LESSONS AND TREASURES
Ruins were, indeed, unimaginable in size. At the very least Felix thought so. Even after nearly a full week of exploration and walking, it seemed as though they had only just began. Due to the fact that there wasn’t any overhead source of light, it was impossible to see anything past the distance of a few dozen meters, turning it into a pure implausibility to roughly estimate the size of the place.
Though they’d come across numerous strands of ruins, some even with seemingly important, historical value, Lino had never paused to look at them past a quick glance. It confused Felix greatly and he was tempted numerous times to simply let his Master get ahead just so he himself could devote a bit of time to understanding this place.
They, once again, came across an seemingly important relic; it was a quaintly tilted shelf, with a few stacks of paper scattered about. Despite the passage of years, neither the paper nor the wood shelf was built of deteriorated that much, leading Felix to believe it was quite important. Yet, once again, just as all other times, Lino merely glanced at the shelf and walked onward, seemingly without care in the world.
“M-master!” unable to hold it in any longer, Felix called out as he came to a halt.
“Hm?” Lino turned around and cast a curiously glance at somewhat pensive Felix.
“D-don’t... don’t you think these papers... could hold something important?” he asked, avoiding Lino’s gaze.
“Important?” Lino suddenly grinned innocently, realizing why Felix stopped. “What do you mean by important?”
“Uh... you know... important things.”
“I don’t. Tell me.”
“Ha ha ha,” Lino laughed leisurely as he walked back and over to the shelf, picking up a few papers from the ground. “We’re not here to learn how they lived, Felix.” Lino explained. “Though quite interesting that may be. We are not here to learn of their beliefs, their culture, their religion, ideas, desires and hatreds... do you know why we’re here?”
“... for the Artifacts?” Felix ventured a guess, sighing in resignation.
“Hm, not quite,” Lino said, smiling faintly. “Rather, that’s why I brought you here. To find you something decent. You’ve been my Disciple for a while but I haven’t rewarded you with anything worthwhile. I can’t have that.”
“That’s not true! Master has taught me many things!”
“Good god kid, just... just take the hand I’m offering,” Lino rolled his eyes, sighing. “As interesting as all these papers may be, they can’t be counted as gifts. Furthermore, neither you nor I stand a chance of having a whiff of a clue as to what any of this means. We’re talking about a language that’s been dead for at least a billion years. Chances are, both its parent and children languages have died off as well. We have no reference to extract from. So, what you’d be truly doing is staring like a moron at the sheets of paper. Do you really want to stare at the sheets of paper like a moron?”
“Good. Neither do I. Let’s go then.” Lino said, throwing away the papers casually and resuming the walk, Felix following shortly after.
“Does Master think there are really any Artifacts or such remaining in usable condition? After all... it has been so long.” Felix asked.
“They’re called Artifacts for a reason,” Lino said. “Besides, majority of Artifacts come from the age during which the Kingdom Prospered. Anything made in the current era, even if it was at the very start of it, cannot be referred to as an Artifact.”
“Eh? Really?” Felix asked, seeming interested.
“Of course,” Lino said, flashing him a quick smile before elaborating. “Items attain property of an [Artifact] by basically surviving into the next era. However, there are naturally differences between them. When it comes to their individual strength, they are tiered similarly to our own items - Common, Uncommon, Enchanted, Rare, Epic, Legendary and Unique, respectively.”
“Hm.” Felix nodded, signaling that he was following thus far.
“Second division is by their age,” Lino continued. “Here, Artifacts from the last era - Cultivation Era - do not have any additional prefix. They are just Artifacts. However, one additional era back, New World Era, they gain additional prefix: Ancient. So, they’re called Ancient Artifacts. Artifacts dating back to Titan Era are called Celestial Artifacts, while Artifacts dating any further back in time are simply referred to as Void Artifacts.”
“Oh!” Felix exclaimed in soft wonder; he was truly unaware of the divisions. “That’s to say... if we find anything here, they’ll just be called Artifacts?”
“Not necessarily,” Lino said. “If there’s one thing Kingdoms have in common universally, it’s that they like to hoard things. Especially precious things. If we get lucky, we might get some Artifacts from further back in time.”
