Chapter 181: At the Base of Mount Crimson
Winter was coming, but the entire Great Plains Province was still not yet feeling the frost. If anything, the entire province was bright and sunny with winds blowing as per usual for a nice refreshing scenery.
Located at the very heart of the province was a giant mountain that towered into the clouds and above the entire surroundings. What was most peculiar about this mountain was the fact that its point was a crimson red color. It was almost as if this mountain peak was a single crimson point that was illuminating the entire area nearby.
Thus, this mountain became known as Mount Crimson, home to one of the top ten schools on the continent, the Crafting School.
On this day, countless throngs of people gathered at the base of the mountain in either groups of threes or fours or else by themselves. From the base to the entrance, there was possibly a count of over several thousand people waiting within an area of a thousand meters.
They weren't gathered here to battle, and neither was it for a social gathering. It was the Crafting School's annual event to welcome in new students.
Even though the event had yet to start, the crowds of people were especially rowdy; but this was mainly applicable to the ones gathered at the ends of the crowd. The closer and closer one got to the front end of the crowd, the more quiet it was. And practically within a hundred meters to the front, it was essentially a cemetery with how quiet everyone was. It was a drastic difference to the other group, and each one of these people were solemn-faced and tight-lipped as if there was something heavily weighing on their minds.
In front of this multitude of people were several dozen figures all in the same strict posture. Their backs faced the mountains and their fronts faced the audience. Each one of them wore the same white-robed uniform with the insignia of a seemingly dancing flame. Even more noticeable was the fact that in this dancing flame, there was a rather ordinary-looking sword in it. But at a closer glance, one could tell that this sword had an extraordinary flame radiating from it. When the large crowd of people saw this design, they all had the same envious expression on their faces; this was the mark of a disciple of the Crafting School.
"Why haven't they started yet? It's already high noon, we've been standing here for at least three days already!" From his stone stool, one of the more bearded men cried out in anger as he looked to the crimson peak.
"Uncle, why are you complaining? I've been here since five days ago. Aren't you here to join the Crafting School as well?" A young man saluted to the first man in greeting.
"Bah, why would you think that? I've no delusions about my own strength, and everyone knows about the strict rule of the Crafting School. Only those under the age of 25 are accepted! I'm just here to accompany the young lord, as long as he's accepted, my journey here is well and over."
"Oh? Brother, you're here as a bodyguard too? I've two young lords to protect, they're both middle-stage Soul Personages, so joining the Crafting School should be considerably easier for them." Another middle-aged man interjected.
"Pah, middle-stage Soul Personage? What use is that? If they've no talent for the fire affinity, being even a late-stage Soul Warrior would be useless!" A twenty-something year old youth walked forward with a jeering smile. "How clueless is your little household? I've already had someone test me before, I've a high affinity for the elemental fire, I'll definitely be accepted into the Crafting School!"
"Hey! Aren't you Lu Renbing from Bluemont City? Since when did your Lu become some sort of super big family? And when did you have an aptitude for the elemental fire? I've never heard that before." A mysterious voice spoke out from behind this youth. Turning around, everyone could see an elegantly dressed twenty-something year old youth. He wasn't weak either and was about at the strength of a middle-stage Soul Warrior.
"Li Jiannan! A kid like you came too? If I don't have an affinity for fire, do you have one then?!" Just from their frosty conversation alone, everyone could tell that these two figures had had trouble between each other before.
"Hmph! At least I've far more promise and strength than a late-stage Soul Personage like you!"
"You're only just one small level higher, don't think yourself so hi-"
"Now now. Let's stop bickering, you two....."
Just beyond the group that was watching this spectacle, an inconspicuous person could be seen on top of a tree there. From what could be seen of him, this youth was wearing grey robes and a strawhat on his head. In his mouth was a single stalk of straw, and he looked clearly bored of the bickering that was happening in front of him.
Even though he was somewhat far away from the others, not a single person nearby had taken notice of him. It was almost as if his entire existence was negligible.
