Suddenly, a blond young man wearing a black overcoat walked into the room.
"Why are you still here? Still researching your antiques and jewelry? Stop fooling around, go home. You have to catch the afternoon train. Quickly go home and pack."
The young man glanced at Garen who was sitting at the side. He could tell that Garen was close with Felicity.
"Don't keep obsessing about jewelries and antiques all day. Can you please apply yourself to something more meaningful?!"
"Felix, I can decide my matters for myself. I don't need instructions from you!" Felicity bluntly replied. "Researching antiques and jewelries isn't meaningful? Doing what I want to do, that's meaningful!"
"You!" The youth's face turned scarlet. "You only know how to talk back at me! You leave the family business unattended, you leave your own company unattended, and you come to this godforsaken countryside to do research about jewelries and antiques! That's just perfect. You're doing great! I dare you to not go back today!"
"So what if I don't?!" Felicity coldly replied, then turned away to ignore him.
"Hanging around with these jewelry and antique freaks all day, skipping the family banquet… I want to see how you manage on your own when you get into trouble!" The young man was fuming. His gaze turned to Garen.
"One moment you're meeting this enthusiast, the next moment, another. I tell you, Felicity, these people who only know how to research antiques and jewelries, the most they can be in their lifetime is a jewelry appraiser. Hang around these people all day, and see what you'll become!"
"Mind your words!" Felicity brusquely stood up. "He's my friend!"
"Hmph!" The young man expressed his disdain. "Father already knows about the nonsense you get up to, researching antiques and jewelries all day. He's not happy. I want to see how you explain yourself to him."
"That's none of your business! Don't think you can lecture me freely just because you're my brother! How rude!"
Garen, who was sitting at the side, frowned too. This young man, Felix, was Felicity's biological brother. His tone seemed to convey his displeasure about his sister's preoccupation with antiques, and naturally, that made him dislike the person discussing antiques with Felicity as well.
"Please keep your voices down!" A bespectacled middle-aged maid came in and whispered. "This is a public place. It's the library. Please keep silent."
"Apologies." The young man nodded before striding out the room.
Felicity apologetically smiled at the middle-aged woman. "Sorry about that. How embarrassing."
The woman nodded and left with a strict look on her face.
Felicity sat back onto the sofa, her expression distraught.
Sitting at the side, Garen frowned and said, "Go back first if you're busy. Our discussions aren't that important."
"My brother was rude. I apologize on his behalf." Felicity was slightly frustrated.
"It's nothing. I can tell your family seems to disapprove of you researching antiques and jewelries."
"Yeah. They think I'm loafing around. I've been reprimanded for this multiple times," Felicity helplessly said. "My family situation is complicated. My parents allocated more resources to me than others, so my peers aren't too happy about me. They keep finding trouble with me."
"You can't help it either." Garen had known about Felicity's family background from Fayne.
That wasn't any ordinary business family. It was a mega family with ties to the upper class of the Confederation, with assets and businesses across several big provinces. Compared to Garen's uncle and his master Fei Baiyun, they were on a completely different level.
Felicity's family even had their own private militia, and her father was one of the most significant figures in the family.
They sat for a while before a middle-aged man with a mature look walked into the room. He wore a black suit, had a fit physique, and looked polite.
"Miss, it's time to head back. The time you set is up."
Felicity nodded and sat up straight on the sofa. "Got it."
"This is my bodyguard, Anchor. I'll be going first, you take your time."
"Okay." Garen nodded. He glanced at the man called Anchor, and he couldn't help but narrow his eyes.
He got a trace impression of Golden Hoop No. 102 from him, yet he seemed even stronger than Golden Hoop.
Garen's took a quick glance at the man's waist: it seemed to bulge slightly, like there was something stuck there.
"Someone with his skill, if coupled with a handgun, as long as his marksmanship is not too bad, I'm no match against him. They are veritably a powerful family. Metropolitans are indeed different."
The pride he felt from his big display of skills earlier instantly evaporated.
After Felicity and her bodyguard left, Garen sat on the sofa alone. There was still a hint of girly fragrance in the air.
"If the Golden Hoop that day were good with handguns, I wouldn't have been able to defeat him so easily. Firearms are indeed the natural enemy of martial art practitioners…"
He sighed and took a sip of black tea.
"Fortunately, I have the Black Jade Disk. I now have new Attribute Points to enhance myself." He scanned the Attribute Pane at the bottom of his vision. The Strength on it had increased by 0.1 due to the White Cloud Secret Method: it was at 2.11 now. Potential had also increased to 164%.
"It's just that this is too slow a speed. Only one point increase in a week."
