me, Zhong Liyan! If we become good friends in the future, I’ll be sure to help you with any help you might need!” Zhong Liyan laughed cordially. Even without personally knowing Bai Yunfei, Zhong Liyan was already more than willing to call him a friend.
“….” The corners to Zhao Xiluo’s lips curled upwards as if to snicker at the fact that Bai Yunfei was being called a ‘junior student’. “He should be called a ‘senior uncle’ if anything.” He thought.
Though since Bai Yunfei didn’t seem to want to divulge his identity, Zhao Xiluo said nothing more himself. Moving on, he spoke, “This is Tang Xinyun, the fourth daughter of the Tang and student of the Crafting School.”
“The fourth daughter of the Tang?” Yang Lan remarked, “I wasn’t expecting to meet you here, miss Tang. So you’ve joined the Crafting School? I’m sorry to say I didn’t hear about it.”
“I only just the previous year,” Tang Xinyun replied, “It’s natural that senior Yang didn’t hear about it yet.”
“Haha, to join the Crafting School with all their strict standards, you’re a talented one then, miss Tang. There’s been plenty of students from my Fire School that tried to join the Crafting School, but they were all unfortunately disqualified before joining us.” Zhong Liyan sighed, “There was actually someone with extremely high talent in elemental fire that joined us this year. He was disqualified from the Crafting School for his lack of talent in crafting, however.”
As an aside almost, Zhao Xiluo spoke to Bai Yunfei, “Yunfei, Zhong Liyan is actually another one of the ten prodigies.”
“Hm?” Zhong Liyan questioned, “What makes you bring that up all of a sudden?”
“It’s nothing, haha. We just came across Xuanyuan Jie a while ago, but brother Bai doesn’t know much about soul cultivators so I had to give him a quick introduction.”
“I see….then, brother Zhao, please try not to mention me. I’m only at the end of the list so I’m embarrassed to even show my face in public….”
“Oh be quiet. If someone like you says that, people who didn’t even make the list like us wouldn’t even be able to show our faces to our parents, could we?”
TL Note: Untranslatable pun. Zhong Liyan talks about him losing face, but the first character meaning ‘to lose’ can also mean ‘to throw’, so Zhao Xiluo sarcastically remarks that if he’s ‘lost face’, then people like him who didn’t even make the list ‘threw’ their faces so hard, it’s all the way back home.
The conversation took to their seats now that Zhong Liyan and Yang Lin joined them. Zhong Liyan and Zhao Xiluo seemed to have a fairly great friendship with one another from how they talked to one another. Yang Lin was far more quiet, but even he spoke up once in a while to contribute to the conversation.
Bai Yunfei didn’t say anything and opted to listen so that he could learn more about soul cultivators in general.
Unknowingly, the auction house was almost filled to the brim now before a single figure came walking up to the wooden podium.
It was Tang Jing.
Walking up to the front, Tang Jing waited for everyone in the audience to quiet down before bowing to them all. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Tang Jing. Please allow me to welcome and thank you all for participating in the Tang sponsored auction today.”
He paused here to take a breath.
“We are all soul cultivators, so I’ll dispense with the dull pretext commoners are prone to say. Allow me to just say that I hope everyone will be able to bid to their heart’s content today!!
“And so I declare, let the auction, begin!”