11. Area of Expertise
A room filled with heat.
The fire burning in the furnace made a cracking sound.
Grave unsheathed his sword and gave it to me.
I carefully received it with both hands.
Grave then pulled out a black, rugged, block of stone from his large bag.
“Take this, too.”
“Hey, that’s a high-quality tamahagane!”
Doga was looking at it with admiration.
Tamahagane was a steel produced through a special steelmaking method.
Among them, those of high-purity with extremely few impurities were referred to as such.
The higher the purity of the tamahagane, the whiter it looked.
“Where did you get it?”
“A little while ago, I received it as a reward for a quest. Since it looked too beautiful, I displayed it in my room.”
“In your room? As a decoration—!? Grave, you—!!”
“Hyii—! I was scolded!”
Grave was understandably baffled, but I sympathized with Doga.
Even I, who had been a blacksmith for a long time at the royal castle, had never seen a tamahagane with such high purity.
For those who didn’t know its value, it was but a beautiful stone. However, to us blacksmiths, it was akin to a treasure.
“Then, let’s get started.”
“Yes, show me your skill!”
I took a deep breath.
Even though it hadn’t been a long time, I was strangely nervous.
Maybe because I was being watched.
I had never allowed anyone into my workplace. As such, I was not used to being watched.
However, the tension gradually disappeared.
The smell of burning iron.
The taste of air where soot danced.
The things that I had been accustomed to having on my skin were available there.
It felt complicated.
I felt more comfortable being at that smithy than on a fluffy bed.
I was a blacksmith through and through, it seemed.
Before starting to work, I tied my hair.
I examined the condition and the shape of Grave’s sword once more.
The shape of his sword was unique, it was clearly different from the swords used in royal castle.
There was a sword called a katana in a small island country in the East, and Grave’s sword looked similar to that.
I chose the tamahagane as material because it was close to a sword.
“She intends to re-forge the sword once again, doesn’t she?”
“That’s what I heard.”
“I see, re-forge… under normal circumstances, that should be impossible, but…”
“Is that so? By the way, I’d like to ask, is it different from sharpening?”
Behind me, Grave asked Doga.
While listening, I removed the blade from its handle.
“It’s completely different. Sharpening is to sharpen the blade and keep it sharp. What she is trying to do here is basically remaking the blade. The procedure and the time it takes are completely different.”
“Remake…? It sounds more difficult than sharpening…”
“It is. But I agree, that sword definitely should be remade. Merely sharpening or fixing it won’t help.”
Last. I set aside the old blade and began to heat the tamahagane.
The heated tamahagane glowed red.
I struck the rugged lump of tamahagane and spread it thin.
If the temperature was too high, it’d break. I kept it to the extent that it’d turn red, but without overheating. Then, with a bang, I started striking it.
“The temperature is perfect.”
Next, I rapidly cooled the thinly stretched tamahagane with water.
After cooling it, a part of its surface was crushed and peeled off.
The black part that didn’t fall off was chipped away.
Afterwards, I broke the thinned tamahagane.
“You’re destroying it!?”
“Don’t worry, she’s doing the right thing.”
Grave was surprised by my sudden action.
I gathered the broken tamahagane pieces and boil them instead of burning them.
I proceeded to do so by gathering them in a container and putting it in the furnace. This prevented them from directly being burned. I then took them out several times and struck them together.
If the boiling was done well, the pieces wouldn’t collapse no matter how hard I struck them.
If it was incomplete, they would be ruined upon getting struck. I had to be careful.
When the work was finished, I hammered the tamahagane to remove impurities.
Kan, kan, kan—!
I carefully struck it.
While listening to the sound echoing inside the smithy, I paid close attention to the steel which scattered sparks before me.
By striking it many times, the purity would increase.
“A, amazing, she’s too amazing…”
“Eh, is she, Mr. Doga?”
“Indeed! That lady is doing a terrific job! As I thought, she’s a real blacksmith! If were me, I’d have to hit it a dozen times before it could become a decent blade… but, that lady, she’s abnormal!”
“She only needs to hit it once to remove all the impurities. The speed in which she works has saved her from having to hit it multiple times.”
I could hear them talking.
Something about abnormal, something about speed…
“She possesses a considerable amount of blacksmithing talent… not to mention, she has refined said talent to the utmost. How old is that young lady?”
“I’m sure I mentioned fifteen-years-old.”
“How young! There’s no doubt, she belongs to the supreme realm! A realm that would take us blacksmiths a lifetime to reach!”
I was probably complimented…
“Can you guys quiet down a bit?”
At the moment, I wanted to concentrate on the steel before me.
I kept striking the steel.
Hit, fold, and hit again.
I didn’t need to hear any unnecessary noise.
The impact that returned to my hand and the sound that echoed had changed.
“W, who is she, exactly?!”
“…Well, who knows?” Grave laughed.
“Right now, she’s wearing the face of a blacksmith! She’s truly cool!”
***T/N: I’m thanking the God one strike isn’t all it took for her to make a new sword from scratch…
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