Though Tetsuko disliked the idea of letting strangers handle her metal body, her joy of being back in a forge was bigger.
This is the best forge I’ve ever seen! Even better than my own when I was a human, she thought, her blacksmith soul stirring as she looked in every direction. As expected to the region known for mining. They have the most advanced tools…
Unlike her forge, this was cleaned and organized. There wasn’t a single speck of dust or sot. A low rectangular white table was in the middle so the blacksmith could do their work. The tools were displayed on the wall almost like a prize. Tetsuko could see the marks of use on each and every one of them.
Ah… if I had hands, I could make the best sword in the world here…
For a moment, the sadness and envy overtook her. I can’t cry for what’s gone…
I need to pay attention to their skills and tools. Even if I can’t use it for me, I can learn skills from this foreign world.
After Alonso had placed her on the table, blacksmiths sent from the four noble families and Cecilia stood as close as they could to have a better view. There were a few apprentices at the back, tiptoeing to get a glimpse from Tetsuko
“This is unbelievable!” one of the blacksmiths starting at her said, her eyes shining.
“It’s not the first time I see a pure living metal sword, but…”
“How can anyone handle?” another blacksmith finished the sentence, not hiding his wonder.
“It can’t be 100% pure. It must have some other metal to avoid the vibration,” one of the women blacksmith in the room spoke.
“I agree,” someone else said and the others murmured.
“Perhaps there’s a metal alloy made with living metal at the core…”
“I have tried that. It doesn’t work. Even if the rest resists the vibration, the core doesn’t.”
Despite coming from nobles, Tetsuko could tell all of the people here lived by the forge. I can tell by their hands and muscles. They’ve been hammering metal ever since they could… They’re just like me…
Even though she knew that, the soul in the sword could tell none of the blacksmiths here were the best.
They’re good. Better than good. But no one here has the skill to handle me. They still think I’m not made of pure metal…
Tetsuko wasn’t familiarized with the metal they spoke of. But she knew her metal body. She had sensed every inch of her and knew she was made of only one metal. From the tip to the handle, she was pure.
“Talking won’t get us anywhere. Let’s inspect the sword,” one of the oldest blacksmiths said.
Gulping, he sweated as he reached out for Tetsuko’s handle.
Despite their lack of capability to recognize or admit she was made of pure living metal, she didn’t do anything as he lifted her to look from every side.
At least those here respect me as a blacksmith respect a weapon. Not like those idiots who just wanted to take me from the stone.
When the man finished analyzing the sword, he passed to the blacksmith by his side. His face betrayed his inner thoughts; he couldn’t believe what he had seen.
It took a long time. Each one took their time inspecting Tetsuko. After everyone had had their look, the last one rested the blade on the support on the table.
The silence in the forge was strange and heavy as the men and women looked at each other.
No one wanted to be the first to admit.
“I… I don’t see any other metal,” one of the youngest blacksmiths said when the silence became unbearable.
“Yes… me neither…”
“I-It’s hard to believe…”
“Bring the scale!”
The apprentices at the back struggle to be the first, but one was faster and brought the measuring device to her master.
With great care, he set the sword on one side, which moved down the moment he let go of the sword.
Another blacksmith placed a few perfect cubes made of metal on the other place with great care. He only stopped when the device was aligned.
So that’s how they measure weight here, huh? Interesting. And those metal cubes… They are made of pure metal like me.
“It the same weight…”
“W-we can’t be sure yet! Bring the rods!”
The moment the woman spoke, another apprentice rushed to give her two metal rods, a long and a thin. The boy gave to her master and walked away with his head down to join the other apprentices at the back.
The blacksmith held the long rod over Tetsuko’s blade. She closed her eyes and remained still.
The moment the room was dead silent, she struck the long rod with the smaller one.
A metallic sound resonated inside the sword, making it vibrate.
Ah… she can check the purity of the metal by sound, Tetsuko exclaimed when she realized.
Amazing… I had heard of blacksmith could do that. Father said it wasn’t possible, but I did saw him listening to a sword once… I could never do it though…
The blacksmith moved the rod along the blade, doing the same thing a few more times, listening to the sound until she was satisfied.
