The host was dazed. "He can do that? Why is he doing that?"
"He is trying to buy himself more time!"
Bi Luoling did not conceal the appreciation in her eyes. She continued, "Li Yao has wasted too much time in modifying the furnace in the traditional way at the beginning.
"We all know that, when it comes to the art of refining, capability does not necessarily equal to speed.
"Take the Iron Vine Flower for example. In order to retrieve its essence, you'll have to bake it in the flames of 3,352 degrees for 55 minutes and 43 seconds. One degree higher won't do, and one second shorter won't do, either!
"Even if a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator arrives and improves the temperature of the fire to five thousand degrees instantly, they cannot reduce the amount of time required by even half a second!
"Li Yao wasted a good half hour earlier. Generally speaking, that means he has abandoned the game on his side!
"In order to make up for the time he has lost, he is employing the method of refining and spiritualizing the materials at the same time!
"Spiritualizing materials against the blockage of the thick-walled furnace and under the high temperature and pressure has a high requirement on the perception, spiritual energy quantity, and the model construction ability of the refiner. Even inside the Red Line School, only a handful of experienced experts can perform such operations. But their failure rate is quite high, too. More importantly, they don't have to do it most of the time."
Master Dustless then continued the explanation. "It appears that Li Yao is quite confident in his skills. He believes that he won't fail and that he can catch up with the other contestants! I'm more curious about him than ever. It is said that he has experienced a lot of fortuitous incidents. I suppose the rumors are true. The world of Cultivators is indeed a vast place where amazing things happen. His performance is truly an eye-opener today!"
Inside the workshop, Li Yao stuck his hands to the furnace. Strings of spiritual energy were unleashed from the depths of his cells and gathered into waves like tidal bores. They surged out and fed back every slight vibration on the wall of the furnace so that Li Yao could sense the changes that were happening to the materials inside it.
For more than an hour, except for the time when he delivered new materials to the furnace, he had maintained the same posture. His muscles rose up time and time again as he exploited his physical strength and the power of his soul.
The high temperature curled his hair. His eyebrow was nearly burnt up. His lips were dry, with cracks on them. But he couldn't care less about all that.
His soul seemed to have penetrated into the dense wall of the furnace. It was compressed by the high temperature and pressure inside the furnace and mixed up with the metal materials.
The materials melded with each other and were rolled over and over, as if they were mud, by the immense pressure released by the hundreds of rune arrays inside the furnace after they were activated. The runes emitted brilliant mystic rays which pierced into the depths of the liquid metals and incurred inexplicable changes to their innermost structures. The core of the metal compounds gradually evolved and turned into new alloys!
The alloys as soft as a swamp were sent to the bottom of the furnace where the temperature was relatively low.
In this place, the shaping rune arrays would crush the alloys into the basic form of components through high pressure according to the patterns preset on the crystal processor.
This was just the beginning.
Later, they would have to experience dozens of procedures, including rapid freezing, quenching, high-pressure forging, rune arrays embedding, and so on. Some of the procedures would even have to be repeated several times before a functional magical equipment component was finally born.
For other people, the process might be tedious and boring.
But for Li Yao, such a job was like organizing a bunch of slovenly mobs and taming them with the harshest martial laws so that they could be trained into obedient and unstoppable soldiers who could crush everything in their way!
He liked it. Eventually, he completely dwelled in the world of refining.
As a young man from a remote town who had never been heard of before, he might not be enough to attract the sight of common audience, but many experts of the trade had noticed his oddness.
"Huh. This guy, Li Yao, his furnace seems different from others'; its efficiency is much higher!"
"Indeed. The temperature limit, pressure limit, and the switch from high temperature and low temperature of his furnace are all better than the performance of other people's furnaces!"
"The overall specifications of this particular furnace are at least 3% higher than other furnaces. What happened? Was the organizer too careless?"
"It has nothing to do with the organizer. The guy made some minor adjustments on his furnace at the beginning. Hurry up and replay the adjustments! Let's study them more carefully!"
Inside many spectators' rooms, the seniors and renowned refiners had all noticed Li Yao.
Many data analysts were quickly operating their light beams in order to scrutinize his actions.
As more and more details were presented, many of the experts were apparently interested in the contestant.
"Who is this Li Yao exactly? The style of his refining is somewhat old-fashioned, with a dash of heartlessness. It is not similar to any mainstream styles."
"He is gambling!"
