“You were a blacksmith? But … aren’t you a mage? Why would you, did I get the wrong house?”

Helci was standing in front of Roland and her mouth was moving fast. She had examined the inside of this workshop and was now barraging him with questions. She had picked up this quest as a side job. She was back to doing the transport missions with her old party and taking a safer approach to the whole adventurer life.

This left time for her to pick up part-time work like this. She didn’t expect to find the poker-faced mage she adventured around a few months ago here though. Even less that he was now apparently a blacksmith.

“Well no, I switched recently…”

“But you were so strong back there, aren’t you wasting away in this dump? You should be fighting monsters!”

Thanks to how many ants they slew, Helci had leveled up to a second tier 1 class. She had taken the hunter class that boosted better tracking and bow use. It was also a class that was good with short swords and would let her level up to a ranger class on the tier 2 change.

“Didn’t you have enough fighting monsters? Thought you’d slow down after the way that Grotto mission went.”

Roland replied with another question. He'd thought that the girl would see some reason and relax. However, she was as active as always. Adventuring was the thing she wanted to do, this raised another question though.

“Shouldn’t you have left for a city with a dungeon by now?”

The girl flinched slightly and let her head down. She then looked back up to Roland while blushing. Her left and right index fingers were now poking against each other while looking at her old party comrade.

“I-... I don’t have enough money to make the trip…”

Roland raised his brow and took a glance at what Helci was wearing. She indeed had some higher tier gear. Her sword seemed to be enchanted in some way and the clothes were spanking new. The armor she was wearing was hard leather and she might have had some more goodies hidden in her spatial bag.

“So even if you wanted you don’t have enough for the train ride? Can’t you just take an escort mission to a city with a dungeon?”

Roland asked while placing some smithing tools on his workbench.

“You think it’s that easy? Maybe if my stupid party wanted to move with me!”

She slumped on one of the chairs while sighing and then started talking. Roland certainly didn’t think that he would be having such a heart to heart talk with his new assistant.

Helci told him that due to the lack of funds it was hard to move. She wouldn’t have much left for an inn and she would need to find a new party. She was someone that just switched to her second tier 1 class and considered a newbie. She might not be able to find a party that wouldn’t rip her off if she moved.

There was also the problem that a city with a dungeon wasn’t anywhere close to where Edelgard was. Roland was making a lot of money by crafting his scrolls but a new steel grade adventurer wasn’t. After the failed mission the guild only rewarded them partially as there was no proof that the client lied about the ants being there.

Helci spent most of her hard-earned cash on her new equipment and recovery potions and was not left with much besides that. She was a scout and a hunter so she also had the added cost of arrows. The costs added and she was left with living from paycheck to paycheck. The paycheck being whatever she got from the adventurer guild.

It would take her some time until she gathered enough to travel. After going through the mine experience and then spending most of her coins she did some thinking. She now knew that she got overzealous with her expenditure. This time around she needed to gather enough money to have a fallback plan. This was also why she was now here, earning more as an errand girl.

To Roland, this didn’t explain why he was getting the girl as an assistant. He thought he would get someone that at least had some basic smithing knowledge. Would this girl even be able to identify the crafting materials he ordered her to get?

“I see… you should be careful with your money in the future. You can start working by cleaning the office then.”

Roland had to stay and listen to the girl complain for fifteen minutes about her adventurer party. He didn’t have the whole day for something like this, he needed to craft more items and train his smithing skills.

“Slave driver!”

The orange-haired girl shouted at him before grabbing an empty bucket to fetch some water. She wasn’t someone with high strength but with the added levels she was stronger than your average human man that didn’t have a class.

Roland didn’t need her for anything else at the moment. It felt kind of strange to have someone follow his orders around. Was this how all the business owners felt when they ordered their workers?

The girl vanished behind the warehouse doors after going out, the well for the water was about five minutes from this spot. While she was gone Roland decided to turn on the forge and get started, today he would craft a utility knife. He was also in the possession of a lesser sharpness rune which would go with it nicely. That is if he managed to compress the rune enough to fit the small knife.

He would be making the knife out of some leftover tools that weren’t usable. He would be making it from a rusty horse hoof rasp, which was used for filing down horse hoofs. Half of it was rusted and he just needed about eight inches of the handle part. It was already broken in half so he wouldn’t need to cut it. It was also made from steel and not iron this time around.

First, he needed to heat it up to a nice red color. He then began hammering the handle end of the file over the near side of his anvil until it was half an inch wide. By using the handle end of the file he would save himself a lot of time on forging.

He made sure to knock back the sharp corners where the filehandle began to create a taper; this prevented cold shuts from forming. He then drew out the handle taper until it was long enough.

Drawing and tapering to lengthen thin steel were the most common techniques a crafter would use as a blacksmith. When you drew steel out, you used flat hammer blows to make a section of steel uniformly thinner and longer.

Tapering used angled hammer blows, often with the piece of metal held at an angle to the face of the anvil, to narrow a section of metal on an angle.

So he drew out the blade of the file until it was slightly over an inch wide at the shoulder of the handle. He then created a one-sided taper by holding the spine of the knife flat on the anvil and while holding his hammer at an angle.

Roland bent the handle over the horn of the anvil in the middle and brought the tip completely around. He did it so that it was flat against the spine side with a loop at the end.

He then started to grind the blade evenly on both sides until it was just right. He couldn’t grind it too thin before hardening; otherwise, it might have become brittle and crack in the process of making. Next came the process of Annealing.

To normalize or anneal steel, was to slowly cool it after forging to let the steel or metal grain structure relax and refine. This reduced the chances that the steel would shatter when it is hardened. For the basic blacksmith, normalizing meant to slowly cool the steel near the fire, while annealing meant to very slowly cool the steel in an insulating material such as ash.

So he continued by annealing the knife, he heated it up first so that it would become nonmagnetic and then he let it cool in a bucket of ash. After annealing it, he heated it back up to a nonmagnetic state again just to then quench the blade in oil.

Following this, he tempered the blade after repolishing the edges. He did this by holding the blade upside down and waiting until the blade showed a straw yellow color and then he quenched it again.

A yellow color was the hardest temper, used for cutting tools such as wood-carving chisels and slicing knives such as this. It was best used for anything that needed a hard, strong edge at the expense of a higher chance of chipping or cracking.

He was now mostly done with his creation. He just needed to add the rune part and then polish it. Maybe add a wooden or cloth handle so he wouldn’t need to hold it by the cold steel. The steel would make runecrafting more difficult but he had leveled up this skill thanks to the skill book.

While he was examining his creation he noticed someone standing next to him. He jumped back as Helci had her face shoved right next to him as she watched him working.

“W-what are you doing?”

“Nothing, finished cleaning that room but you were busy working so I didn’t want to disturb you. You really are a blacksmith, aren’t you… also here have one…”

Roland looked at the smaller girl, in her hand was a ripe red apple. He looked at her then back to her hand before taking the apple. He realized that he was actually a bit hungry after having forged this knife for the first time.

“Um, thank you.”

“No problem, just part of the job! Also...”

The girl paused while Roland took a bite out of the apple, some sweat running down his forehead.

“Are you good at forging arrows?”

She asked while glancing at him with her large eyes as if she was expecting something.

“Arrows? Haven’t tried yet… shouldn’t be too hard, just need a steel or iron rod. You can probably buy the arrow shafts at the woodworker so I’d just need to make the arrowheads. Not sure if you can get the quills there though…”

He talked out loud while thinking that practicing on arrowheads could be better than making nails. He might be also able to inscribe some lesser runes on them.

“Arrow shafts and quills… okay… I’ll be right back.”

Roland eyed Helci that looked awfully happy for some reason. He had her as a temporary assistant for now, it was probably a good thing that it was a person that he knew. The girl was a bit off but he could probably trust her, she was a good kid.

The only problem with having an assistant was that he couldn’t runecraft. He was still trying to hide his prestige class from others. He was far too young to be a proper runesmith so intelligent people would probably put two and two together.

While Helci was out he went back to working on his utility knife. It wouldn’t work well as a weapon, it was too short for that. He mostly made it to train his smithing skills and then to train his rune inscribing.

He had one of those grinding wheels to help him do the sharpening. It was even one of those that he could operate with his foot and not with a handle. He gave it a spin and sharpened his newly produced tool and then gave it a nice polish.

