Library of Heaven is Path
742 Taking the Blacksmith Examination
Chapter 742: Taking the Blacksmith Examination
Translator: StarveCleric Editor: Millman97
"You aren't a blacksmith yet?" Yuan Hong's body swayed weakly from sheer shock, and he nearly spewed a mouthful of blood onto the other party's face.
The other master teachers who had gathered in the area out of curiosity also had their eyes bulging in astonishment.
'You aren't a blacksmith, and yet you are here to take the 5-star examination? And you still dare to say that you aren't here to cause trouble?'
Blacksmithing was a part of the Upper Nine Paths, one of the most prestigious occupations in the continent. Countless had devoted innumerable years of their lives to refining their skills, forsaking sleep and meals just to be accepted into this esteemed organization.
Even the most talented of blacksmiths would require a decade of training before they could challenge the 5-star organization. Those who were less talented might even take fifty years just to prepare for it!
And yet, a twenty-year-old fellow who wasn't even a 1-star blacksmith actually wanted to challenge the 5-star examination?
'Did you think that blacksmith is an occupation which you could master on a whim?
'You are taking it way too lightly!'
"I have learnt smithing on my private time, I just haven't had the time to take the examination yet…" Noticing everyone's dumbfounded gaze, realization struck Zhang Xuan, and he hurriedly came up with an explanation. "Since that's the case, why don't I start from the 1-star examination? Is it possible to take the 1-star examination here? Or do I have to take the apprentice examination first?"
Even though Zhang Xuan's smithing capability was above even that of Wu Yangzi, he had never taken any blacksmith examination before. In terms of ranking, he was currently even beneath that of an apprentice, let alone a blacksmith.
"Apprentice…" Hearing those words, Yuan Hong's lips twitched, and he grabbed his face in frustration.
If he hadn't witnessed this sight for himself, he would never have believed it to be true.
To think that a person who wasn't even an apprentice yet would come to the Blacksmith School and declare that he was going to take the 5-star examination. On top of that, he even created a huge fuss in the school, collapsing the Passageway of Records along with half of the entire branch…
More importantly… despite all of this, one of the Ten Great Master Teachers, Zhao Bingxu, was still interested in taking him as his direct disciple!
All of this, he had seen with his own eyes. But even so, he couldn't help but feel as though he was in a dream.
"There's no need for you to take the apprentice examination, you can take the 1-star examination straight… For the time being, just try to pass the 1-star examination first. As for 5-star… we'll talk about it in the future!" Suppressing the frustration he was feeling, Yuan Hong turned to the master teacher crowd behind and asked, "Does any of you have an apprentice emblem?"
As a 6-star pinnacle blacksmith in the Blacksmith School, even his weakest student was a 5-star blacksmith at the minimum. As a result, he didn't have any spare apprentice emblems with him.
"Is there likely to be anyone with an apprentice emblem in the Blacksmith School?"
The crowd in the area shook their heads.
Most of those gathered around were 5-star blacksmiths, and even the weakest of the crowd was a 4-star at the minimum. As such, it would be difficult for them to find an apprentice emblem all of the sudden.
"This…" Yuan Hong looked around awkwardly.
What the heck was this!
To think that a day would come where a 6-star pinnacle blacksmith like him would end up having to look for an apprentice emblem, and fail to find one at that…
"Vice School Head Yuan, I have one here!"
At that moment, a timid voice suddenly sounded. Zhang Xuan turned around and saw Li Xuan, the female receptionist who had been bringing him around previously, stepping forward and offering her emblem.
While she was working at the Blacksmith School, she wasn't too involved in the occupation. As a result, she was still an apprentice blacksmith at the moment.
"Good…" Yuan Hong heaved a sigh of relief.
Taking the emblem, he imprinted Zhang Xuan's name on it before passing it to the latter.
"Zhang Xuan, this shall be your apprentice emblem. With this, you should be able to activate the Ocean of Weapons and take the 1-star blacksmith examination."
