Not long after the trio went in, Shao Xuan heard whispers and the sound of the old blind slave reciting something.
In many desert cities, some slave masters were unwilling to read records written by their ancestors. They didn’t have the patience to do so but they were still reminded to look after the records with utmost care. Over time, the number of people who would read the records decreased.
Later on, some slave masters realized they could just order their slaves to read the records and force them to memorize it by heart. Whenever they needed to know about something, the slaves in charge of the records would recite it to them.
Thus, this specialized type of slaves was born, their only duty was to memorize the ancestor records for their masters.
These people were living encyclopedias, the slave master could bring them around and ask about anything anytime. They would also scold or beat the slaves up as they wished.
Listening through the wall, Shao Xuan thought to himself in the room made of stones, These two are enjoying themselves, fooling around while listening to the records.
However, the old slave stayed monotonous throughout the whole process. His tone was calm- he was definitely calmer than Shao Xuan- as if he wasn’t affected by the two beside him. Maybe it was because he was too immersed in the material.
Shao Xuan didn’t think much of the two slave masters fooling around, the room was filled with animal scripts, wooden scripts, cloth scripts and so much more which filled Shao Xuan with excitement. He finally found it!
He looked at the genres and looked through some regarding smelting. The scripts were very old, some were so fragile and brittle to the point it would break under a little more pressure.
There were some notes on the core seed and how precious ores were formed in the records. It was similar to what he had thought, just place the stone near the core seed and leave it there. It would undergo changes to become different ores depending on its distance to the core seed. There were different ways of smelting the ores to get different metals. The shorter the time needed, the better the quality of the ore as it meant it ore was purer.
Shao Xuan flipped through all the methods of smelting. The ones that failed, the ones that were successful, all of them were recorded. He got the feeling that the ancestors of these slave masters had experience with smelting since a long time ago and everything they knew was from trial and error.
Shao Xuan still needed to go through the origins of the slave masters to learn more about their history.
Maybe because it was dated too far back, Shao Xuan couldn’t find where that section was located. He went through multiple shelves but couldn’t find what he wanted.
At that moment, the male and female in the adjacent room had finished whatever they were doing and left the room with smiles on their faces.
Shao Xuan put down the things in his hand and hid behind a stone rack.
The curtain on the room’s door was pulled open. Shao Xuan heard footsteps of someone entering the room. It wasn’t light and each step was slow. They were the footsteps of the old blind slave.
Shao Xuan heard the slave pour water from a jar to drink. The old slave sighed as he stood up to walk toward the place where Shao Xuan was hiding.
The sunlight was pouring in from the window, Shao Xuan could see the elongated shadow coming closer and closer to him. He silently pulled out the knife he had.
When the slave was five meters away from him, Shao Xuan jumped out and stepped towards the slave with two large steps. He was ready to strike the slave in the throat but stopped right before he did so.
Shao Xuan looked at the tranquil expression of the old slave and halted his actions to consider the person before him.
There wasn’t anyone outside. It was only Shao Xuan and the old blind slave in the room.
Something felt wrong.
“Aren’t you scared?” Shao Xuan asked in a soft voice.
“Why should I be?” The old slave answered gently.
“Aren’t you going to shout for help?” Shao Xuan asked again.
“Why would I?” The old slave answered with the same gentle voice.
Shao Xuan considered the person before him. The slave was blind, it didn’t seem like he had much strength, he perhaps even had some kind of illness.
“How did you find me?” asked Shao Xuan.
“The smell. There was the smell of fruit wine.” The old slave said gravely.
Shao Xuan was shocked. To stay hidden, he’d purposely changed into another set of clothes, the smell of alcohol was faint, even the guards didn’t notice it but this old slave did!
Noticing the confusion from Shao Xuan, the old slave continued, “I’m used to the smell in here, as long as there is a slight change, I will notice it.”
The old slave didn’t seem to care about Shao Xuan’s actions, he even pulled a stool over and sat down in a carefree manner, as if he wanted to continue chatting with Shao Xuan.
This led Shao Xuan to think that maybe the old slave thought that he was another master from Snow Plains. However, the next sentence he said crossed out that possibility.
“Why did you sneak into the Snow Plains?” asked the old slave. When he didn’t get a reply, he continued, “During these troubling times, sneaking into Snow Plains, even coming to the place where they keep records… Are you from another city?”
