Chapter 68: A Swordsman Speaks with a Sword; A Blacksmith Speaks with Iron (3)
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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
“What do you mean, a cursed sword?” asked Kwak Moon-Jung.
The old blacksmith did not answer him. He simply stood still as if he was petrified.
On the other hand, Jin Mu-Won looked at the old blacksmith curiously. I can’t believe he recognized that Snow Flower was a cursed sword in one glance… He must be really skilled and experienced to sense the faint traces of cursed energy that many other martial artists or craftsmen weren’t able to detect. Is it because he’s spent his entire life doing nothing but blacksmithing?
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When the old blacksmith recovered from his shock and glared fiercely at Jin Mu-Won, the young man calmly accepted his gaze and stared back coolly. Exasperated, the old blacksmith sighed and said, “Haa… I think we have a lot of talk about, but we shouldn’t do it here. Follow me.”
The old blacksmith walked toward the back of the smithy. As Jin Mu-Won moved to follow him, he said to the still bewildered Kwak Moon-Jung, “Come on, let’s go.”
Kwak Moon-Jung quickly chased after Jin Mu-Won and the old blacksmith, who led them into a hidden basement under the smithy. Neither of them had noticed the basement beforehand, as it was unthinkable that such a small and worn-down shop would have a space like that.
When Jin Mu-Won entered the basement room, he noticed that the walls were lined with the old blacksmith’s masterpieces that he had forged over the years and nodded in approval. The quality of these weapons were far superior to even the ones outside.
“Wow!” exclaimed Kwak Moon-Jung, eyes glued to the weapons on display.
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The old blacksmith pointed toward a chair and said to Jin Mu-Won, “Take a seat.”
The two craftsmen sat face to face around a table. A nervous tension filled the air as the old blacksmith focused his attention on Jin Mu-Won.
“Are you aware that the sword you carry is a cursed weapon?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Could you tell me why you made a sword like this?”
“I didn’t make a cursed sword on purpose.”
“Things just somehow turned out like this.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“The truth is the truth, whether you believe it or not.”
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“Hmm…” The old blacksmith groaned wearily, a complicated look on his face.
As if he could read the old blacksmith’s mind, Jin Mu-Won asked, “Are you thinking about whether you should trigger the traps in this room or not?”
“You know about those!?” Surprised, the old blacksmith stared blankly at Jin Mu-Won.
Jin Mu-Won smiled. Quite a number of the traps in this room were similar to those that had been installed in the Northern Army Fortress, so he’d noticed their presence as soon as he stepped inside.
“The moment you stomp on the trigger under your foot, the traps will be activated and attack me. Am I right?”
Without taking his foot off the trigger, the old blacksmith answered Jin Mu-Won meekly, “…Yes. As soon as I put my foot down, all of the hidden weapons around here will fire at the spot where you are sitting.”
Even though he knows that I’m aware of the traps, he’s still willing to trigger them, huh?
Kwak Moon-Jung was stunned speechless. He hadn’t sensed the tense atmosphere between the two craftsmen at all until now. Ahh…I still have a lot to improve on. I was so distracted by the nice weapons on the walls that I failed to notice what’s going on…
Although the traps were now revealed, the two craftsmen somehow still continued conversing normally.
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“Are you trying to throw the world into chaos?”
“That depends. I can’t give you an answer right now.”
“Then I will ask you again. Why did you make a cursed sword?”
“As I said earlier, I didn’t make it because I wanted to. I only realized that it had cursed energy after it was completed.”
The old blacksmith’s eyes hardened as he explained, “When a craftsman’s will and desires are infused into their work, the object that is created could either be a divine or demonic treasure. Although the treasures made by us humans cannot create miracles, it will affect the mental state of the user. Following the craftsman’s desires, it would turn the user into a hero or a monster. That is the reason why us craftsmen must always be careful when crafting masterpieces.”
“I’m aware of that.”
In a voice filled with conviction, Jin Mu-Won repeated himself, “Yes, I’m aware.”
As the old blacksmith looked into Jin Mu-Won’s resolute eyes, his determination wavered. He sighed, saying, “…I don’t get it. I don’t understand how a man with such clear eyes as yours can forge a cursed sword. It defies common sense.”
“The source of the curse is probably not me, but the material this sword is made from.”
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“Hmm? Tell me more.”
Jin Mu-Won told the old blacksmith about the origin of the black rock that Snow Flower was made from. When he finished his tale, the old blacksmith covertly took his foot of the trap trigger on the floor.
“In other words, the source of the curse is the despair and hatred of the tribe that was massacred?”
“That’s what I think.”
“Hoo…” The old blacksmith sighed. He now understood that Jin Mu-Won hadn’t created Snow Flower on purpose, but even so, that didn’t change the fact that it was a cursed sword.
First, he decided to introduce himself, saying, “My name is Tang Seo-Wol. Do you now understand why I got so jittery when I saw a cursed weapon?”
“It’s because you’re a member of the Tang Clan.”
“I’m merely a branch family member, but since I just used the last name of Tang, that means that I’m currently acting as a member of the Tang Clan.”
“Doesn’t the Tang Clan live in the Tang Hill Village?”
“How big do you think that village is? And how many members do you think there are in the whole Tang Clan? Most branch family members like me live outside the village.”
Although the Tang Clan specialized in poisons and hidden weapons, the motto of the clan was “justice and chivalry”. Thus, many of the Tang Clan members referred to themselves as the Chivalrous Tang Clan.