"Thank you!" Zhang Xuan took the emblem and nodded.
He walked up to the stone pedestal, and just as he was about to place his emblem and Academic Credit Card on it, he suddenly recalled something and turned around. "If I were to pass the 1-star examination, would I have to expend more Academic Credits if I wanted to continue taking the 2-star examination?"
"If you remain in the Ocean of Weapons, you won't have to expend any more Academic Credits. However, once you step out of the doors, you will have to pay more Academic Credits if you want to enter once more and take the examination again," Yuan Hong replied.
With two Academic Credits, one could activate the Ocean of Weapons once. As long as the Ocean of Weapons remained activated, there would be no need for one to expend any more Academic Credits to re-activate it for the subsequent examinations.
In a sense, it was like paying for a ticket to the museum. As long as the entrance fee was paid, one could remain within until closing time. It was only after leaving the museum that one would have to repurchase another ticket to enter its premises once more.
Upon hearing that he would have to expend more Academic Credits to enter the Ocean of Weapons once more if he were to leave the area, Zhang Xuan immediately asked worriedly, "I won't have to expend any more Academic Credits as long as I remain within? Then… once I clear the 1-star blacksmith examination, can I proceed on with the 2-star examination?"
The two Academic Credits he currently had didn't come easily. He would have to spend a great deal of effort in earning more Academic Credits if he had to spend two for each rank promotion.
Even if the elder before him was willing to finance him, he would still feel guilty taking the Academic Credits of others for his own use, especially considering how valuable they were!
On top of that, if he were to accept the favor of others without giving an equivalent return, he would owe a karmic debt to the other party.
The reason Zhang Xuan had been reluctant to accept the favor of others for free all along was due to the messy implications that came along with it. If possible, he would like to avoid it for as long as he could.
"Of course you can. However, the Ocean of Weapons will only remain activated for four hours regardless of which examination you are taking. Regardless of whether you are able to successfully forge a weapon or not, you will be evicted from the premises once time is up… I don't think that you will have sufficient time to challenge the other examinations after clearing the 1-star examination!" Yuan Hong explained.
The underlying motive behind the creation of the Ocean of Weapons was to accommodate for a greater number of students in taking the blacksmith examination. Given that, if they were to allow students to camp inside the facility after paying two Academic Credits, wouldn't that be contrary to its primary purpose?
As such, a time limit of four hours was imposed on the system. Regardless of how one's progress in the examination was, one would be evicted without fail once the time was up, even if their weapon was already on the verge of completion.
If a student were to deem that four hours was insufficient for them to clear the examination, the student could always pay more Academic Credits to extend their time. In this case, an Academic Credit would correspond to an additional two hours.
If the student successfully cleared the examination, the Ocean of Weapons would distribute a new corresponding emblem. Otherwise, they would leave empty-handed.
Since Zhang Xuan had two Academic Credits, he would be allowed to stay within the Ocean of Weapons for four hours. However, weapon smithing was an extremely lengthy process. Four hours might be sufficient for him to smith a weapon to clear the 1-star examination, but to be able to smith another one for the 2-star examination in that limited time… It didn't seem too plausible.
Besides, smithing was an extremely laborious process that consumed an immense amount of zhenqi. Considering Zhang Xuan's current cultivation, just smithing a single weapon could easily consume up more than half of his zhenqi capacity, so even if there was sufficient time, it would be nigh impossible for him to smith two weapons consecutively.
As such, while Vice School Head Yuan thought that it was good that Zhang Xuan was driven, he didn't think that it was a feasible idea.
Even he, as a 6-star pinnacle blacksmith, could only smith two to three weapons within four hours. Anything more than that was impossible.
Unlike pills, weapons, regardless of their grade, require ceaseless hammering and refinement in order to shape and refine it.
"Four hours? Alright then." Hearing that he only had this amount of time, Zhang Xuan nodded.