It was Bai Yunfei.
A month ago, Bai Yunfei had finally arrived at the Great Plains Province. For the sake of arriving on time to the Crafting School, Bai Yunfei hurried all the way over here and only took time to stop twice for a 'mysterious cave' (Without getting lost mind you). Then afterwards stopping in the nearby Redfire City for two days, Bai Yunfei managed to get some rest and then rush on over here to spend an entire day in waiting.
By the time he got here though, there was already a sea of people. Since he was tired, Bai Yunfei borrowed one of the nearby trees to take a nap, only to be awakened by the noise that the people here were making. Seeing that it was about to start, he decided to look on from above rather than to go down and check for himself.
"Luren Bing? Li Jiannan? What great names they have...." Bai Yunfei quirked his lips in amusement. Looking around the place, Bai Yunfei began to make silent observations of the people around him, "25 and under with an affinity for fire...those aren't a problem for me, but I wonder how they'll test for this 'crafting gift'...."
TL Note: Bai Yunfei mistakes the names of these two to mean: Stranger and Cheap male.
He had learned a decent amount about the Crafting School on his way there. For the Crafting School, there was three criterias which were automatic failures.
Being older than 25.
Not having a sufficient affinity for the elemental fire.
Not having the gift for crafting.
He was good for the first two conditions. But the third one was where Bai Yunfei felt slightly troubled by. Upgrading equipment was a clinch for him, but upgrading and creating were two different horses to ride. He had no idea at all if he had the talent for 'crafting'.
But a shot not taken was a shot missed. It was far too late for him to back down now. He spent more than half a year to travel all the way to the Crafting School so that he could study the art of crafting. He wanted to become stronger, and now that he was oh-so-close to his destination, Bai Yunfei would do his absolute best to join the Crafting School.
But no sooner did he finish thinking to himself when Bai Yunfei's eyes light up, "They're here!"
Coming down from the mountain, Bai Yunfei could see several dozen students follow a handsome-looking youth with an extraordinary aura to him. At his appearance, everyone else that were talking before immediately grew quiet. The silence began to spread throughout the crowd, and within a single minute, the entire crowd was silent. Turning to the front of the mountain, everyone in the crowd did their best to crane their necks to try and see what was going on.
But for Bai Yunfei, someone that was at the bottleneck of the late-stage Soul Sprite stage, a distance like this was negligible to him. He could see the entire situation as clear as day and spoke to himself with excitement, "Late-stage Soul Ancestor! How amazing-even in presence, he could beat practically everyone here!"
The young man leading the group gave a level stare at everyone gathered before him. Even the young lords whose strengths were at the Soul Sprite stage couldn't help but avoid his gaze when he looked at them, as if afraid of their eyes meeting.
The students behind him split into two rows, and with a wave of their hands, over twenty long tables appeared in front of everyone. Moving quickly, the students then began to place something on each of the tables.
"Everyone, I am a student of the Crafting School, Song Lin. Today, I will be the one responsible for overseeing the examination for any applicant's aptitude with elemental fire." The one now known as Song Lin spoke to everyone with a respectful greeting. His voice wasn't loud, but it traveled for long distances into the ears of everyone there.
"I presume everyone knows the conditions of our Crafting School. Our school will test for the age of every applicant, please do not think you might be able to scrape on by with luck. The examination for aptitude with the elemental fire is relatively simple as well. We of the Crafting School has specialized equipment that only requires the applicant to stick their hands in for us to see the results."
Pointing at the twenty tables, everyone could see that each of the tables were filled with black boxes. Inside these black boxes were several palm-sized red crystals. On the faces of these crystals, it looked as if it could fit an entire palm on it.
"We are not testing to see how much soulforce everyone has, but rather the degree of aptitude one has with the elemental fire. For every soul cultivator here, please do not transmit too much of your soulforce into these crystals; as there is no point to that."
Waving his hand one last time, Song Lin announced, "Well then. Let the examinations begin!"