Master Bentham grabbed a 30-pound hammer from the table. Whilst throwing a base into the stove, he looked into the flames and said to Abel, “Abel, you are the most talented child that I’ve ever seen. What I’m about to show you, I will only do it once. You see how much you can learn from it.”
After saying that, Master Bentham took out the base and placed it on an anvil. He held his hammer up high and for a few seconds there, he took a careful look at the base before he dropped his hammer on it. The way he swung the hammer was very slow, but the power he put in was, nevertheless, more intense than most men could produce. It was so intense that the whole workshop was shaking for a bit.
“Once you treat a base for about 80 times, it becomes so hard that you wouldn’t be able to shape it with a hammer. Even if you can, though, all you’re going to do is to destroy its interior structure. So, with that in mind, we’re going to use a big hammer from now on. Be careful, though. You need to be very precise in the spots that you’re hitting, but you must always maintain a high level of force that you put in.”
Master Bentham instructed Abel as he demonstrated, “You’re a strong boy, Abel. If you put in the effort, I’m sure that you’ll learn to do this correctly.”
Abel was paying very close attention to the base. Whenever Master Bentham dropped the hammer, it was always towards the spots with this soft, almost invisible lining. He could just barely see them because the base was glowing in dark red. Somehow, however, Master Bentham was able to strike the linings without failing a single time. Even more impressive, every one of his strikes had changed the shape of the base, and every time this happened, he would have to relocate the linings.
After treating the base for the 81st time, Master Bentham threw it back to the stove and said to Abel. “Try it,” he ordered as he passed over the hammer.
Abel took out the base and started looking for the linings on it. It was hard to find it at first, so he stared more intensively at the bases’ surface. The more he stared at it, the less he became aware of his surroundings. It was a weird sensation to have. Everything else just vanished from his line of vision, and all that remained was the base itself, which became larger and larger in Abel’s eyes. Even the most minute details were ingrained into his photographic brain cells.
Ah-ha, there you are
Abel celebrated in his mind and immediately proceeded to drop the 30-pound hammer. The banging noise was extremely loud, but that didn’t affect him for a bit. As soon as he found the next spot of the linings, he raised his hammer and continued his forging.
It was like playing with a new toy. Whenever the base turned into a new shape, the linings would reappear at completely different spots. Abel was getting better at this the more he tried. Eventually, he was smashing the thing at the same pace as Master Bentham.
Master Bentham was petrified by this. Whilst unintentional, Abel made him feel jealous. Yes, a master just got jealous of a child who spent no longer than a month learning how to forge.
“It’s the Power of the Will,” Master Bentham called out repeatedly in his mind. He knew exactly what drove Abel to be so successful in his forge. His own teacher, Robin, was a forging master who was blessed with the same kind of ability. Unlike Master Bentham, who only got his title because of his reputation within Harvest city, Master Robin was a “genuine” master who was acknowledged by the entire continent.
Because of his lack of “the Power of the Will,” Master Bentham had to go home after learning from Master Robin for ten years. As unfortunate as that was, he did improve his skills with hard work and experience. This was why he could continue to treat a base when it had already been treated for more than eighty times.
When Master Bentham started his quest to be the best blacksmith he could ever be, he saw how Master Robin used his “Power of the Will” to locate the linings on a base. It was the same method as the one that Abel used. He knew it all too well.
Master Bentham didn’t stop Abel after that. As he slowly left the workshop, he decided in his mind. He would let Abel help him fulfill a dream that he couldn’t accomplish himself.
Abel was in too much focus to notice any of that. He just kept on putting the base in the stove, taking it out of the stove, and repeating the whole process for another couple of hours.
82, 83, 84…98, 99, 100.
Abel came back to his senses after treating the base for the 100th time. All of a sudden, he felt sick and tired at every spot of his body. His mind, too, felt extremely drained out. It was like having your brain plucked out of you, which was not a good feeling to have at all. As the urge to vomit came to him, the hammer slid out of his hand and dropped on the workshop table. After that, his right hand was spasming like a duckling on a Winter night.
