“Alice,” I said after we were completely alone, walking the streets.
“Yeah?” she responded, next to me. We followed some smaller streets, so people would recognize me less. Not because it was necessary, but because I wanted to talk to her, as privately as possible.
I stopped, looked at her, smiling at her. “You have no idea how much I appreciate you. To have someone who understands me and I can talk to, it’s the greatest gift.”
Alice blushed, just slightly. “Well,” she looked down, her feet, but just for a moment. With a flash, she looked back up and returned me a smile. “You saved me. So, I guess I’m returning the favor?”
I hugged her, and she returned it. She was literally the only one who I could speak my mind off. Perhaps it was a lucky accident that she figured out some things about me. Maybe one day I should tell her the whole story. Now that I think about it, I still haven’t.
“I have a problem, Alice,” I said, as I continued walking forward, and she followed me.
“I have one more element. We missed it with your test,” I said.
Alice looked at me, taking in a sharp breath. “I didn’t see that one coming,” she murmured.
She stopped for a moment. “Really? No, it makes sense. No wonder we’d miss it. It makes sense. But really? Seriously?”
“Keep walking,” I said, not stopping, making her catch up with me. “Yeah. And I have two problems with it. First one is that after celebrating this discovery, I realized I have no idea what I can do with the cosmic element.”
Alice began to wrap a curl around her finger, thinking, analyzing.
I continued. “All the other elements are damn obvious. Fire and Ice. Duh~. Earth and Air. Yet another duh~. And then water is, even more, duh~. And then finally we have a cosmic. What’s that element supposed to do? I don’t understand!”
“Why don’t you try it out?” Alice said. I had been expecting that answer. And she realized that with my weak chuckle.
“And here's the second problem; I can't. My magic essence pool is so small that can’t do any cosmic magic with the want. It probably worked, because once I tried to create it, nothing happened. But afterward, I couldn’t cast light magic either. It dried my magic pool empty, instantly.”
Alice began to chuckle. And that chuckle turned into laughter. I followed her lead, laughing as well.
“That’s hilarious. You got the rarest element in the world, together with the first time ever-to-be-seen light magic, but you have no magical pool to use it? Gods really like to play games with you,” she said. "Maybe you're lucky that you're not a wizard?"
I nodded. “So, until I get a proper catalyst, I need to understand what can I do with it.”
Aldrynte sighed. “Did you-”
“Yes. I already went through every book and every library. There’s not much. None of the other cosmic element users decided to write a book about it. It's all generic talk, such as 'I can use the cosmic powers' shit. Most of them suggest that cosmic user should find another cosmic user to teach them all the stuff.”
“And you can’t do that because you’re the hero?” Alice asked.
I nodded. “Well, I could. I could fake it out and say that I never knew I had that one. But then the light one needs to come out as well. Or I could say that I never had a chance for the teacher, so my cosmic element sucks. But even in that case, I should know or do something, I think?”
“For starters, I can ask Stanley for help? He said that he has met like six other cosmic elemental users? I can ask what it was like?”
I nodded. "I was actually thinking that maybe you could ask Loid. You know, tell him something that makes him ask Stanley. He is his grandfather, after all,” I suggested.
“Well, I can try. Meanwhile, you need to find yourself a damn good catalyst,” Alice said. "And I mean a damn good one."
I nodded, suddenly stopping. "Anyway, we are here. Just stay quiet," I said.
Alice looked at me, and then looked at the building we were standing in front of. Phoenix Fire. “I-I have heard of this place,” Alice muttered.
I nodded. “Home of the legendary smith. Or well, his great grandchild's.”
"But the rumors about his-"
“It's fine. I hope he just never had a chance to prove himself. It's too hard to fill Norok's shoes, after all,” I said, opening the door and walking inside.
We were met by beautiful interior design. But as I had expected a warm air from the blacksmith, it was nothing like that. It was a quiet room, filled with a bunch of fancy-looking swords and a single dwarf that was sitting behind a counter, one leg over another, reading something.
The swords were decorative if anything. There were many kinds of swords or weapons. But none of them felt like they were meant for adventuring. It was more as they were ceremonial.
“Welcome to the…” - he suddenly became silent as he stared at me, closing his book - “...Phoenix fire,” he continued, leaning slightly forward. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t our hero, the great savior, killer of demons kings?” As he finished, he leaned back.
“Kutrin Goldsmith, I assume?” I said, walking to the nearby swords, examining them. “The only smith family whose ancestors became so great that they got rewarded with goldsmith family name. Yet now you're last of your family. You’re one of the nine families who has gold in their family name, and yet you left Kul Tarum. You came to Capital just to sell” - I took one of the swords, examining it closely - “this,” I moved my gaze to the dwarf, releasing a long sigh. I placed the sword back on the stand, carefully.
“I heard that you were in the capital. To what do I owe this honor?” Kutrin said with his deep voice. “Did you come here to mock me?”
I looked back at Kutrin. “Not at all. And I can’t blame you. I can see that you're creating truly beautiful swords. Yet none of them are for adventuring, for fighting.”
“I still do, sometimes. But not really, not anymore.”
“Because you can’t?” I asked.
“Because I chose not to. And I guess you've already figured out that they don't come to me? I'm not that cheap, you see?” he responded.
I stepped in front of the counter, looking down on him. "Why so expensive, then?"
“What… do… you… want?” Kutrin spelled it out, seemingly annoyed.
I sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to offend you. I need you to make me a sword, worthy of your family name,” I said, resting my hands on the counter.
Kutrin leaned forward. “Do you now?”
