Library of Heaven is Path
1994 Bloodsoaked Stone
"Audacious!" Elder He's face reddened in fury.
He had been the chief appraiser of this auction house for nearly a hundred years, and the artifacts that he had looked at numbered at least eight thousand. Even if his knowledge was lacking from time to time, his appraisals had never been too far off the mark. Yet, this young man was actually saying that Auction Master Wang would die within three days if he believed his words. There was no greater insult to his professionalism than this!
You are the one who is audacious! You were hired to appraise an artifact, but an error you have made ended up putting your client's life at risk. You should know the consequences of that, right?" Zhang Xuan replied coldly.
Having read through the books of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, he had learned quite a bit about the occupations in the Azure. While the appraiser occupation did not have a specific heritage, unlike the Master Teacher Continent, and there was no particular guild managing it, there were still some strict conventions surrounding the occupation.
If an appraiser made a mistake, not only would they lose their reputation, they might even be demanded to pay a huge compensation fee, which could bankrupt them. In extreme cases, the appraiser might even be dealt with through the law!
With the current situation, if someone lost their life as a result of Elder He's appraisal error, he might be stripped of his cultivation and banished from the land.
"Utter nonsense!" Hearing the words of the young man, Elder He's face warped in fury. He flung the sleeves of his robe and bellowed, "Do you know the consequences of attempting to besmirch an appraiser's reputation? I demand that you give me an explanation right now. Otherwise, even if I have to make a scene before Sect Leader Han, I'll make sure that you are severely punished for the lies you dared spout about me!"
Considering how important reputation was to appraisers, it was also a convention in the Azure that those who dared carelessly besmirch the reputation of an appraiser would be severely dealt with.
These conventions were made out of necessity for fear that the markets would fall into turmoil, so they were acknowledged by most cultivators of the Azure. As such, even a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion would have to be severely punished if he dared infringe it!
"Besmirching an appraiser's reputation?" A playful smile crept onto Zhang Xuan's lips, and he shook his head. "We'll see!"
Meanwhile, Auction Master Wang was a little conflicted about the situation before him. He could not afford to offend this young man or the esteemed Elder He, which placed him in a terribly difficult position.
"You mentioned that my teacher has erred in his appraisal, but are you able to prove it? If you can't prove me, that will leave us no choice but to suspect that you are intentionally sullying my teacher's reputation!" the guard named Yuan Qing cried out indignantly.
He was apprehensive of confronting a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, but he could not watch by the side as his teacher was being insulted by another man.
"Don't worry, that's what I'm just about to do!" Zhang Xuan chuckled softly. He turned to Auction Master Wang and asked, "Do you have any Test Rats or the like here?"
Similar to the Pill Sample Beast on the Master Teacher Continent, there were also creatures in the Azure that could be used to test the effects of certain medicine on living beings. As an auction house, there was bound to be something of the sort there for appraisal purposes.
"We do have some!" Yuan Qing was the one who replied. He looked at his teacher, and seeing the lack of reaction from the latter, he quickly backed out of the room.
Soon enough, he returned with a rabbit-like saint beast in his hand.
It was only at Saint 1-dan, which was equivalent to the strength of a powerless child in the Azure.
Seeing that what he needed had been prepared, Zhang Xuan turned to Auction Master Wang and smiled. "Pardon me, but may I trouble you to bring your sculpture out once more?"
Auction Master Wang hesitated for a moment, but he eventually followed Zhang Xuan's instructions.
Without touching the sculpture at all, Zhang Xuan took out a brush and calmly drew out a bizarre pattern in the surroundings.
Taking Zhang Xuan's actions into sight, Elder He was stunned for a moment before he suddenly burst out laughing. "Isn't that the Calming Heart Formation? You are intending to create the formation using a brush?"
He immediately understood Zhang Xuan's intentions as soon as he recognized those bizarre patterns. The latter was simply trying to construct a Calming Heart Formation on the spot to test the validity of his appraisal.
Setting up a Calming Heart Formation required formation flags and all kinds of treasures. What could mere brush and ink possibly do?
What a joke!
"The effects will be reduced through an ink formation. Otherwise, I fear that this saint beast won't even last a single breath," Zhang Xuan remarked impassively.
It did not take long for him to complete his formation, and he quickly threw his brush back into his storage ring. With a light tap, he infused his zhenqi into the Calming Heart Formation.
The brilliant light glowed from the ink formation, and it swiftly engulfed the sculpture as well, turning it into the heart of the formation. In an instant, a calming energy rippled within the perimeters of the formation.
Without a doubt, cultivating in such an atmosphere would surely enhance one's rate of cultivation significantly.
"This..." Elder He did not think that the other party would actually successfully create the Calming Heart Formation with just a brush and ink, and his eyebrows shot up in astonishment.
Even the cultivator who was the most skilled in formations there would not be able to pull off a feat like that!
Just how deep an understanding did the young man have regarding the formation, the surroundings, and the sculpture in order to pull this off? This would not have worked if there was even a single error!
At that moment, he suddenly felt an ominous premonition.
On the other hand, after the formation was activated, Zhang Xuan turned to Yuan Qing and said, "I'll have to trouble you to place the saint beast into the formation."
Yuan Qing quickly headed forward and placed the rabbit in his hand into the formation.
Under the effects of the calming energy, the slightly agitated rabbit swiftly calmed down. Soon, its eyelids drooped down, and it seemed like it would fall asleep at any moment.
