The supervisor smiled as he led Lin Yun to the private room, “Sir Lin, this is the room prepared for you. If you require nothing else, I will take my leave first.”
“One thing. Is it too late to register an item for the auction?” Lin Yun asked before letting the supervisor leave.
“Well, that depends on its value. Only considerably precious items can be guaranteed an appearance on stage, especially this close to show time,” replied the supervisor. He maintained a polite smile as he replied, but his gaze was anything but. Evidently, he severely doubted that Lin Yun would offer anything of value.
“Hmm… I’m not really sure how much this thing’s worth, if I’m being honest. Would you mind taking a look at it for me? It’s the Golden Brute Bulls’ leader,” Lin Yun explained as he handed the horn over to the supervisor.
He had taken the horn off the leader’s corpse a few weeks prior after surviving the stampede. That monster had given him so much trouble he decided to keep it as a trophy, but with how much had happened since then he’d honestly forgotten all about it. It wasn’t until Ma Kui dumped his interspatial pouch on stage that he remembered he still had it; and after finding out how much the Flaming Blood Bones were worth, he figured it prudent to have the horn appraised as well.
“The horn of the Golden Brute Bulls’ leader?!” The supervisor’s eyes lit up as he continued, “Let me see… Thi-this is the genuine article! This really is the horn of the Golden Brute Bulls’ leader! Incredible! Did you know that only the leader can grow a horn this size? The average length of a Golden Brute Bull horn is 1 to 1.5 meters in length at full maturity, but Golden Brute Bull leaders have been known to grow horns upwards of 2 meters in length! Magnificent, isn’t it? Their horns are also much sharper than that of their herd brethren. Judging by its length and by -OOO Ouch!- by its sharpness, it’s safe to say this here is the genuine article!”
“Oh, nice. About the price…”
“Look at how thick the bone core is! Sir Lin, this Golden Brute Bull must have been exceptionally strong. How did you manage to kill it?” the supervisor asked eagerly. His demeanour had completely changed the second Lin Yun produced the horn from his bag.
“I punched it,” Lin Yun replied frankly. “I’m just going to assume it’s valuable enough to auction. Would you mind making sure it gets in for me?”
“No, that should do it. Thank you,” Lin Yun said. He held the door for the supervisor as he awkwardly pushed the horn out into the hallway.
Lin Yun chuckled as he watched the supervisor talk excitedly with one of his helpers. The man’s attitude towards Lin Yun had changed drastically once he produced the horn, but he didn’t let it get to him. Since arriving in Profound Amber, defying people’s expectations had apparently become a hobby of his.
When he saw that the auction still hadn’t begun, he took out four low-grade spiritual stones as he began to circulate the Pure Yang Art within his body. As it greedily absorbed the spiritual aura from the stones, Lin Yun could tell he was close to making a breakthrough.
Roughly half an hour later, he polished off the last of the four low-grade spiritual stones and added it to the pile he had started next to him. It was then he noticed a hush had come over the first floor and assumed the auction must be about to start. When he looked on stage, he saw a gorgeous woman getting ready to present.
“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Clear Water City Auction House! My name is Qiu Lan (Big Sis Lan for short) and I will be your auctioneer for this evening! I hope you all remembered to bring your wallets as we have a lot of great items here for you tonight! If you find yourself in need of assistance or have a burning question that MUST be answered, event staff can be found out in the foyer. Again, my name is Big Sis Lan, and welcome to Clear Water City Auction House!”
Qiu Lan was all smiles and cheer as she announced but the gleam in her eye revealed her cunning nature. Everything she did, from words she chose to use and when she used them to the way she moved her voluptuous figure around the stage, was part of the act. She was an expert at working a crowd.
As a capstone to her welcome speech, she bowed deep, revealing a flawless patch of skin. The crowd became hysteric.
Once they had quieted, she continued, “Thank you! Thank you! You’re all too kind. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our first item up for auction today!”
The heavy, red velvet curtains swung open to reveal a dazzling display of coloured lanterns and decorative hand fans. Two three-meter wide fans covered in gold leaf overlapped at the back end of center stage. Qiu Lan motioned to them as they arched away from each other, using their handles as fulcrums. Behind the fan stood a well-dressed man at the helm of a rolling cart that had been covered in scarlet silk. Once an opening was made for him, he rolled the cart up to where Qiu Lan stood and yanked the silk sheet away with a flourish.
“Our first item is a Blood Refining Pellet that’s comparable to those produced by sects. I believe that this item needs no explanation, so let’s start the bidding at 500 low-grade spiritual stones!”
It was common practice for the first item to be desired, but not mind-blowing. This tactic was primarily used to give bidders a chance to warm up and to ease the atmosphere. The Blood Refining Pellet was just the tool for the job.
The Blood Refining Pellet caught Lin Yun’s attention. It was never a bad idea to buy more pellets when given the opportunity. Besides, he knew people wouldn’t get too competitive over it so he had a decent chance of winning.
It took less than five seconds for the price of the Blood Refining Pellet to double. Hearing the bid break 1,000 low-grade spiritual stones had caused the other bidders to baulk. After all, not everyone had 1,000 low-grade spiritual stones they could just throw at a Blood Refining Pellet.
“1,200 low-grade spiritual stones!” Lin Yun gave out his bid after a moment of thought.
The supply of Blood Refining Pellets couldn’t keep up with demand. Most of the time, you couldn’t find a seller even if you had the spiritual stones to pay for one. Until he was worthy of an increased sect allowance, he would pick them up wherever he could get his hands on them.
His sharp jump in price had been successful. In the unspoken language of auction bidding, a drastic raise was the same as saying “challenge me if you dare”.
