Kusla’s face was quite a masterpiece when he reported the findings on Damascus Steel to Autris of the the Knights’ Baggage Corps.
Certainly, the higher ups decreed that the uncouth Alchemists were to be bogged down, but they unexpected showed quite an achievement.
However, Kusla only reported to Autris after receiving a reply to the express message he submitted to the town Azami’s Crest was at.
Of course, though the Knights were in charge of protecting the townsfolk, they were simply surrounded by the Pagans.
Certainly, if they were informed that a mythical metal could be offered to forge a precious sword, they would not ignore it.
Why would a King want a rare, dull sword? For that was not used for slashing. Having it as an ornament was significant in itself.
“Really feels like bread and yeast left to rest.”
After many months, Irine was at the blaring furnace again, and Kusla stood in front of it, muttering blankly. She was swinging the hammer down on the metal placed on the anvil. Also present were Weyland, Sophites and Fenesis.
She hammered at the red, scorching metal block, stretched it, repeated the process on countless kinds of metals, overlapped them, and welded them together with refined skills. It seemed the metal were facing a direction the eyes could not see, for they were uniformed in the hammering process. The metals that had differing properties, unable to mesh together, were welded together through this possess.
But that alone would mean that the fused metal would easily separated after a violent hit. Thus, there was a need to add a rare powder called borax, and put the metal in searing temperatures such that the seams were welded together. Kusla and Weyland read it on the records, but they were really interested in the white borax crystals.
Once the metal was fused, she then used the hammer to bend it, layered it, added powder, smashed it, heated it, and again formed a seamless metal plate. However, there was a difference in color, due to the nature of the differing metals welded together, so the different colors combined, forming patterns similar to Damascus Steel. According to Sophites, there were legendary blacksmiths in Clazini who could manipulate the patterns, even crafting out human names.
Leaving aside whether that was true or not, Irine continued to toil.
She kept hammering with all her might, so focused that she forgot to breathe or blink, but it appeared she was really enjoying herself.
Kusla himself was not that interested in smelting work itself, and after waiting for a while, he exited the workshop. The workshop was too hot, and it was the world of a blacksmith. Having understood the theory in all, he had no particular interest anymore. All he prayed for at this point was that Orichalcum was not just a phony.
Good grief, after a sigh, he unexpectedly saw Fenesis walk out.
She was not dressed in work clothes, the veil over her head instead. Perhaps she was suffering in the sweltering workshop.
Now at the room without a fire, Fenesis let a sigh as light as her petite body.
“Aren’t you going to look? It’s a rare opportunity.”
Kusla said, and Fenesis lifted her head.
“…It really is interesting.”
“Does it have anything to do with your aims?”
In response to Kusla’s words, Fenesis glanced at Irine and the others, looking really displeased.
“They can’t hear you.”
Fenesis put a hand at her chest, fanning herself, gently raised the long hair sticking to her neck, and shook her head. Kusla said that she did not fit that country girl clothing, so no matter how hot it was, Fenesis was unwilling to wear that set of clothing.
But while Kusla kept staring at Fenesis, he was unable to contain his impulse any longer, and asked,
“Still not the moment when you can tell me your ‘aim’?”
Fenesis looked at Kusla, giving a look that clearly implied that she did not want anyone to see what she was thinking, and she turned aside, asking,
“Miss Irine is going to come along to Kazan, right?”
“Well, yes, that is the condition.”
“Is that so?”
However, she clearly was awaiting something.
Kusla sighed as he watched Fenesis. She squirmed, like a little girl nervous that her prank would be exposed. Kusla slowly went to her, and though she remained in a wary position, she remained obedient when Kusla placed his hand on her head.
He looked at the corridor linking this room to the workshop Irine and Sophites were in.
There was no one.
“Are you worried that your identity will be revealed?”
He did not know the status Irine would take when she was to head to kazan.
However, in this silence, Irine already harbored some expectations for Kusla and the others.
