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CHAPTER 371

DIVINE SMITH (V)

It truly was a miracle, Lino realized. Beyond miraculous, it approached the realms of impossibility. The tasks he would have otherwise found difficult and taxing went as smoothly as they possibly could. The time that he'd have to spend doing monotone, dry work was all but gone. Struggles he'd have to endure just to proceed from one step of smithing onto another were minimized. The anvil, the ordinary-looking anvil in front of his eyes was a gift... a gift to every smith in the world. Yet, it was evilly hoarded by a greedy Dragon.

Ever since Lino began using the anvil, he also began concocting a plan on how to take it away. He briefly even contemplated forcibly locking Vy up into the dimensional pocket, but as he couldn’t quite grasp the actual strength of the Dragon, he worried he might be able to break out nonetheless.

The little side-plans, however, didn’t take away from his focus on crafting. Those thoughts came and went during the brief moments of respite where he’d simply take a deep breath and watch the magic unfold before his very eyes. Piece after piece of ingot drew back unto itself beneath the strength of Lino’s hands. Despite the enormous pressure he was exerting on the anvil, the latter took it all without letting even iota slip past it and onto the floor. Truly a miracle, Lino mused as he finished the final ingot.

In front of him lay a small pile of grain-sized pebbles. Altogether they added up to the size of a single ingot, and now was the time to press them together and slowly begin shaping them into the final product - a ring. This was the easy part, as Lino already had plenty of experience by now when it came to making objects as dense as possible. The difficult part would be shaping up the metal into the shape of a ring.

He placed his hand over the pile and took a deep breath before pressing down, all his muscles bulging, veins popping up on his temples, his eyes creasing into slits as he clenched his teeth. Not only was it exhausting, but he had to exert an enormous amount of Qi into his hand, which created a sort of a paradoxical relationship; due to the fact that he had to repair the damage done to his palm, he had to add additional Qi into the stream beside the one used for condensing. However, because of the increased amount, the additional Qi both damaged further and repaired Lino's palm, causing him to cry bitterly.

He could feel the small pieces being brought together underneath his palm as his Vitality rapidly seeped. Luckily, if there was one thing in the world he had plenty of, it was Vitality. Well into the hundreds of thousands, nearing seven digits, he could easily do this for weeks on end without exhausting himself physically. That didn’t diminish the fact, however, that it was still incredibly taxing on his psyche as the process was incredibly intricate, not allowing a single mishap lest he desired to begin all over again from the start... which he did not.

Vy floated on the side and observed with faint curiosity; though he himself had never dabbled much in the art of crafting, he knew plenty-a-everyone who did. Be it Dragons, Humans, Devils, Angels, Gods... none were quite immune to the charms of items, as even Martial Arts couldn’t catch up to some of the most famous items in the world in terms of usefulness.

Though Lino at the moment lacked the certain gracefulness and mastery those old monsters Vy observed had, everything else seemed in place; he had absolute control over his body down to the last inch, he knew how to control his breath, how to pace himself, how to exert strength onto a single point, and he certainly had enough stamina to spare. Given time, Vy mused, the young human in front of him will most-likely join the legends, like the sort who fashioned the anvil Lino was currently vying for. Whatever myths may tell, Vy knew very well that the anvil wasn’t forged by the flames of 72 Origin Dragons, but by a single one -- his very own forefather, the Origin Dragon of Flames.

Even today, the old rust was hidden away somewhere, no doubt working on his next big project. One of the reasons why the Fire Clan has fallen so low that Vy could actually become its leader was exactly because their forefather hadn't spoken to them for about four billion years. And the last time he spoke to them is to have them look for rare materials.

It was both frustrating, yet also ethereally beautiful, to know a passionate blacksmith. Though they may make your life a living hell whenever they are trying to create something, to witness the process of that creation is rather spectacular. Even now, Vy had absolutely no interest in the item Lino was crafting; after all, for him, Continental-tier items had long since turned into a joke. However, the process itself was still fascinating. Like most of the old monsters, Lino had that innate ability to draw all eyes on him, especially so when he was pouring his heart and soul out into crafting something.