"Spending fifty-four minutes in adjusting his furnace could, of course, improve its performance, but the time left for the real refining work has been greatly diminished! The creation of many components will take two to three hours anyhow!"
"Producing three pieces of magical equipment in five hours. Does he really have enough time?"
One second passed after another.
After four hours, most of the refiners had finished the refining of the components and entered the last procedure.
For a component that had just been set free from the high temperature and pressure of the furnace, its internal structure was still unstable even though it had gone through cooling liquids, with tiny and chaotic residues of spiritual energy known as 'inner stress'.
In the theories of the ancient Cultivators, there was still 'scent of the smoke' in a newly-made component. Only the mediocre refiners would create a piece of magical equipment with such components.
Placing a component for three to five years without touching it would eliminate the inner stress.
However, most refiners wouldn't wait for so long. Same as the spiritualization process, every sect and school had their own ways to cope with inner stress.
But all the ways required more than half an hour to fully remove the inner stress.
Some of the less capable refiners who did not know any method to eradicate inner stress had already started assembling their components dutifully.
But Li Yao was still refining the components one batch after another.
Another half hour passed. There were only thirty minutes to go!
Almost all the refiners had finished the refinement of components. The top experts had started reducing the inner stress with various techniques.
Li Yao was still busy.
It was not until there were only twenty minutes left that he finished refining the last batch of components.
The fresh components were piled up on the operation platform like a hill, from which hot steam was popping up nonstop.
"Time is running out!"
Many experts who had been focusing on Li Yao shook their heads.
Within less than twenty minutes, it was impossible to completely destroy the inner stress of all the components anyway. If he were to assemble the components without preprocessing them, the slim advantage that he got from optimizing his furnace would be entirely offset.
The crazy refining of almost five hours was a great burden both for the body and for the heart. Li Yao seemed to have turned into a dry wood. His eyelids were sloppy, his face lethargic. The last bit of brilliance deep inside his dark, ink-like eyes was gone. His movements slowed down.
Li Yao raised his hands softly. Deep blue electric arcs broke out from his fingertips which then swept over and absorbed the components that were as high as a hill and
Thousands of components seemed to have formed a steel tornado. Bolstered by the electric arcs unleased from Li Yao's fingertips, they were spinning rapidly in midair!
It was quite a popular method of reducing inner stress by spinning. The seasoned refiners were not surprised to see it.
But the very next second, the corners of their eyes were all trebling violently.
The steel tornado in front of Li Yao was spinning faster and faster. Together with the dazzling electric arcs, it formed a large swirl with immense attraction force!
The hammers, clamps, and wasted materials on the desk all bounced and jumped into the swirl!
Ca! Ca! Ca! Ca! Ca! Ca! Ca!
Earsplitting noises immediately echoed within the steel swirl.
Many sharp-edged metal materials were colliding crazily and generating brilliant sparks as if somebody were setting off fireworks!
Countless powder-like objects sprayed from the bottom of the swirl loosely, only to be pulled by the attraction force of the swirl and spun around with the swirl before they spread out like a grey mist!
The steel swirl made of components was like a hungry beast that had swallowed the tools and wasted material and crushed them into the tiniest iron powder!
The inner stress inside the components vanished during the crazy swallowing and crushing.
Ten minutes later, Li Yao's fingers jerked weirdly. Blue electric arcs darted out of his fingers and interweaved into almost a hundred tentacles that connected all the components as if they were pearls on a necklace!
Sparks were bursting, electric arc were overflowing, and dreamy lightning was splashing. The electric currents seemed to be endowing each component with a new life. They congregatedas if they were monadscombined, and expanded!
After five minutes of the glamorous show
A chainsword, a vibration saber, and a heat axe were born perfectly!
At this moment, the last bit of the fire on the countdown in the middle of the workshop perished.
End of the match!
Li Yao grunted. He stumbled as if somebody had punched him right in his chest. The sparks and lightning immediately vanished.
In front of him, three pieces of black, plain-looking magical equipment were floating. They were chasing and hunting the last bits of wandering electric arcs in the air like three naughty cubs.
The skin on Li Yao's ten fingers had all broken apart. There was barely any left on his two thumbs. Hot blood dripped to the ground, where vague steam was rising up.
"My blood is burning!"
Li Yao lifted his thumb to his mouth and sucked it.
The blood mixed with the flavor of steel and sweat after a fully-devoted fight was always extraordinarily sweet and satisfying!