Early in the morning, at the crack of dawn, a young man was hammering an anvil with all his might. Over and over again. As he lifted the hammer, strong winds would blow, circling around him and displacing the leaves nearby, as if to celebrate the incredible feat the young man was performing.
From his initial movements to the grip on the hammer and even to the swing, everything looked perfect. So perfect, in fact, that each swing was exactly the same as the previous ones. Even the sound made by the hammer hitting the anvil was exactly the same each time.
The boy kept hitting the hammer continuously until a loud voice entered his ears.
“Darius! Enough! The matron has called us for lunch!”
“Hhmm… lunch?” As soon as Darius heard the word lunch, he stopped his rhythmic swinging and tossed the hammer aside as if it was weightless. Yet, the moment the hammer landed on the ground, vibrations spread from the impact point.
Darius was an average-looking young man. Short, black hair, black eyes and brown skin that made it difficult to tell what race he was.
Darius completely ignored the visage of the boy who had called out to him and walked straight back home. The other boy stood there befuddled and snorted in disdain.
“Hmph, this is why you have no friends you freak!” Thought the boy as he looked at Darius’s shrinking back. The boy looked around and looked at the hammer and anvil. After a moment of hesitation, he strolled towards the object and decided to see if he could give it a go.
Darius hummed, thinking of the matron’s words long ago after he had been beaten up by a few village kids.
“There are some places, people, things that you’ll really dislike along your way. One of the points of life is to ignore them, beat them, and then ignore them. Darius, you’ve got to learn to overcome to succeed.”
The hammer itself had a few unusual characteristics. It had a long handle, about one meter long. Its head was also not too common, as either side of the head had a blunt surface one could use to strike with, meaning it was a double-sided hammer. Besides the unusual handle and the head, nothing else was strange about the hammer. It looked old and was rusted in some areas, so it didn’t look too special.
The boy had heard rumors from the other children at the orphanage claiming that no one except Darius could lift this hammer. The boy found this hard to believe and bent over; he steadily gripped the handle and pulled with all his might!!!
And yet, this hammer, just like Darius himself, would not allow itself to be moved by anyone…
As Darius walked down the mountain toward the village, thoughts filled his mind, making him completely ignore his surroundings
“The sound is coming closer and closer to what that expert said was the requirement. Very soon I will be able to get rid of this curse and live my life like a normal person!”
Yoko Village was a small village, with the population not passing five thousand. For a village of this size, however, it was nicely developed. Of course, it was mainly due to the fact that it was close to a major city.
Darius walked past a few houses and headed straight for the orphanage. As usual, his hands felt like they weighed a ton, his body felt hot all over, and his mind was dizzy. However, Darius had long gotten used to these sensations. As far as he was concerned, nothing was more important than his life, so some pain was nothing.
The orphanage was a three-story building. In fact, it was one of the larger buildings within the village and had quite a bit of financial support, thus it was able to support a hundred orphans with ease.
As Darius walked in through the front entrance, a myriad of gazes washed by him as many children and workers at the orphanage began to gossip about him. Darius ignored the attention and did what he always did every day: he walked straight to the cafeteria, took some food and sat at a table that was as far away from the crowds as possible.
One of the new cooks at the cafeteria looked at Darius and noted his strange behavior. A cook beside him saw him. “You must be a newbie right?”
The cook who had been staring at Darius was surprised and shyly scratched his head. “Is it that obvious? I thought I was doing quite well to avoid being noticed as one.”
“Well, you were, until you stared at Darius like that. Anyone who finds his behavior strange is definitely a newbie,” said the more experienced cook.
“Darius? Is he the legendary Darius? ‘Ten Thousand Strikes’ Darius Omen? That’s him?”
“Yup. That’s him.”
“I’m surprised. The rumors made him sound more…”
The experienced cook chuckled: “Tell me… what exactly did you hear about Darius?”
With a gulp, the new cook responded, “I heard that every morning he would climb up one of the mountains behind the village. Then, he would lift up a hammer and strike an anvil. He reportedly does this at least ten thousand times a day. I also heard that this hammer weighs more than the average mallet, yet Darius is able to lift it with ease. I also hear that many fear him because of his monstrous strength and that he has a short temper…”
“Haha, the rumors get more and more extreme with each day that passed!” Laughed the experienced cook.
“You mean… they are not true?”
“Well… you could say that half of it is true.” As the experienced cook dished food for the other orphans he continued: “He does climb the mountain and hit the anvil ten thousand times a day; however, the hammer part is false.”
“Really? Senior, can you explain more?”
“It is true that the hammer is ridiculously heavy, but the moment Darius touches it, it becomes extremely light,” said the experienced cook in a cool manner.
“You mean… it’s enchanted?”
“Yup. Darius was the son of a village chief within another village. Him having an enchanted hammer isn’t a surprise. Because it is enchanted to only work in his hands, that hammer is useless to everyone else. As for his temper, you couldn’t be any farther from the truth! Darius is a coward before anything else. He couldn’t fight to save his life! Look.” The experienced cook pointed in Darius’s direction with his chin.
The young cook looked to Darius’s table to see what his companion meant, only to be surprised: Darius was being bullied by the other children! They were throwing food at him, and he was not retaliating at all. Darius meekly covered his head with his hands and waited for it to stop.
The other children laughed at him, and once they felt that they had had enough fun they walked away. Darius looked up and, noticing that the bullies were gone, resumed his meal as if nothing had happened.
“My word! I… I had no idea” said the new cook with a helpless expression.
“Well, if you feel sorry for him I have one piece of advice for you. Don’t waste your time. Today will be his last day here anyway,” said the experienced cook as he took out his old pipe to smoke.
“Senior, why is today his last day?” said the young cook with a curious look in his eyes.
The older cook took a puff of smoke: “Today, he is coming of age.”