The artificer did not have to take on any of the risk. Regardless of whether it succeeded or not, the artificer would still take their payment; they would not forge for nothing.
—This was the fundamental rule of the artificer world.
“I’ve followed Great Master Yao for some time. His success rate is very high, and he rarely fails,” said Qin Lie.
“Great Master Yao?” Zhuo Qian’s expression was strange. “Forget about it. In the eyes of true artificers, he is unacceptable.”
“The reason his success rate is very high is that he always forges the way he wants instead of taking into account a martial practitioner’s requirements, rank, and physique as well as the art they cultivate. For example, if a tailor makes an article of clothing, but they do not measure and instead make it according to their own wishes rather than meeting the customer’s requirements, this kind of clothing is definitely easy to make, right?”
“The clothing that is made is clothing, but if the customer doesn’t feel comfortable wearing it, they wouldn’t wear it, right?”
“A true artificer will not forge however they wish, but will consider everything about a martial practitioner. Their rank, the art they cultivate in, the strength of their body, their height, the size of their hands, and even the thickness of their fingers!” Zhuo Qian’s expression was stern. “Only through this can the artifact produced feel comfortable when touched by a martial practitioner and, when used, will it feel like a part of the user’s body and greatly increase the power of the martial practitioner.”
Zhuo Qian smiled faintly. “This is true artifact forging and the process that a high ranked artificer must go through. Of course, the probability of failure is higher like this. However, the spirit artifact produced is one of a kind and the most suitable for the intended person; it can unlock a martial practitioner’s true power.”
“After what you have said, I finally understand.” Qin Lie nodded and showed a thoughtful expression.
“Tu Ze and I did not go to Great Master Yao because, first, his artificer level is not high, and the other reason is that he will not make a spirit artifact tailored to us.” Zhuo Qian’s brow creased slightly and sincerely said, “Qin Lie, I know you are very interested in artifact forging, but that Great Master Yao… can’t really be said to be a famed master. He also keeps the spirit diagrams extremely close to his chest, you can’t learn anything.”
“No problem, I have no intentions of stealing his spirit diagrams, haha.” Qin Lie laughed.
“Mn, the outside has not been peaceful recently. Be careful and try to not leave the city.” Zhuo Qian thought and then added on, “Do not take any missions at the moment, it is too dangerous. Many people have died recently, and not just those from Nebula Pavilion or Shattered Ice Manor, even those from Crimson Flame Association and Water Moon Sect have been repeatedly attacked by spirit beasts. Many martial practitioners have also died there.”
Qin Lie’s expression changed. Crimson Flame Association and Water Moon Sect were also Limestone rank forces. They were not distant from Icestone City and were also close to the Arctic Mountain Range. He hadn’t expected that they would also be attacked by spirit beasts.
“What happened?” he asked in puzzlement.
“I heard that Dark Asura Hall has said that the beast king of the Arctic Mountain Range has changed. In the past, the spirit beast king of the Arctic Mountain Range was the ‘Icestone Snow Wolf King.’”
Zhuo Qian’s expression was grave. “After it left, the spirit beasts of the Arctic Mountain Range underwent a bloody conflict and the ‘Purple-eyed Flame Lion King’ has ascended to the seat of the beast king. After this violent and vicious spirit beast ascended, he directly destroyed the past agreement the ‘Icestone Snow Wolf King’ had made with the martial practitioners nearby. Large numbers of spirit beasts that live in the Arctic Mountain Range have come out of the mountains and have directed their fangs at the low ranking forces nearby.
“This conflict will most likely not end that quickly. That ‘Purple-eyed Flame Lion King’ needs to make a display of his power to force the neighboring martial forces to make a new agreement with it. I heard that high ranking martial practitioners from Dark Asura Hall and Seven Fiends Valley have been deployed. They will soon go to the Arctic Mountain Range to kill the spirit beasts. They need to create an advantage in the battle and put pressure on that ‘Purple-Eyed Flame Lion King’ so they have the initiative when making a new agreement.
