The sharp and unkind aura that assailed him head-on startled Chen Mo.
Why am I getting hate for this special visit?
“Manager Ming, your treatment of our guest is much too rude.” Jin Wuliang’s expression darkened.
“Uncle Wuliang, what’s going on?” Chen Mo’s mood was extremely fine. He naturally did not mind a few harsh words.
“Elder Qi, put on our best tea. I want a long and slow chat with Brother Shi Jin.”
“Very well.” Elder Qi slightly smiled and respectfully withdrew from the drawing room.
Everyone sat in the hall. Elder Qi very quickly dispatched people to brew the Western Regions’ best Sandpoint Tea. Jin Wuliang invited Chen Mo to the seat of honor, slowly chatting with him.
As they talked, Chen Mo more or less understood the whole story.
As it turned out, the Sword Casting Villa similarly held their own important competition, the “Four Sects Wiping Sword,”1 following the Divine Warrior Examination. When the time came, the Sword Casting Villa’s four major branches would dispatch one disciple to participate. The winning branch would receive the Villa’s full resources and support, and the one in last place would, owing to good business practice reasons, meet with the Villa’s elders for a conference; their status as Branch Master may be revoked.
In each of the three years before the Four Sects Wiping Sword, there were junior competitions to display one’s skills. Because Jin Wuliang’s Western Branch was located in a poor environment, there were extremely few young casting masters; they had placed at the absolute bottom for the last three junior competitions. According to the rules, if they continued to place last in the Four Sects Wiping Sword, then Jin Wuliang could possibly be relieved of his Branch Master position. The Branch Master of the Western Regions’ Great Tool Court would then be one of the Sword Casting Villa’s designated members.
The Sword Casting Villa had always wanted to replace Jin Wuliang’s Great Tool Court with one of their own, and it was with this major competition that the fate of the Western Branch hung in the balance.
“The Four Sects Wiping Sword is not only a changing of the guard for the Villa’s inner forces, but it is also an opportunity to display the Villa’s might to those outside. The Four Great Sword Sects, dozens of the Jianghu’s sects will be participating. The Western Branch absolutely cannot lose.” Jin Wuliang shook his head and sighed.
Chen Mo nodded.
If it could be said that the Divine Warrior Examination was an important activity for the imperial court to change authority, then the Four Sects Wiping Sword was a flourishing period for the Jianghu.
The schools of the Jianghu always was in fear of the imperial court, especially of the Sword Casting Villa’s fame for casting and upgrading Star Weapons. They could be said to be the best sect in that regard. If the imperial court and the Jianghu joined hands, then Chang’an Mansion would honestly be surrounded by enemies on all sides.
Chen Mo quickly brainstormed. Jin Wuliang wrung his hands and said: “I won’t hide this from Brother. Big Brother wants to specifically invite you to represent our Western Branch in this competition, Brother.”
“Yes. As long as you are a casting master younger than forty years old and have not joined another sect, then you can join.” Jin Wuliang said.
Chen Mo thought it over.
Jin Wuliang was afraid he would decline. He gave Elder Qi a glance, who added: “This Four Sects Wiping Swords competition has generous rewards. So long as Fellow acts to help us, the Great Tool Court will certainly spare no effort to support you.”
Chen Mo had also wanted to ask about the Sword Casting Villa’s affairs. If he was able to enter the competition, that would be good.
The two of them were aligned.
“Branch Master? Don’t tell me you actually want to let this brat represent the Western Branch in the Four Sects Wiping Sword?” Manager Yun was shocked. He bitterly and hatefully said to the other managers: “Won’t any of you stop this?”
The other four looked at each other and showed skeptical expressions.
Naturally, to go participate in the Sword Casting Villa’s most important competition, he would at least need to bring out abilities that convinced everyone.
“It seems the managers want to test Fellow. Fellow Shi Jin, why not set their minds at ease.” Elder Qi laughed.
