A Crow's Dream of Clear Skies

 
 

A Crow's Dream of Clear Skies Chapter 6


A Crow's Dream of Clear Skies -- Chapter 6


“WE HAVE THIRTY THOUSAND! FIFTY THOUSAND! A HUNDRED THOUSAND… GOING ONCE, TWICE, SOLD TO THE FANG MERCENARIES.”
The auction hall was frantically focused on the elixirs and pills being sold – flying through each one with bids well over three times the material value.
“OUR LAST OF THE MEDICINAL AUCTION IS A SPECIAL ONE. LOWER FOURTH TIER! YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT! THIS IS A SALVE THAT CAN HEAL BROKEN BONES. A FOURTH TIER THAT HAS BEEN CREATED FRESH BY A RESIDENT ASCLEPIUSIAN – DIVINE CROW!”
Silence swept over the audience, accompanied by whispers and gossiping.
“THE BIDDING WILL START AT 500,000”
No one moved. They were all suspicious of the authenticity of such a thing.
In the next moment, Chief Hide stepped from the back stage holding a microphone magical treasure. “I personally vouch for its authenticity.”
A sign raised from one of the verandas.
“700,000”
A second veranda.
“800,000”
A third.
“ONE MILLION!”
The three began to fight over the salve.
“ONE POINT TWO… ONE POINT THREE… ONE POINT FIVE! TWO MILLION!”
“Damn you Carnitine!” An old man shouted from one of the verandas.
“ONCE, TWICE, SOLD TO THE CARNITINES.”
“They wanted it that bad?” Jasper thought aloud.
“I guess so. That just means more money for our gear though, right?” Diva sat next to him, sipping on another glass of Juniper Frostbitten Spider wine – her third in fact. Her ears had begun to turn red – her face flush.
“It does… but shouldn’t you consider slowing down?” He gave her a concerned half-smirk.
“Hey.” She raised the glass spilling a couple drops. “Oh no.” She remorsefully looked at the wet spot on the sofa between them. “Such delicious wine, gone to waste.” Diva pouted at the sight.
Jasper turned his head back to the stage that was being set up for the next auction and thought to himself, this is the reason other cities and realms had higher drinking ages isn’t it…?
He took a sip of a non alcoholic root beer – after all his body was still a year under the drinking age of 14.
“WE WILL NOW BEGIN THE UTILITY AUCTION.”
Good, I’m hoping to get one or two things before we consider equipment.
Plop. Diva’s head landed in Jasper’s lap.
“The hell?” He flinched. “She’s passed out, cold.” He looked to the empty bottle of wine and the glass barely held in her hand. Before she could drop it, Jasper moved it from her hand and onto the side table. “Sleep well.” He pushed a few strands of hair behind her ear.
He looked at the controls on the armrest – a small panel of crystalline buttons clearly marked with numbers like the keypads used by the dwarves of Svartalheim.
Could use a little work. He contemplated the layout of the panel.
Items went across the stage – mostly of the ornate nature, like lamps and pottery. A single carving knives caught his eye, but he decided the majority weren’t worth it in the end.
When he lost all hope, thinking this part of the auction would be a bust, a single jewelry box came to the stage.
“THIS ORNATE JEWELRY BOX WAS FOUND IN AN ZELOT ERA TOMB. THE BOX ITSELF ISN’T WORTH MUCH, BUT THE CONTENTS HAVE YET TO BE APPRAISED. THE CATCH IS THAT THE BOX HAS BEEN SEALED USING FOURTH TIER SHINE MAIDEN’S ARTS. AS YOU KNOW, THERE IS ONLY ONE BEARER OF FOURTH TIER SHRINE MAIDEN ARTS. SHE HAS OPENLY STATED THAT SHE WILL NOT OPEN THIS BOX – DENYING EVEN THE REQUEST OF HER FAMILIA.”
The air in the auction hall seemed stale.
“THE BIDDING WILL START AT 20,000.”
*CLICK*
“DO I HAVE 20,100?”
Silence echoed the hall, interrupted by a man spilling his whiskey.
“20,000 ONCE, TWICE… SOLD TO THE DIVINE CROW.”
The hall looked up to the silhouetted veranda. “Can he get ‘that’ shrine maiden to crack it.” He heard one of them amongst the gossiping.
Indeed, she’s no easy task. I knew her well in my last life, so at this price it’s worth the headache… Next is the equipment auction. Time to get us some good stuff.
[Conclusion of the Auction]
“Nha…” Diva sat up, leaning on Jasper’s leg. She turned to realize that she was face-to-face with the amethyst eyed boy. “I-I-I…” Her pale cheeks turned bright pink as she nigh leaped to the other side of the couch, curling her legs under her.
What was I doing laying on his lap?
She raised a hand to her face, feeling the warmth of her cheeks.
A Lunacaster is embarrassed like this? Why do I feel so unguarded around him?
She glanced over to Jasper who had been watching her all the while.
“You woke just in time, the auction just ended.”
“I-It did?”
I slept for that long? On his lap?
She began twirling a lock of her porcelain hair.
