Chapter 211: The Tear of Neptune
The organizers hadn’t anticipated one of their draw items would be auctioned off so quickly.
Lan Jue sat amidst the gazes, cool and collected, face calm. He may as well have been seated beneath a cloudless sky enjoying an afternoon breeze. The only indication he was even present in the moment, was his eyes sweeping the front row.
The bidder who’d attempted to take Lan Jue’s prize quietly stood up. He bowed at the waist, then removed himself from the auction.
The elderly bid caller watched him go, nerves causing his heart rate to quicken. Of course he knew why the bidder left. It was a common enough occurrence. This situation was mild when compared to some other events he’d hosted. Sometimes arguments could erupt. However, no one wanted to offend somebody so overtly powerful.
“Finally, we come to last item in today’s auction. Our main attraction, of which I’m certain you’re familiar. I present to you, manufactured right here on Lir, the s-ranked Tear of Neptune.”
On the cart, in its own crystal box, rested a teardrop-cut stone.
The gemstone had a dream-like quality, emitting a gentle blue light that was pleasing to the eye. It lent the powerful item an aura of mysticism and peculiarity. The light seemed to emanate from somewhere deep inside of it, and yet despite its striking appearance the waves of energy emanating from it were gentle. It felt cleansing, like the near proximity was enough to reinvigorate you. Even negative thoughts and sour moods abated under the pleasant warmth of the stone’s aura.
Lan Jue’s eyes flashed with electric power. Just as quickly, however, they were back to normal.
“How much available funds do we have for transfer,” Lan Jue asked Xiuxiu.
Xiuxiu answered by giving him a thumbs up.
Lan Jue nodded, and said nothing further.
The bid caller went on. “As everyone knows, any planet that produces an s-ranked gem is called a ‘Gem Planet.’ It is a distinction Lir enjoys, thanks to the five karat gem you see before you; the Tear of Neptune. The very museum we sit within was named after it.”
“The Tear of Neptune. Touted as the purest power gem in the universe, and not just for its own purity of energy. It spreads that virtuousness wherever it goes, effecting everyone it comes in contact with, sharing its untainted power. Carry it with you, and say goodbye to troubling thoughts or emotions. Enjoy days uninterrupted by afflictions of the mind and spirit. And that’s not all…”
The bid caller’s earnest introductions continued, but there was no reaction from the buyers below. All of the momentum gained from the sale of the Pelagic Pearl was gone.
“Alright, let’s get to the bidding. This is the largest Tear in the history of production, available tonight to you for a starting bid of four hundred million NED. Increases must be more than five million at a time.”
Four hundred million. It was a minuscule price for an s-ranked gem. In fact, it was difficult to even give a price for the better gems of this class.
Once more the problem lay in the largely uninteresting power of the gem. It may be in a class of exceptionally valuable gems, but couldn’t count itself among their number.
Simply put, it’s primary function was to cleans and purify another power gem’s energy. It improved its overall quality. However, the process required a great deal of sustained energy output. The gem itself couldn’t release energy, only take it into itself. This was first. Secondly, the better power gems already had very few impurities – true for most of the known s-ranked gems. The Tear had no positive function for those.
Under circumstances such as these, who would agree to paying such a high price for a Tear of Neptune? This was already the third year they’ve paraded this stone before the auction bidders. It was beginning to look like once again, this year would pass without a sale.
Time ticked slowly by. With each passing second the bid caller’s expression became less and less hopeful. According to their rules, if an item underwent auction three times and no one swiped it up, it was no longer worth presenting. What would they do with the gem then?
During its first showing, the gem had been priced at six hundred million dollars. They’d already lowered the price by a third, so even if it sold it was already below cost.
Originally the hope was that someone with more money than sense would commit to the Tear. Now it looked like it was them who would have to eat the cost. It simply looked like this was not something people wanted.
“Four hundred million.” Once more, the imperatorial voice from before called out a bid.
The bid caller physically jerked at the sound. The first time he heard his voice, it brought a host of negative emotions in tow. This time, though, it was like a smile from the face of god.
“Four hundred million. The gentleman with number five seventy. Are there any bidders willing to go higher?” His voice had become noticeably higher in pitch.
In the end his question was just an interlude in a play where everyone knew how it ends. Half a minute, a few more calls, and…
At last, the most expensive piece ever offered in a Tear of Neptune auction was finally sold. The final ticket price, four hundred million dollars.
For the third time, Lan Jue was the focus of everyone’s attention. And for good reason; the aggregate cost of everything else purchased today was five hundred million. Not including his purchases.
Su He swallowed back his surprise, the corners of his mouth twitched. “Are you really a teacher?”
“I may also run a small shop,” Lan Jue told his friend. “The next time you visit Skyfire you should come by Skyfire Avenue. My place is there, Zeus’ Jewelry Shop.”
