A Monster Who Levels Up
Located on the island of Sebit, the famous Hyunwol Auction House was considered as one of the world’s best and consequently, the auctioned items were of equally high quality as well. They only dealt with rare loot dropped by the Monsters defeated by the Knights Orders based around Seoul; they also selected only the uniquely named "Branded Goods" out of all the equipment submitted by various smithies around the country. (TL: the author used the term "명품" in this sentence. Lit. means named products/luxury goods, etc. Thinking back to Zenobis gauntlet from one of the previous chapters, I decided to go with "Branded Goods" until I can come up with a better alternative. Which remains to be seen… oh well.)
It had been 5 years since Hazeline’s last visit to this Hyunwol Auction House. She didn’t feel all that much different, however. If anything, she felt like swearing out aloud thinking about how she’d have to tolerate all these people and all that noise they would make.
‘It’s still the same useless showing off of wealth.’ (TL: author lit. said "useless money party.")
Just like a party on a boat, there were plenty of colourful lights brightening up the night sky up above the auction house building built on the island.
"We welcome you to Hyunwol Auction House."
An employee bent his back to greet Hazeline. Every employee working in the Hyunwol Auction House possessed quick wits, fast enough to easily determine the high value of the robe Hazeline was wearing.
As soon as Hazeline handed over her VIP ticket, she received a mini computer and a numbered card from an employee behind the counter. The number on it was 77. It was a number that made her feel somewhat confident. Happy at this lucky occurrence, she walked into the auction premise.
"….Mister Sae-Jin? Can you hear me?"
She spoke softly to Sae-Jin who was listening from somewhere via the bracelet on her left wrist. 10 seconds of silence later, he replied back.
– "Yes, I can hear you well."
"I’ve just arrived at the auction house. The auction itself should end in about 3 to 4 hours, and the exchange of ownership will take place tomorrow… I will give you the certificate of transfer as you need to come in person to collect the item. As we’ve spoke before, that is something I can’t do."
The Werewolf’s Mana Stone was the item put forth by the Raven Knights Order. Even if Hyunwol was commissioned to hold the auction for the items, during the transfer of ownership, the seller (sometimes a representative) and the buyer had to meet face to face.
And she could easily guess who the Raven Knights Order will send out as their representative. One of only 41 Highest Tier ranked Knights in South Korea, Kim Yu-Rin.
Hazeline would rather kill herself if it meant seeing that woman’s face. No, scratch that, if the two of them did meet, then one of them would die for sure. Although she wanted to help Sae-Jin out, they’ve only met three times. She wasn’t willing to brave that kind of danger for him.
– "The time… the process won’t take long, yes?"
"Yes. It’ll take an hour, max. Since I’ll make the payment today, you can simply pitch up in two days time and fetch the item."
At Hyunwol Auction House, if one wanted to bid for an item, then that person must possess, on their persons, at least half of the bidding amount, and also must make the full payment within four days of the successful bidding attempt. It was a quite strict policy, but it couldn’t be helped as Hyunwol placed trust and speedy resolutions as their utmost priority.
Hazeline could sense the hidden unhappiness in Sae-Jin’s voice even from here. She was curious as to why he put so much emphasis on time but in the end, she simply told him to wait for her and ended the call.
Hazeline carefully minded her robe from folding up and sat down on her designated VIP seat. Soon after, people wearing luxurious formal suits or clothing-style armours noisily entered and rapidly filled up the interior.
The auction finally commenced just as Hazeline’s head was getting dizzy from all the people present here.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I warmly welcome you!!"
The announcer with a chiselled good looks greeted the participating audience. Then he lightly introduced the lot on offer for today and without further ado, commenced with the auction proper.
"Introducing our first item - The Domenique’s Necklace!! This is a wonderful necklace said to help with the wearer’s Mana circulation." (TL: "도메니크" I swear, I didn’t misspell the name on purpose…)
Normally, when a piece of equipment has its maker’s name attached to it, or have its own unique name, then that item was considered as 'Branded Goods'. The naming of an equipment was actually set in stone by law and had to follow a certain guideline. Didn’t matter whether it was handmade or mass manufactured, if the government agency didn’t acknowledge it, then the equipment’s name had to include its base material and its category. For example - Sae-Jin’s weapon, the steel mace.
