Chapter 721: Chapter 721 – Hosting a Real Auction
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
“You wish to go?” Gu Xiaoshang was a little surprised by this. The reason that Young Master Han had joined them in their operation this entire time had been to deal with the two city defenders, Thousand Miles Drunk and Sword Demon. He did not really care for anything else happening with the City Wars event aside from this, so now that he suddenly offered his participation for this matter, Gu Xiaoshang could not help but wonder, “Do you think there’s something off with this?”
“I can’t see if it’s off just yet, but I do have my suspicions,” Young Master Han said.
“Are you suspecting that Thousand Miles Drunk and Sword Demon are the ones who created this small guild?” Gu Xiaoshang had learned about Thousand Miles Drunk and Sword Demon’s intention to form a guild from Young Master Han.
“I cannot be sure, but I’m certain his guild has already been established,” Young Master Han said.
“How do you know this?” Gu Xiaoshang asked.
“By asking them directly,” Young Master Han said.
“Then why can’t you ask them about this matter directly now?” Gu Xiaoshang asked.
“I’ve already asked them about it, but they are feigning ignorance,” Young Master Han replied.
“Feigning ignorance… It sounds like you’re really skeptical about their participation, huh?” Gu Xiaoshang laughed.
“We already know that Thousand Miles Drunk and Sword Demon are able to pick up assassination missions that target the guild leaders, and now there is this auction for a quest that had very fortuitously appeared with such a condition that only guild leaders to pick it up, which would, in turn, allow them to gather several guild leaders together and kill them all in one go to accomplish these missions. Give me a reason not to suspect that they have a hand in this.” Young Master Han said.
“So what do you think we should do now?” Gu Xiaoshang consulted.
“Well… If this turns out to be real, I believe they must be determined to successfully accomplish their mission, so I doubt we have a shot at being the oriole lying in wait. Just the men those three guilds had sent would be enough to drown them out… That is why it would only be effective if we can enact a plan that would put a complete stop to their assassination scheme, and that would require us to collaborate with the other three guilds a bit,” Young Master Han said.
“How are we collaborating on this?” Gu Xiaoshang asked.
“It’s very simple. Since this is just an auction, there’s no need for any of their guild leaders to turn up in person. Just send out any worthless random for this would do,” Young Master Han explained.
“Okay, we’re sending you over,” Gu Xiaoshang huffed. T his man really speaks without any filters; what worthless random! How could I conveniently send anyone over after you say something as insulting as that? Whomever she ended up sending for this would probably think they were nothing more than rabble in their guild leader’s eyes.
“Of course I’m going, but you should at least send some helpers
Thus, Gu Xiaoshang began to pick out the players over the guild channel, at the same time sending a message to Oathless Sword, “Oathless, I think you need to stay on your guard for this matter. This might be a ruse!”
“Oh?” What happened?” Oathless Sword took Gu Xiaoshang’s words to heart with 120% certainty.
“This might be a scheme that Thousand Miles Drunk has concocted to accomplish his assassination mission,” Gu Xiaoshang warned.
“Why do you say that?” Oathless Sword asked. Even though he had unconditional obedience toward Gu Xiaoshang, he still had to give an account to everyone in his guild. Without any actual proof or evidence, simply saying “Gu Xiaoshang said this auction is just a ruse, so we’re not participating”. If that was what he told everyone as the reason, he would most likely lose his position as the guild leader of Traversing Four Seas. At the end of the day, Oathless Sword knew he had to take care of his outward appearance in the guild.
“I don’t really have any proof beyond a sneaking suspicion, so I’m reminding everyone to be careful. I suggest that we guild leaders do not show up for this auction this time, sending just those we can trust in lieu of our presence. What do you think?” Gu Xiaoshang said.
“Yes, that’s hardly a problem. I’ll get Youthful Reflection to go as my representative,” Oathless Sword happily agreed. Actually, Oathless Sword had only been enthusiastic about turning up for the auction personally simply for the chance of bumping into Gu Xiaoshang there so he could have the opportunity to flirt and pay attention to the apple of his eye. But now that he learned that Gu Xiaoshang would most likely not turn up, Oathless Sword had of course lost his eagerness as well, immediately messaging Youthful Reflection, “Youthful Reflection! I’m not going to this auction anymore. You shall lead some of our brothers over there instead.”
“Why?” Youthful Reflection was right beside Oathless Sword, yet he had opted to message him this set of instructions. It was very strange, but he did not voice out his concerns directly, simply replying to him back through message as well.
“After thinking about this at length, tell me; what should we do if this happens to be a trap set by Thousand Miles Drunk and the others, just so he could lure us guild leaders out into a secluded corner and assassinate all of us at once? That’s why I think it is best if I do not personally attend the auction,” Oathless Sword gravely explained his reasoning.
“Is that so?” Youthful Reflection was skeptical. “Is it because Gu Xiaoshang isn’t going as well?”
“Hmph. I cannot deny that affected my decision as well,” Oathless Sword said.
“G*dd*mm*t,” Youthful Reflection replied, at the same time glancing over at Cirrus, who was standing right beside them. He turned his head to him and said, “Brother Cirrus, I’ll be the one following you to the auction.”
“Oh? What about guild leader Oathless?” Cirrus asked.
“He’ll be coordinating with us from elsewhere,” Youthful Reflection replied.
Cirrus had already been briefed for this task, so he merely gave a non-committal “oh” even as he hurriedly sent a message back to the others, “There’s a change in the situation. Oathless Sword has expressed his wish to not participate in the auction, and will send the core member Youthful Reflection go as his replacement instead.”
At that moment. Gu Xiaoshang had contacted Black Index Finger and Foe-herder about this as well. While the two did not really have any sort of absolute trust in Gu Xiaoshang, Gu Xiaoshang did have a very good reputation in Yunduan City when it came to her character. So even if she was interested in competing for the quest, it was more likely that she would set a date for a brawl with the relevant party than be the sort that would resort to plotting some backhanded scheme. As such, both men acknowledged Gu Xiaoshang’s advice and made similar preparations as well, sending their trusted members out in their stead to participate in the auction.
“D*mm*t, this must be Young Master Han working behind the scenes!” Gu Fei spat after he saw the message.
“Yeah. None of these guild leaders had even made such preparations to begin with, only for them to react in such a manner as they made their way over. It appears like they must have been forewarned by something. However, I reckon that they lack any evidence and are merely taking the necessary safety measures to err on the side of caution. In other words… The two you have left an indelible impression on all these men,” Xi Xiaotian said to Gu Fei and Sword Demon. She was an Archer, and so her movement speed would, of course, be on the faster side. She had already made her way back to the sawmill by this time and met up with everyone after taking her leave from Brave Surge’s site.
“Currently, if we were to continue our charade and carry on with the auction, we are still able to win an opportunity to assassinate a target. After all, there’s surely a guild leader out there that would want to get a hold of this quest,” Gu Fei reasoned.
“But if either Oathless Sword or Gu Xiaoshang are the ones who end up winning the auction, wouldn’t that mean that make everything we’ve done thus far meaningless?” Sword Demon said.
“At the current rate, there’s a very good chance that those two will end up winning the auction. You guys know about the relationship between Oathless Sword and Gu Xiaoshang, right?” Xi Xiaotian said.
“The system is so baffling. Clearly, I was the one who died before, why must your mission for Oathless Sword’s head fail as well!?” Gu Fei complained.
“How would I know?” Sword Demon sighed.
“Stop discussing that already. We’ll have to do a real auction now, so let’s make it a properly convincing one first,” Xi Xiaotian said.
“Guess that’s all we can do for now,” everyone sighed.
“I’ll be the one hosting this auction!” Xi Xiaotian said. “Since Young Master Han already suspects us, there’s no reason for me to keep hiding anymore. If I can find some way to dispel the other party’s doubts, perhaps we might still have a chance to turn this thing around.”