Jin Wuliang had already seen Chen Mo’s casting talents. To be able to forge an Astral Tool naturally was not something that was comparable to the other casting masters, but he was very curious in his heart. In these six months, just to what degree had Chen Mo’s strength reached after secluded forging.
“How shall I convince everyone?” Chen Mo smiled and asked.
The managers glanced at one another. Elder Yun looked at those dozens of meticulously crafted weapons that were hung on the wall of the drawing room. He flung his sleeve: “As a casting master, you must have superb understanding of a weapon. You must be able to easily distinguish the materials that the weapon was forged from. Are you able to distinguish the materials used in the weapons on this wall?”
“Elder Manager,2 this is asking too much of him.”
“To distinguish the raw materials of a weapon, that requires decades of experience.”
“Not even that grandson of yours can do this.”
Some of them felt that Elder Yun’s request was a bit excessive.
The old man was very stubborn, unwilling to yield.
“Then I shall try.” Chen Mo smiled.
Elder Qi selected a saber from the wall. Its tip glistened like snow, and it had chrysanthemum patterns layered upon each other. It was very beautiful and very sharp, razor sharp even. This long sword named “Chrysanthemum Picker”3 was forged by Jin Wuliang himself. It was his proudest work.
Chen Mo looked over the Chrysanthemum Picker Sword. He used his finger to gently feel the sword’s body in order to identify the materials it used. Any ore that had gone through the forging process would leave behind certain characteristics. In the Book Of Casting, there were a considerable number of introductions.
Chen Mo’s Divine Intent entered and easily flowed through the Chrysanthemum Picker’s body. The internal portion of the sword was like an enormous space had opened in his mind. Its entire composition was plainly visible.
“White Chrysanthemum Cloud Stone with twenty liang of Washing Sand, having undergone fifteen repetitions of the process…There is a ‘Cloud Light Array’ etched into it.” Chen Mo slowly said.
Jin Wuliang’s eyes widened. In astonishment, he exclaimed: “You actually know even the amount of Washing Sand?”
Any one Star Weapon’s casting required the addition of spirit sand as a supplement, but Star World’s spirit sands were myriad in variety. Their combination with any raw material would give rise to thousands of different combinations. A Middle Stage casting master would find it very difficult to distinguish the quantity of spirit sand used.
“Am I right?” Chen Mo said.
“Completely accurate. This Chrysanthemum Picker Sword’s main material was White Chrysanthemum Cloud Stone with twenty liang of Washing Sand.” Jin Wuliang said.
“Although Washing Sand and White Chrysanthemum Cloud Stone are of corresponding attributes, they aren’t the best forging materials at all. I think it would have been best to use a spirit sand that was supportive instead of forging it fifteen times.” Chen Mo slowly said.
Jin Wuliang laughed: “Well said. Back then, I didn’t understand. Later, I felt that if I had used an engendering spirit sand, this sword’s chrysanthemum marks would be even deeper, its array even stronger. It really is a defective product.”
“So Branch Master has left it in the drawing room for so many years?” Elder Qi said in surprise.
Jin Wuliang nodded. He looked at Chen Mo in amazement, not expecting a young man was able to see through it at a glance.
Everyone was slightly astonished.
Elder Yun was unconvinced. He then tossed over a walking stick. This cane appeared ordinary and unremarkable, like a dried up branch with a few vines wound around it. “Can you distinguish what this cane is?”
This “Halting Vine”4 cane was Elder Yun’s proudest work. He once made Jin Wuliang identify it, but Jin Wuliang was practically misled completely. He did not believe a young man was able to discern anything.
Chen Mo looked over the cane. “This cane is apparently made from a single piece, but in truth, it ought to have used ‘willow wood’ and ‘pear flower wood.’ The casting master’s workmanship is very perfect, and they used the Wood Element spirit sand ‘Songwheel Sand,’ putting it through thirty rounds of tempering to combine the two pieces of wood together. Your Servant is truly impressed. Presumably, Senior Yun crafted it.”
Elder Yun’s mouth hung agape in astonishment. Everything this brat said was actually correct.
