The Dwarven Race
The dwarven race was looked down on.
Until now, they hadn’t met any dwarves. Dwarves were excellent blacksmiths and craftsmen, and without fail would have workshops set up in big cities. In metropolises like Anise, they would build up orderly communities.
However, the dwarves’ true home was different.
When dwarves didn’t worry about the eyes of other races, there were like another race altogether.
To start with, the image of them being stubborn workers wasn’t wrong.
Take their weapon shops for instance.
At least if you were to talk about what is said in their workshops… Iron! Sometimes, mithril! Occasionally, orichalcum!
But this wasn’t everything that the dwarven race was.
They were even more extreme if you went to their house. One sake, two sake, three sake, even five of them. They heartily enjoyed their sake, continuing on with their work the next day, silently waging war against metal.
The first to escape was Lulu. She was a delicate elf, so they ignored her.
Serge was trembling like a bouncy maiden, he avoided harm since he was a child.
Gig couldn’t pass as a child. His huge build getting smashed was laughed at.
Carlos? That thing rolled into a ball like some garbage in the corner of the bar was his body?
Even though Shizuna was unexpectedly strong against the sake, she was still within the scope of a human’s common sense. Drowning in the dwarven wives’ fruit liquors, she continuously vomited a mass of gold in the end.
Only Ria fought.
Let’s spell out the memories of that sublime battle here.
In a large dwarven settlement, where should one go to meet the highest ranking dwarf?
The answer: the largest smithy.
Getting information about it and going down the road they were told about, there was a large smithy made of wood.
Hearing the incessant strikes against metal from within, it wasn’t likely that they would be able to normally get anyone’s attention.
Here, Ria leveraged her [Roar] Gift.
The wooden building shook. At any rate, it was at a volume that would stupefy the average human.
“The heck, so noisy.”
An old dwarf with a calm face came out, the head foreman.
Ria passed over the letter she’d held on to from the Ogre King.
Its contents were simple. From having a bout against Cordova, to requesting the arrangement of weapons, to also offering their war potential if they could.
Bufuuu. The head foreman exhaled from his nose.
“Bring it on. Cordova has been a thorn in our side for a while now.”
They heard from him that dwarven slaves were forced to produce weapons.
The head foreman continued with a, “However.”
The dwarf village was an autonomous organization of a great number of foremen gathered together. Though he could more or less act as a mediator, he couldn’t decide everything himself.
Dwarves were a race that weren’t suited towards having a structured system after all.
“So, was that all?”
The head foreman’s glance kept flickering towards Ria’s waist. More accurately, towards the katana sheathed there.
“Right, take a look at this. What do you think of it?”
Presenting Nagasone Kotetsu, still in its scabbard, she passed it to the head foreman. He smoothly unsheathed it.
“A katana, huh…”
With earnest eyes, the foreman gazed at the blade.
His eyes were chilling.
“This is… a worthy specimen. It doesn’t look like it can take in magic, but it should easily be able to cut through mithril. But just how was it forged…?”
“Head foreman, do you think you could make a better one if you knew how it was made?”
It was a challenge to the dwarf.
Though Ria had spoken casually, to a dwarf, it was something that would fire up their pride to the maximum.
The sort of feeling of wanting to give it a shot. However, it wasn’t his specialty. He had hammered out countless swords, but never a katana.
He hadn’t made one and couldn’t say that he would leave it to someone else. Even so, he wasn’t being obstinate just for a show of a show of skill.
“I’ve never made a katana. But my youngest son can, he’s in now. Other people say that it’s useless though…”
“Katanas are the strongest. If a dwarven blacksmith forges one, it would be the strongest katana.”
“You don’t use swords? There are a lot of good things about swords.”
“You could say that I’m just used to katanas, but I can’t see swords being better than katanas.”
The head foreman called his apprentice over to bring various things.
Saying that much, she had plenty of interest in weapons made by dwarves.
“Try and cut this.”
The trial began.
The thick lumber was easily bisected.
Next was slicing through wood coiled with wet straw and paper.
Although iron was taken out as well, it was also easily cut in two.
“Good, now for the real thing.”
Forged by a dwarf, the steel sword was placed on the trial stand in front of Ria.
“So? You might nick the blade, but…”
The head foreman’s voice trailed off as Ria shouted, breaking the sword.
Nagasone Kotetsu’s blade wasn’t marred at all.
Those inside the smithy were looking at the trial. Though the head foreman would usually shout to disperse them and get them to resume working, as expected, it was impossible for a dwarf to not watch this.
Next, a mithril blade was taken out. Its strength was improved with magic. Thinking sensibly, it wasn’t possible to be broken by an iron blade.
Even so, Ria’s Nagasone Kotetsu sliced through it.
“The heck is that…? Even if you could cut through it, I’d think there would be a nick or bend…”
Being returned to its sheathe, Nagasone Kotetsu showed no signs of bending.
