AIP - Chapter 63: Materials
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"What? You're saying a thief went into your house, and then Headmaster Xie gave you ten bottles of spirit medicine and one thousand spirit coins to comfort you?" Wei Tianchong's jaw almost fell off.
"Yup. I also didn't know that Headmaster Xie would be such a nice person and so concerned for his students. I must truly be lucky to have run into such a kind teacher," Tang Jie replied, sighing emotionally.
"Hey!" Wei Tianchong stomped his feet and shouted, "Why did the thief have to go into your house?"
Ten bottles of spirit medicine and one thousand spirit coins! Even the Wei Clan would feel the pain from this sort of investment!
"What is there to steal in this place of yours?" Tang Jie said with pursed lips.
"So you're saying you have something to steal back at your place?" Wei Tianchong angrily replied.
"At least I have a few plants."
"Only an idiot would go and steal plants!" Wei Tianchong was about to go insane.
"Mind your words. You might offend a lot of people like that," Tang Jie muttered. Saying this, he took out some spirit coins and gave them to Wei Tianchong.
Wei Tianchong was delighted. "Are you splitting some with me?"
"No, this is repayment." Tang Jie grinned.
Wei Tianchong's face immediately fell, and with a grunt, he took the spirit coins and counted them several times. When he realized that there were a few extra, he nodded in satisfaction. "I suppose you have some tact."
Tang Jie didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Young Master, you're the young master, and you possess immense wealth. Do you really need to be so happy over a few extra coins?"
"Haa, when you don't cultivate, you don't realize how easily money can be used," Wei Tianchong sighed. "What does it matter that my Wei Clan has such a big business? A single bottle of spirit medicine can go for hundreds of spirit coins. It's way too expensive! Just who can buy such things? Tell me: don't they just refine pills in a furnace? Why is it so expensive? Are they all made with the world's most rare and valuable resources?"
Tang Jie chuckled. "Young Master, you do not realize that these medicines are expensive not because of their material, but because of the manpower costs. In the end, mortals are different from Immortals. For mortals, spirit coins are like several taels of silver, big money. But in the eyes of Immortals, spirit coins are little different from copper coins, and it's spirit jades that are more comparable to silver. Thus, whenever a cultivator does something, they use spirit coins as the basic unit of currency. Trying to view Immortals through the eyes of mortals is like comparing the income of a servant to the livelihood of a young master. There's simply no comparison to be had."
"True," Wei Tianchong muttered. He understood this principle, but as someone who had relied on his family for everything, he had grown used to considering money in mortal terms, Thus, he found everything here ridiculously expensive.
If spirit coins were taken as copper coins, then those hundreds of spirit coins really weren't a big deal at all.
This was why Xie Fengtang's first offer had been ten bottles of spirit medicine and one thousand spirit coins.
In his view, such sincerity barely cost him anything. For the sake of the big picture, it was a trifling price.
"That's why we have to rely on ourselves to make money in the future," Tang Jie advised.
"That's easy to say, but all I know how to do is the Spirit Guidance spell. How am I going to make money?" Wei Tianchong helplessly said.
"Through puppets, of course." Tang Jie smiled. "Now that I think about it, Third Young Master should be done training your carving, yes? It's about time you started carving a puppet. So long as you make a decent-looking puppet, whether you sell it or use it, it can still be considered a part of your wealth."
"But don't puppets need a refining formation and materials?"
"The refining formation is simple. Young Master can learn formations yourself, and even if you don't know how, you can get an upperclassman who does know formations to help out. As for materials, we can just buy some, and doesn't Young Master have plenty of money right now?"
The best thing about puppetry was that the strength of puppets had nothing to do with the strength of the cultivator.
So long as one had enough materials and the proper refining formations, a cultivator was completely capable of creating a powerful puppet that was much stronger than they were—one that could serve as the most reliable bodyguard.
Thus, for the students, puppetry was a rather practical choice. In the early stages, at least, it had immense value. But it involved too many fields and had starting costs that few people could bear, so it wasn't exactly a popular specialty.
But in Tang Jie's view, the two most important skills necessary for puppetry—carving and refining formations—were covered by him and Wei Tianchong. The only remaining problem was that of money.
And Wei Tianchong happened to have the ability to satisfy this requirement.
