Chapter 79 Iron
“Wow that was good...” a heavy breath left the First Hunter as she slumped back on the bench she occupied. The empty plates in front of her told a tale as old as nearly a year now. Whatever Ilea was known for, a bad customer it was not.
“Glad you liked it lassy!” a burly woman in her forties walked out from behind the bar to gather up all the plates left by her patron. The only one at the time. It had been afternoon and it seemed as if people living in a small village didn’t have the luxury to frequent the inn both in the morning and afternoon.
“I’ll pay.” Ilea said, stopping a burp from escaping her highly feminine figure, accented by the belly that for once didn’t stand for fertility and new life. Though considering how much calories her body somehow managed to burn she did have to ask herself if there wasn’t some sort of alien inside of her, benefiting from her indulgences and ready to burst out in the most inopportune moment.
Ilea skidded a little lower on the bench and enjoyed the rustic look of the inn. It was a mixture of wood and stone. The oil lamps gave the place a warm feel though Ilea wondered if it weren’t a little bit of a fire risk to install said facility. ‘Maybe she’s a water mage...’ she thought but couldn’t quite get a feeling for the woman. She did have the mage tag but that could be as widely ranged as a person’s personality could.
‘Though fire is certainly popular...’ Ilea thought and finished her ale.
“That will be eighty coppers.” the woman said and received two whole silvers. The coins vanished too quickly for Ilea to change her mind, a testament to the inkeep’s abilities.
‘Everything’s cheap when you have a dwarven treasury inside your necklace...hah never thought I’d say that sentence.’ she thought as she walked up on the bar.
“Can you tell me where I can find Balduur Birch?” she said, quite sure that the woman would be substantially more open about helping her after the generous tip.
“The smithy’s three houses this way.” she pointed towards the back of the inn. “To the right, though be warned. The man has a temper and he only smiths for the village, cept for some rare occasions.” she explained and smiled mischievously at Ilea, making it unclear if it had been for the upcoming suffering or for her expected success.
Not one to mind too much, Ilea left the inn and made her way towards the intended destination. The snow crunched under her boots as she walked on the dirt ground. The village only held around twenty houses in total though most of them seemed big enough to hold at least a family of five. There were very few people around though, Ilea assumed most of them were hunting or training. The guard had been at level 120, quite a bit higher than your average villager. At least that was what she assumed.
Perhaps the life inside city walls was why so many of the people living there didn’t chose to become stronger. Not that Ilea judged them, they certainly didn’t have to. ‘It’s such a waste though...everyone should experience the joy of flying...’ she thought and opened the massive oak door that lead inside the second biggest house next to the inn. The smithy.
“Anybody home!” Ilea shouted into the room, unsure whether she had intruded or if it was intended for customers to walk into this place.
“Another one...how often do I have to tell you...” a grumbling yet loud man’s voice could be heard coming from somewhere downstairs.
‘He has a beard...’ she thought just before the man entered from a side room. He was burly and had a beard as massive and brown as the door attached to his house. The arms didn’t disappoint either. His eyes stared angrily at her as he came to a stop two meters away from her.
[Smith – lvl 181]
“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?” the shout was certainly not a shock but nonetheless unexpected.
“I just really REALLY need to use a toilet.” Ilea said and smirked at the man. This apparently was not the right approach, as he closed in on her much quicker than she had expected, his arm shooting out to hit her where she stood.
Her buffs flared up as she intercepted his hand with her arm, skidding a meter backwards. She smiled though, rather happy that she could match his strength so closely. Her grin betrayed her thoughts as the smith looked at the tiny woman before him.
“Well look at that. You’re strong, I give you that.” he said and moved back his arm. “Now begone with you, you’ll spoil my focus!”
“I’m a friend of Agor, who is currently in Dawntree. He was the one who told me about you. Well I do believe I inquired about his sword.” she smiled with a little less edge in it, deciding that she’d been fooling around enough. The house was nice, it would be a shame if he threw her through it.
“Agor...” his voice changed a little. “So you’ve come to pay his debts. Finally”
“Oh you little shit.” she said and balled her fists.
