Jing Yue, Zheng Bai, and Gu Xia were standing at the entrance of the bazaar of Nine Heaven Academy at this moment.
That's right, Nine Heaven Academy also had a marketplace, and the networking event of Frostcloud Sect was based on the model replicated from the academy’s bazaar. At that time, a Foundation Establishment disciple from the Civilian faction graduated from the academy and returned to the sect to create the networking event.
The fair at the academy was more comprehensive than Frostcloud Sect. After all, Frostcloud Sect specialized in magic Dao and not other principles, so the items traded between disciples were not as varied nor high-quality as the academy. The students here were at least Foundation Establishment cultivators, outstanding practitioners that hailed from the seven continents, so there were naturally many good things being sold here.
The marketplace was crowded, including students from the Moonlodge class and Suncycle class. Some of them noticed Jing Yue and recognized the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect who caused a sensation on the day of admission, and couldn't help but take second glances at him.
Zheng Bai, “There are so many people here. This place is built like a maze.”
Gu Xia, “Lao… A-jing, are you really planning to set up a stall here? Frostcloud Sect has more than a dozen shops in Bliss City. Isn’t it more convenient for you to open a shop directly?”
“It's just a light-body talisman. It's too extravagant to occupy a store. Let's talk about it later.” Jing Yue looked at the crisscrossed market alleys and said, “Let’s walk around first.”
They had not taken a few steps when someone approached them. “Shidi, do you need a guide?”
The trio was taken aback. What was a guide?
The person that approached them was petite and seemed very bright. Seeing their expressions, he guessed that it was their first time here, and he said with a smile, “The bazaar in our academy is large and complex. If you walk around on your own, you might not find what you want to buy and waste your time searching for it.”
“As guides, we roam around the market all year round and are very familiar with the distribution of the stalls. I can quickly lead you to find your target and also help you avoid all kinds of pitfalls.”
Gu Xia turned to Jing Yue and said, “Now I remember. I heard someone say before that the guides in the market will take the guests to their familiar stalls. If the guests buy something, they can get a commission.”
The petite guy said righteously, “Those are guides with no integrity. How could someone like me, Wang Xiaoli, do such a thing?”
Jing Yue, “Thank you, but we don’t have a destination in mind, so we’ll just walk around by ourselves.”
They wandered around leisurely and found all kinds of items sold in the market. Some stall owners could even refine tools, alchemy, and talisman specifically according to individual needs, which was novel and convenient.
The stall owners were also eager to solicit customers, and from time to time, sounds of haggling could be heard—some said it was difficult to make a living, and some said they were too poor to afford the price. Others would boast the advantages, and some would look for shortcomings.
All in all, it was full of excitement.
Suddenly, there was a commotion right in front of them. Jing Yue saw many people surrounded there and said with interest, “Let’s have a look.”
He was always very good at taking advantage of the loopholes and soon squeezed to the front of the crowd. With Jing Yue leading the way, Zheng Bai and Gu Xia also squeezed into the front row smoothly. The two of them wiped the sweat from their foreheads breathed a sigh of relief. The eyes that looked at Jing Yue were even more convicted.
A soft armor was placed on the stall in front, a low-grade spiritual weapon, and six black boxes were placed in front of the armor. Jing Yue scanned with his divine consciousness but couldn’t see anything.
Presumably, the box was engraved with a formation to prevent prying eyes from divine consciousness.
“Jin-shimei seems determined to win. You must have prepared a lot of spirit stones, right?”
In front of the stall, a male cultivator seemed to be smiling, while the Jin-shimei he spoke about was a woman dressed lavishly. The woman wore several Sumeru Rings on her hands, and even the hairpin on her head and clothes on her body were spiritual weapons.
The woman smiled slightly. “This soft armor is just a low-grade spiritual tool, worth 30 or 40 thousand spiritual stones at most. How much can I prepare? As for Liu-shixiong, I heard that you’d recently taken on a special task and made a lot of money, right? Buying a spiritual weapon is more than enough.”
