“Well then, let’s go look for materials.”
“Yes, this isn’t a dungeon, so the monsters’ materials should be there for the taking. Since we’ve come this far, we might as well take whatever we can.”
“I, I see.”
Shin’s mischievous grin left Sherlene wide-eyed. Shin did not pay attention to her reaction, however, and told her to gather the knights and used earth magic to create a hole to drain the water in the cave.
【Deluge】 was a spell that just generated water, which did not have homing properties, unlike other water spells. If it did, it could be used to drain the water, but there was nothing that Shin could do at that point.
The most that could be done after activating 【Deluge】 was to adjust the direction the waterspout proceeded to. Schnee could probably manage to direct it to a nearby river.
“It will take a bit of time until the water is fully drained. I’ll go ahead and check if any monsters left the cave before we arrived.”
“Understood. The scouts are surveying the area too. Please cooperate with them.”
The scouts were checking the area around the cave, searching for monsters and traps. After making sure it was safe, they split into groups of 2 and expanded the search area.
After making sure that the drainage hole was large enough, Shin then headed towards an area the scouts hadn’t checked yet.
A cave like that was easily built by controlling monsters with digging abilities. It was difficult to imagine that that cave was the only one created for monsters and supplies. Shin studied the movements of the monsters on the map, thinking that there had to be other similar locations.
“I guess I better ask Schnee for help.”
It would be difficult for only Shin and the scouts to search the whole territory surrounding Erkunt. Without Schnee and the remaining scouts, they could not find every monster hideout.
“Where did they get all that equipment from anyway?”
Shin thought that there had to be humans cooperating with Greed.
Shin understood the desire to roleplay as a villain in the game, but such an idea would never come to his mind in this world. Other than the presence of a collaborator, Shin was concerned by the fact that things were proceeding without Avaritia being present.
“Could it have other aims…?”
Avaritia could be planning something else, other than attacking Erkunt and absorbing Luxuria. According to Luxuria, Avaritia’s presence was drawing closer, but it was still rather far. In the game, devils and their cohorts usually acted together.
Shin knew this, so he wondered if there was something he had missed.
“I better talk with Schnee about it later.”
Shin said to himself while filling the unexplored areas of the map.
“Looks like there weren’t any problems. Let’s go pick up the materials then. There aren’t any monster presences but be on your guard all the same.”
Shin could easily recover all materials by himself, but Sherlene ordered the knights to do it, as Shin had told her that he preferred not to make the existence of the item box too public.
Sherlene would probably report the item box to Erkunt’s top brass, but that was unavoidable. Just like Ancient-grade weapons, its existence was not a mystery.
“Understood. Troops, you heard sir Shin’s words. Our foes are monsters. Anything could happen. On your toes!”
The voices of the soldiers echoed in the woods. Thanks to their training, they moved deftly despite the slippery cave floor, no one fell or even slipped.
The knights usually moved in groups of four. As Sherlene had ordered them to, they moved carefully through the cave.
“Sir Shin, how are the surroundings?”
“As far as I searched, I did not find any caves like this one. If they were built on the mountains or deep in the forest, however, they would be quite hard to find. With enough time, I am sure they can be found, but that is the one thing we do not have right now.”
Not knowing when Avaritia would make his move, they couldn’t just comb through the whole area. The number of available troops was limited, and even if Schnee joined them and the search became more efficient, it was still not enough.
“I suppose we can just narrow down the search area. To acquire all that gear, Avaritia has to have a collaborator. We should check the merchants’ movements.”
If there were people supplying the gear, there might be clues left over. Even if there weren’t, it would be impossible for them to act completely unnoticed, or so Sherlene said.
“You can’t use horse carriages around here, so it could be someone with an item box, like me.”
“That makes things difficult, though. Materials in card form are light and require little space, so large quantities can be transported at the same time. There would be no need to go through Erkunt either.”
The owner of the item box did not even need to carry item cards, which made it difficult to find any clues.
“It’s still better than doing nothing though. We might find clues in unexpected places.”
“Do you speak from experience?”
“Well yes, you can put it that way.”
As people often say, life can be quite unpredictable. Both in games and in life, sometimes things happened with unbelievable timing.
