Sighing as her meditation was interrupted by the buzzing of the public announcement system switching on, Elizabeth wished to know how the people that made it this far would fare against her. Though she thought it was probable that she would win, she couldn’t knock the advanced techniques of the various smiths that made it this far into the competition. After all, she only beat them when it came to laying the foundation. Her artifacts would only be boosted by the enchantment she engraved, but the same was not necessarily the case for the other competing smiths.
She didn’t have to wait for long, as the announcer quickly came to address the arena after his mic connected. He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, before announcing the results, let give a round of applause to all the competitors that made it this far.” The crowd was instantly brought to life as clapping and cheering consumed the entire arena. Several of the more enthusiastic spectators screamed out the names of the competitors representing their faction.
Yet only two figures loudly cheered for Elizabeth. Who else but her two undyingly loyal pals would dare express their affiliation with the forging demon? After all, before the competition came underway, Elizabeth Ultimatia was a name only known to a very remote corner of the Martial Society. Only the members of Atid’s dojo and some of Jhan’s cronies knew of her, but to the crowd, only those of her faction would openly support her. Then again, after all the bashing they did against her unworthy faction, the majority of people in Atid’s dojo just kept quiet; not wishing to draw attention towards themselves.
There were some others that appreciated Elizabeth’s talents and looked on with eagerness to see her results, but there was not a case where the spectators would betray their faction in support of others.
Returning to the mic, the announcer said, “Now then, please turn to the screen to see the work of those that reached 100th to 11th place.”
[100th Place | #16: Hua Zong | Score: 5.23 | Refinement Rate: 80% | Engraving Score: 77%| Tempering and Bonus: None
99th Place | #199: Tram Lee | Score: 5.36 | Refinement Rate: 85% | Engraving Score: 76%| Tempering and Bonus: None
98th Place | #1207: Shantell Williams | Score: 5.43 | Refinement Rate: 86% | Engraving Score: 77%| Tempering and Bonus: None]
Watching on as the creations of her fellow competitors came on screen, Elizabeth sighed. Compared to her relatively massive sword, everything shown on screen was an artifact of relatively small scale. Moreover, it was only after the screen started showing the top 60 that any tempering bonuses start showing up, and those temperings were mostly incomplete until the screen reached the lower 20s. Slowly, she started understanding that the competitors weren’t “that” bad. Rather, they were just insufferably slow when compared to her.
Eventually, the top ten started being personally announced by the announcer again and though it was to be expected, many were still in shock as the announcer said, “Placing third in the Forging Event, Dave Mateo crafted not just one item, but a pair of arm guards! Forged from Double Refined Steel and Englewood Buffalo Hide, although Mr. Dave’s entry only achieved a mere 85% refinement rate and engraving score, he thoroughly tempered his arm guards and blessed them with a fully functioning Combustion Bonus.”
Moving on to announce who took second place, the announcer said, “As for our runner up, Daniel Cherkovski has actually be dethroned from his champion's spot! The smithing legend that has held his place as Forging champion for the last three years lost even though he crafted supreme dagger! Achieving a ridiculous 98% refinement rate and a 99% engraving score on a material as troublesome to work with as Stone-Diamond Titanium, whilst also completing a Bolt Streak Enchantment to equal levels of perfection.”
In general terms, the crowd felt two very contrasting thoughts. Whilst it was their initial reaction to sigh as it was a shame for a great smith to lose their streak, as they drew out of that negativity, the next thing left in store was to find out by how large of a margin Elizabeth trumped Daniel.
The announcer read the crowd like a book, as he deliberately prolonged the period off air to let the spectators build up hype in anticipation for what “that demon” accomplished to beat the previous smithing champion. However, it would be erroneous to assume that the reason for the silence only ended there, as the announcer needed a series of moments to collect himself after reading the card containing the champion’s information for that Final Stage.
Eventually, as the tension reached its peak, the announcer took to the mic once more to say, “Now… For our first International Wushi Tournament of the Shuguang Era, we, the Martial Society crown Elizabeth Ultimatia as Smithing Champion!”
