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Chapter 649: Multiple Auctions

    Chapter 649: Multiple Auctions

    "She needs peace and quiet," Lan Qing replied. "Why did you agree with dad to spare her life, yesterday? She could die a hundred times and it wouldn't absolve her of her sins. Even she doesn't know how many lives she's taken."

    Lan Jue grinned. "For you."

    Lan Qing glanced at him. "Me?"

    Lan Jue explained. "I did want her killed, but when I saw how she looked - and her status as a Paragon - I decided to spare her life.

    Bewildered, Lan Qing pressed his brother. "What does this have to do with me?"

    "How could it not?" Lan Jue retorted. "Dad's told me countless times to help find you a woman."

    Lan Qing scowled. "Don't worry about it."

    Lan Jue narrowed his eyes and peered at the Eastern general. "Bro, if it's a... physical thing, then you know a Paragon has strong self-curative abilities. You don't need to be ashamed..."

    "I will literally kill you." Lan Qing hissed.

    Lan Jue chuckled. This was the first time he saw his brother act like this. Piercing that calm veneer was a humorous past time, certainly. "Embarrassed to anger, eh?" Lan Jue chortled.

    Lan Qing's even expression quickly returned. "A-Jue, every day brings you closer to Paragon. You need to be focusing on the secrets of protogenia."

    "Quit it! Don't even think about it, I won't give you the chance to abuse me. What about your military meetings, huh? Don't you need to be heading back to An Lun?" Of course Lan Jue would know immediately what his brother was up to. He wasted no time calling him on it.

    Lan Qing sniffed. "So be honest."

    Lan Jue gave him a helpless look. "I'm not honest? When I have been dishonest? If you keep bullying me I'm going to go tell mom!"

    Lan Qing's mouth curled into a scowl. He shook his head, but said nothing else.

    The auction hall was nearly full, all the participants had arrived. It was tight, there were no unneeded seats to take up space. This was not an open auction, so there wouldn't be any media or walk-ins to swell the numbers.

    It wasn't too loud in the auction hall yet. Everyone was here on behalf of some powerful person or organization, so they each quietly brooded over their goals. A few representatives put out feelers and tried to leverage the auction to network, but the vital crystals were everyone's top priority. Yesterday's showing had stoked everyone's interest.

    A woman appeared on the stage pushing a cart before her. It was the enforcement team's leader, An Liu. Only Skyfire Avenue would hire a ninth rank Adept to serve as support crew for an auction.

    As he pushed the cart to center stage, she couldn't help but allow her eyes to flicker toward the two Lan brothers. When her eyes met Lan Qing's, they darted away quick as they could. She even started to walk slower.

    Lan Qing smiled at her for a moment, and Lan Jue saw it all. He leaned over. "You like her? An Liu's a good girl, I don't think she has a boyfriend. I can help introduce you."

    Lan Qing didn't even look at him. "If you want to take a beating, keep talking. I don't need you poking your nose into my romantic life. I can manage on my own. Do you think I have time to run around chasing women?"

    Lan Jue shrugged in resignation. "I'm worried about you! Anyway what chasing. All you have to do is open your arms and there'll be a flock of women swooping in."

    Lan Qing's eyes peered into the middle-distance. "We have different goals, different desires."

    Lan Jue gave him a thumbs-up. "Alright! Worthy of the being called the greatest Monarch. But when is His Majesty the Monarch going to publish his Paragon name?"

    Lan Qing's face froze. That particular task had given him no small measure of heartache. He felt loathe to turn down his father's suggestion, how could he ignore it?

    "Sooner or later you're going to be in my boat. You can't run from it. Your name's going to be just as long." Lan Qing said coldly.

    But Lan Jue chuckled. "I'm in no rush, I still got time. Right now it's you in the hot seat. I'm sure we'll adapt as needed. Hurry and make up your mind, then you can use the auction as a platform. Pick something strong and domineering, something that makes people feel your power the moment they hear it. Hahaha!"

    He couldn't help but give a little, maniacal cackle. An Liu's eyes shot back their way. In her heart was the image of a stoic man, who was looking utterly uncomfortable. Then, she saw the sharp, thoughtful light in Lan Jue's eyes!

    Just then, a deep voice interjected. "Our auction is about to begin. Please prepare to make your bids."

    There was a flash of light, and a silver portal appeared upon the stage. The Wine Master, his face expressionless, stepped through. He was clad in a very formal full suit. His Astrum was clutched in one hand. The moment he appeared, the heady aura of a Paragon swelled to fill the room. A pale silver light spread out over everyone, simultaneously isolated everything outside.

    An Liu offered the Cosmagus a respectful bow. At his signal, she pulled away the sheet covering the cart's contents.

    A translucent crystal box was revealed. Within, pulsing with a gentle purple light, was a vital crystal. It was about the size of a fist, but bore the standard rhombus shape.

    The Wine Master's deep voice issued through the hall. "Our first vital crystal, examined by all of you yesterday. Each of you should know well the power it contains, so I won't waste time with an introduction. Let's begin, with the opening bid set at one battleship. Each subsequent bid must match or exceed one scout ship. Ten scout ships equals a battleship, ten battleships an expedition and so forth. I won't waste time with unnecessary details. We are now taking bids on Vital Crystal Number One."

    There was no long-winded introduction, it was pointless. Everyone here knew enough about the crystals for what they needed, anything else was a waste of time. With a hundred crystals to sell, things needed to move along at a good pace. As for how well those crystals would sell, it depended on the aspirations of the crowd.

    "One battleship!" Someone in the back threw up their paddle.

    ""One battleship from the gentleman with paddle Forty-Three." The Wine Master feel into his role as leader of the auction effortlessly. He knew that was a very low offer. A crystal this big could be used ten time in the exuvium process. The participants knew it, too. They'd verified all the information themselves yesterday.

    "One battleship and two scouts!"

    "Three scouts."

    The auction went back and forth between a few bidders, nothing too intense. Everyone was hesitating.

    A deep voice suddenly arose from nearer to the front. "Five battleships."

    Everyone stopped, and all eyes went to the bidder. It was the mysterious stranger clad in black robes. His bid was a large one, and surprised everybody.

    "Bidder with paddle Three, five battleships. Any more bids?" The Wine Master calmly asked. He wasn't the least bit surprised by the development.

    Five ships for one crystal - expensive, wasn't it? The other bidders wavered. The Wine Master also didn't see the need to drag it out. "Vital Crystal Number One, the bid to beat it five battleships. Going once. Going twice. Three times. Sold!" He spat the words quickly, not waiting for responses. The small gavel in his right hand rapped against the desk.

    Bang! The first vital crystal had been sold.

    An Liu brought the second cart up onto the stage and removed the cloth. She took the first one away.

    "Bidding will begin on our second crystal. Opening bid remains on battleship. Takers?" The Wine Master offered.

    The auctioneers didn't respond right away.

    "Five battleships." Mysterious Number Three called his bid without waiting for the others. Anyone else interested in buying felt their bid catch in their throat.

    The Wine Master shot him a glance. "Paddle three, five battleships. Any other bids?"

    No one spoke. The second crystal was smaller than the first. To them it wasn't worth so much. Who was behind paddle three? Why would he bid so high? It didn't make any sense - could he be a plant?

    The Wine Master didn't leave a lot of room for thought. "Five battleships. Once... twice... thrice... sold!"

    Bang! The gavel cracked again, another vital crystal was sold in as many minutes. There had been hardly any bidding at all.

    An Liu brought the third cart on stage. Right away, low chatter filled the hall. Several bidders glared at the mysterious stranger in the first row.
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