Chapter 47: Holding Back is a Skill on its Own
“Oh, not again.”
I sigh and lean the newly finished blade against the anvil. This isn’t going well…
What happened with the Jeweled Beetle swarm? Of course they were annihilated.
I don’t know if it’s because there were less of the beetles in the North tunnel to begin with or if some of them had lost interest and left, but it only took us 20 minutes to clear that passageway.
After that, we (I) picked up all the beetle corpses, and we hurried back for Jericho to report the swarm to the Guild. Of course, we met Kristaf on the way back as he was heading back towards us with reinforcements.
Maybe it’s because I came from a society of millions and billions, but 197 beetle corpses didn’t look like it would be that much when I was reading the number in my Inventory.
It’s amazing what 197 beetle corpses, each the size of a large dog, looks like sprawled out on a warehouse floor. Not that you can see the floor of this warehouse anymore.
The Guild receptionist was pretty speechless at the mound of beetles. So were the members of the Valor of Arms Brigade, especially Kristaf. He hadn’t experienced the full 1.5 hours of beetle extermination.
Well, even for us who had experienced it, seeing them all laid out like this is still … something else.
The only person who didn’t seem disturbed by it was Ragnall, who just shrugged like it was normal or something.
Looking at the sheer number of them, the receptionist finally manage to squeeze out the words,
“W-we will take a thorough look at them and get back to you with an estimation for the price…”
In conclusion, Ragnall, the Valor of Arms Brigade, and I will be returning in 2 days to divide up the spoils among us.
Which is why I’m borrowing a corner of Helward’s Forge from Ossan today, the day after the beetle chaos.
Because I have the time, and because there’s been something bothering me ever since we discussed the value of my swords.
My steel swords cost roughly 4 times the price of the average steel sword. What’s the problem?
My default sword is legendary grade.
This, this is impossible. I can’t make the naginata for the girls. Even if we ignore the ridiculous price, what sane person would give legendary grade weapons to beginners?
“What? Just make them a good quality and they’ll grow into it.”
That might be the opinion of some people. For me, it’s absolutely NO.
Back in Japan, there are people who say a strong weapon will consume an inadequate wielder.
Now, I’m not talking about like in manga, where the sword sucks up its user’s soul or something, but something that’s made for an expert to handle just won’t be easy to use for a beginner. In fact, it won’t just be difficult to use; with weapons, it will be downright dangerous.
Also, no two wielders will be the same. If I was going to make legendary grade weapons for people I know, it’s best to tailor it to the user’s preferences; with weight, blade-length, grip, and various other things, even the tiny details can make a big difference for someone who has become trained enough to understand how to move a weapon like an extension of their bodies.
That is something that will come later for the girls. It is something that is meaningless now.
And then there’s the matter of the price. 400,000 ecrue each… impossible for those girls. There’s no need to even entertain that idea.
But there’s no one else to forge a lower-quality naginata blade. So, I have to learn how to forge lower-grade weapons. I mean, a decent smith should be able to tailor the weapon to its wielder.
If I want to make weapons that are easy to wield for people who have never used anything more than a kitchen knife, I can’t go all out. If I want to make AFFORDABLE weapons, I can’t go all out.
Ah, mou, it’s SO HAAAARD. This thing that I had just finished is not made by holding back at all! … I guess I will cut the tang and make it a back-up katana for myself. Well, the blade is a bit long, so a nodachi, then.
Fuu … what should I do? Once I enter the Craftsman’s Trance, it’s impossible for me to control the quality, and it will only turn out the absolute best I can make it.
No, I can’t give up. I will learn how to control it, so I won’t be some smith who can’t read the atmosphere when making swords for a client. I will…! But … how?
“Wow… I can’t believe you can consistently make blades like that. Aren’t those, like, blades people make once in their lifetime?”
… Thanks Pieta. I understand the abnormality.
Jetsom came up quietly behind Pieta and lightly smacked him on the head, scaring him.
“Hey, stop flirting and go assist Nars like you’re supposed to.”
… Flirting? That was? … Something about the situation doesn’t add up, but whatever.
I sigh and look at the blade. I’m getting better at this, especially with quenching the hamon, the line between that leaves the edge hard and the back soft using clay. I’m feeling really … not really tired, but I don’t think I can do another. Even though it’s only lunch time, when making a katana it feels like I can’t do more than 1 a day. How should I say it … it’s not like it really takes that much more time or effort, though it does take more than the broadswords. What is this laziness…
“Somehow, it’s not going well.”
I said, playing with the blade a little bit. I mean, it is going well because I’m improving even more, but when you’re improving on legendary quality … I mean, it’s pointless right now, because right now I need to learn how to hold back.
“You are never satisfied with what most people would have considered enough to wage wars over … Jun-san, you know your blades would be the type that people end up using years of their lives to develop? Or at least, drain themselves of all their magic and half their mana.”
Jetsom says it lightly, like he’s trying to console me.
Nah, I’m not that disappointed… it’s still an awesome blade; I’m just feeling the frustration of reaching the peak without climbing the mountain.
