Fate Forger

edited August 2017 in Original Stories
Hi Guys. After the recent addition of the original stories on the WW site, i started reading one of the novels and the more i read the more i thought even i could do better than that (no comment on the author or the novel). Siding that notion with the fact that i've been searching and never finding a novel that has blacksmithing as a MAIN focus ( or at least equally main focus as cultivation) i decided to give it a shot. This is a working title.

Synopsis:  A boy is drawn in a world of cultivation. A boy is shown the power of creation. Forging the most powerful weapons, giving them the breath of life. A hammer heavier than a mountain, a spear faster than lightning, a scythe bigger than the crescent moon. (no swords, swords will receive hate in this novel)

Please if you have feedback, i am open to any criticism. Also, the chapters haven't been edited yet.

Chapter 1


“Bang, Bang, Bang”, the sound of a clashing metal was heard as a boy was pounding a heavy hammer against a fiery red piece of metal, shaping it slowly into a simple farming tool. The boy was around 9 years old, normal build for his age and a brown hair with a little spot of grey patch of hair to the left side.
The boys gaze was fixed on the piece of metal but was almost blank, seemingly something else was on his mind. With another swing of the hammer he missed the target and the hammer slipped from his hand to land on the ground with a noisy bang. The boy didn’t bend to pick it up, just stood there idly. He was lost in thought.
“Today is the 1 year anniversary” he thought. He lifted his hand and slipped it through his grey patch hair.
  The boy was the son of a village blacksmith and grew up carefree, fed and clothed. His father made and repaired farming tools, since the villagers made their living by cultivating crops and those were the only tools they needed. When he was 5 he started watching his father work and was amazed by his fathers strength and accurate swings of the hammer. He liked the fussing noise the metal made when cooled and the interesting shapes of the instruments used in forging. When he was 6 his father started giving him little tasks so he could slowly learn and one day take up the work as the village blacksmith. When his father had free time he made some simple weapons and decorative elements. When he had made enough to fill a cart he would travel to a bazaar in a town a day travel time away to sell them. Last year the boy begged his father to take him to the town with him. The blacksmith just laughed, stroke his small head and agreed. The trip to the town was like an adventure to the little child and he asked questions about the bazaar the whole day. They got there, took a room in an inn and on the morning of the next day they set up a small stall where they put all of the stock for sale. The merchandise sold very fast and till 10 a clock in the morning they had just a few items left. The blacksmith told his son, they did quite well and shouldn’t linger any longer, so they packed up their baggage and got on their way back to the village. Since they started their journey late, they couldn’t get home before darkness came, so they set up a simple camp and lighted a fire to fend away wild beasts.
The boy woke up in the middle of that night because of a noise coming outside of his tent. He heard the noise of a metal clashing against one another. He slipped to the crack of the tent and took a look outside to see his father fighting alone against 3 black figures. The faces of the men were hidden behind hoods and they wore dark clothes. The only thing he could distinguish where the weapons they were holding – short swords that reflected the dying light of the campfire when they swung around. His father just pushed away one of the attackers, when another moved behind him and slashed him from behind leaving a bloody mark on his back.
“Son, run away from here right now.” The man yelled.
The boy didn’t move from his spot, obviously stricken with shock.
“Did you hear me, run in the direction of the village”
“What about you, dad?” the silly boy asked.
“I’ll hold them off until you get away then I’ll follow you” the man lied, but how could the boy know that.
He listened to his father and started running in the direction of the village, but his small body soon gave into the shock and fatigue and he fell into a pile of leaves and lost consciousness. On the next morning of the next day he was found by some hunters and after they heard his story they sent some people in the direction of his camp to find some clues. The scouts soon came back and talked for a while with the other hunters. Soon every adults gaze was shifted to the boy and their eyes contained pity.
The blacksmith was found dead at the camp with his money and leftover merchandise stolen. It was obvious the attackers were simple bandits that had seen him sell his stock in the market and were filled with greed for his earnings. They didn’t bother to chase the child after they killed the blacksmith since they knew there was nothing he could do to them.
