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CHAPTER 348

FIRE (IV)

It was truly breathtaking -- even Lino had to admit; a wide, beautifully-decorated platform that was slightly elevated by hand-sculpted pillars was orbited by over a thousand seats in a half-circular fashion. Each seat was made out of smooth birch, cushioned with goose feathers for the maximum comfort. Nearly a hundred chandeliers hung from the domed ceiling, illuminating the interior of the auction house just perfectly; neither too bright nor too dark.

Lino and Seya were seated toward the top, yet that hardly impeded them from seeing and hearing everything perfectly. Sets of seats were separated by thin, yet opaque, curtains inscribed with arrays which ensured nobody could hear anyone or anything but the auctioneer on the platform.

Each seating had a hand-carved table filled with fruits and drinks which would be immediately replaced if one finished them. Lino had to admit that they truly went all out when it came to pleasing the people, yet it made sense -- after all, the sheer amount of money that would be spent in the following ten hours would make every coin Lino has earned since his birth seem like a small change.

“How many items have you put up?” Seya asked him as she nibbled on a firm yet juicy peach.

“Five,” Lino replied, sipping wine worth more than half the bottles in his void world. “Two are just average, two will probably net a decent price and the last one... well, let’s just say this whole place’s gonna start burning.”

“... never a humble moment with you, huh?”

“Of course not,” Lino shrugged. “I’ve spent nearly two weeks crafting that piece of shit. It’d cost me most of the materials I had at hand. I actually had to sleep for like three days straight afterwards just to rest.”

“... or you could have used Qi.” Seya said.

“Do you?” Lino glanced at her, grinning.

“How come I pick only your bad habits?” she sighed.

“’cause I don’t have any good ones?”

“Good point.” Seya nodded absentmindedly, her eyes peered on the beautiful platform. Over its edges, crimson curtain folded downward, blocking the view of the stage for the time being.

Lino wasn’t excessively focused on the auction; after all, he was here merely to ensure everything went without a hitch. What occupied his mind at the moment was the news Seya brought him; he had asked her to look into reaching the Sanctified Grounds -- an entirely isolated peninsula of the Holy Continent which housed all seven Holy Grounds -- by avoiding proper channels. If their only option truly was to circle it out east, and to pass by the Dragon Isles on their way there... that would complicate things slightly, at least for the time being. He had no intention of visiting the Dragon Isles just yet as he lacked enough information about it.

“Welcome, Honored Guests,” a melodic voice quickly silenced all other noises inside the house as the crimson curtain unfolded, revealing behind an open platform where a single woman stood up front, dressed in a barely-covering piece of cloth. Behind her, a whole row of men and women stood starkly naked, each more beautiful than the former, holding onto an object covered up with golden cloth. “To Chamber’s triannual Auction.” Lino’s hand quickly swiped over Seya’s glistening eyes as she grumbled.

“What are you doing?!”

“See no evil, hear no evil.” Lino said as Seya swiped his arm away.

“I’ll see all the evil I want,” she growled. “Especially if it’s dangling off of a handsome piece of meat! My, my...”

“... what the hell happened to you?” Lino sighed in lament. “You used to be so innocent...”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have repeatedly screwed Hannah while I was around,” Seya replied. “I’m fairly certain I’ll never be scarred because of sex again, so that’s a good thing.”

“...”

“Today’s Auction,” the woman continued as the piece of cloth slipped off from her, revealing a pair of bountiful peaks blended into a narrow waist and wide hips and long, lean legs. Two spaces next to her suddenly opened up as a hole popped in the platform’s floor, with two men soon ascending up, standing by her side. One ebony, one snow-white, both sported oiled muscles, lacking any clothing, much like the rest. What is this?!! A fucking auction or an orgy?! Lino growled inwardly. “Features some of the best and rarest items the entire Holy Continent has to offer; from weapons and armors, to talismans and pills, and to objects so odd they cannot be classified -- we have them all, and some of you shall too by dawn.”

“...” though arrays perhaps blocked the rest from hearing anything, it hardly hurt Lino whose ears were quickly filled by chatter and murmurs; though some spoke of the items, most spoke of openly exposed bodies and what they’d like to do to them. What caused Lino to break out into cold sweat was the fact that women had far more of a vivid and... disturbing imagination.

