Shin and his party left the dungeon and returned to Fuji’s shrine. Mitsuyo, who had been sitting waiting for them, came running as soon she saw the group.
“That was pretty quick. Did something happen?”
Maybe because she had noticed Munechika’s sickly complexion, Mitsuyo seemed to think that some accident happened.
“Something happened, that’s for sure. For starters, we recovered Yasutsuna.”
Shin answered somewhat awkwardly, then showed 『Yasutsuna』, which had not been changed to a card. The miasma had vanished, but the katana’s hilt and blade were still in terrible condition.
The sight of 『Yasutsuna』 left Mitsuyo speechless.
“It was already in this state when we found it. The miasma has been purified, but I don’t know what happened to its consciousness. Maybe Kagutsuchi could know something?”
Mitsuyo grabbed Shin’s hand and ran off. Transparent teardrops flowed from her eyes.
As they moved from the dungeon portal to the crystallized Kagutsuchi’s chambers, Yuzuha, who had probably detected their arrival from the sound of their footsteps, came running to meet them, baby Kagutsuchi and Tsunetsugu in tow.
“Lord Kagutsuchi, Yasutsuna is….Yasutsuna is…”
Mitsuyo ran up to Kagutsuchi, but words wouldn’t leave her throat.
Looking at Mitsuyo’s tearful expression, Kagutsuchi and Tsunetsugu’s expressions both darkened.
“Calm down, Mitsuyo. What happened?”
“I will explain. Please look at this first.”
Shin came forward from behind Mitsuyo and showed 『Yasutsuna』.
“I see, so this is how it is.”
“Kuu, all worn out.”
They all understood right away the reason why Mitsuyo was crying.
For Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu, Yasutsuna was one of their few brethren. Seeing it in such a state was more than enough cause to become emotional.
“I don’t know in what state Yasutsuna’s consciousness could be right now. I thought that maybe Kagutsuchi could know.”
“He says he wants you to show him the katana closely. Right, please place it on that pedestal there.”
Tsunetsugu translated Kagutsuchi’s message. After Shin did as he was told, Kagutsuchi touched the blade with its small wings.
“Is that really so!? No, but at least there is still hope…”
Kagutsuchi was quiet for several minutes, then cried loudly. The words Tsunetsugu spoke in reaction contained both relief and discouragement. Mitsuyo, eyes looking down to the ground, was silent.
“Yuzuha, what did it say?”
“It’s very, exhausted. Like this, the consciousness will, fade away. But there is still, a way.”
“And what is this way?”
“…..another one. With a container to transfer its consciousness to, it could be saved.”
Tsunetsugu spoke in Yuzuha’s place. The consciousness hosted within the weapon should be able to transfer itself.
“Another one? Aah, so that’s wha—-”
“Please!! Give us your 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』!!”
Tsunetsugu seemed to be uncertain about making the request or not, but Mitsuyo shouted in his place.
She placed her hands on the ground and lowered her head, prostrating towards Shin.
“Wait, what are you doing!? I knew that you’d ask me to give it to you! I’d never say no in a situation like this!”
Shin spoke while urging Mitsuyo to raise her head.
“But Ancient-grade weapons are rare items that could be impossible to find anymore. A blacksmith like you surely knows how much they are worth. Even so, you would give it away?”
Mitsuyo was aware how much Ancient-grade weapons were worth. She thought that no samurai or blacksmith would ever part ways with one.
“I know that it’s precious. But honestly, right now I’m using it only as a collector’s item. Besides, I’m someone who can reinforce 『Mikazuki Masamune』, not your average blacksmith…if I need an Ancient-grade weapon, I can just forge myself a new one. I forged this one too, you know?”
Shin talked while pointing at the weapon he had at his waist. Resting in its sheath was a genuine Ancient-grade katana, 『Moonless』.
“If possible, let us do it right away. Please look and see if you can.”
Shin put his materialized 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 on the pedestal where he had placed Yasutsuna.
The baby Kagutsuchi already started spreading its wings.
Kagutsuchi carefully examined the two blades for several minutes, then cried softly and shook its head. Shin understood what it meant even without Mitsuyo’s translation.
“No!! But why!?”
“How can this be…”
Baby Kagutsuchi said something else, and both Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu lowered their heads.
“What did Kagutsuchi say?”
Looking at Kagutsuchi’s gestures, anyone would have understood that Shin’s 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 couldn’t be used. The reason was still unknown though.
“This katana is filled with your magic power, so it apparently can’t be used as a container. Like Munechika, its original body is separate, so the only thing possible is transferring its consciousness for a time…”
“I see. So what we would need is a 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 without anything unnecessary mixed in it, right?”
“Yes, exactly…but where could we find something like that!?”
Mitsuyo, unable to restrain herself, struck the pedestal. Maybe because of her power, the struck pedestal crumbled.
Only part of the pedestal crumbled, so Yasutsuna was still safe. She had not lost control at the point of endangering it too.
“Shin, can’t anything be done?”
The question had come from Tiera. Shin turned towards her, to find Schnee and the others looking at Shin too.
“…there is one thing, that could be attempted.”
In response to Shin’s words, Mitsuyo let out a rather dazed reaction. All present eyes focused on Shin and his serious expression.
Then, Shin spoke clearly.
“To forge another 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』.”
“You can do something like that?”
Tsunetsugu was surprised by Shin’s words, but couldn’t hide the skepticism in his eyes. Creating Ancient-grade weapons was truly difficult after all, that’s why they were so precious and rare.
“Honestly speaking, I am not completely confident. 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 is an event-only item, so its creation recipe doesn’t exist. So I have to start from zero and do trial & error from there. But I have recipes for other Ancient-grade weapons, which I can use as reference; it should help things to a point. Moreover, excluding the fact that it’s filled with my magic power, we have the real thing here. If I analyze this, I should be able to forge something similar right away.”
During the time he was holding Yasutsuna, Shin had already analyzed its composition to a degree.
As he had perceived Yasutsuna’s remaining durability just by clashing against it, until now phenomena unexplainable only with the words “it’s thanks to the skills” had happened, time and again.
Shin wondered what the reason could be, but there was no point in worrying about that now.
“This is my first time, so I don’t know how much time it could take. First, give me a few days for analysis and trial creation.”
“We can’t be of assistance to you for that, so I suppose we will wait while thinking of any ideas.”
“Indeed, we are not weapon specialists, we wouldn’t know what could be useful after all.”
Shin proceeded to materialize Tsuki no Hokora right away and go to the smithy.
Filma and the others, while looking for anything that could prove useful, stood guard at Fuji and its surroundings alongside Mitsuyo and Tsunetsugu.
Schnee instead set out with Tiera for some special training.
“Well then, let us start from grasping your physical abilities, improved by the recent level ups. It will be better to examine your skills, yes?”
“Er…well, m-master, I am sure I could do that by myself, there is no need for you to bother…”
Tiera slowly backed from Schnee while saying this. The sweat forming on her forehead clearly showed her current state of mind.
“What are you saying now? There are many things that need to be ascertained. Let us start with a simple sparring match.”
“Eeek!! Master, wait!! Please waaaaaiiitttt…..”
Tiera’s voice trailed as she was dragged away. Shin and the others silently prayed in their hearts for her safe return.
“Time to start, then.”
Shin was in the smithy and started with Yasutsuna’s analysis.
First he detached the blade from the hilt, separating them. Then, with a small palm-sized hammer, gently struck the blade. High-pitched metallic sounds rang through the smithy. After hearing the sound resounding through his ears, Shin proceeded to the next activity.
He extracted several ingots from the item box, putting them close to 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 , one after the other. Some of the ingots sparkled when close to the katana.
“No durability recovery made me suspicious but as I thought, there really is a small ratio of Scarletite.”
The sparkle of the ingots allowed Shin to know what minerals were used in the blade and their approximate quantity. Finally, he placed 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 on his hands and closed his eyes.
This series of actions, unchanged from the game era, allowed one to obtain a creation recipe.
There were several ways to acquire a weapon recipe: the main methods were buying it, obtaining it from someone, finding it in a dungeon treasure chest, or analyzing the weapon to create it by oneself.
Mysteriously enough, as Shin closed his eyes the weapon’s composition and materials gradually appeared in his mind. In the game era, the recipe would have appeared before his eyes, so it seems that things had changed somewhat.
“Hmm, it’s still full of holes. Though understanding 60% of an Ancient-grade weapon’s recipe so quickly is a success in itself I suppose.”
Analyzing a weapon can not provide a complete recipe. The recipe’s holes need to be filled through trial & error.
It’s a long, grueling task, which requires the patience of repeating the same steps many times and the financial leeway of using up many items and precious minerals while looking for the correct ingredients’ ratio.
“Orichalcum….60%…no, 62% maybe? Adamantine is….20%….no, 30…change the values and…”
Shin was throwing ingot after ingot in the furnace, mumbling to himself in the process.
The minerals used were created in Tsuki no Hokora’s generator. The ingots in the item box were permeated with Shin’s magic power, so they could not be used.
Shin kept following the recipe, filling its holes with his intuition and experience.
Two hours after starting, he finally reached the last step before completion, the final stage.
Shin materialized a 『Drop of Erathem』 from the item box. The gemstone, transparent yet shining with the seven colors of the rainbow, appeared in Shin’s hand.
“As I thought, swords and katana need a coating treatment.”
The 『Drop of Erathem』 was an indispensable item when creating Ancient-grade weapons. Depending on the treatment used on it, the weapon’s status changed.
