Chapter 51 – Mining (last part)
Returning back from Siena to the mining place, the sky continued to cover in dusk.
Under the sky dyed in bright red, there was a pitch black forest stretching, and in front of it, an ocher colored ground solely exposed by the mining place.
Pietro and the rest were probably doing their best.
A single place there that was designated for storing was piled up with quite an amount of iron ore smeared with the soil.
Pietro, together with everyone else, was sitting in a circle while having completely exhausted faces.
It looked like they were taking a rest.
Once they noticed Eiji’s return, Pietro was the first to stand up.
Putting a carefree smiling face, he welcomed Eiji back. The rest of the pupils too, stood up at once.
Ah, indeed, I received a lot of pupils.
Finally, Eiji could feel what it means to carry people under his arms.
As soon he stood in front of them, Eiji put down the luggage he was carrying.
What he brought were pickaxes different from the one Pietro was using a while ago.
– Welcome back, Master.
– I’m back. Seems like you were giving your best there, weren’t you?
– Everyone was working their hardest during their first day. It’s just that Dante became worn out half-way.
– You idio–! Didn’t you watch me working? I probably dug the most out of all of you.
Being pointed out, Dante retorted firmly; however, his expression didn’t seem to display the same cheekiness as usual.
Indeed it seemed like he was working until he became worn-out.
His arms that had the same size of a woman’s waist were probably digging out the whole time.
And saying that he dug the most wouldn’t be far from truth, or so Eiji thought.
Katharina looked similarly exhausted as well.
Her usually energetic face has now lost its liveliness due to the exhaustion.
Despite Eiji roaming about, his body didn’t conduct much of physical labor.
In comparison with them, he was still considerably fit. Nevertheless, having the rest work in his stead made him feel a little bad.
– Well then, looks like everyone was doing their best. Still, I’m going to ask you: are your bodies tired?
– I’m already worn-out. It feels like I’m going to get muscle pain tomorrow.
– I guess you could say I’m fine, but tomorrow, I’ll surely be able to work more than today.
– For me it’s the usual thing. I feel tired, but I still have some spare energy remaining-su.
– I see. Good to hear that. Then, let’s resume the work once more.
At Eiji’s words everyone, including Pietro, became surprised.
Their shocked faces froze as though time has stopped.
And then, Katharina showed a bit of a displeased face.
On the other hand, Dante was probably really hoping for a rest. His face was exposed with anger, and his shoulders were perked up.
The fact that his emotions didn’t explode was proof the he matured within this single day.
In order to clear the misunderstanding which had probably occurred, Eiji lifted up both of his hands while trying to hold back the inquiring voices that were about to happen.
– Despite saying so, I don’t plan to have you work for a long time. As a reward for all your effort, I’m going to tell the most important thing which I mentioned this morning.
Eiji held the pickaxe in his hands.
The pickaxe that was radiating with black was the one made from iron instead of bronze.
Eiji borrowed them from the farmers doing their work, back when he returned to the village.
They possessed size, shape, and various attributes.
Everyone, apart from Pietro, took the pickaxe shown by Eiji to their hands while being immensely curious about them.
Hitting lightly, scrutinizing, they checked the pickaxe from various aspects.
At first, they would check in turn the pickaxe between them, but after a while, each of them chose their own pickaxe that naturally matched their physique.
Once Katharina picked the L-shaped one, she asked Eiji.
– Is this….?
– Can you understand, Katharina-san?
– Perhaps so, but is this the iron that you mentioned?
– That’s true. Throughout this day, everyone has pretty much accustomed themselves to the pickaxe, right? However, we are talking about the bronze-made one. While being dead tired and unable to raise your hands, try to swing using the steel-made one. And then, tell me what differs.
– …..Hmph, you could say so from the beginning. So confusing.
Despite Dante speaking bitterly, his expression was that of a child that was given a new toy.
Smiling with a grin, Dante turned his shoulder and went back to the mining point ahead of everyone else.
His manner of walking looked as if his feet were dancing buoyantly.
Katharina and the three other guys followed him as though they were unable to bear the fact of being left behind.
Pietro, who had already witnessed the properties of the iron pickaxe, drew closer to Eiji’s side.
– Master too, is mean, Aren’t you?
– Why is that?
– Because if everyone was to get this motivated you could have lent us these pickaxes from the beginning? Were you to do so, wouldn’t we have been able to work more efficiently-su?
– That would probably be so, but, if I did that way, the feeling of how it should be used probably wouldn’t be passed to you.
– Is that so? I’m happy to be the who was allowed to touch a fine tool from the beginning, but-su….
– Even if you get your hands on a fine tool from the beginning, as long you can’t notice its true value, you won’t be able to acquire a good command of it. This also applies to you, Pietro.
– Uff, that was an unnecessary trouble I brought upon myself.
– What do you mean by unnecessary trouble? After this, there’s still some remaining.
– Please give me a break.
I’m beat – Such words were seen on Pietro’s face. Seeing that, Eiji thought that, indeed, he’s still a child.
Nevertheless, it looked like he had done a good job as the senior apprentice by consolidating everyone.
Even the fact that he shouldn’t underestimate Pietro was enough to make Eiji feel admiration for his considerable work.
– Well then, should we go and check their reaction?
– That’s right. I wonder if they are overcome with amazement.
– I guess so.
A scene that Eiji predicted unfolded before his eyes.
It seems that whenever a person enjoys something, they will temporary forget about any exhaustion.
