Chapter 19: People with “Second Name” Titles Always Sound Like Mary-Sues.
“The nerve of that scoundrel.”
Niera glowers angrily as we leave the shop. I had considered buying a sword there and using his attempt at cheating us to bargain for a discount, but as expected the swords within range were ones I couldn’t stand to own. And it wouldn’t do to get too greedy and try for any of the higher-end ones.
There’s a tact to negotiating a discount.
“Um… well, he’s certainly infuriating, but you didn’t notice it at first either, Niera.”
“Whether I could tell or not, a shopkeeper who tries to trick his customers is the worst.”
Well, that’s true.
“Also, I’m more knowledgeable about pole arms. When I need a sword I usually have Jericho come with me to recommend things to try out. Anyway, it’s hard to tell what’s good about a weapon until you give it a good hard swing.”
I see, so even if she doesn’t know too much about the make of a sword she can judge by its performance. Certainly the poor balance would be obvious with one good swing. Niera gives off that type of aura after all; the type who’s good at feeling things out instead of thinking.
“Fumu. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of that shopkeeper trying to pull this kind of trick. It’s because he tries to aggressively sell weapons that have been stocked too long without lowering their prices. We’ll have to rethink out business with this shop after all.”
The one who said that was the older man who had been talking business with the shopkeeper. He’s muscular with broad shoulders, but he doesn’t look all buff like an adventurer or athlete. More like someone who does hard labor for a living. He’s bald, but has a rust-colored moustache and beard trimmed short.
“Yes, I only chose that shop as one of the ones to look at because they sold swords from Helward’s forge. But that kind of behavior is a disgrace.”
Niera complains kind of high-handedly towards this ossan. He laughs in response.
He’s the good-natured sort, huh?
“Ahaha, that’s true. What a pity. There isn’t much need for a decorative sword in Nyl, but it was well made and moderately well-priced for its purpose. If he hadn’t tried to pass it off as a usable sword your impression of it might even be quite good, for a decoration. But now that sword will probably be regarded as ‘the sword the Flickering Pike Niera rejected’, making it even harder to sell. A bad salesman is the bane of us craftsman.”
I have a lot I’m interested in with this discussion. Like, how famous is Niera and her group? And who is Helward? Does a forge not sell its own swords? But it’s hard to ask since Niera and the ossan are having a long conversation.
All of a sudden the ossan looks at me with a smile.
“Well, I’m interested in how this jou-chan recognized it for what it was so quickly.”
Jou-chan… I never thought I would have to prepare myself for being called jou-chan…
Jun has taken 10 points of damage.
“Uh… well… my grandfather was a smith of sorts.”
“A smith of sorts. Hm… Are you new here to Nyl?”
“This is Jun, someone we took care of on the caravan back from Tiertha. No, someone who took care of us? Well, she is a promising new adventurer that all of us have high expectations. Jun, this is Gustav, the second-in-charge under Helward at the most famous forge in Nyl.”
Niera gives the introduction while she puffs out her chest a little. It’s a little embarrassing that she thinks so highly of me. Hey, wait a minute, if a famous person with a title like you treats me like a VIP, won’t it be impossible to avoid standing out?
“I can tell Jou-chan is talented if Flickering Pike Niera, Steadfast Fortress Jericho, Silver Sword Kristaf, Wind Enchantress Miinalya, and the Learned Wizard Lorenzo all have high hopes for her.”
The ossan laughs while he says it; I think he’s teasing Niera, since she twists her body and blushes.
Aaah… I give up all hopes of not standing out when he rattles out a list of chuuni names like that. They’re all famous, even Lor who’s still only an apprentice mage. I’ll just do what I want now, since it’s impossible to tiptoe around.
Well, in moderation.
It seems Niera’s title is from her abilities with the pike. Though it’s longer than a spear, her nimble way of handling it causes the tip to dance in and out of her opponents’ vision. Even a narrow passage won’t hinder her. I haven’t seen her using a pike yet, so I can’t speak for it myself.
“Hm… well, can I ask something?”
All of a sudden ossa- Gustav switches to a serious tone, similar to when he had been talking to that shopkeeper.
“To be able to judge how well the blade was forged at a glance, how well can you do it?”
“Mm… I have a good accuracy when it comes to recognizing the quality of the forging and heating from watching my grandfather. Though I have to say he made more failures than successes.”
I’m thinking about how to expand on that when a wave of nostalgia hits me.
Even if I was scolded by Mother or Grandma, I always snuck back into Grandfather’s makeshift forge in the shed out back, just sitting and watching.
Grandfather … to be honest I could never really tell if he understood I was there or not. Silent as always he would sit there, back to the entrance, working with all his might. And I would watch mesmerized by the clanging and sparks that flew from his hammer.
There were some times, though, that he called me over. I’d jump, scared that he would kick me out, but instead he would hold out a piece of metal.
“Too much heat,” or “Over-hammered,” or “Bad steel,” would be all he’d say, but he would let me take it and then turn around again. And again Grandfather would be silent except for the ringing of the hammer, ignoring my presence.
Perhaps just sitting and watching for over 10 years honed my instincts. It got to the point that I could tell what had failed with just the sound of the hammer and the subtle change in Grandfather’s back.
… It’s a little lonely to think I can’t visit that forge anymore. Ah, even if I was in the other world it would be sold soon, right?
“You see, we’re so swamped we’ll even take help from a cat. Even if it’s just checking the quality of the blades, well… Having someone to go through that mess will greatly reduce our burden. Of course it would be paid. I’m afraid I haven’t thought of the rate yet. ”
Gustav cuts into my reminiscing. Ah, so he was talking business.
“Ara? Even Helward’s can get like that?”
At Niera’s words Gustav’s good-natured smile freezes a bit.
His usual happy laugh is also a bit stiff-sounding.
Gakun. He endures it only for a little while before he hangs his head and sighs heavily.
“With a light-hearted, ‘I’m off to look for interesting materials,’ Helward has disappeared into the Labyrinth. Three months now. We won’t be able to maintain our reputation at this rate.”
“Eeh… isn’t that bad if he’s missing for three months in a Labyrinth? What if he’s in trouble?”
I can’t help but ask. After all, a Labyrinth is that, right? Full of monsters and dangerous traps and such, so if he’s missing for such a long time it could be a bad situation. So I thought, but…
“ “No problem, no problem.” ”
Both Niera and Gustav brushed that worry aside without a second thought. I’m kind of interested in meeting this Helward.
“Hm, you might say you’d like to hire Jun, but this is just the first day she’s been in Nyl, you know? The first few days at a new Labyrinth are a sensitive time for an adventurer.”
“Ah… I understand what I’m asking is quite shameless.”
“No. I am interested.”
I surprise even myself with that. But, you know, I don’t think it’s a bad idea? I don’t have a weapon or too much money for the rest of the equipment so it’s not like I’m going down into the Labyrinth today, probably, and getting acquainted with the best forge in the city isn’t a bad idea.
It seems that Niera needs to go back soon to find out what Jericho and the rest of her party were thinking about doing until Miinalya recovered, and so since I’ve decided to follow Gustav she leaves.
“Well, if you need me again just ask at the Guild!”
She shouts that while she waves furiously, then jogs off.
As Gustav leads the way to the forge, I’m surprised to find myself trembling with excitement.
“What, you mean we have to let this girl judge our work?!”
Ah, of course. There’s always a downside.