To say that the asura were still skeptic of me would be quite the understatement. Even so, they provided me with some new clothes, for which I was grateful. Sure, the clothes I bought from the sylvari were good enough for this hot and humid climate, but the way they were woven and the fabrics they used made them uncomfortable to wear.
In contrast, these asuran-made robes were much looser. Crafted from woven linen and studded leather, they provided all the protection I desired without hampering my movement. As opposed to charr clothes—which were generally dull and monotone—these were leaf green with white, intricate geometrical patterns woven into them.
“Whatcha doing?” a high, yet pleasant voice piped behind me.
“Trying to get this furnace to heat up,” I replied whilst giving the bellows a whack.
As a result, the flames roared and the whole room the forge was in was cast in a bright orange glow. An intense wave of heat followed.
“Woah,” the high voice said again. “You know how to turn up the heat!”
I turned my head to the asura and gave her a toothy grin. Unlike the other runts who kept their distance from me, Kaya seemed to find it difficult not to hover around me. She just stood there, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, smiling.
For an asura, she was quite tall, accentuated by the fact she was lean. Her ears were long and sleek, as was her chestnut hair which she tied into two knots on the back of her head with purple ribbons. She had dark skin which made her small nose look even smaller. Not only did her eyes have the color of amethysts, they seemed to sparkle like gems as well.
Also, she was the only one who could sneak up on me without me noticing her, apart from Thornfang who kept an eye on me from the furthest corner of the room.
“So, what was the problem with the forge?” she asked.
“Well, the bellows were misplaced, ruining the air supply.”
“That is suboptimal, correct?”
“Yes. The more air a fire gets, the hotter it can get.”
“Isn’t that odd?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.
“Odd?” I replied, arching an eyebrow. “Why?”
“Well, if I blow on a candle, it goes out!”
I chuckled. “The bigger the fire, the more air it wants. If you give it too much air, or at the wrong place, it will harm the fire instead.”
“I see,” she replied, nodding thoughtfully.
I could hear Marn approaching even before he turned around the corner and waddled into view. Every step he took sounded heavy and hurried, like a dolyak running towards its trough. The moment he saw the forge, his lip curled up—in disgust or jealously, I did not know. The fire reflected on his pale, bald head.
“Feline,” he sneered while softly shaking a box he was holding, “it’s time you made yourself useful.”
We would never be friends, that much was clear, and it took all the composure I had to not sneer back at him. Knowing that I could tear off his head with one swoop of my arm helped put things into perspective.
“What do you want,” I replied as cool as I could.
“I got some casts for gears for you here. There is a note in the box as well, stating how many of each we need—if you can read, that is.”
I sighed deeply. A cub could think of better insults than this runt. Still, I decided to push it aside, as my place in this… krewe… was far from secure.
“What do you need them for?” I asked.
“Tsk,” Marn replied, rolling his bright blue eyes. “Sharing that information with you would serve no purpose, feline.”
He stared defiantly at me as I took the box of casts from him.
“You really know nothing about metalworking, do you?” I said under my breath.
The reaction was immediate and predictable.
Anger flashed in Marn’s eyes as he clenched his fists. “How dare you speak to me like that!”
“You see,” I said, feigning disinterest, “you have both bronze and brass available for casting. If you need it for something that requires strength, I need to use bronze. However, if the gears need to survive quite a bit of heat, I would have to pick brass. The purpose of the item dictates the material that has to be used.”
Marn’s jaw was clenched and his eyes narrowed. Without a sliver of doubt, I had no doubt he was downright livid.
“I should have you thrown into the forge!” he spat at me.
Suddenly, Thornfang let out a low, threatening growl which made Marn jump up and yelp in quite the feminine fashion. I could not hold back my snicker, but Kaya just went ahead and burst into laughter. A red flush covered Marn’s cheeks.
“Brass,” he stated before dashing off.
Flowers and trees, birds and beasts, hills and rivers, they all had their own beauty. However, the sight of liquid metal pouring into a mold or cast somehow captivated me. It always has.
When I was still a cub, just old enough to go to the fahrar, I would go to the Canton Factorium and sit near the forges on our off-days. I spent hours watching master metal workers pour liquid copper, iron and gold. I saw them shape the metal into swords, shields, rings and vehicles.
