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The Orc's Awakening c47

Chapter 47: The【SMITH】Awakens


I stood in front of the Forge with Luz.


It was ginormous.


Seriously, the temperature would have been too hot if Wano, the [Water Sprite], and Gino, the [Wind Sprite], didn’t keep the room temperature down. There was a giant chimney that climbed all the way to the surface, so any unfortunate soul that fell into that hole would fall right into the fire. It’s quite a bit of distance to the surface, so they might even disintegrate into ashes before they reach the fire in that case. All that would be left of the unfortunate soul is a puff of smoke and ashes that puffs out from the giant chimney.


Fino, the [Fire Sprite], is managing the temperature of the furnace by storing a lot of the heat and energy underground in metal compartments, and keeping it circulating there. It’s an astounding amount of work that no human would be able to do, but I guess that’s the power of Magic in this world.


The furnace heat was actually being pumped up from below the mantle of the earth. I don’t think they were stupid enough to punch a hole directly through the mantle and have lava spew all the way up (thankfully), but the Spiders engineered it so heat would be continuously transferred upwards.


The deeper you dig, the warmer it gets, and at a certain point, you can stick metal conductors and get heat to travel upwards. Geo-Thermal heating was an inefficient method for most countries in my previous world, but here, Joe just puffed out a smoke from his pipe with probably a rugged smile on his face as he turned his back on me as if to say, “Piece of cake.”


No, seriously. This is a big deal.


Luz’ eyes sparkled at the furnace that could probably heat things up as hot as she needed. Granted, I’m sure if it got too hot, she would burn too, so I wanted to make sure she would be safe.


I think a roast Pork would smell much nicer than a roast human, and I would never hear the end of it from Layla.


……...the memory of this morning instantly came to mind, and I had to wave it furiously away.


Would that be my first official kiss? Or second if I count the one during the play with Noir? Seriously, I think I’m getting more attention as a Pig than I ever did as a human.


This whole Hero gig is working out nicely………..sorta. I’m still a Pig in the end, so I’m not sure what I can do even if I have girls interested in me ー WHICH they’re DEFINITELY not. That would be silly nonsense concocted from my own desperate, lonely fantasies.


Luz tugs at my sleeve as I come back to reality, and we both walk into a giant chamber with honeycomb walls connected to the Forge.


Here, Spiders of all sizes were busily moving and organizing ores into all different categories.


Smaller furnaces separate from the main one lined the walls as they broke apart and separated out the different metals and elements. They remind me of ants in a way. Or bees....


For Luz, it was like walking into a Toy Store and being told that everything here was hers. She excitedly looked at the different metals available, and asked the Spiders about each one.


I know iron and carbon make steel, but I’m sure there’s all sorts of metal alloys you can make. With Bino, my [Blood Sprites] help, you could even forge it on the molecular level if you had that kind of patience.


I was supposed to demonstrate making something for her, but I honestly didn’t know what.


I’m more of an offensive type so I like the gear I have now, and I don’t find it lacking.


But if I was to make something, maybe a shield? Or maybe a mace? I guess if I needed smashing power, I could just carry around my hammer.


A simple crowbar would be handy in most situations too ー it’s a tool and a nasty weapon all in one.


I thought about these things as Luz came back with pure joy on her face.


She was ready for the demo.


Crap……….


Well, I guess simple is best. I feel like I’m going to disappoint her regardless, but I’ll do the same thing I did when Gramps cornered me.


I take a heap of pure iron brought out from one of the honeycomb chambers, and carry it over to the main furnace.


It feels like it’s been a while since I worked on something.


Luz waited patiently to the side with Bob, the Guardian Spider, and Joe, the Mining Spider. Sue, the Spinstress Spider, was doing her own thing in her workshop.


…………...I have to say that I honestly don’t like people staring at me so intently. It reminds of a solo school performance where you stand on stage and all eyes are on you.


I took a deep breath.


