Be it setting up a Spirit Gathering Formation to intensify the flames or concentrating the flames together to heighten the heat, the other party had already displayed a deep understanding of manipulation of flames, such that it was very likely that the other party was almost on par with him when in terms of proficiency in smithing.

But... why would he so slipshod when it came to forging the weapon?

That was a Violet Firmament Blazestone! It was an incredibly valuable ore even from the perspective of an Inceptive Sage like him! Even if it wasn't enough to forge a saber or a spear, there shouldn't be too much problem making a dagger out of it! And yet, of all possibilities, he chose to make a brick instead...

Wu Youdao's face twitched non-stop, and he felt himself getting a little short on breath from the sheer state of agitation he was in.

As the Inceptive Sage of the Blacksmith Guild, he had something that could be described as an extreme obsession with perfecting weapons. If there were to be the slightest millimeter of imperfection in his forging, he would simply melt down the entire weapon and redo it right from the start. In view that he was assessing another person's work, he had no choice but to tolerate slight imperfections in the other party's work... But this brick didn't have the slightest thing to do with a weapon at all, so how could he possibly accept this?

It was not as if the other party was a bricklayer, so why in the world did he choose to forge a brick?

"You can check on it. It should have reached Saint high-tier." Paying no heed to the frenzied look on Wu Youdao's face, Zhang Xuan said with a casual wave of his hand.

"Saint high-tier?" The last remark from Zhang Xuan was the very last straw for Wu Youdao. Unable to tolerate it any longer, he snapped, "What's the use of a mere brick even if it has really reached Saint high-tier?"

On the other hand, facing Wu Youdao's questioning, Zhang Xuan shook his head in disapproval, as if disappointed by the other party's inability to recognize a treasure before his eyes, before picking up the metal brick from the table and said with a hint of pride, "Its uses are far greater than what you can imagine. It would be no exaggeration to say that it's the most formidable weapon in the world!"

However, those words only seemed to further fan Wu Youdao's rage, and it was to the point that he began laughing out of sheer anger, "The most formidable weapon in the world? Why don't you show me just what is so formidable about the brick you have forged?"

There should at least be a limit to one's lies! A perfectly square brick, bulky and heavy, lacking in reach and devoid of a sharp edge... How was one supposed to fight with such a weapon?!

"Do you still have any weapon forged out of Violet Firmament Blazestone? Whether my brick is truly strong or not, we'll be able to tell with a swift test!" Zhang Xuan replied calmly.


"You want to test out your brick? Hmph, let's do just that then!" As he said those words, Wu Youdao flicked his wrist and retrieved three weapons.

Saber, spear, and sword!

These were all forged out of the Violet Firmament Blazestone, and the overwhelming cold aura that emanated from them left one feeling as if one's skin had been pierced through and that one's blood was about to freeze over.

With just a look, it was apparent that all three of those weapons were of extremely high tier, wielding formidable strength.

The forging of these three weapons had taken Wu Youdao tremendous effort, especially with the processing of the Violet Firmament Blazestone.

"As long as any of these three weapons of yours is able to withstand the might of my brick, I'll consider it as my loss!" Zhang Xuan said with a smile.

"Very well. Let me see what kind of might does that brick of yours wield!" Hearing the arrogant words spoken by the young man before him, Wu Youdao harrumphed coldly.

With a flick of his wrist, his sword flew forth in Zhang Xuan's direction.

In the face of the incoming sword, Zhang Xuan didn't make any particularly large actions. Instead, with a simple fling of his sleeve, he flung his brick forward to fend against the sword.

Kacha!

The brick and the sword collided forcefully with one another, and in the next instant, the sword shattered into two with a resounding clang.

"This…" Wu Youdao widened his eyes in horror.

He had reforged this sword time after time in order to refine it into the sharpest and most resilient blade it could be. Yet, against a mere brick, it actually shattered in an instant! How could this be?

Hu!

To make things worse, the brick didn't stop after shattering the sword. It swiftly flew for the saber and spear floating behind Wu Youdao. 'Kacha! Kacha!', two crisp echoes sounded the end of the other two weapons that Wu Youdao had forged with great difficulty.

"Y-you…" Wu Youdao's teeth clattered at that sight, a little overwhelmed by the situation going on before him.

It was one thing for one of his weapon to be destroyed so easily, but for all three to be shattered by a simple brick so easily... No matter how slow-witted he was, it was more than obvious to him that there was something much deeper to the simple-looking brick before him!

It was at a completely different tier from the other weapons he had forged so far!

"A brick might lack a sharp edge, but its bulkiness allows it to overcome any weapon through sheer force." Placing his hands behind his back, Zhang Xuan glanced at Wu Youdao with the air of an unfathomable expert.

