Unknown as to how, the behemoth’s shadow in the sky vanished. It was like a midnight orchid, flashing quietly.
Jin Zhenshan’s heart thumped frantically, and he forcibly pushed down his excited emotions. In his mind, a sliver of queerness suddenly bubbled up. A Core Formation imperial residence… If nothing had occurred, it was simply impossible for it to emerge. When an imperial residence appeared, it represented how great the degree of importance the Dao Master regarded a matter. And Daomaster Ancientpine… had actually come in his imperial residence!
“I’m afraid the intensity of tonight’s struggle will surpass imagination…” He inhaled deeply and prepared to receive the next honored guest.
A flying sword a full hundred meters long and ten-odd meters wide streaked across the clouds, descending in front of the Golden Dipper Hall. The sword’s body was simple and unadorned, yet the two words “Nangong” on the surface left one no choice but to look upwards and admire. The Nangong Demon Clan! A clan of five half-step Core Formation! First place in the Demon Clan Ranking!
An azure lotus bloomed at the entrance of the Golden Dipper Hall, and over a dozen old abbots in kasayas leisurely walked out from the tens-of-meters-wide lotus. At the head was an old man, his bones already dried and withered. He said aloud the name of Buddha, “Amitabha, I am Venerable Na Qingzhan.”
Master Qingzhan… The abbot of Wutai Mountain, half-step Core Formation. H-He came too? It was a mystery how many cultivators were dumbly looking at the figures who had come tonight. Their eyes were wide open and their mouths ajar. Each figure was a character that could shake the cultivation world with a stomp!
The talisman automaton of a blue bird landed at the entrance. From its belly, three female cultivators walked out. Their countenances were pretty, but the spiritual pressure emanating from their entire bodies left one undaring to peep at them.
Three half-step Core Formation!
“That’s Abbess Wonderlotus of Emei’s Miaoqing Monastery…” Jin Zhenshan gasped coldly and immediately proceeded to greet them. Bustling and suffering, he frequently endured the terrible spiritual pressure coming from others. At any time, each person of the Golden Dipper Hall was situated in the anguish of deep waters or scorching fires. Nonetheless, no one yelled out in pain.
Those who had come… were all at least half-step Core Formation! Such people ordinarily couldn’t be met! It had to be known that the Golden Dipper Hall’s hall master was only at the late stage of Foundation Establishment!
Time passed quickly. As demonkind’s second-place Xuanyuan Clan, Zhuzhou’s first-ranked Song Clan, Mingshui’s first-ranked Meng Clan, and Sichuan’s first-ranked Hongmeng Stronghold entered the venue at the same time, the welcome ceremony arrived at its peak!
“Please! All Fellow Daoists, please enter!” Jin Zhenshan was flabbergasted. What kind of auction was able to bring so many peak clans and sanctums to come at the same time? None could accomplish this, but the Xingtian Legion’s auction did! Their Golden Dipper Hall’s auction achieved it!
The four clan masters and four clan elders were likewise at half-step Core Formation. They faintly smiled and cupped hands, planning on heading inside, but at this time, the ring of a bell suddenly rang out from the road’s end.
The sound was low and melodious, but the complexions of everyone present changed at the same time. With incomparable graveness, they gazed at the Coiling Dragon Space Splitter Formation which enveloped the entire Golden Dipper Hall.
“This is…” The Meng Clan elder’s pupils instantly constricted. Everyone took a step back in concert.
They saw… that the Coiling Dragon Space Splitter Formation was surprisingly distorting little by little! It seemed that an invisible giant was coming. This formation that could contend against the Great Circle of Foundation Establishment was quaking endlessly because of the coming party’s mere step, almost crumbling apart!
Core Formation ancestor… This word welled up in everyone’s minds.
What exited the portal was a tremendous beast over twenty meters long, someone saddled on it. What species it was couldn’t be clearly determined, but the top of it was covered with over a dozen seats. At the same time, three giant beasts that had been brought silently touched their heads to the ground, one after another.
