Chapter 14: Antique
A blind person wants to study how to inspect treasures.
No matter how one heard it, it would sound ridiculous.
However, Su Chen’s expression was sincere and his tone dead serious.
Seeing Su Chen’s attitude, Tang Zhen let out a long sigh and began to speak very slowly and deliberately,
“If Young Master wants to learn how to inspect treasures, it is certainly an inspiring aspiration. Naturally, it’s a very useful skill. However, the path of inspecting treasures is extremely complicated and all-inclusive. Even those old hands who’ve been in this line of business for a long time also have times where they make an oversight.”
When he said the word “oversight”[1. The Chinese characters for oversight, 走眼, is technically two words, but for the sake of English accuracy I have translated it as one word.], his tone became particularly gloomy and grave.
When Su Chen heard this, he said, “What head storekeeper is trying to say is that if even those who have sight to aid them can make such oversights, then why would we talk about treasure inspection when a blind person like me doesn’t even have the ocular qualifications to make an oversight? Only that you were being considerate of my feelings and didn’t directly say it, am I right?”
Tang Zhen let out an embarrassed laugh, but he still replied, “Young Master, forgive this old man for speaking directly and without respect…… but that is precisely so.”
Su Chen laughed, “It is a very good thing for head storekeeper to be willing to speak bluntly to me. I also know that my eyes are inadequate for the task, and that wanting to learn how to inspect treasures is an extremely difficult matter. However, I still believe that one day my eyes will recover. What I learn now will serve as a foundation for when that occurs. That being said, even if I don’t recover and don’t learn it well, it’s not a big deal. At most I just won’t take charge of any of the antique sales. My reason for coming here is to learn; I definitely won’t get in the way of head storekeeper taking care of business.”
Upon hearing these words, Tang Zhen finally let out a sigh, “If you put it like that, then naturally there is no problem.”
“Since it’s like this, then everything will depend on head storekeeper. Where should we start?”
Tang Zhen didn’t expect that Su Chen would be so eager to learn, even wanting to start immediately. He thought for a moment, and then said, “How about let’s start from the True Jade Pavilion. Since you’ve come to your own family’s store, we probably should start by understanding the circumstances inside this store.”
“The main business of the True Jade Pavilion is the sale of a few antiques that originate from the Illustrious Divine Dynasty. Occasionally, we will also receive a few antiques from the ancient times. However, these kinds of antiques require even higher levels of visual acuity so unless one is absolutely sure about them, we do not accept them lightly. Young Master, please follow me. I will take you to see some of the purchased treasures of our pavilion. Although Young Master cannot see, you can smell, hear, and touch. I will first tell Young Master about the uses of those senses……”
As Tang Zhen spoke, he had already pressed an ancient jade into Su Chen’s hand.
The ancient jade was warm; holding it in his hand, Su Chen actually felt a grand, imposing aura surrounding his hand.
“This is the Idle Cow Patterned Tricolored Jade, consisting of the three colors azure, red, and yellow. It originates from the time period of the Illustrious Divine Dynasty’s Emperor Ping, and was the personal belonging of Wang Shi, a magistrate of the Nine States. His name is also inscribed on the back of this piece of jade. As the one in charge, you can touch it a little. Wang Shi was very highly esteemed by Emperor Ping and was put in charge of supervising the Nine States, clearing away an unknown number of unjust charges. He could be considered to be a sober and calm person, somewhat uncommon during that dark period of time. This three-colored jade was with him for many years, and was eventually being infused by his righteous aura. Thus, wearing it even confers the ability to avoid evil and exorcise demons.”
Primordial Artifacts had many strange effects.
For it to be considered the pavilion’s treasure, this Idle Cow Patterned Tricolored Jade naturally also needed to have some special effects for it to live up to such a title.
Although this jade’s exorcism effect was only average and could only suppress a normal amount of evil, fiendish Qi, normal people would consider this to be quite a good effect.
