Chapter 129 - Kargas' Underground Auction (2)
Once again, Theodore was a model student. When other students had been going out after school, drinking and meeting friends, he had stayed in the library and stuck faithfully to his duties as a magician.
He had never stepped foot into a tavern or entertainment house out of curiosity. In that sense, this place was an unknown experience for Theodore.
In the center of the auction house, a gentle-looking middle-aged man raised his hand.
[No. 176, 50 gold has come out! Is there anyone else? After 10 seconds, the item will be awarded to customer No. 176!] It wasn't loud, but the voice of the host resonated through the wide auction house.
This was because the necklace around his neck was enchanted with 'Voice Amplification' magic. The artifact transformed a small whisper into a loud shout, allowing the auctioneer to speak for hours without worrying about a hoarse neck.
However, there was no choice about his busily moving eyes.
Despite the crowd around him swarming like ants toward a cake, the host cried out in a cheerful voice, [Yes, No. 238! A bid of 60 gold! Any more? There are still three more bidding opportunities!]
The bidding method of the underground auction wasn't too different from other auctions. Participants had a sign with their number and would raise it showing they wanted to bid, then they would raise their fingers to indicate the bid amount to the host.
However, this place was outside the boundaries of the law, so the rules of the underground auctions weren't exactly the same. Gibra whispered to Theodore in a tense tone, "The underground auctions have additional rules that don't exist in ordinary auction houses."
"Additional rules?" Theodore asked with a strange expression.
He knew about the ordinary rules, but he didn't know there were additional rules.
Rules and morality were no use in a lawless place like this, and those gathered at the auction house knew this better than anyone else. Would they concede to new rules being added? Theo couldn't understand it.
Gibra smiled bitterly at his question and replied, "As Employer said, when the underground auctions first began, all sorts of struggles occurred. Making a bid in order to raise the price or colluding with others to increase the burden on the competitors... There were even cases of using poison or assassins to reduce the number of participants."
"Well, yes. It was 30 years before this auction when a major incident occurred."
Theodore's ears pricked up at the mention of a large incident. This wasn't an ordinary person but the branch direction of the Information Guild on the central continent, the 'King of Mice.' In order words, it would definitely be a major incident and not exaggerated.
Unsurprisingly, Theodore found it hard to maintain his expressionless face at Gibra's next words.
"To sum it up, a member of the royal family was killed."
"Come now. It is an open secret, but don't make a loud sound. There are those who hate hearing about what happened." Gibra took a drink from a passing servant and drank from it before explaining.
At that time, the underground auctions had been a lawless place, so it had been rare for people to reveal their identities. Kargas' 4th Prince, Musica, had found out about the auction house and entered disguised. He'd been able to conceal his identity as planned, but it would've been better to reveal it.
At the very least, he wouldn't have received a glass filled with poison.
"Since then, there have been a few more stringent rules in the underground auctions. Be careful of touching an opponent when you don't know who they are."
"Hah, this place is still standing after that?"
"Fortunately, he wasn't the heir to the throne but the 4th Prince. If he were the heir, all of Sipoto would've been accused of treason."
The 4th Prince might have died, but the amount of money the Kargas Kingdom earned through the underground auction was too great. It was enough to conceal the fact that a member of the royal family had been killed and to execute the assassin. The king of Kargas saw more value from the underground auctions than one of his useless sons.
Theodore was able to accept this based on his understanding of the Kargas king. Thus, this was the origin of the unnatural rules in the underground auctions.
Then Gibra changed the topic as he pointed to the next auction item. "Oh! Employer, over there. It is today's first original book."
"Huh, just forget about what I told you. It has already happened, so there is no point wasting time worrying about it."
Theodore smiled at the words. "I understand. Then let's focus on the auction."
* * *
The special rules of the Kargas underground auction were like this:
The minimum bid starts at 90% of the market price.
Participants may increase the bid by at least 10%, and it can't be over 100% of the minimum bid amount.
One item listing may be bid on 10 times.
Each participant can bid five times per item.
Each participant can bid up to 50 times.
The winning bid can't exceed the the minimum bid price by 10 times.
In some ways, they were better than the rules of a general auction house. The sellers were able to sell the item at least at the market price, and buyers were able to bid without making it a price competition.
It would be difficult to set fair rules in an auction house where collusion often occurred. Therefore, participants of the underground auctions often hired professionals. In order to not fall for any tricks, hiring a professional for auctions was the best way to go about it.
Theodore quickly arrived at the same conclusion. '...It is tricky. I read a few books about auctions, but it isn't something that an amateur can get involved in.'
