Ye Chong tailed Hei Zi to the backyard. It was a new spot of Nan Nan’s home to Ye Chong as Hei Zi had never brought Ye Chong there before. The backyard was not totally secluded however, it was merely because Ye Chong had been to busy minding his own business to take a peek at someone else’s backyard. The place was spacious but Ye Chong's animalistic intuition suggested him a kind of danger lurking in the place. He could smell it! In addition, Hei Zi was also acting quite cautiously as he led the road, "Stick to me. Closely!" he reminded from time to time as they moved. Ye Chong followed him closely, where he even mimicked the pace of Hei Zi’s step. Ye Chong did not intend to try anything funny at that moment. Certainly there was some catapulting or killing machine hidden in such an ordinary backyard…
"Great!" Mu’s voice rang, he sounded impressed, "This is a creative security." Unfortunately there was no processor to transmit the data he received from the surrounding. Ye Chong could not speculate what sort of "creative security" there was in the yard. Well, if Mu complimented it, probably it should be rather powerful by nature. Regarding creativity… Who cares?
Since Mu had kind of "warned" about it, Ye Chong walked on as he literally laid the exact step as Hei Zi’s.
At the inner area of the yard there was a giant house made out of stones and bricks. It looked pretty normal from the outside. "Ye, let me remind you that the walls contain a fairly thick and highly dense alloy board." The next comment had justified Ye Chong the anomaly of this house, "It also contains a certain standard of anti-detection ability."
"Anti-detection ability?" Ye Chong wowed, "A certain standard of?" He became confused… What in the Haleyson he meant by "a certain standard"? What kind of "standard"? Mu shouldn’t be using a word this vague… Wasn't there usually a range of figures at least?
"Mhm, that is correct. A certain standard of anti-detection ability, which even though are ineffective against me, it is effective even on the most advanced detection systems in the market," explained Mu. "I see." Ye Chong was enlightened.
He realized how roomy the inside was too. A purplish brown board was hung at the wall right opposite them, with a calligraphy written, "The Spirit Shines in the Bones of the Blade*". Ye Chong’s attention was not on the meaning behind it, rather he wondered if the calligraphy was well-done, but he had zero expertise on calligraphy that he could not give his comment! There were numerous strange-looking apparatuses laid around the room while a variety of odd-looking things were scattered over the floor. A careful glance and Ye Chong recognized some of them! Those should be some skeletons of mutated lifeforms! He had seen countless of these back on Trash Planet-12! While the others… Ye Chong took a better glance… he could not tell. The texture was really peculiar though… with some of them having a metallic gloss.
"These are some substandard products… some people called it ‘defective products’… Well, they are defective by nature but it’s kind of a waste if we just throw them out of the window. So my master kept them here, considering how sometimes these could be useful recyclables!" Hei Zi looked much more relieved after getting into the house as he joyfully explained to Ye Chong.
Hei Zi’s step was broadened as they had arrived at the center of the house after a brief moment of conversation. A few taps on the interface and a few turns on the knob, Hei Zi clicked the apparatus by his side. He led Ye Chong to a corner after that. There was somehow… a square hollow at the ground. A flight of stairs was extended to the underground. The taps and turns were probably triggers to the opening here! Such an exceptional design! Hiding the switch inside here among the sea of junks and apparatuses, it sure would be a hassle for an intruder to even find the entrance.
Little glimmer shone through the first few steps by the hole. The staircases seemed endless… Ye Chong could not tell the end of the stairs, he could barely see the bottom! It should be a very, very deep underground… Why do these people like to get themselves this deep under the surface? Ye Chong did not get the logic behind this.
"Come," Hei Zi initiated his steps as he walked downstairs. Ye Chong could do nothing else than tailing him quickly. "Mhm?" The place was of total darkness the moment Ye Chong got down, as the moving flooring on the surface had been closed. Ye Chong was a little surprised the fact that he was not aware of the flooring closing up. If it was not the sudden change of lighting, he could not tell… as he could hardly hear a sound from the surface even with his hearing. This was a trivial detail yet it was convincing enough to tell Ye Chong that even the flooring was of great craftsmanship!
"Now…" Stated Hei Zi as they walked on, "This is the real workshop. My master works here usually. And I’m here most of the time too. But I’m still doing the hammering, I’m not working on the important part." His voice was already loud on the surface, it sounded like a roaring buzz underground.
"Oh," Ye Chong responded as he followed on. He still had the slightest idea on calling from Nan Nan’s grandfather… The place was really concealed too, unlike the backyard… They should not be bringing guests for a simple greeting or whatever… Then what was this? Ye Chong did not worry about his own safety though. He was confident of his strength back then, besides, he had the Guardian, which indisputably was the lord of fighters!
And there was Mu too!
Yeah, that’s the point!
The stairs were much longer than he expected. It went way, way, down under the ground. Luckily they moved pretty quickly which the glimmering exit turned brighter and Ye Chong could hear the clinks of the machines. And Ye Chong sensed the ground shaking a little as they got to the bottom. No wonder they had it so deep into the ground! The shake would have alarmed anyone nearby!
What were they doing down here? Ye Chong was intrigued, very intrigued.
At the end of the stairs, a shocking scene awaited before him!
