Book 8, Chapter 4

Auction

“Capacity halved?” Earl Lyndoch almost screamed, grumbling about Thomas taking so long to finish before going over to examine the rune himself. If the requirement had been halved, the two Lifesbane runes would only need a single slot, allowing another grade 4 rune or even more of the same. Either way, this was a definite upgrade to one’s battle strength. To sky saints or legends, even a minuscule rise in strength was massive. These two runes had to be twice as valuable as the ordinary ones!

“They’re not quite complete,” Richard clarified, “I’ll need to put in a small amount of work to finish tailoring it to the eventual user, but it won’t take long.”

Lyndoch immediately said firmly, “I want both of them, and I’m willing to pay three top-tier offerings or magic crystals of similar value. How about it? I’ll also buy any more you have!”

Richard went a little stiff at the proclamation. This price was slightly lower than he’d expected, but a promise to buy an unlimited amount was valuable as well. He didn’t take too much time to make his decision, “Alright. I’ll have it ready for you before the auction ends.”

Lyndoch was absolutely delighted and nodded towards Raoul, who promptly smiled, “Then we will give you a slight advantage, Your Grace. Anything you buy during this auction will have no fee attached to it.”

The auction house’s fee wasn’t a lot at this level, but it was still a thoughtful arrangement. Parting on good terms, Richard allowed a few servants to lead him downstairs to a resting area where he finished the runes for the Millennial Empire’s royal bloodline. At exactly six, he went back up to a compartment on the second floor.

By this point, most of the compartments had guests seated within. The hall below was nearly full, and more people were surging in with every minute. A sinking aura passed through the area at ten past six, a magic array activated to lock the space so thieves couldn’t flee immediately. A number of other energy waves passed through as well, all invisible spells that prevented external casters from interfering.

Once everything was prepared, the hostess of the auction slowly walked in. Earl Lyndoch entered Richard’s compartment and sat next to him, “There are far too many profitable items in this auction, Your Grace. You might not be familiar with the trade rules of the Millennial Empire, I would be glad to assist you.”

“I’d be honoured by the help,” Richard answered, also passing over the two Lifesbane runes. It seemed like he was now on good terms with this agent of the imperial family.

The auction officially began at 6:30, when the saint host placed a large magic-sealing case on the stand and opened it carefully to reveal a glimmering sword, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a legendary-grade sword. It is enchanted for…”

The woman gave a simple explanation at a decent speed, with no intentions of playing it up as she led the audience’s attention to the details of the blade. This was an auction visited by higher nobles and powerhouses; exaggeration would only backfire. Everything in this once-a-decade auction was a premium item, so there would be no problems with enticing people to buy them.

Even the first item caused a small commotion, everyone starting to talk amongst themselves. Most auctions tended to leave the best items for last, so there had to be a few astonishing things somewhere along the way. Richard leaned a little forward as well, eyes glowing as he examined the properties of the sword. Weapons were the most expensive of legendary items.

“Interested?” Lyndoch asked.

“Mm,” Richard nodded. Many of his followers used swords, especially the three assassins. If the price was appropriate, he would give one of them an upgrade. However, he quickly realised he had underestimated the wealth of the Millennial Empire. The price of the sword soon surpassed his expectations, and he eventually just shook his head and gave up on the bid. There would be more important things coming up later.

The auction quickly blew up, the hostess’s voice growing higher and louder in a befitting manner. Money flowed in a million, the numbers almost mind-numbing as high-purity magic crystals became the main currency. Offerings of various grades frequently appeared on the list, and Richard himself got two rare materials.

Soon enough, the event reached its first climax: the heart of a valley lord.

The hostess exhibited the item cautiously, the hunter obviously a legendary being who was a master at preserving their spoils. The metre-long organ was still beating lowly, and with one look Richard could tell that its vitality was almost completely undamaged.

His own heart started beating hard. The heart itself was a top-tier offering, but because it could be used on runes, its real value was far greater. Outside of being attractive to runemasters, it was also used in all kinds of alchemical machines and enchantments. Some mages would be interested in it as well.

Before the hostess was even done describing its origin, someone had already yelled out, “Ten million!”

The hostess immediately went silent, and a cold voice rang out, “Eleven million.”

“Twelve million.”

The fervent atmosphere had disappeared, the voices of those still bidding slow and calm. Millions were added on with almost no pause. Richard waited till it was sixteen million before stating his bid, “One top-tier offering.”

The bid immediately caused a small commotion. A top-tier offering wasn’t necessarily worth sixteen million if one waited, but they very rarely would be exchanged for gold. The hostess had to meet the appraiser next to her for a moment before announcing their recognition of Richard’s bid. The hall erupted into a furor; the exchange rate itself was a small issue, but the use of an offering would make things brutal.

“A top-tier offering and one million,” a thick voice sounded from another compartment nearby.

“Plus two million.”

“Plus three.”

The bid quickly reached nine million, at which point most of those in the hall couldn’t bid anymore. The voices were only coming from the compartments now, of which this theatre had a full thirty. Just that alone showed the difference in wealth between the Millennial Empire and the Sacred Alliance.

Richard was in no hurry, waiting until things started to die down before he added another million. The auction grew incredibly quiet, with most of the competitors having given up since they could find better items for the same price. Seeing the still-beating heart, he knew he had to have it at all costs; a dozen designs were already floating through his mind, including that of the Midren battle edition.

“One top-tier offering and twelve million,” a piercing voice eventually broke the silence, radiating an aura of arrogance. Someone leaned half their body out over the railing of their compartment and continued in a prideful tone, “I’m an agent of Master Fazelok, and he just sent word that this item is very important for his path to becoming a saint runemaster. I hope the rest of you can give up on bidding for this heart, or you’ll have to bear the consequences.”

The theatre broke out into a commotion once more, voices of dissent ringing out everywhere even though nobody stood out. Richard recalled that Fazelok was the oldest of the three grand runemasters of the Millennial Empire, the one with the best chance of becoming a saint runemaster. He had mastered more than ten grade 4 runes, including three that he had designed himself. Having broken through to the legendary realm at less than a hundred years of age, he had spent the last decade preparing to craft a saint rune.

Fazelok was following the standard route to becoming a saint runemaster, slowly improving day by day both with his runecrafting and in terms of status. He was now the leading grand runemaster of the Millennial Empire with a number of benefits coming from that title, and when he became a saint he stood a chance to tip the scales of the power balance in the continent to their favour. He was unlike Richard who had just popped up out of nowhere, going from the very first rune convention to showing off saint runes in a matter of years.

Because of his meteoric rise, Richard hadn’t really interacted much with the other runemasters of Norland. Quite a few had been willing to hold conversations with him when he released his grade 3 runes, but he was far too busy in Faelor and the Forest Plane to take up those offers. Once he crafted runes like Lifesbane, the offers eventually died down.

While he was trying to recall everything he could about Fazelok, there had been no more bids in the theatre. The hostess frowned, speaking up angrily, “Please mind yourself, Earl Auro. This auction has 350 years of history, you cannot use methods to stop our guests from bidding freely!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA