At first, a plain-looking, middle-aged man paid 11 million for a fist-size aerolite.
The aerolite, which was particularly angular, had also caught Li Yao's attention.
According to the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion, the aerolite had been shining in seven different colors when it fell into the Heaven's Origin Sector. There was even a video clip to prove it.
But other than that, it seemed to be a perfectly normal stone.
Examinations suggested that 99% of the stone was made of regular metals and only 1% of it contained the unknown materials that had never appeared in the Heaven's Origin Sector before.
In the end, the middle-aged man, after spending a fortune on the mysterious aerolite, took out a syringe of grey liquid which he poured on the stone.
Then, the aerolite started shining in various mystic colors, which was exactly the scene where it first entered the aerosphere. The shining didn't stop until three minutes later.
Everyone on the spot was amazed, knowing that the middle-aged man had bought a bargain.
Although it was still unclear what materials were contained in the aerolite, the mystic colors alone were evident enough that its worth was far more than 11 million. Its true worth might be tens of times higher than that.
The middle-aged man's bargain kicked off a good start for the trade fair.
The unknown materials that followed the aerolite were all bought at a high price.
A few of them were put up for auction when several guests were interested in them at the same time.
Not everyone was as lucky as the middle-aged man.
A man who was wearing a black mask, after a fierce competition, won the bid of an oval stone with green streaks which allegedly could have been a fossil egg of a prehistoric beast at the cost of 35 million.
The green-streak stone was discovered by an expedition team in underground relics of the Heaven's Origin Sector.
During the expedition, several Cultivators had been injured or killed, including two Building Foundation experts.
Therefore, the price of the stone was set at 20 million in the beginning.
Bountiful Treasures Pavilion guaranteed that the expedition did take place. Some of the buyers were familiar with the Cultivators of the expedition team, too.
However, as to whether or not the green-streak stone was a fossil egg of a prehistoric beast, the bidders would need to make a judgement themselves.
The eggshell of prehistoric beasts was mostly made of rare materials that could defend the scanning of telepathic thoughts. Besides, the billions of years of time had transformed the egg into a fossil, making it even harder to determine what was stored inside.
If the oval stone really turned out be a fossil egg of a prehistoric beast, its worth would far exceed 20 million and could border on the billion level.
Therefore, after buying the stone for 35 million, the man in the black mask drilled into the stone with destructive tools and extended his telepathic thoughts through the hole.
However, there was nothing.
Inside the stone was still stone.
The 35 million he'd just spent proved to be all for nothing.
Li Yao was truly shocked at a gamble of such a high level of risk, even though he just got a large sum of bonus from the Aurora Autos.
But the man in black mask and the rest of the guests seemed to be used to it. After a few sighs, they shifted their attention to the gamble of the next Heavenly Material and Earthly Treasure in high spirits, as if nothing had happened.
According to Mr. Lin of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion, the trade fair of unknown materials and defective materials hosted here was only at the amateur level.
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion's main focus was the materials that had been authenticated. The unknown materials that it sold were only meant to be an entertainment.
The guests who came to the trade fair mostly considered the activity as a recreation.
In some places, there were professional trade fairs for unknown materials and magical equipment that were more mysterious, more expensive, and auctioned to more experienced customers.
These were the real treasure gambles!
The professional trade fairs had a special name, which was 'Secret Treasure Exchange'.
Li Yao was quite interested in Mr. Lin's introduction. He wrote down the addresses and registration methods of several Secret Treasure Exchanges and decided to take a tour there when he had time.
He was not planning to get rich by treasure gambles. But he did have irresistible curiosity about unknown materials and magical equipment as a refiner and he simply wanted to see more of them.
However, right now, he had other priorities at hand.
Yuan Qi had fully deciphered the double encryption and found out the keys. He'd taught Li Yao the correct way to open the two seals.
Therefore, his primary task right now was to find a safe place and dig out the secrets inside the Cosmos Ring!
One day later, in the upper eastern district of Floating Spear City.
Inside a business suite of a splendid skyscraper, Li Yao was standing before the giant windows watching myriads of twinkling lights glittering below him. Mixed feelings were turning over and over in his mind.
Two years ago, when he stared at the building from a corner of the slum yearningly, he hadbelieved that the greatest happiness in the world was a night of sleep and a nice meal in this hotel.
However, when the dream came true, he found that delicate cuisines, expensive clothes, extravagant rooms all the materialistic gratification didn't give him as much pleasure as he had imagined, because his ambition had grown much greater than before.
Taking a deep breath, Li Yao snapped his fingers. The curtains closed automatically without any noise.
He took out four fawn diamond-shaped crystals and put each of them to one corner of the room.
With a telepathic thought, the crystals started spinning at a high speed like four gyroscopes, which unleashed a strange wave that filled the entire room.
They were the barriers that he'd bought from Yuan Qi.
As a top Cryptohacker, Yuan Qi was naturally a first-rate barrier designer. With the cover of the four gyroscopic crystals, Li Yao wouldn't be noticed even if he was to burn the room to the ground.
Li Yao connected his mini crystal processor to the Cosmos Ring and entered the encryption keys.
The Cosmos Ring shivered. Two spiritual waves flooded out of the Cosmos Ring one after the other, like two ripples in a pond when two stones were dropped in tandem.
Li Yao was so anxious that he felt he was going to freak out.
He spread a spiritual thread into the Cosmos Ring and discovered that two additional storage zones had appeared beside the main storage zone.
The feedback was weird. The three zones were like three bubbles each pressing against one another.
Li Yao extended all his spiritual threads into one of the smaller bubbles and pulled everything out.
More than twenty translucent, shining crystals were placed on the bed, dazzling Li Yao who found it hard to breathe.
They were the real Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures!
Cultivators could increase their Cultivation by inhaling and exhaling spiritual energy, which was usually in the form of gas, liquid, or solid. There were other two special forms, namely plasma state and super solid state. But they could only appear under extreme conditions, and therefore were not of much use for Cultivation.
Spiritual gas was most common. It was everywhere between the sky and the ground. Li Yao had 'seen' countless light spots in the air when his spiritual root was just awakened, which he swallowed a lot of with his spiritual threads. The light spots were the spiritual gas.
Although it was widely distributed and readily absorbable, the density of spiritual energy inside it was too low for Cultivation.
When the spiritual gas consolidated, it would become spiritual liquid.
All the strengthening drugs, healing drugs, and even demon beast blood could all be counted as spiritual fluid. The spiritual energy contained inside spiritual liquid was hundreds of times more concentrated than inside spiritual gas.
When spiritual energy invaded metals and rocks and changed their essence slowly over billions of years of evolution, they would be transformed into crystals, which was the spiritual energy in the solid state. Crystals were the main source of spiritual energy for Cultivators.
Crystals had a lot of application fields. Not only could they be absorbed by Cultivators, they could also be refined to provide power for magical equipment.
One could say that crystals were the foundation of the modern Cultivation civilization.
Marrow crystals were a special kind of crystal that was the essence of a mother crystal lode formed under billions of years of high temperature and pressure.
Spiritual energy contained in a marrow crystal was thousands of times more than that in a normal crystal of the same size, with an amazing purity of more than 99%.
Marrow crystals were not something you can buy in the market, because no Cultivator would ever sell it even if they'd found one. They would use it for their own Cultivation, or to refine powerful magical equipment or maybe life-saving medications.
However, marrow crystals were not something that could be easily utilized either, because too much spiritual energy was stored inside which could lead to dire consequences if handled incautiously.
For example, if Li Yao didn't recognize the marrow crystal and decided to absorb it like ordinary crystals, his body would explode because of the intense spiritual energy.
Different marrow crystal required different refining procedures which involved different catalysts.
Some catalysts were relatively common, and some were Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures themselves. But some catalysts were even more difficult to find than the marrow crystals.
Books of the Hundred Smelting Clan recorded many secret arts for distinguishing and refining marrow crystals.
With further investigation, Li Yao frowned. The excitement on his faced turned into bitterness.
"Blood Jade Marrow, Flowing Silver Aurelia, Divine Dissolving Stone, Sea Orchid
"The rarest marrow crystals?"
Li Yao realized that the marrow crystals he'd discovered were the most bizarre, the least commonly seen ones in the world.
Many of them could only be found in the books of the Hundred Smelting Clan and had become extinct a long time ago. There wouldn't be a second refiner other than himself that could make anything out of it.
Pondering for a moment, Li Yao patted his head and realized why.
"Of course they're rare!
"The snake demon would've long absorbed them if they weren't, and I wouldn't even've had the chance to see them!"
Li Yao estimated that the marrow crystals had been collected by the snake demon for a long time, who did not know how to refine them due to their scarcity.
Even if the snake demon knew, he might still not be able to do anything because of lack of catalysts, yet he didn't make up his mind to sell them either.
Therefore, the snake demon separated a private zone in the Cosmos Ring to store the marrow crystals hoping to refine them when he found the catalysts he needed.
However, the snake demon could never have anticipated that a human being would take all the advantages!
Different from the snake demon, Li Yao knew the refining procedures of each and every one of the marrow crystals.
Although complicated catalysts were required, with the advanced technology of modern life, he could always put some notice on the Nexus looking for potential sellers. As long as he waited patiently, he definitely could purchase one or two.
"In the worst-case scenario, I could make the marrow crystals into big bombs. Hehe. I believe their power is going to be at least ten times more impressive than the demon core bomb!
"Let me put the marrow crystals aside for now and see what's in the other storage zone."
Li Yao extended his spiritual threads into the second bubble. But what he retrieved was something very odd.