Despite his genius brain, he would find it hard to compete with experts in the field since he had no experience.
This was especially the case if he was going against the auctioneers of Sipoto who knew the rules and trends of the underground auction houses better than anyone else. If Theodore was participating in the underground auction by himself, it was clear he would've wasted a lot of money.
However, Theo had a different purpose, so he hired someone who was better than some auctioneers.
[N0. 381 has won the original book [Applications of Lightning Arrows] for 50 gold! My sincere congratulations!]
Akan's resourcefulness didn't just end with acting. He was someone with skills worthy enough that Gibra had chosen him! Akan easily beat another professional auctioneer and won another original book for Theo.
Just like the other four original books they'd bought in this auction so far, this one didn't have a 'Rare' rating, but it wasn't a bad profit. If this continued, Theo would be able to obtain more than 20 original books by the time the auctions ended.
"Hahaha! How is it? It wasn't a waste of money to hire us."
"Yes, truly wonderful skills."
It might be patronizing to say something like this, but Gibra was clearly in a good mood.
Servants brought [Applications of Lightning Arrows] to Theodore, who placed it in his inventory. He felt a little bitter about hiring three agents at 10 gold per day, but this was enough to show him that the money was worth it.
Theo had simply wanted an assistant from the Information Guild, so this was a pleasant surprise.
At that moment, his right temple tickled from someone's gaze.
It was a little bit annoying, but Theodore suppressed the emotion and met the gaze calmly. There, a fat man was staring at Theo with a heated expression. The fat man's body reminded him of Professor Balloon from the Bergen Academy.
According to the Information Guild, he was the nouveau rich 'librarian' called Coulson.
"Ah, he doesn't operate a real library. He doesn't like reading books. He just likes collecting books in order to prove his status. He made a collection with all the books he bought, giving him that nickname. Well, if he thinks it will damage him then he will hand it over."
However, Theodore had directed Akan to buy as many original books as possible, so Akan had taken all of them from Coulson. However, Theo didn't feel the least bit guilty. He didn't buy books to read but to live. As a magician, he disliked fools who placed a value on information.
Coulson hurriedly turned head away from the cold light in Theo's eyes. Theo's wasn't the type of spirit Coulson could dare go against. Theodore turned away from Coulson's unsightly appearance toward another person.
'The only real contender is that man.'
The man had white hair and a white beard, along with so many wrinkles on his skin that he looked like tree bark. Despite that, the old man's posture was a straight as a pine tree, and the intensity in his gaze wasn't any less than that of a young man
The nickname given to him by the Information Guild was 'Old Books Maniac,' and his name was Heinrich. He was a scholar who would read books until he died. Although he didn't hoard books like Coulson, Heinrich never backed down when it came to getting a book he wanted.
This meant that he was willing to spend as much money as it took. It was an image which Theodore didn't hate, but it made it hard for him. Theo looked at the upright profile of the old man and turned his head away.
The sound of the cart carrying the next sales item tickled Theodore's ears.
At that moment, the host cried out, "Oh, No. 107! No. 107 has increased the bid by 100%! The minimum bid for this item is 20 gold, so from now on, you will have to bid over 42 gold!"
The Old Books Maniac, Heinrich, raised his sign faster than anyone else. A few people who had already visited the auctions reluctantly gave up after seeing Heinrich's action as it meant that Heinrich's obsession was great.
It was common sense that they would have to pay five times the price if they competed with the old man who wouldn't give up.
However, at that moment...
"N-No. 381! 100% has been bid again! 60 gold!"
Theodore's agent, Akan had raised the sign. It was beneficial to withdraw and allow Heinrich to gain the book, but he couldn't refuse his employer's instructions. That's right. It was Theodore Miller himself who put in the second 100% bid.
"You must buy it. The budget for the item is 200 gold, so I will allow you to go up to that limit."
Akan's eyes showed that he couldn't understand, but he just nodded shakily. The money was coming from Theodore, so the Information Guild wouldn't receive any damages. Gibra tried to stop him, but Theodore couldn't resist buying this original book. It was natural since the item was meaningful for him.
The title of the original book was [Introduction to Elemental Magic II]. It was an elemental magic theory book written by Myrdal Herseim. If Theo bought the original book, he would be able to talk to Myrdal again.
Furthermore, the fragment of soul from a sage was worth a few times more than others. It was an item he absolutely couldn't miss.
"N-No. 107 has come back with 100% again! Now it is 80 gold!"
From here on out, it was war. The old man's fierce gaze stared at Theodore. The young magician would never give up, so he also stared back with powerful eyes.
The bidding war at the northern auction house began.