A VIP as Soon as You Log In - Chapter 9: The Equation of Growth - 4
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“I shouldn’t be in trouble if I leave before he returns. . . . . .”
Though hesitant at first, Kang Shin-hyuk acted decisively, ‘thinking’ he was merely looking around. More than anything, though, his fiercely beating heart wasn’t letting him walk away from the facility.
Kang Shin-hyuk resolutely turned the doorknob and went past the soundproof wall. The facility that was flawlessly equipped with blacksmithing equipment. A huge brazier, a pair of bellows to nourish the fire, a massive anvil, and a hammer so big that he may have trouble properly holding it. . . . . .
“What the hell.”
There was a small brazier with a fancy magical diagram engraved. State-of-the-art equipment to freely control the fire to any extent with a single press of a button. If you wanted to create a special fire with unique properties, all you had to do was put in the right materials!
“But the bellows. . . . . .”
Were nowhere to be found. The anvil wasn’t that big, either. Since it was crafted out of memory alloy, it had a feature of controlling the shape of the constructed product depending on its usage. If you preset the wanted shape of the intended weapon or armor, it would automatically guide the hammer‘s movement to turn the desired shape into a physical form.
A circular tube nearby also had a magical diagram engraved at the bottom, which had the feature of cooling an inserted metal to an optimal temperature by spraying water on it. Even a stack of ingots had already been cast.
“This is a lot different from what I imagined. . . . . .”
A faint memory of an old blacksmith inside Kang Shin-hyuk roared out of rage. This isn’t what I wanted! I wanted a more traditional blacksmith workshop than this high-tech crap!
A practice where you squeeze the handles of the bellows with all your might and solely confront the metal as its shape slowly comes to life. . . . . .!
“Of course, I can’t pull off something like that without practicing in the first place.”
Kang Shin-hyuk slowly calmed himself. Even though the spirit was there, he wasn’t the Anvil, he was the clueless amateur named Kang Shin-hyuk, who’s never grabbed a hammer in his life.
Trying to carry out his vaguely stored memory would just be fruitless labor; he should be thankful for having a cutting-edge facility before him where he can nourish his dormant skills.
“Excuse me, then.”
Breathing slowly to calm himself once again, he slowly approached the hammer placed on top of the anvil and gripped it in his hand.
It was surely different from the hammer that was owned by Anvil. The modern design that was optimized for comfort ironically made Kang Shin-hyuk uncomfortable.
Still, the very fact that he was holding a hammer naturally left a smile on his face.
[Synchronization rate is slightly increasing. Your assimilation rate is now at 0.6%.]
Kang Shin-hyuk did not doubt that he was the reincarnation of Anvil. He naturally accepted it. But until this moment, Kang Shin-hyuk had never fully consciously experienced that fact as reality, something more than an abstract thought stored in his head.
“I am Anvil. . . . . . I‘m a blacksmith, I might have felt this way even if I weren’t aware of the reincarnation.“
A deeply embedded instinct guided him forward. He could feel his soul satisfied by the simple act of heating up and pounding the metal.
“I’m almost regretting not looking for a hammer earlier.”
Now there was no need to enter a deep meditative state to confront his origin by squeezing out his spiritual power. The ego that was faintly emitting light at the end of a dark cave was now blazingly lighting up to assert his existence.
[Synchronization rate is slightly increasing. Your assimilation rate is now at 0.65%.]
“Ha, haha. . . . . . “
Kang Shin-hyuk had an eerie feeling as he felt an unknown emotion filling up inside of him.
But that wasn’t a bad thing. It’s a part of the process of understanding himself as part of his spiritual power training. Rather than an addition of something that was previously absent, it was a revelation that had been kept hidden.
[Dear member, Is grabbing the hammer all you’re planning to do?]
A message suddenly popped up in front of his retina. Looking at it now, he has been sinking in his sentiment without even putting the hammer to use!
“Well, I didn’t even get permission from the teacher. . . . . . After all, he told me to leave before he returns.“
[The Administrator would like to recommend performing as many practices as possible while your growth buff is still in effect.]
“That’s true. . . . . .”
He told the Administrator that it was already inappropriate to be holding equipment, much less walking into the workshop without permission. The Administrator gave a firm response to such an obvious statement.
