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Chapter 641: The Appraisal

    Chapter 641: The Appraisal

    Ju'n er smiled, a soft smile that touched the hearts of the surrounding Adepts. She muttered a few inaudible words, and a flash of white light issued from the orb. A silvery portal had appeared among them.

    The Eye of Tomorrow, one of the Clairvoyant's artifacts! Studied Adepts knew what they were looking at. OF course, this little girl was still far too young to employ the object to its full potential.

    A Paragon's astrum was even more alluring to normal Adepts than the vital crystals. The Eye of Tomorrow in particular was astounding. The Clairvoyant had used it ascend to Nirvana. Inheriting it was how the Clairvoyant earned his title.

    Of course the Adepts could be covetous, but none would dare try to snatch the artifact from Jun'er's grip. Four steely-eyes Paragons were watching everywhere at once, waiting for someone to make a move. Besides, not just anyone could snatch up an astrum and make a run for it. Who knows what sort of dangers were in this powerful crystal ball?

    Jun'er regarded everyone with a small smile. "Please enter." She was the first to step through, showing everyone it was safe. The Epochrion took her hand and followed without hesitation.

    Everyone else passed through the door in a trickle of twos and threes. Since the Terminator, Metatron, Lucifer and other powerful Adepts were in attendance, the less famed appraisers weren't too worried for their safety. They represented some of the richest and most powerful organization in human space, after all. Even Skyfire Avenue wouldn't be so bold as to attack directly.

    As they stepped through the portal, the visitors found themselves suddenly in a strange and fantastical world. Errand beams of light shot through empty space in endless treks into nothing. Overhead was the limitless expanse of a starry sky. Stepping through the door of light was like striding out into the embrace of the universe. However, there was air to breathe, and this spot felt particularly rich with the planet's natural energies.

    Was this... a Domain?

    The Clairvoyant's Domain had been called Ocean of Stars. How else could they describe this scene? Paragons were able to leave behind wondrous things in their passing but fewer and fewer knew this skill. If there was any Paragon capable of maintaining their Domain once they've moved on, though, the Clairvoyant would have been one.

    Jun'er waved her little hand again, and once more the scenery changed. For a moment every Adept felt a rush of power, like they had been dropped into a sea of energy. Several gasped as they felt every cell of their being filled with vibrant potency.

    This was... vital energy?

    They started to see the purple crystals suspended in space. Each one of them was a different shape or size, but all of them radiated with a similar, substantial aura of vital energy. That wave of power had come when these crystals were all collected in one place.

    The vital energy wasn't particularly pure, there were vestiges of other powers within. However the sheer amount was staggering. By now the appraisal process was a formality. Several of the appraisers already had a greedy light in their eye.

    Vital crystals... all of them were vital crystals! With so much power hidden within them, no wonder using them with the exuvium process extended a life for so long.

    Greed was not shameful, at least in some circumstances. Even the Terminator was eyeing a particularly large vital crystal with some interest.

    "One hundred and eight crystals are available during this auction. The differences among them are because they come from different alien breeds. The only way to determine their strength is to record them individually. We've done this for you, and each crystal has been assigned a serial number that corresponds with their asking price. Now we invite you to take a look for yourselves. No one appraiser shall have access to a single stone for more than five minutes so that everyone has a chance to look. I will remind you all that generally the size of the crystal corresponds to how much power it contains. However, that is not the case all the time. One of these crystals contains a tremendous amount of power, but is smaller than the others. Very well, that's all I need to say. Feel free to look around." The Wine Master concluded his speed with a wave of his hand.

    Skyfire Avenue's guests had stopped listening already. The moment they were given permissions, representatives scrambled over one another to get their hands on the crystals.

    With over a hundred crystals and only a little over eighty representatives, everyone had a chance to get up close to the items. The rules also assured everyone would have ample time to see what they needed, so no one complained.

    Lucifer snapped out with keen eyes and nimble fingers, snapping up the crystal closest to him. It was about the size of his fist. For an Adept of his level the check took only a moment. He flooded the crystal with his consciousness and examined the pulses of energy within.

    Right away he felt his psyche embraced by the dense vital energy. He struggled against the urge to drink it all up into himself. He knew that if he did, the impure nature of the crystal would cause more harm than good. That was what the exuvium process was for. For all he knew, absorbing the energy directly might turn him into one of those alien beasts. Besides that, there were four Paragons who were looking for any excuse to use their powers.

    A small number of assessors had seen these crystals before. However, even for them they had never come across crystals so vibrant as these. Knowing that the potency of a crystal was a sign of an alien's strength, it was a clear display of power that East had so many to give away.

    Among all the representatives, only the Terminator remained still. He didn't even take a crystal to examine.

    "You don't want to take a closer look?" The Epochrion asked her old comrade.

    He shook his head. "What's the use? In reality this whole process is unnecessary. If these crystals were fake the East would be taking a foolish gamble holding this auction. As far as I'm concerned, we're here so that these people can justify spending so much."

    The Epochrion smiled back at him. "I don't know about any of that. The Wine Master is in charge of everything."

    Of course the Terminator was right. If you didn't let your customers see the goods, how could you expect them to pay what they were asking? The crystals had all gone through rigorous inspection and selection before coming to auction as well. There were crystals of all kinds, strong and weak. A few were even very rare crystals from stronger aliens. They were smaller, but could be picked out by their richer color and energy.

    The truth couldn't be hidden from the people in this room, even if they wanted to. Luckily they did sense things clearly and it was making them excited.

    Jun'er was interested in the crystals, too. She weaved in between her guests as they examined the crystals. She looked like a little adult, walking absently back and forth with a concerned expression on her face.

    Metatron was increasingly surprised by what he was feeling. The energies were so dense they looked thick as ropes. He busily recorded a few serial numbers for tomorrow's auction.

    Time stretched on, with everyone having an opportunity to experience the vital crystals. The more they felt, the happier they were. Many were powerful Adepts in their own right and knew the secrets of vital energy. This was especially true if they understood their own powers. At least they knew that vital energy was integral for extending life and keeping strong.

    War ships were costly, but what better use was there for resources than to extend one's life? The men and women with handfuls of crystals may have been representing powerful people, but their personally excitement was on full display. Just one of these had the ability to dramatically extend their lives. A creaky old death was no longer to be feared. Exuvium, it remade you right down to your genes. These vital crystals forced an evolution in the human body that likely even helped their Disciplines.

    Beep-beep! The Epochrion's communicator rang. She dropped her head to spy the number, then turned toward the Terminator beside her. "I'm sorry, I have to take this. Wine Master, if you'd come with me for a moment?"

    The Wine Master approached her side and said something quietly in her ear. She answered by gently shaking her head, and then the two walked off to be by themselves.

    Most were still absorbed with the vital crystals, and didn't notice the two Paragons separate from the crowd. The Keeper and Bookworm were still standing vigil to watch for thieves. Not that any would dare, this was the Ocean of Stars, a Paragon's Domain.

    As the Epochrion and Wine Master talked among themselves, several of the guests staggered and nearly fell. A deep blue-purple crystal was clutched in their hand. The energies contained inside were particularly dense, almost thick. The bearer was overwhelmed and almost couldn't handle the power contained within.
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