Locke was surprised by the revelation, but it soon started to make sense to him. After all, turtles, sharks, and similar creatures had long lifespans. It was normal for the flaming turtles to take three hundred years to reach adulthood. If a caster wasn't able to become a Magister, they would've long expired and their bones long crumbled by the time the turtles grew to maturity.
Angelina’s scorpiondrake was the same. Angie was the offspring of a high-ranked major monster, which gave her a similar maturity period to the flaming turtle; she would require around two hundred years to grow out of her juvenile phase. However, Angie’s capabilities were at least comparable to a high-ranked major monster. It wasn’t impossible for Angie to catch up to her elder siblings with a little more effort. While the two scorpiondrakes were smaller compared to their siblings, they left a vivid impression on Locke. However, that was still a distant concern, much like how becoming a Ritter was still very far away from Locke’s reach. This wasn’t a thought he needed to entertain now.
The exorbitant closing price for the flaming turtle egg ended the auction with a bang. Locke believed that the organizers must’ve profited hugely this time. Though he hadn’t calculated the total amount of the transactions, the number of items sold definitely amounted to a few hundred thousand gold moores. The deposit and commission alone were enough to fatten up their wallets.
Locke followed Billie to the backstage area to retrieve his purchases--a broken sword and a set of froststeel armour. He fitted the two wooden boxes into his spatial ring. Due to the sheer number of wealthy people present at the event, Locke’s usage of the spatial ring didn’t surprise the auction attendants.
Other than the two boxes, there was also a debit of two thousand gold moores. This was the remainder obtained from the blood essence after discounting its deposit, the broken sword and the armour. However, Locke wasn’t in a rush to leave just yet. His mind was still fixated on the cliff-edge grass.
Later, Locke and Billie were led by an attendant to a house. There was already a long queue of about seven or eight people. It seemed that there were many that shared Locke’s thoughts. Oddly enough, those that entered the house all left almost immediately. The auctioneer had specifically mentioned that they were only open to trade the cliff-edge grass for something of similar use. There was little chance all of them had something similar to blood essence to trade for the cliff-edge grass like Locke. Despite the long queue, it would soon be Locke and Billie’s turn. They were welcomed by the sight of a middle-aged man with grey hair upon entry.
“Please leave if you intend to trade with gold moores!” Judging by how swift those words were articulated, it was obvious that the man had repeated himself many times.
“I wish to trade with blood essence!” Locke went straight for the kill.
There was a spark in the man’s eyes. “The blood essence that appeared in the auction earlier? You have it too? Or was it yours?” asked the grey-haired man without faltering.
“That’s right,” Locked confirmed with a nod. This person had probably attended the auction too.
“How much blood essence are you willing to trade?” questioned the man.
“Uh…” Before Locke could say anything else, Billie gave him a light nudge with her elbow. She stepped forward and said, “You’ll be discussing the terms with me.”
Locke was dumbfounded. However, Billie was indeed the better choice, given her upbringing in a business family. No doubt, she was familiar with the art of negotiation. Since she offered to help, Locke relaxed and let her do her thing. He paced over to a nearby chair and watched the two haggle.
“Five grams of blood essence for one cliff edge grass!” Billie offered.
“No! The effects of the grass may be weaker than blood essence, but that’s too low!” The man rejected vehemently.
“Hmph. The cliff-edge grass’s side effect is rather strong, however. I’m sure you know how serious the consequences are if one can’t handle the pain.” Billie pointed out the biggest drawback of the precious herb.
“I…” The man was at a loss for words. The grass was cheaper because of its weaker effect and the severe pain consuming it brought about. Though the pain was only temporarily without lasting ill effects, it was a huge annoyance during a breakthrough attempt. If it failed, the next breakthrough attempt would be even tougher. The risks associated with the advancement of a high-ranked Knecht and a middle-ranked Knecht were hardly comparable.
“Six grams of blood essence for a bunch of cliff-edge grass. That is the most I’m willing to accept!” Billie lowered her price before the man could respond. This was an obvious concession and a move to halt further haggling. Billie was taking a step back for an inferior commodity. How could the man request a better price conscientiously? Billie’s strategy was clever. Even the middle-aged man was forced into a corner. With that, the final price was set at six grams of blood essence for one bunch of cliff-edge grass.
Judging by the closing prices of the two items, it was clear that the middle-aged man was handed the short end of the stick. He wasn’t pleased but did not lash out at Billie. After a moment, he turned to face Locke. “How much do you want?” The man could tell that Locke was the one with the blood essence.
The man’s words hinted that he had quite a bit. Originally, Locke wanted to trade for two bunches; one for himself and the other as a backup if his advancement failed. If he succeeded, he could give one to Laffey. But since Billie had managed to nab themselves a decent offer, he felt like it would be a waste of her efforts to not take full advantage of it.
“I want four bunches!” answered Locke.
The middle-aged man wasn’t expecting that at all. He had thought Locke would only trade for one or two bunches. After all, blood essence was also a rare treasure in the market. “Fair enough,” agreed the man after some thought.
He was also a fellow mid-ranked Knecht. Initially, he had a total of six bunches of cliff-edge grass with him. He was left with five after the auction and by trading four to Locke, he would only have one left for himself.
However, it was not an issue. One bunch of cliff-edge grass was enough and blood essence could be consumed many times. Not only would it help with breakthroughs, it would also improve his inner strength and healing. It was a huge improvement so there wasn’t much to hesitate about.
Once the transaction was carried out, they shook hands. Locke noticed that they shared many things in common; their grey hair, them being Knechts and their precious treasures. While Locke should have only given twenty-four grams of blood essence for four bunches of cliff-edge grass, he didn't want to be too precise and gave the man twenty-five grams of blood essence as a gesture of friendliness. His kindness did not go unnoticed.
“It was a pleasure meeting you. My name is Atos!”
“Likewise. I’m Locke.”