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Chapter 650: Mysterious Number Three

    Chapter 650: Mysterious Number Three

    "Silence!" The Wine Master's low voice growled. He lifted his Astrum, and that was enough shut everyone up.

    Archangel Metatron shot to his feet. "Your Majesty Cosmagus, fairness and equality must be the foundation of any auction. No one here has taken to hiding their identity. I ask we make the bearer of paddle three reveal themselves to everyone."

    The Wine Master's response was tepid. "Everyone had the choice to hide their identity and affiliations."

    An Liu had pushed the third cart to the center of the stage. In clear contrast to the two before it, this crystal was larger - about fifty centimeters in diameter. It contained about as much energy as the last two crystals put together.

    "Vital Crystal Number Three. Starting bid, one battleship. Please make your offers."

    "Five battleships!" The black-clad buyer was not bothered by Metatron's pleas.

    Five more battleships? The others couldn't handle it anymore. The prices were one thing, but they couldn't even match this stranger's bids! Undoubtedly it was a fine piece, large and full of pure vital energy. With a Tear of Neptune, those energies would be even more potent.

    "Five battleships and one scout!" Metatron lifted his paddle, number fifty.

    "Ten battleships!" Mysterious Number Three retorted with a firm voice, doubling the bid straight off. Again, silence. Metatron quietly stared daggers at the stranger's back.

    Three crystals in, the stranger had pledged twenty battleships - practically a small fleet! A pirate could easily turn those twenty ships into a formidable clan. No ordinary group had access to resources like that. If he was a normal buyer, fine - but what if he wasn't? What if he was placed there to drive up prices?

    "Vital Crystal Number three, going for ten battleships. Any other takers?" The Wine Master was moving quickly. Clearly he was pushing for the countdown.

    The auction floor fell into turmoil. What on earth was this stranger doing? There were a lot of crystals left, but if this kept up many participants would be priced out before they even began. War ships needed resources, manpower, and technology. The East had been clear about what ships would be considered useful for trade. There would be no way for buyers to cheat them, and crystals were delivered upon purchase.

    "Ten battleships going once. Going twice. Going three times - sold!" The Wine Master paid no mind to the angry grumblings. He patiently and rapidly went through the procedure.

    The fourth crystal was brought out. It looked very similar to the first one.

    "Vital Crystal Number Four. One battleship, starting bid. Do I have one battleship?"

    "Five battleships!" Mysterious Number Three started out the bidding once again.

    "I'd be worried this auction might cost you more than you're willing." The angered voice growled from all around them, generated by some special means.

    The Wine Master turned a blind eye to the interruption. He continued in attempts of maintaining the auction's integrity. "Vital Crystal number four, five battleships. Anyone else?"

    "Five battleships, one scout." The Terminator spoke up.

    "Six battleships!" The mysterious stranger countered.

    "Six battleships, one scout!" Metatron joined the exchange.

    The mysterious stranger paused as though thinking, but didn't say anything further.

    "Six battleships and one scouting vessel. Does anyone have another offer?" The Wine Master asked twice more before banging his gavel. At last there was a crystal that didn't fall into the mysterious stranger's grasp.

    The fifth crystal was pushed onto the stage. When it was revealed several of the buyers sat up in their chairs. The crystal wasn't any larger than the others, but it had a deeper color and vital energy so potent they could feel it like a soup. Clearly, this crystal was on an entirely different level from the others. When it was revealed, a lot of attention came its way.

    "Vital Crystal Number Five. Starting bid is five battleships. Let the auction begin." Skyfire Avenue's chairman continued the same as before. The higher quality of the crystal didn't change his demeanor.

    "Five battleships!" A buyer in the back shouted out before the mysterious robed man could.

    "Six battleships!" Another retorted.

    A vital crystal like this had never been seen in human space, at least not as far as anyone knew. There was no way for them to measure the energy precisely. Further research was needed to discover specifics.

    The exuvium process relied on vital crystals, so it was fair to assume the quality of the crystal would have an effect on how it worked. At least it was known that the more powerful the Adept, the more potent the crystal needed to extend their lives. There were several buyers in the crowd who were particularly interested in this piece.

    A faint smile spread across Lan Jue's lips. He knew what was to happen.

    "One expedition ship." Mysterious Number three raised their paddle. This was the first time an expedition ship was put forward. They'd paid out an equivalent sum already, but this time their posture was different. They wanted to win.

    Yesterday's showing revealed five such crystals on offer - vital crystal number five was one of them. It wasn't the best one, but it certainly wasn't something to sniff at.

    "One expedition ship, one battleship!" No hesitation this time. The Terminator jumped right into the exchange.

    When the Northern leader made his bid, everyone went quiet. Being second on the Paragon list made one a pretty effective deterrent force, even in an auction.

    "One expedition ship and three scout ships." Unfortunately for the Terminator, Mysterious Number Three didn't seem to care who he was.

    The Paragon's eyes narrowed. "One expedition, five scouts!" He appeared interested in this crystal.

    Mysterious Number Three would not be denied. "Two expedition ships!" Two! Equivalent to twenty battleships, all for one crystal.

    Both Archangel Metatron and Fallen Angel Lucifer stared in disbelief. The East couldn't have set this up. Who was allowed to sit up front? Government leaders from the three Alliances. Not just anyone could sit among them.

    So far the West and North were stuck on the sidelines, watching.

    The Terminator was silent, he made no more bids. This was too rich to make it worth it for him. The North had money, but not as much as the East had these days. Besides, they weren't just talking money, during this auction. Ships were a different beast.

    When Mysterious Number Three gave his bid, another representative from the first row in his sixties couldn't help but speak out. "Two expedition ships and one battleship." He lifted his paddle, bearing the number one.

    "Two expeditions, two battleships," countered Number Three.

    "Two expeditions, three battleships!" Number one offered.

    Mysterious Number Three wavered. After a moment he leaned back and offered nothing more.

    "Vital Crystal Number Five, going for two expedition ships and three battleships. Do we have any other interested parties? Going once, twice, three timer. Sold!"

    The elderly Northerner nodded toward the Wine Master, a pleased expression on his face. He was also a senior Adept, peak of ninth rank. He'd been specifically asked to come by the North.

    Finally, the auction began to liven up. Mysterious Number Three continued to throw his wealth around, and it earned him several more crystals. However, the remainder of his bids were more conservative. With so many thirsty auctioneers, the prices were getting too high to outbid everyone.

    There were only a hundred crystals and eighty participants. At best, everyone would walk away with one. But Mysterious Number Three had ten to his name already. The others were getting anxious. Who knew when the next auction like this would take place? For every crystal passed, the chances of walking away empty handed grew.

    Almost overnight, vital crystals had become one of the rarest and most sought-after items in human space. And what wealthy family wouldn't want some? When word of the auction emerged, they clambered over one another for the chance to extend their lives.

    Western government officials continued to look on in silence, while members from the North continuously raised the bids. They were already richer by several crystals. It made sense, considering the North had the most resources to throw around. They had the best ships modern technology could produce.

    "Vital Crystal Forty-Eight. Starting bid, one expedition ship. A battleship is the minimum bid increase. Let the bidding begin!" At last, another high-grade vital crystal. Visually it wasn't much different from the fifth crystal except it was fifty percent larger.

    "Two expedition ships!" A representative from the West spoke up for the first time. The West had managed to acquire some normal crystals, but had yet to get their hands on one of the finer specimens. They lost the first one to the North, so the pressure was on to walk away with a win. They could see it plain as everyone else; the longer this went on, the most expensive the bids would get. It was imperative they got a crystal or two of significance before the opportunity passed.
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