“Up to you!” Gu Fei did not really have a lot of faith in Xi Xiaotian’s plan, revealing a look of nonchalance to her.
“Best of luck!” Everyone else, however, gave her plenty of encouragement. Thus, Xi Xiaotian sent a message to Cirrus, informing him that she will be taking charge of the auction as they had previously planned.
Back in Yunjiao Sawmill, the final pieces for the stage that they had originally set forth was very different from what they ended up having to deal with. Not a single guild leader they wanted showed up, while the unwanted Young Master Han and his entourage were the first to arrive on the scene. Gu Fei and everyone else were currently hiding behind cover in their respective positions, and when they saw the message from Xi Xiaotian informing everyone that Young Master Han was present, each of them were grinding their teeth when Royal God Call suddenly proposed, “Forget it, let’s deal with all the guild leader missions another time. Let’s just jump Young Master Han and eliminate him right now! We’ll see if he dares to be arrogant again.”
“Eliminate him? Isn’t he a neutral third party player right now? What’s the point of killing him for!?” Southern Lone Blade was the most pragmatic one out of them all.
“Stay calm, and look at the bigger picture,” Gu Fei coaxed.
Xi Xiaotian was standing right below the log pile where their “quest giver” Walter was sitting. The moment she saw Young Master Han, she revealed a slightly astonished expression before quickly coming up to him, “What? Didn’t Guild leader Surge say he’s not joining us for this auction?”
“I’m no longer with Carouse. I’m here to represent Colored Clouds,” Young Master Han chuckled. “What, are you a part of this guild hosting the auction as well?”
“Oh yes!” Xi Xiaotian smiled.
“Hmm, it appears we’ve come a bit early,” Young Master Han looked to the left and right when he said this.
“Yeah, there are still three more guilds that are about to arrive. The auction will start momentarily, so please wait in the meantime!” Xi Xiaotian politely replied to Young Master Han.
“Sure,” Young Master Han nodded as he began to observe his surroundings. Looking in one direction, and gazing in another, yet he did not seem to find what he was looking for. That was when Youthful Reflection arrived with several men from Traversing Four Seas in tow, who then spotted Young Master Han and greeted the man with a quick nod. He approached him as he whispered in hushed tones, “Did you find anything?”
“Nothing as of yet,” Young Master Han shook his head. “Perhaps they’ve already departed after hearing the news that the guild leaders were not coming. In any case, just be sure you do not hand over the coin before you get the quest for this auction.”
“That is a given!” Youthful Reflection nodded in agreement.
It was not too long after Youthful Reflection’s arrival when the representatives from Cloud Herder and The Black Hand Syndicate showed up. Because everyone was on their guard at the moment, they had all arrived very covertly, looking all around this place with great vigilance to see if there was anything strange about the location while they came forward to greet the men who had arrived before them. The contact for Cloud Herder was Xi Xiaotian, while Youthful Reflection and The Black Hand Syndicate had come with Cirrus.
Cirrus did not say too much after he set foot in the area, going straight over to stand beside Xi Xiaotian. She nodded her head approvingly after she confirmed the identity of the four guilds, “So, if there are no further questions, shall we begin?”
Obviously, these men had a good number of questions floating in their minds, but their questions were no longer regarding the auction itself, and they were simply gathered together in one spot quietly exchanging words with each other. When Xi Xiaotian suddenly announced that the auction was about to begin, everyone could barely react in time because they still had their doubts regarding the whole affair, and none of them that actually came were in the mood to participate in an auction.
“Alright. Let this auction begin. Everyone, please lift your heads up and take a look. That youngster sitting atop this lumber pile is the NPC Walter. It is the NPC for the quest I have on hand, and the moment you win this auction, the winning guild leader could immediately come over and interact with Walter to pick up the quest after our guild leader abandons the quest on her end. Okay, let us get this auction started. We’ll follow the rules that the system has set in place, and the starting bid is set to be at 200 gold coins, with the minimum bid increment starting at 20 gold coins, and there’s no maximum buyout price here. Which of you men would like to make the starting bid?”
