Turning around, Zhang Xuan saw an elder with a flowing white beard walking over. There was an air of valiance surrounding him, and astonishingly, his cultivation was indiscernible on first glance.

"Master Lin Jie!" Guild Leader Qin hurriedly clasped his fist and greeted the elder whereas Chu Xiang lowered his head respectfully.

Be it in terms of cultivation or comprehension of smithing, they came nowhere close to matching up to the half 8-star blacksmith before them.

"Master Lin Jie, allow me to introduce you. He is a 7-star pinnacle master teacher, Zhang shi!" Fearing that the duo would end up fighting one another, Guild Leader Qin hurriedly introduced the two of them.

Considering how Zhang Xuan had successfully crashed the Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion, even defeating Pavilion Master Gou in the midst of doing so, there was definitely nothing wrong with addressing him as a 7-star pinnacle master teacher.

"7-star pinnacle master teacher?" Master Lin Jie was taken aback for a moment. "For one as young as you to wield such power, I see that you do have the right to act conceited." Initially, Master Lin Jie had thought that it was some arrogant individual trying to humiliate him publicly, but since the young man was a 7-star pinnacle master teacher, it was unlikely that he would lower himself to something as crass as that.

Zhang Xuan clasped his fist and requested, "Pardon me, but I have some urgent issues concerning the Master Teacher Pavilion that cannot be delayed. May I ask you to lend me the Forging Hall for a while so that I can upgrade my artifact?"

Considering that Master Lin Jie had specially been invited there by Guild Leader Qin to conduct a lecture, it was indeed a little disrespectful for him to suddenly barge in and request to use the earth flames.

"Upgrade your artifact? Is Zhang shi a blacksmith as well?" Master Lin Jie asked curiously.

"I have learned it for a while and happened to obtain a 6-star emblem," Zhang Xuan replied.

Master Lin Jie nodded in response. "May I know what kind of artifact Zhang shi hopes to upgrade?"

While the Qingyuan Empire Blacksmith Guild was not as grand as the Qianchong Empire's, there were at least six to seven hundred private chambers where one could access earth flames.

Just what kind of artifact was the young man dealing with that he would absolutely need to use the Forging Hall?

If the other party was a 7-star pinnacle blacksmith, he would not have bothered to ask that question. Just that… the young man's proficiency in smithing seemed to be a little low, and the earth flames in the Forging Hall were exceptionally wild. The slightest lapse in control would not only result in the failure of the tempering—the artifact could possibly be destroyed as well.

"It's this one." Zhang Xuan flicked his wrist, and the Golden Origin Cauldron appeared in the room.

"Master, are you intending to reforge me? Hahaha, am I going to be upgraded once more?" Scanning its surroundings, the Golden Origin Cauldron found that there were many blacksmiths around him. He swiftly realized that he was standing in the middle of a Blacksmith Guild, and he could not help but tremble in excitement.

"A Half-Leaving Aperture realm Saint intermediate-tier artifact?" Master Lin Jie had thought that it would only be a Half-Saint artifact or that sort, but to think that it would be a Saint intermediate-tier artifact! Master Lin Jie's eyebrows shot up in disbelief as he asked hesitantly, "Zhang shi, are you certain that this is the artifact that you wish to upgrade?"

"That's right." Zhang Xuan nodded.

"This…" Attributing it to the young man's inexperience, Master Lin Jie could not help but advise him. "To forge a Saint intermediate-tier artifact, on top of wielding sufficient strength, more importantly, one must possess a deep understanding of smithing so as to ensure that the forging and upgrading do not damage the spirit within the artifact. Otherwise, not only will the artifact not be upgraded, its tier might even decline sharply instead!"

Even a half 8-star blacksmith like him only had a twenty percent chance of successfully upgrading a Saint intermediate artifact like that, so for a 6-star blacksmith to do so…

He was certain that the Saint intermediate-tier artifact would be ruined during the upgrade! It was truly not worth the risk.

Before Zhang Xuan could even speak, the Golden Origin Cauldron had already harrumphed in discontent. "Old man, what do you mean by those words? My master was able to raise my tier from Saint low-tier to Saint intermediate-tier just by giving pointers to an apprentice blacksmith, so do you think that he needs you to lecture him?"

Ever since its creation, its current master was the only one that it had felt so much respect and awe for, and yet, that old man actually dared to doubt its master's capability!

Count yourself lucky that I didn't charge forward to crush your puny head with my butt!

