| Chapter 63: A Lousy Joke
Translator: YH Editor: Pranav
"Ai Hui, you're learning embroidery from Master Han Yuqin?" Lou Lan continued joyfully, "This is great. Embroidery is a very lucrative trade."
The remaining sand transformed into a cloud filled with the word "money." Ai Hui's eyes caught the sparkling light reflected by the sand clumps as the words danced around in front of him like water ripples.
"Make money!" Upon hearing these two words, all Ai Hui could see was money.
The dense, sparkling cloud of "money" fluttering around in front of him caused blood to rush to Ai Hui's head.
"How can I make money using embroidery?" Ai Hui instinctively blurted out.
Money was one of his greatest weaknesses. At the mention of money, any determination and rationality of his would fly out the window! He never used to be this much of a money grubber, but the debt of eighty million yuan had become such a huge burden that he would now get a rush with even the slightest mention of money.
"Embroidery has many uses," Lou Lan answered instructively. "The current form of embroidery has departed greatly from the ancient techniques. In the past, cultivators would weave seals and spells into special materials, creating infused treasures. Modern embroidery is derived from the same basis. Following the disintegration of spiritual force and the rise of elemental energy, however, the properties of the materials have completely changed. The seals of the Cultivation Era have completely vanished, but it was later found that dire beasts and certain plants have naturally occurring seals. As such, they became the main source of materials. The grass sword that you previously used is one such example, created from sword reeds.
"These naturally occurring seals can be activated by elemental energy and are known as elemental traces. The usefulness of a material can be determined by the presence of these elemental traces. Seals found in nature are often imperfect; some are badly damaged while others are malformed. Perfect elemental traces rarely occur in nature. Most materials thus require further refinement before they can be used, and that's where embroidery comes in."
Ai Hui listened intently, finally understanding why there were other things, like swords, in the embroidery workshop.
Back in the Wilderness, he had heard the elementalists mention 'elemental traces' before, but he had never quite understood what they were. Listening to Lou Lan's lecture today had, however, cleared up all his doubts.
He inadvertently asked, "Elemental traces can be altered through embroidery?"
"Indeed, especially those of plants. It was initially thought that elemental traces could be altered through drawing, but this method was soon discredited. Regardless of whether it's perfect, every natural trace has its own elemental energy field, which repels all other materials that contain elemental energy. The pigments used in painting were unable to adhere to these natural traces. Speaking of which, there's a joke about this. Would you like to hear it?"
"You can even tell jokes?" Ai Hui was astonished.
Lou Lan's voice rang out from the sand cloud. "I saw it in a book."
"In the past, grass weapons were commonly refined using chemical painting methods."
The cloud of "money" reformed into a cluster of yellow sand. One clump of sand transformed into a miniature person while another became a miniature sword. The miniature sand person was immersed in the act of painting on the sword.
Ai Hui was dazed. Was this a live enactment?
Was Lou Lan getting smarter? There must be some kind of misconception!
"The methods of that period were rather backward. After using special chemicals to restore and improve its elemental traces, a sword would still have to undergo two more processes. The sword was first completely covered with yellow clay, following which a silver mist paste rich in elemental energy would be poured over it. Whenever the elementalists set out for battle, a war chariot carrying two large vats would follow closely behind. The vats separately contained yellow clay and the silver mist paste."
The yellow sand suddenly dispersed, transforming into a group of miniature people charging ahead with swords in their hands. Trailing behind them was a war chariot carrying two large vats.
"When they encountered dire beasts..."
Bang! A clump of yellow sand turned into a group of dire beasts, colliding with the miniature people.
"As the intense battle raged on, the pigments on the blade would eventually fall off. Without any hesitation, the soldier would whip out another grass sword to block the enemy's attacks, seizing the opportunity to fling the grass sword back onto the chariot. The chemist on the chariot would grab the sword, swiftly dipping it into the vat of yellow clay and then into the vat of silver mist paste. He would then throw the sword back out, shouting for the next sword."
The yellow sand brought the entire scene to life, vividly showcasing the entire process. The miniature person on the chariot was frantically busy as the swords rapidly flew through the air.
"They once encountered a huge pack of dire beasts."
The yellow sand shifted again, this time transforming into many miniature dire beasts. A trail of flying debris fanned out behind the miniature beasts, exhibiting their impressive momentum.
Ai Hui watched the events vividly unfold with relish.
"The situation was intensely fierce."
As the battle raged on, the weapons were clinging and clanging throughout the battlefield. The small swords were now flying through the air at a much faster rate as the miniature people struggled to keep up with the pace of the battle.
"In the end, the chemist died of exhaustion."
The miniature person on the chariot collapsed.
Ai Hui was fully engaged in the story when everything suddenly stopped. Subconsciously, he asked, "What happens next?"
"That's all," Lou Lan said, as he resumed his normal form. He tilted his head to the side and looked at Ai Hui. "Was it not funny? Why are you not laughing, Ai Hui?"
Ai Hui replied honestly, "It wasn't very funny."
Lou Lan was taken aback. "I thought that it would be hilarious! The book said that it was one of the top ten jokes of the year."
Ai Hui coughed lightly, and changing the topic, he said, "Let's continue talking about embroidery."
Ai Hui had noticed that Lou Lan's morphing abilities seemed to have improved. The miniature people that he had just created were remarkably true to life.
Ai Hui, however, was thinking further than that. Morphing was a technique commonly used by sand puppets and was one of the more effective moves at their disposal. Although practically all sand puppets could morph, sand puppets who could morph at Lou Lan's exceptional standards were quite rare. Lou Lan's morphing abilities would be truly formidable in battle.
The standard of a sand puppet's morphing abilities largely depended on its cognition. Lou Lan's cognitive abilities should thus be considerably remarkable.
Perhaps he could help Lou Lan improve this aspect of his abilities? With his level of cognition, Lou Lan could definitely further enhance his morphing abilities. In their previous battle together, relying on his morphing alone already had a significant impact.
This idea lingered in Ai Hui's mind for a moment before swiftly vanishing.
Ai Hui felt that he was overthinking. Lou Lan was a domestic sand puppet and shouldn't be steered towards battling. The battlefield was a cruel place from which he might not even make it out alive.
Ai Hui reminded himself that he was no longer in the Wilderness and that he had started a new life that was completely different to what he had experienced in the past three years.
Life was not all about fighting-for Lou Lan at least. All that mattered was that he could boil soup and clean rooms.
Fighting should be left to people like him who were already used to the violence.
Ai Hui revealed a smile that was as radiant as the sun.