"Weapons are tools intended to raise a cultivator's fighting prowess. Their forms are only of secondary concern, what's truly important are their might! While the Violet Firmament Blazestone allows for the forging of extraordinarily sharp weapons, there is a fatal flaw with such weapons—brittleness. They might still fare fine against other light weapons, but once faced with a heavy weapon, they would swiftly shatter like fragile crystals under the immense pressure exerted on them. Can a weapon that breaks in the middle of a battle be considered as a good weapon?"

"This…" Wu Youdao was stumped by those words.

He had used the Violet Firmament Blazestone to forge quite a few weapons, but just like what the other party had said, they were lacking in resilience. But he didn't view this lack in resilience as a major problem—after all, there was no way they could be too fragile as Saint high-tier weapons. Furthermore, the strength of a sword lay primarily in its sharpness and flexibility, and it would be impractical to expect it to be resilient as well.

He thought that all weapons forged out of the Violet Firmament Blazestone would face this fundamental flaw, but who could have thought that this problem would be resolved easily just by forging a simple brick!

"How is it? Have I cleared your assessment?" Seeing that Wu Youdao was in a state of complete shock, Zhang Xuan shook his head before asking.

He had always been a humble person, and his purpose here was to clear the trial, not to traumatize others, so there was no need for him to add salt to the other party's wounds.

"... Yes, you have cleared my assessment…" Wu Youdao replied in a deflated voice, a deep contrast against the confidence he had exuded earlier. With a frown on his face, he asked, "There should be no way to carve a formation on the brick, and furthermore, you were rather easygoing and leisurely in your hammerings too. So, how did manage to forge a weapon of this tier?"

Even with the superior sturdiness the brick wielded over his three weapons, it shouldn't have been possible for it to shatter all three of his weapons so easily. That could only mean that the other party's brick was of a far higher quality of his weapons.

In order to raise the tier of a weapon, the regulation of temperature within the weapon cauldron while the ore was being refined and the quenching process were of utmost importance. On the other hand, when it came to heightening its prowess, the forging process and carving of formations would be the key.

Generally speaking, the longer an ore had been hammered for, the more compact the material would be. Thus, weapons that had undergone a longer forging process would tend to be considerably more resilient.

However, the other party had taken three breaths to craft his weapon, using only half a breath to hammer each side of the metal ingot once in order to shape it into the form of a brick... So, how could it possibly be of higher tier than the weapons he had spent hours or even days forging?

"Are you interested in learning the secret behind my forging technique?" Zhang Xuan asked with a smile.

"Please enlighten me!" Knowing that the other party possessed capabilities surpassing him in the field of smithing, Wu Youdao clasped his fist and bowed humbly, not daring to pull his weight.

"Even though the forging of the brick would appear simple and crude to untrained eyes, there's actually profound knowledge in it. None of the hammer strikes were done haphazardly; they were carefully controlled to ensure that they are in alignment with the essence of smithing…" Picking the brick up, Zhang Xuan explained with a deep look in his eyes.

His understanding of smithing had already reached 8-star pinnacle—not to mention that what he had learned was the Heaven's Path Smithing Art—so even the most casual of pointers from him could be deeply insightful to any 8-star blacksmith.

Just by listening to Zhang Xuan's words for a while, Wu Youdao was left with nothing but awe and respect for him.

Despite the other party's young age, his explanation of smithing was concise and spot-on. Through simple words, the other party was able to bring out the most profound of concepts, leaving him feeling deeply enlightened, as if many epiphanies were striking him one after another.

Very soon, the intricacies behind the mysterious brick forging techniques were deciphered to Wu Youdao.

"Farewell!" After finishing his piece, Zhang Xuan bade his leave and began heading for the third floor.

Seeing the young man off with his gaze, Wu Youdao swiftly ran through what he had just learned, and his eyes gleamed in excitement, "So, my conceptualization of smithing has been wrong all along. From this day onward, I shall smith swords and sabers no more and dedicate the entirety of my time and effort into forging bricks!"

What swords, sabers, spears... All those meant nothing to the absolute brick!

Offering the heaviest of offense and the sturdiest of defense, what other weapons could possibly compete with the brick? This was a weapon that was worth dedicating his entire life into pursuing!

With such a thought in mind, Wu Youdao swiftly took out several ores and began forging.

On the other hand, the culprit who had just led a talented blacksmith astray was currently heading up a flight of stairs, wondering, I took almost ten minutes before I could clear the second floor... Is this a little too slow? I'll really have to speed up for the later floors…

And soon, he found himself standing before the Inceptive Sage of the Seer Guild.

What was unbeknownst to Zhang Xuan in this very moment was that he had unwittingly groomed a true brick master blacksmith. This was the very day that a certain man vowed that no other weapons other than a brick would be produced by his hands, and countless experts viewed it as the greatest of glory to obtain a brick personally forged by that man...

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