The surrounding area of the Earthly Treasures Pavilion was packed with people. It was still early in the morning and none of the customers was really sure yet how all of these people would fit into the shop, but now that the day of the auction was finally here, there was still no information on where exactly it would be held.
Every invitation just said the auction would start at the Earthly Treasures Pavilion.
Finally the doors opened and a few people stepped outside.
"Look they opened up! Is it going to begin now?"
"Where will all the people go to though? They don't even fit into the garden area surrounding the shop!"
Some people were curious, others were excited and some even had evil intentions. All of them were surprised how many various guests there were this early in the morning.
All of the empires of the Central Island Union were here, pretty much all the surrounding kingdoms sent a representative, even those not invited specifically, many nobles, leaders of various organizations had arrived, and all kinds of merchants were also here.
"Welcome everyone to our Earthly Treasure Pavilion's first auction in this area! We will open the way to our auction building shortly, please keep our rules in mind while you are here. No weapons are to be drawn and no powers of any harmful nature might be used while here."
While Ryoma greeted the guests and explained their rules, Yui and Tora walked over to the metal archway. Rinomi stood back a bit with little Miyuki, watching the crowd as much as the twin sisters.
So far no one had acted, as even the people from the Grey Order seemed to be curiously watching the situation first before they decided to act. Everything seemed to be held in suspense, wanting to see how this auction would turn out first before making any decisions.
Not that she really worried about anyone causing trouble, but not many had as much insight into the inner working of the pavilion, or a good idea of the sisters' strengths. There might be quite a few who might think they are above their shop's rules.
Shortly after a lot of spiritual power was gathering and the metal archway that seemed not much more than some decoration, was coming to life with power.
The air started to shimmer and fluctuate before an easily visible break separated the space between the garden and the area beyond this archway on the 'other' side of it. The whole archway was filled with a kind of fog. It was hard to see through this fog, but the little bits one could see were very different from the garden area.
"It's a portal! They opened a stable portal to some other area!" one of the people waiting for the auction exclaimed.
"Well what did you expect, how should this many people fit into such a small area otherwise? They have talismans to use transportation magic, why would they not open some kind of portal for their auction?"
"It's a portal though! Don't you know how hard it is to create a stable portal, instead of just sending something through space for just a moment? The spatial laws for a stable portal are so much more complicated, it's on a whole different level!"
"Why would I be surprised? Have you been sleeping under some stone for the past weeks? It's the Tai sisters creating it, are you still surprised?"
With the portal now open, the first few people entered this strange area, only to come back a moment later to report and tell everyone that it was safe.
While none of the regular customers of the Earthly Treasures Pavilion doubted the safety of this gateway, there were still many visitors who did not have such a high amount of trust in what they saw as a merchant group they have barely heard of before.
The first steps through the portal were definitely an odd feeling. There was no real dizziness or anything like it, as the thick fog offered a more subtle change of scenery rather than stepping from one world to another without any way to hide the surroundings a little, yet it was still something totally new.
It felt like walking a foggy mystical path into another world, with every few steps on this path offering more of this new strange world.
The land they were walking on was definitely weird. When the first people walked far enough to see further away many were just standing there and pointing in amazement.
They were standing on what seemed to basically be an island in the sky, a flying island bordered by clouds. Ahead of them on this island stood a massive building, that made even the biggest palaces they had seen look tiny and insignificant in comparison.
"Is … is this the divine realm? How could there be something this grand existing in our world?"
"Even if it's not, it looks amazing. No wonder this Earthly Treasures Pavilion is treated as an empire."
"What did you say? An empire?"
Many of the regular customers heard about this for the first time and those people who knew about it quickly explained the details to the others.
Princess Harue, who was part of the entourage of the King of Yura this time, stared at the massive structure ahead of them, the glittering black walls and red roof parts looming over the island like a gargantuan black dragon covering the sky.
Was this really the same group whose ruler offered to teach her about cooking? The grand building conflicted quite a bit with the shy young woman, showing her how to bake a cake.
Even her father was giving her a strange look, wondering about this strange empress even more now and the relationship his daughter had to such a power.
"Well at least they didn't build it in Sume, would make the palace look like the home of some commoners." Harue deadpanned, once she took a good look at the building.
It took quite a long time for all the guests to settle down and finally enter the building. Ryoma had to answer more and more questions, as many different nations decided that this Earthly Treasures Pavilion obviously held more power than they would have expected.
Even the empires of the Central Island Union looked at this 'backwater' merchant faction in another light. Whoever could build a portal and such a place, had obviously a lot more resources than they were led to believe initially.
Once people started to look around inside the auction hall and found themselves some seats, they became aware of the first oddity of this place, or maybe one should say about the arrangements of the Earthly Treasures Pavilion.
There were no real seating arrangements. People could just sit wherever they wanted, with no special VIP rooms, no booths reserved for guests to hide their identity or give them any preferential treatment of any kind.
They did have quite some places to relax, buy food and drinks, as well as some areas to take a break and talk to others though.