I never thought I would one day stand in front of a furnace and cast the metal myself, until one day, an old one-eyed smith beckoned to me.
“You come here often, cub,” he said to me. “You just sit there watching us work.”
I nodded quietly, unsure how to respond. Was he going to send me away? I had no clue.
“Why do you do that, cub?”
“I love watching the metal melt and flow and being hammered into shape,” I replied shyly.
“Do you now?” the old smith said with surprise. “Tell me cub, do you want to keep watching, or try your paw at working the forge?”
For a year, that was all I did; I made sure the forge worked well. After that, I was allowed to cast my first sword. It was not a good sword, not at all, but it was my blade and I made it myself. Allia, who somehow managed to break just about everything, jumped on it and ‘stimulated’ me to improve as a smith.
Glix walked in just as I dipped one of the glowing gears into the water. As such, he was greeted by hissing metal and a burst of steam.
“I see you got to work,” he managed to say between two coughs. “How did they turn out?”
“Currently, I’m quenching them,” I replied as I took out the gear and grabbed another one with the thongs. Dipping the second one in the water, I said, “They should be done as soon as the quenching is completed.”
“So, the forge is giving you no problems?”
“No,” I replied, pondering. “The brass however wasn’t as pure as I would have liked it, so I had to purify it first.”
“Was that really… necessary?” Glix asked.
“Would a broken gear mess up an experiment?” I replied.
“My ears, it would most certainly!”
“Then yea, it was necessary.”
He nodded as he waddled over to where the first gear lay. Without touching it—it was still rather hot—he examined it from all sides, careful not to step in my way.
“Judging on external appearances, I would make a hesitant conclusion that the gears turned out acceptable.”
“Yea, well, we’ll have to wait and see, now won’t we?”
“Indeed we will, Kumara, indeed we will.”
“So, Marn was not the one to retrieve the gears?” Kaya asked, looking on as I cleaned up the workspace.
“No, Glix came,” I replied, relieved. “He inspected the gears and took them to wherever he wanted them.”
“Aren’t you interested in what they will be used for?”
“I guess,” I said with a shrug. “I’m sure they’ll be put to good use.”
“I am sure they will,” Kaya stated. After a couple of seconds, she scraped her throat. “You know Marn… dislikes you just because he’s jealous, right?”
“I’m pretty sure he hates me.”
“Besides,” I added, “why should he be jealous of me?”
“Well,” Kaya mused, “he was in charge of the forge before you came along.”
“He hated it!”
“Yes, yes he did. Still, it was a sort of a prestige project until you came along and basically told everybody he was doing a bad job.”
“I did no such thing,” I snorted in defense.
“When he said that the forge was bad, you contradicted him and said it wasn’t worked properly.”
“Oh, yea, I did, didn’t I…”
I shrugged. “I have no interest in disturbing your pecking order; I just do what I’m told to do.”
“So why do you help us?” Kaya asked, staring intently at me.
“I said it before: I was bored.”
“Come now,” she replied, gesturing wide, “surely boredom can’t be the only reason a charr is so far from his own lands, helping out an asura krewe.”
With a heavy sigh, I turned to face the asura.
“Look, Kaya, I have my reasons for being far away from my homeland, But I really don’t want to talk about that. As for the helping… I currently have no ‘greater goal’ in my life, nothing to work towards, so I just do whatever comes up.”
“So you’re helping us because you have nothing better to do?” she said with a sly grin.
“That’s one way of putting it. Also, I never truly enjoyed sleeping outside.”
“What about your leafy companion?” she asked, pointing at Thronfang who perked one of his ears. “How does he fit into all of this?”
“I found him on my previous adventure.”
“Oh, what kind of adventure was that? Was it fun? Enthralling?”
The fact that Kaya suddenly got so exited was off-putting.
“It was harsh and soul-crushing.”
Her ears that had risen in excitement flopped back down.
“Oh.” She stumbled. “Well… tell me about it. Sometime.”
End of Part 2
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of them all.
Marn: An asura, formerly in charge of the lab’s forge. