City of Sin

Chapter 45


With that little episode done, it was almost time for the midsummer festival. The atmosphere both inside and outside the Deepblue grew extremely lively, with many people dressing in exaggerated bright clothing unique to their races. Some even had colourful wigs on, while others had drawn strange patterns on their faces. Large barrels of fine liquor made it to the Deepblue through horse carriage, but they emptied out at an astonishing rate. The Deepblue had been lit up once more, countless flames decorating the night skies into a diverse, dreamy world. There was bonfire, song, and the aroma of food everywhere; on this day, no worries existed in the world.

In the upper layers of the Deepblue’s main tower, the true bigwigs remained extremely clear-headed. This was where the true auction was to be held, the legendary mage’s personal collection revealed here in detail. It was a stunningly huge event, because the sheer amount of rare materials the legendary mage could bring out was far in excess of the last festival. It led the aristocrats to have a whole new understanding of Sharon’s strength.

The most striking detail was definitely the set of dragon bones placed at the centre of the hall. A few mages kept hovering around it, the way they drooled over it obviously exposing their identities. However, the most precious thing here wasn’t the dragon bones, but the heart of an ancient beast from the Wild Plains, half of the fingernail of an archdevil of the abyss, as well as the complete soft neckhide of a fire dragon, all arranged at the highest place. All were rare items that were estimated to have a value of millions of gold coins.

The rules for the auction were very simple. There was a card in front of each auction item, and people who wanted to buy them would write the price they were willing to pay and their identities there. If someone was going to bid higher, they would continue writing on the row above. This went on until the auction was over and nobody offered a higher price. Of course, if someone was in particular need of any item and could not wait for the auction to end, they could quote a price to the whole audience. If nobody fought for it, then this item would belong to the person. While the auction hall reached an astoundingly large area of 13 000 square metres, a mere rank 10 warrior could have his voice heard throughout the area. Even if the aristocrats that entered this auction lacked this amount of power, they definitely had hundreds and thousands of rank 10 warriors under them.

Those with territory weren’t as interested in magic materials like the bone and hide. They instead paid attention to the ores placed at the west of the hall in a four-tiered annular stand. To the practical nobles who forged their own equipment, the bones and hide were far less useful than tens or hundreds of kilograms of rare ore. The former could make for one or two precious tools, but with the latter they would be able to craft armour, heavy weapons, and magic arrows. Equipping them on suitable warriors would immediately bolster their armies.

Those with power were actually quite repulsed by individual might, but were extremely fond of creating large-scaled armies.

Large amounts of ores like this obviously could not be piled up in the exhibition hall, which was why there were only a few samples placed there. The Deepblue had always had a good reputation when it came to delivering goods be it in the auction or daily sales, so the shipments would have the same quality as these samples. The nobles gathered in front of the counter, studying the grade and the colour of the ore. Families with good relations would even whisper to each other while eyeing the representatives of families who were not their allies from the corner of their eyes. They would carefully read the captions of the items. Besides the quality, quantity was also one of the most important points. After careful calculation and rethinking, they would then carefully write each price.

The atmosphere in the hall was heated yet controlled. It was still far from dawn, and there were only undercurrents flowing right now. It was not yet time for anyone to make a loss yet. However, the quantity and quality of the auction items that had surpassed the expectations of everyone had seemed to ignite the gunpowder. The ores’ variety and quantity had been a lot greater than expected, and people could not help but wonder how many planes with rich mineral resources the legendary mage had occupied in the past few years.

Steven was not dazzled by the ample items on display in the hall. He maintained his elegant demeanor, exchanging conventional greetings with the representatives of a few allied families before he walked towards the exhibition area of dragon items with utmost confidence. Besides the warrior and cleric, following behind him were two appraisal experts that Duke Solam had sent over, as well as two high-ranked warriors above rank 16; there were hardly any saints here, those near rank 18.

Through pleasant conversation with Blackgold’s assistant over time, Steven had long since come up with a goal he had to meet. He needed that hide of the fire dragon!