Orukus: “Suuuuuu (sfx inhale)..........haaaaaaaa (sfx exhale)...............”


I repeat the process as I stare at the fire.


Fino kept the fire going inside but kept himself out of sight.


There is something soothing about staring into flames. It tickles and awakens the most ancient part of me as the flames flicker and dance.


I push out the audience as I think about just one thing.


A Shield.


Something to protect the girls when the time comes.


Something I can rely on to deflect the enemies’ arrows and attacks.


As my body goes into motion, I begin heating and reshaping the ores. I sprinkle pure carbon dust from the earth given to me by Mano, the [Earth Sprite], and mold it into the iron.


Blood seeps out of my hands and trickles down the hammer as Bino travels down to splatter against the large metal structure that’s forming.


Flexibility and Durability.


As the hammer comes down, I began to hammer out and reshape the shield, and continue the process repeatedly.


In my mind, I can see the Crystal lattices as they weaves through the shield. Though I was going for outer symmetry, the inner compartments began to churn and flex with each strike.


When I saw Luz staring at my shield up close though, I almost fell over backwards.


Orukus: “(snort) HOLY?!”


The hammer slipped out of my hand and went crashing somewhere behind me.


At the sound, she snapped to, and looked at me with embarrassed fear in her eyes.


Luz: “SーSーSーSーSーSーS…S……...S……..”


She was trying to get the words out, but the terror kept her tongue tied up.


I was just glad that I didn’t bring that hammer down on her head or something by accident. I know I was in a zone, but I need to be careful going forward.


Bob: “Here ya go, Boss.” Bob retrieved my hammer for me.


Orukus: “(snort) Thanks.”


Bob: “Sorry about that too. We were all mesmerized by your work so much that I didn’t even notice where she was until you let that hammer go.”


Orukus: “(snort)....it’s all good. No one got hurt.”


I was more startled than I was angry. I don’t like jump scares ー like…..at all.


Luz was still trying to get the word out and was hitting her head with her fists in frustration as she tried to pry the words out of her mouth.


I gently placed a hand on hers to stop the hitting.


She looked up at me with fright, and braced herself for a scolding or something.


Orukus: “(snort) hey…..hey now, it’s okay. IT’S OKAY. You just scared me there a little. That’s all. No one’s mad at you.”


I tried to keep my voice soft.


I remember a kid who had a disability at school. Poor guy was more messed up than I was, but he also had obvious mental challenges. The other kids were relentless though and went after the guy when the teachers weren’t watching.


All I did was just watch from afar back then. I don’t know what happened to him after elementary school. The images of the kids beating him up still haunt me to this day.


I don’t think Luz has the exact same problems, but the way she acted reminded me of him.


She looked more confused that I wasn’t angry and didn’t know what to do.


Orukus: “(snort) Here.” I handed her my hammer. It might’ve been a little too large for her, so I shrink it slightly for her size.


With my skills now, I can easily make another one. I walked to the walls of the cave and touched a large tree root to ask Gramps for some wood for my new hammer, and before long, I had a replica of my original.


I walk back with my new hammer, and Luz looked even more bewildered holding my old hammer.


Orukus: “(snort).....it looked like you wanted to help. I don’t mind. Let’s make something together.”


I tried to smile underneath my mask, but I probably looked more evil with my Porky face.


Luz slightly withdrew.


_| ̄|○ My smile scares children…..


But she brightened up understanding, and we began hammering the shield alternatively. I had to make a metal clamp to hold the shield with my other hand, but otherwise, we were making progress.


Fino blew fire onto the shield enough to soften it.


Wano sprayed mists of water on it to harden some parts.


Bino continued to travel throughout it as if the shield itself had a pulse.


The sound of synchronous hammering rang throughout the forge.


<<<<>>>>


<Luz’ Perspective>


The world used to be dark and empty.


I would be working in the Forge, but it would often feel like I was hammering the air.


