I met up with Saffron just before the auction, dressed in my usual blue jacket with my torn cloak wrapped around my neck. The noble woman wore not her usual school uniform, instead wearing a long one-piece red dress, tinged with a slight light hue to match her pink tresses.
She stared at me.
“Are you seriously going to the auction wearing that?”
“Yep! What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing. Your social grace is just as bad as ever.
“Come on, let’s go.”
We passed Central Square and stopped right before the Tower of Truth. The streets were full of decorated carriages— a rather unusual scene in Mavos Academy. There was a long line that led into the building, with fancily dressed individuals waiting to enter.
Saffron held a slip of paper in her hand, showing it to a guard at the front. I wondered why they even needed such guards— he was a Level 80 [Warrior], which was impressive, but not so much so compared to the saturation of other high-leveled individuals here.
There were a handful of other students from Mavos Academy, but it seemed like most of the attendants here came from beyond even just Wimborne. Men in smart suits exchanged polite words with women in frilly dresses. There were nobles and merchants and adventurers, all prolific in their own right. They discussed the auction, driven by an excitement to know what would be sold here.
“It has been years since Ivonne Vigil last returned to the Human lands.”
“I hear she came from the Dwarf mountains. The artifacts she must have returned with— surely nothing under High Grade artifacts would be on auction.”
“I bought the Glaive of Rampage from her last auction six years ago. It’s still my most valuable weapon to this day. She claimed it was passed down from a Beastmen tribe as their greatest treasure, before they were lost to a swarm of Centinels.”
I heard a lot of excited chattering around me. There were standing tables prepared just outside the Tower of Truth, a place for social gatherings to take place. Saffron nodded slightly at a few men and women who passed her by. She only stopped to speak briefly with a man who looked no older than she was.
He had white hair, red eyes, and a charming smile.
“Saffron Merryster, it is a delight to see you here.”
“Gannon Norwood, it has been a while.”
She bowed her head slightly as she curtsied respectfully at him. The noble woman glanced back at me, and I copied her gesture.
“This is Salvos, Diamond Ranked adventurer. I am sure you must’ve heard of her.”
“Greetings, Ms Salvos.”
He took my hand, kissing it lightly.
“But I do apologize. I am not one who is up to date with the news. I may not have heard of you, however I’m sure you are quite the esteemed individual.”
I smiled, subtly suppressing the urge to say that that was true because I was Salvos.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you… Lord Gannon?”
I assumed he was a Lord because of the way he was dressed. But he just chuckled.
“Close. But I wouldn’t be caught being called a Lord if at all possible. No, I am but a senator of Shedos. I’m here to… peruse the treasures of our prestigious Ivonne Vigil. I’ve heard many things about her which I’d love to see for myself.”
I cocked my head slightly.
“Huh. How do you and Saffron know each other?”
They exchanged a look, and I blinked. I realized, in that instant, how they must’ve met. But they both spoke casually as Gannon waved a hand off dismissively.
“I have known Saffron since she was a child since I’m acquainted with her parents.”
I paused. Saffron stared at me, and I opened my mouth. Her look grew desperate, before I smiled, carrying on with the conversation.
“So, you know Zahra?”
“Indeed. I’m quite impressed by what she’s done, raising her five children all on her own, each growing to be such stellar young men and women like Saffron here.”
Saffron laughed softly as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
“You really don’t keep up with the news, do you, Gannon? It’s seven now.”
He blinked. Then he shook his head, muttering softly.
“Of course, of course, it seems I must’ve forgotten… or perhaps I wasn’t informed…”
The discussion carried on for a little longer before Gannon excused himself. I glanced at his back as I watched him go. Then I turned back to Saffron who was sighing in relief. I grinned at her.
“How’d I do?”
“You nearly gave me a scare, Salvos. I thought you were going to blurt it out loud for everyone to hear.”
I snorted, following Saffron as she led me up a short stairway to the entrance of the Tower of Truth.
“Hey! I know how to carry myself. I told you yesterday, didn’t I? I’m very good at carrying myself with poise. I totally wasn’t going to shout that he was a V—”
Saffron glared at me, and I smirked.
“Very nice person.”
