For a good while, Bai Yunfei had been in a practically berserk craze to train.
Train in the art of crafting, that is.
From when Bai Yunfei first started crafting in that cave to ten days later, Bai Yunfei was already starting to become proficient enough with it to start crafting low-human grade soul armaments.
On twentieth day, his chances of success with mid-human grade soul armaments were rather high.
On the thirtieth day, he was able to make high-human grade soul armaments without a hitch.
This was a rate of growth so fast that should the other students find out about his exponential growth, they’d go mad with jealousy. Even Kou Changkong himself was shocked each and every time he came in to ‘inspect’ Bai Yunfei’s work every ten days.
His growth had even been noticed by the other three elders. They came by to ‘observe’ the process of how Bai Yunfei would make a human grade soul armament, but once they saw how he was doing it, they all stared oddly before sighing and leaving the cave….
A Soul Sprite making a high-human grade soul armaments was a very normal affair. But for someone like Bai Yunfei–who came to the Crafting School two months ago–he had gone from practically illiterate of the subject to having such a strong degree of proficiency with the Secrets of Firebending and the art of crafting!
His speed was so monumental that for Kou Changkong and the others, they began to compare him with Song Lin. Some started to say he was even better!
This was a development none of them had ever expected to see. Kou Changkong himself had decided to annul the trial in three months then and there. In other words, Kou Changkong would now officially take Bai Yunfei in as a disciple.
Only Bai Yunfei knew the reason why he was improving so frighteningly fast. It wasn’t ‘talent’, as they all said he had.
Instead, it was experience!
It wasn’t experience in crafting, or experience in knowing how to manipulate elemental fire.
It was the experience of manipulating his soulforce!
For the art of crafting, the most important aspect was being able to control elemental fire. Should there be a mistake at some point, then the crafting process could end up in failure. To use soulforce to manipulate elemental fire was a difficult task with a minor payoff.
For example, the one who fought Bai Yunfei back then, Chen Huanghua. He became a late-stage Soul Sprite only a year ago, but he still wasn’t able to manipulate his soulforce well enough to make a high-human grade soul armament. If given ten attempts, he’d have one or two successes.
But Bai Yunfei had a factor no one else could possibly have, the ability to categorize his soulforce with numerical values!
By use of the Upgrade Technique, he could segment and assign his soulforce using ‘units’ of measurement. For each ‘unit’, he could then use it for something else!
Once Bai Yunfei realized this method, he gave up sleep and rest so that he could study this. Now that the fluctuation of soulforce in the process now had a numerical value assigned to just how much soulforce he need, the entire process became a whole lot more clear!
Bai Yunfei himself didn’t expect for such a large ‘improvement’ to come to him. Previously, the fluctuation of soulforce had been a hazy concept to him. But now, it was extremely straightforward!
And now, the process of crafting was a hundred times more efficient!
This was a secret that only Bai Yunfei could use. In the eyes of an outsider, they could only assume that he had a terrifying amount of ‘talent’.
Even then. Bai Yunfei wasn’t satisfied.
He wasn’t able to create earth grade soul armaments!
Bai Yunfei realized then and there that the ‘trial’ previously given to him by Kou Changkong was an impossible one!
Should he give up?
Of course not!
With all things considered, Kou Changkong’s ‘request’ was a simple matter to accomplish.
He had the Upgrade Technique after all.
All he needed to do was craft a human grade soul armament and then upgrade it to become an earth grade soul armament!
But Bai Yunfei didn’t want to go down such a ‘fraudulent’ method. His rate of growth over the past month had given him a great confidence boost and reconfirmed his own skills. If he could make a high-human grade soul armament within a month, then he could spend the remaining half month to make an earth grade soul armament!
All of the materials given to him by Kou Changkong had been thoroughly used up. Just like his rate of growth in that month, his consumption rate of those materials had been equally fast!
Resolute on being able to craft an earth grade soul armament, Bai Yunfei sought out for Song Lin to have another cache of materials given to him. Under encouragement from Kou Changkong, Song Lin gave Bai Yunfei materials of uncommon grade so that mid-earth grade soul armaments could be made.
This meant that even if Bai Yunfei made a small mistake somewhere but managed to craft a soul armament still, he’d be able to scratch out an earth grade soul armament. This method was a bit similar to cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer, but it worked.
Of course, this was only just a ‘possibility’.
Five days remained until the end of the three month time period.
