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“Now lets see.” The alchemist says.
Going through various draws from under the stairs, he pulls out several pieces of equipment to assemble a small distillery looking tool. In it, he places a vial containing a dark pale lavender liquid slowly circling itself, and another vial with darkish orange liquid that constantly bubbles as if it’s reaching the boiling point.
Pulling out a small empty flask, the alchemist extracts a single drop from the lavender vial, putting it into the small flask. Then he extracts a handful of drops from the burning, mixing it into the flask as well.
Sealing it up with a proper lid, he picks up the flask and starts shaking it wildly.
“Is that really how it’s supposed to work?” The gardener asks. “I mean, I’m not the expert here, but I haven’t seen you do it like that before.”
“Nope.” He answers, adding some wilder moves to the shaking. “And I can feel all of my master turning in their graves with each shake.” He places the flask, now containing a pale brown liquid. “It’s just as effective as slowly distilling it, but is far more risky. Even one drop of essence could destroy the house. Never mind an entire vial.”
Not waiting for the ghost to react, he carries the small flask into the next room.
“I think I’ll have to melt some more steel.” Kogasa states as he enters the room. “We don’t have anything with the same carbon level. It’s still doable, but it’ll throw off the weight distribution slightly.”
“I figured.” He cross his arms. “I’d love to take it through the proper heat treatment to purify it.”
“I know.” The blacksmith agrees. “Though that would some base aspects of the sword. It’ll add some flexibility, making it more durable, maybe even a tad lighter.” She holds the sword pieces in place, examining the rift between the pieces.
“The problem is the enchantment. If you can’t work around it, then there’s no way I can.” He states, before placing the flask on the forge’s edge. “Ones this turns the same shade as your hair, it’ll be ready.”
“Is that spirit fire.” She picks up the flask, examining its content. “That should speed up the process a lot.”
“Yep. A ratio of 1 to 5. Works wonders on articles from the netherworld.” He leans against the forge. “You remember how to use it, right?”
“Point the lid to the forge and uncork.” Them umbrella repeats the instructions she’s been told uncountable times. “I got it.”
“Perfect. I’ll leave the sword to you then. Don’t spare anything.” He pats her on the shoulder, to which the umbrella grows the biggest grin before saluting. “Meanwhile, I’ll prepare to head off to the netherworld.”
“You will what?” The half ghost exclaims from the other room. “But it’s dangerous right now.”
“Exactly.” The alchemist walks back out to the front room, passing Youmu’s spirit as it floats into the back. “What’ll I do if I lose my favorite customer?”
“What kind of reason is that?” The gardener argues back, trying to ignore her growing blush.
“As good a reason as I need.” The youkai argues back. “This body is technically immortal, after all. As long as I keep this safe, I’ll be okay no matter what.” He declares, tapping the hammer.
“No buts.” He holds up a finger, silencing her. “I’m a friend of the clan. Your problems are my problems, and vice versa. I’m going, whether you want it or not.”
The sound of hammering starts to fill the room as Kogasa finally begins the actual work.
“Then shouldn’t you at least help Kogasa out with the sword?” The half ghost folds her arms and pouts, clearly not happy with her lack of choice.
“I’d rather work alone on this, actually.” The smithing umbrella adds from the other room. “Having a partner can be great when you need fast work done. Careful work like this is better done alone.” She shrugs. “Besides, Bro is nowhere near good enough to properly handle a masterwork like this.”
“Oi! I heard that.” He shouts back at her.
Of course, tsukumogami don’t have family in the same sense as humans, since they’re created rather than born.
“But that’s how it is.” The blue youkai argues back. “Your alchemy is one thing, but when it comes to actually hammering the metal, you’re lacking.”
He’s about to argue back, but actually consider what she said before saying anything. “I mean, you’re right. Rather embarrassing, considering I’m a smithing hammer.”
With that said, the alchemist walks back behind the counter and pulls out a couple more vials from inside his vest, placing them with the equipment before getting to work.
The half ghost, with nothing else to do other than wait, takes seat by the counter and watch the alchemist as he works. Her ghost half leaves the back room, floating along the outer wall of the front room, brushing against the work displayed on the shelves as it makes the round.
Small figures made from various materials, all carefully detailed, line the windows, displaying the level of detail the shop can achieve with their craft. The walls further into the shop is lined almost exclusively with metal works, ranging from farming tools like hoes and horseshoes, to a careful selection of weaponry. The weapons rarely make it into the hands of the public, though, thanks to regulations.
Nothing forbids citizens of Gensokyo from owning weapons of any kind. Weapons are just taxed with a fixed fee that prize it out of range for the normal citizen. The people in charge, of course, can ignore that tax because the money goes straight back into their pockets.
But we’re not here to talk about the corruption of Gensokyoian politics. That’s a story for another month.
With the methodical sound of the hammer clinging away in the background, and the focused alchemist carefully working with his elements, Youmu finds herself engrossed in watching him work, to the point where she finds herself in a daze, completely losing track of time.
That is until the sound of the hammer of broken by an uncanny sizzling sound as Kogasa gets ready to remove the blade from the furnace.
Curious as to the result, the gardener enters the back room, though not entering further than the door, as she doesn’t want to get in the way.
Grabbing the blade with her tong, Kogasa starts pulling the blade out of the furnace’s blue fire. Before long, she supports the burning blade with her gloved hand, carefully eyeing it as she moves it.
Once fully outside the furnace, the smith takes a second to admire the sight of the burning blade, before submerging it entirely in a basin of water, quenching it one final time.
