“This is the Wang Clan’s hidden ace…” The clan master of a small clan without the resources to participate in this struggle enviously vented his anger. “The Chen Clan… is Nantong Province’s premier alchemy clan with an inheritance of over 400 years. I’ve heard that when their ancestor still came out, he was a cultivator at the Great Circle of Foundation Establishment… The Wang Clan’s three talismans. One to save one’s life, one to evade assault, and one to attack… Others could take out a high-grade spirit stone, but not obtain a talisman. I’ve heard that only close acquaintances can get one… and now he’s actually said that they’re all open…”
“That’s because they only have this opportunity to act.” At his side, a leader from a small clan sighed. “In comparison to the CSIB, Featherwood Guard, and Bountiful Treasures Pavilion, this is the only chance they have to make a bid. They hope to inflame Fellow Daoist Xu’s heart so that he signs right on the spot. Maybe he won’t sign with anyone here. They’ll make secret contact to get a chance. Ugh, this sure is a mess…”
“But… how could the Big Three possibly let Fellow Daoist Xu sign right here?” The clan master that had spoken up before shook his head and sighed, “Things looks intense. The true buyers are those three powers, huh…”
“You heard the conditions that the CSIB came out with first… A Wealth Repossession Captain, the Nine National Offices… If Fellow Daoist Xu finds any ancient remnants, he can mobilize at once. Mooncrescent Gold, Fireblaze Ruby, and Myriadlight Stone, which one of these isn’t a famous refining material worth a thousand catties of gold? A medium-scale mine… All Fellow Daoist Xu has to do is nod and it could even be said he’ll be able to call wind and rain later on. This treading of waters is the stabilizing force of those three clans.” 
Xu Yangyi continued to absorb qi. His qi sea was as empty as the void. Not a speck of qi existed within his entire body. Against Chu Zhaonan’s final strike of two bullets, the glimmer of gold and the still moon submerged in jade, he had defended against one shot with all his strength, but the other one had drilled into his chest like a viper.
Although it wasn’t life threatening, it rendered him unable to use his spiritual force! Even if he absorbed more, the qi he had just tried to assimilate simply wouldn’t stay in his qi sea!
He closed his eyes, and everything seemed to remain still. All activity outside entered his ears, yet he carried a faint mocking smirk at the crook of his mouth.
The Burning Heavens Revelation… He had never heard of it, but from the hardly undisguised reactions of the people outside and Moonchaser’s meticulous introduction, he knew that this was a supreme arcane effort that led directly to the Grand Dao of Core Formation. Something that was yearned for in dreams!
However… am I, Xu Yangyi, worth just this insignificant arcane effort?
True, this arcane effort could allow him to become the carp that leapt over the dragon gate. In kind, he held an extreme thirst for it. But...
The blood in his heart was boiling, and he licked his cracked, bloodstained lips, laughing coldly, “It’s a shame that all of you forgot about my original desire.”
“It’s fine if I don’t join this kind of immortal sect.”
If these words were set free to the outside world, it was unknown how many people would beat their chests and stomp their feet, a mystery as to how many would curse him as foolish. Cultivation was the struggle of all living things. Among the ten Core Formation Grand Daos, even Foundation Establishment cultivators would topple over for one that could open a crack in the door, but Xu Yangyi actually said that it was fine not to join?
Xu Yangyi still didn’t have any experience walking through the true cultivation world. He was basically clueless… of how heavy this Core Formation arcane effort’s position was when placed outside! It was unpleasant to hear, but it wasn’t an exaggeration that this art would incite a massacre that would flood the heavens with blood!
He only knew that he was looking forward to and fantasizing about the graduation. This because only that way he would be able to track down the murderer that Heavens Law couldn’t find in broad seas and boundless skies!
He had waited to execute his thirteen-year plan for the shadow that had streaked through his nightmares countless times! He could laugh and recount his mother and father’s great enmity, but by no means could he laugh and relinquish it! He could laugh and speak about it to Chief Zheng because it was the brand at the bottom of his heart.
Why had he entered Heavens Law? Why had he said those words to Chu Zhaonan, in his sorrow? His heart faintly ached, and he seemed to return to that time in the past when he was eight years old, clearly looking at two faces that already looked fuzzy yet were crystal clear.
“Arcane efforts are secondary.” He shut his eyes and emotionlessly sensed qi cleansing his flesh. Nonetheless, it was staunch in not filling his qi sea. Qi seemed to choke in his chest where the bullet was located, dissipating with a rumble.
