Chapter 399 - A Powerful Opponent
Tang Wulin’s arms began moving faster and faster, his hammers thundering down upon the titanium crystal like a raging storm. Although forging hammers didn’t have a standard weight, hammers were generally better if they weighed more. Tang Wulin’s hammers certainly weren’t light. In spite of that, he swung them easily, his arms resembling a windmill as he continuously struck the titanium crystal. Crisp metallic notes resounding throughout the arena, and the sounds soon began ringing out so fast that they blended together to form one clear, everlasting note. The music of a craftsman filled the air. It was a wondrous experience for everyone in the audience.
Tang Wulin circled the metal as he forged it, continuously adjusting the angle of his strikes, but as time passed, no change seemed to occur to the titanium crystal’s mass. It was almost as if Tang Wulin’s strikes were too soft.
Can you even call that forging? Many of the spectating blacksmiths doubted Tang Wulin’s forging method. Although they were shocked by how precise Tang Wulin’s control was, they didn’t see how such light taps could be effective for refining the metal. Is he just using a flashy technique to try and show off? All that matters in the end is how much he can purify the metal! He’s only got thirty minutes. There’s no way he’ll be able to finish in time with such a gentle forging technique!
Tang Wulin’s forging astonished He Xiaopeng as well. The rhythmic hammering sent shivers down his spine, but a moment later, he regained his wits and turned his attention back to his own table.
The worst thing that could happen when two blacksmiths forged in close proximity was one being disturbed by the other. He Xiaopeng was just a youth, but he had started blacksmithing at a young age. His foundation as a blacksmith was impressive, and he easily pushed any distractions out of his mind. He made himself deaf to Tang Wulin’s hammering and focused on his own work.
Of all the blacksmiths present, only Feng Wuyu subtly nodded in approval of Tang Wulin’s actions, a proud smile forming on his lips.
“Why is he forging like that?” Zhuo Shi couldn’t help but ask Feng Wuyu. He may have been the powerful Scarlet Dragon Douluo, but he knew little more than the next person when it came to blacksmithing.
At that moment, possibly because he was overcome with pride in Tang Wulin, Feng Wuyu didn’t just outright patronize Zhuo Shi. “Look carefully. It might look like Wulin is forging it very gently, but each strike carries just enough force to penetrate the titanium crystal. Although it hasn’t reduced in size, the golden threads inside the metal are being manipulated, almost as if he were spinning silk from it. He’s straightening the golden threads first so he can find the veins and life source of the titanium crystal. Once he accomplishes that, he will then awaken its spirit. He’s forging it from inside out! This is the most suitable forging method for a high-quality metal like titanium crystal. Of course, laymen like you would never have heard of this. Only blacksmiths rank fifth and above are capable of using this technique, and even then, not everyone can do it.”
Feng Wuyu chuckled with satisfaction. “Just you wait. You’ll see how skilled my disciple is!”
Zhuo Shi rolled his eyes at Feng Wuyu’s smug expression, but didn’t bother responding. He was just happy that someone knew how talented his granddisciple was.
And Feng Wuyu was right. Anyone watching closely would be able to see the golden threads within Tang Wulin’s piece of titanium crystal gradually transforming. The rough edges of the metal started becoming smooth, and most importantly, the golden threads shone brighter and brighter as he continued to hammer the metal.
It was then that He Xiaopeng finally started his forging process. He pushed the button on the table and a glowing hot piece of titanium crystal appeared. Unlike Tang Wulin’s piece, the golden threads within He Xiaopeng’s couldn’t be seen at all. It simply looked like a ball of fire.
A pair of pitch-black hammers appeared in He Xiaopeng’s hands, and he struck with both hammers. Two thundering bangs resounded throughout the arena. The titanium crystal quivered from the impacts, but thanks to the calcining process, it didn’t shatter. He Xiaopeng continued forging like so. His method was no different from what other blacksmiths considered the norm. His hammers descended like lightning, the boom of each strike ringing out in unison.
