Several hours later, when Xin Fu came to them with less nefarious intent than before and knocked on their door, the merchant’s wife found the two of them sitting side by side, with Wei Yi’s arm embracing Shun Liu Min, with the two of them looking at a small tome produced from killing will.
Judging by the way that the maid was pointing to things on the pages and asking questions about them, while Wei Yi was quietly whispering answers into her ear – occasionally resulting in subtle gasps and blushes from the maid – Wei Yi appeared to be teaching the other something, although both of them spoke quietly enough while Xin Fu was outside of the room and essentially stopped when she entered, so she wasn’t able to understand much. The book itself was also unreadable from her position, even with spiritual perception, to the point that she questioned whether they were just putting on an act.
Both of them were in a presentable state, almost making her think that they had not done anything explicit together, until she noticed that Shun Liu Min’s hair had been tied into a ponytail at some point, and that there was a faint yet strong scent in the air that an experienced voyeur like she was able to recognise easily.
“How have you been finding the residence?” Xin Fu asked, pretending that this had been the first time that she had returned to the proximity of the room.
“Very nice. The lights produced by the arrays above us make it very easy to read, unlike certain artificial lights that are occasionally in use in large residences,” Wei Yi replied, talking in a similar manner, “I have noticed that some of your inscriptions require improvement and renewal. Some of them are close to being worn away entirely, and the protective inscriptions amongst them would endanger you quite significantly if someone was to notice.”
“I see. I will tell my husband about that the next time we speak. Other than that?”
“Is that the only thing that you want to talk about, or has the timing of the auction finally been decided?”
“It has, but… No, never mind. Would you to go and visit the auction at this time?”
“You aren’t very good at answering questions when your kink hasn’t been satisfied, are you? Look, Xin Fu, just tell me when the auction is happening, where it is, and whether there is something that I need in order to be permitted entry and a place to sit.”
The merchant’s wife froze for a moment, but she recovered quickly, and her standard smile soon filled her expression, “It will begin in an hour, although most of the sales won’t begin until midnight. The auction venue is where we had dropped off the materials on our way here, so it isn’t that far away. Finally, I believe that my husband has instructed everyone there about special guests, but just in case he forgot to include you in the hope of making you pay again, then I can lend you one of the VIP cards for now. Would you like it?”
“Obviously. From a day in his vicinity, I already know that he’ll try to charge me for entry.”
Xin Fu nodded in agreement as she took out a simple metal card with a certain inscription on it, which she passed over and lightly bowed.
“Really, though. Can’t you avoid spying on your guests?”
“My apologies, it has been quite some time since anyone had noticed… Chen Xiu has been quite busy as of the last few months, and it’s one of the only things that happen to be opportune,” the merchant’s wife explained with a melancholy smile, “Had he not been so concerned about me, I would have just spied on willing individuals, but, alas, that is not something I can do.”
“People do that openly around here? Would be a surprise elsewhere, but this is the northernmost district, after all. Do the people beyond Yi City act similarly?”
“There aren’t many visitors here from those parts, given that the relations between Yi City and them is still rather strained,” Xin Fu stated, “However, the miners of the Glass Wastes don’t really bother with any kind of privacy, no matter what they do. I’ve heard that it’s rather difficult to mine in the extreme north, and so digging out an isolated spot just to relieve themselves in any way is rather inefficient and excessive, in their eyes.”
“That much I can imagine… How soon is entry to the auction going to be permitted?”
“Right now, if you wish. My husband has simply reserved an unoccupied time at the venue which would have gone on, nonetheless. I’d explain, but I am not too familiar with it. Someone there will likely do a better job,” she said, retreating by a step, “Now, I shall go. Sorry for disturbing you.”
Wei Yi and Shun Liu Min watched her leave – and leave the door open – for a while before turning to one another.
They truly had gotten their share of action just now, although they did not risk taking the planar energy pills due to the potential consequences of Wei Yi’s breakthroughs. In this case, there would be three consecutive breakthroughs that would all escalate in severity, from the standard step up to the next realm, then one for the perfected stage, and yet another for a perfected realm, and if any of them had a similar effect to the bloodline breakthrough, that would destroy the district.