He did not predict such an airy space at the underground. This basement should have the size of a spaceship, he believed. The roof was of a metallic silver… which was unordinary as the frames appeared to be made out of metallic skeletons about an arm broad overlapping each other… The basement was not supported by any pillar! The skeletons were the only support to hold the room from collapsing! The lighting was great too. Ye Chong could see everything at one glance at least! By the stairs there were a rack of countless squares, which every of it contained a kind of parts of mech. It was the same part but of different models and qualities, so it looked dazzling to Ye Chong.
Overwhelming! These accessories were well-placed on the rack, like rows of armies. And judging by their appearance, Ye Chong could tell that all of these accessories were of top-quality! Such premium gears sitting together, it was like a parade, a carnival to Ye Chong. He was mesmerized, knowing that how many mechs one could make with these parts! It could fill the entire exhibition hall!
Between these racks there was an empty lane leading to elsewhere. Hei Zi gestured Ye Chong to move on this road.
On their way to the next destination, Ye Chong eyed the parts like a hungry wolf, covetous his sight wafted through the racks. "Great parts!" Mu reviewed with honesty, which further set Ye Chong on blaze!
"Really? Maybe I can show you some parts, only show, hahaha!"
Once Hei Zi stepped into a particular room, he went quiet completely, as his expression grew stern, even his steps came lighter.
After they left Ye Chong’s most adored area, he withdrew his longing sight and then he inspected the other places. Tightly connected to the area of parts of fantasy, there was an area filled with a lot of never-before-seen apparatus. The clinks and the booms came from these machines apparently. But they seemed a little outdated… they did not have the "techy" look of modern technology… However Ye Chong must admit that these machines were well-maintained. Likewise to the parts, the machines were properly placed too. An elderly was operating one of the machines and he seemed focused. The product was appearing in the machine. There was only a silhouette, but judging by the outline of the product, Ye Chong speculated it being some sort of connecting buckle of the mech’s inside.
Behind these machines there were tons of raw materials piling. Ye Chong could simply tell a few of them being the mutated lifeforms he recognized, like those he saw on the ground, but there were much more unidentifiable skeletons scattered on the floor.
With respect Hei Zi walked to the old man, he exchanged conversation with the old man in whispers, which Ye Chong could not hear a word. Nan Nan’s grandfather briefly pointed his machine and pointed the around, nodded as he turned to Ye Chong and he turned back to his work again. Hei Zi looked at Ye Chong awkwardly with a laugh. Well Ye Chong shook his head. It was okay, his face said. The old man probably asked him to wait as he was in the middle of something.
He waited for literally 30 minutes and finally Nan Nan’s grandfather had his work done, as he switched off the machine. The room turned dead silent after the machine was shut. The hair was snow-white on his head, his face looked laborious, "How do you feel…" His word came reluctant, "After seeing all these?" He forced a smile as he waved his arms open.
"Not bad!" Ye Chong replied concisely.
"Hehehe…" Nan Nan’s grandfather chuckled, "Good! Good! I was afraid that you aren’t even bothered with these outdated toys! You saved my beloved Nan Nan yet I could not find a chance to repay you. I heard from Hei Zi that you have a passion for mechs. You should have done quite some researches I assume? What I have here are some good old parts. I must admit, I don’t really know well about mechs… These parts happened to be the backup parts after the production on orders from the clients. Feel free to take any of these according to your needs. Well…" he chuckled again, "Piling here would only get all rusty. Nothing good would happen to them. Take them as a token of my appreciation. Don’t be shy, just take them on your liking! If you have any inquiry, you could ask my apprentice, Hei Zi. He knows the mechs much better than me. Yawnn…" His mouth went opened, "I'm so tired. I’m heading to bed now. Enjoy your excavation here, good night!" He dragged his steps to the other side piling with the raw materials, where there were 2 rooms surprisingly, those should be Hei Zi and his.
Well! Who cares!
Ye Chong was insanely merry! Was there anything much happier than this? He was naturally good at mech-assembling and Nan Nan’s grandfather was absolutely right! He, had passion! The parts might have looked all weird and foreign to him and there were a large number of them, but he had Mu! So no more worries!
After a moment of discussion with Ye Chong, Mu underwent a thorough scan over all parts in the area and had itemized them in various categories, grading and functions. "So how did you guys do mechs?" Ye Chong had a conversation with Hei Zi while waiting for the scan to be completed. Not only Mu did the scanning process, he also modified and improvised to generate a few final designs for Ye Chong’s reference.
Such a wonderful opportunity! Ye Chong was so obsessed with mechs at that moment. He could not wait! He was going mad as he could imagine himself swimming in the piles of treasure and embracing the liveliness of the gears! It was rare to have someone this generous, he had got to pick the best among them all!
"Well, generally you should start with the inside, it’s like the heart…" While they exchanged conversation, Hei Zi felt strange that Ye Chong had yet to make his move, wondering what in the Haleyson he was standing there when he should be picking the parts. The expression was relaxed too. "Ye Chong, you should be picking the parts you know, there are tons of them, it could take years to find the right part!" reminded Hei Zi.
"Understood." Ye Chong nodded but his legs remained rooted, "I too agree the inside is important, sometimes…" He just carried on the conversation with Hei Zi!
"So what are you guys known as?"
Hei Zi’s lips lifted, words came uttered.
It was only then Ye Chong was informed of their title.
They were the Skeleton Artisans!
The original word was "骨刀出魂"
Bone- Sword(or blade) - Out - Soul(or spirit)
Technically we tend to see similar terms at craftsman or blacksmith's place, which suggests whatever you made, make it with a kind of spirit (your passion) and the product would be the greatest, that it felt like the spirit was imbued.