When the boy heard of the news he went into shock. He was brought back to his village to his uncle. The boy had only him left to rely on, since his mother had died 5 years prior giving birth to his little sister. the boy didn’t talk, eat or sleep for 3 days straight and on the morning of the third day the grey patch of hair has appeared on his head. The shock of losing his only remaining parent and the responsibility to care for his little sister had caused him to age rapidly in just a few days. After, his character also changed and he became more silent and often had a look of hopelessness in his eyes. His uncle was kind and took the siblings in but couldn’t provide enough for them so the boy took up his fathers job and tried to make some money with the basic ability he had.
“So, a year has passed, huh?” the boy thought again.
He bend over to pick up the hammer, when a voice came from the outside “Boy, what was that noise? Are you done?”
“No, mister, give me another half an hour” the boy replied.
“I’ve been waiting for 2 hours already, just give me my materials so I can find another blacksmith to do the job” the man replied.
This was his second customer for the whole month so the boy desperately needed the money. He started pleading with the man to give him a bit more time so he could finish the job.
Their bickering made quite a commotion and since right next to the Smithy was an Inn the guests started to pay attention to the noise. There were 2 people having lunch in the Inn at the same time. One as middle aged and blended with the crowd easily, while the other was old with a long white hair and a wrinkled face. His body was so thin, he looked almost sickly. His back was hunched and his eyes almost closed. Only one word could describe the man- decrepit. The two men were seated next to a window with a perfect view of the Smithy. They heard the conversation between the boy and the man since the beginning, but weren’t paying attention to it.
“You shouldn’t have come with me, senior. Picking up the new recruits is not something you should be bothering yourself with” the middle aged man said. The old man just turned his head towards the street and didn’t say anything in response. It was true that with his status in the sect it was beneath him to escort brats that didn’t know anything of the world of cultivation, but he had another task in mind, that couldn’t be left to someone else to accomplish. He looked at the smithy across the street and just let his mind wander through the memories of the past and the days past never to return. After a few minutes he called over the Inn owner and asked “ What is happening across the street”
“Ah, that is a sad story, senior. There used to be a smithy there, but a year ago the blacksmith was killed by bandits and left 2 orphans. His son should be 9 years old now and is trying to work in his father stead, but frankly his skills are very low and he barely has any customers”
“A blacksmith, eh” the old man chuckled. It was strange hearing such a sound from the old man. His voice was hoarse and so was the chuckle.
The old man sent away the inn owner and after a few minutes saw that the argument across the street was over- the client left with his materials leaving the boy standing at the entrance of the smithy with a blank face and sad look on the eyes.
“Bring the boy over, Keiji” said the old man.
“ Are you sure senior, I see nothing in the boy worth recruiting?” the middle aged man said.
“ Since when are my juniors of several generations allowed to question my decisions?” the old mans brows raised and a pair of pitch black eyes pierced the middle aged man.
“ Apologies, senior, I, I…… I’ll bring the boy over right away”  Keiji was a fearsome martial artist and was hailed as an elder of the sect. Everywhere he went he was greeted with respect, but in front of this senior even he with his proud personality had to humble himself. He had seen the temper of this elder on few occasions and heard of his might rivaling that of the sects vice- master, some even claimed he was a match for the sect master himself. So he didn’t dare tarry and went right over to the Smithy.
“Come out here, boy” Keiji called out in front of the small building. Even if the senior sent him to fetch over the child he would not lower himself to enter into this lowly commoner smithy.
“Yes, yes, are you a customer, Sir?” was the quick reply and a boy came out running, almost tripping few times. He seems quite clumsy, Keiji thought. A childs mind is a fickle thing- crying one minute and excited the next.
“No, I’m not, but a friend of mine is. Come over to the Inn next door so he can talk to you”
“Of course, right away, Sir” It was not common to take tasks outside of the Smithy, but the boy desperately needed money to pay up the rent of the smithy or else he would have to move out next month.
 
