Everyone occupied a space of their own within the vast crafting area. Most were getting some shut-eye, getting their mental state to peak performance in order to participate in the final round of ritual implement crafting. This round was incredibly important.
At the top of the stairs before the area, an elder walked towards You Chi and took a dazzling golden scroll from him. A flash of recognition shot through the eyes of many, and they stared at that golden scroll.
"It's the Alchemy Rank," someone said. The people spectating from afar seemed to be agitated at the revealing of the golden scroll. Now that the Alchemy Rank had been taken out, these top 100 armorers had received the right to have their names written down in the Rank. The following round would then decide their exact ranking within the Alchemy Rank in this year's competition.
This ranking could potentially affect the future of the participants. Should they be able to rank high in the Alchemy Rank, their prospects would be greater. All the top powers in the Barren State would support them with various training and ritual implement crafting resources. It would be an endless supply, and they wouldn't have to worry about finding their own resources.
This was how valuable talents in ritual implement crafting were. Each influential organization had its own armorer, and they invested a lot of resources to have these armorers work for them.
The many armorers present took a good look at the Alchemy Rank. However, Xue Ye and Luo Fan did not seem to be the least bit bothered by the rank. They did not sit down to rest but were pacing in the side of the area. Many people were looking at the duo, wondering what they were up to. However, it was break time, after all; they were well within their rights to do whatever they wanted.
Xue Ye and Luo Fan walked over to the spectator stands, which was on the right, and came before Ye Futian.
"Fourth older brother, Fifth older brother," seeing the two men come over, Ye Futian smiled and greeted them. Yi Xiaoshi greeted the two as well.
"Little brother, have you and Little Shi come over to Alchemy City for the trials as well?" Xue Ye asked.
"Yeah, I came here to have a look around, and I got myself some ritual implements to use too." Ye Futian nodded before asking, "Older brothers, what are you participating in the Alchemy Conference for? If you want ritual implements, we could get them from the Alchemy Casino."
Those who heard Ye Futian's words from a distance away frowned in disapproval. What did this rascal take the Alchemy Casino for? For Ye Futian to speak of the Alchemy Casino like a place to simply get ritual implements, did he think the place belonged to him?
"We haven't seen each other for a few years, but Little Brother, how do you still not have any pursuits," Luo Fan replied, looking at Ye Futian.
"Er." Ye Futian was taken aback. "If you're not here for ritual implements, then are you really preparing to enter the City Lord Office to learn ritual implement crafting?" That seemed like a good idea to Ye Futian. If his Older Brothers were to learn ritual implement crafting from the City Lord Office, then it would be way easier for him to obtain ritual implements in the future.
"No," Luo Fan shook his head lightly, "we're aiming for first place."
Ye Futian blinked and stared at Luo Fan wordlessly before turning to look at Xue Ye. With their abilities, it was already beyond lucky that they could even be in the top hundred. And now, they wanted to be first in the Alchemy Conference?
"Are these two idiots?" Di Zhou cursed from afar. To him, something was definitely wrong with the heads of these two. Even You Tu from the City Lord Office wouldn't dare claim that he would be able to get first place in the Alchemy Conference. In this Alchemy Conference, there were so many powerful people awaiting the results of the Alchemy Rank.
"Older Brother, are you serious right now?" Ye Futian asked, perspiring from embarrassment.
"Yeah." Xue Ye nodded his head, the image of seriousness. "We've got to be first place."
"I believe you," Ye Futian replied, somewhat lost for words. He said the word 'believe' with special emphasis.
"Little Brother, since when have I ever lied to you?" Xue Ye said, looking at Ye Futian, "Since I said I'm aiming for the top, of course, I am going to go all in."
Ye Futian looked at Xue Ye in confusion, wondering what the chances were that his Older Brother was really being serious about this.
