"Ritch?" Ross was stunned when he saw that young man at the entrance of the auction hall. He couldn't help feeling suspicious, as that young man's identity was quite special. Ritch Holland's parents were both senior alchemists of the Black Horn chamber of commerce, and he had even studied under the famous Archmage of the Black Horn, Hulad. Although he was in his early twenties, he was still a 5th Rank High Mage. He was considered Hulad's successor.
The Merlin Family had many chances to cooperate with the Black Horn chamber of commerce. It was in one such cooperative venture that the two young geniuses got to know each other and formed a certain friendship. How could Ross not know of Ritch's identity? 'He would usually be inside presiding over the auction, so why is he at the door like a doorman?'
Seeing Ross's strange expression, Ritch immediately said, "Oh, I was just welcoming a VIP, I'm about to go over now. What? Suddenly want to participate in the auction?"
"You personally welcomed a VIP?" Hearing this, amazement appeared on Ross' face.
Ritch might even enter the core circle of the Black Horn chamber of commerce due to his status as the disciple of the famous Archmage Hulad... The honored guests that he would welcome wouldn't be ordinary...
"Yes, he is a very special VIP. I've been paying attention to this matter for almost a year..." Ritch didn't hide the truth, because although this was a secret, it was loosely guarded.
"No way..." Ross held his breath. The Black Horn chamber of commerce no ordinary power. It was considered a peak force in the entirety of Noscent.
The Cloud Tower, the Black Tower, and Okland Magic School were the three major forces of Okland only because their power was centralized here. In contrast, the Black Horn chamber of commerce was a truly frightening existence. Their power infiltrated every corner of Noscent, making their influence far greater than anyone could imagine.
Moreover, the Merlin Family and the Watson Family both believed that the Black Horn chamber of commerce was hiding its true strength and was far from being as simple as most people imagined.
"Nothing I can do about it, today's VIP is truly extraordinary. He is Master Alchemist that hasn't even turned 22..."
"A Master!" Ross' eyes widened. A Master Alchemist at 22 years... If nothing unexpected happened, he was bound to become an Artisan. In other words, Ritch had just welcomed a future Artisan!
"Indeed, Master Alchemist..." Ritch smiled, but it was a bitter smile. He was reviewing the information he had on this young High Mage. High Mage Merlin had been shrouded in a mysterious radiance. After all, they were more or less the same age. Ritch was only a few years older than him, yet the gap was unbreachable. It would be wrong to say that there was no envy or admiration in Ritch's heart.
But Ritch's strong point in the Black Horn chamber of commerce was that he could accept many unbelievable truths if the evidence pointed to it. He was already used to dealing with these seemingly impossible matters, so after bitterly smiling, he quickly recovered. "Moreover, it was said that this young Master Alchemist was only a Magic Apprentice a year ago who rose up overnight for some unknown reason and crushed all his opponents in a domineering way. I even heard that a month ago, that young Master Alchemist defeated an Archmage..."
"An Arc... Archmage!" Ross froze. A young Master Alchemist that also defeated an Archmage... How could this sound real? It felt like the main character of a fantasy novel, how could there be such an abnormal person?
In the past, Ross always felt that Stan Watson was already an abnormal one. He crushed all the young geniuses in Okland and became an 8th Rank High Mage before the age of thirty, making everyone despair. At that time, Ross even felt that he would never see someone as abnormal as Stan Watson again in his life.
But he hadn't expected that Ritch would talk about someone even more bizarre that was in his early twenties...
"Oh right, I forgot to say, that man defeated an Archmage when he was still a 9th Rank Great Mage, and has already advanced to the High Mage realm now..."
"..." Ross was frozen on the spot. He didn't know how he should react. A 9th Rank Great Mage defeating an Archmage truly sounded like a fantasy. For a while, Ross only stared at Ritch with a blank gaze, unable to hear or respond to anything.
"Ah?" After Ritch called out to him, Ross woke up from his dream. He realized that he'd forgotten himself and awkwardly laughed. "Sorry, my mind wandered. Right, what did you say?"
"I said, how come you came to participate in the auction today? Didn't you always say that auctions were places where only foolish upstarts would squander money?"
"I..." Ross hesitated for a bit before pressing on. "I'm looking for someone, I want to discuss a transaction with him..."
"It's simple, I have a distant younger cousin who is holding something that is very important to me, but is useless to him. I spoke to him at the Merlin Family Manor and offered to exchange him magic knowledge and alchemy techniques for it. I even offered to act for him three times. But for some reason, he refused such generous conditions..."
"Haha..." Ritch chuckled when he heard this, "This younger cousin of yours is quite interesting. Didn't you tell him who you were? Who in Okland doesn't know of all the planar expeditions you have been on in the past few years? I don't know how many people are envious and greedy. I'm very interested, I want to see what kind of expression your younger cousin will show later after learning what kind of opportunity he passed on."
"Hey, don't say that..." Ross was vexed enough to begin with. "This thing is very important to me, I absolutely must get it even if I have to spend a huge sum on it."
"Okay, okay, tell me your younger cousin's name and I'll help you search through the guest information. Once I put you in the same room, you can slowly discuss this..."
"Thanks Ritch, I'll definitely remember this favor." A grateful expression appeared on Ross' face. He clearly understood what this meant. Ritch was one of the people in charge of this auction, and helping him was overstepping his boundaries. This might even hinder his path in the Black Horn chamber of commerce in the future.
"It's okay, you can thank others, but we don't need these kinds of things between us. If it hadn't been for your help, I would have been in big trouble in the Raging Flame Plane. Alright, tell me your cousin's name ..."
"Oh, Mafa Merlin..." Ritch nodded while noting it down. He was in the middle of writing that name when he noticed that this name seemed awfully familiar. "Mafa Merlin, Mafa Merlin..."
"What is it?" Ross was puzzled.
"Ma... Mafa Merlin..." Ritch was stunned as he looked at Ross, seeming a bit frightened. "Mafa Merlin... He wouldn't be from Thousand Sails City, right?"
"That's right, he came from Thousand Sails City and is the owner of Thousand Sails City's Gilded Rose... Why?"
"The distant cousin who is holding something very important to you and that you want to trade magic knowledge and alchemy techniques to... That's Mafa Merlin?" Ritch gulped as he said with difficulty.
"Yes... It's him..."
"..." Ritch's legs slightly shook. He watched Ross for a long time before putting down his quill and paper. "Hmm, Ross, does your cousin look young, perhaps in his early twenties? Is he wearing a black robe?"
"That should be him."
"... Have you ever sent for a background check?"
"Background check?" Ross was stunned by the odd question. "I did. I heard that his grandfather was Patriarch Ofran's older brother, Judd Merlin. For some reason, he had suddenly given up on everything and gone to Thousand Sails City. Later, his son was born there, Locke Merlin. I heard that this Locke Merlin was very amazing and established the Flashing Gold chamber of commerce in a dozen years, monopolizing Thousand Sails City's alchemy market. He was considered quite wealthy. As for that Mafa Merlin, I'm not too sure. I only heard that his life wasn't in a very good state after Locke Merlin's death. Once the family learnt about it, they sent William over to help him rebuild the Gilded Rose. I also heard that the Gilded Rose's financial resources are quite terrifying, it is already the largest alchemy store in Thousand Sails City..."
"You... That's the background check you made?!" Ritch was both angered and amused by this answer. 'Why are you asking about Judd Merlin and Locke Merlin? You should be checking Mafa Merlin...'