Thump… Thump… The ground was slightly shaking. Soon afterwards, the Coiling Dragon Space Splitter Formation automatically parted in less than three seconds. Eight giants, no less than two meters tall, emerged in the crack, raising a palanquin.
Each person took another step back again. The eight giants lifting the palanquin were collectively dressed in Qing-dynasty apparel. Their four limbs were stiff and their faces were ashen. They were all skin and bones. Beneath the moon, only a bewitching red fingernail and pupil were so abrupt and towering.
“What, do you not welcome This Dao Master?” Amidst this astonishing scene, an aged voice was heard from inside the palanquin.
This soft remark caused everyone on the floor to snap out of their dreams. Jin Zhenshan was the first to kneel as he trembled and shouted, “Respectful greetings, Ancestor!!!”
The others immediately kneeled in concert. Even the half-step Core Formation cultivators were the same. After all, half-step Core Formation was ultimately not Core Formation. In their hearts, everyone was already frantic and shocked. This was the second unrecorded Core Formation ancestor!
No one dared to lift their heads. No one dared to make a sound. The venue was quiet like death. A coven of Jiangshi hefting a palanquin. This was not the scene of any known Core Formation ancestor! As for this palanquin, a coffin was placed on it! The voice had come from inside the coffin!
Craaack… From the coffin which had weathered an unknown number of years and moons, waves of ear-piercing grinding sounds were produced. A hand clothed in an official’s gown, pale like a ghost, extended from inside the coffin. “Where is the person in charge?”
“J-Junior is here…” Jin Zhenshan braced himself and walked forward. “I-I a-am i-ignorant, does Senior have instruction?”
“Little child… tell me…” The voice seemed to stop breathing. “Do the legacies of the other old ghosts possess record?”
“None… Reporting to Ancestor, J-Junior dares not involve himself with the business of Core Formation ancestors…”
Silence. After a brief moment, the coffin cracked shut, and a devilish voice rang out, “Hehe… In that case, with my item, it’s needless to say that I will also contend… I hope the items in the hands of the other old things aren’t as good…”
“Spud! Spud!” Inside, Mao Ba’er was pawing at the ground as he followed, his canine face twisting. “Twelve… Twelve Core Formation ancestors! I got no clue where these old monsters ran out from! What do we do? What do we do?!”
Xu Yangyi, Mao Ba’er, and Li Zongyuan were walking in an ancient-styled corridor. From each person’s ear, a compact talking device was hanging. Xu Yangyi’s expression was lofty and motionless. He deeply nodded and continued to walk.
“Spud, didya hear me?!” Mao Ba’er couldn’t hold back any longer. What was the prestige of a Core Formation ancestor? However, not only ten had come today! Unexpectedly, the number was twelve! “Don’t tell me you aren’t nervous?!” The husky lifted his paw and looked at his watch. “There are still five minutes left! Still five minutes until the auction starts! You…”
“I’m nervous, too.” Xu Yangyi’s eyes slightly narrowed, yet he immediately looked towards the end of the passage with further staunchness. “But what’s the point?”
Mao Ba’er suddenly went mute.
“When things come to a head, one must be bold. Twelve Core Formation ancestors… What’s the difference from ten?”
Mao Ba’er opened his mouth but had no words to say.
“Wait for the day in the future when I ascend Core Formation, then there will be thirteen Core Formation ancestors.” The sound of Xu Yangyi’s leather shoes reverberated with a thump in the corridor. His expression steadfast, he said indifferently, “Since I’ve come to stand here, everything here must be continued.”
“Regardless of how many and whoever it is facing me, all of this is my Xingtian Legion’s, my, Xu Yangyi’s, leap forward.”
Swoosh! The trio arrived at the corridor’s end. Xu Yangyi tore open the tremendous red curtain in front of him.
BOOM! Within, surging spiritual pressure like ocean waves came torrenting forth! It even caused the trio’s hair and clothes to flutter intensely! This… was a true, enormous illusory realm! The inside was large, extremely large. Xu Yangyi couldn’t discern the specific measure, but he dared to say that every province’s largest city-level plaza was no greater than this!
