Castle Of Black Iron - Volume 3 - Chapter 1
The aftereffects from the session in Iron Bramble Battle Dojo on Wednesday only started to slowly appear on Thursday morning.
After the sparring session yesterday, Zhang Tie happily went to enjoy a comfortable hot shower before returning home. Although there are some bruises on his body but fortunately, his face is alright, allowing him to hide them and prevent his parents from worrying.
After dinner, Zhang Tie chatted with his parents and future sister-in-law for a while before washing up. After sneakily grabbing two red potatoes and a bunch of beans in the kitchen, he returned to his little loft.
What happen next is naturally his big plan to cultivate the desolate land of the Castle, on the land beside the corn and potatoes, Zhang Tie dug two holes for each of the red potatoes and planted a row of beans beside the corn.
The teacher in school has taught him that red potatoes need to sprout first before it can be cut into different pieces and be planted like ordinary potatoes while the beans can be planted with the same method for corn, using the scrap metal to create holes and cover it after planting.
The Spirit Energy within the Castle continues to increase and has reached 13, other than corn, Zhang Tie noticed the randomly scattered plant seeds given by Granny Theresa has also began to sprout. Patches of green could be seen on the areas where the seeds have landed.
The first Leak Prevention Fruit will also mature with slightly more than a day left while on another branch of the small tree, there is a tiny silver fruit hanging on it. When Zhang Tie stretched his hand to check, he discovers that the Forged Metal Body Fruit is already 25% to completion, if he continues what he has done today, the fruit will likely mature after another four to five sessions.
Leak Prevention Fruit... Forged Metal Body Fruit... Hehehe...
After doing his usual cultivation training, Zhang Tie mumbled the two names before entering dreamland...
On Thursday morning, his biological clock woke Zhang Tie from his deep sleep at five minutes after six. Just as he flips himself up, Zhang Tie's face went pale, silent beads of sweat began to appear on his forehead, there is only one word to describe this feeling - Pain!
Every single part of his body is in pain! Especially the areas that often receives damage like his arms that he use to defend, they are in so much pain that it was as though they are broken.
This kind of sharp, bone stinging pain, on one hand is a late natural reaction of his body after receiving the attacks, on the other, is due to the excessive use of his muscles, straining them more than usual. After the muscles got a night of rest, they began their revenge and started to sore. With the two types of pain combining, the punishment descends on Zhang Tie.
As he grits his teeth and suck in the cold air, Zhang Tie takes his time to slowly wear his clothes, at this moment, any minor and excessive movement will only cause him to feel more pain.
Only now did Zhang Tie realised, the beating he had yesterday is not as simple as it seems, to consume the Forged Metal Body Fruit is not an easy task.
It took Zhang Tie twice the time needed for him to reach school after waking up, his entire body is acting in slow motion, be it moving his hands or his legs, Zhang Tie will feel a wave of pain.
When Zhang Tie arrives at school, the imposing one-eye dragon is standing in front of the school gates as usual, patting his palm with the iron rod in the other hand. The animals attending school all lowered their heads like quails, avoiding the gaze of the dragon while trying to enter the gate by maintaining the furthest distance possible away from him.
’’Kid, I heard you performed well yesterday, you did not make me lose face!’’ before Zhang Tie could greet Captain Colin, he received a sudden compliment from him instead.
Zhang Tie moved the muscles on his face to form a small smile, looking as though he is embarrassed. At this moment, Zhang Tie did not know what he feels deep down, is it gratitude or hate towards the one eye dragon.
When he reached the classroom, he discovers the animals inside are in heated discussion, they are curious how come no one cleaned the chairs and tables today. In addition, some of these animals even came earlier to ’’ambush’’ the person by hiding in another room, hoping to catch the ’’big fool’’ that cleans their tables and chairs every morning.
Unfortunately, the animals did not expect that, despite hiding in the room before the sun rises, the person they are waiting for never came, causing their plan to fail.
F*k, it looks like I must keep a low profile from now on, Zhang Tie inwardly thought to himself. The curiosity of the animals in his class are peaking, this method of earning Merits is no longer possible.
Maybe due to his cautious mindset, after obtaining the Castle of Black Iron, Zhang Tie do not wish to become the topic of the school or his class. He wants to maintain a normal and ordinary image, his sudden enthusiasm of performing good deeds, is frankly, a bit too strange.
Although it is very difficult for people to link his actions to earning Merit points but Zhang Tie's cautious attitude has decided that maintaining a low profile when having good things happening on him is always the safer choice among other decisions.
The morning classes are the same as always, nothing interesting came up and it went without a breeze. Maybe it is because Zhang Tie and his classmates will be leaving the school forever in two weeks' time, the theoretical stuff taught by the teachers are reducing while information related to actual experienced are increasing, sometimes, the teachers will share their entire life experiences and thoughts to the students, providing them a new perspective of things.
