"The twenty-three battle sabers and giant swords have been damaged and corroded according to the standard of the Sky Sword Seminar. Their impairments are similar to each other. You can pick any of them at your will," Tu Yongqing said.
"However, since this is not an official competition, we don't have to be too serious. So, no tools are allowed. We can only repair and polish the magical equipment with the water in the pond and the pebbles nearby. The time limit is ten minutes. Let's see who completes the task in the shortest amount of time with the highest recovery level, shall we?"
Xie Anan was honored to be the judge. Everyone present picked a broken blade.
Li Yao selected a random chainsword, too. However, he did not take off his thick, grey gloves.
Other people were not bothered by it.
Refiners all paid special attention to the protection of their hands. With the big match drawing near, many of the refiners were nourishing their hands with secret arts. Of the people present here, quite a few were wearing gloves with nutritious ointments inside.
However, everybody else's gloves were all too thin to hinder the movement of the hands. They were all invaluable items, if not masterpieces that had been passed on in the refiners' families for generations, and in no way as shabby and stupid as Li Yao's.
"Let the game begin!"
Xie Anan started the countdown.
In a moment, hundreds of cold winds were blowing in the bamboo woods. The leaves were shaking, producing rattling noises, as if blades were colliding.
The broken blades in front of the experts of refining all rose up and span around them.
The refiners were intending to show off their expertise.
Someone snatched dozens of pebbles which they crushed into powder in the midair just with their spiritual threads. They then enshrouded the blade with the green powder that looked like a tornado while they polished the blade at hand.
Someone whistled. Ripples immediately spread out from the pond. Water streams dashed up from the surface of the pond like dragons and flowed into the gaps of the magical equipment.
Someone's hands were extremely fast. They turned their hands into a cluster of grey mist as they dismantled the magical equipment into the most basic components instantly. Then, their hands flew up and down as if they were playing an instrument. The components were dancing as if they were demon spirits that had grown wings.
In everyone's faces, there was concentration, easiness, and joy. The extraordinary aura of the top refiners gradually occupied the bamboo woods.
But Xie Anan focused her eyes on one person.
She believed that Li Yao would definitely provide shocking performances.
Li Yao's brow was furrowed, and his face was so grave that one might think he was gritting his teeth.
Despite the clumsy grey gloves, his movements were extremely strict. He dismantled the magical equipment and cleaned the components up according to the most typical polishing and maintaining procedures.
The most typical meant the most ordinary and the least unexpected.
Compared to normal refiners, his speed was not low.
But now that he was among the top experts, he was apparently the most awkward one and was left behind by other people.
Everybody could tell that it was an extremely difficult task for him to catch up with his fellows. After only two minutes, his face was blue. Cold sweat was popping up. His muscles were twisted. He was short of breath and in obvious agony.
Five minutes later, although his movements were still pertinent to the textbook, his ragged clothes had been soaked in sweat. Veins were jumping out from his neck and forehead.
Even an ordinary person could tell that he had done the best he could and reached his limits.
Xie Anan couldn't be more confused.
Polishing magical equipment is the most fundamental work of a refiner. Considering Senior Brother Li Yao's amazing performance during the registration, why is it so hard for him?
Is he concealing his capability so that he can shock everyone in the Skyhill Sword Seminar?
It doesn't seem so. Judging from his perspiration and his hideous expression, he is apparently trying his best without any reserve!
Seven minutes later, Long Yunxin's smooth actions came to an abrupt end. She snapped her fingers. The dust on her hands was gone with the wind immediately, and her hands were as unblemished as jade again.
A rusty chainsword had been entirely renewed by her shocking maintenance skills. It stabbed into the earth, shallowly. Although there was no wind, it was shivering softly with vague roars of a dragon.
Long Yunxin glanced at Li Yao. Her eyes rolled as she put on a thin smile.
Seven and a half minutes later, all the refiners had completed their work one after another. Auras of sharpness were surging in the middle of the bamboo woods.
The only exception was Li Yao, who was still gritting his teeth with his veins bulging, as he focused his attention on the blade in his hand.
Seeing that he was so concentrated, none of the other refiners were willing to interrupt him; they simply exchanged a thoughtful look with each other.
It was not until the last second of the ten minutes ran its course that Li Yao finished the renovation of the last rune array and handed in his work exhaustedly.
But it was obvious that, although his chainsword was entirely renewed too, it was somewhat lackluster compared to the blades revitalized by other people.
It was especially so when compared to the experts such as Long Yunxin, whose works clearly had additional 'momentum'!
Taking a long breath, Li Yao was silent for ten seconds before he was gradually back to himself. He glanced through everybody's work and smiled wearily. "I failed. Your work is all more brilliant than mine."
Li Yao's humbleness somehow embarrassed the heirs of the noble families, who felt guilty as if they had been bullying a kid.