“Going once, going twice… 1,200 low-grade spiritual stones going for a third time! Sold!” Qiu Lan directed her charming smile at Lin Yun’s suite as she continued, “Congratulations to our friend from the second floor! The Blood Refining Pellet will be sent to your private room shortly.”
“I knew it! Blood Refining Pellets aren’t something we can afford.”
“Why is it that every time a Blood Refining Pellet is sold it goes for twice the price? Every single time….”
“That’s a shame. That Blood Refining Pellet was going to be my ticket to the fifth stage of the Martial Path.”
“Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll bring out some Body Refining Pellets soon. We have a pretty good chance to win those!”
The collective disappointment over the Blood Refining Pellet came and went with relative ease. Most knew finding one at a reasonable price outside of a sect was a pipedream, but it was still worth a shot.
On the stage, Qiu Lan felt that the auction was off to a good start. With the martial practitioners present, a Blood Refining Pellet had been a perfect way to lead off.
The next dozen items had decent competition and went for good prices. There were weapons, pellets, martial techniques, and even a few domesticated demonic beasts up for sale. There hadn't been a single item on stage thus far that a martial practitioner would turn down.
Unless that martial practitioner was Lin Yun, that is. He already had a weapon, the pellets weren’t useful at his level, his time would be better spent practicing the techniques he already had, and a domesticated demonic beast seemed… excessive. He decided it was best to save in case something caught his eye later.
“The next item is a late addition to the auction. Here we have the horn of the Golden Brute Bulls’ leader!”
When Qiu Lan unveiled the red cloth, the horn dazzled in the spotlight. If people hadn’t been paying attention thus far, they certainly were now.
“Wow! That horn look sharp!”
“I heard that the horns of the Golden Brute Bull can easily tear apart any demonic beasts of equal or lesser cultivation and that the bulls themselves are practically unstoppable when their charge.”
“But Golden Brute Bulls usually travel in herds of up to thousands. How did someone get their hands on the horn of the leader?”
As the auction goers speculated amongst themselves, a man on the second floor was doing everything he could not to scream. He was the young patriarch of the Yun Clan, who had previously narrowly escaped death at the hooves the the bulls on Cloud Horizon Mountain.
“Swine! Look at them and their stupid, excited faces! Filthy, ignorant peasants! Who gives a shit about that horn! I want to know who supplied that wretched item. Find them for me now, dammit!” screamed the young patriarch from his booth. His face was contorted with rage and his bloodlust could be felt from outside his suite.
“You two, why aren’t you moving?! Go! Investigate! I want to know who sent it here and where they are right now!”
The two guards had no idea what set off their young patriarch, but they weren’t about to stay and find out.
“Yes, sir! We’re going, sir!”
Seeing the excitement the horn had generated among the martial practitioners, Qiu Lan smiled, “Everyone knows how rare Profound Artifacts are, right? It’s said that a sword crafted from the horn of a Golden Brute Bull is just as good as one! The bids start at 2,000 low-grade spiritual stones!”
The high starting price silenced a portion of the crowd. Clearly the horn of the Golden Brute Bulls was something meant for only the inner disciples of the four great sects.
Unsurprisingly, the bid war over the horn was fought exclusively by private suites from the second floor. Twelve different rooms chimed in and the horn was eventually sold for 3,500 low-grade spiritual stones.
“Not too shabby,” Lin Yun smiled. The 3,500 low-grade spiritual stones he just made more than atoned for the Golden Brute Bulls’ attempt on his life.
The next item was brought on stage after an uncharacteristic delay. There had been quite the commotion backstage during the lull and everyone was eager to see what sort of exotic item could derail such a well-run event.
From behind the giant fans came two monstrously large men carrying something rectangular hidden under scarlet silk. Judging by their laboured movement, the object was unreasonably heavy.
“What the hell is that and why is it so heavy?”
“Maybe it’s a meteorite!”
“Is it some crazy bludgeoning weapon?”
“Armour? Wait, no. No one would wear something that heavy… Decorative armour?”
They were all wrong. It was a sword box, and an old one by the looks of it. It had clearly seen its fair share of use. There were knicks and scratches covering it from top to bottom and the seam was plagued with rust. Putting it nicely, it was classic antiquity; but the grim truth was that it was simply old and rusty.
The crowd didn’t even attempt to hide their disappointment.
“Contrary to what most of you are thinking, this sword box is a genuine treasure. It was found by a brave adventurer who risked life and limb bringing this masterpiece from the Ancient Battlefield beyond the Aquasky Nation. This sword box represents over 300 years of history and has many secrets that have yet to be solved. For example, the interior is as cold as ice…”
Even someone as silver-tongued as Qiu Lan had no idea how to pitch an object like this. If it’s appearance hadn’t deterred everyone yet, its 800 low-grade spiritual stone starting bid sealed the deal.
“You want 800 low-grade spiritual stones for that thing? Are you insane?”
“It’s literal garbage. You expect us to bid on someone else’s recycling?”
“Does it do anything or is it really just the world’s worst display case?”
“Bing out a different item!”
Unfortunately for both the auction goers and Qiu Lan, there was nothing she could do about the price. It had been set by the appraisers of the auction house and, while they hadn’t investigated it thoroughly, they agreed on 800 low-grade spiritual stones due to its age.
Qiu Lan grew visibly uncomfortable. Clearly no one would pay 800 low-grade spiritual stones for an unnaturally heavy, rusted, old sword box, but her hands were tied. The crowd wanted her to move on, but having an item go unsold would be terrible for her reputation.
In a last ditch effort, she continued, “There is no trash to be found on the Ancient Battlefield. This sword box could have a long, powerful history. Who knows, it might be a Profound Artifact! Whoever fixes it might find that it was worth a lifetime of treasures all along…”