Without making any sound, Director Maia carefully inspected every single inch of this sculpture, Awakening From the Dream, as though he had been possessed.
“Boss Yale, it’s been two hours already.” Reynolds looked at Yale with an unhappy expression.
Yale shook his head and said softly, “Don’t be impatient. Let Uncle Maia do a close inspection. As the managing director of the entire Proulx Gallery, he must be one of the descendants of Master Proulx himself. I believe that his abilities at judging sculpture must be extremely high. I wonder what level this sculpture of Third Bro’s has reached.”
Reynolds nodded slightly as well.
After over three hours had passed, Director Maia straightened his waist, letting out a long breath.
“I hear that the name of this sculpture is, Awakening From the Dream?” Director Maia asked.
Yale nodded. “Correct. Third Bro gave it this name himself.”
Director Maia let out a soft sigh. After taking another good look at the sculpture, he praised, “I must say, this brother of yours, Linley, is without question a genius sculptor. A genius who is comparable to Master Proulx himself.”
“Although on a technical level, his sculpture is just a tiny bit weaker than Master Proulx’s, in terms of the soul or the aura of this sculpture, Linley has definitely reached the same level.” Director Maia sighed with praise.
“Technical level?” Yale said questioningly.
Director Maia nodded. “Right. But although this sculpture does have minor technical flaws, at the same time, it has amazing strengths of its own.”
“The flaws are, some of the indentions and some of the soft lines were not handled with perfect adroitness. But this sculpture of Linley’s is extremely smooth and flowing as a whole, and the feelings it invokes are definitely on par with several of Master Proulx’s finest. And most importantly of all, this sculpture is huge.”
Director Maia sighed in praise. “For a sculpture to pass down throughout the ages, in every single aspect, it requires a tremendous amount of effort. A single error can ruin the entire sculpture. To be able to sculpt a single human-shaped sculpture is already quite an accomplishment. But Linley was able to sculpt five! The most admirable thing is that all five of the people in this sculpture have their own unique aura, but yet everything is still linked up in a story. If I guess correctly, your brother must have suffered a romantic heartbreak.”
Based on Director Maia’s astuteness, he could clearly tell at a single glance the story behind these five figures.
“Awakening From the Dream. It is really amazing that Linley was able to carve a sculpture such as this.” Director Maia couldn’t stop praising it.
“Director Maia, tell me, what level is this sculpture of my bro at, exactly? Is it on par with the sculptures of Master Proulx?” Reynolds asked.
Director Maia frowned. “To be frank, I’m not sure either. Let me put it to you like this. On the technical side of things, this sculpture can only be considered to be an expert level sculpture, despite being on the same level with Master Proulx in terms of invoking emotions and telling a story. But there is a unique point about it…”
“The carving strokes of this sculpture were very clean, very agile. From start to finish, it can be said that these five figures were inseparable parts of a flawless whole. This unconventional feeling is something I have never even heard of before, much less seen.” Director Maia praised.
Yale said urgently, “Uncle Maia, so what level is this sculpture at?”
Director Maia was helpless. “I can’t say for certain. From a traditional evaluation standpoint, this sculpture should be considered to be on the master level. After all, the uniqueness of its aura is unquestionable, and the quality of the work is on clear display from the grace the statue emanates.”
“From a traditional evaluation standpoint?” Yale and Reynolds both looked questioningly at Director Maia.
Director Maia nodded. “The traditional evaluation method has been universally agreed upon as a fair, impartial evaluating mechanism for countless years. But I feel that…when actually viewing Linley’s sculpture, it appears to be a very perfect whole, without any apparent flaws.”
“The whole point of having sculptures is for viewing them. The actual viewing determines everything. Let me put it this way. Linley perhaps cannot be termed a Grandmaster sculptor, but the value of this sculpture will most likely be incredibly high, on the same level as the Ten Masterpieces.” Director Maia laughed.
A sculpture not produced by one of the Ten Grandmasters with the valuation on the same level as the Ten Masterpieces. This was something totally unheard of.
But Director Maia couldn’t help but to admit that this was very likely to occur.
“Oh.” Yale and Reynolds nodded.
