Earl Auro walked up to the railing of his compartment and bowed deeply to the audience, “My apologies, but this item is extremely important to Master Fazelok, I must get it at all costs. I believe you lovely ladies and gentlemen here have no intention to stop him from becoming a saint runemaster?”
The threatening tone in his speech angered many of the nobles present, but they didn’t dare to speak. The heart of the valley lord wasn’t an essential item to any of them, and it definitely wasn’t angering Fazelok. Although the hostess was displeased, she couldn’t do anything either. Auro wasn’t just Fazelok’s representative; he was also a sky saint.
Hearing the silence of the audience, Auro smiled arrogantly and leaned back into his high-backed chair, placing his legs directly on the railing of the compartment. His actions were clear disrespect to the crowd, also indicating his confidence in his master.
The hostess almost shook with rage, but she controlled herself and asked loudly, “Is there anyone who still wishes to bid for the heart?”
Silence enveloped the entire theatre and Auro laughed softly, even if his voice was still audible to half the people present, “Why waste your time? I don’t believe there is anyone who dares to cross Master Fazelok here.”
“I repeat, any more bidders?” the hostess asked gently.
This time, an equally gentle voice responded, “Two top-tier offerings.”
Richard’s voice was soft and melodious, but it felt extremely loud in the silent hall. Auro immediately leapt up from his seat, scanning across the compartments before glaring at him, “You want to become enemies with Master Fazelok?”
“This is an auction,” Richard answered calmly, “If you’re not going to raise the price, then get out.”
“You…” Auro’s eyes instantly went red, but he still managed to remain rational and controlled himself from doing anything. He gripped the railing tightly, almost bending it out of shape under the host’s annoyed gaze before laughing, “You want to compare wealth with a grand runemaster? Fine, let’s see how rich you are. Two top-tier offerings and one million.”
“Two million, Richard’s voice was still calm.
The bidding war continued. Compared to Richard’s calm demeanour, Auro was growing more and more agitated with time. Those in the know understood that he was quickly reaching his limit, to the point that few could blame him for losing his calm.
Even Earl Lyndoch seemed a little disturbed, leaning over to whisper, “Your Grace, isn’t this price too high? You must be careful, he might be setting a trap.”
“No,” Richard answered clearly. As a saint runemaster, he knew just how special this heart was. It could definitely be used as the core material for a grade 5 rune, useful even for grade 6. Fazelok had to be giving it his all. Making another bid, he leaned back to ask, “Why would Fazelok use this one as a representative? He’s offended almost everyone here.”
The royal agent relaxed upon seeing Richard’s demeanour, flashing a calm smile, “Fazelok has always been extremely rude and arrogant. There aren’t many people in the Empire he hasn’t offended yet, but there are a few grade 4 runes only he can craft. He isn’t stupid enough to offend everyone, but if he thinks he’s the better he’ll make sure it is known. Auro is quite capable himself, and the brother of Fazelok’s favourite lover. All of that arrogance rubs off.”
Richard felt a sharp gaze land on him, but he continued carelessly, “It seems like this genius thinks Fazelok will definitely become a saint runemaster, so he has no qualms with assuming that status already? Two top-tier offerings and ten million.”
This price left Auro on the verge of collapse, his entire body leaning out from the railing as he shot Richard a death glare, “Who are you to fight me?”
Richard didn’t even look at the man, instead just nodding at the hostess. She started asking whether there were any more bids, preparing to lock in the sale.
Auro’s face soured as he turned to Lyndoch instead, “My Lord, does your presence mean that the royal family supports this idiot?”
Lyndoch wasn’t just a normal noble himself. Rage flashed in his eyes as he stood up, bowing once in apology to the audience before facing Auro, “Lord Auro, please mind your tongue. Even if Master Fazelok becomes a saint runemaster, I do not believe he will tolerate any insults to the royal family.”
Auro had no response to this, his face turning red with embarrassment. Grunting, he said viciously, “Twelve million!”
This price far exceeded what the heart was really worth, but Fazelok wanted it at all costs. Additionally, Auro wasn’t just boasting when he asked who dared to compare wealth with a grand runemaster.
Unfortunately, he was facing an anomaly in this bidding war.
“Three top-tier offerings,” Richard still remained calm.
This jump completely defeated Auro, who screamed, “You could never afford this! You liar!”
However, Lyndoch nodded at the hostess, endorsing Richard’s ability to pay the price. At that point, the rest of the attendees grew surprised and curious, discussing the identity of this unfamiliar face. Even extremely wealthy nobles wouldn’t just throw away three top-tier offerings, and to most people this heart definitely wasn’t worth it.
“Any more bid?” the hostess’s voice echoed through the hall.
Auro looked terrible. He really couldn’t bid higher, but he also clearly knew the importance of this heart to Fazelok. He glared at Richard with bloodshot eyes, “Are you sure you want to become an enemy of Master Fazelok? You still have time to remove your bid!”
Richard smiled, “But then I’d be penalised a third of it. That’s a full top-tier offering.”
Thinking Richard was backing down, Auro laughed, “That’s your punishment for bidding wildly.”
“Heh. Like I said before, get lost if you don’t have the money.”
“YOU’RE COURTING DEATH!” Auro immediately bellowed, drawing his sword and crossing the auction hall as he leapt towards Richard. He was clearly using his full strength, planning to kill.
Everyone was caught off guard by a sky saint attacking so blatantly, and even the legends present didn’t react in time. In only moments, Auro had crossed the theatre to arrive almost at Richard.
Lyndoch was a saint swordsman himself, but he suddenly felt his blade go missing as he stood up, only to see Richard rushing out to meet the challenge. Auro was charging like lightning, leaving most people only able to see the trail of his aura, but Richard looked graceful and slow like a leaf flying in the wind. Every one of his moves was clear for all to see.
However, the saints and legends present quickly realised that this slowness was just an illusion coming from precision. Richard easily managed to stop Auro’s attack, a blue flame bursting from the tip of Lyndoch’s sword and curving across the sky. It quickly occupied the entirety of everyone’s vision, to the point that they felt their very souls being touched by the blade.
The two legends in the hall suddenly realised what they were feeling: perfection! This strike was of optimal speed and power, tailored perfectly to Auro’s might. There was no way to block.
By the time they could think of this, everyone saw Richard flying back to his compartment and sitting back in his original place like he hadn’t even moved. Auro’s arm was still swinging down, but it took a moment for them to realise that it wasn’t attached to his body. The limb was covered in a layer of pale blue flames, spreading quickly across it surface and even covering the sword!
Richard smiled and blew, a gentle breeze turning Auro’s arm to dust that was blown away by the wind. The legendary sword was bent out of shape, falling to the floor as a pile of scrap metal.