I put my heart and soul into everything I made, but in the end, the Boss would take up what I had and add his finishing touches to it.


The customers liked the Boss’ work.


They always praised him and told him how amazing he was.


I didn’t care to be noticed. Every man that noticed me would just add one more scar on my back. I don’t need any more pain in my life.


I would hammer until my calluses would tear and then I would tie the hammer to my hands with bandages until the work was done.


[Blisters]. That was my name at the Forge. My bloodied hands would always be covered in fresh blisters after every job.


People thought I was crazy.


They weren’t wrong. I probably am.


The aching of my hands didn’t bother me so much anymore.


The whippings did hurt.


But what hurt more was the【emptiness】 inside. The【emptiness】that nagged at me day and night. The【emptiness】that wouldn’t leave me alone.


One thing.


I just wanted to make one thing in this world before I died.


Something that would show that I was here, that I lived, and I made a difference somehow.


But now, I hammered away in the dark.


The fire was a smoky dark cloud.


The anvil and hammer were made of shadows.


Everything I made…….crumbled into the darkness.


That was what【DEATH】was to me.


It was【MEANINGLESS】-ness.


It’s what scared me the most and what terrorized me to hammer harder.


Time was running out.


That Spider dream would come true soonーー


ーーand then it would be all over.


I would have left nothing.


I would have done nothing.


I felt the tears roll down my face, but even my tears were now shadows.


My body was turning into shadows melting and crumbling into the pitch blackness around me just like all my works.


Nothing remained.


Nothing withstood【DEATH】.


I stood in this empty, vast【VOID】that would be my grave.


………..at least……...that’s how it was supposed to be.


The Spider was named Bob.


Bob.


Bob, the Spider.


Who names a Giant Spider “Bob”?


I have met tiny dogs with nastier names and an even nastier attitude than Bob.


He did not kill me.


My dream was wrong.


【DEATH】must have chuckled just watching me stare back in confusion at Bob.


I asked the Orc if he could be my Master.


He didn’t say yes, but I wasn’t going to give up.


He made this knife. He was a Monster, but anyone who could make something as beautiful as this couldn’t be evil. I had to get him to say yes.


But before I could press the issue further, something else happened.


【DEATH】must have choked on its own spit when I got to take a bath.


A warm bath.


Not a cold one.


Not the kinds that would hurt and leave you shivering.


My blisters were gone. They didn't hurt in the bath water.


The Orc in beautiful armor made them go away. I would have to get new ones the next time I hammer, but that’s okay. I don’t even know if there will be a next time.


A tall, beautiful woman with dark skin bathed me.


I think they think I’m a child, but I am well into my years. I don’t know precisely how old, but I am a few years past adulthood at the very least.


It was embarrassing being handled as a child, but……..it also felt good.


The woman didn’t say anything even though I cried throughout the entire bath.


She never said a word and continued washing me clean and then held me for a long time.


I must have died.


This must be heaven.


I don’t even remember my own mother hugging me.


This is what it must have felt like.


After that, there was food. I thought【DEATH】now suffered a heart attack seeing his joke gone awry.


So much food.


Not moldy bread.


Not meat tougher than leather.


Not boiling hot watery soup with barely anything inside.


Good food.


Rich food.


The best food I had in my life.


I must have died.


I must be in Heaven now.


The people were merry. They were fighting and arguing sometimes, but not really. Not in the nasty ways my Forge brothers and Boss used to do. There was no malice in their words. You just had to not mention that most of the women had…….tiny breasts. The beautiful woman with lighter skin and black hair was very sensitive to it, and the blonde hair woman teased her about it. But I’m no different. I’m a stick too, so I fit right in. I told the blonde hair woman that, and she went into a fit of laughter and fell over backwards onto the floor. I didn’t quite understand, but I kept eating.


A girl younger than me was lecturing the women and hitting them with her ladle, but everyone was having a great time. She was very kind to me.


