Chapter 398 - The First Match
Shen Yi stepped forward, coming to a stop at the edge of the platform that overlooked the arena. “The first match of today is the blacksmith’s exchange. The subject is metal purification. Both of you will be granted a piece of titanium crystal and will have thirty minutes to purify it. Whoever is able to purify it the most will be the winner. They will also be granted one thousand points, some course credit, and permission to keep both finished products. The first grade will receive thirty percent more if they win.”
Titanium crystal? Tang Wulin furrowed his brow at the thought.
Some metals were especially hard to forge, a fact that was almost always the result of extreme innate qualities. They were usually too hard or too soft. Titanium crystal was definitely one such metal. It was infamously hard to purify, exceedingly tough, and just as brittle. If a blacksmith used too much strength to forge it, or too little even, they would fail. Blacksmiths had to put a lot more effort into forging metals like it to get a decent result, and because of this, few were capable of forging titanium crystal.
However, titanium crystal became far stronger than other metals after being purified and refined. It was common for highly-skilled blacksmiths to add some to an alloy to raise that alloy’s strength. As a reflection of its amazing properties, titanium crystal cost sixty times more per kilogram than heavy silver!
With all that in mind, when Shen Yi declared that the winner could keep both of the forged products, Tang Wulin and He Xiaopeng’s gazes sharpened. Their eyes burned hot with determination, which was especially true for Tang Wulin since he understood just how valuable titanium crystal was. It was nearly impossible for the wealthy to obtain, not to mention normal civilians. The Federation considered it a strategic military resource and heavily restricted its supply. Tang Wulin never expected the Academy to offer two pieces just like that.
A piece of titanium crystal sat atop both of the forging tables on the stage. Each was about a foot in diameter and abnormally round, almost resembling a crystal ball. Countless intertwining golden threads could be seen within both pieces.
The difficulty in forging titanium crystal lay in the need to simultaneously reduce its bulk while untangling the golden threads inside of it. The better the threads were handled, the better the final product would be. It was said that the Tang Sect’s founder had used the golden threads of a titanium crystal to craft a powerful hidden weapon.
Back in Eastsea City, Tang Wulin had been fortunate enough to get the chance to forge some titanium crystal. Mu Chen was the one to thank for that opportunity, but in return, Tang Wulin hadn’t been allowed to keep the titanium crystal after forging it. To the Blacksmith’s Association, it was a rare commodity. Yet, just the experience of forging it was extremely valuable to Tang Wulin. And that experience now brought him confidence.
With practiced movements, Tang Wulin and He Xiaopeng placed their pieces within the forging table and began calcining the titanium crystal. Different metals took different lengths of time to calcine. The forging table they both used was top of the line, loaded with the latest tech that made it beyond easy to control the temperature and calcining period. Every blacksmith had their own forging style, and this included how they calcined metal. It was a matter of what forging philosophies they followed.
“The timer will begin once you finish calcining the metal,” Shen Yi said.
Tang Wulin and He Xiaopeng focused on calcining the metal. Neither spoke a single word. Coincidentally, the two also closed their eyes.
The Titled Douluos watching from the platform gave slight nods of approval. Shrek Academy had spared no effort in raising blacksmiths in recent years, even granting extra credit to skilled blacksmiths who took the entrance exam. The Academy was simply too lacking in the blacksmith’s department. This was also why Feng Wuyu personally led the Blacksmith’s Association and focused on rapidly developing it. Shrek Academy aimed to nurture a Divine Blacksmith. It had numerous Titled Douluos, but few four-word battle armor masters. This was all due to the fact that only one Divine Blacksmith currently lived.
That was Zhen Hua, the President of the Blacksmith’s Association, and the only person in existence who could heavenly refine metal!
As the President of the Blacksmith’s Association, there was a limit to how much preference Zhen Hua could show Shrek Academy. There were other major powers that he needed to forge for. His schedule was packed beyond belief, and he could only meet a small portion of the forging requests he received. All powers were doing their best to entice him to work for them, but in the end, he was only one man, the only Divine Blacksmith in the world.
Feng Wuyu had been a Saint Blacksmith for many years now, but he knew he was a ways away from becoming a Divine Blacksmith. Truth be told, it was practically impossible for him. He had started walking the path of a blacksmith too late. His high cultivation level allowed him to reach his current level in blacksmithing, but in order to advance further, he needed more than just that.
This was why he placed his hopes on Tang Wulin. In his eyes, Tang Wulin was a promising youth who could one day learn to heavenly refine and become the next generation’s Divine Blacksmith.
Although there were far fewer blacksmiths than any other profession, Shrek Academy had a total of twenty in its first and second grades because of the resources it put into recruiting them. Eighteen of them sat in the audience with bated breath, waiting for Tang Wulin and He Xiaopeng to start forging.
Tang Wulin spread his arms, a silver hammer appearing in each of his hands. He pressed a button on the forging table, signalling that the titanium crystal was done calcining. The forging table split in the middle, opening up and allowing a glowing red piece of titanium crystal to rise from its depths.
Situated across from Tang Wulin, He Xiaopeng noticed what was happening. His ear twitched and he furrowed his brow.
The blacksmiths in the audience all cried out in alarm. “He finished so quickly?”
A barrier sealed the stage off from the outside world, so neither Tang Wulin nor He Xiaopeng could hear the surprised shouts. The audience was utterly shocked.
Even the blacksmiths of the first grade, Yang Nianxia included, didn’t dare believe their eyes. They all knew that, due to how brittle titanium crystal was, it required a longer calcining period than normal. Only by calcining it longer would it become soft and easier to forge.
To them, Tang Wulin had calcined it too quickly. He had only allowed it to calcine for as long as any other metal. Everyone in the audience was more or less thinking the same thing. Could it be…? Does he not understand what titanium crystal is? If he doesn’t, then he’s in trouble!
When forging titanium crystal, a blacksmith’s greatest fear was the possibility of it cracking. If it did, its quality would immediately plummet. This fear, as well as any other kinds of damage, was also the reason why it was stored away immediately after being mined.
Has our Class President never forged this metal before? To be fair, it is really rare.
Tang Wulin was oblivious to what was going on off-stage. His eyes only reflected the glowing piece of titanium crystal. The forging table had closed back up, and the titanium crystal now sat atop it. Without even the slightest bit of hesitation, Tang Wulin swung his left hammer. Tang Wulin was about to show them the art of forging.
He’s already starting?
Tang Wulin’s hammer struck the titanium crystal, three melodious notes filling the air. They were the gentlest of strikes, all of which sounded like a pin dropping to the ground. Each note was crisp and clear for everyone to hear. They were music to the ear.
Tang Wulin’s right hammer followed soon after, and another set of sweet sounds rang out. His hands moved deftly in concert with each other, gently striking the titanium crystal as if he were softly pricking it with needles, filling the air with a delicate symphony.