Within the private reading room of Bernard, leader of the Debs clan.
“What? You failed?” Bernard stared at the woman in the red robes. “Even if you failed, why can’t you continue making further attempts? Since when did the Bloodrose organization give up so easily?”
Bernard was extremely dissatisfied.
When he went to ask for the help of the Saber organization, he was refused. He successfully enlisted the services of Bloodrose, but Bloodrose was only willing to agree to destroy the sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’. As for killing Linley, the price they demanded was far too high, as high as the price for an assassination of a Cardinal! Such an astronomical price, the Debs clan was unable to pay.
Per the words of Bloodrose, assassinating Linley would cause them to simultaneously offend both the Radiant Church as well as the Dawson Conglomerate.
Nowadays, Linley was a master sculptor. A master sculptor held an exalted societal status, and many people with rank and power esteemed master sculptors. Killing Linley meant killing a master sculptor, which would generate a degree of hatred towards Bloodrose amongst those sculpture aficionados.
This was why the cost they demanded to assassinate Linley was actually on par with the cost to assassinate a Cardinal.
“We are no longer willing to accept this assignment. We are willing to return the compensation you gave us.” The red robed woman said, her face cold.
“Can you tell me the reason why?” Bernard had no idea what was going on.
The destruction of a sculpture shouldn’t be too difficult. How could they give up after failing just a single time?
“If we tell you the reason, then we will no longer return the fees you provided to us. Do you agree?” The red robed woman said calmly.
An assassination organization was also a type of information broker. They were willing to sell information as well.
“Done.” As the leader of the Debs clan, Bernard could be magnanimous.
That red robed woman said softly, “I can tell you this. Amongst the admirers of that sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’, there is a person whom our organization definitely does not wish to offend. And this person is not someone whom your Debs clan is able to offend either.”
“Alright. My report is complete.” With a smile, the red robed woman immediately departed.
Bernard was incredibly angry.
This red robed woman wasn’t even willing to disclose the identity of this person Bloodrose didn’t wish to offend. But Bernard understood one thing: Someone capable of causing trepidation for Bloodrose was definitely an incredible person. A report on such a person would definitely also be incredibly expensive.
Year 9999 of the Yulan calendar, April 21st. Within the dedicated auction hall at the Proulx Gallery.
This auction hall was split into three levels. The first level had ordinary seats, while the second level had stand-alone booths which only major nobles and extremely wealthy people were qualified to enter. The price to enter those booths was terrifyingly high. As for the third level, it was just a single, extremely large hall, also decorated very lavishly.
At this moment, the hundreds of seats in the first level were beginning to get filled up, despite the fact that the price of each seat here was a hundred gold coins. As for the ten or so private booths on the second level, based on the locations of the seats, the prices varied from a thousand to ten thousand gold coins.
But the third level? That wasn’t opened to the public at all.
The fame of this sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’, was extremely resounding now. Many of the people currently in the auction hall were some of the wealthiest, most powerful noble families in the Yulan continent. But precisely because there were only so few seats while there were so many nobles present, these standard seats, which supposedly cost a hundred gold coins each, were being sold by scalpers outside for a ridiculous sum of money.
The Debs clan, as a local clan, had a special relationship with the Proulx Gallery, and were able to acquire seats in the private booth with the poorest positioning.
In truth, aside from the Debs clan, all of the others who were present in the second level booths belonged to extremely famous and wealthy clans throughout the Yulan continent. They were far more powerful than the Debs clan, for example…the Dawson clan of the Dawson Conglomerate. Even they were only on the second level. But of course, the representatives of the Dawson clan here were not members in the direct line of descent and succession.
“Alice, walk on the inside.”
This time, six people had come from the Debs clan. Alice was walking between Kalan and Kalan’s mother, and was even wearing a hat that was pressed down on her head. Very quickly, the six of them reached the second level.
Within this second level were the greatest clans of the Yulan continent.
Upon seeing who was in the second level hallway, Bernard, leader of the Debs clan, immediately began to modestly greet everyone present. Here, the Debs clan meant absolutely nothing. It was like the evaluation Yale had once given them in private; they were a ‘minor clan’.
Right. In the eyes of these clans whose influence spanned the entire Yulan continent, if a clan’s area of influence was limited to a single kingdom, then that clan was nothing more than a minor clan.
The six people from the Debs clan entered their booth.
“There will come a day when my Debs clan will be like those clans. No; we will be even stronger.” Kalan said to himself.
For the Debs clan, during this trip, failure was not an option.
No matter what, it was better to have this sculpture located within their own manor, rather than the manor of an outsider. After all, in June, Kalan would be having his engagement ceremony with Alice, and by then, many people would know that Alice was becoming a member of the Debs clan. But even though ‘failure was not an option’, in reality, their financial ability to succeed was a major issue as well.
“Big Brother Kalan.” Alice took a seat next to Kalan.
In a place like this, surrounded by hugely powerful clans, Alice, too, felt rather constrained and pressured. After all, in this place, even the Debs clan counted for little, much less a minor noble like Alice and her clan.
“Don’t worry. Inside this booth, the people below won’t be able to see you at all. That Linley really has gone too far. He actually…” Whenever Kalan thought of that sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’, he would burst with rage. Anyone with some understanding of sculpture would be able to guess that Linley and Alice had a romantic history together.
After all, if they hadn’t shared a period of true love, how could Linley have produced such a godly work of art?
If Kalan were to really marry Alice, there would most likely be many people who would secretly speculate about what the relationship between Alice and Linley was like. For someone of Kalan’s social status, how could he bear such embarrassment?
