༺ Auction (1) ༻
Two nights later at the Grand Theater on 4th Street.
Vera held Renee’s hand and headed there. It was to participate in an auction.
Aisha was with them, too.
For some reason, Vera felt annoyed and glared at Aisha, who was holding Renee’s other hand.
Was it because they had been spending a lot of time together lately, as Aisha was learning swordsmanship from him?
When Aisha overheard that Vera and Renee were participating in an auction today, she insisted on coming along, and that’s how they ended up together.
Logically, there was no harm in Aisha joining them, but for some reason, Vera felt unhappy that there were three of them instead of just two. Vera’s expression remained sullen the entire time.
“Renee! Look, there are orcs over there!”
In contrast to Vera, a small smile appeared on Renee’s lips.
Aisha had been struggling with her recent training.
At an age when she should be having fun, she was constantly occupied with difficult tasks. It weighed on Renee’s mind, so she thought that this was a good opportunity to give her some memorable experiences.
“Don’t act so recklessly.”
Aisha responded poorly to Vera’s words, her face crumpling into a frown.
It made Vera tense up, and a distressed expression appeared on Renee’s face.
“Both of you, stop it. Let’s go inside now.”
It was odd how they could be so close and yet always end up fighting when they were together.
Renee unconsciously shook her head in resignation.
The place they entered with VIP tickets was a small room on the second floor of the theater.
It was luxuriously decorated with a long sofa placed in the center.
Vera grabbed Aisha by the back of her head as she bounced around on the sofa and tossed her into a corner. He then sat Renee down and described the room.
“This room has a large glass wall at the front. You can see the stage without any obstructions, that’s one of its unique features.”
“Won’t the sound be muffled if it’s blocked like this?”
“I don’t think that would be an issue considering the theater’s structure. The second-floor rooms are designed to be more comfortable than the first floor.”
“There’s a small table in front of the sofa. If there’s something that appeals to you, you can ring the bell here to indicate your intention to bid.”
“Well, that sounds quite convenient, but it’s not what I imagined. I thought there would be a lot of people around us, shouting at each other.”
“That may be the case on the first floor, but those who sit in the VIP seats are usually people with status who prefer not to be involved in that.”
Renee nodded in understanding.
“The tickets are worth the price.”
Only 40 were available. It made sense that they were expensive, considering they allowed people to enjoy the auction from a distance, away from the chaos below.
As she said that, Vera added.
“Another reason they’re expensive… is because of the opportunity to build connections with the other VIPs.”
“Oh, that makes sense. It’s not a ticket you can get just by having money.”
Even though people from all over the continent were flocking in, there were only 40 tickets, which meant that getting one would require not only money but also influence.
Even the seats they were sitting in had been reserved for the Crown Prince of the Empire.
People with that kind of money and power used the VIP seats for their backroom dealings. That must be what Vera meant.
“It’s a place where a lot of dirty conversations happen.”
“Hmm…that’s a problem. They won’t come here, will they?”
“Yes, I put a ‘No Entry’ sign at the entrance. If they have any common sense, they won’t come in.”
Renee sighed in relief.
It would only cause trouble if they got entangled with nobles or royals from other nations.
Moreover, Renee didn’t want her time with Vera to be interrupted by those people.
Renee felt Vera’s presence beside her and subtly shifted her hips closer to Vera, narrowing the distance between them before asking.
“What kind of items will be up for auction?”
“That’s something I’m looking forward to as well. Every once in a while, priceless treasures are auctioned off.”
Vera straightened his back as Renee came closer, his muscles stiffening.
Renee’s proactive approach was not something Vera was used to, so he felt flustered.
A strange current flowed between the two of them.
It was such an obvious atmosphere that even the oblivious Aisha could feel it.
Renee’s hand overlapped with Vera’s, then their shoulders touched. Aisha’s eyes rolled around.
Just as Renee’s arm wrapped around Vera’s…
BANG BANG BANG!
– Are you there?!
Someone knocked on the door.
Renee’s expression soured. Vera’s body jolted. Aisha tilted her head.
Their heads turned towards the door simultaneously.
An unfamiliar voice. Who could be knocking on the door so abruptly? As they were thinking about it, their expressions darkened.
– P-Professor! Don’t be so rude!
– Your Highness, please let me handle this.
Another voice joined in. A sweet, beautiful voice, recognizable from even beyond the door.
It was Albrecht’s voice.
It was Albrecht ‘again’.
Renee scowled, sighed heavily, and opened her mouth.
Just let it be nothing serious. As that thought fueled Renee’s anger, two men entered the room with a ‘thud’ sound.
Vera frowned at the people who came in.
It was not for any reason other than the man who entered the room with Albrecht.
The man with curly red hair, drowsy eyes, and freckles. He wore a gray suit covered in all sorts of bizarre accessories, befitting the appearance of a freak. It was someone that Vera knew.
‘Why is he here?’ Although this question arose, it soon subsided.
Instead of feeling surprised to see him, the thought ‘Again?’ came to mind.
He was one of the heroes of the Demon King’s subjugation, the youngest head professor at Tellon Academy, and the sorcerer Miller.
The one who embedded a curse into Vera’s heart in his previous life.
He greeted them with a wide smile.
“Nice to meet you?”
Albrecht rolled his eyes back and forth between Renee and Miller.
‘I-It’s a big problem!’
It truly was a big problem.
The notoriously ill-tempered Professor Miller and the sharp-tongued Saint had met, so this was not going to end well.
The rude professor should have apologized first, but there was no way that shameless person would apologize.
