HoGW BK IV: First Flight

BK IV, Chapter Six: The Insulted Smith

Got my computer back. It’s fixed and many of you will be surprised to know that you were right about what was wrong with it (Driver issues and some sort of system redundancy that kept updating it to that driver– didn’t really bother to understand that bit). Thankfully, I did not have to actually replace the adapter. Again, Thank all of you for your support, suggestions and offers of help!

I’ve used it for close to 32 hours and I’ve not had any problems, if you exclude the incident 19 hours ago when it froze for no reason. When I restarted it, it gave me a list of repair options, flashed two system windows32.exe windows (the command prompt kind) at me when I logged in and gleefully revealed to me that focuswriter had swallowed the DC/RH chapter I was editing.

It’s gone. Completely. I spent nearly three hours trying to recover the chapter before giving up. System restore to chase after cached files, recuva, you name it. The chapter is gone flushed down an application I have removed from my computer and will likely never use again.

Not too long ago we celebrated the attainment of our $100 patreon goal. It might not be much to some people but it was a lot to me. More money means more people picking up the tab and I plan on introducing them in this post. Here’s a list of the incredible heroes who are giving me hope that this writing thing might just work out:

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Chapter Six: The Insulted Smith

Valerian walked to the Elder Richard’s smithy filled with apprehension. The guard who had been sent for him had intuited that the smith was unhappy. Actually, unhappy was an understatement. The man’s chest had been heaving with barely suppressed rage when he yelled for a messenger. The manor’s servants had also looked at him funny when he announced himself. The one who had helped guide him towards the workshop did not dawdle in the slightest. It was not a good sign. Hesitating at the door, Valerian wiped the sweat of his palms before gathering the courage to open it.

He expected to be buffeted by the heat of the forge upon walking in like he was the last time but he was disappointed. He hadn’t walked into the forge room. It was more like an entrance hall than anything. Valerian’s eyes scanned the room with trepidation but failed to find the man who summoned him, an impressive feat given how burly he was.

“Elder Richard!” he called softly.

“Valerian! That you, lad?” called a voice with a surprisingly happy tone.

It was not what Valerian expected to hear and for a moment, he wondered if the guard had played a prank on him.

“Valerian?” the voice of the man he’d come to see called again. “If that’s you, take a right and after that the second door on your left. I was just placing some items in one of the storerooms.”

Quickly, but carefully, Valerian followed the directions and came across a large door that led into a small insulated room that pulsed with warding spells. Through it stood Great Elder Richard. The man stood there with a smile on his face and a handful of metallic ingots.

“Come, come!” he said, motioning Valerian over with his head. “Take a look at what we got!”

Valerian walked up to him, watching as he set the ingots on his workbench only to reach into a small chest and pull out more. He wasn’t quite sure what he was looking at or even what he was supposed to look backwards. So he asked.

“What is it?”

“This is pure dalton steel!” The smith exclaimed with a happy grin.

Unfortunately, Valerian did not know what dalton steel was and it must have shown on his face because a moment later, the man began to explain himself.

“Dalton steel is a transmuted alloy first created, of course, by Payne Dalton, Grandmaster of Alchemy and Artificing. It is an alchemic product that uses titan bone and blood iron as a medium to combine and refine the traits of daemons for use in artificing”, the man explained excitedly. “These ingots were refined with lodestone beast, armoured lavafish and wind-wither hawk.”

Valerian did not have to know exactly what those were to know what such a material would be worth. He was an enchanter…technically. While he had never heard of such a substance, he knew just what it was capable of from the description alone. Refining daemonic traits into artificing material using transmutational alchemy?

Craftsmen spent so much time trying to preserve the qualities of their materials when they worked. Artificers tried to bring the best out of what they had and transfer their properties into their products. He remembered when he first met Elder Richard and how he saw him craft a noble tiered sword that he finished with glyphs and what he later discovered to be shavings of Gleamscale’s core. Had he had something like this, he would not have had to do that. He could simply use the dalton steel and have the dragon’s qualities fixed in in the sword provided, of course, that the material he used was made from Gleamscales.

“That’s incredible!” he found himself saying as he stared at the ingots that covered the table. This was beyond anything he had ever heard of.

“I know!” Richard said excitedly. “If I only knew the recipe or even a fragment of the formula…” he mumbled.

It was around this point in time that what the man said earlier finally dawned on Valerian. ‘Come, Take a look at what we got’, the man had said. His eyes narrowed on the stack of miraculous alloy. The material was probably worth more than his entire family was worth and yet here the elder was, pulling it out of nowhere by the armload.

“Who is it from?” he asked.

“Your teacher”, The man said, putting extra stress on the last word as he turned to face Valerian. “She wanted you outfitted for when you go to Marrbisi. Said something about…”

As he spoke, Elder Richard’s previously smiling face scrunched itself up and his lips curled into an angry frown. “That BITCH!” he cursed. “I can’t believe I got distracted by this stuff.”

“You, boy”, he yelled reaching for Valerian, grabbing him and pulling him over by the arm. “What have you been telling her?”

Valerian tried to keep his cool. He was unable to fight back or struggle so he quickly tried to reason with the man.

“Wait. Wait!” he exclaimed, running his mouth as quick as he could. “I did not tell her anything. We never even spoke about you or anything concerning you.”