“So it won’t be peaceful in the near future, and there will be many people who will die. The spirit beasts will become even more lawless. Before the new agreement is made, the battle between the two sides will continue. Shattered Ice Manor, Nebula Pavilion, Crimson Flame Association, Water Moon Sect, and the other Limestone forces around the mountain range will be pulled into this conflict. They will be organized by Black Iron powers like Dark Asura Hall and Seven Fiends Valley to wage a large scale conflict against the spirit beasts.”
Zhuo Qian explained the details and told him the reason it would not be peaceful in the near future so he would be careful and not take missions unless it was necessary.
Qin Lie noted it down.
A fortnight later, the conflict between the spirit beasts and martial practitioners did not seem to subside and instead became even more heated; the state of the battle gradually intensified.
Dozens of people from Nebula Pavilion alone had died, and even more were wounded. When Qin Lie went to Yao Tai’s place, he would always see Yao Tai hurrying to repair spirit artifacts. He did not have the free time to work on artifact forging any longer.
The three elders, Du Haitian, Wei Xing, and Chu Yan, seemed to be constantly roaming the outsides with their subordinates and hunting the spirit beasts that appeared near Icestone City. They would occasionally return to Nebula Pavilion to replenish their food supply and spirit stones. Each of them had heavy expressions; many had visible wounds, and there were people that did not return.
Even Ye Yangqiu, who usually was just responsible for the Discipline Hall, also had to participate under heavy pressure and started to clear out the spirit beasts in the surroundings.
The subordinate forces of Nebula Pavilion, such as the Ling, Du, and Gao Families, had to temporarily move into Icestone City to avoid dying at the fangs of the spirit beasts.
Nebula Pavilion’s cultivation grounds, like the Combat Room and the Gravity Room, were suddenly full of people. Every martial practitioner was concentrating on cultivation.
Because, as the pressure increased, the pavilion had arranged many for missions. Any martial practitioner of Nebula Pavilion could be asked to complete a mission.
If they had to go out, there was the risk of death, so all the martial practitioners of the pavilion became especially diligent.
“Yesterday, a commander of Dark Asura Hall died in battle in the Arctic Mountain Range. That commander was in the middle stage of the Manifestation Realm, but he was swallowed whole by a Rank Three ‘Metal Wing Golden Horn Lizard.’ It really is terrifying. The fact that a powerful warrior whose cultivation was at the middle stage of the Manifestation Realm was eaten alive by a spirit beast… is frightening to think about.”
“There is a martial practitioner in the late stage of the Manifestation realm from Seven Fiends Valley called Qiu Xudong. Didn’t he kill two Rank Three ‘Blue-eyed Toads’?”
“That Qiu Xudong really struck it rich. I heard that the eyes of ‘Blue-eyed Toads’ are worth cities and are treasures for forging high level spirit artifacts. Their teeth and skin are also very good; that guy really gained a lot this time, so lucky.”
“Only by surviving and killing high ranking spirit beasts can one have great gains. If one was like the person from Dark Asura Hall and was eaten alive by a ‘Metal Wing Golden Horn Lizard,’ that is a fate worse than death.”
“Yeah. Sigh, there isn’t enough manpower, so we’re most likely going to be sent out.”
“I’m a bit afraid.”
In the direction of the Combat Room’s street area, a group of martial practitioners had stopped and were discussing the current situation with troubled faces.
It was Wei Li and Liu Ting’s group.
Wei Li and Liu Ting had both rank and status in Nebula Pavilion, and in normal circumstances, they would not be sent out on missions. But if the pavilion really lacked manpower, they could not escape and would be forced to complete missions.
All sorts of news had traveled to Icestone City recently which caused many of the young generation that had not been baptized in blood to panic and worry, fearful they would be sent out by the pavilion.
“Qin Lie, Elder Ye doesn’t have enough people, so I’m preparing to leave in the next few days.” In the stone woods, Gao Yu’s expression was dark and cold. “The situation outside is very chaotic, but it is very profitable to earn contribution points through the hunting of spirit beasts. I don’t have sufficient contribution points, and I’ve reached a bottleneck in my cultivation recently, so I’m preparing to go out to move a little.”
