When the incident occurred at the street, Shao Xuan and the three weren’t too far away and heard the commotion. Although they couldn’t see what happened, Black Bear and Maoda could guess.
“Must be a mammoth on a rampage,” said Maoda. He had heard the mammoth and how it stopped abruptly. The city guards would never let them continue causing destruction in the city.
“Thank goodness we left early or we would be involved.” Black Bear then thought of what Shao Xuan said as they left the shop. His eyes darted at him a few times, deep in thought.
In the past, Maoda would have definitely gone over but compared to the Gongjia family, the commotion here was not attractive. “Let’s go, let’s go to the Gongjia’s place. Right, Which side of Gongjia Residence does Gongjia Heng live in?” Maoda wondered. He arrived in King City later and only knew of Gongjia Heng after talking to other people in the city privately.
“That side. I’ve been there before.” Black Bear pointed and led the way.
The Gongjia people mostly lived in one spot. There was a large garden wall surrounding the area. Although there were other people there, they were very few. However, due to the large population, there were four doors in the walls in four directions.
They didn’t have to worry about getting the right door either because there were so many people outside because of Gongjia Heng. Even if the neighbourhood was large, they just had to ask around to find out.
“What, you’re for the sword testing too?” someone who knew Black Bear asked.
“Mm.” Black Bear did not talk much. If he said he was looking for Gongjia Heng, they would not let him go.
When they arrived, they did not see the door. Shao Xuan saw layers of people crowding around. Some were here for the sword testing, some were just here for the commotion.
“Sigh. Failed again!”
“The sword broke. This isn’t going to work.”
“It’s still not as good as the previous one. But, how many failed today?”
“Twenty-one. Only one succeeded. I wasn’t here but I heard it’s someone from the Feng family of the great six.”
As the crowd discussed, one person squeezed out, looking depressed. The people around were pointing at him. This was the person who failed the sword testing.
“There are so many people here!” Shao Xuan sighed when he couldn’t even see the door because of the crowd.
“This is already alright. Previously, when Gongjia Heng just returned, there were more people,” said Black Bear.
The Gongjia family’s jaws dropped when Gongjia Heng came back from Gongjia Mountain twenty years later. Before he left, he wasn’t a particularly talented person and wasn’t ranked high in the family. When he left for Gongjia Mountain, many people did not think he would succeed. Many people thought so and yet he never returned even once after he left. There were very few people who returned and they were all prodigies. Gongjia Heng was a mediocre guy so they all thought he was just going to die there.
However, to everyone’s dismay, he didn’t just come back alive, he had succeeded in learning the ancestral techniques in Gongjia Mountain.
Not just within the Gongjia family, he had created waves within King City. Many people came asking for him to make weapons. Since the aristocrats liked swords, many came asking for swords too.
However, now that he was a high-ranked member, he was in a position to reject these aristocrats. There were simply too many people looking for him. He wasn’t annoyed, instead creating a test. Only the ones who passed the test could register and become qualified to discuss business with Gongjia Heng. The rest were all stopped outside.
The sword testing session was basically a few rocks Gongjia Heng prepared outside the gate. There were some weapons there too. Anyone who could use these weapons to split the rocks without damaging the weapons passed the test. Even a chipped weapon would mean a failure, let alone breaking the weapon.
This was a test of capability. Gongjia Heng had deliberately chosen the weapons and specific stone grades for this test. A person capable enough would be able to split the rock. Even if the rock wasn’t completely split in half, as long as it hit the minimum requirement and the weapon wasn’t damaged, they could register too.
To most people, these conditions were too strict and just made people suffer. However, everyone understood why he did this, most even said this was how it should be. This guy was a master, how could he forge weapons for any random guy?
After this test was set up, many people came for the sword test. However, as time passed, the numbers dwindled as more and more people failed. They weren’t afraid of failure, they were terrified of breaking the swords in half. That could mean not being able to hire Gongjia Heng ever again, or they could be shunned by many Gongjia blacksmiths.
Many blacksmiths and apprentices of the Gongjia family followed in his footsteps as they looked up to him. If Gongjia Heng refused to make a weapon for someone, all these blacksmiths and apprentices who idolised him would do the same.
When Shao Xuan arrived, he had seen one person break a bronze sword in half when splitting the rock. That was an immediate elimination, Gongjia Heng would not make any weapons for him in the future. That was why the guy was so depressed. In the future, if he wanted a Gongjia-made weapon, he would only be able to hire someone who didn’t look up to Heng.
Black Bear, like an army tank, opened up a path and forced the crowd aside by forcing himself forward. As he squeezed, the other three followed behind him.
The ones who were shoved aside were about to yell at him but when they turned to see Black Bear, they kept their mouth shut. It didn’t matter what happened, sometimes it was smarter to shut up if you were smaller.
The rest of the people dared not scold him so once he passed, they attempted to take the opportunity to squeeze forward.
“Anyone else who wants to do the test?” someone in the crowd yelled.