He tried to remember what it was like to be in that “zone” back then. On the one hand, it felt like he had no control of his own body. On the other hand, he felt like he was acting purely out of his instincts. Whatever the case was, it was a condition that was too much for him to handle.
Abel turned on his senses for a while. To his surprise, there was a massive amount of qi circulating near his meridian. It was like nothing he had ever seen before.
Without paying attention to how dirty the floor was, Abel quickly sat down for a knight’s breathing session. He was on his way to forming the fifth meridian.
“What are you doing, Abel?” Gedon came in and asked. Just when he was about to lift Abel, Master Bentham stood in the way threw a stare at him.
“Don’t move him.” Master Bentham scoffed at Gedon, “Why are you so clumsy with everything that you do?”
When the other apprentices were about to come in, Master Bentham quickly shooed them away with his hands.
“Tell the Knight of Marshall to come here,” Master Bentham turned towards Gedon.
“Yes, Sir,” Gedon complied and ran out of the blacksmith shop.
“Fucking Marshall and his bullshit luck,” Master Bentham cursed to himself as it was just him and Abel now, “Would you look at that. His adopted son just had another rank up.”
In Master Bentham’s defense, he had every reason to be annoyed by the progress Abel was making. It was a very rare thing to become a rank five Novice Knight in just half an hour.
That being said, even Abel didn’t know why he was so successful this time. He didn’t take any potion this time, and it was only a month since his last rank up.
With so many questions in his mind, Abel stood up from the ground and found that everyone was standing very far from him. Well, except for Master Bentham. At least he had the decency to not make a child feel isolated. As unbothered as Abel was, he did appreciate that.
A large shadow came in as the front door was kicked open. “What happened to Abel?” it asked with a loud roar.
It was the Knight of Marshall. After running for a few minutes, his long golden hair was half-drenched in his own sweat. After seeing how well Abel was, he gave a loud, angry yell towards everyone in his sight.
“Gedon! How dare that lad trick me! Come out now, I’ll teach you a lesson right here!”
Master Bentham ground his teeth at the lucky bastard who took Abel in, “Who’s trying to mess with my disciple?”
“Um, Uncle Marshall,” Abel said timidly, “I just had another rank up.”
“What rank up? Just you wait for me, boy. Let me have a word with Bentham first. Wait, you had another rank up?”
The Knight of Marshall was about to have a chat with Master Bentham, but what Abel was saying had him frozen on the spot. He scanned his eyes across Abel from top to bottom. Then, as he pushed Abel with one of his hands, Abel responded by releasing his newly-found power.
“What! What?” the Knight of Marshall cried out loud, “That doesn’t even make sense! You can’t just rank up like that! What were you doing back there?”
Abel replied after thinking to himself for a while, “Nothing much. I was busy treating my base in the workshop.”
“You ate anything today?”
Abel replied compliantly since he was just as puzzled, “I ate my breakfast with you, Uncle Marshall. I skipped lunch because I was busy forging my base.”
“How’s that even possible? You ranked up by hitting some metal with a hammer? What, how about I come here to hit some metal tomorrow?”
The Knight of Marshall pointed a finger at Master Bentham, “That’s ridiculous! If forging is all you need to rank up, this fellow would’ve been a master warrior years ago.”
Master Bentham said sarcastically, “Yeah sure, just come here and do some forging for me tomorrow. Of course, you can rank up by hitting some metal. You just need to be in the right condition when you’re doing it.”
“Oh really?” the Knight of Marshall widened his eyes, “Hey Abel, why don’t you forge another base right now? Go be in that “condition” or whatever you call it, and you’ll be the youngest knight in the Duchy.”
Both Master Bentham and Abel had to cover their faces after hearing that remark.