Ryu spent a good hour walking through the gallery. He took a look at some of the items on display, all of which belonged to private galleries. These items were set up for the purpose of getting private offers and weren’t listed in the public auction. If anything, it was more of an opportunity to show off, he thought. Just the display fee of 10,000 gold coins was in and of itself an opportunity to show off.
The items themselves were exceptional for their given level. Many had relatively good stats, but they were all beyond Ryu’s current level. Had he had more money, he might’ve bid on some. But mostly, they were flashy and fancy equipment, especially the armor; they were a little over-the-top for him. Adding to that, he felt that lighter gear would be best for his fighting style. There were numerous swords on display, too, but none of them were to his liking. Having his fill of adventure, he went back to search for the items on Charlotte’s list.
Ryu stood in front of an auction kiosk. He began searching again for Golden Spider Fangs. Scrolling through the listings, it became clear that it was going to be a financial stretch for him. He no longer saw any Golden Spider Fangs with minimum bids lower than 300 gold coins — and those were all Poor quality. It astonished him that the next tier of Average quality fangs sold for double, or even triple the prices of Poor versions. And the next tier after that, Good, sold for three to five times that. He took out his Scribe Tome which had been inscribed with a ‘Tiers of Quality’ pamphlet. Reading down the tier list, he grew incredibly anxious.
And I thought Dream World’s list of tiers was excessive… This takes it to a whole new level.
Currently listed for auction, the highest quality for Golden Spider Fangs was Great, and those were selling in the 10,000 to 50,000 gold coin range.
Geez. The price difference is insane.
Out of curiosity, he abruptly ended his search for the fangs and searched for the next needle material, Orichalcum Ore. He selected the first entry to see the details. His face twitched after seeing the results.
|Weight: 1.28 lbs
Explicit Rarity: Rare
Implicit Rarity: Unknown
Current Highest Bid: 10,000 gold coins
What the hell? Ten thousand?
He then looked up the last material for the needle, which was a vial of Flame Tarantula Venom. Seeing the current bid for the first entry, he didn’t even need to look into further detail; seeing the number ‘26,500’ was all he needed. But to his woe, his eyes curiously glanced down to the next listing and saw the number ‘75,000’ somewhere in the line of text. After seeing it, he wanted to smash his head in.
Hell, it’s going to take me ages to accumulate that much money.
He didn’t even want to think about the ingredients for the thread.
And she thought that acquiring the thread materials was going to be difficult. Sheesh.
Ryu was wary of the fact that he had the luxury of auctioning off numerous items at once. Had he not had the inventory for them, he would’ve submitted only a few items, plus his plums.
My interspatial ring only has 10 slots. If Yue Yi hadn’t lent me her rings, I wouldn’t have had space for all those items.
Ryu sighed heavily.
At this rate, hunting will be worthless. I won’t be able to carry much loot.
He quietly entered the words ‘interspatial ring’ into the kiosk’s search menu. And as he expected, the results only further added to his distress. The first interspatial ring listed displayed the following:
|Listings for: Interspatial Ring|
Current Highest Bid: 100,000 gold coins
Auctioner: Herald von Ottenbeard
He didn’t bother commenting and checked the listing to look at the description of the ring.
|Copper Interspatial Ring|
|Level Requirement: 25
Spatial Slots: 25
|A spatial slot for this ring can store only one of the following:
|Weight: 0.025 lb|
|Explicit Rarity: Rare|
It’s several times better than mine.
He figured that interspatial rings were luxury items at this point. Gauging everything he’d seen so far, he reckoned that his ring was on the lowest end of the spectrum. The one he was currently viewing was probably the same as well, although maybe a little higher. There were undoubtedly better ones that existed, he thought. Much more expensive, as well.
The cheaper ones must’ve all been bought out.
He sighed, shaking his head.
I’ll come by another time.
He closed the auction house interface and went on his way to meet with the others.
