After a long while inside the Hidden Fortune Room, Han Li eventually decided to put the Weeping Soul Beast inside his storage pouch while it was still inside the golden bubble. Then, he walked out and shrunk the Hidden Fortune Room back to its original size.
After he went back to the main hall, he returned the room to the middle-aged woman before heading out to the plaza.
At that moment, it was already afternoon and there were nearly half as many cultivators as before. They were all heading in a peculiar stone building to participate in the auction. Without another thought, he moved to join them.
A white-robed cultivator standing at the entrance of the auction saw Han Li and greeted him with a salute, "Fellow Daoist, to prevent too many idle spectators, we are charging three spirit stones to participate in the auction."
Han Li smiled and silently pressed his hand against his storage pouch before handing over three spirit stones to the white-robed cultivator. The cultivator smiled back and gave him a palm-sized jade plate, allowing him to enter.
Han Li glanced at the jade plate as he walked through the entrance of the building and saw that it had engraved "two hundred and forty-three" in silver letters. Aside from that, there was nothing else remarkable.
After walking through a sixty-meter-long passageway, he came across four cultivators guarding a door that shined with white light. When they saw Han Li arrive, they all silently examined him with expressionless faces.
Han Li ignored them and walked past them, opening the gate and entering the main hall.
He then heard a loud man's voice saying, "Five-hundred-year-old Phoenix Tail Flower, seven hundred and ninety spirit stones. Is there anyone bidding any higher? No? Then this spirit herb goes to Fellow Daoist One Hundred Thirty. In a moment, please go to the back and pay the spirit stones for the medicine herb."
Han Li clearly saw over two hundred people sitting in the hall. Each of them was sitting in front of a table and had placed down their jade plate on top of it, clearly revealing the shining silver numbers on top of it.
In front of the stone hall, there was a blue-robed middle-aged man with an imposing appearance. As he was speaking, he was holding open a jade box with a bright purple flower inside of it.
The one who purchased this medicine herb was a fat old man. When he saw the middle-aged man verify the winning bid, he stood up with a happy expression and walked over to the side door as if he couldn't wait to acquire it.
Han Li looked at the scene with indifference and walked over to a nearby empty seat.
He sat down in a chair made of pure white stone. It's jadelike appearance and its warm sensation had aroused a bit of interest from Han Li.
"This is..." Han Li pondered for a moment, recalling the stone materials in his memory only to find that he hadn't seen this material before. His lips faintly curled from his surprise.
"Fellow Daoist, is this your first time seeing Warmstone?" He suddenly heard a woman's voice with a faint giggle.
"Warmstone?" He turned his head to the side and saw two young female cultivators who resembled each other so strongly they could be sisters. One of them was wearing yellow clothes and the other green clothes, but both of them were indisputably outstanding beauties. The one who spoke was the closer of the two and was wearing green. She found it silly how Han Li touched the table.
"Little sister, don't speak out of turn," the yellow-clothed woman quickly said, "Fellow Daoist, please don't take offense. My younger cousin had just come out from the clan and her words are still rash. I hope you'll forgive her."
'Youngster cousin? They're not sisters by blood?' Han Li thought with surprise. But for the two to reach Foundation Establishment stage at such a young age, they clearly had exceptional aptitudes.
With that thought, he smiled and casually said, "It's alright. I've only heard of Warmstone before but this is the first time I've seen it. Does Fellow Daoist know about this item in detail? It can't be a common material or else I would've heard of it before, despite having cultivated in the wilderness all this time."
"Warmstone is completely different from the material known as Warm Jade," the yellow-clothed woman explained with a smile, "It isn't strange for Fellow Daoist to not know of it as it is a material rarely found in other places. It is only present here because it is a specialty of the Snowmound Mountains. But apart from being warm to the touch and exceptionally white, there is nothing else notable about it. But of course, it is far more valuable that the common jade found in the mortal world."
"So it was like that. Many thanks for your explanation." Han Li nodded with understanding and then his expression blanked as he turned to look at the middle-aged man auctioning a top-grade magic tool.
His actions had caused the green-clothed woman to narrow her eyes and curl her lips, betraying a trace of disdain. Just as she was about to say something else, her older cousin shot her a stern glance, causing her to keep her mouth shut.
Han Li completely ignored this and was calmly looking up at the magic tools and spirit herbs being auctioned.
Although the auction was certain to be somewhat lacking considering that it was hosted by local clans, he paid particular attention to it as there was a vast difference in prices between the Great Jin and the Heavenly South. It would serve as preparation for when he would search for rare materials.
After some calm observation, he came to the conclusion that regardless of whether they were spiritual herbs or magic tools, they were significantly more expensive than they were in the Heavenly South. The rarer items were particularly costly.
He came to realize that although the Great Jin was over ten times larger than the Heavenly South, they attracted a far greater number of cultivators considering their complete legacies. This caused a severe lack of magic tools and medicines in comparison to the Heavenly South.
Conversely, it could also be said that the Great Jin was abundant with resources and would have many rare materials that would never be seen in the Heavenly South and even the Scattered Star Seas. In this auction alone, there were a few medicines and tool materials that he didn't know of.
This was much to Han Li's joy. It appeared that if he paid a visit to the many high-grade market cities in the Great Jin, there was the possibility of acquiring the few rare materials he needed.
Just as he thought this, the blue-robed middle-aged man on the stage called out to bring out the next item — a tray with three deep-red gems on it. The gems shined with a flicking light similar to a blazing flame. It was rather eye-catching.
"Three Firesmelt Crystals," the middle-aged man announced with a smile, "An ideal material for refining top-grade fire-attribute magic tools. Fellow Daoists, the bid will now start at five hundred spirit stones."
Han Li took a casual glance at them and was about to turn his eyes way, but the crystals then caught his eyes and he let out a yelp.
Monarch Soul Divergence's voice lazily sounded out from the back of his mind, "Youngster Han, from your reaction, it seems those gems have caught your attention."
"Gems? It seems there are times that even Senior can be mistaken." Han Li sent out the voice transmission with a chuckle and announced a bid for six hundred spirit stones.
"What? There isn't anything particular about these gems. Although my cultivation is gone, my spiritual sense remains. I don't believe I'm mistaken." Monarch Soul Divergence said with a doubtful tone.
With a strange voice, Han Li replied, "My experience may still be lacking, but I would dare to say there are few in this world that have more experience in demon beast cores than me."
"This has something to do with demon cores?" Monarch Soul Divergence was stunned from hearing the confidence in Han Li's voice. Were it not for the many years he spent with him, he would've believed Han Li to be confused.
After a moment of silence, Monarch Soul Divergence continued, "Since you're certain, there must be some reasoning behind it, but I cannot bring myself to believe that there is something strange about those Firesmelt Crystals before I have the evidence. Needless to say, I'm not the only one who didn't see anything strange about the gems, even the auction appraisers couldn't find anything exceptional about them, and they are vastly experienced in dealing with rare items."
After hearing Monarch Soul Divergence's words of doubt, Han Li smiled and declared a higher bid, forcing the competing bidders to back down.
Happy that the gems were sold for a high price, the middle-aged man glanced at the number on Han Li's jade plate and loudly shouted, "Eight hundred spirit stones! The three Firesmelt Crystals go to Fellow Daoist Two Hundred and Forty-Three! Please head to the back of the hall to pay for the item."
When Han Li heard this, he took his jade plate and walked to the side hall.
There was a white-robed Qi Condensation cultivator waiting for him there. When he saw Han Li arrive, he immediately led Han Li to a small waiting room in the rear hall. A moment later, a servant girl brought him a cup of tea before departing.
Han Li glanced at the cup of tea and left it alone as he calmly examined the room.
Soon, a bald old Foundation Establishment cultivator walked in with a beaming smile.
"I am truly ashamed we kept you waiting for so long. Please take a look and see if this is the item you bidded on!" After he said this, he handed a jade box over to Han Li.
Han Li promptly opened the jade box and found three crystals blazing with red light.
With a calm expression, he carefully examined them and remained silent for a long while.
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