While Tang Wulin’s forging sounded like the pitter patter of symphonic rain, He Xiaopeng’s was a raging thunderstorm! Each and every one of his strikes rumbled. One blacksmith worked as fast as possible while the other progressed slow and steady. Their forging styles were on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
The blacksmiths in the audience guessed that Tang Wulin was using some special forging technique, but they couldn’t fathom why he chose a different method from He Xiaopeng.
“Hey.” Zheng Yiran nudged Yang Nianxia who stood beside her. “If it were you, would you do the same thing as Tang Wulin?”
Yang Nianxia answered in a hushed tone. “I would do what He Xiaopeng is doing. He’s relying on the strength of his hammer strikes to untangle the golden threads within the titanium crystal and purify it. However, this method is difficult to us because of the metal’s strength and brittleness. The titanium crystal has to be heated to a really high temperature and one has to have perfect control over their hammers to use that method. If He Xiaopeng uses too much strength, the metal will shatter. Too little strength, and nothing will happen. It takes a lot of skill and practice to control hammers that well. He’s definitely a better blacksmith than me. He should be a fourth-rank blacksmith. This will definitely be a good show.”
“What about Tang Wulin?” Zheng Yiran asked.
Yang Nianxia furrowed his brow. “I can’t make sense of what he’s doing. It might be accurate to say he’s using gentleness to forge the hardness, but I’m not sure why he’s doing that for titanium crystal. He probably has his own reasons.”
“You sure have a lot of faith in his skills.” Zheng Yiran raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure we won’t lose this match?”
Yang Nianxia smiled wryly. “I’ve always thought of myself as crafty, but the Class President is just downright two-faced! That guy doesn’t do anything if he isn’t confident he’ll succeed. Besides, blacksmithing is his forte. He can even forge a spirit alloy for a piece of one-word battle armor. Do you really think he could lose? To me, that’s impossible! Oh, right. Don’t you know? He’s a fifth-rank blacksmith.”
“I’m not a blacksmith. How would I know?” Zheng Yiran began to stare at Yang Nianxia in astonishment as this news registered in her mind. “Wait, where’d you hear that?”
“Do you really need to ask? He has a spirit alloy! It normally takes a sixth-rank blacksmith to forge a spirit alloy. There’s no way he’s at the sixth rank, so he’s got to be at the fifth! He is really talented after all.”
Fifth-rank… The thought made Zheng Yiran feel shame. Tang Wulin was only in the first grade, yet he was a fifth-rank blacksmith! Never before in Shrek Academy history had a blacksmith as talented as him appeared. And, out of all the professions, it was the hardest to advance as a blacksmith!
Seconds ticked by, and soon enough, fifteen minutes had passed for Tang Wulin. He only had another fifteen remaining.
Judging by how much smaller each titanium crystal had become, He Xiaopeng was the clear winner. His piece had shrunk by one-tenth of its original size and it showed no signs of cracking. This was a testament to his skill. In contrast, Tang Wulin’s piece was now orange, but it hadn’t shrunk at all. Indeed, such gentle strikes couldn’t possibly reduce the titanium crystal’s mass.
Tang Wulin didn’t look concerned. His entire being was focused on forging, his eyes narrowed as he swung his hammers at a steady pace.
All of a sudden, an earsplitting boom shook the arena as He Xiaopeng slammed his hammers into his titanium crystal one final time. A beam of brilliant golden light shot out of it, reaching a foot into the air.
It had been first-grade thousand refined with spirit!
Cries of astonishment echoed from off-stage. The appearance of the beam of light signalled a successful thousand refining, and a first-grade one at that! A first-grade thousand refined metal simply couldn’t be compared to normal metal.
He Xiaopeng put away his hammers and stepped back. His chest moved up and down as he worked to catch his breath. The beam of light persisted for a few seconds then gradually dispersing.
He Xiaopeng was now finished forging. All he needed to do now was let the metal slowly cool down from its glowing red state.