Two groups of security personnel entered. They flanked both sides of Lan Jue, separating him from the crowds as he left to finalize his purchase. It was a unique situation, and they wanted their big spender safe.
It was ultimately Xiuxiu that actually finished paying everything off. She was handed their highest level of VIP card in the process. A car came for them, waiting underground in a series of tunnels. The whole thing was specially crafted to protect their buyer’s safety and anonymity.
Lin Guoguo gripped the Palegic Pearl tightly to her chest as they left, while Xiuxiu was left responsible for the Tear of Neptune.
Lan Jue and Su He took up seats in the front of the car. Xiuxiu, Lin Guoguo and Ya Xiu were in the back. They fit comfortably; these sorts of cars were large enough to comfortably house eight travelers.
“Xiuxiu, you’re the boss’ assistant here and you just let him spend all that money? But I guess I can’t blame you, he looked quite determined!” At last Ya Xiu couldn’t hold her piece any longer. She asked the question of Xiuxiu in quiet tones.
The blade maiden laughed. “The boss always has his reasons, especially when he’s determined. And as far as I’ve seen, he usually makes the right decision.”
Lin Guoguo was also grinning. “You’re more than welcome to try and brainwash the boss in to behaving with his money,” she said.
Ya Xiu helplessly shook her head, but said nothing else. In the end things like power gems were more than their worth. Who knew in the end if it would be worth the cost.
Ya Xiu and Su He traveled with Lan Jue and his two Amazons until they reached the hotel. Everyone was in a fine mood when they made plans to meet the Bookworm together tomorrow.
“Guoguo, come to my room,” Lan Jue ordered.
This surprised the young woman, whose face instantly went red. “Today may not be the best day boss.”
Xiuxiu, for her part, watched the exchange with a clear glower on her face, and her brows knit tight.
Lan Jue knocked on her head with a loose fist, his face a mask of agitation. “What the hell is going on in that head of yours? Xiuxiu, you’re coming too.” He didn’t wait for an answer, and left.
Lin Guoguo was flush with embarrassment, and stuck her tongue out. Xiuxiu covered her mouth and tittered. Both women followed as their boss made for his room.
Once they had, Xiuxiu shut the door behind her and took a step toward her employer. “Here’s the Tear for you, boss.”
Lan Jue shook his head. “You hold on to it,” he commanded. “When we get back we’re giving it to the Skyfire Council. I have to pay them back for the help they gave me on Taihua. In the hands of your average adept, this gem means little. But for us, we can do amazing things with it. Guoguo, give me the pearl.”
“Mhn.” She handed the pearl over as instructed. Lan Jue immediately stored it away in his inter-dimensional storage space. The remainder of the items they ordered would be delivered to the address they’d given the auction house at a later date. There wasn’t any need for them to lug them all back with them to Skyfire.
There was a silver flash, and suddenly a crystal box appeared in Lan Jue’s hand where a moment before there was nothing. Within, the liquid living metal sloshed about like it had a life of its own.
Lan Jue carefully placed the box upon a nearby table, then turend to Lin Guoguo. “You’re a psychic,” he began. “See if there’s any way for you to communicate with this.”
Now she finally understood why the boss had called her, and she nodded. In a blink, her eyes shimmered an immaculate golden hue. Waves of gentle psychic energy flooded the room.
Quietly, Lan Jue watched his Amazon work with rapt attention. Meanwhile, the light in Guoguo’s eyes grew more intense as time passed. Strangely, the metal seemed to respond by releasing a dull silver glow all its own. It might the bright blue spots along its surface even more brilliant.
Narrowing his eyes, Lan Jue took a closer look. He paid particular attention to the electric field, which didn’t appear to react. In all it seemed unchanged from when he first checked it.
Fifteen minutes later, the golden light in Lin Guoguo’s eyes gradually vanished.
“No good boss,” she said. “I tried several methods to try and communicate with it, but there was no response. I never felt anything like sentience from it. But I could feel the purity radiating from it. The gem has a strange sort of energy resistance quality that I came upon, that tried to resist me. It succeeded in keeping me from seeing all things about it. I can tell you that it has an extreme softness to it, an all-encompassing forgiveness. And yet there’s a… tenacity to it. It has its limits.”
Lan Jue’s brows furrowed in thought. He speculated for a moment. “That’s proof then. If Lin Guoguo is unable to communicate with it using her psychic powers, then the metal is either lacking psychic ability or isn’t intelligent. That, or it’s somehow managed to hide this information deeper than we can penetrate. Alright, you guys can go. I’ll keep at it.”
“Alright. Well since we’re finished, boss, what’s for dinner?” Lin Guoguo inquired.
“That I leave to you,” he replied. “I want to look over this metal. I have a feeling this little treasure will prove very important for me.”
“Hm.” Lin Guoguo pouted, but grabbed Xiuxiu by the arm and left Lan Jue to his own devices.