This was the one flaw of the Straight Chisel School, honestly speaking. When just using a single tool, the straight chisel, in terms of precision when carving out certain curves, couldn’t match some more specialized tools. The technical appearance created by Linley’s usage of the straight chisel was perhaps comparable with a normal expert sculptor.
When judging it against the standards of a master sculptor, the weaknesses became readily apparent.
But the Straight Chisel School had its own strengths as well. For example, the continuity of the carving, and…others, when carving, had to constantly switch tools, but the Straight Chisel School only required an earth-style magus to become one with the earth as he carved, which actually increased the speed at which he raised his spiritual energy.
“Where is Linley?” Director Maia asked.
Yale shook his head. “Third Bro is a student magus, after all. The vast majority of his time is spent in training. Right now, he is engaging in a practical excursion in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, and we’re not sure exactly when he’ll be back.”
“Then, Yale, can you act on behalf of Linley in permitting our Proulx Gallery to auction off this sculpture?” Director Maia suggested.
“Can’t be done.” Yale was very blunt. “Without Third Bro’s express permission, it isn’t convenient for me to make that decision.”
Director Maia frowned, and continued. “Then what about exhibiting it? There shouldn’t be too much of a problem in allowing our Proulx Gallery to exhibit it, would there? After all, Linley’s previous sculptures were all exhibited in our Proulx Gallery before being auctioned off.”
But Yale knew very well how much symbolic importance Linley placed on this sculpture.
This represented an extremely painful period of heartbreak in Linley’s life. It was hard to say if Linley would have agreed to exhibit it if he were here. He didn’t want to make Linley uncomfortable.
“Can’t be done. I’m only responsible for safeguarding this thing. As far as exhibiting it or selling it, we’ll have to wait for Third Bro to return.” Yale’s voice was resolute.
Within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
Exactly two months had passed. During this time, Linley had been immersed in studying the Bloodviolet sword. The Bloodviolet sword was the finest sword Linley had ever seen. Just based on its sharpness alone, most magical beasts of the sixth rank couldn’t handle it. But the sharpness was only a small specialty of the Bloodviolet sword.
The strengths of the Bloodviolet sword were – Unpredictability, speed, and also a certain baleful aura.
That’s right. A baleful aura.
Linley only discovered this baleful aura after killing quite a few magical beasts. The material making up this Bloodviolet sword contained within it a unique energy. With each chop of the blade, a unique baleful aura was released.
This baleful aura was very similar to a dragon’s terrifying presence. Naturally, it wasn’t nearly as terrifying, but in battle, this baleful aura could be put to very good use.
Night. In the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, surrounded by a pack of hundreds of Windwolves. The Windwolf pack leader stared at Linley with its greenish-yellow eyes. Letting out wild howls, one Windwolf after another pounced towards Linley. But moving as agilely as the wind, Linley slipped through the attacks of the pack, the sword in his hand glowing with a blue light.
After being activated by wind-style mageforce, the Bloodviolet Godsword’s speed increased even more. The Godsword flickered about, not impeded by air resistance in the slightest.
Within the darkness, a streak of violet intermixed with blue was flickering about at high speed. It floated about in bizarre patterns, and every time it flickered, a Windwolf was split into two part. Windwolves, after all, were only magical beasts of the fourth rank. In this pack of Windwolves, some of the stronger ones were beasts of the fifth rank, and only the two leaders were beasts of the sixth rank.
Right now, Linley remained in human form, in which he possessed the power of the sixth rank.
Frankly speaking, even a warrior of the seventh rank might not dare to directly fight with a pack of hundreds of Windwolves, much less a warrior of the sixth rank. After all, a hero could still be brought down by numbers, and Windwolves possessed extremely sharp claws. Even Linley’s body, when scratched by a Windwolf, would most likely bleed. Unless, of course, he entered the Dragonform.
“Howl!” A Windwolf leapt at him with high speed, bloody maw wide open.
The Bloodviolet Godsword flashed. The Windwolf was instantly bisected from head to tail.
“Perhaps this Bloodviolet Godsword of mine would have some problems piercing the armor of a Velocidragon. But you guys?” The Bloodviolet Godsword in Linley’s hands was beginning to move even faster and even more agilely.
