Chapter 21: Sometimes You have to Wonder whether Your Boss can’t Read the Mood or if He’s Just Ignoring It.
I’m not sure of the time, but it couldn’t have taken me an hour to appraise the swords. I report my findings to Gustav.
The angry looks from the other guys hurt. They were busy at one of the forges, but when I approached Gustav they all stopped and glared at me.
I wonder if I’m not used to open hostility. I can’t think of any incident where I’d made enemies before back in the other world. No, wait. There was that guy … and the one from that time …
Setting whether I had enemies or not asides, I have confidence that I lived in the other world while avoiding conflict as much as possible. By helping when people need help, interfering when there’s a need to, and stepping down when it’s necessary, it’s easy to control the level of hate people have towards you.
At the least, I’m not used to being hated for any reasons I haven’t made myself.
Gustav listens to my report seriously.
Ah, by the way, the reason Gustav himself didn’t inspect the blades isn’t because he doesn’t have the ability. Or at least that’s what I’m guessing. It seems like, along with one apprentice who does the odd jobs, Gustav is the sole maker of all the sword hilts and sword guards in this forge. And he’s an exceptional one at that.
I, who only was interested in blades back home and know absolutely nothing about the add-ons, want him to teach me.
Anyway, Gustav was busy adjusting hilts on two other blades aside from the ones he asked me to appraise, so he had no time to appraise the other 12 that had been finished. He didn’t let the other men appraise them; is it because they are apprentices?
Yeah, if they’re just apprentices who were all moderately at the same level, then it would give birth to bad feelings between them if they critiqued each others’ works. That’s why he outsourced this bothersome hostility to an outsider, huh? If I think about it like that I can understand. Well, it’s still weird for a famous smithy to ask an outsider for help on appraising their blades.
Especially if you have whoever that Jetsom guy is. Couldn’t he appraise them … ah, well I guess it’s helpful to have a second pair of eyes. If he’s busy making all the blades then I guess it can’t be helped.
Speaking of that Jetsom guy, is he not here? I haven’t seen anyone who would match the aura of an experienced bladesmith yet. I’m not sure what I should expect; because the names have all been foreign-sounding ones I haven’t heard often, I can’t picture his face at all.
“Oh, that’s right, we haven’t talked about the request’s reward.”
Gustav said, after hearing me out and taking the poor quality sword(tentative) that I had brought to him.
“I thought we did … not, I suppose.”
Hm? I thought we had, but when I tried to remember what we had agreed on I came up with blanks. Ahh… was I so excited to see the forge that I forgot to confirm something like that? Not good; I’ll be easily tricked if I let down my guard like this.
“You finished it quicker then I expected. Let’s see … how about 2,000 ecrue for every 12 swords?”
I haven’t the slightest idea. What’s the going price for knowledge? A barely usable sword sells for 8,000 ecrue, but the Guild Card and ID Plate cost over 10,000 ecrue. I haven’t looked at a single other thing. And it’s not like I actually made anything, just looked over some swords … so 2,000 ecrue would be alright?
… I am a poor fool who knows nothing about prices, whether in this world or that one. I was spoiled with price tags and listed part-time salaries in Japan. Not that I worked all that much. Just sometimes around Christmas and New Years as extra help.
I don’t know if it’s high or low so the easiest thing to do is just accept that rate, but I don’t want to sound like I’ll just take whatever people give me so I’ll just say,
“Isn’t that fine? I get to observe a pretty interesting facility too.”
Maa, it’s fine even if I got underpaid since I have the opportunity to make acquaintances of the most famous forge (according to Niera) in the city.
“Heh. Let’s see… I’ll get it reimbursed later.”
Gustav mutters to himself as he counts out 2,000 ecrue from his own pocket and hands it over. I slip it into my bag. After drawing the strings closed, I realize I’d forgotten to slip it into Inventory. Ah well.
“Now then, Jou-chan, it would be a shame for you to just hang out in the forge until the blades are finished for appraisal.”
Gustav turns fully and faces me. I wonder if he’s going to suggest a change in payment or an additional odd-job he wants me to do; though prolonging this discussion is good for me. It will be easier to try to ask if I can buy a good sword cheap. It may be bad manners … I’m sorry in advance.
