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The Fiend and Huntsman grew ever more boisterous with each item they put on display. The Order's deluge of strange items kept coming; most were weapons like knives and short swords, or bits of broken armor. From time to time more novel items came up for auction.

To an outsider it had to look like a junk trade show! Noble men shouted until their faces were red over heaps of garbage. As prices climbed each shout increased the bid by enough to make a commoner sick with envy.

Dawn asked her advisor: "What about this one, should I bid?"

"No bid!"

"This one? It looks pretty good!"

"Not bad? Is there something wrong with your eyes? Garbage, through and through. You'd buy it just to throw it away."

"Shit. This one, then. It's in excellent condition, we should bid before someone snatches it from us!"

"No way!" Cloudhawk paid her trinkets no mind, his attention was on an item the attendants just pulled out. At once he knew this one was different, its resonance was more complete. The relic was still in rough shape but there was at least a chance it could be fixed. "This one can be repaired but you didn't bring enough cash. Let someone else have it, we'll keep an eye out for something better. And stop glaring at me, you said you'd listen!"

"This is no good, that's no good. You irritate the hell out of me!" He pulled at her platinum hair with both hands.

There were more quality goods during this convention than she'd ever seen before. If she were by herself Dawn would have already snatched up several, but Cloudhawk's resolute denial forced her to just sit and stare.

One relic after another was offered. One after another they were sold.

Cloudhawk could see why the order held this collection convention, it had to be hugely profitable. Besides the one item that seemed halfway decent, everything else was useless scrap or mostly ruined.

But even so they were going for a third or a half of the standard market price for relics. Parts of relics were bought for a tenth of the price. It was easy to see how much profit the Order of Demonhunters was walking away with.

The demonhunters here weren't stupid. They knew maybe one piece in ten was worth anything, but still they happily participated. There were relics out there worth more than a y amount of money they spent. A one in ten chance wasn't so bad when one considered the potential reward.

The auction had reached its halfway point.

By this point they'd already paraded nearly twenty relics or relic pieces before the audience. Dawn had bid on several of them, but only in order to inflate their price. That's not to say she wasn't eager to grab a few of them, however Cloudhawk's insistence always won out.

But for a girl like her how could she not feel suffocated by it?

Usually she was the one pushing other people around, what was going on here? Cloudhawk was driving her absolutely insane!

With each passing minute she was growing more uncomfortable, more likely to explode. Cloudhawk didn't care. He just shut his eyes almost like he was meditating. Already furious, his seemingly flippant attitude was almost enough to convince Dawn he needed a beating.

She was rolling up her sleeves when suddenly Cloudhawk perked up in surprise. A steady, calm vibration filled the air, a resonance totally different from any of the other items. It was intact. "Got one," he said, "it doesn't how much this one costs, buy it."

Dawn managed to clamp down on her boiling anger.

Hmph. I'll spare you for the moment. Let's see whether or not you're full of shit.

A pair of handlers brought out an enormous case and placed it on the stage. When they saw what was inside, the auctioneers fell quiet. It was a thick blue shield you could strap to your arm.

The type of thing it was wasn't important. The first thing they noticed was that its surface was riddled with scars and cracks from combat. Some spots were especially bad, like the top left corner that was missing a chunk. The demonhunters all shook their heads, disinterested.

The relic looked mostly complete but in bad shape. The damage was severe and widespread, so how could it still possibly work as a relic? They would rather bad a relic that was broken into several clean pieces than this battered eyesore.

On the one hand repairing it was expensive, assuming it could be repaired at all. 

Dawn had been anxious to spend her cash, but her face fell when she saw what it was. She was starting to suspect this weasel wastelander was screwing with her. Was this piece of trash really worth anything?

"Starting price is twenty gold coins. Minimum bid increase is two gold."

You got what you paid for, and this rugged shield didn't look like much. With an unattractive starting bid as well. Most weren't interested and only a few bidders with more money than they knew what to do with made an offer. Twenty gold was more money than a commoner could dream of, but to many of the wealthy here it was nothing. If it was broken then it was broken, it was a collector's piece at worse. Perhaps it'd make for good decoration.

"This relic is more intact than anything else they've shown. I'm not playing with you!"

They'd agreed to listen to Cloudhawk's suggestions. She would buy what he told her to buy, and ignore what he told her to ignore - that was the deal. For Dawn it seemed like she'd already missed the opportunity to get her hands on a few good deals, only for him to order her to buy this lump of scrap. It rankled her to no end!

When was the last time this beautiful and powerful lady of a noble family was ordered around? But she remembered his promise, and took a pointed look at the cloak he'd sworn to give her if he was wrong. She swallowed her doubts, for the time being.


She spat the words distastefully.

A few voices answered as the bidding went on. It was a battered shield but there were still a few who were interested. However, in the end the price didn't get too high and soon it became too much for casual interest.   Dawn won it for the final sum of forty six gold coins.

The other auctioneers muttered quietly among themselves. Dawn didn't need to hear to know what they were talking about.

She was not a well-liked member of the Skycloud community, so when she paid a premium for a broken shield they were more than happy to gloat over it. Lady Polaris seemed to have more money than sense. Her grandfather would probably be furious when he saw what she was wasting money on.

"Look!" Dawn said, clenching her fists. "They're all laughing at me! It's your fault!"

"Don't jump to conclusions." Cloudhawk remained calm. "Pretty soon you'll be thanking me."

The collection convention continued with excited buyers jostling for treasures. There were a couple pieces they went for several hundred gold coins each. Cloudhawk identified some that were good, others that were bad, a few that could be fixed, but none that were worth the price. He told her to save her money.

Eventually another item caught his attention.

The other items on display had all been shields or weapons, things whose use were evident at a glance. In contrast, though, this relic was about the size of a fist and looked like a yellow stone. Its surface was coarse an etched with strange markings, but otherwise no different from any other rock. What was it? What did it do? Was it part of a relic, or a relic itself?

No one was sure.

Cloudhawk did not hesitate and looked at the pretty woman with him. "This one's good. Buy it, no matter what."

The bidding started, base price thirty gold coins. Before long it'd risen to sixty - more than double what it started at. Clearly there was some interest, but interest had its limits. No one could tell from the look of it if the stone was a relic or a piece of one. No one could tell from the look of it what it did.

When Dawn bid ninety gold coins for it no one opposed her.

Cloudhawk was pleased, for he was convinced just these two items were already a good haul. However, just as he was getting ready to call it quits he sensed another one in the last batch of the auction.

This one was an ancient black and gold sword.

It was roughly three feet long, relatively short and only two fingers in width. The blade was pitch black and didn't reflect any light, but it did radiate with a faint purple glow. Like the bronze sword from the start of the auction it looked in good condition. However, where the bronze sword's powers had collapsed internally the black and gold sword was whole. It was a fully functioning relic.

Dawn gave Cloudhawk a questioning look. He nodded.

Instantly her eyes lit up, finally a proper treasure. But if it was good enough to catch Dawn's eye, she wasn't going to be the only one. However, its look and aura were unsettling. More than a few of the demonhunters in the audience suspected this had to be a demon relic.

Demon relics and god relics were roughly the same, only demonic relics were aimed more towards the power of death, darkness and decay. There weren't many in the city who could use them.

The bidding started. Shouts and counterbids flew back and forth.

In the end Dawn Polaris won her third piece for a final price tag of two hundred and ninety gold coins. She only got it for this much because the old man from before had spent all his money on previous items, otherwise it was obvious he'd have kept bidding.

By the end of the collection convention they'd come away with one shield, one rock, and one sword. Three relics they now called their own.

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