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CHAPTER 237

HARBINGER OF CHAOS (III)

Chilly flames roared within the furnace, free-spirited, as the sounds of hammer clashing against the heated metal filled the whole, massive chamber. Lino stood above the anvil topless, a ripped shirt tied over his forehead, eyes glistening brighter than the sweat running down his whole body.

Hammer fell over and over, shaping up a lumpy mold into a broadsword bit by bit, sizzling away at the curved edges. On a table next over a whole swath of materials, from strangely-shaped and colored rocks to rather large herbs, lay freely, right next to a massive parchment filled to brim with a design of a single sword in addition to roughly a dozen arrays.

Roughly satisfied with the shape, he briefly sunk it into the barrel of water before setting it aside for the time being and slowly turning over to crafting the handle; as he had a relative abundance of materials, Lino decided to go for the childhood fantasy he harbored when it came to a sword -- the guard stretching on both ends symmetrically, weaving thickly in a helix-like shape and ending with dragon’s maws on each end spitting fire ceaselessly.

At the guard’s center he imagined a beautiful gem embedded, traced over with purely visual array responsible for those flames; the handle also spilled right out, visually appearing scaled in design before widening at the bottom into a full dragon’s head. As for the blade, the outer edge would be flat and sharp, with the inner one being spiked like a row of monster’s teeth, cradled in fashioned crimson.

Though he very much cared for the sword’s overall quality, he also cared quite a bit to make it look as good as he could, so much so that it would attract the attention of everyone. He had gone a bit mad, but was unwilling to admit it; after all, for nearly all of his career as a smith, he always held back when it came to the complexion of a design, deeming the usage far more important than the visuals. Nobody ever said, though, that those two couldn’t mix.

The spiked edge of the blade wasn’t there to simply look like a dragon’s maw; it’s purpose was to act like sort of a mace when it came to fighting shields, as well as a rather good way to parry attacks. The guard wasn’t shaped so simply to look good; the flames on the edge also carried corrosive properties, which made them great for prolonged, even fights.

And even the scaled-looking handle had a purpose -- well, at the very least he believed so; in reality, it didn’t. It was just like any other handle... with scales painted over. He didn’t opt out for the actual scales, as he imagined it would be quite uncomfortable to hold, so he decided upon the next best thing.

After fiddling a bit with the guard’s general framework, he returned to work a bit further on the blade, occasionally bouncing between the two. Hours, and soon days, passed by in a flash, but he hardly noticed; he’d long since abandoned the sense of time, entirely giving himself over to the feeling of creating something -- feeling he found beyond exhilarating. It was a form of drug to him, as he was unable to live up to it doing anything else except crafting.

Fourth day in, the blade was finally finished; it was fairly long, roughly a meter and a half, as thick as three fingers put together. Satisfied, Lino put it away for the time being before going back to finishing up the guard which took a whole lot longer as it was far more complex in design; eventually, however -- which turned into exactly two weeks -- he was done. He’d barely slept, eaten or drank anything in the last rush, but he was done with it.

Unwilling to stop there, while black bags rose beneath his eyes, he fashioned a handle and slowly began combining all the three parts together before taking a quick nap and preparing for Array Inscribing.

Meanwhile, Ekkly stared from the side, quite dizzy and confused. Not necessarily because of Lino’s technique, which though quite simple was effective and, more importantly, mastered, but because of the sheer drive and passion the little human had displayed. He had the outright demeanour of a smith -- and a crazed one at that. He’d personally met quite a few Titans back in the day who would go on what he called ‘crafting benders’ which would last upwards of decades, barely sleeping, eating or drinking, all the while grinning like morons.

Yet, it was also that which had initially made him curious and interested in the art of crafting. What was it about it that made them go so crazed and mad that they abandoned reason while pouring out their hearts and souls into crafting something? He never dared ask, however, as he was merely a lowly Spirit, but his curiosity was never settled. Just before Lino began describing arrays, he stopped him.

“Lord Empyrean, wait a second.”

“What?” Lino replied, seeming somewhat cranky over having been interrupted.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“...”

“... uh,” Ekkly coughed awkwardly before braving his heart. “What... what is it about crafting... that’s so amazing to you?”

“Eh?”

“I mean, why do you lose yourself so much in it that you forget about the rest of the world?”

“Oh, that. It’s simple,” Lino shrugged. “It’s about creating something new, about giving life to something that used to be just... nothing. It’s about taking bits and pieces already present in the world and making them larger than life. You know how some women lose their shit when they get pregnant? It’s pretty much that. Crafting, among other things, is pregnancy for dudes.”