“This junior greets senior, how can I be of service, Sir” in a few minutes the boy stood in front of the decrepit man and bowed.
The man looked him over as if he could see more than his outer appearance and said “ Boy, come over here and give your hand over”
Strange as the request was the boy stepped forward and held his right arm up. The elder put his fingers above the boys wrist and after a few seconds he let go. “Normal bone structure, muscles are developed slightly above average. It seems all will depend on the kids resilience” the old man thought.
“Child, what are your goals in life? What are your aspirations” The old man asked this seemingly out of order question.
The boy was surprised by the odd question, but he replied truthfully “ I want to make enough money to support my little sister and protect her so she doesn’t have to endure what I have” he said silently with a gloomy look in his eyes.
“Anything else, don’t you have something in your heart that you want to follow?”
“Well, I……. used to watch my father forge and always wanted to be able to create the marvelous tools he did.” The remaining of his fathers finished works were never sold and he always felt that they contained part of his father. So he believed them not to be simple objects, but pieces that contained his fathers soul. He too wanted to imbue his soul through forging into tools, but teaching the craft by himself was impossibly hard and slow. He didn’t speak the last words as they were etched into the deepest part of his heart and he wouldn’t reveal them to strangers so easily.
“Good, then you will come with us and become outer disciple in our sect with the next batch of recruits” the elder said after he gave a deep look.
“But, my sister.. Who will fend for her? I can’t leave her alone” The boy blurted.
“As an outer disciple you will receive 1 golden coin per month salary. If you develop well that can be increased after you become inner disciple” the old man said.
A golden coin was enough for food and clothing for a half a year for a family so the boy stood still for a moment, dazzled by the great sum, then forcefully nodded his head.
“ Go now, a person will take you to the sect in 3 days time”
The boy slowly came to his senses, turned around to leave and when he was at the door the Keiji asked “ what is your name boy?”
“Chiura Hakuryuu ” was the reply and then the boy left.

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  • edited August 2017
    Chapter 2

    Hakuryuu was traveling in a wagon with 14 other children. All of them were around 9 or 10 years old. Just as the old man said 3 days after they spoke a young man came to his uncles house to take him away.

    On the second day after the conversation Hakuryuu started to wonder if the old man was lying. If he wasn’t lying should he leave his fathers Smithy just like that, but the great sum of 1 gold coin per month would guarantee his uncle and sister would be fed and even if he didn’t know what the old man wanted him exactly to do he steeled his mind and decided to trust him for now. When his uncle heard he would be joining a sect he was flabbergasted, and said sects were existences far greater that Hakuryuu could imagine and that training in such sect would make you an unrivaled expert so that gave additional boost to his confidence in the decision.

    When he was brought to the wagon there were already 7 children in there, but all of them were silent and scared. After all none of them had been separated from their families before. Even if some of them had heard of sects beforehand and were aware of the great opportunity they still would have to go through a period of time before they adapted to the new reality. After all 15 children were gathered they traveled for another 3 days before a mountain with 3 big towering peaks slowly began to enlarge before them. After they reached the base of the mountain the wagon stopped and the young man that escorted them told them to pick their luggage. They would continue on foot.

     They started to ascend slowly. After 2 hours passed they had climbed around a 5th of the height, but 2 of the children seemed unable to carry anymore. The young man had steel cold look in his eyes. He waved a hand and out of nowhere 2 more young males appeared before them, picked up the 2 children and disappeared. They continued for another hour when another 3 of the children dropped to the ground. They were also picked up and removed from the group. Hakuryuu thought something was happening, and after a few minutes came to the conclusion that this was some kind of test and the removed children probably wouldn’t be joining them in becoming outer disciples. So he took a deep breath and felt his muscles condition- he could carry on for 2 more hours, but that would only get him to the middle of the journey to the first peak. He looked around and saw that most of the other children were doing worse than him with the exception of a red haired boy that seemed as if he was taking a stroll. Not a bead of sweat could be seen on his face. He didn’t bother even giving a glance towards the other children, just kept his eyes on the first peak, look of determination on his face.