“I want to see you make a sword.”
Nononono. One doesn’t just “make” a sword for the first time. How many years do you think apprentices need to do oddjobs and image training before a master let’s them forge a sword for the first time?
My protests don’t make it out of my head. I won’t refuse this opportunity; no, I don’t think I have it in myself to refuse.
“What’s with that, why are you letting someone else use the forge?!”
I don’t resist, but boy are the other guys protesting. Gustav waves me over to a separate forge.
“I want to see what this Jou-chan is capable of, is that a problem? Ah, if two of you have time, could you strike for her?”
Eeeeeh… Gustav, read the mood, the mood! Ah, no good. So many angry outcries.
“What?! Gustav, what are you thinking?!”
“Why should we strike for some unknown girl apprentice! Don’t cut corners just because she’s a girl!”
“That’s right, let her train 3 years like the rest of us before touching a hammer!”
“We’re all training hard to perfect the ingots, how can we have time?”
Mm… despite their hostility, they have a point. With this kind of reaction, if I forge a sword lousier than Pieta’s … ah, I don’t want to think of it. But unfortunately, I feel like whatever sword I forge will DEFINITELY be lousier than Pieta’s. This will be my first time holding a hammer, you know? I haven’t forged anything before, you know?
But for some reason I can’t really bring myself to stop this farce.
Gustav shakes his head at their angry comments and sighs.
“Hm… you guys don’t have time? There was time enough to make this.”
Gustav brandishes the sword(tentative). One of the younger men flinches. Ah, is that Pieta?
“Also… other than the swords Jetsom made, there weren’t any worth putting Helward’s mark on.”
Achyaa… So even “good-enough” swords fail to make the mark. Doesn’t that mean that Jetsom guy will have to make the entire shipment himself? Eh? Out of the 8 people here there’s only 1 + 1other actual staff?
What’s with this poor personnel lineup?
Or actually, this forge’s reputation is pretty pristine, huh?
I tune out for a second, thinking about the swords. Other than Pieta’s, I didn’t think the other two decent swords were that bad. They were way better than the under-10,000 ecrue swords I was looking at, you know?
Well, I guess it’s like Jetsom’s swords were over 100,000 ecrue, while the other guys’ swords were around 50,000 ecrue … that kind of double-the-value difference? Though I’m sorry, I don’t know what the actual prices would be; this is just a rough comparison.
“Alright, I’m going to check up on Jetsom’s merchant rounds.”
Gustav just waves his hand cheerfully and leaves, in spite of the grumblings of the apprentices.
Ah? Ah?! Hang on a second, you’re leaving me here like this?!
All that’s left is an uncomfortable silence.
Uwaaaah, I can feel their stares stabbing into me. One of the apprentices finally snorts, and I can hear his shoes scraping against the dirt floor as he turns away.
“Well I can’t help strike, since I’ve got training.”
He grumbles it while avoiding looking in my direction.
The rest mutter agreements and walk away as well.
The 2 older-looking apprentices are sullen, but say nothing. Despite their reluctant looks, I bet they would follow Gustav’s orders if I asked them to help. It looks like they understand Gustav has his reasons even if they don’t understand what the reasons are. They probably have the most important work assigned to them, and I bet they’re supervisors for the other apprentices too. It would be pretty rude to ask them to do something as menial as becoming my strikers…
But the younger apprentices have a reeeally hard-to-approach air to them. Or like, they’re totally angry.
I can probably manage by myself, so I’ll just let the apprentice group do their work. They need to catch up to that Jetsom guy’s level and reduce the amount of labor.
The younger apprentices are hanging around as I walk over to the other forge, talking loud enough for me to hear.
“Tch, what the hell? She’s just a little girl, why would Gustav bring woman to a man’s workplace?”
“Even letting an amateur judge our swords. I bet he’s just showing off to try to impress her.”
“What does she know about good workmanship? She totally badmouthed Nars’ swords. Looks like she wouldn’t know a good sword if she was attacked with one.”
Nonono, I didn’t badmouth the swords. They’re good swords, you know? Just not when compared to the 8 REALLY good ones. Anyway, even if you had left the appraising to Gustav the same result would have happened, you know? This is just misplaced anger.