“HAHAHAHA!” the man laughed, making Ilea clench her fists even more. She couldn’t help but smile though but it was very close to her giving him a similar greeting as he did to her a minute ago.
“Now tell me the man’s first name so I believe the story...” he said, quickly turning serious again.
“Tell me the first and last letter. It seemed important to the man and I’m not gonna just give you that...” she said and he nodded, seemingly happy with her answer.
“L as in lumber and N as in necromancer.” he said, giving her the correct letters.
“Lorcan.” she simply stated and a small smile tugged on his mouth.
“I can see the lad liking you. Has always been one for the meatless. Now follow me down.”
“Meatless...should’ve seen me in the inn...” she mumbled and followed, realizing that perhaps the innkeeper was what he’d consider somebody with enough meat on her bones. ‘They’d fit, in a both cute and scary way...’ she thought, not surprised to find an expansive smithy quite a bit further down than a normal cellar would be.
There were several different forges, different machines and tools hanging on the walls or strewn around on the ground. Weapons ranging from simple looking swords to intricate waraxes similar to what a norse god would bring to the battlefield. “Well that’s one hell of a forge you have here...” she said, finding dozens of runes on each machine and piece of equipment.
“Now I have one rule lassy. No matter how strong you are you have to show me something interesting before I’ll continue this conversation, no matter if you wish for a new weapon or to use my toilet.” he folded his arms in front of him, a gesture Ilea couldn’t quite comprehend, even with her sphere perceiving it from every angle.
‘Two birds with one stone...’
“Hey Aki, you remember when I told you I’d throw you into the next forge I’ll find?” she asked, confusing the smith in front of her. “Ever seen a screaming dagger?” she asked as she threw Aki into an open forge.
“AAAAAAAAAH YOU FUCKING BIIIIIIITCH!!!” the screaming turned from angry to pain as Ilea stared into the smith’s eyes.
“That’s enough, get it out.” he said, though he seemed more interested to see the dagger than to save it from its predicament. Ilea shrugged and walked to the forge, simply putting her arm inside and grabbing the dagger instantly. Her sphere and heat perception made this action possible.
“You remember right?” she said as she removed the dagger that didn’t even seem to have a bit of a shine to it. ‘A lot more is likely needed to melt this guy...’
“I do I do but that was unnecessary...if I could do anything I’d swear you revenge.” Aki said though he seemed to have calmed down already. Ilea wasn’t sure how the dagger even perceived heat or pain. Maybe it had to do with a memory, not something she really wanted to induce.
‘I’ll ask him as soon as I get out of here...’
“That interesting enough?” she asked in a leveled tone, quite sure that the smith would be impressed.
“It certainly is...this is dark magic girl, something I haven’t ever seen before. May I see it?” Balduur asked and Ilea handed over Aki.
“His name is Aki.” she said as the smith turned over the dagger.
“Any info on the quality?” the smith asked. “The metal isn’t something I’ve seen before either and that certainly says something. It looks dwarven in design but I can’t be sure.”
“Sadly not, can’t identify it. Though it’s apparently very very old.” Ilea answered. The smith turned the dagger around a bit more before handing it back to Ilea.
“Well that’s certainly interesting. To say the least. I don’t suppose you’re selling?” she simply stared at him and held out her hand. The smith sighed and handed it back to her.
“So you’re a friend of that useless adventurer. Name’s Balduur Birch, what are you looking for?” the man said and held out his hand. Ilea smirked a little bit and grabbed the man’s hand upon which her buffs activated and a battle of handshakes ensued. Both parties used mana to increase their strength and Ilea could only hold on with her reconstruction healing the damage as it was being done.
Ilea’s sphere had told her that another person had joined them in the cellar workshop about a minute ago but she chose to concentrate on the handshake while staring into the smith’s eyes. They looked at each other like predators fighting over a newly found hunting ground.
“Dad, you’re doing it again. Let the woman go.” a raspy voice came from the woman standing a couple meters behind Balduur. The man’s grip didn’t soften at all as he continued to put his life blood towards destroying Ilea’s hand. The woman walked closer and shook her head as her supposed father replied.
