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A note from I Don't Bite...

Chapter 8...

My PC is out of service and It's really hard to edit from a phone. So I'm skipping the blue boxes this time...

 

Bloom let go of Elsa’s shoulder, walking on the cobbled road with unstable steps.

“Thank you,” she said, dipping her head toward the other girl.

Elsa swatted her thanks away like an annoying fly. “Look at you! Legs shaking like a newborn lamb. Even my baby brother walks better than you. Are you even a proper immortal?”

“Uh…” Bloom rubbed her nose awkwardly.

Elsa had taught Bloom a lot during their tour. She had pointed out all the places of interest, introduced which shop sold what, warned her where not to go, half carried her when Bloom was stumbling– all the while making snide remarks about immortals and also her by association. Her dislike for what she was doing was clear as crystal.

“I wouldn’t do it if Markie didn’t ask me,” she had said so many times that it almost became a catchphrase.

Restrain! Bloom thought. Elsa and her dear ‘Markie’, both of them had helped her during a critical time. She should let it go this once.

If there is a next time…

 

Clang! Clang! Clang!

Bloom looked up at the nostalgic sound of metal hitting metal. Before them, stood a huge house. More than ten chimneys above its cone-shaped roof spewed out dark, greasy smoke, twisting and churning its way up to the skies where it hung like a black cumulonimbus.

“We’re here,” Elsa said, laying her palm out towards it. “This is aunt Thoringar’s smithy.” She glanced nervously towards the house. “It’s so spooky here! Normal folk don’t go near it. A few of the immortals tried to chummy up to her, but ran away when they heard the tasks she gave.” She chuckled.

Bloom blinked. Spooky? Why? The house looked so amazing though. Well, literally anything she laid her eyes on was a marvel to her.

More than that, the smell of burning coal and heated metal surrounding the house, the rhythmic sound from inside– they were so familiar!

Bloom reached out, running the tips of her long fingers across the dark stone wall. It curved gently towards the sides to give the house an annular shape, the same as every other house in Caramis. Though their sizes and materials differed from one another, one thing still remained unchanged. Their circular forms.

Bloom reached out, running the tips of her long fingers across the dark stone wall. It curved gently towards the sides to give the house an annular shape, the same as every other house in Caramis. Though their sizes and materials differed from one another, one thing still remained unchanged. Their circular forms.

“You just couldn’t wait to start pawing again, could you?” Elsa shook her head. “What’s with you always trying to touch everything? Are you blind or something?”

“Yes,’ Bloom whispered, too busy adjusting her sight and touch with each other to pay attention to what Elsa said.

“You immortals and your quirks. At least you’re not as much of a snob as the other ones I saw.” Elsa twisted her lips. “Anyway, I’m gonna leave now. Markie would be back at any moment. Say hello to aunt Thoringar for me.” she cast a last frightful glance at the house before she took to her heel.

Bloom tilted her head, Knitting her eyebrows as she watched Elsa disappear around the bend of two circular houses. She looked back at the dark stone house again.

What made her so afraid?

“Hmph! That girl escaped pretty fast.” Bloom looked down at the sound of a high pitched voice.

A child in a red frock and brown leather apron stood glaring at where Elsa had disappeared. She carried an iron bucket full of some pitch-black rock-like things, holding it to her side with both arms. A dirty orange scarf secured a head full of fiery red hair that framed around a round face covered with dirt and soot. She turned towards Bloom. “Are you looking for something?”

Looking at the shoulders of the little girl straining with the effort and the beads of perspiration shimmering on her dirty forehead, Bloom’s eyes narrowed.

Child labour?

“Hello, I’m asking something here,” the child said impatiently. “If you’re just here to sightsee, then don’t block the door.”

“No, I also want to go inside. But go ahead.” Bloom backed away from the door.

The little girl heaved the bucket to the door and tried to boot it open, but the door only creaked, it's thick wooden frame too heavy for just a push.

“Balls!” the girl cursed. She didn’t want to put the damn bucket down. It’d only get harder to pick up later. And if she used some strength now…

“Um--” Bloom hesitated, lending a hand would be fine, right? Most people here didn’t seem too thrilled to see her. She bent down and made her voice as kind as possible, “Do you want me to help you carry that?”

