Chapter 109: The Legend of Doom
A thousand-year-old conch shell from the Milky Way Sea, capable of increasing the longevity of a Cultivator. Longevity is priceless. Long life is important to anyone; it is a thirst which springs from the soul itself.
This is especially true for Cultivators, even more so for those who are reaching the end of their years. To add half of a sixty-year-cycle to their life, they would pay almost any price.
The fact that this was the first item up for auction led to quite a buzz. People immediately began calling out bids, both from the ring of private booths up above, and from the throng of nearly a thousand down below. The prices being called out for the thousand-year-old conch shell grew higher and higher, until it reached a level that left Meng Hao somewhat apprehensive.
In the end, someone in the second level of private booths purchased it. Even though no one in the crowd below had been able to purchase it, their spirits were lifted by the purchase. When the second, third and fourth items appeared, the atmosphere grew even more exciting, and the prices called out even higher.
This was the first time Meng Hao had attended an auction like this, and also his first time seeing the unbridled excitement of Cultivators. His mind slowly grew clear, and he looked coldly around as the Cultivators called out price after higher price for the items they wished to purchase.
“Lot 8 is an item that many Fellow Daoists have traveled here specifically to purchase…” said Sir Qiao coolly. He flourished his right hand, and behind him, Qiao Ling appeared with yet another item on a jade tray.
It was a fragment of black bone. Its edges were jagged, and it appeared to be a piece of a skull. There were complicated magical symbols carved into it and it emanated and ancient, ghastly aura, which was sealed by a small shield produced by the jade tray.
Even still, some of the aura drifted out, filling the auction square with what seemed to be the stench of rotten flesh, accumulated over many years. Everyone present felt an ancient aura, filled with a wild, indescribable grief.
“One of the three Danger Zones in the Southern Domain is the Ancient Temple of Doom! The Doom Clan arose in ancient times, and did not meet with the approval of the Heavens. The Heavenly Dao cursed them, and thus, they died. But their spirits were not willing to pass away, so they defied the Heavens to create their temple!
“It’s hard to say how many years have passed since that time. The temple has become a Danger Zone, filled with incredible peril. Even Nascent Soul Cultivators will have a hard time making it out alive. However, inside the temple is an ancient Legacy, ancient Spirit medicines, and ancient treasures. A few years ago, one of the Solitary Sword Clan’s elders made it out alive, raving about the Long Life Pill he’d seen!
“I am pleased to represent the Hundred Treasures Pavilion in auctioning this item, which comes directly from the Ancient Temple of Doom. It has the power to ward against evil.” When he finished speaking, everything was quiet. However, it didn’t take long for people to begin bidding.
“Three-hundred thousand Spirit stones!”
“Five-hundred thousand Spirit stones. That item can ward against evil. If I go into the Ancient Temple of Doom, I’m dead for sure. But, I’m reaching the end of my longevity. With that item, maybe I can enter the Temple!”
“Six-hundred thousand Spirit Stones! I’m determined to get this item!”
As he listened to the price going up, Meng Hao’s eyes flickered. He had read about the three Danger Zones of the Southern Domain. But he only knew some general information, nothing specific. Now he knew a little bit more of the Ancient Temple of Doom, thanks to Sir Qiao.
“The three Danger Zones; the Rebirth Cave, the Ancient Temple of Doom, and the Primordial Dao Lakes….” Meng Hao watched on as the bids on the item from the Ancient Temple of Doom slowly increased. After a while, he closed his eyes. He wasn’t interested at all in this particular item.
Time passed by as item after item was auctioned off. Finally, Sir Qiao’s voice rang out.
“Lot 38 is a bottle of Refined Establishment Pills, six in total. Personally concocted by Grandmaster Pill Demon, these pills are suitable for Cultivators of the Foundation Establishment stage. The reserve price is thirty thousand. The bidding shall be in increments of at least ten thousand.” Meng Hao’s eye snapped open.
Some of the previous auction items had included medicinal pills. However, the prices had been too high, or not appropriate for his level. The treasures had been similar. But this Refined Establishment Pill was the least expensive item to appear so far.
“Forty thousand Spirit Stones.” Qi Condensation Cultivators made up the largest percent of participants, and after that was the Foundation Establishment stage. The number of people who made bids previous hadn’t been very large, but for this item, many people began to call out prices.
“Fifty thousand Spirit Stones!”
“I’ll bid eighty thousand Spirit Stones. I need those Refined Establishment Pills. Please, Fellow Daoists, for the sake of the Cloud Peak Sect, allow me to take them.”
“One hundred thousand!” said Meng Hao, his eyes flashing. He also needed these medicinal pills. The instant he opened his mouth, the Cultivator who had just spoken turned around. His eyes flicked back and forth; there were too many people present, so it was impossible for him to determine who had spoken.
“One hundred ten thousand!” he said coldly.
“One hundred fifty thousand!” Meng Hao didn’t care a bit about the other Cultivator trying to figure out who he was. As soon as he spoke, the man’s gaze fell upon him.
This Cultivator from the Cloud Peak Sect was also at the early Foundation Establishment stage. He stared murderously at Meng Hao, clenching his teeth. “Two hundred thousand!” he said. No one else was willing to bid further. The pill was extraordinary, but two hundred thousand Spirit Stones was more than most of them could afford.