“... that’s... quite an explanation...” Ekkly mumbled.

“But, then again, that’s just me,” Lino said, chuckling. “The beautiful thing about crafting, about rune inscription, formation mastery and myriad of other things... is that people lose themselves within them for their own little reasons. Some do it to escape the world, some to make it better, some to make it worse, some to just show off, some to provide for their family... we’ve all got our own little reasons why it’s so important to us. Mine just happens to be way better than anyone’s, is all.”

“... ha ha ha, I suppose you’re right,” Ekkly laughed freely for a moment. “You will start inscribing arrays now, right?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve got a book about Arrays here,” he said, whipping out an old, tattered-looking book as thick as a grown man’s thigh. “All the way up to Grandmaster Tier, if you’re interested.”

“...”

“... u-uh... w-why... why are you looking at me like that?”

“I think I’m in love with you.” Lino mumbled, stumbling over toward shaking Ekkly; the latter could swear Lino’s pupils went from normal-looking to heart-shaped. “The book. Gimme.”

“H-here, just take it!! Don’t do anything to me!” Ekkly screeched like a kid as he threw the book at Lino, taking a few steps back.

“Heh,” an evil-sounding chuckle broke out. “He he, he he he he he he,” the chuckle soon turned into maniacal laughter, prompting Ekkly to take a few more steps back just to be safe. “This... this is better than sex... he he he -- khm, khm, thank the shit lords that trials are separate.” briefly coming to his senses, Lino mumbled out a few words while sweating before being charmed by the book in his hands yet again. “Thank you Ekkly... he he he... thank you...”

“No--no problem... L-lord... Pervert...”

However, as Lino already had a clear-cut plan when it came to arrays, he decided to first finish up the sword before studying the book. He felt that his array knowledge lagged behind quite a bit from the rest of the smithing-related issues, especially so after Eggor refused to give him a book on arrays, saying that it was time Lino found his own way in the world.

Lino chugged the book into the void world as he pressed his face as close to the blade as possible, beginning to inscribe the arrays. He settled on eleven in total, which would sound like insanity to most other smiths as, usually, a whole group would be exclusively hired to do eleven arrays, yet there he was, doing them all alone with a massive grin on his face as though he was enjoying the torture.

The truth was, though, that Lino loved arrays -- while most smiths followed the already recorded ones rigidly, Eggor had long since taught him to always experiment, to mix and match, to add and deduct lines at a whim; arrays to him were like vast canvases to painters, the platform where he can express his creativity to the full without being held back by the lack of materials.

It took him nearly fifteen hours to finishing inscribing arrays, which left Ekkly feeling rather... well, many things. He, too, had come to conclusion that array inscription was a boring, long, exhausting process that can take days even for a group of people; yet, there stood a young human boy who’d done them all within a day with a massive grin on his face. Ekkly was now sure more than ever that the Empyrean was merely insane; after all, that conjecture explained practically everything.

After finishing the inscriptions, Lino picked up the sword and swung it around a few times, unable to wipe the grin off his face. It was done, he mused, and it was better than he imagined it would be.

[Dragon Slayer -- Legendary Unique]

Level: 600

Requirements: Chaos Qi / Strength: 20,000

Damage: 120* Wielder’s Strength

+300% to ‘Slashing Damage’

-100% to ‘Piercing Damage’

+100 Vitality for each 200 points of Strength

+100 Defense for each 200 points of Vitality

Immunity to all flames below Level 800

Special Effect [Bloodbath] -- for each opponent slain during a battle, gain 10% to Vitality and Defense; stacks infinitely; consume all stacks to temporarily increase Strength by 10(+number of stacks) -- after the buff expiration, enter ‘Weakened’ state for 10 minutes -- ALL stats lowered by 50%

Special Effect [Child of Skies] -- all sweeping attacks from air gain 1000% to effectiveness; all attacks aimed at wielder from air lose 90% of their effectiveness

Special Effect [Dragon Slayer] -- Locked -- Slay a Dragon to unlock --

Special Effect [Dragon King] -- Locked -- Slay a Primal Dragon to unlock --

Special Effect [Dragon] -- Locked -- Get a recognition of an Origin Dragon to unlock --

Note: A Divine Creation, unique in its make, reserved for the bravest of souls willing to hunt the World’s Proudest Creation.

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About the author

beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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