[While I can’t estimate how much points you‘ll be deducted, the results you gain from metallurgical training are much more important. Besides, if the teacher has a pair of functioning eyes, he won’t be able to penalize you after seeing what you‘re capable of. He might even be inspired by your performance to prevent the Artifact Production Club from being disbanded.“
“That wouldn’t be. . . . . .”
[Your talent is capable of making that possible.]
If Kang Shin-hyuk was in the right senses, he would’ve denied the Administrator’s claims all he wanted. How would someone like him, who has never once grabbed a hammer in his life, go through all those troubles as if he could make anything? Rather than taking those risks, it would’ve been much wiser to go back to his dorm and train on his own.
But since Kang Shin-hyuk was in an uncontrollable state after having laid his eyes on the anvil and the hammer, Kang Shin-hyuk was shaken by the Administrators’ obviously perforated logic, like a field of reeds being rushed by the wind.
“Th, then. . . . . . Maybe just a little? Just hammering a bit and nothing else. . . . . .”
[A 100HP bonus!]
The Administrator eagerly pushed Kang Shin-hyuk. Powered up by the Administrator’s encouragement, he grabbed the metal tong located on the other side of the workshop with a slightly more dexterous movement than when he grabbed the hammer.
With it, he grabbed an ingot that was piled within from the side.
With his lacking intuition, he couldn’t firmly grasp the identity of the object at first sight. But as he grabbed the ingot, a stream of spiritual power escaped Kang Shin-hyuk‘s body as naturally as a breadth of air and enveloped the object in whole; the object subtly vibrated in response and subsequently imbued Kang Shin-hyuk with the knowledge relating to itself.
“Hm. . . . . . This feeling. I see it’s steel. Of course, even if Shinyoung was flooding in money, they wouldn’t just hand out magical metals to students.”
Although a little bit of him wished for that to be true, having access to magical metals as someone with an F+ Blacksmithing rank was a little too much to expect.
Shaking his head to ward off those unnecessary thoughts, Kang Shin-hyuk began to study the ingot. He wasn’t sure, but it seemed that he could make a long sword with that one ingot alone. Not an ounce more nor less was needed.
“. . . . . .Wait a minute. First I infused my spiritual power into the ingot, and now I know this? How did I know to do all that?“
Kang Shin-hyuk had spent the morning surfing the popular video-sharing website MeTube studying dozens of how-to videos on blacksmithing or a production-related skill of the sort, but that wasn’t enough to provide him with the competence he currently seemed to exhibit. At least, it shouldn’t have been enough. . . . . .
[Synchronization rate is slightly increasing. Your assimilation rate is now at 0.7%.]
Instinct had taken control of his body at this point. The awkwardness he felt when he first stepped into the forge, was now nowhere to be seen.
They may be differently shaped from his imagination, but all the necessary equipment was there: a pair of bellows, a hammer, a whetstone, everything. The ingredients were all there as well. There was no more need to hesitate.
Kang Shin-hyuk was receiving the guidance of Anvil. The dim connection between him and his past life was gradually transmitting more and more of the knowledge and experience that had hitherto been hidden behind a mist. He felt, once again, that this is what synchronization feels like.
“. . . . . . All right. Let‘s do this.“
Kang Shin-hyuk thought of seeking someone’s advice or having a MeTube video playing by his side as his aide at first, but standing directly before the brazier, he didn’t want to divide his attention to anywhere else.
If he spent all his time assessing every option, he wouldn’t have trespassed into the workshop in the first place.
Even if he was ridiculed for acting recklessly like an ignorant child, it didn’t matter to him.
He tightly gripped the ingot with the tong and placed it inside the brazier. A burning flame burst into existence, instantly heating the steel ingot to a bright red color.
Surprisingly, the brazier contained a special function that prevented heat from escaping from its interior, so even though Kang Shin-hyuk was standing in front of it, he didn’t feel the heat!
“I keep getting disappointed by the strange parts.”
But the heat coming from the tong that was extracted from the brazier was greatly satisfying. He heated the metal to soften it just enough and placed it on top of the anvil. Then, he hammered it.
