Chapter 58: Threading a Needle
Translator: Irene Editor: X
Ai Hui had a very serious expression on his face, and his eyes were cold and murderous. It was as if the surrounding air was about to freeze up. He could not even feel the fine beads of sweat dripping down his forehead.
He held a bright silver needle unsteadily between his right thumb and forefinger and grasped a thread with his left thumb and finger as he carefully tried to thread the elemental energy needle.
The eye of the elemental energy needle was very unstable. At times it was big, at other times it was small. It was extremely difficult to control. Ai Hui had been trying for half a day, but to no avail.
A girl's laughter sounded out from behind. When a man visited the workshop, all the young ladies naturally became curious and crowded around to observe. This workshop did not allow men to enter, so when the ladies saw Ai Hui, their eyes widened with curiosity.
When Ai Hui started, everyone was immediately excited. They had never seen a man learning embroidery.
"How stupid, he couldn't even thread a needle after so long."
"Exactly, exactly, look at the sweat on his forehead and his fierce look!"
"That's because he holds a grudge against the thread!"
The ladies chattered continuously since the spectacle was really entertaining to them. They felt it was like observing a rare animal, especially when they saw how clumsy Ai Hui was.
Luckily, Ai Hui placed all his attention on the elemental energy needle and thread, blocking out the background noises completely. Otherwise, he would have puked blood just by listening to their teasing.
In the workshop, work desks were separated by light muslin curtains. One could get a clear view into the work areas since the curtains were translucent.
Behind the curtains, Wang Shouchuan was having tea with the old lady, and they occasionally glanced over at Ai Hui's direction.
"He hasn't threaded the needle yet. Do you really think he's suitable for embroidery?" the old lady questioned indifferently after turning back.
Old Wang sipped on his tea and answered casually, "I'm not hoping that he makes a living out of this anyway. It's just an exercise for him to train his elemental energy. Plus, haven't you noticed his tremendous determination?"
"A little." The old lady's voice carried a tinge of admiration. "It's not easy for someone his age to remain focused and not feel discouraged despite having failed for half a day."
Old Wang became pleased. He had taken in a good disciple and it made him uncomfortable all over if he did not brag a little. "Exactly! He may have a low aptitude, but he has seven strong palaces. And, he's really good at learning. He activated his elemental residence with overflowing elemental energy. He did it on his own without any guidance. Isn't he great? He even managed to endure my Thousand Prajna, so I'm impressed."
The old lady was astonished. No matter how she looked at Ai Hui, he seemed really ordinary. Who knew he was such an outstanding man.
"Seems like you're really pleased." The old lady was slightly surprised. She knew how bad Old Wang's temper was and he could be unreasonably stubborn and conceited at times.
"Not just pleased, but very pleased." Old Wang corrected the old lady. "I've only had two good things happen to me. One was meeting you and the other is finally finding a disciple before dying."
The old lady was over the moon after listening to the first part, but crinkled her brows in displeasure upon hearing the second and said, "Everything's fine, so why are you talking about death. Die on your own if you wish."
"Heh, heh." The old man felt a little embarrassed and changed the topic. "I told him how powerful you are. You should've seen how big his eyes grew when I said you could control nine hundred and forty-nine elemental energy needles."
"It's one thousand sixty-four now!" The old lady spoke proudly, before mumbling,"Looks like I'll have to show him a little something."
"Do your best, do as you please, and don't be afraid of overtraining him. Give him all the work you have, no matter how tiring. This guy eats grass, but sh*ts gems!" the old man said nonchalantly.
The old lady was amused. "How pitiable, being your disciple."
Ai Hui had no idea he was being sold out by the old man. He had finally threaded the needle and noticed the sweat on his forehead. He was completely convinced by the old man's rationale that embroidery indeed put one's elemental energy control to the test. In the past, he had thought quite highly of his ability to control elemental energy, but was proven to be inadequate today.
Only after he tried it himself, did he realize the how difficult it really was.
It was not easy to stabilize the elemental energy needle, but it was even more challenging to open up an eye at the tail of the condensed elemental energy needle. Ai Hui was stuck at this stage for a long time, but he finally created the eye of the needle after some guidance. He then quickly realized how much more difficult, yet necessary, it was to stabilize the eye since it was important for threading the needle.
With the thread in his left hand and needle in his right, he had to split his attention.
The eye of the needle was big sometimes and small at other times, causing Ai Hui to fail repeatedly. The good thing was that he had finally grasped the pattern of this behavior after a whole afternoon and managed to thread his first elemental energy needle.
He failed to suppress a sigh. Embroidery required way too much elemental energy control.
Ai Hui thought about the embroidery master who could control 949 elemental energy needles and found it horrifying.
But, he quickly came to be excited. If he had been half-doubting his teacher's words before, he was now exceptionally certain that embroidery was really a good training method.
He only cared about improving his skills. Shameful or not, he did not care.
"How do you feel?"
His teacher's voice came from behind.
Ai Hui stood up hastily, wondering how long Teacher Wang had been standing there. Beside him was the embroidery master, a stern-looking lady.
"I feel very good." He thought for a bit before commenting, "This is a very effective training method that demands great control over elemental energy."
Visiting this place was really an eye-opening experience. Before coming here, he had mistakenly thought that an embroidery workshop was only for embroidering.
This was more like a factory.
There were piles of cloth, yarn, unfinished leather armors and even knives and swords. The air inside was filled with a herbal medicinal smell. Only after asking Master did he become aware that the ropes and tassels coiled around sword hilts required embroidery. These things were not ornamental; they were made for battles. For example, the coarse ropes around the hilts were made from weaving an uncommon material together with a unique stitching method. High-grade elemental swords were usually formed naturally and they tended to repel and reject other types of materials. Hence, there was simply no way to wound the rope around the sword hilts with ordinary techniques. Special techniques were needed to do it.
Ai Hui even saw a kind of soft grass sword that he had not seen before. Its body was full of embroidered flower patterns. He only found out, that this was a soft grass sword embryo after asking his teacher. The floral patterns allowed elemental energy to better thread together with the weapon body and strengthened it. This sword embryo would be sent to the grass weaponry processing facility to be refined. It would be soaked in chemicals and undergo a special tempering before transforming into a high-grade grass sword.
Basically, anything related to thread or rope would be seen in the embroidery workshop.
Of course, the workshop only received high-grade items.
Furthermore, the embroidery techniques involved were so dazzling that Ai Hui could not contain his amazement.