Chapter 36 of Re;Blade
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Chapter 36 – The Master
After the blacksmiths and their apprentices left the castle forge, there were only the old master and the sword.
He looked at every inch of the blade with his good eye, so close he could see his own reflection.
“What’s your name?” he asked, placing the sword on the stand on the table. At the same time, he on one of the stools.
Tetsuko stared at the old blacksmith. He can feel me…
“Don’t be shy. I’m Baltasar. I’m the blacksmith of the Vidal family even bef0re Lord Diogo’s father,” he said. “I know there’s something in there… a strange energy that is similar to a soul… But I don’t know if it’s the soul of a human… or maybe the soul of a demon from the Old Age…”
I’m a human… or at least I was, the soul in the sword projected her thoughts to the old man. I was a blacksmith in a different world before I died and became a sword.
“Kaka! Can’t believe this!” The old man let out a hearty and jovial laugh that echoed in the forge. “A blacksmith who became a sword? That’s one of my dreams!”
What…? It’s your dream…?
“Don’t you agree? I’ve been forging swords ever since I can remember. I’ve always dreamed of creating the strongest sword, but I’ve always wondered how would be to become one of the blades I created. To be made of metal… living metal… to become a legendary sword like the First King’s… People say my mind is gone but they’re dead on the inside if they don’t have such dreams!”
The only good eye stared at Tetsuko with a mixture of envy and wonder.
I can see that, she projected her thoughts. I have to admit I’ve imagined once or twice. But I never expected to become a sword for real… And not one of the swords I made…
The old man stopped smiling. “You wanted to work more… You still miss hammering the metal,” Baltasar said in a low voice.
Tetsuko became quiet for a moment.
She forced her mind to remember what was like to hold a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other. The weight and the recoil when metal struck metal. The hot sparks shining. The hissing when cooling metal on water. The smell of a forge.
The blacksmith in her missed it all.
Yes, she said at last. There was a lot I wanted to do… Where I come from, we made excellent swords. However, our metal wasn’t the best. Then I saw a black foreign metal… It was the most wonderful material I had ever used. I made the strongest sword I could for an annoying swordswoman…
Tetsuko could never forget that sword. During the nights, when her mind wondered, she sometimes recalled those days.
“I get it,” Baltasar said in a paternal voice and a gentle smile. “I’m old and have only one eye left, but I still want to make more swords… Especially after seeing you, Tetsuko… A sword made of pure living metal… A sword with a soul, no less… I’ve seen a lot in these 80 years, but this truly unheard…”
What’s this living metal? I know it’s a special metal from this world, but I don’t know much beyond that, Tetsuko asked, not hiding her curiosity. Ever since she heard that, she wanted to ask, but the people around her either couldn’t tell her properly, like Alonso, or were too annoying and she wouldn’t ask, like the nobles.
“Even an old man like me can still teach someone,” he said in a nostalgic voice.
Baltasar stroked his beard. At the same time, his smile. From the gentle and paternal smile to a wild one. One of a blacksmith ready to talk of what they loved.
“Living metal is one of the few materials we can call a perfect conductor of Celeste. It’s how we call the energy,” he added before Tetsuko could ask. “But while is a perfect conductor, it also adapts to the Celeste. It absorbs and makes it part of its own. You must’ve noticed there’s not a single scratch on you.”
Yes. I’ve always been proud of that.
“It’s because you absorb the energy and heal yourself.”
Metal that heals itself…?
Tetsuko could barely grasp the idea. Even so, her imagination was going wild as she thought of the possibilities.
“But that’s not all! It can evolve!” The old blacksmith couldn’t stop smiling.
What do you mean, evolve?
“As it sounds! The metal will evolve and become stronger!” Baltasar shouted. “If you heat in a certain temperature for too long, it’ll become resistible to that temperature! You’ll need to use a hotter flame to work on that metal. But if you leave it for too long–”
The metal will adapt to the new temperature, Tetsuko finished the sentence.
“Exactly! That’s why is so valuable for us! Thanks to that, we can do a lot!”
What else about this metal? the soul in the sword asked. She too couldn’t contain her excitement.
Baltasar’s smile became a little smaller.
“There are a few other properties too, but there’s a problem. The metal is over sensitive to human Celeste.”
What do you mean? Human Celeste? Is there a difference in the energies…?
“Everything is made of Celeste. But while the energy from stones, tree, metal and the earth is hard and slow, we humans have a warm and fast Celeste. Living metal is too sensitive to that energy. So much that when someone pours their energy into the metal, it’ll vibrate and break.”
So that’s why they kept saying it was impossible to make a sword of pure living metal…
“Yes! There’s no one in this continent of Halboor who knows more about this metal than us! And yet here you are! Can you imagine seeing something that defies everything you know?”
Tetsuko couldn’t help but snort. And yet you seem thrilled with the idea.
“Of course! What kind of true blacksmith wouldn’t feel excited in this situation? Those idiots a bunch of nobles who had some talent with metal but they let their names get in the way of knowledge. All they wanted was to learn about you and use for their own families.” The old master spat on the floor.
Tetsuko let out a weak chuckle. I can understand them… Working hard to improve and bring honor to your family…
“Kaka! You can say that, but I can tell, Tetsuko. You’d give your leg if you could improve your skill,” Baltasar said, stroking his beard again. “Even as a sword, you still have the soul of a true blacksmith!”
Can’t deny that… I’d love to work with this living metal… The materials where I come from weren’t the best… even so, we made great swords.
“That’s the second time you say that. How was the metal?”
It was too impure and not suitable. But after centuries, we found a way around that and make great swords.
Folding. We folded and folded the metal until we took most of the impurity out of it. Unlike the barbarians or the people from the middle kingdom, we made single edge curved blades. With that, we could use two types of heating. One to make the blade bend without breaking. The other to make the sword hard, Tetsuko explained in an excited voice.
“Folding? Folding? Folding the metal?” The old blacksmith shouted. He seemed stunned with the idea. “That took the impurity out of the metal?”
Yes. But I know if I had better raw metal, I could make even more powerful swords!
“I see… that… that… could make it possible for a high level of purity… Yes… But how about with living metal…?” he asked, more to himself than to Tetsuko. “But even if we add a normal metal, it might not make it possible for to make a sword like you…”
Maybe instead of folding the entire alloy, you only fold part of it and make the rest pure live metal.
“It’s… an interesting idea… That would make a core of alloy with the outer part pure live metal… The alloy might prevent the vibration and then destruction of the weapon…”
Can we make it? Tetsuko asked, her blacksmith soul tingling.
The old master flashed a wild smile to the sword.
“We can try.”
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