“Shall we go and collect our equipment?” He stood, fixing his purple waistcoat and extended his hand to her.
She reached out and accepted, “S-Sure.”
[Outside the Lesser Auction House’s West Collection Room]
As Jasper and Diva approached the collection room, they are greeted by a male attendant, beseeching the two to wait whilst their items were collected from the lot.
He turned, opening the door, and kindly ushered them into the plain room with a single large round table surrounded by eloquent chairs.
He bowed, swiftly taking his leave.
“Now we wait.” Jasper jeered, pulling out a chair for Diva.
“I hate waiting.” She gladly sat and leaned on the table, resting her chin on her fist.
He pulled out the next chair over and sat facing her, “Let us hope it is not too long a wait.”
“How many items did you buy?”
“Well, there was the… and the… plus that… can’t forget that… around two dozen.”
“Two dozen? With only a commoner’s fortune… What did you do, by all the things no one else wanted?”
“Mostly.”
She gave a dejected glare. “Did you buy anything of value?”
“Just because one man doesn’t see value in it, doesn’t mean there isn’t value.”
The glare intensified. “You wasted nearly two-point-four million stars on trash?”
“You may see it like that.”
“I can’t believe I gave you a week’s worth of allowance, just to have you waste it.” She laid her face on the table.
“Diva, I…”
“Silence. Just let me pout till it arrives.”
Jasper nodded, understanding her frustration. Accepting that he could no longer console her without proof of the hauls worth, he placed his palms together in his lap, and touched his thumbs in meditation.
A few minutes passed. Jasper persisted with his meditation, all the while Diva began to doze off before a sudden shockwave burst through the air, disturbing her peaceful expression.
“What was that?!” Diva shot up out of her chair and turned to Jasper who remained in silent meditation with his eyes closed. Energy rippled from his skin much like during his fight with Shen Lao – violet ribbons of mana, except this was somehow different. It felt encumbering to her, like she was being pushed back. “… Jasper?” She called out to him.
Like rusted doors, his eyes slowly opened revealing green specks mixed into his amethyst iris. Even with his eyes now open, his expression remained cold as stone, like he was no longer there.
“Jasper, you’re scaring me…” She pleaded for his response.
“Why would I be doing that?” He responded with a whimsical voice, blinking a few times as life flowed back into his body.
“W…what happened?”
“I just ranked up.” He stood to stretch and shake out his body. Slowly, the energy faded into the atmosphere as the tension left his muscles.
“Didn’t you say you hit the cap already?”
“Well yeah…” He realized his mistake in revealing his secretive training. “…but my training lives on a nonlinear scale.”
Should be fine for me to tell her.
Her shock turned to scorn, “Bullshit.”
“Bullshit?” He was surprised by her sudden change of demeanor.
“The ranking system we use predates Stardew, and you’re saying you’ve overturned it?”
She’s got me there. I’m using the path of the immortal from Asgard… How to convince her?
“It’s called the path of the immortal. The path you’re using is that of the Saint – there are comparable levels, to a degree. I learned of it one day when delving into my family’s secret library.”
“Path of the immortal?”
“Deemed immeasurable difficult to train in unless one has an equally immeasurable strength of mind, it forgoes the acquisition of demon souls for focus on the strengthening of the godly body and magics.”
“Then why are we gonna go hunt for demon souls?”
“Although the immortal body doesn’t train in demon souls, it doesn’t prevent one from acquiring and using them. They still boost one’s abilities and allows one to gain unique attributes.” He raised his hand and a ball of lightning briefly appeared in his hand. “Using this path, one can learn and create their own skills.”
“My god…”
“Not yet.” He chuckled satirically.
“Haha…” She sarcastically laughed back. “How does this path compare with the other?”
Jasper went on to explain the levels to her in detail, skipping out on some of the otherworldly details. As he came to the end he brought up another major difference between the paths.
“…The difference is the immortal path continues much further.”
“Further…? Wait, but you just used magic… right? That means you’re already past level twenty already?”
“Good catch, I am Earthly body second level…” He paused to do the calculations, “Roughly the twenty fifth compared to the saint’s path.”
“Equal grounds with Shen Lao?”
“Yup.” Jasper smiled. “The other day was the first time I cultivated but since I’ve been strengthening and training my body and mana-vascular system for so long – Er, this means I’ve already surpassed the nine tempered body stages. Meaning, I’ve been at the door of earthly body waiting. One decision and it was simple enough from there. Although, I just hit the second level making me even – so I was about two levels less than him in our duel.”
“Marvelous!” She seemed bright eyed now.
A subtle knock occurred before Chief Hide entered the room.
“I hope I’m not interrupting.” He gave a slight bow.
“Not at all, please sit.” Jasper waved his hand to the empty chairs.
As Chief Hide walked around the table. The two turned their chairs to properly sit facing Chief Hide as he sat directly across from them.
“I brought your items, although you have me quite perplexed…” He scratched his head, pulling out an interspatial storage bag the size of a coin purse – seeing it reminded Jasper of Diva’s ring, where she removed the two green cards from earlier.
