16: Eccentric Blacksmith
Part 1: Vagabond Arc "Ash-crowned Princess of Slaughter" Chapter 1: The Heroine Went Against Fate
The impact from the Battle Technique that was thrust out from my knife gouged out the log one meter in front of me.
Battle Techniques were monosyllabic non-elemental magic spells, a kind of special move for close-quarters combat professions that could be activated through the medium of a weapon.
They consumed magic power and were able to release an attack several times more powerful than a normal one.
However, in exchange for being easy to use, there were restrictions in their usage. The higher the level of the Battle Technique, the more magic power it used and the more difficult it became to handle. Moreover, once you used it, magic particles that felt like heat would accumulate in your muscles, and if you forced yourself to move before the heat cooled down, you would damage your muscles.
Of course, injured muscles could be recovered with Heal, but the pain would not go away, and it seemed that if you continued to use Battle Techniques by overusing Heal unreasonably, you wouldn't be able to raise your arms for several days.
The rank 1 Battle Technique for the Dagger Arts skill was Thrust.
Thrusting with a knife in one hand, the impact was doubled and shot forward.
With a range of one metre or more, which depended on the proficiency of the user, it was a very useful Battle Technique, which compensated for the weakness of the dagger that had low power and short reach.
I thought it would be difficult to learn since I lacked knowledge of this Battle Technique, but after Viro taught me the form and showed me an example, I became able to use it in less than the one hour we rented the training grounds for.
Thrust was simply a "magic" that fired non-elemental magic power in the shape of a blade. Being conscious of the fact that this was magic and not sorcery, in order to replicate the flow of magic particles that Viro showed me I used an image of extending the blade rather than just firing magic power.
This was where my experience of learning all the Daily Life magic spells, although crudely, came in handy. But I also thought that it would have taken me much longer had I not had learned magic power control.
Clap clap clap...
"Very good, Aria. That was an excellent display of a Battle Technique. With that I welcome you as a rank one adventurer of the Adventurers' Guild."
The receptionist woman, who also acted as the examiner, welcomed me with a round of applause before handing me an identification tag that had already been made. Normally, I would have had to wait a while after the examination, but she had made it ahead of time, assuming that there would be no problem since I could use light sorcery already.
The woman was smiling sweetly and kindly when she handed me the tag, but then her gaze became stern when she turned to the man standing behind me.
"Viro, pay the reservation fee for the training grounds and the registration fee, which combined comes to two silver coins, as soon as possible please."
"Your attitude is way too different between us!"
"Don't you think it's only natural to have a different attitude towards a young and cute girl and a middle-aged man?"
"Shit...I can't argue with that!"
...Is that alright? Well, let's just think that they're on good terms.
"Aria, let's get moving."
I left the adventurer's guild following Viro, who was walking with loud footsteps as if to represent his dissatisfaction. When I glanced back the receptionist had noticed me and waved her hand.
Come to think of it, according to that woman's "knowledge", apparently there was a tradition where new adventurers would definitely be picked on by bad adventurers, but it seemed that the event was put on hold for a bit thanks to Viro's presence.
For the time being, let's think about the work that Viro wanted me to do.
His plan was to give a kid a few errands for a week or so, then if he found the kid useful he would personally train them in combat, and only when they turned out to be trustworthy would the kid start working for the client.
Just like I didn't fully trust Viro, he hadn't completely evaluated me either, so he hadn't yet told me who the client was or what kind of work I would be doing there.
But...is it possible that the client is a noble?
I doubted that a noble would give work to a child who looked like a street urchin, but even if they did, I was a little taller now, so I didn't think they would immediately recognize me as the child who disappeared from the orphanage.
I had been on guard against nobles, but if asked why I had a change of heart, it was because I was now trying to become strong in order to survive, but after seeing Feld and Viro, I understood that being strong was something that stood out in its own way.
Becoming stronger might raise the chances of getting involved with nobles. Whether I run away from them each time I encounter them, or whether I tolerate them to a certain extent while hiding my true identity, will make a big difference for the rest of my life.
Therefore, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have contact with nobles with a guardian like Viro in between. If possible, I would like to have connections as "insurance" in case I ever got involved with a bad noble, but that would be too greedy. And I thought that perhaps the client was a minor noble since they were willing to hire a street urchin for a job.
Besides, I reminded myself that as long as I managed to obtain enough strength to be able to escape to another country by myself, it wouldn't matter if I was discovered.
And I felt that the fastest way to "get stronger" was to accept Viro's job.
"Well then, I'll train you so you can do at least the bare minimum to get the job done."
What floated up in my mind was the scene of the training that Feld gave me that was definitely not suitable for a child.
But apparently Viro would not only pay for the living expenses during that time, he would also pay me a daily wage of one small silver coin.
For a commoner, it may have seem like a small amount of money, but for a street urchin from the slums it was too generous of an offer, so I had no complaints.
"Also...Aria. Lemme see your knife."
I was uneasy with handing my weapon to someone else, but there was no point in refusing considering Viro's abilities. When Viro took the knife I offered him, he frowned slightly and made a conflicted expression.
"...Did you receive this from someone?"
"Hmm? That's right..."
Hearing my reply Viro sighed lightly and returned the knife to me.
"Use it only for dismantling or as a spare weapon. No matter what you use it for it'll quickly get dull."
"But, what about fighting?"
"The main reason I came to this town was because I had some business with a blacksmith here. I'll buy you one that fits your hand. That knife has too big a handle for a brat."
It was originally used by a large man like Feld, so it had a big handle to accommodate him. I was aware of that, so if he wanted to buy me a knife, I would gladly take it.
