Enjoying oxygen while I still can

In the fourth part of a regular series, Karen takes on Fantasy Life in a variety of 'lives' and documents her adventures.

At the end of my turn as a miner I sold off enough of the floor covering of loose ore and gems I had robbed various kingdoms of to make a small path to the door of my small attic room, the bed, the chest of drawers, and levelled it off at a height where I could track my dog Pepper’s movements by his tail. It seemed like Dosh was fairly jumping into my pockets, so I got that nice little place in Al Maajik and a larger room in Castele, which meant that my stash of mining gains ultimately levelled off just below Pepper’s chin. I was so happy with my new accommodations that the pet master decided I looked blissful enough to take another pet, a white cat named Salt (note to cat fanciers: she’s heterochromatic) whose movements I could track only by a wavering tail tip for the first few days. Determined that my new cat would know the face of she who feeds her, I set off on my quest to become a blacksmith and find a good use for all of the glittery stuff that has been dropping sand onto my donated carpet.

The blacksmithing Life master is Vulcan; who seems very loud, very fiery, and very focused. His assistant and daughter is Fyra, a quieter soul who gives me some side-eye on seeing my mop of auburn majesty and the blacksmith’s cap delicately perched thereupon. Vulcan gives me a stern lecture on the need for materials as though he’s mistaken the canvas bag I dragged in behind me full of copper ore for a kitty carrier because Salt jumped out of it and ran away with lighting speed. With my ears ringing from the hammer blows, Fyra and I set off to see my old friends in the mining gulch in east Castele. I can admit that Vulcan made a few good attempts at trying to win me over with humour, but the miners are still punning like champions when I visit them in my new Life. Daniel the miner doesn't recognize me, and even Duglas the mining trainer seems a bit fuzzy on who I am, so he’s still his old self.

With the Vulcan-approved raw copper ore brought back from the miners Fyra shows me how to make ore into ingots, thereby making it more effective and spectacular when accidentally dropped on someone’s toes. Rough ore tends to roll gently off of one’s foot after an initial stinging sensation, but a well-forged ingot will hit with the feeling of genuine, searing pain on its way to the floor. After turning out a few ingots of appropriate heft, Vulcan sends me out to take care of an outstanding order from the forge.

As it turns out, my neighbour Magmia wants a sword for her brother Ignatius in the paladin order, but their grandfather Steele, an old hand of the smithy, is opposed to the whole ‘paladin’ business — I guess that’s what all the shouting I heard through the walls was about, but I don’t like to intrude. Magmia provides me with the sword’s instructions as Steele storms off to the Crown, Castele’s finest drinking establishment. The plans for this particular sword were created by the legendary ironsmith, a mysterious figure who casts a long shadow over the art of Castelean blacksmithing.

As we’re gathering materials for the sword around Castele, Magmia rejects slacker Huntin' Pete's advances and we go to the Crown to ask Steele about the note in the instructions about a component of the sword that I have no hope of forging myself, being a novice and all. We miss Steele but run into the legendary ironsmith outside of the Crown wearing a striped cap and a familiar beard. He completes the sword for us and after a touching family reunion, Ignatius has a new feather-light sword and the blacksmiths of Castele, if they’ve earned a commission, haven’t told me about it. Magmia suggests I go to see Ignatius and get his opinion on the sword, but he's not hiding under the forge so he'll have to wait.

Nothing could possibly go wrong

I cheerfully power though my ore, gem, and cloth reserves from previous Lives as I breeze through my blacksmithing training in the stifling heat. When I go to Port Puerto for some supplies I run into the chap that Magmia mentioned there was some sort of inter-kingdom misunderstanding with, but he only gave me some errands to do and didn't try to affix any kind of 'kick me' sign to my personage; so it can't be all that bad. Sebastian also tells me about a legendary sword stuck in a rock or anvil on Mount Snowpeak and how he intends to claim it.

When I reach blacksmithing mastery, Vulcan has a moment but not the words to express himself, so we celebrate at the Crown. More than a few gathered smiths are wheezing because of the comparatively cold air away from the forge, but since no-one falls to the floor and flops around like a fish out of water we’re all too polite as a group to say anything. After the celebration Vulcan and a few others make noises about the secret smithy and the allegedly legendary sword stuck in a rock or an anvil in the two caves on Mount Snowpeak. Since I rather enjoyed the room-temperature air in the Crown and night has once again fallen in Castele, I suit up in one of my new handcrafted armour sets and grab Blue Cap from her usual spot in the shopping district. I also bring my cat Salt with us to get her some practise wildly clawing at ankles.

At the secret smithy the legendary ironsmith (who happens to look, sound, and groom his facial hair a lot like Steele) hands me a few more challenges and sends me on my way, clearly unimpressed by my youth and meteoric rise as a blacksmith. On the other side of the mountain in the other cave the mysterious talking sword is impressed by my youth, gives me a few gifts, and tells me of the prophecy of the great hero that will one day pull him from his place in that rock in that cave. That hero evidently isn't the Sebastian fellow I met in Port Puerto because he was nowhere to be seen.

Rock traps sword

After coming down the mountain and once again taking my place in the Castele workshop, I wrap up the day by processing the last of my ore, and wondering how I’m going to fit all of the armour I made into my modestly-sized chest of drawers which is already taken up by the blades I crafted. I end up piling my new armour on the floor grouped by set and cramming all my swords and daggers into my chest. Pepper has taken one cuirass as his new house, and Salt thinks she’s in cat heaven; after the hours I spent at the forge the clatter of armour getting knocked over doesn’t bother me in the slightest. With all of these armaments kicking around, I may as well learn some up-close and personal combat in service of the kingdom that has given so much to me, so I’ve decided to join the paladin order.

Rank achieved: Master
Useful for: Toughening up those rose-petal soft hands, accessorizing your new and vast collection of swords with armour sets
Quality of Life: Hot
Additional comments: It’s not the hair that’s the problem if it gets too close to the coals, so much as the hairspray