Indeed, the legendary fire dragon, not a red dragon. It was no easy task to kill any dragon, but red dragons were considered above average amongst the chromatic dragons with the most powerful bodies. The fire dragons were technically a branch of the red dragons, but there were few of them. Each of them was very powerful, however— if a red dragon over a thousand years of age grew exceedingly powerful, it could evolve into a fire dragon by chance.

In terms of human power, a newly advanced legend like Solam would place his life in jeopardy to fight a mature fire dragon. The small group of rune knights Saint Klaus commanded would be wiped out right away, so it was near impossible for the Solam Family to use its own strength to obtain the complete neck-hide of a fire dragon. Saint Klaus had once formulated a rune for the competition based on the fire dragon’s hide, but even if it had the best effects it was also the first to be denied.

Steven stood by the card for a long time, seriously studying the caption full of little words and a few illustrations and not letting any word escape his attention. Just by gauging it visually, it appeared that the skin was better than before and much larger than regular Fire Dragons, and it was excellent and intact. This fire dragon was over a thousand years old, which meant the quality of its hide was far beyond that of a small red dragon that had lived a mere few centuries.

The caption on the card was lengthy, the first paragraph speaking of the valiance with which the legendary mage had battled the fire dragon. This sort of content was normally skipped, but multiple revisions by a historian, artist, and Blackgold had ensured that anyone trying to deduce Sharon’s abilities through this would definitely regret it.

The second paragraph was a lot more important, detailing the powers of the dragon itself. The Deepblue’s reputation ensured that these descriptions were accurate, just like the last paragraph that touched on the dragon’s habitat.

There were already two rows of tiny words on the auction records. The prices quoted were 1,000,000 and 1,050,000 coins respectively. The inscriptions with the names implied that these two had to be incredibly powerful— no matter how powerful an individual was, it was difficult for them to match up to noble families like the Solams without the support of an organisation in power or wealth. Of course, Sharon was an exception.

After listening to the appraisal specialists carefully, Steven tried to retain a calm look on his expression, but the corner of his eye could not help but twitch slightly. The skin on the neck of the fire dragon was far too important to him. With it Saint Klaus could create a powerful rank 2 rune, and the snow rabbit defeating the winter wolf wouldn’t be consigned to mere legend.

Seeing this skin, Steven felt like he could see the gates that led all the way to becoming a dragonblooded runemaster!

He muttered to himself and asked for a magic pen from his subordinates, preparing to write his first amount. After some deep thought, Steven chose to set the price at 1.3 million, and then add 200 thousand to it later. This would show strength and determination without being too much of a show off, just in case others saw through his anxiety and purposely participated in an attempt to raise the price further.

At this moment, the hall that was becoming more noisy suddenly went quiet, and practically all those over rank 18 turned back at the same time, gazing towards the entrance of the hall. An invisible but blazing gust surged into the hall and filled the hall in an instant. The temperature in the hall abruptly rose by quite a few degrees, and the air that had been warm and moist became dry and blazing-hot. A sombre aura of desolation filled the air, and many even heard the faint roars of beasts in their ears.

This was an extension of pure power. The change to the hall was slight, but the sheer range of it was huge while it had happened in an instant. The thought of the power this being possessed was terrifying in itself. However, while this aura had come fiercely, there was no killing intent or pressure. This meant the person hadn’t done this intentionally— this was just a byproduct of his power.

Many of the powerful beings in the hall instantly made their own assessments of that invisible force, coming to a conclusion that made nobody happy. A line of people entered the hall in that moment, the most eye-catching of them all being the young girl at the centre escorted by a group of people. Her robes indicated that she was a martial artist, styled strangely with all sorts of wild bestial patterns. Her clothing was only strange, not specifically luxurious in terms of materials or accessories, but her very presence managed to gather the attention of everyone in the room in a moment, as if she was a true king amongst beasts.

The girl was well-proportioned and thin, and although her slightly tanned skin was not exquisite it seemed to be glowing. Her waist-length hair was nearly black, draping loosely over her shoulders in seven or eight little plaits with bones, pearls, beast teeth and all sorts of other accessories holding up the ends.

