Leona had been so distracted by the thought of how much the wine would cost to win that she had lost the initiative in the early stages of the bidding war and was now a little behind. By the time she had regained focus the figure was now 250,000 Jewels. Leona took a deep breath... this was going to be one very costly bottle of wine. Kemal had better do everything in his power to protect the bottle because the odds of her finding another one without having to spend a king's ransom for it were rather low. In fact they were so low that there were better odds of Leona wearing a dress again before she would find another bottle of Maison D'Everett.
"Do I have 300,000 Jewels?" The auctioneer asked. Noticing a lull in the bidding, Leona raised her paddle with the number facing forward and was acknowledged.
"13 with 300,000 Jewels! Do I have another bid?" The auctioneer asked. A paddle on the fifth row was raised and the bid was now 325,000 Jewels. It was a steep figure to the Wizard Saint, but to most of the people in the audience that was pocket change. The figure would only continue to rise as the bidding war began with renewed intensity. The auctioneer called out newer, higher figures and someone with a paddle and money to burn met the challenge; by the end of two minutes of intense bidding the bid now sat at a princely 500,000 Jewels with no end in sight.
"Now things are gonna get interesting. People are really gonna get aggressive with the bidding now that the casuals have been weeded out. I hope you brought your wallet." Taylor whispered into Leona's left ear. The auctioneer asked for a bid of 525,000 Jewels and a paddle was up before he could finish the sentence. A series of paddles rose as new figures were called out until the bottle was now going for 700,000 Jewels. Leona was starting to question whether the cost of victory would be worth it. While she had roughly five million Jewels to spend, she was not willing to wager them all for a bottle of wine that she would never see again once Kemal got his hands on it.
"Don't get suckered into a bidding war, Leona. If the bid's too high for you to afford, there's no shame in quitting. Most of these people have a lot more money to spend than you do." Madison advised her. Leona did not want to walk away empty-handed, not when she had spent so much on the dress and had endured so much ridicule. She wanted something to show for tonight, but the odds of her winning were rapidly vanishing as the bottle now commanded an 850,000-Jewel price tag. Within a few seconds of frenzied paddle-raising the price leaped to 900,000 Jewels and Leona met the challenge.
"13 with 900,000 Jewels! Do I have 925,000 Jewels?" The auctioneer asked. The crowd began to whisper amongst themselves and looked for someone to meet Leona in a contest of bank accounts and bravery. Leona herself looked around to see if anyone would raise their paddle... there might be a chance that she could get away cheaply if no one else offered a bid. However, a paddle shot up and her hopes were dashed.
"26 with 925,000 Jewels! Do I have 950,000 Jewels?" Came the question. Leona raised her paddle and the auctioneer acknowledged it. The figure sat at 950,000 Jewels and Leona was beginning to doubt the wisdom of continuing the bidding war. She needed to set a limit and stick to it, but what would that limit be?
"I have 1 million Jewels from 26! Can I get 1.25 million?" Came the question. Taylor whispered into Leona's ear again.
"Man, this is getting crazy! I'm out! You'd better do the same before you get stuck with a bill in the millions of Jewels!" Taylor advised her. Leona focused on the stage and heard that the asking price was now 1.5 million Jewels, a figure which made her blanch. She could not throw around that kind of money and have enough for emergencies... the most she could spend and still remain solvent was 2 million Jewels. That was her limit.
"Do I have 1.5 million Jewels?" The auctioneer asked again, scanning the audience for a response. Leona raised her paddle.
"13 with 1.5 million Jewels! Can I get 1.75 million?" He asked. A paddle was raised.
"26 with 1.75 million! Can I get 2 million?" He asked. Leona hesitated to raise her paddle. This was getting crazy.
"Can I get 2 million Jewels?" He asked again. Leona was not sure if she should go for it. Number 26 had a lot of money to spend and was not afraid to spend it. Leona was already at her spending limit and could not afford to challenge again if Number 26 met it. Still, who dares wins.
"13 with 2 million Jewels!" The auctioneer announced. Leona was already feeling like a colossal idiot for bidding that much... it would probably have been cheaper just to skip the auction and buy the book. Now she was beginning to hope that Number 26 would come in with a bid and take the initiative.
"Do I have 2.25 million Jewels?" The auctioneer asked. Leona waited for a response with bated breath. The audience was murmuring expressions of amazement and intent to quit while they were ahead. There was even one older gentleman with a top hat sitting in his lap who claimed that whoever put up 2 million Jewels for the Maison D'Everett was an idiot with more Jewels than sense. As a tense silence filled the room and no one rose to met the challenge, Leona felt that she might as well be sitting under a neon sign that proclaimed "I'M AN IDIOT!"
Would Leona win the auction but rip a gaping hole in her bank account?
Would winning the wine be worth the cost to get it?
Was even coming here a big mistake?
[Post Word Count: 1,018]
[Total Word Count: 4,248/3,500]