“Are they stronger than the newer ones?” Felix asked.
“Uh... not necessarily,” Lino said, scratching his head; even his knowledge when it came to this was rather thin, simply because he hasn’t been a blacksmith for all that long. “They are... different, however. Until Cultivation Era, where blacksmithing methods were modernized and you could say ‘perfected’, crafting varied... a lot. As did methods and materials and blueprints. Honestly, even I don’t know much when it comes to this.”
“... Master does seem quite knowledgeable about crafting. Is Master a smith himself?” Felix asked.
“I dabble.” Lino replied simply, unwilling to elaborate any further. “Hm?” Lino suddenly stopped, his eyes tracing sideways into the darkness. Felix tried to follow and see what his Master noticed, however only darkness blanketed his entire horizon.
“What is it, Master?” Felix asked, curious.
“There’s faint trace of Qi nearby,” Lino said. “Wanna go and check it out?”
“Someone else got inside?” Felix asked, immediately growing more cautious. Even if he didn’t have as much life experience as his Master, he knew quite well that people who came here weren’t interested in making friends.
“Don’t be so nervous.” Lino said, slapping Felix’s back of the head gently. “They’re quite weak. Probably just small parts of bigger groups. Let’s go and see what’s what.”
Following his Master’s lead, Felix began to walk in a crescent arc, though he himself had no clue where they were heading. However, it seemed his Master could see much further than the edges eyes could touch. Of course, Felix thought, it was his Master after all.
Soon enough, Felix himself began hearing faint sounds of clashing metals and soft explosions; they were no doubt sounds of fighting. However, seeing as his Mater neither said anything nor stopped, Felix also decided to simply remain silent and follow.
After a short uphill climb, the two found themselves overlooking a small crater, no wider than a few dozen meters. At the center, four figures were currently engaged in a battle - two versus two. Flashes of bright light appeared and disappeared from the darkness, with cold, metallic sheen reflecting eerier colors of blood whenever it was spilled.
Just as Felix wanted to ask his Master who they were, the four stopped fighting and looked at the two newcomers. Or, rather, they looked at Felix; or, even more precisely, they sensed Felix’s approach. It was simply too dark to see who it was, but they felt faint fluctuations of Qi coming from that direction, causing them to all halt the battle and collectively look at Felix who felt cold shivers run down his spine for a moment.
“Who goes?” one of the men asked menacingly.
“...” there was no reply, however. Unlike Felix, who seemed quite alarmed, Lino completely ignored the four people, his gaze focused at the center of the crater where a small objected rested. It was no larger than a palm, made entirely of some sort of glass it seemed, giving off faint, almost unnoticeable Qi fluctuations. In shape of a briolette, if placed in a shop next to other jewelry, it would appear almost unremarkable. However, here, in deserted barrenland, it was like the most precious gemstone amidst the sea of dud. Lino focused on it deeply, invoking the Primal Spirit of Blood after a long slumber to inspect it.
[?????[Language Unknown] - Artifact]
Special Effect: Increases Qi Recovery in battle by 20%
Special Effect: Enables ability to breathe under water temporarily.
Note: #$!!$#& - Language Unknown -
“Hoh?” Lino exclaimed softly, stroking his chin. “Interesting...”
“Master?” Felix asked softly, still seeming somewhat afraid.
“They’re fighting over an Artifact,” Lino explained. “It’s a pretty decent one. Hm, yeah, this is a good opportunity. Go down there, kill them and take the Artifact. Show your Master what you can do.”
“... eh? What?”
“What what? Did you go deaf?” Lino rolled his eyes at Felix as he sat down, took out a gourd full of fine wine from his gourd, and relaxed himself in preparation for the show. “Go. They’re pretty exhausted and two of them are quite seriously wounded. If you can’t do even this much, then... y’know, you kind of suck.”
“Go, show your Master a good show. Ha ha ha. Ah, don’t worry, Artifact is yours. No such thing as finders keepers with your Master.”
“...” I HATE YOU!!!
“I heard that.”
“... just... just go... please...”