Chapter 15:

Crafting and Fight

Hour Empty Child


The same day after they have made their first party, after finishing their meal, their ‘true’ mission starts today. Under the hot, high noon sun, they set out of the ‘Heaven’s Wings’ inn and began their own personal quest.

Their quest to look for crafting items

For their 【Blacksmithing】 and 【Enchanting】 skills, they needed some crafting items. Such as materials for refining equipment, creating enchantments, and of course, the absolutely necessary Portable Forge for Kudo’s skill to increase their skills’ levels.

Currently, they were in the market at the southern part of town, where bustling citizens were scattered about in their businesses. They decided to split up to make a wider search area and, after a while, Hinota called Kudo through the usage of her Growth Crystal. Farther away from the stalls, Hinota made her Growth Crystal appear in thin air, and she took it in hand and said these words:

“Call! Kudo!”

Hinota’s crystal glowed a blue color, getting another voice to respond.

[Oh, Hinota!] Kudo’s voice rang out from her crystal. [Did you found anything?]

“Kudo, I think I found one of the stores that sell some ores. We’re looking for 【Iron Ores】, right?”

[Exactly! Make sure you buy them at a low price.]

“Don’t worry… I have it all well and done.”

Hinota’s voice became deeper as her sultry voice reached to Kudo’s ears, causing him to feel a minuscule chill down his spine.

[R-Right. I think I also saw a store that is selling old equipment. I’ll try to buy them.]

“Remember, Kudo, buy all of the cheapest equipment. It doesn’t matter how good they are.”

[Got it!]

Hinota called off her call, getting Kudo on the other side of the commercial district to act.

Since this is a famous port city, the market district is very large, enough to form a giant plaza. Therefore, Kudo and Hinota split up to cover more ground.

On his side, Kudo saw a beat-up store that doesn’t really stand out. The wooden store was decrepit and old, much like Ouzan’s store back in Klein. The long and dirty haired owner looked extremely bored as his equipment, full of rust and dented parts, remained unsold at his counter.

“Excuse me…” Kudo spoke up, surprising the long-haired vendor. “I would like to buy these…”
Though Kudo was still nervous, he wasn’t as nervous as he was in Klein. So far, he can speak to this vendor normally.

“N-No way… you’re actually buying my equipment?”

The vendor was not a very good Blacksmith. It could be shown on his equipment. Therefore, despite that somebody wanted to buy them, he couldn’t believe that someone would buy his deformed equipment.

“Yes, please! You’re selling these items for cheap, right?” Kudo asks once more to be sure.
“Y-Yes! What would you like?”

The vendor asks as he tried to look professional as he showed off his wares, making Kudo grin widely.

“All of them!”

Kudo suddenly lifts a small bag that he got out of his [Magic Bag], and placed it on the counter, nearly shaking the table as the sounds of coins rattling was shot out of the bag. The vendor nearly popped open his eyes at the size of the bag.

After Kudo showed a bag that contained all the necessary Jib, he bought all the old equipment, and put them inside of his [Magic Bag]. The vendor was left with a happy expression as he continued to rub his face against the bag given by Kudo.

“Hehe, I’m sure Hinota will be happy to see these!” Kudo walked away with a big smile, expecting Hinota to have a gleeful face to hear that he succeeded.

Meanwhile, Hinota was at another store, at the other side of the district. The store she was at was a well-known store that sold various Ores. The store was well-maintained, and the vendor was a large, bald-headed man with a strong, stout body.

However, despite that he was talking to such a slender young woman, his face was riddled with trickling sweat as his eyes showed a panicking state. That’s because he was the victim of Hinota’s terrifying glare.

“L-Listen, young lady,” The bald-headed vendor spoke politely as he stuttered, making a gesture with his hands at the Ores on his counter. “These Ores are very valuable. It took many hours to find them and pick them out. So they are 500 Jib for each one.”

The vendor told, trying to keep his prices aloft, but to Hinota, she believed that he was just trying to haggle her for more Jib.

“I don’t believe for a second that these 【Iron Ores】 are worth that much. You didn’t even take the time to forge them into ingots. Ingots are sold a lot more, and at the other stalls, I found them for less than 350 Jib.”

“N-No way, that can’t be!”

Hinota lied. There weren’t any other stores selling Ingots at the time. But what is most important is that the vendor doesn’t know that information.

Which he seems to have bought it as Hinota continued.

“Listen to me,” Hinota brought on her intensity. “I don’t like to be tricked. Either lower these absurd prices, or I’m telling the guards that you’re tricking these poor imbeciles to buy your ridiculously expensive Ores.”

“W-Wait, please!” The vendor shouted, his eyes pleading mercy. “O-Okay, hold on now. I-I’ll sell them for… 450 Jib.”

