chapter 154: strength in numbers

The impromptu negotiations continued on for over an hour, the original goal of simple translation lost to the two of them. Seeing this, Uvona and I could only shake our heads and continue the work on our own. Although we were interested in what was being exchanged between the two of them, they had long since stopped reading the scrolls out loud.

After that hour of continued translation, the two of us were taking longer and longer to exchange quest scrolls. Not because we were getting tired, or distracted, or anything like that. It was just becoming harder to come up with new words that hadn’t been translated already. Eventually, the two of us began to simply go back over our notes, and attempted to hold a small conversation in each other’s language.

Naturally, this didn’t go all that well, and Unova accidentally insulted my mother, my sheep, and my hair on numerous occasions. However, considering that just twenty four hours ago, she couldn’t speak a single word of the beastkin language, it was a remarkable improvement.

As I was thinking that, I received another divine whisper. To my surprise, this one was from Bihena. Dale, you should be careful down there…

Uhm… okay? Why? The vague warning was far too vague, so I really didn’t know what to make of it.

The west is dispatching an army. Bihena began to explain. They’re using druids to launch a wide scale invasion and finally kick off their war. Right now, they are still gathering in secret, but word is already being spread through the Towers of Communication. Unfortunately, by the time the messages arrive, the invasion would have already begun.

What are the numbers coming to Cau Buhnga? And their overall strength? While I was having the conversation with Bihena, I stared down at the papers in front of me, as if I was trying to come up with another sentence for Uvona.

They are placing a great value on Cau Buhnga due to its historical significance. One thousand troops will be dispatched to the city, led by ten pinnacle soldiers. The only city receiving a bigger force is the capital itself.

I was briefly surprised when I heard her report, but soon it made sense. While a thousand soldiers might not seem like all that much to the other races, the elves had a far lower population. In fact, the entire city of Cau Buhnga likely held less than even half of that. However, only ten people at the level limit… That doesn’t really seem enough to threaten us, does it?

The entire beastkin group? No. But being a druid will make you a priority target. Your individual strength is low in this disguise, but your influence on the battlefield can’t be underestimated. Furthermore, you are the strongest druid in the city. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for all ten of the pinnacle soldiers to focus on you as soon as they discover your power.

I felt a chuckle rise from my throat at that, a small smile tugging at my lips. Well then, I guess we’d better put on a show for them? Thanks for the warning, Bihena. I’ll fight through this battle carefully, and then once it’s over I’ll let the host take care of the rest.

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I could almost feel the surprise from Bihena in her response a moment later. You’re planning to join the fight? Won’t it be strange if you unlock any more of your power now?

Maybe… But I might not need to do that. Saying that, I looked towards Uvona, and asked in the elven language. “Do you have any mines nearby?”

Uvona tilted her head at the question. Although I had still used a heavy beastkin accent, it was still easy to understand. That itself didn’t surprise her, as I had been ‘picking up’ the language rather quickly. What likely surprised her was the question itself.

When she answered, it was still in elven, but she spoke slow enough to make sure that I’d catch every word. “South. Hour’s walk. Why?”

An hour’s walk… that should be going by a normal person’s speed. So, roughly five kilometers. “Can I use it?”

Unova blinked curiously, before turning her head towards the city lord to relay the question. Since I had been speaking elven, he had heard what I wanted. “How much?”

I gave the question some thought, lowering my head before lifting up two fingers. “Two swords.” This was probably the first time that I was thankful for Terra forcing me to learn blacksmithing in my early days.

“We have it here. No need for mines.” The lord shook his head, looking to the guard behind him. “Lead Tebor to the city’s warehouse and let him have some of the copper.”

“Tebor, ye best be tellin’ me what’s goin’ on! I can’t understand a word yer sayin’!” Emona turned to look at me, seeing that everyone else had suddenly started talking in elven.

I switched back to the beastkin language and smiled at her. “I’m going to be making myself a new set of weapons. Word around town is that a fight’s coming.”

What about me!? Leowynn huffed from within my spiritual realm.

Don’t worry, you’ll be helping me out in this fight. But our normal tactics won’t work, since my Spirit Hunter level is just too low for this. I can honestly say that I won’t be able to do this without you, though.

She seemed satisfied by that answer for now, smiling to herself and going quiet. Emona on the other hand, had her eyes open wide. “A fight? D’ya mean to say that a war’s brewin’ in this land?”

I nodded my head to that, standing up to follow the guard. “I’ll be back by tonight. Please make sure that everyone is ready.” Emona froze up at the confirmation, but her face turned deadly serious a moment later, and she nodded her head.

I had heard rumors from the Tower of Communication even as I walked to the docks to meet them earlier, so if anyone asked I could say that I recalled the words as I was translating. I followed the elf guiding me until we came across a small building. Inside, I found that there was simply a staircase leading downwards, which further opened into a vast storage area.

However… this room which should have been lined with aisles of shelves, full of different materials and trade goods, seemed almost empty. It was undergoing a renovation, the shelves being dismantled and moved away, instead a few crates lined against a nearby wall. It seemed that they had learned from how we stored everything in quest scrolls, and were doing the same thing with their warehouse.

Honestly, such a measure would be obvious, but only if you were worried about space. If, like was likely the case here, they simply never needed to worry about that, then the thought wouldn’t cross their minds. However, now that they have seen how much more efficient it is, they are quickly moving to copy it.