    But just as Hakuryuu was thinking of throwing away some the more useless baggage to increase his endurance an arc appeared in his sight. There were 3 words written in the top of the arc. Even if he was a commoner Hakuryuu still received some guidance from the village teacher to read and write – such skills were essential in any trade so his father had him start his studies when he was 6, so he could easily read the symbols said  “Three Peaks Sect”.

    Beneath the arc waited 2 men. They wore azure robes and the older one had a medallion on his neck. The looked at the children and their tired faces and said to the young man that brought them here “ Only 10 made it?”

    “Yes, elder brother, only 10. The other 5 will be taken back”

    “Huuuh, the peak master won’t be happy” then he turned to the children “You will be taken to your lodgings now. There you’ll find your sect robes a map of the sect, but don’t wander around as you haven’t become official disciples yet. Tomorrow morning at sunrise be in front of the skill pavilion”. With that he turned around, 10 shadows appeared around the children, each grabbed one and took them to an area with 5 small huts. Each hut would house 2 people. Hakuryuu was in a same hut with the red haired boy. There were only 2 beds and a table in the hut, there was not enough space for anything else in it. Hakuryuu didn’t mind as he didn’t grow up in better conditions than these anyway. The red haired boy didn’t say anything either. They just dropped on the beds without removing even the robes from them and fell asleep. From the looks of it they both weren’t the talkative type and also had the same sleeping habits, so it looked like they wouldn’t mind this type of company too much. The sun was just going behind the mountain and stars started to flicker in the sky.

    At the same time in a big spacious room, decorated with marble and blue stone, with oval ceiling that had a giant fresco on it depicting a glorious battle between 10 warriors, each holding a different weapon, two people were conversing. One was the same man with the medallion on his chest, kneeling on the ground in front of a seated old decrepit man.

    “ 10 of the children have passed the first test, peak master. I see nothing remarkable in any of them. Is this necessary when the results will most likely be the same as the previous 2 times? Can’t you pick someone from the inner disciples?”

    “If there was someone that fit my criteria would I do this for the 3rd time?” was the hoarse reply. The old man seemed tired. “ The inner disciples are already set in their ways and would be hard to bring them back to the correct path. The 2 other peak masters won’t allow me to pick from any of the outstanding new recruits. The only way is to bring younger children and invest more time in teaching them. Lets hope this time we will bear some results”

    What the children didn’t know was that the usual age of acceptance in the sect was 12 years old. The sect had 3 peaks and the old man was the peak master of the third one. The vice- sect master was master of the second and sect master was in charge of the first and had the heaviest word when it came to decisions that affected the entire sect. The second and first peak masters wouldn’t allow the old man to pick the more outstanding new recruits for his peak. They somehow agreed to him bringing a few younger children ahead of recruitment time, but they would be located separately from the other disciples and they even went so far as to send an elder along with the old man, so he wasn’t allowed to reap the most outstanding youths of the province.

    On the next morning around 5 a clock Hakuryuu woke up. He was nervous he would oversleep so he was restless the entire night. The stood up and walked to the bed of the red haired fellow and pushed him around a bit, thinking he was sleeping soundly when the boy suddenly moved and caught his hand.

    “Do not touch me” was the short sentence that came out of his mouth.

    “oh, sorry I thought you were going to oversleep so I wanted to wake you up. What is your name by the way?”

    “Abe Hayate, don’t be so friendly. I guess you still don’t know much about sects, but soon we’ll be competitors.”

    “I am Chiura Hakuryuu. Why will we be competing?”

    “You’ll find out soon enough” Unlike Hakuryuu, Hayate knew about the peak master plan. He was from a noble family, but their noble title was taken away so their status dropped in the last 5 years, so the peak master was able to recruit the boy. The peak master was friend with the boys father and told him about his aim so this boy had better idea of the situation than the others. But he wasn’t stupid enough to spill the beans to everyone as soon as he got to the sect. Wouldn’t he lose his only advantage that way?

    “We should be on our way or we’ll be late. Judging from this map the skill pavilion is quite the distance away.” Hayate changed the topic.

