Chapter 156: A Dao Master’s Invitation
“If said this is young friend’s greatest harvest, nothing can surpass these 5,000 spirit stones…” Envious, Qi Zongkai tightly held a piece. “Our Golden Dipper Hall has been established for over a century, yet this one-time opportunity of looking at so many high-grade spirit stones is certainly rare.”
“Oh?” Xu Yangyi asked, cool and collected, “Is a high-grade spirit stone so precious?”
“Not only is it is precious…” Just as Qi Zongkai was about to speak, he suddenly didn’t know what to say. He said somewhat enviously, “An ordinary Qi Condensation cultivator, a middle-stage one, treats a medium-grade spirit stone like a treasure. A high-grade one… is an item that only Foundation Establishment Seniors are capable of enjoying. Unexpectedly… you, a Qi Condensation cultivator, possess a current estate that already exceeds a majority of Foundation Establishment Seniors.”
Sighing, he smoothed his features and said with a friendly tone, “Young friend, you must engrave it into your mind, spirit stones can only be converted from low to high. No one will exchange from high to low.”
“The cultivation world’s hardest currency to spend is in fact the medium-grade spirit stone because a high-grade spirit stone is already divided into the attributes of the Five Phases. The stone in young friend’s hand is a fire-attribute spirit stone. After Foundation Establishment, the world is very much different. Too many talismans and magik treasures require spirit stones of corresponding nature. A medium-grade spirit stone is absolutely unable to achieve these functions.”
Xu Yangyi sucked in this information like a sponge and promptly cupped his hands. “Senior, a spirit stone is a consumable item. Aren’t they’re gradually decreasing in modern times?”
Qi Zongkai was dazed and shook his head. “Strange to say… but the amount of spirit stones have never decreased. Do you know of the Chinese cultivation world’s largest bank, China Kaiyuan Bank? They’re under the banner of the CSIB. Ancestor Hiddenscent once suggested that even if the cultivation world ceased to be, it would be impossible for spirit stones to be completely exhausted.” 
It seemed there were still a few old stories here that he didn’t know of. Xu Yangyi didn’t have that great of a curiosity and laughed, “Many thanks for the teaching.”
“This can’t be regarded as a teaching, however, for young friend Xu to repeatedly be so polite, could it be that young friend doesn’t favor old me? Is this any good way to express your thanks?” In his heart, Qi Zongkai inwardly sighed. This child was bound to become a man of great ability in the future. Today, Xu Yangyi could even be said to have taken both the royal crown and yellow robe and would one day ascend to the heavens.
However, the other surprisingly lacked a shred of arrogance. He’d been so obvious with his olive branch, yet Xu Yangyi was in no way like an ordinary Qi Condensation cultivator. After great destiny, a Foundation Establishment cultivator had expressed good will, but Xu Yangyi was promptly clueless. On the contrary, Xu Yangyi had contemplated over and over again.
Steadiness of wisdom wasn’t to say this was unique to merely vision. The auctions of Qi Zongkai’s Golden Dipper Hall had witnessed so many people, enough to rank the top ten best seeds!
Humans were somewhat lowly. The more they couldn’t seek some item, the more treasured it was. At this moment, Xu Yangyi’s caution after obtaining a great destiny instead further allowed Qi Zongkai to firm and deepen the connection of both parties’ sentiments.
Of mind to plant this good karma, the fatso laughed loudly and banished his smile. “This time, the Golden Dipper Hall will only take spirit stones. We won’t take a fraction of the rest.”
“I have a teensy request…” Qi Zongkai took a great leap, his gaze scorching hot. “If… the pill master has some new work next time, is it possible… to let our hall plan it?”
“This was the Dao of Pill’s first auction. The timing was also a little bit too rushed. Next time, I guarantee it! We’ll have the best planning team! Publicity team! At the same time, all auction businesses take 10%. Our Golden Dipper Hall will only take 5% of the profits. Among this, an additional extraction of 2% of the profits will be given to young friend! How about it?”
“That will depend on the pill master’s opinion,” Xu Yangyi said and smiled, not responding. The cultivation world’s auction houses weren’t limited to just this company.