The man twitched his lips without answering.
At this time, the stall owner opened several boxes, but they were empty inside. He showed the boxes inside and out again, and said, “Everyone, let’s start now.”
As soon as the voice fell, the man, the woman, and another four people took a box each, stuffed a piece of paper into it, sealed the box, and put it back in place.
Jing Yue had never seen such a method in his memory, and said curiously, “What are they doing?”
Unfortunately, Zheng Bai and Gu Xia, who had just arrived, were also at a loss.
“This is secret bidding, a major feature in our academy’s bazaar. Apparently, it’s created by Luo-zhenjun.”
Wang Xiaoli, who had just tried to recommend himself as a guide, appeared out of nowhere and explained, “For each secret auction, the stall owner will prepare a different number of auction items, and then prepare a few boxes. Customers only need to put their own estimate of the bidding item into the box, and the stall owner will open the box in tandem. The highest bidder gets the item, while the loser has to pay 10% of the appraisal to the stall owner.”
Jing Yue was startled. “Are you still here?”
Wang Xiaoli smiled and narrowed his eyes. “Aren’t I waiting to serve you?”
Jing Yue was amused. “I get it. Everyone who participates in the secret auction wants to buy the auction item at the lowest price. Not only do they have to estimate the price of the item itself, but also guess the price that others would bid, and strive to only bid a little more than them, and become the highest bidder.”
“Exactly!” Wang Xiaoli's eyes rolled around. “I think Jin Baozhu will definitely get the spiritual tool this time. She comes from Ruyi Merchant and since young, she was trained to watch and observe others, and can easily predict the outcome.”
Zheng Bai took a deep breath. “Ruyi Merchant? Is it the Ruyi Merchant that sells talismans across the World of Seven Continents?”
Reality proved that Wang Xiaoli’s guess was very accurate. After the stall owner opened the box, Jin Baozhu received the spirit weapon at the price of 32,100 spirit stones, 100 more than the second-ranked Liu-shixiong. The latter was so angry that he left in a huff after handing in the spirit stones.
Jing Yue stroked his chin. “Interesting.” He said to Wang Xiaoli again, “You’re also very interesting. Come with us.”
Wang Xiaoli grinned broadly. “Okay, sure!”
Jing Yue, “Are there other interesting things in the market?”
Wang Xiaoli, “Yes, there’s another way to try your luck. Do you want to explore?”
Jing Yue did not ask much but said directly, “Lead the way!”
Wang Xiaoli led them through the streets and alleys. On the way, Jing Yue asked, “If I want to set up a stall, what should I do?”
“You must first go to the market management guild to register, and pay the 5 spirit stones booth fee every day,” Wang Xiaoli said. “By the way, if you sell specialty items, you can pay another 5 spirit stones and hang it on the market list.”
“There’s a collection list at all the entrances of the market, which display the function of the goods and the exact location of the stall owner so that people in need can find you faster. It’s also regarded as a public announcement.”
Jing Yue nodded thoughtfully.
During the chat, they have reached a stall.
As soon as the stall owner saw them, he immediately said enthusiastically, “Oh, fresh faces. Are you here for the first time? Xiaoli, why don’t you introduce us?”
Wang Xiaoli simply said, “They are juniors from the Starlodge class, here to try their luck. Jiang-shixiong, don’t try to cheat them, okay?”
Jiang-shixiong, “What are you talking about? Don’t you know who I am? I’ve always been fair and just, a trustworthy stall owner.”
Wang Xiaoli smiled, turned to Jing Yue, and said, “Look at the ten wooden boxes on the stall. Every box is full of different things, such as spirit stones, pills, spiritual grass, and all kinds of precious materials. Of course, there could be junk and rubbish from nowhere too.”
Jing Yue took a closer look, and sure enough, the contents of each box were almost overflowing.
Wang Xiaoli, “But what we see is only the appearance. We don't know what’s exactly in the box. Maybe there are boxes full of rubbish under the pills and spiritual herbs, or maybe there is a box of treasures under the pile of junk. Of course, it’s also possible that what you see is what you get.”