“250 Jib.”

“W-What?! That’s too much!”

The vendor was sweating bullets as her glare caused his soul to nearly shatter inside.

“H-How about 400?”

“200.”

“Y-You lowered it even more!”

“It’s either that price, or I could go lower. Which do you prefer?”

Hinota continued to glare him down, getting the vendor to nearly squeak in fear as his sweating face contorted and heaved out a heavy sigh.

“A-Alright…”

“Thank you very much~”

After that instant, to everyone else that saw this scene realized just how terrible this girl can be at haggling prices. The vendors quaked in fear as they became scared of the fact that Hinota might come to them at any time.

Once their 2 hours were up, the PlusFire reunited at the middle of the plaza, far away from the other citizens, and checked their spoils.

“I heard a rumor around that there was a red-headed tyrant who mercilessly cuts prices in half at every store she goes. Nice job, Hinota!”

Kudo responded as he heard these rumors from the scared vendors around his side.

“I also heard that there was a blue-haired saint that visited poor crafters’ shops and buys their god-awful equipment for a cheap price. That’s a good strategy, Kudo.”

Hinota commended their idea as Kudo wasn’t the kind to bargain, so this job was perfect to get the vendors to feel easier the next time they shopped.

“Now, the only thing left is to buy that portable forge at the Magic Item shop, right?”

“Right! Let’s head over there and buy it quickly!”

Quick as lightning, the PlusFire headed immediately to the Magic Item Shop.

Of course, the Magic Item shop is known to have strict prices, but one visit from the master haggler Hinota caused the vendor to nearly cry and give up the portable forge with half the price. Kudo had to stop Hinota from trying to cut the price down even further because he started to feel guilty for the poor man.

Once they were done with the shopping, they were now ready to begin their training.

For their training, they are going to practice using their Crafting Skills and raise their levels.

They first needed to find any kind of open space. They certainly can’t do it in their inn’s rooms, so they decided to do the cheapest way and gotten out of the city gates, choosing an open spot near the ramparts to avoid other monsters, and eventually found a good place.

A quiet area that had soft green grass with stones jutting out of the grassy ground. Though Kudo has bought a portable set which included an anvil, the rocks are perfect to put the forge on.

Picking their suitable rocks to use, Kudo set up his blacksmithing area with Hinota lining up the old equipment on her side with some various loot items from their journey together.

“With all these 【Iron Ores】, I can have enough ingots to make some items and raise my levels. Hinota, do your best to enchant the rest.”

“Got it. Though, are you sure you can handle this?” Hinota looked in concern as she sees Kudo carefully putting the blacksmithing set.

Currently, since they were away from prying eyes, they weren’t wearing their armor, but their ordinary clothing. For Kudo, a simple black shirt and long pants, and for Hinota, her clothing included a provocative black shirt and short pants which well-defined her supple proportions.

“Yeah! I’m totally fine! Just focus on…”

When Kudo was giving some advice, he noticed Hinota’s tight attire and quickly looked away.
“E-Everything will be fine!” Kudo shouted as he tried to shake the redness away from his cheeks.

Kudo needed to focus, so he shook so hard that he nearly fell dizzy. Hinota has already started enchanting her equipment, so Kudo began to work quickly.

Kudo first used the forge to make Ingots. He put the ores inside the forge and heated it up with his mana. At first, it was difficult to imagine fire coming out, but after a while of heating, Kudo took it out and it turned into a single gray bar of iron.

“Alright, this will work!”

Kudo cheered himself up as he began his work. After making a suitable heating, he fired up the bar, making it red hot, and as he takes it out, he hits it with his hammer. *Bang!* *Bang!* His hammer slams onto the heated bar, trying to shape it into a sword of his own image.

Meanwhile, Hinota was already nearly done enchanting her equipment, an old, rusted sabaton. Though they won’t actually use the rusted sabaton, it will be used to salvage an ingot out of it. This way, she can raise her enchanting skill while they salvage for more items.

By putting an old equipment, which is not needed anymore, into the forge, Kudo can melt it down and salvage some Ingots out of it. Though the chance was slim, and he might lose the Ingots in the process, it was better to enchant them first before losing them forever.

After continuously working on their work, fatigue was showed on both of their faces. Kudo was profusely sweating and panting, and Hinota was getting dizzy and almost wobbled.

“H-Hinota, are you OK?” After turning around, trying to give himself a little break for a short moment, he noticed Hinota’s state of wobbling.

“Y-Yeah. This is nothing,” After having been asked, Hinota quickly shakes herself, returning to her normal state.

“Hinota… this skill takes a lot out of you. Last time, enchanting nearly drained you in battle.”
Kudo’s voice was filled with concern, but Hinota merely scowled.