    They soon left and after a 20 minute search were able to find the pavilion. There were already 5 children there. In another 10 minutes all of them were gathered. There were 7 boys and 3 girls. If anyone who knew anything about martial cultivation saw this group he would be confused. 9 out of 10 martial artist were males, as they would have big physical advantage in fight. But obviously the peak master picked under different criteria.

    Soon an old man with a hunched back and snow white hair walked slowly from inside the pavilion.

    “Children, my name is Doi Jirou. I am the 3rd peak master of the Three peaks sect. My guess is only a few of you know about cultivation, so I will give you a brief explanation so you know a little bit about the world you will be living in from now on. There are three types of cultivators- martial cultivators, beast tamers and elementalists. Our sect is martial cultivator sect. No matter the type of cultivator they all go through the same stages of cultivation, some are easier to start cultivating, others are easier to develop in the later stages. The first 3 stages are the Gekai stage, the Shikai stage and the Koshokai stage.”

    The children were all ears at this point and even the ones that knew something about cultivation were trembling with excitement on their future prospects.

     “We martial cultivators cultivate through developing our martial arts, studying and practicing with weapons and meditation on the knowledge we’ve gained through practice and gained insights of our true self. The thing you need to know now is that martial artist start their training around 12 years old and spend around 6 months practicing with different weapons until they find the one most suitable for themselves. Then they dedicate their whole being to that weapon and its arts. But your path will be different. You see that you’re all around 10 years old, which is 2 years younger than the other disciples. You’ve been recruited earlier because you’ll have another additional task to fulfill. As you can guess martial artist use weapons and in fights these weapons often get damaged or destroyed. So there is high demand on high quality weapons and armor. These are created by the process of forging. In addition to the martial arts cultivation you’ll be doing, you’ll also be training as blacksmiths. Our third peak has developed a special training schedule than can accommodate your training in both fields. What you should know is that in 2 years time you’ll be tested in the area of forging and martial arts and only the one with the best results will continue on the path of master blacksmith. The others will become regular disciples. Now you’ll be handed your specific schedule and a list of sect rules and you’ll begin your training in exactly 1 hour” Old Jirou concluded. “What you don’t know, kids, is that the winner will also become my personal disciple and will inherit my legacy” he thought.