“All that’s left is to sharpen the edge again and reattach the handle, and it’ll be ready.” Kogasa states. Even though she haven’t looked, she knows Youmu is watching. “But come here and look for a second.” She waves the swordswoman over. “It’s not perfect, but you can hardly see the patching.”
“You’re right.” The swordswoman notes. “But will it still hold out?”
“Of course.” The smith hits her own chest in pride. “I may not be a master, but I can fix broken cores. As long as the core holds, the blade won’t snap. It may chip and it may dull, but we’ll always be ready to fix it right up.”
“The handle’s silk pattern has been reapplied.” The alchemist joins the two girls in by the forge, carrying the handle.
“Then I’d say about 10 minutes before I’m done.” Kogasa adds.
“And then we’re off to kick some spirit ass.” He declares, punching his knuckles together.
“I’m still against that.” The half ghost adds once again.
“You don’t really have to come, you know. We can handle this much ourselves.” The gardener says as they walk the pathway from the gates to the Ghost Princess’ mansion.
“I told you, I’m going. That’s that.” The alchemist insists.
“I mean, you really don’t have to come.” The swordswoman clutch her repaired sword with both hands.
“Why are you so insistent on keeping me away?” The he asks. “Is there perhaps something you’re not telling me?”
“N-No, of course not.” She stutters. “I’d have no reason to lie about anything.”
“Then there’s no problem in me coming to help me friends, is there?” The youkai smirks.
Unbeknownst to both of them, a shadowy figure draws behind them, closing it quickly and silently.
Glancing back, the alchemist catches a glimpse of their pursuer before they hide.
“I think we’re being stalked, Youmu.” He states, suppressing the urge to smile.
“What?” Youmu replies, glancing around, looking for any sign of a pursuer. “I don’t see anyone.”
“Well, this is the land of the dead, so it could be a zombie. Or a ghost.” He suggests, laughing it off as a joke.
“There aren’t any zombies here!” She exclaims, clutching her sword even tighter.
“What about ghosts?” He asks. “You’re not denying that?”
“There aren’t any ghosts either.” The half ghosts states.
“Then I guess I must be seeing things,” he points to her shoulder, “because that definitely looks like a ghost to me.”
As he says that, their pursuer lays a hand on Youmu’s shoulder, causing all color to drop from her already pale face.
She screams as she swings her sword, without drawing it, at the so called ghost behind her. To her surprise though, the sword hits nothing, causing her to spin around once, twice before stopping.
“You really are too precious, Youmu.” A womanly figure appears next to the alchemist, wearing a bright pink kimono matching her hair, which is held back by a simple triangular headband.
“Yuyuko!” The half ghost’s face regains its color and much more. “I told you to stop doing that! I thought I was going to die.”
“You’re already half dead, aren’t you.” The princess giggles. “It’s great seeing you again, Ren. You really should come visit more often.”
“As lovely as always, Yuyu.” The alchemist greets her. “I just rarely have an excuse to come all the way down here.” He shrugs it off.
“Really? Then what, mayhap, is your reason for making this long treacherous journey today?” The princess floats to his other side, leaning against his shoulder. “Did you start to miss little old me?” She asks with playful giggle.
“Of course, I miss all of you.” He gestures towards Youmu. “But as it happens, I’ve been informed you have had some trouble with the spirits here as of late.”
“Trouble, you say?” The ghostly woman spins off his shoulder, floating a bit on her own as she ponder the recent events. “Nothing out of the ordinary as far as I’ve been told.”
Youmu, realizing her little white lie has been seen through, remains quiet, her face having grown so red it’s spreading to her ears.
“Really then? I guess you did have something to tell me, Youmu?” The alchemist asks, stroking his overgrown stubble.
“Yes.” The half ghost replies, hiding her face by looking at her feet.
“Now, do you feel more embarrassed that you were found out, than you would have felt if you’d just told me?” The half ghost nods. “Now what if I told you I knew from the start?”
“What? How?” She shoots back up.
“I never had the opportunity to tell you, but I can commune with sleeping tsukumogami.” He reach out for the sword, which Youmu hands him. “Roukanken has been around for centuries. It’s long since manifested as a tsukumogami, though never found a reason to awaken. Yet it eagerly tells me everything. About how happy it is by your side. About how well to take care of it. And about how it got broken.”
The alchemist slightly unsheathes the sword, looking directly at the blade.
“But that’s that.” He says, sliding it back in it’s sheathe, handing it back to its owner. “Accidents happen. Roukanken has been fixed and is happy. It’s all in the past.”
“Wait. Then why did you come all the way down here?” The half ghost asks, equipping her sword again.
“It was a good chance to bully you a little.” He shrugs. “Of course it was about time for me to come visit anyway.”
“Delightful.” The princess folds her hands. “Today was just getting boring anyway.” She flies over to the youkai, leaning on his shoulder again. “I’m sure someone would like it if you stayed a while, though.”
“Yuyuko!” The half ghost yells out before running off, glowing bright red once more.
“Do you think she realize why she’s embarrassed?” The alchemist asks.
“It’s obvious to onlookers like us, but she likely hasn’t realized it yet herself.” The princess lets go of her friend, giving him more room to breathe. “She likes to go tend the garden whenever I tease her too much.” The ghost notes. “Going on autopilot like that helps her think while she’s in her own little world.”
[ ] “She’ll come back once she’s calmed down a little. Let’s take the time to catch up, Yuyu.”
[ ] “I think I’ll go watch her work. I’ve seen it a few times, but it still amazes me.”
Whenever you feel like it. You can probably think of better ways to bully tease her
>I've seen exactly zero blacksmith umbrellas on THP so far.
A criminally low amount. Let's fix that, together. Whenever there's not dork to be written.