The girl gave Bloom an amused look. “You? Carry this?” she walked up to Bloom and put the bucket on the ground. “Sure, go ahead."

[Quest alert!

 

Hidden quest

 

A bucket full of coal (0%)

 

Quest difficulty: D

 

Quest limit:

 

  1. Limited to one try.
  2. Limited to level 1.

 

You have offered to carry a bucketful of iron coal to the smithy.

 

Quest objectives:

 

  1. Pick up the iron coal bucket and carry it to the smithy 10 meters away.

 

Quest Rewards.

 

Experience

 

Strength +10

 

???

 

Quest Failure

 

???

 

Do you wish to accept this quest? YES/NO.]

 

[You should carefully reconsider. There’s no second chance if you fail it once.]

Bloom squinted as the window popped up at the edge of her mind. The sensation was still so uncomfortable. She grimaced, shrugging it off from her head without reading it.

[your funeral.]

Huh? That's an odd system message.

“Hey! Are you going to spend the whole day here?” The little girl called out to her.

“Wait a minute.” Bloom ignored the weird message and bent down. She held the handle of the bucket with one hand and tried to pull it up. But the object refused to budge. It held its place stubbornly as if glued to the ground.

“Huh?” she raised her eyebrows. “Um… wow! That’s heavy!” she redoubled her effort, but The bucket didn’t move an inch.

That little girl can carry this? What is she, a monster?

A creaking sound drew Bloom’s attention. The girl stood beside the now opened door with an amused grin hanging on her face.

Bloom frowned. Did she trick me?

Grinding her teeth, she used both her hands. No way was she going to back out from a challenge!

[Would you use your elemental affinity of fire to temporarily raise your strength? YES/NO]

Bloom ignored the message, concentrating on the task at hand. Her shoulders were burning from the strain but that didn’t matter. Only a bit more strength and she could pull it up.

“More strength!” she hissed, yanking as hard as she could as a warm stream shot through her spine, spreading to her shoulder and arms. And suddenly, the bucket was up!

[Elemental Affinity: Fire, activated. Strength doubled for 10 seconds.]

“Oh ho!” The girl widened her eyes. And she wasn’t the only one surprised, Bloom also stared at the bucket in her hands. It was just a few inches off the ground, but she finally did it! She glanced at the girl with a smug smile.

The girl also gave a little clap and stood aside from the door.

Bloom breathed in, heaving the heavy bucket towards the door. Her arms screamed in pain, the dark, rectangular opening, her goal, stood only a few steps away. As long as she--

Bloom’s head banged against something. A flash of pain blurred her vision and her ears rang.

“Ow!” she clenched her fist around the bucket handle. “Ouch! Ouch!”

That was close! She nearly let go of it! But what the hell hit her? She looked up at the head of the door where a brass signboard with the picture of a hammer writhing in flames hung. Broad silver lettering etched the words ‘Thoringar’s forge’ onto it.

“The door frame is too low for you?” The girl fluttered her eyelashes at Bloom who scowled back.

No shit!

suddenly, the bucket increased several-fold in weight, dropping sharply toward the ground. Bloom drew a sharp breath. Her arms felt like they were about to pop off!

[You have reached the time limit of your fire element enhancement. Your base strength is now halved for 5 seconds as a penalty]

“Shit!” Bloom cursed under her breath.

The little girl gave three distinct claps. “That was quite amusing, kid, I didn’t think you’d even be able to lift it at first.” She took off the scarf tied to her hair and started wiping her face with it. “At least, you’ve got determination. I like that.”

“Kid?” Bloom cocked an eyebrow at the child who barely reached past her waist. But the next moment, she opened her mouth in wonder.

Above the child’s head, in glowing green letters, floated a name.

[Thoringar Hearthfallow

 

Master Blacksmith

 

Level: ??]

She was the blacksmith?

Bloom was shocked. “You are the blacksmith?”

“Yes,” Thoringar said. “Why? Is there something wrong with me being a smith?”

“But—”

[Partial quest success!

 

Success rate: 10%

 

Rewards:

 

Experience

 

Strength: +1

 

+3 affinity with Thoringar Hearthfallow.]

