Monday, February 20, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 38
Chapter 38 - Four Cauldrons and a Shield
The villagers finally left the forest without any further trouble, and was able to make it to Vera City before the sun went down.
Once inside the gate, they went off to the market in search of a spot to set up their goods. The market wouldn't take place until tomorrow, so like last year, the Chem brothers were able to get their parent's permission to wander around. Except this year, they were followed by Sheng Yi and Chem Al's three disciples.
And where else would they go but The Tai Smithy.
"That's it?" Sheng Yi said, looking at the dilapidated building. It was smaller and in worst shape than any of the other smithys in the area.
The three disciples were disappointed as well. Throughout these months, they had to put up with their Master's grueling teachings on all things alchemy. Considering that they started out not knowing how to read or do percentages, that was a lot of knowledge they had to stuff into their minds.
But all of it would have been worth it because their Master said that once they traveled to Vera City, they would be able to receive their very own medicinal cauldrons!
Who was the one that forged these magical, miraculous cauldrons? they would wonder. Who was the blacksmith that had such an amazing gift?
And then they found out that the blacksmith lived in what amounted to a shitty, stone shack.
But while they were disappointed, their Master was excited. "Come on!" Chem Al said, rushing inside. His big brother followed him in.
When Sheng Yi and the three disciples went in after them, they found that the inside was small, and there were no other customers. It was as they expected.
"Hello!" Chem Al shouted.
Tai Fu, who had just heard the sound of what might be customers coming in, went up to the counter. There he saw the strange little boy from last year, along with the boy’s big brother and four new people. He smiled, because you should always smile at a customer. "Hello, it's good to see you again."
"Do you have them?" Chem Al asked.
"Just one moment." Tai Fu knew what he meant. He went into the back of the smithy, then came out with four medicinal cauldrons made of profound iron, and laid them on the counter. "Well, what do you think?"
"They're everything I paid for and more!" Chem Al said, looking at the cauldrons with glittering eyes. Sheng Yi and the three disciples were doing the same.
These were going to be their very own personal cauldrons!
"I'm glad you like them. Might I take a guess that these cauldrons are for them?" Tai Fu pointed at the newcomers.
Chem Al nodded, then proceeded to pick up the cauldrons and handed them over. One for Sheng Yi, one for Bela Dor, one for Shu Tui, and one for.... Again, a look of reluctance appeared on Chem Al's face, but he eventually handed over the last cauldron to Sei Vi.
It's only a low level cauldron, Chem Al thought. She won't do anything bad with it.
Sei Vi held the medicinal cauldron. It was an exciting time for her, except for that one moment where she caught her Master wincing as he handed it over to her. Why did he do that? she would often ask herself. He sometimes made that same face to her these past nine months. It was almost as if he regretted making her his disciple.
Sheng Yi and the three disciples thanked Tai Fu, who blushed under the praise. He didn’t really understand what was so special about these cauldrons even though he made them. Why were they thanking him so full-heartedly?
“You’re all very welcome,” Tai Fu said, then he turned to Chem Al. “I do hope that that’s not all you came for, because I do have one more item that I think you might be interested in. Can you guess what it is?" Tai Fu said.
"No, what?" Chem Al said, except he already did know thanks to the journals. He just wanted to let the young man have his fun.
"You're going to be really surprised. Remember last year when you talked about making a shield from the shell of an Under Turtle? I decided to risk it and bought a plate of a shell, then made this out of it." Tai Fu held the item up with a smile. It was his greatest creation.
It was a normal sized shield, dark green in color. There was no design on it, only a polished smooth surface.
Although it looked simple, Chem Al knew what it truly was. This was the prototype for the shields of the turtle shell guards! A historical artifact, yet brand new, was right before his eyes. Although it wasn’t an alchemic artifact, it was still amazing.
Chem Al turned to his big brother, who was looking at the shield with shining eyes.
Tai Fu also caught Chem Au's interest. He handed over the shield to let him hold it, knowing that it would make him even more interested in it.
Chem Au held the shield reverently, seeing his reflection on its dark, smooth surface. He banged his fist against it. It was the hardest thing he had ever touched. "Let's buy it,” he said to Chem Al.
"Hm, I don't know,” Chem Al said, trying to hide his enthusiasm. “Sure it's made from the shell of an Under Turtle, but the turtle you got this from was young, probably less than a hundred years old. It had not yet developed its full hardness yet."