Yes, they were born in noble families of refining and had received the most professional training since a young age, with their hands soaked in various Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures all through their growth. In comparison, the guy was just a refiner from a second-rate Exo Society who might never have been educated formally about the arts of refining. It was already a remarkable achievement that he could finish the maintenance task with such a pair of thick gloves.
It was only natural that their speed surpassed his. What was there to be proud of?
"Although Brother Li's hands were relatively slower, I can tell that he has taken every detail of the blade into consideration. His meticulousness deserves complimenting!"
"You must be nourishing your hands with the pair of gloves, aren't you, Brother Li? Then this is not your best state yet. In three days after you take off your gloves, I believe that Brother Li's hand speed can be improved by at least 30%. It is not hard for you to march into the top 500!"
"There are barely any flaws in Brother Li's chainsword except for the lack of 'momentum'!"
"Other than anything else, Brother Li is a man who is devoted to the arts of refining, evidenced by your concentration and persistence during your maintenance. With such determination, you will certain become a great refiner one day!"
Li Yao secretly sighed. The young people of the noble families were quite decent other than their proficient refining skills. He could communicate with them more often in the future.
It was too bad that he had other things to do which could not be delayed. He could only take his leave after apologizing to everybody.
Seeing Li Yao leaving the cottage in a hurry, Luo Dong from the Luo family of East Brightness commented, "Speaking of skills, we all have ultimate arts that we inherited from our respective families. But the common refiners of no backgrounds are indeed tenacious. He was on the brink of passing out many times just now, but he simply gritted his teeth through them. His final work is not half bad, either!"
Tu Yongqing nodded his head and said, "Refiners from the Exo Societies travel in the sea of stars all year around. Their knowledge may not be profound, their skills may not be proficient, but they are indeed distinguished in regard to experience and doggedness. Although the guy is not a first-tier expert, he definitely deserves to be the top ones among the second-tier refiners!"
Long Yunxin smiled mildly. "Alright, our guest has left. Let's start the real competition now! The sabers and swords we renewed looked equally sharp. We'll have to find out whose work is the best by testing their real strength!"
Everyone's eyes were beaming with excitement.
But Xie Anan rose up and walked to the door.
Long Yunxin was surprised. "Anan, where are you going?"
Xie Anan hesitated for a moment and replied, "Senior Brother Li Yao seemed to be unwell. I'm going to see if he is alright. After all, I'm his host starting from tomorrow. It's not going to be good if anything happens to him."
Before Long Yunxin had chance to respond, Xie Anan had already stormed out.
Li Yao walked very fast. Xie Anan chased after him for almost twenty minutes before she saw Li Yao's back again.
The suspicions in Xie Anan's heart were about to explode like a balloon that had been pumped beyond its limits.
A monster with unbelievable computational ability who knows everything about structural designs of magical equipment turned out to be a guy good at neither theories nor practices? How weird is that!
But judging from his appearance, he was not keeping a low profile on purpose. He was gritting his teeth with veins bulging violently. His sweat must've been enough to fill three buckets!
Could it be that he is only gifted at reading structure designs of magical equipment and has no other specialties whatsoever?
Xie Anan strode forward and was of a mind to catch up with Li Yao, but her target slithered fast in the crowds like a loach.
After another ten minutes of running and chasing, they ended up in an ordinary people's neighborhood in the Skyhill Domain.
Same as other world fragments, the Skyhill Domain was mixed with Cultivators and ordinary people.
Cultivators and ordinary people both needed food.
To provide food, grocery markets were often established near the living areas.
Experienced citizens all knew that the food sold at the stalls of the grocery markets was both fresher and cheaper.
Xie Anan saw that Li Yao bought a large pile of chive pies and a tin of cold, leftover soybean milk from one of the stalls.
Then, he bought half of a raw pig liver from the butcher's and asked the boss to mince it.
What is he doing right now? A refiner qualified to participate in the Skyhill Sword Seminar shouldn't be as poor as this.
Xie Anan got more and more curious. She stalked Li Yao like a tail and entered an old neighborhood after various turns, only to discover that he had sat down on the ground in a deserted small garden and guzzled the chive pies, mouthful after mouthful, without even taking off his gloves.
Li Yao ate fast. He was eating the grungiest pies from the street as if they were the most delicious cuisine in the world without even relying on the soybean milk to wash them down. A moment later, the pile of pies was all wolfed up by him.
Chugging the soybean milk, Li Yao patted his belly in satisfaction. Then he opened the bag in which the minced pig liver was contained.
Is eating raw pig liver helpful for training? Xie Anan hid in a corner, her heart pounding. She thought that everything Li Yao had done did not make any sense.
Li Yao put the pig liver aside and was ready to take off his gloves.
What kind of secrets are hidden behind the grey gloves? Xie Anan had a feeling that she was about to witness a shocking sight.
Due on July 2, 2018