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Chapter 006
The Smiths Trial Part 1




It was a new day in Flow and Ren was making a line straight towards the Smithy, he was determined to get training this time from the burly smith. Entering the forge he stood there for a moment as the smith hammered away at a piece of metal on the anvil, only noticing Ren when he straightened up and dunked the metal in a bucket of water, causing the water to bubble and hiss as steam rose up to the ceiling “Mmph.. you again boy, I’ve heard that you’ve making yourself useful around some of the other workshops here, come to try and convince me to learn how to smith again have you?”



Ren shook his head. “No sir, You know your trade and I was rash to criticize your judgment so quickly, for that I do apologize, but it’s true that I do still wish to learn how to forge metal but… my first request now is that you teach me how to swing a hammer, I learned from sally and the old man alchemist, that learning and mastering the basics is the key to any craft, and for smithing I now believe that mastering to swing the smiths hammer is the key basic that must be mastered before one can begin to strike metal with it. So I ask you master smith with all respect, will you please teach me how to swing the smiths hammer?” Ren bowed his head deeply to the burly smith.



A silence fell through the smithy, only the sound of the burning coals of the forge crackled as Ren kept his head bowed and awaited his answer. It came with a hand clapping on his shoulder “Boy!” The first word was strong and stern, it made him shudder as he felt the impending rejection. “You’ve learned something good from those oldies haven’t you.” Ren peaked up to see a broad grin on the smiths face.



“Hahahaa! Alright boy, Ren wasn’t it? I’ll give you a chance, only a chance mind you, a test to see if you’ve got what it takes to become a tamer of fire and the elements.” Ren looked at him with a confused expression which brought a chuckle from the smith “Just an old name some smiths were called back in the day, with our strength of arm and the sweat of our brow we wage war with the flame in our forge to meld cold metal to our will.”



With another clap on Rens shoulder which nearly knocked him over the smith led him over to an anvil, grabbing a nail he scratched a small X in the center of it and then steped over to a wall of tools, picking up a small hammer and handing it to Ren “Alright boy, you’ve got three days to impress me, break this hammer on the anvil before the sun sets and you’ll pass the first stage.




Quest!
The burly smith has given you a chance to prove yourself
Complete each challenge he sets each day for three days to win his favour
First Task
Break the smiths hammer on the anvil while aiming at the mark

Difficulty – E (May vary depending on players willpower and perseverance)

Rewards
Able to move onto the second challenge





Ren examined the hammer in his hand but was unable to identify it since he lacked the proper skill, he could see that it had a total of 25 durability though, but until he started he would have no idea of how many strikes it would take to decrease it by 1.


Gripping the hammer in his hand he raised his arm and swung it down onto the X on the anvil, the sound of metal striking metal resounded though the smithy.


It only took the first strike for Ren to understand how difficult this task was, striking something solid upon something just as solid there was nowhere for the energy of the shock to go but straight into his arm, the vibrations causing his arm to tingle. Gripping the handle he raised his arm again and brought it down to the anvil with a resounding clang.


The hammer seemed to be a weakly made one, each strike reduced its durability by 1, so he had to make 25 strikes in total, the trouble being that already by the sixth strike his fingers were almost completely numb, his arm was heading towards the same. The whole time though the smith watched him, making sure every strike hit its mark, watching every grunt and furrow of Ren’s brow as he forced his fingers to grip the hammer, not by feeling but by sheer will power.


He had ten strikes to go, he couldn’t even feel the numbness in his fingers anymore, it simply felt like they didn’t exist, he had to rely on the few muscles he could still feel in his wrist to know that he was still gripping the hammer but even that feeling was almost gone and he would soon have to rely on the feeling from his forearm. And he was afraid that if the feeling of nothingness reached that far he would fail the task.


The smith watched Ren with an expressionless face, Ren knew he couldn’t let his body loosen, if he did the grip he had on the hammer would be lost for good, he had six strikes to go.



*CLANG!*



Each one seemed to get louder as he put more and more force into it.



*CLANG!*



Afraid for dear life that he would loose his grip if he didn’t tighten it more.



*CLANG!*



His breath was heavy, his hunger bar had run out several strikes ago and now each strike devoured his health instead.



*CLANG!*



“..Two more…” Ren reached deep within himself, he felt as if he no longer even had an arm, he let out his anger and frustration crying out in rage from the pain that resounded in his arm “AARRGGGGHHHHH!”



*CLANG!*



“I… WON’T….GIVE….UP!!” With a final Cry of determination which made even the smith jump the hammer came down for the final time, the resounding clash causing what could almost be a shock wave to burst from the anvil as the hammer shattered upon it.




