An awkward silence filled the house.
This… this…. This was a little different from what they expected.
That stance, the power, they all thought the rock would split open. In the end, the rock was just chipped off. It was a small chip too.
Duo Kang looked at the rock on the ground, then at the sword in Gongjia Heng’s hand, then turned to give Zheng Luo a look. He wanted to say something but stopped himself.
Not just Duo Kang, even Gongjia Heng himself was confused. His entire stubbly face reddened.
He wanted to show off but in the end, he just looked stupid.
“Cough, this is a peculiar rock indeed. I’ve tried a few rocks and they were all split in half easily.” How could a random rock he picked up here be so hard? The regular rocks in the forest were all broken easily! He hadn’t expected this, he might as well… might as well kill himself right there and then.
Shao Xuan was astonished. He went over to pick the rock up and looked at the chipped off corner with surprise in his eyes.
“That was impressive!” gasped Shao Xuan.
Gongjia Heng: “...”
Please don’t say that, I want to kill myself.
Shao Xuan knew what he was thinking from his expression so he explained, “That really is the most impressive sword I’ve seen. This rock is harder than other rocks. Based on the grading we use for stone racks, this rock is near the top grade type. It’s a lot harder than other rocks.” Shao Xuan pointed at another rock in the corner. “If it’s that one, it will be different.”
He had picked this rock up during the last hunt. The quality of the stone was definitely very good. It was just too small and not suitable to make into a knife so he left it there. He hadn’t expected it to become Gongjia Heng’s test rock. Gongjia Heng was just ‘lucky’.
Shao Xuan passed him another rock. To everyone else, it did not look different, similar to any rock they saw in the jungle.
“Try again,” said Shao Xuan.
This time, Gongjia Heng wasn’t so confident. However, he bore the ‘Gongjia’ family name and could not leave a bad impression like that or in the future, there would be rumours of a Gongjia man who made a sword that could not even split a rock… He would really kill himself if that happened.
He took a deep breath. Heng through the rock Shao Xuan passed to him in the air, clenched his teeth and slashed his sword. This time, he used a lot more strength.
The rock was split in half.
When he saw this, Gongjia Heng heaved a sigh of relief but kept most of the pride to himself. Too bad, he had just embarrassed himself and had to get some of his dignity back. He had to admit what happened was a deep cut. Gongjia Heng now understood that there was a lot of room to improve. He needed to continue his research so that one day, he would be able to split that rock.
Duo Kang picked up the two halves of the rock, his doubts gone. He stared at Gongjia Heng’s sword, eyes bright. However, he knew that it was Shao Xuan’s. He just hoped to borrow the sword when Shao Xuan wasn’t using it to satisfy his need to wave the sword.
Zheng Luo was very impressed. This Xia lived up to his name. He really could split a rock in half! It was no wonder the slave masters of the great six worshipped them.
Gongjia Heng passed the sword to Shao Xuan. He stopped introducing the weapons, instead asking Shao Xuan in detail about distinguishing different grades of stone. This was for his convenience after he made swords, to test his swords. If that awkward incident happened again, all his dignity would be gone. Thank goodness this was just a tribe deep in the forest. If he were in the great six, especially King City, and this happened in front of a crowd, the consequences could have been dire.
After witnessing the sword in action, Zheng Luo and Duo Kang did not stay. They did not want to intrude on Heng and Shao Xuan’s discussion.
After Shao Xuan explained how to distinguish rocks, he asked Heng about his future plans.
“I’ll head to King City directly. I have some seniors and friends there that I need to visit. I have been gone for twenty years! I don’t know how King City looks like now,” Gongjia Heng sighed. “Some people, they were just one step away from Gongjia Mountain. Yet they died too soon, they couldn’t take even that one step after death.” The skeletons at Gongjia Valley were all filled with huge unwillingness and regret.
“The elders of my people used to say this was fate. I thought I might end up like them too, yet I did not think I would meet you, Shao Xuan.”
“I benefited a lot from this too,” said Shao Xuan.
Gongjia Heng thought he was talking about the ten weapons he’d gifted him and waved it off. “That’s nothing. Once my skills improve in the future, if you need weapons, you can come look for me. Don’t worry, I won’t charge a high price.”
There was a pause as he spoke, his face twitched. “Before you left, why did you make the crater deeper?!”
