Chapter 16 – Frustration
The auction house had an extremely strict review process, in particular concerning the goods they sold; otherwise fakes and replicas would be manage to get through and the reputation of the auction house would suffer a loss. To an auction house, reputation was everything.
A middle-aged man greeted Lin Min; to be more exact, blocked him, and asked .”Sir, is there anything I can help you with?”
Lin Ming was wearing a clean and crisp robe and he looked like any other well-to-do citizen. However his height was shorter than an adult male by several inches. In addition, his voice had not yet fully matured, so it wasn’t possible to cover up the fact that he was a young boy of only 15 or 16 years.
Therefore Lin Ming simply said with his own voice, “I’m here for an appraisal of inscription runes.”
‘Oh?” The middle aged man looked at Lin Ming somewhat suspiciously. “Can I see your inscription?” In fact, this man’s manners were already very polite. A 15-16 year old coming into the auction house to appraise some inscriptions was already strange. The price frequently rose to over a thousand taels of gold. Most people would have well founded suspicions that this was a practical joke.
After Lin Ming pulled out the symbol paper, the middle aged man frowned as he noticed the shoddy quality of it. This was the most basic and cheap symbol paper that was available on the market at one or two taels of gold for a dozen. Although the cost of the symbol paper did not affect the quality of the inscription, it was still a sign of the inscription master’s status. Naturally they would never use this kind of symbol paper! They would normally use high quality symbol paper that cost several taels of gold each, to show off the results of their inscription.
However there was a faint energy which emitted from the symbol paper and the middle aged man was able to determine that this was a complete and real product, not a practical joke. He looked at Lin Ming and asked, “Do you have some sort of certificate stating which inscription master created this?”
Lin Ming shook his head.
“Well alright, come with me.”
The middle aged man led Lin Ming through the hallway to an appraisal room at the back of the auction house. The man in the appraisal chamber wore an unlined black garment, and looked to be a harsh grandfather in his 50’s or 60’s. Lin Ming also noted the sign in front of the man that wrote “Advanced Appraiser.”
The black robed man took this symbol paper in hand and noted that the inscription was placed on inferior paper, but he didn’t reveal any expression that indicated he was disgusted or skeptical. Instead, he maintained a tranquil and calm demeanor, and quietly slipped on a pair of white gloves and invested his full attention towards an earnest and practical appraisal of the work. This demonstrated that he was a true professional!
However the appraiser only just began when he raised his head, his face slightly more serious, and looked at Lin Ming. “If I’m not wrong, the one who created this inscription symbol, his strength should not exceed the third level of the body transformation stage?”
The inscription symbol would always carry a slight hint of the makers soul force. It was possible for an appraiser to judge the creators martial arts cultivation level through these traces. Since Lin Ming created the inscription paper, the soul force trace would naturally be weak, but since he practiced the overwhelming ‘True Primal Chaos Formula,’ the soul force was much thicker than the average martial artists. If the appraiser knew that the inscription was created by a mere boy at the first level of the body transformation stage, his chin would surely drop to the ground.
Lin Ming knew that there was no way to deny this, so he nodded.
The only man sharply inhaled, and then sighed, “To think there was such a talent within the young generation. A trivial little third level body transformation cultivation can draw an inscription symbol. It is shocking!”
Usually, the inscription masters tended to be of the older generation, and most were above the bone forging boundary. Many even broke through the pulse condensing boundary and some even at the pre-celestial boundary.
Perhaps this third level body transformation was just an inscription masters apprentice, and happened to get lucky and create a successful inscription. However this boy brought in four of the same inscription, which was truly amazing.
Lin Ming heard the old man’s praise and thought things were going well, but he didn’t expect the old man to change his mind. “It is a complete and real inscription symbol, but the creator is only an apprentice, therefore we are unable to identify the increase in strength it would provide or the integrity of the inscription. You must know that an apprentice’s soul force is generally limited in quantity and quality, and it is very difficult to complete the myriad and complicated inscription designs. Even If the symbol increased the strength by ten percent, if it cannot be placed onto superior equipment, then we cannot auction this as failed product would harm the auction houses reputation.”
Inscriptions were used only on superior equipment, because only superior equipment was sturdy and strong enough concentrate the soul force and energy of martial artists in battle. Since the inscriptions modified soul force, it needed to be at least that level.
Therefore the lowest quality goods that someone would place an inscription on were at least several thousand gold taels!
This equipment was not something the average person was able to obtain. Even the juniors of aristocratic families had to cultivate to at least the altering muscle or bone forging level to even be considered for having such a high quality weapon.
For instance, Wang Yigao had an excellent family background, but because his cultivation was low, even though he had used a fine blue sword, it did not necessarily mean it was a treasure. That blue sword was only two hundred taels of gold.
The number of times that you can engrave on a weapon was limited, essentially, it was only one time. After an inscription, another cannot be placed on. Thinking about it, who would spend several thousand taels of gold on a weapon, only to place on it an inscription of dubious origin?
Therefore the inscription market for apprentices was nonexistent.
Lin Ming had expected this result and said, “I only need to auction three, the last you can use for experiments.”
After the inscription is made, it is too difficult to test the result. Even the creator can only guesstimate its effectiveness.
When a martial artist purchased an inscription, he was basically gambling on his luck, so high level inscription masters were well received because they had the reputation to guarantee the effectiveness of their products. Very few people would purchase an unknown master’s inscriptions, much less an apprentice’s. It was just gambling with their own precious money!
The appraiser said, “Of course. However, the experiment needs to be done with your own equipment.”
Lin Ming suddenly turned silent. A weapon worth several thousand gold taels? He supposed it was impossible for the auction house to casually put up a weapon worth several thousand gold taels to test as an experiment.
If Lin Ming were an inscription master then things might have been different, because the masters have reputations and wouldn’t need have their inscriptions tested. Moreover, the auction house would be happy to be on good terms with such a figure and even provide their own weapons.
At Lin Mings moment of highest worth, he only had 800 taels of gold. Where would he get a weapon that was worth several thousand taels of gold to engrave an inscription on?
He did not bother arguing or saying anything else. He could have said that there was no way their equipment would have suffered a loss, but there was no reason to believe him, because the soul force on the inscription really was too weak.
So Lin Ming took his four symbol papers and turned around to leave the Sky Fortune official auction house.
“Sorry, but we need proof that the inscription association provides, or a signed notary provided to the inscription master…”
At the Sky Fortune City trade fair, the merchant had directly rejected Lin Ming after seeing his age.
This was a polite rejection. Afterwards Lin Ming went to several private shops and the attitudes of these people were even worse.
He tried the inscription transaction trading pavilion that was under the jurisdiction of the Trade Association. The store was opulent and luxurious with six floors, each filled with high class establishments and boasted an air of refinement. Everything was expensive nothing was cheap; the goods ranged from a few hundred to several thousand gold taels. Even the shopkeepers were needlessly arrogant. If a rich young master came, then they would be polite and offer tea, kind words, and never-ending bootlicking. But for the poor salesmen, they received nothing but a straight boot to the rear.
Some did not even bother saying anything, and just waved him away impatiently.
“Look kid, don’t make trouble here, you’re blocking my good business.”
“Hey you, this isn’t a place where a little boy should come to….oh, hey customer, what do you need! Come see…”
“Haha, child, don’t try to tease me here, I’ve already laughed today. This is just toilet paper! And you drew some small flames on this toilet paper. Did you think it was an inscription? Haha…”