Meng Hao frowned. He needed this type of pill, but in actuality, only needed one. Also, he had no way to know how high the price for the Spring and Autumn tree would reach. Compared to that, the pill wasn’t very important. Therefore, he decided to give up.
“Lot 39 is a Spring and Autumn tree. This type of wood is not very common. It can suppress ten thousand types of poison, and can be refined into the primary ingredient required to make a variety of magical items. This is the first time I’ve personally auctioned off this item. As such, I would like to share some classified information with all of you Fellow Daoists.
“Spring and Autumn tree is created when normal wood is struck by Spring and Autumn Lightning. It cannot be produced by people, and only appears in accordance with the luck of the Heavens. Many of you probably know this already. This tree has no root, so if you place it into the earth, it will not grow. However, according to legend, this tree has a parent tree in the yellow springs of the underworld, the World Tree!” His words caused an uproar in the auction square. Hearing the word World Tree even caused the Cultivators in the private booths to look down in shock.
“Sir Qiao,” rang out a voice from one of the private books, “is this World Tree you mention the one from the legends, which leads to beyond the Heavens?”
“Correct,” said Sir Qiao, his expression calm. “Its shape is like that of an ox, its bark is easily peeled off, and when this happens, the ribbon-like strand looks like a yellow snake. Its leaves are like a net. Its fruit is like that of a golden rain tree and its trunk is like an elm tree. Its name is the World Tree.
“In ancient times there was a legend of an almighty power which had the potential to replace the stars within the sky. The sky was above it, and the stars outside of it. But the World Tree did not agree to be subservient to the Heavens. It exploded, and its body disseminated amongst the stars. However, its will remained within the earth. During the seasons of Spring and Autumn, Heavenly lightning will fall to destroy it; to protect itself, it creates the Spring and Autumn tree.
“Dark green leaves, a purple trunk. Black flowers and yellow fruit. There is no sound beneath its canopy, nor are shadows cast. Of course, these are just rumours that I’ve heard, I’m not sure if they are true or false. The opening bid for the Spring and Autumn tree will begin at one hundred thousand Spirit Stones.” Sir Qiao’s words made many who hadn’t previously been interested in the Spring and Autumn tree to suddenly be very interested.
Meng Hao frowned. Before, he was confident in being able to control the price of the tree, but now, with so many people interested in it, he would surely have to pay a much higher price.
He looked up at Sir Qiao standing there on the auction stage. His face was expressionless, but Meng Hao could clearly sense how shrewd and ruthless he was.
Also frowning was Chu Yuyan, up in the top level of private booths. Her delicate brow furrowed, and she sighed inwardly. She realized she had been a bit rash. The Hundred Treasures Pavilion had intentionally done this after she made her inquiries. Presumably, they also knew why she needed this particular tree.
In the auction square, multiple people began calling out bids.
“One-hundred fifty thousand!”
“Two-hundred thirty thousand!”
As for Meng Hao, he sat there watching as the price went up; he held his hand.
“Two-hundred sixty thousand! That’s as far as I can go. It might be able to suppress poisons, but it’s a consumable item. I don’t need it because of some so-called World Tree. I need it to dispel poison.” The polite words were spoken by a soft-spoken Cultivator wearing a long black robe. He saluted the surrounding Cultivators with clasped hands.
It was at this point that Chu Yuyan spoke up. “Three-hundred thousand!” Her clear voice rang out, causing many people to look up, although they weren’t entirely sure who had spoken.
“Three-hundred twenty thousand!” said the other Cultivator, his heart thumping. He clenched his teeth and looked up at the ring of private booths. All the people up there were famous figures from throughout the State of Eastern Emergence, and were not to be offended easily. But, he couldn’t give up.
“Three-hundred fifty thousand!” said Chu Yuyan coolly. Some people down below were now able to tell where the voice was coming from, and they looked at the top level of private booths. However, most of the Cultivators still hadn’t determined where the voice was coming from.
The black-robed Cultivator’s face twitched. Finally, he let out a bitter laugh. Three-hundred twenty thousand Spirit Stones was his limit, and it included quite a bit borrowed from other people. Although, that was of secondary importance. What gave him greater reason to abandon the competition was the identity of the other party. Although he hadn’t been able to identify the exact location of the person who was bidding against him, considering it had come from the top level of private booths, he knew that it must be someone he couldn’t afford to provoke.
He sat down bitterly, not making another bid.
Everyone knew that whoever this mysterious woman was, she needed the Spring and Autumn tree. Nobody was willing to offend someone from within the ring of private booths.
Chu Yuyan let out a light sigh. She was spending three-hundred fifty thousand, which was far more than its actual value. But to her, it was worth it.
However, at this exact moment, a voice suddenly broke the silence down below.
“Three-hundred sixty thousand.”
When the voice rang out, everyone in the auction square gaped in shock, looking around to try to see who had just spoken. Because the Cultivators in his immediate vicinity were looking at him in amazement, it didn’t take long before everyone in the square was looking at him.
He sat there, his head lowered, his face covered, his eyes calm.
“Four-hundred thousand!” said Chu Yuyan, frowning. She never imagined that someone else would put forth another bid, but she had no choice other than to raise the price.
“Four-hundred ten thousand,” said Meng Hao coolly. His voice was deeper than normal, but he still spoke calmly.