* * * * *
The main hallway of the private galleries was a long tunnel, walled with white marble. Red carpet laid the entire path; extravagant lamps were posted on the walls; and great, black doors lined down the corridor. It wasn’t crowded like the marketplace upstairs; only a handful of people were walking here and there, with an occasional person or two walking across the hall, going from one private gallery to the next. At the far end of the hallway were large double doors; Yue Yi, Ling Yi, and Tazuki were standing by the entrance.
Seeing Ryu approach, Ling Yi stood up from leaning against the wall. She waved, and out loud, she said, “Ryu! Over here!”
When he got to the end of the hall, Yue Yi smiled and asked, “So, did you find anything?”
The player scratched his head. “Not really.”
Tazuki covered his mouth and chuckled to himself, “You probably couldn’t afford anything, could you?” Ling Yi mischievously laughed alongside him, but she was met with a knuckle on the head by her big sister.
Ryu casually smiled at the amusement, then he directed his attention to Yue Yi and asked, “Are you done here? We’ve been in the city for a while now, and I should probably get going soon. I haven’t been home in almost two days.”
“Home? But you just arrived at the school,” Ling Yi said, curious.
“There are things I need to take care of,” said Ryu. And with a twitchy expression, he thought, “And I completely forgot about Chase and Orchid…I was supposed to meet up with them, but because of what’s happened these last two days, I didn’t have the opportunity…“
Yue Yi nodded. “I’ll speak with my grandmother and see what arrangements can be made for you.” She then opened the giant double doors, putting up a grin. “But before you go, you should at least see the private galleries.”
The doors opened up to a large auditorium that resembled a great concert hall. There were red seats going down the middle and numerous balconies surrounding the entrance and upper floors. Almost all of the 500 lower seats were occupied, with the balconies filling up as well.
Before stepping any further, the group was met by a greeter who sat at a black-clothed table. He coughed and straightened his posture upon seeing Yue Yi. “Why, Lady Yue Yi, what brings you to the Grand Exhibition today?” He also recognized Ling Yi and Tazuki on the spot but not Ryu. “I see you’ve brought a friend.”
Yue Yi smiled. “I’m just running a few shopping errands. I heard about some of the items being exhibited today, and I was curious to see what they were.”
“Ah, well, the gallery will soon commence with today’s presentations,” the greeter said. “Shall I find you some seats on the balcony?”
Yue Yi raised her hand. “No need. We’ll be fine.”
The greeter gave a respectful nod, then gestured his hand down to a black jar filled with white wooden paddles. “Please, take an auction paddle.”
Yue Yi took a paddle from the jar and moved her way down the steps, both Ling Yi and Tazuki trailing her. Ryu followed suit, glancing down at the black jar as he stepped down the auditorium.
The group found an empty section at the top of the lower seating area and made their way there. After sitting down, Ling Yi puffed, “Why do we have to sit down here? We should’ve gotten balcony seats.”
“And did you bring money to pay for balcony seats?” Ling Yi said.
Ling Yi crossed her arms and murmured, “No.”
“Then this is where we’ll sit,” said Yue Yi.
Ling Yi continued muttering to herself. Ryu gave her a warm smile of amusement to which Ling Yi pulled her lower eyelid down and stuck out her tongue. Ryu’s smile widened and shook his head.
Moments later, a well-dressed middle-aged man walked out onto the hall’s stage. He stood confidently in front of the podium and said, “Greetings, my dear guests. Welcome to the Grand Exhibition. It is our third gallery presentation today, and as always, we have many exciting things to show you. If you like anything you see, be quick, for it may get snatched from another bidder.” He chuckled. “Without further ado, let us begin.”
The man extended his arm out to the side, whereupon a part of the stage lowered down and a glass display case emerged. A blue pair of boots sat in the display, making some of the auction guests gasp in awe.