After clarifying everything, he placed his blacksmith apprentice emblem and Academic Credit Card on the stone pedestal, and with a bright surge of light, the doors to the Ocean of Weapons opened.
Without any hesitation, Zhang Xuan walked in.
The Ocean of Weapons seemed to operate via a mechanism somewhat similar to the Passageway of Records. The room Zhang Xuan stepped into was completely dark, and with an abrupt rumbling beneath his feet, he was transported to a hall.
Placed within the hall were all kinds of ores and metals. There was also a large cauldron and furnace by the side.
"This is supposed to be… an illusion?" Zhang Xuan couldn't help but mutter in awe. Taking a swift glance around him, he realized that everything in this room was extremely vivid and detailed, making it hard to discern it from reality.
Previously, the female receptionist, Li Xuan, had told him that the Ocean of Weapons utilized an Illusion Formation in order to simulate a lifelike smithing experience. This was indeed what was happening to Zhang Xuan right now. Everything around him was fake, regardless of how real it all looked.
Taking a look around him, Zhang Xuan saw a pile of books on the table before him. He walked up to it and flipped through them casually. Written in them were the smithing methods of various weapons.
Examinees could pick any one of these smithing methods for the examination if they wanted to, but this wasn't a compulsory criterion for the examination. As long as the weapon they smithed reached a certain grade, they would be deemed to have cleared the examination.
"I only have four hours. I must hurry so that I can take the 5-star examination…"
Knowing that Academic Credits didn't come easily, Zhang Xuan wasn't content with just clearing the 1-star examination. It would be best if he could clear the 5-star examination in a single go so that he wouldn't have to return here again.
'Thus… it would be best for the weapon I smith to be as simple as possible so as to minimize the time spent on them!'
There was a clear difference in the difficulty between forging a metal ingot into a sword and hammer, and the time required for the both of them would be different as well.
'Unlike pill forging where each ingredient must be carefully prepared in order to forge a satisfactory pill, there's no need for me to be too thorough in the forging of the weapon. Since only the grade of the weapon is being assessed here, there's no need for me to pursue perfection…'
A weapon's grade was determined by factors such as its resilience, flexibility, sharpness, medium for zhenqi, and such.
Aesthetics took a secondary role in determining the grade of the weapon.
While going through the additional effort of hammering the weapon into the perfect shape and size would boost the utility of the weapon as well, this wasn't a vital aspect of the blacksmith examination.
Since that was the case… there would be no need for Zhang Xuan to spend additional effort on shaping the metal ingot.
As long as he were to take careful note of the proportion of metal used in creating the alloy, as well as the refinement and quenching process, he should be able to create a decent weapon.
After browsing through the books, Zhang Xuan frowned.
"It'll take too long to hammer the metal ingot into the shapes depicted in these books…"
Not only would it be hard to do so given his lack of practice in hammering, more importantly, he also didn't have the time to waste on it either.
If he were to follow the smithing process listed in any of the books, it would be impossible for him to successfully smith any weapons without at least two hours of effort.
If that was going to be it, he wouldn't even have enough time to clear the 2-star examination!
"Forget it, I should just start first!"
Tossing the book aside, Zhang Xuan swiftly examined the eight ores and metals on the table as he swiftly simulated the various combinations of alloys he could make with them.
Having learned the Heaven's Path Smith Art, his understanding of smithing was already beyond most 6-star pinnacle blacksmiths. While the ores and metals before him were inferior materials that were suited only for smithing low-tier weapons, as long as he were to complement their strengths well, he would still be able to create a decent weapon.
"Alright, this should do!" Zhang Xuan muttered as a confident smile crept onto his lips.
With a light flick of his wrist, the eight metals and ores immediately rose from the table and flew into the searing furnace.
As Zhang Xuan infused his zhenqi into the furnace, it began to glow crimson. The ores and metals swiftly melted and flowed out of the furnace from a groove by the side.
With another flick of his wrist, the metallic fluid separated into eight distinct fluids, and they began synthesizing with one another through a series of sequences.