“It’s fine. I can handle this,” Hinota answered curtly, her angered scowl showing displeasure.
“O-Okay…”

Kudo had a hunch at this time that Hinota might be working too hard by enchanting faster. But what he doesn’t realize is as he started to get worried and checked in on her every now and then, the equipment he was focusing on began to cool down as too much time has passed.

“…Ah! My weapon!”

Kudo noticed his own weapon being cooled down, but it was still in a distorted shape.
“See? You ruined it. You should start focusing on your own side instead.”

Hinota chided him as she sees the state the poor sword was. Kudo sighed, knowing that now, Hinota will not take a chance to take a break.

This continued on. As Kudo tried to focus on his equipment, he can’t help but get nervous. That was because now, Hinota started panting. Her breath escaped from her supple lips as her mind was swaying from constant usage of enchanting.

“Hinota…” This time, Kudo was not preparing anything and looked back to see Hinota.

“Kudo, come on, focus! How can we go out and grind for what’s left of the hours of the day if we don’t hurry?”

“Hinota, we can take a break from grinding monsters! I planned on doing that anyways!”

Hinota’s haggard breath kept on making Kudo more anxious. As for Hinota, Kudo’s constant interference was frustrating her, because she knows that she needed to take a break.

However, they continued this kind of mental battle, and the day began to slowly wither…

Before long, the sun sets down to the horizon as the orange hue sky colored the two Adventurers in an orange light, but their passage of time during this time was not at all pleasant.

That was because they were looking at the result of their supposedly powerful enchanted equipment.

—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Iron Sword
【Normal】

An item created by a beginner blacksmith. This sword is made with careful detail, causing it to be sharper than other regular swords.

Attack: 35

Durability: 20/20

Requirements: [Level-5] [STR-10]

【Traits】 {Lowest Sharp}

【Enchant Item】 [Attack +5]
—————————————————————————————————————
—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Iron Dagger
【Inferior】

An item created by a beginner blacksmith. This dagger was crudely made—there was no attention at all during its process. The blade is flimsy, thus easy to break with enough force.

Attack: 10

Durability: 5/5

Requirements: -/-

【Enchant Item】 [Attack +5]
—————————————————————————————————————
—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Iron Cuirass
【Inferior】

An item created by a beginner blacksmith. The armor is sturdy but has been in heat for too long. The armor is weak, and can be easily pierced by a shoddy weapon.

Attack: 5

Durability: 30/30

Requirements: -/-

【Enchant Item】 [Defense +5]
—————————————————————————————————————
The PlusFire looked at the new equipment they made in disgust. Kudo, especially, felt like he just wasted extremely good materials to make this kind of garbage.

“Kudo, if you have focused more on your work, this wouldn’t have happened! My enchantments have gone to waste!”

“T-That’s…” Kudo had nothing to say as she was right.

“The only weapon good here is that sword with a strange [Trait] ability, but other than that, these equipment are terrible! What are these [Inferior] grade items, anyway?!”

Hinota’s voice rang out in anger. Her scowling face became fiercer as Kudo decided to speak back.

“But what about you, Hinota?” Kudo shouted back, widening Hinota’ eyes. “Why did you kept going, even though you were starting to get blue in the face?!”

Kudo’s tone was merged with frustration and worry which took Hinota by surprise.

“T-That’s… I just wanted to work faster so that we can grind!”

“That doesn’t matter!”

Kudo shouted back, but it only fueled Hinota’s anger even more, and the two began to constantly fight back with their vicious words.

For the first time, Kudo and Hinota, after having been together for several months, began their first fight. Though this should be normal for any party, for these two specifically, it was strange and frustrating.

Kudo would shout about Hinota’s rash actions, and Hinota would counter by talking about Kudo’s inability to pay attention.

As the sun was setting to turn into night, they’re fight went on until the both of them started to pant heavily.

“Hah…Hah…”

“Hah… Hah…”

Kudo and Hinota panted, staring right at each other with a scowl. Both of them didn’t want to end up losing.

But then, the both of them realized something. Who exactly was at fault?

As they thought of this more deeply, they felt that they have wasted their time more than they messed up on their equipment…

“…I’m sorry.”

Kudo was the first to apologize. This caught Hinota by surprise, but then she softens her expression.

“No… I should be sorry.”

“I… I didn’t think that it would take so much focus. I got so tired that I couldn’t stay focused…” Kudo explained as he rubbed the back of his head, but instead of being sheepish, he felt guilty.

“No, I should be the one to blame…” Hinota rubbed her right arm as she looked guilty as well. “The truth was, I was trying to make a new enchantment every time with our loot. I failed every time, wasting good loot, so I just replaced it with a cheap enchantment. I got so angry from that that I took out my anger on you…”

“Hinota, that really happened?”