Crude Steel Utility Knife [ intermediate ]

His skills increased a bit so he managed to finally get an intermediate ranking. The more he worked on something the easier it became. He also knew that the smithing skills were somehow helping him out. He didn’t even need to concentrate that much while shaping tools that he previously made. His body would shift into automatic gear and recreate what he already did. The more his skills went up the higher the rating on the items became.

While Roland was happy about his new creation his assistant showed up again. She was holding ten wooden sticks that looked like arrow shafts and quills. She placed the items that she brought on the table and looked to her new kid boss with a smile on her face.

“Here you go, I saw some iron bars here so I didn’t get those. Now you can make some arrowheads! Leave the quills to your lovely assistant!”

The girl nodded and started attaching the quills to the premade arrow shafts. The procedure wouldn’t really be hard as everything was already prepared for her. The girl was really chipper about him making some arrowheads and he already realized why.

“They probably won’t be that good…”

He took one of the wooden arrow shafts that Helci graciously brought over. He aligned it with some of the thinner iron rods that he had in the smithy and picked one that was the closest in thickness. Luckily he had a point mandrel that was close enough in width.

This was just a pointy tool that allowed making consistent sockets for arrowheads. It was about six inches in length and when he aligned it with the arrow shaft it looked to fit the size nicely. He wouldn’t need to grind it down any further thanks to this.

The forge was activated again and the piece of iron was placed inside to heat up. He left it there till it glowed a bright orange similar to when he was working with the nails. He took the hot piece of metal to the anvil and started hammering the heated end.

He was aiming for a rough spoon shape that was a little bit over three times as wide as the rest of the iron rod. He made sure to flatten it out nicely and to taper the ends thin. He then started folding the socket by placing it over the horn and hammering gently.

After folding it a bit he placed it back on the face of the anvil and started to gently round it out. He made sure to not overdo it otherwise it could collapse onto itself or have sharp creases. After it was nicely rounded out he grabbed the point mandrel from the side and inserted it into the created socket.

He then proceeded to hammer it in so that the inside would fit the wooden arrow shaft later on. He needed to hammer it a few times from the sides so that it fit the tool better before it was done. He then used his hardy tool that was meant for cutting to cut away the partially done arrowhead from the iron stock.

He grabbed his pliers from the side and grabbed the soon to be arrowhead with them by the socket side. He placed it back on the anvil and started to draw the arrowhead out into a four-sided point. After he was done he inserted the point mandrel back into the socket and did some finishing touches on the arrowhead.

If he had a better grindstone he could skip some of the hammerings to the tip and just sharpen it with it instead. It wasn’t fast enough for such a thing and he could only add some sharp edges instead. After about twenty minutes he was mostly done with it and it was actually quite pointy at the end.

After he used the grindstone to get rid of some uneven parts he heated up the arrowhead once more. This was just so he could place it into some oil. This was too cool it off and give it a nice oxide finish to keep the point from rusting. He handed the finished arrowhead to his lovely assistant and told her to use some sandpaper on the inside of the socket and then to attach it to the arrow shaft while he worked on the rest.

He had nine to go and the more he worked the faster he could finish. His high dexterity allowed him to better work with smaller parts like this and he didn’t fail even once. It took him about three hours to finish these up, in the end, he had six low and four intermediate iron bodkin arrowheads.

He was actually happy with his work, the only problem was that these wouldn’t sell for all that much and he would probably earn more by scribing more scrolls in the night.

“Here… you can take them, just pay me for the iron…”

Helci grinned widely after Roland gave the arrows to her for close to nothing. He knew what she was planning but he didn’t really care. He just used this as practice, if he ever made a runic version of the arrow he would charge her normally.

“You’re the best boss in the whole wide world! Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to cook you some good food, I bet you’ve been only eating out in those cheap restaurants.”

She wasn’t wrong, Roland mostly just went to the closest place in the neighborhood and didn’t even care if the food was bland. He even received a nicely cooked stew for his work that almost brought a smile on his face.

So his life as a blacksmith continued, his levels were rising slowly but he knew that if he continued he would finally be able to craft something special.


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