Tai Fu's smile dropped lower and lower listening to Chem Al pointing out the shield’s flaw. He couldn’t stop himself from shouting, “How the hell could you know that?”
“I can tell the age of anything,” Chem Al said.
Tai Fu settled down, wondering again of how strange this boy was. Yes, he had to admit that he bought a plate from the cheapest shell that was on offer, but it was still damn expensive! It was the best he could afford. He had only bought it because he thought he could make a decent profit from this kid, but now that no longer seemed likely. "Look, I know that the shell that this shield was made from isn't the best quality, but I'll stake my life that this is the hardest shield in all of Vera City!"
"Oh, I have no doubt about that," Chem Al said. "That's why I would like to buy it..."
Tai Fu's smile came back.
"...at an affordable price, of course."
And then disappeared again.
Chem Al took out a bag of jade stones from under his clothes. One of the reasons he wanted to become village chief was to get access to the village's jade stone reserves. He knew that Sorka Jiu had saved a lot of money over the years … which he will now spend.
He dropped the bag on to the counter and a couple of jade stones rolled out; some of which were high jade stones.
Even though those beautiful jade stones were right before Tai Fu’s eyes, he only looked sad. Sure it was a lot of money, enough to buy a couple of medicinal cauldrons at least, but after a quick calculation he realized that he would barely make a profit from this.
Should he even sell the shield to this kid? The answer was yes, only because there were no other takers. No one else in the city wanted to buy it.
The other blacksmiths knew how incredible the shell from an Under Turtle was, but they spotted right away how inferior the one he bought was. Plus they thought that his smithing skills were pathetic, so the shield he had made must have been worthless.
As for the nobles, they didn’t want it because they were fine with their own shields that were made from dragon scales. He tried to tell them that his shield was a little tougher than theirs but they wouldn’t hear of it, especially when they found out that his was made from a slow turtle. Those bastards! He didn’t bother to tell them that their so called dragon shields were made by the scales of weak Wyrms and Dragon Newts, a far cry from a Flood Dragon.
Tai Fu sighed, then grabbed the bag of jade stones, agreeing to the transaction.
“Oh, is that all you wanted? Because I was willing to pay more for the shield,” Chem Al said. Slowly, he took out another bag of jade stones and dropped it on the counter.
Tai Fu couldn’t help himself. He grabbed the second bag and started counting the money. This was more than enough! He looked at the little village boy and hesitantly asked, “All of this?”
Chem Al nodded.
Tai Fu wanted to jump for joy. It was a bigger profit than he was hoping to get. Screw it, he was jumping anyway no matter how silly it looked. He had risk a lot of his money buying that single shield plate, and now he could finally breathe with relief again.
Meanwhile, Sheng Yi came up to Chem Al with a worried look on her face as she whispered into his ear. “Disciple, are you sure about this? That’s nearly half of the village’s jade stones.”
Chem Au, who heard what she said, was equally worried. He wanted this shield, but not at such a high cost.
Chem Al waved them both off. “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.”
When Tai Fu finally settled down, Chem Al said to him, “I hope that you’re happy with our transaction.”
“Very much,” Tai Fu said.
“Good, because I want to make a proposal. Our village needs a blacksmith, and I was hoping that that could be you.”
Tai Fu paused. The boy was a good customer so he didn’t want to say no right away. He might have been the poorest blacksmith in the city, but that was still better than being a blacksmith in a poor village.
As if Chem Al knew what he was thinking, he said, “Yes, our village may be poor now, but who knows, maybe someday we will become even greater than Vera City. I just want you to think about that, and think about the future. Do you want to be a poor blacksmith in a city that doesn’t appreciate you for the rest of your life? Or do you want to be the first blacksmith in a village that will grow stronger and more powerful.” Chem Al then tilted his head a couple of times towards his big brother.
Tai Fu didn’t know what the little kid was doing, but he guessed that he wanted him to take a closer look at Chem Au. So that was what he did, and was shocked. He discovered that this cultivator’s profound strength was at the twentieth level! Wait, wasn’t he only at the thirteenth level a year ago? How did a cultivator from a poor village grow by seven levels in a single year?
He turned back to Chem Al and looked at him in a new light. Maybe the little kid’s words were something worth thinking about.
Chem Al said goodbye, then the six of them left The Tai Smithy, happy with what they got.