“Spirit stones are secondary. Resources, magik artifacts… these things are all secondary!” His two fists on his knees slightly clenched, yet his voice was flat without disturbance like a cicada wing in the air. “If a cultivator cannot be firm in their own heart, why cultivate? Why oppose the heavens?” His unresolved revenge on his mortal foe had twisted him as a child. “Don’t tell me that none of you can see what I really want?”
“Do you think I’ll come running over like a rabid dog for an arcane effort? And grovel under Daomaster Floatingcloud?” A faint sneer perked up at the crook of his mouth. “Naive.”
“I, Xu Yangyi, am a man of true grit and untamed spirit. I am not so cheap.” He said nothing more. He continued to listen to the conversations outside. Of the various falling flowers, there would inevitably be one that suited him.
The Ruo River was 3,000 miles long, but only a single ladle could be drank from it. Even if this ladle wasn’t the Big Three, but merely a cultivation clan. 
Outside the qi walls, Firecloud was currently in a dour mood. As a lone cultivator that had made his way into the world, his legacies couldn’t compare to the generous nature of the clans. Right here, right now, the show had already reached a burning-white climax. The clans stood up one by one and took out their hidden aces. Even their conditions made the eyes of several Foundation Establishment cultivators turn green with envy. He’d secretly sealed off the qi walls, leaving the two people inside to themselves, but it seemed to have become a joke.
What did it matter whether or not they came out?
In any case, it wasn’t his turn. Not even to compare his bargaining piece to the CSIB’s marvelous conditions, his Good Fortune arcane effort didn’t hold any advantage even lined up with the famous cultivation clans.
But compared to his expression, Moonchaser’s was even more unsightly. It was far beyond Moonchaser’s calculations that he, who was enthralled by cultivation, had screwed up in his good intentions. The chess piece that Daomaster Floatingcloud had arranged in passing had actually been messed up by his own disciple!
“An A-rank demon core.” At this time, a voice suddenly echoed. “And an additional A-rank Foundation Establishment magik treasure.” In the end, Shadowslay was no longer able to control himself from speaking. How deep did a Foundation Establishment cultivator’s qi have to be to suppress the voices of everyone present just by speaking?
“Only the demon core of a demon that hasn’t even reached Core Formation. What is it? A-rank? Late Foundation Establishment?” Firecloud gritted his teeth. “You’re truly willing to part with it?! The foundation between you and I has already been set; what use is there in wanting the Burning Heavens Revelation?! Don’t tell me you’ve hardened your heart to wash your meridians and rake your marrow?”
“You’re fully capable of asking the branch upstairs to take a look if he has some other interests! It’s not necessary to come down with such an exorbitant sum!”
“This is his down payment.” Shadowslay looked motionlessly at the billowing qi walls. “It’s not for the arcane effort. It’s only for he himself.”
“I’m aware my down payment doesn’t even compare to the clans of many Foundation Establishment cultivators. However, this is my approach.” His gaze twinkled. “Fellow Daoist Firecloud, you and I have known each other for no short time. How many people here do you believe are making moves just for that Core Formation arcane effort?”
Firecloud was stunned, and Shadowslay said indifferently, “No… Not many. For a famous scholar to be bequeathed with a treasure sword, for a person with not enough comprehension or talent to obtain this arcane effort, it is only a reckless waste.” He looked quietly at the boiling crowd and said lowly, “Are they setting down such capital earned with their blood and sweat just to waste it fruitlessly?”
After several seconds of silence, Firecloud waved his hand disappointedly. “Indeed… they dare not to haphazardly cultivate a Core Formation cultivator's arcane effort. Otherwise, it would be nought but a path to ruin… You wish to sow good karma? Even if we’re already unable to accept him as a disciple?”
Shadowslay faintly nodded, his voice chopping through nails and slicing apart iron. “In a couple decades, as long as this child doesn’t die on the bramble-covered path of cultivation, he’ll surely be included on the list of Foundation Establishment cultivators.”
“Furthermore…” Shadowslay sighed. “The branch’s communication equipment has sparked out. You think I haven’t asked young friend Xu because I have some other interests? The comms upstairs have been cut off.”
Firecloud sucked in deeply. Very soon, the situation would become increasingly chaotic. Under the circumstances of his own chance ever shrinking, he said clearly, “The Good Fortune art can enhance a bottle of ten-year-refined Spirit Accumulating Elixir.”
This was an item with two variants that when ordinarily taken out would undoubtedly cause Foundation Establishment and Qi Condensation cultivators to scramble over it. But now, as each family came out with conditions so generous that the eyes of others went red, it wasn’t much to look at. The sole eye-catching aspect about it was probably that it had come from a Foundation Establishment cultivator.
His gaze carried an obvious twitch to it as he looked at everyone. Finally, it settled over the special envoys from the major powers.