Quest Complete!
You shattered the smiths hammer on the anvil in time

Rewards
You can come back tomorrow to take on the second challenge






Stat Gain!
For your incredible effort in completing the smiths first challenge your Strength, endurance and vitality have increased by 10






New Skill!
You endured the pain of the smiths challenge and fought past it, pushing yourself beyond your limits to complete a task that should have been beyond your abilities






Staying Power Level 1 (Beginner 0%)
(Passive)
Even if you’re starving and out of stamina you have the fortitude to push past the natural limits of your body to complete your task head on

Staying power reduces the amount of health drained when compensating for empty stamina
Amount of health drained while taking actions when out of stamina is reduced by 10%






New Skill!
You endured the smiths challenge and held firmly onto the smiths hammer for the entire duration of the challenge, your grip has become like iron






Iron Grip Level 1 (Beginner 0%)
(Active)
You have the grip of iron, you can crush stones in a single hand and with time maybe more.

Able to hold onto objects tightly
Able to crush certain objects with your hand alone depending on skill level
Any weapon, tool or item you hold cannot be knocked from your grasp
Showing of this skill either visually or physically has the chance to intimidate or even inflict fear upon those around you
10 Mana/sec





Ren was to worn out to pay attention to the notices, even if the game reduced the level of pain one could experience, if he’d felt the full amount his real body would have surely gone into shock and seizures. Collapsed on the ground unable to move and inch he couldn’t see the smith standing above him.




***


What the smith had seen was nothing short of a miracle, he had fully expected the boy to give up within the first ten strikes, but he just clenched his teeth and powered on, what surprised him even more as the more strikes he made the stronger they became, he knew that the boy was compensating making stronger strikes to maintain his grip on the hammer as his hand and arm became more numb, but to be able to actually do it was nothing short of a heroic stand, the pain must have been immense, but even now as the boy laied on the ground he could see him already recoving slowly, his hand lightly twitching as he worked even in his current state to regain feeling in his dead limb.



The smith had mixed feelings about this situation, should he tell the boy the truth that he didn’t expect him to pass and send him away till he was stronger?.... no… he couldn’t, to do so would be to spit on the outstanding determination and strength of will he had just witnessed… no… he had to push the boy further.. he had to unlock his potential even if by force…



***






***


Back in the real world as Ren lay on the soft hospital bed the nurses where cheering loudly as they watched Ren on the TV connected to his V.R Helmet and hugged each other in joy as he completed the task, they had hoped he would logout then so they could dote on him a little but they saw that the smith wasn’t done with him yet and decided instead to go speak with the doctor to convince him to let Ren stay logged in longer today.



***






Ren was sweating like a roast pig, his vision was blurry but slowly he could feel his body gradually regain its strength, his arm and hand tingling from its slow regeneration ability… if only he could eat something to fill his hunger and restore his body’s full regenerative abilities… almost on cue he was rolled onto his back by the smith who looked down at him stoically and leaned down to press a water skin to his lips, letting a light trickle of water caress his lips “Drink boy, there’s herb in the water that will help restore you.”


Ren parted his lips to let the liquid flow into his mouth, it took some effort to swallow but after that first mouthful of water traced its way down his throat he could feel his body become a little lighter, he swallowed again and again and soon he was sitting up, grasping the skin and draining it greedily of its nourishing liquid before dropping it and taking in a gasp of air, coughing a little as some water went into his lungs.


“Haha! Easy there boy, take your time now.”


Ren let out a groan and coughed a few more times “My names Ren.”


The smith chuckled “As you say Ren, I’m Donan.” He stretched a large callused hand out to Ren and helped him up onto his feet “Ren, I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect you to pass that test, but you got through it.. however.. if you’re serious about completing my challenges then pushing along with willpower along won’t be enough, but, spend half the night on the bellows of my forge and you just might get strong enough to pass tomorrow.”




Quest!
Donan the smith has taken a special liking to you and has offered additional training so that you might just pass his next challenge

Dificultly – E

Rewards
???





Ren nodded and brushed himself off before scoffing down a bread roll and following Donan to the large set of bellows used to fan the fire of his forge. “It’s simple enough just keep pumping the bellows as I work.” The grin on Donan’s face though spoke of just how hard it would be to keep up a proper pace with the bellows.


Ren stepped up onto the bellows, Donan had to pull the bar down first so that Ren could get a hold on it and following his instructions pulled it all the way down, pushing the air out of it to fan the fires of the forge then lifted it back up and was about to pull it back down again but Donan stopped him “No no, you have to do a full pump of the bellows each time, since you cant reach that high you’ll have to jump.


