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"Regarding theory, you’ve mostly understood the basics. You will become an appraiser after understanding these two books and experiencing some practical application. Your mission for today is to start reading these two books. You can even take them back with you if you want. The things that I’ve told you are all in these books. You can come find me again if you have any more questions," the Old Man replied calmly.
Garen nodded, flipped open the first page, and began reading the book attentively.
Two hours went by without a notice. Garen let out a long and deep breath, remembering the page number he had last read before closing the book.
"Old man, it’s already 3 o’clock. I need to go back and celebrate the holiday with my family."
"Take the books with you. I will be meeting some of my old friends soon anyway. It’ll be better if you’re not around then." The Old Man’s eyes never left the book he was reading. He waved at Garen impatiently, as if wanting him to be gone at once.
Garen grinned and picked up the two books.
"Then I’m heading out now. I’ll be back tomorrow."
"Mmm, hurry up! Seeing you taking your time annoys me." The Old Man didn’t even bother to look up. "Remember to write down the questions you want to ask on a paper."
Garen walked out of the shop playfully swinging the books. He turned his head to look at the old man before letting out a smile.
"Stubborn Old Man, I know you’re celebrating the holiday alone. If you truly have friends, they sure took their time visiting you."
The streets were filled with flowers and paper confetti. There was also some dove feathers and smashed cupcakes lying around.
Garen had not even gone far before noticing Grace standing with a stern look beside a car near the entrance of Pennington Street. She seemed to be waiting for him.
Garen hurried himself over.
"Did something happen?"
"Dale Quicksilver is here. He wants my company to help him identify something!" Grace whispered, "Let’s talk in the car."
Garen frowned. He was a bit startled when he heard that Dale Quicksilver was looking for Grace.
The two of them sat side by side in the front seats. They cranked the windows closed to dampen the sound of the marching band passing by.
Grace took a photo from her purse and passed it to Garen.
"Dale Quicksilver approached us out of nowhere this morning. He took this along with him and asked me to identify it."
Garen received the photo from Grace. He was clearly shaken by what he saw.
The photo showed the Bronze Cross Emblem he left at the Silversilk Castle.
"Is this…" He observed the emblem in the photo carefully. The black and white photo was shot at a very close distance. Everything was shown very distinctly.
"Hasn’t Dale Quicksilver investigated the Silversilk Castle incident thoroughly? Doesn’t he know where this emblem came from?" Garen asked softly.
"Of course he knows! What he wants to know has nothing to do with the information about the Silversilk Castle." The look on Grace’s face was exceptionally serious. "He wants to know the origins of the emblem – from before the Silversilk Castle incident!"
"Before!?" Garen felt goosebumps recalling the strange events he encountered during his time at the castle. He almost broke both of his arms back then and he had tried to forget about fleeing with his tail between his legs.
"Looks like they’re facing the same problem as us…" He glanced out of the car window at the marching band. He spotted a kid wearing fake armor and dancing delightfully with a balloon and a badminton racket in each hand.
Garen closed his eyes. His eyes reflected with a bit more seriousness when he reopened them.
"So where is our ‘Detective’ now?"
"At our company."
"Let’s go and find him then," Garen replied heavy-heartedly. "If it is as predicted, we could even lend a hand to our detective to know more about what happened to me last time at the castle…" he murmured, looking out the window.
He had a hunch that everything started at the Silversilk Castle.
"Ok," Grace replied as she started her car and drove slowly toward the crowd.
The scene shifted to a small room in a motel.
"Hahaha… Mr. Quicksilver, it’s been a while." Garen gave Dale Quicksilver a big hug with a big smile on his face.
"Indeed it has been a while." Quicksilver had happiness shown all over his face. "Did that Golden Hoop guy bring you any trouble, Mr. Kelly? I had asked some of my men to find you after the incident but to no avail. After all that effort, I can’t believe that you are here, standing in front of me. Such fate we have."
The detective still carried a smoking pipe with him, along with his black coat.
Standing beside Dale was a beautiful lady in a white gown with a feather hat. Her arms crossed delicately at her waist, showing off her elegance.
"This is my wife, Marianne," Quicksilver introduced.
"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Quicksilver," Garen nodded while smiling.
"Oh please, Mr. Kelly, you’re being too formal," Marianne answered sheepishly.
All three of them sat on the couches, facing each other.
Garen then took out the photo showing the Bronze Cross Emblem.
"Mr.Quicksilver, I’m actually a professional appraiser from the Manuyllton Corporation. When I heard that you wished for this item to be identified, I immediately took this matter into my own hands. Time went by so quickly my friend and it has been two months since the last time we met. "
"Indeed my friend. Such a coincidence, I admit I did not expect that you were working for the Manuyllton Corporation.." Dale smiled before continuing, "Do you by any chance know where this thing came from?"