"I see." Wei Tianchong stroked his chin. "Alright, then we'll do as you say. My mom just so happened to send me some silver a few days ago, so let's use it on this."
"That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Come on; let's go shopping."
Together with Shi Meng, they quickly set off for the market.
Wei Tianchong had decided that if he was going to make something, it would be the best.
He wanted nothing more than to use top-class materials like Refined Cloudmother Metal to create a peerless combat puppet, so he had eyes only for the best materials.
But when he saw their cost, he immediately leapt in fright.
"My god! How could this fist-sized piece of Violet Turquoise cost two hundred coins? And that hundred-year Azure Tong log costs five hundred? Isn't this too expensive?"
As Wei Tianchong looked around the market, he found everything to be absurdly expensive. He grabbed Tang Jie's hand and said, "It's no good. Tang Jie, everything is too expensive. I just did some calculations, and do you know how much it will take me to make one puppet? Eighty thousand! Eighty thousand spirit coins!"
Tang Jie bitterly smiled. "Third Young Master, who made you look at those things? You're only looking at the best items, so you naturally won't be able to afford anything."
"I am not!" Wei Tianchong said, feeling like he was being unjustly accused. "I was just planning to make a Rank 3 puppet…"
"Rank 3?" Tang Jie was so angry that he wanted to laugh.
Puppets in the cultivation world were divided into the mortal grade, spirit grade, and Immortal grade. Mortal-grades had no ranking and were made from ordinary materials. All they needed was a refining formation to activate them. For example, if the tiger that Wei Tianchong had carved back at the Wei Estate had been given a refining formation and activated, it would become a puppet, but as it was made with ordinary wood, it would be a rankless mortal-grade puppet with very little combat power.
The spirit grade was divided into nine ranks, with Rank 9 being the highest, possessing strength only second to Immortal Platform.
Wei Tianchong's Rank 3 was equivalent to the Mortal Shedding Realm.
Hearing that Wei Tianchong wanted to make a Rank 3 combat puppet, Tang Jie helplessly shook his head. "Rank 3… Your appetite is really big!"
Wei Tianchong became embarrassed and scratched his head. "Wasn't it said that the biggest advantage of puppets was that they could surpass the level of the creator? So…"
"So you set your eyes on the Mortal Shedding Realm?" Tang Jie didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Third Young Master, be realistic. We're only just getting started, so let's start with Rank 1. A cheap one will cost two or three thousand. If you do a good job, it could be equivalent to a Spirit Lake."
Wei Tianchong was extremely reluctant to spend two thousand spirit coins on "hiring" only a Spirit Lake assistant, but he could only nod.
Tang Jie took him around the market and finally pointed at a block of scorched wood in front of a stall run by a student. "Senior Brother, how much does this block of wood cost?"
The upperclassman looked at Tang Jie and said, "Eight hundred coins."
Tang Jie shook his head. "Expensive."
The student snorted. "Kid, you don't know what you're looking at. This is Electro Wood, wood that has been struck by lightning and absorbed a little lightning energy. If it's used to make a combat puppet, its attacks will innately be infused with lightning and more powerful than usual."
Tang Jie chuckled. "It's true that it's Electro Wood, but it depends on what sort of wood was struck. Ordinary wood has no traits and can't absorb lightning power. Only spirit trees will do. And even spirit trees can be divided into good and bad. And you also have to look at their attribute. Some have complementary attributes, but ones with detrimental attributes will have a negative effect. Besides that, there's also the kind of lightning and how the lightning struck. Electro Wood is a treasure because it has absorbed the properties of the lightning, but it doesn't become better just because it was more damaged by the lightning…"
He pointed at the Electro Wood and said, "This Electro Wood appears to be a water fir, which isn't exactly a very good kind of wood, and the lightning struck its main body, ruining half of it. Only the bottom half is usable. It's too small for the main body and yet too much for any other part. Eight hundred coins… It's really not worth it."
The student was flabbergasted, staring in shock at Tang Jie. "You were able to see this much?"
"Studying has its benefits," Tang Jie lightly said. He raised a hand. "Three hundred."
"This price is a little too low," the student said with a shake of his head.
The two of them haggled before ultimately settling on five hundred.
