Chapter 525 - Spirit Refined and Nurtured Life
Tang Wulin was completely focused. The only thing that mattered was his craft. Every swing of his hammers was filled with purpose. Time mattered not. His work was slow but thorough as he coaxed the blue coppertite to life.
The clock ticked on, and soon another half hour passed. Tang Wulin had been forging twice as long as his opponent had, and only then did a gentle glow finally appear around the coppertite. The spirals on the coppertite’s surface danced, swirling across it until they gathered at the front of the metal. The spirals were a pure blue, the same as the sparkling sea. The coppertite had not a single mar and life energy radiated from it in waves.
Lin Yuhan stared wide-eyed. She had been watching Tang Wulin work ever since she finished, barely starting to understand just how skilled her opponent was. She originally believed he didn’t stand a chance at winning this round, especially since he was taking more than twice as long as she had. Even if he succeeded in spirit refining the blue coppertite, she hadn’t seen any way his piece could surpass the quality of hers. The fact that he was taking so long meant his chances of success were low, and there was no way Zhen Hua could skew the results with so many people watching.
However, Lin Yuhan was now shaken to the core of her being. While she had granted her coppertite life, Tang Wulin was calling forth the life within his! Instead of simply using his soul power to give his coppertite life, he had been nurturing the ember of sentience that had appeared when he thousand refined it.
There were many ways to spirit refine a metal. Tang Wulin was using the most difficult way, the one that produced metals with the most powerful life energy, and greatest spirit. It was an extremely difficult method that required vast amounts of both soul power and life energy. It was impossible for most blacksmiths to use it since martial souls related to life energy were rare, and none dared pay the cost with their own life energy. Tang Wulin was only able to use it because of his wealth of blood essence.
Zhanggong Yan furrowed his brown, frowning as he watched Tang Wulin forge. He couldn’t help but think there was some deeper meaning to him choosing such a difficult method. It was unthinkable for a three-ringed soul master to succeed. The only chance of success he saw was in Tang Wulin’s dense soul power, which seemed unaffected as he continued to forge.
It wasn’t until half an hour later that Tang Wulin suddenly took a deep breath and slammed both his hammers onto the blue coppertite. The metal cried with joy, the wails of a newborn child. Life energy burst from it, so dense that nearly tangible motes of energy floated in the air, rushing into Tang Wulin’s body. The child was repaying its parent for granting it the gift of life! It was spirit refined with life, the highest level possible for spirit refined metals!
Zhen Hua gawked at the sight. He can already spirit refine to such a degree?
Cheers erupted from the crowd. Every blacksmith in the hall was proud of their young colleague’s accomplishment. In the midst of it all, a small smile tugged at Tang Wulin’s mouth. After so long, his soul power was nearing rank 40. Having been compressed and purified by the Mysterious Heaven Method and influenced by his bloodline, his soul power was much more potent than other soul masters at his level. His understanding of life far exceeded that of his peers as well, a testament to the countless hours he spent in Shrek Academy’s specialized cultivation space immersing himself in the vibrant life of plants. He infused all this into his hammers to produce his latest shining achievement. His spirit refining success rate already surpassed most fifth-rank blacksmiths, especially when spirit refining with life.
Although Tang Wulin had taken much longer than Lin Yuhan, his product was of higher quality. It also had potential for growth. While it could never be soul refined, it could still be used to forge an alloy. The value of spirit refined metal that possessed life was far beyond that of ordinary spirit refined metal.
The gentle hum of Tang Wulin’s coppertite persisted a full minute before slowly fading. This piece wasn’t as dazzling as Lin Yuhan’s, but it had an aura to it that pulsed with life, just like a heart. It was enchanting to all who looked upon it.
Lin Yuhan opened her mouth to speak, clearly unable to accept this result, but no words came out.
Zhen Hua walked over to Tang Wulin, a proud smile plastered on his face. He picked up the piece of blue coppertite and examined it. “Not bad. You’ve improved.”
Tang Wulin grinned, then sat down cross-legged on the floor. He immediately began meditating, seeking to recover his strength after that hour-and-half of intense forging. He was exhausted in both mind and body.