“Is that so…no, I will ask no more. Let’s stop today’s search here. I already sent for a carriage for the materials. Sir Shin, you may go back ahead of us.”
“Understood. I will do that then. Ah, what should we do with the recovered items? Even in card form, there’s a serious quantity.”
“Please keep them for the time being.”
Shin asked if he could keep them indefinitely, and Sherlene said that she would send someone to pick them up.
“Understood. I’d like to search the weapons a bit, so can I go ahead and do it?”
“Yes, that will be fine. With sir Vulcan, I suppose?”
“Oh, you know of him?”
“He’s one of Erkunt’s most famous craftsmen. The rumors of a young human and a blonde elf visiting his workshop have been spreading too.”
“As far as the royal palace?”
Shin knew that some dwarves gathered to see Schnee, but he did not expect the rumors to reach Sherlene’s ears. He expected them to circulate among blacksmiths, but not beyond that.
Schnee was probably called a “blonde elf” because of her disguise when meeting people.
“If you find out anything, please tell the person I send to recover the items.”
“Understood. I will take my leave, then.”
Shin nodded at Sherlene and headed towards Erkunt. He kept his presence concealed with 【Hiding】 to avoid surprising normal people as he ran through the forest. He showed the papers identifying him as a collaborator of the knights and entered the country. His first destination was Vulcan’s workshop, of course.
“Hey there! Is the boss in?”
Shin opened the door and addressed Vaal, who was taking care of the shop. He had become friendly with Vulcan and Vaal, so his speech changed accordingly. Shin called Vulcan “boss” now.
“The boss is in the back, as usual. What brought you here today by the way? You look different than usual.”
“I found something nice actually. I wondered if the boss could tell me where these were made.”
Shin then materialized some of the gear he found in the cave. He thought it wouldn’t be good to materialize weapons for monsters then and there, so he picked more orthodox swords, probably prepared for human-like monsters, since there existed monsters which could use gear made for players too.
The swords were Unique grade, with the blade extending from the hilt getting gradually thinner. Shin’s appraisal let him know the weapon’s grade, stats and name of the creator. Though, he could not find anything else.
A weapon with this design was made by a certain school: the blacksmiths in this world could surely tell, but Shin didn’t know.
“An orange blade, that’s pretty unusual. They probably added monster materials to magic steel. As a weapon, it’s rather high quality…I’d wager it’s from either the Baiden or Reishin schools.”
Being Vulcan’s disciple, Vaal was also very knowledgeable about the subject. He looked intently at the blade and mentioned names completely new to Shin.
According to Vaal, both schools specialized in mixing materials with iron.
“The engraving was destroyed, so I thought you might know something. I don’t really know much about this stuff.”
Shin said while looking at the blade with Vaal.
“We can’t tell everything either, but with the information gathered by the union, it’s still better than nothing. If our skills are recognized, we have the chance of learning new techniques from the union’s collected information.”
“Instead of having a country, they are located throughout the world and share the information they found, that’s what dwarves do, right.”
Dwarves lived as citizens of other countries, with most of them belonging to an organization called the union. They had built an international information network, very similar to the real world.
Sometimes in Human countries.
Sometimes in Elven countries.
Sometimes in Lord countries.
Sometimes in Beast countries.
Sometimes in Dragnil countries.
Sometimes in Pixie countries.
Gathered information is compiled by the various branches of the unions, then sent to headquarters, where its leaders reside. It was just like the union had spies all over the world or so some people whispered about the dwarves’ union. According to Vaal, it was just an association of artisans.
“A dwarf spy…? I would like to see one, honestly.”
Shin asked about the spy rumor, half joking, and Vaal replied with a wry laugh.
Dwarves weren’t suited at all for stealth: they could manage it if they continuously boosted their stats, but only Chosen Ones or former players could.
“It is true that we gather information about technology. Ever since the Dusk of Majesty, precious technology was lost because of wars or monster attacks. Dwarves have developed this network to preserve technology and revive lost ones. People do say that a small number of dwarves have a monopoly on technology, but there are many dangerous ones which could be used for shady purposes, so we cannot just make it all public. There are other organizations engaged in similar activities too.”