“Hehe, naturally. I only hope young friend can inform our firm before the next auction…” Qi Zongkai’s gaze faintly sparked, and he enthusiastically gripped Xu Yangyi’s hand. A small and delicate ring slid onto Xu Yangyi’s finger.
“A minor bit of appreciation.” His gaze was rather unwilling to part from the ring. It wasn’t until a few seconds passed did his gaze shift. “A Hectogreen Ring. Inside is a hundred square kilometers of space. It is a self-established world with soil, a spirit foundation, and even ten specialized kilometers for simulating all kinds of harsh environments to save and develop spirit vegetation. Inside, spirit plants can grow freely. All that’s needed is a sufficient filling of spirit stones. However, you must absolutely remember that the inside is still only for packing spirit vegetation.”
A good item, eh… Xu Yangyi studied the second ring on his finger and smiled as he received it.
“Consider it a tiny greeting gift.” Qi Zongkai lowered his voice and narrowed his eyes. “If… the sir is willing to deliver a refined medicinal pill in the future to our hall for sale, we’re ready to forego the expense. A free sale.”
Xu Yangyi cupped his hands. “But… the Golden Dipper Hall doesn’t seem to have a sales channel?”
“Maybe we do, maybe we don’t. That will depend on what the sir says.” Qi Zongkai dimly smiled. Just as he opened his mouth, the spatial entrance of the vortex suddenly dazzled minutely. A Qi Condensation cultivator with eagerness written all over his face quickly stepped in.
After the cultivator bowed, he immediately said a few words into Qi Zongkai’s ear. The light of Qi Zongkai’s eyes flashed, and he waved his hand to have the other leave. He then firmed his features and said to Xu Yangyi, “Originally, I wanted to stay with Fellow Daoist and then chat for a short while. It seems that’ll just have to be next time.”
He studied Xu Yangyi heavily. “Ancestor Ancientpine summons you, young friend. This truly is an enormous opportunity.”
Xu Yangyi’s eyes brightened, and he nodded, his expression placid. Ancientpine would definitely want to meet him. Now, he was buried and hidden beneath the roaring sea that was a great power. It could even be said that a turn of the hand could call clouds and a flip of the hand could summon rains. Even several Core Formation had been provoked to lock weapons by him. There were some matters that others were unaware of that only he and Daomaster Ancientpine clearly understood.
For the sixty-forty split, Ancientpine definitely wanted to meet him. Following closely, he discovered to his surprise that his shadow had become a pitch-black magik array at some unknown time. His entire person slowly sunk into the center of the array!
As if he was steeped in a river, the are around his body was soft. After a few seconds, as he opened his eyes again, he was already situated in a splendid, grand palace.
The entire grand palace took the color black as master and motif. The ends were unseen, and countless pillars with dragons coiling around them were arranged on both sides. Below a few pillars, there were Foundation Establishment cultivators who were standing there with hanging hands and tranquil expressions. In the middle, Xu Yangyi’s gaze followed the continuous white carpet so that he looked upon a black throne.
Three qilins carved from an unknown material constituted this throne. On the throne was an old man with a full head of gray hair. He wore an ancient changpao, and one of his hands was leisurely stroking the left-side qilin armrest. The other hand was propping up his head covered in wrinkles, and one of his legs was carelessly crossed on top of the other. In his seven apertures, rising black qi burned like a blazing inferno.
It was quiet, extremely quiet. It seemed that in this place, no one whatsoever could talk loudly. It appeared as if Xu Yangyi had arrived in an ancient court hall, and the man on the qilin throne was the ruler of a country.
The spiritual pressure wasn’t scattered and overflowing, but rather considerably reserved. Nonetheless, in this place, it was a reservation akin to solid matter. In all directions, the shadows beneath the treasure light appeared to have eyes, monitoring this seemingly limitless court hall.
Rays of spiritual sense streaked over Xu Yangyi’s body. Maintaining his coolness, he walked ten meters before the throne and took a knee, hammering his fist on his chest. “Featherwood Guard’s A-rank Xingtian Legion Commander, Xu Yangyi, pays respects to Daomaster Ancientpine.”
