151 A World-Class Auction*
"Are you sure about this?" asked Ebony, "I really don't get why we'd need anything from there anyway. We're only going to be stepping on the toes of bigger and more powerful people if we bid on anything".
"Who said anything about bidding?" asked Aegin.
"I wouldn't hesitate to bid if it was something I wanted," Rassa piped up.
"That's my point," Ebony sighed, "Please don't be impulsive".
"I am never impulsive," Rassa scoffed.
"Sure," Aegin smirked, "And I don't spend my spare time napping".
Rassa spun to face Aegin, "Whose side are you on?"
Aegin raised his hands in surrender, "I'm just pointing out that you can, in fact, be impulsive when you want something".
"When? Name one time".
"Well, there was that time when you decided to control a fire and lead a stranger right onto your trail," Aegin began.
"Or that time when you tripped up a man in a bar just because he was being an a**hole".
"I said one".
Ebony and Aegin hid smiles behind their hands like two scheming children and Rassa couldn't help rolling his eyes. Children, the both of them. Was he really that impulsive? He hadn't thought he was. Now that he thought about it though, perhaps he was. His Vampiric instincts leaking out and making him go after what he wanted like the world was his playground. Like there weren't any consequences for his actions. Perhaps he should try and reel that impulse in a little more. If only to protect those closer to him.
"Fine, I won't bid without consulting you first".
Ebony sighed, knowing that was the best she'd get.
The three of them had been invited to join Falla's party on the first floor of the Auction Hall. It was the same hall they'd used for the performance mid-festival, but this time their seating was on the lowest floor with other lesser known trading firms. Rassa hadn't noticed the last time, but the floor he'd been on previously was for those of the highest teir. Then, he and Ebony had been guests of the Tokens, this time, they were guests of Apple Tree Trading. Rassa could see the merit in this teir system, but he also felt that it didn't really matter where one sat in this instance, the thing that spoke the most was money.
Layn met them at the entrance and escorted them to where Falla was waiting.
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"I'm glad you could make it," Falla smiled.
"It seemed to be an event we'd be silly to miss," Ebony replied.
Falla nodded, "Indeed, The Rouke Island Auction is a World-Class Auction. Only those on the top teir will truly know what some of the items are for sale are, mostly because they have ears and eyes everywhere. The rest of us can only rely on rumours".
"Any interesting rumours around this year's auction?" asked Rassa.
"None that will surprise you, I think," Falla replied, "A few Vanguard, some charms, a few Evanine Crystal Mines".
Rassa's eyes narrowed, "If the Evanine crystals are just beginning to become so popular, why sell them?"
"For the same reason I won't ever willing give away information regarding the mine in my possession," Falla replied, "If these powerful entities all want to dip their hand into the pot, exactly how are those below them going to keep thwacking their hands away with out causing damage? Better they get the biggest profit out of it now than have to deal with the problems keeping one for themselves and not being able to maintain it may cause".
Falla made a good point, but she always illustrated the fact that she herself was clearly unprepared for any onslaught.
"For now, and I have six months to work out a better plan than my current one," Falla gave a half-hearted smile.
"While I hate to point it out, you do not sound confident," Aegin piped up.
Falla sighed, "Well losing my husband was rather straining in the level of manpower I had at my command. My-"
"Wait, husband? You're married?" asked Rassa, surprised. Falla was only a few months older than himself. He supposed it was not strange than she was married, but her husband must be quite tolerant to allow Falla to run a business of her own.
"I was," Falla replied, "He died".
Rassa raised his eyebrows, then turned away awkwardly, "I'm sorry".
Falla gave a soft laugh, "It's okay. It was some time ago now. I did love him, but his death was inevitable, I knew that when I married him".
"Then why would you...?"
"His family was quite influential, I caught their attention as an eligible maiden who was fertile. My husband was their own living heir, and they hoped that by marrying him off they could get a new heir before he passed on," Falla admitted, "Alas, it was not to be. He was too unwell. The few lucid moment he had he could not bring himself to put the stress of raising such an important child alone on my shoulders. His family disagreed with this, but by the time they discovered his hesitation, it was too late. The only reason I am allowed the freedom I am is because they don't want to look upon their failure of a daughter-in-law".
Rassa frowned, "Then you..."
"I barely have contact with them, it is almost as if that part of my life never happened. If not for Layn, I wouldn't have any contact with that family at all," Falla admitted, turning to face Rassa, "If it our business that you are worried about, don't be, they will not interfere".
Rassa was about to protest, but he was interrupted by the stage light coming on and the auctioneer walking out enthusiastically to welcome the crowd.
"Good evening and welcome, ladies and gentlement, those of title and those of merchant status, we come together today to celebrate the great tradition of Rouke Island's World-Class Trader's Auction!"
A round of applause followed and Rassa relaxed back into his seat. Falla seemed to visibly relax, clearly, despite her words, talking about her married life and her husband's family was not a comforting subject for her.
"We have many items to get through today from across the world, and I certainly can't wait to get started. But first of course, the rules," the auctioneer stated, "At the beginning of every auctioned item, the base price will be stated as well as the minimum price that each bid can raise the amount by. Your paddle numbers should have been handed to you on your way in. Should you exceed the maximum worth you stated, you will immediately be removed from the bidding and the price will fall back to the last bidder. Now, without further ado, let us start with Item number 1".
The item in question was wheeled out onto the stage and the auctioneer removed the red cloth covering to reveal what appeared to be an ornamental white jade fox about the size of a book.
"This first item comes from the southern continent, a fox carved from white jade. The..."
As the auctioneer did his job and spun stories to draw intrigue and coin from the crowd, Rassa's head tilted to the side ever-so-slightly. The mist was reacting to that fox, reacting in a way that truly stumped Rassa. He could not make heads or tails of the object.
Then, something flashed in his vision so fast that he was not entirely sure he'd seen it, even with his sense. Then, to the side of the stage he caught the figure of a young woman, hair of sunburnt orange that was tied up elegantly atop her head and held in place with various pins. Her skin was pale and smooth like marble, her lips red and plump. She wore traditional clothing from the southern continent, and despite its restricting nature she didn't seem in the least bit bothered by it. But what caught Rassa's attention was not the woman's clear beauty, it was the twitching ears atop her head, and the six sunburnt orange and white-tipped tails that emerged from the base of her spine. She paused for a moment, and Rassa registered the white jade fox that was held in her hands, then she gave a shrill laugh that both chilled and enchanted the audience as it echoed through the auction hall. Then, like a breath of air, she was gone.
The Auctioneer looked at the now bare trolley in shock, "It..g-g...Thief! Thief in the Auction Hal!"