If the smith improved his or her skill and became an "apprentice", then he or she could add modifiers to the names of the items - such as, "Unbreakable" or "Strong."
Next up was the "artisan". At the level of an artisan, the government would allow more leeway when naming the items. So, an artisan could attach his or her name to the items, just like the Domenique’s Necklace from before.
And finally, "master". After climbing the summit of equipment refinement and manufacture, he or she would receive the title of a master craftsman from the government, and could also grab hold of the greatest honour of legally being allowed to name their items any way they see fit.
The master craftsmen, with this honour bestowed onto them, faced no restrictions in naming their products, so stuff made by these people often came with names that had basically nothing to do with their intended purposes. Examples included things like "Call of the Taebaek" or "The Ideal of Rodes". With naming senses like these, it was no wonder that there was a rumour floating around, of masters burdened by peer pressure frequenting certain consultancies specialising in finding the perfect names.
‘That’s a good item.’
Necklaces that aided the Mana circulation were hard to come by. It was quite likely the maker, Domenique, would rise from the position of an artisan to a master in the near future. However, that was of no concern to Hazeline right now.
She spent the time fighting off her heavy eyelids, while yawning sporadically.
"And this lot is the item brought to us by Korea’s best Knights Order, Raven - the Werewolf’s Mana Crystal." (TL: the author suddenly started calling the Mana Stone a crystal here. Hmm, a typo?)
Finally. The item she was waiting for had made its entrance. A Mana Stone that was shaped like a wolf walking on four legs, and coloured in the shade of deep grey. Mana Stones rated upper Mid Tier had such defining characteristics. Mana Stones accumulated in the hearts of the Monsters resembled the appearances of their hosts.
"A Werewolf is well known as a rare Monster, and it is believed this was the very first time it had appeared in South Korea."
The auctioneer broke the ice with a well known fact. Several collectors got ready to place their bids, their eyes focusing on the jewel-like Mana Stone. Hazeline also took a glance at her personal bank balance and checked the amount there.
After quitting the life of a Wizard and an alchemist, she kept most of her assets as hard cash, so she did have enough of an arsenal for this task - $5.4 million US.
‘Fuu…. he will pay it back, right?’
Even though she promised to help him out a week ago, but now, at the thought of spending this hard-earned wealth of hers, uncertainty and worries invaded her mind ever so slightly. He wouldn’t skip town after getting the Mana Stone now, would he?
"The opening bid is set at $45 thousand, US. The bid increments will be fixed at $1000. Ah!! First, the gentleman bidder, no 30!! $46 thousand!!"
The bidding had begun. An overweight human, a Soo-in with a pair of animal ears on top of his head, even an Elf Wizard holding a magic staff. All these people, and more, began the intense bidding war just for the privilege of taking this Mana Stone home.
$450 thousand, $900 thousand, $1 million, $1.3 million, $2.6 million. The bidding price instantly shot up towards the expected maximum amount without taking a single break.
"No 48, the beautiful Elf Wizard has put forward $4.1 million!! The Mana Stone could give her inspirations when practising magic, so it’s an excellent choice!!"
And so, the final plateau had come. The Elf Wizard that called the amount of $4.1 million carried a victorious expression on her face.
"Is there any other competing bids? The Werewolf’s Mana Stone with near unlimited potential uses!! You may never know, you could gain enormous power of the Werewolf from it!!"
The auctioneer spouted a load of bull crap. Hazeline could only chuckle at his audacity. She was still feeling somewhat regretful at the fact that she had to spend more than half of her wealth to buy a totally worthless trinket…. but for the sake of a personal connection, it had to be done.
"3 times, I shall call for 3 more times!! $4.1 million!!"
As soon as those words came out, Hazeline got ready to submit the bid of $4.2 million.
"$4.1 million!! Is there no other bids? This is the final call!!"
But she changed her mind at the last second.