Ye Futian's eyes shifted about, and he looked at Xue Ye somewhat warily before whispering, "I heard that the one who wins first place at the Alchemy Conference will be able to marry the daughter of the City Lord Office. Could it be that Older Brother has his eye on that family's daughter?"
"Smart guy, you finally got it," Luo Fan praised.
"Little Brother, if a man as talented as I were to be out and about, it's no wonder I'd attract the attention of a lady that's as equally amazing as I am." Xue Ye sighed.
Ye Futian was speechless for a while before he said, in some awe, "Older Brother, you're amazing."
"Little Brother, Little Shi, how has your training been at the Palace?" Xue Ye asked.
"Seventh Older Brother and I are doing well. I'm a Grade Four Noble now, and Seventh Older Brother is a Grade Three Noble," Ye Futian replied.
"That puts me at ease. Looks like you two aren't too far from becoming top-notch nobles. The Holy Zhi Palace has many training resources; make good use of this opportunity to train well," Xue Ye advised nicely.
"I understand, older brother." Ye Futian nodded.
"Work hard, little brother. You're a smart man, maybe we'll need your help in future when it comes to Third Older Brother and Older Sister's affairs," Xue Ye continued speaking.
"Right." Ye Futian began to feel a little strange at his Older Brother's words. He wondered what his Older Brother meant by telling him all that.
"Well then, I'll head over to prepare for the ritual implement crafting," Xue Ye announced.
"Alright." Ye Futian nodded, and the two men left together to head back to their places in the area.
An hour passed very quickly, and when the elder announced the start of the ritual implement crafting from the top of the staircase, the vast space instantly became deafeningly quiet, so much so that one could hear a pin drop.
An endless crowd had gathered at the Conference, but no one spoke. Even the important guests had stopped their discussions as well. Everyone was intently watching the hundred people craft ritual implements. No one made any noise to not disturb those at work. This was the respect people showed towards the Alchemy Conference.
At this moment, You Tu was bathed in frightening flames. The flames were golden and filled with an overpowering elegance. It took on the form of a dragon and became the Divine Fire of the Nine Dragons, which rushed into the smelting furnace.
It's the Golden Flames of the Nine Dragons, the spectators thought to themselves. The flames that were passed down a branch of the You family had incredible might. You Tu's Life Spirit was even beaming with the flames. Nine golden fire dragons could be seen, bathed in the endless flames. It was an incredibly elegant sight. Furthermore, a pure gold material was sitting within You Tu's smelting furnace at this moment. It was a golden asteroid, an incredibly rare material to use in ritual implement crafting. It was especially tough; even top-notch nobles would not be able to smash this golden asteroid into pieces if they tried. This material was often used in crafting Sage-level ritual implements. It could either create ritual implements with incredible attacking power or defensive ritual implements. You Tu was offering up his ultimate skills in this round.
Gongsun Ye was also putting up a spectacular display. A dazzling matrix appeared beneath his feet, and a scroll floated within his smelting furnace. A large amount of Worldly Spiritual Qi flowed above the furnace, and many ritual implement crafting materials were melting on the scroll, dripping bit by bit into it. Afterward, seven shadow figures appeared, in the likeness of Gongsun Ye. Standing on top of the scroll, they lifted brushes and began inscribing.
"That's Gongsun Ye's Dharma body," someone whispered. Everyone watched him work. While many people had given their all to enter the top hundred in the Alchemy Conference, to an armorer like Gongsun Ye, it was not necessary for him to go all out in order to reach this round. All he had to do was reveal just a part of his true abilities. But this round was where the real battle was, and he was going to craft a ritual implement that would trump all.
Yu Ming was crafting a chess set, while Chi Lian was crafting a dueling sword. Mu Ou seemed to be crafting a magical orb, and everyone else was doing all they could to craft their respective ritual implements. Zhou Sheng and Lv Wei both had equally incredible ritual implement crafting processes.
