200. Surprise Presents
I really wasn’t sure why Jacob Axworth had been so rude to me every time after I initially met him in Wimborne. He’d been nice, helping me get into the city for free, even offering to show me around since I was new there. I was in a rush though, so I said no and ran off. I just didn’t know what happened after that that made him angry at me!
“I don’t get it, Saffron…”
“I’ll... explain it to you next time, alright?”
The pink-haired woman sat straight— almost too straight— and gave me a look. I cocked my head, trying to figure out what she meant. I knew she was telling me something, but I wasn’t sure what. I only knew she was on edge, slightly nervous for whatever reason.
Oh well, anyway, I turned to the King of Traith, smiling.
“Do you know when the auction will be starting?”
“It should begin soon.”
Lamarr nodded, seated on his chair with his legs crossed. He raised a glass of wine, taking a sip from it. And just as he set it back down onto the table, the lights dimmed. The grand chandelier’s flame grew smaller, some sort of enchantment that controlled its illumination levels.
The inane chatter that had filled the background ceased, and heads turned to face the stage up front. A man stood there, his arms folded. Someone I recognized. Everyone in this room must’ve recognized him. He stood tall, almost looming over everyone present. It sent a wave of susurration through the crowd gathered, with hands being raised, pointing, whispering his name.
Clayton Skyshredder, the Headmaster of Mavos Academy himself. He cleared his throat, a booming sound enhanced by whatever spells he was using, and everyone silenced themselves once more.
“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, the esteemed Ivonne Vigil herself will start the biddings shortly. But before the auction begins, I’d like to remind all of you here, whether you are a king or an adventurer, a peasant or a noble, that this event is hosted by Mavos Academy itself. My institution.”
His gaze settled on me briefly, and I cocked my head. But he moved on quickly enough, looking over the entire hall.
“If any man or woman or child decides to cause a commotion here, the responsible party will be ejected and banned from ever stepping onto this campus ever again. I will not repeat myself on this matter. Thank you.”
With that, Clayton left the stage.
“Why did he focus on me when he said child? I’m not a child, and I’m not going to cause any trouble!”
I scowled, crossing my arms. Saffron rolled her eyes.
“Maybe it’s because of the little stunt you pulled when you first arrived at the school. It was only about two months ago. Also, there are plenty of children here, so he definitely didn’t single you out on that.”
Sure enough, I looked around and saw a few of the attending nobility were here with their children. Most of the parents had multiple children— there was something about nobles and having a myriad of offspring. There was, however, a lone man— some kind of [Trader]— who brought nearly a dozen children with him.
I turned my attention back to the stage as the curtains unfurled, revealing a woman standing before a podium. She was dark skinned with her hair tied into dreads. She didn’t wear the same luxurious dresses of the women here. It looked Cyclops-like in fashion. It was a two piece dress decorated in patterns and colors.
A thin smile spread across her face as she spread her arms wide.
“Welcome, dear customers. I am Ivonne Vigil, a humble [Merchant] here today to sell you my wares— if you will. Now, please, I am sure we’d all like to skip over introductions and just get right into it. So—”
She clapped her hands together, and a pair of burly men brought a large case up to the podium.
“Let us begin.”
They lifted the case open, revealing within it an ornamental sword. It had a ruby in the center of its hilt. Its blade almost seemed to glow red as Ivonne picked it up.
“This is the Crimson Aurablade, forged by the raging fires of a Dwarven [Magesmith]. It is unenchanted, yet it exudes a mystical effect. Be it a curse imbued onto the sword, or be it a magic unheard of here in the Human lands, I do not know. I simply can tell you that it is a High Grade Weapon, with potential still yet unlocked, fit for any [Warrior] who dares wield it.”
I leant back on my chair, not really interested in whatever this was. Saffron narrowed her eyes, trying to inspect the weapon from her seat. Ivonne lowered the sword.
“The starting bid is 50 platinum coins.”
“I bid 55 platinum!”
“The Crawford family is bidding 65 platinum!”
I glanced over at Saffron, almost yawning.
“How long is this going to take? When are they going to get to selling the sagetree sap?”
That was why I had come here, after all. Saffron pursed her lips.
“And sold, for 127 platinum—”
“Didn’t I tell you, Salvos? Ivonne may not actually be selling sagetree sap. As I told you, it’s rare. And it’s mostly sought out by [Alchemists]. We’re here for the chance of getting it, not to assuredly procure it. Also, it will probably take a few hours. Maybe until midnight.”
“Aw. Seriously? This…”
I watched as the auction continued. Ivonne produced a large goblet, and it poured out an unending stream of wine.
“This is the Goblet of—”
“This will take a while.”
Ivonne Vigil didn’t have a short supply of items to sell tonight. Everything she magically conjured up from the back was sold for dozens of platinum, minimum. Which was surprising, considering how much a single platinum coin was worth.
