“Didn’t I already say that no one can come disturb me while I work?” The mean said in displeasure when he heard footsteps. His voice was rough, carrying a feeling of weight. Practically every casting master would have this kind of sensation once they casted weapons long enough. Their minds and steel-casting had already melded together.
“Great Uncle Shi.” Chen Mo respectfully saluted.
“Chen Mo, has a person like you who can’t practice martial arts come to this place seeking death?” Shi Cheng’s brows wrinkled even more tightly. His tone was berating. Suddenly, he saw Chen Mo smiling, not the least bit bothered in his sword casting room.
“You’re fine?!” Shi Cheng said in a low voice, not daring to believe this. Despite his being immersed in casting year-round, he more or less knew of some things about the most influential person in Azure Dragon Town, Chen Mo, knowing that this was the child abandoned by the Chang’an estate.
“How are you…” Shi Cheng asked before changing into a derisive snort. Whether he was an abandoned child or a young master, neither was a concern of his in the slightest. The man’s gaze was fixed intently on that weapon that had yet to take shape.
Chen Mo noticed many failed weapons to the side.
“If you want me to help forge a weapon for you, then please wait a while. This Shi has a lot of work recently.” Shi Cheng did not even look at Chen Mo, his tone ice-cold as he issued his intent for Chen Mo to leave.
“Great Uncle Shi, I’m just here to watch how you forge a weapon. I want to learn.” Chen Mo spoke forthrightly.
“A young master like you wants to learn casting?” If it was not for the weapon casting preoccupying him, Shi Cheng nearly would have broke into a laugh. He did not mishear, did he, for a cripple that was unable to practice martial arts to think of becoming a casting master.
Shi Cheng did not hesitate to throw out a statement: “You won’t be able to become a casting master.”
“How can you know that if I don’t try.” Chen Mo asked back.
“Try?” Shi Cheng was expressionless. His eyes clearly had a kind of disdain. Did this young master think that being a casting master was playing house? This was but a path even more challenging than being a warrior. A warrior unable to cultivate qi and blood indeed could strive to grasp the qualifications and become an early stage casting master, but any step higher was impossible.
Being an Early Stage Casting Master certainly was a pretty good enticement for people unable to cultivate qi and blood, but to the son of the Great Chong Dynasty’s Lord Chang’an? Shi Cheng was completely convinced that Chen Mo could not possibly endure hardship.
“Please leave, Young Master Chen Mo. Your Servant has important work to finish. If the young master were to be injured during the casting process, This Shi cannot assume responsibility.” Shi Cheng was very impatient. The weapon he was casting in front of him had already failed numerous times. This made him extremely irascible. Now, this young master had come before him talking big. Did he have no self-awareness.
Chen Mo’s eyes lowered. He took a stride forward, extending his hand.
Shi Cheng was angered. Just as he was about to curse, the color drained from his face in shock all of a sudden, leaving him unable to speak. He saw Chen Mo grab a piece of red-hot steel from the forge, completely unafraid of the burning high temperatures as he gripped it firmly in his hand. This slab of iron was like a piece of dough in his hands as he kneaded into different shapes.
“You!!!” Shi Cheng’s jaw dropped.
“Great Uncle Shi, do you still feel that I’ll be injured?” Chen Mo’s eyes narrowed.
“This Shi has eyes but did not see. Your Servant did not think that Young Master Chen Mo’s cultivation would be so unfathomable. In this vast Azure Dragon Town, surprisingly no one was able to see this.” Casting masters had powerful hearts. Shi Cheng very quickly regained his composure, once again staring at the Chen Mo in front of him who had no sign of ostentatiousness, this time without the disdain from before. On the contrary, he was somewhat astonished and puzzled.
“But the sword casting process isn’t anything special to watch. Delaying Young Master Chen Mo’s cultivation would be a dereliction of This Shi’s duty.” Shi Cheng calmly added.
Chen Mo knew that a casting master’s position was superior. Even an Early Stage Casting Master would not necessarily place a Qi And Blood Nine Turns warrior in their eyes.
“I wonder what trouble Great Uncle Shi has encountered during his casting? Perhaps I can help you.” Chen Mo was just thinking of testing the experiences of the Book Of Casting, so he asked.