The third level of the auction hall.
Inside, there were only four people. The Proulx Gallery’s Managing Director Maia, Austoni, Linley, and Yale.
“Haha, Director Maia, which one is Linley?” A loud, exuberant laugh boomed out.
Leaning on his cane, Director Maia went over to welcome the man, while Linley and Yale both immediately went to welcome him as well. “Your Majesty!”
The person who had come was the king of the Kingdom of Fenlai. He was the pride of the kingdom; the Golden Lion, King Clayde. Being both the king of Fenlai as well as mighty warrior of the ninth rank was indeed something worthy of admiration.
Linley carefully inspected this Clayde.
This king was built extremely muscularly, and his head of long, golden hair billowed about him wildly, giving off the aura of a lion with enormous explosive power. His entire person naturally radiated a domineering aura that made hearts quail in fear.
Clayde looked at Linley. “If my guess is correct, this one must be Master Linley.”
“Your Majesty, please, just call me Linley.” Linley immediately said.
As a matter of fact, Linley felt quite helpless. Ever since the sculpture ‘Awakening From the Dream’ had been put on display, many people, upon seeing Linley, would humbly address him as ‘Master Linley’. This was not feigned courtesy. Even Marquis Jebs of the Lucas clan, who really was not willing to part with the warblade ‘Slaughterer’, was still filled with the utmost admiration for Linley.
“Good enough.” Clayde was extremely blunt. “And this must be Yale, right? Yale, how’s your father doing?”
“My father is doing very well. Unfortunately, he isn’t currently within the Holy Union, as if he was, he definitely would’ve come in person.” Yale said modestly.
Clayde nodded slightly.
“Director Maia, who else has come today?” Clayde called out casually.
Director Maia smiled. “Let’s wait a while longer. I expect that Cardinal Lampson [Lan’pu’sen] and Cardinal Guillermo will be arriving as well.”
Generally speaking, the third level was only used for welcoming guests which the Proulx Gallery held in the highest regard.
The windows of the third level were made with a special type of glass. Those on the outside were unable to see inside, but those on the inside could clearly see the outside. This sort of glass was specially designed and produced by alchemists, and was extremely expensive. Most places weren’t able to afford such materials.
“Lords Guillermo and Lampson have arrived.” Director Maia’s position allowed him to see the outside hallway.
Linley, Yale, and even King Clayde all went to welcome these two men with great warmth and enthusiasm. In a group, they went to greet these two Cardinals of the Radiant Church. Cardinal Guillermo and Linley had met once before, while Cardinal Lampson was rather pudgy. When he laughed, his eyes turned into a thin slit. He seemed very adorable.
“Linley. Right?” Lampson immediately gave Linley a big, warm hug.
“Lord Lampson.” Linley said respectfully.
And then, the seven people within the third floor, being Cardinal Lampson, Cardinal Guillermo, Maia, Yale, Austoni, King Clayde, and Linley all sat down together, peering out of the windows at the spectacle below.
From their vantage point, they could even see into what was going on in the booths on the second level.
“Third Bro, look.” Yale lightly nudged Linley by the arm and nodded below.
Following Yale’s gaze, Linley looked over as well. Suddenly, he discovered that within one of the second level booths, Kalan and Alice were both present. Right now, Alice and Kalan were holding hands while seated together on a sofa, engaging in conversation.
“I didn’t expect her to come.” Yale said softly to Linley.
Linley only smiled calmly.
“Linley, what are you guys talking about?” The pudgy Cardinal Lampson chortled at Linley.
“Nothing.” Linley shook his head.
Guillermo patted Clayde on the shoulder. “Clayde, I must say, your management of the Kingdom of Fenlai has been stellar. You’ve actually managed to produce an incredible talent like Linley. Before this, I really had no idea that this genius magus, Linley, also had reached such an incredible level of achievement in the art of stonesculpting.”
Yale, Linley, Clayde, Guillermo, Lampson, and Director Maia continued to engage in idle conversation while watching the activities below.
All of the seats on the first floor of the auction hall were now filled.
On the main platform, the sculpture ‘Awakening From the Dream’ was placed, covered with a piece of cloth. On the platform, a beautiful serving girl stood on each side of the sculpture, while a golden-haired gentleman walked onto the platform with a smile. Looking around himself, he said in a bright voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome all of you to this auction for Master Linley’s sculpture, ‘Awakening From the Dream’.”
This middle-aged man behaved extremely leisurely. Slowly, he said, “Every single guest who has come today has a grand reputation. In particular, our Gallery was fortunate enough to be able to invite Lord Cardinal Guillermo to attend as well.” This middle-aged man bowed slightly towards the third level.
Instantly, everyone below rose to their feet, filling the auction hall with the sound of their applause.
“We also have Lord Cardinal Lampson present.” Another round of energetic applause.
“His Majesty, the ruler of our Kingdom of Fenlai, has arrived as well.”
“Additionally, the genius magus and genius sculptor, Master Linley, is present today.”
This auctioneer rattled off one name after another, and each time he did, there was a storm of applause. To these nobles, a Cardinal of the Radiant Church, the ruler of a Kingdom, and that genius of a level which the Yulan continent would rarely seen in its entire history, all were worthy of their admiration.
Within her booth, Alice stared out of the window at the third level, but unfortunately, all she could see was black glass.
But on the third level.
Linley could clearly see Alice’s face…and the slightly lost look in her eyes.