To Tetsuko, it sounded the same no matter where she tried.
It feels nice. Like goosebumps running through my body.
When the woman finished, she looked at the sword awestricken.
“It’s… pure living metal…”
As her words echoed in the room, the heavy silence was back. A few moments later, everyone whispered.
“How did that man manage to wield a sword like this…?”
“Is he a skilled swordsman?”
“From what I heard from Lord Vidal, they were equally skilled.”
“That makes no difference. How many times we’ve seen a true master swordsman fail at wielding a pure living metal sword?”
“She’s right. It’s not about skill. There must be something else… something that prevented this blade from vibrating…”
“How about the handle? Maybe it’s a conductor to the energy. This might be enough to stop the vibrating from going out of control.”
As they murmured in agreement, one of the blacksmiths stepped forward. He raised one of the hammers on the table and brought it down on Tetsuko’s handle.
What a crude method of taking a sword apart. As expected of barbarian sword maker.
He took apart her handle and her hand guard and each blacksmith took their time analyzing each item.
After everyone had one had taken a good look, they exchanged glances.
No one dared to speak.
They can’t believe it’s normal, Tetsuko though, smiling in satisfaction.
“I don’t see anything special…”
“Yes… nothing as conduct…”
“I-it’s not possible! For how many centuries we’ve been trying to make a pure living metal sword?”
“Yes… for a thousand years… ever since the First King used one to end the Old Age…”
“And yet that thug who only knows how to swing a sword found one? And he can actually use it when all the others we made failed?”
“It doesn’t matter now how he got it… We need to know how this sword is stable in order to make weapons…”
“Yes… we need weapons like this for the fight against the Worshipers of Chaos…”
“We can’t! It’s not possible!”
“You’re seeing one before your eyes!”
“I refused to accept! There’s got to be something we’re not seeing it!”
The moment she spoke, the woman blacksmith reached out her hand to Tetsuko’s base.
Before she could close her fingers around her, the soul in the sword made her energy go on the opposite side.
No matter how much the blacksmith tried, she couldn’t lift the sword.
I don’t know about this living metal, but you’re right. There’s something special with this sword. And it’s me. Try to realize that.
Instead of noticing the soul, the blacksmiths tried to lift her. Tetsuko refused to allow anyone of them lift her again.
“See? There’s something wrong with this sword! It happened the same thing with my brother!”
As the blacksmiths’ discussion became more intense, the door opened with a bang. Before anyone turned, a strange and loud laughed echoed.
The blacksmiths stopped talking as an old man with one eye opened entered the forge.
Though the top of his head was bold, the rest of him was hairy. With bushy beard and messy hair, and his skin pale for years working indoors, he walked with a cane to the table where the sword was.
“G-glad to see you’re feeling better…”
“W-we wanted to call you, but–”
“Shut up, yer brats,” he said in a grumpy voice. “I know y’all think I’m just an old man whose time is long gone. I don’t need yer to kiss my arse!”
“O-of course not, master! We’d never do that!”
“Yes! W-we all respect you and everything you taught us…”
“Shut up. I was listening to you lot. Can’t believe you need to test if the blade is pure! Guess I didn’t teach you enough!” He came closer and stared at the sword with an impassive expression. Then he flashed a wild smile. “This sword has something special inside. That’s why it can be used. If you can’t even tell that, get out.”
“But master, it shouldn’t be possible.”
“Then this sword doesn’t exist. We’re all seeing an illusion. Guess yer lot are just as senile as me!” he said, not holding back the sarcasm.
All the blacksmiths and apprentices refused to meet his eyes. When the old man focused his attention on Tetsuko, his open eye shone with fire.
At once the soul in the sword could tell. He’s a true blacksmith. One I can learn from…
“Put the sword together,” he ordered to no one in particular.
All the blacksmiths hurried to obey him.
When Tetsuko was back to the former state, the elder blacksmith reached out to her.
When he closed his fingers around her handle, she could feel all years of holding metal the man had passed.
Without thinking twice, Tetsuko let the man raised her.