Daz had stayed with Rose, Madison, Crusher, Dorian and Vanessa until it was time for the next auction, at which point, he said he'd be back in a short while. After all, no time actually passed during the auctions, despite them lasting quite a while.
Daz didn't understand how this time-dilation magic or technology worked, but it fascinated him greatly. The sheer number of uses it could have was a bit staggering to even consider, though Daz was sure that Rose was analysing it in the background, knowing her.
Now in his private booth in the ruler auction, Daz called upon his second most reliable ally who only fell behind Rimmy.
"System, invite Shen Mu, Benjamin Rock, Larry Billard, and Hsiao-han to my suite, please," he requested politely. Surprisingly, Han's name rolled off his tongue effortlessly. 'I wonder if that's because of the All Language Comprehension skill?'
|Confirmed. Inviting listed hosts.|
The first to respond was the newest lord of the three, Shen Mu.
He appeared while sitting on his Cloud of Tartarus, but as soon as he caught sight of Daz, he jumped off of it and gave his fellow reaper a warm hug. "It's good to see you, my friend. Your fight with that man called Larry was very entertaining."
Daz smiled wryly. 'He really does love hugs, huh?' He returned the embrace before parting from him. 'Still, he only brought up Larry, not Aila? Is he being considerate, or does he just not care?'
Moments later, Benjamin appeared. He had a big grin on his face. "Hi, Sek." He glanced at Mu and smiled kindly. "Nice to meet you. Are you a friend of Sek's?" he asked as he held his hand out politely.
Mu cocked his head to one side. "Sek?"
"It's an abbreviation of my lord name, Scarred Emerald King. I should really change that if I can. I'm not scarred anymore, and I'm not a king either. Not yet, at least," Daz explained with a shrug.
"I see." Mu nodded his head. "My name is Shen Mu," he said as he grabbed Rocky's hand. "It's nice to meet you. Any friend of Daz's is a friend of mine."
"Likewise!" Rocky was happy to meet another lord who was friendly with Daz. From what he'd seen in the Court of Lords, Daz didn't seem very keen to make new friends and allies, so he was a bit curious where he and Mu had met. "I'm Ben, but call me Rocky. Like Sek, it's my abbreviated lord name. Ruler of Overly Cryptic Knowledge of Yore. Cool, right?"
Mu nodded enthusiastically. "Very. I only recently became a lord thanks to Daz, so I don't have a lord name yet."
"Want me to help you think of one?" Rocky asked.
"I'd love that!" Mu happily agreed.
A few moments passed before Daz got a notification telling him that Larry had refused his invitation. 'Huh. I guess he's got more important people to be with. That makes sense if he rules over five cities. I wonder how many rulers are under his command?'
It was after that though that the fourth and final invited ruler accepted Daz's invitation.
The exact second that Mu saw the glowing red horns protruding out of Hsiao-han's forehead and the lava-filled cracks on her face, he felt his heart skip a beat. "You are very cool!"
Of course, he was going to compliment Rocky on his ruby eye, but as soon as Hsiao-han had entered his vision, he instantly forgot about the poor Ruby Sentinel.
"Thanks," the small Taiwanese girl replied casually. She glanced between Mu, Rocky and Daz before resting her gaze on the latter reaper. "Friends?"
Daz nodded. "This is Mu, my subordinate. He's very strong as the champion of the God of Death. In fact, he almost killed me, but we're friends now."
Mu smiled from ear to ear. "I'm also a reaper like Daz, though I have only evolved twice and am not an Archreaper," he said a bit sadly.
Daz gestured to Rocky, "This is Ben, or Rocky, as he prefers. His city is under my protection, and he technically rules it by proxy. He's not that strong, but he's very intelligent."
The man in question blushed and rubbed the back of his head bashfully. "I'm not that smart. Red's the smart one."
Hsiao-han frowned a little. "So much information... In exchange, I am Hsiao-han, but feel free to just call me Han. As you can see, I am no longer a human. I am a Lava Demoness. Hmm... Not enough. I rule over Guishan Island."
"I only met Han here today, and it seems that she can't receive information without giving it out. There may be some rules associated with this, but regardless, I'd be thankful if you two could avoid revealing anything to her unless she asks first," Daz said.
Hsiao-han was a bit surprised, but she wore a thankful smile on her small face.
"I do not mind," Mu said as he wandered over to the suite's bar and ordered a cocktail.
Rocky followed after him. "Me too. We all have our own little secrets or special skills, so it's perfectly fine."
"Thanks. By the way, Rocky," Daz called.
"Hmm? Need something, Sek?" Rocky asked with a face that clearly stated that he would answer Daz to the best of his capabilities. Truly, a reliable friend.
"When the auction starts, do you mind letting Red oversee it? I want him to document every person that buys something," Daz requested.
The one-eyed young man smiled in response. "Sure. I only plan to buy a teleporter relay if there is one anyway. So long as it's cheaper than the base price, that is. So yeah, I don't mind taking a backseat if you need Red's help."
"I really appreciate that. Thanks, Rocky. I'll buy a teleportation station after the auction, I promise," Daz said as he took a seat on the sofa facing the centre of the glass screen that made the stage visible.