"Oh, oh!! Number 77, a mysterious lady with $4.5 million!!"
The auction hall grew noisy, and Hazeline grinned deeply.
‘I’ve got my pride as an Elf, so how can I waste time raising my bid by only $100 thousand?’
"I’ve deposited the money."
"Yes, thank you very much. We’ve confirmed the payment."
Behind the auction stage, Hazeline was conversing with the agent from the auction house regarding the item she had bought.
"Two days. Please set the schedule for two days later. Oh, and also provide me with a certificate of transfer as well."
"….A certificate of transfer?"
"Yes. It’s a gift for someone."
Hazeline spoke as if it was nothing much. Although it was a debt and not a gift, but still, calling it as such made her appear more wealthy. A woman making a $4.5 million gift, what a cool person.
"Oh… Of course. We understand."
The agent nodded his head and summoned the employees.
Sae-Jin wetted his dried lips as he exited the Seoul Station under the bright glare of the sunny afternoon and climbed aboard the pre-booked taxi.
From the Seoul Station to Sebit island, 10 minutes of ride in the high class taxi that burned Mana as fuel. As soon as he disembarked in front of the Hyunwol Auction House, the security guards there blocked the robe-wearing Sae-Jin’s path after thinking that he was a suspicious person.
"I’m here to collect the item bought in the auction."
The promised time was 1:10 PM. Currently, it was 1:05 PM. After checking out his certificate of transfer, the security guards guided Sae-Jin in a respectful manner.
He was brought to the front of an elevator used exclusively by VIPs, and as he waited, a sales agent approached his side and while smiling she entered the lift alongside him.
"Are you an alchemist?"
Wizards usually didn’t hide their faces with robes.
She asked him out of respect, but Sae-Jin didn’t reply back. He simply waited stiffly for the elevator to take him to his destination as quickly as possible.
When he coldly didn’t react to her, she became abashed and her ears and tail stood straight up. A tail, because she was a Canine-type Soo-in. (TL: a Soo-in is a "beast man".)
"To…day’s weather is nice, yes? It’s the middle of a winter but it’s like an early Summer day. I wonder if something’s going to happen…"
She bravely continued to chat him up despite the risk of offending him. The sole reason for her behaviour was that, she was a Canine-type Soo-in. The ideal type of mates for a Canine-type Soo-in who possessed a powerful sense of smell, was a man with a nice body odour. And with his passive skill active, the scent spreading out from Sae-Jin’s body was as incomparably manly as it could get.
‘…It’s really nice.’
A wolf. Yes, it was a scent of a wolf. Making sure she wasn’t seen, she sniffed the air and her face softly reddened at the seductive aroma.
But the cruel elevator had arrived at the top floor for the VIP guests already. The sales agent regretfully watched Sae-Jin’s back as he walked away.
The spotless, polished marble floor till lights reflected off; the expansive view out the window showing the Han river and the beauty of Seoul; an azure shade dying the interior blue to confuse the senses as if one was walking in the sky - this stunning space was the VIP-only Sky Lounge of the Hyunwol Auction House, where no regular folk could ever hope to enter in their entire lifetimes.
"Looks like you’ve arrived."
As Sae-Jin stepped on the marble floor with a dazed face, having forgotten about his urgent lack of time, a soft yet righteous voice came to him from somewhere.
"Hello there. I’m Kim Yu-Rin, a Knight ranked Highest Tier, from the Raven Knights Order."
It was Kim Yu-Rin. Completely opposite of when she was talking to the Goblin version of Sae-Jin, she maintained a cold, expressionless face as she offered her hand.
"Ah…. yes, how do you do."
For Sae-Jin, it was their second meeting. But for Yu-Rin, it was her first. Whatever the case may have been, the two people faced each other and shook hands.
< 06. A Mana Stone of a Beast (3) > Fin.
(TL: I’ve been using the US dollars after converting the original amount from the Korean Won, And in this chapter in particular, I had to round up pretty much all of the bidding amounts to make reading the chapter a bit less hectic. I hope you guys are okay with that.)