The Wiping Sword Field had an elevated ring, a worthy arena for everyone to focus on.
The four apprentices stepped onto the ring and were shaken by the surrounding atmosphere. Casting masters normally were secluded and seldom in public. When casting a weapon, they would do so alone. Did they ever receive the stares of nearly a hundred thousand people. Under their attentive gazes, even an arrogant casting master like Ding Haiyan could not help but be nervous, his Qi-blood rolling.
Nevertheless, Chen Mo was accustomed to stares. Compared to being the center of attention in Chang’an, the stares of these hundreds of thousands paled in comparison. Besides, he was the White Clothed Tanhua, the zhuangyuan of the Divine Warrior Examination. In comparison to these inexperienced youths, his mentality was naturally much more stable. Even those casting great masters would not necessarily compare to him.
Chen Mo secretly activated the Deva Eyes and scanned the sea of people.
Very quickly, he found his target dressed in attire like snow.
On the highest platform, the position of the Four Great Sword Sects was clearly differentiated from the rest. In the Four Great Sword Sects, four Greater Thunder Tribulation Sect Masters were in attendance. Imposing auras made the surrounding cultivators keep quiet out of fear. In the Four Great Sword Sects, there was one girl in clothes as white as snow who was particularly eye-catching.
That girl’s countenance was like a flower, untouched by impurity. She had grown as beautiful as a celestial snow lotus, her eyes were as dark as ink, and her lips were like cinnabar. Regarding her beauty, she was considered breathtaking in the Great Chong Dynasty. The girl’s eyes were a bit inattentive. It appeared that she felt this Wiping Sword was a bit dull.
Fairy Northern Darkness?
Chen Mo narrowed his eyes.
“Do you all understand the rules?”
Atop the platform, an old man in a gray robe asked them.
The four of them spoke in unison.
The gray-robed old man then looked to the platform above. The Sword Casting Villa Master nodded. Following the wave of his hand, a hundred cannons thundered together. Fireworks rocketed into the heavens, and the Four Sects Wiping Sword’s first round began.
“Heaven has Five Elements, water, fire, metal, wood, and earth. They are nurtured by time to create all things. They are known as the Five Emperors! Only casting masters who know the way of the Five Emperors can cast exceptional weapons. You must show all your power in this examination, do you understand?” The old man’s tone sunk, his solemnity full of an overwhelming might. In his mind, Chen Mo guessed this old man was at least approaching Greater Thunder Tribulation strength.
After receiving their affirmations, the old man dispatched people to start this examination.
Several dozen warriors lugged more than ten enormous boulders in. Each stone was of different weight. The heaviest was around several tens of catties, and there were some that were only a few catties or a few liang. The rocks appeared unremarkable, as if they were stone shells wrapped around jade.
“In this round, you are to go select one stone. Some ore is contained inside. You are required to extract it, and the weight of the completely extracted ore will earn the winner 4 points.”
Western Branch’s Chen Mo, Northern Branch’s Ding Haiyan, Eastern Branch’s Tairan, and the Western Branch’s Pan Shi’an each glanced at one another and strode towards that pile of stones.
These rocks appeared ordinary and mediocre, their surfaces uneven and dimpled. They were very easily discarded at first glance, but casting masters with an abundance of experience could tell at a glance the content of these stones.
“Are these all ‘White Field Jade?'”1
“The outer rock shell of these White Field Jade is both thin and brittle, and the jade’s quality is very weak. With just the slightest mistake in extraction, the entire jade will disintegrate. This is not an easy trial for these young casting masters.”
“Ha, ha, fortunately my apprentice Ding Haiyan is very experienced with separating White Field Jade from stone. This time, the Ancestor’s topic is truly too good.”
The Branch Masters discussed. Knowing that the first examination was extracting the White Stone Jade, Northern Branch Master Kuang Yi laughed out loud.
The topics for the Four Sects Wiping Sword were all devised by the Ancestor of the Sword Casting Villa. This ancestor was normally in seclusion for casting weapons, very rarely showing his face. The themes he decided on were the most fair, and the branch’s people could not object.
