Stamford stood before the brightly lit facade of the auction house which the address of the invitation had been written. The auction house was like an estate by itself covered by a perimeter wall artfully disguised by lush bushes. Lavish looking carriages were rolling in one after another through the wide wrought iron gates where a team of smartly dressed muscles were guarding.
A self important looking steward stopped Stamford and his men as they walked up to the gates. He cast a dismissive glance at their clothes before flapping his hand at them. "Go away! This is not a place for your kind tonight. All other businesses will be resume in the next day."
Stamford and his men were dressed in a set of nondescript uniform without all the ranks and markings and strapped to their hips and shoulders were black concealing holsters and pouches for their sidearms and ammunition. Their look made them look like mercenaries or guards of sorts.
The style of the UN uniform and fashion had recently been all the rage throughout the areas where merchants of the Isles plied their trade and many of the rich scions that were attending the auction dressed in similar if not more flamboyant styles. Hence, the plain looking style of Stamford and the rest were mistaken to be a cheap copy instead of the actual uniform design.
"We have an invitation for the auction tonight," Stamford remained unfazed by the steward's tone and handed the scroll over.
"Hmph!" The steward took the scroll and gave it a quick glance before he said with a frown. "This is addressed to Lord Wernburg of Wand. Which of you is... the Lord?"
"Lord Wernburg has kindly extended his invitation to us," Stamford explained. "We are here on his behalf..."
"Tch!" The steward made a clicking sound with his tongue as he cut off Stamford's sentence. "You must have stolen his invitation! Guards!"
"Hey wait a minute!" Dek cursed as he stood forward with the rest as the guards came forward to chase them away. The slim radioman only came up to the shoulder of the beef guards as the dragon airmen were mostly chosen from the smaller and lighter members of the UN Airforce to save weight. "We are not thieves!"
"Well..." The steward threw a sly glance to Stamford and rubbed his fingers. "If you can prove you did not steal..."
"They are with me!" A silvery voice suddenly called out. Stamford turned around and saw a large all glossy black carriage pulled by four raptor like dragons. The windows of the carriage were all covered up by a laced curtain and only a shadow could be seen from within. "Let them in."
"Ah! Lady Mona!" The steward's face paled and he quickly gestured the guards to make way for Stamford as he bowed and scraped before the carriage. "My... greatest apologies! This lowly one has no idea they were your guests!"
"Come on board," The light voice said and a footman of the carriage opened the doors and lowered a folding step and bowed as he gestured for Stamford and the rest to enter.
Stamford feeling confused, gingerly boarded the carriage which was surprisingly spacious. The cushioned benches lined inside the carriage was more than enough to accommodate at least another half dozen people. He was further surprised when he saw a grinning elf seated next to a beautiful looking middle aged lady who looked very familiar. "You are...?"
"Captain Stamford," The grinning elf dressed in a stylish coat next to the lady raised his glass of wine in a salute. "I am Trism, from Foreign Affairs."
"Foreign Affairs?" Stamford frowned. "You are an Intel puke!"
"I have to deny that," Trism gave a wink and gestured to his lady companion. "My companion for tonight, Lady Mona, which you have met before... She's the boss of Pioneer Inn which you and crew are staying at now."
Stamford did a double take and realized that the noble lady next to Trism was actually the lady boss of the Pioneer Inn. No wonder, he found her so familiar looking. "Why would a noble lady be running an Inn by herself?"
"Oh, ever since my husband has passed away in the War," Lady Mona poured a drink for Stamford and the rest. "It keeps me busy."
"And rich," Trism grinned again and touched his wine glass with Lady Mona who laughed back. "Lady Mona... is a good friend of the Embassy."
"I see..." Stamford inwardly shook his head as he auto translated the unsaid words. This meant that the Pioneer Inn and Lady Mona was actually an intel source for the UN Intel Division! "So what are you here for?"
Trism glanced out of the curtains as the carriage slowly rolled forward towards the main building of the auction house before he said, "Well, we are here on a date... You know, auctions can be so exciting!"
Lady Mona laughed at Trism's bold words and she berated him gently. "You are so bad. You are here for that dragon!"
Stamford frowned as Trism gave a wink and was about to speak when the footman outside announced their arrival. Trism gave a slight shake of his head while keeping his smile and he hopped out of the carriage before offering his hand to Lady Mona.
When they all had exited the carriage, Stamford found himself standing before a large stone courtyard that had stone braziers at intervals lighting up the evening. A small army of servants was arrayed at an entrance greeting guests and ushering them into the building which design looked victorian in design except for the spires and towers.
The servants bowed and accepted their invitation scrolls and they were led down a thickly carpeted hallway. Trism fell back to Stamford's group and warned in a low voice, "Don't make a scene here, just enjoy yourselves."