An expectation not to reach her hand out, but for them to reach out to her.
In other words, she was hoping for Kusla and the others to build a relationship, where ‘everyone could build something’.
“I guess it’s fine to be cautious. Also, those that can handle things on their own won’t be bothered by curses or anything. Your curse isn’t of the Devil anyway, just for those townsfolk who really value honor.”
Kusla gently rubbed Fenesis’ head to cheer her on, and she cringed like a teased cat, closing her eyes.
However, she did not say anything.
After some teasing from Kusla, she slowly shook her head.
Kusla let out a skeptical sound, but Fenesis did not answer.
And for an instance, she glanced at Kusla, before looking down again.
Her cheeks were slightly red.
“I-I’ll abide by my priorities.”
Saying that, she suddenly turned her head aside.
Kusla liked to tease others, but he did not like to be teased. Feeling anxious and remorseful over his lack of comprehension, the moment he felt furious about Fenesis’ rudeness.
Fenesis gently reached her hand out.
Slowly, but without hesitation.
Kusla stared at Fenesis’ hand, which was grabbing the hem of his clothes.
The slender hand was one nobody held before, and even when she desired, nobody did.
It tugged at the hem of his clothes, Kusla’s clothes.
Even through her veil, one could see that her beast ears were tense.
Fenesis was taken aback, cringed, and let go.
Kusla did not force himself to pull her.
He wanted to laugh, but he did not.
If that was heartfelt, he would never mock her goal.
For that was the promise they made.
“Well then, time to fulfill your wish.”
Saying that, he reached his arms towards her, and embraced her in his clutches without a second time, kissing her head through the veil. As expected, there was a sweet, milky fragrance.
He backed away slightly, and looked down at Fenesis’ face. The latter remained dumbfounded as she suddenly swung Kusla’s hand away, shoved at his chest, and growled,
“I-I wasn’t wishing for such a thing!”
Kusla remained skeptical, and asked,
“Not to hug me right now?”
Was the girl trying to maintain her dignity? Or that she was simply trying to cover up the fact that she was flustered? Right when Kusla was pondering about this, he suddenly had a realization. Even if he wanted to protect someone, it need not be a little bird, or a Princess. There were other ways to protect someone.
“Ahh, I see.”
So what was the thing Irine wanted to protect so much?
Kusla never thought of it.
Thus, for the current Kusla, it was impossible for him to imagine calling Fenesis an ally.
“Well, there is this, I guess?”
Kusla muttered, and Fenesis seemed to have regretted what she said, appearing to be on the verge of tears. After exchanging stares with her, she immediately turned her face away, looking displeased.
“…Don’t be angry. I never thought you’ll say such things to me.”
Kusla excused himself, yet Fenesis continued to glare at him, before turning her face aside. It appeared she was not really angry however, just embarrassed.
Kusla reflected on the bad thing he did as he looked deep into the corridor.
Sophites exited, staring at them in bewilderment.
Weyland then exited, followed by Irine.
She looked lethargic, yet her expression was refreshed.
Only after Kusla looked at her did she maintain her usual scowl.
The hard deer leather gloves on her were holding a piece of metal. The color reminded one of a black underwater abyss, with strange markings on it, an intriguing, alluring atmosphere.
In fact, this was done with the cooperation of people who had no relationship with each other.
Kusla inhaled, and smiled.
Now then, what would happen if he was to dump a young lady like Fenesis into the furnace? A stubborn lady like Irine? And what would happen next if he was to add a potent drug called Weyland?
Alchemists were blocks of curiosity.
Through working together, people were able to create such a mythical metal, and in that case, the thing called ‘friends’ did not seem too bad.
Kusla looked at Fenesis, and then at Irine again.
Both of them looked aside, and only Weyland was beaming cheerfully.
Kusla shrugged, but his lips showed a smile.
This legendary, renowned thing would lead them towards the New World.
Kusla coughed, and without hesitation, reached out to pick up that searing metal.