I wasn’t actually sure about that. But from what Daniel and Edithe often said about it, it was worth a lot.
Resting my chin on my hand, I looked over at Lamarr who seemed just as bored as me. Or was he sleeping? No, wait, he was staring intently around the room? So, he was bored then! I decided to have a casual conversation with him.
The red-haired man blinked, facing me.
“Have you ever heard of a thing called sagetree sap? You’re a king, right? Surely your country has some of those.”
He furrowed his brows, distractedly looking between me and the auction hall. A hammer was struck in the background as Ivonne’s voice echoed.
“Sold to the man in white!”
“Sagetree sap? Unfortunately, my country does not have the surplus of high-leveled [Alchemists] necessary to make use of such an ingredient. We are not the Vaun Qieur Empire, known for our alchemy.”
“But I was told they had sagetree sap to the east. And your country is in the Eastern Kingdom Alliance, right?”
“Indeed. But sagetree sap comes from even further east, Salvos. Beyond the Human lands. In the wilderness between the Dwarven mountains and the Elven forests.”
I tilted my head back.
“Maybe I should just go and find it myself.”
“It is not easy if you are not attuned with nature. Sagetree sap can only be extracted from an old sagetree, ancient and close to death. Sagetrees themselves are sparse, only capable of growing in mana poor lands. The Human lands are rich in mana, which makes it difficult to grow here. There is no other way for you to gather sagetree sap than to find a guide, or to scour those dangerous lands on your own for weeks, possibly even months or years.”
“That’s… I’d have graduated by then.”
So, that was a no go. If I could speak to a guide, then I might as well just continue asking around if anyone [Merchant] or [Alchemist] was willing to sell it to me. Otherwise, I really was going to fail my class on alchemy.
I rubbed at my temples, annoyed that this was such a complicated process. Ivonne’s smile only seemed to mock me as she clapped her hands once again to draw all of our attention on her.
“Now this, my dear customers, is one of the rarest items in the world. It is an item that comes from the far east. Beyond even the furthest of the Eastern Kingdoms.”
I blinked, then my eyes widened. Was this going to be what I thought it was? I eagerly sat up, nearly jumping in my seat.
Ivonne continued as her helpers came forward, bringing with them a barrel.
“It cannot be found in the Human lands. It is one of the rarest natural resources in the entire world—”
I leaned forward, brimming with excitement, hand ready to be raised. Ivonne pulled the lid back, exclaiming
“The Fruits of Y’gdrazil!”
I lowered my hand as eyes snapped in my direction, staring at me.
Saffron sighed audibly, smacking her palm to her forehead. I sat back down and cleared my throat.
“Sorry, that was, um, a mistake.”
Ivonne simply smiled, facing me with her unchanging face, even as the attention of the room returned to her.
“Well, 500 platinum does seem like a fair base price. These are the Fruits of Y’gdrazil. The rarest fruit in the world. It is grown only in the home of the Elves, borne from the roots of their great tree Y’gdrazil itself, at the hearth of their frozen forests. While consuming one of these fruits will serve to fill your stomach, a delicious delicacy, no doubt. It will also achieve greater results.”
She picked one out from the barrel— it was about the size of her head. There had to be only around one or two dozen inside of that barrel. The single fruit had an iridescent skin, its color melding beautifully around its oval body.
“Consuming it will grant a 30% increase to all your Stats for a day. An increase that may seem negligible at first, until you realize that at the hands of a single Level 100, it can change the tides of an entire battle.”
There were gasps. Children tugged at their parents’ clothes, pointing excitedly at the Fruits of Y’gdrazil. They wanted it. Their parents wanted it. Barons and marquises and duchesses and adventurers vied for the fruits. Even Saffron and Lamarr had their interests piqued by it.
“The great tree Y’gdrazil is said to only bear its fruits once every hundred years. A hundred fruits at least. And it just so happens that I managed to steal a dozen of them to share with the Human lands.”
Ivonne tapped the side of the fruit, before placing it back into the barrel. She spread her arms wide.
“So, let us begin the bid—”
A squeaky voice cried out. I spun around, staring at the corner of the room. I saw the lone man and his family of children standing to their feet. Then the man collapsed, his life leaving his body in an instant. Only the children remained standing, and they pointed at Ivonne who tilted her head.
“Kill that desecrator!”
I paused. I stared at those little figures as the shapes of their faces changed. They weren't children, dressed in fancy dresses or handsome suits. They looked much older than that, despite their height. Although, they didn’t exactly look Human either.
They had orange and white hair, pale skin, and pointed ears. They carried with them weapons made out of wood— bows, swords, and even spears— but still very much dangerous nonetheless. It was like they had been shrouded in some kind of powerful illusion just before. One that I didn’t even notice. They weren’t children. They were—
“Destroy the fruits! Don’t let the Humans steal our sacred gifts! For Dominion As’triel!”
Oh, they were also all above Level 100.