Chapter 2

Torsten heated the furnace. It was early in the day and word quickly spread of a small hunting party who had made the trek a week early. It was that time of year again. Torsten complained under his breath. All year he had barely anything to do, but during a couple of weeks he’d have to do a year’s worth of work. He looked to the sun, ‘Kid should be here soon…I’m getting too old for this.’ He inspected a greatsword and shook his head. Although it had been a long time since he was hailed a master blacksmith, he could still tell the skill of a hunter by the condition of the weapon. Torsten sighed in disappointment.

“Weapons already?” Kid asked almost sarcastically as he donned his apron.

“Hufm, you’re late. I can tell this is going to be a bad year, look at this weapon. If the creator could see it now.” Torsten looked Kid over and his eyes rested on his bandaged arm. “What was it this time?”

Kid cocked his head and followed Torsten’s eyeline, “Oh, this? Don’t worry, it won’t interfere with my work. I kinda look forward to this event all year.”

Torsten laughed heartily, “That’s right, you want to be a hunter. You can’t be a hunter if you don’t put one hundred percent into it! And besides, you need a master to teach you the ways. That’s how it should be done. That’s how it used to be done!”

Kid laughed to himself as Torsten continued on his rant. But one thing Kid agreed on was that he needed a master if he wanted to become a great hunter. Living in the wild taught him how to fend for himself, but he needed to do more than survive. He wasn’t afraid to challenge bigger monsters, but he still couldn’t hold his own with the dagger he carried. Kid lightly massaged his bandaged arm; a gift from the latest hunting escapade.

“Oh!” Kid exclaimed, “that reminds me!” He poured the contents of his pouch on the table. “Look, I have everything I need now, right? I can finally get my dual blades? You promised that if I worked for you for three years you’d craft my dual blades!”

“Aye, aye, I’m not so old that I’ve forgotten. Of course, I also said you had to gather all the materials yourself! That’s the pride of a true hunter, you know.” Torsten spoke as he picked up a material, “where’d you get this ore?”

Kid, almost bashfully swayed his hips, “I was really careful to stay out of sight…”

“I told yah Kid, stay away from the volcano area. There are some real nasties up there. Legend tells of an unknown that sleeps deep within.”

“I know, I know, but I needed it. I can’t look for a master until I have a weapon. I’ve done all my research and this is it. Dual blades are light and mobile, perfect for my size. And I’m really fast naturally, so it maximizes my skillset.”

Torsten interrupted by clearing his throat. Once Kid got on the subject he couldn’t be shut up about it. “Ok, ok, yes, yes. You have more than yah need, BUT I’ll not work on your personal project this year’s hunter event is over!”

“Yissir!” Kid saluted exuberantly.

What Torsten would never say was that he had traded for that same rare ore in order to present Kid with a parting gift; he never thought Kid would actually brave the volcano region. Or survive it. He knew from the start that Kid’s passion was to follow the path of a hunter, and as this hunter event marked their last year together, Torsten had already made Kid a fine pair of dual blades.

Kid enthusiastically watched the incoming hunters, secretly looking for those who might be master material. One hunter in particular rose above the rest. He seemed to be very celebrated in this year’s event and Kid was very taken by his extravagant armor set and weapon. When said hunter came by, Kid was on his best behavior.

“HAH!” Torsten snorted. “That’s the hunter you’ve been spying on? He’s nothing but a puffed-up kut-ku. Look at this weapon! Sure he looks the part with his impressive armor, but I know for a fact that a hunter whose weapon looks like this could never fight the monster whose set he’s wearing.”

Kid wanted to retort, but even though Torsten’s words were abrasive, he was usually right. Dejected Kid looked at the weapon of the hunter he had been admiring; he couldn’t really see what Torsten was talking about.

“Ahem.” A woman tried to get Kid’s attention. He turned quickly but before he could ask her anything, Torsten pushed him aside and greeted her.

“Ah, it’s you. You don’t normally come down to these parts at this time of year.”

The woman sighed, “I know, I try not to come with all the commotion, but it was the best time for me to make the trip.”

Torsten nodded, “Of course.”

She handed him a weapon covered in cloth, “I don’t want anything fancy, just my regular service. I can come back tomorrow.”

“No, no, come back at sunset. It’ll be ready by then.” Torsten grinned, which was rare to see.

“I have some materials to trade for your services, as usual.” He nodded as the woman walked to her cart and grabbed a bag. “I hope you put them to good use.” Again he nodded and waved as she went further into town.

“Hey, Torsten, who was that? You were really…polite.” Torsten glared at the kid, “she’s a regular. Well, as regular as they come, which you’d know if you didn’t go scampering off into the woods for months at a time.” He huffed and moved all the weapons off his workbench placing the woman’s wrapped weapon there instead.

Kid watched as Torsten unwrapped it to reveal an unimpressive-looking switch axe. Torsten looked it over thoroughly and stroked his beard. It was something he only did when deep in thought.

“Is it okay to work on this weapon before the others? There’s a hefty queue.” Kid looked to all the weapons Torsten moved aside. But Torsten waved his hand through the air, “Those can wait. It’s an honor to work on such a weapon. One that requires immediate and perfect attention.”

Kid’s brow furrowed, “So…she’s a good hunter?”

“Kid, that one is the real deal. She’s probably the best hunter this region will ever see.”

Kid was shocked with Torsten’s revere for the hunter; he never heard such a compliment fall from Torsten’s lips.

“Are you sure? That switch axe looks kinda, I dunno, average? And she wasn’t wearing any armor…it looked more like she was wearing her underwear under that cloak.”

Torsten sighed and looked Kid straight in the eyes, “A true master hunter isn’t made by the armor worn or weapon wielded, rather by raw skill and the wisdom that can only come from countless hunts.” He pointed to the bag she left, “Here, bring that bag and lay out the contents.”

Kid brought the bag over and started placing each material on the table. He had never seen any of it before, but suspected they were impressive by Torsten’s facial expressions. An assumption that would later be verified by the hunters’ manic reactions to Torsten’s new stock.

Evening came and the female hunter returned. Again, Torsten greeted her personally and after a few exchanged words, handed her wrapped weapon back. She thanked him and went north, out of town.

Kid watched the whole exchange in anticipation, but nothing about the woman implied ‘master’ hunter. He had thought about what Torsten said all day and felt slightly ashamed. Kid decided he might not be ready to search for a master just yet. If he had been so taken with all the hunters’ appearances, he didn’t have the insight to see a true master when she stood right in front of him.

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