Chapter 5 – Trials (2)
In a desolate land of fire, everything was peaceful. Then all of a sudden a hand came out of the lava. Chu Shen stood on the bottom of the lava lake, looking around in astonishment.
‘Why did I not die?’ He wondered. ‘The lava wasn’t hot and it wasn’t deep either. Just what is going on.’
“Haha, I knew you were the right choice brat. “ Ti Wu appeared above him, floating like the spirit he was.
“Teacher, what’s going on? The lava didn’t kill me.” Chu Shen said with obvious curiosity.
“A test my dear boy, a test which you passed. A cultivator of the way of the void must have courage and confidence in oneself. If you hadn’t jumped within the time for an incense stick to burn you would have landed in real lava.”
Chu Shen gaped at Master Wu. So this whole thing was a test of his confidence that would have killed him if he didn’t try it fast enough. Pondering over the matter Chu Shen nodded his head.
A true test would have a consequence for failure, often on the path of cultivation a mistake meant death. This was both a test and a lesson. Do not expect anything to be easy.
Ti Wu looked at the thinking body of Chu Shen in exasperation. “If you’re just going to sit there you’re going burn to death. You still have to get the staff and the lava will become real soon.”
Chu Shen panicked, rushing towards staff. As he ran the lava clung to him like mud slowing him down. It seemed like forever and with each step the lava grew hotter. Finally he reached the island with the staff. Grinning as he saw victory in his grasp he grabbed the staff. Searing heat scorched the skin of his palm.
“ARGHHHH” Chu Shen quickly let go of the staff, waving his and around to cool it off.
“HAHAHAHAHAHA.” The grand elder of the Void Sect, respected since the ancient times, laughed at his disciple’s misery.
Nursing his hand, Chu Shen glared at him. Yes, he was his master but he didn’t give Chu Shen face at all. “I know this is the test master but at least warn me.”
Ti Wu stopped laughing for a moment and looked at him. “What, did you expect it to be easy?” Upon seeing Chu Shens face, full of fury and indignation he burst out laughing again. “HAHAHAH, it’s a puzzle, HAHAHA, find out the answer. HAHAHA.”
Realizing he couldn’t take out his anger on his floating master, Chu Shen promptly ignored him. Studying the staff he stared at it intensely but nothing was abnormal with the staff. It seemed to be just a normal bamboo staff.
‘Maybe its like the gauntlets?’ With that thought in mind he repeated what he had done with the gauntlets. Nothing happened however.
Chu Shen thought back to the voice he had first heard. “To practice martial arts is to transcend the natural order. It is to unflinchingly march forward and to harness the power of nature. Find your path to cultivation.”
‘Hmmm. The first part is simply a description of cultivation. The second part was the key to the first test. To “unflinchingly march forward” must be the jumping into the lava. Was the clue “Harness the power of nature”?’
Chu Shen shrugged.
There was only one way to find out….. but how could he harness the power of nature? His eyes wandered around looking for something of nature. The only stuff around though was a flat black surface and lava.
His face lit up. Grasping the desperate thought with both hands he rushed to the edge of the island and reached his hands into the lava. It had felt like mud earlier and just like mud it came up in a clump.
Cautiously he carried over the lava to the staff and smeared it on the handle. Carefully placing his hands on the staff he waited for a couple seconds.
Nothing happened. Overjoyed he firmly grasped the staff and yanked on it. The staff moved a little bit but no more.
Remembering his teachers reminder that the lava would become real soon made Chu Shen reckless.
He started frantically pulling and twisting and wiggling the staff before it finally came out. Chu Shen became impressed as he looked at the staff again.
At the end stuck in the ground there was unexpectedly a metal spike and on the spike was dozens of miniature hooks.
‘Ah, no wonder teacher kept laughing the more I pulled’
The ancient voice rumbled out once again after he had picked up the staff. “You have passed the test of courage, confidence, quick wit, usage of the elements, and finally determination. There is one more test, have faith practitioner.”
As soon as the voice finished speaking the world became black before lighting up once more.
Chapter 6 – Trials (3)
Blinking to clear his eyes Chu Shen looked around. He sighed. ‘Yet another cavern’ he thought dully.
This time he was in a cave and surrounding him was columns of jade.
‘When will this end?’ He thought. His master appeared in front of him.
“Okay brat, you are now in the last stage of the test. While the other tests was for me to test your character this last one is crucial for your future path.”
Ti Wu gestured behind him. “See these columns?” Chu Shen nodded. “Good. Inside these columns are formation arrays. When I activate it a phantom warrior made of heavens Qi will form.”
“Your goal is to fight these warriors. Each column’s warrior will become stronger when you beat the previous one. There is a set of weapons over there, choose one or tell me if you want a different one.”