“In addition,” the woman continued, her smile stretching further, seemingly undisturbed by the fact that she was being ogled by nearly a thousand pairs of eyes. “We are proud to be the first ones to introduce you to a new miracle -- a crafter you will no doubt fall in love with, as did I. Many thanks to the honorable Princess Freya who had introduced him to us, and offered us five of his creations to display to the world. Though you may be unconvinced of his title, our very own best appraisers had given it to him -- the Divine Smith.” Seya glanced at Lino dubiously, chuckling faintly when she saw a look of immeasurable pride on his face... which was quickly replaced by frowns of anger due to the fact that he was privy to what others were saying. “In addition, your favorites will be returning this time around as well -- Forger of Gods, Iyvillian Forager, Casts of the Sun and many, many more.”

“...”

“Forty items in total will be auctioned,” the woman continued as she seductively turned around and walked toward the far end of the row behind her, where a young-looking, bashful woman was holding an object covered by cloth. She was soon pulled out of the row by two men and brought upfront. “The first will be from our newcomer, lest you believe us liars,” the woman continued, smiling faintly as she put her hand on the piece of cloth. “The rules are standard -- bidding will go on for sixty seconds, not one more or less. The highest bidder wins. We accept three currencies -- pure gold, high-tier Qi Stones, and Dragon Gems. The exchange rate is the standardized one; hundred pounds of gold is equivalent to a single high-tier Qi Stone, while a thousand Qi Stones match up to a single Dragon Gem. Without any further ado, I present to you, [Hymn of Fury].”

The piece of cloth vanished in a quick blaze, revealing behind it a glassed, see-through box which was holding a small, fist-sized necklace. Kite-shaped, it glittered in dark teal, a singular ruby gem at the center standing out as a protrusion and the necklace’s centerpiece. Hundreds of people, mostly women, quickly shot to their feet as the woman on the stage pulled up the item’s stats above her, for all to see.

[Hymn of Fury -- Legendary Unique]

Level: 999

Requirements: Godhood

+20% to ALL attack-related Stats, Arts and other items

+400% to ALL defensive stats when wielder is outnumbered by at least 10

+1000% to ALL stats when wielder is at the brink of death

Special Effect [Last Stand] -- when overwhelmed, the wielder receives a temporary shield whose strength is 1/4th of Vitality; in addition, each successful strike restores 2% of lost Vitality, up to 60%.

Special Effect [Beholder of Fury] -- trigger the innermost array of the necklace to temporarily encase yourself into a quasi-Avatar form of Fury; all passive stats of the item are doubled, while each successive strike increases Attack Speed by 4%, up to 80%. The wielder also gains temporary immunity to pain, as well as absolute resistance to any form of control effects. Upon leaving the quasi-Avatar form, the wielder is temporarily weakened, with ALL stats decreasing by 20% for an hour.

Note: A pinnacle Legendary-tier item, it is designed for those who enjoy the spectacle of fighting, and for those who oft find themselves walking the tender edge of death.

A temporary lull descended onto the auction house as everyone tried to properly process the item’s stats. Lino stroked his chin as a faint smile hung on his lips; they went for one of the two better items as an opener, as he imagined they would. He suddenly felt a tug at his shirt as he glanced sideways only to see a flabbergasted Seya staring at him with quizzical gaze.

“What?” Lino asked curiously.

“Why in the god’s name are you selling that?!!” she screamed at him, leaning into his face. “That should be one of our top-tier treasures!!”

“... oh, relax,” Lino rolled his eyes, pushing her back. “As if that toy could ever be counted as a treasure. Geez, your eyes must have been starved of good items since the day you were born. Well, strap-on kiddo, ‘cause... ah, something clever, blah blah, I’m too tired. Let’s just focus on the auction.”

“Ten Qi Stones!!” the first shout broke the lull everyone fell into, and was quickly followed by a bombardment of hundreds of others.

“Fifteen!!”

“A hundred!!”

“A Dragon Gem!”

“Two Dragon Gems!!”

“...” Lino listened on with faint amusement as a wave of nostalgia washed over him. A long time ago, while he was still but a kid, he got to experience a similar sensation. The difference lay in the fact that he now stood at the pinnacle, whereas before he had barely left the bottom. Even still, he was a completely different person now; he didn’t feel anything over the prices, or the voices full of lust and desire. Entirely indifferent to them, he instead focused on one of the objects in the back, twenty-third in a row to be specific, held by a young man in his early twenties. Something beyond that cloth whispered softly to him, like a distant voice of sorts, muddied by a thousand other noises. He didn’t know what it was... just that he had to have it by dawn.

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beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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