Chapter 131 - Duel Bid (1)
Theo didn't want to cause any unnecessary disruptions either. He had a reason for stepping out. Actually, it was because his opponent was the Orcus Company. Regardless of the cause and process, Theodore had done something irreversible as a result.
The agent of the Orcus Company, who made even the Information Guild step aside, had declared war.
Theodore felt sweat flow down his spine.
'Damn... If only I hadn't come here today...!'
He couldn't close his eyes once he knew. Theodore sighed as he looked at the 'item.' It was an average white gold item, which looked like one of the many sold at ordinary stores. The necklace, silver jewellery with a red jewel hanging from it, was the source of the commotion.
The name of the necklace was 'Charlotte's Necklace.' It was a relic famous for being worn around the neck of Charlotte, the last princess of a kingdom destroyed hundreds of years ago. Why had the necklace caused Theodore to do such a reckless thing? Now, one would have to look back in time to find out the reason...
...Back to exactly 30 minutes ago, when the atmosphere had been calm.
* * *
A huge amount of money was mentioned casually. 800 gold... That was enough money to buy a few small estates. It was a world which couldn't be understood by a young master from the countryside.
Theo thought he had collected a lot of money while living as a magician, but it was nothing compared to the people gathered here. It would've cost all of Theodore's money just to bid on 'Heart of the Lake' which had just been won.
Theo couldn't help sighing deeply. Gibra glanced at him and asked, "Huhu, how is it? Didn't I say it was better not to come?"
"Did you mean this?"
"Well, halfway." Gibra nodded before continuing, "Employer, think about it. Those guys have too much, so that in itself is unpleasant. The watches on their wrists, the clothes they are wearing, their words and actions... it all seems designed to mock us for being poor."
"...That."Theodore stopped breathing for a moment. He was conscious of the deep-rooted inferiority that he had forgotten about.
Theo had suffered a lot at Bergen Academy. Not every students had bothered him, but Theodore had hated all of them. He had hated those who were born with a talent he didn't have but wasted their lives by lazing around.
Now that wealth was swirling about in front of him, Theodore was silent as he found common ground in an unexpected place.
However, the host suddenly raised his voice, [Dear customers! As half the items in this auction have found an owner, we will give you a moment to breathe! This is from the distant past, a legacy of a kingdom that was destroyed for an unknown reason!]
As he stretched out both arms, the host looked around like he was trying to make eye contact with all the audience members. Satisfied that majority of the guests were interested, the man pointed to the object on the stage.
It was a square object covered by a piece of cloth, and there was probably a glass box inside. The host skillfully pulled away the cloth.
Then at that moment...
-Hoh? Gluttony woke up from its sleep.
'What, is it a big deal again?'
-Very interesting. User, it seems that luck has been following you around these days.
'Luck? That necklace?'
Gluttony agreed with Theo.
As the host revealed the silver necklace in the glass box, Gluttony continued talking in a relaxed voice, -That is an impressive item, so make note. The princess of Antioch... Charlotte's Necklace is a special cursed item intended for one country.
-The necklace transforms any spirits nearby into 'specters' and 'banshees.' In the hands of a skilled necromancer, it can demonstrate the power of a national treasure.
Then Gluttony showed Theo the information window about the necklace.
[+16 Charlotte's Necklace (Accessory)]
[This is a necklace left behind by Charlotte the last princess of Antioch, a kingdom destroyed by a sinister mind. It is a seemingly simple accessory, but the curse contained in it is fearsome. It curses those who are still alive, and any spiritual body with even a little bit of attachment will be turned into powerful evil spirits. However, the seal left by a saint is blocking that power.
* The rating of this necklace is 'Treasure.'
* When consumed, a very large amount of magic power will be absorbed.
* When consumed, it can cause serious damage to the mind.
* When consumed, 'Antioch's Curse' will be applied.
* When consumed, the digestion time will be 11 days.
'Dangerous!' Theodore noticed the terrible nature of this cursed necklace in just a moment.
Magicians learned from childhood that there were many things in this world they couldn't see. Just because they couldn't see it, didn't mean it wasn't there. Due to this, Theodore was immediately aware of the dangerous nature of the necklace.
There were countless ghosts roaming around this material world. Of course, most of them couldn't be seen nor could they inflict harm on people. However, those who were deeply drawn to evil in life were reborn as things like specters and banshees.
Such beings were classified as non-corporeal creatures on which physical attacks were effective. They were tricky enough to require aura users or magicians of at least the 4th Circle, but they weren't a big problem because there weren't many of them.
However, this necklace could cause a disaster!
Regardless of whether he knew about the crisis, the host began the auctioning off Charlotte's Necklace with a casual expression.