"Also...put these on, too."
Viro presented me with a pair of short pants. Perhaps he bought whatever caught his eye at the stall, so the size was a little small, but it wasn't impossible for me to wear.
But why do I need to wear this? When I tilted my head to the side and looked up at Viro, not understanding what he meant, he frowned and roughly ruffled my head.
"Your clothes flap around too much in battle!"
Viro said something I couldn't understand and started walking. I followed him shortly after. I didn't know why, but maybe it was a topic I shouldn't ask too much about.
"Come to think of it, did you use sorcery during that fight?"
After Viro chanted what seemed to be sorcery in the middle of the fight, I wondered if it was his sorcery that made Viro stay behind me when he should have been in front. When I asked him about that phenomenon, he seemed to remember it too and looked back across his shoulder at me while walking.
"Ah, that one. I can use dark sorcery, y'see. It's only level one and I can only use one spell, but it's a sorcery that produces a 'sound' at the place you choose."
I see. So it's an illusion-type dark sorcery. Making a sound somewhere didn't seem like a big deal, but it could be useful in a variety of situations when used by scouts like Viro and me.
"Teach me dark sorcery."
Now that I have found someone who knows the dark sorcery that my knowledge was lacking, I couldn't afford to miss this opportunity. When I said this, Viro stopped in his tracks and looked down at me, appearing to be thinking about it for a moment.
"Sorcery, huh... I dunno if you have an aptitude for dark sorcery, so I can't guarantee that you can learn it, y'know? I also don't know how to teach it, so I can only tell you the spell...are you fine with that?"
I was never taught sorcery in the first place. As long as I knew the spell and what it meant I could just spend time analysing it little by little like before.
As we walked down the main street having this conversation, Viro turned to the low-income residential area near the slums.
This is...where that old shopkeeper's general shop is located, isn't it? Speaking of which, that grandpa told me about an eccentric blacksmith dwarf. In that case, maybe it's that dwarf's smithy we're going to.
Then, after walking through the low-income area for a while, I heard a distant clanging of metal coming from somewhere. Is that our destination? Viro entered a complicated alley and walked through it with familiarity, and after a while we reached a slightly large workshop made of stone.
"Galbas, you there!!"
Viro shouted with a voice that almost seemed angry, and a little later a loud voice like a gong clanging replied from the inner part of the shop.
"Don't shout so loudly in front of someone's house!!!"
I reflexively covered my ears at the sound of a voice that seemed to shake my eardrums, and an old male dwarf with a pure white beard appeared from the back, small in stature but seemingly wider than Feld.
It's an old man...isn't it? Even though I was aware of dwarfs from the "knowledge", it was my first time meeting one so I wasn't really sure.
"What's this, if it isn't the youngster Viro. Did ye bring me a drink?"
"Please stop calling me a youngster already. I got what you asked for before, so I brought it. Here, a fire-breathing lizard's magic stone. It's a good one, y'know?"
"Ooh, ye finally got it. The forge won't heat up without it. Let's try it right away!"
"Oh, c'mon man, you can at least pay me. It took a lot of work."
"Don't be miserly. Give me the dagger I made ye. I'll make it good as new."
"...Can't be helped."
I didn't really understand their exchange, but apparently they had quite a close relationship. Then, as I peeked curiously at how he was going to repair Viro's weapon, the dwarf...Galbas finally noticed me.
"Is that yer kid? ...No, the kid's got a nice face. Yer disciple then?"
"That's mean, man...well, she's something like a disciple, yeah. I wanna make this kid use a knife, do you have one?"
"I don't have a weapon for that kind of brat!! ...Is what I want to say, but you can take whatever fits from the ones in there. I'll put it on your tab."
"...You're charging me for it when you haven't even paid me for the magic stone?"
Ignoring Viro's mutterings, Galbas threw a piece of the magic stone into the forge.
The colour of the flames in the forge changed noticeably and intense heat surged out. In the skin-burning heat, Galbas blew a mouthful of alcohol from a bottle into the forge, and the flames flickered as if dancing.
Surely it wasn't normal alcohol. Perhaps due to the fire-breathing lizard's magic stone and the alcohol, I saw the magic particles in the flames so vividly coloured that I let out a voice in fascination.
Galbas, catching my murmur, raised his face from the forge and looked at me fixedly.
"Ye, do ye understand the 'colour' of this fire?"
"A 'red'...without any impurities."
When I answered unconsciously, Galbas stared at my face while stroking his white beard, then nodded slowly.
"That hair...so yer the 'ash smeared' that the eccentric ol' man from the general shop told me about, huh."
So you're both calling each other "eccentric", huh.
"Oi, ash smeared. Yer weapon's a knife, right?"
"Alright, got it. Oi, Viro!! Stop looking at those scrapped weapons that a guy who bought from me left behind as a trade-in, and answer me!! Ye have time until tomorrow!?"
At the sound of Galbas' voice, Viro, who was picking out a dagger from a box in the corner of the smithy with a serious face, turned around with a surprised look on his face.
"You made me choose from scrapped weapons!? Well, it's fine if it's just until tomorrow...what's wrong?"
When Viro answered, Galbas nodded and went to the back, returning after a short time to hand me a slender, pitch-black knife.
"It's a knife I made a long time ago. Ash smeared. I'll fix it up to fit yer hand."
My sincere apologies, but the next update will be on Saturday.
Next time: A new weapon.
- [+] Something that was added in the light novel.
- [–] Something that didn't make it into the light novel.
- [≠] Some difference in details.
- [–] The part about Aria wanting to have connections as "insurance".