The reason why a pack of Windwolves was a terrifying thing was because of their speed as well as numbers. If over ten Windwolves suddenly snapped at you, even a warrior of the seventh rank would be hard pressed to block them all at once. His only option would be to use his battle-qi to tank the blow.
But Linley was different.
“Swish!” The Bloodviolet Godsword flashed again, and yet another Windwolf was cut in twain.
The Bloodviolet Godsword was simply too fast, so fast that all the Windwolves could see was a blur. After Linley had slaughtered over a hundred Windwolves without suffering any injury at all, the pack of Windwolves finally began to be filled with fear.
They weren’t afraid of death, but they weren’t willing to die senselessly either.
“Hooooowl!” Those two large Windwolves that had been hiding in the back finally began to howl angrily. All of the remaining Windwolves lowered their heads, then turned and retreated at high speed. Their angry, saddened howls could be heard from far away. Clearly, it was caused by the fact that they had lost so many of their comrades, but no gain at all.
With a flick of Linley’s wrist and a violet flash, the Bloodviolet Godsword wrapped around Linley’s waist into a belt shape again.
“Against the likes of them, there’s no need to use Bloodviolet’s real power.” There was a hint of blood on Linley’s robes, but all of it came from the Windwolves.
During the entire battle, from start to finish, the Bloodviolet Godsword had been straight. Against the likes of a Windwolf pack, just relying on the sharpness of the Godsword was already enough. But once the Bloodviolet Godsword began to fluctuate between being straight and being flexible, the offensive power would multiply.
“Boss, you are starting to get more and more powerful.” Bebe was lying on Linley’s shoulders.
Linley laughed. “You aren’t weak either.”
After taking a deep breath then releasing it, Linley glanced around at his surroundings, then took a look at the three bags on his back. In the past two months, through analyzing and training with this Bloodviolet Godsword, Linley had already filled up three sacks with magicite cores.
“After spending two months in training, I’ve already reached a bottleneck in my ability to use Bloodviolet. If I want to get better, for now, I’d have to rely on improving my own arm strength and wrist strength.”
During these two months, Linley had trained in the movements of drawing the sword, striking with the sword, cutting with it, stabbing with it, hacking with it, and all sorts of other skills. The purpose of Linley’s training was all to improve his speed, to as high a level as was possible. What’s more, with Linley’s proficiency in wind magic, Linley could with relative ease discern the secrets of using the sword.
Just now, when faced with over a hundred Windwolves, Linley wasn’t injured at all. This was the result of his accomplishments.
In the past, Linley wouldn’t have dared to imagine what it would be like, at this level.
“Now that I’m at a bottleneck, there’s not much more point to me being at the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Time to go back.”
Morning. The early rays of the sun shone upon the earth. With Bloodviolet wrapped around his waist, carrying three sacks of magicite cores, and wearing a slightly blood-stained blue robe, Linley arrived at the main entrance to the Ernst Institute, Bebe on his shoulders.
“Finally back.” Seeing the main gate to the Ernst Institute, Linley felt his heart was at peace.
The Ernst Institute and the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts were two opposite extremes. Here, no one dared to kill wantonly, and everyone was amiable. But the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts was a world which belonged to magical beasts. The strong were revered, while the weak were cast out. Murder could happen at any time.
“It’s Linley.” The guardians at the main gate of the Ernst Institute all recognized this famous figure, Linley. Naturally, they would not stop him.
Linley slightly nodded towards the guards, and then walked into the Ernst Institute. On the roads within the Institute, quite a few students on their way to classes began to talk amongst themselves in hushed tones when they saw Linley.
“Look, it’s Linley. He’s covered in blood. He should’ve just gotten back from the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. I heard that last year, he went to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts and skipped the end of the year assessment. This has been four months. He’s so amazing, to be able to survive there for four full months.”
“Dixie was assessed as a magus of the sixth rank last year. But Linley didn’t go for an assessment at all.”
Hearing these hushed murmurs, Linley only smiled as he headed towards his own dormitory. Right at this moment, Yale, George, and Reynolds were preparing to breakfast together.
“Oh, Third Bro, you’re back.” Reynolds was the first to excitedly call out to him.
Yale, George, and Reynolds all excitedly rushed over to him. Linley, as always, grinned upon seeing his three bros.