Chapter 7 – The Ring
Once Eiji managed to get an iron hammer in his possession, production began to progress.
No matter what anyone may say, it’s a tool which every blacksmith is obliged to have.
The next tools that are essential for the forging process are as follow: an anvil, fire tongs, graver, file, and shears.
All of them are relatively small tools; therefore it takes less time to forge them. However, in order to make them perfect tools which can give a full satisfaction, another 2 weeks were needed. There were still two weeks left until the promised three months deadlines.
The time spent wasn’t short; nevertheless, he managed to get his hands on what he wanted. The most important of them being the tools he will be using. No matter how skillful a blacksmith is, as long as a tool of production doesn’t fulfill the right criteria, they won’t be able to make anything that would be satisfying. Just like a sportsman’s relation to his gear. A good workman doesn’t blame his tool, is what one says, but for the sake of producing the best effect, one had to choose the right brush.
In addition to the hammer, there is a metal sheet made of iron which is used to deoxidize iron oxide. There are more than a hundred something different sizes, some weighing even a few hundred kilos.
In this period, in order to make a standard furnace, a far greater amount of time is required. They key factors to shorten that time are preliminary arrangements and being particular about the structure of a furnace. Because of that, one does not have to destroy an old furnace, nor even spend time on repairing.
And the fact that you can make metal sheets, one after another, without having to turn off the fire, is a great advantage. So as for a furnace to melt the iron, lots of time is necessary to heat up the furnace to the right temperature.
This is the story of making a furnace. Eiji was standing inside the workshop.
The state in which a furnace is burning hotly with a fire is also called hodo.
Inside Eiji’s head, lots of tools that have to be made popped up. There was Felippe, the lumberjack, to whom he entrusted the job of supplying firewood. Making a hatchet and a saw for someone of so few words, like Philip, surely would make him happy.
Then there was Fernando, to whom Eiji promised to make carpenter tools such as a saw and a plane.
Even more reason to keep the promise with Fernando, who used all his effort to build this workshop, was because he’s making a hand cart to transport the mineral ores.
Besides, there were many other farming tools to be made, such as a spade, hoe, scythe, and plow.
Still…leaving all that aside, there was still one more thing that Eiji wanted to make first.
Something which he wanted to give and someone whom he wanted to receive it.
Inside his heart, a silhouette of a girl surfaced. Tanya.
The widow that lived in Siena village. Despite being a beautiful and young person, one could see hardships hidden inside her shadow.
Her daily work supposedly became harder since she started to live together with Eiji. No matter how well Tanya’s job progress thanks to the senbago, in the end, it doesn’t contribute to wheat production. Eiji could imagine Tanya bowing down to other villagers, so as to receive some food supply. But there was no doubt; this could be at best the minimum.
Despite that fact, Tanya had no complaint toward Eiji. She probably wants to eat more, and dress up more. A girl’s heart is after all, hard to understand.
But, Eiji couldn’t keep depending on her grace. Therefore, he wanted to return the favor with all what he had, and see Tanya’s smiling face more than anything.
Eiji couldn’t imagine how happy he would be to see the girl who lived under the same roof smiling at him.
– OK! Let’s do it!
Eiji, who was full of spirit, took a small piece of metal sheet and put it in the furnace. Then he started to use a pair of bellows.
The pair of bellow was constructed so that it could blow wind by either pushing or pulling.
Because of that, each time he pushed it, he was able to deliver the wind, and there was no problem of the wind stopping once it returned to its normal state.
It was highly convenient thing, as it could help in maintaining the right temperature, while regularly sending the wind.
It was a small metal sheet, so the iron quickly became dyed red.
“Make hay while the sun shines.”
A phrase that every blacksmith should know.
As he cuts out the metal sheet using a pair of shears, he puts it on the anvil, and using a graver cuts out a hole in the sheet. Then while inserting the graver, he begins to form the metal sheet into a shape which he will strike.
kin,kin,kin – the rhythmical and repetitive sound of striking the iron could be heard. It felt as though somebody threw a bucket of water on him, as he was constantly sweating, but despite that, he wouldn’t stop concentrating on his work. In order to create a well-made product, you have to put your heart into it. In this case, even the slightest movement of fingertips was a matter of life and death.
Once the temperature falls down, it takes time to form the shape.
Heating, and then striking the iron while it’s crimson red. This is a repetitive, but common procedure in forging. There’s no easy way.
After that, he begins to form a shaft from the flat metal sheet. A small, narrow, and thin shaft. That was a ring. Originally, Eiji planned to add a pearl, however, because he has yet to make a pedestal, he couldn’t.
He heats the ring in the oil, making it turn dark black. Then once he’s done with tempering, he cools it off. Finally, he could hold the end-product in his hand. Even in this village, ornaments are luxury goods which can be afforded only by people with status.
