The World after the Fall
Chapter 22: World of 1% (2)
Jaehwan shook his memories away. He was disappointed as he wanted to ask the [Nightmare] something.
“Who’s the top artisan here then?”
“Hmm… It’s Vice-Chief Meikal. But…”
The Apprentice looked at Jaehwan from top to bottom. Jaehwan also looked down at himself. He forgot that he looked like a beggar.
“The cost of a request from Meikal is expensive. You need the materials too…”
“I have the materials.”
The materials meant horns from the horned monsters. They used steel and iron, but there was no material more valuable than horns within the Tree of Imagery. None of the metals were as light and durable as horns.
“…You have a horn?” he asked, his voice filled with suspicion. The horns that the <Twilight’s Fall> used were the horns of a bihorn or higher. They had mass-produced weapons that could be used by Non-Adapters or 1st stage Adapters, so it was unnecessary for special requests with unihorns.
“We only take in horns from bihorns or higher. Why don’t you just choose one from the mass-produced scabbards? They are still well-made…”
Jaehwan shook his head. As the Apprentice became red with anger, Jaehwan spoke.
“By bihorn, you mean the monster with two horns?”
Jaehwan reached into his backpack and took out the horn. It was the horn he got from killing the monster wolf. After he handed it to the Apprentice, the Apprentice looked at it for a long time and then began to shiver.
‘How many horns did this one have…?!’
He had trained in <Twilight’s Fall> for a long time but he had not seen such a horn. The shine of the black horn and its durability… even its thickness alone was mesmerizing.
“This… this is so beautiful…!”
He realized this wasn’t for him to decide; he needed to fetch the Vice Chief at once! After glancing around for a while, he stopped. There were tens of artisans that had gathered next to the central furnace.
“Oh, there he is!”
Before he could finish, Jaehwan had already begun walking. He was followed by a sighing Mino and the Apprentice with the horn.
Meikal, the Vice-Chief Smith of <Twilight’s Fall>. Everyone in Gorgon Fortress knew his name. He was the only blacksmith with the title [Apprentice] amongst the humans. The title was usually only given to the [Nightmares]. So even if the title represented the lowest rank, it was a great feat for a human to have such a title.
“I’m an old man now.”
Meikal remembered the day he first earned the title, tens of years ago. A [Nightmare] had come and spoken to him.
-Blame your heritage. You will never achieve a higher rank than [Apprentice].
He did not heed those words back then. Young Meikal back then thought he had time and passion. He thought he could get into a higher world if he tried. He practiced while [Nightmares] slept, and studied metallurgy while [Nightmares] played.
But as he was faced with the twilight of his age, he knew.
It was something that could not be achieved no matter how hard he tried.
“I guess I’ve been doing this for too long now…”
Meikal mumbled as he looked at the horn in front of him. It was the horn from one of the Ten-Clan vice leaders from <Chaos>. It was to make a sword and the work was almost complete. The only thing left now was to put in the final touch.
‘I need a place to fit a gem in the center of the sword hilt.’
Shaping the quadhorn wasn’t easy as it was too durable; it was hard to tear it apart. He barely managed to craft the blade and shape it, but that level of finesse wasn’t easy.
[Nightmare]’s unique skill [Craft].
When he became an [Apprentice], he received the skill from the [Nightmare]. Even with this skill, carving the horn out still wasn’t easy.
Meikal put it down for now. He needed to rest before continuing the job. After he stopped working, artisans around quickly began reaching out to him.
“Master, can I try…”
“Let me try…”
Meikal grinned. It was good to be young.
“You should train more if you want to work on this one.”
Meikal knew none of them would surpass him, but their passion motivated him. All he could do now was to make sure that the youngbloods and their efforts were put in the right place.
“Good. If any of you can make a hole in this horn, whoever it is, I’ll make you Vice-Chief for the day.”
He was giving them hope in achieving something even though it wasn’t possible. Meikal thought it was his job to provide such hope.
“Wow! Is that for real?”
Young artisans lunged at the horns and obviously, no one succeeded. Even the ones who had a bit of Spirit Power couldn’t even make a scratch. That was when someone spoke up.
“Let me try.”
It was an unfamiliar face. Meikal looked at him weirdly as he fanned himself against the central furnace’s intense heat.
“No! You can’t do that!”
Then Meikal noticed young Apprentice running after him, holding onto something. He was a young Apprentice who was in charge of the entrance. Meikal asked, “Naven, who is he? What is it that you’re holding?”
Naven wasn’t sure how to reply. He glanced between Jaehwan and the horn, and Jaehwan answered instead.
“You need a socket in this hilt?”
Meikal narrowed his eyes. The man looked like a beggar but he sounded like an experienced artisan.
‘I guess he’s a traveling young artisan.’
Meikal waved his hands to let other artisans stand back.
“Let him be.”
It was astonishing to see a man with such confidence in <Twilight’s Fall> while being cornered by many experienced artisans.
However, he was still foolish.
The reason why <Twilight’s Fall> was famous because of its classes. Meikal thought it was a good chance to show this young man the difference of classes. Then, he was shocked.
It looked like the man was trying to poke a hole using his finger. He was definitely crazy. Meikal had heard that high-ranked [Nightmares] could work on horns without any tools, but he had never heard of any human capable of doing that.
‘If that can be done, I would not have done all the…’
With a loud boom, dust exploded everywhere. The sound itself was as if the whole building itself had collapsed.
Meikal didn’t know. He did not know that it was the sound of his lifelong work that was about to become worthless.
As the dust settled, they were able to see the small hole in the hilt.
They all couldn’t speak or believe what they were seeing.
“This should do, right?”
The man stood there with his finger in the hilt, spinning it around. Meikal felt like his whole world was spinning with it and asked, “…Who are you?”
Jaehwan thought it was tiring to hear that question now and answered,
Meikal then brightened up a bit. If he was the vice-chief of some blacksmith, he might be a skilled artisan.
“Vice-Chief of where?”
Jaehwan answered, “Twilight’s Fall.”
At that answer, some of the artisans frowned and shouted angrily,
“Don’t mess around!”
However, Jaehwan spoke calmly, “Didn’t you promise earlier?”
Promise? Everyone became dumbfounded. Then, everyone thought of what Meikal said earlier. Meikal’s face was grim. Jaehwan spoke again, “For today, I’m the Vice-Chief of <Twilight’s Fall>.”
And at that moment, the quadhorn on Jaehwan’s finger began to crack. Meikal grew pale.
The bone shattered into pieces and turned into powder. Jaehwan frowned and mumbled,
“…Dammit. I thought I was careful.”