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CHAPTER 34

ONWARD TO CAPITAL

[Celestial Rod – Unique]

Level: 52

Damage: 985-1040

Magic Damage: 611-613

Special effect: Three-pronged item.

Special Effect: <First Form> - can fire {Magic Darts} from a small hole at the tip of the Rod. {Magic Darts} must be crafted separately. Maximum limit: 15 (Weapon’s Magic Damage dealt remains neutral despite the Darts’ element)

Special Effect: <Second Form> - can be quickly elongated into a massive pole by consuming energy from the [Magic Core]. Minimum elongation is 10m while the maximum is 300m. If imbued with Qi, pole gains 20% penetrative effect. Damage dealt is 2x weapon’s Damage.

Special Effect: <Third Form> - infusing flame-attributed Qi into the bottom part of the Rod channels immense burst of flames within 1m, dealing 3x weapon’s Magic Damage (element is converted purely to ‘Fire’). Requires 24h cooldown period; if cast within 24h, there’s a chance of damaging the item.

Special Effect: Due to the uniqueness of the design, the weapon can be further upgraded and re-forged, either replacing current forms or adding additional ones.

Special Effect: Due to having underwent the First Upgrade, [Celestial Rod] cannot be destroyed by any item beneath Level 300.

Note: Created by a complete novice – upgraded by the up-and-coming Master Blacksmith. Uniqueness of the design and adequate materials used ensures the possibility of future upgrades.

Lino stared at his ‘new’ creation with a faint smile on his face. [Celestial Rod’s] upgrade went far better than he expected, though he did pour quite a bit of resources from the Patriarch Varick’s collection into it. Damage values from before and now are simply incomparable to the point that Lino himself had trouble believing the numbers. What surprised him the most, though, was the increased maximum limit of Magic Darts that the rod could store. An unfortunate thing was that he didn’t have any specialized material for crafting needle-sized bullets of destruction, so the potency of this form couldn’t be fully unleashed just yet. Third Form, though barely complete, could be used as a last resort to surprise an enemy, but Lino wasn’t too keen on using it as it was simply too unstable.

He let out a deep breath and sat down, wiping the sweat off his forehead. He’d done all he could for the time being. There was simply no time for him to either craft or modify anything else before departing for the Capital. Another boon for him, though, was that he reached Level 45 due to crafting ceaselessly ever since coming back to Bridge Village, exhausting and replenishing his Qi in unceasing cycle. Looking at his stats without having any equipment on, he was both startled and surprised:

[Lyonel Qa’yi – Human – Level 45]

Titles: Adept of Writ (???), Empyrean Soldier (???)

Occupations: Beggar (Level 10), Blacksmith (Level 56), Cultivator (Level 2)

Martial Arts: Empyrean Will (Level 1), Peerless Empyrean Spear Scripture (Level 1)

Primal Spirits: Ra, Ye, Gu, Li, Glog, Tet

Damage: 461

Defense: 231

Named Creations: Celestial Rod (Unique), Celestial Plate (Unique), Bisected Soul Set ((Chest) Soul Armor), Cleft Shadow(Epic)

He had to look at the numbers a few times just to make sure he didn’t see wrongly. Both Damage and Defense – raw, without any equipment – were simply insane. Technically, his fists were as strong as a top-tier Level 45 equipment in terms of damage, while his body was as sturdy as top-tier Level 35 armor! He could probably beat everyone within Bridge Village – with the exception of Ella and Eggor, of course – with his bare fists! Taking a deep breath, he once again reaffirmed that <Empyrean Writ> is simply too mysterious. The scariest part was that he hadn’t felt any direct changes occurring on his body. That is to say that all change was extremely gradual to the point that he’d adapt to it before even noticing anything unusual.

In addition, he’d gained another occupation: Cultivator. Though he had no clue why he received it just recently, he knew the reason why it was only Level 2 – because he was still a mere Core Realm cultivator. Mortal Realm should be Level 1, Soul Realm Level 3, Mystic Realm Level 4, Purity Realm Level 5 and so on. Sighing, he moved on from vainly staring at his prowess and chuckled lowly. He felt much more reassured about the trip after seeing just how sturdy his body became; with [Bisected Defender Plate] equipped, his defense would spike to over a 1000! That would mean that any weapon that dealt less than 1100 fixed damage would literally be unable to even scratch him!

Defense and Damage stats are accumulation of thousands, millions of other stats and they are woven tightly together – that is to say that they operate in a symbiotic relationship. If one person can deal 5 Damage with each hit, and another has 5 Defense, it would be extremely difficult to break that defense down. Such coordinated relationship extends beyond just humans; for instance, Lino read in one of the books that the ancient Beasts, like Behemoth Turtle, would have defensive values with almost ten zeroes, making it nigh impossible to break. For instance, his [Radiant Dragon Spear] can, on average, deal 2000 Damage. However, that number isn’t fixed; if it were to go up against a piece of armor that has 1000 Defense, though it would break it eventually, Damage values would be lowered considerably before the armor is broken.

Even Lino himself has yet to understand the exact principle under which these two ‘general stats’ operate and their direct relationship with one another. He knew that in order to understand it fully, he’d have to dwell into the numbers beneath the surface, and he simply wasn’t interested in wasting his time on that.

The following days passed by quickly in silence and Eggor soon returned, signaling the day of their departure from the Bridge Village. Though the village was relatively close to the Umbra Capital, it would still take roughly two days via carriage to arrive there, and considering that they’d have to find lodging amidst the chaos in the city, they decided to depart for the Capital whole five days before the official start of the Annual Festival.

Eggor appeared rather exhausted, with black circles around his slightly bloodshot eyes and disheveled hair. Though Lino asked him about it, the old man refused to say anything, so the former could only let it go. As there were many people departing for the Capital, it didn’t take them long to find a carriage to pull them – alongside four other people. Unlike the four, Lino and Eggor seemingly didn’t pack anything, as all they needed was neatly stored either in some Void storage item or Void World. Of the four passengers, three were youths slightly older than Lino, clearly excited, while the last was a woman in her early thirties, a solitary traveler.

“Damn bro!” one of the youths exclaimed as the six people got seated in the carriage. His black eyes were slightly widened as he stared at Lino. “You look younger than me, but why are you so buffed?! Oi, tell me, honestly, what did you eat? Huh? Do you work out? How much? Can you show me?”

“…” Lino’s brows twitched lightly; he didn’t think he’d encounter a chit-chat fella of all possible personalities. “Hm, there’s this neat place in the western part of the village, a bit hidden behind some alleys. The sign is old and rotten, but windows are clean and—“

“You’re talking about Merlyn’s Sprout? He he, no wonder you’re so buff! Aah, my wife forbade me from going there… no wonder I can’t pile up any muscle!” the youth exclaimed yet again.

“Eh? When have you ever been there Jon?” the youth’s friend, a slightly shorter fella with rather unique hair color – purple – asked. “Jamie actually married you while knowing you’ve been out and about? Eh, what a fine lady.”

“Shush, bastard!” the youth, Jon, berated his friend quickly. “Of course she’s a fine lady! For her, I’d given up Jessie, Wanda, Snow, Gizzela, Sermona—“

“Holy shit dude!!” Jon’s other friend exclaimed. “Is there any girl in there you haven’t drilled?”

“Eh, there was that fat chick, Vela,” Jon said as he scratched his nose in embarrassment. “Honestly, I wanted to check them all off my list, but damn… my little friend just couldn’t heave up when she stripped… it was virtually impossible to tell the difference between her nipple and her bellybutton!”

“Pfft…” Lino snorted in laughter while Eggor shook his head, disappointed with vulgar youths.

“Lads, can’t you see that we have a lady accompanying us?” Eggor said. “Can’t you be more proper?”

“Ah!” Jon and his friends exclaimed as though they finally remembered. “My bad, my bad,” Jon said as he smiled toward the woman apologetically. “We got carried away there. How do you do? I’m Jon, this here is Harry,” he pointed at the purple-haired youth next to him. “And this other fella is William.” he pointed at his other friend. “We’re headed for Capital to participate in brawling, what about you?”

“…” the woman merely nodded at them with a faint smile, but said nothing.

