It was no wonder that the Aristocratic Hall was selling such a high quality product. After all, this generation's 'Wine God' Song Shang had carefully fermented this 'Heavenly Wine'!
Even though Song Shang himself hadn't said anything, or admitted to fermenting the wine himself, everyone present couldn't help but think that he had. Song Shang was considered a formidable Sky Xuan hit-man, and was famous for his prowess as a warrior. However, Song Shang's identity as the 'Wine God' was how people had truly etched his character in their hearts.
Several maids started to move about. Each of them was pushing a huge trolley. And each of these trollies each had twelve small… wine glass.
These wine glasses… were nearly one of the smallest wine glasses available. However, it was still extremely exquisite since it was made of silver. Moreover, they looked extremely delicate — like a cicada's wings since its whole body seemed to sparkle.
Besides looking pleasant, these cups made of pure silver also assured people that the wine wouldn't be poisonous since poison would change color on coming in contact with silver. People could drink good wine without a worry on their minds since it would be completely safe.
Three wine glasses were placed on each table. Then, several maids arrived with wine bottles, and started pouring some wine very carefully so as to not spill even half a drop. The cold and extraordinary wine gurgled like a river as it was poured out of the bottes' snout and filled the wine glasses. The hall was covered with an even stronger fragrance as the wine flowed into the glasses. Everyone looked at the glasses in front of them. Many of them, regardless of their status or wealth, could not stop their mouth from watering.
"The main item for this auction is a wine which has never been seen in the mainland — the Heavenly Class Wine! We request everyone to first try the wine. That way, you will all be aware of what is at stake during the bidding," Song Shang's raised voice shook the audience in the hall. Naturally, he was very different from Tang Yuan. It seemed as if a deep and still-lake was standing on the stage as the prominence of a Sky Xuan's demeanor exuded from his body language.
"After trying this wine, I am convinced that everyone will realize that it is a spiritual commodity, and a priceless treasure; no expenses incurred and no price paid will be too much for this wine. It will all be worth it as long as one gets possession of this marvel," Song Shang waved his hand.
Everyone had already started coveting this 'never before seen' glorious wine. They impatiently lifted their wine glass as they inwardly cursed the stingy Aristocratic Hall for the small finger-sized cups provided for tasting.
"Everyone must be thinking that these glasses are too small; that they are not big enough to drink properly," Song Shang spoke in an unhurried manner. "I would like to solemnly admit that in this regard… this Hall is guilty. However, I beseech everyone to think — if everyone drank this wine as much as they could, would they be able to truly cherish this 'Heavenly Wine'? Moreover, would you all pay a high price for such wine then? This selfishness is necessary to curtail the greed which would violate this spiritual commodity!"
The guests were all fairly experienced in the ways of life. However, they didn't understand the importance of that line, and therefore, dismissed it with a laugh.
All of them toasted, and then drained their glasses as they laughed. Princess Ling Meng didn't drink her cup; she didn't like drinking in general. Anyway, she wouldn't dare to drink without getting prior permission. The two black clothed men sitting behind her were quite intimidating. So much so, that mere thought of overstepping her boundaries in front of them was enough to terrify her. If it weren't for their orders, she would've already left. Therefore, she had no choice but to pass the wine glass behind to the two men while giving them a disdainful look. Now these two men had three glasses in between themselves.
The two black clothed men behind her were getting somewhat impatient; so much so that they practically on the verge of snatching the glasses. They drained their glasses in one gulp as soon as they received it. The wine left these two men somewhat emotional after entering their bellies. These men had drunk wine from all over the land, but they never had the good fortune to appraise such a high quality commodity. The desire to continue drinking was strong in both of them. They both looked at the remaining glass simultaneously, and then looked at each other; neither was willing to yield.
Young Master Jun figured that the two men in black clothes who had accompanied Princess Ling Meng weren't ordinary. One of those two people was 'that man.' However, if that were true, who in all of Tian Xiang could be considered his equal? Who wouldn't yield in front of him? Who was that other man?!
"… " Unexpectedly, the crowd fell silent after taking the first gulp.
Then there was a sudden sound a while later. In the midst of this silence, a robust barreled-shaped man shouted as he stood up. His voice was full of emotion as he groaned joyously. There was a hint of a queer smell about him.
Everyone turned to the source of the sound, and noticed a man of barely forty years with a bewitched color spread across his face. He had put his hand on his cup, and had suddenly jumped to stand up. There was a foolish gaze on his face as he raised his head and said, "You truly deserve to be called the 'Wine God' after fermenting this mysterious wine. Many of us have toppled after having just one cup. Tell me, when will the auction begin? What is the base price? It does not matter how much money is required, for this head of the family will take back at least ten jars of this wine!"
The big man who had just stood up was actually Tian Xiang City's foremost salt merchant. He was also the head of Tian Xiang City's Chamber of Commerce; Zhao Meng Long.
Though this man's words seemed very vulgar, but everyone refused to reprimand him since they felt like doing the same. Hence, they all nodded in agreement. If it weren't for them being dukes, chancellors and members of great families, none of them would have constrained themselves from saying what they really wanted to.
Only Dugu Wudi, who was sitting on the second row, shouted with a string of dark expression across his face, "Sit down! Speak in accordance to your surroundings! Making a big fuss like that, what's next?! Don't you see the people around you?! Do you think this is an aristocrat mannerism?" Dugu Wudi was very anxious and depressed.
