Qin Ye massaged his throbbing temples as he clicked on the ‘I Want to Auction’ button.
Clarifying the entire auctioning process was of topmost priority right now.
A chat function showed up immediately as part of the webpage, without redirecting him to QQ. A single line of text appeared as soon as the chat box showed up: “Detected VIP account usage. Senior Attendant 001 is pleased to be of service to you.”
Qin Ye raised an eyebrow - I wonder how much he must have spent in order to be conferred the title of a Premium VIP. Gu Qing definitely has the spending capacity given his identity and influence, and it’s only natural for heavy spenders to receive a commensurately high level of service. This might save me some time and effort.
“Greetings. We note that this is the account previously held by the late Mr Gu Qing. May I know how I should address you?” Attendant 001 didn’t flaunt any sales pitch. Instead, he simply said things as they were.
That said, it did make sense to keep things formal. It would have been a rude shock if Qin Ye had received a message like the following: “Dear, did you come back to life? Welcome to the house of horrors.”
That would be a shocking development.
“Qin.” Qin Ye typed quickly, “I’ve taken over Mr Gu’s account. I’ll be the one to use it from now on. May I know the rights and privileges that I have access to with this account?”
There was a two second silence before another response came: “Are you certain you wish to take over Mr Gu’s account? We need to verify the identity of every individual holding onto a Premium VIP account. Please provide us with a valid identification.”
Qin Ye took a photo of his ID card and sent it across.
Meanwhile, a great distance away in the heart of Yan Capital, a middle aged man dressed in a white cloth robe sat within a grand building with a courtyard right in the center, staring at his screen with bewilderment.
Qin Ye’s ID card was displayed on his screen.
He opened a different tab on his screen in a routine fashion and accessed an identity verification website. He entered Qin Ye’s ID registration number and clicked on the search button. Suddenly, a red-framed command prompt appeared in the middle of his screen.
“You are not authorized to access this information.”
The man stared at the screen in complete disbelief. Moments later, he hurriedly typed back to Qin Ye: “Please give me ten minutes.”
He immediately shot to his feet, “Master Bai!”
An adjoining door creaked open, and a man wearing a striking Cathayan suit walked right in.
He wore a pair of silver-framed rimless glasses, and his features were so sharp and distinct that he looked like he had just waltzed right out of ancient poetry. He walked up to the computer in a cool and collected fashion, glanced at Qin Ye’s profile, and then his jaws dropped. He quickly waved his arms dismissively, “You may take your leave. I’ll deal with this client.”
“Master Bai…” The middle aged man hesitated, “Should we inform the grandmaster? We’ve never encountered such a situation before. The most bizarre thing we’ve come across is… that the person doesn’t exist.”
“No need.” Master Bai flicked his sleeves and sat down, and the middle aged man took his leave sensibly. And it was only then that Master Bai slowly took a closer look at Qin Ye’s profile.
He’s very young… He’s only eighteen years-old, and yet we don’t have the authorization to verify the details of his profile?
Guardian Auctions’ account entitled us to verify the details of well over 90% of the entire population, and yet we still don’t have sufficient authorization to look into his profile? We don’t even face such difficulties when dealing with the wealthiest of tycoons. And I don’t believe this young man is wealthier than all of those individuals in any event.
“Then, that means that he’s… special? Perhaps he might have something to do with those few special departments that have come into the public eye in recent times?” He tapped on the table and murmured to himself, “Interesting…”
He began to type on the terminal. The website didn’t change. Instead, he simply logged onto a separate account. Meanwhile, back in the City of Salvation, Qin Ye noticed the following words appearing on the chat box: “Connecting… Master of the House No. 1 warmly welcomes you to Guardian Auctions.”
They’ve changed the handler?
Qin Ye was somewhat startled. However, Master Bai quickly added, “Hello, I am Guardian Auctions’ Master of the House No. 1. Guardian Auctions has a total of three such masters and one grandmaster. We’ve also got five mavens operating out of each branch that we have. Given your esteemed status, I’ll be personally serving you from now on.”
