Chapter 47

The auctioneer paused, glancing at the VIP room and hall on the second floor. He was beating around the bush, evidently confident in this item’s value.

“It’s none other thannnn—!”

However, his sluggish tone didn’t last long, as several impatient labyrinth masters yelled at him to hurry up. He hurriedly pulled away the black cloth covering the cage.

“—A vampire!”

The vampire in the cage was breathtakingly beautiful. Her skin was pale, and her hair was fine and silky, as if it were coated with honey. She looked on at the hall with a calm expression.

“Ohh!”

“A vampire!”

Besides her stunning beauty, there was little else special about the vampire. Nevertheless, the other participants, including the labyrinth masters who had been composed thus far, made a huge fuss.

“As you know, vampires are extremely rare in the underground world. Most of them belong to the honorable labyrinth masters of the deep floors. Such an incredible creature is up for auction today!”

Nobody was listening to the auctioneer’s grandiose introduction of the vampire. There was a commotion as the participants craned their necks to get a glimpse of the vampire in the cage.

“Unfortunately, this vampire only has a little bit of true vampire blood running in her veins. Nonetheless, I strongly believe everyone here understands her value and rarity!”

It was just as the auctioneer said. The participants were already kicking up a ruckus, yelling at their servants to estimate their budgets for the upcoming bidding war.

“This item’s starting price will be 4,000 gems.”

That was equal to two top-grade down gems; even the creature’s starting bid was on another level. Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t fathom how much the bid would increase later. 

“Ah, I need to mention this: Even if you manage to bid the highest price, you can only obtain the item if the vampire chooses you as her master. Of course, we won’t make you pay if you fail to be chosen.” The auctioneer glanced around before speaking hesitantly. The participants were furious at the unpleasant surprise.

“Not even a true-blood vampire, and yet she’s so cocky?”

“An item choosing its master? The black merchants must have gone mad.”

The auctioneer must have seen this coming. Despite the participants’ unhappy remarks, he didn’t flinch and even added, “This is a unique auction for the black merchants, too. However, keep in mind that the item’s owner is one of the labyrinth masters from the deepest floor. Mocking us is fine, but I hope to avoid things blowing up. I’m already concerned that we may incur his displeasure.”

The hall suddenly fell silent when the participants heard that a labyrinth master from the deepest floor was involved. It was amusing to watch how these talkative participants promptly stopped chattering away and shut their mouths. 

<That’s not surprising. The valuable guest from the deepest floor should be a powerful master who is at least a count. The labyrinth masters in the hall may act like kings in their territories, but in reality, they’re mediocre creatures who can’t afford to annoy the underground nobles,> Dominique explained in a low voice, more quickly this time. Kim Jin-Woo turned his head to find her cautiously pointing at the second floor.

Dominique emphasized her point while staring at the windows of the dark VIP rooms. <Perhaps this auction was meant to target the underground nobles from the start. A layman wouldn’t be chosen by the vampire, after all.>

She was right. The vampire was glancing across the VIP rooms on the second floor with her head held high.

“Once the vampire has chosen its owner, it stays absolutely loyal and devoted. Furthermore, with its various talents and abilities, the vampire is a rare and valuable creature that is sought after by many.” The beastfolk helper supplemented Dominique’s explanation.

“Hmm…” Kim Jin-Woo was intrigued. He would have minded if the vampire was being auctioned off as a slave, but he was more receptive upon hearing that the creature would choose her own master.

“Is a vampire very different from a lifestealer?” he asked. He had encountered several lifestealers that had charged at him to suck his blood. They were similar to vampires, yet appeared different at the same time. 

“A lifestealer is the lowest form of vampire, driven purely by instinct, not reason. Nobody in the underground world wishes to be a lifestealer’s master,” the beastfolk explained.

That wasn’t unexpected. Kim Jin-Woo regretted even comparing those hideous monsters to the vampire sitting in the glass cage with her head held high.

“Nevertheless, I would like to advise against bidding for the vampire. This mythical creature, rumored to even gift its master eternal life, is sought after by the most important figures in the underground world. Of course, we don’t know whether this vampire has that ability, since only a tiny bit of true vampire blood runs in her veins,” the beastfolk cautiously advised.

“Well, I didn’t expect anything to begin with.” Kim Jin-Woo shrugged. He knew how competitive this bidding would be, judging from the feverish atmosphere in the hall.

“Now, let the bidding begin!”

***

In the end, the vampire wasn’t sold. She didn’t even acknowledge the participant who had offered a staggering 23,000 gems to outcompete the other bidders. It was quite interesting to watch his grin crumple into a complete scowl.

“Phew, this is tiring.” Kim Jin-Woo’s whole body was sore from staring down at the hall the entire day, even though he was sitting on a posh sofa.

“Would you give me the honor to lay my hands on your majestic body? It isn’t much, but I do know a few methods to relieve fatigue,” the beastfolk helper offered, but Kim Jin-Woo shook his head.

“No, I just want to rest. I heard accommodation has been provided.”

Since the auction spanned a week, accommodation and amenities were bound to be provided. Moreover, Kim Jin-Woo was no ordinary participant; he was an underground noble. If the black merchants had put in the effort to prepare a VIP room for him, they would have prepared somewhere to stay as well.

“Yes. We have specially arranged accommodations for you. All preparations have been made to ensure you get a good rest without any disturbance,” the beastfolk replied.

Kim Jin-Woo stood up from the sofa that he had been sitting on the entire day and stared at the hall via the window. The last item on auction—the highlight of the day—didn’t interest him, a human. It was delightful to watch the participants kick up a fuss, but he craved a good rest more than anything else.

