The next morning, when Yeon-woo arrived at Henova’s smithy, people from Night Watch were already installing the shop’s new door. When he entered, he saw that the whole smithy had been furnished with brand-new furniture and smithing tools.
"So, do you like it?" Yeon-woo smiled as he spoke to Henova, his eyes fixed on the players from Night Watch running busily around the shop.
"Do I like what?"
"Your shop. It looks much better than before, doesn’t it? By the way, now’s your chance to thank me."
Henova snorted at Yeon-woo’s joke with his short arms crossed over his chest. "Hmph! I know you did this so that the Gyges’ Eye wouldn’t be delayed. Why would I thank you when you did this for your own sake? Besides, you didn’t do any work here.” But despite his harsh words, Henova's nose and ears were slightly red. It was clear that he was too self-conscious to pay someone compliments.
'There’s a word that describes someone like him.’ Yeon-woo recalled a description he had heard back on Earth. "Tsundere."
"Hmm? What did you say?"
Yeon-woo calmly shook his head, but he couldn’t stop his mouth from curling up in a smile. He was grateful that he was wearing a mask to hide it. Henova looked at Yeon-woo with a suspicious look on his face, but Yeon-woo pretended that nothing was going on. However, the smile on Yeon-woo’s face didn’t fade for a long time. The description matched Henova too well.
* * *
When the repairs were finished, Yeon-woo and Henova went back to their regular routine. They both picked up hammers again, one to finish the artifact, and the other to practice blacksmithing.
Clang! Clang! From the scene, it seemed as though the events of the previous night were just a hallucination.
[‘Draconic Eyes’ can now reveal more imperfections.]
[‘Draconic Eyes’ skill proficiency has increased. 22.9%]
At some point, Yeon-woo found himself completely fascinated with blacksmithing. He cast Draconic Eyes and gazed at the red-hot piece of metal. A thin, dotted line appeared along the edge of the metal that he’d taken out of its mold. The lines were only visible to Yeon-woo.
‘Imperfections.’ Draconic Eyes could see the true nature of things by rearranging the information the caster had, calculating the most efficient way to achieve their goal, and providing a visible route, which was what the imperfections were. Because of this, Yeon-woo found it easy to handle metal.
Clang! Clang! The knowledge and techniques that Henova imparted to Yeon-woo were worth over a thousand pieces of gold to any other blacksmith, and he was aware of this fact. As Yeon-woo watched the way Henova handled the hammer, the bellows, and all the other tools, he could sense the effort Henova poured into making a single piece of work, and so he tried to observe every single movement Henova made and memorize every single word Henova said.
This helped Yeon-woo step up his forging by several levels. Others might consider it cheating. ‘No wonder why the dragon race was known as the world’s wisest race.’ Draconic Eyes sought the truth by observing all creation and acquiring all knowledge.
Yeon-woo had access to only a small part of Draconic Eyes’ true power, but even that was enough to spur a very fast growth. He was just a few steps away from completing the succession process, and he was curious about the abilities he would be able to wield once he developed a complete Dragon Body.
Clang! Yeon-woo hammered the metal piece he had folded several times one last time. A distinct, wavy pattern appeared on the surface of the metal, and he picked it up with a pair of tongs and submerged it into a container of cold water to temper it.
Hiss! A big cloud of white steam shot out as soon as the metal touched the water. Despite the suffocating hot air, Yeon-woo tried to keep his eyes on the metal.
[Your understanding of blacksmithing has increased. The attained knowledge will open up several more possibilities.]
[Knowledge is a power that will broaden your horizons and enlarge the world around you. Learn and understand more knowledge and become a seeker of truth. The dragon’s blessing will always be with you.]
[‘Draconic Eyes’ skill proficiency has increased. 25.1%]
[Knowledge increase has been confirmed. The vessel has become softer and more flexible. The halted succession process will resume. 93%...94%...]
[Current progress: 94.9%]
Drip! Drip! Beads of sweat fell onto the ground as Yeon-woo massaged his shoulders lightly. ‘This is definitely something that must be learned the hard way.’ Learning blacksmithing was not an easy task even with the help of Draconic Eyes. Hammering the metal in front of a searing forge made him stiff and sore all over, but the experience made Yeon-woo understand the importance of mental training to complement physical training. He had progressed by a little bit more, and he felt relieved.
'So, balance is what I need for progress? Damn, I thought I was so close to finishing it, but it’s going to get complicated.' Yeon-woo was hit by a sudden wave of fatigue from the thought. But as soon as he felt tired, the Magic Circuit circulated mana throughout his body, melting away the fatigue.
Yeon-woo could feel his growth, as though a barrier limiting him from further advancement had retracted a little. 'Now, let’s see.' Yeon-woo stared at the metal piece he had crafted.
[An Unfinished Good Metal Casting]
[Estimated classification: Two-Handed Weapon]
[Estimated rank: F][Estimated durability: 5–10]
[Description: A casting that has not yet been completed. It is not bad for a first attempt.]