I probably ate more than I ate my entire lifetime.


I thought I would throw it all up, but the girl with the ladle eased my sickness by rubbing my back.


I don’t know what a massage is, but I think that was it. My body melted into a puddle in her hands.


We all fell asleep on the kind Orc.


It was the best sleep I ever had.


Now I held a hammer with the Orc.


The fire he used was【alive】.


The metal he hammered came to【life】.


To me, it was like watching God create the universe.


It was so beautiful.


Before I knew what I was doing.


I was watching the hammer come down onto the shield from up close.


I saw stars being born from the sparks of the hammer.


I felt the shield [PULSE] with【LIFE】.


It would be a shield like no other.


It swallowed the【darkness】and destroyed the【void】by coming into existence.


It is what I longed for.


But I messed up.


I threw the kind Orc’s focus off, and his hammer flew away.


I messed up.


I can’t believe I made such a childish, simple mistake.


He would be mad at me now.


He will not be my Master after this.


Even though I wanted to, I could not say sorry. The word kept getting twisted in my mouth, and I could not get it out.


It’s always like this. In the most important moments, in THE MOST important moment of my life, I couldn’t speak. I could never speak right when I needed to.


I hated myself.


I hated everything about myself for ruining everything.


The bath, the food, the work……..now all of it would be lost.


I braced myself for the worst.


【DEATH】got the final laugh after all.


[ーーーーーー]


The Orc said something to me, but I couldn’t hear him.


But he didn’t sound……..angry?


[ーーー]


He spoke again, but my mind was in too much of a mess to understand. But he handed me his hammer.


I almost dropped it from its weight, but he somehow made it light enough for me to carry. It fit perfectly in my hands.


I don’t understand.


I wanted to tell him, but the words got stuck in my throat again.


[.....it looked like you wanted to help. I don’t mind. Let’s make something together.]


I don’t know if I nodded.


I don’t know if I responded.


But we were hammering the shield together.


The world used to be dark and empty.


But now I held a【real】hammer.


I pounded【real】metal on a【real】anvil with【living】flames.


It was like my whole life, I was using sticks and leaves compared to what I’m doing now.


The hammer was etched with the Orc…...no, a【man’s】soul. It pulsed and quivered and throbbed, and…….roared……..


Not a scary roar, but a triumphant one. The rare ones when you hear everyone yell out in joy.


The fire of his soul burned through every piece of that hammer, and as we hammered away, the fire began burning into my skin and flesh.


It was painful at first.


The fire was poison to the shadows that gripped my body, but with each strike, the shadows retreated further and further. The burning was excruciating as it spread through my body, but I didn’t let it stop me from bringing down the hammer again and again with the kind man. As long as he swung, I followed.


With every strike, I struck at the shadows inside me.


With every strike, it moved a bit further away.


At my mouth, on my tongue especially, it fought the hardest. It was like cracking a mountain in half with a hammer strike, but I kept chipping away until it finally gave way.


On the final strike, I felt it leave entirely as it was cast into the blazing, giant Forge behind me. I heard the shrieks of【death】screaming in agony, but it was soon gone.


Completely gone.


Luz: “It’s done.”


The shield was done.


I wiped the sweat from my brow with my sleeves as I spat into the Forge like my brothers used to do after a job was done.


Except I accidentally spat right onto the [Fire Spirit] inside, and he was throwing up a huge fuss.


Luz: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!!”


I didn’t know what else to do but try to reach into the fire and wipe it off his face.


The fire didn’t burn though.


The inside of the Forge was just warm.


Orukus: “(snort) hey, kid. Good job.”


I looked at the man who looked like an Orc and spoke back clearly than I could ever remember.


Luz: “It’s not kid. It’s Luz, Master.”


And I spat inside the Forge again, but hit the [Fire Spirit] once more.


Fino: [ーーーーーー!!!!!]


I’M SO SORRY!!!!


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