  • edited August 2017
    Chapter 3
    In exactly 1 hour all 10 of the children were standing in front of the man with the medallion on his chest.
    “ I’m Hata Ken and I will be in charge of your martial art training from now on. On the path of martial cultivation the first step is to pick the most suitable type of weapon. Picking a weapon that suits your character will determine your fighting style, speed of cultivation and physical training in the future.” All of the children were listening attentively at this point. “ For the next 6 months you’ll be training with different weapons each week. The first reason for this is that you can make the best choice for yourself and the second is to gain basic knowledge of the fighting form for different styles. The martial path is a path of blood and gore- knowing your opponent will give you a better chance of survival on this path. You’ll be training in martial arts for 6 hours each day- from sunrise to noon. After that you’ll be training in the Forge. This will be your life for the next 2 years. Today we start with learning of the art of the spear.” With a flash a 2.5 meter long spear appeared in the hands of Hata Ken. “ The spear is a weapon of control. When welding a spear you aim to control the movements of your opponent to expose a opening. However, the most minor of errors in your form may produce the opposite effect, creating a opening for your enemy instead”
    With that Hata Ken made a sweep with the spear creating a “swoosh” sound in the air, after which he continued with a very fluid transition to rotate the spear and make a stab. Every movement was extremely precise and full of grace. It was obvious these movements were result of tens of years of practice and he was a true expert of the spear.
    After the demonstration one of the children raised a hand “Elder Hata, how studying weapons will help us cultvate, I still don’t understand?”
    “Sign, it’s too early for you children to ask this. Everyone that uses a tool – be it in forging or farming is basically at the Gekai initial stage. The more you understand the tool, the better your understanding of your inner self will be. When you gain better understanding of yourself you’ll be able to breakthrough to a higher realm. Every stage is divided in 3 realms – initial, advanced and peak mastery. Once you’ve reached the peak mastery and gain enlightenment you will have a chance to make a breakthrough to a higher stage. Once you’ve made a breakthrough to a higher stage your spirit and body will advance and be reborn anew opening even a bigger path ahead of you, but with every step of advancement this path will become harder to thread.  Everyone has different desires and goals, so you need to pick the path that suits you the most. Put your heart in this training as it will be the foundation for your future success.”
    With those words everyone was given a spear and started to practice some simple forms. By noon the children were mentally and physically exhausted. It was evident this training would be no walk in the park.
    After the practice ended they had a break to have a bite of food and a breath of air. Their food was provided by some servant in a small building that would act as cafeteria. They all had a chance to introduce each other- after all they would be training together from now on and most children were open hearted and simple.  Most of them grouped together to eat and chat, but both Hakuryuu and Hayate sat a bit away from the group. They both didn’t seem to be the socializing type. Hakuryuu was pondering on the experience he just went through and didn’t have much of a mind to eat either. He took Elder Hata’s words very seriously and was thinking if the spear forms he used just now trying to memorize them. He was in a mind to try practicing them later.  He looked over to the others and saw they were talking about the chance they’ve been given and were excited of their future prospects fantasizing of becoming powerful experts that could shake the earth with but a thought. He made a glance towards Hayate as well- the boy didn’t seem flustered at all, he just ate his food in silence like this was his normal routine.
    In a few minutes they gathered and went to the Forge where another middle aged man was waiting for them. He had a tall build with a muscular arms, broad shoulders and it was apparent by his messed up hair he didn’t put much work into maintaining his appearance. His name was Takei Shin and the children didn’t know he was in charge of the Forge that produced all of the weapons for the disciples of the 3 peaks.