“Right. In this world there aren’t weapons of mass destruction after all, though it might be possible to create them.”
Shin nodded to Vaal’s fervent speech. Because unique techniques of magic existed, there were items as dangerous as missiles. In a world where war existed, monsters would not always be the targets.
“It seems that people used them normally in the world before the Dusk of Majesty, though. When I heard that, I was glad to not be born in that era, honestly.”
Shin, who had used such weapons in the past, gave a vague answer. He had thrown items which attacked friend and foe indiscriminately where his allies were fighting enemies. It was a strategy possible because his allies were High Human, who would suffer little to no damage. An item like that would be capable of erasing a whole castle if used in this world.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve kept you too long.”
“Not at all, it was a very interesting conversation.”
Shin told the apologetic Vaal not to worry, then went to Vulcan’s forge. As he walked, he felt the heat increase and heard the sound of a hammer striking. Vulcan was forging a sword, so Shin hid his presence and waited, not wanting to disturb him.
They were allies, but he had no intention of secretly watching Vulcan’s work, so he looked towards the corridor. Vulcan was in the finishing stages of forging, so soon enough the sound of his hammer striking the iron stopped.
“Come on in.”
“Ah, you noticed.”
Vulcan had apparently noticed Shin’s presence. Shin had not exactly tried to completely hide, so he wasn’t too surprised.
Shin entered the workshop and found Vulcan holding two swords, still not sharpened. Depending on how they were sharpened, he estimated they would turn out Unique grade.
“If you’re busy, I’ll come another time.”
“No, I just have to hand them to the sharpener now, my work is done. So, what brings you in? Aren’t you the busy one?”
“It’s something related to that. Take a look.”
Shin showed the sword he had already shown Vaal to Vulcan.
“Oh, not bad at all. What about it?”
Vulcan studied the blade and hilt closely, then asked Shin what he had in mind.
“I found it in a certain place, but the blacksmith’s engraving was erased. I was wondering if you could tell me something about whoever made it.”
“It’s been made using monster parts mixed with iron, a technique that several schools are researching, that’s for sure. Without any unusual characteristics, however, I can’t tell who made it.”
The weapon’s quality did not suggest that it had been forged by an especially skilled blacksmith. Vulcan added that he could think of several that could have made it, so it was impossible to pinpoint it.
Limiting the scope to Erkunt only, however, narrowed down the selection. Vulcan said that he would say their names to Shin later. They were all famous, so there was no need to hide it, apparently.
Maybe the blacksmith that supplied weapons to Avaritia wasn’t among them, but there was no harm in checking them.
“That’s all you needed?”
“No, there’s one more thing, actually. If you have time, I wanted to ask you to make weapons using these.”
Shin then materialized the gear recovered from the cave.
“What the…so many Legend grade weapons? The others are all high quality too…and they come from the same place as the sword from before…Shin, is this related to the incoming attack on the city?”
Vulcan noticed that many weapons were made for monsters and looked at Shin in the eyes.
Shin was surprised, but Vulcan was a blacksmith that Sherlene and Masakado trusted with their weapons, so he was likely to have heard about it.
“You know who we’re up against, boss?”
“A devil. That sword I was tempering just then is an anti-devil prototype, I made with information I got from the union.”
“I see, as expected by the chief of the knights’ exclusive workshop.”
Apparently the union also had information about devils.
“I heard about you too, Shin the ‘Slashing Hammer’, was it?”
“Gah, that nickname…it’s just too embarrassing…”
“Usually people are proud of them…anyway. You know a lot about devils, right? Do you think this could be useful?”
Vulcan did not tease the sour-looking Shin any further and showed him the sword he had just forged. It was more or less medium Rare-grade; it did not have any magic imbued in it, but it did have the special attribute of causing added damage to devils. If used against a devil or its cohorts, it would cause 5% more damage.
The number was kind of low for an added damage attribute, but it was still a prototype, so Vulcan had not given his all yet, surely.
Added damage attributes inflicted more damage to specific species: one of the more famous examples was the Dragon Killer, which inflicted added damage to dragons.
