“Go on, brother Zhao, I’m all ears.” Shi Mu frowned with concentration.
“So we are clear that this blade is impeccable in its sharpness and material, but I bet you are wondering why it weighs this much? I’m sure ordinary warriors, even though born with some strength, could never wield it without breaking an arm.” Zhao Ping said in a subdued tone, inducing Shi Mu to follow his train of thought.
Shi Mu settled his eyes on the black blade, deep in thought. Indeed, what Zhao Ping just said was definitely true. Blades were not famous for being light or flexible, but they do require the user to be able to move. If a blade is extremely heavy it is, unquestionably, a disadvantage to the user, and will likely make the blade no more than a heavy metal club, for all the user will be able to wield it. Furthermore, a mighty warrior, like himself, is not commonly seen, and he could enhance his strength even further with charm arts.
“Years ago, when I discovered this piece of meteoric iron years ago, I felt like I was on top of the world. So only god knows how much effort I’ve put into it. But there’s something strange about it, not in a bad way, probably. I’m sure you won’t believe this, but when it was finished it weighed only 50 kilograms at most.” Zhao Ming went on to relate the story with an air of mystery.
“Less than 50 kilos?” Shi Mu was taken by surprise.
“You know, I planned to sell it at first. But several days after its completion, something happened! The blade seemed to be growing, just like a human infant! Its weight doubled after a month, and by the end of the second month, it’d grown by another 50 kilo.” Zhao Ping let out a soft sigh, unable to explain the oddity.
“Really? So strange!” Shi Mu could only gape at Zhao Ping’s face, trying to extract some clues to the riddle. But it was obvious Zhao Ping was puzzled too.
“It does sound unreal, I know, but believe me, it’s real, a hundred percent solid fact! And it’s been growing heavier ever since, though at a slower rate. Even so, it already weighs 250 kilograms, and who knows when will stop growing? That’s why it’s not been the most popular item in my shop.” Zhao Ping poured out his grievances, forcing a smile.
“Indeed, it’s inexplicable, but, all in all, it must be the material, the meteoric iron.” Shi Mu spoke slowly, carefully choosing his words. Judging from Zhao Ping’s expression, this unprecedented news should not be a lie.
Zhao Ping agreed, releasing a heartfelt sigh, “I’m sure it is. So I asked around but nobody recognized the material. It may keep growing in weight. If this does not bother brother Shi, I’d really like you to have it, of course the price would not be low.”
“Who’d waste such a good chance? I want it even more now. May I ask the price?” Shi Mu answered without hesitation, assured by the prospect that, with his progress in the Heavenly Elephant Art, his physical strength would grow, too. So the blade befits him greatly. Zhao Ping showed a hint of indecisiveness in giving the price, and only raised five fingers after some thought.
“Fifty thousand silver?” Shi Mu asked tentatively.
“Five hundred thousand silver.” Zhao Ping answered seriously, and then went on to explain. “Brother Shi, I’m not demanding an unreasonable price. You know how much supplementary material it took me to forge this weapon, including some really precious stones and stuff used only for magic weapons. Five hundred thousand can barely cover the cost.” Zhao Ping’s tone was tinged with great earnestness, sounding really compelling. But Shi Mu’s knit brows did not relax in any way. All he had in his pocket was, at most, four hundred thousand silver, and the shortage of one hundred thousand was out of the question. Though the blade gratified him in every way, it would still be impracticable to spend his entire fortune on a weapon he just needed for the incoming competition.
However, Zhao Ping would not let go this optimum owner for the blade. An idea dawned upon him, and he suggested it with sparkling eyes, “Why not make a deal? Brother Shi can just pay sixty percent and the rest will be balanced if you agree to make some magic charms for me.”
“Good idea. But I’d like to know what kind of charms is brother Zhao asking for?” Shi Mu’s face lit up upon hearing the offer.
“Wait just a second.” Zhao Ping answered gladly, hurriedly going back into the inner room, he back with a piece of white paper. Shi Mu only had a cursory glance before he readily agreed. Things had turned out better than he had expected. Zhao Ping broke into a grin and said, “Perfect! I shall have the material for the charms sent to your place soon.”
Shi Mu nodded and took thee hundred thousand silver notes from his shirt, passing them to Zhao Ping. Suddenly, doubt was raised in his mind, “by the way, brother Zhao just mentioned that you used some magic material in forging the blade. So I was wondering if I could imprint some magic characters on it to make it a real magic weapon?” He seemed to halt when asking the question, since Shi Mu himself had never owned or made a magic weapon before, though he had gained a few inklings by reading a chapter in the Great Sutra of Magical Charms. The so-called magic weapons are those which have magic characters stamped on them, thus bestowing them with magic power. For example, by imprinting magic characters of fire element on a sword, it can spit out roaring flames, like a vicious dragon. How can an ordinary sword compare with it? However, not every sword can spit flames after being imprinted with magic characters: the weapon itself must be tough enough to withstand that instilled might. Therein lies the issue. However, it is said that there are heavenly weapons that beat all their kin, belonging to the realm of godly power. The weapons themselves even have a mind of their own, just like magical animals.
“Not a thought I’ve not considered. I do know some ways of making magic weapons, but, alas, the blade is too dense to be smelt by simple, not to mention imprinting patterns on it.” Zhao Ping shook his head at the idea, throwing Shi Mu a resigned smile.
This was not good news to Shi Mu. He did not buy this lump of black iron to see it untamed by magic. Zhao Ping discerned the gloom in his buyer's eyes, and hurriedly tried to console him by saying, “It’s not completely impossible. I heard, from a senior disciple in the Li Fire Group, that Uncle Ju, of the General Sutra House, has a Gold-Eroding lizard beckoned from another space. The lizard’s venom can erode nearly every kind of metal, by which I mean I’ve not heard of a metal it can’t devour.”
“Really?!” Shi Mu was too excited to believe.
“One hundred percent true. I’ve seen the sight with my own eyes. The senior disciple got a bit of its venom to imprint characters on a sword which has nearly impossible to dent. The venom dissolved the surface in a second. So I bet it can do the same to this black blade.” Zhao Ping answered with an utmost confidence in the lizard, as if he himself was its owner, or maybe he was the lizard itself.
“Thanks for brother Zhao’s instruction! Seems I’m going to have to pay Uncle Ju a visit.” Shi Mu clasped his hands reverently and replaced the blade into its case, then he slipped the case under his arm. After bidding goodbye to Zhao Ping, he ran to the General Sutra House.
Some forty minutes later, he arrived at the second floor of his destination.
“Why, it’s you again! What’s your business this time?” A shrill cry welcomed Shi Mu’s ears as soon as he entered the reception room.
In the huge golden cage, the parrot, Vibrant[A], was beating its wings against the sides, its head cocked to give Shi Mu a sidelong look.
It’s been days seeing you readers again! The weather in Beijing changes a lot recently, and I really enjoyed the day when it drizzled on and off. But sunshine is definitely more warmly welcomed, since I can have my quilts aired. My rabbits (believe me they eat more than me) enjoy the occasional sun-bathing, too, as they appeared to be. :) Keep high spirits in school and work! The story's gonna be REALLY exciting!