“In short, it costs 100 spirit stones for one box. Whether you make a gain or loss, it depends on your luck.”
Jing Yue released his divine consciousness reflexively but found that there was also an array that prevented snooping.
He smiled and said, “This is also quite interesting, but how many of the ten boxes are worth more than one hundred spirit stones?”
Wang Xiaoli, “Five of those boxes will make you lose money, three will be equal to what you paid, but if you choose the remaining two, it’d be a steady profit.”
Jing Yue turned around and asked Zheng Bai and Gu Xia, “Do you want to try?”
Zheng Bai said self-consciously, “It’s too expensive. Besides, the chances are too small.”
Gu Xia also shook his head.
Jing Yue, “I’ll give it a try.”
Jiang-shixiong immediately boasted, “Today, some of these boxes contain 10 Hundred-turn Pills, as well as Five Element Stones that can be used to refine magical tools.”
Jing Yue stared at him with a light smile that immediately made the stall owner feel as if he was being stared at by a wolf, but this junior’s smile was obviously so pure and innocent.
“I want this.”
Jing Yue pointed at the third box to the left, which was filled with black stones.
At that moment, a flash of joy flashed across Jiang-shixiong's face. He knew very well in his mind that this was the lowest value of the ten boxes, and it contained only some ash from plants.
Gu Xia perceived his expression and hinted to Jing Yue, “Why don’t you look at other boxes?”
Jing Yue shook his head, feeling a little excited, but on the surface, he said calmly, “No, I want this one.”
With that said, he handed over 100 spirit stones.
“Okay!” Jiang-shixiong took the spirit stones, secretly rolled his eyes at Gu Xia, and then waited to appreciate Jing Yue's disappointed expression after opening the box.
When he saw that the box was full of plant and wood ashes, a booing noise rang all around him. Jiang-shixiong deliberately said with regret, “Alas, this junior is not very lucky today, so he didn’t choose the box containing the Hundred-turn pills and five-element stones. Do you want to try again?”
Jing Yue smiled and said, “No, there is nothing better than the Celestial Sandstone.”
Jiang-shixiong was taken aback. “Celestial sandstone?”
Jing Yue picked out a piece of black stone, chanted the spell, and then crushed the stone with great force, revealing the jade that sparkled with silver light inside.
“Isn’t that it?”
It turned out that Jing Yue had noticed right from the start that there were celestial sandstones covered under the black stones.
The so-called celestial sandstone was actually a kind of meteorite that fell from the heavens, full of spiritual energy and could be refined into cinnabar, which was especially used for talisman-making.
In his previous life, a piece of celestial sandstone the size of a fingernail sold for tens of thousands of spiritual stones, enough to inscribe ten thousand talismans. And the celestial sandstone in the black stone was the size of a fist, the price comparable to a precious artifact.
However, there was a restriction on the black stone, which concealed the aura of the celestial sandstone, keeping it hidden under dust and gravel.
“Celestial sandstone? What’s that?”
Many onlookers had never heard of it.
Jing Yue spoke in detail, always looking at Jiang-shixiong with a smile during the process, and the provocation almost made him pass out.
Zheng Bai swallowed. “In other words, Laozu used 100 spirit stones and bought an item worth a million spirit stones?”
He was so surprised that he even mentioned the honorific title out of habit.
Jing Yue, “It’s all thanks to Jiang-shixiong.”
Seeing that Jiang-shixiong was so suffocated that his eyes had turned bloodshot, Jing Yue wickedly gave Wang Xiaoli a handful of spirit stones and said, “You’ve worked hard today.”
“Thank… thank you.” Wang Xiaoli was so excited that he stammered. Holy moly!
Gu Xia and Zheng Bai were also very excited, their eyes almost sparkling with stars as they stared at Jing Yue—the Laozu had great foresight, as expected of the Laozu indeed!
“Hey, isn’t he that Lao… Jing-shidi of Frostcloud Sect?”