As Elizabeth’s information and a picture of her Evergreen Copper Sword appeared on the TV screen, the crowd devolved into greater and greater depths of madness with each subsequent reveal shown to light by the announcer. “Opting to craft an entire longsword out of… Evergreen Copper, as well as Belsmer Wood for the sword’s handle, our champion has turned in what can only be described as perfection itself… Both the refinement rate and inscriptions grade imprinted on the sword are rated with the full 100% score. As for the tempering and bonus score… While the sword only contains a basic Neutral Augmentation Enchantment for general offensive weapons, not only is the enchantment also perfect, but the sword also possesses as sharpening treatment thought to be lost to the sands of time, which have effectively brought the sword into the realm of what Spirit Realm elders would use...”
At that moment, thousands upon thousands of probing attempts were launched at Elizabeth. However, not one probing attempt managed to figure out the true capacity of her cultivation and the result of this sudden “attack” left Elizabeth smiling in arrogance. ‘What a bunch of idiots… only after I win do they have the gall to check for my true cultivation level?’ Sighing, Elizabeth concluded her thoughts by thinking, ‘I guess people outside of video games can be just as petty...’
Again, the interviewer from before approached her and though her arrogant smile easily struck a nerve with all those unsuccessful in their probing attempts, she didn’t bother to conceal it as it could very easily be proven that she wasn’t in the Spirit Realm; if that was even a rule to begin with…
The interviewer looked past her smile, thinking it to originate from her win as Smithing Champion. Talking into the mic, he said, “Ms. Ultimatia… Throughout the whole Event, you’ve crushed the opposition and secured first place through and through. Is there anything you’d like to say after being crowned champion?”
After the mic was pointed at her, Elizabeth thought for a second and in direct contrast to that unbearably arrogant smile on her face, she actually propped up her competitors by saying, “Mhmm… I think you have the whole situation wrong.” Now taking on a more serious face, Elizabeth spoke her mind candidly, continuing, “Crushed isn’t very realistic after considering that practically everyone that made it to the Final Stage possesses smithing techniques leagues greater than my own. If not for the fact that I’m a bit faster than everyone in attendance and that the time given was so short, I sure several people in the top ten would have beaten me.”
“Hahaha...” Not at all expecting such an answer from an underdog who took first place for the first time, the announcer said, “Wow, a beauty, a divine smith, and a humble lass. Ms. Ultimatia has too many good qualities~”
Awkwardly, even though she understood this wasn’t an attempt at flirting, Elizabeth didn’t know how to respond. So, she kept her mouth shut, waiting for the next, and hopefully last, question. The announcer didn’t falter as he watched Elizabeth stay quiet. He laughed the matter away and tactfully diverted the conversation back to the interview, saying, “Hahaha… Before leaving you to take the rewards for becoming champion, I’ll ask one final question. Now, most of the smiths around as well as the judges are probably dying to know, so in their stead, I’ll bite the bullet and ask: What exactly is that method of sharpening that you used to secure first place?”
Immediately, everyone speaking stopped, and even though she had a mic, if Elizabeth wanted to speak, she wouldn’t even have to augment her voice with Magic for everyone in attendance to hear her. Still, out of courtesy for the interview and their “history” together, Elizabeth spoke into elected to speak into the mic. Her response was baffling, as it now became her turn to speak in confusion, saying, “See, that’s something I don’t understand, too… I only applied the utter basics of the Sharpening Principle onto the blade. In fact, that was my first time using the principle in action as I’ve never had to sharpen any artifact since I became a smith...”
Up to this point, people were getting ready to hate her again for such absurdly boastful claims. However, Elizabeth continued speaking as this became an opportunity to understand more about the Martial Society. She said, “Ever since the first round, I noticed that almost no one seems to care about the Founding Principles of Forging. Sorry for repeating myself, but as something still relatively new to the Martial Society, I’d like to ask why that seems to be the case?”
“P-principles?” The interviewer drew a blank look as if this was the first he had heard of the term and it wasn’t just him. Practically everyone, from the judges, to the spectators, to the competitors still within the competitor arena, almost none of them could make sense about these so-called “Forging Principles.”
Amidst this total confusion, only Lady Keter within the VIP area had a spark go off in her head. With a very serious look on her face, she woke up all those pondering Elizabeth’s words by saying, “End the interview! Proceed to the reward distributing event and have her immediately come here after the Event comes to a close!”
The others quickly went to see to it that her wish was fulfilled and the interviewer quickly received the message to end his participation. He quickly said, “Uh… I’m not too sure about that. Anyway, thank you for your time and may you hold up the title of Champion to the best of your ability!”