Chapter Four: Celestial Blessing
“Go to the capital? Do you even know where that is? It might be better if you just stay in one spot until you get better, you might heal with time.” Chief Abney makes a logical argument. “We have a small village, you’re welcome to stay. There are extra houses, too.” As he sees it, even though Black Wind is strange, he is still a strong young man. This type of person is always needed in small villages that rely on manual labor to harvest crops, fish, etc. And it seems as though Black Wind is a strong fighter too, which could help against bandits in a pinch.
“I thank you for your hospitality, but I feel that I will accomplish nothing by staying here. I need to experience more first hand.” Black Wind bluntly turns Chief Abney down, showing that there is no room for discussion. And although he doesn’t say this, Black Wind also feels some sort of mental pull, telling him to head to the capital. He realizes that it’s likely related to the dream he had and the odd stone in his forehead, but he doesn’t seem to think that it’s something he needs to be guarded about.
“Well,” Loreena speaks up before her husband has a chance to say anything more. “It certainly is a shame that you have to leave. But we won’t stop you. However, could you make a detour to the town down the river, Lucila, while you travel? I have a letter that I need delivered to the blacksmith there. Sadly our town is too small to have it’s own blacksmith, and we must order tools from them. But it won’t be for free, I’ll make you some nice homemade sandwiches to bring along.” She gives Black Wind a warm smile, prompting him to say yes.
Sighing in his head, Black Wind agrees. After finishing up breakfast, he receives the letter with Loreena’s order for the blacksmith and a pack with an enticing smell wafting from it. Chief Abney, Loreena, and their son Antero walk Black Wind to the edge of the village to see him off. However, he can sense that they aren’t the only ones seeing him off. Various villagers peek through their windows at him, and a group of children try to hide behind a corner as they watch him. Despite the hospitality shown by the Chief’s family, a stranger like him must not be that welcome in this small village.
As he is about to turn around to leave, Black Wind hears his name called out. Looking for the source, he sees an out of breath Sage George quickly making his way towards him. He looks absurd, not quite running but also not quite walking as he uses his large staff to propel himself along. “Mr. Black Wind! I have something for you! Wait up!” Sage George calls out and slows down, seeing that Black Wind is no longer about to leave. Black Wind can hear him grumbling under his breath as he approaches. “I hate running. Why else would I have become a mage? I’m not cut out for this…”
“Yes, what do you need me for?” Black Wind is curious what this man would have to give him. Of the people he’s met so far, only Sage George has given him an uncomfortable feeling, like he might be a danger despite being such an old man.
“Here.” Sage George thrusts a scroll of parchment towards Black Wind. “I copied down a rough map for you. There’s also a letter of referral from me. If you show it to any magic caster, they should give you preferential treatment. Just remember to come back and tell me once you regain your memory. I’ve never seen a subject like you before.” Although he can tell that he is being treated like some sort of test subject, Black Wind accepts the gifts and gives his thanks. He starts to turn around yet again to leave, when he is stopped yet again.
“Umm… Well, that thing on your head looks a bit weird. Maybe you’d want this to cover it up so you don’t attract more attention than your clothes already give you?” The youth, Antero, bashfully hands over a headband after brutally calling Black Wind weird. However, it was well-intentioned, this family is too nice for their own good.
Black Wind takes the headband and puts it on, not knowing if he should laugh or cry. “I guess you’re right. I should find a change of clothes eventually.” He looks around, checking if anyone else is going to stop him from leaving yet again, and then turns around and walks out of the village. Once he has gotten far enough away to be out of view, he starts running at full speed, his feet barely touching the ground as he flashes by. His speed easily reaches 300 miles per hour(480km/hr), much faster than when he was running through the forest, as there are no obstacles he has to dodge around. This sort of speed is only possible thanks to his high cultivation of his qi in his middle dantian. A practitioner who only trained their physical body and their lower dantian could never reach this level.
The distance of 50 miles(80km) between the two villages, which should take a normal person a full 16 hours to walk was completed in a mere 10 minutes by Black Wind. Once again, he stops running out of range of the village and walks the rest of the way. It slightly frustrates him that he has to do this every time, as walking the final stretch takes almost as much time as the whole rest of the journey. However, until he knows what the people of this world can do, Black Wind is determined to not attract any unneeded attention to his martial prowess.