“It’s him! I saw him on the day of admission to the academy. It was really spectacular! With him in Frostcloud Sect, their position can be stabilized for several generations. All the other sects that are waiting to make a move, I’m afraid…”
“Hehe, some schools are really daydreaming.”
“So it’s him. No wonder.”
Many people understand it as soon as they hear the name Jing Yue. Nowadays, few people in the cultivation world don't know this name, but most didn’t recognize the face.
Everyone's discussion was quite loud. Jing Yue felt a little embarrassed and quickly tried to retreat with the rest.
At this time, Jiang-shixiong also realized the situation and glared at Wang Xiaoli angrily. The latter felt wronged. He only found out about it too!
Jiang-shixiong wanted to stop Jing Yue, but the stall was instantly surrounded by a crowd, clamoring to buy his remaining boxes.
Everyone hoped that they could pick up a bargain like Jing Yue’s celestial sandstone too—what if there were more?
Jiang-shixiong wanted to cry without tears. Although his business was unprecedentedly good, why did he feel so indignant?
After that, because there was a group of people who wanted to pick up a steal and followed Jing Yue around, he was really in no mood to stroll about anymore, so he simply asked Wang Xiaoli to take him to the market management guild.
After registration, Jing Yue spent another five spirit stones to be listed on the market collection list, and the product profile he filled in was a Light-body Talisman, float ten feet above the ground, one step ten feet away, on sale tomorrow evening.
The female cultivator in charge of the registration first glanced at the information randomly, then suddenly raised her head and said with a weird expression, “We have rules here. If the item on sale is not the same as described on the collection list, customers can lodge a complaint against you. At that time, not only do you have to pay compensation to the customer, but also accept punishment from the guild.”
In the first few years when the bazaar was established, some stall owners used false gimmicks to attract the flow of customers and led to chaos in market management. Later, the guild enforced this rule.
The female cultivator thought Jing Yue was doing the same, so she reminded him.
“I see, thank you,” Jing Yue said. “Rest assured, I’m not lying nor exaggerating.”
Seeing his insistence, the female cultivator shook her head, gave him the number plate of the booth, and entered the description of the light-body charm into the collection list. When she looked up again, Jing Yue was gone.
“Really, why doesn’t he listen to me? I must punish him severely tomorrow.”
She muttered, and someone next to her asked, “What’s the matter?”
The female cultivator pointed at the information that was just entered, and the other party looked at it and sneered, “Let him be. He’d regret it soon enough.”
Another chubby cultivator also came over for a glance before saying, “Maybe it’s true?”
The first two snorted. “How is that possible? Either he’s deliberately making trouble, or he’s delusional. There’s no other possibility.”
The chubby cultivator said, “But the person who just registered is the patriarch of Frostcloud Sect. Don’t you recognize him?”
The two of them choked immediately and dared not say anything.
At the same time, the piece of news appeared on the collection list, which caused a commotion within the crowd.
“Wow, ten feet off the ground and ten feet with every step? Is this still a light-body charm? Isn’t this the Swallow Steps technique from Palace of Nine Moons?”
“Is it a wrong registration or is someone bragging up to the skies? How dare they cheat and bluff their way around? I’ll go and expose him tomorrow!”
“The other party wins if you go there tomorrow. They just want to trick you into going there. The light-body charm is just a gimmick. They are probably going to sell something else and want to attract customers first.”
“Makes sense. I’m not going. Let’s not go! Serves him right for being so smart and waste five spirit stones for nothing!”
In short, no one took it seriously.
Author’s Notes: Mini Theater
Jing-jing: Someone in the comment forum always calls you Yan Qinzhi.
Rouge: My name is Qin Yanzhi, and Yanzhi refers to a famous sword in ancient times, recorded in Guang Ya: Artifacts, and shares the same reputation as other famous swords such as Duanshe, Yuchang, Chungou, Caiyu, Shulou, Gansheng, and Moyang. Who is Yan Qinzhi?
(TN: Guang Ya is something like an encyclopedia.)