Chapter 523 - Tang Wulin's Battle

Chapter 523 - Tang Wulin's Battle

Zhen Hua crossed his arms and frowned. “Our association is a place for exchanges between blacksmiths, so we can, indeed, have a match. However, we should take this elsewhere so we don’t disturb the others.” 

“What?” Zhanggong Yan said. “I just wanted to see if the Blacksmith’s Association lived up to its fame. Are you telling me the Divine Blacksmith, Zhen Hua himself, is afraid of losing?”

Disgruntled shouts rang through the crowd. Zhen Hua was a sacred symbol for the Blacksmith’s Association. None of the blacksmiths here could forgive anyone who besmirched his name. 

Zhen Hua raised a hand to calm the crowd. “Alright then, sir. How would you like this match to be conducted?” 

Zhen Hua had been challenged right in the middle of the lobby of the association’s headquarters. He had no choice but to accept. If he didn’t, the association’s prestige would fall. Whatever the case was, he needed details. 

Zhanggong Yan pointed to the girl at his side. “This is my disciple, Lin Yuhan. I want a fair competition between her and your greatest talent under twenty years of age. If you win, we’ll join your association and obey your assignments.” 

Zhen Hua smiled, his gaze unwavering. “And if we lose?” 

“Nothing,” Zhanggong Yan replied. “The great Zhen Hua acknowledging that he lost is good enough.” 

While the proposed conditions seemed fair, and even advantageous, for Zhen Hua, there was actually a trap. Obeying Zhen Hua’s assignments was only a vague condition at best, and Zhen Hua acknowledging a loss was no laughing matter. He was the Divine Blacksmith of this generation, the greatest blacksmith alive, and the President of the Blacksmith’s Association. Him acknowledging a loss, that was the same as the entire association acknowledging a loss!

“No way!” one of the cleverer blacksmiths in the crowd shouted. “That’s not fair at all!”

As soon as others began to echo the sentiment, Zhen Hua shouted, “Everyone calm down!” Once silence blanketed the hall again,  Zhen Hua looked back to Zhanggong Yan. “I accept your conditions. However, you don’t have to join my association if you lose. It’s fine if just you continue to have friendly exchanges with our members. All blacksmiths are part of one family. For us, nothing matters but reaching the pinnacle of our craft.”

Zhanggong Yan’s stiffened at Zhen Hua’s lofty words. He stared into the Divine Blacksmith’s eyes, searching for weakness, but all he saw was absolute confidence. 

“Prepare two blacksmithing tables!” Zhen Hua ordered the nearby staff members. 

“Yes!” they responded, and in a short few minutes, two tables were arranged in the center of the hall. 

“President Zhen Hua, which youngster will be your representative?” Zhanggong Yan asked. 

Zhen Hua cracked a thin smile. “Come here, Wulin.” 

“Yes, Uncle-master!” Tang Wulin walked over to one of the tables. Many in the crowd instantly recognized him. His achievements from his previous visit had caused quite a stir. 

Zhanggong Yan furrowed his brow. This kid looks even younger than Yuhan! She’s a once-in-a-century genius. Can he match her?

Lin Yuhan stood opposite Tang Wulin, behind the other table. When she saw that he seemed to be around the same age as her, and how handsome he was, her mind froze. She was dumbstruck.

Tang Wulin’s charm had grown with each year that passed. His large, bright eyes and the high bridge of his nose lent a feeling of warmth to his handsome features. He gave off a sunny aura that could attract the attention of any girl. 

“Brother Zhanggong,” Zhen Hua said. “How do you want to conduct the match?”

“The simplest way to measure a blacksmith’s ability is how well they can refine metal,” Zhanggong Yan said. It was obvious he had a plan from the very start, so he didn’t feign ignorance.  “Let’s have two rounds. In the first, our side will choose a metal for both parties to forge. Then, for the second round, you will choose. After both rounds are complete, we’ll see who did better. There are plenty of skilled individuals here, and President Zhen Hua, you’re the only living Divine Blacksmith. Deciding the winner should be easy.” 

“Alright,” Zhen Hua agreed, not bothering to fuss over the details, and he stepped away from the center of the hall. Like Zhanggong Yan, he had absolute faith in his disciple. He couldn’t even imagine a scenario in which Tang Wulin would lose. 

“Please pick the metal,” Tang Wulin said, gesturing toward Lin Yuhan. 

Her answer was immediate. “I choose blue coppertite.”

Tang Wulin’s eyes widened a bit. Blue coppertite was among the most difficult metals to forge. Its chaotic internal structure demanded all of a blacksmith’s attention. Refining it was simply a headache. 

“Okay,” Tang Wulin said. “As you wish.”

A moment later, two chunks of blue coppertite of roughly the same size were delivered to their tables. Be it Zhen Hua, Zhanggong Yan, or any of the other experts in the audience, all could tell at a glance that the two chunks of metal were nearly identical. 

Lin Yuhan glanced at Tang Wulin, to which Tang Wulin responded with a smile. “Let’s begin.”

Lin Yuhan turned her gaze to the table before her and focused on the coppertite. All that reflected in her sapphire eyes was its metal. 

She held both her hands out, and a pair of lustrous blue hammers appeared in a flash of light. A spiral pattern danced along their lengths, showing that their internal structure had been thoroughly shaped. They brimmed with life, filling the air with a faint buzzing. These were a pair of spirit refined blue coppertite hammers! 

A shiver ran down Tang Wulin’s spine. This isn’t going to be as easy as I thought. She’s gotta be talented if she can use blue coppertite hammers! 

Gaze hardening, he held his hands out as well and summoned his spirit refined heavy silver hammers. 

Zhanggong Yan heaved a sigh of relief. He had expected Tang Wulin to be talented since he earned the confidence of Divine Blacksmith Zhen Hua, but heavy silver simply couldn’t compare to blue coppertite. The two just weren’t on the same level. Hammers were the most important tool for blacksmiths. A difference in their quality would lead to a significant difference in the metals they produced. 

After the two chunks of blue coppertite finished calcining, they sprang out of the furnace within the table. As soon as they landed, both young blacksmiths leaped into action, mirroring each other as they tapped the coppertite with their left hammers. 

The effect, however, was completely different. Three soft dings resounded from Tang Wulin’s strike, the effect of stacked hammers. Lin Yuhan’s strike, on the other hand, gave off a faint hum. The spirals of her hammers and the coppertite they were made from constantly moved. They were rippling, almost writhing in place. This was the special effect of her own hammers: nurture! Nurture wasn’t particularly effective against most metals, but when used on blue coppertite, it could produce astonishing results. 

Zhen Hua furrowed his brow. These guys really were prepared! 

Tang Wulin didn’t pay attention to Lin Yuhan. As soon as the match began, he was in his own world. The only things that existed were him and the chunk of blue coppertite before him. Only like this could he reach his maximum potential. He couldn’t afford to do any less than that. He was representing his uncle-master and the entire Blacksmith’s Association! Defeat was not an option. 

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