“It’s a good chance to prove others that you deserve your family name,” I said, examining Kutrin. Alice finally walked next to me, looking at me and Kutrin. But she didn’t say anything. But her face showed obvious worry.
“I need to prove myself?” Kutrin said, laughing.
I nodded. “If you refuse, I’ll ask another dwarf. Maybe you'll share your family name with another blacksmith. Especially if another dwarf makes a sword that becomes legendary. History has shown that every hero's weapon becomes legendary and have a name."
“Then why didn’t you ask others?”
I sighed. “Because I like to take my chances with your bloodline first. Odds are better with you. Plus, I think you deserve a chance to refuse. I also happen to have money.”
I stayed cool outside, but inside I was begging him to take the bait. I didn’t know any other smith, and it would've taken a long time to find a new one.
There was a long moment of silence. Kutrin played with his knife, thinking. “For starters, what do you want?” Kutrin asked.
“You have to swear that you won't tell anyone. Only those who really need to know. And they also have to swear. Only the sword name will be known, and that you made this. But what it does has to stay secret.”
Kutrin sighed, raising his hand quickly. “That’s a common request, and understandable. I swear. Continue.”
I nodded. “I want a special sword that acts in a very specific way.” I turned to look at the entrance, giving Alice a nod. She walked to the door and locked it.
“I have heard of amulets that can store magical essence. I also heard that there are items that store literally already converted element not the essence. Once it's stored, one can release the element itself. But the main problem with that material is that they leak the element slowly. I need a thin light sword that can do so. I want to put there converted energy constantly, and release it when I want to."
Kutrin looked at me, a grin appearing on his face. “I was expecting something entirely different,” he admitted, leaning back. “What you’re seeking is compressed and enchanted spyglass. They say that purer the spyglass, less the element leaks out. But it’s impossible to reach a point where it will hold it in completely. It's not the first time when this is used in swords. But only slightly, to hold a little bit of energy. Mostly to cast sword's enchantment without worry. But it's extremely rare. It's mostly amulets and such that have such powers.”
As a by the way, I heard that spyglass that is used for checking elements is uncompressed and as weak as possible to not waste the material.
“So, you’re saying it’s impossible?” I asked.
“For any ordinary smith, probably,” Kutrin said, thinking. “Does your design includes sheathe for the storing period?"
"Explain, please," I said. “Do you think you can make a sheath that will not allow the element to escape?”
Kutrin nodded. “Perhaps. It’s only a theory right now, but some materials combining with spyglass could keep the power in, permanently.”
There was a moment of silence. “Will you do it?” I asked.
He leaned forward. “It’s going to cost. A lot. Spyglass is very expensive. And turning it into a sword that will not break against the other swords is yet another matter. It will require some very strong and powerful enchantments. But, your request is interesting and never tried before.”
“It doesn't have to be entirely spyglass, as long it stores lots of magical element.”
Kutrin stared at me, thinking. He finally took out a piece of paper and wrote something on it, placing it in front of me. “You have to pay that much. That number includes materials and actual work. For now, I will ask you for half, and it will be done-”
“In a month,” I interrupted. Kutrin kept up his poker face, staring at me.
I nodded. “A month. Impossible?"
He took the paper away, and wrote a new number on it, placing the paper in front of me once more.”
I chuckled. “I’ll pay two-thirds of that.”
Kutrin began to laugh. “Really now?”
“Yes. You’ll get all the glory of making this sword. Every person will know that you made this. That’s part of your reward. You'll be telling the sword that you're at least as good - if not a lot greater - than your ancestors. After this, you’ll sell a lot of swords, and people will come with custom designs, begging you to make them a sword. You'll earn way more than that number you'll lose right now.”
Kutrin leaned back. “It would mean almost no profit to me. It will only cover the materials, and doesn’t leave me much room for failure.”
I nodded. “Well, with a month, you can't really fail. It's up to you. Unless you like this quiet empty room.” As I said the last sentence, I waved my hand around the room. Full of beautiful swords, yet nobody was buying them. "What say you?"
Kutrin looked at me, finally sighing. “Deal,” he muttered.
“Good. I’ll make sure that money gets delivered before tomorrow. I’ll be back here in a month. I'll leave the design to you, but don't make it too fancy. I don't like if it gets too much attention.”
I walked towards the exit, unlocked the door, and walked outside. Alice followed.
“What was that?” Alice said the moment the door closed. “That was crazy!”
I ignored her, walked to the nearby side-street, and finally collapsed against the wall, letting my legs weaken, finally falling on my ass. “Fucking hell. I was certain he would say no,” I mumbled.
“What was that?” Alice asked me once more.
“I need that sword. It’s the only way,” I whispered, hands going around my legs as I looked up. “That two-thirds price was literally as much as I have. And that's after I sold my gifted armor and sword.”
“You mean the hero’s armor and sword that you got as a present from the king?” Alice asked.
I nodded. “I asked Elbert to sell it. I can’t use them. Elbert sold it to a collector for a very nice price. Now I need to get that one sword I actually play with.” I looked at my still expensive, but a simple light sword. Price-wise, my current sword was nothing compared to what I just bought. “I can’t rely on this sword. My skills are too poor, and even if I train hard, there’s only that much I can get better.”
Alice sighed, finally getting herself seated next to me, hiding me from the larger street. “Well, I trust your decision. And getting a proper weapon that you can use is a great idea!” she whispered.
“If my plan doesn't work, I just wasted a fortune and forfeited my life. But this sword does mean that we have to extend our stay here for a few more weeks,” I mumbled.
And there I was again, with no money. But for once, I didn’t need money. I just needed my sword. Money was the smallest problem.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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