Last High Human 16: We Are the Brave
The blade was of even lower quality than I thought. Whoever forged it was completely incompetent. And I am pretty sure who did it.
I amassed the pieces of blade and separated the pommel from the blade’s base. I then took one of the pieces in hand to weigh it and discovered why the blade broke: the blade was actually made of rusty iron, coated in good quality iron.
After a long sigh, I carved the blade’s shape into two identical molds. I threw away the useless pieces of blade and went threw the available metal ingots realizing that there were only iron ones. Though there was coke, scrap metal, and everything needed to make steel, the furnace was too small and under-equipped to produce a flame strong enough to attempt the process.
After asking Tetsuo, it appeared that the old man pretended disliking to work steel. But showing me what his master produced using steel, I understood.
The drunkard was good at getting drunk and nothing else.
I grabbed two blunt, bent, uneven steel swords and threw them right into the furnace.
Tetsuo: ”What are you doing? Second Master…”
His passion for the forge seemed to be stronger than his fear of me. Or maybe he, unlike the others, doesn’t see me like a threat…? Though there’s still apprehension in his voice, he came at me without hesitations.
Rhod: ”Since these garbages can’t be sold as they are, I will reuse them. Can’t waste it.”
Under the careful watch of the slave, the swords quickly melt in the furnace. I then proceed, with Tetsuo, to pour the liquid steel into the molds. Once it was hard enough, we both started hammering our piece of metal, the slave copying my movements. We repeated the cycle of melting and hammering five times in a row, until sparks were nearly non-existent.
Tetsuo: ”But… Why are we hammering it so much? Second Master.”
We dipped our pieces of steel in the barrel of water.
Rhod: ”See those sparks? It’s when the impurities are detaching from the steel. Hammering makes it more sturdy. Since impurities are networks of weak elements, if you hit it close, it breaks.”
Tetsuo nodded, his lips slowly moved in silence. Seemed like we have a real talent here.
Once our little chat was over, I turned around to grab a towel and noticed that the other slaves were looking at us from the other side of the room.
Rhod: ”For how long have you been there?”
The slaves suddenly broke in cold sweats. The female four arms bravely stepped forward and bowed.
Shina: ”My apologies, Second Master! I was curious as to how you work and got the others to look with me! I am ready for any punishm-”
Rhod: ”Hem, it’s not like there will be a mass of customers out of the blue. You can come closer to look if you want. Just make turns so there’s always someone at the counter.”
They all looked at me, unsure as to whether that was a bad joke or not.
Rhod: ”The choice is your’s, just don’t take too long to make your mind. Let’s finish our stuff, Tetsuo.”
Tetsuo: ”Y- Yes! Second Master!”
Tetsuo and his sister exchanged looks. She then whispered with the other slaves until the Elv walked away to the counter. The others came closer to look.
Rhod: ”Also one last thing, don’t speak or ask questions while we hammer or handle the metal when it’s melted or red. We are starting the last phase and it requires all our concentration.”
What’s more, Tetsuo was visibly approaching exhaustion. Let’s end it quickly.
The slaves are now chatting in the first room, where the products are displayed. I sent them away so they won't witness what I am about to do. I’m not supposed to be able to use magic after all.
I gathered Energy in my hands and pour it in both swords in small quantities, making sure to distribute it evenly in the swords.
Shina: ”Second Master, the Commander wishes to see you.”
The Commander? Why would the Commander wants to see me?
Vigorous Woman:” Hi! How is it going? Can I see how it looks before it’s done?”
Wait… She is the Commander?
I guided the Commander into the forge room, and showed her the two swords.
Commander: ”Wait… It’s finished and there are two of them?”
She looked at me, frowning.
Commander:” I can’t pay for two swords, dear.”
She grabbed one of the swords and inspected it.
Rhod: ”No need to pay for anything. I used materials that are forgotten by the old man. No need to worry about anything, it’s on the house.”
I can’t tell her I’m felt guilty for the Drunkard’s mistakes.
Commander: ”Are these… Made of steel?”
Rhod: ”Yes. I made the one you are holding. It’s lighter and has a sharper end for fast movements and efficient estocs while the other one was made by one of the slave. It’s a bit heavier and bulky, but it’s sturdiness makes it better for parries and slashes, since he emphasized the sharpness on the length.”
She looked at me with doubts, then inspected the sword made by Tetsuo.
Commander: ”The bulky one is less refined, but it’s been worked with passion… How did… Ah, but you sure this is on the house? Such good work is worth a good payment.”
Rhod: ”I don’t personally mind offering them to you. But Tetsuo's work is pretty good, especially since this is his first time to use steel.”
She took a purse out of her pocket and gave me seven coins of gold-like material. How does the currency even works nowadays…?
Commander: ”Don’t let Hogan know about it, ok? I never paid him this much for anything he did. Also, can I ask you to come at the guild when he comes back at the workshop? It’s about Lyshia…”
Doesn’t sound good…
Commander: ”Anyway, i’m off! Excellent work! See you right later, Rhody-Rhody!”
Wait, what? “Rhody-Rhody”? What the…? I looked at her in silence as she left.
Arg, nevermind… I’m not good with this kind of people too.
I hid the money in my hand and called out Tetsuo and the other slaves. A minute later, they are lined up in front of me.
