“What are you going to do today?”
“I have a forging discussion at Vulcan’s place. I’m also thinking of making a small accessory as parting gift for Lecus and the others. With this world’s standards, of course.”
Shin could easily whip up accessories that would be world-class in power. However, he had trained Lecus’ party as a request from the school, so giving them something like that would definitely cause trouble. And so, he planned to give them an accessory that could work as a memento.
Another reason was to make connections. Shin felt that not only Myu, but also Lecus and Gian came from special backgrounds. In a world where having even one skill was highly regarded, Chosen Ones with multiple skills were very rare.
Some Chosen Ones were active adventurers, so it might not apply to all of them, but Lecus’ party was still immature compared to them. Even if the institute attracted students from all over the continent, and the three students had considerable fighting strength, sending precious Chosen Ones on their own was slightly unnatural.
Whether they thought there really was no problem, or there was a special meaning in them being on their own, Shin had no way of knowing, but wanting to share a connection with such unique people wasn’t strange.
He had heard from Schnee that being a Chosen One would only help cover one or maybe two fields, which meant that very few people owned multiple skills in both battle-type and creation-type jobs, as Shin and his party did. For this very reason, many Chosen Ones were connected with others with skills they did not have.
For Shin, it would be fine if the people around them viewed their relationship like that: he had started to mind the reactions of other people more too.
It was also a small gift to celebrate the effort they put in the training. Accessories with magical properties were quite expensive even if they didn’t provide outstanding effects, at least more so than Rare grade gear.
“This world’s accessories are mostly just used as decorations, after all.”
As a creation-type job specialist, Shin wanted to object to the current thinking and state that accessories were supposed to be equipment that covered weaknesses, enhanced strengths or provided abilities you did not have. Using accessories just for their visuals was unthinkable for an adventurer.
There were some exceptions, such as people that had particular preferences or chose accessories that matched the rest of their equipment; but for people who earned their living through battle, using appropriate accessories would be natural.
It wasn’t impossible to find accessories with useful effects on the market, but they were hard to find, especially if one searched for effects useful in battle.
Shin had heard that this was caused by the fact that the skill level required to attach magical properties to accessories was different than the level needed for weapons and armor; obviously, accessories required higher level.
In this world, raising creation-type job skills required more time, money and effort than battle-type jobs, because creation-type skills required materials. Stopping after reaching a level high enough to enchant weapons and armor allowed to start crafting such enchanted gear and sell it, so the user could save time, efforts and materials.
Depending on the person, focusing on weapons and armor meant becoming able to imbue them with higher level magic as well.
“Accessories used in battle are normally retrieved from ruins or dungeons, after all. Items with abilities useful in battle are only made by artisans in royal capitals or their surroundings, and they’re also much more expensive than other gear.”
“Well, I guess it can’t be helped, but still.”
You couldn’t just focus on skills and nothing else in this world. Making a living was the first priority, so Shin thought it natural that most people settled on increasing their skills just to an extent.
“Okay, let’s go see our friend Mr. Vulcan then.”
They arrived at Vulcan’s workshop, the Golden Anvil. Shin opened the door and saw Vaal with several other dwarves.
The dwarves turned around to look at the newcomers and instantly froze in place, with expressions as if they had been struck by lightning.
“Oh, Mr. Shin. The boss is in the back.”
Shin nodded to Vaal, greeted the dwarves with a small gesture and proceeded to the back of the shop. He had visited several times, with the pretense of exchanging techniques, and now they were discussing and exchanging opinions. It was a good stimulus for Vulcan, who told Vaal to let Shin through to the smithy when he came.
Schnee had started assisting Shin with smithy work too, so this time she accompanied him into Vulcan’s workshop. After they passed, they could hear the dwarves murmur words like “The lady’s going in too?” or “That’s got to be a goddess…”
Shin realized that rumors had started circulating about Schnee, who used to wait near the reception when Shin visited Vulcan. The dwarves’ objective was talking to her, apparently.
“This town’s blacksmiths…are a bit off…?”
Shin felt slightly concerned.
“Oh? Ooh, you came! With your elf lady friend too? She always waits up front though, do you want to make her do something?”
Vulcan asked Shin why Schnee came along. Many blacksmiths forbade women from entering their workshop, but Vulcan was different. There wasn’t any dislike or disgust on his face, but simple curiosity.
“She had talent to begin with, but recently I had her help me a bit, and she’s really good at it. I was thinking it’d be good for you to have a look at her too, maybe give your opinion.”
“If you say that, then she can’t be a beginner at least. Elves are good at precise work like concocting and crafting, after all. Even if the field is different, I bet she has good enough sensibility and eye for this work too.”
In THE NEW GATE, dwarves had bonuses in all creation-type jobs, blacksmithing most of all.
After them, elves were the most blessed race in terms of creation-type jobs.
As Vulcan said, also thanks to their innate abilities, elves did not lose to dwarves when it came to delicate craftwork, such as concocting potions or making cloth. Schnee’s blacksmithing skill level was low, but in skills that required nimble work, like concocting, weaving and engraving she was level VIII and above.
“We’re not especially gifted in handling magic, so I want our lady here to focus on checking that.”
“That’s right. Elves can see things differently from us too.”
Shin had heard it from Schnee while they were eating at Tsuki no Hokora. Elves could see the “life aura” of cooking ingredients, so he mentioned it.
“Understood. I am not yet skilled enough to actually participate in the forging, so I will focus on that.”
Schnee nodded, then Shin and Vulcan stood in front of the furnace. A small iron ingot was put inside and melted in instants. Vulcan grabbed the resulting iron with a pair of tongs and fixed it on top of the anvil.
“First, let’s overlay our magic.”
Vulcan then raised his hammer. Shin aimed for the timing it struck and followed suit. The sounds of striking metal continued: the high-pitched sound of Vulcan’s hammer and the slightly echoing sound of Shin’s hammer reverberated in the workshop.
As the hammers continued to strike, the iron started changing shape. The 5-cemel sized block of iron was stretched and became a thinner 10-cemel round circle when Vulcan and Shin stopped.
“Hmm, as always, when I forge something with you the shape always comes out perfect. Even if the metal was round from the beginning, it’s a mystery how it can end up so completely rounded.”
Vulcan commented while looking at the round iron item. Such a result was caused by Shin’s blacksmith skills, which affected the item’s shape based on the user’s imagination. Even without sharpening, it was possible to create the blade part of swords or knives.
“The effect is, increased defense. Looks like it can project a thin barrier.”
Shin analyzed the item with a small smile. As a category, it was a shield, an iron shield, most probably. It could project barriers, just like Shibaid’s Great Shell Shield of Collision.
Shin tried equipping it and have Vulcan attack him, so they could confirm that a 30-cemel barrier really did appear, with the shield at its center. When Vulcan’s hammer struck, however, it shattered with a light sound.
“It’s too frail. It felt like shattering a thin sheet of ice.”
“We’ve made a bunch of prototypes until now, but the effects vary really wildly, huh.”
When Vulcan and Shin worked together, such failed experiments were frequent. More than 90% of resulting items were useless duds.
“When I have Yuki help, we manage to succeed about once every two times, though.”
“What? It’s much better than with me. Hmm, I fail to see the reason, though. Race, magic power, control, affinity, equipment, materials…it could be anything. What do you say?”
With only two types of samples, it was difficult to pinpoint the reason.
“Let’s see, we use the same materials, and since you have a high rate success with Vaal, I doubt the cause lies with the equipment. The different affinity due to our races could have something to do with it, but I feel that the difference in magic power and control is key. We strike while imbuing magic power, after all, so wouldn’t a related cause be a natural consequence?”
“I see, I see…between me and our lady here, the difference in magic power is undeniable, and you have buttloads of magic power too. Either mine is too weak or yours is too strong. Lady, tell us what’s on your mind too.”
Vulcan nodded to Shin’s reply, then asked for Schnee’s opinion too.
“Quantity and control of magic power, I am quite sure that these two elements are related. I saw the magic power you two imbued clash and make sparks against one another. In the end, Shin’s magic power almost fully covered the item, leaving little of Mr. Vulcan’s. When I and Shin do it, our magic powers overlap, so I believe that this is the cause behind the difference in results.”
“Layers of magic power, huh. I’ll be damned if I don’t envy you for being able to see what we barely manage to feel.”
Vulcan and Shin tried imagining the layers that Schnee explained, but far from building layers, they couldn’t even manage to make their magic power overlap, so they both had a sour look on their faces.
“Could you show me how you forge with Vaal? If I see a successful attempt, I might find a clearer difference.”
“Sure thing. With someone with eyes as good as yours around, it’d be a shame not to try it.”
Vulcan grinned and called Vaal. The blacksmith’s grandson had the persistent dwarf crowd leave, turned the shop’s sign to the “closed” side and started working immediately.
When Vulcan and Vaal struck their hammers, very similar sounds echoed in the surroundings. Being master and student, their striking styles were probably very similar too. Next to Schnee, Shin too tried to focus in catching any changes in magic power.
Differently from seeing magic power used during spells, what Shin could see was just a faint mist, when the hammers struck the anvil, as if he was looking at a blurred photograph, probably because he wasn’t used to it.
The blacksmiths continued working, their hammers alternating, small sparks of magic power flying around. Shin could catch a glimpse of a thin membrane-like object.
He continued to focus even more, and gradually the fog lifted.
A thin, transparent membrane covered the iron. The red film of Vulcan’s strikes, the orange film of Vaal’s strikes formed layers upon layers. Every time they struck a new layer appeared, but the total thickness did not change.
When Vulcan and Vaal finished their work, the membrane had become of a color between the two and was absorbed by the iron’s surface.
“I guess this is it. It went pretty well.”
“Yeah, this has a support effect.”
The iron block formed a shape slightly more irregular than the one forged by Shin and Vulcan. The effect provided was +5% STR.