“Our first item in the gallery: a pair of Sea Mithril Boots, crafted by one of the best blacksmiths in the Eleven Kingdoms,” said the auctioneer. “They are a level 48 piece of equipment and provide exceptional defense to the wearer. Our chief Appraisers have identified them to be of Good quality and Uncommon Rarity. The starting bid set forth by the auctioner is 3,000 gold coins.”
Upon hearing the starting bid, someone from the second row raised his white paddle, verifying his offer of 3,000 gold coins.
“Three thousand. Do I hear thirty-one hundred?” said the auctioneer.
“5,000!” shouted someone from the second row, which was then followed by “5,500” from another.
“Five thousand five hundred. Do I hear six thousand?” the auctioneer said.
The white paddles kept going up until the final bid of 17,500 gold coins was placed.
Ryu, curious to see the extent and range of his Identifying skill, inspected the pair of boots and Identified them from where he sat.
|Sea Mithril Boots|
|Level Requirement: 48
|Weight: 6.8 lbs|
|Explicit Rarity: Uncommon|
|Implicit Rarity (Hidden): Brown|
|This item is True-Identified.|
Immediately after Identifying the item though, the pair of boots began to glow in a brown hue, which was visible to everyone. It was only momentary, as the brown aura soon dissipated into the natural light.
Everyone looked around and to each other, confused and a little worried.
“What just happened?” said someone in the middle section.
“Why did the boots glow brown?” said someone else.
The auctioneer, just as confused, attempted to calm the room. “Calm down, ladies and gentlemen. Everything is alright.” He nodded his head to one of the auction house staff to check on the item.
A young woman hurried onto the stage and inspected the item. She looked up and down as much as she could through the glass barrier but saw nothing amiss. She then drew up the info panel of the boots and was instantly struck with both confusion and amazement. “Oh dear…” she whispered. She scurried up to the podium and whispered to the auctioneer while everyone was chattering about.
The auctioneer raised his brows and awkwardly marched to the glass case. He brought up the info panel and upon seeing the item details, his eyes widened. He walked back over to the podium with a morbid expression, and then he coughed several times before speaking. “Excuse me. It seems I have made a mistake. It seems that this particular pair of boots has been True-Identified with an Implicit Rarity of Brown. As such, we will redo the bidding. Please forgive me for this error.”
Hearing the announcement, many of the auction house patrons gasped.
“Impossible!” shouted a young noble man sitting on one of the upper balconies. He ran down the stairs and up to the stage. After seeing for himself the truth, he was even more astonished than anyone in the auditorium. He quickly turned his head to the auctioneer and said, “I’m withdrawing this item from the auction.”
“And I presume you’re familiar with our withdrawal fees?” the auctioneer said.
“Of course!” the young man exclaimed. “Now just take the item off the stage!”
As the young noble said that, a middle-aged man stood up from one of the balconies and said, “I will buy that pair of boots for 100 Gold Tokens!”
A woman then stood up, and in response to that, she said, “I’ll pay 110 Gold Tokens!”
“120!” said another bidder, followed by “150!” from another.
Ryu turned to Yue Yi and asked, “How much is a Gold Token?”
“One thousand gold coins,” Yue Yi said.
“Yup. And a thousand Gold Tokens is worth one Platinum Token. The highest form of currency,” said Tazuki.
So, that means one million gold coins is basically a Platinum Token. Geez. What would that even buy?
Ryu sat silent in his seat. He, Yue Yi, Ling Yi, and Tazuki could only stare as the NPCs below and above were yelling in this bidding war.
The young noble on the stage, who was previously determined to keep the item, was now ripe with greed from hearing all the bids. “Do I hear any more?”
“I should start bidding, too!” said Tazuki.
“You’re only level 9. What could you possibly do with them?” said Ling Yi.
Tazuki chuckled lightly, embarrassed. “I would hold on to them of course! …Until I’m the right level.”
Ling Yi scoffed, and with a mischievous smirk, she said, “You’re too much of a baby to go hunting or train. You’d never get to level 48 in your life. You should just stick with blacksmithing.”