But now that he mentions it, I don’t really know how much MP I use when in Craftsman Trance. It shouldn’t be too much, since I don’t feel too fatigued …
MP:【▉▉▍▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁】475,000 / 2,500,000
[PASSIVE: (Secret Trait) (Resilient Body) (Magic Enrichment) (Otherworldly Knowledge) (Accelerated Learning) (Keen Instincts) (Translate)]
[SKILLS: (Inventory) (Friend Chat) (Status) (AnalyzeIV)]
[PASSIVE: (Secret Trait) (Boundless Magic) (Chantless Cast) (Well of Magic) (Magic Sense)]
[PASSIVE: (Steady Balance) (Perceptive Sense) (Light Foot)]
[SKILLS: (Augment Body) (Augment Mind) (Farsight) (Ground Shrink) (Accel)]
[PASSIVE: (Magic Sensitive) (Magic Intuition) (Magic Control)]
[SKILLS: (Magic Sensory) (Magic Channeling) (Magic Dispersion)]
[SKILLS: (Barrier Series)]
[PASSIVE: (Fire Sensitivity) (Fire Resistance) (Steady Hand)]
[SKILLS: (Metal Reinforcement) (Keen Edge) (Mana Imprint) (Craftman’s Trance) (Emblazon) (Material Manipulation)]
[PASSIVE: (Element Sensitivity)]
[SKILLS: (Fire Magic: <Flame>, <Flame Orb>) (Water Magic: <Create Water>) (Air Magic: <Static Discharge>, <Gust>, <Air Bullet>)]
I don’t even know what to say to this.
This MP consumption … isn’t it kind of bad? I mean, I still have 400,000 MP, which is more than the average person, but … my manufacturing method would apparently kill the average smith several times over from MP depletion.
No, this is, like, super bad, right?!
I really need to learn how to go easy while forging!
“Somehow, I thought you were going to come with a shorter blade, but that is a longer one.”
Well, I mean, this nodachi is a really nice blade, so you know… Yes, I’m sorry. I make no sense.
I’m too eager to test it out. My first, mediocre katana was tested out cutting thugs like it was olden-day Japan or something, so I’d like to christen this one properly. It’s also the first one with a properly wrapped handle. It really feels like a Japanese sword now.
But I get it, I should really fit the weapon to the place.
Together with the Valor of Arms Brigade and Ragnall, I’m going back into the Labyrinth, after all.
Actually, it’s not just us. The Beastkin trio plus LeeAnne, the South Wind Troupe, are here too, as well as a few other parties. I think I’ve seen some of those guys around before … or maybe I haven’t?
If I have, it was just in passing. Or maybe they dropped by The Queen Mary’s. I’m pretty sure that guy over there is the one Jarna said had a leg fetish.
Florian, the Guild Master, stood in front of us all. We’re in a small, unofficial feeling room so he doesn’t feel imposing, despite the fact that he’s standing imposingly straight and towering over us.
“All of you have heard of the Jeweled Beetle stampede just a few days ago. With the increase of monster activity, we need you people to scout out what’s causing it. The Labyrinth could be undergoing a transition phase, or something else entirely. Right now, you can expect that monsters from lower levels are on the upper levels, so caution is advised.”
By the way, I now have a total of 315,650 ecrue in my wallet. My cut of the Jeweled Beetles ended up being 50,000 ecrue. Ragnall and the Valor of Arms Brigade got 100,000 ecrue each.
Killing nearly 200 beetles only gets a little over half what my katanas are worth… I mean, no wonder my sense of value is all screwed up.
I feel like I’ve done everything in this world backwards. Aren’t you supposed to level up and get stronger? Because I totally feel like I started at level 99 and now have to go back and learn how everything works from level 1.
Well, this isn’t a game, though.
As the whole group heads down towards the Labyrinth, I resist switching my new, long katana with my old one through Inventory right away. Since I’ve been very thoroughly warned not to use Inventory in front of other people by Jericho and the others. They were were saying that I’d attract the attentions of people who’d want to just use me as a baggage carrier … but for some reason, I feel like it’s more because they don’t want competition over hiring me as a baggage carrier.
Not that I mind, since they’ve done so much for me, and it’s more or less mutually beneficial. I’m still not confident in going into the Labyrinth alone.
This time going in is on the Guild’s request, but I’m going with the Valor of Arms Brigade and Ragnall again. Because our mission is scouting, no one is going in alone. Even in the worst case scenario, at least one person has to make it back to the Guild with a report, and the chances of success for that go up as long as there’s more than one person in a party.
“You don’t have to worry about the sword, Jun-chan. Although some of the other guys are in charge of scouting Level 1, we’re heading down to scout out Level 2. It opens up a lot more down there.”
Jericho patted me on the shoulder. I guess I was fidgeting a bit too much with it.
Level 2, huh … all I know about it is that you have to go through a graveyard to get there.
“… Ragnall. Why are you so fidgety? Good grief, calm down. You’d think it was your first time down there.”
Niera laughed at Ragnall.
“We’re going through The Graveyard, and there was a sighting of an Obsidian Scorpion on the second level. It’s a really good earning day!”
“We’re going to collect information, not going on a field trip.”
“Yeah yeah, but there’s no harm in side benefits~!”
Ragnall’s enthusiasm is a little off-putting, and he doesn’t calm down even when Miina rebukes him.
This guy … is he greedy or is he not greedy? Even though he undisputedly killed a large majority of the beetles, he didn’t even bother haggling the split of the Jeweled Beetle reward; but then his ears perk up whenever there’s an opportunity to make some money.
Instead of a moneygrubber, he’s more of an opportunist?
Jericho speaks up, laying out our formation into the Labyrinth.
“Ok, here’s our plan. Kristaf and Niera in front, Ragnall and I in back, Jun and Miina in the middle. Kristaf, we’re counting on you to lead us on the quickest path down.”
“Got it. We should reach The Graveyard in 10 minutes, give or take.”
Good. The tunnels aren’t so narrow that you feel like you’re in a tomb, but the less time in them the better.
A/N: Thank you RS for your donation!
It’s a bit shorter this time, the cut worked out that way