Naturally, in this situation, wouldn’t he be caught up in the crossfire?
Cold sweat dripped down his face, and a sense of urgency to somehow resolve the situation arose.
In the most polite tone he could muster, Albrecht opened his mouth.
“I-I apologize for intruding so rudely! Here…”
“So you do realize that you’re being rude?”
And then, he froze.
He failed before he could even get a word out.
As Aisha poked Albrecht, who was frozen in place like a statue, Miller spoke up.
“Well, sorry about that. I also had some urgent matters.”
Miller said with a careless grin, not caring about the atmosphere around him.
As Miller sat down with his butt on the table on the opposite side of the sofa, he continued speaking.
“I am Professor Miller of the Academy’s Department of Sorcery. Nice to meet you, Saint… and Apostle of Oath?”
He reached out his hand for a handshake, but no one took it.
Renee let out a deep sigh at Miller’s sudden intrusion and fake friendly behavior, and spoke.
“Don’t you have something you should do before greeting us?”
“Please apologize properly.”
Renee straightened her back and spoke with a stern expression.
“When one is rude, they should apologize. I would think that a professor should know something that even a five-year-old child knows. Or am I wrong?”
It could be said that she vented her intense anger, but at the very least, Renee thought that she was holding back quite a bit.
Wasn’t it true? Disrupting her time with Vera aside, wasn’t it disrespectful to be so bossy when meeting someone for the first time and to make such demands without respect for the other person?
Renee knew that being impolite when one could be polite was rude.
Miller scratched the back of his head and made an embarrassed face.
He glanced at Vera, then at the frozen Albrecht and the poking Aisha, and once again turned his gaze toward Renee. Miller soon stood up from his seat, knelt down formally, and conveyed his apology.
“I apologize for my disrespect. I was in a hurry and had no time to think. Please calm down.”
It was a firm tone, unlike the lighthearted one he had been using the entire time.
It was a tone that tried to convey his sincerity.
At that, Renee sighed deeply and nodded her head.
“I accept your apology.”
Although she honestly didn’t want to accept the apology… what could she do?
If he came to visit with the Prince, there must be an urgent matter, and Renee was not foolish enough to prioritize her personal feelings in such a situation.
“So, what brings you here? It must be urgent since you entered despite the ‘No Entry’ sign.”
She would be really angry if it wasn’t a big deal.
With that intention in her words, Miller finally recovered his initial sloppy impression and smiled widely.
“Yes, I came to strike up a deal.”
“If it’s a money transaction, I’m not interested.”
“What if it’s a different kind of deal?”
Renee’s head tilted.
Miller stood up from his kneeling position, dusted himself off, and spoke.
“There’s a stolen item from the Academy mixed in with the items in this auction. I came on a business trip to retrieve it. That’s why I’m going around the VIP seats to reduce the competition as much as possible.”
Miller raised his head. As he straightened his posture, the strange accessories he was wearing jingled.
“There will be a grimoire among the auction items. Will you give up your bid for it? If you do, I promise that the Academy will offer you a substantial reward.”
“Yes, someone stole what was being kept for research purposes and brought it here. I caught the thief, but I have to participate in the auction to recover the item.”
“If it’s stolen, why not explain the situation and get it back?”
Why go through all this trouble of participating in the auction to recover it?
Vera answered the question posed by her doubt.
“…Once an item enters the auction, it cannot be removed. Even if the purpose is to recover stolen goods, it’s not good for the auction house to set a precedent of removing items before the auction.”
He looked at Miller with downcast eyes. Meanwhile, another thought surfaced in his head.
‘Is he still just a regular professor?’
It was beginning to make sense why a man who was supposed to be at the Academy suddenly showed up at an auction in the Imperial Capital.
‘It must be for his performance evaluation.’
He must have come to improve his academic credentials to become a senior professor.
‘As for the grimoire…’
Vera wasn’t sure.
Even Vera couldn’t remember all the items that were up for auction in his past life.
“What do you think, Vera?”
In the midst of his thoughts, Renee’s question popped up. Vera paused his thoughts and answered the question.
“… I don’t see any reason for us to refuse. We weren’t after the grimoire in the first place and came here to experience the auction, but there’s no reason to refuse the reward they’re offering, right?”
“Hm! The Apostle of Oath has quite a straightforward personality, doesn’t he?
Miller chuckled while saying that.
Feeling annoyed by his laughter for some reason, Renee replied in a sharper tone.
“Yes, well. As the ‘straightforward’ Vera said, there’s no reason to refuse, so we’ll give up on it. Can you leave now? The room is small, and there are too many people here.”
“Ah, alright. Then, I’ll go to the next room now! Excuse me!”
Miller left the room, closing the door behind him with a ‘thud.’
Renee finally let out a deep sigh and grumbled.
“What a rude man.”
“Indeed. It’s hard to believe someone like him could be a professor. His qualifications are quite doubtful.”
Vera’s evaluation wasn’t good either.
Setting aside everything else, he had gone through a lot of trouble in his past life because of the curse Miller had cast.
Setting everything else aside, he couldn’t view Miller favorably because he had suffered greatly from the curse that Miller had engraved upon him in his past life.
‘Was his personality like that?’
Vera, who had never met the heroes personally and only learned about their personalities in this life, thought about it once more.
‘These so-called heroes are all idiots.’
Of course, Renee was an exception.
Aisha called out, and Renee responded.
“That person left this behind.”
Aisha said, nudging the still-frozen Albrecht with her foot.
Renee felt her head start to throb.