This door separated two worlds at front back. The outside was like the installation of an opera house but was in an ancient Chinese style. Above, there were twelve golden dragons, each one a full tens of meters long, coiling in the air. On their bodies, there were incredibly elaborate, small pavilions. These buildings were richly ornamented and picturesque, elegant and pleasing to the eye. Like twelve buildings in the clouds, they seized everyone’s eyes!
At the entrance of these pavilions, there were doormen hanging their heads and standing before the doorway. Shockingly, they were all cultivators at the late stage of Foundation Establishment! These constructs were for the twelve Core Formation!
Below, there were dozens of seats. At this moment, there were already people sitting in each one. There weren’t many people, but every single one of them were China’s awesome and famous cultivation clans.
Right now, Xu Yangyi’s heart broke off into half-beats. There existed nothing else. Just as he appeared and still hadn’t walked up on the stage, twelve similarly powerful and terribly imposing spiritual senses directly nailed into his body. Separated by a distance of several hundred meters, they descended like sharp swords launched from high above in the clouds. One among them carried an extremely well-concealed killing intent. Although it was weak, it was the pinnacle of lethality.
Ancestor Floatingcloud… Xu Yangyi closed his eyes and constrained the fleeting sensation of being stared at by a tremendous prehistoric beast, his forehead covered in cold sweat. He breathed in deeply with shut eyes. As he opened his eyes, a layer of clarity already laid within them.
Since I’ve already come, made my choice, and resolved myself, what good is there in being afraid?! Facing the heavens and laughing heartily as I depart, how am I a common man? We cultivators struggle against the heavens for fate. How can one be mired between hesitation and indecision, yeses and noes? 
Dong… At this moment, the clock rang out. Without delay, the entire venue fell into silence.
Swoosh… In the wake of a gentle echo, the entire space became fathomless. A light-blue expanse of light misty smoke emerged, faintly discernible. This smoke carried silken threads of a mild aroma that didn’t neglect the nose.
“Immortal Spirit Mist Formation…” An old woman’s gaze slightly wavered. “A gala of cultivators is completely different from that of mortals. Mortals are hard-pressed to simulate a cultivator’s desired effect. Although this Immortal Spirit Mist Formation has no other uses, it is absolute for setting the mood and brewing the ambience. The Golden Dipper Hall has dispensed hard-earned capital this time…”
Orbs of green firelight rose in the gentle smoke alone. The stage was like a nighttime prairie, enchanting to the people.
After a short moment, the smoke abated, and fat silhouette appeared on the auction stage. He laughed brightly and cupped his hands towards his surroundings. “Fellow Daoists, this humble one is Golden Dipper Hall’s hall master, Qi Zongkai. Greetings to all.” Afterwards, he bowed deeply again towards those in the air. “Junior greets the Seniors.”
No one responded, but everyone’s gazes looked towards a pavilion in the sky. It was grander than the other pavilions and even more majestic. The enormous character for “sky” above the door was enough to render everyone silent.
Daomaster Skybearer, half-step Nascent Soul!
“You may dispense with the formality.” After several seconds, a dull voice was heard from the sky. In turn, it put out no further directive.
Qi Zongkai breathed in deeply and bowed again. Towards this entire room glittering with resplendent gold and jade, his voice resonated. “Everyone… after two centuries, the Dao of Pills had awakened once more. Today’s auction shall use middle-grade spirit stones as the standard and barter, and follow conversion prices of my ruling valued at the equal amounts…”
“Little child…” An owlish voice came from a pavilion in the sky. “Don’t dawdle. The number of auctions This Dao Master has participated in is even greater than whatever you can imagine. Hurry up and start!”
“Yes…” Qi Zongkai breathed in deeply a few times and shouted, “Let the auction assembly formally begin!”
Just a reminder that all these sects are based on real places/entities
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