Making it using silver or gold would be a nice idea- is what Eiji thought. However, now that he has become a blacksmith, that’s not something Eiji has to worry about.
What Eiji wanted the most was to give Tanya this iron ring.
Once it became evening, Eiji returned.
He wanted to pass this ring as a token of appreciation for what Tanya had done for him. Nevertheless, this fact alone made him embarrassed.
It would be best to casually meet Tanya, and choose the right moment, but for some reason he couldn’t compose himself.
While staring at Tanya, who was standing in front of the stove cooking, Eiji fiddled with the ring inside his pocket.
– What’s the matter?
– No, nothing in particular.
– Is that so? But you seem unusually nervous.
– I-is that so? I think this might be because of hunger.
– Oh my. Today we’re having fish for dinner, so please look forward to it.
Fish was something that could be eaten only once per week, since there’s a limited number of them in the river. In this village it’s considered normal to exchange them in turns.
After the plates were placed, one could see a black pan, fried river fish seasoned with herbs, and salted soup made using vegetables grown in autumn. Because fine charcoal was used for the cooking (white charcoal is used for forging purposes), there was no problem in maintaining the heat.
As Eiji began to eat, the refreshing aroma coming from the herbs and the fluffy texture of the fish started to spread in his mouth every time he took a bite of the hot fish.
– I’m so glad you like it.
The black pan was toasted using fire, and its’ surface was crispy, just like a rusk. Inside, it had a soft texture. Taking a good bite, Eiji could feel the taste of the barley on his tongue.
As he kept eating the fish, pan, and vegetable soup, his stomach became gradually content. The gentle warmness started to wrap him up.
While brushing his stomach as if to say it’s delicious, you could see a smile appearing on Tanya’s face.
– Thank you for the meal. It was the best.
– I’m humbled.
Tanya, who started eating later, also finished her dish. It was the best moment Eiji had, to convey his feelings. As she was trying to tidy up plates, Eiji stood in front of her.
– I’ve got something I want to tell you.
– Let’s hear it.
While Tanya sat on the chair, Eiji could feel a tension rising from within himself, but no matter what he was going to say, he had to face her.
Yeah, it’s ok…- thought Eiji.
Inside, Eiji knew that Tanya could understand him, even if it was a slight change. On top of that, she became his relative and was willing to face him. There was no reason for Eiji to feel insecure in telling his true feelings to her.
– Yesterday, I managed to finish forging the tools.
– So your preparations are complete, huh?
– Tomorrow will be the deadline of the promise, and I’ll start making results.
– Is there any problem?
– Perhaps, I’ll yield results beyond their expectation. This, I think, will cause big changes to this village, and as well for my status.
– Will…this lead to a good direction?
– I have no idea.
After hearing Eiji’s opinion, Tanya’s face became gloomy.
One could imagine lots of possible changes, including the bad ones.
– Certainly, I’ll become busier from now on,and perhaps there will be lots of hurdles. I have neither any relatives, nor siblings. On top of that I’ve got no memories of myself.
– But I’m here for you?
– Is it okay for me to believe those words of yours?
Their eyes met. Both of them were serious. There were neither ulterior motives nor lies.
Eiji realized that their feelings were nothing but genuine. He put his right hand into his pocket in search of the ring, and once he found it, he held Tanya’s hand. Her hand was white and gorgeous, her fingers were long, and her body was slim.
– What are you..?
-Tanya-san. When you strike the iron, it becomes more resistant. I want to express and make sure of my love to you. Let both of us make a passionate love, just like the iron burning crimson red.
Eiji slowly inserts the ring onto her ring finger. He could feel his heart exploding at any moment, his ears pulsating due to the flow of blood, and his face burning.
Eiji didn’t expect to be dumped. Perhaps one could say he was rather self-conceited; however, Eiji felt that living under the roof for more than two months next to Tanya was something natural.
The origin of the ring dates back to times of magic and sorcery. The ring finger is said to be the closest to one’s heart. Therefore it’s considered as the symbol which rules a woman’s heart.
Without any resistance, the ring was inserted.
-Eiji-san… I think the ring is a little big.
-Ahaha, sorry for that.
– But I’m glad. I will treasure it.
Tanya turned around her palm, as to check the ring.
From her eyes tears began to flow. Eiji hugged her gently.
Once their sight met, their lips overlapped.
– I will love you, no matter what happens, and even If I remember who I am.
– Me too, no matter what may happen nor who you are, I’ll love you.
That day, for the first time both of them slept in the same bed.
The next day, when Tanya went to fetch some water and ask for some firewood, her ring could be noticed by others. The rumor spread in the blink of an eye through the village. Other women felt jealous, but at the same time blessed her for being able to find a husband.
Translator and reference notes:
: lit. Fire earth
: Sorry, I mistook once again. The name of village is Siena, not Shion (must have mistaken the katakana XD)
: or: Strike while the iron’s hot.