Kudo asked, but Hinota looked away, as if she was too ashamed of herself to look at him.
After knowing Hinota’s reason to feel so rushed, Kudo formed a smile.

“I should have noticed. I’m sorry. I should have known how you can be pretty stubborn.”
“Heh,” Hinota looked back, and gave a chuckle. “I guess. But I didn’t think you would pester so much about my safety.”

“I-I couldn’t help it! You looked like you were in danger, and…” Kudo trailed off, but then he noticed Hinota showing a soft expression, her eyes soften and a smile was formed on her lips.

“I was glad that you got so worried for me... I’m sorry for making you, though. I promise to take it easy next time.”

“Yeah… I’ll try to focus more too.”

Kudo rubbed his head again, this time showing a sheepish expression as Hinota made a beaming smile. The two of them settled their first fight, and fortunately, nothing bad happened.

Well… except for one thing:

“So, what do we do with all these equipment? Burn them?”

“Yeah, except for that sword. I think that might be good.”

Kudo answered as he and Hinota decided to pack up their items and return to the inn before it gets any darker.

“Oh, by the way…” As Hinota was getting ready to leave with Kudo, something popped into her mind. “That [Trait] thing, what is it?”

“Oh, that? That’s an ability blacksmiths can give to their equipment.”

“Seriously? How can you do that?”

“Mmh, it’s kinda hard at my level right now, but I can use up monster loot, like a fang or a talisman, and use their components to create a specialized equipment. The equipment will gain a [Trait], an ability which can increase any ability you have.”

“Eh…” Hinota became in awe. “So, it’s kinda like an enchantment.”

“Yeah, now that I think about it, it does sound like it,” Kudo formed a smile as he continued. “The [Traits] can have up to different tiers of power, and it goes like this:

Lowest: 5%

Low: 10%

Low-Mid: 15%

Medium: 20%

High-Mid: 30%

High: 40%

Highest: 50%

“With these, the highest you get, the more powerful the effect. If that sword I made had [Highest Sharp], the Sharp Trait will increase by 50%, making it easier to cut through defenses.”

“Oh!” Hinota gaped in awe as her eyes glittered in amazement.

“By the way, the maximum sharpness for our bodies is 100%, so it’s better to have only up to 100 for Sharpness, as getting more will be useless.”

“Ah,” Hinota nodded. “Understood. But then, how come you got [Inferior] Grade items? From the name of it, it doesn’t sound very impressive.”

“Yeah…” Kudo showed an anguished expression. “You see, getting a good Grade and [Trait] is difficult. It involves using your mana and your extensive imagination. Plus, the heat of the forge has to go along with your mana, and you have to get used to the fire… I couldn’t get used to the heat as much.”

Kudo could recall the hot heat nearly burning his body from being near the molten hot forge all day.

“I see… it’s a lot tougher than I thought. Are you sure you are able to handle it?”

Hinota asks Kudo as she looked at him, glaring at him with her tapered, concerned eyes.

“…Do you still think I’m not able to handle being a blacksmith?” Kudo felt that Hinota was still looking down on him as a blacksmith.

“I thought I did, but that sword you made blew me away. You got talent. I was just worried because you look so beaten.”

“Oh…” Kudo’s cheeks redden from Hinota’s praise. “Ah, yeah…Don’t worry, I can handle this.”

“Good,” Hinota faced him with a smile. “Because we need to create good equipment.”

Kudo nodded as the PlusFire made it back to the city, passing through the gates with their Growth Crystal and were headed back to the inn.

Through their walk back to the ‘Heaven’s Wings’ in Loune, Hinota asked Kudo:

“Kudo, what’s the level of your skill?”

“Ah, mine’s level 14. And yours?”

“Mmh!” Hinota changed her soft expression into a smug one. “Mine’s level 22!”

“Eh?! How come you leveled yours faster than me?” Kudo’s eyes nearly popped out as Hinota’s crafting skill was increased far more.

“Hehe, it’s all about passion!”

“Like your skills?”

*Bop!* Hinota’s fist moved so quickly, it didn’t leave Kudo’s noggin any mercy.

“Ow!”

“Shut up about my skills already!”

Hinota’s face reddens as she recalled her embarrassing skills’ descriptions. Kudo made a chuckle even though he was a victim to Hinota’s high [STR] stat.

“Mmh...”

As Kudo chuckled, he sees Hinota considering something as she looked at the fist which was used to chide him.

“Hinota?” He asked as Hinota faced him.

“Kudo, I have a suggestion.”

Hinota looked at him, this time with a serious expression.

“Sure. I’m all ears.”

“Can I come to your room tonight?”

“…Eh?”
***********************************************************************
What’s this?! This was suppose to be under PG-13! What’s with this surprising development?!


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