"Didn't you say that the sculpture is fake?" Seeing the current state of the rabbit, Elder He harrumphed in glee.
Through his appraisal, he had deduced that the sculpture complemented well with the Calming Heart Formation, and it would accentuate its effects. Yet, this fellow accused him of lying and even claimed that doing so would place one in danger. The rabbit in the formation was proving that his words were right!
"There's no hurry, just enjoy the show!" Zhang Xuan chuckled softly as he turned around and took a seat on a nearby chair. Making himself at home, he turned to Qing Yuan and said, "Brew me a pot of tea."
Qing Yuan clenched his fists tightly
"Go on!" Elder He looked at Zhang Xuan with narrowed eyes, but he still gestured for Qing Yuan to do as the young man had said with a wave of his hand.
While he was not terribly fond of the young man before him, the latter was still a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.
At his teacher's command, Yuan Qing quickly left the room and brought a pot of tea back.
Zhang Xuan sipped on it calmly as he waited patiently. Roughly an hour later, the sleeping rabbit finally opened its eyes, and it seemed to be a little agitated.
"What's happening?" Elder He was stunned.
Under normal circumstances, any beast that was placed in the perimeter of the Calming Heart Formation would remain absolutely silent. The fact that it was starting to get a little agitated showed that something was off.
The rabbit abruptly rose to its feet, and with reddened eyes, it leaped straight toward the sculpture before it.
Crashing right into the sculpture, its stubby legs twitched a little before it finally breathed its last.
The teacup that Auction Master Wang was holding was crushed into bits as tea seeped through the cracks between his fingers.
With a livid voice, he asked, "Elder He, what's going on?"
He could almost see himself in the place of the dead rabbit in the formation. If he had really cultivated using that sculpture, that might have been his outcome.
Elder He was also stunned by the sight before him.
Nothing should have been wrong based on his appraisal. Why would such a situation occur?
There was completely no chance for the disciple from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion to have tampered with the formation under their close watch. All the latter did was draw the Calming Heart Formation.
It was true that the way in which the formation was set up was a little bizarre, but there was definitely nothing wrong with the formation.
In other words... the rabbit's death was related to the sculpture!
Seeing that Elder He did not have an answer for him, Auction Master Wang turned his gaze upon the young man in the room. "What's going on?"
You wish to know the reason?" Zhang Xuan asked with a mysterious smile.
"That's right." Auction Master Wang nodded.
This was simply too terrifying! He had paid such a hefty sum to purchase this sculpture so that he could calm his mind and dispel himself of his inner demons. Yet, such a matter actually happened instead...
Unless he made sense out of it, there was no way that he would dare use this sculpture ever again!
"If you want to know the reason, you just have to lift the sculpture up!" Zhang Xuan said.
"Alright," Auction Master Wang replied as he picked the sculpture up.
Even though the saint beast had crashed into it earlier, it did not leave the slightest scratch on it due to its overwhelming resilience.
"Lift it over your head," Zhang Xuan instructed.
Thus, Auction Master Wang lifted it even higher.
"Now, with all of your strength, smash it on the ground!" Zhang Xuan said.
"Smash it on the ground?" Auction Master Wang was stunned.
It was true that the sculpture was exceptionally resilient due to being forged of Calmheart Stone, but it would still shatter if one threw it on the ground forcefully!
This was something that he had spent a huge portion of his savings on! How could he smash it like that?
"Indeed. Don't you want to know what it is? Smash it!" Zhang Xuan replied nonchalantly as he sipped on his tea. "If you can't bear to part with it, you can take it back home and use it just as Elder He said."
Auction Master Wang's eyes twitched.
By the side, Elder He's body also stiffened up. He wanted to refute Zhang Xuan's words, but he was unable to find any words to say.
With the rabbit smashing its head against the sculpture, who would dare use it anymore?
"If you still aren't able to explain it after it's shattered, are you going to compensate Auction Master Wang for his losses?" Elder He asked.
"If I explain it, are you going to compensate Auction Master Wang?" Zhang Xuan asked.
"If your explanation makes sense, I'll admit that I have made a misjudgment and compensate him accordingly!" Elder He harrumphed.
It was only right for an appraiser to be punished if he erred in his judgement.
Very well. I'm willing to compensate for the sculpture if I am unable to explain it," Zhang Xuan replied calmly.
Gritting his teeth, Auction Master Wang threw the sculpture down with all his might.
The sculpture immediately shattered into many fragments upon impact.
But as the rock crumbled, a malicious aura gushed out from within, causing the crowd to shudder a little.
Elder He quickly lowered his head, only to see that the shattered portion were crimson in color. His face immediately drained of color as realization struck him.
"This is... Bloodsoaked Stone?"
Bloodsoaked Stone was known to appear on battlefields or places where massacres had occurred. Over time, as fresh blood seeped into the stone, a tremendous amount of killing intent would be accumulated in a single place.
More importantly, it was shrouded by the malicious intent of vengeful spirits. Putting aside coming into proximity with it, the malicious intent could even afflict others from a distance. Carelessness could easily lead to one's cultivation going berserk, and in even more extreme cases, there were those who lost their rationality and eventually went insane.
Bloodsoaked Stone could be said to be the exact opposite existence of Calmheart Stone.
He had been certain that the sculpture before him was forged out of Calmheart Stone, so why would it suddenly turn into the former after it was shattered?
Elder He immediately found himself completely dumbfounded.