(Bonus chapters left: 1)
Dale clenched his hands, staring at the pure looking cultivator angrily. Anger welled up in his heart as he remained silent.
200,000 Shards… that was a sum Dale could not afford.
Gorgth sitting next to Dale noticed his tensing up, and looked at who Dale was glaring at, understanding the situation. He shook his head once he saw Tian Shou.
“Is this rapier particularly important to you, Dale? If so, I don’t mind lending you some Shards to help out.” Gorgth glared at Tian Shou as he spoke, making menacing gestures. Tian Shou ignored him, and continued to smirk at Dale.
“No. It’s fine. Let him waste his wealth on it.” Dale’s opinion of Gorgth rose again. For Gorgth to offer to help him bid against Tian Shou for a simple weapon, it was somewhat unexpected. Clearly, the barbaric looking cultivator had a kind side as well as his outrageous fighting spirit.
Dale wanted the rapier, but, seeing as it wasn’t infused with a Profound Beast Core, it obviously wouldn’t be as useful as a real treasure. He still had his claymore, Aarsasho, after all. While he was currently limited in technique with the blade, if he could find some claymore specific sword manuals, a rare thing, he would be able to greatly improve his technique. Dale wasn’t actually sure how high quality his weapon was, only knowing that it was a treasured blade passed down among the Fallen Angels of his homeworld.
Thus, Tian Shou ender up purchasing the rapier from the set, the glowing blue and white sword taken off stage. Several other items went by without Dale’s particular interest. The materials and objects were certainly fascinating, but they weren’t something Dale required.
The auction rapidly progressed. During the time between items, and when items came by that weren’t particularly interesting, Dale talked to Gorgth, learning a bit about him.
Gorgth was a cultivator that was actually only 16 years old, younger than he looked and than what Dale thought. He cultivated a style known as the Founding Flame Art, a powerful technique where one cultivated a “Flame Soul.” This technique was similar to Dale’s own Crowning Formation Art in that it involved cultivating something in one’s soul, but in this case, instead of forming a Core, the cultivator formed a ball of fire. This flame would gradually grow, absorbing and transforming one’s entire Soul into a source of powerful flame energy. It was a very strong Art, but also one very difficult to practice that required great strength of Will.
Gorgth was at the 5th stage of this cultivation style, the highest stage being the 7th. His Soul had transformed a majority of itself into a “Flame Soul,” and he was now working on consolidating the last bits. Once he reached the 6th stage, he would naturally become a 5 Star Expert as his Soul finished its transformation and became a source of imitation natural energy. As of right now, Gorgth could be considered a half step into the 5 Star Realm, his cultivation level extremely close.
What Gorgth needed right now, to advance, was to continue fighting against powerful opponents. His cultivation style required one to temper both themselves and their soul, and Gorgth was on the hunt for this. Thus, when he heard the order from Sect Elders to investigate the nearby area of the Great Inner Sea, he had leaped at the chance to find new people to battle.
Just as Gorgth finished explaining this, and was asking Dale about his past, Dale heard an announcement that caught his ears.
“Our next lot is an item from the far east of the Great Inner Sea, the Theldon Provinces. Refined by a master smith, gathered from several rare natural formations, we have three globules of Aquamarine natural energy! This is a powerful Basic Stage natural energy, and one that is surprisingly gentle when not agitated. The globules are useful for variety of purposes, from agitated combat to cooling of weapons and tools in a smithery. The starting bid is 25,000 Shards!”
Natural energy! And a gentle kind at that! While it wasn’t the ideal type Dale was searching for, an earth type of natural energy, it was still something he could make a Law Seed out of.
Natural energy came in three stages. Basic, Mature, and Heavenly. Of the three, Heavenly natural energy could not be found naturally except in the most dangerous parts of this universe, and was extremely dangerous to be near. Mature natural energy was slightly more common than Heavenly natural energy, but also not normally found except in extremely dangerous and hazardous areas.