There were no words, and Xu Yangyi held his original position. He only felt a faintly discernible gaze measuring him. From inside to out, it was careful and attentive.
An initial display of strength? His expression was towering and motionless. Revolving the qi within his body, he withstood the terrible spiritual pressure that even now was almost able to injure him.
It seemed as if a shadow prison was slowly gathering in the boundless grand palace. Like the surface of his body was burdened with a layer of heavy armor, he waited for the cage’s time of gathering, the time of his fleshly body’s collapse.
Daomaster Ancientpine’s expression was absent of a sliver of change, and he dimly watched Xu Yangyi like so. A minute, two minutes… a full five minutes passed, and Ancientpine faintly smiled. “Absolutely outstanding talent… Fascinating.” Not waiting for Xu Yangyi to sigh in relief, his next words were heard. “In that case, how about trying this talent out?”
BOOM! Just as Ancientpine’s voice fell, as long as there was a place with light, shadows were absorbed as if by a magnet. They frantically rushed Xu Yangyi! At this very moment, Xu Yangyi resembled a black hole, sucking in the entire hall’s shadows with the utmost might!
Xu Yangyi instinctually defended. In a wink, his qi revolved to the pinnacle, but in the next second, he had been forcefully suppressed.
Swoosh… A formless shadow attached to his body, almost like it was over 5,000 kilograms! His fleshly body that had begun cultivating the Eternal Alchemy Canon had already underwent the first cycle of reformation. Although he didn’t sense an obvious effect, he was in reality already far more powerful than a cultivator of the same stage.
However, right now, even he was still unable to restrain himself groaning heavily. Back when Sun Wukong had been pressed under the Five Phases Mountain, it was probably this kind of feeling… Xu Yangyi even sensed his bones loudly cracking! 
After an untold passage of time, all of his spiritual force suddenly dissipated, and his eyes were slightly disoriented. Xu Yangyi then discovered that the ground before him was surprisingly wet. It was his sweat.
“You may rise,” Daomaster Ancientpine’s voice was heard again.
“Yes.” Xu Yangyi gritted his teeth and propped himself up. Presently, he seemed to have been flattened by a road roller. Every single one of his bones was aching terribly.
“Congratulations, Ancestor!” Below, several voices spoke, different mouths expressing the same intent.
“Hehe…” The black radiance in Ancientpine’s seven apertures softly flashed, and he leisurely asked the person at his left, “Jadesun, what is your view of this child’s talents?”
Jadesun was young man wearing a well-ironed suit with his hair swept back. He bowed deferentially. “To answer Master-Ancestor, to be capable of bracing himself for seven minutes under Master-Ancestor’s Shadow Bind, his aptitude is above Jadesun’s.”
“Oh?” Ancientpine wore a trace of a smile, his finger gently tapping an armrest. “Jadesun, how long have you been a member of my sect?”
Xu Yangyi seemed to realize something, and his gaze quickly flashed. He hung his head and suppressed the fiery emotions in his heart, mumbling silently.
“78 years, Master-Ancestor.”
“The disciples of my sect are all erudite scholars who discuss in smiles and do not associate with those of superficial knowledge. Come, Jadesun, tell me. Of the cultivators you have witnessed over the years, how does this child’s talents rank?” 
In the palace hall, everyone appeared to come to somewhat of a realization. Streaks of ambiguous spiritual sense, gazes containing perhaps admiration or envy, looked towards the calmly standing Xu Yangyi.
Jadesun was silent for a few seconds. In the end, he raised his head, cupped his hands, and said prudently, “He ranks in the top three.”
“The top three?” Ancientpine’s voice carried a faint and distinct smile.
“Perhaps,” Jadesun deliberated and said, “Fifty years ago, Shanghai’s Paragon Hua Feihua entered Foundation Establishment with thirty-nine years of cultivation. He can be said to the top figure after Sunnihilator.”
“Fifteen years ago, Gongye Linghua of Nanhe Province’s Gongye Demon Clan came into being. His bloodline atavism attained 82%. He can be said to be the number one demon cultivator within the past fifty years.”
Ancientpine faintly smiled. Soon after, his remark stunned everyone.
“This child ought to be first.”