Spoiler: Blacksmith Part 2 I dropped by the Boar’s Hide after my trip, delivering the feathers that Haruna had requested. She was bent over at the forge, hammering on a piece of unknown metal. I knew better than to disturb her, in fear of getting a fiery hammer to the face, so I just stood at the side, and watched as she worked the metallic ingot into a distinct shape. The thick ingot gradually was pounded down into a long and slender blade that was about a metre long, then she plunged the red-hot metal blade into the cool water, creating a cloud of steam that filled the surroundings. The forge fires roared. The blade that came out of the water was a beautiful white, unlike the common grey of steel. Whatever that ingot was, it wasn’t a material you’d see everyday. Haruna placed her smithing hammer down, and looked like she was about to take a drink. “Here you go.” “Ah, thank yo---Blergh! Elaine?! How’d you---How long have you been standing there?!” “Not for long, just around the time where you started humming that little song about how the little girl sold apples. It was quite cute, actually...Uhhh, Haruna, please put the hammer down. I won’t speak a word of it to anyone else.” Haruna finally dropped the two handed warhammer that she had been holding, and returned to her position by the forge. “So, I see you have the feathers I asked for. Good job.” She took the basket I had carried over, and opened it, taking out the feathers I had picked out. “Oh, you even packed dinner for me? Thank you.” She finished off the sandwiches I had packed for her in a few bites, and then grabbed a few feathers, staring at it crucially. “This should do. Wait here.” She grabbed the basket and went into another room, and soon the sound of hammering restarted anew. Meanwhile, I fell asleep. Woke up by a thunderous shout. Haruna was shaking me as she yelled something incomprehensible in my ear. “...What?” “Put this on!” She handed me a metallic chestplate with a different design than last time. For one, it actually covered the parts that should have been covered, and secondly… “Hmm? The feathers are covering the inner part of the chestplate?” “Put it on. Now.” “Fine, fine, don’t get so testy…” As soon as I had gotten the armour securely fitted on, Haruna tripped me, then grabbed a hammer that was mounted on the wall. “What are yo---Oi! Put the hammer down, why are you aiming it at me?!” “No choice. I need to test the armour’s toughness.” “Then go test it on a training dummy or some---” She brought the hammer down, aiming right for my chest. I shut my eyes, expecting to die...But the armour miraculously held its shape, not denting from the strike. “GAH!” It didn’t stop the impact from being a bitch, however. I groaned as the blow knocked the wind out of my lungs, and I’m pretty sure I heard a few cracking sounds… “Oh, looks like it was a partial success.” I was gasping for air, but still took the time to yell at her. “What do you mean...partial success?! I could have died from that blow, idiot! My ribs are broken!” “Don’t be such a baby. Here.” She carried me over to the couch, and then shoved a lesser healing potion into my mouth. I could feel my bones start to mend slowly (and painfully). No substitute for painkillers, but sure worked better than a hug and a kiss. “Kijin feathers aren’t soft enough, it seems.” “Soft enough...for what?” “For dispelling the force behind a crushing strike. It’s possible for Ki-enhanced strikes to bypass armour entirely and rupture the internal organs, you know. I’m working on a design that can dispel that kind of force, so that the armour actually doesn’t become completely useless against a Ki opponent.” “Fat load of good it did you, then, since I felt a regular hit so keenly already. Maybe work on dulling the impact from regular attacks first?” “That strike was charged with Ki.” “...You lunatic. What would you have done if that actually killed me?” “Well, I heard that using bones to feed a forge results in some really strong flames...Just kidding.” I have a feeling that helping her more will be really hazardous to my health...but I doubt I can back out now. Too late to regret my life choices, I guess. “So what kind of material do you need next?” “Ah, to lessen the impact, I was thinking of asking you to get…” And so, I sold my soul and probably physical well being in exchange for Haruna’s prototype equipment.