Chapter 20: There’s Always Some Friction When a New Manager Transfers to Your Branch of the Company.
I’d noticed before; the blades of the swords I’d been looking at all had different compositions.
It’s not like I can tell what the composition of the metals were just by looking and holding them, but I can sometimes tell the differences when comparing blades. I’ve always been kind of sensitive to big differences in metal alloys.
If there are so many different metals I DID notice, there’s probably 2-3 times more different alloys that I DIDN’T notice.
Basically, because there are so many drastically different metal alloys just among the low-grade swords in that one shop, I’m beginning to assume there isn’t a central ore refinery in Nyl City.
That seems strange to me. Judging from the swords I’ve seen, I think the sword-making in this world has as much history as sword-making in the modern era from back home. Just without the power tools. With the advancement of sword-smithing to this degree, I speculate that the smiths who make weapons here are weapon specialists who don’t deal in general products or armor.
Well of course, in this world your blade meant everything, from your life to your living. It’s not surprising there are people dedicated solely to improving weapons.
Specialization in specific components has always followed as technology advances. In the modern age back home there are people who smelt and refine the ore, who sell ingots to the blade makers, who hand blades to the hilt makers and add-on makers … for katana there are even families who make a living purely by sharpening blades.
Even though there were people who learned all the steps and could do everything, you could easily find a specialist for every step of sword construction back home.
Then isn’t it strange that, at the very least, they don’t have someone who specializes in smelting ores in this world? It’s super burdensome and requires separate facilities, you know?
Thinking about it, certainly one reason for this could be the lawlessness in Nyl City. Though there seems to be some sort of comradery between people who recognize each others’ talents, it doesn’t feel like a community that bands together for the common good.
Security patrols aren’t scheduled but done on request, after all. There’s no way competing smiths fighting for customers would band together and assign someone to be in charge of the vital ore. In a way their livelihoods would depend on “submitting” to the smelter… something like that?
The other reason I thought about is something that excites me a little bit more.
In this culture, the refinement of metal might be as highly valued as the smithing of the sword. The worth of a bladesmith might depend on how well you can refine your basic materials.
In our world you buy a piece of steel – wire, bar, rod, sheet – and it can turn into anything. Knife, hammer, or a pot … Only when you begin to forge it can you say, “This is definitely going to be a sword and nothing else.” You could say that you start making a sword from the ingot.
In this world, could it be that you start making a sword from the ore?
When I reach “Helward’s forge”, I understand a lot of things.
First, it’s hot. There’s no way for anyone to do business here. This is why the smiths let merchants sell their wares in other shops scattered throughout the city.
Second, it’s beyond hot. And there are tall, chimney-like towers built around the forge. They’re a bit small, but are they what you’d call blast furnaces? And there’s not just one. There’s THREE. My guess that the smiths smelt their own metal seems completely supported. Unless Helward’s is special … but I see other forges down this particular mountainous path with their own towers, so no, it seems this is normal.
Gustav grins, since I’ve stopped in the face of the awe-inspiring sight of the forge.
“Quite a sight, huh?”
“… yeah. It’s my first time seeing a blast furnace in person.”
“Hm? Hot wind furnace?”
Oh? Did that part not translate well? I wonder why.
“Um… that is… you put charcoal and metal ore in the top and blow air heated with a furnace through the middle for first refining the ore?”
“Ahh, yes, though charcoal is for the cheaper swords, and it’s equipped with a heat bellows. Well, you seem to know quite a bit. They’re called Feed Kilns, though.”
Heh~. What… exactly are you “feeding” it? But I see. In my world, the blast furnace is known by how you blow hot air through to directly heat the ore. Here this furnace is known for putting in the fuel and ore in the top. Is that the reason for the mistranslation? Now I wonder if it’s just fuel they put in with the ore.
… Hah! I’m totally spacing out.
“Sorry. I’m taking up valuable time.”
When I look over at him, Gustav’s eyes are glinting towards me with a strange light. Eh… was I being weird?
““Heheh, it’s alright, I don’t mind. Or, actually, you have the eyes of a craftsman looking at her new target. I’m glad my instincts haven’t dulled.”
I’m still ashamed. He asked me to help them because they have a time crunch, and here I am wasting time. I follow Gustav into the forge.
Inside I look over and see a huge trench in front of the bottoms of the Feed Kilns. That must be where they draw the ore. Wonder what they do with the waste. The trench is empty though the Feed Kilns are still running. It must take too much effort to reheat the Feed Kilns.
Ara? There’s a smaller furnace in the back, not a blast furnace though. Oh, and behind it are two small pit furnaces.
In the middle of the large room are the forges. 6 of them in total, 2 large and 4 small. Around one of the small ones, 5 men were gathered.
They look up as we entered the building.
“Oh, Gustav-sama, we’ve finished refining the ore!”
“Please give your permission for forging the sword!”
Three of the men ran up as Gustav entered, carrying a lump of metallic metal in a fat, bar ingot form. Iron? They must have been in charge of the second refinement. From there it should be able to be made into swords…
Gustav inspects it, then turns and tosses it to me. Without warning.
Oi, don’t just throw something so heavy … Well I guess it’s okay since I’m using Augment Body and I can catch it with one hand. But what would you do if I couldn’t?
At that, the men all seem to notice me for the first time.
“… Gustav, are you going on dates in the middle of work?!”
“Whoo, bringing a girl to a workplace like this!”
“Ain’t she a bit young for you?”
Even though I’ve resolved to accept that I’m a girl for now, it still hurts that they don’t even hesitate on whether I’m a girl or not.
I ignore the whistles and inspect the large ingot-like metal. It IS iron. Or steel? Well, it’s one of them. Ah, this spot… Did they not pound it out well? If I can find one, there might be others. Well, having even one weak spot like this won’t do to make a sword out of. And like, isn’t this ingot too big? At least divide it up properly if you’re refining it for the second time.
Gustav ignores the men too and watches my reaction.
“It might need to be reforged.”
Well, it definitely needs to be, but I’m a little hesitant giving my opinion as an outsider.
Gustav nods approvingly. He’s testing me, huh? On the other hand…
“What?! How would you know?”
“Tch. Oi, Oujo-chan, don’t shoot off your mouth like that.”
The men change their tones quick, huh. Uwaaaah, they’re glaring at me by a lot. One of them in particular is especially upset. He doesn’t say anything though.
One of the younger guys turns to Gustav to complain.
“Hey, Gustav-sama, what’s with you bringing her? Women are distractions in the forge, y’know?”
Well I was a man. Who still looked like this. They really know how to rub it in. Darnit!
Gustav still ignores them.
“Hey, the swords are that way, Jou-chan. I’ll leave it to you.”
Ah, he’s still calling me Jou-chan … I’ll call you “Ossan” from now on if you don’t stop, oi! Though Gustav seems to be the type that doesn’t care if he’s middle-aged so it might not be effective.
It’s kind of intimidating, having the group of men glaring at me as I walk past, but I accepted a job after all. I won’t back down. The swords, well, blades, are on a rack, twelve of them total.
Oi oi, didn’t you have an order of 25? This is just under half! I hope they can make it in time.
I try to block out the sounds behind me of Gustav explaining why he hired me.
Urgh… such an explosion of anger.
Well sure, I’m an outsider after all.
Maa… my business is with the swords. I don’t need to worry about the reactions of those guys.
From what I can see there are 8 swords that are ready to sell. Or rather, aren’t these sword’s great? Dammit, I’d want one of these. A little thinner would be nice, but they’re way beyond what I was looking at in the shop. Well I was only looking at the cheapest swords in the shop. Guess I won’t be able to afford it.
3 swords are ok, but the balances are off just enough to be noticeable. 2 of them will also probably deliver too much vibration to the handle. It’s not awful, but too much vibration isn’t good for the wrist. 1 of those has an awkward taper for a broadsword. The last is also just plain heavy in addition to the weird balance, even though they tried to reduce the weight by grinding the middle channel down so much. These are still much better than the swords I’d been looking at in the shop.
The last … eh… is this supposed to be used as a sword? I was impressed the others were heated treated well, the 8 good ones of course, but even the 3 mediocre ones can’t be thrown aside. The last, though, is brittle. It will break easily. The shape is off, it’s tip heavy, basically an amateur’s forging of a sword. Well, I bet if I had an opportunity to make my first sword it would probably look like this.
I cheated a little and used (Analyze), though it could only tell me basic information. Video-game-like information. But I found out the first 8 were, understandably, made by one talented guy named Jetsom. 2 of the mediocre ones were made by a guy named Nars, the heavy mediocre one was made by a guy named Kulir, and the last bad one was made by a guy named Pieta.
… I feel like Pieta probably shouldn’t be at the level of making swords.
<A/n: Now that we’re past the setting establishment, I felt comfortable enough to go back and put more specifics in the synopsis on the Index page.>