This was a more physical beauty, mixed with a primordial desolation and aggression that was difficult to put into words. The two white lines drawn on the left side of her face radiated an unforgettable barbaric aura, like boundless old plains and hills. Even a commoner would be able to sense the sheer power held within, and it caused the faces of those who were truly powerful to warp. They could tell it was no simple adornment, but they could not discern whether it was a rune or one of the saint totems spread in the wilder parts of the continent. Whatever it was, the girl was no ordinary person.

The girl had a graceful posture, but her stride definitely wasn’t light. It felt like the hall shook with every step she took, like it wasn’t a girl walking in but an ancient beast weighing hundreds of tons! Such might definitely didn’t come from the servants behind her— the rhythm of the tremors lined up with the girl’s steps.

At this moment, all the nobles in the hall had strange expressions on their faces. Some were angered by her disregard for everyone else, while others were just fascinated by her. However, as their gazes began to change, they suddenly felt a sting in their eyes. Their visions blurred, and tears flowed. Their personal servants wanted to attack, but the powerful ones stopped them.

Just then, a petite and wrinkled old man entered amongst the servants covered by her powerful presence. His arrival seemed to break through a fog, entering the view of everyone present. The man had a pair of muddy amber eyes, looking so old he practically couldn’t walk. He was dressed in strange and luxurious mage robes, with bright feathers stuck on his head. There were at least ten necklaces made of different materials layered on his neck that was like a withered branch, making one worry it would break under the weight.

The old man had a wooden staff in his hand made out of three branches, made obvious by the unevenness where cloth and beast hide were used to connect them. A coiled venomous snake was carved at the top, with beast teeth and bones hanging down from it in a string.

The old man followed closely behind the girl. No matter how fast or slow she walked, he seemed to remain in tune. He was tottering like he would fall and die at any moment, but that did not happen. Originally he had no presence to speak of, only registering to a select few people, but now he’d intruded into their sights and pushed the image of the girl out of mind. Anyone who wanted to focus on the girl, her face, her waist, her chest, and her butt now only saw the man’s withered face and blackish-yellow teeth.

In that moment, tens of people could not hold themselves back and began to tear up or were startled, amongst which were included those with power. There was no lack of influential people amongst those present, but the period of chaos seemed to be so short that it did not exist. In just a few moments, people acted as if nothing had happened. Everyone went back to their places and regathered at the stand of the auction items, doing whatever they had to. This was the Deepblue and not their territory, and the power that the old man had displayed made it clear to them that the girl was someone they had no right to provoke. All of them smiled and backed down because of this little issue, planning to make sense of the situation before doing anything more.

The fools who would rush out roaring at these times would long since have turned into mincemeat decades ago, and they wouldn’t have made it into the Deepblue’s auction long enough to cause a disturbance.

To be honest, this did not attract everyone’s attention. There was still a fair number of people single-mindedly studying the quality and strategising on the pricing for the auction items. For people like them, that was the most important thing. Some of them were so focused that nothing could affect them, while others were so weak that they could not sense the deterrence from the gap in their strength.

Steven was amongst that second group. He was stood in front of the fire dragon hide, writing each digit vigorously with his pen. It seemed like none of the bigshots were interested in this yet, and those who wanted to compete were just people with individual power. The price was only 1.3 million right now, far from the limit of 3 million he was prepared to give up.

When Steven wrote the 3, he saw the faces of those who’d already quoted their prices change from the corner of his eyes. He smiled slightly as he wrote the first of the zeroes, planning to write them all as round as he could. There wasn’t any hurry anyway.

However, before he could finish the fourth zero, he suddenly sensed a hot gust of air filled with a great aura of desolation blow by his side. A graceful figure appeared in his sight, and before he could even react he was sent flying through the air as if a mammoth had crashed straight into him. His vision whited out, and all he heard was the roars of the wind and wild beasts.

Next came an intense crash. The great pain of the impact woke Steven up from his near confusion, while his subordinates all hastened over in a flurry to help him up. The cleric had already instantly cast an intermediate heal on Steven’s head, allowing the dragon warlock to somewhat see in front of himself clearly.