Tazuki pouted his mouth, his face turning red. He was too soft to bicker with Ling Yi.
“In any case, I’m surprised the auctioneer made such a huge mistake,” said Yue Yi. “They’re supposed to know everything about all the items in the gallery.”
Ryu’s eyebrows twitched.
Yeah. That’s kinda my fault…
He looked intensely at the boots on display.
I didn’t think the aura would be so noticeable… It’s been hardly noticeable every time I’ve Identified an item… It must be the item composition then.
His eyes gleaned at the pair of boots.
I have to learn how to control my Identifying to a finer level. Hopefully to where I can consciously True-Identify an item or not.
The bids continued on for several minutes until it stopped at a steep price of 460 Gold Tokens. The young noble had a greedy grin on his face, seemingly filled with victory.
You’ve gotta be shitting me… I didn’t think the price was going to go up by that much.
He turned to Tazuki and asked, “Is there something special about Sea Mithril? The price has gone up dramatically.”
Tazuki nodded. “Sea Mithril is one of the more uncommon ores that can only be found in the Rainbow Pearl Sea. And because it’s aquatic in nature, it’s very compatible with water-based crafting materials.”
“And I’m assuming it’s good for people using water-type techniques?” said Ryu.
“Yep,” nodded Tazuki.
I figured there would be elemental components to this game.
He let out a sigh, a light smile on his face.
I wonder how many more things there are that I have yet to see.
Ryu was more than anxious to venture out into the this new gaming world. He was ecstatic that there were so many possibilities and things to see. But he needed to be prepared, or else death would be the end of him. And ‘starting over’ wasn’t an option for him, especially since he’d come this far already — however far that was.
Once the boots were done being auctioned off, the auctioneer continued on with the next item without delay. It was a level 60 sword, and while it looked cool, it didn’t catch Ryu’s interest; it was ultimately auctioned for 40 Gold Tokens. The item after that didn’t attract as much buzz either, selling for just 55 Gold Tokens. The exhibition carried on, with numerous items being displayed. However, they didn’t garner the attention as the pair of boots…until the final item was presented.
“Dear Platinum Gallery visitors,” said the auctioneer. “I am honored and delighted to present this next bundle of items.” He extended his arm out, and emerging from the stage was a glass display table with three white threads in it. “Three threads of Monarch Mothworm Silk!”
The room lit up and all the auction guests began chattering. Many stood up with their hand over their chests.
“Now,” the auctioneer began. “Each of these strings has a different weight, quality, and explicit rarity, so please be mindful of individual pricing. The first thread on the left is Common, weighs 0.02 pounds, and is Poor quality. The middle thread is also Common, weigh 0.05 pounds, and is also Poor quality. The last thread, however, is Uncommon, weighs 0.01 pounds, but it is Good quality. The starting bid for the first thread is 250 Gold Tokens.”
The auctioneer wasn’t able to let any more words out of his mouth, as a seemingly wealthy man stood up and shouted, “I will buy the first thread for 500 Gold Tokens!”
“750 Gold Tokens for the first thread!” a woman shouted.
“800 Gold Tokens for the first thread, and two Platinum Tokens for the second!” said a man from the balcony.
Before anyone else placed another offer, a young elf lady who hadn’t participated in any of the bids so far stood up and casually exclaimed, “I will buy all three for 100 Platinum Tokens. If anyone here raises up on my offer, I’ll raise it to 500. And if anyone dares to take up on that bid, I’ll raise it to 10,000.”
Hearing that, everyone lowered their heads. They dared not make a commotion, especially since an elf had just entered the fray.
Ryu wasn’t worried about the elf at all; he was flabbergasted by the price.
You’ve got to be kidding me…..For three single threads?
His face turned sour, turning more sour as he thought about Charlotte’s list.
This is going to be a nightmare.
Yue Yi had wanted to raise her white paddle, but seeing the competition, she backed down and stayed quiet. “Aw, I really wanted one, too.”
