That year, the gentle wind conducted a snow ballet that should’ve been held three days earlier.
“I’m going to teach you smithing today.”
As a twelve year old boy, I was sensible and understood the importance of respecting morals and my mentors, which was why I did as my shifu told me. Since “smithing” is literally written as “hitting iron”, thumped an iron bar with my fist and stated, “Done, Shifu.”
When I think back on it now, the only time he was speechless longer than that day was when I gave him a checkers clinic.
“From now on… if you literally hit iron, I’ll hit you!”
As a twelve year old boy, I was sensible and understood the importance of respecting morals and my mentors, which was why I did as my shifu told me and stopped learning.
A year later, my brothers and I partook in a smithing test, which was when I blew up a cauldron.
Every man has his strengths and weaknesses; I’m no exception. I may be godly at checkers, but smithing isn’t my forte.
Mount Daluo’s class schedule is packed, individualised and the standards we have to meet are awfully high. We’re expected to be good at throwing hands, proficient with a hammer, sword, brush and bow. We’re expected to ride horses as though they were an extension of our limbs. Like Shifu, Third was the best at learning. For that reason, he was the best blacksmith amongst us.
Thus far, Third forged a hundred and seventy two weapons. Sixth forged a hundred and eight. Fifth only forged seventy-two since she’s a girl. Fourth is too much of a dunce, so he only forged seven simple hammers, five big broadswords and twelve spiked maces. Second’s luck… Yeah, he wasn’t suited for smithing, so he only forged five scissors. As for me… I digress. The weapon Luo Ming was given was my first, umm, uh, erm, my first and only weapon, the only thing remaining after that explosion I was credited with.
“As far as this one is aware, Mount Daluo’s patriarch wields Horizon Edge, not this.”
Luo Ming carefully hoisted the weapon out of the container, while I was thinking, “Stop! It’s just a burnt stick!”
“Young Hero Ming, could you enlighten us as to what this is?” Luo Ming requested.
A bloody burnt stick!
Becoming an exhibition himself, Luo Ming opined, “It resembles a sabre, yet it defies the traditional definition of it. Initially, this one thought it was a blade that had yet to be sharpened but then noticed the inventor never intended to. Perhaps it is a blunt weapon.”
I don’t know what you expect! I was busy trying to save my brothers and sister. You try sharpening a blade while sitting an inferno, genius.
“Interestingly, there is text that resembles ancient text in a way but also resembles the current era’s text in another way. Either way, this one cannot read it despite having read plenty throughout his life. This one presumes it is the name of the weapon.”
Neither can I. If you can understand it, something’s wrong.
I’ll have you know, that weapon is so damn solid that it took virtually all of my strength to carve the text on. It’s so solid that it ruined my shifu’s Horizon sword.
“Young Hero Ming, could you teach us how to read the text?”
When I first forged the black blade (burnt stick), Grandmaster asked to see it, so I told Second Brother to fetch it from the pile of coal in the kitchen. Grandmaster stared at the weapon for several hours straight. I, therefore, got bored and waltzed off after covering him with a blanket. When he summoned me the next day, he had written some text, which was the inspiration for what I carved on. As well, he told me that I needed to be careful with it because it’s lethal. In order to remind me to remember what he said, he had me carve the reminder onto it. What does it say, you ask? That’s… not really something we should discuss so liberally.
“If you cannot make out what it is, Patriarch Luo, there is no way I can,” I replied.
Luo Ming bobbed his head: “Is this one right to assume that it is a broadsword?”
I nodded: “You wish to know how to wield it? Without it, Mount Daluo is in grave danger, not to mention the shame it would impose upon us. Please allow me to demonstrate how to wield it.”
“This one is in awe. Please do show us.”
I took the black sword off Luo Ming and confirmed it was the one I created.
Shifu, why would you send them my first magnificent creation? I’m embarrassed!
“So that I can demonstrate, please prepare…” Luo Ming sent people off to collect what I asked for while I warmed up. Once they came back, I took off my shirt to display my jacked physique. “Shifu often said, ‘Humbleness is what allows one to constantly expand their horizons.’” I swiftly set up a cauldron and started a fire. “Watch closely!” I poked the firewood around using the black sword and carefully added more one by one. “Patriarch Luo, it would be unbearable for us on Mount Daluo during winter if it were not for this. To that end, we have produced hundreds of copies of it. Would you like to see them?”
Luo Ming gave me the most condescending look I’d ever been given: “It is winter right now, so take care of it.”
Why are you disappointed?! I’ve repeated numerous times that it’s a burnt stick.
Notwithstanding the days spent in pitch blackness and the thick chains around his limbs, Hong Jiu was all smiles as he conveyed to the rodents, “Fugui, Laifu, Jixiang, Ruyi, Jinbangtiming, Kufengchenglong, Yushulinfeng, wait, where did Sanyuanjidi and Wugufengdeng go?”
“What sort of names are giving them?! They New Year mascots?!” roared Song Ou.
“You do realise we need them if we want to escape? You’re not even a fraction as useful as them, so how about you shut your trap? Wugufengdeng probably went out to play and should be back soon.” Hong Jiu gently picked up the fattest rodent: “Yidunbaofan, you’re my gift to First Brother, so don’t mindlessly run around.”
New Year mascots – The names Hong Jiu gave his rodents are phrases commonly expressed to others at New Year as good wishes.
Black sword – In case I haven’t mentioned it or you missed it, the sword is a katana, but since we’re in China and it hasn’t existed prior in this world (as you saw from the reactions in the chapter), I don’t think it’s fair to use the term.