“Ah, no wonder you’ve screwed the whole brothel,” Lino said, smiling lightly. “You having a wife should be mantled as an additional world’s wonder.” Harry, William and the woman laughed lightly while Jon couldn’t do anything but smile in faint embarrassment.

“Ah, you jest my friend!” Jon exclaimed. “My wife and I are very happy, and I’ll have you know that she very much appreciates my charms.”

“Oh well, there’s a spark for all sorts of flames…” Lino mumbled. “Are you guys confident in doing well during the festival?” Lino asked, shifting the topic as the carriage slowly began moving, leaving behind the house-scattered Bridge Village behind.

“Confident, of course we’re confident!” Jon exclaimed, puffing his chest out. “Though, now that I’m seeing you… uh, you’re not participating in brawling, right?”

“Ha ha, no,” Lino said. “I’m going there merely to sight-see and, you know, sight-see.” he added with a wink.

“Oh!” Jon, Harry and William all exclaimed in unison, smiling knowingly.

“Oi, bastard, did you already forget that there’s a lady in here with us?!” Eggor berated him as a giant palm landed on top of Lino’s head.

“Oh, fuck you old bastard! Isn’t that why I’m talking in metaphors?! Huh?! Did I say anything along the lines of ‘I’m going to the Capital to fuck every single woman that would say yes’?! No! No I didn’t!”

“…”

“…”

“Oh, yeah,” Lino chuckled lightly, though clearly not embarrassed. “Khm, so, seeing as I’m not participating in the brawls, you guys better take top spots and treat me to fine ale, got it?”

“… are you even old enough to drink? Wait, are you even old enough to be talking about women in the first place?!” Jon asked as he had seemingly forgotten Lino was younger than them because of the robust body the boy had.

“Eh? What do you mean am I old enough?” it was Lino’s turn to puff his chest out in pride. “I’ll have you know that I’ve both drank the finest mead and screwed the finest lady already! I’m a full-fledged man!”

“…”

“…”

“Ah, seriously,” Eggor sighed, clearly far more embarrassed for Lino than the latter was for himself. “My deepest apologies,” he then turned toward the woman who was still smiling faintly. “The kid loves to brag, ‘s all. I’ll make sure to teach him a proper lesson.”

“No worries.” the woman replied in a gentle, low voice. “Say kid, how about we kick them out when the night comes and have fun together?”

“…”

“…” silence, absolute silence! Jon, William, Harry and Eggor stared at this seemingly proper lady with bulged eyes. Lino’s lips parted in slight ‘o’ exclamation before being overtaken by a sleazy smile.

“He he, you have fine eyes,” he said. “I don’t mind playing with you for a while.” after a few moments of silence, the conversation quickly steered away as everyone believed that the lady was just teasing the little boy.

However, the night came, and Jon, Harry, William and Eggor found themselves camping outside, by a tall oak tree. They all had elongated expressions of utter confusion on their faces as flickers of campfire shed some light on the nightly darkness. A few moments later, the carriage began shaking and creaking, as deep growls and moans echoed out in strange rhythm. Of the four, Eggor was the most disturbed one; he had yet even to teach the young brat of propriety and fealty and the boy had already gone astray! Who knows? Maybe he’s really going to the Capital to sightsee after all! Eggor felt cold shivers run down his spine. Lino was, after all, fairly young and decently handsome. That paired with his unusually stout and well-refined body and it isn’t a stretch to say that he’d be a decent catch in the eyes of many women. If he truly extended his hands and arms around haphazardly, Eggor suspected a birth of new specimen of demons by the time they’re done with the visit to the Capital! No, I have to prevent that!! Tomorrow, I’ll have to lecture the bastard properly!

On the other end of the curtains, Lino was currently having fun exploring the mature body beneath the palms of his hands. His head was kneaded deeply in-between the woman’s breasts – whose name Lino only learned when she exclaimed ‘Call my name! Call me Sarah!’ during one of her erotic spasms. After environing number of sessions with Aeala, both his endurance and skillfulness had grown up a notch. Paired with the fact that Sarah was far from being as beautiful as Aeala resulted in carriage shaking and creaking for almost twenty minutes before coming to a stop.