[Too bad! If you found some strength raising items, you could’ve had the full reward.]

This time, Bloom took a careful glance at the contents of the window. Especially the quip at the end. That didn’t look like a scripted message. Was someone watching her?

That was an uncomfortable thought. She didn’t like the implications of that.

“What’s the matter, girl? Why are you silent all of a sudden?” Thoringar asked, the name floating above her now tinged with slight blue, just like Marcus’s had been. “You said you had Business inside. Well, come in then.”

Bloom looked at the bucket. She probably won’t be able to pick it up anymore.

“Leave that there. Those two midgets could do with some heavy lifting.”

Though she didn’t know who those two midgets were, Bloom nodded awkwardly, following Thoringar through the square stone hallway. The sound of hammering got closer as she walked. She rubbed the spot on her head where she had hit the signboard. The pain was almost nonexistent now and so was the fatigue from carrying the bucket.

Hitting her head like that was so embarrassing! Was this what having eyes would be like? She could have avoided that easily when she was blind. She glanced at the small back in front of her, lost in thought.

“You want to say something, then say it,” Thoringar said without turning around.

“Nothing much, Just,” Bloom hesitated, “you’re younger than I expected.”

Thoringar chuckled. “If over a hundred year’s still too young for you immortals, then I don’t know what to say.”

“Hundred years…!” Bloom gaped. “But—”

“You thought I was a little girl?”

Bloom stayed silent. Yes, she did. And not just because her understanding of vision told her so, but the voice was also that of a little girl. But now that she knew, she could spot certain differences from the children she had seen before.

Even though she had the size of a child, Thoringars body looked like that of a mature woman’s; one that had shrunk to a miniature, child-sized version of itself.

“Here’s a lesson for you. Fairies are small in size.”

A fairy? There were fairies here? Excitement bubbled in Bloom’s heart.

Before she could ask anything more, Thoringar pushed open another door blocking their path and a wave of dry heat washed over Bloom like a flood. She took a deep breath, breathing in the familiar scent of a smithy deep into her lungs and stepped in after Thoringar.

Red coal smouldered within five forges set in the wall of a spacious room. Another one at one corner burned with bright yellow flames. Two weird creatures with greyish-green skin and long pointed nose and ears worked by it. One held a glowing white metal bar with tongs, while the other hammered at it rapidly with practised ease. They also had small, childlike figures, being only a few inches taller than Thoringar.

“Glibwort! Menron!” Thoringar called out.

“Master! Master’s back!” the two creatures squealed like excited kids, thrusting their hands into the air. The things they held slipped from their hands, the tong, the hammer, the metal bar, all sailed through the air, drawing arcs in different directions.

“Oh sh—” Bloom drove to the side almost by instinct as the screaming hot metal bar zoomed by her. It struck the stone floor, rolling and bouncing a few times before sliding to a stop. Bloom swallowed, looking from the singed tips of her hair to the acrid smoke that hissed out from the metal bar.

Close call! If that had struck her… she wiggled her shoulders as a cold stream ran down her spine.

“YOU GREEN, MORONIC IMBECILES!” Thoringar dashed up to the two creatures and slammed their heads together.

The two stumbled around like drunkards, their hands wrapped around their head. “Why master?” they squeaked.

“Why? By Hagrath’s shiny beard! You have the nerve to ask why?” She reached out, pinching one ear of each goblin and shook them. “How many times has it been now? Would you learn after you end up killing someone?”

“It hurts! Leggo master! I didn’t do it, glib did!” one of the goblins cried.

“What!” the other goblin screeched. “No, I didn’t. Ron’s lying master, he did it!”

“Shut up! No meals for you two tonight.” Thoringar barked. she twisted their ears, making them turn their head and face her. ”Next time, I’ll make drums out of your skin! Now go fetch me the iron coals from outside.”

The two goblins pouted at the injustice of it all. What did they even do? Whatever happened must be the other’s fault!

They glowered at each other, tears shining in the corners of their pale moon-like eyes. Hunching their shoulders, they waddled towards Bloom, who was scowling. They paused, stuck their tongue out at her, and scurried out of the door.

Damn!

Veins popped out on Bloom’s forehead. What the hell ever that tongue showing meant, it wasn’t anything good. That no food punishment was too light. She wanted to beat them up herself.

