“Comb up your hair like an adult and put on a handsome suit…” Qin Ye hummed a ridiculous tune as he combed up his hair in front of the mirror. There was a wide selection of lotions, masks, creams, and other facial products set out in front of him.
Ming Shiyin couldn’t stand it any longer, “Why are you acting in such an effeminate manner?! No wonder Arthis has been calling you a submissive man.”
“I’m just being presentable.” Qin Ye adjusted his tie and sized himself up in the mirror - Eh? Who’s that handsome man over there?
“Are you really in the mood to look the part?” Ming Shiyin couldn’t come to terms with the fact that a future King Yanluo would be standing in front of a mirror with a selection of beautifying products, “And even if you’ve got the luxury of time, wouldn’t that time be more well spent contemplating how you’re going to seize the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl from the pack of wolves eyeing it hungrily?”
Qin Ye’s hands paused for a moment, before he proceeded to apply the next skincare product on his face, “Since there are rules in place, we’ll just play by the rules. There’s already three billion sitting in my account right now. So, what’s the rush?”
Just as Ming Shiyin was staring at Qin Ye with great incredulity, Qin Ye casually reached out, picked up Ming Shiyin, and began to preen himself in the reflection on Ming Shiyin’s surface… What the hell is this?!
Let’s start over… There’s something incongruous about all of this…
“Don’t sully this pristine mirror with your dirty, disgusting looks!” Ming Shiyin urgently wrested itself free of Qin Ye’s grasp and immediately backed some distance away. Then, moments later, it leaned back in and asked, “Hey, seriously speaking, don’t you wanna kill that bastard Grandmaster Chu?”
“This is why I say you will never amount to anything more than an ornament on Justice Bao’s dresser. Logically speaking, having followed Justice Bao for hundreds and even thousands of years on end, you should already be conferred the title of a great governor, or a minor official at the very least! Why don’t you consider the reasons yourself for once?” Qin Ye ran in fingers down his sideburns, absolutely satisfied with the look that he had done up for himself, “Putting aside your usual foul-mouthed attitude, have you ever stopped to observe and consider humans as a race?”
Without missing a beat, Qin Ye continued, “Humans are strange beings. But they’re also incredibly fascinating and interesting creatures. Everyone has their own perspectives, and their actions and reactions naturally flow from these perspectives of theirs. We humans don’t go all out all the time. In my case, I wouldn’t even waste my time and effort reaping the soul of Grandmaster Chu. Make sure to note this down. I’ll test you on my preferences in future.”
Test your ass!
You’re not even King Yanluo, and yet you’re already delegating work like one?
But before Ming Shiyin could even voice its grouse to Qin Ye, another announcement was broadcasted through the ship’s system, “Dear distinguished guests, the auctions are expected to commence in thirty minutes. This is a kind reminder for all attendees to start making your way to the third floor. Thank you.”
The smile on Qin Ye’s face faded away. He drew several deep breaths and slowly made his way to the third floor of the cruise liner, all the while consciously maintaining a presentable facade. The passageway on the third floor was already laid with an ostentatious and luxurious red carpet that was soft and plush. The doorman standing at the entrance to the auction room was as good-looking as a movie star, standing tall at approximately 1.8m, and he was incredibly polite and courteous to the auction attendees.
“Mr Qin, this is your number plate.” Another doorman handed Qin Ye a number plate - number 21.
The heavy wooden doors slowly opened up. The auction venue was unexpectedly quiet. Apart from the melodious, soothing piece of music playing in the background, the rest of the auction venue could be said to be completely silent.
He scanned his surroundings. It had to be said that Guardian Auctions were experts at running an auction. The auction booths were located some distance away from each other, while each booth comprised of more than one seat.
The entire venue was structured like a terraced hall, while the booths were all composed in the same fashion - a luxurious chair befitting of a wealthy chairman placed right in the center, surrounded by a U-shaped table and four seats each on either side of him.
These were seats for the working group.