“I’ve submitted my documents for verification, but you might not be able to access my information.” Qin Ye continued, “Will this cause any issues with my taking over of Mr Gu Qing’s account?”
“Not a problem at all. It was just a routine verification of identity.” Master Bai responded immediately, “You might be new to the system at Guardian Auctions, so perhaps I can start off by recapitulating the privileges accompanying a Premium VIP account.”
“One. Before the commencement of each major auction, Guardian Auctions will send to you a beautifully designed catalogue with the estimated starting bid for all goods together with the interval between each increment. The list will also be accompanied with a detailed description of each item for your consideration.”
“Two. Prior to each major auction, Premium VIPs are given the privilege of knowing the exact venue at which the auction will be taking place, together with the itinerary of the auction and the list of registrants.”
“Three. All Premium VIPs are entitled to protection at each major auction, subject to a maximum quota that is to be determined prior to each auction.”
He continued to explain, “The third privilege essentially means that you will have to register your participation at the major auctions. Every venue can hold a maximum of 100 people. Our branch has kept the total number of Premium VIPs registered at 50 persons. Anyone who successfully bids for an item or items worth more than 20 million RMB in total will immediately be eligible for a promotion to Premium VIP. Those who fail to participate in any auctions for three years will automatically be dropped back to a regular VIP. Non-premium VIP members will have to compete against other participants for the right to participate in major auctions.”
Qin Ye typed: “How would they compete?”
“By their participation and performance at the minor auctions.” Master Bai responded.
Qin Ye understood. He finally had a good grasp of the entire procedure and workings of Guardian Auctions. After several moments of deliberation, he asked further: “Then would it be possible to ascertain the location of the next auction right now?”
“Certainly.” Master Bai promptly responded. Then, approximately ten seconds later, a picture was sent through the chat function.
Qin Ye tried several means to take a screenshot of the picture or to download it, yet to no avail.
Thus, he gave up that idea and took a closer look at the picture. It depicted a small tropical island with palm trees and coconut trees everywhere.
The island wasn’t large. Having regard for its state-of-the-art docks that were berthed with boats, the entire island was probably only one or two square kilometers in size. One could even spot a handful of luxurious ancient Cathayan villas on the island.
“We call it Morningstar Island One.”
“Where exactly is it located?”
“Just under the Daehan Straits. Its climate is pleasant, and the beach is great. However, it is usually closed to the public.”
His words were simple, yet it caused Qin Ye’s eyes to flicker brightly. Arthis furrowed her brows, “What exactly does that mean?”
“Interesting…” Qin Ye took a sip of water and glanced at the simplistic web page with great interest, “Guardian Auctions… definitely has the backing of some unknown powers. It’s authority and influence is far greater than I had imagined…”
He continued without missing a beat, “Why do you think… Morningstar Island One is usually closed to the public?”
Then, he answered his own question, “No wonder… no wonder they conduct the auctions separately from where their potential buyers are located. It’s because… the auctions are conducted on an island in the high seas!”
Arthis couldn’t understand what he was trying to get at, “What do you mean?”
“This is why I say an old hag like you should learn to keep up with current affairs.” Qin Ye gave Arthis a smug, triumphant look, “This island is located beyond the territorial waters of Cathay, and it would probably be located off the territorial waters of Daehan and Nippon beyond the coasts of Pusan and Kyukoku respectively.”
“Furthermore, the fact that Master Bai has responded so quickly means that this isn’t the first time they’ve disclosed the auction venue to others. Yet they’re still confident of providing sufficient security to guarantee their safety at the auction venue. Additionally, we can tell that they were the ones who had been able to construct the villas on an island on the high seas… Everything lends credence to the fact that Guardian Auctions has the backing of an unfathomable power behind it.”
After all, these weren’t things that could be easily achieved with simply money and wealth. It was no wonder why they didn’t need to verify Qin Ye’s particulars.
It was because they were confident that nothing would go wrong. And even if something went wrong, they were absolutely confident of dealing with the situation on their own.
In other words, the people behind Guardian Auctions were absolutely confident in their own abilities.
