With each passing day, Junior Leopard's status in the Wu's ironware shop grew.
While other apprentices still practiced hammering down the wooden stakes repeatedly, he had been a helper in the smelting room and attempted to forge some simple ironware.
The Wu's Wild Hammering Skill, with 81 movements, originated from the technique of iron forging. Therefore, all of the Wu's descendants and disciples were taught to forge iron first, including the Wu's youngest generation. Only in this way were they able to become adept at the hammering skill and increase their practice speed in cultivation.
"Bang, Bang, Bang — !" Ignoring the other apprentices' envious glances, Junior Leopard wielded his hammer with bare arms. He was constantly pounding at the blade of a kitchen knife that was in front of him. Meanwhile, Old Xing, who used to be a craftsman, was standing beside him. He was observing the position of where he hammered down, the frequency in which he wielded the hammer, and the strength of his hit. Old Xing's reactions varied, sometimes he nodded, sometimes he shook his head, and sometimes he would teach Junior Leopard some new skills and tricks involving specific movements.
Don't speak about the apprentices outside, even young iron-forging teachers in this smelting room cast envious glances.
"Old Xing, you're so overly partial. There are so many apprentices, but you only teach Junior Leopard. You know, people will have opinions!"
In this harmonious atmosphere of "one hammering, another one teaching", a burst of disappointing sound came from behind. Junior Leopard kept forging iron as if nothing happened. Turning around, Old Xing saw Butler Lin walking in, and showed a glimmer of discontent.
"It's none of your business. For those boys, I'll teach them someday, if they can be as good as Junior Leopard. Well, all these years, I've stuck to this principle all the time, haven't I?"
"Right, right." Butler Lin smiled embarrassedly. Noticing Junior Leopard who was solely focusing on the work, his eyes inevitably revealed a strand of admiration. "Lu City's great steward Fang is coming. He's asking for you."
"Old Fang?!" Hearing that, Old Xing frowned and muttered worriedly, "I wonder why he arrived at such barren hills and turbulent rivers, rather than staying in Lu City."
"I don't know. From his mysterious appearance, there must be something important. You'd better go quickly."
"Ok!" Old Xing nodded and followed. Before leaving the smelting room, he didn't forget to remind Junior Leopard, "Junior Leopard, you should practice faithfully here, get it?!"
"You quite appreciate him!"
Walking a few steps along with Old Xing, Butler Lin said to Old Xing with a laugh.
"He's a rare genius. I believe he'll definitely pass the Selection Contest in two years."
"At that time, he'll still be a 10-year-old child. You had better wait another two years!" Great Steward Lin frowned and said, "Just as you said, he's a genius. Every one of Wu's apprentices only has three chances to take part in the Selection Contest. If he should fail, it would be such a waste of an opportunity."
"I believe he won't fail." Old Xing was full of confidence. "Don't tell me that Butler Lin you don't trust my judgment?"
"No, no, no, of course, I believe you. Your duty is to select and teach apprentices. I only care about my business, I'll not interfere in anything else!" said Butler Lin.
Then they stopped talking. After a while, they arrived and greeted the anxious big man dressed in brocade.
"Old Fang, you're such a rare visitor!" Old Xing said loudly. After seeing the man dressed in brocade, he finally smiled a little.
"Old Xing, you this old man," said the big man in brocade, smiling and coming forward.
"Great steward Fang, sorry to keep you waiting," Butler Lin said, moving forward.
"It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter!" Great steward Fang said, giving Butler Lin a wink.
Butler Lin understood, and dispatched the other people, including girls who were serving tea. Finally, the three of them were alone in the hall.
After sitting still, Old Xing asked directly, "Old Fang, for a busy man like you, you must come for a reason. So why are you here today?"
"It's about the Second Young Master," said great steward Fang. "I think you all know that Second Young Master has reached 10 years old. He also has begun to use the medicinal bath for Bone Forging!"
"Medicinal bath?!" Old Xing and Butler Lin nodded. Like the Wu's, generally speaking, well-known families would collect various Magic Drugs used to produce drugs and soups. Only their own children had the possibility to use them. After a medicinal bath, the drug effect would permeate through their muscles, bones, tendons, and vessels. Its purpose was to wipe out foreign matter, improve the potential, and lay a solid foundation for future practice. If so, they would save half the effort to gain the same result, when they practiced in the future. They would get results easier than ordinary people in both External Strength and Internal Strength.
But the medicinal bath was also very particular. There were various prescriptions with various effects for different people at different ages. Like martial arts skills, the drug prescriptions were also mastered by well-known families of all schools. It was the secret that common people could not reach. Even if they were lucky to have the access, they did not have the ability to collect all those precious herb materials.
"Second Young Master is blessed by the gods with excellent aptitude. Now it's the best time for him to have medicinal baths. What's wrong?" Old Xing asked, puzzled.
