Ten Dragon Gems -- Lino found himself slightly surprised as the woman announced the end of the bidding for the [Hymn of Fury]. He had expected the rich and suave here to be generous, but they still somehow managed to exceed his expectations. However, he had no use for the Dragon Gems -- world-recognized most precious currency refined from Dragon Scales -- so he’d already asked the auction house to exchange it for the high-tier Qi Stones.

Besides, he mused inwardly, if he ever indeed needed Dragon Gems, he had a pet Dragon in his pocket, and he was certain Vy wouldn’t mind parting with a couple of his scales. In addition, Dragon Gems hardly had a practical use; they were mostly decorative, a symbol of status, and most people merely hoarded them or used them during big auctions such as this one.

Ten thousand high-tier Qi Stones may seem like much, but it was actually rather low, barely enough to produce a single Void Titular. Sighing inwardly, Lino unconsciously began tapping the armrest of the chair; while he expected the wealth wouldn’t simply fall from the sky, he still kind of hoped it would.

Regardless, it was still more than he expected which is why he surrendered over to the sensation of victory. There were four more items of his to be auctioned which should be enough to net him a decent starting capital with some leftovers for Val and the fortress. He could easily ask Freya for some funds, but he’d rather not tangle himself in a coin-spurned web where many find themselves burned by the end.

The auction continued with the second item, a Martial Art, which immediately caused Lino to tune out. He could barely do with the Arts he had, to say nothing of the fact that he probably couldn’t even learn any of the ones being auctioned. Seya, on the other hand, was completely different; her face lit up like a bonefire, both her eyes shining like effervescent suns.

Chuckling briefly, Lino looked away and closed his eyes. The man who won the auction of the necklace was a stumpy, ill-looking fella with high cheeks, oily hair and a pair of copper eyes. He was on the shorter end, almost a dwarf, and was currently being fawned over by three women as he caressed the necklace in his hands. It could have found a better home, but it didn’t matter; Lino had poured his heart and soul into the necklace, and he had no doubt that it would eventually find itself in the hands of someone who it was fated for.

“Sold for three hundred pounds of gold to the lady in Chamber 255!!” the auctioneer exclaimed suddenly as another bid ended; Lino mused inwardly that whoever thought up the sixty-seconds method was a rather clever fella. It made the indecisive flip over a new page and gave a sense of urgency to those who considered buying it. The Martial Art that was sold must have cost them barely a third of what they earned. “Our third item is...”

“Something is strange,” Seya said suddenly in a rather peculiar tone as Lino glanced at her. “Do you feel it?”

“Feel what?” Lino quizzed back.

“I... I don’t know... something just feels off, I think...”

“Wanna leave?” Lino asked.

“No, no, of course not,” Seya quickly replied. “We’ve come here for a reason. To see you flaunt over the items you’ve sold. Ten Dragon Gems for the first... heh, not bad little guy, not bad...”

“...” Lino grinned briefly though said nothing; he found it rather strange, how little he had grown to value wealth that has no use. In his youth, all he ever dreamed of were coffers of gold and high and tall mansions and villas full of luxurious and expensive things. He couldn’t quite pinpoint a singular moment in his life where money slowly began losing its value to him, though it was too thin of a worry to become an earworm.

The auction continued without a huff, item after item being sold off to the greedy and greasy hands. It wasn’t until eleventh item that Lino’s eyes lit up slightly, as it was one of his items -- [Mark of the Seer]. He’d gotten the idea directly from Y’sha who even helped him with the correct attunement of the arrays. It was, however, one of the two items he valued less than the other three which is why he merely glanced at the stage once before closing his eyes.

Others, however, all focused gravely -- the already-accepted ‘Divine Smith’s’ first item was something they failed to acquire, and even if this one is leagues worse, it would still have immeasurable collector’s value as one of the first items to ever be sold by what they already assumed would become a legendary figure.

[Mark of the Seer -- Unique]

Level: N/A

+10% to Vision in ALL circumstances

Special Effect [The Mark] -- stealthily plant a Mark on a target; so long as the Mark is active, periodically gain ability to form a bond with it and inspect the Marked. Can have up to three Marks active at the same time.

Special Effect: Useless in the wrong hands, priceless in the right ones, creation attempting to mirror the blood-given talents of the few.

“As you can see,” the woman atop the stage said, moving slightly forward as her breasts bounced. “Though the item holds no immediate boost to strength, it remains the only known, successful attempt at mirroring an effect of a Bloodline -- while it only mirrors the Basic Stage, it is more than enough to showcase the sheer talent and creativity present in the hands of the smith. The biding shall start now.”

“Eh? How’d you manage to mirror the Gaze of the Thousand Eyes?” Seya quickly quizzed Lino as she realized the item was his.

“I had a bit of help.” Lino replied.

“Who helped you?”

“A Great Seer? Who else, idiot? Sheesh, it’s almost like you’ve got farts for brains.”

“When the fuck did you meet a Great Seer?!!”