“Didn’t grandmother say you could use as much as you want for it?” Ling Yi said.
“No. It’s our loss this time,” Yue Yi said, calmly.
“Of course. It’s an elf,” Tazuki said. “And look.” He nodded up to the balcony. “She’s wearing the Ervelda crest.”
Patched on the collar of the elf lady’s dress was a green crest of a hawk. Ryu had come across it while reading some passages about Loreen. In this case, the emblem was the crest of the Ervelda family, elves who had direct marital ties to the Elven Royal Family. And being such a high-status family in Loreen, they were bound to have great financial ties.
Yue Yi stood up. “It’s time to go home.” She walked to the auditorium steps and proceeded to exit the gallery. Ryu said no word and immediately followed suit, Ling Yi and Tazuki close behind.
The group took no detours and headed straight back to the portal gate. They returned to the fork in the Brown Forest where Madame Yi was already waiting for them, her back turned to them. “All of you, go on ahead.” She verbally singled out Ryu without having to turn and said, “You. Stay.”
Saying no word and turning no heads, the young NPCs entered Plum Tree Forest, with only Yue Yi giving Ryu a short glance as she walked past. Once they were gone, Madame Yi chucked a small bronze coin in the air, her back still faced to the player. Ryu saw the object in the air and extended his hand out, catching it perfectly in his palm.
“That is a pass to the school. A visitor’s pass,” Madame Yi said, her voice stern. “You’ll use it to access the gates. But be warned, for this is your one and only warning, lose that pass and I will break your legs. Bring someone along, and I will break your legs. Any creature who enters the Gates without my permission will be destroyed, and I will find you, and I will break you to such a point that no healing magic or technique will be able to save you. Do you understand?”
Ryu didn’t say anything and only nodded. He knew his silent affirmation was all that was needed.
“Good,” Madame Yi said. “I will give you one day’s rest. Training will start the morning after.” She then turned her head. “Do not be late.” She then walked into Plum Tree Forest, disappearing in the shadow of the trees.
Ryu had been clenching his jaw the entire time, but seeing her finally gone, he opened his mouth. “Geez, that woman is scary.” Before logging off, he sighed and looked up to the sliver of sky. “I have a long road ahead.”
* * * * *
The pale blue goblin sat ever-so-comfortably on his stone throne. Countless gold pieces and treasures had been thrown and smashed into the cave walls. He’d calmed down after beheading several unfortunate and uninformed goblin peons who died right as they came through the colossal doors. He was calmly — at least seemingly so — tapping his foot, but it was apparent by the speed of his tapping that he was agitated. He was about to rage again until the doors opened unexpectedly. Annoyed, he tossed a gold plate across the room, but the black-cloaked individual who entered swiftly and calmly side-stepped it.
“My prince,” the cloaked individual said. The person knelt and took down their hood, revealing himself to be a youthful goblin, who was even more pale in complexion than the goblin prince.
“I called for you hours ago,” the goblin prince snorted.
“I was away, your highness,” said the slim goblin.
The pale goblin nodded. “Yes, my prince. She sent me to the north to escort one of the troll kings.”
The goblin prince scoffed. “Trolls. Ugly creatures. Not sure why she even bothers with them.”
“They are our allies, your majesty.”
“Useless allies,” the goblin prince said. “The war in the north still continues. My blood boils to the fact that we have allied with the other races. Especially the humans.”
“It is only a temporary alliance, my prince. And a necessary alliance.”
The goblin prince snorted. “We shall see.” He flicked a gold chess piece off the throne armrest. “Anyway, I need you to find something for me. The transport we sent through the Brown Forest Caves, the useless scums died and the items were all taken.”
“I will find the missing goods, your highness,” said the Black Captain.
“Yes… You will,” said the goblin prince. “And you will kill anyone in possession of them.”
The Black Captain lowered his head. “It will be done, Prince Gorkul.”