Garen frowned after hearing this. He sat silently, looking as if he was recalling something.
Regardless, the couple was not in a rush. They sat there quietly, waiting for Garen to speak.
Garen only let out a word after a few minutes of silence.
"Truthfully speaking, I’m afraid that this emblem is an ancient artifact left by a kingdom from 1,000 years ago."
"1,000 year artifact?!" The couple jolted from what they had heard.
"Indeed. 1,000 years ago, there was an ancient kingdom called Natama, located where our federal state is now. There’s very little information left regarding this kingdom. Thus, I based my judgement on the characteristics of this emblem. As for the origins... I’m afraid that I cannot help you with that."
Garen let out a sigh. The information given was not from Garen, but from real appraisers from the Manuyllton Corporation. He was just pretending like he knew the details.
"If that’s the case then…" The couple exchanged eye contact, both looking worried.
"But…" Hesitation could be heard from Garen’s tone. "I’m not sure if I should tell you this."
Dale’s eyes sparkled with hope, so he immediately asked, "Mr. Kelly please do not hold back on us. We’ve been through so much together that there’s nothing that you should hide."
Garen glanced at him and saw the determination from his eyes. He showed a face of determination in return.
"If that’s so, regardless of whether you guys believe me, I will be telling you two about the other data that we collected."
He hesitated before continuing, "No, it is not categorized as a ‘data,’ but more of a hunch that I have." He eyed them before saying, "I think that this emblem is a cursed antique."
"A cursed antique!?" Dale Quicksilver staggered. He regained his posture before mumbling, "I should’ve known! I should’ve known…"
Mrs Quicksilver was still seated at the side. Sweat could be seen dripping down from her forehead. She was worried about her husband’s reaction.
"Indeed, this is an antique that brings misfortune." There was some firmness in Garen’s tone. "I have a natural talent for recognizing antiques that are cursed and I’m confident in identifying anything that falls into this category. However… would you mind letting me have a look at the emblem? Before I even came back to the company, the other appraisers had already returned the emblem to you two. I didn’t have the chance to examine it for myself."
"This won’t be a problem." Dale took out a small black box from his coat, clearly worried.
Garen received the box and immediately opened it. What rested inside was a burgundy emblem surrounded by black swan feathers. The exact same emblem he had left at the Silversilk Castle.
Garen placed the box carefully on the coffee table, cautiously picking up the emblem.
His expression immediately changed the moment the emblem fell into his hands.
Without a doubt, the Potential residing inside the emblem had grown since the last time he made contact with it. A cold piercing sensation slowly seeped from the emblem into Garen’s body. With the emblem in his hands, it felt as if he was holding ice itself. This emblem definitely had at least a fraction of the Black Jade Disk’s Potential residing in it. Judging by what he felt now, this power had grown at least twofold.
"Could it be?!" Garen seem to remember a possibility. He raised his head and look at Dale Quicksilver, who sat across from him. "Mr. Quicksilver, you have to answer me this. Did anyone meet any accidents before you two got a hold of this emblem!?"
"How did you know?!" Dale’s eyes opened wide. He stood up, breathing heavily.
"Please! Stay calm!" Mrs. Quicksilver ran over to comfort her husband, trying her best to make him sit back down. "Please listen to what Mr. Kelly has to say."
Dale Quicksilver let out a long breath.
"I apologize for my rudeness Mr. Kelly."
"It’s alright. Please, call me Kelly. We are friends, right?" Garen nodded.
"Sure, Kelly. Would you mind telling me how you knew that there were people involved in accidents with this object?" Though Dale Quicksilver sat down, he did not break eye contact with Garen. "This is very important to me!"
"Did someone close to you have an accident?" Garen did not wait for him to answer before continuing, "I apologize, this is also one of my natural talents. I can properly identify the status of these cursed antiques. It may be related to the fact that I’m fascinated by items like this. It’s an instinct, an indescribable one."
"Instinct? Good, your instincts are indeed very accurate. Aside from this fascination, I think you were born to become an expert in identifying cursed antiques. Right now I need your help." Dale Quicksilver spoke in a serious tone, "Do you know how to break the curse from this emblem? My friend, the White Eagle’s son is in danger!"
"In danger?! What happened?!" Garen asked worriedly.
He owed Dale Quicksilver a debt due to the case involving the Black Jade Disk, but Garen thought he had repaid Dale last time after the rescue. Though he was not particularly fond of Quicksilver’s daughter, Garen still held respect for Dale. Regardless, the Black Jade Disk had helped him through a lot. He still felt that he was progressing from time to time.