He didn’t wait for Shao Xuan’s reply, he shook his head, “Probably not. I could feel your interest in slave masters. Masters don't normally pay attention to the records, are you a tribesman?”
In this whole process, Shao Xuan didn’t say a word but the old slave had already guessed everything with a relaxed tone. Towards the end, the slave even had some curiosity and interest seeping out on his tone, not a hint of fear and worry was showing.
Is this really a Snow Plain City slave?
“If you want to know anything, just ask me. No need to look around,” said the old slave. He looked at Shao Xuan’s direction with a pair of cloudy eyes, waiting for Shao Xuan to reply.
Shao Xuan thought about it and kept his knife for now. He asked, “What is the actual relationship between a slave and his master?”
If anyone else had heard him, they would have answered with a tone of judgment, master and servant, of course!
However, this blind slave was different.
After listening to Shao Xuan’s question, the old slave thought for a while, “Master and slave… the master enslaves the slave, just like a seed that didn’t have a chance to grow- the master plants it in his land, giving them a chance to grow but the master reaps the fruit. But this seed has many barriers before it can germinate. If they don’t get rid of the barriers, even if the seed can germinate, it would have many restrictions in its growth. If the master removes the chains, it would be just like removing the barriers for the seed, allowing them to continue their growth.”
“When the master dies, the plants wouldn’t have anyone looking after them. The barriers would be as it is. If they are lucky, a new master would come in and move them to another spot. Their size won’t change, if they reached a certain level, they would stay at that level. However, if there were any problems during the transplant, such as the stem or roots or any core areas hurt, or maybe an abnormal situation arises before it even gets planted again, it would die. Just like how a master may die during a transplant if anything goes wrong during the process, the slave would die too.”
“So, changing masters is just like a transplant, there’s some risk to it. If one was unlucky, they would not have a chance to continue growing, they may even risk dying. Regarding breaking the chains … Not every seed that was planted by the master has the ability to do it. Even if they did break through, broken branches and fewer leaves are a common sight, some may even have a weakened energy level. Breaking the chains would be similar to this.”
“In the beginning, masters wouldn’t break off the chains just because, unless it was a generational slave or a very loyal slave, only then the master would do so. Later on, with the battles and wars, breaking off the chains became much more common.”
Shao Xuan listened carefully to what the old slave was saying. He made mental notes and was shocked that the information the old slave knew. It looked like the old slave really knew a lot.
This blind old slave that stood before him was only a low-level slave. The slave wouldn’t compare to other low-level slaves in regards to strength. He was old and probably also had some disease, any other slave would have killed him with ease. But he was one of a kind, the one that memorized more than half of the records in this stone room. When he was done speaking, he had told everything Shao Xuan needed to know already.
“Overconfidence, arrogance, presumptuousness, self-centeredness... if this continues, they would face their demise.” The old slave sighed, “Those rebel slaves, their numbers are increasing.”
The old slave even started quoting The Book of Slave Punishments, the one written by slave masters in Snow Plains. It details the stories of the higher level slaves who rebelled against their masters. The author described them as evil, ungrateful, cruel and unscrupulous. They got their powers from their masters but decided to rebel, they deserved to die.
Without question, every slave in The Book of Slave Punishments died in an awful and miserable way but when the old slave was talking about it, he had a tone of pity.
Did he pity the slaves who didn’t succeed in their rebellion? Or was it something else? Shao Xuan wasn’t sure.
Seeing the old slave continue to pity the other slaves, Shao Xuan quickly changed the topic.
“About the flame in the tribes, how much do you know?” Shao Xuan asked.
“The flame? That is a word I miss.” The old slave paused for a moment as if he was thinking about a memory from a long time ago, “I do not know much about it, I only know that the flame in the tribes is getting weaker. You tribesmen are also searching for a way to solve this problem.”
As the old slave couldn’t answer more about the flame, Shao Xuan was a little disappointed but the fact that the old slave knew this much was enough.
“If only the masters in Snow Plains had preserved their ancestor’s records properly, you could have found the answer you were looking for, such a pity …… the damage is too much!” said the old slave.
Shao Xuan’s expression changed, did he really need to find Shi Shu now? Even when he knew Shi Shu had already planted a trap for him? Shao Xuan was hesitant.
Since he couldn’t find out more about the flame, Shao Xuan asked the slave another question he was curious about for a long time, “The masters, where do they come from?”
“From the sea,” answered the old slave.
Do you think I’m an idiot?