Chapter 372: An Extortionate Price

Senior Sister Guan! Yun Ruoyan’s body stiffened.

The three women in the cage were all students from Kongming Academy, and Guan Ruliu was among them. They were still wearing their uniforms from the academy, which had been specially worked against damage. Nevertheless, they were now so stained that they had lost their original pure-white color.

“Three women from the Chenyuan continent, a hundred and fifty spiritual crystals apiece!”

“Six hundred for the trio!” a large man hollered.

“Eight hundred!” Another bid.

The bids finally stalled as they approached a high of a thousand and five hundred spirit crystals.

“Li Mo!” Yun Ruoyan nudged him. “We have to save Senior Sister Guan!”

“Two thousand spirit crystals.” Feng Yicheng, opposite Li Mo, placed the highest bid of tonight’s auction.

“Two thousand, an honorable guest has bid two thousand spirit crystals!” The host of tonight’s auction seemed so excited that his pale face was flushing slightly.

Yun Ruoyan relaxed: Feng Yicheng would surely free them.

“Are there any further bids? If not, then, for two thousand spirit crystals…”

“Two thousand five hundred.” 

Yun Ruoyan stilled, because the person who had spoken was none other than Li Mo. However, she quickly realized why: the bidding war that would follow was likely all an act for Pi Batian.

“Three thousand.” Feng Yicheng replied, standing up.

“Three thousand five hundred.” Li Mo didn’t even arch an eyebrow.

“Three thousand five hundred, three thousand five hundred!” The pale host of the auction was so agitated that he was almost incoherent.

“Four thousand,” Feng Yicheng continued.

“Four thousand five hundred.”

“Young Master Li, what are you trying to do? I was the one who first bid on these women. If you’re a gentleman, shouldn’t you leave them for me?”

“Young Master Feng, these women came from the Chenyuan continent as I did. I know of them, so I have to save them whatever the cost. If you’d back down…?”

“Young Master Li, my mind is set. I suppose we’ll just have to see which of us is wealthier.” Feng Yicheng’s face was plastered with the conceited smile characteristic of an arrogant young master.

“Who’s that Young Master Li? He’s willing to go against Young Master Feng? Doesn’t he know that Peak Darkness is under the Feng family’s jurisdiction?” someone murmured from the crowd.

“Probably not, if he’s daring to compete with Young Master Feng on Feng family grounds…”

“That’s hard to say. Don’t you know who that Young Master Li is?” a swordsman exclaimed.

“No, do you?”

“I saw him during one of the Pi family banquets. He was a slave for the Pi family who bested the slaves of the other six families. The fact that he’s here now likely means that he’ll be the Pi representative for the seven cities’ tournament.”

“So he’s from the Pi family? No wonder he’s willing to bid against the Feng family! Those two houses are the only ones that can restrain each other. Have they started fighting already, even before the tournament itself? This will be a sight to see!”

“Don’t think that you can be so arrogant just because this is your territory. The Pi family’s the true overlord of the Mingyuan continent!” Li Mo seemed to have gotten angry.

“The true overlord of the Mingyuan continent? What a joke!” Feng Yicheng sneered. “Maybe three years ago, but everyone on the Mingyuan continent knows that the master of the continent is the one who controls Peak Darkness! Now that jurisdiction over the territory is in the Feng family’s hands, don’t expect us to cede control of it.”

Behind the screen in a private suite, Pi Batian sat with one hand around a cup of wine and another hand on the armrest of his chair. He squeezed the cup so hard that it cracked and broke.

“Young Master,” one of the swordsmen beside him began, “shall we punish that brazen lad from the Feng family?”

Pi Batian waved a hand dismissively. He sat up straight and suppressed his emotions. “There’s no rush. Keep watching and see what happens.”

“Oh? If I recall correctly, I beat you in a bout during a banquet hosted by the Pi family,” Li Mo continued.

“I…” Feng Yicheng’s face turned a bright red. “I… hadn’t rested well that day, and the bout wasn’t a planned event, so I only lost because of my lack of preparation!”

“In that case, are you prepared today?”

“What, you plan on attacking me here?” Feng Yicheng gaped in mock fury. “Don’t you forget what sort of place this is! You think your slights will go unpunished in Feng territory, when you’re just a slave?!”

