Fire bellowed in six furnaces stacked against the concrete walls, crackling and screaming in defiance, beautiful and staggeringly warm. The air itself seemed to spark from time to time due to heat, corners of weak metals bending on their own from the sheer pressure. At the center of it all, Lino was currently standing topless, hammering away at an ingot, his entire body glistening in sweat.

His muscles seemed even more defined underneath the faint lighting of the surrounding fires, repeatedly contorting under the pressure. Taking a moment to catch a breath, he wiped his forehead and glanced around at all six fires, his expression deadly serious. However relaxed he may usually be when crafting, he couldn’t afford to be so at the moment; for one insane reason or another, he decided to craft six items simultaneously, without taking a break.

Even for him, it was beyond exhausting, both physically and mentally. Just having to match the fires’ temperatures perfectly on the individual basis was already enough to drive everyone mad, to say nothing of repeatedly getting lost in the absolute swarm of materials, mixed piles supposedly each designated for one specific item. He’s been at it for merely four hours, yet already felt like giving a swift and hard kick to his own demented ass.

He quickly resumed the work, however, as he couldn’t allow the ingot to cool, and with the literal row of additional materials he had to process right behind him, he didn’t even dare think -- just do. Instinctively, matching his breathing to the rhythm, he began striking away at the edges, slowly shaping the red-steaming ingot. His gaze seemed to grow dull at that point, as though he’d entered a strange sort of a trance.

Away and away he struck, each hit creating beautiful, golden spark which shimmered the light further, till the entire scene began seeming reminiscent of the fantasized paintings of what the smithing was like. In the silence and solace, he’d lost himself in the simple strokes, in the simple movements, in the simplest of sounds that sounded far better to him than any music he’d ever heard.

Just then, the doors to the room cracked open, breaking his concentration; just as he was about to flare out in curses, he spotted from the corner of his eyes that it was the two helpers he’d asked for. Chwek and Sena had starkly different attitudes compared to when he last saw them; both avoided his eyes, scuttling away at the edges of the room, seemingly terrified of even making a sound.

Lino watched half with amusement and half with brutal anger; the biggest drawback of having his identity exposed wasn’t that the world was hunting him, or that he became the public enemy number one, or that he’ll most-likely never have prolonged period of peace in his life... it was this. That everyone, from his friends to his foes, will immediately take a prejudiced way of treating him.

“... is the floor more interesting than me?” Lino asked, his smiling lips twitching by their corners.

“Ah!” Chwek and Sena exclaimed at the same time, quickly looking up and then away. “Sorry, Your--”

“If you call me your majesty, I’ll take this hammer and shove it so far up your ass you’re never gonna have to smith anything ever again. Instead, you’ll be vomiting items like rainbows. Got it?” Lino quickly interrupted their attempt at bowing and expressing whatever sentiment they wished to express.

“... yes.” they nodded meekly.

“When I asked for you two here,” Lino said as he began walking around the room, settling the flames. “It was because I needed help with crafting, not because I wanted to watch the most awkward show since the day I lost my virginity. No, scratch that. This is actually more awkward. Alright, let’s actually get to work,” he added, taking a deep breath, trying to exhale the frustration afterwards. “I’ve got six items here, and I was dumb and insane enough to try and craft them all at the same time. Any thoughts?”

“... if, uh, if anyone can do it...” Chwek mumbled.

“Bullshit!” Lino exclaimed angrily. “What do you mean if anyone can do it?! Only I can do it!”

“That’s what I meant!!” Chwek quickly exclaimed.

“... ha ha ha ha,” Lino suddenly laughed, to the surprise of the two. “God, you finally used your actual voice, not whatever that shit was. What role were you trying to play anyway? A teenage girl with a massive crush on a boy? Ah man, you’re too old for that shit. Sena can at least still pull it off somewhat, but you... ah...”

“... ha ha, sorry.” Chwek laughed freely for the first time since walking in, scratching his head -- barely, Lino realized, as his rather... pompous muscles made it quite difficult.

“Alright, nice. But, seriously, we’ve got shitton of work to do, so you better get down to it. I’ll take care of the flames and the general framework; Chwek, the designs are on the table over there, you do the metallic conduits and, just like last time, Sena can take care of the gears. Let’s get these babies crafted. I’ve only got like a few days left.”

“... you want to craft six items in a few days?” Chwek’s expression suddenly dropped as he glanced at Lino.

“That’s what I said.”

“Empyrean or not, go fuck yourself dude.”

“That’s the spirit!” Lino exclaimed with a smile. “Now get to work.”

“... aye, aye...”