You help me? Shi Cheng sneered. This little rabbit was too arrogant. Did he think that a warrior could stick his hand into the work of a casting master? Beneath the surface, influential and aristocratic disciples all had this kind of fault of self-infallibility.
“I fear that Young Master will not be able to help me.”
“Recently, I’ve been researching becoming a casting master, so I wanted to come test it out.”
“Oh, since Young Master Chen Mo is so determined, fine then. But if Young Master Chen Mo feels challenged, then please leave the forge so as to avoid disturbing This Shi’s work.” Shi Cheng was already impatient to drive Chen Mo out.
“Sure.” Chen Mo happily agreed.
“This Shi recently has been casting a ‘broadsword,’ but it has always failed during the forging process. Young Master Chen Mo, do you know the reason?” Shi Cheng hinted to the weapon in front of him.
“You mean these?” Chen Mo looked at the corner filled with scrap weapons. There were more than a dozen. He stepped forward to look at the one on top of the forging platform. Under the high temperatures, it was gradually taking shape, but the final shaping had been halted.
“This is Greenscale Stone?”1 Chen Mo felt the weapon. Although the weapon had yet to take shape, it vaguely had fishscale patterns. It was distributed very regularly, and at the slightest touch, a kind of cold feeling would pass into the fingertips.
The ore-casting chapter recorded that Greenscale Stone was thick, with an exquisite distribution of fish scale patterning. Casting masters were extremely fond of using it for their own crafts.
Glancing at the corner of scrap weapons, they had all used greenscale ore as material. Chen Mo very quickly understood where the thorny problem Shi Cheng encountered lay.
“Great Uncle Shi, is it because the casted weapon is unable to maintain the scale patterns that they are failures?” Chen Mo slightly smiled.
Shi Cheng’s eyes sank. He suppressed his surprise. This young master had amazing eyesight. He did not hide anything: “That’s right. If the greenscale stone forged into a weapon is still able to maintain an intact fish scale pattern, that demonstrates the casting master’s skill has already reached the peak of Early Stage.”
Pausing, Shi Cheng showed a bit of ridicule: “Young Master Chen Mo, do you still feel that you are able to help This Shi solve this problem?” This matter relied solely on the casting master’s own experience and casting skill. Only the experience accumulated over the years would be able to know what method to use and be attentive to the appropriate strength at the right time when forging a piece of greenscale stone such that the fish scale pattern was not destroyed and remained intact.
The accumulation of this kind of experience at least reached the level of a Middle Stage Casting Master in order to be able to have the qualifications to teach.
A martial artist fundamentally could not possibly feign this aspect. Even if he had undergone some form of thunder tribulation, this was also a reason why Shi Cheng was somewhat disdainful of Chen Mo.
Just what did he teach himself with?!
The “Book Of Casting” his mother left him actually had the attentive experience for Early Stage Casting Master. As a test for casting masters, the greenscale stone remained fresh in Chen Mo’s memory. Thinking, Chen Mo calmly said: “Indeed, I am a layman in terms of experience, but I know a type of technique to cast greenscale stone. Perhaps it can help Uncle Shi.”
“What technique?” Shi Cheng asked.
“Take a pool of fresh water and pour some sifting sand into it…If you are forging a broadsword, then different strength must be used on the handle, edge, and flat. Submerge the sword from hilt to the tip of the edge in the shallows once, then the edge to the back from thin to thick. Forge each three times, using a large hammer inside the pool for moisture. Then comes heat control of the furnace…” Chen Mo said.
“Really?” Shi Cheng thought what Chen Mo said was clear and logical. For the time being, he was unable to retort.
“Try and find out.” Chen Mo smiled.
“Fine then. Today, This Shi shall see just whether or not Young Master Chen is a sage that presents as an ordinary person. If this actually is enough to allow This Shi to break through to Early Stage peak casting, then Young Master Chen Mo is free to issue any orders he pleases in the future.” A new skill makes for an even greater master. The domain of casting masters lay in thousands of hammer blows for a hundred refinements. Oftentimes, some tips could allow a casting master to benefit endlessly, saving several years’ time. It was not an exaggeration to describe a master in this way.
Very quickly, Shi Cheng prepared a pool to immerse the sifting sand in, forging the broadsword that was in the furnace. Then, he swung a hammer that weighed a hundred catties. The hammer was dipped into the water, striking the weapon.