An external coating would make the weapon physical-focused, using it as core or center would make it magic-focused, if it was melted with the other ingredients the weapon would turn out balanced between both.
Shin’s 『Moonless』 and Schnee’s 『Blue Moon』 were balanced, while Filma’s 『Red Moon』 and Shibaid’s 『Placid Moon』 were physical-focused.
Shin submerged the 『Drop of Erathem』 in a special liquid. As he did, the 『Drop of Erathem』 melted within the liquid, which assumed rainbow-like colors.
“….looks like it’s working fine.”
After saying this, Shin took the completed blade and soaked it into the liquid. The liquid’s sparkle changed, as if absorbed by the blade: soon after, it returned to its original color.
After confirming that the sparkle had vanished, Shin removed the blade from the liquid and wiped it with a cloth.
As if tempered by this action, the blade now shone with a dull sparkle.
The first test creation had been completed.
Shin looked at the blade and let out a sigh. As to confirm his words, the name displayed by 【Analyze】 was 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna – Dull』.
He had followed the recipe, so it was at least recognized as a Yasutsuna. But the word “Dull” after it negated everything else.
“Well, it’s to be expected for the first test to go like this…hmm? The door’s open!”
The knock at the door came with perfect timing. The door between the smithy and the residential space wasn’t locked, so after Shin’s words the door slowly opened.
Then Mitsuyo came inside.
“….did something happen to Yasutsuna?”
“That’s not it, don’t worry. Kagutsuchi said it would last for at least a month too.”
Shin was relieved to hear those words. Thinking that it would be best to start working as soon as possible, he had not confirmed how much time he had.
“I see. So do you need something?”
“Yes, I didn’t want to bother, but…is work going well?”
“I’m at around 60% for now. I have a general idea now, so all that’s left is minor adjustments. Though, that’s what takes the most time.”
What mineral was used, and in what quantity. Adjusting this was the most complex part.
Regarding the crafting process, weapons of the same type shared many similar points. It was thus much quicker than finding the correct ratio of used minerals.
“I will definitely craft it within the allotted time. So please give me a little more time.”
Shin did not actually know if it was possible to re-create the same weapon in this world. Even so, he made his statement. It was to make Mitsuyo feel better and also a little for his own pride.
“….okay, I won’t doubt you anymore. I’m going then.”
Mitsuyo turned around and put a hand on the handle of the smithy’s door. Her expression had no trace of the mistrust she felt at the time of their first meeting.
Just before closing the door behind her, Mitsuyo turned around and whispered softly.
“Do…do your best.”
The door closed as Mitsuyo’s whisper trailed off.
Shin had already turned his eyes back to test creation #1, so maybe she thought he hadn’t noticed.
The smithy, however, was not particularly noisy. The words of encouragement whispered by Mitsuyo duly reached Shin’s ears.
“….let’s do this.”
Feeling even more eager than before, Shin first melted test creation #1 in the furnace.
The special furnace built in the Tsuki no Hokora melted the weapon, which despite being a test creation, was still an Ancient-grade one, and returned the materials used in the craft as ingots.
Only one third of the materials used could be retrieved, but it was still better than nothing. The item box and Tsuki no Hokora’s warehouse still contained a great quantity of materials, but Shin had no idea when they could re-stock them.
Crafting test creations required large quantities of materials. Repeating to himself to save as many as possible, he once again took ingots in hand, to craft the next katana.
He finally succeeded in re-creating 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 two weeks later.
“I…I did it.”
After a never-ending succession of trial creations, Shin finally succeeded in creating a satisfying result. He hadn’t received Kagutsuchi’s confirmation yet, but Shin’s intuition told him that it was perfect.
If someone unaware of the circumstances saw this silhouette, laughing holding a katana up high, they would surely think Shin was at its mental limits though.
“Ehm, are you alright…?”
“Hahaha, I’m so sleepy I could die…”
Schnee had come to check on him, at the best time, and voiced her worry. Shin then changed from laughing eerily to wobbling, unsteady on his feet.
Bags were clearly visible under his eyes; he had been pushing himself as much as he could.
“First, show this to Kagutsuchi. It should, work out.”
“Understood. I understand very well, so please rest!”
Schnee accepted 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』, but couldn’t bear watching Shin like that and urged him to rest. Maybe because of her words, or because the tension within him had eased after completing 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』, Shin fell asleep instantly.
“Shin, you really work too hard…”
It wasn’t clear if Schnee’s whisper had reached Shin’s ears or not.
His head buried in Schnee’s chest, who had quickly moved closer to support him, Shin was already sleeping peacefully. He had kept crafting, neglecting to eat and sleep, so he was not likely to wake up soon.
With a small smile, Schnee stood there for a while, affectionately embracing Shin.