As everyone got down to it, Lino would occasionally glance at the two who seemed to have dropped whatever pretense they were going with at first; he smiled freely and happily. Smithing, he mused, indeed breached past whatever barriers may stand in the way. It doesn’t matter what one believes in outside the cramped room, or who they are, or what they do... heart of a crafter is an universal ideal, a universal unifier.

Joining the hammering sounds were the sounds of spinning gears, of clashing metals, of buzzing, of sparks flickering in and out of existence every other second. It was a symphony none of the three knew they were writing; a tale larger than an individual’s desires or skills, something that can only be made when hands join together. Lino had long since learned to rely on others, however much he outwardly rejected the notion; be it for emotional support, for the battles, crafting, or even something as simple as sharing a drink or a meal, a solitary soul always lost out.

Bit by bit, as hours slowly passed and days turned into nights and vice versa, the items slowly began taking shape. Only four seemed to follow the general way of the weapons; Lino had finally settled on realizing the idea and dream he had concocted all the way back when he fought Etvenya, taking inspiration from her chakrams as a way to combat his lack of long-distance engaging tools. He expanded on the idea slightly; rather than the standard, circular shape of the chakram, he settled on the crescent, almost scythe-shaped, yet still with the winding momentum allowing weapons to make swift and abrupt turns midair.

Besides those two, the remaining weapons were another sword -- a seemingly straightforward rapier, and a single, massive-sized gauntlet with a wide maw as the centerfold, the sharpened, spiked teeth teething in bright crimson. The remaining two items were rather queer and strange, and even Sena and Chwek who worked on them had no clue what they were for, or what they did. The array work on the designs was well past the line of their knowledge, and they even failed to recognize over half the materials that went into making them.

Yet, rather than the weapons, Lino seemed to be the most excited over those two items to the point that he spent considerably longer in crafting them, even going as far as to slow down his inscription speed tremendously, ensuring that each brush was perfect. He’d never spent more time ensuring that arrays were perfect, even when it came to his armor-set to say nothing of other items in his possession. He seemed nigh obsessed with perfectionism for a moment, with even his eyes beginning to sweat bullets by the end.

However, eventually it was over; just short a few hours of his self-imposed deadline, they were done. Chwek and Sena immediately collapsed onto the floor, panting, their clothes sticking to their bodies as though they’d just swam through the ocean waters in them, their eyes full of pain and anger, gazes dulled from exhaustion. They seemed to be on the brink of completely collapsing, and even Lino looked the part of someone ready to enter a long, very, very long sleep.

Yet, he remained on his feet, eyeing the six items sitting in front of his eyes. Licking his lips like a night-dwelling, coat-wearing individual, he slowly began inspecting items one by one, hoping with all his heart that, at the very least, his -- rather insane -- expectations were met. After all, this was the arsenal he prepared for himself, designed for the sole purpose of helping him survive the impending hell he will no-doubt be thrown into. He first picked up the gauntlet -- which weighed so much that even he had to slightly strain his muscles to hold it.

It gave off beautiful, metallic sheen by the edges, bending backward into a spiral, winding around the arm, expanding into a massive, gaping maw upfront. The overall blend of colors was rough yet still pleasant-looking, with a mixture of silver, crimson and orange blending together to create a rather imposing and intimidating weapon that would most-likely cause quite a few children to have nightmares.

[Gauntlet of Absolution -- Legendary]

Level: 750

Requirements: Strength 90,000/Vitality 65,000/Exalted Soul

Subsidiary Requirement: Chaos Qi

Damage: 100*Strength--200*Strength (depending on the point of impact)

+1500% to Knockback Force

+1000% to Strength while attacking

+1000% to Destruction when hitting a weapon/shield/armor piece

-95% to Strength while defending

-60% to Agility

-60% to Attack Speed

Special Effect [Reality Rift] -- injecting the gauntlet repeatedly with Qi creates subsidiary reality around it, allowing the wielder to masquerade multiple realities and layer them on top of one another -- Requirement -- Chaos Qi

Special Effect [Absolute Ruin] - inject Qi into the maw upon contact with inanimate surface to create a massive explosion within a desired radius, prompting inferno to rise from the crevices afterwards, dealing twice the weapon’s damage; cannot use twice within the same region

Special Effect [Unwound] -- Requirement, Basic Mastery of Law of Time; absorb momentum of time to change strike’s trajectory at the last moment; in addition, if Attack Speed ever reaches 200% of the weapon’s standard, each strike will create distortion in spacetime; at 600%, save for those who mastered Law of Time, no one will be able to perceive the gauntlet’s strikes


Note: A commanding Creation unmatched in its make across the world; while extremely potent and destructive, very specific and rigid requirements bar it from becoming part of the creational annals.


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About the author


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

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