"By giving pointers to an apprentice blacksmith?" The crowd was taken aback by the Golden Origin Cauldron's words.

One must know that an apprentice blacksmith was an individual who had yet to successfully smith a Mortal low-tier weapon, and such a person was able to upgrade a Saint low-tier artifact to Saint intermediate-tier just by receiving some pointers from the young man before them?

Zhang Xuan slapped the Golden Origin Cauldron's lid and berated, "No one will think of you as a mute if you don't speak!"

The only reason Song Zhen had been able to successfully raise the tier of the Golden Origin Cauldron was because he was actually highly talented in smithing himself, and he had devoted many years of his life to diligently refining his forging techniques on top of that. This had granted him a deep understanding of most common types of forging techniques. Furthermore, he also wielded a cultivation of Transcendent Mortal 9-dan, which was on par with a 6-star blacksmith.

These were the factors that had led to the eventual success in the upgrade, and this success could not possibly be replicated with any other apprentice blacksmiths.

It was just a work of coincidence; there was nothing in it to brag about.

"I…" The Golden Origin Cauldron shook its body indignantly. "But what I am saying is the truth. You did manage to get an apprentice blacksmith to successfully raise my tier just by offering him some pointers…"

Seeing that the Golden Origin Cauldron was still arguing with him, Zhang Xuan's eyebrows shot up. "Shut up and wait by the side."

"Alright…" Seeing that its master was really angry, the Golden Origin Cauldron meekly retreated to the side.

Zhang Xuan turned to the crowd and said in embarrassment, "That fellow has been a lofty position for too long, so he rarely thinks before he speaks. As such, his words tend to be a little impolite and disrespectful. Allow me to apologize on his behalf."

It was insolent for an artifact to suddenly interject in the midst of its master's conversation.

"It's fine, don't worry about it," Master Lin Jie replied with a wave of his hand. With intrigue in his eyes, he asked, "Previously, your artifact has said that you gave pointers to an apprentice blacksmith, allowing him to successfully upgrade the Golden Origin Cauldron. May I know if that's true?"

"It's actually nothing much; it's truly not worth speaking about!" Zhang Xuan waved his hand.

He was only there to upgrade the Golden Origin Cauldron. It had never been his intention to create a ruckus, so there was no point speaking of past affairs.

"Pardon me, it seems like I was a little reckless…" Master Lin Jie thought that Zhang Xuan was reluctant to speak of the matter because there was some secret tied into it, so he chose not to probe any further.

"Alright, if you don't mind, I'll start upgrading my artifact now." Seeing that he did not cause any sort of misunderstanding, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief. He paused for a brief moment before turning to Chu Xiang. "Chu gongzi, I might need to trouble you later on."

"Zhang shi, feel free to make any request of me. As long as it's within my means, I'll accomplish it to the best of my abilities!" Chu Xiang replied with a smile.

Putting aside that they were acquaintances, just the fact that the young man before him had successfully crashed the Master Teacher Pavilion, making him the bona fide number one master teacher of the Qingyuan Empire, made him a person who was worth befriending.

"It's like this. I really dote on my Golden Origin Cauldron a lot, and I fear that I'll hesitate during a critical step of the upgrade. Thus, I would like to invite you to upgrade it on my behalf!" Zhang Xuan said.

"Dote?" Hearing those words, the Golden Origin Cauldron racked his mind, but he could not think of a single instance where his master had doted on him.

In fact, it seemed like his master had even just slapped him just a moment ago…

"This…" Hearing that Zhang Xuan wanted him to upgrade his artifact, a bitter smile surfaced on Chu Xiang's face as he hurriedly waved his hand. "Zhang shi, it's not that I don't want to help you, but my cultivation hasn't even reached Primordial Spirit realm yet. Even though I am a 7-star blacksmith, it's still far beyond my current abilities to upgrade a Half-Leaving Aperture realm artifact…"

Even a 7-star pinnacle blacksmith like Guild Leader Qin was not confident in handling artifacts of such a tier, so how could a newly promoted 7-star blacksmith like him possibly stand a chance?

The other party was really thinking too highly of him.

"There's no need to be nervous. I'll guide you from the side. As long as you follow my instructions strictly, you will be fine," Zhang Xuan said.

However, Chu Xiang was still conflicted. "Zhang shi, I really don't think that I'm up to the task. Your artifact is truly valuable, and it'll be a disaster if I make a mistake in the smithing process."

