Translator: Myriea_ActiasLuna Editor: Nou
When Liu Huazhang received his ten Spirit Stones, his face blossomed like a flower. Those who remained all followed his lead—cooperative and obedient—and it was even to the point that the combined Refined Iron they handed over was an ounce or two over the required amount. They collected their Spirit Stones from the bucket, all of their eyes glistening with joy with a few even showing hints of disdain.
"Heh heh, my turn now…." An extremely thin man walked over, also holding Refined Iron within his brace. All of the other disciples moved aside to form a clear path for him after they’d seen who had come—it was none other than Shixiong Zhushu. Once he had arrived in front of Fang Xing, he showed a smile. "Shidi Fang, my Refined Iron here is a good four ounces over the required amount. Why don’t you reward me with a few more Spirit Stones?"
After everyone had seen the battle between Fang Xing and Murong Ying on that night, they had all politely referred to Fang Xing as their senior—"Little Shixiong Fang"—despite being older than him; only Zhushu directly referred to Fang Xing as a junior. It was also only he who showed such a nasty smile, unlike the rest of the disciples who appeared to be sincere. Fang Xing immediately despised this man upon seeing this, though he also smiled in return. "Not a problem. Why don’t you take twelve!"
Zhushu laughed and said, "How about thirteen?"
Fang Xing snorted at this. "Take fourteen!"
Everyone else could see that Fang Xing was already slightly displeased by this, yet Zhushu laughed even more. He placed the Refined Iron down before actually helping himself with fourteen Spirit Stones.
"Alright. Take care, Shidi Fang! I’m still quite busy, so I’ve got to go now." Zhushu smiled and looked disdainfully towards Fang Xing before excusing himself.
Fang Xing simply laughed. "Wait just a moment, I’ve still got something to say!"
After Fang Xing spoke, Zhushu stayed and yawned from behind the rest of the crowded people. Pleased with what he’d done, he then sent meaningful glances at a few disciples, as if to say ‘See? I was right. This brat is fierce and vicious, but he still ended up drinking the water I use to wash my feet.’
Before long, all twenty-one of the disciples had handed in the required amount of Refined Iron, and out of the five hundred Spirit Stones in the bucket, over half had already been claimed. This was when Fang Xing lazily stood up, grabbed a Refined Iron and coldly smiled before placing it back down. One by one, he checked all of them individually without saying a single word, while everyone else peered on wondering what he was doing.
Zhushu took a step forward and grinned. "Shidi Fang, we’ve already handed in our required amount. Can we go back now?"
Fang Xing did not answer and continued to check the Refined Iron.
"Shidi Fang?" Zhushu took another step forward and tried again.
Fang Xing extended all five of his fingers and activated [Gravitational Force], causing the [Saber of Azure Dragon] to immediately fly into his hands. He waved the weapon at Zhushu and commanded, "Go back to where you were!"
"How…." Although Zhushu was clearly not happy at this treatment, he knew that he was no opponent for Fang Xing. Without much else he could do, he did exactly as he was told.
After four to five Refined Irons more, anger began to appear on Fang Xing’s face. He immediately flipped the desk over and waved his sword at the disciples while coldly cursing, "You bunch of bastards, all of these Spirit Stones came from my personal stash. I’d only use them as a reward once in a lifetime, yet instead of appreciation, today you all decided to push your luck a bit too far. Are you trying to mock me with this fake Refined Iron? Do you all think I’m an easy target?"
Fang Xing’s eyes began to redden as he spoke; he was truly enraged now. The disciples had all been rather cooperative after Fang Xing offered the choice between receiving Spirit Stones or the end of a saber, but he had still been a little suspicious. Therefore, as each disciple handed in their "Refined Iron", Fang Xing double-checked with the [Book of Revelation]. Such a scene might not have occurred if he hadn’t checked, but since he did, it turned out that every single piece had been a substandard product.
This Refined Iron was used for crafting spirit weapons. To create a form of iron that was much purer than normal, each would require nine turns of spirit fire to eliminate the impurities. If each and every turn was not finished completely, however, the impurities in the iron would only be increased each time. It would be hard to see the difference with the naked eye, and not even a skill such as [Oversense] would be able to detect it; it would only be found through special methods or if the appraiser was someone with a high level of smithing.
Fang Xing, on the other hand, could use the [Book of Revelation] to appraise its quality immediately! When Fang Xing discovered that every single piece was of substandard quality, he had grown enraged.
How dare these bastards, did they really think he was that easy to fool? Although, in a sense, if Fang Xing didn’t have the [Book of Revelation], it was quite possible he would have been fooled by this.