[Then I will start! I told you this was to help you take a break, right? As such, the bidding for this item will begin at 30 gold! In other words, the maximum bid is 300 gold! It is a preserved old relic, but it wouldn't be bad to buy it as a souvenir!]
300 gold was a huge amount for the common people, but the majority of those gathered were the richest people on the continent. Some nodded at the host, while others whispered sweet words into the ears of the girls they brought with them.
However, there was an unexpected bidder. The agent of the Orcus Company, who hadn't showed any interest in any item from the start of the auction, raised his sign.
[N-No. 133 has bid by 100%! Therefore, the current bid is 60 gold!]
The crowd didn't care about the words of the host. The people gathered here had considerable power, but they couldn't ignore the name of the Orcus Company. Additionally, this was the first 100% bid at the auction today, so it was tantamount to a declaration. If someone bid in such a situation, it would be accepted as an unspoken declaration against the Orcus Company.
Unsurprisingly, Theodore was bound to hesitate as well.
'Damn, coming out here. Orcus Company...!'
If someone other than the Orcus Company had bid, Theodore might've given up on the necklace.
The necklace contained a dangerous curse, but according to the information window, it couldn't exert its power due to a seal. The person who bought the necklace wouldn't imagine that it had any abilities, so it was likely to be used as ordinary jewellery.
However, the Orcus Company was suspected of being involved in black magic, so Theo couldn't just let the agent win the bid. If a disaster arose here, Theodore wouldn't be able to forgive himself when he could've prevented it.
Before that, he asked Gluttony one last thing, 'Hey. What did you mean by that necklace is lucky for me?'
-Have you already forgotten? In the dungeon created by the host of Death's Worship, I ate the specters.
It was a memory Theodore had forgotten. He recalled the evil spirits that had entered the cramped passage and the information window which had floated up after Gluttony ate them.
[The user still hasn't unlocked the function yet.]
The more he thought about it, the more the matters were tied together. As he thought of the relationship between 'vessel,' 'specter,' and 'Charlotte's Necklace,' Theo's brilliant mind instantly gave him an answer. He understood why Gluttony told him that 'luck' followed him.
'Make evil spirits with the necklace and feed them to Gluttony.'
The process of capturing souls in original books was several times simpler and easier to eat. It would be inefficient to find and eat specters and banshees. However, the efficiency would reverse if he got his hands on Charlotte's Necklace.
Theodore took a deep breath and raised his right hand, which clutched tightly onto the sign with his participation number.
[N-No. 472! Guest No. 472 has also bid 100%! The current bid is 90 gold!] The host stuttered with surprise. He hadn't thought there would be someone who would bid against the company.
Fortunately, no one cared about his mistake. The gazes of all the auction house guests were focused on the agent of the Orcus Company and the young man who stopped the agent's winning bid. Theodore could feel the gazes pouring in from every direction.
The Orcus agent was staring up at him from an oblique angle, with a faint red light glowing in his brown eyes.
* * *
As a result, the auction house placed the two bidders in a solitary room.
It was a rule of the Kargas auction: The winning bid can't exceed the the minimum bid price by 10 times. In other words, it wasn't uncommon for there to be joint bidders. There was a separate way to solve it, but this incident was a special case.
The auction had advised them to settle it through conversation, if possible.
"...So, what do you want?"
"Huh?" Theodore was surprised by the question.
The agent raised his eyebrows and said, "I investigated a little bit while on the way here. Your name is Theo. You're a 4th Circle magician from Meltor's Magic Society. Didn't you come to Kargas to meet distant relatives? You got a plaque from Bear of the Polonell Company, and you are a very promising young man."
"You're overpraising me."
"Bah, it isn't a compliment. I said it so you will understand what I mean." The agent didn't want to waste time acting politely and asked, "How much do you want? No, I will give you the item you want. Of course, it is on the condition that you yield the necklace to me."
"Umm." Theodore realized the misunderstanding.
The agent didn't know that Theo was actually aiming for the necklace. He thought it was just a bait for Theo to get something else he wanted.
Indeed, that was a more realistic possibility than the actual truth. Aside from the fact that the necklace was old, it was just an ordinary accessory. So, it was senseless to go against the Orcus Company and bid 300 gold for it.
The agent took Theo's response as a positive answer. "By the way, you are truly bold. Daring to make this type of bargain at your age. You aren't a magician but a genius trader-"
"I'm sorry," Theodore interrupted the agent's words. "I need that necklace."
The atmosphere froze with his one sentence. The agent's gaze became cold while his hands twitched like they itched to grab something. However, after the momentary response, the agent calmed his shaking body and opened his mouth to speak. His voice carried a different tone from before. "...I see. Are you saying that you won't withdraw the bid?"
