But for some reason, the woman’s eyes automatically went to that figure.
The guide who asked the woman to let them pass, called her again in a troubled voice. But the woman’s eyes were glued to the figure in a white mask behind the guide. Then the moment the red eyes under the white mask met hers, the woman unconsciously stepped back, making room for them.
“Was there such a noble…hey, give me the seat next to that person.”
“I’m sorry, that seat is already…”
“Hah? Why are only the seats I want gone?!”
Yuri ignored the turmoil unfolding behind her and followed the guide. Meanwhile, gazes flew to her from all over the place.
In fact, unlike what Yuri thought, she was attracting attention from quite some people. In particular, many of the owners of those gazes were ladies. This was because Yuri was currently dressed in male attire.
Since her face was covered with a mask in the auction house, and she deepened her voice, even the guide thought of her as a man with a somewhat androgynous feeling. And now that she was even dressed in quite the luxurious, top-of-the-line male suit, it was obvious she would stand out in this auction where only rich people were gathered.
Yuri had wanted to pick unfamiliar clothes that she usually wouldn’t wear but reluctantly ended up like this. Besides, all the people who attended this kind of secret auctions were the rich and wealthy, so she thought she had to do at least this much to prevent annoying suspicion on her.
All the money she needed while performing her request would be charged to her client anyway, so she didn’t need to worry about the price.
But the problem here it seems, was that it suited Yuri too well. Of course, with her innate physique, she was seen as an immature boy, not a big, strong man but that aspect was what drew eyes to her.
Judging from the features that peeked from the beneath the white mask, she seemed like a handsome boy with a considerably pretty face. But the fact that she didn’t give off a weak feeling despite her tender appearance was odd.
Perhaps it was because her face was covered? The more a person’s visual information was blocked, the clearer the atmosphere around them became. So, the predatory aura unknowingly oozing from Yuri who possessed the ruin’s power automatically drew people’s attention.
‘Did they all bathe in perfume? It’s an enclosed place with no proper ventilation, they should’ve done it in moderation.’
But since Yuri was used to getting people’s attention while working at the coffeehouse, she didn’t feel anything strange. She was currently annoyed at the potent smell in the air from the mixture of heavy perfumes of both men and women
‘More importantly. Like I expected, there’s a lot of black hair today.’
Yuri’s eyes then swept over her surroundings. After confirming the sight of black hair all over, she nodded to herself. As expected, she didn’t need to wear a wig today.
Black hair was by no means common, but it was currently fashionable to dye your hair black in the east. The reason for this was because the man known as the Hero of the East, the man loved by the people, had black hair. He was none other than the main male lead, ‘Kalian Crawford’. So now, there was a considerable number of people with black hair in the auction house.
Of course, if you looked closely, you could tell their hair was a somewhat unnatural black color unlike Yuri’s which was real.
“Ugh, seriously. You brought this kind of crap as a mask? We’re the only ones using this sort of sh*t!”
“I prepared them in a rush, so I had no choice.”
“Incompetent punk. Get away from me. I’ll be getting stupider if I stay with yo…ak?!”
Yuri was following the guide to her seat then he suddenly bumped into someone coming from the side.
She turned her head at the small clattering sound and came face to face with a frog right in front of her nose. The face of the blue-haired man crumpled and he re-equipped his mask which had slipped under his chin, looking annoyed as he did so.
The man who bumped into Yuri spat out an apology first.
The thing that had fallen down his face, was a mask in the shape of a frog. The person behind him was also using something similar.
‘This frog mask, I think it’s what those kids were playing with outside earlier.’
It seems they bought one of the masks sold by the street vendors, targeting children in the festival. Of course, no one else was wearing such a babyish mask at this secret auction so they stood out a lot.
Yuri nodded at them, expressing that it was fine, then she passed by.
The man’s hair was deep blue overall but a handful by the side of his ears were a lighter shade like they were dyed, giving a memorable impression.
Now that she thought about it, the eyes she saw when the mask fell off were black, weren’t they?
Struck by a sudden realization, Yuri glanced back at the man. He was currently throwing a fit at the man next to him.