Out of the four parties present, three were exchanging glances with one another, while Young Master Han maintained that mirthless smile of his. Seeing the awkward silence permeating this place, he decided to help everyone get the ball rolling, he raised the hand holding his bottle of liquor, “Then let us take the first bid!”
“Great, Colored Clouds for 220 gold coins,” Xi Xiaotian announced.
“240?” someone raised his hands with uncertainty, calling out his bid.
“Cloud Herder with 240,” Xi Xiaotian shouted.
“260?” The representative from The Black Hand Syndicate was not too convinced either.
“The Black Hand Syndicate for 260 gold coins,” Xi Xiaotian help repeated it again.
Has it really begun? This one thought flashed across their minds all at once. Does that mean there’s no ruse here? These men present looked at each other again, and began to get into their role. The 20 gold coins climb continued one after another, everyone bidding rather earnestly. Meanwhile, Young Master Han was not particularly bothered with the auction after making the starting bid. From time to time, he would yell in a bid like he was interrupting while his concentration was most definitely not with the auction itself. Young Master Han was circling around the sawmill, swaying around with the bottle of liquor he was holding in his hand, even pulling out his spyglass to look around in the distance.
The three guilds continued with the auction conscientiously as they report the entire process to their guild leaders, describing to them the fierce competition between one another, at the same time trying to confirm what was the price that their guild leaders had in their mind. At this moment, the price had already reached 500 gold coins, even though no one really knew how many gold coins would the quest really be worth.
During this time period where the in-game economy was undergoing an upheaval due to the value of the gold coins fluctuating, it was truly quite the dilemma to be having. When facing a quest which they had no knowledge of, just how much coin would it be worth? The respective guilds tried their best to calculate it in their minds even as they asked the people in the guild about their assets, trying to ascertain the financial resources their own guild possessed. At the same time, they were also mobilizing their undercover players in the other guilds, attempting to pry into the purchasing power that the other guilds possessed, as well as the price point they had in mind.
The guild leaders took a long time to reply, and the representatives they had sent were slowly no longer calling out their bids as carefreely like what they had been doing from the start, making sure to consult their guild leader before making the next round of bids. But Xi Xiaotian seemed to be very sympathetic to the difficulties that the guilds were facing, allowing for these players to drag the time out much longer at times. She did not call out ‘one, two, three’ and call the auction either, simply keeping that genial smile of hers for everyone as she waited for bids to come in. Every time this happened, the player who had yelled out the bid prior would always have plenty of opinions on how the auction was being conducted, believing that there was no need for such considerations. Conversely, the two guilds who were still contemplating over the bid would always support how Xi Xiaotian was running the auction, claiming that this was only just a game, so there was no need to be so inflexible, that hosting such an auction was fine. In the end, when a new guild called out a new bid, the roles would switch, and another guild would begin their contemplation while a different guild would call for the need for rules and order in the auction process. The three guild representatives kept alternating their stance, while Xi Xiaotian cheerfully mediated as the middle-woman, never once showing the intention to call the auction. What made the three guilds all the more infuriated was Young Master Han; the man was just wandering about the place, even passing by the three like a pedestrian from time to time, his bottle in hand as he randomly calls out another bid. This was an auction! It looked like he was intentionally trying to make a mockery out of the process, especially when the man directly raised the minimum bid to 50 gold coins increments, leaving the three guilds complaining incessantly.
“Young Master, just what are you doing?” Youthful Reflection could not bear it anymore and confronted Young Master Han just as the man was about to come by and raise his bottle of liquor once more.
“I’m trying to see if they are up to any tricks here,” Young Master Han simply answered.
“Then stick to just looking around, stop randomly bidding! Is Colored Clouds serious about buying this quest, or are all of you just here to make a mess of things!?” Youthful Reflection said.
Meanwhile, the men from The Black Hand Syndicate and Cloud Herder both had even bigger objections about Young Master Han. When they saw the two talking to each other, they immediately came forward and yelled, “What are you doing? What are the two of you sneakily discussing there!?”