“This one’s tough...” he said and shook his head, letting go of Ilea’s hand. She smiled as the cracked bones in her hand came back into the right position.
“She certainly looks it...no broken bones?” the woman asked, obviously surprised. “So she showed you something interesting...may I see it too?” she asked and walked closer to Ilea.
“I’m Ilea, you’re this man’s daughter?” the question got a scoff out of the woman as she received the out held and unsheathed dagger.
“I am I am, I believe the arms are not hereditary though perhaps I am adopted.” the woman said and looked the dagger over, her eyes glowing a dark blue. “This is...new...very interesting.” she stopped after a minute and handed Aki back to Ilea. “I’m Iana, nice to meet you. So we finally have a customer again. He’s getting more and more demanding.”
“People are getting more and more stupid and arrogant.” the man simply responded as he walked to one of the forges. “So what do you want, I do hope you have the gold or something else to pay.”
“I’d like to see your dagger again for a while, maybe half an hour or so?” Iana asked and Ilea nodded.
“Enchantments on one thing for free then.” she said and smiled. The girl nodded and happily walked away while staring at Aki with her shining eyes. ‘More than mine...’ Ilea thought and watched the girl’s back. Her white braided hair swayed a little in the artificial airflow caused by one rune or the other in the cellar.
Ilea turned her head to look at the smith who was stacking metal ingots of differing kinds on top of a heavy steel workbench. “Hammer, sword, shield? You’re strong enough to wield pretty much anything and you look like you’re dexterous enough to wield whatever it may be efficiently as well.”
“I’m not sure really, I normally just fight with my hands alone.” Ilea said, walking closer and picking up some of the ingots. ‘I have no idea what this is...’ she thought as she clanged two of them together lightly.
“Gauntlets maybe? Or are you using magic that is unleashed upon attacking?” the smith asked, visibly annoyed at her actions.
She stopped and put the ingots back down. “The latter, most of the damage comes from the mana released. At least I think so.” Ilea said. Balduur nodded at that and lifted his right hand to his chin in a thoughtful gesture.
“Well then the metal won’t help a lot. It might be useful in some cases but generally speaking direct contact is the best by far for skills like that. Still perhaps I can make you something to be used whenever you face something where your skills might be useless...” he said and Ilea nodded in response.
“That would certainly be helpful. Maybe two pairs, one heavy one and one with spikes on top?” she said and lifted some of the metals. “What’s the heaviest you’ve got?”
Balduur smiled at the question. “Oh I’ve always wanted to do something like that...rarely useful black obsidian from the north. If it’s ever used, it’s as a counterweight. Though very durable it doesn’t mix well with other metals and quickly brakes off anything you attach it to. I’ll make you a pair of gauntlets starting at the elbows. Come help me get the ingots...” he said and motioned for her to follow. “Did I mention very rare and expensive as well?” he asked though Ilea didn’t react, if anybody had the funds it was her.
“What about the sharp one?” she asked and he chuckled immediately.
“Oh I know what we’re gonna use for that. And I have an idea for the form as well.” he said as they reached what seemed to be the main storage room. Ilea couldn’t deny that the sight of all the metals and tools inside looked incredibly impressive. There were all sorts of colors and different shines, all of it seemed meticulously cleaned. With her sphere she saw many runes etched into the metal shelves and was sure they were responsible for the absence of dust in the room.
It all looked new. The smith led her towards one of the corners of the room and motioned to the bars on the ground. There were eight pieces of metal that didn’t look particularly impressive to look at. They didn’t have much of a shine to them but Ilea was sure they would be something special. The man was supposedly a very good smith after all.
“Try to lift one.” he said and smiled though from an angle where Ilea wouldn’t have seen him were it not for her sphere. She decided to play his game and grabbed one of the bars. The muscles in her arm strained to the max as she barely moved the metal an inch from its position. She moved her body to have a better balance and tried again. This time the metal moved, though only a millimeter.
State of Azarinth and Form of Ember came alive, their shine reflecting beautifully from all the metals in the room that allowed it. Even though only her neck, hands and head were exposed and thus the only sources of light. The bar was lifted slowly as Ilea strained against the weight. Slowly she lifted it until it was finally as high as her stomach.