Gao Yu had two older sisters in Nebula Pavilion. His eldest sister had married a hall master under the command of Elder Chu Yan. It was a pity that the hall master had unluckily died in combat while on a mission, so his eldest sister became a widow.
His second sister was in the Discipline Hall and it was said that she had a close relationship with Ye Yangqiu. Ye Yangqiu… would possibly become Gao Yu’s second brother-in-law.
It was due to this that Liu Yan had stayed close with Gao Yu in the past at Celestial Wolf Mountain.
One reason that Gao Yu was admitted to Nebula Pavilion earlier than usual was that the Gao Family had suffered great losses in Celestial Wolf Mountain. The other reason was because both of his sisters had their own connections in Nebula Pavilion. So after Gao Yu came to Nebula Pavilion, others would frequently gossip behind his back and say that he had only been admitted because of his two sisters.
While Qin Lie had chosen to stay by Great Master Yao, Gao Yu chose the Discipline Hall. His position was in Discipline Hall, and he was thought of highly by Ye Yangqiu.
But right now, even Ye Yangqiu had to go out to hunt spirit beasts. As a member of the Discipline Hall, he also lacked contribution points, and he also liked to fight, so there was no reason for him to stay in the pavilion.
“Be careful,” Qin Lie said.
“Don’t worry, when I return, I will receive a ton of contribution points. At that point of time, we can use my contribution points to stay in the Combat Room. Recently… we’ve used your contribution points,” Gao Yu said with a creased brow.
“Haha, I only have ten contribution points left, I’ve almost used all of them,” Qin Lie said helplessly.
“Mn, wait for me to return. By then, there will be more than enough contribution points.” Gao Yu said confidently.
“Qin Lie! Come over and accompany Big Brother to drink!”
Returning to the little room from the cultivation grounds, before he entered, he heard Tu Ze’s shout from Zhuo Qian’s little tower.
Turning his head to look, he found that Zhuo Qian’s little tower was fully lit. Han Feng, Chu Peng, Kang Zhi and Zhuo Qian were all present, drinking and eating.
“Coming.” Qin Lie smiled. He didn’t enter his own room and turned to walk towards Zhuo Qian’s.
Entering, he found that Tu Ze and Zhuo Qian’s eyes were red, and their emotional states were strange. The two of them were drinking heavily as though to wash away their worries.
Beside the dining table was a longblade and a beautiful Dragon Bone Whip on a separate table.
These two weapons were extremely similar to the ones that Zhuo Qian and Tu Ze used before, but they were clearly more exquisite and looked more beautiful. However… there was no spirit energy fluctuations, so they did not seem to be spirit artifacts.
“All failed, third time for me, fourth time for Tu Ze.” Zhuo Qian’s beautiful face was filled with helplessness and dispiritedness. “To gather the spirit materials for artifact forging, we worked extremely hard. Those spirit artifacts are at least worth one thousand Common Grade Seven spirit stones. I didn’t expect it to all turn to scrap in one go.”
“Don’t mention these hurtful things. Drink drink,” Tu Ze shouted with red eyes.
“How can I not care?” Zhuo Qian sighed. “More than one thousand Common Grade Seven spirit stones, even for you and I, it is a great sum. Also, many of our spirit materials were gathered through the help of our fathers. It’s all ruined. I don’t know when the next time we can acquire them all will be.”
“Didn’t we already prepare?” Tu Ze forced a smile. “How can artifact forging succeed on the first try? Some people will ask an artificer to forge seven or eight times and every single one would be a failure. For the spirit artifact most fitting to the hand, most suited to oneself and one-of-a-kind, one must learn to taste the bitter pill of failure.”
“Tasting failure three times in a row, I almost… cannot bear it.” Zhuo Qian’s face was full of bitterness as she said that in disappointment.
Tu Ze gave a long sigh, his head lowered. He remained silent and did not know what to say. It appeared that this was a great blow to him too, and he really was not as relaxed as he appeared on the surface.
Instead of going to the dining table, Qin Lie hesitated before arriving at the round table where the two artifacts were placed. He picked up that longblade and felt it with his mind.
An extremely strange expression suddenly appeared on his face.