Kang Shin-hyuk‘s E rank strength far surpassed that of an ordinary human being. He had to be careful not to exert a force that the metal couldn’t endure. Though he wouldn’t have to worry about that if he just let instinct guide his movements.
A satisfying sound came from where the hammer and the metal made contact. A brightly heated metal gradually smoothed out and started to increase in length. A look of delight formed on Kang Shin-hyuk’s face.
Bits of embers spattered to his clothes. He only then realized that forging metals in a student uniform is an incredibly stupid idea, but it was too late to realize that now.
“This is a reserve uniform anyway.”
Returning to his dorm and changing clothes was definitely an option, but Kang Shin-hyuk didn’t want to postpone his practice out of the fear that the teacher may come back at any time. Instead, he merely took off the jacket, threw it on the floor, and continued hammering on the ingot.
Activating Anvil’s option would provide him with helpful guidance, but he didn’t. All he wanted at this moment was to hammer on the ingot with an empty mind.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
The facility was different, but the sound of a hammer pounding on metal was the same. Actually, it seemed weird to nostalgically reminisce about a faint memory from a past life.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
The hammering sound filled the entire space. With every smack, his awkward stance was getting slightly corrected, and the rather unstable rhythm was steadily gaining its stability.
His stance wasn’t the only thing that was changing. With every extraction from the brazier, the metal was also morphing into a different shape, and before he knew it, it was approaching the shape of a longsword.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
The periodic sound of the hammers fall spread across the room. The sound of blazing fire. The sweat coming from the intense heat; everything around him stimulated his spirit.
“. . . . . .Good, very good.“
It felt as if only he and the metal that slowly became a sword existed in the whole world. In fact, he hadn’t even noticed he was releasing his spirit power.
But that was not a problem. Without draining its supply, the released spiritual power was traveling back and forth between the metal and Kang Shin-hyuk, strengthening their connection further and further.
Unlike when he performed the sword dance and meditation, his blacksmithing technique made use of his spiritual power in a more fine-tuned, gentle way.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
During this endless process of hammering, the memories of a blacksmith slowly flowed into Kang Shin-hyuk. The memories of hammering, tempering, and grinding a countless variety of metals, to craft the best possible artifact those metals were capable of.
Kang Shin-hyuk hammered the metal according to his new memories. Striking his final strike and entering into the tempering stage, the blacksmith‘s memories continued.
Just as Kang Shin-hyuk was tempering the metal, Anvil was tempering the metal with him. At some point, he had lost his sense of who he really was; or rather. . . . . . It no longer mattered to him whether he was Kang Shin-hyuk or Anvil.
“Whooo. . . . . .”
An adequately tempered metal becomes sturdy but fragile due to heightened internal stress. Through the process of repeatedly heating and cooling the metal at precise temperatures, a skillful blacksmith can attain the right balance between hardness and resilience to create a solid but tenacious sword.
But even though “heating and cooling at precise temperatures” is impossible for an amateur, Kang Shin-hyuk fiercely yet effortlessly carried out this process. As the sword was adequately tempered, the process entered the grinding stage.
Swish, swish, swish.
A typical person might have trouble without the help of machinery, but Kang Shin-hyuk was a superhuman. He intently concentrated on his task, nearly forgetting to breathe. It was at this point that he noticed his spiritual power flowing into the sword.
[It might be a good idea to consume a jelly at this point.]
The Administrator broke its silence, giving timely advice, which Kang Shin-hyuk accepted while nodding his head.
There would be a possibility of draining his supply of spiritual power if he went overboard, but driven by his will to craft the best possible artifact, he decided to feed as much spiritual power as the sword wanted.
“Whew. . . . . . Now I can have a breather. I hadn’t even noticed I was hungry.“
Not only was he totally absorbed in his task, but he also couldn’t tell how much time had passed since the workshop didn’t contain any windows. He threw a jelly in his mouth and looked around the room to find a clock. . . . . .
“. . . . . .”
“You. . . . . .”
Kang Shin-hyuk‘s eyes met the teachers which were gazing at the exhausted student from the door.
No, actually, the teacher‘s gaze was subtly pointed lower. He was looking at the sword that Kang Shin-hyuk had crafted.