"Hey Yui! How do we get upstairs?" Princess Harue asked and looked around to find some sort of stairway that would lead them up to the many areas above ground level the hall provided.
"Just take the elevators over there." Yui pointed out a strange magical circle slightly off to one side of the room.
"What is that?"
"You go inside and get transported to the top. The circles with an up arrow next to them lead you upstairs, while the ones with a down arrow will get you a level lower."
"Seems really convenient! No stairs to walk. Nice. What are you going to auction today?"
"Just wait and see, it's going to be interesting." Yui smiled at the princess, before heading off to deal with the many tasks she had to take care of.
Arranging the staff members who were welcoming guests, who provided food and drinks and preparing the various items they were going to sell.
Tora on the other hand sat down in one of the seats in the first row and started to take a nap, totally ignoring all the people who wanted to engage her in some sort of conversation or asked her various questions.
"Welcome again to our auction of the Earthly Treasures Pavilion."
After everyone settled down and found a seat Ryoma started the actual auction.
"Some of you might already have heard about us, but to give everyone a better idea of what our business is all about, let me give you a quick overview of our products and what to expect of our services."
"Our Pavilion offers all kinds of resources, people would normally have to take a long time to find. Be it rare metals, plants and herbs only found in special places, taking a long time to grow normally, or wild beasts of a certain strength."
"Most of our services include access to such places, rich with many rarities. We don't typically sell the resources found inside those places or products made out of it, except for our auctions, which will be held once every quarter of a year."
"This will both showcase what can be found in our various regions that we offer access to, as well as what can be done with enough skill and knowledge in the hands of the right people."
Ryoma pointed towards some tables that seemed to have appeared out of thin air behind him, making a few people gasp in surprise.
The tables were covered in lots of different raw materials. Pieces of rare wood, strange metals that were even rarely seen in their own places, while barely ever heard of in myths and legends in the regular world.
Plants that even skilled alchemists could hardly identify and even a few beast eggs that were just as rare and unique. Even the spirit crops that were easier to find on the different island groups were of exceptional quality.
"Now many might wonder how this might benefit them. Surrounding kingdoms will have an easier time allocating manpower and the little bit of logistics necessary to make use of our services, but it will be harder for those farther away."
He gave it some time for people to think about the various logistic difficulties that would come with access to a service provided far away. Costs for transport could be a very large factor when it came to distances between island groups.
"You have all come here through our portal. In the future, we will build more portals all over the world, spanning different island groups with a net of gateways that will provide easy access for merchants and travelers alike, for a small fee."
It took a while for his words to sink into the minds of the gathered people. A moment of utter silence passed, before there was an uproar, with everyone throwing out questions and wondering what this would be all about.
An auction with rare and special items was one thing. While they were all curious about the items offered, many places and merchant groups would hold auctions to sell their items, even rare and special ones.
No one could offer such an amazing way to cover large distances though. A net of portals spanning possibly whole island groups all over the world.
What would this mean for merchants? Their understanding of trade would completely change. Importing and exporting goods would become a breeze.
What about military? Would it be possible to quickly relocate cultivators to other areas of the world, saving them weeks of travel time?
While it might be hard and not really profitable to move a regular army of commoners, moving a few dozen strong cultivators would be easy enough if those fees were not too high.
It would also bring new risks though as their enemies might also make use of such a net of gateways to quickly invade or attack them in some way.
"Some people have also asked about our various finished products, ranging from recipes for alchemy and cooking, to enchantments, wood and metalworking and ways to produce exceptional unique items that are currently only to be found in our Pavilion."
"Even though we don't sell these products directly in large quantities, we will discuss partnerships for new products after each of our auctions. If you are interested just stay around after the auction and we will be able to discuss such things in further detail later on."
"Most of our auctioned items will be available from our various partners later on. They provide early access to what can be made with unique crafting methods and we are sure they will be of some interest to many people."
The whole idea of early access to a product was rather new to their world. People were used to see new products when they released and were ready to be bought, not just to see a few prototype pieces early on, while they could not yet be mass produced in some way.
Ryoma quickly understood the appeal to own something that others did not possess yet and gain an advantage in this way, no matter if it was a really helpful one, or if it was just about fame. It was yet another interesting business strategy he wanted to make use of.
A really interesting lure and incentive to make people even more interested in their upcoming products, making the partnerships they offered rather alluring. In way this was not just a typical auction people knew about.
It was a mix between a regular auction and a reveal of new products, Yui might even call it a convention, with various groups of interested customers, possible partners and merchants taking a closer look at their products in an atmosphere that made it easy to discuss and interact without many barriers like rank and background.
"A few exceptional pieces will obviously not be easily mass produced, as such there will be many an item that will only be seen during this auction and never again."
As people were now aware that there would be further discussions after the actual auction, the voices of the people shouting out questions calmed down and the focus returned somewhat to the auction part, even though many were still discussing all the revealed information.
"I guess I said enough for now, let's start with actually showing our first items!"
Behind Ryoma, the tables changed yet again and a single slightly raised dais appeared.
The auction of the Earthly Treasures Pavilion had officially begun.