    “Aren’t you a lively brats. Stop jumping up and down and quiet up” were the first words out of his mouth. The impression Hakuryuu got from him was totally different by the one he got from Elder Hata- he was elegant and with a heroic air around him. His demeanor and speech were refined and natural and the children were immediately intimidated and respectful toward him. This muscular man in front of them, however was nothing of the sort- he looked more like a normal blacksmith, reminding Hakuryuu of his father. “ I am supposed to teach you forging, but I am sure none of you have an idea which side of the hammer is the handle and which is the head. Moreover your tiny weak bodies can’t handle the midday sun, not even to speak of the heat in the forge. The peak Master told you you’ll be tested in 2 years time, but I have a test for you much sooner. It will be held in 3 months time and if you don’t pass it I have the authority to kick you out of the group. I will not be bothered to teach lazy or stupid brats, so listen well and follow me.” Everyones mood immediately sank and with heavy feet they followed this brute in a dusty room in the back of the Forge. It was filled with tomes of books, seemingly untouched in decades. “ These books contain the detailed description of the 100 basic ores and the metals that can be refined from them. The refining process is described in detail to the sets of instruments used, timing, temperature and quality of the finished product” Takei said. “You have 1 month to study them. After 1 month we’ll start to make some simple ore refinements and at the end of the third month a test will be held to determine which of you will stay and which will fail to meet my meager expectations, to be kicked out. Your class starts now” with that he turned around and left. He didn’t speak as to when the class would end or give any other explanations as if he didn’t care if the children even stayed.
    After they regained their senses everyone grabbed a book and started to read. Hakuryuu was surprised when he opened up one of them- there were very detailed with even precise drawings of each ore and explanations of its basic properties and application. He had never came into contact with such treasure. Hakuryuu had never had a teacher and hid mediocre knowledge was result of his personal limited observations – how many resources could’ve he seen in his village. Even if these ores and metals weren’t classified as rare- that was in accordance of martial artist needs. Simple villagers never used tools from so expensive materials. He was reading attentively, turning page by page trying to remember every single line. He went through it once, then a second time. By the time he had read it 3 times his eyes started to hurt a bit. He looked around to see that the light had gotten very dim and that most of the other children had left with only him and Hayate remaining. Hayate, however wasn’t reading but looking through the window thinking of something. He soon noticed Hakuryuu looking at him and said  ”Finaly done, are we? We’ve been here for 7 hours straight. Its time to go back to rest”
    “When did the others leave?” Hakuryuu asked.
    “The last ones left 2 hours ago. It seems they were overwhelmed by the vast information they received today. Lets go”
    “Sure” Hakuryuu said.
    On the way back to their little hut Hayate asked “ You seem interested in that book a lot. What was written in it?”
    “Information about ores and refining- the same as in the other books, I guess.”
    “Why were you reading with such interest then?”
    “This guy is getting more talkative” Hakuryuu thought. “ My father is a blacksmith and I helped him from time to time so I have a bit of interest in forging”. Hakuyuu said that his father “is” not “was” a blacksmith intentionally. He didn’t want to explain his situation to this weird kid. “We may not even be both here 3 month from now” Hakuryuu thought.
    “That means you’re quite ahead of us in this area. Are you confident in passing the test 3 months from now?” Hayate asked.
    “About 50% confident, these ores are much more rare than the ones I’ve seen” Hakuryuu replied.
    “Ok, lets make a deal then. You’ll help me with the subjects in the test and I will give you some pointers with martial arts. It looked like your feet were in your way when we were practicing the spear today” Hayate laughed.
    “Tsch, yours weren’t much better either. Why would I want lessons from you?” Hakuryuu was sad to admit what Hayate said was true, but he didn’t see big skill in his movements either.
    “Hey, Hey, I don’t know the spear. I’ve been practicing with swords and sabers since young. I can give you pointers there” now Hayate’s face was getting red from embarrassment.
    “I don’t do swords” was the simple reply.
    “Sabers then. When we start practicing with saber I will give you a saber martial art that my family has” Hayate seemed quite pressured by the test 3 months from now. This was his family last chance to rise and he had no room for failure. The saber technique he would teach was simple and hence he felt there was no problem to teach it to this outsider.
    After a bit of thought Hakuryuu nodded his head “Deal”. This was a chance to strike a friendship with his roommate. And since he was his roommate and his character seemed agreeable and not too overbearing and haughty he was inclined to help him and keep him as company.
    It was good that the kids stroke a friendship to support each other in the coming hellish days of training that followed.