She couldn’t help but be proud of the annoyed expression on the smith’s face. Using her other hand to stabilize the bar the weight became manageable and she smiled at the man next to her.
“Get two.” he said smugly and walked by her, a light glow forming around him as well as he grabbed two of the bars and lifted them. It didn’t look any less difficult for him than it was for Ilea. Though she didn’t see it as a problem, only a testament to the metal’s quality and usability. She could already see the uses with her necklace. Though the viability of her necklace strategy that she could now apply to her armor was yet to be tested in a fighting situation.
The two walked twice to bring the eight bars to one of the biggest forges in the cellar. The magically created air certainly helped them not to pass out on their short yet very difficult walk to their destination. Twenty minutes later the eight ingots rested near the forge and were ready to be smithed.
“Your hand girl.” Balduur said and looked intensely at her arm, likely taking measurements for the gauntlets.
“What’s the other metal?” Ilea asked, realizing that they had only gotten one kind.
“We’ll get that one now….I hope it’s gonna be enough. Let me draw it out for you first alright? Oh and we’ll have to discuss the cost as well.” he said and motioned for the woman to follow. Iana had nearly had her half hour with Aki and Ilea planned to make use of the free enchantment, likely for the heavy gauntlets.
The two went upstairs again to a room Ilea hadn’t seen before, at least not with her eyes. Balduur moved the plates and candle holders from the wooden table and opened a chest nearby. Revealed was a roll of paper which was expanded on the table to create a big space to draw on. Ilea watched on for the next ten minutes as the smith wrote down numbers and measurements. A little bored, she had started playing with the candle sticks, lighting one and burning one of the wooden plates the smith had put away from the table. Whatever little ash was left from the signed plate, she tried to lift with her ash manipulation. It was fascinating to her, seeing the ash move a little into the air.
Balduur seemed to be done a couple minutes later and looked at her. “Are you done burning my house down?” he asked with raised eyebrows. Ilea nodded and put the plate down.
“I am...Iana really is taking her time...” she said as she joined the smith next to his calculations.
“She is, well let’s start then. The materials, and I assume you want all the eight ingots to be used, and my labor will come out at twenty five gold coins. I’m aware that that price is rather high but go and try to find black obsidian and buy as much as is being used for your gauntlets here. The rest isn’t cheap either but definitely considerably less than the obsidian.” he paused for a second, likely to let the price sink in. Ilea was undisturbed though and simply motioned for the man to continue.
“That is just for the heavy gauntlets. The blue steel ones come out at fifteen gold as the making will be quite a bit more difficult. Materials are cheaper though. So we’re talking forty gold plus a five gold increase for the plate you burned.” Ilea didn’t react and simply nodded.
“I want half of that in advance and will need around two weeks to complete the requests. Any additional enchantments you want from Iana will cost too and might take just as long.” the smith finished. “I doubt you’ll get the gauntlets very far with your current strength though.” he smiled at her.
Ilea decided then to reveal one of her prized secrets, sure that a smith this capable would be a beneficial ally to have in the future. One that could know some of the secrets she bore. She summoned twenty three gold coins onto the table where she held her hand. The smith didn’t react and simply waved his hand over the money, making it vanish.
“Iana will like to see that storage item as well, she’s very good with them. I believe you have seen Lorcan’s sword? So that’s how you’ll get the gauntlets out of here then?” he asked and she nodded. Though she wasn’t sure how much spaces the gauntlets would occupy, they would be ridiculously heavy after all.
“Then I’ll make some quick plans for the gauntlets for you.” the smith said as a pencil appeared in his hand. He looked at her again, stopping his work as she hadn’t moved away yet.
“Can you make me a bow as well? A heavy one with ridiculously huge arrows...” she asked, a little inspired by the ranger she had met in Salia. A smith back in the Taleen dungeon had already promised her such a weapon but now she really wanted one.
“I can do something like that, sure. Will be another four gold but you can keep the advance for now.” Balduur said, happy that Ilea finally left the room and him to his work.