As far as such ultra-high value auctions were concerned, each bid price increment was an incredibly serious affair, and would likely spell the difference between liquidating a property of theirs or retaining it altogether. After all, each and every one of the auction attendees were among the ultra-rich who had their assets hidden in every corner of the world, and it was naturally important for them to have their assistants around in order to give them a real time valuation of the amount they could actually bid.
The auction venue was massive, and it contained slightly in excess of forty such booths. Furthermore, there was a red stage erected right at the front of the entire hall.
The stage was decorated with an ancient Cathayan charm, replete with exquisite carvings on both sides of the stage. The tables and chairs on the stage were all antique Cathayan furniture, while a long, wide LED screen displayed the precious artifacts that had been sold in previous iterations of auctions organized by Guardian Auctions. A group of armed mercenaries dressed in camouflage uniforms stood guard around key points within the auction venue.
Qin Ye located his corresponding booth and took his seat. He didn’t have assistants with him, so he turned around to make small talk with his auction assistant from time to time. Incidentally, he was the only person in the entire venue who didn’t have any assistants with him.
Ignoring the inquisitive gaze of all who were around, he picked up his cup of tea and took a few sips from it. There was also a selection of delectable pastries and treats placed neatly in front of him.
Time passed quickly. At 6.30 p.m., the music suddenly stopped, and the doors to the auction venue softly clicked shut. The lights darkened to a warm glow, and the entire cruise liner instantly exuded the ambience of a nocturnal city drifting on the sea.
“Greetings, distinguished guests.” Bai Yishan was dressed in an auspicious red Cathayan tunic suit. He made his way onto the stage and cupped his hands respectfully, “Thank you all for taking time off your busy schedules to grace this occasion. First and foremost, please accept our apologies once again for these last minute-changes. The auctions had to be brought forward due to some unforeseen circumstances arising in the cargo hold, and this has caused some of our premium VIP account holders to be unable to make it on time. We sincerely apologize. At the same time, we swear upon the honour of Guardian Auctions that these changes were made in order to ensure the safety of all our guests.”
There was no reaction from the audience, save for some soft whispers of discussions that buzzed within each booth. Bai Yishan didn’t mind this. He was an adept when it came to auctions like these. What else was the audience supposed to do - applaud him?
“As you are all aware, the present iteration of Guardian Auctions’ summer major auctions will see the auction of a national-level treasure. This prized artifact deserves a better home than Guardian Auctions, and we are therefore looking to match it to a suitable owner. Please take a look, everyone.”
He turned around, and the lights in the room promptly dimmed. The LED screen began to display several patterns which slowly converged to form an image of the ancient, scarred bowl.
Qin Ye squinted his eyes and immediately sized up the image. His ears perked up, and he soon began to pick up the chatter in his surroundings.
“What’s going on now?” Ming Shiyin was presently strapped to Qin Ye’s chest, and it quipped out of curiosity.
Qin Ye shook his head and glanced at Bai Yishan with a look of great astonishment. Several moments later, he finally responded, “They’re looking to auction the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl right off the cuff. The other attendees have also noticed this peculiarity.”
“How is this possible?!” Ming Shiyin was startled, “It doesn’t accord with the norms of auctions to start off the auctions with such a prized artifact!”
Qin Ye shook his head. He finally understood everything. Grandmaster Chu was also afraid, because he was keenly aware of the fact that he had offended some powerful and influential parties. But rather than drag things on just to whet their appetites, he would much prefer to open the auctions with the grand finale and serve up the main dish right off the cuff.
Idiot… Qin Ye’s lips twitched - You’ve already crossed the line with us. If you’re afraid, you should’ve just backed off back then. Otherwise, just keep up with the pretenses and see the act through to its completion. You’re clearly trying to get the best of both worlds with this, but your actions are only going to attract the ire of all!
After all, Qin Ye wouldn’t be moved by this “gesture of sincerity” of his. Neither would Master Kamo, Mr Iwasaki, or the two Hellguards from Mount Koya.
Qin Ye’s wealth of life experiences meant that he had already grasped the human heart, and he had a complete mastery over what made humans tick.