To be fair, that would be a slight exaggeration, as all of the districts had a series of defensive measures put in by the Master of Yi City to prevent them from falling to natural causes, so even if she managed to crack the earth and scatter some buildings, it wouldn’t suffer as much as the countryside.
Still, obliterating a part of the district, no matter how insignificant, would earn her quite a lot of bad will from the people of the Chao District. In the future, so long as anyone figured out that Wei Yi the Inscriber was connected to Wei Yi the Ascendant, which wouldn’t be all that difficult no matter how one went about it, that bad will would move from the fake persona onto the realm person, and depending on how much she affected by her breakthrough, it would make developing an alliance with the district all that much more challenging. For the moment, she was mostly certain that she could enter into a friendly relationship with the district due to her mastery of physiques and body cultivation, but that could be made very challenging at any time.
It would be especially difficult if the desert fortress of the Master of Yi City was being used in some way by the district, whether by the common people or the patriarch himself.
At that point, if she ‘stole’ the fortress from them, even if she had the endorsement of the mother of the Master of Yi City, damaged the district, and then attempted to lure them in with her techniques and understandings, they might get rather angry at her actions and attempt to lash out at her due to it, possibly even turning to the Great Families instead.
This would not be ideal in the slightest and might even necessitate an alliance with one of the other districts or some major outside faction in order to take over the district and take its resources and experts for herself in the upcoming inevitable conflict. She’d prefer not to do that in most cases.
The only one time when she would readily attack a district and replace its leadership would be in the Ping District, due to the fact that the Ping family seemed to be a group of terrible individuals, or absolutely incompetent ones, perhaps even both. After their decades of rule, the district was filled with crime and it appeared to be encouraged by a part of the family, while the other sought to install some other leading groups at the cost of the people.
If they were removed, the Ping District would likely get better within just a single moment.
‘Regardless of their situation, or of any other district, I should follow my standard procedure and just travel outside for my breakthroughs. I should go out every now and then to search for the fortress myself, so it would even provide me with a perfect excuse to anyone who cares about it,’ Wei Yi thought, looking into Shun Liu Min’s glistening eyes, “Anything you want to do before going?”
“Could I get something to drink first? Something with a very strong taste, ideally,” the maid replied, taking somewhat shallow breaths with her mouth.
“You mean something with an overpowering smell, right? We can, although I suspect that teaching you some technique to suppress it would be far more efficient in the long term,” she supposed, “For now, however, I observed a store on the path to the auction house that sells several things that meet your requirements. Come on.”
They stood up, Wei Yi scattering the killing will pages containing various insights and speculations on planar energy and returning them into her meridians while putting on her black mask, and left the room, a slight awkwardness within the steps of the maid.
“Was I a little forceful?”
“No, it was… good. Very good. I’m just not used to it yet,” Shun Liu Min replied, striving to correct her walk as soon as possible so that others did not notice.
On their way out, they passed by Xin Fu again, who silently allowed them to walk by after a nod of acknowledgement towards them, but otherwise left without encountering any servants or anything else of note, not even something to temporarily borrow from them in order to make themselves look a little richer.
Despite them not having gotten out of the door just yet, Wei Yi had already come up with a few things that she wanted to do at the auction, and how she intended to make the most of the visit, and one of them wouldn’t work quite as well if she didn’t have the proper appearance and aura.
The latter was easy to fake, since she had witnessed quite a few people of the right kind and could easily replicate it so long as she didn’t need to spend more than a few hours in that state, but the former condition wouldn’t be quite satisfied by her and her maid’s current appearance. Certainly, the mask, robe, gauntlets and boots did not give off the aesthetic of a poor common woman, but if she was rich enough to throw out planar shards as payment for a cup of tea, she would have some more decorations and items on her body, even if she was very reluctant to spend money…
‘Well, with that comparison, I wouldn’t be throwing planar shards out for something that cheap, but that’s beside the point…’
The residence belonging to Chen Xiu and Xin Fu was far more tasteful than that of Ping Gangze, and thus they didn’t make their walls, floors, plates, cutlery and any random item they could with gold or even immortal gold, nor were they rich enough to possibly afford such a thing, which was an issue right now. By the time they left it, Wei Yi had not managed to find anything appropriate, and thus reached into an inner pocket and removed a golden ring and placed it onto one of the fingers on her left hand, confirming that it was harmless before retrieving a few more things to decorate herself with until she achieved just the right aesthetic.