Basic natural energy, however, was something that could be found throughout the Great Inner Sea, and the three Continental Islands. This form of natural energy, like the other two, was exceedingly dangerous. It was powerful, frolicking energy that made up the Laws of this universe. It was, however, at its smallest, most base form, and therefore not nearly as dangerous as Mature or Heavenly natural energy.
Dale wasn’t bothered by this, however. As long as one nurtured the Seed of energy they gained and matured it into a tree, the energy would naturally grow stronger. He could evolve it from a Basic level to a Heavenly level, given enough time.
Dale spent a second staring at the three globules in shock before calming down, controlling his breathing. The three balls floated in the air, suspended by some mysterious technique from the auctioneer. Each of the globules was about as wide as Dale’s hand, and shimmered a gorgeous blue and green. Dale was reminded of the seashore and the ocean breeze as he looked at them.
Thinking quickly, Dale turned to his side,
“Gorgth,” Dale began, “These globules, they are something important to me. However, if I put out a bid, Tian Shou over there is sure to counter it. If I pay you the funds, would you mind bidding for it?” Dale struggled to keep his voice calm. In an attempt to help himself calm down, Dale activated his Perfect Balance, drawing energy from his Core to form a small bubble of self awareness around himself. He drew slightly from his Will, forcing himself to act natural.
Out of the corner of his eye, Dale could see Tian Shou lazily glancing down at the auction, and over at Dale’s booth balcony. The pure looking cultivator didn’t seem to be particularly interested in any of the things sold, and seemed to be taking particular pleasure in pursuing his vendetta against Dale, and more specifically Cloud.
“Sure! Not a problem!” Gorgth gave Dale a thumbs up and an easygoing grin. He reminded Dale a bit of Lei Bao at times.
“50,000 Shards!” Gorgth’s loud voice silenced the rest of the audience. Previously the bid had risen to around 29,000 Energy Shards, cultivators in the audience slowly raising the price. Gorgth, however, took action and raised the price independently to a great amount, in a similar tactic to Dale’s actions, giving everyone pause.
“Are there any other bids?” The auctioneer asked, her elderly face scanning the crowd. The blue globules of natural energy floated in the air.
Because these three globes were only at the Basic Stage level, they couldn’t be considered very rare. Normally, they would only sell for a few thousand Energy Shards. After all, as long as one was willing to visit some of the more dangerous islands in the Great Inner Sea, one could find an abundance of Basic Stage natural energy. The one thing that made them unique, however, was the fact that this natural energy was so gentle. Instead of the usual virile hostility, the floating globes were completely calm. This had the benefit of helping potential Law students form a Seed. However, the number of people that trained in Law in this universe was less than a hundredth of the number of cultivators. After all, according to Scholar Shen, only one out of every hundred thousand people had any potential in the field of Law. Very few people could get past the basic stages of studying Law, that of forming a Seed, and growing it. These two things were like giant doors that tens of thousands of people could not surpass.
Calm natural energy like the one being sold could be used for a variety of things. Because this was a water type natural energy, a gentle type like this would be used in acclaimed smithies to cool down forged weapons, or the like. It was also an ingredient for certain types of pills.
“If there are no other bids, then this set of Basic natural energy glo-“
A familiar, smooth voice rolled out from Dale’s left. Dale clenched his fists tightly, slowly turning to face the speaker.
Tian Shou. The cultivator gave both Dale and Gorgth a nod, his face expressionless save for the faint hint of a sneer.
Gorgth growled under his breath and stood up, yelling,
Tian Shou immediately responded,
Dead silence. Gorgth turned to glare at Tian Shou in rage, apparently forgetting that he wasn’t personally interested in the item he was bidding for.
“Tian Shou, you test my anger.” His voice was a rumbling timbre, deep despite his young age.
“If you have not the money to afford something, don’t bother speaking. I am not interested in conversing with a loser.” Tian Shou’s voice sounded educated and well mannered, though his words were the complete opposite. The sneer on his face only grew as he smiled at Dale and Gorgth, a sharp hint of glee in his eyes.