“Isn’t it just normal iron? But it couldn’t be that strong from normal forging… I don’t get it.”
Then, the head foreman took out an orichalcum ingot.
It was called the metal of the gods, a metal far more expensive than pure gold.
As expected, she couldn’t cut through it. However, Nagasone Kotetsu was still neither warped nor nicked.
“I’m going to give it a serious shot, that good?”
Now that she’d come this far, Ria wanted to know the limit of her beloved katana.
Well, it was more like she wanted to slice through it.
Something like metal with magical power should be able to be sliced through if she loaded the iron with magical power.
Nagasone Kotetstu, charged with Ria’s magical power, met her expectations.
The lump of orichalcum cracked in half.
The head foreman raised his hands in defeat. He literally raised his hands.
“Follow me. It seems you’ll understand my youngest son.”
He then took Ria alone to a corner of the village, arriving at a small hut.
“Foreman, the head foreman arrived.”
Though an apprentice called out inside the hut, there wasn’t a reaction for a while.
The sound of iron being struck continued ringing out.
The work process finishing at last, a still-young, yet also obstinate, dwarf came into view.
Urged on by silence, Ria and the head foreman entered the workshop. Though it was small, there was a beautifully arranged set of general tools. It looked like a house on the inside.
“Your katana, please show him it.”
Hearing the world ‘katana’, the foreman’s eyebrow twitched. Ria passed it over to him, still sheathed.
Quickly drawing the blade, the foreman looked it over.
Meanwhile, Ria browsed through the katanas forged at the workshop.
They weren’t bad. Rather, they were actually good.
The katanas were completed with just rough sharpening, but that wasn’t befitting of the forged items. Their appearances were graceful and powerful.
However, they were still crude. There was a problem of technology, but the feeling of skill remained.
The foreman finally spoke.
“What dwarf forged this? Tell me. Please.”
“Well, that was forged by a human.”
That drew the attention of the other dwarves for a moment.
“A-a human… forged it? This? Who in the world…?”
“I’m sorry to say that that person is already dead…”
Ria began to tell the story of Nagasone Kotetsu.
However, Ria’s knowledge of it was limited. They were a lot of legends, as well. Opening with that, Ria spoke of Nagasone Kotetsu’s life.
Until he turned fifty years old, he’d never made a katana. Only armor.
To destroy the magnificent armor that he himself had created, he began to forge
e a katana.
Before forging it, he first started by carefully examining iron as a material.
Then, when he became the greatest craftsman in the east, he caught the eyes of a lord. He was recognized as being the best swordsmith.
The consequences of his fame, including the forgeries that appeared on the market in his lifetime, Ria spoke about everything she knew of Nagasone Kotetsu.
By the time she realized it, it had already grown dark outside.
When Ria finished speaking, the dwarf and his son were overcome with emotion. Their arms were linked as they looked towards the ceiling.
“It’s a wide world out there.”
When the head foreman muttered that, the foreman nodded as well.
“As for me, I want you to forge a katana that exceeds this one.”
“Right now, that’s impossible. I can’t even hold a candle to it.”
Although the dwarves were a race of proud blacksmiths, he said such a thing, lowering his head.
“I beg you. Please, teach me anything related to this katana, anything is good.”
“I expected that. I also love katanas, after all.”
Then, the fight started.
“First of all, this iron is bad.”
Dwarven iron was pure, made by magic and a furnace. Although coal was added as well to turn it into steel, it was too pure.
There was a mixture. Hearing that, the dwarves had strange looks on their faces. Eliminating impurities from the iron, it was further hardened by the addition of carbon. That was the reasonable way to make weapons.
“Though it’s an extremely small amount, rather than not lacking iron, you need a material that makes it not warp.”
Though she’d researched the areas around here as well as Anise, the ultimate steel hadn’t been completed.
“Like this. Here.”
Ria created some titanium. It wasn’t a magical metal.
In the manufacturing method of Japanese katanas in her previous life, this was something that was mostly lost as a secret.
In fact, there was a theory that the most excellent katanas were made between the Heian and Kamakura periods, even compared to modern ones.
The grounds for the theory was discovered in an old Buddhist temple. An analysis on the composition of an old and tattered katana found there found modern materials contained within it.
Though it’s said that they may have intentionally left things behind when they made the iron, since the exact method of iron refinement from those times hasn’t been confirmed, it couldn’t be brought to a conclusion.
At any rate, in order to make iron, they began with making another furnace.
Mixed in with the group of dwarves were also Carlos and Gig helping out.
Collecting the iron to use as materials was also a problem. Though there was a lot of good quality iron and steel to make use of in the village, iron sand was necessary in the manufacturing method that Ria knew of.
There was a place where iron sand could be found on the banks of a river. Moreover, Serge’s magic smashed the iron ore into grains.
