“Right, I’m starting then.”
Once they arrived in the smithy, the men’s atmosphere completely changed.
Shin, Vulcan, and Vaal all fell into complete silence. They looked like different people than when they talked with Schnee moments ago.
“The furnace and iron are ready.”
Vaal, who was checking the fire burning inside, spoke to Vulcan.
Even in the game, without skills blacksmithing was pretty much the same as real life. Materials, forging techniques, and goals changed, but tools and equipment were by and large the same.
Furnace functions, however, varied very much. Tsuki no Hokora’s furnace would imbue magic into the iron it produced automatically, so even just tempering metal could create high level weapons.
Vulcan’s furnace was a special type, close to what Shin had in Tsuki no Hokora. The iron it produced was of high purity and was imbued with magic.
“I’ll start now.”
After saying this, Vulcan grabbed the iron with tongs and heated it up. His hammer was specially made: every time he swung it down, sparks and magic power danced in the surroundings.
Vulcan also possessed the Blacksmithing skill: just like Shin, he was really quick with his hands. That speed was probably what made it possible for them to accept orders for new items on top of repair and maintenance requests. Of course, each request was handled with maximum care.
Until now, it was all work that Shin was already familiar with.
When the blade shaping process started, Vaal joined Vulcan in tempering the iron. As Vulcan and Vaal swung their hammers, the magic power imbued in the blade changed little by little. They both tempered the metal by pouring their magic into the hammer.
Pouring magic inside tools was something that Shin did as well, but compared to when Vulcan was doing it alone, the blade’s strength and magic power were higher now. It was like the two blacksmith’s magic power resonated, forming something greater than the sum of their powers.
(Their magic powers are overlapping? You couldn’t ever figure this out if you worked alone.)
Shin didn’t know how it exactly worked, but he understood how their magic powers interacted with each other. Based on his experience, he felt that their magic was far too attuned when swinging their hammers: the tools themselves must have had some special trick, or so Shin guessed.
(They make their magic overlap and create layers, huh. What effect could this have?)
Looking at the two blacksmiths work, Shin wondered what effects it could lead to. He imagined it would increase the weapon’s sturdiness or sharpness. Another possibility was, in case of magic swords, an increased rate of magic-related effects even without being attached with particular skills.
While thinking about the possible effects, Shin also wondered whether he could use this technique himself. He had never seen this technique before, so he wanted to make use of it somehow. A method to use this new technique to reinforce weapons was already beginning to form in Shin’s head.
One hour had passed since they started working. From inserting the iron in the furnace to sharpening the weapon, the process was now complete. From a purely blacksmithing viewpoint, it was an unfathomable speed. For a skill or art user, however, it was nothing but normal.
“So, did you see anything you didn’t know?”
“Yes, it was a very educating experience.”
The finished product was the middle Legend-grade 『Long Sword』. It was a basic item that all sword users in the game had wielded at least once. Vulcan had probably chosen it on purpose: a basic shape could show differences more clearly.
Shin examined it more closely and, as he had expected, noticed that sturdiness and sharpness were higher than if magic power had been poured into it normally.
“So it’s my turn next.”
Shin was exceptionally allowed to use the workshop’s tools, but prepared his own hammer. It did not have any special effects, but it had been specially forged by Shin himself.
He grabbed the metal with tongs, heated it, and struck it. He repeated the process and struck again.
The process itself was the same as what Vulcan and Vaal did, but there was one clear difference: Shin was hitting the metal with his hammer, and nothing more. He changed the striking point a bit, but there was a phenomenon happening that such actions could not explain.
“What the…the iron is changing shape all by itself…”
“Grandpa, I can’t believe my eyes…”
Every time Shin swung his hammer, the metal progressively changed its shape into a sword. What shocked Vulcan and Vaal was that spots that Shin did not strike changed shape too. It was a mysterious sight, as if the iron was changing shape on its own accord. The same thing happened when Shin showed his techniques to Kanezuka Araki in Hinomoto: no blacksmith worth his salt could miss such a phenomenon.
Shin stated that the weapon was complete, before even touching the whetting stone. Normally, it was impossible for a weapon to be complete before sharpening, but the sword Shin was holding looked as sharp as if it was whetted by a master of the craft.
What Shin forged was a higher Legend-grade 『Long Sword』.
Vulcan and Vaal must have heard Shin, but showed no response. What they just saw must have been just that shocking.
“Er, would you like to have a closer look?”
Vulcan and Vaal shouted their replies to Shin’s question together. They seemed extremely excited, but handled the sword as if it was a very fragile treasure.
“I never saw him temper the tip, but the shape is well done…did the iron change shape by itself, because of magic? That would explain the balance…”
“That wouldn’t explain the blade’s edge, though. It can get sharp to a degree even without whetting it, but this? This is the work of a master artisan…”
A heated debate started, with Shin’s 『Long Sword』 at its center. Vaal seemed to be well trained enough to be allowed to temper alongside his master: the debate evolved to technical analysis quickly.
“Nngh…sir Shin…could it be possible for you to leave this piece with us?”
“Hmm, but with the grade what it is…”
For Shin it was just a 『Long Sword』 without much importance, but for the people of this world it was a national treasure level item. He had been living in this world for a while now, so he had become familiar with the circumstances concerning such topics.
