Chapter 23: The Worth of True-Identification

The gallery was an open-floor design, stretching several blocks back. The width of the gallery was no joke either, measuring about a football field long. The ceiling was several stories high and curved up to a gigantic dome. The floor was completely tiled with white granite, and all throughout the auction house were rectangular glass display cases, which were inside perimeters of gold bollards and red rope.

Ryu looked across the ‘room’ but couldn’t see the end. There were half walls and pillars everywhere. It looked like a museum or a very fancy warehouse. Only, there were hordes of people walking around.

Geez, this place is huge.

“Amazing, isn’t it?” Yue Yi said. “The auction house is the heart of the market. And being such, it has to be at least like this, don’t you think?”

Ryu looked all around. There were many items that also hung on the gallery half walls and pillars. He turned to Yue Yi. “This can’t be every item listed for auction.”

Yue Yi smirked. “Come.” She walked toward a marble bear head statue, one of many in the gallery.

Ryu followed her.

When he came up to the statue he saw Yue Yi interacting with a graphic panel, which was reminiscent of the holographic panels from other VRs – or even his own in-game windows. But this graphic panel seemed more mystical in nature, similar to the inscriptions from the Pillar of Word.

I don’t even know if I should call it ‘UI’ at this point. Everything I know about VRMMOs has been redefined since I began playing this game.

Yue Yi was scrolling down a list of items. Ryu looked at the graphic panel and saw numerous items listed up for auction. They ranged from portal scrolls to potions to equipment. It’s exactly the kind of in-game ‘UI’ he imagined when he thought of the term ‘auction house.’ However, all the items listed seemed expensive. He saw no listing lower than 100 silver coins.

He turned his head, staring at the great wall that was far to the right. It’s what separated the gallery from whatever was on other side of the building. Based on his previous observations, he assumed it was another auction gallery. There were giant corridors connecting both sides of the colossal building.

“That side is the Brown Gallery,” Yue Yi said.

“I’m assuming the difference is the price of items.”

Yue Yi nodded. “Everything in the Platinum Gallery is listed for at least 100 silver coins or placed here specifically to catch open bids from Platinum Gallery visitors.”

“Can people from the Brown Gallery come here?”

“Not without a Platinum Token Pass,” said Yue Yi.

Ryu looked back at the giant corridors, each guarded by armored soldiers.

 “Only those who have special privileges may enter the Platinum Gallery freely,” said Yue Yi. “I’m no exception.”

Ryu said softly but aloud, “But your grandmother is, I bet.”

Yue Yi simply smirked, saying nothing, to which Ryu could only do but scoff.

Talk about being ‘VIP,’ sheesh.

With a casual look on her face, Yue Yi gestured her hand to the bear head statue. “The rings.”

Knowing what she meant, Ryu put his hand into his bag, and out of it, he took the handful of borrowed interspatial rings and placed them into the mouth of the statue. They dispersed into essence particles and vanished.

 “Where do the they go?” Ryu asked.

“Everywhere in the Platinum Gallery,” said Yue Yi. “…But also nowhere. It’s all essence now, just waiting to be transfigured back into items.”

“And they’ll stay that way until I take them back or auction them off, I’m assuming,” Ryu said.

Yue Yi nodded. “Yep.”

“And no one else can get access to them?”

“Of course not,” said Yue Yi. “Your items are bound to you by the Word of Contract. This goes for anyone in the Platinum and Brown Galleries.” She put up huge grin. “And I don’t need to explain The Word to you, do I?

“No. I think I understand.”

A graphic panel appeared in front of the statue.

Greetings Ryu.
You have submitted [268] items to be placed in the Platinum Gallery.
Would you like to place any of these items in a private auction?
Yes No

I don’t think it really matters at this point if they’re up for public or private auction.

He selected ‘No,’ whereupon a new graphic panel appeared before him.

Your [268] items shall be stored by the Platinum Gallery until you withdraw them or until a transaction has been fulfilled. You may access your items and auction transactions at any Platinum Gallery throughout the Eleven Kingdoms.

An item will be listed in the public gallery as soon as you select a Minimum Bid Price for it. You may transfer an item from the public gallery to the private gallery at your leisure and at any time, at any auction house kiosk, and at any Platinum Gallery throughout the Eleven Kingdoms.  

Please take your time to select a Minimum Bid Price for each of your items. If you wish to not select a Minimum Bid Price for your items, simply confirm this item submission notice to immediately list your items with a Minimum Bid Price of [0].  

By confirming this notice, you hereby bind yourself to the terms and policies set forth by the Auction Association and by the Auctioner-Bidder Agreement, which you yourself have crafted. Thus, by extension, you bind yourself to the Word of Contract, and by even greater extension, The Word. All parties—including yourself—involved in transactions concerning your items will be subject to the terms and ramifications of these policies and contracts.

Please select a Minimum Bid Price for your submitted items:

Select Minimum Bid Price [individual]
Select Minimum Bid Price [all]
Confirm Submission (Select Minimum Bid Price of [0] [all])

I’d rather not sift through all these items. I’ll just confirm to set the minimum bid prices to zero, and I’ll gauge the market from there.

He selected ‘Confirm’ and the panel disappeared. Immediately after, the interspatial rings he placed into the kiosk rematerialized into the mouth of the statue. He cupped them out of the statue’s mouth and handed them to Ling Yi. “What now?”

“You wait,” Yue Yi said.

As she said this, Ling Yi and Tazuki came back from their short wandering around the gallery. The young lady held a stick with white, sticky string. She offered it to Ryu. “Want some? It’s Glazed Spider Thread.”

Tazuki grabbed a piece of the sticky string and shoved it in his mouth. Chewing on the candy, he said, “It’s really good.”

Ryu shook his head, waving his hand. “No thanks.”

Ling Yi frowned but brightened up her face just a moment later. “Found anything you liked?”

“I just finished putting my items up, but I’ll start looking now,” Ryu said.

“We’ll leave you be, then,” Yue Yi said. “Will you be alright by yourself?”

Ryu nodded.

Yue Yi pointed to the large, raised structure far away in the Platinum Gallery. “The basement stairs. They’ll lead you to the auditoriums where the private galleries and auctions are held. I have some things I need to check out, so we’ll see you there.”

“I’ll see you there. I just want to scroll through the public auctions for a bit,” Ryu said.

“Have fun,” Yue Yi said as she pushed the two younger NPCs away.

Ling Yi stuck her tongue out at Ryu as she was scooted away. The player lightly scoffed, shaking his head.

When they finally faded into the crowd of people, Ryu turned back to the kiosk. He opened up the panel listing of items, and began searching for the items on Charlotte’s note. He found numerous entries for Gold Spider Fangs. The items with the lowest bids appeared first.

Listings for: Golden Spider Fang
Golden Spider Fang
Current Highest Bid: 80 gold coins
Auctioner: Marvin Bordath II
Golden Spider Fang
Current Highest Bid: 98 gold coins
Auctioner: Marvin Bordath II
Golden Spider Fang
Current Highest Bid: 150 gold coins
Auctioner: Marvin Bordath II
Golden Spider Fang
Current Highest Bid: 374 gold coins
Auctioner: Helena V. Silverspoon
Golden Spider Fang
Current Highest Bid: 380 gold coins
Auctioner: Helena V. Silverspoon

Ryu’s face turned sour.

They’re so expensive…

As he was scrolling through down the list, he heard a few male NPCs gasping and whispering at the auction kiosks just next to him.

“Am I seeing this right? A True-Identified dagger?” a visitor said.

“No. I see it, too!” another person gasped.

“I found it, too!” another person exclaimed in a low voice.

“Should I bid on it?” said the first visitor.

“What’s the Implicit Rarity?” the third person asked.

The first visitor paused for a moment, carefully looking at the item’s description. He blinked several times just to make sure he was seeing things right. “It’s…Brown.”

“Are you sure?” the third person said. He raised his head in disbelief.

The second NPC leaned into the first person’s auction interface. He, too, saw exactly what the first NPC had seen. “He’s telling the truth.”

Hearing this, the third NPC huddled in. “It must be a Moratian item.” He raised his brows and noted, “Why would anyone True-Identify Moratian loot? That’s completely idiotic. It’s guaranteed to be a Brown-tier item.”

“Don’t be such a sap,” said the second NPC. “You know there are plenty of valuable Moratian items. Besides, this item’s already True-Identified. Isn’t it already much better than a normal one?”

“Sure it is,” said the third NPC. “But normally it costs, what, a few thousand or tens of thousands of gold coins to get something True-Identified? Or even more.”

“Those items are expected to be at least Yellow-tier though,” the first NPC said.

“Exactly. Which is why it’s such a waste,” the third NPC said. “Even if it’s True-Identified, this dagger’s still Brown-tier. Whoever got it True-Identified was an idiot.”

“It’s True-Identified, nonetheless,” said the first NPC. “It still has enormous value.”

The third man crossed his arms. “Eh. I guess you have a point.”

“I only have a few gold coins left on me,” said the second guy. He looked at the first man. “How much are you going to bid?”

“I don’t have much, either,” the first guy said. “I spent most of my money already.”

The third NPC turned back to his kiosk. He took a few moments searching for the True-Identified dagger. He was only expecting the one dagger to show up in the list of entries, but when he saw a full list of items, his eyes glared up. He spoke aloud, softly, “There are…so…many….”

The other two NPCs leaned their heads over, and they, too, were astonished. Right in there faces was a listing of over 200 items — all of them True-Identified. And as they stared at the screen, other people who were searching through the kiosks began murmuring similar things too.

Even after hearing the NPCs babble about, Ryu retained his relaxed attitude. He calmly accessed his submitted list of items. Forty-one of his items already had bids on them: 16 equipment items, some of which were loot from his hunting and some from the hoards of loot from the goblins, and all 25 plums he’d picked up in the Plum Tree Forest, which all had the same bid of 1,200 silver coins each.

He looked at the list of equipment items that currently had bids.

Items with Open Bids:
Item #37: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 13 gold coins
Item #38: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 9 gold coins
Item #65: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 10 gold coins
Item #71: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 8 gold coins
Item #73: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 6 gold coins
Item #74: Copper Dagger
Current Highest Bid:  8 gold coins
Item #75: Copper Sword
Current Highest Bid: 19 gold coins
Item #65: Copper Sword
Current Highest Bid: 12 gold coins
Item #69: Copper Sword
Current Highest Bid: 26 gold coins
Item #76: Copper Sword
Current Highest Bid: 18 gold coins
Item #77: Copper Shield
Current Highest Bid: 10 gold coins
Item #104: Copper Earrings
Current Highest Bid: 32 gold coins
Item #265: Bronze Dagger
Current Highest Bid: 28 gold coins
Item #266: Bronze Sword
Current Highest Bid: 53 gold coins
Item #267: Bronze Spear
Current Highest Bid: 35 gold coins
Item #268: Bronze Axe
Current Highest Bid: 26 gold coins

As he looked up and down the list, the bid prices changed on the screen as people were bidding.

The list gets updated immediately when a new bid comes through.

It was startling, really. Ryu didn’t expect people to be bidding in gold coins. Silver coins was what he initially thought, if that. Even knowing the benefit of True-Identified items, the items were completely trash and run-of-the-mill. At least, in his eyes.

In mere moments, more items got bids and so they popped up on the list. And within seconds, the items that initially had single-digit bids now had low, two-digit bids, and the items that had low, two-digit bids now had mid, two-digit bids. And those that started off in the mid-to-high, two-digits were now close to 100.

As far as additional stats go, they don’t provide that much… And my sword isn’t any better.

Ryu walked up to the cruder of the three NPCs who were chatting earlier and tapped him on the back. “Excuse me, could you please tell me about True-Identified items?”

The young male NPC looked at him with a baffled expression. As he seemed mildly confused at Ryu’s inquiry, he didn’t respond. The more mature NPC next to him politely joined in the conversation. “True-Identified items are items that have had their Implicit Rarities revealed. On top of that, equipment items that have been True-Identified can be used with certain crafting materials that are exclusive only to True-Identified items. These crafting materials usually increase the potential of True-Identified items tenfold, even a hundredfold. It’s why True-Identified items are so valuable.”

Of course, Ryu had already been informed of the latter by Tazuki. However, he’d been curious about the term ‘Implicit Rarity’ ever since identifying his first item. It was a good opportunity now to inquire about it.

“Could you tell me more about Implicit Rarities?” Ryu asked.

The nice gentleman smiled at Ryu’s naivety. “The Implicit Rarity of an item indicates the essential composition of the item. In other words, it’s how concentrated and how pure the make up of the item is, in terms of essence.” He paused momentarily. “I do hope you’re familiar with essence.”

Ryu nodded. “I am.”

The NPC continued. “By revealing the essence concentration and purity of an item, its essence color can be determined. So for example, a certain item with a certain level of concentration and purity of essence may have a Brown sheen or color to it. In contrast, another item with a different level of concentration and purity may have, say, a Yellow color or aura to it. In either case, the extent to how concentrated and pure the essential composition of an item is will determine its color. And by simply knowing the essence color of an item, we can determine how good or powerful it is.”

Ryu grabbed his chin. “I see….And True-Identifying is the only way that reveals the essence color of an item. I’m assuming,” said Ryu.

The man nodded. “Indeed. But there are only a few people capable enough to correctly identify an item’s essence color. Of course, they need certain materials to do so.”

“Sages,” said the third NPC who had been listening in. “And they charge an exorbitant fee.”

“That’s because the items used to True-Identify are so rare and expensive,” said the young man who was baffled, seemingly snapping out of his bewilderment.

“So what then about the True-Identified items listed up for auction currently?” Ryu asked.

“In any normal situation, they’d be considered run-of-the-mill and probably sell for a few dozen copper coins,” said the polite NPC. “But because they’re True-Identified, they’re much more valuable, simply due to the fact that their Implicit Rarities have been revealed. Knowing that, people can gauge their usefulness and can upgrade them accordingly with appropriate crafting materials.”

“Still doesn’t help that they’re only Brown-tier, though,” the former bewildered man said.

The young gentleman casually elbowed the crude young man. He gave Ryu a warm smile and simply said, “Don’t mind what my brother says.”

“I think I understand now. Thank you,” said Ryu. He gave the NPCs a nod and turned back to his kiosk.

Ryu opened up his Titles menu, bringing up the description for ‘The True Identifier.’

Geez. Isn’t this broken? Players who are the first to do and discover things get such huge advantages… Was that the developer’s intention?

Second World seemed so unbalanced. Not that other VRMMOs weren’t as well. Dream World itself had unique titles and traits, too. But they didn’t grant powers and abilities to this extent — compared to the rest of the player base, at least. More so than other VRMMOS, Second World seemed to heavily favor the first players. At least, those who were successful in their accomplishments and adventures — accomplishments and adventures which were arguably mundane, like meditating to gain ‘self-awareness’ or being the first player to visit a new area.

Ryu sighed deeply.

It’s as I thought. We’ll be the pilgrims of this world, won’t we? The Lewis & Clarks and the Newtons and the Einsteins… It really is a whole new world.

Ryu re-opened the auction interface to begin searching for more of Charlotte’s requested items.

And there’s still so much to do.

He turned his head, finally taking a good look at the auction house visitors for the first time — or any marketplace visitor for that matter. He’d been so pre-occupied with ‘player business’ that he forgot to see the world for what it was. Looking at the NPCs around, there were some races of people he’d never seen.

He put up a light smile.

…And still so much to see.

He closed the auction interface, and he continued his way through the gallery, taking a short break from ‘being a player’ to just ‘being a visitor’ for once.

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