Dale had, after all, been part of a group that made Tian Shou lose a great deal of face. Naturally, Tian Shou decided to pursue revenge, though in a round about manner. After fighting Dale once, Tian Shou determined that Dale was not a serious threat, and left off on personally pursuing vengeance.
Tian Shou’s petty actions right now, however, were perfectly in line.
The audience down below remained quiet. Rumor of who these two figures were had rapidly spread throughout the city, and no one here wanted to provoke them. The auctioneer, however, ignored Gorgth and Tian Shou’s arguing, and asked aloud again.
“Are there any other bids?”
Tian Shou smirked at Dale and Gorgth. Behind him stood several other cultivators, all of them carefully avoiding eye contact with Gorgth. They all wore similar clothing to Tian Shou, light colored robes with gold lace.
Gorgth turned to look at Dale, an embarrassed expression on his face.
“I would help you buy it, but I didn’t actually intend on buying anything today at this auction. I’ve never been one to carry great sums on me, and only have a few thousand Energy Shards.”
Dale took a deep breath, calming himself down. He shot an expressionless glace towards Tian Shou before turning to face Gorgth, stating,
“It’s fine. I think I’m going to leave this auction for now. I’ll come pick up what my goods have sold for later.”
Though his feelings were conflicted, Dale made the decision to simply leave. It wasn’t worth getting in a fight over against this cultivator Tian Shou. Dale was several times weaker than Tian Shou at the moment. When he grew stronger, Dale made a mental promise to repay his debts. He would treat others as they treated him, this was his golden rule.
It didn’t matter that he didn’t gain the Water natural energy. In the long run, there would be more sources of natural energy that appeared, especially in other Auctions. Dale didn’t mind waiting a week or two, and he didn’t have the funds to do anything otherwise. This Tian Shou seemed obsessed with bullying him in something he couldn’t respond through, so Dale did the only thing he could, and left.
In the private booth held by Tian Shou, the cultivator glanced from the booth Dale had been in from time to time, waiting for Dale to reappear on the balcony. A few minutes after Dale left the building, a servant knocked on the door of the upper floor private booth. One of the white robed cultivators here with Tian Shou opened the door and spoke to the servant. After a moment, the servant left and the white robed cultivator moved towards Tian Shou. They talked quickly as well.
“Tian Du. Tian Yu.” Tian Shou said, snapping his fingers together. Immediately, two of the multiple white robed cultivators stepped forward. These two cultivators looked to be in their early twenties, and had similar facial features. One had bright blonde hair, while the other had dark red hair. They were both of average height, and nodded attentively as Tian Shou spoke.
“Go after the target. If you can find the opportunity, cripple him, but don’t kill him. The City Lord has made it clear that he will be aware if anyone dies in the Great Lake City. Try to make it look like an accident.” Tian Shou waved his hand lazily as he spoke, as if bored. His eyes twitched as he spoke, however, as if he was in pain. This look instantly disappeared, however, replaced by the simple smirk he donned.
“Yes Third Master.” The two white robed cultivators bowed and left the room, exiting in pursuit of Dale.
Tian Shou remained standing, looking down from the balcony towards the auction house. The lazy smirk and smile that had previously been on his face disappeared as he raised his hands to his head, massaging his temple. He stepped away from the balcony as he massaged his head, a look of intense pain crossing his face.
One of the nearly dozen remaining white robed cultivators stepped forward, an elderly man with a face so lined and weathered he looked like a plank of wood. This old man had dark blue eyes and a long grey beard, with a bald head. Right now, however, a look of concern was plastered on his face.
“Third Master… are the memories still appearing?” The old man’s voice wavered in the air as he spoke.
“Doctor.” Tian Shou turned around, looking irate. The other white robed cultivators in the booth all backed away, turning to face the outside wall as if this was something they had done before several times.
“I neither need nor want your ministrations. Do not bother me again. The only reason you are allowed near me is because of father.” The look of pain that had appeared on his face had vanished, nowhere to be seen. The familiar air of arrogance and snideness reappeared as Tian Shou stepped forward, looking down at the auction.
“Come, let’s play with Gorgth for a bit in this out-country auction, and see if anything interesting appears.”