Thoringar sighed. “Morna give those two some wisdom; or, they’ll really kill someone someday,” She looked at Bloom. “So, what’re you here for, girl?”

Bloom took a deep breath to calm her thudding heartbeat. Yes, why did she come here? Other than the fact that she knew nothing about anything and it was the only name Marcus left her in this entirely unknown world, did she have another reason?

“Marcus said you’re the best blacksmith in town,” she said, looking at Thoringar.

Blacksmith. That might have been the reason. It was a part of her growing up, the metalworks factory of her grandfather.

“Marcus, huh!” Thoringar said, pointing at a set of chairs beside the burning furnace. “You met a good one after descending. About the only ones who’d treat an immortal decently in this village are that father-son pair.”

She fished out a pipe and lit it from the furnace. “And he’s right,” she blew a circle of bluish-grey smoke and said matter of factly, “I’m the only master blacksmith in this village. Even in this kingdom, there shouldn’t be many people like me.”

Bloom arched an eyebrow as she sat on the chair. That statement actually sounded like humility.

“If you’re here for a weapon, then let me be honest with you here, girl. I don’t think you can afford it yet.”

Bloom shook her head at Thoringar’s words. At first, she had no idea why she came here, but now…

"I wanna see your work,” she said.

“You want to... what now?” the dwarf tilted her head, chuckling with amusement. “You want to take up blacksmithing?”

Did she? Bloom wasn’t sure. Reading books while listening to the hydraulic hammers or human hands hammering away at metals, grinding metals, quenching metals, feeling the sweltering heat on her skin, those had been one of her past times in childhood.

She ran her tongue against the bitter taste in her mouth. “I don’t know,” she said.

Father wanted me to enjoy, didn’t he? To experience it all?

“But I might.”

“Hmph!” Thoringar twisted his mouth in distaste. “Are you disrespecting my craft, girl?”

“What? No!” Bloom shook her head. “I’m not trying to disrespect anything.”

“Really? Then what’s with your attitude, girl? You might! Might? What does that mean? You think any random fool just might learn the craft I spent all my life on?”

Bloom pinched her temples. That escalated quickly!

“Once again, I’m not doing any disrespecting. It’s just my personal thing,” she said, standing up. “Since you don’t like it, I’ll just take my leave.”

Thoringar’s eyes narrowed. Giving up so fast? What happened to her determination from earlier?

“Yeah, go away. My smithing isn’t for timid people like you,” she said, wrinkling her nose. Just another typical immortal. And she had started liking the girl too. What a pity! She twisted her lips. “Go hide behind your mother.”

Bloom stopped on her tracks.

"Hide behind your mother

“Hide…! Hide…! Hide…!”

Bloom bit her lips hard enough to draw blood. Her ears heated up, blood running to her head.

“IT’S YOUR FAULT!” She winced as her grandpa’s voice hammered her mind. “Why couldn’t you just die alone? Why did you have to drag my daughter with you?”

Seeing Bloom’s body sway where she stood, Thoringar frowned. Was she sick or something?

“What’s the matter, girl? Weren’t you leaving?” she asked.

Bloom whipped her head around, grimacing as a low growl escaped through her teeth, “Take that back!”

Thoringar drew her head back, surprised at the twisted expression on the young girl’s face. The top of her pipe flared as she drew deeply. “Take what back?” she asked.

Bloom opened her mouth, but nothing came out. What would she say? The blacksmith’s words weren't really that offensive; they just struck her heart on a personal level.

She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. “I’ll do it!” she said, firming her jaws. “I’ll become a blacksmith!”

Interesting! Thoringar thought, observing Bloom from below her brows. What set her off?

“Why should I teach you?” she asked. “A scrawny, level 1 girl, you can’t even lift a hammer.”

“Try me!”

“Don’t want to.”

Bloom glared at Thoringar, who was watching her with cool disinterest. Why the hell was she even—

“Here, now you carry it.”

“You carry it some more.”

“No! I carried it so far!”

“I carried it farther!”

“Liar! I carried farther!”

“No, I did!”

