Chapter 41: The teachers who just can’t stand wasted potential are the most energetic
After we left The Cave Bear, I headed right back to The Queen Mary’s.
Even if the Guild had commissioned people to keep an eye out for it, I think it’s still best if I showed up more regularly.
On the way there, though, I could barely keep from bouncing in my step. As for why, the answer was obvious from the small flame I was carrying bare-handed.
I had learned Fire Magic!
Well, kind of. I had learned how to cast magic, and I had learned some Fire magic.
It wasn’t that hard to learn how to cast, but I don’t think I would have ever figured it out on my own. Instead of controlling my mana like I had been, it’s more like emitting it while calling on an Element in your head. The Element is the one that does the work to get the result you wanted.
Like, hm. Like you’re feeding an Element, and in return the Element does what you ask it to? That’s why the chants are important. Like Lor said long ago, at first chants were used to convince the Element to do what you wanted, but now the Elements will recognize most chants and just do it.
Ah, and apparently Elements are considered living beings that exist outside of our senses. They almost never take a shape to interact with people, and have no egos. They will treat a criminal and a saint the same by casting magic for them equally.
The ones who develop their own sense of self and form are called Elementals, and when that happens they stop being Elements.
No, I don’t really get it that well either.
All I really need to know, though, is that I have to focus on an element while emitting magic. Right now I have to chant to make things happen, but Lor said that there are some people (though it’s rare) who have been able to commune with the Elements and cast things with chant omission.
“If it’s you I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do that.”
Nn… I can’t tell if that was a compliment or an insult, Lor.
Anyway, while playing with <Flame> and <Flame Orb>, I reach The Queen Mary’s.
Just as I was about to head towards the side door, Solyana emerged from the front doors.
Solyana and Nifta, the pale Rabbitkin girl, take turns going out to draw in customers every night, so the two of their outfits are the most alluring of all the girls.
Tonight, Solyana’s outfit has high exposure. Her neck and shoulders, and the tops of her breasts are bare. The corset she’s wearing emphasizes the tops of her breast …
I wonder if I should go with her tonight. I’m fully aware of the types of thoughts men will have.
Maa, though I say that, as long as she keeps to the main street it should be fine. As Erina says, in their line of work fantasizing is free, but good men will understand that anything else should cost them something. As long as they do it the right way, the cost won’t be a prison term or a shanking.
Solyana saw me and headed my way. She was wearing the veil that indicates she’s a prostitute, but she removes it now to talk to me.
“Welcome back Jun. The shop just opened an hour ago, so you’ll have to go in the back.”
“Ah, it was Erina’s idea.”
The girls had pulled the sheet covering the hole in the back, extended a tarp overhead onto the walkway, and set up tables and benches outside. Instead of their usual lingerie/nightwear, the girls were all wearing sexy corsets and skirts like Solyana that somehow covered everything, but were very erotic.
This is bad. These types of outfits are more stimulating for me than their usual ones.
Thank goodness I’m a girl during this moment. Even if I get a nosebleed, I can still meet their eyes without being too self-conscious about certain parts. There’s little wonder that the men looking for a good time are stopping by. It looks like everyone’s having a really good time drinking and eating. It’s a festival-like feel.
Solyana smiled as she watched the merry-making.
“Maryiste enlisted the tavern, Big Boar, to cater this, and half the proceeds go to them tonight. Our job is to make the ale flow and keep the food orders coming. Well, for us it just means making everyone have a good time. It’s kind of like a party for everything that’s happened?”
“A party because the shop’s been half-destroyed…”
“Fufu, of course it’s a party because no one, not even the most injured Adventurers, died. For those Adventurers, the food and drink is free tonight. Well, we’re making a pretty good killing, so it’s more like the others are paying for their drinks.”
What resilient people. I see LeeAnne, Binno, and the other two Beastkin in their party heartily enjoying themselves.
“Hey… Solyana. I heard everyone wanted to learn how to fight from Niera.”
“… Oh, so she told you. Even though we asked her not to…”
Solyana muttered the last part under her breath, but I can still hear it, you know?
She’s silent for a second, then timidly, which is strange for Solyana, asks,
“Are you … angry?”
What an unfair expression she’s making. Well, it’s not like I was angry, anyway.
“Angry … no, of course not. It was just surprising. Though, I wish all of you had discussed it with me before. Niera-san is amazing and all, but a polearm isn’t that easy to just learn, you know? If you wanted to learn something, daggers would have been a better choice. Because they’re lighter and easier to use, and it will be cheaper to have maintenance done on them.”