“Bring me there,” Kim Jin-Woo said sluggishly. The beastfolk bowed and opened the VIP room door.

***

As expected from the annual event proudly hosted by the black merchants, the amenities available for the participants were perfect. No inconvenience could be noted during the duration of the auction.

“The problem is, we’re still empty-handed,” Kim Jin-Woo mused.

<The items useful to you can also be useful to others, after all. But that doesn’t mean we can just grab any useless items,> Dominique replied.

The items on the auction were excellent. While the first day showcased living things, the second day onward had weapons, armor, and top-grade down gems infused with rare powers.

Some of the items appeared useful in Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes. He tried to bid for them several times, but he couldn’t keep up with the astronomical bids and had to give up halfway.

Although he was enjoying VIP privileges as a baron, Kim Jin-Woo was only a labyrinth master who had recently settled down on the ninth floor. He lacked the financial freedom to boldly participate in the bidding wars.

“What a shame.” Kim Jin-Woo smacked his lips when he recalled the top-grade down gem infused with ‘Instant Amplification’ that had gone up on the block on the fourth day.

He had participated in the bidding thinking he could wield great power if the dungeon master’s power amplification effect could stack with the down gem’s. However, he had to withdraw when he saw the bidding price rise exponentially beyond his financial limit. Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but feel bitter.

Nevertheless, Kim Jin-Woo didn’t regret attending this auction. He hadn’t been happy on the first day, as slaves had been sold, but it wasn’t difficult to get used to the scene. In fact, he felt ridiculous to have even expected anything less from the underground world. With a more receptive mentality, watching the auction became quite enjoyable.

Moreover, this was a great opportunity for Kim Jin-Woo, who lacked much experience compared to the other labyrinth masters, to learn about the atmosphere of the underground world. Not only could he estimate the strength of the participants based on the items on the block, he could also learn about their eccentric yet dull tastes.

In particular, Kim Jin-Woo had been lucky enough to discover Valicius, the King of the Dead, bidding competitively in the hall. He could uncover what Valicius’ interests and needs were.

The labyrinth master was currently indulging in the creation of a chimera. From how he bid for every creature that came up on stage, one could infer that he was going to merge the hideous creatures to create something much more powerful. This prevented Kim Jin-Woo from lowering his guard.

With that, the fifth day of the auction concluded. Kim Jin-Woo had obtained a few items at a cheap price, namely a sharp, ornate sword and a suit of armor.

As the labyrinth masters used their body parts as weapons at will, and their bodies didn’t fit into the armor, the bidding for these items was far from competitive. Furthermore, even the human-like creatures had shown a lack of interest, allowing Kim Jin-Woo to purchase these items at a ridiculously low cost.

On the sixth day of the auction, the atmosphere in the hall was more enthusiastic than ever. 

“4,200 gems! 4,200 gems! Any higher bidders?!”

Another item was sold at a price of at least two top-grade down gems, but that failed to surprise Kim Jin-Woo anymore. His perception of money had dulled, as items were being bought and sold at exorbitant prices in the auction.

However, even he couldn’t help but become shocked this time. The items listed in the auction were mostly from the surface.

The ‘stick from the surface that vomits fire’ has been sold to participant number twenty-two! Its original shape is well-preserved, so I believe it has a high value! Congratulations to the buyer once again!”

An ordinary rifle commonly seen in the army had been sold at over 4,200 gems. Kim Jin-Woo was flabbergasted by this incredible scene, but the other participants were evidently envious of participant number twenty-two.

“Are items from the surface considered so rare?” he asked.

“That item that was just sold was used in the under-war, so its historical value has been reflected in its high cost. Nonetheless, most items from the surface are considered valuable,” the beastfolk explained.

Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes twinkled. He began to brainstorm busily, having realized that this could be a new source of income.

“Now, it’s that time again! The vampire that was priced at 32,000 gems but unfortunately wasn’t sold is back, still looking for a new master!”

The vampire was back on the block, as she had yet to choose her master over the past few days. Her value aside, the participants were now more curious as to who would be chosen by the vampire. They silently waited for the auctioneer to continue.

The black merchants were fully aware of this. They now used the vampire’s auction as an event to uplift the atmosphere before putting up the final item of the day.

“Many have tried to purchase the vampire, but to no avail! She’ll be up in tomorrow’s auction if she doesn’t get sold today, but I’m starting to wonder whether she can even find her master with only a day left! We, the black merchants, find this extremely regrettable, especially considering the VIP who has entrusted this item to us!”

The vampire lady wasn’t in the cage this time for some reason. Dressed in an airy, feminine dress, she surprisingly walked up the stage by herself.

“Therefore, we shall let the vampire choose her master today without any bidding! For your information, its owner has given us consent for this!”

What nonsense is this? Kim Jin-Woo wondered. What was more absurd was that the participants were enraptured by the auctioneer’s new proposal.

The auctioneer spiced up the already feverish atmosphere, exclaiming, “The black merchants won’t set any price, in case the chosen participant has no intention to purchase her!”

While the crowd went wild with excitement, the vampire began to move silently. Her gaze was directed at the second floor.

“Huh?” Kim Jin-Woo tilted his head as he felt the vampire’s red pupils staring at him.

Dominique whispered to him, <Master, I think the vampire is looking in this direction.>

Just as she said, the vampire’s gaze was fixed on the VIP room. When Kim Jin-Woo gave a half-skeptical glance at the creature, the corners of her eyes curled up as she produced a bright smile.

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