“What do you say, Brother Zhanggong?” Zhen Hua asked, turning his gaze to the elderly man.
“It looks quite good. I’ll concede this round to you,” Zhanggong Yan said with a hint of bitterness on his face. He thought his disciple was guaranteed to win this round, yet they had been defeated.
Both Tang Wulin and Lin Yuhan had succeeded in spirit refining their respective pieces of blue coppertite, but granting life and nurturing life were on two completely different levels. Nurturing life was the peak of spirit refining. Even for Zhanggong Yan himself, it was a difficult task. Nurturing life in metal wasn’t a simple matter of being at the appropriate level of cultivation or possessing sufficient blacksmithing skill. The difference between the two was fundamentally dependent on one's martial soul. Without a martial soul that possessed intense life energy, it was impossible to reach the peak of spirit refining.
However, Zhen Hua shook his head. “Although Wulin spirit refined his piece to a slightly higher grade, your disciple took much less time and even imbued her piece with lightning. Realistically speaking, unless another spirit refined metal of the same grade is found to forge an alloy with this piece of blue coppertite, there’s no difference between Wulin’s piece and an ordinary spirit refined one. He also took three times as long to refine it. It’s our loss.”
Zhanggong Yan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He blinked a few times before gathering his wits and saying, “But Yuhan had the advantage with her blue coppertite hammers.”
Zhen Hua chuckled. “Both sides get to choose a metal. Of course you would choose one that was favorable for you. Wulin will do the same in the next round. You’ve won the first round. Now let us prepare for the second. We’ll begin in ten minutes.”
Determination returned to Zhanggong Yan’s eyes like roaring flames. He felt the absolute confidence radiating from Zhen Hua and could tell just how strict the man was himself. Zhen Hua stood at the peak of all blacksmiths. He left no room for bargaining when it came to assessing a metal’s quality. It was true that in terms of practicality, Lin Yuhan’s piece was a match for Tang Wulin’s. But the quality of a product was what usually won a match like this, now how practical it was.
Yet Zhanggong Yan couldn’t bring himself to deny Zhen Hua when he framed things like that. He desperately desired this victory. Furthermore, Zhen Hua had declared that both competitors would only be able to rest for ten minutes. This was clearly disadvantageous for Tang Wulin who was far more exhausted than Lin Yuhan. Ten minutes was not nearly enough time for him to recover completely. Even if Tang Wulin got to choose a metal he favored for the second round, his advantage wouldn’t be much. The gap in soul power, however, would pose a challenge for him. Lin Yuhan had a great chance to win again.
Despite accepting this freebie from Zhen Hua, Zhanggong Yan couldn’t help but admire the Divine Blacksmith. This was a man worthy of being the President of the Blacksmith’s Association.
Ten minutes later, the second round began.
Behind his table, Tang Wulin declared, “I choose heavy silver.”
Heavy silver didn’t have any peculiar characteristics and was one of the metals that most blacksmiths started with. Compared to blue coppertite, it was a much more common, normal metal to work with. All blacksmiths knew it well.
Lin Yuhan raised an eyebrow. Did he choose heavy silver because it’ll easier for him to spirit refine it? There’s no way he’ll be able to forge another life-nurtured metal.
Nurturing life in metal was a difficult and exhausting task. It taxed every fiber of a blacksmith’s being. Unless that blacksmith was a Saint Blacksmith, it was impossible to spirit refine life-nurtured metal two times in a row.
As they heated up their respective pieces of heavy silver, Lin Yuhan watched Tang Wulin carefully. Feeling her gaze, Tang Wulin flashed a refreshing smile at her. The sight caused her heart to thump. Warmth rushed to her cheeks, and she looked down at her table, trying to focus on the task at hand. She refused to let herself be influenced by him. She couldn’t. Above all else, blacksmiths needed to concentrate.
Moments later, the heavy silver finished calcining, and a glowing red piece of it rose from within each of their tables.
Lin Yuhan took a deep breath and gently tapped her piece with her hammer. Heavy silver, huh? Spirit refining will be no problem at all. I wonder if he’ll be able to do it too?
A boom shook the hall.
Tang Wulin had slammed his hammer down upon his piece of heavy silver.