“Sirs, please!” the host interrupted. “This isn’t a stage on which to show off your martial prowess. Instead, why don’t you exhibit your financial means instead? As representatives of the Feng and Pi families, whoever bids the higher price and wins these three women shall be considered the victor in terms of financial power!” 

“Not bad, not bad!”

“The seven cities’ tournament will be in three days’ time. Let this be a warm-up for the big show!”

The crowd began to holler. Most of them had gathered at Peak Darkness for the tournament, and the fight between the Feng and Pi families was supposed to be the centerpiece of the entire affair. Being able to see the two families fight in advance, regardless of the manner in which they were fighting, was exciting in and of itself.

“Well?” Feng Yicheng taunted. “Do you dare compete with me? Ah—perhaps the Pi family isn’t in such great financial straits after having ceded Peak Darkness to the Feng family. If that’s the case, Young Master Li, there’s no need to force yourself to compete. I’ll happily take the three women, but I hope you won't claim that the Pis are superior to the Fengs in the future.”

Behind the screen, Pi Batian’s lips twitched. The hegemony of the Pi family over the Mingyuan continent was the most important task that Pi Yan and Pi Batian were working toward. How could they bear someone trying to sully the Pi family name in front of such a large crowd?

Pi Batian motioned for a swordsman by his side to draw near. He whispered something into his ear, causing the swordsman to nod and walk out of the suite.

When Li Mo glanced at Pi Batian’s suite and saw that there was one fewer shadow behind the screen, he smirked inwardly, but his voice took on a defeated tone. “Unfortunately, I came to the auction in a rush, and I don’t have sufficient spirit crystals to—”

Before he could finish, a swordsman walked up to Li Mo and whispered a few words into his ear, causing Li Mo to smile.

Yun Ruoyan drew closer and overheard the swordsman’s words. “Young Master Pi assures you that there’s no need to worry about spirit crystals. You must win this auction, and you can’t let the Pi family lose face.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely trounce that impudent Feng brat,” Li Mo replied.

After the swordsman left, Li Mo turned to the host. “What’s the highest bid?”

“The highest bid is yours, Young Master Li, at four thousand five hundred spirit crystals.”

“Five thousand,” Feng Yicheng replied instantaneously.

“Five thousand five hundred.” Li Mo didn’t much care; after all, the one who would have to pay for his bid wasn’t him.

“Six thousand.”

“Six thousand five hundred.”

Each new bid drew another gasp from the crowd. After all, five hundred spirit crystals was sufficient to feed a rather well off family for multiple years.

By the time the bid got to eight thousand spirit crystals, Pi Batian’s eye began to twitch.

“Young Master Pi…” The swordsman by his side felt that he needed to interject. “Eight thousand spirit crystals is about a month’s worth of production from all our mines at full capacity.”

Pi Batian dismissed their concerns, judging that the reputation of the Pi family was well worth the cost.

By the time the bid got to ten thousand spirit crystals, the swordsman wiped away the sweat on his forehead and advised again, “Sir Li Mo and that Feng brat look as though they’re pitching a drunken fit. There’s no need for us to debase ourselves and respond to the provocation.”

Pi Batian drained his cup of wine, about to command Li Mo to stop bidding. Just then, however, Feng Yicheng spoke up. “Young Master Li, if you’re so invested in these three women, I’ll grant your wish.”

Pi Batian choked on his wine.

“In that case, I, Li Mo, shall purchase these slaves on behalf of the Pi family.” Li Mo’s voice, infused with spiritual energy, reverberated through the hall.

“The Pi family’s really willing to spend this much?”

“Ten thousand spirit crystals for three lower-realm slaves? They must have so much money they can’t spend it all!”

“What do you know? Reputation’s more important than money for the Pi family! They’ve always been the head of the seven families governing the Mingyuan continent—but three years ago, during the last seven cities’ tournament, the Feng family’s Feng Bo popped out of nowhere, defeated the Pi family, and obtained the right to govern Peak Darkness. The Pi family certainly won’t let a young upstart take their place. Today, they’ve won the contest of riches; in three days’ time, they’ll certainly win the tournament as well!”

Pi Batian inhaled deeply. Buying the crowd’s admiration with ten thousand spirit crystals didn’t seem like such a bad investment.

Feng Yicheng glanced covertly at Li Mo, drained his flask of wine, then slumped in his seat, seemingly consumed by a drunken haze. The two swordsmen behind him carried him out of the hall...

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