Upon hearing those words Chu Shen looked over at the weapons. There was various swords, spears, armor, shields, bows, and various other bladed weapons.
Chu Shen shook his head at all these weapons. While he had not fought often with the other disciples when he did he tried to use his brute strength as often as possible. “Master, I am not suitably trained in any of these weapons.”
Ti Wu was stunned. “Lowly sects. You’d think they’d at least train you how to fight but nooo. I bet he can’t even swing a sword around.” Ti Wu grumbled underneath his breath.
Raising his voice he called out to Chu Shen, “Disciple, do you have any weapon you wish to use then?”
Chu Shen cupped his hands and bowed to his master. “Yes master, I wish to use a hammer and a sleeve crossbow.”
Ti Wu frowned. He had never used a hammer or a crossbow before so he naturally did not have the capability of reproducing them.
”I cannot make them so you will have to make the weapons you wish to have. They will be weapons of pure steel just like these with no inscriptions added.”
“How do I accomplish this master?”
“Merely imagine the weapon you wish to have and let me know when you have vividly captured the image. This is after all still an illusionary soul realm in the Voids Hand.”
“Yes master.” Chu Shen closed his eyes and thought of a hammer. It was to be one and a half meters long, making it a medium range weapon.
It was all metal with the hammer part being over 3/10 of a meter at the end. One end was shaped like a brick and was obviously meant for crushing, the other was a metal spike meant for stabbing into the opponent.
The crossbow on the other hand had a wooden base. It was mounted on a metal strip with leather straps to attach it to his arm.
The string though was made with tensile steel, making it extremely hard to notch letting the arrows reach tremendous speeds.There was a groove guiding the arrow to its target. Beside the string there was a curious device.
It looked like a gear with a handle attached to it that faced inwards towards the persons chest if the crossbow was worn on the left arm. Another curious thing was the arrows. They looked more like a miniature spear, they had no feathers to speak of.
If Chu Shen was able to craft a crossbow like this it would become a true marvel in the sect. It was unfortunate that though he had the talent to accomplish this he was not experienced enough in crafting to make a crossbow like this.
Trying his best to concentrate on these masterpieces Chu Shen called out to his master hesitatingly as his brow furrowed in concentration. “Master… I have succeeded.”
Ti Wu looked at his disciple in disdain. In mere moments he had come up with the style of weapons that would most likely follow him throughout his life.
“Remember that these weapons will be crucial in what I teach you, do not be hasty with their design.” Ti Wu said sternly.
“Master….I am….really….done.” Ti Wu sighed in exasperation at his disciples helplessness.
Ti Wu floated over towards Chu Shen until he was right in front of him. Reaching out with his hand Ti Wu touched the young boys forehead. When he did a glowing blue orb emerged from his head.
Ti Wu then took the orb and put it inside his own forehead and closed his eyes. After a short moment he looked at the Chu Shen in astonishment.
“He truly does have potential to be a great artificer, no wonder he was working at that place.” Ti Wu murmured to himself. Realizing Chu Shen was still concentrating hard he frowned.
Raising his voice he called out to him. “Boy, I have already received your souls image. You may stop.”
Chu Shen opened his eyes in relief. “Here are your weapons” With a wave of his hand the weapons Chu Shen had asked for appeared, completely as he had imagined.
He looked at them in awe, knowing that it would be some time before he could create anything of this perfection.
Before Chu Shen put on the weapons though he put on armor. First he put on a chest plate. After that he put on a helmet that only covered the top of his head and neck. And finally shin guards and greaves that covered a broad portion of the arms and legs though the left arm had nothing put on it.
Carefully Chu Shen strapped the crossbow on his left arm, lacing up the straps tightly.
Ti Wu looked at the crossbow with undisguised curiosity. “What does that gear do, as far as I know it has no purpose.”
“Yes master. I don’t believe I can properly explain, could I demonstrate it for you instead?”
Ti Wu waved his hand in dismissal. “Yes, yes. Just show me what it does.”
Chu Shen bowed “As you wish master.”
Using his right arm he strained at the gears handle. As he turned it in a half circle the metal string that had been
notched in the teeth of the gear was pulled back as well.
Within a matter of a half a second the metal string that someone a whole stage above him would struggle with was notched in the crossbow.
Ti Wu gained enlightenment as to the purpose of the gear. It was to allow someone weaker to notch the crossbow. With this method you could prepare a devastating attack way above your own strength, truly formidable.
Next Chu Shen strapped on the small quiver of metal arrow-spears, as he thought of them, around his leg like a belt. Chu Shen notched the arrow into the crossbow before picking up the hammer with both hands.
“Are you equipped with your weapons then disciple?”
“Then let your final test begin!”