Chapter III
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" Yaawn... " Arun, who had barely woken up a couple minutes ago rubbed his eyes.
" Arun darling, could you not sleep last night? Are you feeling anxious about the exam? " an elderly woman sitting in front of him asked.
" Don't worry grandma, I'm fine... I'll definitely come back with good news today! "
" Alright darling, but don't push yourself too much. I know you're working hard... just, remember, grandma loves you either way. " she said while smiling warmly. " Now, hurry up and eat your food before it gets cold. "
" Thanks ma! "
While eating his food Arun realized that there was something more to the dish of mashed potatoes than usual... there was some meat in there. A guilty smile formed on his face. Grandma's pension was barely enough to keep them both fed, she must have went the extra mile to get this meat. It made him feel even worse considering what he was about to ask.
" Ma, I'm sorry, but could I take the bus to school and back today? "
The elderly woman was a bit surprised by this request but she nodded. She wouldn't show it past her smile, but Arun knew inside she was trying to figure out how to make ends meet. After all, just a trip would cost enough to keep them fed for almost a day.
" Don't worry ma... I'll pull us out of this situation as soon as I can. And one day, when I become able, I will create a way out for everyone in our situation as well. "
" I'll leave you to it, little inventor "
" Welcome everyone to the forging round of the exam. I'm professor Dan, chief of the forging department inside the Department of education and Guidance, and I am proud to oversee this year's exam along with teacher Wayne of the Divine flame high and master George, member of Xu enterprises. " the message was related trough a 10 meters by 10 meters projection in the waiting hall of the exam.
" Teacher Wayne of Divine flame and master George? There sure are some big figures present this year! " an excited kid reacted.
" Yea, but I heard that both of them are pretty strict... the exam might be tough this year " A more worried apprentice responded
" Who cares? If you manage to make an impression on any of the your set! "
The mixture of excited and concerned chattering stopped when the hologram of the chief continued his speech.
" The will be no preset theme for this year's exam. Every student is free to create whatever they like. "
A loud cheer erupted trough the room. The students quite happy with this decision.
* So, they want every student to come up with their best creation. But this means that the evaluation criteria will be set very high as well... How exciting * Around wished nothing more than to start at this point.
" The rest will proceed as per usual. Every student is to take the necessary materials for forging from their designated warehouse and than proceed to the designated forging room for creating. The warehouse as well as the number of the room will be shown on your pre-assinged bracelet. You have 2 hours at your disposal. Good luck. "
Arun looked down at his bracelet. * East silo, room 990. Is this a bug? The room and the silo are on completely opposite sides of each other *
He clicked his tong on his bad luck but nevertheless he headed to the silo.
* If I hurry up I may still be able to find some good ingredients *
10 minutes later he was finally entered the warehouse. A couple students were still scrambling about grabbing whatever material they could find but most of them were already gone. Arun walked trough the lines of tall shelves examining their contents carefully.
* Fused copper... black iron... 10 years- old animal bones... none of the better ingredients in here have synergy... Even if I build my machine with them the overall performance will be weak and there will be many flaws. * Arun continued to look for ingredients but all the good ones were gone... and it was getting late already, he had to start forging soon.
* Do I have to compromise? But if I do so my marks will take a dive... On the other hand the situation will only worsen the more I wait... Hold on... what's that? " an old dusty box was sitting untouched in the corner of the room. Thanks to its shabby looks none of the students where even paying them attention.
The lid of the box protested as it was opened, as if discontent of being awoken from its ancient slumber, but it still slid away after a couple good pushes. A gentle light reflected on the contents of the box. Arun picked up one of the materials and examined it carefully. But than he clicked his tongue, unhappy with his findings.
Steel... plain, old, steel. Well- forged by the looks of it, and considering its state after many years but still, this is an obsolete material, a relic of the old age. Steel used to be one of the best components of the technological age but it quickly fell off during the cultivation age. The reason was simple: it was unable to store or conduct ki. Add this to the emergence of new materials from the hidden realms of the 7 great cultivators and steel and it's fate was clear. Some of the old world materials could still be reforged into useful items, such as iron being turned to black iron, but this... this was useless.
But something about the word ' useless ' just didn't sit well with Arun. He was a firm believer that everyone and everything had a role in the world. Thus, he kept thinking while fiddling the steel bar.
* In the old age, they used electricity in order to animate steel puppets... can i do the same?, While ki can't be conducted with this material a miniature thunder array should be able to provide the electricity needed to control this puppet, and if i link it with the bone marrow to manage the activation of the thunder array...Yes! this will work! *