Her maid noticed it quite quickly, but she suppressed her burning questions for now.
They got to the small shop where the aforementioned drinks with a strong but not particularly unpleasant smell were sold, purchased a pair of water-resistant paper cups containing a blue drink that resembled crushed and small pieces of ice while remaining rather easy to consume, alongside some straws, then departed and proceeded onwards.
It was certainly an interesting taste, and very sweet, but it did its primary job well enough. Shun Liu Min consumed it quickly, using her energy to endure the cold, and got through most of it before she felt confident enough to speak.
“So, what is all of the gold for, and where exactly did it come from? I’m not asking about the method of storage, but rather that I don’t recall ever seeing such things here or at ‘his’ residence.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to recognise it, but this did originate from that man’s mansion. I have just melted some of the less distinct things that I had taken, and now I have this stuff. As for the reason… well, just like you didn’t want to tell me about the striders, I would prefer you to wait and see. It will be really amusing for me, and I hope that it will also amuse you quite a bit,” Wei Yi smiled beneath her mask, causing her to ponder whether she should get a veil the next time she intended to obscure her features, so that her various enigmatic smiles could still be shown, “Just be sure not to disturb me then.”
Such an ambiguous plan did interest her quite a bit, and it was exactly what the maid herself had done just a short time ago, so she couldn’t really argue with that. It took her a little while to understand what wasn’t to be disturbed, but they were going to an auction, so it was almost certain to be something resembling poor haggling and bidding skills.
Whatever it was, she was no longer concerned that something about herself would give away their earlier activities, and since her new master was unlikely to do anything particularly stupid without a good reason behind it, Shun Liu Min had no real reason to be afraid that she would be led into a situation akin to the one she had been forced to deal with in Ping Gangze’s residence for ten years. In fact, the more she saw what Wei Yi was capable of, the more she believed that if the two of them were to get into some kind of trouble, the only time it would defeat them would be if the world itself was to turn against them.
It was an odd, likely entirely inaccurate feeling, given the fact that anyone in the sixth or seventh realm should be able to take the two of them down without much trouble, but it was still highly reassuring.
What was most important for her was that the previous situation that she had been in wouldn’t return, and although it was quite clear already that Wei Yi was not the least perverted and lustful individual out there, and could be quite scary at times, she was responsible and caring.
Perhaps Shun Liu Min wasn’t the best judge of that, seeing as her typical examples of care would be not being violently tortured for missing a speck of dust, but she knew very well that nobody in the residence of the man that had kept her for ten years would ever care to ask whether they had been too rough, or confirm that she was still alright after any particular action. It did also help that it was surprisingly enjoyable, whether she was to mean the woman’s body, the appendage that she had unintentionally granted her, or the smell of any part of her.
They got to the auction venue not long after, and while the guards truly did want to refuse entry without further action, the card given to Wei Yi by Xin Fu did get them through without further trouble.
Whatever the typical practise with those VIP cards was, they didn’t question why she had it on her nor whether the original owner would be coming over soon, and instead opened the door for them and informed them of where to go if they wished to reserve a seat in the primary auction chamber, whether in the VIP area or not. For the moment, it seemed that most seats were unoccupied, as people had better things to do than pointlessly sit around, so they would have a lot to choose from.
Once they got some distance from the guards, the maid asked, “Which seat will we get?”
“I’m glad you asked, because for this to work out best, you will need to be the one reserving it. After all, what kind of wealthy individual does their own work? Me, but that’s beside the point,” Wei Yi commented, glancing towards an attendant that they had been informed about, “Ask for a prominent seat, where I can observe the auction house in an arrogant manner… without that part, of course.”
“Got it. Since I think I understand what you’re going for, should I also act incredibly arrogant, or would that be too much?”
“Just don’t scare the poor woman. She already seems to be rather nervous.”
Shun Liu Min nodded and coughed quietly a few times, getting her voice ready for a display that she hoped wouldn’t be seen by too many, even though that was likely to be the point. While word of her would likely not get out as much as that of her current master, with her being a simple footnote in the story, she had more than enough of one group of individuals acting overly arrogant, and didn’t want to add to that number and scare a poor worker who didn’t deserve it.
As such, she hardly needed a reminder to be gentle, even if she did want to comment that her master would benefit from such a thing.
The maid walked forward with the most proud and arrogant walk she could manage without exaggerating it too far, and got right into the attendant’s face, staring down at her as obviously as she could. Although they were of similar heights, Shun Liu Min was just a little higher, making this slightly less awkward.
“You, servant! My master desires the most prestigious seat in the entire auction house. Get it for her!”
Although she had seen the maid approach, the attendant still nearly leapt back when she was shouted at. She looked between the maid – although she could hardly guess that from the light attire that Shun Liu Min wore at the moment – and her apparent master, a tall woman dressed in black and with a mask covering her face, and decided that there was only one reasonable course of action when faced with such people.
“Sure, come along, right away! Hehe… I’ll show you to the absolute best place in this entire building! Are you interested in the auction that is coming up in fifty minutes?”
“My master’s actions are none of your concern. Just lead us to a place where she may appropriately display her wealth and power to all that will attend, and do so without unnecessary chatter,” the maid demanded, glancing back at Wei Yi to make sure that she didn’t overdo anything, or do anything wrong.
It seemed that she hadn’t judging by the fact that the Ascendant had yet to do anything to stop her, and the attendant decided that it was best for her just to be quiet and get this over with as quickly as possible. She had no business inside of the auction hall anyway, so the quicker that she could bring them inside and leave, the easier it would be for her.
They were brought through the outer parts of the venue, where a number of other events and gatherings were occurring, with some using a large dining area to meet with business partners, while others had decided that they would host a small competition inside of a small fighting ring over something insignificant. It made it very clear why the place was not generally referred to as an auction house, as even the hall dedicated to auctions could likely be used for large presentations, plays, and illusory performances akin to the one that Wei Yi had witnessed in the Luo District.
Thus, to call it an auction house would be to wildly misrepresent the actual enormity of the place, as well as the sheer variety of different types of areas that existed within it.
It seemed that whoever had constructed it did so with quantity in mind, as the building contained over thirty sections, chambers and halls that all had a special purpose. For the moment, not all of them were in use, and some were blatantly being utilised for the wrong purpose, but it was still more akin to a busy marked than a regular building of any kind.
Perhaps the only place where such a level of indoor activity could also be seen would be in the Bai District, as the entire district was said to be covered in shadow, allowing for the pale skin and red eyes of the Bai family to endure the extreme sunlight. There, everything could be said to be indoors, but that wasn’t enough, most markets, arenas, stages and occasionally even gardens were constructed inside of large buildings that blocked the sun and used special inscriptions and arrays to take the sunlight and dampen it until the people and flora there could bear it. Sometimes, it was even said that the district had a large underground area that was undistinguishable from the outside due to those same methods.
Whether or not that was true, the poor attendant that they had selected brought them into the primary auction hall, which consisted of a large stage at the front and rows after rows of seats that were lowest to the ground near the stage, and towered over it at the back. In addition, numerous balconies were visible above all of those seats as well, some with curtains and others without, the seats likely being meant for VIP customers.
The attendant didn’t bother to explain this, and instead just asked, “Which seat is most to your preference?”
Wei Yi looked around, mostly for show, and then pointed to a part of the seating area.
There, the smooth ascent of seats was broken by another platform that rose from the ground, where the height of the seats was nearly at its highest despite being only near the middle of the room. The seats behind it rose at smaller intervals than those around it and created an interesting wave pattern as a direct result.
“That seat is… yes, it shouldn’t have any reservations. Just check if there is some sort of card on any part of the seat, and if not, you can sit there! Can I go now?”
Seeing Wei Yi nod subtly, Shun Liu Min affirmed, “Begone now.”