“That. . . . . . You just made that? Here? From scratch?“
“Sir, please, let me explain.”
Kang Shin-hyuk swung his arms around in panic. But the teacher cut him off, got closer and asked him again while looking down at the sword.
“I’m asking you if you crafted this here.”
“Pardon me? Uhm, yes. . . . . . I did. I will reimburse you for the materials I used later. . . . . .”
“They were going to be scrapped anyway. But this thing. . . . . .”
He was going to penalize him! While blaming the Administrator for pushing him and pushing his brain to work through every possible escape plan, the teacher gave an unexpected response:
“I said to finish it. You’re not quite done yet.“
“Ah, yes, of course!”
[See? I told you. It turned out just as the Administrator said. A 20HP bonus of joy!]
Kang Shin-hyuk could sense hope. As the teacher instructed, he began the grinding phase. He was going to prove himself before the teacher‘s mind could change!
Swish, swish, swish.
“His use of machinery is clumsy. But those hand movements. . . . . .”
Kang Shin-hyuk peeped at the teacher who was murmuring something to himself as he studied his movements but then forgot about his existence as he concentrated on polishing the object to its final form.
“Whew. All right, then.“
As he finished the task using a grinding machine, Kang Shin-hyuk refined the sword‘s edge to perfection by polishing it with a whetstone.
The teacher somewhat tilted his head while watching Kang Shin-hyuk use a grinding machine, but watching Kang Shin-hyuk apply the whetstone on the sword‘s edge, he sewed his mouth shut and intently watched him perform the rest of his work.
A look of a hard-to-identify expression formed on the teacher‘s face.
How long has he been spewing his spiritual power into the sword? Just as he consumed about half of the spirit power, he recovered through eating the jelly, the task came to a conclusion.
‘I‘m at my limit. At my current state, I‘ve done the best that I could possibly do.‘
The sword was complete. It had an incomparably sharp edge, and its sides had no curve or distortion that was out of place. Kang Shin-hyuk let out a bright smile.
Kang Shin-hyuk thought that he did a decent job for an amateur, but a real amateur would have strained his neck to death upon hearing him. Objectively speaking, the sword he made could even be classified as a masterpiece!
[Synchronization rate is increasing. Your assimilation rate is now at 1.1%.]
[You have successfully crafted a sword faintly infused with energy, the ‘Bizarre’ Long Steel Sword (E+). Your blacksmithing proficiency level will greatly rise!]
[Your blacksmithing proficiency level has instantly risen to E Rank! Due to the increase in your skill‘s rank, your physical strength’s rank will increase to D Rank.]
As he declared the completion of the sword by attaching the prepared handle and polishing the sword‘s edge one last time, Kang Shin-hyuk was flooded with messages from the Gaia system. Perhaps due to the buff attained as a login bonus, he was awarded incredible rewards.
Kang Shin-hyuk silently watched the messages. Each one of them was surprising enough to leave him shocked, but the most notable message was the one referring to his growth in physical strength.
‘It takes about 2 years to raise your physical strength from E- Rank to E Rank by physical training alone. . . . . .‘
But its rank had risen up by two notches with the level up of a different trait, and now with his blacksmithing proficiency level improved, it had improved by another level to D Rank.
Not knowing that blacksmithing proficiency came with the bonus of stat growth, he felt like he received a surprise gift from someone. But at the same time, he felt empty thinking back to all the effort he put in before awakening his trait. Even the A-Rank skill [Eighteen Techniques] didn’t come with a status growth attached as a bonus!
‘ . . . . . .No, I decided not to think too deeply. Let‘s just be thankful for having the ability to become stronger faster. Instead of using my time to look back, I should be stepping forward.‘
As he thought, Kang Shin-hyuk chuckled while looking at the delicately sharpened sword.
Stepping forward instead of looking back? There’s a limit to how much of a sentimental statement one could make–he was cringing at his own thoughts.
“All right. It looks to be finished.“
” . . . . . .Oh.“
As Kang Shin-hyuk turned his head towards the person whose existence he had completely forgotten, he was met with a gaze of intense interest that couldn’t be compared to the dull look he witnessed when they first met.
“Shall we continue our conversation, then?”
Translator and Editor Notes:
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