Wei Tianchong felt rather strange as he took the wood. "Didn't you say that this Electro Wood is too small to be used as the main body? So why did we buy it?"
Tang Jie smiled. "When I said that it was too small for the main body, I was talking about a human-sized puppet, but what if we didn't want to make something that big?"
"Eh?" Wei Tianchong froze. "We're not making a human puppet?"
"Yes, why should we insist on making a human puppet?" Tang Jie asked. "A puppet's strength depends on the material, not its size. But the cost of a puppet is often linked to the size. If you use a lot of material, you naturally have greater costs. That being the case, why don't we focus on small and excellent instead?"
Wei Tianchong had his eyes opened, and he happily said, "You're right!"
But then he realized something and said, "That's not right!"
"How is it not right?"
"If it's too small, we can't carve a refining formation."
If materials served as the flesh and blood for a puppet, the refining formation was the puppet's soul. This soul needed to be carved into the puppet through complex methods before it could display its unique purpose. The smaller the body, the more difficult it would be to carve. After all, the space to carve would be limited.
In truth, a puppet's grade and rank depended on the level of the refining formation.
The higher the level of the refining formation, the higher the rank of the puppet would be.
And the level of the refining formation depended on the materials. The better the materials, the better the refining formation one could use.
Thus, the costs of the materials decided the size of the puppet, and the size of the puppet determined how big the refining formation could be. As these ratios changed, the puppet's strength would change.
Thus, a Rank 1 puppet could cost two thousand spirit coins, but it could also cost as much as eighty thousand.
Tang Jie was saying that they should focus on small and excellent, first making a Rank 1 before thinking about the future.
Hearing this from Wei Tianchong, Tang Jie smiled and said, "We just need to find a more skillful formation master."
"Might the effect be worse because of it?" Wei Tianchong worriedly said.
Tang Jie firmly said, "Third Young Master, leave this to me. I can guarantee that I can complete this puppet in a way that leaves you satisfied!"
They strolled around the market some more and bought the rest of the materials for the puppet, after which Wei Tianchong went back to work on it.
Actually making the puppet was a rather intensive affair. Carving was the foundation, but before making the puppet, one had to think about what sort of puppet one wanted to make and the functions it would have. Only then could one actually start on production.
Wei Tianchong had bought the materials without knowing what they did—the sign of an amateur. Fortunately, Tang Jie had already planned out everything for him, so he didn't need to worry.
As a servant student, Tang Jie had gradually focused his efforts on assisting Wei Tianchong with his cultivation. Matters of daily life were now essentially left to Shi Meng, and though Shi Meng was unwilling, he could only accept his fate. Otherwise, he wouldn't have chosen to learn the Clean spell.
After sending Wei Tianchong back, Tang Jie returned to the Carefree House.
Unlike before, right after he stepped into the Carefree House, the weather suddenly changed. The little house in front of him disappeared, while the road before him became a giant intersection of roads leading off to parts unknown. Dark clouds covered the sky, crackling with lightning.
But when this lightning touched Tang Jie's point card, the clouds dispersed.
This was the chain formation that Xie Fengtang had ordered to be laid down around his house, capable of befuddling, obstructing, attacking, and warning of potential intruders.
Upon entering the formation, one would end up first in the befuddling formation. This was to prevent students who accidentally wandered in from falling victim to the rest of the formations. One would have to attack the befuddling formation to activate the rest of the formation. The formation would fully mobilize, attacking and hindering the enemy while sending a warning to the academy.
"This formation is pretty good. It can even activate by touch. When I have the time, I need to study it," Tang Jie muttered to himself once he was past the formation.
In normal circumstances, studying a formation that had already been laid down wasn't easy.
But as he was the target being protected by the formation, the formation wouldn't hurt him, so he could study it as he pleased.
Before this, however, he had something else to do.
He untied his bundle and took out some items that he had bought while strolling through the market with Wei Tianchong.
Tang Jie had bought some of his own materials while buying Wei Tianchong's materials. He had concealed it using Wei Tianchong's purchases so that he drew no notice. When Wei Tianchong asked him what they were for, he had said that they were materials needed for the refining formation later on.
These truly were materials for a formation, but rather than for a refining formation, they were for laying down a formation of his own.