And anyway, what are these guys doing, standing around and gossiping like old housewives? Weren’t you too busy training to do anything else? Tch.
“And your sword too, Kulir.”
“Keh. I know. ‘It’s too heavy’? Of course it’s too heavy for a girl. She didn’t even try to swing it. Dammit, just because she can’t swing it doesn’t mean it’s too heavy for a sword!”
“Haha, I bet she won’t be able to swing the hammer!”
Haah!? You damn … even YOU know it’s too heavy, or else why would you grind the middle fuller down to the limit? Don’t raise a fuss and blame it on my arm strength just because you’re a sore loser! I’ll have you know I can throw a spear so hard that it disappears in less than a second!
…Ah, no, wait, that’s Augment Body-sama’s doing. Regardless, I have confidence that I won’t lose to most people my age with my own strength, you bastards!
What’s with these guys? There’s a limit to doubting others, you know; I mean your superior, Gustav, hired me, you know?
Suddenly I recall the discussion I had with Niera in the wagon on the way over.
I had asked her if being an adventurer was difficult, and she said,
“Hm… pretty much if you’re a woman. Girls have to be stronger than everyone to be recognized as adventurers.”
Ahaha … I see, I see. I thought she was just complaining about guys who try to put the moves on her or cop a feel, but THIS is what she meant.
To get them to recognize me I have to overpower them, huh? Completely crush them in strength and ability? Stupid. Truly stupid. Dammit, to be looked down upon in strength just because I’m now a woman, isn’t that unfair? Guys who judge by appearances are the worst.
…Hm? As a woman I feel like l should have a different point behind that statement.
Heh. That random thought completely cooled my head. If those guys want to keep yelling about pointless things and ignore their work, then fine. What can they do anyway? I’ve already gotten Gustav’s permission, and with Augment Body-sama there’s no need for me to have a helper to strike the metal.
That sounds too light.
… I didn’t know it was possible to hit too hard. Augment Body is too frightening. I think I dented the anvil through the ingot. Leeet’s just say that hit was for the sake of folding the metal. It’s totally a u-shape now.
I had memorized how to tend the heat of the fire and the color metal should reach for forging simply through the 10 years of watching Grandfather. I had memorized the sound the hammer should make simply by being in the same room and listening to Grandfather swing his hammer. By using a method of trial and error, for the first time in my life I’m copying it.
There’s a complete difference between watching and doing, especially being right in the brunt on the heat and the sound, but 10 years of silent observation has paid off.
Clang Clang Clang Clang.
I move my hammer quickly and rhythmically after I feel out the right amount of weight to hit the iron with. I only use the bare minimum of Augment Body for increase in strength; instead, most of Augment Body is being used for stamina so I can continue swinging the hammer without tiring.
In the modern era back in the other world, a power-hammer is used to help with the tedious work. Without power tools, one or two helpers with large sledgehammers, the strikers, help reduce the labor. But well, like I said, there’s no way I can ask any of the apprentices to help me.
The first refinement of metal turns the ore into metallic metal. Impurities float at the top of the molten ore. Those molten impurities are called “slag” and are drained off … mostly. That’s where the second refinement comes in.
By reheating it and beating it with the hammer you drive the slag trapped in the metal out.
I had kind of wanted to try to making Wootz steel, but that may be a bit beyond a “first sword”. Simple is best.
But in that case I would have chosen several pieces of different steel and force-welded them together with the hammer. The process of cutting the hot metal with a chisel and folding it, then beating it out again and repeating would serve to make the entire ingot uniform.
… un, I want to try Wootz or Damascus steel next. There probably isn’t a sword-smith wannabe who hasn’t dreamed of perfecting folded steels.
Whew. I’ve hammered it well, and for now I can’t see a spot of slag. Should I try to draw it into a bar now?
I had been trying to actively block out the apprentice’s squawking to concentrate better, but now that I’m not focused on beating out the slag I loosen my concentration. Aaah … are they still going? These guys are pretty free for being “busy” …
Are? Isn’t this noise different? I look towards the large, open entrance of the forge. What’s this racket about?
[COMBAT MAGICIAN]: (Sound Barrier) – A derivative of (Barrier). Nullifies sound within and without of the barrier.