HAMMER OF THE HEART
Drool wantonly ran down the corners of Lino’s mouth as the beautiful sounds resounded through his mind. A row of topless, sweaty men hammered away at the stone and steel yet it hardly dampened Lino’s mood or his own idea as to how just beautiful the scene was. The shadows wiggled back under the siege of the forges’ flames, the sounds of the world outside drowned by the hammers and grunts.
Lino quickly spotted Jack and Edward who were sitting in the corner, waving at him. Walking over briskly as his eyes danced in-between the dozens of anvils currently occupied by dozens of items in the process of being crafted. Even the rather repugnant stench couldn’t kill his excitement.
“Hey guys!” Lino exclaimed with a beaming smile as he reached Jack and Edward who were standing by the most luxurious-looking forge in the massive room. “Thanks for doing this!”
“Ha ha, no problem, no problem,” Edward said. “I’ve long since wanted to ask you to craft something with me!”
“Indeed,” Jack nodded fervently. “This will be a good experience.”
“Have you guys brought the materials I’ve asked?”
“It’s all here.” Jack whipped out a ring from his pocket and handed it over to Lino who quickly inspected it before nodding in satisfaction.
“Yeah, it’s all here! Great! How much? I most-likely can’t pay all at once, but I’ll craft some things for free later on if you want.”
“Ha ha, don’t worry about it,” Jack laughed too suddenly. “So long as you don’t abandon us for some other smithy, consider it a gift.”
“... he-he he he,” Lino laughed salaciously. “A-alright. Let’s... let’s start crafting then.”
“What do you want to do first?” Edward asked.
“Hmm...” Lino took a second to think it through before replying. “Both Lucky and Felix already have good weapons so I can skip that. I suppose I’ll leave Felix’s robes for when I find some decent leather-worker... so we can go over Lucky’s armor first.”
“... isn’t she more suited for leather or cloth armor as well?” Edward asked.
“Hmm... I don’t plan on crafting everything for her just yet,” Lino said. “For now just a ring that will serve as her secondary weapon and a pair of light-steel boots.”
“Do you know how to craft jewelry?” Jack asked.
“... I was hoping you do.”
“Ha ha, don’t worry,” Jack said as he suddenly whipped out a talisman. “I’ve a friend here that’s pretty good at it. Want me to invite her?”
“Sure thing!” Lino rejoiced. “Alright, in the meantime, let’s start crafting boots.”
Lino had long since desired to gear both himself and Lucky and Felix with something decent, and the need increased only more and not less after he’d realized what he was getting himself into. As he stood absolutely no chance of having any remarkable impact on the war through his cultivation alone, he’d planned on gearing himself beyond continent’s capacity as well as designing and crafting some siege weapons down the line.
The problem was that both Felix and Lucky much preferred lighter armor which he wasn’t exactly good at crafting; he himself, in opposition, much preferred steel, mail and even plate. Luckily, though, it wasn’t yet a truly imperative necessity to arm them immediately, so he could take it slow.
He decided to craft Lucky’s boots out of a rather lightweight steel called [Crystalized Sea Steel]. While definitely less durable than most other types of steel, it was far more flexible and light on the feet, having inherent capacity to increase wearer’s movement speed. Lucky’s cultivation method danced between the standard ones and the Body Cultivation which made these sort of boots perfect for her.
He soon joined the rest of the smiths in the room, with the help of Edward and Jack who acted as his supporters, in hammering and chiseling away. As he’d already imagined the whole design in his head down to the last detail, and had already written out the arrays he would use, he didn’t need to spend time on the design and could immediately dive into the crafting process itself.
As there was no reason to adorn the boots too heavily, he went with a simple, straightforward design through which the boots would automatically model themselves after the wearer’s feet, ensuring that they wouldn’t accidentally slip out of them. He still, however, sectioned them into three parts for even more flexibility and maneuverability.
Shining in faint silver, it didn’t take long for the trio to craft the general shape and then fill its inner layers with segmented, sheep wool. Lino then proceeded to slowly inscribe the arrays; two on the soles, and two on each side of the boot, for eight arrays in total for both boots.
Just as they were about to be done, a person approached them, startling Edward from a deep thought and causing Lino to also look away from the boots onto the newcomers. Surprisingly it was a woman, seemingly well into her forties. Though, despite both of those characteristics, Lino realized she was built as a boulder, her muscles even more prominent due to her extremely dark skin tone.
She had short, boyish black hair and a pair of strangely enchanting yellow eyes, almost like cat’s. She donned rather simple clothes composed of a short-sleeved top and regular leather pants, both tailored to fit her body perfectly, only further enhancing her bulwark figure. I-is she really a jeweler?! Lino thought inwardly. She’s more robust than me!!
“Oh, Sarah!” Jack exclaimed as he spotted the newcomer and gave her a hug -- or, more precisely, gave her legs a hug as she towered him over at nearly three times his size -- with a big smile. “Thank you for coming so soon! I know you must be busy!”
“Ha ha, don’t worry my favorite little midget,” I like her! Lino thought. “How can I resist your call?”