Morning came and only then did Jon, Harry, William and Eggor dare enter the carriage. Inside, Lino was leaned against the wall, seemingly deep in thought, while the woman was perched up against the backend, sleeping. Her hair was a mess, dress torn in several places, while her lips were curled up slightly. Three pairs of eyes quickly locked onto Lino, gleaming in strange glee as they re-inspected this youth. On the other end, Lino had once again realized that the idea that cultivators should abstain from all ‘worldly pleasures’ was absolutely moronic. He’d tasted the fruit and he knew there wouldn’t be going back now.

The carriage proceeded onward toward the Capital slowly. Though the small space within still appeared lively, there was bound to be a certain amount of awkwardness due to everything that transpired last night. Lino could only shrug it off with a chuckle. Meanwhile, Sarah was much more active than yesterday, as though her lips were suddenly unclogged. On the other hand, even though Eggor wanted to lecture Lino, he felt it was better he waited until the two were alone, without any disturbances. With such mixed atmosphere, the carriage slowly arrived at the Umbra City.

After dismounting the carriage and paying the toll, Lino was finally able to glance at the magnificent city. Outermost walls were built from thick, gray brick, rising upward for at least ten meters, with dozens of watchtowers spread about. The city’s architecture was mostly gothic, baroque in the sheer amount of detail. Every major building had at least two spires piercing the sky like spears, while their domed roofs ranged from pure white to pure black in color, almost leaving no color untouched. The dirt road of the outside was immediately replaced by beautiful, white limestone. The city itself was built in a large valley, surrounded on one end by a deep and wide river, on another by a massive mountain, while the remaining two were open plains spilling into forests and hills. Lino’s eyes bulged slightly at the sight of it all; though City of Mercenaries was without a doubt a rather impressive city, it looked like a massive dung when compared with Umbra. The centerpiece of the whole exhibition was no doubt the Palace – though Lino considered it more of a massive castle within the city. With walls striking nearly twenty meters in height and almost a meter of thickness, and six carefully placed watchtowers with reinforced, glassed windows to boot, it looked like an impregnable behemoth of cosmic proportions. Though the walls were drab gray in color, the insides were all but; even if he was unable to clearly see everything, just the dozens of white-dyed spires rising up like skewers were more than enough to tell him of the luxurious lifestyle that royalty enjoyed.

Lino had quickly parted ways with the group as he was led by ear by Eggor to look for the inn. The city streets were bustling with activity to the point that it took them almost a minute just to move a hundred paces. Even Lino found himself slightly annoyed as he constantly bumped shoulders with no small amount of courses heading his way. After the eleventh time, he snapped. He reached out with his right arm and grabbed the collar of a middle-aged man who told him that ‘he was clogging the streets harder than a thick dung clogged narrow bum’. The middle-aged man was immediately shocked as he realized he couldn’t put even a whiff of resistance against the massive force which heaved him up into the air. Lowering his gaze, his eyes met a pair of black stars, glaring at him with incomparable annoyance.

“I’m clogging the streets, huh?!” Lino growled angrily. “I’ll clog your damn mother! Fuck you!! Say it again you fat-fucked bastard, I dare you!! Come on, where’s your fucking bravado, huh?! If I see your face again I’ll rip my foot so far up your ass that I’ll unclog your fucking throat from your neck, got it?! Get lost!!” he threw the man casually, yet the poor thing flew nearly ten meters across the sea of people, landing elsewhere where he was immediately besieged by another relay of curses, no doubt getting beaten up.

“…” Eggor’s eyebrows twitched as his expression turned odd; he suddenly realized that the little bastard was actually holding back against him! If he used that vicious tongue to the full extent against him, Eggor wondered whether he’d even be able to withstand a minute of it. “Let’s go, don’t stir up the trouble the moment we arrive.”