In Bai Yunfei’s own cave on the Western Point, crimson light flooded the entire area and drowned the place in its red light. The air inside the cave was twisted heavily from the high temperatures that was being given off in it.
Seated crossed-leggedly on the ground, Bai Yunfei had the crafting cauldron stacked in front of him. The palm of his right hand pressed against the side of the cauldron so that a rich flow of elemental fire could be transmitted into it. A longsword about a meter long floated in the air as it underwent the refinement process. This phase of the process was reaching its climax, and with just a few more rounds of tempering the blade with fire would bring the process to completion.
“I need more heat!” Like a hawk, Bai Yunfei’s honed in on the sword. Droplets of sweat seeped from his head before immediately being evaporated from the high flames surrounding him. Thinking to himself, he thought, “I’ve only done 564 variants of intensity, that isn’t enough! If a soul armament is made, it’ll only be a high-human grade soul armament….”
In the scope of materials, the final step of refinement dictated the grade of a soul armament. In this phase, the intensity of the elemental fire had to be constantly changed so that a low-earth grade soul armament can be made. Even if the materials were capable of making low-earth grade soul armaments, if the change in intensities weren’t enough, the grade of the soul armament would drop.
“I’ll risk it, one more round!” Gritting his teeth, Bai Yunfei placed his left hand onto the cauldron and pushed out his soulforce into it. The flames in the cauldron swelled up another size and quickly started to flicker and shake.
Just a moment later, Bai Yunfei’s face grew white, “Crap, that’s too much!”
Not even an instant later, an explosion erupted from the cauldron followed by a surge of fire.
By the time the flames died down, all that was left in the cauldron was a pile of metallic fragments.
“Dammit, another failure!” Bai Yunfei cursed to himself. Tossing out the fragments from inside the cauldron with a wave of his hand, he deposited it into the corner of the rightmost side of the cave.
A mountain of broken weapon fragments was already piled up from in large numbers–a tragic sight to behold.
Bai Yunfei studied the cauldron with an dejected expression for a while before he bit his lips, “Again!”
With another wave of his right hand, another batch of materials flew into his cauldron; among this batch were three clumps of vermiculite ore the size of a washbasin almost.
For the sake of producing a high quality soul armament, Bai Yunfei would no longer be miserly with his materials!
Pushing his soulforce into the cauldron to liquate and refine the materials, Bai Yunfei watched as the flames roared to life inside the cauldron with a crackling sound. A meter-long machete mold took shape at the bottom of the cauldron for the liquated materials to take form in along with the supplementary materials. In the mold, the flames would slowly refine them.
The compoundment phase took two hours this time. It was only when the supplementary materials was successfully infused into the main materials that Bai Yunfei proceeded into the next phase of refinement….
A clear sound suddenly made itself known in the caves.
“Heehee, brother strawhat, I’ve found you!!”
The sudden voice had given Bai Yunfei such a fright that the flames in the cauldron flared up and energy began to billow outwards.
Cold sweat appeared on Bai Yunfei’s forehead; this was an omen that the cauldron was about to explode. An explosion like this was a surefire sign of failure. Not only would the entire crafting process go to waste, there was a very real chance of danger happening to the crafter themselves.
Bai Yunfei wasn’t all too experienced with crafting so the dangers wouldn’t be too bad, but something bad would still happen nonetheless.
For an example of one of these bad events, please think back to what happened to Chen Huanghua prior to his arrival.
Pressing hard with both palms, Bai Yunfei forced the soulforce in the cauldron to force down the elemental fire from spilling out everywhere. The flames gradually began to die down before finally petering out. With a final snapping sound, the soul armament in the cauldron shattered into pieces.
“Agh….” Bai Yunfei groaned to himself. Dispersing the remaining flames in the cauldron, he dissipated the elemental fire around him and then turned his head to speak, “Junior Dai Dai, what brings you here?”
The person that came to disturb him was none other than the princess of the Crafting School, Huangfu Rui.
In her hands was the very same Xiao Rourou. She stood a small distance away from Bai Yunfei with a happy smile on her face, “Heehee. How silly are you to be so distracted, brother strawhat? Even if it’s super noisy, Dai Dai can focus completely on crafting!”
“….” A frown was itching to make its way onto Bai Yunfei’s lips as if he was hoping to say, “How could I even compare to a genius like you?”.
Instead, he stared somberly at Huangfu Rui, “What brought you here today, junior?”