Trism pointedly glanced at their concealed holsters before he gave another wink and quickened his pace to join Lady Mona. Stamford let out a small sigh before he turned to his crew and said, "Well, you heard the man, just enjoy the evening and don't make any trouble."
His crew of three nodded in unison and Dek gave a grin and spoke into the mike attached to his collar. "You heard that, Blue? Just enjoy the evening! Hehehe!"
"-njoy the evening! Hehehe!" Blue Thunder had his eye glued to the small tablet held up with his claws inside the dark stall. He hissed angrily at Dek's words and promised himself that he was going to make him vomit in the next flight!
They had separated from Trism and his companion and the servant led Stamford and his crew into a small but comfortable balcony which even had a few maids that served them refreshments and any other needs. Sofa like chairs was set at the balcony, allowing them to view the large stage below, which resembles some kind of opera theater.
As time went by, more guests were seated until the whole auction house was fully filled. The magical glow lamps slowly dimmed and a lavishly dressed male came on the stage. He seemed to glow as he was illuminated by some sort of spell, making him extremely eye catching in the dimmed lights.
"Welcome, Lords and Ladies!" The elf's voice magically boasted, allowed everyone to hear him clearly no matter how far they were seated. "Welcome to the Venna Auction Event!"
"I am Heyle Venna and will be your guide to tonight's wondrous event!" The elf gave a dramatic bow to the round of applause. "Now, as I am sure, all of you are excited and impatient to see what marvelous items on auction tonight! So without further ado, I declare the start of the Auction!"
More applause followed his statement and he stepped to the side of the stage and the glowing spell on his body dimmed down. The stage was suddenly illuminated and a couple of pretty looking servants pushed a covered cart onto the middle of the stage.
"Now for the first item of the Auction," The MC gestured to the servants who removed the coverings and the revealed item shocked Stamford and his men. The unmistakable shape of a revolver that had been polished until it gleamed under the lights sat on a stand. "A weapon of the myths... A harbinger of death and thunder! A thunder weapon that can kill from dozens of steps away and no armour can stand against its roar!"
"That's a goddamn Single Action Dragon!" Dek hissed as he stared at the weapon being auctioned through a helpful magical orb that was placed before the chairs. The magical viewing orb allowed one to view the stage from afar. "How the fark did they get their hands on a revolver?"
"Must be someone had stolen it or smuggled it out of the UN... Or someone looted it off the dead before our side could claim the bodies..." Stamford shook his head. "I am not surprised if some weapons did get out of the UN."
A large bang echoed through the auction house as the MC fired the revolver at a dummy target dressed in plate mail. He showed off the weapon's might and the damage done to the wooden dummy before one of the servants took over the weapon and started to carefully clean it.
"Starting bid of this wondrous weapon will start at one hundred gold crowns!" The MC continued at the stage after describing its abilities. "Each bid will be ten gold crowns!"
"Two hundred crowns!" The bidding immediately started off when the MC slammed a hammer on the stand. "Two hundred ten!"
The bidding for the revolver was fierce as they saw the effects of the weapon and everyone all wanted to possess it. Finally, after a long round of bidding, the price of the revolver ended at five thousand five hundred gold crowns.
The winner of the weapon was a young handsome elf who sat at the VIP side of the viewing gallery. The MC slammed his hammer down happily as he announced the winner of the bid and gave a bow in the direction of the young lord.
"Oh my gods..." Dek blinked his eyes wildly as he saw the ending bid. "Over five thousand gold crowns?"
He glanced down at his shoulder holster which hung a compact sub gun and swallowed nervously, "Say... If I auction off my machine pistol... How much do you I will get?"
"Don't you even think of it!" Stamford warned in a stern tone. "Or you might find someone from next door paying you a visit!"
"Oh..." Dek felt a chill down his spine. "Yes... You are right... Fark..."
"Trading weapons is a serious offense..." Stamford remained them. "It is death offense!"
"Well... I am just curious about the bid... Haha..." Dek gave an awkward laugh. "I will never dare to do it!"
"You better!" Stamford sternly warned him. "There's an Intel puke next door, and I don't want to be ordered to hunt you down!"
Dek quickly nodded and they returned to watching the auction which continued on. Other than the revolver that appeared, other less technological weapons like steam lances from the Protectorate also made an appearance which ending bid was a lot lower compared to the revolver. Other then weapons, magical items were also auctioned off and their value was no lower than the revolver.
Magical cores and stones the size of a football were fiercely bid on and finally, the last magical item found a new owner, the servants started to clear the stage for the final item for the night. By this time, the mood of the auction was at all time high, as everyone was waiting for the final auction.
The MC smiled as he sensed the mood of the crowd and he played it to his best. He made a flamboyant and dramatic gesture as the sounds of something heavy was being pushed onto the huge stage. "Lords and Ladies... The finale has come! The one thing everyone is waiting for..."
"Let me present to you... A never before seen creature on our lands! A creature of pure beauty! A Black Dragon!"