Chapter 9 – Gifted
“Come on in,” Mang Tian said to Tang Wulin.
Tang Wulin followed Mang Tian into the workshop’s chaotic hall. The hall was littered with all sorts of metal components Tang Wulin could barely recognize. Most of these were likely components for soul machines, though.
Mang Tian didn’t pause as he walked deeper into the workshop, causing Tang Wulin to hasten his steps.
The shop wasn’t large nor small. After passing through the halls, Mang Tian brought Tang Wulin to one of the inner rooms.
Inside of the room was a workbench, which was just barely taller than Tang Wulin.
Mang Tian stopped here, turning around to face Tang Wulin. “Do you know what forging is?”
At a loss, Tang Wulin shook his head.
Mang Tian indifferently said, “Actually, I didn’t want to accept you in the beginning. You’re too young, completely unsuited for forging. However, your dad was determined to have me give you a chance. If I don’t find you acceptable, then you’ll have to leave. When that happens, don’t stay here and weep endlessly, understand?”
“I won’t cry, Uncle Mang Tian,” Tang Wulin defiantly answered.
“This is your task for today,” Mang Tian said as he pointed to the side.
Off to the side was a half meter tall metal table. On top of the table was a round lump of metal and below it was a soul machine screen.
Mang Tian picked up two small metal hammers from the side and held them out to Tang Wulin. “You see that lump of metal? Use this hammer to strike it a thousand times. The screen will display the number of hits with sufficient strength. It’ll require all your strength to swing it down. If you’re able to complete this task, I’ll tell you what forging is. If you’re unable to finish, then you don’t have to come here tomorrow.”
After speaking, he placed the two hammers in Tang Wulin’s hands before turning around and walking away.
The metal hammer’s handle was about a third of a meter with a cylindrical head that was half a foot long and ten centimeters in diameter. They weighed about five kilograms each. For a six year old child, this wasn’t light at all, let alone the fact that he had to swing it a thousand times.
Tang Wulin had looked at the hammer with a bitter expression, but when he took the hammer from Mang Tian, he was amazed to discover they weren’t so heavy, after all.
Is it hollow? Uncle Mang Tian looks very fierce on the outside, but he’s actually so kind.
Tang Wulin smiled to convey his understanding and swung the hammer in his right hand down on the lump of metal.
Bang! The metal boomed and he jumped in surprise. The soul screen below it activated, displaying the number ‘1.’
He raised the hammer in his left hand and smashed it down with a bang!
‘This isn’t too hard!’ Tang Wulin thought as he began swinging his arms in a steady rhythm.
“Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!” The numbers on the screen increased unceasingly in tune with the continuous thumping. Neither hammer wavered at all, as Tang Wulin didn’t feel they were too much of a burden. The pair of hammers constantly beat down the the lump of metal, and in return, the number on the screen persisted in its ascension.
After hammering it for the hundredth time, Tang Wulin was already beginning to sweat. At three hundred, his arms began to feel sore.
I must persevere. Dad said so. I must persevere!
Tang Wulin continued to swing the pair of hammers, enduring the soreness.
At five hundred, the soreness turned into aching, but he continued on just as before and persisted with all his power, refusing to stop.
As the aching in his muscles intensified, Tang Wulin’s arms shifted to a faint red, but he just clenched his teeth, pushing past the pain.
He repeated to himself, ‘I must do my best to learn forging and earn money to buy a spirit soul. That way I can make mom and dad happy, and protect Na’er.”
At the seven hundred mark, he couldn’t even feel his arms when he raised them and his hammering speed was much slower.
Just like before, he clenched his teeth and persevered. His sweat had practically turned into broth, making his school uniform to stick to his body. His sweat dripped like a waterfall, and Tang Wulin felt his spine go numb. His whole body shuddered as if he were electrically shocked. His original aching eased up, and the hammer felt a bit lighter.
“Bang, bang, bang!” He proceeded to strike the last three hundred times with even more ease than the start.
“One thousand!” It was only after reaching the objective Mang Tian had set for him that Tang Wulin lowered his hammers. As he gasped for breath, Tang Wulin could feel an unspeakable aching from his palms and his arms had swollen so much that they were beyond recognition. Apart from this, he felt unexpectedly invigorated. The numbness in his spine spread to his seven vertebrae and back down his spine in cycles, leaving him speechless.
What he didn’t notice was a golden veined pattern accompanying the numbness he felt in his spine.
It was only after five minutes that he was able to catch his breath.
“Uncle Mang Tian, I’m done.” Tang Wulin searched for Mang Tian for a long time before finding him in a room, fiddling with some components.
Mang Tian blankly stared at him. He glanced at his wristwatch and discovered that it had only been half an hour since he left Tang Wulin to his task.
“You’re done hammering it?”
“Yes!” Tang Wulin nodded.
Mang Tian didn’t question him again after seeing his sweaty appearance. He would rather let the facts speak for themselves. After standing up, he brought Tang Wulin back to the previous room.
‘1000.’ The number was displayed on the screen. Mang Tian had set up the screen himself; naturally, it was impossible for a six year old child to cheat. But the result was still unbelievable.
The two metal hammers couldn’t be considered heavy for him, of course, but neither were they hollow. Each hammer was truly 5 kilograms in weight, and even an adult male’s arms would be too numb and limp to raise after a thousand swings. Furthermore, it would be very difficult for them to finish in only half an hour, much less a six year old child.
The test Mang Tian had given him was just a way to tactfully decline him. His relationship with Tang Ziran was pretty good, so he couldn’t directly refuse. After all, he didn’t want to instruct a six year old child who he deemed unsuitable for forging.
But before his eyes…
“Hammer it a few more times for me. Don’t stop unless I tell you to.” Mang Tian said heavily.
“Yes.” Tang Wulin picked up the hammer once again. After having rested a moment, the aching in his arms had already dulled.
“Bang, bang, bang…” Each strike was done without any technique, or even leverage. He was relying purely on strength to hammer the metal lump!
After only a few times, Mang Tian was able to ascertain with his own eyes, based on his past experience, that this child’s strength was sufficient to completely pound the metal lump.
Was this a legendary genius?