The great general Dugu had come here for several reasons. One of his intentions was to show his support to Jun Wu Yi. However, his real intention had been to witness Jun Mo Xie getting humiliated. He wanted to beat him, and settle the bet that very same day. [One bottle for over ten thousand taels? What a joke! He really is very crafty if he can sell it at such a price. I will win this bet anyhow; that's for sure.]
Who knew that at this point ten thousand silver taels for a bottle of wine wasn't going to be considered expensive. Not only would the wine be sold for that much, but the price will far exceed the original amount. Also, because of the successful sale, he would end up with a debt of twenty five million silver taels. Life was indeed very unpredictable!
How could General Dugu not be depressed? Even if he decided to erase his conscience for this once, it still wouldn't get him out of his problem. Moreover, he had disturbed the meeting of so many people at present. He inclined his head and narrowed his eyes as he angrily looked towards the room where the uncle-nephew duo of Jun Mo Xie and Jun Wu Yi were sitting. [Wouldn't those two be laughing uncontrollably at me right now?]
Zhao Meng Long hiccupped as he sat down cutting a sorry figure. Although he was very powerful merchant in Tian Xiang City, he wouldn't dare to argue with the head of the well-known 'rude and unreasonable' family. He kept the already empty cup down as he sat. Then, he drained the other two cups on his table and gave a profound and satisfied sigh.
His face was full of happiness.
Dugu Wudi turned his head and saw his treasured daughter smiling. Her face was adorned in a happy and satisfied expression as she looked at her own father's expression; it was almost as if she was taking delight in his misfortune. He couldn't help but snort and threaten, "If you smile like that again, I will start arranging marriage interviews for you from tomorrow!"
Dugu Xiao Yi's laughter suddenly ceased. Her big shining eyes filled with anger, and her pretty face became dark. She turned her head as she panted in rage. She then looked-back at him as she spoke with an angry frown on her face, "Humph! Look at yourself. Are you scared that you are going to lose? Humph! Such a huge debt… I would like to see how you pay it back. You won't be able to pay back twenty five million silver taels even if you sell everything we have. "
Dugu Wudi was extremely infuriated by this, and rambled, "What pay back? Your father has plenty of means! You say that even if your father sells everything, he won't be able to pay the debt off? Is it really that huge a sum? If I truly don't have the money, then I will use my daughter to make that boy my son-in-law. That ought to make up for the debt, and make you happy, right? Humph!"
Dugu Xiao Yi's pretty face became red as she got up to leave in defiance. With a look of utmost disdain, she shouted, "I do not want that! Who would cherish that?!"
She was both angry and anxious. Although she liked Jun Mo Xie, she didn't want to be given to him as a stake in a bet. In that sort of condition… how would her beloved give her any respect?
She suddenly started tearing up. Her eyes started glistening with tears as she stamped her foot. She then turned her tiny waist away without paying attention to her father, and tears continued to fall.
Dugu Wudi was at a loss because he had forgotten to mind himself, and had disrupted things. He hurried to console her. All of the seven 'Heroes and Legends Bravely Rushing Forward' could not attend due to the limited seating. Therefore, only Dugu Ying Yi had been brought along. He was initially laughing at the joke, but was soon found himself kicked on his buttocks.
"Won't you go down?" Jun Wu Yi asked his nephew.
"I feel that something isn't right," Jun Mo Xie frowned and pointed his finger, " 'That man' has arrived. Moreover, he has also brought someone along with him. It's better if I don't invite unnecessary trouble. Therefore, I plan to act cautiously."
"Oh?" Jun Wu Yi's body shook.
"I think everything will be alright," Jun Mo Xie laughed mischievously. "I am convinced that Tang Yuan and Yang Mo can handle this matter. I will only make an appearance at a critical point."
Jun Wu Yi smiled knowingly, but puckered his brows, "I fear that the knowledge of your strength will spread sooner or later. They will all… eventually come to know of it."
Jun Mo Xie agreed and shook his head, "Therefore, we should rush to develop our Family's strength in such a way that no would dare provoke us. This way, no one will be able to do anything even when they find out. After all, only the strength which does not diminish is the most powerful of all — money."
Meanwhile, Song Shang had praised the many interesting qualities of this wine, and had now withdrawn to the side. Song Shang, the 'Wine God', had spoken well since he clearly understood the flavor of the wine. And though his explanation fell short of Jun Mo Xie's, everyone who heard it was now reluctant to leave. In fact, they all wanted to dabble with that good wine. Their hearts had started beating much faster, while the atmosphere had reached a new height of excitement.
Now, as his role as the auctioneer, it was Tang Yuan's time to take to the stage.
"The auction of the 'Heavenly Wine' formally begins! The base price of each bottle is ten thousand silver taels. The price can increase consistently since there will be no upper limit. And because of the limited quantity of this excellent wine, each table can take back fifty bottles at most. Yet, there may be many who won't get this wine," Tang Yuan energetically made the announcement.
"May I venture to ask what this auctioneer Tang… meant when he said that many will not receive this wine?" Many people asked impatiently as Tang Yuan's voice faded.
"It has no special meaning. Only that, Mr. Song has spent his entire lifetime travelling all over the mainland to collect the best quality materials. He has used all of it to brew this wine; nothing more. There isn't any more of this high quality wine left. Therefore, this is the first and the last auction of this 'Heavenly wine'!" Tang Yuan sighed.
"Only this one time...!" everyone cried in alarm. They all looked at each other in dismay; [this excellent wine will go permanently out of stock today?]