Chapter 206: Tear of Neptune
Lan Jue patted his friend’s shoulder. “We’re closer than that Mentor, no need for any of this formality. You’re a kindhearted soul, so you didn’t want to strike it. Otherwise I’m certain there’d be little left of it for us to admire. We’re having a great time, truly, and we’ll be back just in time for lunch. Then, the auction.”
Su He smiled. “It looks like the rigors of the real world have matured you, freshman. I remember back in our school days you were quite the celebrity. No small number of challengers, too, which you beat soundly.”
Lan Jue awkwardly rubbed his nose. “You know young people, full of piss and vinegar. Don’t hold it against me.”
The Nethermaw was considerably more powerful than their boat’s motor, so they were back to shore in half the time it took them to reach the point where they encountered the creature. Now, so close to the world of man, Lin Guoguo relinquished her control over the beast. It left, while Su He used his own powers to guide the boat to its allotted berth.
Lan Jue disembarked, shaking his head and laughing. Upon first encountering the sea creature he was cursing his luck, images of Taihua looming in his mind’s eye 1. But Lir proved to be a safe place.
To make up for their unfortunate boating experience, Su He organized a particularly sumptuous lunch. Both he and his guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They abstained from drinking, since they had an auction to attend in the afternoon.
The morning had been warm and sunny, but now as afternoon approached the sky had grown overcast. A storm was brewing on the horizon, but the crisp winds still bore that strange fresh sea scent.
The auction took place in the heart of Dwarka, in an old art museum. It was a fabulous building, with a very interesting name; the Tear of Neptune.
The construction was blue, like everything else, with a crystalline façade that shone in gradients of color. The entire thing was an oval, making it look like a massive, masterfully cut sapphire. From the outside no metal was visible, leading the viewer to surmise that the whole thing was made out of glass or crystal blocks placed together. There was no longer any sun, but the gorgeous building still refracted the dim light from its surroundings.
Lan Jue and his party made their way there after lunch. They took a picture before the doors of the modern architectural wonder, then entered.
There were already a fair number of people milling about the museum’s interior. Su He quickly made his way over to register their group, then returned and handed them each their name tags.
There was still some time before the auction, so Su He lead them to the museum’s coffee shop. They drank coffee and looked over the auction’s brochure. They had to decide which items they were interested in.
Lan Jue lazily flipped through the pages. Each one bore a single item plastered large on the glossy sheets. They were professionally photographed, and bore an introduction underneath. The more expensive pieces were given several pages.
Most of what was to be auctioned today was art. From time to time Lan Jue would not his head appreciably. Like most other high-culture hobbies, he was a fan. The vast majority of pieces held to the Lirian standard of blue everything. It was a preference Lan Jue shared.
“Take a look at this one, boss. It’s gorgeous. We should buy it and place it in the shop, what do you think?” Lin Guoguo leaned over and shoved her brochure in Lan Jue’s face.
It was a sculpture, blue, made of something like autinite in the shape of a mermaid. Its face bore a small smile, waves of long hair fell from its head, and every single scale on its tail was meticulously detailed. It was a masterful work of art, to be sure.
Lan Jue folded his hands in his lap, and smiled with a nod. “Not bad! If you like it, we’ll buy it.”
“Thanks boss!” Lin Guoguo tittered excitedly.
“Boss,” Xiuxiu entreated timidly. She handed him her own brochure, flipped to a page near the back.
Power gems! The words scrawled along the top of the page instantly drew Lan Jue’s eye.
Xiuxiu spoke. “The main draw is an s-ranked stone. Called the Tear of Neptune.”
Lan Jue raised his brows as he looked over the information. “Let’s see what it does.”
The worth of an s-ranked gem could never be measured by money. They were considered important strategic resources for every Alliance. As a result, the number of s-ranked gems circulating in the public market was exceedingly small. Most were powering mother ships and Bastions. Their enormous bulk required the powerful gems to operate.
For one to appear at auction was a very special event.
Now that Lan Jue had recognized the opportunity, it wasn’t one he wanted to miss. He still remembered that he owed the Avenue a gem. If he came back with this gem, the debt he owed for being saved would be repaid and then some.
Xiuxiu immediately began tapping away at her communicator. After a few moments, she stuck her arm in front of Lan Jue so he could see.
Tear of Neptune. It was a gem exclusively found on Lir, and the only one it produced.
Appraisal: Though the Tear of Neptune was indeed an s-ranked gemstone, it was the least regarded among them. Its function was the removal of impurities, possessing had the ability to purify any energy material. So, though it was s-ranked, it’s function was best when paired with an appropriate a-ranked gem.
Two simple words. But they were enough to strike a chord with Lan Jue. He quickly read through the remaining details.
In both its rarity and power level, the stone was considered s-ranked. To get one one-carat gem, one thousand tons of the unrefined rock was required. Only five thousand tons of rock were dredged per year. The unrefined stone itself was d-ranked. While this certainly couldn’t compare to five s-ranked gems, it was more valuable than five a-ranked.
And so, even though it was the highest grade of stone available on Lir, it was still produced only in small numbers. And an s-ranked gem needed to be at least three carats.
The one they had on auction was five carats. It was a work of art among quality goods. Still, it was a Tear.
A year’s worth of rock for one gemstone! Its cost would surely take the manufacturing materials in to account, so surely it wasn’t cheap. And so, the main item wasn’t terribly exciting. It was the first time such a gem would be offered at auction, but the determination was to pass on it. It was seen as a disgrace to s-ranked gems.
- Weren’t we all. ↩