“Against a devil, I’d want at least a 20% boost. The weapons I’m going to distribute have a 30% boost, after all.”
“Even with the species limitation, 30%…Can I see it?”
“Of course. I planned to lend it to you anyway, and if it will help you forge better quality weapons, we will have less casualties too.”
Shin then materialized a longsword imbued with an attribute that caused more damage to devils. The silver blade had a yellow line from the hilt to the tip. It had no engraved name, so it could be called Devil Killer.
“All the weapons you plan to distribute have the same stats as this?”
“More or less. I plan to give something a little better to the captains and such. I prepared 200 of these for the elite troops for now. For captains and troops with higher levels, I have about 50 weapons a bit better than this one.”
“…I know that they’re Unique, but…200 of this? If I didn’t know about your skills, I’d never believe it.”
Shin didn’t say it, but the “a bit better” weapons were Legend grade. If Vulcan knew that Shin could prepare 50 of them, he would probably be dazed.
“The union documents say to expect 10% at most. They did say that, depending on materials and blacksmith, it could go as far as 20%, but…”
Vulcan grumbled while looking at the blade. He added that the records contained precious techniques to be preserved after the Dusk of Majesty.
“Wait a minute. You’re going to distribute this to the troops? Which means that, you’re going to use something better?”
“Yeah, mine has a +40% damage attribute. It’s called 『The Ark』.”
It actually had a +50% damage boost, but Shin corrected himself before talking, then materialized the sword in question. Its blade was about 1 mel and a half. Blue gems were set in the hilt, from which branch-like decorations extended.
“…I’ve never heard the name before.”
Vulcan’s expression was frozen. He probably wanted to pretend he didn’t hear about the stats.
“I heard the name came from an angel.”
Devil killer weapons were named after angels. It was pretty natural, or so Shin thought.
Shin unsheathed the blade, which gleamed with a blue and silver hue. Its tip was not sharp, but square. It was completely unsuited for thrusting and bore the nickname of executioner sword, being used to administer the death penalty.
“A devil killer name with the name of an angel. I only heard about them in folk tales, though.”
“It served its purpose, so why not?”
“Boss, what’s wrong? You look pale.”
“It’s nothing. I’m just feeling my common sense as a blacksmith start to shatter.”
Vulcan held his head in his hands, as it had started hurting, and talked with difficulty. While he had mentioned it, he didn’t really care about the weapon’s name. Even Vulcan, one of Erkunt’s top blacksmiths, was simply flabbergasted by what Shin just pulled out.
“Shin, you’re not a Lord, right?”
“Me? No, I’m Human, why?”
Of course, He couldn’t say anything about being a High Human.
“If you’re not from a species with high longevity, then you must be a Chosen One…but that is also too weird…”
“I know that well, believe me.”
“If you say so, then let’s leave it at that. I can’t fathom how you aren’t specialized in a production job, despite being so skilled.”
“I was in the beginning, but I was forced by circumstances to become a combat type.”
Shin had to raise his level not only to be able to gather materials more easily, but also to attain the necessary STR and DEX to wield certain hammers. Since Humans were considered weak, he would often be refused entry in parties engaged in quests to find rare materials, so in the beginning he had a very hard time finding good ones.
Because of this -as he had told Wilhelm in the past- he had entered a loop for a time: defeat monsters, gather parts, update gear, rinse and repeat.
“A production specialist forced to take up combat? Isn’t that bizarre enough already?”
“Where I lived, we had to be self sufficient, in more ways than one. So if you needed Red Dragon scales, you had to start from hunting one.”
The more one focused on production, the more their combat skills and techniques would suffer. Vulcan was no exception: his level as a blacksmith was high, but as a fighter he was weaker than adventurers at the same level. Production specialists who could also fight were very rare.
“Where the hell did you live, really. Oh well, you gave me some great reference, I’m going to steal what I can.”
“I’m counting on you.”
Vulcan could definitely forge something much better than the prototype. Shin was positive about it, so he gave the dwarf some advice, then left the workshop.
He then realized that the sun was already setting. Schnee was probably already back at the hotel.
“This is bad.”
Not wanting to keep her waiting, Shin quickly headed back to their lodging.