He took a look at the Skills Pane. He skipped through the academic subjects and directed his line of sight at the White Cloud Secret Method. He paused on it for three seconds. The White Cloud Secret Method didn't move; apparently, it could no longer be increased.
"So it has indeed peaked?"
"I give up. I'll just add it to Intelligence. Recently, the situation has been chaotic, let's see how adding to Intelligence will help me sort it all out."
He hesitated, then directed his line of sight onto Intelligence.
A clear force streamed into Intelligence.
It increased from 1.20 to 1.50 in an instant.
Garen felt his brain cool over. His stale mind instantly became unusually clear. It seemed that his reasoning, response, logic, and memory were markedly enhanced. However, this kind of enhancement was vague; there was no way to practically compare the effects before and after.
"According to the standard units that I initially formulated, the average level for an ordinary person would be at 1. So now, I have more than one and a half of an ordinary person's average intellect. The intellectual restrictions for certain subjects should be gone."
Under the Skills column, many subjects were restricted to a base value of Intelligence. Without reaching that limit, one could only acquire the skill in accordance with normal progression. Once that base value was reached, one would have photographic memory skills. Any content from a subject would be easily absorbed, thought processes would be quicker, and one would rapidly attain the level of mastery expected from enhancing with points.
Now that he felt much more clear-headed, Garen started to contemplate the current situation.
"If I want to obtain Antiques of Tragedy without risk, I could pull out now and let Grace keep track of the case progression of Dale Quicksilver and the others. I could also approach Golden Hoop through Grace's original company to buy the Antiques of Tragedy. Once they find a new Antique of Tragedy, I could offer them the highest bid possible to get it. My only worry is that I wouldn't have enough money to buy it. This is a way, but the amount of capital required is huge."
"I could also come at this from another perspective. I am able to analyze whether an antique is real by absorbing Potential. That way, in respect of Antiques of Tragedy or mysterious jewelries, I have the absolute appraisal authority. As long as I improve on my knowledge and experience of identifying jewelries and antiques, it shouldn't be difficult for me to become the expert Antiques of Tragedy appraiser for the detective and the others."
"It is likely that Dale Quicksilver isn't aware of the Potential within Antiques of Tragedy. Otherwise, he wouldn't have handed the Black Jade Disk to me so easily." Garen already had dealings with Dale Quicksilver, so he was clear about that key point.
In others' eyes, Antiques of Tragedy were just mysterious precious objects backed by a strange legend. In his eyes, they were valuable objects from which he could absorb Potential to strengthen himself.
"I don't necessarily have to own them. I could plainly gain contact with the Antiques of Tragedy with my hybrid identity as appraiser and collector. I just need to let both sides, the detectives and Golden Hoop, recognize that I am the only one who is able to identify a real Antique of Tragedy without error. This way, I could stay out of the whole ordeal, yet achieve my purpose."
It had to be said that since adding points to Intelligence, Garen felt much more clear-headed. He had everything planned in a flash, and he even found a suitable role for himself.
"Right now, all that's left is to improve my knowledge of antiques appraisal. The old man should be experienced in this." Garen instantly thought of Old Man Gregor from Dolphin Antiques.
"Then, there's the book that Old Man Gregor mysteriously took out the other day. I have no idea what it was. It seems like the old man has secrets of his own, but it doesn't matter as long as it's not troublesome."
As a man of action, Garen stood up and searched for books on antique appraisal in the series of rooms, but unfortunately, there were none. He went over to the right side of the library and searched in the special collections room, but there was nothing there either. It was a pity that there was only a handful of books in the right side of the library.
Coming out of the library, Garen hailed a horse carriage and headed straight for Dolphin Antiques.
Sitting in the carriage, Garen had a faint sense of irritability in his heart. He had added so many Attribute points on himself, his strength had reached a high level, but when he met Felicity's brother earlier, he nevertheless failed to counter his condescending tone.
Regardless of whether it was at Fei Baiyun's White Cloud Dojo, or his uncle's shady company, he was just an ordinary small character in their eyes. Even with the martial art prowess that he was so proud of, never mind firearms, he couldn't even defeat his Senior Brothers and Sisters; martial arts weren’t a pure contest of strength.
He slightly closed his eyes to rest them. Hearing the crisp clatter of hooves and the sound of wheels rolling through pavement, Garen recalled everything he had been through since arriving.
"Even though I have special abilities, I am currently still a common disciple at the dojo, a student at Shengying Academy, and the son of an employee at a common company. I still have to take everything one step at a time; I'm still miles away from being a true great force…" He then recalled his encounter at Silversilk Castle, which made him even more conscious of his feebleness.