By the time William caught up to Lan Yang, a heated conversation was being exchanged between him and Ning Lu… well, at least from his mentor’s side.

He did not intend to interject, so he decided to enjoy the show.

“I was told the Gold Floor would be empty for this auction,” Lan Yang said as calmly as he could, which wasn’t saying much. It came out like a furious hiss.

“I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, Senior,” Ning Lu said apologetically, “I’m not sure where you heard this from, but I did say that we expected the auction house to be filled for the entirety of the duration.”

Lan Yang somehow looked more frustrated than before. “I didn’t think you meant the Gold Floor,” this time, the hiss was unmistakable, “Those are never filled.”

When Ning Lu gave a helpless shrug, it reminded William of the poor retail workers who were yelled at by customers as if they had any control over anything important. Of course, it could be a different story here, but going by the low cultivation the staffer possessed, that was very unlikely.

As for Lan Yang’s anger, William didn’t have much to go by other than this Gold Floor being an issue. Likely because they had more privileges than those on the Red Floor.


He didn’t think Lan Yang cared too much about people being able to look at the items on the stage a few minutes earlier. He would bet it was due to the funds behind the people staying on the Gold Floor.

“Let them in.”

That wasn’t said loudly, but the voice carried.

[Name: Rong Yun | Level: ?]

William eyed the man walking toward them with a smile with surprise. He wasn’t able to put him in a neat box as was usually possible with most cultivators. In fact, Rong Yun had an appearance that wouldn’t look out of place on a mortal baker.

He had an astonishingly plain face and a sturdy build. Rather tanned skin that was a sight William didn’t even know he missed. Seeing so many cultivators with pale, or ‘jade,’ skin everywhere must have tired him subconsciously. To top it all off, this Rong Yun had a genuinely friendly smile and a gentle demeanor that contrasted his experience with most cultivators outside the Jade Healing Sect.


“My prince,” Ning Lu bowed deeply.

It snapped into place in William’s head. The Rong family and the Imperial family were one and the same. Not making the connection immediately might have seemed foolish since he had just been tested on that. However, he had been around Princess Jin long enough to assume their imperial title would be included in their basic status.

Now that he was proven wrong, the memory of a near-forgotten conversation came to the front of his mind. Princess Jin had mentioned she would be able to take on her full name once she was accepted into the main branch of the imperial family.

William stiffened. This Rong Yun was from the main branch.

When Ning Lu stood from his bow, he hesitantly said, “My Prince, everyone from the Gold Floor must agree.”

“Oh, I see,” Rong Yun nodded understandingly before facing the small group on the stage, “Would any of you mind if I invited these two?”

The people on the stage glanced at them before giving various sounds of indifference.

“There you go,” Rong Yun smiled at them.

“That satisfies the rules, my prince,” Ning Yu bowed again before addressing them, “Honored guests, you are free to approach the stage.”

Lan Yang gave him a short nod before giving the prince a smile. “Thank you for the help, my prince.”

“No thanks necessary,” Rong Yun looked straight at William, “I should be the one saying that to Junior Wei. This is the least I could do.”

“Me?” William pointed at himself, wondering how he got this imperial’s attention. And now that he knew he had it, what was the best way to hide for the duration of the auction if necessary.

“Who else?” Rong Yun chuckled, “The Lord Protector told me of you. As I said, this is the least I could do for someone that saved my sister.”

He ignored Lan Yang’s confused glance. It was hard to care when he was filled with confusion, too. As far as he knew, Princess Jin only had one sibling, Prince Yuan, not whoever this Rong Yun was.

“… My Prince, are you talking about Princess Jin?” William still asked because he could be wrong. After all, maybe the imperial family had some odd rules that severed relationships if the status was too far apart.

“Who else?” Rong Yun asked as if it was obvious, “I needed to personally thank the one that helped such a treasure return to my family.”

At this point, he wasn’t sure if Rong Yun was being sarcastic or not. The prince still had the same friendly smile, the same amenable demeanor, and was saying all the right words, but there was one thing sounding off a siren in his mind.

Rong Yun was an Imperial Prince. Of the Empire that Sophia showed a distaste towards. Of the Empire that Lord Paddlington hated gleefully.

William would need more than just a friendly smile to truly believe anything that a person with the family name Rong told him.

“It was only what I should have done, my prince,” he said with a dip of his head, “Princess Jin saved my life far too many times in the Shard. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I couldn’t keep her safe.”

“Hah!” Rong Yu laughed, “Junior, if everyone your age was so responsible, the world would be far better.”

William gave him a strained smile. He technically wasn’t as young as the prince assumed, but if Rong Yun was far older than he looked, neither his mental nor physical age would make much difference.

“Junior Wei is a little serious, but he knows how to relax, my prince,” Lan Yang joined in, “In fact, he dragged me to the auction house so he could see what all the excitement was about.”

His smile became even more strained when Lan Yang looked at him as if asking for backup. Luckily, he was just as eager for the small talk to stop.

“I wanted to do something fun after my... trip,” William shrugged. “If you could take a look at an auction that happens once a year after that, you’d do the same, Senior Yang.”

“Hm, maybe you can do more than just look,” Rong Yun smiled before turning to Lan Yang, “And apologies, Junior Wei called you Yang?”

“Lan Yang, my prince.”

“Lan Yang, then. Come, see what the auction has to offer,” Rong Yun motioned them to follow him.

William trailed them, amused at how Rong Yun acted like this was his territory. He looked away from the two conversing and studied the others onstage.

They all had robes that were far different from the green that Jade Healing Sect members loved so much. Some did wear green robes, but they were of a different shade. It must have tricked his eyes when he saw them from the second floor into thinking they were from his sect.

More importantly, everyone he could see had the same basic status.

[Name: ? | Level: ?]

That didn’t make much sense to William. Lan Yang clearly expected to be the winning bid for whatever item he had his eyes on. If nascent soul cultivators were commonplace, that confidence wouldn’t have existed. Something about this auction was obviously out of the norm this year.

“Ah, Junior Wei!” Rong Yun called as soon as they stepped on the stage, “Let me introduce you to a friend of mine with a name similar to yours!”

William’s eyebrows were raised in surprise. The man that came over didn’t need an instruction. The basic status already did so.

[Name: Wei Ming | Level: ?]

The only one other than Rong Yun with a name revealed in their basic status.

“This is Wei Ming of Qingyun City’s Wei Clan!” Rong Yun clapped his hand on the man's back with a grin.