"Don't worry about it. I'll be using the Impartation of Heaven's Will on you later on, so you need not worry about making a mistake. If something really crops up, I won't blame you for that," Zhang Xuan replied.

"Ah…" Since the other party had already said this, it seemed like he did not have any reason to turn the offer down anymore. Thus, after a moment of hesitation, Chu Xiang eventually nodded in agreement.

"Alright, let's begin then!"

Zhang Xuan turned to the Golden Origin Cauldron and frowned. "What are you waiting for? Hurry up and go over to the earth flames!"

The Golden Origin Cauldron pouted in indignation, but it still hurriedly flew over to the earth flames.

"This is called doting?" Black lines streaked across Master Lin Jie and Guild Leader Qin's faces.

It was just a moment ago that the other party had said that he feared that he would hesitate in the upgrading process because his heart might suddenly soften for his artifact, just like how to doctor would find it hard to be decisive when conducting a surgery on their kin. But those harsh words…

Do you know what doting means?

Walking up to the formation to draw up the earth flames, Zhang Xuan gestured to Chu Xiang.

The latter swiftly understood Zhang Xuan's intention and walked forward.

"Zhang shi, this is the token to draw out the earth flames…" Guild Leader Qin flicked his wrist and proffered a token.

Due to safety considerations, the formation to draw the earth flames could only be activated with a certain token.

However, before he could pass it to the other party, the young man had already begun speaking.

"Take three steps to the left, two steps forward. No, take one small step back, and shuffle a little to the right. Good. Drive your zhenqi and channel it into your right leg before stomping down…"

The voice carried a unique melody to it that seemed to place one in a trance. Without any hesitation, Chu Xiang followed Zhang Xuan's orders strictly and stomped hard on the ground.


In an instant, the formation for drawing the earth flames suddenly whirred into action, and a powerful surge of flames burst up, shrouding the Golden Origin Cauldron.

"This…" Guild Leader Qin narrowed his eyes in disbelief. "To activate the earth flames without using the token… how is that possible?"

The temperature of the earth flames was exceptionally high, such that even Saint 4-dan cultivators could easily be reduced to cinder in a moment of carelessness.

As such, the formation was firmly sealed to prevent any flames from leaking out when it was not in use, and without the required token, it was impossible to remove the seal and trigger the formation. Yet, with Zhang Xuan's guidance, Chu Xiang had actually managed to pull it off with ease.

Despite witnessing it with his own eyes, he still found it hard to believe!

"Only one who possesses a deep understanding of formations is capable of pulling this off! Most likely, Zhang shi has achieved exceptional proficiency in the field of formations as well!" Master Lin Jie remarked in approval.

To be able to see through the structure of the earth flame formation with a glance and successfully activate it, the young man's comprehension of formations could be said to be top-notch even among the formation masters in their Qianchong Empire!

"As expected of Zhang shi…" Guild Leader Qin nodded.

Master Lin Jie shook his head. "I'm more interested in his smithing ability. In the first place, upgrading a Saint intermediate-tier artifact is already an incredibly difficult task. To make matters worse, he is even using another person as a proxy to smith in his stead. Even if he uses the Impartation of Heaven's Will, considering that he has never worked with his partner before, the difficulty is bound to be countless times greater. Honestly speaking, I am not too optimistic about the outcome."

It was one thing if Zhang Xuan and his partner had worked with one another on numerous occasions, allowing them to work synergistically with one another.

There were indeed such cases in the real world as well, where a more knowledgeable blacksmith would offer pointers to a more skilled blacksmith in order to create a weapon more powerful than what they could create individually.

But that would take years of cooperation in order for both parties to understand each other's strength, zhenqi purity, forging techniques, smithing tendencies, and so on.

And that clearly was not the case between Zhang Xuan and his partner!

To work on a Saint intermediate-tier on their very first partnership, when they knew next to nothing about one another…

As a half 8-star blacksmith, his experience told him that such a thing was impossible to pull off. If it was truly possible, he would have spent his years smithing in vain!

As a 7-star pinnacle master teacher, Zhang Xuan should have been aware of this matter as well. Yet, to go on with it despite understanding the risks… was he banking on the occurrence of a miracle, or was the Saint intermediate-tier artifact disposable to him?

At this point, Master Lin Jie could not help but shoot a look of sympathy at the Golden Origin Cauldron.


More like murder!



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