“Meet her? Girl, I already recruited her.” Lino said in a self-satisfied tone, causing Seya to groan.

“... of course you did, haah...”

With all said and done, he still managed to earn nearly three thousand high-tier Qi Stones off of the item, well above its actual value. While the effect was rather neat, it was also very limiting in terms of its strength. One had to be slightly stronger than the target in order for the Mark to apply in addition to the fact that the Mark was externally visible.

The auction continued on until the nineteenth pop, where two people suddenly stepped forward, a young man and a woman, standing next to the auctioneer and unrolling the cloth over the boxes. Both items were actually Lino’s, causing him to exclaim softly. One was an ordinary-looking medallion decorated with flaming carvings while the other was a small, leather-bound dagger with curved and mawed blade that gleamed in peculiar, silver sheen.

The auctioneer quickly introduced the items as the chatter resumed, especially so once she stated that the items would be sold in a pair -- even Lino was slightly surprised at this as he didn’t specifically request it, nor did the two items really garner being sold together because of their stats. Once again he was astonished at how clever the sellers were; he was half a mind away from finding the person who thought up the scheme and trying to rope him or her into his own faction.

[Medallion of Brevity -- Unique]

Level: 1

Special Effect [Brevity] -- the medallion is restricted to being worn only by one person; should the person ever perish, so shall the medallion. Upon donning it, the person is cured of all natural ailments in addition to having their lifespan tripled.

Note: Though of limited use, the medallion could provide an indispensable tool for those less fortunate.

[Nightkiss -- Legendary Unique]

Level: 999

Requirements: Art relating to Darkness/Shadow, Void Title

+100% to Hand Speed

+60% to Nimbleness

+60% to Attack Speed

+200% to Stabbing Accuracy

+25% to Darkness/Shadow Arts (mastery)

-80% to Damage when attacking from front

Special Effect [Kiss of Death] -- first strike from stealth will always apply ‘Kiss of Death’ curse, lowering the target’s base stats by 60%, their speed by 40%, and make them take 70% bonus damage from Piercing & Bleeding. The curse lasts for 8 seconds, but repeated attacks at the same spot extend it by 2 seconds, up to 30.

Special Effect [Night Phantom] -- injecting Qi infused with Law of Shadow/Darkness into the dagger will temporarily increase the wielder’s affinity with either of the laws by 80%, granting them the art, ‘Night Phantom’ -- dash infinitely through the shadows for 12 seconds while dealing damage equal to 80% of the overall Attack. During the dash, the wielder becomes invulnerable to physical damage.

Note: A weapon designed for those who live and die by the shadows, for those who strike when least expected, and for those who finish their foes in unparalleled swiftness.

Though Lino didn’t think much of either the medallion or the dagger, as they were heavily specialized tools only few would ever be able to utilize to their maximum potential, due to the now-inherent value his name held, the bidding quickly exploded into the stratosphere. Within thirty seconds it surpassed the ten Dragon Gems he earned off of the necklace without showing any signs of slowing down.

It eventually skyrocketed to whole eighty gems, resulting in eighty thousand high-tier Qi Stones. While not exactly life-altering -- at least to someone at his level -- it was a fairly decent amount. He grinned faintly in pride as heated discussions regarding his items swept across the house, with Seya by his side longingly staring at the dagger as it was swept away as though by an invisible hand into one of the chambers.

“... aii ,what a shame..” she mumbled meekly under her breath.

“Oh, would you cheer up,” Lino grumbled. “I’ll make you something even better when I have the time.”

“What?! Like what?! Tell me! Please, please please--”

“--do you want an item?”

“... yes.”

“Then shut up.”

“... yes.”

“Oh, wow, that worked?” Lino suddenly stroked his chin. “Does this mean I can exploit the greed even more robustly than I thought?”

“... yes.”

“And turn anyone into a yes-man -- or, well, in this case yes-kid?”

“... yes-woman.”



“Fine, fi--” a dangerous glint suddenly flashed through Lino’s eyes as his grinning expression vanished, replaced with one of seriousness; he quickly swept to the side and picked Seya into his arms, cradling her tightly against his chest and using his body to practically consume hers and hide it.

Just as she was about to cry out, a tremor ran through the house, causing a few pillars of the platform to collapse. Before cries had a chance to echo out into the infinity, the entire platform suddenly burst into all-consuming, roaring, black flames, killing everyone on the stage and many more of those in the first few rows. That was hardly the end, however, as from nearly every inch and corner of the house, same, black flames burst out and began reaping lives. Lino’s chamber wasn’t exempt, catching ablaze shortly after. Though the flames didn’t hurt him, they had a rather queer and strange property of making him feel tired. Rather than Qi, he had to use his Will to expel them from his veins.

Just then, the entire house imploded; those few looking from the outside just saw a flash of black light before the massive, respected building blew up into smithereens, burning pieces of wood heaved across the sky like falling stars. The fire bellowed out into the sky, the smoke soon smoldering the light of the moon above, and signaling the entire city that something terrible had just transpired.


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About the author


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

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