They were known to be violent, but that was because they were merciless when it came to bringing down the hammer on justice on those they considered villains.
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“I heard that all blacksmiths of the Tang Clan lived in the Tang Hill Village, but I guess the truth is not like that.”
“From a certain point of view, what you’re saying is correct. In order to prevent classified information from leaking out, all artisans who have learned the secret crafting techniques of the clan must live in the Village. However, I did not learn my blacksmithing techniques from the Tang Clan, instead, I learned it in the smithies of the city.”
When Tang Seo-Wol reached a certain level as a craftsman, the Tang Clan had indeed urged him to move into the Tang Hill Village and inherit the clan’s secret techniques. However, he rejected their offer in favor of his freedom. He felt that being able to create things as he wished was more effective in increasing his skill than learning from the clan. As it turned out, he was right.
Still, the blood of the Tang Clan flowed through his veins. His pride drove him to uphold the beliefs of his clan, and made him extremely sensitive to people and things that could possibly be evil.
“Please use that sword with caution. If you get distracted during battle, it will affect your mental state.”
“Thank you. I will be careful.”
“So, what brought a master craftsman like you to this place? I don’t think you need another sword.”
“I wanted to buy a nice sword for this boy,” Jin Mu-Won replied, pointing at Kwak Moon-Jung.
“What kind of sword are you looking for?”
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“A greatsword that is about three feet long and weighs at least ten pounds.”
“Isn’t a greatsword too heavy for a kid?”
“He is currently learning the Dominating Sword Technique (覇劍術), which specializes in greatswords. I’m only getting him a ten pound sword since he’s a kid and a beginner, but when he gets used to this blade, he will eventually need one that weights twenty pounds.”
Tang Seo-Wol got up from his seat and walked toward a wooden box leaning against the wall. He opened the box filled with weapons of all kinds and took out a greatsword. He then handed the sword to Jin Mu-Won and said, “This is the sword that best matches your description. I made it on a whim five years ago, but no one wanted it because it was too heavy. I stored it here thinking that it would never get sold, but…to think that I’d end up bringing it out today.”
“This is a good sword. The balance and weight are excellent, and from the subtle red glow, it seems that it was forged from hematite ore?”
“As expected, you recognized the material right away. Hematite is harder and heavier than regular iron ore, so it’s perfect for making heavy swords.”
Jin Mu-Won flicked his finger against the blade.
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The sword’s cry was pure and clear. Jin Mu-Won smiled and praised Tang Seo-Wol, saying, “Not bad.”
“It’s not good enough to be considered a masterpiece, but it’s definitely a sword that I’m satisfied with. Oi, kid, don’t just stand there staring! You’re the user, so your opinion is the most important one. Come over here and try holding the sword.”
“Huh? Oh, yes!” With trembling hands, Kwak Moon-Jung took the greatsword from Jin Mu-Won…and almost dropped it.
“You have to get used to the weight. From now on, carry it with you wherever you go.”
“Okay! I will treat it as if it’s a part of my body.” Kwak Moon-Jung hugged the sword tightly, grinning from ear to ear.
“Boy, I put my heart and soul into forging this blade. Don’t do anything that would disgrace it and me.”
Kwak Moon-Jung loudly declared, “Understood! I’ll do my best not to tarnish your reputation, old man!”
“Now that’s a good answer.”
Suddenly, Kwak Moon-Jung whispered, “By the way…how much does this sword cost?”
Tang Seo-Wol looked at him speechlessly and replied, “…Did you think a sword forged personally by me would be cheap? Even a few hundred silver taels would barely be enough to pay for that blade.”
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“A few hundred silver taels? I don’t have that much money…”
Right now, Kwak Moon-Jung only had three silver taels in his pocket. There was no way he could afford to buy Tang Seo-Wol’s sword.
“I won’t take your money.”
Tang Seo-Wol turned to face Jin Mu-Won and said, “Instead, I will give this sword to you as an apology for my rudeness earlier.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’ll pay for the sword.”
“Hmm, in that case, how about this? As payment for the sword, if the Tang Clan is ever in trouble, please help them on behalf of this old man who knows nothing but blacksmithing.”
“Me? Help the Tang Clan? The opposite is more likely, and I’m just one person…”
“Hmph! Are you trying to fool me because I’m old?”
Although Tang Seo-Wol knew nothing about martial arts, he was an expert when it came to weapons. His expertise told him that a man with the strength and willpower to wield a cursed blade like Snow Flower couldn’t possibly be weak.
Tang Seo-Wol then looked back at Kwak Moon-Jung and told the boy, “From today onward, this greatsword belongs to you. When it becomes too light for you and you need a heavier one, be sure to come visit my shop again. I’ll forge a custom blade just for you.”
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Shocked by the generous offer, Kwak Moon-Jung exclaimed, “Got it. Thank you so much!”
On the other hand, Jin Mu-Won smiled bitterly. Did I just mysteriously make a weird promise? As the saying goes: The older the ginger, the hotter the spice… 1
When Tang Seo-Wol saw Jin Mu-Won’s bitter expression, the crafty old man grinned with satisfaction.
The older the ginger, the hotter the spice: A Korean proverb (늙은 생강이 맵다더니) that says old people are more experienced, cunning, and wiser than young folks. It is derived from the Chinese proverb 姜还是老的辣. ↩
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