Qin Ye mulled over these things. He had never expected Guardian Auctions to be an organization with such deep roots. But this was exactly what he needed. The deeper their reserves, the higher the quality of their contacts. And the better their contacts, the quicker the spread of information. And the quicker information spreads, the greater the odds of locating their perfect business partner!
What he truly desired was a big-name merchant who was able to purchase large quantities of Southsea Huanghuali from him all at once, and not several small-time merchants who could only take a small bite at a time, separated by extended breaks. Even though having several small-time merchants made things easier from a management perspective… he was far too severely inhibited by the academy’s restrictions on his movement.
“Why does it have to be set on the high seas?” Arthis frowned.
“It’s simple. As with any other high-end auctions of this level, they probably sell several products that cannot legally be circulated on the market. If the auction took place on mainland Cathay, the seller would be reticent, and the buyer would dread the potential ramifications of his purchase even more. In fact, could well be the case that right after the auction, the buyer might get a knock on his door with an invitation to ‘go out for tea’.” Qin Ye explained patiently.
“So that’s how it is… That’s strange! I find it surprising that you know so much about these high-end auctions despite your impoverished life to date!”
“... Is it really that impossible to have a simple, pleasant conversation among us?! Look! Even a toad can lust after a swan’s flesh, alright?! This knowledge is all borne out of a sincere longing! A longing, you understand?!”
Arthis nodded with a knowing expression, and then she suddenly frowned again, “Pusan and Kyukoku? Kyukoku… why does this name sound so familiar…”
Qin Ye’s eyelids twitched uncontrollably, “I’m warning you… you’d better tell me in advance if there’s going to be any issues with these places! Do you know how many times I nearly died because of your failure to apprise me of the situation?!”
Arthis thought for a moment, and then shook her hand, “What are you so anxious about? It was nothing more than a casual statement that it sounded a little familiar…”
Qin Ye stared at her disbelievingly, before finally turning back to exchange several more pleasantries with Master Bai. After chatting for a little while longer, he closed the chat window, put on his clothes and left the room.
He walked straight to the faculty office and knocked on the door. After receiving a response, he opened the door and immediately noticed that Zhou Xianlong appeared to be grading some papers.
“You’re done moving?” Zhou Xianlong spoke without even lifting his head.
“Yes… About that, Faculty Head Zhou, something’s come up, and I was wondering if you--...”
“Not possible.” Zhou Xianlong finally put down his pen and looked up before Qin Ye could even finish asking his question, “You’re asking for vacation leave? On what basis? Rules are rules, and military regimentation must look the part. To that end, I personally think that the present regimentation is already far too lax.”
“Have your lesson plans been approved? If so, it would do you good to get more in touch with current affairs.” He pointed to a stack of newspapers that was close to a foot tall, “You’ve come at the right time. The school’s subscription has arrived. Help me distribute those to the instructors and professors.”
Bloody hell… I didn’t come here for you to greet me with a flying kick!
Qin Ye was so infuriated that his lips were twitching - Damn it I hadn’t even finished talking, and you’re already piling on task after task on my head?! And I’m here to apply for leave of absence! Not to be your damn paper boy!
Nevertheless, he fervently repressed the burgeoning inferno of netherflames in his heart - Unfortunately, I can’t beat you… If I could, do you think I would take all of this lying down? Qin Ye pouted and pushed his luck, “It’s like this… my grandfather’s death anniversary is coming up soon. Do you think you could look the other way and grant me a leave of absence? I’m not asking for a long time… just one week would do?”
“Then, I’ll say it again - not possible.” Zhou Xianlong turned around with a grave expression, “Firstly, might I remind you what line of work we’re in? Do you even believe those things? Secondly, nobody in the entire academy is entitled to any exceptions, so what makes you think you should be treated any differently? Furthermore, I’ll reiterate for the last time that rules are rules, and they are intended to be strictly adhered to. When you accepted the rights and privileges accompanying your appointment with the First Academy of Cultivators, you’d also accepted the corresponding obligations and duties as well. These are all clearly spelt out in the contract which you’d signed. Instructor Qin, if you make such a request again, I might have to seriously reconsider whether you’re still suitable for your position as an instructor of the First Academy of Cultivators.”