After introducing this piece of ancient Jade, Tang Zhen brought Su Chen to a counter.
“A book belonging to the Arcanists is placed in here. The Arcanists were an extremely powerful race that existed fifty thousand years ago. They possessed an unbelievable affinity for innovation. Many of the great constructs and inventions all come from that time period, but many of them were also annihilated during that time period.
Su Chen asked curiously, “Storekeeper, how do you know the name of this book? The words of the Arcanists shouldn’t be similar to the words of the human race, right?”
Tang Zhen stroked his beard as he laughed delightedly, “Naturally this is because I understand the words of the Arcanists. You must know that examining cultural relics is not an easy matter. An outstanding treasure inspection expert must also be someone who is very learned and well-informed. The knowledge of history and languages are the fundamentals of antique inspection.
“So it was like that.” Su Chen’s eyes lit up. He bowed to Tang Zhen, “I request that head storekeeper continues to educate me.”
“Hey, you cannot do that, you cannot do that, Young Master is being far too respectful.” Tang Zhen hurriedly pulled him up by his arm, “Since Young Master wants to learn, I will teach you. It just so happens that you cannot see; thus, it’s probably best for you to begin to learn from the knowledge perspective. As long as Young Master is willing to learn, this old man is willing to teach you everything I know about the history of the Primordial Continent, its geography, and the development and changes of the ten or so ancestral races, as well as their cultures and their languages!”
This was a time where martial prowess was valued and culture was belittled. The threat of the Primordial Beast races caused each ancestral race to exist under arduous circumstances. They had no choice but to use all their effort to expand their martial forces in order to resist the endless waves of beasts in the wilderness. The usefulness of culture was thus reduced to its lowest limit. Instead, what arose in its place was a fierce, warlike vigor and secret, complete cultivation inheritances.
In comparison, the hierarchy of knowledge and its importance clearly begun to decrease. The people that controlled knowledge were no longer the upper echelons of human society; rather, they consisted of those in the middle of this social pyramid. These people, like tradesmen and doctors, who grasped a particular set of talents, were the core of society and passed down their traditions and techniques from generation to generation.
Those who did not satisfy either of these conditions became the lower echelons of society.
Under these kinds of circumstances, Tang Zhen had found exactly what he had been looking for when Su Chen expressed his desire to learn. He had nothing that could be used to attach value to him; but rather, he felt extremely surprised and happy that all the knowledge that he had accumulated over the years could be put to good use. If in the future Su Chen attained any great achievements, as his previous teacher Tang Zhen would be destined to rise as a result. Of course, considering Su Chen’s current condition, Tang Zhen did not place any expectations on this matter. At the moment, he simply liked Su Chen, appreciating the young man’s intelligence and desire to learn, as well as his progress. At the same time, he was only holding onto his sense of loyalty, wanting to perform some meritorious services for his clan.
As such, in the following days, Su Chen began to follow Tang Zhen and study the history of the Primordial Continent as well as the languages of each race.
To his delight, Tang Zhen discovered that although Su Chen could not see, his comprehension was astounding. He could understand many things after only being told once and could even make many inferences using that information.
Although losing his sight brought him a great deal of inconveniences, it had also granted him a sharper mind than before as well as an even more formidable memory, allowing him to become quicker at anything he put his mind to.
As for the things that required brute memorization, Su Chen was basically able to memorize them after one time.
In a short span of three months, Su Chen had completely memorized the entire course of the Primordial Continent’s history, including a decent understanding of the ten or so ancestral races of humankind. He even became proficient in the words and general use of the Arcanist and Ravager languages. His comprehension was rapid and deep, causing Tang Zhen to repeatedly praise him as extraordinary. He would say that a hundred days worth of Su Chen’s work was superior to three years of bitter studying from anyone else.
Under Tang Zhen, Su Chen also finally began to understand the Primordial history that had never been recorded in the history books of the human race.