“…”

It took the pair nearly fifteen minutes until they arrived in a slightly less-populated street; unlike the limestone-paved path they came from, the streets here were much more akin to those outside the walls. Either they were full of stirring dirt or of shaky, half-cracked cobblestones. Lino knew that this was the reality of things, whether it was Umbra Capital, City of Mercenaries or Bridge Village in question. Wherever was the splendor of delight and magnificence, there was the light-woven shadow cast upon the backend few ever see. For every nobleman bathing in liquefied gold, there was a whole set of families who’d forgotten what the word ‘bathe’ even means. Though the streets were impoverished and full of beggars, neither Eggor nor Lino were affected that much. Former had gone through far worse things in his life, while the latter had grown up in a place exactly like this, if not worse. Both were all too familiar with the ugly side of life.

After fiddling about for a few minutes, they finally reached the small-time inn near the western end of the city, barely fifty meters away from the tall wall. The inn was three stories tall, the only building nearby which boosted stone walls and some basic decorations. After paying a ten-silver-a-night fee, the duo was sent up to the second floor into a relatively small, but comfy enough, room with two beds and absolutely nothing else.

“Tsk,” Eggor clicked his tongue. “Ten silvers for this shit? Aren’t they ashamed?”

“Oh come on,” Lino rolled his eyes. “It’s still better than that crap you call home.” Pu! It’s been a while since Lino felt the humongous palm crash against his cheeks. He realized he missed it somewhat, causing his eyebrows to fiercely twitch. Oi, this isn’t good. What if I suddenly get a stiffy while fighting? Where would my damn image go?

“… are you sure you don’t want me to give you anything?” Eggor asked as the two sat down.

“Old bastard, do you want me to turn into a parrot?” Lino said with a somewhat annoyed expression. “Unlike you, I won’t be proactively looking for the damn Demons. I’ll just look for the signs and bolt my ass to eighth heaven the moment I spot something.”

“… ah, whatever, I already tried. Can’t do anything if you keep refusing the toast. Where do you plan on looking?” Eggor asked as the two had already cleanly studied the Capital’s map before departing.

“Sewer system,” Lino said, sighing. “Though all entrances elsewhere are probably barred, I can maybe dig up something. What about you?”

“I’ll go mingle with the crowd under the pretense of registering you,” Eggor said. “Remember to use the talisman if you get in trouble, got it?!”

“…” Tsk, why don’t perky women sweep in and give me communication talismans? Why are only old geezers so interested in me? Lino scoffed inwardly for a moment before replying. “Alright, alright. Don’t be a worrywart. I’m not a complete idiot.”

“… are you certain about that?” Eggor asked, looking at him with odd gaze.

“Be honest, you’re just jealous I banged that babe while you could only sit outside and watch-no, wait, listen-right?”

“….”

The two waited for the night to arrive before Lino departed from the inn. Mantling his [Cleft Shadow], he began inconspicuously moving through the alleys. He also equipped [Celestial Plate]. Though its effects were somewhat lowered at his current Level, they were still helpful, especially during the night. Before meeting up with that old geezer from the Dying Roses Sect, he had to do three things first: scout out the Black Bear Inn, map escape routes, and listen in on the gossip from the commoners. As someone who practically grew up in the streets, Lino was quite versatile in understanding where the source of information lay. Even if most of it was gossip, it was almost always based on a truth; after simply weeding through the lies, one could usually find out far more from the ordinary commoners than even established Information Guilds. After all, the latter would always withhold a certain amount of information, especially if it pertained to important figures. And that’s exactly what Lino had to learn – the hierarchy and structure of the upper strata. For a whole Demon Nest to not only appear but also sustain itself within the heart of a Kingdom, a powerful hand with immense political and economic influence was required. In order to unveil the hidden shadow behind it all, he first had to learn everyone who operated in light.

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A note from beddedOtaku

I'm back! said he pretending it's a unique joke no one has ever used before. 

Anyway, I managed to get a new PC last week actually but my HDD turned out to have fried, which resulted in me losing all stocked chapters, meaning I had to begin re-writing everything. Which is, you know, always fun. Anyway, before I get ahead a bit more again, the following chapters will on average be a bit shorter (so from 3500-4000 to 2000-3000 words roughly). The releases will be as before, on Mon Wed and Fri, and hopefully in-a-not-too-distant-future I'll go back to the original word count. 

Thank you guys for your understanding and patience and I hope you'll continue to enjoy LotEB :) 


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About the author

beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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