  • Chapter 4
    What came in the next days almost crushed the spirit of the children- this type of new environment and physical and mental exhaustion was a torment to them. Hakuryuu, however was different- although he was tired like never before he had built some physical endurance and felt a kind of freedom. The events of the past year had put too much pressure on him to provide to his younger sister and uncle. This kind of responsibility was beyond a young persons ability to handle, so he felt like a big burden has been lifted from his chest and at the same time he could pursue his biggest passion- forging. Studying wasn’t tiring at all for him, he even felt energized after the long hours spend in the dusty dark room. He left last every day and didn’t lose focus even for a moment when reading the books.
    The progress he made in knowledge of ores and refining was immense. His martial training was lacking in comparesement, and he wasn’t making fast progress. He could at least perform the basic forms, although his comprehension ability was dead last in the group of 10. This gave him additional motivation to put in extra effort, so in addition to the morning practice he trained alone in the evening.
    One week passed by. On the 8th day of their training Elder Hata brought a young female disciple and introduced her as their next martial arts teacher- she was an inner disciple of the 3rd peak and was using saber as weapon. Hakuryuu couldn’t figure out her cultivation from the demonstration, but from her movements it was apparent she was less skilled than Elder Hata. This made him ponder what the Elder level was. He sneaked neat Hayate and whispered  “Can you determine this elder sisters strength?”
    “She probably is at the Gekai peak stage” Hayate responded “But she made her advancement rather soon, so she has many wasted movements. You don’t know this but if a disciple makes a breakthrough to the Shikai stage before 20 years old, they are granted core disciple position and better techniques. This elder sister is around 18 so there is still time for her.”
    “If those are the only requirements how many core disciples are there in the sect then? Aren’t they more numerous than the inner disciples?” These conditions seemed quite relaxed to Hakuryuu.
    “If only a breaking through was so easy” Hayate signed “ Only one in a hundred of the inner disciples makes the step from Gekai to the Shikai stage. Pay closer attention now or you’ll miss some her movements. Your martial art comprehension is not that of a genius to be frank”
    “Even if I miss some you can show them to me later. Aren’t you a saber master anyway. When are you going to teach me the saber art you spoke of earlier?” Hakuryuu didn’t forget if the promise made to him. He’d done his part and explained patiently the points in the textbooks Hayate didn’t understand and was eager to receive his benefits.
    “Tonight I’ll teach you the marital skill basic forms and we’ll spar for a bit” Hayate was of a mind to teach this playful fellow a lesson and give him a smack or two.
    Another week passed and everyone was starting to get used to this regime. Hakuryuu still spent most of his time in reading and was still least adept in the martial training when the 3rd week came. Elder Hata was starting to gain basic understanding of the children and their comprehension ability. It was too early to judge their character, but from what he saw there only 3 or 4 worth teaching and one of them was Hayate. Hakuryuu wasn’t in that group and in fact stood out from the rest of them looking out of place.
    This time a youth of around 17 years of age was brought to demonstrate some sword arts. After some brief explanation everyone was given a sword for practice. Hakuryuu however didn’t pick his own from the weapon rack.
    “Elder, I don’t wish to practice with swords” after some hesitation he turned and said to Elder Hata.
    “What is this foolishness? State your reason- are you looking to stand out from the group or do you think you’ve already found the weapon suitable for you?” The Elder wasn’t happy at all. “This dropout didn’t only fail to meet any basic expectations but was creating trouble at practice as well” were the thoughts that passed through Hata Kens head.
    “No, it’s just that I don’t like this type of weapon and wish to practice with it”
    “Failing to comply with the training regimen will only bring punishment upon you. Are you sure you want to thread this path?” Hata Ken was getting angry already. What kind of childish reason was that?
    “I will receive any punishment the  Elder gives this junior” Hakuryuu didn’t want to make a scene. He respected the Elder, but simply couldn’t bring himself to take the sword in hand.
    “Fine then, you will be given 4 hours additional martial practice each evening for the next month and your rations will be halved” Hata felt this was a good opportunity to kill any thoughts of rebellion in the hearts of the other disciples giving them example in the face of Hakuryuu. This child was a deadbeat anyway, why wouldn’t he run him into the ground from exhaustion?
    In reality the others were given quite an impression from this act. Some of them were starting to slack in their training and this punishment gave them new found motivation to strive to please the Elder. No one wanted to be the next to receive this kind of treatment. Only Hayate felt pity for Hakuryuu. They were getting along very well and he even made extra effort to spar with him the previous week so Hakuryuu could close a bit the gap between him and the others. Hayate felt that his roommate talent was way behind the others, but he also saw the effort he put in. “We are not born equal under the heavens, I should watch out for myself. It seems this fellow won’t last long in the Three peaks sect” Hayate thought.
    Hakuryuu himself didn’t think the punishment was too harsh. He didn’t care too much about the halved rations as he had made it with even less in the past year. As for the additional training, he was the one most aware he was lacking when compared to the others. Hence this could only help him to catch up.
    Two more weeks passed and in the middle of the night under the crescent moon and dazzling stars Hakuryuu was holding 2 daggers practicing in front of a wooden dummy. He didn’t do much better with the dagger than the previous weapons he used. He couldn’t synchronize his movements to perform even the simplest attack. All these weapons felt foreign in his hands and he couldn’t think of a method to advance. The next day they would be training with bow and arrow. He only hoped he did better with those. There was another reason he was nervous. Tomorrow their theoretical training in the Forge would pause and the children would start to try to make some basic refinements with ores they’ve studied. If he performed as poorly in that area as in the martial training he was almost sure his path to becoming master blacksmith would halt and his stay in the sect would be cut short.

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