That attendant didn’t hesitate for even a moment before running off at the greatest speed that she was permitted to walk at. She had just managed to avoid one potential terrible event, and she didn’t want to get right into another one just due to being careless and reckless.
Meanwhile, Wei Yi and Shun Liu Min ascended to the seats that the former had selected, at which point the latter carefully inspected the seats by eye while the former confirmed it with spiritual perception just to be sure. So far as they could tell, there was nothing on, beneath, above, or even inside of the seat, so it didn’t seem like anybody had chosen to reserve it this time. Thus, Wei Yi sat down first, confirmed that the seat was comfortable, and seemed to reluctantly allow her servant to sit beside her.
Since it would be some time until the auction itself, the Ascendant chose to look around the hall and at some of the other people that decided to attend.
There were very others inside, and everyone that had chosen to appear at such an early time was either in the middle of a nap or were keeping to themselves and reading or examining something with their heads down. There were also quite a few cards placed onto seats that differed from the VIP card that Xin Fu had given them, so there seemed to be a card for reservations and one for personal use.
“Master, since you are here, in a prominent position, intending to participate in this auction-”
“I don’t know what you’re guessing, but as I said, keep this a surprise for yourself, and others, seeing as it is hardly impossible for people to listen in,” Wei Yi stopped her, creating an invisible and thin barrier of killing will to prevent anyone from listening in on their conversation, “Also, don’t get started with the whole ‘master’ thing. There’s already someone who won’t stop saying it, and they’re as much of a sub as you.”
“There’s someone else? Master, should I prove that I can be better than them? What would you like? Would they even be able to handle your large new-”
“You’re not serious right now, are you?”
The maid smiled, “Mostly no, partly yes. I wouldn’t mind being able to remain near you in whichever faction you’re a part of, but if there is someone else who will take care of you, then I suppose I won’t butt in unnecessarily.”
“Since when do I need to be taken care of? If you meant in the sexual way, then that wasn’t much of a problem previously, since there are quite a few out there who don’t mind sleeping around, and even if they didn’t exist, brothels are also highly common. While I won’t deny that you have a lot of experience, I’d imagine that you fall short of the vast majority.”
“Now you’re making me more and more curious about the nature of your faction. Running brothels isn’t exactly common… Are they all willing workers, by the way?”
“As willing as anyone who works, I suppose. That place did end up with several nymphomaniacs, somehow, so the vast majority of workers have some interest in the specific field, while the rest don’t really mind,” she replied, “By the way, if you haven’t figured it out already, we can’t be heard for now.”
“I figured. Talking about such things with such a degree of openness wouldn’t suit whatever it was that you were going for.”
“Depends on how you imagine an overly rich individual who has nothing better to do than throw around their money. Personally, if I ended up in such a situation, I would speak about my various sexual preferences incredibly openly, so that I could let everyone know just how much they were missing out on with their miniscule quantities of coin and pathetically small dicks.”
The maid looked over with a hint of fear in her eyes, “Uh…”
“I’m joking. People already know what I like well enough, and I don’t care whether or not someone knows that I do have an impressive member.”
“That’s true- I mean, I figured, but you have a talent for managing to make yourself look absolutely terrifying no matter you say, especially when it is something that doesn’t bring back the fondest of memories.”
“Did that man brag about such things?”
“When he believed that it would impress whichever crowd he was attempting to leave a good impression with. Somehow, people would actually be impressed by such unnecessary bragging, not to mention it only being true after he had consumed some very suspicious pills that almost certainly contained something that will lead the fucker to being an impotent cunt after few more years go by… Ahem.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve gone on worse rants, and while the other person was there to hear it. Perhaps I don’t need to mention it, but they did die soon after.”
“… Right. Do you think, perhaps, that both of us are slightly unhinged?”
“No, not both. You might be slightly unhinged, whereas I am entirely insane. I just hide it… not so well, if you and some others that I have spoken to are to be believed,” Wei Yi stated, glancing to the side, “By the way, we’re going to need to cut this chat short, and resume it eventually. Someone’s coming.”
Shun Liu Min nodded, and returned to her previous act quite quickly, certainly managing to do so before the killing will barrier came down.