Rondo of the Transient Sword
Here is ASUNA! Oops, wrong Asuna. (This one is the twilight imperial princess)
Note: all drafts here have a tendency to have... more mistakes than the one on BT(As I (and other people. I hope.) edit my own works there, but not here.)
Rondo of the Transient Sword: Part Eight
A preview for part eight of RotTS
(actually, it's the full chapter... )
The owner of the sword, Asuna, obviously, and I, the support buffer, and even the person who caused this phenomenon, the blacksmith Nezuha-san, were all unable to react for a moment.
If there was at least one surrounding onlooker, he might have been able to do something about this frozen atmosphere, as the three of us stared at the anvil which was now empty. No, the person who was most interested was probably me as I wondered if if it were possible to do anything, and a question lingered in my mind ... Aside from the surprise we had earlier, I could not think of anything else.
―― This is impossible!
As I opened my eyes wide, I shouted that phrase in my mind a few times.
This event shouldn't occur. In this SAO game, the penalty for failure of weapon strengthening, should only be «the + number remains the same while the materials were consumed», «the property of the + number is changed», «the + number drops by 1», these three events only.
In other words, the worst that should occur in the case of failure was that Asuna's «Wind Fleuret +4»'s number would decrease to +3, and even then there was only a five percent or less chance of that happening. No, that five percent did not mean that it could not happen in an MMO...... but at the very least, the complete disappearance of a weapon was an impossible occurrence.
On the other hand, it was the fact that the glittering shards of silvery metal around the anvil, were Asuna's beloved sword just a few seconds ago.
Because I had seen it with my own eyes. Asuna had passed Nezuha the rapier at her waist, Nezuha had held it with his left hand while controlling the furnace with his right hand, and finally the unsheathed sword was placed inside the furnace. After a few actions, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
In this silence, the shards scattered around the furnace began to dissolve into thin air. Repair was still possible for a blade which was slightly melted by a monster's weapon breaking techniques, or had it's edge chipped off, but a sword shattered to pieces had clearly lost all endurance. In other words ―― at this moment, Asuna's beloved sword had clearly been completely removed from the SAO game's database server.
As soon as the last shard disappeared, the first to move was the blacksmith Nezuha.
The hammer in his right hand was dropped, as he stood to attention with a snap, then faced us and bowed at us over and over again. From under the hair that was divided down the middle, a scream similar to the agony of death could be heard.
"S......Sorry! sorry! I will return the full fee...... I'm really sorry......!"
He fired off continuous apologies, however the person he was apologizing to, Asuna's eyes were still wide in shock. I reluctantly took a step forward and said to Nezuha.
"No, that...... Hold on a second, instead of the fee I want an explanation. In SAO's failure at strengthening...... «Weapon Disappearance» is not an option, is it?"
Then, Nezuha stopped bowing and lifted his head. His eyebrows were angled downwards to the limit, and his honest round face was distorted violently. The face that was filled with a pure expression looked as though he could not take it anymore, to the point I felt like saying "It's fine now."
Instead, he tried his hardest to remain calm as he continued his words.
"......I, during the beta test period, in the official site's manual was stated, the penalties of strengthening failure are «Materials lost», «Property Change» and «Property Reduction» these three were written. Of this I'm certain."
Bringing up the story of the β test, «Evil Beater» was not a word fully used for casual conversation. However, for self preservation, I wouldn't think about it for now. I kept my mouth closed and waited for the other party's words.
The blacksmith Nezuha, while he had stopped bowing his head repeatedly, still looked downwards as his spoke in a soft voice.
"Um......, in the official service, the fourth penalty was added...... Maybe. For me, previously...... The same thing happened once. That's why, even if the probability is very low......"
Now that he said it, it couldn't be denied that there was no insufficiency of materials. in the first place, even if Nezuha's words were lies, he was right in front of us, saying that the system did not have a «disappearance penalty» was like saying the occurrence did not happen. That was extremely impossible.
"............Is that so......"
I murmured without any energy, as Nezuha looked up for a moment, and apologized once more in a quiet voice.
"Umm......I really don't know how to apologize....... ―― Even if you want a similar weapon returned to you, I don't have any «Wind Fleuret» in my inventory....... At least...... It may be lower by a rank, but will you have an «Iron Rapier»......?"
This offer was not mine to accept. I looked to my right, looking at the silent Asuna.