Both Dante and Katharina swung strongly and quickly with their pickaxes while being energetic.
More than a surprise, a smile appeared on their faces.
– Hey hey, even though it felt hard before, isn’t the job progressing smoothly? Just what’s this?!
– The one I’m using here is light. It feels like I can dig up endlessly with this even if I’m tired.
– Ah, incredible. So this is the iron….
– I’m glad that I came here without opposing Franko. So this was made by the person that’s our Master? I’m happy to have met the right person.
Each person’s impression was different, still, their amazement by the pickaxe’s flexibility was all the same.
That was probably bound to happen.
Unlike casting, an iron that is the object of forging can change its hardness depending on its position.
For that reason, the tip of the pickaxe was strengthened so as to allow a more powerful excavation. The core part was made considerably soft, and small adjustments were added in order to lower the impact.
Because Dante looked overenthusiastic about digging, Eiji decided to ask Katharina more about her impression.
– How is it?
– This is, before it was hard, wasn’t it?
– That’s right.
– But this pickaxe is incredibly powerful and can penetrate inside rapidly, it’s splendid.
– Is there anything else you noticed?
– Erm, it seems that my original stance a while ago had some flaws, why is that?
– That’s because we were able to replace the tip which allows you to perform round movements. I folded the the steel around it like putting a skin on it. In my hometown there were few people who could do that, but well…
In Japan nowadays, all the pickaxes are made solely from steel.
Using steel alone made it possible to forge a pickaxe with a low price, however, they still cause a considerable burden to the user.
Since the amount of time that is required to cover the steel with ferrite doesn’t pay off, as long there are no hackneyed blacksmiths, no one will probably bother to do that.
– What’s more, isn’t my pickaxe alone different in shape from the rest?
– The other ones are T-shaped, whereas this one is L-shaped. The L-shaped pickaxe prioritizes your balance; therefore, you’re able to do the job using light power.
– How did you know that?
– For a woman, it’s easier to operate thanks to the pickaxe being light and relatively powerful. On the other hand, since you can’t use both sides of your pickaxe, it will wear off faster? You could say it has both merits and demerits.
– Ha– seems like there are lots of things I don’t know yet.
– Changing the shape of a tool in order to match it to the user, that’s important as well.
– It will become good knowledge for me.
– Yes. It should be fine if you try the other pickaxes without continuing to work.
Katharina exchanged her pickaxe with the T-shaped one and swung again.
The fact that she was able to ask many things was proof of her superior eye for observation, which resulted in holding doubts.
This girl will probably become a fine blacksmith if she continues like this.
– Dante, how was it?
– Uhaha, with this I can easily continue for many more hours.
– Is that so? Well then, can I have you continue til tomorrow morning?
– Don’t fool with me! Just how long do you intend on using me?!
– Calm down, I was joking. Then, what’s your impression?
– Ah, certainly this guy is fantastic. With this, we can probably make weapons and do lots of amazing things.
The fact this topic turned up first in his opinion was honestly painful.
The very reason why Eiji let them use a pickaxe was because he wanted them to hold an affection toward using the tools as a mean to improve one’s life instead of just tempering their body that is needed for forging.
To think that a weapon could extend beyond its own use.
However, there was nothing wrong with having such way of thinking.
There’s no doubt that the development of smithing skills was closely related to weapons.
If one checks the history of Japan, one could say without hesitation that a blacksmith, who was considered one of the most prominent of people, was at the same time a swordsmith.
Similarly, Eiji’s ancestors were also swordsmiths.
Still, Eiji didn’t want to casually make weapons that can take away one’s life. Therefore, he didn’t want his disciples to follow that route as well.
It would be nice if Dante too, could think that way someday. – Is what Eiji had in his mind.
Dante seemed to be pondering about something as well, as he didn’t utter anything.
Once Eiji turned silent, Dante resumed his work again with lively movements.
After each of them had frequently exchanged pickaxes and their impressions, the work was concluded.
So as not let them become rusty, they cleaned the pickaxes from mud and leaned them against the wall.
Seeing his disciples that finished tidying up, Eiji spoke to them in a serious manner so as to convey his thoughts, even if it was just a little.
– Thank you for your hard work today, everyone. I can imagine that it must have been difficult for you since it’s not the kind of job you’re used to, and you probably had gone through many inconveniences. In the end, making tools is divided further into two categories. The first one is when you want to create a new item using something that is already efficient. It’s called ‘originality’. The second one is about wanting to add improvements, and is called ‘figuring out’. We don’t know what kind of a blacksmith you’ll become in the future, but you mustn’t forget about today’s inconvenience, which is what everyone usually goes through. I want you to remember and treasure this experience from now on.
Hearing Eiji’s words that were brought to a finish, Pietro and Katharina seemed to be greatly impressed.
Katharina’s eyes became blurred as if being deeply moved.
Dante probably thought about something.
Holding the pickaxe silently, He stared at its tip.
Making tools is about bringing more convenience to certain people and making them happy.
In order to understand that, they had to experience the hardships by themselves first.
The reason why Eiji deliberately made them use the bronze-made tools and feel the severity of physical labor was because he wanted them to learn about those hardships.
Someday in the future, when they become strong enough to stand on their own, these disciples will probably grow to understand the meaning behind Eiji’s words.
At least, there was no doubt that they understood the convenience coming from iron.
That alone as well, was a great success for this time’s event, or so Eiji thought.
Translator and reference notes:
: not 100% sure about this part.