“Bullshit, boy!” the man asserted. “If you didn’t say something then explain why the courier who brought you home delivered a message that was basically a scathing review of the equipment I made you with insults tossed in for filling.”

Speaking directly into his face, the old smith continued. “Don’t you dare lie! You had this woman comparing my armour to sackcloth and my mercurial orb to a thoughtless, useless bauble.”

Valerian stared at him in stunned silence. He could already tell that this was not going well. “I can assure you, sir, that I did nothing of the sort!”

“She asked for me by name and title, boy!” the man pointed out. “Demanding that I make you ‘passable’ gear by the time the moons rolled by and you had to go to school.”

“Please, sir!” Valerian begged. “You’ve got to believe me. I did not smear your name. We only spoke one time and you never even came up. I didn’t even say much. She spent the whole session dressing me down and telling me what she expected from me. Whatever she did, I had nothing to do with any of it.”

Elder Richard snorted and let Valerian go. The boy wisely put some distance between them, backing away slowly as he tried to calm his racing heart. Breathing heavily, he pulled out a kerchief and wiped his brow. There was a moment there that he had thought the old man would beat him.

Ironically, the smith’s outrage had mostly been for show. He lost any real anger he’d had when he opened the chest that came with the message and saw the materials that Lady Bloodworth had provided for his work. Additionally, while he did not know Valerian well, he knew enough to know that badmouthing him was not his style. The dossier on him they’d shared during the last Greater Elder Council meeting had covered his personality quite well.

“She dressed you down?” he asked in his normal tone of voice. “What for?”

Valerian shifted in front of his gaze but answered truthfully. “She quizzed me about my skills and equipment, starting with the latter.”

Acting as if unconcerned, Richard went back to repacking his new materials asking offhandedly, “What did she say?”

Valerian hesitated at the question. He did it long enough that the man asked a second time. Taking a step back, Valerian said the plain truth. “She said my armour was subpar.”

Richard paused his actions, his fists clenching enough to leave impressions on the leather he was refolding. It wasn’t like he had never heard complaints or had a bad review but there was something about this one. Perhaps it was the fact the person who made the remark had such a high standing. It was always harder to when someone influential dismissed your hard work or insulted it. Perhaps it was the fact that he knew Valerian was probably downplaying her words. He had read the message she penned him. Lady Bloodworth wasn’t stingy with her words. He doubted that was all she said.

“Anything else?” he asked. “Did she say why, at least?”

Uncomfortable but pushed to speak, Valerian did as requested. “She said that it was pretty but poor. Complaining that it had no noteworthy effects and bemoaned the fact that it had no inlaid arrays.”

One thing Valerian omitted was that, at the time, he had somewhat agreed with her. His armour was nice, the best he had ever had and everyone had touted it to be superb amoung elite artefacts when he was leaving home. However, Gigne’s gear were elite artefacts too and yet it had that special counter pulse function, an explosive skill and despite being metallic, the ability to withstand and enhance his flames. He wasn’t the only one with special gear. Pugio’s gear allowed him to draw shadows around himself. Berengar’s could increase his speed for a short period and he didn’t even want to think about the things Reynard’s various robes could do.

Remembering something else, he added, “She did admit that you made good use of your materials but claimed your focus was clearly their conservation and not their effects.”

“So; vain, untalented and poor”, Elder Richard said, summing up his words. “Anything else? She didn’t mention even one good thing about it?”

Valerian searched his memories. “She did say that it was pretty and there was also some praise for the build quality.”

Richard made a low growling noise in his throat and set the ingot he was squeezing down before it started running through the gaps of his fingers. “What of the mercurial orb? I recall something about ‘a thoughtless, useless bauble’? I’m sure she said something to you as well.”

“She asked why I went around with a giant bauble and so I tried to explain its uses and the fact that it was my focus”, Valerian told.

“What did she say?”

“That it was stupid!” Valerian answered bluntly. He was now reasonably confident that the man would not attack him for speaking the truth. “She asked how it was supposed to work. If I was going to smash people with it or if it was some kind of giant tean orb. When I pointed out its fluid nature and my skill at shaping it into weapons she called that useless as well and the idea misplaced.”

“Why not just carry more weapons in your interspatial ring instead of shaping them on the battlefield?” he quoted.

To be honest, he had had trouble countering that one. True. Whatever weapons he made from the orb could double as arcane foci due to the orb’s nature and materials but that didn’t quite justify using them instead of his baselards for example.

“That’s it?” the smith asked. Valerian nodded.

“She didn’t say or ask anything about the material?” Valerian shook his head.

“What of the essence refinement and its ability to mould itself to better suit its user?” here, Valerian looked lost.

“Its ability to enhance and amplify energy?” Cue more confusion.

“Its adaptive intent?” the smith ventured, a sneaky suspicion crawling into his gut. When Valerian’s confounded expression only intensified, he knew.

“Valerian…” he began with his voice dropping low. He even gestured for him to come closer but having learnt from his last experience, Valerian too a few steps backward instead. “How, exactly, have you been using your mercurial orb?”


Author’s Notes:

If you are a patron and you’re unsatisfied with the name I’ve put up or want a title, let me know. I’ll change it. We could also brainstorm some ideas together, etc.

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One Comment

  1. Did Valerian’s floating ball of liquid metal not come with an instructional manual. I thought they all came with something like that. How could Valerian not know about the hidden features for a secret item of the clan. Come now. Get with the times. Thanks the chapter, can’t wiat for the next.

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