The amount of people they could learn from would greatly increase, too. A heavy weapon like a sword or a polearm just increases the chance that they’ll hurt themselves.
Solyana responds with a smile.
“Don’t underestimate us, Jun. We girls don’t want to learn something half-heartedly just to be able to protect our own bodies if we get in a pinch. If we’re going to undergo training, we will devote ourselves to it whole-heartedly. We’ll even learn the basic maintenance ourselves.”
“I understand that you girls are dedicated, but this is more of a worry about not over-doing it.”
“Jun, do you know what we need right now? It’s not just strength. What we need more than anything is confidence. The confidence that comes from properly following training regimens, slowly building up both our abilities and our strengths. The hard work and time that we will have to put into it is only a small price to pay for confidence and solidarity from sharing each others’ difficulties.”
“… Is what Erina said.”
I let out a small sigh.
“So you mean that all of you understand that you’re taking on something that’s on the more difficult side, and that’s exactly why you wanted it? At least tell me why all of you wanted to learn the spear.”
“Actually, I was all for swords, but we all agreed to learn the same thing, and the majority said spear. You know, because soldiers are usually taught the spear or sword? That’s the kind of training we’re hoping for.”
Soldiers don’t use the spear in close-quarters combat though! The movements are completely different! To have made a decision based on this kind of misinformation…
But just when I opened my mouth to tell her that, I thought better of it. Isn’t this why they didn’t ask me? Compared to Niera, who accepted their decision while thinking of ways to meet their hopes in the safest way possible, am I just stomping on their determination? Even though I’m thinking of their best interests, it’s only from my point of view, after all.
If they decided on this and decided on the polearm, knowing full well that the only reason this is the best choice is simply because that is what they decided on, then I won’t say anything else.
Niera is carefully considering the girls, and the girls are determined to see it through, so shouldn’t I be supporting them?
I ask one more time,
“You are all aware that a polearm will be far more difficult – and heavier – than you probably thought…?”
“We are aware. Most of us have already been doing strength training since long ago, because we always thought about doing something like this. It isn’t a decision made out of impatience, but a decision that we have finally decided to implement.”
Fuu… I understand.
“If that’s the case, then I believe, as long as all of you don’t rush things impatiently, it will be possible for Solyana and everyone to develop their abilities well. Determination is the foundation of growth, after all, and if it’s Solyana, I believe results will come sooner rather than later.”
Solyana blushes, lowering her head slightly in embarrassment.
To support them, what I can do right now is, with the best of my abilities, replicate the naginata.
The next day, after helping clean the shop while the girls were asleep, I head over to the forge early. I’m not sure how long it will take the inexperienced me to make the pole for the naginata, so I want to get started early with the blade. When I get there, the forge is already blazing.
I suppose they open shop at the Farmer’s Watch. If I had known that before, I could have come earlier instead of trying to figure out how to pass time until the Morning Watch. Ah, but when Maryiste wakes, I spend time studying Lorwian, so maybe my schedule wouldn’t have changed.
At the low anvil, once again it’s the blade of a katana, but with a longer tang to be embedded in the pole. This time, I’m not flooded with tension and I’m not being overly critical of things, so the blade is finished quicker.
Cheh. It’s better done too.
Maa, like Ossan said, the first one is just practice for the second one.
… I am not jealous of this second blade, not at all. The first katana is a blade of necessity. I can always remake it when I have time. Nn. Seriously.
Ossan’s in charge of supervising me when I make the pole, but shortly after I finish the blade Jetsom suddenly says,
“Isn’t today the Day of Fire? Jun’s supposed to be appraised today, right?”
Eh… was there something like that happening today? I feel like there might have been…
With a “Quick, put your marks on your two blades,” Ossan and Jetsom send me off with several steel ingots, the naginata blade, and my katana. The naginata and katana now show the sakura mon, but … well, it wasn’t necessary to mark my OWN blades with it, was it?
Maa, I guess the mon is supposed to be my craftsman’s mark, so I should have expected it. Though I didn’t think too much about it representing me, just about it representing that I was a Japanese person, it’s not a mark I would be ashamed of so, whatever.
Ossan can’t leave the forge today to go with me. Because they have been playing around with the katana hilt and naginata pole design, Ossan and Jephtha need to make up for that time while I’m away. Jetsom, though, comes along.
“We haven’t been able to take many blade orders while Helward’s away, so if it’s just the simple magic ore smelting, Nars is enough for supervising it.”
If you say so … but, I guess that’s true. The smiths, not just bladesmiths but all the different types of smiths, in Nyl City are the smelters of the city as well. That’s why this forge can get by without its master bladesmith. The way they say it, I’m fairly sure that this is just a local specialty. In areas away from these material rich mountains, there is probably just a central smelter that the smiths get their ores from.
In other words, smelting is an artisan skill in Nyl City.
At the Guild Hall’s front desk, we’re told to wait a few minutes before the receptionist shows us into the back.
We go down a different corridor from yesterday. It meanders off to the side, leading into the back. Probably behind the hall with entrance of the Labyrinth? It’s kind of hard to tell with the winding corridor carved through the mountain.
As we reach the back, the corridor branches off. With Augment Body going, I can hear the paging of books and bubbling of liquids down one hall. You don’t need Augment Body to hear the clanging and chopping sounds down the other.
I decide to ask about it.
“Are these all craftsman stations?”
The receptionist nods. By the way, the receptionist is a man today.
“At every official Guild Hall there are places for Adventurers to rent and craft or maintain their equipment. Though the price for rent differs with every area. Here at Nyl City, the study and worktables are free, but stations with equipment, like the forge, carpentry room, and alchemy laboratories all have some charge.”
I see. That’s something useful to know if I choose to go traveling in the future.
… It seems that will be inevitable, if I’m planning so far in advance.
The forge area opens out into a crude terrace on the side of a mountain. Intermingled with the smell of hot metal, though it’s a little faint, is a grosser, organic waste-like smell. Jetsom tells me later that it’s the smell of tanning. Though it’s a level below the forge, the bad smell is hard to miss. At first I thought I’d try my hand at all the crafts, but if it’s as bad to deal with as it smells, maybe I’ll just buy the leather for hilts and sheathes.
Even though it seems like a useful skill to have, this isn’t a game after all. I can’t just become a master in everything. Crafting is a lot more hands-on… or hands in. Hands wrist deep in animal dung.
But I’m digressing.
The smell aside, the view from the terrace is amazing. I didn’t realize how high up we were, or how far below the rest of the world was depending on your point of view. The road into Nyl City was slightly elevated through the mountains, though it was wide and easy to travel, but the slope was so gradual that you didn’t realize how high you climbed.
Then, the Guild Hall itself is on the second level of Nyl City, and the corridor we took winds upwards … anyway, it’s an amazing view of the mountains. You can’t really see much other than mountains, but the black and dark blue mountain ranges stretch out as far as you can see.
I said the terrace was crude, but it’s not like it’s built poorly, it’s just not an ornamental terrace like you usually think of. It’s very big, unsurprisingly since forging and smelting are Nyl City’s pride. It’s not strange to think that many Adventurers who come to this city would also be smiths or smelters.
As I enter with Jetsom and the receptionist there are only two other people working in the forge, but I see them look over at me. Both of them did a double-take. Is it really that weird to be a female smith, after all? Or maybe it’s because I’m still young? Ah, but the average age of Adventurers is about early 20s from what I’ve seen, so as expected, it’s because I’m female, huh?
The receptionist leads us over to where a much older man is waiting, seated in a chair. He’s thin with extremely gnarled limbs. He kind of reminds me of an old kung fu sage, though instead of the wispy moustache he has a full, bushy, European style, beard.
Jetsom bows in front of the older man.
“Pulman-jiji, thank you for meeting us today.”
The old man gave a loud cackle, then leapt out of his chair with a vigor that was kind of terrifying.
“No problem, no problem. That lil’ halfling brat came over with one of them swords, so I was looking forward to it!”
He rubbed his hands together cheerfully.
Lil’ halfling brat … he means Dobin, right?
“Right, right, let’s not waste any time. Go on, forge a sword!”
He says it like I was supposed to know what was going on. Well, I don’t hate this sort of old man.
It’s a little unnerving to have a cackling old man looking over my shoulder, and I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be able to go into the Craftsman’s Trance.
Uun… what kind of sword should I make? Before coming here, Ossan and Jetsom had recommended me not to make another katana blade. It’s not that it wouldn’t be well-received, they said, but more like it would be difficult for them to use something they’re not used to seeing in order to rank me.
So I should definitely make a western-like blade, huh?
It seems like I fell in the Trance before I even started forging. From the moment I decided on what kind of blade I should make to the moment I finished forging it, I was unaware of anything else. Even when more people came in or went out, I didn’t notice.
Like that, I finished the blade of a claymore. Though, to be fair, it’s not much different from a longsword until you add the cross guards with the emblem tips. It’s just a bit longer and broader.
I did end up folding the steel again, but maybe that won’t be a problem. If they thought I shouldn’t, Ossan and Jetsom wouldn’t have given me multiple ingots to use, right?
… The suspense is too much! Ji-san, say something!
Pulman-jiji accepts the blade as I hand it over to him. He peers at it through his bushy eyebrows, closely looking down the length of the blade, drumming his fingers on it, and then he swung it once with both hands. … He almost fell over, careful Ji-san!
After handing the blade carefully back to me, he instructs me to Emblazon my emblem. After I do so, he nods and mutters something to himself before taking up the broom nearby and swatting Jetsom lightly with it.
“Hoi, what do you think you brats are doing?! Bringing me a girl like this, for crying out loud, what an outrage! This girl came to your forge to learn about magic ores right?! Then what are you waiting for?!”
With every statement he swats at Jetsom again. Eeeeto… I’m sorry, I can’t tell how you evaluated me from this.
After calming down, Pulman-jiji sets the broom aside, motioning the receptionist over. The receptionist takes out a clipboard with a form on it and a pen, waiting for Pulman-jiji to … begin his evaluation, probably.
Pulman-jiji calms down, while Jetsom strokes his tail, trying to comb out the snarls and straw bits left from the broom.
“Well then. First things first, for her smithing abilities, skill-wise, I would have no complaints on giving her an A Rank. It might border even on an S Rank.”
A shocked silence went through the forge. Don’t look at me, I didn’t expect that either!
“However, for her lack of knowledge in both magic ores, enchantments, and basically anything magic-related, naturally I can’t give her that Rank. Mumumu… this is a really hard one to evaluate. For crying out loud, if you brats over at that forge had taught her about the ores like you should have -!”
Jetsom winced a little at the accusatory look Pulman-jiji shot him.
“Maa, I get why you’d want to register her first. I say, right now, C Rank. Make a note of this, though, Erl, that I’m afraid people will try to take advantage of the fact that her Rank is lower than her skills. However…”
Here, Pulman-jiji shakes a finger at Jetsom.
“However, 1 month! I give you brats 1 month to beat the basics into her! You hear me, girl? You have 1 month to master the basics! Even if it’s just the basics of magic ores, I will have no problems raising the Rank to B.”
Just so you know, a Rank F Craftsman is already considered an above average artisan. A Rank D Craftsman’s work is one that would be regularly fought over at an auction. Jetsom himself is Rank B. Helward … well I haven’t heard about it, but I can probably assume Helward is a Rank A or Rank S.
“O-oi, Pulman-jiji, are you serious? Now I’m interested …”
One of the other smiths nearby has drawn closer.
“Of course I’m serious, you little brat! I have never seen a smith like this before. Let alone being a Mana Forger, how should I say it, I’ve never seen someone who can become one with the forge like this before. With skills like that, being able to knead the magic like that, all this girl needs is knowledge. She will have no problems making that knowledge something she can control, like an extension of herself. For crying out loud, it’s a shame your teachers never taught you about magical weapons forging!”
“W-well, my homeland made weapons primarily of steel, so…”
“So did the two of you bring any other swords with you?”
Pulman-jiji may have asked that, but there’s no doubt that his keen eyes are already glued to the sheathed katana (with an Ossan-made temporary sheathe) and the linen-wrapped naginata blade I had handed over for Jetsom to keep while I was forging.
There’s something about the curve of a katana that is just captivating. The blade isn’t made to be curved, it simply curves naturally after quenching. The strain from forcibly curving the blade isn’t there; the blade of a katana is coaxed into the curve as its natural state. The subtleness of the curve and the slenderness of the blade gives it an elegance that other curved blades can’t mimic.
At first, Pulman-jiji didn’t say anything as he slowly turned the katana to let the light glint off its blade.
Finally, he lets out a long sigh.
“Fuuu … I am glad that I have been allowed to see that a blade like this exists as well.”
Was all he said, before returning the katana to the sheathe. He seems absent-minded.
Hm, did it not make much of an impression on him, other than just being an exotic blade? The elegant thinness can sometimes be mistaken as being weaker than the western-type broadswords, but I guarantee its durability is on the same level.
Maa, in the end, this is how my Craftsman Rank appraisal went.
[PASSIVE: (Element Sensitivity)]
[SKILLS: (Fire Magic: <Flame>, <Flame Orb>) (Water Magic: <Create Water>)]
A/N: Thank you for the donations GOGET and EAGLE0108!
This chapter ended up being too long … oh well. There was no good cut.