However, he almost coughed up blood at what he saw. A young girl walked to the exhibition counter in front and pulled the dragonhide right off, shaking it powerfully and rubbing it a few times before saying contentedly, “It’s not bad, the texture is very soft! I just happened to bring one less item of clothing.” She then placed the dragon skin around her shoulders and even looked to the sides, as if this was a luxurious shawl.

An extremely sturdy warrior behind her stooped down and reminded the girl by her ear, “Your Highness, the money.”

The girl suddenly realised this and patted her head, and then said apologetically, “Oh, my, I’d have forgotten if you didn’t remind me! The Norlanders prize money the most, so I need to take note. Thank you, Steelrock. Who hosts this auction?”

The girl raised her volume for her last sentence. In actuality, there was no need for that, because the grey dwarf had already hastened over at lightning-speed the moment the girl’s hands were on the skin, and he was waiting at the side. With Blackgold’s keen sense of smell from years of hammering and refining, he was stunned to find that the girl’s aura was the most powerful he’d ever seen in his life. It was even more powerful than Sharon’s! The concentrated smell of gold— no, a smell that surpassed gold, had the grey dwarf’s blood boiling and left him unable to control himself.

Seeing the grey dwarf that had charged towards her, the girl grabbed a rock the size of a fist from the animal skin bag at her waist and, without even a glance at it, tossed it to the grey dwarf and said, “This is the… money for the dragon skin.”

The rock was grey and unremarkable, but when tossed in the air it lit up with many silver speckles. It left many streaks of silver in the skies, like the threads of a spiderweb.

In that moment, the grey dwarf’s entire body went stiff as he reached out to catch the rock. His expression of nervousness, caution, and solemnity was the same as when he was doing the report forms for the total finances of the Deepblue at the end of every month. However, the muscles on his arms were all jerking, his posture so stiff that he was like a gem underground. When the grey rock reached his palm, his fingers actually refused to listen to him, missing and letting the rock bounce straight to the ground. The grey dwarf cried out miserably and he fell hard to the ground like a rock, and then used all his strength and stretched out. Finally, he was able to grab the rock firmly before it fell to the ground.

At this point, tens of dazzling silver spiderwebs filled the skies, clearly showing the traces of the trajectory of the grey rock.

Tens of people had changed their expression, while the grey dwarf that had slowly gotten up spoke in a trembling voice, “It’s beyslace… a spider crystal. It really is a spider crystal!”

The item that the grey dwarf was holding was one of the necessary materials to make rank 4 runes. It could be sold in any part of the continent for five or six million coins, and just the sheer quantity and length of the lines made it obvious that this was a higher-quality crystal worth nearly ten million! The feeling of holding ten million gold coins in his hand was enough for the grey dwarf to feel waves of dizziness. Not every grey dwarf would have the chance to be hit by ten million gold coins in their lifetime.

In that moment, numerous gazes fixed on the bag at the girl’s waist. Everyone could see that this was spatial equipment, but it was hard to tell how much it could contain inside it. Even an ordinary leather bag containing beyslace would be enough to leave anyone suffocated, but this was actually spatial equipment!

Steven had actually reached out towards the dragon skin on the girl’s shoulders and shouted in a hoarse voice, “That dragonhide is…” But when she tossed the spider crystal out, the word mine immediately caught in his throat. His mouth opened and closed, then opened again, but he couldn’t make any sound at all. Even if he were to sell dragonblood he wouldn’t be able to get a bit of powdered beyslace. It was a whole other level of contest, and this wasn’t something he had the qualifications to participate in. If he wanted to raise an objection, the only reason he could have was that he had been sent flying by the girl.

The girl seemed to remember something at that point and frowned, before turning to ask the barbarian warrior, “Steelrock, did I knock into something just now?”

Steelrock bent his gigantic body that was nearly three metres tall, beaming in answer, “Just a tiny thing in your way.”

He looked up and stared at Steven and his servants, and then said disdainfully, “Just a bunch of people who aren’t all that rich. There’s no need to worry about them; you’re a student of Her Excellency.”

At this point, Steelrock looked around and raised his voice, speaking every syllable of a magic phrase clearly, “Who’s paying for herself!”

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