The rapier user's downward facing face which was almost fully concealed by her grey hood, gently moved her chin with a sideways motion which could be seen. I faced Nezuha and said.
"No......It's fine. I think we'll make it somehow."
Although pushing away Nezuha's offer for replacement was bad, «Iron Rapier» was a weapon from the starting city on the first floor, it was unreliable to use on the second floor. At the very least, we should use a sword one rank beneath the Wind Fleuret, the «Gaze Rapier» as replacement.
Even so ―― In the first place, for the risk of failure in weapon forging, the liability should not fall on the hands of the blacksmith but on the requesting party. On «Nezuha's Smith Shop» signboard, the current skill and corresponding success rate were clearly stated. Even if it was five percent......no, «Weapon Disappearance», probably less than one percent of getting it with bad luck, it was fully our own responsibility. During the day, Even the owner of the «Anneal Blade» which ended with +0 Ryufior-shi, despite raging, at the end he accepted it as bad luck.
At my answer, Nezuha's shoulder dropped, and said "Is that so" in a quiet voice. then, he continued.
"Umm......In that case, let me pay you back the cost of the material......"
His hands began to move, but was suppressed.
"It's alright, because you already swung your hammer with all you had, I do not need that. Among the player blacksmiths, the number of hits is the same, and there are those that don't do it seriously......"
While I said that casually, for some reason the blacksmith winced as his neck seemed to shrink. His arms began trembling harder and harder as his body seemed to approach the limit, before he managed to force out.
After hearing that sad apology, I couldn't say anything else.
I took one step back and prompted Asuna, to move to somewhere else for now.
My finger was still held onto by the rapier user's right hand, but I was unaware when her left hand had balled up into a fist.
I gently pulled Asuna who had remained silent, for now we moved to the North from the Urbus' east square.
There were few NPC shops and players here, and buildings with an unclear purpose ―― Maybe it was for the earliest set of player homes, which were still unsold ―― standing side by side, there were few people walking around.
Occasionally there were small signboards for inns along the way, but we continued walking.
There was no destination, and I couldn't see the next step we should take. The fencer beside me kept silent, her beloved sword that had been with her in many battles had was completely lost in one failed strengthening, I understood her feeling based on my left hand which was held in a cold yet strong grip by the girl, what should we do now, two net gamers who in the middle of sadness was an experience which should not be judged. Somehow I understood, «Pulling my hand away and running away to solve this» was the worst option. I prayed for a helping hand to save us, but the «Luck Bonus» that was under my HP bar had disappeared long ago.
――――For now, I will walk without stopping.
Anyhow, as I was thinking, there was a small open space in front of us on the road, where I noticed a bench was installed, so I determined that place as our destination.
i walked fifteen meters more, stood still, and opened my mouth.
"Th-There's a bench in a place like this."
What am I saying! As I shouted that in my heart, it was fortunate that the rapier user did not guess the intent behind my words, as she quietly changed her body position, silently lowering her waist. As my hand was still being held on tightly, I automatically sat down beside her.
After a few moments, Asuna's finger's slacked, and she let go of my hand, as her own fell onto the bench.
I had to say something. As I thought of thinking what to say, my throat constricted. I do not think I was the same as the person who, during the first floor's boss room, had declared "I am a Beater" in front of many soldiers in a defiant pose. ―― No, it was not just that. When I had met Asuna in the dungeon of the first floor for the first time, didn't i speak approach and speak to her due to her dreadful expression. Despite the only content being something boring like "That's overkill", Is there a reason i could speak then but not speak now. Nope, none.
"........................ Umm, hey"
I desperately struggled to open my mouth, and fortunately, continuing the other half seemed to be easier, as I said.
"The Wind Fleuret, although it is unfortunate......but, on the second floor, if you go to the next village of Marome, there's a shop which is selling a slightly stronger one. Of course it is not cheap...... but, I would ride that boat, as it would help my budget greatly......"
If MP existed in this world, the words that came out next would have reduced the spirit to zero ―― as Asuna, in a quiet voice despite being so close, said
The words that came out, seemed to melt the cold night air.
"But, that sword is...... to me, it's the only sword............"
That voice seemed to hide something, and I was drawn to look at Asuna's face.
Under the hooded cape, on her cheeks lit by a pale blue light, two clear drops of liquid silently flowed down.