“Manager Yun, you ought to be convinced now, ha, ha.” Jin Wuliang laughed.
The old man was mute. “You, how did you know…”
“En, Your Servant’s eyesight is relatively strong, so minute differences are evident.” Chen Mo said.
“Impossible. Even ‘Divine Intent In Detail’5 cannot possibly see such a difference. You must be cheating.” Manager Yun was still stubborn.
Chen Mo was indifferent.
“Manager Yun, this is too narrowminded of you.”
“It seems this Fellow truly has skill.”
The other managers brought out their own forged weapons for Chen Mo to examine, and they were very easily detailed by Chen Mo. In the Western Branch, even the casting apprentices who had been here for a decade could not possibly do this as easily as Chen Mo could. Everyone could not help but be won over.
“The time to the Four Sects Wiping Sword is half a month. For this half month, why not live here in the Great Tool Court, Brother Shi Jin. I’ll tell you all about the Wiping Sword, Brother Shi Jin.”
It had been some time since Chen Mo had practiced casting. Since he had the Great Tool Court’s full support, he would not be stingy.
In Wuyang County, there was an immense volcano. Not an inch of grass grew in the dozens of li around it. Steam surged, and temperatures soared. Ordinary cultivators were unwilling to rashly set foot here, but it was in such a place that there was still a massive garrison standing guard.
On this day, a young woman in black robes and silver armor, with a face like cold frost, walked towards the volcano. Behind her, a man was cautiously following. That man was none other than the Wuyang Princess’ father King Yang, Ting Fengliang,6 one of the Great Chong Dynasty’s princes.
The people walked before the edge of the crater. Surging waves of fire lunged forth, rushing into the clouds, drenching one in sweat, yet the frosty woman was not concerned in the least, completely unfazed.
“What has the situation been these past few days.”
“Reporting to Your Highness Huan Wen, Princess Highness Chang7 is alright.” Ting Fengliang respectfully answered.
“Princess Chang…” The woman before him was precisely Huan Wen. She sneered: “Your Ting Family is truly devoted and loyal, to actually still refer to her as Princess Chang.”
“Subordinate deserves to die.” Ting Fengliang was in fear and trepidation.8
“Hmph, if I wanted you dead, you would have been dead long ago. But never mind. She is My elder sister, after all. It is only logical that you address her in this way.” Huan Wen said: “Open the array.”
“As you command.”
Ting Fengliang moved his fingers, using the Ting Family’s signature technique “Dark Yang Finger” to strike eighty-one points in total. A barrier in front of the crater suddenly vanished without a trace.
Huan Wen did not say a word. She leapt down from the crater’s edge.
The woman’s posture was cold, her arms folded across her chest, an arrogant stance. The heatwaves and steam whistled past her on both sides, and the temperature became increasingly hot. She fell straight for several kilometers. Huan Wen reached ghastly high temperatures, enough to melt iron.
Huan Wen stepped onto a cliff. The rolling magma around her was in the hundreds and millions of degrees of heat. Even she had to use Star Energy for protection. Steam rolled about the depths of the volcano, scorching everything.
Huan Wen took several steps, following along the stones on the magma to reach a plateau in the middle of a lake of lava.
That plateau had some chairs and tables chiseled out of stone. Although they were simple and crude, it was clear they were exceptionally warm.9 Huan Wen looked around and sneered even more.
From in front of her came the sound of carving.
In front of her, a woman sat in a wheelchair a dozen meters away. She was sculpting a piece of stone. That woman had a head full of gray hair, but her skin was seemingly transparent. Her blood vessels were faintly visible. In this high temperature interior part of the volcano, the several meter area around that woman surprisingly emitted a bone-chilling cold.
“Ke Yan, you’re here.”10
The woman softly said.
“Ke Yan. In this world, only you alone know My True Name…Elder Sister.”
Huan Wen sneered. She gripped the air, bringing out Cold Night Locked Moon as she strode towards the woman.
Emitting a freezing killing intent.