‘The boy only glanced over them. How does he know?’ Everyone began to panic from the bottom of their hearts as they looked towards Zhushu.
Zhushu was the one who had taught them the method. When crafting Refined Iron with nine turns of fire, they either purposely used unstable fire in one of the turns or completely skipped that turn completely. The final product could not even be counted as Refined Iron, and if it was to be used in the future, it would need to be refined with nine turns all over again. Additionally, "Refined Iron" produced with such a method couldn’t be identified by an ordinary person. Not even the disciples themselves could see any difference, which led them to believe that this would be more than enough to fool Fang Xing.
Yet Fang Xing had seen through it.
Seeing everyone’s gazes turn his way, Zhushu was quite startled and tried to calm himself. ‘The boy has only just joined Duanzhen Valley, so how could he really notice any difference? Perhaps he’s just bluffing?’ he thought to himself. As he considered the matter, he took a step forward. "Shidi Fang, do not slander us with such lies. In order for us to accommodate the collection date you set for ten days ahead of schedule, we ended up refining these irons for you day and night, without even having enough time to practice our cultivation. How would there be any problems? If you are just making things up, are you not worried that all of us would be disappointed with you?"
Fang Xing glanced at him and replied, "No one other than you has spoken. Does that mean you’re the ringleader?"
Zhushu’s face reddened as he loudly proclaimed, "Nonsense! I’m merely speaking out on behalf of all the shixiong and shidi here!"
Fang Xing looked to everyone else. "He thinks the Refined Iron he handed in has no problems. Is there anyone else who also thinks it has no problems?"
The rest of the disciples exchanged glances with each other; they were all very much aware there were indeed problems. A few of them had similar thoughts as Zhushu and believed Fang Xing was merely trying to pull a bluff on them. Additionally, some of these enjoyed the limelight, and they were the ones that spoke up next. "Shixiong Zhushu is correct. The Refined Iron we handed in does not have any problems."
Fang Xing committed the faces of those who had spoken to memory before—without even batting an eye—he looked at the Refined Iron scattered across the ground. He stretched slightly and kicked the closest piece, "This one is five percent more impure," followed by the next closest, "This one is three percent more impure…" and when he looked at the third one, his eyebrows creased together. "Sh*t this one is ten percent more!" he cursed. His gaze grew cold as it darted back to the disciples in front of him. "Do you really think I’m a fool who cannot tell the difference?"
The expressions on all of the disciples instantly changed. No one had expected Fang Xing would be able to point out the exact amount of impurities within every single piece of this Refined Iron. All eyes then moved to Zhushu, hoping that he would come up with a backup plan.
However, even Zhushu only opened his mouth before closing it without uttering a single sound. He had thought Fang Xing had no knowledge of smithing and would not know the quality of this Refined Iron. It was well beyond Zhushu’s expectations that Fang Xing would be able to see it all with such precision.
Fang Xing released a long sigh and calmed himself down. "I will give all of you one last chance. Return all of the rewards you’ve collected, then pay a fine of twenty Spirit Stones each. And bring me back this Refined Iron when it’s been refined correctly…."
As Fang Xing spoke, his cold gaze swept across those gathered. There was even a disciple that was quite timid who immediately rushed up to Fang Xing and apologized, "Little Shixiong Fang, it’s all my mistake. I must have rushed it too much… so I may have overlooked the quality. I… here’s your Spirit Stones I collected before…." The disciple then took out ten Spirit Stones and placed them back in the bucket before picking up a piece of Refined Iron to take back with him.
Yet Fang Xing halted the timid disciple in his tracks. "And the twenty Stones fine!"
The timid disciple immediately froze. Though he was slow and reluctant, he still handed over the amount Fang Xing had asked for.
Zhushu suddenly interrupted, "Wait!" before turning to Fang Xing. "Shidi Fang, all of us had to rush for you because you moved the deadline a whole ten days sooner. It’s only normal to have problems when things are rushed. Worst case, we return the Spirit Stones you handed to us and refine this iron again, so how can you now fine us? This does not align with the rules here. I’ve been studying in the Duanzhen Valley for the past two years, and I’ve never seen anyone being fined for handing in Refined Iron that is slightly substandard."
Fang Xing looked at him with a smirk. "Well aren’t you a bastard? Why didn’t you say that it’s not in the rules when you took the Spirit Stones? Heh heh, the reason why I offered Spirit Stones in exchange was to get this through your head: since you all tried to fool me, no one has the right to lecture me about rules! All of you will have to pay for what you’ve done!"
The expressions on Zhushu’s face changed, as he wanted to continue his argument. "You’re—"
"We’ll start with you!" Fang Xing interrupted and pointed his saber towards him. He had put up with this long enough and released his anger.
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