“You need to make it public! Be transparent!” The two men demanded.
“D*mm*t, just make your bids already. Stop taking so much time to contemplate and not even make a call! Miss Xi, this cannot go on like this! You’re obviously just waiting for all of us to keep raising the price. An auction can’t run like this, you need to have a time limit!” Youthful Reflection said.
“What is this nonsense about time limit!? You were also taking a long time contemplating before, why didn’t you talk about time limits then!?” The two men were flustered now, for it was their time to consider putting out a bid.
“Then let us set a time limit from here onwards. Next time, if no bids are made within the stipulated time, the auction will be completed!” Youthful Reflection was angry.
“B*llsh*t. Your guild must have finished their deliberations for this, right? We’re not yet done our end, so we’re not going to go along with that!” Actually, everyone was very clear that this contemplation that they had all mentioned was really just the back and forth between themselves and their respective guild leaders! Now that Youthful Reflection had suddenly made a stand on this, it must have been made under the instructions from his guild leader, but neither of the other two guilds had come to such a conclusion throughout their discussions with their guild leader! There was clearly no way that they would accept such a condition at this moment.
They were striving for justification! All of a sudden, the representative from The Black Hand Syndicate blurted out, “Fine, then let us discuss this matter of a time limit!”
“Crap, you’ve come to a decision as well!” The representative from Cloud Herder was abandoned, feeling like crying even though no tears came to him. All he could do was send an S.O.S. to Foe-herder, “Guild leader, how much is the maximum you’re willing to go for the quest? Give me the price quick. This back and forth is really hard to keep up. The others are going to be putting a time limit condition to the auction, so nobody will be waiting for us to discuss over messages. There will now be a countdown before bidding ends.”
“How much is the current bid right now?” Foe-herder asked.
“It’s already at 1300 gold coins,” the representative answered.
“Okay, bid within 10,000 gold coins. The guild will take this time to discuss this further in the meanwhile,” There were a thousand players in a level 6 guild, and they would have 10,000 gold coins if each of them gave 10 gold coins to the guild. Foe-herder felt that such a price was unlikely to cause a revolt from the members, and would at most be subjected to negotiations if more was needed. After all, gold coins were very precious these days.
The representative from Foe Herder immediately made a bid, “1350 gold coins!”
“Okay, we have a bid for 1350 gold coins. Cloud Herder guild is now leading with 1350 gold coins!” Xi Xiaotian announced.
“Wait a minute, let’s put this on hold and set the rules of this auction first,” Youthful Reflection stated.
“That’s right, we need to give a definitive time limit,” the representative from The Black Hand Syndicate expressed.
“What’s the rush? Slowly make your bids, and everyone can casually mull over it,” Xi Xiaotian smiled.
“Of course you would be happy with us mulling over things slowly, we’ll now be discussing this matter among ourselves!” The three representatives began their discussion over this without Xi Xiaotian’s input. Young Master Han had been ostracized by them too, as they were found his sincerity and commitment to the auction very dubious. Even the men from Colored Clouds that came along at Gu Xiaoshang’s orders felt that the man was fooling around too much as well. However, after they complained about this matter to Gu Xiaoshang on the sly, their guild leader not only did not seem too bothered by it, merely saying “up to him”. At the end of the day, Gu Xiaoshang did not really hold out much hope toward this quest.
“30 seconds? Everyone okay with 30 seconds?” Youthful Reflection sought to get a consensus.
“No problem. 30 seconds time limit before calling the auction,” They were very insistent.
“Very well. You there. You’re in charge of the countdown,” Youthful Reflection pointed to Cirrus.
“Go on, help our clients keep time.” Xi Xiaotian chuckled. “Okay, shall we continue?”
“Yes, please proceed.”
“Alright, the previous bid was made by Cloud Herder, at 1350 gold coins. Let us resume the auction from this.”
“10,000 gold coins!” Young Master Han calmly vociferated, still holding onto his liquor bottle as he drifted by.