"Yes, you heard correctly."
"How bold. Truly bold," the agent murmured before lifting his head.
His reddish brown eyes seemed even deeper, perhaps because of his mood. No, it wasn't Theo's imagination that the colour changed. Instead of reddish brown, the agent's eyes had become the colour of a full red, like the colour of blood.
The agent stared into Theodore's eyes and declared, "This is my last bit of advice. Let go of that necklace."
Simultaneously, a light sparked in the agent's eyes. Red eyes... They had been known as demon eyes in the past, possessing the power to deceive or exert a special power.
However, it was useless today. Gluttony, who had fallen asleep again, snorted at the gaze which hindered its sleep. In the Age of Mythology, the number of monsters who had been able to overcome Gluttony's mental defenses could be counted on three fingers.
As the red eyes tried to penetrate Theodore, the greedy grimoire spoke condescendingly, -How trivial. Even using the evil eyes.
Then it kicked the agent's presence out.
"Kuaack!" The agent suddenly shrieked and covered his eyes.
"-Don't come near me!"
Theodore, who was unaware of the struggle within himself, had approached to give support, but the agent chased him away.
The agent's actual eyes were okay, but it was the first time he had received a shock in the spirit world, making him greatly upset. To think that his demon eyes didn't work, and there was even a retaliatory mental blow? Additionally, the young man acted like he didn't know what was going on.
The agent wanted to get out of this place, so he screamed instantly. "It can't be helped! A duel bid! Three days later, I will fix your cocky attitude!"
"That- Why all of a sudden..."
"I no longer have anything to say to you!"
After saying that, the agent ran out of the room. It was because he couldn't understand what had happened and it didn't seem like the young man would release the necklace.
'In any case, I'll win if it's a duel bid.' It would be delayed for a few days, but the necklace would eventually enter the agent's hands, so there was no need to rush.
He was going to kill that person. The agent's face distorted as he walked down the passage with a rough gait. On the other hand, Theodore was meeting up with the waiting Gibra.
"W-What happened?" Gibra asked in a small voice due to his anxiety.
Theodore smiled at him and replied, "It is a duel bid! The agent has left."
"What!? Employer, have you really lost your mind?! I clearly told you that you must not accept a duel bid!"
A duel bid was an additional rule of the Kargas underground auction that only applied when an item reached the maximum bid. The two sides would pick warriors to participate in a duel, and the winner would obtain the item.
The problem was some of the rules set for the duel bid.
"Employer, I know that you are a good fighter, but you can't participate in it yourself. Why accept the duel bid?"
"Well, it is something that I need to obtain."
"That isn't it! Going against the Orcus Company... What sort of lunatic warrior would accept your offer? If you are thinking about me, then please stop. Participating in the duel bid wasn't part of the commission."
Gibra might sound heartless, but it was a line he couldn't cross. Theodore had commissioned the Information Guild to obtain information of the sale goods and purchase the original books. There was nothing about risking themselves to go against the Orcus Company.
However, Theodore's complexion stayed the same. In the first place, he had no intention of nominating Gibra. He already knew the person he wanted to hire for the 'duel bid.' Theo dismissed Gibra's worries. "There is no need to worry. I have already decided on a warrior."
"What, is that true?"
"Yes. I'll have to send him a message, but he will meet us sooner or later."
Gibra couldn't help feeling curious. As branch director of the Information Guild, he couldn't repress his curiosity and asked, "Cough. So, who is it? He will need to be a great warrior."
According to rumours, the Orcus Company had a monster who could cut down huge trees with a blade as well as kill an ogre with his bare hands.
Rumours tended to get exaggerated, but no one doubted the skills after the person broke a knight a few years ago. It was a person entirely covered in black armour, so their face and voice were all unknown. However, it was obvious that the Black Knight would be the one participating in the duel bid.
Even though Theo didn't know the rumours, he was confident that the person he picked would be able to win against the Black Knight. Amidst the wide lands of Sipoto, Theo picked his strongest hand.
Without looking back, Theodore spoke in a voice which was filled with a strange nostalgia, "The leader of the 'Wandering Wolves' mercenaries, Randolph Clovis."
It was a name he'd found while exploring Sipoto a few days ago. Randolph was the top-notch swordsman who had broken through thousands of undead at the Miller Barony.
If Theo hadn't known of Randolph's presence, he might not have accepted the duel bid. There had also been the encounter with Randolph's sister Rebecca, so the siblings seemed to be deeply involved with Theo in many ways.
Theodore declared confidently, "He isn't a master, but he will surely win against the Black Knight."
1. ..9...10! No. 64! Guest No. 64 has won 'Heart of the Lake' at a bid of 800 gold! Congratulations! This jewel has finally found an owner who matches it!