Chapter 3: Previous Era, New Era
In year 2235 of the previous era, the first group of humans migrated to the solar system of the Skyfire Star. From that day forward, humanity entered the era of stellar migration. This was the beginning of a new era, and was thus referred to as the ‘New Era’.
In but a hundred short years, humanity, including Skyfire star and humanity’s mother star, in total administered a territory of twenty three star systems.
Skyfire Avenue. The Old Gothic Winery.
The old man had left with his head hanging down. The expressions on the faces of the middle-aged man and the young man became even more nervous.
Lan Jue turned his gaze towards the middle-aged man. “In the previous era, France’s red wine was primarily divided into which two production districts?”
The middle-aged man replied, “Bordeaux and Burgundy, with Bordeaux being divided into the ‘right’ and ‘left’ banks.”
Lan Jue said, “The ‘Big Eight’ chateaus of Bordeaux referred to which eight?”
The middle-aged man replied, “They refer to the five great ‘first class’ chateaus of 1855 in the previous era, located on the west Left Bank of the Medoc, and the three major wineries of the Right Bank of the Medoc. The five on the Left Bank are Château Latour, Château Lafite, Château Margaux, Château Haut Brion, and Château Mouton. The three on the Right Bank are Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, and Château Petrus.”
Lan Jue said, “Excellent. Just now, we discussed how generally speaking, around two hours would be needed to decant the wine of Château Lafite from the Left Bank. In that case, generally speaking, how long would the top-tier red wine of Burgundy need to be decanted for? For example, the ‘La Tache’ wine produced in the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti?”
“This…” The middle-aged man hesitated, then said probingly, “Decanting depends on the state of the wind as well as the storage conditions, so it’s hard to say.”
Lan Jue laughed. “You must think you are quite clever.”
The middle-aged man’s heart tightened.
“You can leave now.” Lan Jue said.
The middle-aged stood up with a bitter smile, then said, “What was my mistake?”
Lan Jue said, “Burgundy wine and Bordeaux wine are completely different. It only needs a little bit of decanting; generally speaking, no more than half an hour. What’s more, the finest Burgundy wine actually doesn’t need any decanting at all. The point of drinking it is to enjoy the taste it has once it encounters the air and begins to constantly transform. You might have drank Burgundy wine before, but you definitely have not drank much.”
The middle-aged man nodded seriously. “Thank you for the lesson.” He nodded towards Lan Jue and the other three, then left.
The youngster who had been seated next to the middle-aged man stood up as well, a bitter smile also on his face. “I think it’s best if I leave as well. I’ll come back after I come up with a way to drink a bit more wine.”
The Wine Master looked at Lan Jue. “Each time you administer the interview, you are able to resolve the situation in the shortest period of time. Although you do rather take it hard on them.”
Lan Jue smiled. “But it gets straight to the heart of things, right? You don’t want to be too unkind, because that’s your style. I’m the Jewel Master, not the Wine Master. Which is to say, I’m nothing more than an alcoholic who wants to drink some fine wine as fast as possible. Today, what do you plan to treat us to drink?”
The Wine Master said, “Go to the spatial wine cellar yourself and pick a bottle casually. Limited to one bottle, though. If you take more than one, please pay for it.” While saying these words, he placed a piece of silvery-white metal on the table in front of him.
“Fine.” Lan Jue immediately stood up, and as he passed by the Wine Master, he picked up that silvery-white piece of metal and walked to the rear.
After passing through the thirty meter high walkway, he went down a flight of stairs, circling down another thirty or so meters until he arrived in front of a large, ancient, unadorned brown door.
Before entering, Lan Jue opened his palm. The piece of metal in his hand seemed to have sensed something, and flew into the air, agilely pressing itself against the door.
The door ‘rippled’ as though it was made of water. It didn’t emit any light, instead just bizarrely disappearing into nothingness, as though having evaporated.
Lan Jue smiled slightly, then slowly walked in.
When he stood without moving, everything around him seemed to be gently contorting and distorting. After walking straight for roughly half a minute, the sense of distortion finally disappeared, and everything returned to normal.
This was an extremely large underground wine cellar. The wine racks were made from the finest quality French white oak of the previous era, and they were laid out neatly, stretching so far into the distance that one couldn’t see an end to them. Nearby, countless enormous oak barrels were heaped atop each other, taking up an entire section of the wall.
Although this wasn’t his first time here, Lan Jue still couldn’t help but sigh in praise. He really had no idea how the Wine Master had originally procured so many fine wines of the previous era and brought them to Skyfire City. And then, the Wine Master had used such incredible spacetime manipulation techniques to store them all here. Just the white oak wine racks alone were each worth over ten thousand New Era Dollars. The normal salary of a family living in Skyfire Star would generally only make a thousand New Era Dollars each month.
In this place, both space and time were frozen. If Lan Jue didn’t have that piece of metal floating atop his head, which constantly cast a soft glow around him, he would have been a frozen part of this place as well.
Only by freezing both time and space was it possible to keep these fine wines of the previous era in perfect condition.
Lan Jue slowly walked deeper inside. While walking, he stared at the rows of antique wine bottles and labels.
“Every single bottle here is top class! Truly, one bottle drank is one bottle gone forever.” While inspecting the bottles, he sighed in praised.
Suddenly, he seemed to sense something. Halting, he raised his head to stare in front of him.
There was a small lamp there, casting off a dim yellow glow. To an ordinary person, it was nothing more than a lamp. But Lan Jue was able to notice something tiny and minute regarding that lamp.
It was just a lamp, but halo of light it cast seemed to be a bit too large.
A faint layer of soft blue light began to shine in the area around Lan Jue’s body, and he began to levitate off the ground. When his body came into contact with that yellow halo of light, space suddenly began to distort itself once again.
He arrived in a different room. Compared to the outside room, this room was a bit smaller, roughly around five hundred square meters or so in size. The layout was identical to the outside.
The walls were lined with rows of standalone wine racks, filled with bottles of red wine.
When Lan Jue saw this, his eyes suddenly turned blue, a blue that was filled with electric light.
“What a fine fellow. This is the Wine Master’s treasure room! What a pity that I can only take one bottle.”
He, normally always so calm and graceful, couldn’t help but speed up his footsteps as he moved towards a wine rack. He lifted up a bottle of red wine and looked at that pure white wine label. His eyes were filled with infatuation and adoration, as though he were staring at an absolute beauty who had moved his heart.
Turning, he walked towards the yellow halo of light, but after but a single step, he halted.
A slightly evil smile appeared at the corner of his lips. “For its sake, the Wine Master might actually be so stingy as to renege on his word. I can’t give him that opportunity.” With a flip of his hand, from some unknown place, he retrieved a corkscrew specially designed for removing red wine corks.