Vulcan probably had no such intentions, but Shin couldn’t just give away an almost Mythology-grade weapon without thinking carefully.
“Yes, that’s right…but from just this one blade, we could learn so much…”
“This is packed with unknown techniques. It’s not like those weapons found in dungeons or ruins, which we don’t know who made them or how they made it. This has been made by a person, with my furnace and iron. It’s a lot more valuable than some powerful, and nothing else, national treasure. No way you could leave it here…kkh, I know, I understand it in my head, but…”
Shin planned to refuse because it was too powerful, but Vulcan’s words made him understand the true importance of the sword. Vulcan and Vaal had also witnessed the process behind its creation: even if they couldn’t understand it completely, it was still a lot better than not seeing anything at all.
“Sir Shin, you are an adventurer, yes? Could you grant us your teachings, even just while you stay here?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m already teaching some students at the institute, I just don’t have the time…”
If he started being involved here too, his free time would disappear. Having too much of it wouldn’t be good, but being too busy would be worse.
He had accepted to act as instructor for Lecus and the others so he could avoid slacking off too much, but if he ended up having to give up on spending time with Schnee, he would effectively be defeating his main objective.
“Teaching? Were you hired by the institute?”
“Just as a front. I agreed to give some students battle training, just until my comrades arrive here.”
“If you can handle weapons like these, you have to be quite the fighter yourself, but…that young lady is a quick worker, isn’t she…”
“Do you know Hilamee?”
“I sure do, I’m the one that does maintenance on her partner, Masakado’s sword, after all.”
Shin was surprised, but understood how they were connected.
The dwarf chief Vulcan acted as counselor for what could be compared to a king: someone directly under someone in this position was definitely skilled.
If Masakado still used the weapon he had when he died, it was a middle Legend-grade broadsword, something an average blacksmith and furnace could never hope to handle.
“Hmm, what a shame, what a shame…”
“Boss, I understand your feelings, but we can’t trouble him anymore…”
Looking at the mumbling Vulcan, Shin was reminded of Barbatos’ shipwright, Zigma, and thought that artisans really were the same everywhere.
Blacksmiths and shipwrights built completely different things, but their passion, personality and feelings were quite similar. If they found new, unknown techniques, they couldn’t help crave to obtain them.
“In any case, I’m sorry to say that I can’t come share my master’s teachings, but I’ll come whenever I have the time.”
“Please, you must. I haven’t had this much fun in ages.”
“Boss, don’t push yourself too hard now…”
Vaal’s shoulders dropped as he looked at Vulcan’s almost menacing smile. Based on Vulcan’s words and actions until now, Shin realized that he would probably start working right away, maybe even forgoing to eat and sleep.
“Till next time then.”
“Thank you very much for today. I’ll do some trial and error on my own too.”
Shin collected the sword he tempered in exchange for the materials used, waved goodbye to Vaal, and left the workshop. As he noticed while leaving, the smithy’s name was 『Anvil of Steel』.
The time was still a bit after noon, so Shin and Schnee had lunch in the restaurant she mentioned wanting to try, then took a walk around town. Maybe because the institute was also a research facility, there were lots of shops selling monster materials, minerals, various kinds of catalysts, and much more. The guild also had facilities both in the institute’s district and the district where the king supposedly resided.
“The atmosphere sure changes from street to street.”
“That’s true, they are really divided neatly into categories. If similar shops are grouped together, it’s surely more convenient for everyone too.”
If you wanted something, you just had to go to the area where they sold it, or so Shin figured. Vulcan’s workshop too was located in a street that could be called “weapon store avenue”.
“There are still places we haven’t seen, but let’s call it a day. No need to see it all in one day.”
“Yes, let’s save it for another day.”
There was still some time before Filma and the others could arrive. It would be different if they were moving at max speed, but they were going at a leisurely pace, enjoying the trip.
Shin and Schnee still had plenty of time to spend together, so there was no need to hurry.
They walked back to the hotel, enjoyed dinner, spent the evening together, then went to bed.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Shin made sure Schnee was asleep, then quietly went outside. His objective was just outside Erkunt’s castle walls.
Using 【Hiding】 to make sure no one saw him, he materialized Tsuki no Hokora.
“Here we go…”
Shin had taken out Magic Steel and iron imbued with magic power. Holding them in place with tongs, he swung his hammer. He held nothing back this time, so the Magic Steel started changing shape quickly, turning into a 『Long Sword』.
Shin placed it on a piece of cloth and examined it. Differently from the one he forged before, the magic power imbued in the blade was irregular, thicker and thinner in places.
“Well, I guess that’s how the first time goes.”
Shin had tried imitating Vulcan’s technique. As he was forging by himself, he couldn’t use it the same way, but he thought that he could adapt it in his own style.
Things didn’t go smoothly right away, naturally; the 『Long Sword』 he tempered was simply of lesser quality than the usual.
“To make layers of magic power, I guess doing it with another person is necessary…?”
Shin continued striking the iron while doing trial and error.
In the empty smithy, only Shin talking to himself and the sound of struck iron could be heard.