Ye Futian's eyes swept across all the armorers present. Though he had little knowledge of ritual implement crafting, he could still feel the incredible skill present. The Alchemy Conference was the highest-level ritual implement crafting competition in the Barren State. Naturally, it was of a different caliber, with the Barren State's best armorers of the Noble plane all present.
His gaze then landed on his Older Brothers. The duo was uncharacteristically solemn. The ritual implement they were crafting seemed to be the same as what they had been doing; something that looked like a giant brick. Ye Futian wore a baffled expression at the sight. However, his Fifth Older Brother Luo Fan seemed to be cutting the brick into smaller pieces. His knife skill was akin to that required in cutting vegetables. The small pieces were all neat.
The seriousness of his two older brothers had Ye Futian very confused. He began to suspect that his older brothers were genuinely serious in their attempt. Could it be that one of his older brothers had really fallen for the daughter of Alchemy City's City Lord Office? However, everyone else at the Alchemy Conference was obviously very skilled in ritual implement crafting. Even if his two older brothers joined forces, it was impossible that they would gain victory over the rest.
The crackling of flames was practically the only sound that could be heard in the quiet space. Gradually, the sound of clanging metal could be heard as well. This round of ritual implement crafting was the slowest, with four hours gone already and still no one having completed their ritual implement yet.
In this final round, everyone was making use of their best skills in hopes of crafting a top-notch ritual implement. Whether it was ingredients or difficulty in crafting, the competitors were bringing only the best to the table, which meant the process was time-consuming. However, the ritual implements they were working on were beginning to take on their initial form.
After two more hours, a ritual implement was fully-formed. It was a very thin sword; thin as gossamer and was dazzling silver. Like a silver thread, it flew about in the air, possessing a frightening penetrability while being almost as formless as the wind.
"A good ritual implement," many people praised. It was indeed rare to see such a delicate crafting technique.
Afterward, more people began to complete their ritual implements. Each one was sublime in their craftsmanship. Frightening energy drew everyone's eyes in its direction. Over at Chi Lian's side, a giant dueling sword that was branded with magnificent streaks of gold along its body was slowly ascending into the sky. The sword gave one the impression that it was incredibly heavy; however, the tip of the sword seemed to be unimaginably sharp, and a scary glint gleamed from the ritual implement.
"Mu Ou's ritual implement is almost done as well," someone commented, and many people looked towards him. A single orb spun in the air, clear and dazzling yet still releasing frightening surges of energy. Such delicateness in weapon crafting could probably only be attributed to an armorer of Mu Ou's experience and skill.
You Tu's smelting furnace rose into the sky, and a Precious Cauldron of the Nine Dragons appeared, turning slowly in the sky. It was a magnificent sight to see.
Gongsun Ye had crafted a catalog, within which the images of various people seemed to appear. Though it wasn't fully formed yet, it had already impressed many people.
"Seems like it's a given that Gongsun Ye, You Tu, Chi Lian, and Mu Ou are going to be in the top ten," someone guessed. The ritual implements may not have been completed yet, but many people were already predicting the final rankings of the Alchemy Rank. The ritual implements that Gongsun Ye and You Tu had crafted also seemed to be at the level that deserved a ranking within the top three.
Right then, someone looked in Xue Ye and Luo Fan's direction. They were wondering how these two rascals, who had muddled their way into the top hundred, would do this round. They probably were going to come in last this time. However, the brick they had created was already cut into small pieces and even melted into something that looked like paper for a scroll. A dull metallic shine could be seen still, and Xue Ye was continuously inscribing a matrix quietly.
"What's that thing? A book?" Many people looked confused at the sight. They didn't quite get what the two were trying to do, but what they were crafting now at least seemed more legitimate than whatever they had created in the past rounds.
"Luo Fan, are you ready?" Xue Ye whispered, his voice solemn.
"Older Brother, should we just give up? We can always beg Older Sister. Maybe there'll be another way out." Luo Fan's voice was equally as low.
"I asked you if you were ready," Xue Ye hissed sternly.
