In the auction house of Swallow City.
The house was a lively scene with upwards of a thousand people in attendance. Most of them were patrons, ready to bring out their wallets and purchase whatever trinkets, items, or fancy items they had their eyes on, but there were also a sizeable amount of employees pacing about to and from. If they weren't showing patrons to their seats, they were doing other services.
Separated into three different lobbies, the auction house had segmented them so that the general audience would be in the first to third ones in ascending order of importance. The third floor and lobby were further segmented between private rooms for their more important patrons. It was also the best floor for these patrons to watch the proceedings from. Only those of very important statuses or strength would be allowed here.
Surprisingly enough to Bai Yunfei, the auction house didn't have its shortages of powerful people. He had only seen a small portion of the patrons here, but he could clearly sense the distribution of power here. Hardly anyone that wasn't a Soul Ancestor was here. Soul Exalts littered the lobbies, and Bai Yunfei could even swear he could feel the auras of several Soul Kings hiding in the second and third lobbies.
He relayed this to Tang Xinyun right by his side. "Xinyun, it seems that this auction will be of a higher level than the one in Mo City."
Agreeing with him, his companion nodded. "The auction last time wasn't very large even despite it being hosted by our family. This one is being hosted by the Tianhun School, there'll definitely be a higher level of display here."
A female employee met with the two shortly after they strode past the reception hall. "Honored guests, please present your seat slip and I will lead you there." She bowed.
Two beautiful snow-white slips were handed over to her.
"Please follow me."
Securing a spot in one of the best viewing booths on the third floor would've been very easy given Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun's statuses. But neither person didn't wish to declare that they were here in attendance so readily flamboyantly and decided to sit in the general audience.
An invitation card with slips for the highest lobby had been presented to Bai Yunfei before, in truth. It was during the time Bai Yunfei was in the Core World and Xiao Qi was safeguarding the room. During that time, the one employee with the invitation was brushed off by Xiao Qi, and so the slips were never presented to Bai Yunfei.
Bai Yunfei's eyes scoured the room soon after the employee led him and Tang Xinyun to their seats. "Are you looking for Jing Mingfeng?" Tang Xinyun asked after she noticed his looks.
"Yeah, I don't have the slightest of clues where he might be. He's probably here already.'
Jing Mingfeng's ability to disguise and himself was far better than Bai Yunfei's own. Bai Yunfei was confident that unless Jing Mingfeng himself decided to seek him out, he wouldn't be able to find Jing Mingfeng.
He and Tang Xinyun were both seated, as like many other patrons in the same lobby. Most of everyone's eyes were glued to the front where the auction would start, though a few other patrons were discussing idle chatter with one another as well. Given the excitement surrounding the auction, many of the patrons were hardly paying attention to Bai Yunfei or Tang Xinyun. There were a few that noticed just how beautiful Tang Xinyun was, but no one dared to try and strike up a conversation with her.
Any gathering of people like this one was undoubtedly a dangerous place to make enemies. One wouldn't know how strong someone was, or how strong a background they belonged to. Most people who laid eyes on Tang Xinyun were terrified of incurring the wrath of someone they couldn't possibly afford to.
And no one recognized Bai Yunfei. His name and fame preceded him. Hardly anyone in the city even knew what he looked like, and combined with him already hiding his strength, nobody would figure that hidden within this small sea of Soul Exalts would be the infamous Bai Yunfei.
It was because of the idle chattering of others that Bai Yunfei was able to pick up something he wasn't expecting...
"What's this...? How do people know about the Qin and them rescinding the betrothment?" Bai Yunfei whispered, "It looks like the entire city knows about it."
"What!?" Tang Xinyun inhaled sharply, "But how? This...this shouldn't have been known to begin with."
The number of people that should've known about the matter could be counted on either of Bai Yunfei's hands. Neither Bai Yunfei nor Tang Xinyun figured the Qin would be willing to let such information escape from them, but the problem was what it was. Somehow, the city knew about the matter.
"Someone...must've done this on purpose, what's their goal?" A sense of apprehension crawled up Bai Yunfei's spine. "To ruin the Qin's reputation? Or is it because of something else?"
Tang Xinyun looked worried. "Maybe to drive a wedge between the Qin and Tang? The Qin would most definitely lose face for this, and it'll be the Tang that'll be seen as the responsible party. The Qin will definitely not take kindly to this, to you and to the Tang..."
"Yeah, we shouldn't stay in Swallow City for much longer. We'll leave after the auction is done to avoid any proble-
"Isn't that Qin Shoufeng? I didn't think he'd be working to manage this auction..." Bai Yunfei suddenly cut off from his original sentence to point off towards the right. To where he was pointing, a young man in greenish robes came into view. It was Qin Shoufeng. He was seemingly instructing several employees on a task right now.
Had it been in anything situation other than what it was now, Bai Yunfei would've gone up to say his hellos to him. Now, was quite obviously an unwise time to do so.
The less he made contact with the Qin, the better.
"The auction is about to start..."
Most of the patrons were already growing silent by the time Qin Shoufeng came into view. Here and there, the employees of the auction were going around to make final calls and warnings.
From what Bai Yunfei could see, Qin Shoufeng was making his way to the front of the hall to start the proceedings.
"Good day to everyone. I am Qin Shoufeng of the house of Qin. I would like to welcome everyone to our meager auction on behalf of my family, and I hope that everyone will have a wonderful time watching the proceedings of this auction."
He paused very briefly to take in a short breath. "And now," He exhaled, "I would like to announce the official start of the auction!"
He turned to leave the podium. In his place, a beautiful woman with a slender waist and slim-fitting figure came up to take his place. She had charm graceful, but mature like aged wine. With just a single glance around the room, she had managed to commandeer the eyes of everyone in the hall and allow them to wait for her next actions.
Standing now at the center of the podium, the woman gave everyone a professional smile. Her cinnabar-red lips parted briefly as she started to make her speech.
"I am Wu Mei'er. Pleased to make everyone's acquaintances. I will be today's emcee, so please allow me to introduce the first item of the day..."
Her words were enunciated clearly, and her voice silken like spring water. She was also quite a powerful person, as her aura registered her as a Soul Exalt.
"Our first item is six hundred-year-old essence lotus, a powerful item any water-type soul cultivator would greatly benefit from. It has the spectacular ability to aid in the breakthrough of a water-type soul cultivator. Our starting bid will open at a thousand low-grade primal stones. Each bid must be at least a tenth higher than the previous.
"Please begin bidding now."
Many gasps were had when the item was first introduced, but many people were already starting to bid the moment Wu Mei'er finished speaking.
The item was rare and undeniably valuable for anyone that was a Soul Ancestor or below. For someone like Bai Yunfei, however, the item had a much more watered down value.
He knew that this particular auction would have most of its more valuable objects placed in the latter half. Paying attention to the beginning half wouldn't be very exciting, so Bai Yunfei lazed around and watched the others around him start to bid.
It took only a short moment for the bid for the essence lotus to reach and finish at four thousand low-grade primal stones.
The next item to follow afterward was an eight-hundred iceheart berry...
One by one, ingredients meant for medicine and such were bid and fought for one after another. Each item had an even higher starting bid than the one before, and the number of people taking part in the bidding war grew with each item. The first had only Soul Ancestors fighting for it, but now even a few Soul Exalts were starting to take focus on the auction. Two Soul Kings from the top floor made a bid of their own too. When they did, the rest of the auction grew quiet. If a Soul King wanted to bid, then no one else would dare fight them.
Bai Yunfei remained calm the entire time until when at last, there had been an item interesting enough to catch his eye.