Even for Ria, this was a process of continual trial and error. She had knowledge of it as well as some experience in it. However, she hadn’t been in the position of supervising everything.
The head foreman did his best to support them.
When the furnace was completed and the steel manufacturing was to start, the village’s dwarves cooperated.
Pumping the bellows together with many heave ho’s, the three day long steel manufacturing began.
They failed many times. Perhaps the iron was bad, or maybe the soil, or maybe the coal. It could have been anything.
Dozens of kilos of iron was used before she managed to figure it out. A month had passed.
Still, Ria was satisfied. She felt like she’d seen the dwarves’ potentials.
Profound, boorish lumps of iron. When you looked inside, it shined white like the moon.
This was iron. More valuable than gold, it was iron.
They then began to forge the katana.
The technique itself wasn’t too different from her previous life’s. It was a problem of skill.
There was no one to rely on for feedback. Only the foreman had forged katanas in earnest among the dwarves, and his apprentices were definitely not at the point of being able to forge the iron.
“Will I be fine?”
Though Ria gripped the hammer and asked that, the foreman just nodded.
They then worked on forging katanas.
It was struck single-mindedly. For both the part that would become the heart of the iron and the part that would become the iron blade, various methods were used.
Simultaneously advancing, they both struck katanas countless times using separate methods.
Soil used for tempering, water used for tempering, they had arranged various things.
What kind of water to use? Well water or river water? What temperature for the water?
They failed many, many times.
Ria and the foreman hardly slept.
With endurances that could be thought as nearing infinite values, they continued forging katanas.
It was primarily the apprentices’ role to sharpen. They weren’t looking for a true sharpening. Simply a rough sharpening to see the color of the iron.
Yet another month passed by.
There was a single katana.
Its body was wide and the blade had a shallow curve.
The ripples along the blade weren’t something to boast of.
Ria stared fixedly at the katana, whose blade just finished its rough sharpening.
As though waiting for her to say something, the foreman stood quietly at her side.
“Kind of similar to Kiyomaro.” 
Ria muttered. The foreman’s eyes seemed to ask who Kiyomaro was.
“He was born in an age after Nagasone Kotetsu, a swordsmith that was his rival. The appearance is different of course, but the katana has ambition.”
The foreman nodded. In the corner of his eyes, something was gleaming.
“Now then, I’ve been meaning to ask something.”
This was a true katana to Ria’s eyes and she was celebrating being able to just barely make one.
“I want you to forge a katana with this.”
“This is… a metal? I haven’t seen it. Though it looks like a dragon’s fang…”
Even the head foreman, who was the most knowledgeable of them all, couldn’t figure out where it came from. Without putting on any airs, Ria told them.
“This is a god dragon’s fang. I received it from Dark Dragon Valis.”
With those words, the movement of every dwarf male ceased.
“Please, forge a katana with this.”
His response? An immediate, “Impossible.”
What he wanted to say was to let him have a shot at it, but he couldn’t make himself say it.
His eyes said that he wanted to do it.
“First of all, we wouldn’t need a furnace…”
The head foreman muttered to himself. He was motivated.
Another person muttered that charcoal from the world tree would be needed.
Another brought up the hammer that would be needed.
They were motivated.
The dwarf village was filled with motivation.
“Ah, here’s more or less my advance payment.”
Ria took out a few objects. Gold bullions she made in her spare time.
“You can’t eat iron right?”
Brandishing their cups of sake, the dwarves cheered.
Leaving the dwarf village the next morning.
“Even when I grow up, I’ll absolutely never go to the dwarf village.”
Serge, who was a liberal arts youth in his previous life, didn’t hide his true feelings.
“Rather, never again…”
On the back of his favorite horse, Carlos was groaning as though dying.
Lulu quietly used recovery magic on him, but magic that perfectly removed alcohol didn’t actually exist.
“They’re a bunch of good guys.”
Even Ria was shaking back and forth on Matsukaze’s back.
Drinking and making a racket with the dwarven men, Ria was crushed.
Somehow waking up before sunrise despite the hangover was due to years of habit.
“Still though, I really do think dwarves have sake flowing in them instead of blood.”
“Well, you were able to keep up with them until the end.”
Lulu quipped. She was the kind of person that would get drunk off of a single glass of wine.
Although Ria had terrific abnormal condition resistances, she didn’t have one for alcohol.
Right, even dragons would get drunk after drinking sake.
Ria’s strength against sake depended purely on her body.
“Still, it took longer than I thought.”
Though it was mainly because of her, Ria muttered so in a carefree manner.
A bird flew from the sky to such a Ria.
No, not a bird. It did have wings, but it was a bat.
The bat’s feet hovered in front of Ria, a letter attached to them.
As for who would use a bat like that, it was probably a report from Asuka.
A short sentence was written inside the letter.
[Cordova soldiers raiding the village. Return quickly.] Spurring Matsukaze forward, Ria hurried down the road towards the village.