“Hurry up, I want to eat after this test is over. I’m starving,” cried another.
It sounded like they all treated this as a show.
When Black Bear arrived, many people’s eyes brightened and they stood alert. Perhaps this muscular dude could give them a good show!
Black Bear considered doing the test. During the past few days, he had been receiving news about this test and had come to observe/ This time, with Shao Xuan here, he wanted to try. Even if he failed, perhaps he could ride on Shao Xuan’s connection and change Gongjia Heng’s mind?
No one could blame Black Bear’s lack of confidence. Everyone was used to chopping people or vegetables, who chopped a rock?
When he made his decision, he turned to Shao Xuan. “You all wait here. I’ll do the test.”
Just as Black Bear was ready to walk up, another person clad in rough, grey fabric squeezed out of the crowd. His hair was tied up with a strip of cloth, his face expressionless. He looked like a quiet, mediocre guy.
When Black Bear talked to Shao Xuan, this person had already walked towards the rock. Since he had arrived first, Black Bear had to wait. This upset the boss a little.
The man in grey looked at the few weapons on the table. There were knives, swords, axes etc. He picked up a sword and without preparation, went up to a rock as big as a winter melon and chopped.
No skills involved, just one simple movement. Yet the motion felt decisive, powerful.
There was a deep cut on the rock but it did not split open. Looking at the sword--- there was a shallow dent.
There were whispers in the crowd-- not just pitying him, some were happy he failed.
The man ignored the crowd’s response as if he did not hear them. He held the sword horizontally and moved a finger gently across the sword, gazing deeply at the dent as if he wanted to etch this deep in his heart. Then he looked at the deep cut on the rock. Both hands holding the sword, his face solemn, he bowed at the gate. “Thank you for the lesson!”
When he finished, he put down the sword and walked away without even looking back. His lonely silhouette looked like one of those wandering warriors in ancient legends.
Everyone was stunned by his performance.
“Wait, sir! What did you learn from the dent on the sword? You look like you’ve understood the meaning of life?!”
“Why don’t we get a drink together somewhere and talk about life?”
Some people followed, asking questions. Unfortunately, this man without a name did not speak. His spine was as straight as a longsword, he walked majestically down the path.
Perhaps he was a wise man?
Wise people of this mortal world always had thoughts that differed from others. They could not be confined to the regular logic. Perhaps this guy would become a famous warrior in the future?
Black Bear did not pay attention to the man. He was growing anxious, now that there was another failure. “Tell me, what type of weapon should I choose?”
“A sword? I heard the Gongjia people make more swords. Maybe the sword will be sturdier than the other weapons,” said Maoda.
Black Bear turned to Shao Xuan.
“Use whatever weapon you’re used to. When you cut, treat the rock like it’s a fierce beast charging right at your face. Don’t think about anything else,” said Shao Xuan.
Black Bear nodded. He had thought of the same thing. It was best to use whatever you were used to. His favourite weapon was actually the axe.
On the other side, the guards at the gate switched a new rock for the test. A new rock was provided with every test, though they were all of the same grades.
Just as Black Bear stepped forward, Shao Xuan whispered something to him. Black Bear’s eyes brightened and nodded.
Under watchful eyes, the chief of the trading party as tall as a bear directly picked up an axe. He tested the axe in his hand and tapped the blade with his finger so he had an understanding of its quality. While he was not familiar with the rock, he was familiar with axes.
Thinking about Shao Xuan’s words, when he walked over, he did not face the rock directly like everyone else. He stood a little slanted. Then, he looked at Shao Xuan. When Shao Xuan nodded lightly, he took a deep breath, focused his energy and emptied his mind. He recalled the fierce beast that had charged at them while they were travelling earlier. During the moment of danger, there was no hesitation. He roared loudly, lifting both arms and the axe mightily and then slammed it down on the rock hard!
His eyes were filled with cold violence, the aura radiating from him gave the crowd chills.
This was different from the crisp clanging of the previous tests.
The rock split into two sections while the axe was deeply wedged in the wooden block underneath.
The crowd was even more concerned than Black Bear himself. “Pick it back up! Check if the axe is chipped!”
The coldness in his eyes disappeared in an instant as he snapped back into reality. He was nervous now. Using his strength, he pulled the axe out of the wooden block.
“Hahaha boss! You did it!” Maoda ran over excitedly. He rubbed his palms, considering trying out too.
Shao Xuan also went over to congratulate him.
“You’re done here, so get the hell out!” A flat voice rang, standing out amongst the congratulatory voices.
It was as if Black Bear’s joy was splashed with a tub of cold water. His smile disappeared and he looked over with a sulk. “Oh! I was just wondering. So it’s Linlu.”
Linlu tribe? Shao Xuan knew what tribe it was because yesterday, the carriage he passed on the way to Ji Ju’s place was owned by the Linlu tribe. He heard that this family had somehow kissed the Ji family’s shoes and now was a new aristocratic family in King City.