“... it’s going well.” seeing Lino step back from the anvil, Vy flew over and saw that the pebbles had turned into a roughly-shaped ring. Though it still needed some precise chiseling, the hard part of the job was certainly done. “God that looks ugly. Ew. I wouldn’t put it in my treasure box even if you came with it.”

“You have a treasure box?” Lino’s eyes lit up as he glanced at Vy. “Does it, uh, have, you know, stuff like this anvil? Maybe a nice hammer or two? Or a tong? Heck, just give me a furnace, I don’t need anything else--no, no, maybe some chisels, you know, for old time’s sake.”

“... what are you raving on about? Do I look like a smith to you? That anvil was a gift I stole from someone just to piss them off. As if I’d hoard shitty smithing tools. What do you take me for? A moron?”

“... didn’t you say that the anvil was entrusted to you and that even telling me you have it puts you in grave danger?” Lino quickly fired, his eyes turning into slits.

“I say a lot of stuff -- some of it is true, some of it is not. What’s your point?”

“Gimme.”

“No.”

“Just gimme dude! I’ll do anything for you!”

“Kill yourself.”

“Anything but that!”

“That’s all I want from you, though.” Vy smiled cheekily.

“... you suck. You suck so much there ain’t no words in the Common Tongue to describe it.” Lino sighed painfully, glancing at the anvil; one day... one day you will be mine...

“You’re still too weak,” Vy said suddenly, causing Lino to pay attention again. “Once you’re capable of seeing the other Special Effects, it will mean you can actually craft something for me. When that day comes, in return for the anvil, you will craft me the best item the world has seen in eons.”

“... can’t I just craft it for myself and use it to beat your tightwad ass?”

“Heh, sure. Give it a whirl.”

“... ugh, fine. Whatever. You win. God, you’re one shitty pet. I’m kind of starting to regret that bet.”

“Ay, ay, just get back to crafting. You’re more fun silent and focused.”

“...” Lino flipped Vy a middle finger before moving toward the anvil and slowly beginning to chisel away at the edges of the ring, shaping it up.

Hours ticked away and soon turned into days, a realization which startled Lino as he was close to finishing the ring completely. He’d initially planned on spending at the very least a whole month, yet it somehow shrunk down to days. The anvil was magic, he was certain. It was definitely not of this world.

One week -- that’s all it took. Seven days. One hundred sixty and eight hours. The ring was finished, sitting on the anvil, shimmering in deep crimson. At the front was a carved-out skull with ruby-like gems for eyes, with the rest of the ring being consumed in swirling, golden patterns imposed over its crimson sheen. It truly looked beyond breathtaking, so much so Lino briefly considered giving it to Hannah as an engagement ring. He then realized she was not him, nor was she insane, and she would definitely beat him black and blue if he did it.

“Good job. Now to take the anvil--”

"No! Wait! Please, I'm begging you, just wait for a second!!" Lino suddenly cried out madly, startling Vy.

“W-what is it? I’m telling you, I’m not giving it to you no matter what!”

“No, it’s not that... I... I just want to say a proper goodbye...”

“... say what now?”

"Our time together," Lino knelt next to the anvil and placed his hand on top of the cool surface. "Was short. Can barely be qualified as time. But, by gods, you have given me what I never thought I would experience. I will treasure our time together until I die. Because of you, I've learned what it is to feel things I never thought I had the capacity for. You have put the ‘s' from shit into ‘s' of smith into me. Goodbye," he suddenly leaned over and kissed it, causing Vy to blast his head into the wall. "I will miss you more than you'll ever know..."

“... a-ll smiths! All smiths in the world are insane and, yet, somehow, by some fucking miracle, you’re by far the most insane!!” Vy cried out, quickly swiping the anvil and throwing it into his void world. “You--you---you crazy bastard!!”

“... he he...” Lino awkwardly scratched his nose, looking away, bashful.

“... yeah, I’m done. Don’t call me for the next year. That’s how long I’ll need to shower away the shit I’ve witnessed in this room.”

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beddedOtaku

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

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