As he walks into Lucila Village, Black Wind notices that this town has a lot more hustle and bustle going on. Unlike Epica, Lucila seems to frequently see travelers and thus fewer people stare at him as he walks by. There are also many more houses and other buildings such as various stores, a smithy, an inn, and a healer. Wanting to get his errand over with quickly, Black Wind heads straight to the blacksmith. Although there is a store in the town center that holds their wares, mostly tools for farming, leather working, and other mundane jobs, the forge itself is at the edge of the town because of the large furnace needed and the pungent smoke put out.
Black Wind enters the forge and is immediately greeted by a spry young girl who looks to be in her mid teens. “Hello, welcome to the Spinel Forge. Is there anything we can help you with?” She looks towards Black Wind with an expectant look on her face.
“Yes, I’m here to deliver an order from Loreena in Forsook village down the river.” Black Wind takes out the letter and goes to hand to over to the girl. She takes it but looks slightly disappointed.
“Ahh… More tools again. All we do is fix and make tools all day long! We almost never make swords or other cool weapons.” She eyes the sword on his waist. “I was hoping since you’re a swordsman that you’d have a request like that. Oh, I never introduced myself! I’m Belgin. My dad, Torben, in the back right now. He owns the forge and does most of the work. I just help him out.” Belgin pauses talking and looks back at Black Wind’s sword, fidgeting a bit. “Umm… Could I, like, maybe look at your sword?” She swallows audibly and blushes a bit as she asks.
Normally Black Wind wouldn’t give his sword away, but this girl in front of him seems innocent and harmless and genuinely interested in his sword. It tickles his pride, as he is very proud of his blade. He went through a great deal of trouble to attain this treasure, risking his life to acquire it from an evil sect of assassins. Black Wind had received a request from the single survivor of a village they had massacred. He infiltrated their organization and found a chance to kill their leader and elders, effectively disbanding their sect. As he left, he noticed a hidden room with this blade in it. After researching it turns out the blade belonged to a heavenly immortal.
Black Wind decides it’s safe to let her see it, so he takes it out and hands it over. As it’s drawn from its scabbard, Belgin’s eyes widen. A small gasp is heard as she carefully takes it from Black Wind. She examines the thin, flexible, black blade up and down. “I’ve never seen anything like this! This material is like nothing I’ve ever even heard of, what is it?”
“Even I’m not sure what the sword is made of, but it’s harder than diamond and it has never needed sharpening nor has it ever chipped or deformed. As far as I can tell it’s near indestructible. The sword’s name is Celestial Blessing.” As Black Wind is explaining the properties of the sword to her, a large, bear-like man walks in from the doorway at the back of the room. He is wearing trousers and a leather apron, leaving his brawny arms bare. There are a multitude of scars covering his hands and arms, some from burns and others from blades. It seems that although he might be a blacksmith now, he probably has a history of fighting.
“Belgin!” The man barks, “Give the customer his sword back, it’s very impolite to take a warrior’s weapon.” Belgin jumps and regretfully hands Celestial Blessing back to Black Wind. There’s a sheepish look on her face as she turns around to look at the man who just entered.
“Hello daddy. He’s a customer, I was just keeping him company while we waited for you. He has another order from Loreena.” She gives an excuse before trying to change the topic.
The man walks over to Black Wind, towering over him. “I’m sorry for my daughter, she has an unhealthy obsession with swords. My name is Torben, master of this forge. Since you are here on behalf of Loreena, I can do you a favor and sharpen your blade before you leave. What do you say?”
Black Wind is about to speak up, as Belgin quickly quips in. “Daddy, his sword is amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s not made of any sort of metal we use here, and apparently it’s the stuff of legends.” She turns back to Black Wind, a gleam in her eye. “Sir, you don’t mind if my dad looks at it, right? Right?” Belgin is so excited that she grabs Black Wind’s hand, before realizing herself and letting go, blushing up to her ears.
Finally getting a chance to speak, now that Belgin has quieted down, Black Wind laughs a bit and tells Torben, “My name is Black Wind, and although I appreciate the offer, I doubt you’ll be able to do more than wear down your whetstone.” He once more draws his sword and hands it over to the large blacksmith.
“By the gods…” Torben takes the sword and mutters under his breath. Looking confused, he looks back to Black Wind when screams are heard from outside in the village.
Notes: Sorry for the slow release, I was officiating at a tournament this past weekend and have college finals next week which I need to study for, so I haven’t has as much time to write as I would want.