She gave me a flat stare. Then she rolled her eyes.
“That’s not funny.”
“I found it funny.”
“Well, with you, I don’t know what’s a joke and what’s not a joke.”
The noble woman trudged over the bristly red carpet as she approached the gilded entryway just ahead. She pushed it open.
“Look, I know you’re trying your best to… blend in. But this is a rich event with a lot of famous individuals attending. Just try not to do anything that’ll make a scene, please?”
I gave her a thumbs-up as we entered the auction hall.
“Don’t worry. I won’t do anything that will—”
A voice rang out, and a figure stormed through the crowd. I blinked as Saffron snapped her eyes shut in defeat. I stared at the man who marched his way up to me. His face was seething with anger, and I finally realized who he was.
A scene broke out before Saffron as she watched from the side, massaging her temples. They stood in a large hall— one normally used for students— with tables and cushioned seats prepared specifically for the auction. It was a prestigious event. Anything that happened here would spread like wildfire throughout the most powerful people in the world, so it would be utterly humiliating if a scene happened here.
Yet, one unfolded before her very eyes. Heads turned and voices whispered as Jacob Axworth, son of marquis Graham— one of the most powerful noble families in Shedos— came to Salvos shouting and screaming.
“I want her out of here, now, Father!”
Salvos just cocked her head, confused, utterly in shock as to why this man was shouting at her. Saffron didn’t even know what happened, but she could infer it easily enough. At some point, Jacob must’ve tried to ask Salvos out. But Salvos, not realizing what it meant, probably dismissed his attempts with… well, in her usual Salvos fashion.
“What’s going on?”
A man stepped up from behind Saffron. She spoke as she turned to face him.
“My friend just has a bad habit of being… impolite, when rejecting men—”
Then she stopped. Her eyes widened as she stared at the man before her. He was thin, not too ostentatious, apart from his natural red hair that stood out even in the decorated room.
“I’m Lamarr of Traith.”
He nodded at her, before directing his attention to Salvos who was now being hounded on by the Axworth family. A crowd of rich-looking individuals watched on, clearly judging Salvos for what was going on. This scene held everyone’s attention. Everyone except for Saffron’s.
Her breath caught as she gasped, staring at Lamarr.
“The Warrior King of Traith…”
Saffron hurriedly straightened, fluffing her dress so that she’d be more proper. This was one of the most influential kings in the modern era. He was one of the highest-leveled [Warrior] kings in the world, earning the prestige of his infamous Title. The young noble had known that this auction would’ve been full of notorious individuals, but she didn’t expect to see someone like Lamarr here.
“I-I apologize for my friend’s—”
“It is fine.”
Lamarr shook his head. He watched on for a moment longer as Salvos began to grow defensive, almost looking like she was about to lash out. Saffron wanted to jump in to cool things down— maybe stop Salvos from getting kicked out. But the King of Traith spoke again.
“Are you telling me that this is happening because that impetuous child can’t handle a simple rejection?”
His face twisted. Saffron gulped, for whatever reason.
He started forward, drawing the attention of Graham Axworth who backed up in surprise, although Jacob himself was still ignorant.
Lamarr ignored marquis Graham, instead placing a hand on the young Axworth man. Jacob glanced back, frowning.
“Unhand me, you fiend! I want this woman off this auction immediately!”
Jacob tried to shrug Lamarr off as Graham hissed. Unfortunately for Jacob, Lamarr’s grip was made of steel. The Warrior King squeezed his shoulders, speaking sharply.
“Do you not know who you are talking to, child? Do you not have any respect for those around you, entitled brat?”
His face scrunched up in pain as he dropped to one knee. Now, Lamarr held his attention. He glared up at the red-haired man, even through gritted teeth.
“I am Jacob Axworth, Gold Ranked adventurer and heir of the Axworth Marq—”
Graham shouted over his son. He gestured at Lamarr, who loomed over Jacob.
“That man is the Warrior King of Traith— one of the Seven Councilmembers of the Eastern Kingdom Alliance. You will not speak ill of him.”
Lamarr let go of Jacob, and the young man stumbled back. His eyes were wide as he stared up at Lamarr. Those who were watching exchanged hushed words, pointing, wondering why the Warrior King of Traith himself stepped in. Saffron, too, was struck with confusion.