"Originally there's no problem, however, the Second Madam wants to add a sort of drug!"
"Adding a sort of drug?!" Old Xing and Butler Lin shockingly said. The drug could not be added casually. Through countless experiments and trials, forefathers created every drug prescription. It did not work when the amount of herb was more or less, let alone adding a new drug. How ridiculous it was to add a drug!
"Could it be---!" said Butler Lin. An idea occurred to him and his face turned weird.
"Yes, that's it!" Great steward Fang found that Butler Lin has already guessed right about the new drug. He nodded and said, "Dragon Grass!"
"Dragon Grass?!" cried Old Xing shockingly. He then asked seriously, "Does Second Madam have news about the Dragon Grass?"
"En!" Great steward Fang nodded and said, "It's within the Misty Mountain!"
"Of course there are Dragon Grass within the Misty Mountain, and there are also Evil Beasts. What you are saying is nonsense!" replied Old Xing annoyingly after hearing great steward Fang's reply. Misty Mountain had vast amounts of countless valuable herbs and beasts. Everybody knew that. Was there a need for him to say that?
Great steward Fang neglected Old Xing's complaints and went on, saying, "Second Madam receives the news that there are three stalks of Dragon Grass perching on the edge of Misty Mountain."
"Really?" Old Xing and Great Steward Fang were startled and stood up at the same time.
Dragon Grass was a sort of well-known grass in the world. Its sole function was to enhance the effect of the drug. After blending it into the medicinal bath, the drug effect would be increased by five times. For this reason, for hundreds of years, Dragon Grass was almost extinct. Now, it only remained in some deep mountains and forests and isolated places, and was extremely difficult to locate. Hence, it was really unexpected to know the specific location of it.
"How did Second Madam get the location?" Butler Lin asked.
"I don't know, however, you all should be aware that Second Madam is from Tian Long Daoism. She naturally has her secret sources." Great steward Fang threw up his hands helplessly and said.
"Your meaning is, we're asked to find Dragon Grass?" Butler Linn asked hesitantly. He was a smart person and was working for Second Madam, but he knew he was not an important one.
Where was Qingyang Market? It was just a sesame-seed-sized place, whose officer had little power. Compared with the Wu's, Qingyang Market was nothing, thus he was nobody. Otherwise, he would not be sent here. For today's thing, it obviously involved the struggle between First Madam and Second Madam — it was a power fight among the Wu's core members and it even affected the successor of the Wu's. Such a complicated thing had no place for him.
What would happen after he found Dragon Grass for Second Madam? If First Madam knew it, her mere finger would squeeze him to death. At that moment, Second Madam would not fight against First Madam over such a lowest-level butler.
Coming around to this reason, Butler Lin's face immediately dropped. So did Old Xing's. Old Xing was a boor but not a fool, he also did not want to be a part of it.
Noticing their faces, great steward Fang actually knew their misgivings. In fact, great steward Fang himself also did not want to be a part of it. But they had no choice.
He lightly shook his head and said, "I know what you're thinking, but there's no alternative. It's crucial for our livelihood. The thing has gone too far and left us no choice."
The hall fell into silence. Indeed, did they have another choice?
That was all right when they did not know it before. But now, unfortunately, they knew it, that was to say, they were forced to make a choice between First Madam and Second Madam. It was impossible to keep neutral without offending both sides.
"Old Fang. Old Fang. Damn, you put me in a bind!" said Old Xing, who raised his head and stared angrily at great steward Fang after a long silence.
"Do I have another choice?" Great steward Fang's face was more bitter than theirs. "By the way, this fact is not as horrible as what you imagined. That's why I ask you two instead of others."
"Due to what fools we are?" Old Xing bluntly asked.
"Bullshit, because till now, just four of us knew this thing in all of the entire Wu's."
"Yeah, four. We three, plus Second Madam. Nobody knows except us. At this time, it appeared that I set off from Lu City and paid a visit to an old friend. But the real purpose lay somewhere else."
"For Qingyang Market is the nearest town to Dragon Grass. You're leaders here who happened to have a quite close relationship with Second Madam's party. So you're the best choice."
Butler Lin and Old Xing were speechless and silent again.
"So, what time will we set out?"
"As soon as possible!" Great steward Fang said. "Just in case anything bad should happen. Second Madam has told me the specific location of Dragon Grass, which is not far away from here. As long as we cooperate together, we'll find it in three to five days. We'll definitely get it in our hands!"
"How does Second Madam know about it?" Butler Lin asked curiously. "She's never been here before?!"
"Second Madam didn't tell me the details. But, don't forget her background — !" Great steward Fang whispered.
After hearing great steward Fang's words, Butler Lin and Old Xing both revealed expressions of understanding.