Rhod: ”I would like you all to keep something a secret to yourselves. I plan on confronting Hogan today. I can’t accept him selling such bad products and treating you all so badly. Also…”
I gave each of them one coin, except for Tetsuo who obtained two of them. I know the seventh one was for me, but he deserved it more.
Rhod: ”I don’t want to hear anything from you. You deserve it after all you’ve been through. I’ll probably get fired after speaking with your Master. So that’s all I can do for you. Hide it and go back to work.”
Except for the Elv and the masked girl, all of them are now silently crying, tightly clenching their first in their hand.
Don’t make it look so dramatic… It makes me feel even more bad for you all…
Rhod: ”Come on, go! Move out! Shoo!”
They all bowed silently and left in order.
An awkward silence then reigned in the workshop for the next hour before Hogan’s arrival.
Drunkard: ”How was it kid?”
Rhod: ”Nothing much. The shield was repaired and the Commander came. She wants me to come see Lyshia at the Guild building. I’ll be back later. I would also like to speak with you about a thing or two if you don’t mind.”
I bowed again and left quietly under the sad eyes of the slaves. It felt like I am abandoning them.
I started walking to the Guild Hallway, or however it’s called, thinking about how crapulous the old man was.
Selling rusted swords and coating them in iron to hide it? It’s not about profit or whatever, it’s about lives! These people are going to fight with these weapons! How can he pretend to be a blacksmith?
I can’t believe it. The commander needs to know about-
???: "CONTACT! SEVERAL DEAD RAISERS INCOMING! NORTH GATE!”
The Guild’s doors suddenly burst open. Numbers of people came out running, most of them weapons in hand.
Garland: ”Rhod, you okay son?”
Rhod: ”Yes. What’s happening?”
I ran towards the giant and his group. The commander and Vexia are with them.
Commander: ”Can you fight, Rhod? We can provide you with equipment if you need.”
Rhod: ”No need, my equipment is at the workshop.”
Commander: ”No time for this, take one of the swords you made. And don’t go dying on me, I have questions that you will have to answer no matter what!”
She forcefully gave me Tetsuo’s sword and rushed to the north gate with Garland and his group. I followed them through the town, looking around, I can’t hide my surprise: there was no one in the streets. A few carts were moving towards the direction of the south gate, which Vexia and I came from when we arrived. Hogan was sitting at the back of one of the carts, driven by the Elv slave, and was closing the curtains. At least they all evacuated safely.
Commander: ”Our force is only composed of freelancers and your mercenary group, which is by far more powerful than them. I’ll trust you with the outside of the wall with some freelancers while we supervise the evacuation. I will announce the retreat once all carts and citizens on foot are far enough. Don’t take any useless risks!”
Garland: ”Understood! Good luck on your side too!”
The Commander then left with a small number of individuals towards the direction of the other gate.
I knew this world didn’t know about war and combat. But this was something else; to witness fighters flee before the actual combat even started!
Garlands spits on the ground, staring daggers at the runaways.
Of the two-hundred twenty personnel that came outside the town’s walls five minutes ago, only thirty of us remained. The fights have yet to start and more than 85% of our numbers are already lost.
We separated with each others and divided ourselves into small groups. I am teamed with Lyett and her lover.
When the first Revenants came inbound, Lyett charged in on the back of her wolf while the Elv shot some of them with magic-imbued arrows. I charged in too.
I thought the dead bodies would be difficult opponents since they moved vigorously, running at us at an impressive speed. But they are no more but merely vigorous.
I cut numbers and numbers of throats in a short span of time. Seeing how easily they can be defeated, I even took the leisure of killing them at specific places. Ten minutes later, their corpses are piled up one on another, creating a wall of dry, rotten flesh.
While I kept fighting, enlarging the 'wall', wounded freelancers started taking cover behind it before either going back to fight or retreat. It only took an hour for the main fights to center around the wall.
From what used to be a line of defense, the brawls are now divided in two battle localizations: the flesh wall, and Garland’s group at the town’s gate.
A young fighter suddenly came at my sides.
Freelancer: ”Sir, Rider Goblins and Mantikons just appeared out of the forest!”
His desperate look said a lot. The other adventurers also looked at me with hope, as if I could solve the situation in an instant, while others sent anxious looks at the forest’s entrance.
Rhod: ”Anyone has a shield?”
Someone suddenly pushed a Thureos shield against my torso.
It’s owner appeared to be the Tiger Beastman, that was leeching around Lyett yesterday.
Tiger-man: ”I recognize your fighting capabilities, human. But don’t think that will make me acknowledge you as worthy of Lady Lyett’s hand.”
Rhod: ”Thanks for your trust. I’ll be sure to bring back the shield.”
Tiger-man: ”Be careful human. Strong fighters are scarce.”
We grabbed each other’s forearm before returning to battle. I concentratde Energy in my body to specially enhance my speed, and I sprint out of the flesh bastion. More heads get separated from their rotten body.
I ran in the direction of the forest, where Goblins riding Mantissars are waiting at the sides of some Mantikons. A perfect line-up of targets.
On my way to them, I killed more Revenants, cutting their throat or crushing their head with the shield’s edge.
The Goblin group finally noticed me and came at me at full speed, roaring. I injected a larger quantity of Energy in my legs and, at a few meters from them, I acceleratde some more to surprise them and tackle one of the three Rider Goblin.
We both landed on the ground: I slightly slipped on the ground while he rolled violently. Before he can stand up or be rescued by the others, I jumped at him and punched his face, exploding his skull. That’s one down.