Luo Fan glanced over at him and replied, "Xue Ye, you better think this through."
"DIdn't I already clear things up with you before we came? I'm going to start," Xue Ye responded, and at his words, his Life Spirit flew out. An ancient book appeared and turned into an endless number of scrolls that danced in the sky. The pages from the ancient book shimmered and flew towards the small pieces of brick that lay on the smelting furnace.
"Let's do this," Xue Ye declared solemnly. Luo Fan was quivering slightly. While he had previously been relaxed and chatty, Luo Fan was now nervous beyond measure. He took in a deep breath and revealed an uncharacteristic seriousness. The flames suddenly turned incomparably violent and rushed towards the pages, melting them into the ritual implement. In an instant, the brick which had been cut into tiny pieces began to glow, emanating a dazzling golden glow. The matrix the two had inscribed previously began to glow intensely as well. The brick was no longer a brick, but a golden book.
"Rascal." Zhuge Mingyue suddenly stood up, her gaze steely. Staring at Xue Ye, she ordered, "Xue Ye, stop right now." The influential characters around her were slightly taken aback as well. They knew what Xue Ye was about to do—he was going to insert his Life Spirit into the ritual implement as an offering. However, was this something Xue Ye was capable of doing? Only top armorers of the Sage Plane would dare to do such a thing. Xue Ye was obviously someone who had just picked up the art. He probably had only just read a few books on the subject. The consequences of pulling such a trick were dire. They included having one's powers destroyed, or even death.
What is he doing? wondered Chu Ji of the Goddess Pavilion. Was it necessary to put so much on the line just for the Alchemy Conference?
"Is he crazy?" The large crowd now had their attention on Xue Ye. They were no longer making fun of him. Now he was actually serious and not being his usual shameless, joking self, Xue Ye was frightening.
Fresh blood was trickling out the corners of Xue Ye's mouth, and a desolate expression surfaced on his handsome face. Looking at Zhuge Mingyue's expression, he said, "Second older sister, you're so pretty, even when you're angry. No wonder third older brother is so smitten. But I've finally met someone he likes after training for so long. Of course, I have to let myself do something crazy just this once."
"Luo Fan, stop all this right now." Zhuge Mingyue then turned to Luo Fan, who was standing next to Xue Ye.
"Second older sister, I don't have any choice," Luo Fan replied haplessly.
Zhuge Mingyue began to walk forward, but You Chi then spoke, "My niece, it is not permitted for anyone to interfere while the Alchemy Conference is ongoing." As he spoke, invisible energy surrounded Zhuge Mingyue. You Chi's gaze turned to Xue Ye as well, a ripple of emotion appearing in his deep-set eyes. This rascal really is being audacious, he thought.
"Second Older Sister, now that we've come to this point, you can't stop me anyway. If something really happens to me, tell Third Older Brother that while he might have been very strict with me previously, I'll still be his younger brother in my next life," Xue Ye whispered. "Of course, I won't forget about you, my pretty Second Older Sister."
"Fourth Older Brother," Ye Futian murmured, finally understanding what was going on. He stood up and stared at Xue Ye in disbelief that he had actually been serious about something that sounded like a joke.
"Little Brother, remember what I said to you just now. Remember to take care of things between Second Older Sister and Third Older Brother. You may have been the last to become a disciple, but everyone knows that you are the Cottage's true hope for the future," Xue Ye said, looking at Ye Futian.
"Older Brother, there're other ways out," Ye Futian replied seriously.
Xue Ye chuckled and turned away without saying anything further. Luo Fan then asked, "Do you have nothing to say to me?"
"Get lost," Xue Ye scolded him. "You better not let me meet you in the next life, you unlucky star."
"The next life's too far away. You better think this through. If you die, then someone else is going to take care of our sister-in-law, so you better not die." Luo Fan sighed leisurely. If Xue Ye wasn't busy crafting the ritual implement, he would have killed Luo Fan with a slap.
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