The sound of a hammer colliding with iron echoed through a pacific refuge in Saphyr. The strength applied to it to mold and purify the gold wasn't brutal at all but calculated. Extremely well calculated.
The art of creating weapons seemed as delicate as paint a wonderful landscape. It needed the level of perfectionism of a sculptor, and the ability and intelligence of an engineer.
That was nothing but art, indeed.
A boy was standing with attentive eyes beside a bulked man, following the motion of the hammering. He was restless for some reason. However, bigger than his anxiety, his admiration was nearly overwhelming and even made the blacksmith get somewhat uncomfortable. When stared by those eyes, even that man would get shy somehow.
Nonetheless, the amusement on the boy's face also got him pumped up, which made the blacksmith polite his technique to its peak to keep impressing the admirer of his work.
A sword was forming in front of the youth's eyes. He got so amazed that he tried to approach more the anvil, but the blacksmith stopped hammering the blade and pushed him a few centimeters away.
"You better stay away, or else you will end up harming yourself or getting on my way, Dean."
The boy pouted, crossing his arms, but not complained out loud. Dean was aware that he was being kind of annoying there. However, he didn't like to be treated as a child.
"I need to get closer to analyze more details of how to do it, Sam."
"You shouldn't be peeking at my work. You need to start with the basics, brat." He sighed, trying to concentrate on his job and returning to hammer the iron in the right points before it got too cold and he needed to restart part of the process.
"I hate being an apprentice, uncle Sam! I wish I could learn everything once and for all, then start to do weapons and armors. They even will pass for us a test soon or later, and I won't be able to score well, probably."
Sam rolled his eyes. He was getting tired of that kid whining. After all, he knew how essential it was to enjoy to the fullest the time as an apprentice, so he could become a good blacksmith in the future.
"Listen, if you are willing so much to become a good blacksmith, then you would be paying attention to the classes like a good apprentice to have a basis from where to start."
"But it's too boring!"
Sam gave a final sigh, that was probably the tenth he gave while talking to that kid. He took the uncomplete sword and emerged it on the water for some seconds to get it less hot, then looked at its structure to see where he needed to fix it.
'Hmm, not bad, but not perfect yet. I will do the rest afterward.' He put it aside and took off his thick leather gloves, taking the children to a corner of the forge and looking into his eyes with an annoyed expression.
"Well, well, what kind of idiocy wouldn't I do for the son of my old brother? I even made the masters get you as their apprentice, even if you had not a hint of talent. Instead of making me help you for free, I should get paid for this!"
Dean laughed at his face, raising one brow, which made Sam somewhat angry. That boy always got him on the nerves every day. The only thing that made the blacksmith like him was the fact that the boy had an appreciation for blacksmithing more than any other youth he had seen before.
'Though admiration and determination are two very distinct things, if I may say. But it's better than just be slacking around without any purpose.'
He looked to the boy for seconds more, pondering for the umpteenth time if the little brat was worth it.
'You know what? Why not? Maybe, in the future, he becomes a great blacksmith and will earn a lot of money. This way, I will have the source of money for my retirement. I will make sure to get him to pay me a huge amount of money!' Besides being a blacksmith, Sam was a man of business, after all.
"Ok, hear me well, Dean. I did this same exam that they are going to apply for you when I was an apprentice. They can change the way that the question is asked, but never the subject. So, if you memorize all the content, you will inevitably pass."
"That's how you passed the test before, rig--" The brat's mouth got covered before he could say anything more.
Sam brought him away from the forge a few more meters. The other blacksmiths seemed to be too absorbed in their work to notice what they were saying, but it was better to be careful.
"Look, don't go saying things you don't know, you stupid brat! Your dad said that bullshit to you, right?"
"No. I charmed the other blacksmiths, so they could tell me bad things to briber you in the future." He had a naive expression on his face that was both infuriating and creepy at the same time. Just God knew what kind of mischievous thoughts were passing for the mind of such a cunning brat.
'Ahhhh... Oh! I sighed again because of this-- Argh! Let him be, Sam. Turn a blind eye. You will get your vengeance when you manage to meet your brother again.'
"Ok, ok, shut up for now. I will start to review the content like I did in the past years, so you can know what will be talked about in the exam. Well, the main subject will be the utility of a blacksmith in the Refuge. Do you know what is it?"
The boy shrugged, giving him a helpless look.
The man gave a punch on his head, making a bump appear on it right after.
"How can you have such appeal for blacksmithing and don't even know about this, you pig!?"
Dean just rubbed the part he punched, chuckling with a wry smile.
"Ok. Let's get to the beginning of the beginning, then. I bet you are skipping classes from the school to come to learn blacksmithing. That's not an entirely bad thing, but you should be aware of certain things of this world, you brat!
"Well, seven centuries ago, as I hope you may know, meteorites fell from the sky and landed on the surface of the earth at different points. They were filled with the energy that we call "Chaos", and it was responsible for dramatic changes in our planet and everything that existed inside it. That was the beginning of the Crimson Apocalypse, and that's why our skies are crimson in certain parts of the world until today. The "Chaos" that dyed them before is still strong on those spots, after all."
He needed to give another light punch on Dean's head to make the boy pay attention to him. Then, he forced him to sit on a wooden box, doing the same afterward.
"Continuing... Because of the "Chaos", living beings on earth started to become what we know today as Dreads. And those monsters are the basis for my explanation about why the blacksmiths exist, even after we had such an advanced society before."
At this moment, Sam's eyes started to shine as he explained the reason for the existence of his passion, which was to manipulate iron, and how essential it was for their society those days.
"We, blacksmiths, are the ones who mastered the art to handle metals and turn them into beautiful and mortal weapons. We mainly learn since the start how to deal with a special metal that we call Petroleum-metal. It's a metal that started to appear in our world, along with other very useful resources. This metal is the only one capable to hurt the Dreads nowadays, even if they continue to grow stronger each generation that passes."
Sam smiled, leaning his body toward Dean, who now had a full interest in the subject.
"The weapons we build are used to protect the humans inside the Refuges from these predators born in the Crimson Apocalypse. Indirectly, we save hundreds of thousands of lives every day. We are an important engine to keep our society working."
He crossed his arms on his chest proudly. The smile on his dirty and sweated face couldn't be brighter.
Dean was getting more and more excited about that.
'Hehe, I got him.' Sam knew that now the boy was trapped. He could talk about anything that it would still be seeing as the most amazing thing in the world.
'Maybe like this he can pay attention and start to put more effort into it. After all, we are in an Apocalypse. Humanity is still trying to rebuild a civilized society after what happened. We don't have time to slack. Not even a little brat like him can't rest assured.'
The man's eyes got drawn by the enormous stone walls of the Refuge they were in.
'After all, who knows when these walls will be invaded again?'