Quite a useful thing, interspatial storage treasures. They allow one to carry around a warehouse in the palm of their hand – well, if they’ve the currency to purchase such a rare thing. Since the size of these treasures storages depend on the symbol level, only small backpack sized ones like Diva’s ring can be created with second-tier. The one that Chief Hide holds is that of a fifth tier – obviously an item looted from their ancestors.
With a wave of Chief Hide’s hand, the table surface was covered with items. A rusty set of ancient armor, a tall mage staff missing its gem, a set of ragged mage robes, and many more miscellaneous items.
“Did you purposely bet on all the useless items?” The Chief asked, curiously examining a small ornate knife.
“I did bet on them, but not without reason.” He turned to Diva.
She picked up the mage garments with disgust. “What is this garbage?”
“A grand spirit master level robe set.”
“Heh?!” Diva dropped her jaw along with the robe.
The Chief raised a brow in protest. “That can’t be right. My men appraised it as of only antique value.”
“It’s inactive, yet to be given life. Pass me that knife?”
“Ah… sure?” He handed the ornate dagger that he’d had been twiddling in his hands.
“It’s a good thing you were auctioning the ceremonial dagger too. Hey, Diva.” He firmly grasped the knife and extended a hand to her, palm up.
“What?” She hesitated at the sight of the blade.
“Give me your hand.”
She slowly extended her arm. Before she could react, Jasper grabbed her wrist and made a shallow cut in her palm, then forced her hand to sit atop the ragged cloth mage robes.
With a surge of mana in the air, ragged cloth turned to a brilliant white luxurious material.
“Since your element is ice, it will increase your natural resilience – although it will leave you slightly weaker to fire.”
“Amazing.” Her eyes sparkled like jewels looking at the set.
“Are these other items the same?” Chief Hide asked with a voice of intrigue over  Jasper’s knowledge of such things.
“No. that was the only one.”
“Then what’s the value in that ancient armor? The material isn’t anything special and it’s quite rusted.”
“True, but the nose of a beast is sensitive to fancy metals. For lower level adventuring, it’s ideal. This little protection is enough for me. That arming shield is the same. With that, the robes are probably the only easily understood treasure in this batch, the rest have less broad uses.”
After some idle chatter, they said their goodbyes and the two departed the auction house – Jasper carrying a sack full of treasures over his shoulder and Diva having stashed her outfit in her ring and the gem-less staff by hand.
They walked down the steps to tucker who lay next to the horse post.
“I’ll explain the staff later on.” Jasper began tying the bag to his saddle.
“Okay…” Diva patiently waited, looking around.
After he finished tying the bag, he patted Tucker’s thigh and he stood up, stretching like a housecat.
“Would you like a ride home?”
She vividly recalled the close quarters of the saddle, causing her pale cheeks to turn red. Then she thought of the distance home. “Please?”
“Sure thing.” He received  staff from her hand and had Tucker kneel back down so he could tie it too.
After he was done with that, he turned to Diva and smiled villainously as he walked up to her.
“What are you? Eek!” She let out a cute whimper as Jasper swept her off her feet like a princess.
With a quick leap, he stood atop Tuckers saddle. He set her down in the seat and allowed her to position herself, before plopping himself behind her and wrapping his arms around to grab the rim of the saddle.
“That was just mean.” She spoke softly with her head lowered as they trotted through the streets.
“Was it now?” He leaned his chin on her shoulder.
“Eh? Y-yeah. S-s-stop it!”
“Hai, Hai.”
[Front gate of Lunacaster Manor, North End of City]
“Here we are princess.” He gently slid her off the saddle.
She took a few steps away from tucker and turned to watch Jasper saunter off the saddle and untie the staff.
He walked up to her and grabbed her hand pulling her in close. “We should go hunting tomorrow morning.”
“T-tomorrow morning?”
“Eight AM sharp at the North Gate.”
“Ah, O-okay.” Her face slowly turned bright red as she felt how close they were.
“It’s a date then.”
“A-a d-date?!”
He placed the staff in her hands and turned around, hopping on Tucker and riding off.
“We’re going on a date?! Wait… HUNTING IS NOT A DATE!!!!” She yelled down the street.
[North Gate, Next Morning]
She stood patiently waiting, rocking back and forth as the white pristine cloth of her mages robes fluttered in the wind.
It’s almost eight, did I come too early? Should I have made myself a few minutes late?
The sun was low in the sky, giving an orange tinge to the blue skies.
I’m so anxious! She thought, leaning on the staff.
A hooded figure walked in from the Northern Territory. An espresso burlap cloak from head to toe.
Who’s this? Diva eyed the peculiar individual.
“Did you wait long?” A familiar voice emanated from beneath the burlap cloak.
He removed the hood and smiled as his long red ponytail folded out.
“Jasper?!”
“I took the long way around, so I didn’t have to bring Tucker through the city.” He put a hand on his hip revealing the rusty armor beneath.
“That’s fine, I’ve only been here for a short while.” She thought back to arriving two hours earlier.
“Good deal. Are you ready?”
“Yup!”
The two set out on their journey walking a few minutes outside the village to have Tucker pick them up.
He confirmed the luggage strapped on the saddle, then they proceeded to the northern plains.