The voice of the two goblins broke the stalemate between Bloom and Thoringar. Bloom looked towards the corridor where the two green midgets were both holding the bucket, pushing it towards each other as they walked towards the smithy.

Thoringar shook her head, chuckling. “Well, I do like your attitude, but you’re too weak to even begin.” She tapped the head of her pipe against the wall, shaking off the ash. “Come back when you’re stronger.”

Bloom frowned. “You don’t want to teach me, that’s fine. Don’t make excuses.”

“Oh! Trying to provoke me, are you? Such a feisty one!” Thoringar laughed. “I can teach you, but you have to prove your strength to me first.”

Thoringar turned to address the two goblins who had put the bucket down, still arguing. “Shut your mouth and go stand near the wall.” she said. “If I hear another word from you…” she trailed off, letting the threat hang, and turned towards Bloom. “Do you have a weapon, girl?”

“A bow,” Bloom answered, caught off guard by the sudden question. Did she want to fight?

“So an archer, huh. That settles it then. Bring me 10 Nettlehawk’s tail feathers. Only then I’ll believe you have enough strength.”

[Quest alert!

 

Thoringar’s test

 

Quest difficulty: C

 

Quest time limit: N/A

 

Master Blacksmith Thoringar has given you a task of collecting 10 Nettlehawk’s tail feathers.

 

Quest objectives:

 

  1. Collect 10 nettlehawk’s tail feathers.

 

  1. Bring them back to Thoringar.

 

Quest Rewards:

 

Experience

 

Skill: Thoringar’s legacy smithing.

 

10 Wind-hawk arrows.

 

+50 affinity with Thoringar

 

Quest failure

 

-10 affinity with Thoringar.

 

Thoringar will see you as a coward.

 

Do you wish to accept this quest? YES/NO.]

[This is a dangerous quest. Even for non-beginners.]

Bloom ignored the window, shaking her head once. “Fine!, I’ll bring you the damn feathers.”

[...stupid.]

“You’re not a spineless one, I’ll give you that. Though we’ll see how long that lasts.” Thoringar nodded, and a message popped up inside Bloom’s mind.

[You have acquired the location: Dragonspine Canyon. Check your map for further information.]

“There, that’s the place those buggers live,” Thoringar said. “Just don’t run away when you see those birds.”

Bloom said nothing, storming out of the smithy.

Thoringar shook her head as she watched Bloom disappear. “Does she plan on going there right now? That’s either foolish or ignorant. And I don’t really like fools.”

Still, she couldn’t hate the girl. Thoringar sighed. “Not your typical immortal.”


[Thoringar’s affinity increased by +5. Congratulations for winning her over through your stupidity.]

“Shut up!” Bloom spat as she charged towards the village gate. She wanted to get it over with as quickly as she could and prove herself to Thoringar.

I’m not hiding behind her anymore.

[Monsters are significantly stronger at night. Going out is ill-advised. You should find an inn instead.]

Bloom ignored the window. They tended to disappear if she disregarded them.

“—But my son hasn’t come back yet.”

“I don’t care about that. You’re coming with me now, or by Annuba, I swear I’ll drag you back.”

The commotion reached Bloom’s ears before her eyes. A man in hard leather armour and a shiny steel helmet was shouting at a villager. His oppressive aura pressed down on the diminutive elderly man.

“Please let me go look for him. I’ll be back in an hour.” The old man bowed deeply. His figure seemed somewhat familiar. Bloom frowned. Who was he? Humans were so hard to distinguish from each other.

“An hour?” the armoured man scoffed.”That brat must be inside the stomach of some beast already. I doubt you’ll find him even if you searched all night!”

“Please don’t say that!”

Bloom scowled at the man. She had had quite enough of jerks for one day. His attitude, in particular, was somehow more infuriating.

[Geralt Andicar

 

Guard captain

 

level: 45]

Bloom’s eyes narrowed to a slit. She was level 1. Arun had said a higher level difference meant higher strength difference, but that didn’t matter. Right now she just wanted to shout at someone.

She took a step forward, giving the old man a passing glance.

[Greyvern Therusea]

“Therusea… Therusea…” She rubbed her forehead for a few seconds before, it clicked to her. “Marcus's father!”

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I Don't Bite...

  • I Don't Bite...

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