“The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl.” Bai Yishan’s voice quivered lightly as he declared the first item of auction with gravitas. He continued hoarsely, “There are only two such heirloom pieces belonging to the Song Dynasty. One fell into the hands of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the great names of the Nipponese Warring States era, while the other one, as pictured above, had at all times been in possession of none other than the eminent Demon King of the Sixth Heaven, Oda Nobunaga. It was later lost in the wake of the Honnoji incident.”
“Everyone had written it off as a ruined relic in the inferno. But thanks to Guardian Auctions’ tireless efforts, we’ve managed to bring it back to life to see the light of modern day society!”
“That’s right. It might be scarred, but these scars are directly inflicted upon this artifact by the indomitable weight of history. It allows us to relive the great blaze at Honnoji which changed the course of history in Nippon. The scars don’t make it hideous. Rather, these historical scars make it a most unique piece, one that is even more distinguishable and invaluable than the one located at the Nipponese Seikado Bunko Art Museum!”
The lights promptly brightened, and Bai Yishan’s voice crescendoed with great passion, “Now, may I please invite Guardian Auctions’ Grandmaster of the House, Grandmaster Chu, to present the one and only Song Dynasty heirloom, the Nipponese national treasure, as well as our opening lot for the auction - the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl!”
Although there was a build-up leading to its unveiling, Bai Yishan’s impassioned spiel still managed to set the entire auction venue into a frenzy.
It’s true! They’re opening with the finale! What’s going on with Guardian Auctions?!
And that wasn’t even the point. Opening the auctions with a national treasure necessarily meant that everyone still had their funds at their full disposal. This was most certainly going to be a bloody battle of wealth!
Sounds of ragged breaths broke out throughout the auction venue. A man seated in the first row and dressed in a white thawb sat up straight. Likewise, a graceful and elegant Nipponese woman next to him straightened up as well. In fact, all of the tycoons, even those in the second and third rows of booths, immediately set down their teacups and sat up attentively.
Why is this being auctioned right off the cuff?
The answer lay hidden under the bandages wrapped tightly around Grandmaster Chu’s hands. Grandmaster Chu walked up on stage with the X-magic box, ostensibly wounded. Everyone raised their eyebrows immediately, and they immediately got a hint of what transpired down at the cargo hold.
He can’t keep it within his possession any longer… He must’ve offended someone… or perhaps, someone is after him… Regardless, it’s clear that Guardian Auctions would never have changed their plans like this if they had a choice.
“He’s attempting to buy his safety with this.” Back in one of the booths located in the first row, Iwasaki Kyouya chuckled contemptuously at him, sipping his tea as he murmured aloud, “But are you sure that the safety you’re after is only worth a few billion RMB?”
“A debt of gratitude is hard to repay, but a debt of hatred is one that is even harder to write off.” He sighed wistfully, “That’s good tea.”
Grandmaster Chu didn’t say a word. He simply walked up to the stage and placed the X-magic box down gently onto the table. Then, he cleared his throat, “Distinguished guests, please accept my sincerest apologies. These developments have happened too suddenly, so please understand when we say that we have to keep the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl within the confines of this security measure until the auction is over. Once the gavel falls, the bowl can immediately be verified. After all, the three people required to gain access to the contents of the box are all present right now.”
This devilish bowl… The memories of everything that transpired since the time he obtained the bowl to the present moment quickly flashed past his eyes. We’ve come so far, from Yan Capital, to Eastsea, and then finally to this place. However, we’ve also lost far too much… In that instant, his voice choked up slightly. However, Grandmaster Chu fervently repressed his emotions and steeled his nerves.
We’ve come so far, so how can I afford to look back?!
Everything he had done thus far had revolved around Guardian Auctions. This was the final cannon that would propel Guardian Auctions ahead of all of their competitors.
He turned to Bai Yishan, only to receive an inquisitive gaze in return. Grandmaster Chu drew several deep breaths. Then, he slowly made his way to the side of the auction table, “Now, it is with the greatest honour that I declare--...”
“The summer major auction officially begins!”
“The first lot is none other than the Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl. Bidding starts at one billion RMB. Each increment shall be no less than twenty million RMB. All are welcome to participate!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter