Chapter 128: Examination
That indifferent youth was none other than Qin Lie.
After Li Mu and the Icestone Snow Wolf King left, Qin Lie started living by himself within the small residence and begun relying on the Eye of Frost to enter and exit the depths of the Arctic Mountain Range’s frozen earth.
During this time, he contemplated the picture of the ice crystal world within the Soul Suppressing Orb, using his soul to sense the frozen essence within it.
Each time he sent his soul into the picture scroll of the ice crystal world while within the frozen earth, a dense, cold frost energy of nature would begin to gather up near him.
Cold energy began to gradually gather within the other ice, sphere-shaped Natal Palace within him, rushing in until the Natal Palace was completely filled with frozen ice energy.
The cold energy even began to gather around his various limbs and organs, lingering around them and causing his aura to suddenly change to one which gave others a kind of piercing, cold feeling.
Because he had still yet to fully comprehend the picture scroll formed from the frost concept, it was still impossible for him to use the frost energy within his ice ball-shaped Natal Palace. Thus, he also wasn’t able to disperse the cold energy which had converged upon his bones, muscles, and veins. This made it very hard for him to control his body’s aura and condition.
Furthermore, as cold energy fluctuated around his entire body, currents of cold energy would surge out whenever he moved.
This made it so when he fought his enemies, even his most basic moves would accompanied by the cold energy that filled his body, empowering his attacks with the effects of frost.
After being hit by Qin Lie’s most basic attack, Dark Asura Hall’s Tian Jianhao had felt chills run through his entire body. This was why fear had blossomed in his heart.
Perhaps it was because of his recent daily study of the mysteries of the frost concept, Qin Lie’s aura and temperament had also gradually become affected as his heart slowly became cold…
Armament Sect’s outer sect gate opened, and Tong Jihua walked out from within to the registration point while accompanied by six Armament Sect disciples.
His gaze swept across all of the youths within the square as he said with a bit of surprise, “There are quite a few of you this time, I wonder how many of you will pass the examination in the end.”
Tong Jihua was an elder of the outer sect and was specifically responsible for the annual recruitment of new disciples. He was quite accustomed to the scene in front of him within the square and knew rather well how alluring being a true Artificer was to these youths.
Thus, even though this was just the recruitment for outer sect disciples, it was still rather harsh and difficult.
For every ten or so applicants, only one or two would pass the exam. The rest would all be eliminated.
Even after one passed the exam, if one couldn’t show the potential of an Artificer within a certain period of time, one would also be directly dismissed.
Every year, several hundred young men and women from various forces in various places would all come to Armament Sect to register, but in the end, at most, only twenty to thirty of them would pass the exam.
Out of these twenty to thirty youths, the greater half of them would be dismissed within the next few months of observation. At the very end, the number of youths who could truly enter into the outer sect would number no more than ten.
Out of the few that remained, it was considered good if one or two of them demonstrated talent and were chosen to enter the inner sect.
Thus, although Armament Sect’s outer sect held yearly recruitments for new disciples, they were always left with vacancies.
“Everyone should be clear with the rules, thus I won’t elaborate on them. In order to prevent people from wasting time, everyone who registers has to pay a Profound Grade One spirit stone. Regardless of whether you pass or not, this spirit stone will not be return. Mn. If there are no questions, then registration will begin from the start of the line. First person!”
Tong Jihua sat in front of the gate and asked for each participant’s name. Upon receiving a Profound Grade One spirit stone, he allowed them to enter into the sect.
He didn’t ask about their identity or cultivation progress, nor did he ask about their origin or background. It seemed as if he didn’t care about these things.
The long, long line, in the wake of Tong Jihua’s cries, slowly thinned out. After about an hour, it was finally Qin Lie’s turn.
Qin Lie replied with the pseudonym that he had prepared a while back and handed over a Profound Grade One spirit stone.
Tong Jihua grabbed it and casually tossed it into the basket behind him.
He recorded down the name and threw a numbered stone tablet to Qin Lie. Not asking anything else, Tong Jihua nodded, indicating for Qin Lie to go ahead and walk straight in.
“Number two hundred and thirty,” commented Qin Lie as he glanced over the tablet and entered through Armament Sect’s outer sect gate.
“This way.” Within a vast, large courtyard, several Armament Sect practitioners who were responsible for receiving and guiding exam takers brought Qin Lie into a nearby room and arranged for him to sit at a long table. Afterwards, they gave him a brush and paper.
Qin Lie didn’t reply. Sitting down, he looked at the paper scrolls and discovered that they all contained questions which pertained to the distinct characteristics of various spirit materials.
What spirit material, when combined with Fiery Solar Jade, will cause the fire energy within the jade stone to quickly become volatile? What is the main distinguishing characteristic of Heavenly Cloud Crystal? Explain the three ways to use Dragon Bone Jade…
All of them were questions along those lines.
After having followed Yao Tai around for the greater half of the year and carefully studying Yao Tai when he forged spirit artifacts, he had become familiar with these basic materials like they were a part of him.
He took up the brush and began to rapidly write, quickly answering all of the various questions which pertained to spirit materials. His brush seemingly never stopped moving. When he finished, after looking it over once, he called over Armament Sect’s proctor and returned the paper scrolls.
“Your speed is indeed rather quick.” The young Armament Sect disciple nodded as they pointed to another room, saying, “Go over there and wait for instructions.”
Qin Lie indifferently began to walk towards the other large room, quickly entering it without a word. Upon entering, he immediately felt several gazes land on him.
Liang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and Yi Yuan. The three of them were surprisingly also within the room and were all seated atop a long bench.
Liang Shaoyang and Ouyang Jingjing glanced at Qin Lie, then retracted their gazes, cold and indifferent.
Only Purple Mist Sea’s Yi Yuan was the only one to not only smile at Qin Lie, but took initiative to scoot sideways and make room for Qin Lie atop the bench.
Qin Lie indifferently nodded and directly sat beside Yi Yuan as he observed the insides of the room.
Other than Liang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and Yi Yuan, there were seven other youths within the room. All of them wore rather luxurious and magnificent clothes, making it clear that their backgrounds weren’t ordinary.
The other seven were scattered all over. Some were familiar with another, quietly conversing in hushed tones, while others lowered their heads and remained silent.
“I’m from Purple Mist Sea. My name is Yi Yuan. Friend, where did you come from?” Yi Yuan turned his head, smiling at Qin Lie.
“I’m Qin Bing. I came from a little place that’s not worth mentioning,” answered Qin Lie indifferently.
With a warm smile, Yi Yuan said, “Your origins don’t matter. As long as you are able to become an Armament Sect outer sect disciple, your future will be vast.”
Qin Lie furrowed his brows, not answering.
Soon, more and more youths entered. Each person who entered would glance around and then take whatever seat they found.
However, there were three clearly empty spots which none of the later arriving youths dared to take. They were the ones by Liang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and Qin Lie…
Even when the room became crowded, there were still open spots beside the three as the other late comers would rather stand than sit down.
Four hours later, noontime.
Tong Jihua’s voice was suddenly transmitted from within the courtyard, “Those who have their tablet number called may continue to the second round of exams. Those whose numbers are not called, please leave. One, two, nine, seventeen…”
Liang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and several other youths who registered early proudly stood up as they followed behind each other to the courtyard behind them.
Yi Yuan stood up from beside Qin Lie and politely smiled at Qin Lie, stating, “I shall leave first.”
Tong Jihua continued calling numbers.
“Two hundred thirty.”
Qin Lie got up when his number was called out.
Within the second courtyard, many small smelting furnaces had been stationed there. Spread out below were several fire crystals of the lowest level, and on a nearby table various types of low level spirit materials had been placed there.
Qin Lie, holding his stone tablet, was lead to one of the furnaces. Afterwards, he discovered that Liang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and Yi Yuan were all standing not far in front of him. They were all seemingly waiting for something.
Ten Armament Sect outer sect disciples were scattered across the edges of the courtyard, looking at the group within with serious expressions.
Those whose numbers had been called filed in one by one, each of them being directed to a different spot, waiting in silence afterward.
The sound of Tong Jihua’s voice eventually stopped. He also arrived. Afterwards, the gate to the second courtyard was heartlessly closed, directly eliminating those whose numbers had not been called as they didn’t have the qualifications to take this second round of assessments.
This time, over four hundred youths had registered. After the first round of assessment, only one hundred people had the necessary qualifications to continue on. Three quarters of them had already been eliminated.
“Everything has already been prepared for you all. I presume that you all have already guessed what we want you to do. That’s right, you will have to refine an artifact. Metal, wood, water, fire, and earth; the five elements. Of them, metal artifacts are the easiest to forge as the smelting and combining of metal is the easiest. Use those spirit materials however you want to create whatever kind of artifact you can. Forks and knifes, swords, hammers, anything is fine as long as it can be created!”
Tong Jihua walked to the center of everyone and loudly shouted, “It starts now!”
Liang Shaoyang, Yi Yuan, and Ouyang Jingjing all seemingly moved in the same instant, becoming the first ones to ignite their fire crystals and fire up their furnaces.
Everyone else acted moments later, also beginning to take action as they ignited their fire crystals.
Meanwhile, Qin Lie who had mixed into the crowd was in no hurry to ignite a fire. Instead, he first picked up and identified each and every spirit material.
“Quicksand Gold, Bluelight Copper, Quicksilver…”
As he silently recited their names, the forging process of the Terminator Profound Bomb was the first thought to emerge within his mind as it was the only artifact that he had forged so far.
The spirit materials provided by Armament Sect naturally weren’t specifically for the forging of a Terminator Profound Bomb, but it was extremely easy to smelt metal element spirit materials and thus it wasn’t difficult to make an artifact into a specific shape.
After silently pondering for this moment, Qin Lie didn’t dare be rash and decided to forge a Terminator Profound Bomb shaped artifact, lest he failed and lost this opportunity.
In his mind, he thought over the several critical junctures of forging the Terminator Profound Bomb until they became clear. Only then did he ignite a fire crystal with the indifferent expression on his face gradually becoming solemn and focused.
Tong Jihua wandered amidst the group, observing this year’s batch of examinees. He closely observed Jiang Shaoyang, Ouyang Jingjing, and Yi Yuan, making sure to never stray too far away from them.
Not only did these three have the highest martial cultivations of the examinees, their backgrounds were also not ordinary. Within their own sects, they had probably carefully studied the art of artifact forging before.
Thus, regardless of whether it was their experience or their movements, they were remarkable in all areas. Tong Jihua couldn’t help by inwardly nod.
He was certain that not only would these three smoothly pass the examination, they would also be this year’s cream of the crop, perhaps even obtaining the opportunity to enter the inner sect.
To those who could possibly become inner sect disciples, Tong Jihua would naturally pay a bit more attention so that he could make preparations in advance…
“Senior Sister Tang!”
“Senior Sister Tang, why have you come?”
“Senior Sister Tang!”
A fiery red figure suddenly floated over. It was as if a blazing ball of fire had appeared within the courtyard.
It was a beautiful, twenty or so year old girl. Even the loose Artificer Robe that she wore seemed to be unable to hide the seductive curves of her body. Her perky twin peaks, lithe waist, and slightly flared out buttocks created a heart-moving, soul-stirring figure which seemed to be able to entice any man.
As soon as she appeared within the courtyard, all eyes of the Armament Sect disciples became filled with an apparent fervor as they each stared while greeting her.
Even the minds of the many of the examinees who were focused on refining became restless. Their concentration suddenly dissipated as they began to occasionally glance at her figure while they forged their artifact…
“Siqi, why have you come today?” asked Tong Jihua with a bright smile. Greeting her with a wave, he continued, “It’s good that you have come. In a while, help me grade them. There are quite a few outstanding youths this time, so you can take note of them in your mind now. Then it will be easier for you directly request for them in the next few days…
“Uncle Tong, I came just so I could pick out people. All the good seeds from the previous few times were all taken away by my fellow disciples. This time, I will look closely. I must not lose out again.” Tang Siqi’s beautiful eyes sparkled with a radiance as a smile emerged on her beautiful, blushing face, resulting in an extremely moving yet faint charm.
“Haha, who told you to act so conceited the last few times?” said Tong Jihua with a great laugh. “You thought that there weren’t good seeds each time and treated it like a joke. In the end, there were several outstanding ones who helped your fellow disciples properly separate and smelt basic spirit materials. Just how much energy did they save?”
“As if it wasn’t because there were only crooked melons and split dates before that? There wasn’t even a single usable one, causing me to give up on all of these new recruits. That’s why I didn’t pay any attention,” responded Tang Siqi.
“Then you must pay careful attention this time,” said Tong Jihua, chuckling.
Tang Siqi nodded with a smile and began to move through the courtyard like a blazing ball of fire, wandering next to each of the examinees to observe their artifact forging process.
Each examinee, upon being approached by her, would all smell an intoxicating fragrance, resulting in their mind immediately being thrown into a mess, slowing their movements.
At these times, Tang Siqi would always shake her head, crestfallen, and would immediately leave without hesitation.