Book 4, The Dragonblood Warrior – Chapter 4, The Price of a Sculpture

On the Dry Road of Fenlai City, Alice was standing on the balcony of her two-story house. Her hands cupped her face as she stared down at the street and the people on it.

Ever since Linley had departed, Alice would come here almost every day to watch the people on the street, hoping that Linley would come again. But…

“School starts again tomorrow. I have to go back today.” Alice secretly sighed, taking another glance at the street.

She had hoped that Linley would come see her again, but over the past ten or so days, Linley hadn’t come even a single time. By this time, the voice of her good friend, Niya, could be heard from below. “Alice, hurry up.” Niya, Tony, and Kalan were all down at her door, waiting for her.

Kalan, Niya, and Tony were all students at war academies, and their school was located fairly close to Alice’s magus institute. Given that, and the fact that all four of their families were located in Fenlai City, they were on very good terms.

“Okay, coming!”

Alice glanced at the street one last time before putting on her backpack and going downstairs.

….

On the third night after Alice had departed the city, Linley arrived in front of Alice’s residence. Raising his head to look up at the little balcony, he saw that no one was there.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” A middle-aged guard in front of the residence shouted at Linley.

Turning his head, Linley smiled as he replied, “Hello. I’m from the Wellen Institute. Alice is a good friend of mine. Is she still at home?”

“Oh.” Hearing these words, the guard immediately was all smiles. “Miss Alice has already left for school three days ago. She’s long since headed back to school.”

“Oh, got it. Thanks.” Linley said courteously.

Turning around, Linley left via the Dry Road. After departing on the Dry Road, he turned his head and glanced at the balcony on the second level of the house. In his heart, he felt a bit helpless.

……….

On the road in front of the Ernst Institute.

A white light shone out of the Coiling Dragon ring and transformed into a white-robed old man, the white-bearded Doehring Cowart. Smiling, Doehring Cowart said to Linley, “Linley, you’ve fallen for Alice?”

“A bit.” Linley didn’t deny it.

Doehring Cowart stroked his beard, laughing loudly. “I didn’t think that you, you little punk, would finally fall for a girl. But Linley, you and Alice are at different magus institutes. With the two of you living in separate places, it will be very hard for your relationship to advance.”

“I know. It’s up to fate. If we are meant to be, we will. If not, then forget it.” Linley couldn’t help but think about what being together with Alice would be like.

He thought back to that terrified look on her face during the battle with the Bloodthirsty Warpig.

On the road back from the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, that shy look on her face as the two of them talked.

And under the moonlight, her moving appearance, seemingly the goddess of the moon herself.

…..

“This must be what one’s first crush is like.” Linley said to himself self-deprecatingly. By his age, all the other bros in his dorm had dated, with Yale and Reynolds having found girlfriends long ago.

As far as relationships went, Linley actually was somewhat excited about it.

…..

At the Ernst Institute, Linley was still as studious and hard-working as ever. Every day, he would spend at least part of his time training in the Straight Chisel School of sculpting. In terms of both spiritual essence and mageforce, his power continued to grow both stably and quickly.

In the blink of an eye, a month passed.

Per their previous arrangement, Linley and his bros brought three new sculptures to Fenlai City, where they were received at the Proulx Gallery by manager Austoni.

“Almost 15,000 gold coins? That much?” Linley was somewhat astonished by the price his three previous sculptures had fetched.

Austoni laughed loudly. “Linley, this is normal. The value of most expert sculptors is around a thousand gold coins. But the Proulx Gallery would of course introduce you and your status as a fifteen year old genius magus who is also an expert sculptor. Just based on your personal status alone, the value of your artwork will be multiplied.”

“More importantly than that though…your sculptures have a very unique aura. Although other people’s sculptures are also beautiful, in terms of smoothness, there will always be some flaws. The lines of your sculptures are very smooth. For example, when comparing where you used the straight chisel and where you used the butterfly chisel, people actually can’t tell. They flowed together very perfectly.

Linley couldn’t help but laugh on hearing this.

Traces of switching tools?

From start to finish, his sculptures were carved with the usage of the straight chisel. He didn’t use any other tools at all. Naturally, the lines would be very perfect and smooth.

“This unique point, along with the innately lofty, arrogant aura your sculptures possess, and combined with your personal status, caused each sculpture to rise to the price of five thousand gold coins. The only thing preventing the price from rising even further was that there were still some minute imperfections in your patterns.” Austoni explained and praised.

In his heart, Linley understood.

“Minute imperfections?” Linley mentally shook his head. He only used a straight chisel. Although he could manage to carve out some unique patterns with it, in terms of effectiveness, naturally it would not be able to compete with specialized tools such as the butterfly chisel or the oblique knife.

At the same time, Linley couldn’t help but sigh.

Those three sculptures were able to reach a price of 15,000 gold coins. This money came so easily. If Linley spent all his time carving, in a month, he could definitely produce ten sculptures.

Ten sculptures meant 50,000 gold coins!

“In the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts I spent two months and encountered countless dangers and experienced countless life and death situations. After killing all those assassins, I ended up with just 70,000 gold coins or so. Being a sculptor is like stealing money.” Linley couldn’t help but sigh.

The value of Linley’s sculpture was considered high even amongst experts.

“If expert sculptors are practically stealing money, then grandmaster sculptors…” Linley couldn’t help but be moved.

The deeper Linley began to understand this profession, the more amazed he was. The circle of sculptors had an incredible disparity in terms of income. In the entirety of the Holy Union, there was perhaps just a hundred or so expert sculptors. One could imagine how rare they were.

“Linley, work hard. I have faith that one day, you will become an amazing grandmaster sculptor.” Austoni said encouragingly.

Not only did grandmaster sculptors possess amazing wealth, they also had an exceedingly high social status. They stood at the very top of this ancient artistic form. Even most powerful nobles, upon meeting them, wouldn’t dare to be arrogant.

Grandmaster!

This was a very incredible designation.

It wasn’t something one could acquire through money or power. Only when a person had received universal acclaim as being on top of a particular field would one be honored with the designation of ‘grandmaster’.

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