That was, until Salvos blinked.
“Oh, hey Lamarr.”
“Salvos. I hope you’re doing well?”
He nodded at her. Saffron glanced between the two of them, slowly letting the realization sink in that they knew each other. That they were casual with each other.
“I’m doing fine now that I’m not being shouted at by that weirdo. And you were so nice to me the first time we spoke, Jacob. What happened to you?”
Shaking her head, she gave Jacob Axworth a look of disappointment. He glared at her.
“You damn bitch! How do you know the King of Traith? How are you…”
He trailed off as Lamarr stood over him, crossing his arms. Jacob shrunk back, and Lamarr spoke.
“Over a rejection, you’d choose to pettily insult someone you don’t even know. Do you truly believe you are entitled to anything from others? The person you are addressing is the Liberator of the Plaguelands. Salvos, a Diamond Ranked adventurer, lauded by the Emperor of Vaun Qieur himself, and someone far more influential than you or your family.”
There was pause. From the onlookers, a few heads exchanged glances. A slow susurration spread over the crowd as the name settled in. Graham’s face grew pale, although Jacob didn’t visibly react.
Salvos tapped her chin.
“I am? Well, I mean, I am Salvos, yes, but am I really more important than them?”
Lamarr nodded, turning his gaze to the crowd.
“You are. And if anyone deserves to be thrown out of this auction, it’d be the Axworth family for the sheer disrespect their heir has shown today. If the marquis himself had any shame, he’d punish his son this instant.”
Jacob opened his mouth, and finally, Graham stormed up to him and grabbed him off the ground.
“Silence, boy! You have said enough tonight.”
He dragged his son away from the auction hall, harshly reprimanding the young man for what had just occurred. This drew the eyes from the onlookers— whispers— but Graham didn’t pay them any mind. Saffron knew that this was the best way he’d be able to save face after what Lamarr just did.
When they were gone, Lamarr turned to Salvos. The crowd had returned to minding their own business— their loud chatter washing back over the room. But it was quite obvious that part of their attention now settled onto the pair… and Saffron.
She stared at Lamarr and Salvos as they conversed.
“Thanks for that. I really don’t know what got into Jacob. He helped me when I first went to Wimborne!”
“Unfortunately, those raised in luxury believe that they are owed something by others, when they have done nothing to deserve it.”
Lamarr took a deep breath, calming himself. Then he gestured towards the front of the auction hall.
“Come, Salvos, let’s not be bothered by what happened earlier. I have a table reserved just before the podium. I assume you’re here for the auction and not to socialize, yes? You’ll have a good view of the artifacts that will be on display.”
“Really? Thank you!”
“And of course, you may bring your friend too.”
He glanced over at Saffron, who just blinked.
“Of course. Come on, the auction is starting soon!”
Salvos grabbed her by the arm, dragging her up to where Lamarr was waiting. He pulled a chair out for Saffron, and she rigidly sat down, still slightly in shock. She looked around as her mind slowly began to unfreeze itself.
This auction was crowded with people of great import in some way. Individuals who came from around the Human lands, socializing, gathering to get a chance to buy equipment from the famed Ivonne Sigil. That was why Saffron had emphasized propriety to Salvos— so as to not make a fool of herself, and Saffron, in front of dozens of influential nobles and adventurers and merchants.
But one thing Saffron had forgotten was that Salvos herself was just as important as many of those in attendance. No— Salvos was even more important. Her rise to fame was incredibly recent, so many, like Gannon, still hadn’t heard of her. But the feats she accomplished were things that put her above even some of the Dukes and Diamond Ranks gathered today.
Salvos. Liberator of the Plaguelands. The Savior of Silvergrove. Diamond Rank adventurer. An Archdemon of Pride. Although the last part was something only known to Saffron.
It was easy to give titles to people. Saffron always knew and understood that Salvos was a Diamond Rank adventurer. But only now did she truly understand what that meant. It meant rubbing shoulders with the likes of the King of Traith.
Honestly, the more she thought about it, the more Saffron was glad she reconciled her feelings about Salvos being a Demon.
The auction began soon after.