“Aah, I see you’re still a meanie...” Jack seemingly pouted.
“And you still like to feel out my legs whenever we met. Does anything really need to change?” Sarah grinned widely.
“No, indeed. You are quite right. By the way, have you worked them out even further?” Jack asked as he once again hugged her legs. “They seem even more... stony than before.”
“Oh, good spotting! I’ve recently ran a cross-continental marathon against some of my disciples as a way to promote leg-work in them. Suffice to say, only I completed it!” ... I am ashamed... “Aren’t you going to introduce me to this hunk over here?”
“He he,” Jack sniffled proudly as he spun on his heel and theatrically pointed at Lino. “This, my dear, is the newest member of my smithy! A yet-to-be-thirty Grandmaster Blacksmith whose work I’ll be displaying during the festival!”
“Oooooh!” Sarah exclaimed as her eyes glistened in interest, quickly shuffling over and grasping at Lino’s arms and then his bear chest. Though roughly his height, Lino suddenly felt extremely small. “You’ve really struck gold this time around Jacky! Not only is he good, boy he’s also good!” as though noticing Lino’s rather awkward gaze, Sarah suddenly grinned as she lifted his arm up. “What? I felt you so you wanna feel me?”
“You can, you know? I won’t mind.”
“Really?” Lino asked somewhat dubiously.
“Alright.” accepting the invitation, Lino’s hands quickly ran over Sarah’s body. Every so often he softly exclaimed in wonder and joy, all the while the standing trio seemingly stunned by his actions.
“... uh... he...” Edward mumbled awkwardly.
“Ha ha ha ha ha...” Sarah instead, however, laughed, puffing her rather bountiful chest out. “You’re quite a bold one, aren’t you?”
“Eh? You said it was fine though.” Lino said, quickly withdrawing his hands.
“Heh, true, true. I guess you can’t be held liable for defaming this pure maiden.”
“... don’t you have at least two kids already?” Lino said with a frown, causing both Edward and Jack to look at him with dubious wonder.
“E-eh? Did you two tell him?” Sarah asked the two.
“No.” the two quickly shook their heads.
“Ha ha, they don’t need to,” Lino shrugged as he puffed his chest out proudly and hammered them with his fist. “I’ve studied woman’s physique in the greatest detail to the point I can tell whether someone’s pregnant or not before even they know! This little bit of knowledge is nothing!”
“... this... that isn’t really something to be proud about...” Jack mumbled awkwardly.
“... haii... Lino... why...” Edward said, looking away.
“...” Sarah, on the other hand, suddenly grinned widely, inspecting Lino yet again with different eyes. “Damn kid. If I didn’t love my husband as much as I do, I’d fuck you right here and now.”
“And I’d gladly be fucked by you right here and now!” Lino grinned back. “But, as that’s off the table, how about we craft a ring together? It can be the token of our never-explored love.”
“... this... this tongue...” Jack had by now buried his head in his chest.
“...” Edward, on the other hand, could even utter a word due to embarrassment.
“Indeed, that is a good idea,” Sarah, on the other hand, smiled sweetly. “You’re quite a charmer, aren’t you?”
“I try.” Lino said abashedly. WHY ARE YOU GETTING BASHFUL FOR NOW, YOU BASTARD?! Edward and Jack glared at him hatefully. “Ah, right. I still haven’t checked how the boots came out.”
[Wind’s Harriers -- Epic]
Requirements: 4000 Agility
+300% to Movement Speed on Open Fields
+400% to Movement Speed if running with Wind (stacks)
+20% to Agility
Special Effect [Sea-runner] -- Enables running on water’s surface for the wearer for up to 5 minutes.
Note: A singular-oriented item designed to fit a specific style, a shining example of extreme pursuit of speed.
“Ooh, not bad,” Lino nodded, stroking his chin. “Movement bonuses are greater than I expected.”
“... doesn’t it seem a bit too extreme, though?” Jack asked, frowning.
“It’s fine,” Lino shrugged. “It will fit her role well in the future.” Lino said vaguely.
“What do you want to do with the ring?” Sarah suddenly asked, her eyes shining in excitement; Lino then realized that she’s truly a smith, as nobody else could hold that crazed gaze as well.
“I want to turn it into a secondary weapon.” Lino said.
“My friend’s Cultivation Method lacks overtly direct and physical attacks,” Lino explained. “But she’s well-versed in throwing weapons. However, rather than mass-producing them for her, I figured I could use a Ring as a conduit through which phantom throwing knives would be formed.”
“Ooh!” Sarah exclaimed in realization. “That actually sounds quite interesting! I’ve never crafted an accessory like that before. It should be fun.”
“The stuff I come up with is always fun.” he winked casually.
“... p-please... Lino...” Jack mumbled meekly.
“...” Edward still remained silent.
“You’d think I was the old one here.” Lino shrugged, seeing the two’s reaction. “Anyway, let’s get started on that ring. I can’t have my ladies wait too long to see my greatness! Hey, that rhymed. Maybe I should become a poet? Let’s see... hmm... khm, the sounds of the hammer and the sounds of the flames, stoke me and my babes... yeah, better not... better not...”