Leaving the shape aside, the effect was much more useful than what Shin and Vulcan had produced.
“Your magic powers overlapped neatly, just like Yuki said. In they end, they mixed together and were sucked in.”
“You could see it?”
“I focused on the item and could see it little by little, but I could see something clear only at the end.”
“I thought it could happen, but…never so suddenly.”
Schnee thought that Shin could manage to become able to see the magic power layers, as it was something related to blacksmithing, but was surprised that he had suddenly learned this ability.
“Shin, my man, I can’t let that slide without wondering who the hell you really are…but I’m not gonna ask any questions, and don’t you either, Vaal.”
“Don’t worry grampa, I’m already positive that for Mr. Shin nothing is impossible.”
Vulcan warned his grandson after hearing Shin and Schnee’s conversation, but Vaal was apparently already beyond that. Shin wondered what made him think that, and Vaal replied that it was the first sword that Shin forged. Seeing a sword already sharp just after forging convinced him that he was looking at something from a level completely above his.
“Now that you mention it…as far as I know, the dwarf elder is the only one who can do things like that. I guess there are lots of other famous blacksmiths in the world.”
Vulcan laughed loudly, declaring how happy he was to have known one of them.
“Will you show me you and the lady forge something next? I feel like I might grasp something new.”
Shin nodded and they started working right away. Schnee’s blacksmithing level was still IV, lower than Vulcan’s, so Shin had her focus on striking only the core of the iron.
Shin fixed the metal block and did the first hit, then Schnee followed, matching the timing with his. Shin could clearly see the overlapping layers this time. A purple film when Shin struck, a blue one when Schnee did.
What was different from Vulcan and Vaal’s was that Shin and Schnee’s membranes did not simply overlap: Shin’s membrane would break through our repel Schnee’s, which was likely the cause of a failed product.
Shin noticed it now, so he adjusted his striking power. However, things didn’t go as he hoped. Even if he held back, his magic power membrane would break through Schnee’s often.
The results were still better than when he forged with Vulcan, though: the resulting item had a +3% lightning resistance effect.
“This is pretty hard.”
“I couldn’t adjust my strength properly either.”
“Despite that, you managed to create something decent. This makes me think that magic power control is more important than blacksmithing skill?”
Schnee could also see the overlapping magic power membranes, so she adjusted her striking power accordingly. Based on this, Vulcan hypothesized that the secret behind successful cooperative forging was the control of magic power.
“I feel the same. This time it went somewhat well, but rather than striking the iron, I felt I was repelled by it.”
“Which means, we need both a considerable level of magic power control and blacksmithing skills. Both have to be trained.”
Shin made this conclusion after hearing Schnee’s reasoning.
Vulcan was an excellent blacksmith, but had poor magic control. Schnee was an expert in magic control, but her blacksmithing still needed work. Shin produced better results with Schnee probably because her blacksmithing skills were developed to an extent.
“So this means that we need to practice magic control too…that’ll be hard on the youngsters.”
Vulcan mumbled that it was better to leave that after they had become accomplished blacksmiths. The method of imbuing magic power while forging in pairs was still relatively unknown: money and time were needed to explore it further. If beginners dabbled in it, they risked not being able to make a living.
“How did you two train your magic control?”
“I try adjusting the power of spells, and maintaining them active in a regulated state.”
“I don’t do things like that, maybe because elves are blessed with good magic control since birth. But I tried using magic skills in all sorts of derivative ways, so I believe it helped. Shin’s adjusting method gave me hints too.”
Shin told Vulcan and Vaal the method that Schnee taught him. To prevent the risks of losing control over magic, they used Arts, which had low offensive power. The two blacksmiths quickly understood how difficult an exercise it was.
“I see, I see. This is pretty darned hard.”
“But, I kind of get it. This training is essential to perfect that forging method.”
They had just started and couldn’t maintain a proper 【Fireball】, but Vulcan and Vaal were convinced that they had to do it and smiled at each other. It was probably their instinct as artisans which told them so: skipping theories and data altogether, they could feel that “this is the answer we seek”, a hunch only true artisans could have.
“I guess we should focus on this for a while. What are you guys going to do?”
“We’re going to be busy soon, so I think it will be best to work separately until things calm down.”
“Could it be that you…naw, nothing. Let’s give it our all, all of us.”
Vulcan was about to say something, but stopped halfway. He shook his head and extended his hand, which Shin shook.
When Shin and Schnee left the workshop, the sun was almost setting: they had been inside a long time. It was common for Shin, but rare for Schnee not to realize it.
“Well, I was always just waiting before…I was happy to be able to work with you, so I lost track of time…”
“Gh, what can I say…sorry.”
Shin apologized to the blushing Schnee. He often lost track of time while forging: it wasn’t rare for the day to turn to night without him realizing. Schnee would always wait for him, never uttering a single complaint. Despite the fact that Schnee now would surely think that it was precious time.
“I have to be more careful in the future.”
“No, it’s nothing. Just my stance, let’s say.”
Leaving Schnee with a question mark over her head, Shin shook his head and faced forward.