The elven guard led me towards one of the crates, which had the elven word for copper written on it. Without saying anything, he lifted the lid of the crate and pulled out two scrolls. He had seen that I was still ‘learning’ the elven language, so talking at this point wouldn’t help either of us. Instead, he passed the scrolls to me with a silent nod, and escorted me out of the warehouse.

Terra. I quickly sent a message to the most knowledgeable goddess in all the lands.

Stop trying to flatter me. What’s up? Bihena said you were being reckless.

I chuckled slightly at that, moving towards the beach. Of course, this time I was going to be far enough away that I wouldn’t be seen by Emona and the city lord. What’s the minimum distance I’d need to be to release my full power without being noticed?

The question seemed to surprise her, and she fell silent for a long moment. The nearest island you have a portal set up would almost be far enough… To play it safe, I’d go further, though.

I could feel a sigh escape my lips when I heard her answer, happy that it would only take a couple of islands. If I wasn’t able to fully escape detection even going all the way to where we discovered the reset fruit, then I’d really be in trouble. Thanks. Also, for the record, not being reckless. I’m just going against all levels of common sense.

There was a laugh that echoed into my mind at that, but Terra offered no further answer. Once I got to the beach, I checked to make sure that nobody was nearby and opened a portal. Then, when I was through that portal, I opened another one… each one carrying me to a further island. Once I got to the fifth island, I had decided that I went far enough.

Since I had my privacy now, Leowynn appeared in front of me, forming a transparent body from her spiritual energy. “What’re we doing here, father?” She asked as she looked around. This particular island didn’t have any forests on it, and served as nothing but a relay point for our portals during the trip. It was just a wide valley rise above the ocean. At most, I’d say it was six kilometers across, and shaped like a crescent moon.

“I’m going to make myself a couple swords. Wanna watch?” When I asked that, Leowynn simply shrugged her shoulders, returning to my body to rest.

Chuckling slightly to myself, I shook my head and took a deep breath. Immediately, a feeling of power exploded from my body, causing the ground to tremble around me when I unsealed all of my Keeper levels. When I opened the scrolls that I had been given, I said the command word to trigger the quest. “Retrieve.”

Immediately, several lumps of copper ore appeared in the air while the scrolls disintegrated into white light, and fell to the ground. However, just after they hit the grass, they began to lift up, hovering in the air under my control.

I gathered my ki into my lycan nails, and pierced the palm of my left hand, drawing out ten drops of essence blood which fell to the ground as well. This time, I had to reach down and collect each drop as they solidified into tiny pellets. Finally… as the last step for my preparations, I had to make a forge.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a problem at the moment, and I could easily make a large stone furnace by reshaping the ground in front of me. Once the furnace was made, I began the process of melting down the lumps of copper ore and removing the impurities.

I knew I had no right to claim to be the best blacksmith in the world, or anywhere close. However, I knew tricks most people wouldn’t be able to pull off so easily. Since each drop of essence blood required a thousand ki, it was still usable for some stronger monks, as long as they knew the trick. Especially since you didn’t have to use the blood right away.

However, there was a special trick to forging with essence blood, which I assumed only the dwarves had likely figured out by this point. I myself only knew of it because I had gone through the first tier of ki usage information offered by the market. It was that information that made me confident about the battle coming up.

Essence blood could be used during the forging process to create special items, much like the bow we had discovered which could fire off ki arrows. It was possible to create such things without the essence blood, but doing so would exponentially raise the difficulty. And I wasn’t that confident in my forging abilities.

I had considered using essence orbs instead, as they had a much greater effect, and could bring a qualitative change to any material that they were used on. However, that option was quickly eliminated due to my low strength. Any item forged with an essence orb would receive a drastic increase in weight, so I wouldn’t even be able to lift one sword with the six strength I normally had.

Once the copper had been properly melted, and the impurities removed, I dropped the ten essence bloods into the stone pot containing the liquid copper. The metal briefly glowed, and I used my druid abilities to stir the pot, mixing the blood with the copper. Then, I made a wide table of stone with two molds to pour the copper into.

Only allowed on

If I wanted to take the time, I could likely hammer the copper into shape with nothing but my fists, but I had neither the time nor patience to deal with that right now. So instead, I used the molds to quickly create the shape of two swords, making sure not to let either one cool enough to harden.

When I was ready, I first moved to one of the molds and put my hand over it, closing my eyes. As the copper began to solidify, I had to guide the ki inside of it along a determined path. Following the information I learned from the system, I created this blade with a single special ability. The more ki was pushed into it, the sharper its blade became.

With that taken care of, I allowed it to cool off a little more, and then began the process of shaping it into a proper blade… by punching it repeatedly. Every time I struck the red-hot sword, I receive a damage of over a hundred points. But each time, I was able to use the strength of my flesh as a blacksmith’s hammer.

By the end, my fist was red and burnt, so I used the Cleric class to call down divine energy and heal it. While I hadn’t particularly trained in this class, it was one of the easiest to get used to, and my hand healed fairly fast… which meant it was time to work on the next one.

For the second sword, I gave it a different ability. When ki was applied to it, the sword would become longer or shorter. Both had the same shape as a basic copper short sword, but their enhanced abilities would make them perfectly suited for fighting as a monk.

So, we’ll be using the patient monk, then? Leowynn asked, seeming to catch on to what I had intended with these two swords. The Patient Monk was another constellation in the Sky of the Mortal Palace.

“That’s right. Now… let’s get back and get ready to fight.” I said with a soft laugh, returning the stone furnace and tables that I had set up to the ground.

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