Chapter 193 – For the Money!
"Champion? But we're still eleven! Xie Xie told me that we would have to compete against people who are ten to fifteen years old. That's a bit…"
Wu Zhangkong coldly said, "Age does not determine one's strength. You just need to try your best. The outcome is not the most important thing, understood?"
"Yes," Tang Wulin answered.
"You can leave now. Go prepare for tomorrow's trip to Skysea City. All of the participants from Eastsea City will be leaving together, so you don't have to worry about meeting up with your colleagues from the Blacksmith's Association."
For the past month, Tang Wulin had been entirely focused on preparing for the blacksmith's competition. Although he could not yet forge a first-grade metal, his success rate for second-grade metals had already risen to more than eighty percent. Even among other fourth rank blacksmiths, such a success rate was rarely seen.
As Mu Chen had said, Tang Wulin's inability to forge a first-grade metal was not due to a lack of understanding, but a deficiency of soul power.
Soul power was the foundation of soul masters, and it was also crucial to blacksmiths. The higher one's soul power, the higher the chances of imbuing spirit into metal during forging. Even if he was a divine genius in the realm of blacksmithing, his status as a one-ringed soul master would only hinder his advancement in the craft.
According to Mu Chen's guess, Tang Wulin would immediately be able to forge first-grade metals once he possessed two rings.
His training menu under Mu Chen did not change; it was still focused on solidifying his foundation in preparation for the future. After all, he was still young and did not need to take risks in order to achieve a first-grade Thousand Refined creation.
What Tang Wulin had not expected, however, was that they would be one of the teams representing Eastsea Academy and they would be competing in the junior division for the soul master team battles, no less.
Although he was shocked, he was also eager for combat.
Locked within an abyss of suffering for the past month, Tang Wulin t had not visited the spirit ascension platform even once. Instead, he faced Wu Zhangkong in battle every day. He would rather face a ten-thousand-year soul beast than fight Wu Zhangkong; after all, he had personally witnessed his teacher slaughter a ten-thousand-year soul beast as if it were just a walk in the park!
The only fruit that was born from that night's victory was an escalation in the intensity of their training. Even while combining their forces and utilizing the dirtiest of schemes, they could not hold a candle to a three-ringed Wu Zhangkong. As the team captain, Tang Wulin took the brunt of Wu Zhangkong's attacks, each battle leaving him covered in bruises and cuts.
Yet, it was precisely because of such harsh circumstances that their coordination and soul power improved so quickly.
Tang Wulin could sense that he was but one step away from reaching rank 17 now.
However, his intense cultivation schedule conflicted with his forging practice leading him to be unable to meet his task quotas. Naturally, his income tanked.
Whenever Tang Wulin thought of the Skysea Alliance Tournament, his pulse would pound incessantly and his eyes redden until they were bloodshot at the thought of the award money that would solve quite a few of his current problems.
Now that he was a fourth rank blacksmith, his potential income skyrocketed and he had been able to clear his debt to Wu Zhangkong. His wallet wept at its empty pockets.
"Teacher Wu." Before walking through the door, Tang Wulin suddenly spun around. "Is there an award for participating in the tournament?"
Wu Zhangkong stared at him. "If the team performs well, there will be one. Although there is a monetary award given to the top thirty-two, the sum only becomes significant once you breach the top sixteen. As for receiving an endowment from the academy, all of you are already draining the academy's resources dry. Especially you. Your food expenses are nearly enough to feed the entire intermediate division. Tell me, do you still want a reward?"
Tang Wulin dared not speak out. Instead, he stuck his tongue out like a little rascal.
But was the truth not spoken? He knew that he was just shoveling in that high-class, nutritious food that aided in his cultivation, seemingly to no end. Obviously, the expenses for such nourishment were high. With all that healthy food, his cultivation was progressing at a magnified rate, even to the point where preparing to break through the second seal seemed more feasible than ever
The fact that he could even eat such delicious food often brought him joy.
"Teacher Wu, can I participate in the individual competition then? Maybe I'll be able to enter the top thirty," Tang Wulin probed. He could not afford to let a single lucrative opportunity slip away.
His attitude toward money had changed after all the pain and suffering he went through just to be able to purchase his first spirit soul. If he had more money back then, then he would not have been forced to settle for a trash spirit soul.
Since then, Tang Wulin vowed to rake in the money in the future, to the extent where he would never have to worry about making ends meet.
If Mu Chen ever discovered his disciple's true reason for forging, he would have hopped up and down from rage.
"If you're not worried about being tired, then you can go ahead," Wu Zhangkong answered with an apathetic edge.
Tang Wulin said, "As long as the schedules don't in conflict, I'm confident I won't get tired. I'll have to inconvenience you to help me sign up then." At the very least, the boy had some faith in his strength. Although he did not wield two rings as of yet, he did hold a thousand-year soul ring! His thousand-year Bluesilver Grass was a major source of confidence for him.
When he returned to the dormitory, Tang Wulin found his friends already at the door waiting for him.
"How was it? What's the situation?"
Faced with their inquiries, Tang Wulin quickly briefed them on his conversation with Wu Zhangkong.
"I'll join the individual competition too," Gu Yue said earnestly.
Xie Xie loftily said, "Me too!"
Xu Xiaoyan shook her head. "I think I'll pass. The competition isn't held at night, and even if it was, I lack the confidence. Participating as a substitute in the team competition is enough for me."
A mischievous smile appeared on Xie Xie's lips. "Say, if we really do become the champions, do you think Shrek Academy will come scout us? Maybe they'll invite us to join them?"
The corner of Xu Xiaoyan's mouth twitched ever so slightly. "Quit dreaming. Even if we do win first place, it's still just an unremarkable three-man competition at the Skysea Alliance Tournament. Use your common sense and think about what sort of status they have. I heard that there have never been more than one hundred students part of the inner court of Shrek Academy at a time, and each and every one of them is a monster. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call it a pond of dragons and a den of tigers. I also heard that even the chairman of the federation personally pays a visit to Shrek Academy's president twice a year. If Shrek Academy hadn't maintained a neutral stance during the three continent's feuds, do you think the Star Luo Continent and the Heaven Dou Continent would still exist?"
In shock, Tang Wulin asked, "Is Shrek Academy really that great?"
With utmost seriousness, Xu Xiaoyan said, "That's right. My family told me that it's a place completely separate from the world of us normal people. Shrek Academy recruits students once every three years, and each time there are less than one thousand people qualified to apply. It would be a small miracle if more than one hundred people are accepted at a time. In fact, sometimes only twenty or thirty people are accepted. But of those students, only one in ten can enter the inner court. It's quite obvious just how high their standards are.
" Shrek Academy's unfathomable quality is not something we have the privilege of understanding."
Tang Wulin and Xie Xie both exchanged a look. Although it was impossible for them to know what Shrek Academy was like, there was bound to be someone who did!
Teacher Wu! Don't the rumors say that Teacher Wu came from Shrek Academy?
If the admittance standards for Shrek Academy are that high, then just how amazing is Teacher Wu?
Tang Wulin said, "Even so, this is a great opportunity for us. Don't think too much about getting a high rank everyone; just do your best and gain some good combat experience. As long as we don't give up, we'll definitely have a shot at entering Shrek Academy one day!"