When Bai Yunfei returned to his room, he did nothing else but spend the entire day pouring over the golden dagger Kou Changkong crafted. Every detail, every edge, and every mark was burned into Bai Yunfei’s head as he tried his best to learn something from it.
The second day had been spent in this same exact manner.
“Yunfei, I’ve already told you the most important details regarding the liquation phase. It’s up to you to try for yourself, let your teacher see what you’ve accomplished thus far.” Kou Changkong spoke to Bai Yunfei with a smile. Waving his right hand, a black fist-size ore appeared in his hand. “This is an identical vermiculite ore to the one I used the other day. Go ahead and try for yourself.” He handed it over.
“Yes, master.” Bai Yunfei replied dutifully. Taking the ore, Bai Yunfei studied it for a moment before sucking in a deep breath.
His eyes honed in on the ore, and soulforce began to pulsate and gather in his right hand.
Soon, a “bang” accompanied a dazzling flash of light as fire ignited in his palm, consuming the ore into its nonsolid body.
Grasped by the flames, the vermiculite ore floated several inches upwards. Combined with an even larger outport of soulforce, the flames grew even stronger and stronger so that the ore was gradually shrinking smaller and smaller.
Along with its shrinkage in size, the impurities within the ore was gradually being burned up, leaving behind a golden hue for the remaining parts.
Kou Changkong gave a smile and a nod at this sight.
But then Bai Yunfei suddenly upped the intensity of the flames, the golden liquid that was seeping out from the remaining parts of the vermiculite started to boil.
“Not quite there yet, Yunfei. Continue to liquate it.” Kou Changkong spoke.
Bai Yunfei nodded his head grimly and pushed even more soulforce into his hand so that the golden liquid started to shrink in size.
After a while, Kou Changkong’s voice suddenly came calling out in warning, “That’s enough! Yunfei, stop!”
A mental cry was let loose from Bai Yunfei as he cut off the flow of elemental fire, but it was too late. The previously golden liquid had exceed the limits of what it could sustain and was engulfed by the flames. As the flames died down, the darkened remains of the liquid could be seen pooled over his palm.
“M-master….” It was with a heavy heart that he looked to Kou Changkong in shame.
“Haha, don’t worry. Not being able to control the fire is normal at first.” Kou Changkong shook his head to console him. “Experience is achieved from countless failures. Don’t think that you can do everything in one try, that way of thinking has no way of bettering your ability even at the most important moments.”
This time, Kou Changkong materialized a pile of vermiculite about half Bai Yunfei’s height and placed it to the side before handing him a single red stone. “Continue on then. I won’t warn you this time, you’ll have to manage slowly by yourself.”
And so he accepted the ore so that he could try again to liquate it….
Four to five hours passed by now, and Bai Yunfei had only just managed to separate the essence of the fire-stone from its impurities.
The amount of red liquid in his hand was only just half the size of his fist, but Bai Yunfei held it over his sweat-laden head with pride.
Kou Changkong smiled. “Very good. We may now move onto the second phase. Yunfei, have a try with these three supplementary materials….”
An entire day had passed for Bai Yunfei to study and experiment each phase of the process under Kou Changkong’s supervision. Each time he tried however, it would end in failure.. By now, the amount of materials he used was surely not under 500 kilograms.
If someone from a smaller school or family were to see the destruction Bai Yunfei had unleashed on these stones, they would’ve assumed that he had gone crazy….
Night fell with Bai Yunfei still unable to pass the second phase of ‘compoundment’. Each attempt he tried in synthesizing the materials together failed due to his lack of control over the elemental fire. The materials were either burnt up, or they were synthesized in the wrong amounts.
In a fiery explosion, the golden liquid that had been contained in the fire splayed across the ground as if they were molten iron and sizzled on the ground.
“Whew….” Bai Yunfei sucked in a deep breath. His entire forehead was wet with sweat due to just how long he had been concentrating. With the amount of consumption of his soulforce and all the failures, Bai Yunfei was reaching the end of his rope.
“Yunfei, we’ll stop here for tonight.”
Just as Bai Yunfei reached for another vermiculite ore, Kou Cangkong’s voice called out from the side. Crestfallen, Bai Yunfei responded to him, “Master, your disciple wishes for one more attempt….I might just succeed this time….”
Kou Changkong shook his head, “Yunfei, you are far too impatient. Such a trait is unsuitable if you wish to continue crafting. We’ll conclude here. Go back and reflect on what you learned for tomorrow.”
In silent reluctance, Bai Yunfei looked to the remaining pile of vermiculite ore, “Yes, master.” He replied in disappointment. “Your disciple will be returning then….”
When he got home, Bai Yunfei didn’t even bother to eat or drink. Instead, he spent the rest of his time laying on top of his bed and looking up at the ceiling in a daze.
“The art of crafting is….is so hard! I can’t even get one of the most basic steps working….” Bai Yunfei sighed. The art of crafting was really far too rough. The amount of control over fire in some areas and the output of soulforce in a steady pattern in another area was so incredibly taxing that it was mind-boggling. If he were to try and pinpoint just how much soulforce he had left, Bai Yunfei would guess that barely half was remaining….
For a moment longer, Bai Yunfei remained dazed. But then his eyes hardened and his hand clenched tightly to form a fist. The disappointment receded away from his eyes so that determination could replace them.
“It’s only the first day, how could I be defeated so easily? Even if I really fail, I’m just accumulating experience through failure, like master said! I just need to keep accumulating experience so that I can succeed!”
Driving away the dispirited emotions from his mind, Bai Yunfei shut his eyes and began to ‘replay’ the memories of today. Every failure he was met with was studied, and every little part he succeeded in was dissected so that he could learn from the details. Every time Kou Changkong gave a warning, Bai Yunfei would think hard about it and make mental notes for improvement. One by one, he learned, and over and over, he studied….
On the second day, Bai Yunfei returned to Kou Changkong for tutelage and tried again to attempt the second phase.
He tried again.
He tried again.
He tried again…..
An entire day passed by yet again, and Bai Yunfei was still unable to get pass the second phase.
The third day was the same.
The same for the fourth day.
And the fifth day.
On the tenth day, Bai Yunfei was finally able to make it to the third phase of ‘refinement’. But even then, he was stopped by another obstacle….
In his hands, a three inch long short dagger was already taking form in a brilliant show of light. Staring hard at it, Bai Yunfei was practically howling to himself, “This is the last hurdle! The intensity of the flames is at seventy percent, let me succeed!”
A wave of fire rippled throughout the cave, but the red dagger in Bai Yunfei’s hand was still in one piece.
“I–I did it! I’ve fi—” Elation burst through his heart for a split moment before a sudden ‘crack’ shattered his thoughts. Looking down, Bai Yunfei could see a single crack running through the dagger, and in the next second, the dagger fractured into pieces.
An intense wave of disappointment ran through Bai Yunfei’s head. Clenching hard, the dagger was reduced to powder in his hands….