When Gongjia Heng left the mountain, due to consecutive days of forging he was still very disorientated. He had almost fallen into the crater and when he saw the note Shao Xuan left behind, he almost had a heart attack.
“Cough, that place, was nice.” Shao Xuan quickly changed the topic. “When are you going to King City? Our tribe will leave to trade soon too. I will be going with the tribe to King City.”
“That’s great. If you don’t have a place to stay, you can look for me. Our Gongjia family lives together in King City, you can ask anyone for directions.” Gongjia Heng was happy to hear Shao Xuan could go to King City. “I’ll introduce a few of our Gongjia Masters then, if you need any weapons, you can ask them-- wait, no, I’d be one of the masters too hahaha!”
As he spoke, the confidence shattered by that rock finally returned.
To different people, the term ‘master’ had a different meaning.
Within the Flaming Horn tribe, the blacksmiths who repaired and made weapons were just blacksmiths. They were all the same in other tribes. However, to the ones who specialised in this industry, the ones with a certain level of achievement were called masters or blacksmiths-- the rest were just ordinary craftsmen.
In the past, Gongjia Heng was already known as a Xia blacksmith. However, in the eyes of the Gongjia family and the noble slave masters of the great six, he was not one yet. However, now that he had gone to Gongjia Mountain and learned his ancestor’s secret techniques, he had shown great improvement. In the future, he too would be called a master.
In the past, Gongjia Heng had been proud of himself, though within that pride was a little guilt. Even Heng himself was guilty when he showed off because within the Xia people, he was no prodigy or he would not have spent twenty years searching for Gongjia Mountain to no avail. He was not famous in the great six either, far from the masters of his people.
However, now, Gongjia Heng was confident he could become a well-known blacksmith when he returned!
The Gongjia Heng today was like a weapon made out of ore. He had moulted his outer layer to become a high-grade, shiny diamond sword.
“Thank you Master Heng then!”
“Hahaha, thank you! Thank you!” Gongjia Heng was already giddy as he thought about his return to King City. He quickly calmed down when he saw the rock with the small chip.
Gongjia Heng asked Shao Xuan for that rock so he could test future swords on it.
“Knives, spears and axes suit our tribe’s lifestyle better. Will the quality of these be as good as the sword?” asked Shao Xuan.
Slave masters liked swords, that was why the blacksmiths often made more swords. The places where they lived did not have large beasts they had to fight off anyway.
“What are your requirements for these weapons?” Even if he did not make them now, Heng wanted to know so that he had an idea when Shao Xuan ever had a request.
Shao Xuan thought for a moment. “A little bigger, suitable for hunting.”
Gongjia Heng’s eye twitched. It was the style of the Flaming Horn after all.
Shao Xuan told him a lot about distinguishing between rocks so, in return, Gongjia Heng went to give the tribe’s craftsmen pointers after talking to Zheng Luo. The people from the Taihe tribe were jealous, wanting to get pointers from Heng but they had no good excuse. He was just talking to the Flaming Horn tribesmen as a favour to Shao Xuan. As for other people, he was still a cold, arrogant master too lazy to talk to them.
The Xia people were a proud group because they knew that even if they made a weapon in front of an outsider, the other person would definitely not be able to make it better than them. This was just giving them pointers, Gongjia Heng was not threatened at all.
He stayed at the village for two days, fully enjoying the warmth of the Flaming Horn people. When he left, they even gave him a roasted beast thigh that was larger than his entire body. However, to him, it was very inconvenient to travel through a forest with such a large thigh. IN the end, he cut off just a portion, brought some dried meat with him and bid them farewell.
Before leaving, he reminded Shao Xuan that if he went to King City, he should bring some Thousand Grain Gold for trade and he would make more weapons. Although Gongjia Heng was not familiar with agriculture, he had seen enough to know that these grains were special.
When they heard this, the Flaming Horn people put even more hope on the plants.
Now, the grains had grown as large as grapes on the plans, so much bigger than the soybean-sized grains he had previously seen. The grains hung heavily on the plants, waiting for the day they ripened for harvest.
As he watched the Thousand Grain Gold grow, he wondered how the old man Ji Ju was doing. He was from the Ji tribe, they should be fine. He wanted to ask Ji Ju for more information to see if there were other methods to plant the Thousand Grain Gold.