Sparks flew like stars dispersing.
The water splashed, boiling over into mist.
The crisp, metallic sound of the hammer punctuated the drawn-out sound of water.
Strike three times in succession, then dip the hammer in the water.
Repeating this several times, Shi Cheng’s stiff as steel expression gradually became more and more astonished. The broadsword slowly took shape under the hammer, and the fishscale pattern on the blade surprisingly did not disappear under the intense strikes. On the contrary, they regularly distributed themselves like a wave.
Upon seeing the situation was different from before, Shi Cheng was excited like a child.
Chen Mo had no choice but to verbally remind him to control his strength, making this middle-aged man very embarrassed.
Seeing that what the Book Of Casting said was true, Chen Mo was relieved. He sat to the side watching the casting process for the broadsword, recording in his mind every detail of his forging. Sometimes, he earnestly observed as a form of experience.
Several hours later.
Clang, clang, clang, clang.
The steady stream of metallic pounding finally came to a rest.
Shi Cheng placed the forged weapon into the fresh water to cool. The broadsword was already fashioned, its blade sharp, its fishscale patterns apparent, making the broadsword seem like a living fish.
Regardless of the blade’s edge, durability, sharpness, ease, thickness, or swiftness, this blade had already reached Grade 4. The casted weapon before Shi Cheng’s eyes was the highest rank.
Now, a brief digression to the grade requirements for weapons.
In Star World, other than Star Weapons, the weapons forged by casting masters all had grades, from the lowest grade nine to the highest grade one. Each grade could be upgraded by relying on forging. As an analogy, the highest grade weapon an Early Stage Casting Master could forge was Grade 4. Using materials to upgrade it (in the “terminology” of casting masters, this was called “casting star,” or simply “casting”), each successful “casted star” would ascend the weapon one grade. Every aspect of that weapon would be upgraded.
After the tenth level, the weapon would reach a hurdle. Upgrading even higher, it could absorb the power of Star World’s stars. At this time, the weapon would be bestowed with a star. This was called “One Star.” Weapons that reached the “star” ranks were known as Star Weapons.
After the Stars, the succession of grade one to nine repeated. There were no restrictions on the number of stars a Star Weapon could have. The more Stars a weapon had, the stronger it was. In Star World, the one star of a “Single Star” at least represented it could contend at a minor level, “Double Star” at a major level, meaning that an “Eight Star” Star Weapon was enough to face the Human Sovereign.
Ten Star was comparable to an Earthly Star Star General.2
Star Weapons could be as weak as a hair breaking in a breeze or powerful enough to split mountains and part seas; however, casting a star was very difficult. One Star would appear only every ten levels, and the higher the number of Stars, the more astronomical, unique and rare the material requirements. The requirements of the casting master were even more stringent. This was also why Star Generals could cross Star World unimpeded, the envy of all people in the world, because Star Generals innately possessed a “Destined Star Weapon” that belonged to their Star Names.
Not only could they cast stars themselves, the upgrade process was not so troublesome as an ordinary Star Weapon. Those girls evolved their weapons using “the power of the Stars,” each upgrade directly ascending one Star, enormously cutting down on the complicated process. Compared to normal warriors, this was the difference between cloud and mud. In the past, there were Human Star warriors that wanted to contend against the strength of Star Generals in terms of Star Weapons, but every few hundred years, that number could be counted on fingers.
Shi Cheng could forge an at least Grade 4 weapon. He already had at least the peak skill of an Early Stage Casting Master. Even in the Great Chong Dynasty, this was uncommon. It was known that the Sword Casting Villa’s casting masters were named the best, but Villa Master Zhu Yuanzhen had only just stepped foot into the threshold of Middle Stage Casting Master.
Shi Cheng had been stuck at the thershold of peak stage for several years. He did not know how much effort he wasted, but now, he finally had a breakthrough. How could this not excite him.
And everything was because someone gave a small hint.
It appeared to be an arbitrary pointer, but it nevertheless seemed to pierce open a window screen, instantly bestowing enlightenment, clearing everything.
“From now on, Shi Cheng is determined to do his utmost to repay Young Master Chen Mo.” Shi Cheng cupped his fists, his expression respectful. Nowhere to be found was his previous loathing from when Chen Mo had entered the room.