“Hey, if you were going to just pick anything, you should have picked something like that!”
“Ah, this was really the only thing left. You’re always mean to me.”
The hair of the man in her sight was certainly deep blue.
‘One of the sub male-leads, alchemist Damon Salvatore has blue hair.’
Could this man have also dyed his hair?
“Right this way.”
The sound of the guide urging her fell into her ears. Yuri tilted her head and moved her feet. She had no way of knowing if the frog mask owner was really one of the sub-characters, so she felt strangely bothered.
* * *
“Honorable ladies and gentlemen, we will now start the auction!”
After some time passed, the auction finally began officially. Lights went out in the hall and was instead focused on the front stage.
I loosely pretended to listen to the man who had climbed onto the stage. After a while, products finally began to come onto the stage, one by one. There were many things such as a sword from a destroyed ancient kingdom, and even a necklace cursed by a legendary beast in the north.
Since I had nothing to do until the last round, I leaned back in the comfortable chair and boredly watched as time pass. Every time this secret auction was held, my client always wanted to win the last item. Naturally, the last item to come out in the auction was the most valuable and rare.
Honestly, I was a little suspicious as to why this seemingly very rich man would request for me of all people to do this kind of thing. From his behavior, I didn’t think he was a simple collector.
My client hid his information quite thoroughly so all I knew was that he was a rich, elderly man. Of course, if I asked Odin, it wouldn’t be difficult to find out my client’s identity. But I didn’t have that much interest or enthusiasm, so I just let it be.
“Everyone, attention please! This is the last item of this auction!”
Time passed and it was finally time for me to make a move.
“A miracle made by a legendary alchemist!”
What is it this time? Last time, it was love potion made by an ancient shaman.
“A legendary treasure that can resurrect the dead and turn stone into gold!”
Well, their poisonous embellishments are quite excessive this time.
I propped my head on my hand, leaned against the armrest and fixed my gaze on the stage. I noticed others also beginning to focus their attention on the item being brought onto the stage.
And finally, the red cloth was removed by the host.
“It is the Philosopher’s Stone!”
The moment a booming voice reached my eardrums, an explosive racket swept through the auction house. Everyone seemed shocked to see the item that had come up in the auction.
That was natural. The philosopher’s stone? Was it really the legendary treasure as its name implied? Even in the East which was the sole region where ancient alchemy had been revived, the Philosopher’s Stone was regarded as a story of chasing clouds.
Right then, someone yelled among the buzzing crowd.
“Yeah! If it really revives the dead, prove it!”
“How can stone turn to gold?”
Then as if riding the wave, pressure began to pour out one by one, for the auction house to prove the item’s effects.
However, the host spoke firmly:
“Those who are suspicious do not have to participate in the bidding. As this is a treasure that can only be activated by alchemists of the highest grade, we do not recommend bidding for those without connection with the ‘Tower’. The bidding will start at 1 billion gold.”
The hall was thrown into more of an uproar.
When the host took a firm stand, everyone felt more dubious instead and the atmosphere in the hall grew restless. To think they even said bidding wasn’t recommended if you didn’t have a connection with the ‘tower’!
What the host was talking about was the ‘Alchemist Tower’.
Like its name implied, it was a place where alchemists belonged to and researched under, and unsurprisingly, the price for their work was so high that most people couldn’t request anything of them. So the host’s words were similar to scratching the pride of most of the nobles there.
“…1 billion gold.”
Right when everyone was in confusion, someone called out loudly in the middle of the hall.
The atmosphere was filled with suspicious so there were people who thought, ‘Is it a decoy?’. But then another voice cut through the room.
“1 billion, 5000 gold.”*
It was the voice I’d heard from the frog mask owner that I bumped into earlier. The voice sounded closer to my side than I expected.
When I turned my head, I found that the man in the frog mask was sitting about four seats from me.
“…You’re Damon Salvatore!”
That very moment, the woman sitting right next to him let out a shriek.
 According to Crystallinks: The philosopher’s stone is a legendary substance, allegedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold. It was sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality.
*I considered writing 1,000,005,000 gold instead, but I figured that might confuse people.(Or me rather)