As long as they didn’t speak… he still had an opportunity!
Vulture saw the clear threat carried in Firecloud’s gaze. The man simply hadn’t bothered to even conceal it, yet Vulture was only stunned and immediately gritted his teeth, taking a step forward.
“Young friend…” Firecloud laughed grimly without inflection, “The path of cultivation is long and distant. Whether or not it should be said, it’s good to consider it clearly.”
This was a naked, undisguised threat!
Vulture wasn’t resigned to this! How could he take this lying down?!
Such two great seeds had appeared in this graduation. According to the present conditions, the bids of the several Foundation Establishment cultivators were on the contrary the lowest! He would have to look on helplessly as these two great seedlings cupped hands to others, while one of them was even attached with an arcane effort that led straight to a Core Formation Grand Dao! How could he wish for such pain in his heart?!
“Senior…” Vulture agonizingly cupped his hands in greeting. “Everyone is just acting for their masters… I’m unable to move back, as well…” It appeared that in order to steady his confidence, he used all his spiritual force to shout just as he finished speaking these words. “I’m the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s special envoy C-Vulture! Through the instructions of the regional president of the three western provinces, the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion is willing to sign Fellow Daoist Xu for a hundred years with a signing bonus of ten billion USD! A four billion USD bonus for Fellow Daoist Chu to sign for eighty years!”
“At the same time, there will be three supreme-grade spirit stones! A supreme-grade magik artifact for Fellow Daoist Chu! Fellow Daoist Xu, your magik artifact will be worked together on by the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s three Great Circle Foundation Establishment grand masters! An artificer, an alchemist, and a talismancer!”
“A middle-scale spirit stone mine with Scarletspirit Silver, Spiritswallow Agate, Waxingluna Stone, and Infantmarked Steel, four kinds of A-rank rare metals!”
“A large palace located above two spirit caves! These two spirit caves have been dug out and left with two small spirit veins by the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s pavilion master, His Excellency Crimsonmoon! It’s naturally sustaining! Moreover, the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion will bear the two Fellow Daoists’ cultivation times with full responsibility!”
“This is crazy…”
“Three supreme-grade spirit stones… A mine with four kinds of rare metals… Two spirit caves… My god… T-This is forcing the other organizations into immediate submission.”
Chu Tianyi’s eyes narrowed for a long time. At this instant, his heart was cold, but the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s bid had made it grow colder! The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion… didn’t lack in anything. It’s lone deficiency was a Dao Master! In the Big Three, it was the only power without a Core Formation cultivator in command!
“There is…” Vulture’s throat somewhat ached. “There is also…”
“We will gather our entire pavilion’s strength to make you a Core Formation Dao Master!”
Before Vulture’s voice had even fallen, cold gasps subsequently rose and fell in succession.
Rich and domineering!
At this moment, even Lilac’s teeth were itching in anger. This truly was rich and domineering!
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s expenditure left everyone dumbfounded. It was unknown how many people here now had thoughts of snatching Xu Yangyi. But so long as he nodded, his worth would surpass a majority of the clans here in a flash!
“Who are you flaunting your wealth for…” Lilac said lowly and gnashed her teeth. A nameless fire arched up in her heart. She was helpless without the slightest method to her disposal.
To the CSIB, this high price had already exceeded the value brought by the luxurious ‘Xu Yangyi and the Arcane Effort Combo’ package.
In the end, he was still only at Qi Condensation right now. As for what his future would be like, it was only because there was a ‘possibility’ of reaching Core Formation that they were willing to pay this exorbitant price. However, by no means was he ‘certain’ to reach Core Formation.
If Xu Yangyi was ‘certain’, then there would be several Core Formation masters personally visiting today.
“I’m with the Featherwood Guard! If Fellow Daoist Xu joins our organization, we shall assist Fellow Daoist Xu in finding his parents’ murderer with our utmost effort! Moreover, we shall assign you with cultivators he can choose from our department as a personal guard! At the same time, this personal guard will henceforth be yours to control! You will immediately be registered in the Featherwood Guard’s highest division!” Not waiting for the surprised gasps to come to an end, Hibiscus was already screaming, “Fellow Daoist Xu! Just say the word!”
1. 定海神针 - “Stabilizing force” It’s interesting to note that this an alternative name for Sun Wukong’s weapon (the monkey king), which is a golden staff/cudgel. Literally translates to “Fixing-Ocean God Needle”
2. This is a phrase that finds its roots in the Chinese Classic Dream of the Red Chamber. Original meaning was an idea that “There are tons of girls, but you can only pick one”. In this context, it refers to Xu Yangyi having lots of choices.