Ren’s eyes widened as the true nature of this training was made known to him, not only did he have to push and pull but jump as well, this was going to be just as hard if not harder then breaking the hammer….


With a groan He pulled the bellows down and as he brought it back up he jumped to push it all the way up, though he didn’t reach the full stretch of the bellows still. “You’ll have to use more strength then that boy.”


Ren frowned as Donan went back to calling him boy, usually he was able to let words like boy, kid, child and the like fly over his head but then there would be a few who would just say it with a tone that grated on him, likely Donan was saying it as a tactic to edge him on to do better, and it worked.


Pulling down and pushing up, he had to put his whole body into it just for that motion, but to jump and push it up further he had to almost flick his legs when they were already stretched out straight to give him lift, he couldn’t start the jump as he was pushing the bar up as the pressure of the bellows bag sucking in air needed more strength then he could put into it with a jump, it wasn’t until the bar was almost out of reach that it would start to rise a little on its own and to keep it going he had to essentially do a dolphin tail flick to jump from such a position.


Thanks to the stat boost he’d gotten from the hammering it didn’t feel that hard to pump the bellows, to start with at least, but after the first half hour he began feeling the strain to his back, arms and legs as he continued the monotonous motions.


Thankfully there was no failure conditions on this ‘training’ as several times he missed the timing for his jump and the bar slipped from his hands, Donan would just glare at him disapprovingly though and told him if he let go then he had to get hold of it again on his own. The first time it slipped he had to jump a dozen times before he was able to get enough height to grasp the bar.


Eventually after having the bar slip half a dozen times from his grasp he started to try use his newly acquired ‘Iron Grip’ skill when he felt the bar was about to slip from him, each time he used it his fingers would suddenly clamp down on the bar hard, the bar creaking from the strong vice like grip caught Donan’s attention more than a few times.


Though it hadn’t occurred to him when he was hammering but he now found it strange that he wasn’t getting any stat gains during the training “Mmm… perhaps I have to complete the training with my current power in order to receive the boosts…. If I did this without the quest though I’m sure I would have gained a point in something by now or several even…” He mumbled to himself as he continued the motions of pumping the bellows.


He’d lost track of time he didn’t know if he had minutes, hours or seconds left till he was done, the pushing, pulling and jumping to pump the bellows was getting harder and more strenuous with each pump, the bellows wheezed and puffed with each breath he pushed and pulled from it.


Soon Ren found himself taking on the same breathing rhythm as the bellows, focused on it even to help drown out at least a little of the strain on his arms and legs. At times he felt almost as though he was entering a trance as he followed the deep breaths of the bellows, an almost tranquil and serene state where the strain on his body vanished, but each time he reached it, it would vanished just as quick, his mind snapping back to reality and the strain on his body would crash down upon him.


Each time he achieved that serene state of mind he would catch himself almost swearing as he was over and over again reefed from it back to the reality of what he was doing, but each time even though it was only for a split second he was able to stay there a little longer, a tranquil place away from this grueling training.



***


Danon watched the boy curiously as he pumped the bellows, at first he fumbled trying to get a rhythm, then his grip would slip every so often, but the longer he watched the more he saw the boy correct himself and improve. What surprised him again was that eventually he stopped slipping from the bar, anytime it looked like he was about to his hands would suddenly tighten and the bar would creak from the strain of his grip. “Just how much is this boy improving in a single day…” he muttered to himself.



His surprises weren’t over yet, as he continued to watch there were brief moments where could swear the boy lost sense of the world around him, his body was still moving but his eyes seemed to glaze over, at first he thought he was passing out from the strain but then he caught the boy almost cursing when his eyes returned to life, seeming frustrated that he’d come back from where ever it was his mind had gone.



Again and again he watched the boy go into this state of mindlessness, he was starting to become unsure if he was helping or destroying the boy….



Thankfully time was up though “That’s enough Ren.”



***






Ren let out a groan as he let fingers slip from the bar of the bellows and collapsed to the ground, his legs felt like jelly and his back felt bent.




Quest Complete!
You stuck to it and completed the smiths extra training, you’ll find tomorrows challenge a little easier now

Rewards
The smith’s second challenge will be a little easier for you
???






Stat Increase!
Thanks to the smith’s extra training you’ve developed your body further!
+10 Strength
+10 Dexterity
+10 Agility





“Haaa..lots of increases today..” He huffed and panted as he stumbled out of the smiths workshop, falling back against the wall of the building and sliding down into a sitting position. He didn’t have a lot of time to rest since the quest held several stages, he had to log out and get something to eat and hopefully get a bit of rest before coming back to continue the smith challenge.

“I can do this… right?.....Logout…”





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Mythran

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