From next month onwards, from the 1st of June to 31st of July, all schools of Black Flame City will send their graduating students to attend a two-month survival course.
Within these two months, the students will be putting the skills and knowledge learnt from school over the years to test. There are no examinations, this is because the people who cannot keep up and survive will naturally be left behind and weeded out.
Every year in Black Flame City, the survival course for graduates will always have a certain number of casualties. Just last year, 5 students from #7 Black Flame National School went out of course. The reason, four of them died while the last became a cripple.
In the history of the school, the most vicious year has more than 20 students being eliminated out of course within a single month. To the graduating animals, this survival course is also a rite of passage of become an adult in this era.
A rite of passage that requires you to use your blood and life to receive! A rite of passage that requires you to leave the protective walls of the city and face the real side of this era.
Completing the survival course also officially marks the end of the graduates' life as students. They will enjoy three months of holiday before starting their long and arduous mandatory military service.
During the three months of holidays, is when the notice to enter military service be sent, however, if you manage to receive the school's recommendation, then you will be one of the few lucky talents set to reach the skies, going to a high level institute to learn, directly becoming an elite of this generation that is wanted by various major organizations and powers, cementing a bright future.
The duration for military service and for those learning in higher institutes are the same, however, one is mandatory while the other is a right. After eight years, a normal person who has completed their military service will discover that they have been left in the dust by these individuals that have received additional education, the once fellow classmates are now joining the society at a different level.
After the last period of morning's lesson, the animals rushed to the canteen, naturally, when everyone is queuing properly for their meals, Gree and his gang, who took their time to reach the canteen, began to invite themselves to the front of the queue by replacing a few guys without any protest.
Seeing the actions of Gree and his gang over the past few days often made Zhang Tie ask himself, what will he do if one day he is the target of their bullying. Although he has an answer buried deep in his heart but, whenever he is queuing for food, he will always deliberately place himself in the middle-end part of the queue, trying to avoid the day he must make his choice. To this 15 year old youth, his choice is not an easy one.
During lunch, the damnable fatty told Zhang Tie that he has made the arrangements for Zhang Tie to complete the other rite of passage of becoming an adult.
’’After next week, the brothers of the Airplane Brotherhood can forever throw away the label of virgins!’’ hearing Barry's glorious declaration caused the animals of the brotherhood to display lewd smiles on the lunch table.
Frankly speaking, although Zhang Tie fantasized about ’’living a wonderful life’’ and ’’having a hot, steamy love life’’ with Goddess Dinah in the future yesterday but, when Barry declared the ’’rite of passage’’ that he needs to complete next week, his heart still uncontrollably jump in excitement. As that excitement converts into an image in his mind, that image converts into a high-rise tent on his trousers, Zhang Tie could not help but admit to himself inwardly - Fine, as a member of the animal army, he is nowhere better than the other animals of the brotherhood by much. However, his love for Ms. Dinah is still sacred! Zhang Tie consoles himself.
The latter half of lunch is the constant barrage of sarcasm and jokes by the animals, the target, is the tent formed on Zhang Tie. However, Zhang Tie is already immune to the constant attacks of these guys. After lunch, the animals went to their classrooms to play a round of cards, this is their usual afternoon entertainment, while Zhang Tie went to the little forest near the canteen to practice his <<Godly Abacus Mental Arithmetic >>.
Base on the book's description, the first step to mastering the skill, is to instantly visualize a three column abacus and immediately perform a four-function* calculation that produce a three digit answer.
(Cuppa: The four refers to the basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication &division)
Zhang Tie discovers that he is still some distance away from performing the two tasks that represent the success of the first step. The time needed to visualize the abacus has been reduced to be within 15 seconds while a four-function calculation needs more than 4 seconds to obtain an answer. When he remembers the sentence on the book's cover page - Recommended Out-of-Curriculum Teaching Material for Primary School Students, caused Zhang Tie to sweat inwardly. This is built for a primary school student's learning capability, yet, after training for so many days, he only manages to reach this level, how embarrassing...
As Zhang Tie felt embarrass at the realization, somehow fate wishes to increase that feeling as one of Gree's lackey appeared in front of Zhang Tie. As Zhang Tie wonders how come this gloomy looking guy is standing in front of him, that guy threw the stack of food trays in his hand onto the ground in front of Zhang Tie.
’’Wash these trays and hand them over to the canteen!’’, the guy turned and left without even looking at Zhang Tie, thinking that this plain looking guy that is sitting by the tree will not reject his order.
Looking at the four dirty trays in front of him, Zhang Tie scratched his head and came to realise that, in life, some difficult choices, cannot be evaded even if you want to......