‘It turned out OK for a first try.’ Yeon-woo licked his lips in anticipation and turned to Henova to talk about his achievement. But as soon as he laid eyes on the dwarf, he was stunned for a few seconds. A window had popped up with Henova’s information.
[Henova the Dwarf]
[CP: ??? / Personality: Shy and self-conscious]
"What are you looking at? Keep your head down and get to work!" Henova shouted at him when he saw Yeon-woo staring at him. The warm look he had shown Yeon-woo for a very brief time yesterday had melted into his usual scowl. It didn’t bother Yeon-woo because he was aware that Henova’s attitude was just an act to hide his true character.
"I’m sorry." Yeon-woo shifted his gaze back to the metal piece. 'I can see people’s information now?' He had never expected to achieve this. He didn’t realize that the possibilities that the system mentioned included access to other people’s information. ‘The ability to view people’s information can be an advantage in combat.' Even having just a bit of information about one’s enemy could make a big difference. Although he couldn't read much about Henova, this ability would be a big help later, especially since he had so many enemies.
Yeon-woo was beginning to understand the underlying mechanism behind Draconic Eyes. The more he learned and experienced, the better Draconic Eyes would be. 'But what was that “CP” thing in the information window?' He was curious about the strange concept but decided to dismiss it with a shake of his head. Instead, Yeon-woo took out the pocket watch while Henova was looking the other way and examined with Draconic Eyes.
Yeon-woo clucked his tongue lightly. 'I guess it’s not the time yet. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ He wasn’t disappointed because he knew he’d be able to access the information once he was proficient enough. Yeon-woo picked up the hammer again. Clang! The sound rang clearer than usual.
'Shy and self-conscious…Yeah, that sounds just like him.' Yeon-woo chuckled as he thought of how the system described Henova.
* * *
Yeon-woo continued his visits to Henova and kept tormenting him.
"How do you determine where to solder metal?"
"What do I do when the heat exceeds the right temperature?"
"The bellow’s force is weaker than I thought.”
"Why did you do that there?"
Now that he knew more about smithing, he had more questions. Whenever one popped into his mind, he immediately asked Henova. Because of this, Henova couldn’t do his work properly whenever Yeon-woo was around.
"I’ll tell you what. You’ll learn when you practice, idiot!"
"I’m asking these so I can practice."
"I’m telling you to learn by yourself!"
"Teach me how to learn by myself. I’ll go learn by myself when you do."
"Aargh! You bastard!” Henova tried to ignore him and focus on his work, but Yeon-woo was extremely persistent. He even began to suspect that Yeon-woo was trying to get revenge for all of his previous nagging. After many quarrels, Yeon-woo made discernible progress.
"Henova, can you take a look at this?"
"How many times a day are you going to call me? Let me do some work too, goddamn it! This is your commission and if I can’t make it in time, it’s your loss, not mine!"
"I’m done making my sword."
"What?" Henova roared, thinking Yeon-woo was bothering him again. But after hearing Yeon-woo’s words, his eyes grew round with shock. "You made a sword?"
Henova gave a loud snort. It had only been a little over ten days since Yeon-woo began learning to smith. Although his learning speed was out of the ordinary, it was impossible for a beginner to create something within such a short amount of time. 'Hah! You've been getting on my nerves all this time, haven’t you? Now it’s my turn.' Henova was going to point out any tiny fault he could find to get back at Yeon-woo.
But Yeon-woo smiled to himself, knowing what Henova was thinking, and he handed over his creation. Henova accepted the object with a suspicious expression. It was a weapon that looked like a sword.
[Sword of a Novice Blacksmith]
[Classification: One-Handed Sword]
[Description: A sword that turned out much better than the initial expectation. The blade is a little dull for a sword but has decent durability.]
The first thing Henova spat out after seeing the sword was "What the hell?” He followed this curse with “This isn’t possible!” Henova began muttering to himself. The sword Yeon-woo had forged was something that could not have come from the hands of a novice blacksmith with only ten days of experience. He knew that Yeon-woo's skills had been improving at a rapid pace, but this was beyond his imagination. ‘How the hell did he do this?’
When Henova noticed that Yeon-woo was looking at him, he cleared his throat belatedly. "Well, it’s decent considering it’s the first thing you’ve ever made. But I wouldn’t call this a sword, it’s still trash."
"Would it kill you to say some nice words?"
"Shush! It’s up to me to decide whether it’s worth praising or not! Anyway, you still have to practice a lot! This is still far from good!"
"I’m going to have to keep asking you questions."
"No, stop bothering me!"
"You little prick!"
However, at that moment, Yeon-woo felt something rush in from outside the smithy. There was no time to warn Henova, so Yeon-woo simply grabbed him and leaped to the side. Boom! The wall exploded, creating a cloud of dust.
A person with two huge fists, glaring eyes, and a horn on the side of his head appeared. It was Phante. "Is this where you ran off to, you cheater? Because of you…Because of you I had to search every corner of the Tower! Do you have any idea—" But before he could finish speaking, a fist came flying from the dust cloud. Boom!
"Kreek!” Phante flew across the room with a weird scream.