Chapter V
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1 hour and 20 minutes. That was the time left for Arun to complete his work.
 
* Ok. Here we go * Arun rubbed his hands *Firstly, I have to begin molding the steel. *
 
Arun concentrated his ki on the furnace flames. The temperature had to be just right in order to not completely melt the metal but keep it in a stage where it was malleable. When the temperature was right and the metal entered it's desired state the molding process started.
 
Now, he had to divide his attention between the flame and the metal. It was quite the arduous task. But, despite the difficulties, Arun didn't seem to be fazed. This wasn't his first rodeo, after all, he tinkered with forging materials at every opportunity.
 
At first he gathered all the steel in one point, creating a large ball. Than he diligently started shaping it up to it's desired form. From an unrecognizable blob of steel a few familiar shapes took form... a leg ... a head... a tail...30 minutes later, he was almost done.
 
Before he could finish the frame however he had to insert the marrow. This was usually done while the puppet was molded, the bone being inserted together with the rest of the materials. However, in Arun's case this method was undesirable. Not only was the bone damaged but it also contained a good amount of Ying energy which would disturb the balance. Also, the marrow needed to act as a conduit of sorts, not be mixed with the material.
 
So, he had to extract the marrow from the bone first. There where 2 ways to do it, both significantly more difficult than merging the bone itself with the materials.
 
One of them was simply breaking the bone. This seemed like an easy option at first, especially considering the fact that the bone was already damaged, but it required a lot of control in order not to damage the marrow in the process. Although Arun was pretty confident in his control over his psihical strength this method was too risky. He preferred the other way.
 
The second method implied guiding the marrow out of the bone using ki. This required a large degree of control over ki, more so than the first one, but if Arun said he was second in ki flow, none amongst his peers could say they're first. After all, he manage to take control over his own ki flow, and directing ki trough external, non-living items should be easier.
 
And so he started the process. He allowed his ki to flow outside inside the bone, until he could feel the marrow. Now, he only needed to pull it out. A firm grasp over the precious resource and several pulls later however, he felt disappointed. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't make the marrow exit. He could barely make it move, making it break trough the bone with this much power was out of the question.
 
* Phew... I was afraid this would happen. Low human stage is not enough to extract it this way. Seems like I have to use my trick... but I've never tried concentrating my ki in 2 separate spots before and I have to keep the fire going... Heh, this is getting more and more interesting! Guess I have to break my limits here and now! * A sweat poured over his face. A strange feeling it was, when fear and excitement mixed.
 
Little by little, Arun started to redirect his flow from the rest of his body to his left hand. He had to pay attention to the fire. If he lost control over it, his whole build would be destroyed. Than he slowly started to transfer some of his energy from the left to the right. Slowly, not to lose control over the technique. After some time the process was complete, the amount of ki in his left and right hands being equal. It was still unstable, but it had to do. Gripping the marrow again, this time with more ki, he made another effort.
 
A sudden headache made him almost lose control. His brain was not used to processing this many tasks in the same time.
 
" Still... not enough. It's only mid-human stage...I need... more. I don't need... that much ki... for the fire"
 
More energy kept being transferred.The more the imbalance between the two points rised, the more his pain grew.
 
After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity he finally reached an level of energy equivalent to high human stage in his marriw-extracting hand. Little energy was left to maintain the fire, which made the job even more difficult as he was essentially left with less fuel to sustain it. This should be enough tough. Now it's time to complete the marrow-extraction.
 
He didn't think the pain could get much worse. He was wrong. Very wrong. As the marrow was breaking the pain surging inside Arun's head made him wand to scream so badly.
 
But he couldn't scream, he couldn't cry. If he did everything he's done to this point, everything he's endured would go to waste. The more the pain surged through him, the more stubborn he felt.
 
He remembered his friends getting threatened by William, he would show him off. He remembered his grandmother who was waiting for him, he would bring good news. He remembered his grandfather talking about how the cultivators saved and rebuilt the world using wandrous tools, he would fulfill their dream.
 
A crack appeared at the end of the bone. Than the crack enlargened. And, finally, it broke. He finally succeeded in extracting the marrow.
 
There was no time to celebrate thou . Now it was time to finish the frame. This was however an easy process. 5 minutes later, the marrow was successfully integrated and the frame was complete.
 
Arun wiped his sweat of his forehead, took a deep, relieved sigh. He was happy with his work so far. In front of him sat a tiger-shaped puppet the size of the domestic cat. Actually, it would pass for a cat if not for its fierce expression. He didn't intend for its face to be like this, it seemed like the marrow had some sort of side effect. But he did mean it to be a cat. He had always wished for a pet but he couldn't get one because they were quite expensive. Now that they were allowed to keep their creations, unless deemed too dangerous, he made his own pet.
 
* It's not ready yet tho. I still need to draw the arrays and infuse the will into it * he looks at the clock * 35 minutes... this took longer than expected. I'll have to cut the next step short *
 
The arrays didn't require any ki to create but they had to be drawn perfectly. If there was even a small mistake the array not activating would have been considered lucky. To draw multiple miniature arrays on all parts responsible for movement... that took Arun a further 25 minutes. He sure was glad for his nimble hands.
 
10 minutes left... just enough for the main event. Arun trembled in anticipation. It is now when his theory would be put to the test. He didn't have time to test it last night but he doesn't have time to go about the normal way now either. It has to work.
 
Normally, now, at the last step of crafting, usually the forgers would imbue the puppets with their will. This serves as a directive, a code for their creations to follow.
 
However Arun had in mind was vastly different Instead of imprinting his will in it, he would put a part of his ki sea inside. A will imprint would only last for so long, it required constant recharging. If it was not recharged the puppet would power down and it would need to be imprinted again. This made them vulnerable to theft among other things, as others could easily imprint their own will once the other ran out.
 
By inserting a part of his ki sea the puppet, not only would the puppet restore his energy by itself but it would also be significantly harder to steal or be converted. The only downside is that it would also be significantly harder to change hands.
 
* Ok, let's recapitulate this. I have to minuscule part of my sea and include it in the puppet. In order to do that I have to concentrate all my ki in it than quickly retract it while distancing myself from it. Some of my ki should break off and remain within the puppet. Such a simple method... I wander why no one has thought of it before? Well, I guess I haven't seen a lot of people able to use ki concentration either. Anyway, no more time to think about that now, is it? *
 
Arun placed his hands on his creation. His ki started pouring into the marrow. When all of his ki was out of his body, his ki ocean effectively relocating to the steel cat, he suddenly retracted his hands while calling his ki ocean back.
 
He could feel most of his ki rushing back with an unprecedented speed. But than, as he distanced himself further the link that connected the his ki inside the puppet with his own one grew weaker and weaker, until, it broke.
 
Suddenly. Without warning. A blinding light enveloped Arun.
 
* How unexpected... intriguing...* this was his last thought in the milliseconds before Arun got hit by the blast and thrown across the room.
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