“Just extract the jade and compare their weight to win. How thoroughly boring.”
A very uninterested voice interrupted the discussion of the branch masters.
Everyone turned their gazes to the sound of the voice. The one who spoke was the girl in clothes like snow. Her features were clear and beautiful, her bearing like a fleeting fairy. Right now, she felt that this important competition of the Sword Casting Villa was very uninteresting.
“Lady Has Snow, you are mistaken. The stone shell of this White Field Jade…” Kuang Yi was just about to explain.
Northern Darkness Has Snow impatiently interrupted his technobabble: “I know, isn’t it that the shell is very brittle and requires care to extract. But it’s so boring. All you have to do is pick the biggest rock anyways, right.”
The branch masters blushed with shame. What she said was true. To someone who was not a casting master, the process of separating the shell and extracting the jade was indeed very dull.
“This also embodies the patience and judgment of a casting master. This is one of the important points in this competition to cast a weapon for the Fairy. The Sword Ancestor also specially instructed that the topic this year is different from the past.” The Sword Casting Villa Master smiled.
“Daughter, you had better focus a bit and watch.” The Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s sect master said.
Northern Darkness Has Snow twitched her mouth.
Atop the platform, Ding Haiyan acted as Northern Darkness Has Snow expected. With just a glance, he spotted an immense boulder that looked to be about more than two hundred catties. Since this competition was about teh wight of the final jade extracted, then the largest rock clearly had the greatest chance of winning. Of course, the larger the rock, the greater the difficulty in separating the stone shell. To finish within the allotted time was not an easy challenge.
“I presume everyone won’t fight me over this White Field Jade?” Ding Haiyan stood in front of the boulder confidently.
Pan Shi’an and Tairan were taken aback. Pan Shi’an walked to another stone while Tairan smiled: “Only Senior Brother Haiyan can succeed with such a White Field Jade. If were were to go extract jade from this, it would basically be impossible.”
Ding Haiyan laughed. “This is much too modest of you.”
Ding Haiyan glanced at Chen Mo. Chen Mo indifferently glanced back, then directly walked past him, and Ding Haiyan smirked. Victory was in his grasp, a look complacent in his belief that Chen Mo was being tactful.
Chen Mo searched through the pile of jade. Then, he picked up a stone about the size of a chicken egg, playing with it in his palm as he carefully scrutinized it.
“Oh, this one.” Chen Mo’s eyes lit up, his tone amused.
Seeing Chen Mo surprisingly pick a rock that could not be more than a few liang, they were stunned.
“Hmph, truly trash. You thought yourself so amazing, yet you actually picked up such a tiny jade.”
“He really does make casting masters lose face.”
Ding Haiyan and Tairan jeered.
Pan Shi’an wrinkled his brow. Though he did not say anything, he showed clear disappointment at Chen Mo’s choice. The first competition clearly compared the weight of the jade that the casting masters extracted from their stone shells. Chen Mo’s pick was so small, his defeat was certain. Pan Shi’an shook his head. In his eyes, Chen Mo’s way of working was very conservative in activity. Pan Shi’an would be fine as long as he did not make a mistake.
At the same time, everyone on the platform whispered to one another.
“Is that casting master stupid or something, to actually choose such a tiny rock.”
“This contest is about weight, right?”
“That’s the disciple of the Western Branch. That the Sword Casting Villa tolerated with sending out such a novice disciple is truly ridiculous.”
“Even I’m not that bad.”
Hearing those discussions on the high level platform, the people of the Sword Casting Villa showed unsightly expressions. The Branch Masters wore furious expressions and asked: “Brother Wuliang, what hell is your Western Branch apprentice doing?”
Jin Wuliang did not say a word. He was also baffled by Chen Mo’s choice.
“Is he actually thinking of costing the Sword Casting Villa face?”
“Heh, heh, Jin Wuliang, no need to be the Western Branch’s master anymore.”