The young lord of Middletown occupied the stool at the bar next to the lord of Camp Waterford while the lady of Guishan Island seated herself next to the lord of Fort Skip and Waterford City.
Daz pulled out his auction phone and replied to another emoji-filled text from his girlfriend, Madison. He really did want to know how the texting wasn't affected even slightly by the time dilation differences of the auction and the casino.
"Now that I think about it, not a single one of us is still a human, huh?" Daz commented absentmindedly.
Han bobbed her head up and down as she watched a video on her phone of a fully-armoured dark-skinned woman defeating a horde of several thousand enemies. No doubt, some form of challenge in one of the three amusement centres' many rooms.
"It is very interesting," the young girl answered a bit plainly.
Daz didn't want to needlessly converse with her in case he triggered whatever skill or effect she was bound to, so he kept quiet and texted Madison as he waited for the auction to start.
Pheldorapod confidently strode onto the stage after the thirty minutes preparation time was up and he adjusted his many monocles before coughing lightly.
"Ahem. It's my pleasure to see so many capable rulers in my auction hall! Would you believe me if I said that Earth is the home to a whopping twenty-two-thousand-three-hundred-and-ten rulers?" He was shaking from his growing anticipation.
More rulers directly translated to more merit points floating around. If there was one thing that Pheldorapod loved above all else, even above himself, it was money. He could practically smell it oozing out of the massive number of private suites, even despite the fact that he lacked a nose.
"Let's jump right into things, shall we?" he asked rhetorically as he gestured for his serving android to wheel in the first item.
An hour had passed by in a flash.
Daz wasn't interested in the items that had come out thus far. Why would he be? He had a permanent seventy-five-percent discount on base, city, and planet upgrades. It would be stupid for him to buy anything here. Even if the winning bids cost less than the original price of the upgrades, it would still result in a loss for him.
As luck would have it, a teleportation relay had shown up. It was item thirty-five. Fortunately, there was very little interest in it.
Few rulers had ownership of many cities, and it was a relay, not the main station. Ben was able to win it for the low price of five-hundred-thousand merit points. This was practically a steal since its store-bought price was three-point-two-five-million merit points.
As far as Mu and Han were concerned, neither of them had purchased a single item.
Daz had asked them why. Mu claimed that nothing had matched his vision for the future of Camp Waterford, so he didn't want to waste his points on useless upgrades.
Daz had traded the knowledge that Fort Skip contained a keep and a castle private school for Han's reason. She had said that she simply didn't care. She was the only citizen of her base and she put all of her merit points into her personal strength.
He could respect that. It was exactly what Mu was initially intent on doing until Daz had told him that he'd be in charge of some citizens in the future.
Of course, he did have to wonder why Hsiao-han was a lord at all when she was focused on personal strength. But who was he to question someone he had just met?
As the items continued to be brought out on stage and sold, only a total of two tickets had been used; one bronze, and one silver. Nothing exciting happened since the challenged bidders both gave up, unfortunately.
Finally, it was time for the last item. unlike the general auction, this one was only hosting a total of one-hundred items, not one-thousand.
Pheldorapod cleared his non-existent throat. "We are now moving on to this auction's final item!" While he wasn't exactly lacking in enthusiasm, he also wasn't particularly giving it his all. The octopus was a bit disheartened that no drama had unfolded in this auction thus far.
The android staff member rolled in the trolley and removed its silk covering to reveal the item.
Every item so far had been a small token that displayed a holograph of the particular upgrade, however, instead of showing a single building this time, the image was of a large open area.
"I can see your confusion, good people of Earth. Please, allow me to explain," Pheldorapod said as he approached the hologram and waved one of his tentacles.
The image changed and the empty displayed space was instantly filled with hundreds of buildings that looked like they had been ripped out of a sci-fi story. A second wave changed them into medieval-styled structures with a large and secure wall surrounding them. A third and final wave showed a city of brass and pipes.
"Some of you may have already guessed, but this is a City Creation Token. It will follow the will of its owner to create a city to match their wants and needs. Of course, the system shall modify the city ever so slightly to make up for the host's lacking knowledge." Many people were excited by this revelation, Daz included.
Pheldorapod narrowed his numerous eyes in joy as he continued by adding, "Once the city is created, it shall be populated by twenty-thousand otherworlder slaves of the system who are fit to live in it. Do not worry about creating a city that is uninhabitable. The system is vast. It will, without fail, find you your promised citizens and provide them to you."
He gave the gathered rulers a moment to ponder over this. Finally, he added a tempting piece of bait for those who were interested but still reluctant. "This is not common knowledge, but those who rule one-hundred or more people can gain a ruler class promotion. There are various promotions after that point for fulfilling different objectives. As an example, a lord may become a city lord should they possess a city, or a chieftain can become a grand chieftain if they unite three or more clans."
How he wished he had a mouth to fully show off the smile he was displaying in his mind. Pheldorapod flapped his hands about majestically as he said, "Those who rule over ten-thousand people, regardless of the type of ruler that you are, shall become a monarch. Kings and queens are privy to very special benefits."
With that explained, Pheldorapod bowed his squishy head softly. "Now then, testees and rulers of Earth, let us begin the bidding! The opening bid is three-million merit points! As this item is so special, it possesses a minimum closing bid of ten-million merit points."
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