“My apprentice has his own plans.” Jin Wuliang grit his teeth.
“That’s why I said there’s no need for a contest. Just let whoever that person is in our sect help forge a weapon for me.” Northern Darkness Has Snow ate some grapes, still as bored as before.
“His name is Ding Haiyan.” Kuang Yi awkwardly clarified.
Northern Darkness Has Snow said, “Oh.” She had never cared for any random nobodies. “In short, he must be number one. Let him help forge a weapon for me and stop wasting time. I still need to train and meet that Chang’an Fourth Highness who defeated Princess Yanyu.”
“Please be patient, Fairy.”
On the ring, Ding Haiyan and the others were in the middle of using their own methods to methodically pare down the stone around the White Field Jade. Once inside the domain of casting, even the arrogant Ding Haiyan put forth all his effort, not daring to make a careless mistake.
Chen Mo was not worried about the cutting process at all. Instead, he continued to inspect this stone in his hand carefully.
After a while, as if he already saw clearly the underlying structure, Chen Mo took out his own tool. This tool surprised everyone again, for it was a wooden dagger. Unlike the others who broke the stone down along the veins, Chen Mo scraped along them instead.
“En, his method is actually perfect.” The Sword Casting Villa Master praised. “Though it is a pity that no matter how formidable he may be, this jade’s weight is still too small. He will lose, undoubtedly.” The Sword Casting Villa Master said to Jin Wuliang: “Jin Wuliang, you apprentice is rather overcautious. As a casting master, being careful is good, but being too careful must not be permitted. He ought to be aware of this.”
There was some criticism in those words, but Jin Wuliang was very helpless.
The third stick of incense was almost burnt out.
Ding Haiyan, Pan Shi’an and Tairan finished their work in succession, perfectly cutting away the stone shell. As expected of a disciple that the Sword Casting Villa painstakingly raised, Ding Haiyan’s cultivation stood above the other casting masters. A hundred kilogram stone’s outer layer was surprisingly peeled flawlessly away, and the tiny White Field Jade inside was extracted without any mistakes, stunning everyone.
Chen Mo was still carefully paring away at the stone in his hand. Ding Haiyan could not help but mock him again: “You’ve been surprisingly paring such a small Blue Field Jade for so long, Fellow Shi Jin, it seems your technique is even less than average.”
“That’s right, Senior Brother Haiyan cut down such a large rock and was still faster. You simply can’t compare to him.”
Chen Mo did not react at all, still carefully slicing away bit by bit. The spectators in the surroundings let out complaints.
Finally, the third stick was completely burned. Chen Mo put away his knife, and a pure white jade appeared. He grasped this jade, and Chen Mo relaxed his face, as if he was holding something precious. The surroundings sighed.
“The first contest has concluded. Let This Old Man come evaluate your work.” The grey robed elder stepped forward, grasping each of the extracted jades.
As expected, Ding Haiyan had extracted a fifty kilogram White Field Jade intact.
“Very good, very good.” The old man nodded.
Then, the White Field Jade that Pan Shi’an and Tairan extracted were each measured afterwards at thirty kilograms and twenty-five kilograms, respectively.
Finally, the grey-robed elder walked before Chen Mo, showing an expression of slight displeasure. Clearly, he was very dissatisfied with Chen Mo’s conservative behavior. “Fellow’s jade need not be measured. It shall be ranked last.”
Just as the old man was about to announce the score of the first competition, Chen Mo smiled: “I feel that Senior better still measure it personally.”
The old man grunted, “Fine, This Old Man sees it should be about ten liang.” Saying this, the old man grabbed the White Field Jade in his hand. At exactly that moment, the old man’s pupils contracted, and his expression suddenly paled. His shoulder sank, and his arm immediately plummeted to the ground.
The old man cried out and circulated his magic energy, barely holding it up in the end.
He looked at this jade in his hand and was incomparably flabbergasted: “How is it so heavy!!”
- 白田玉 ↩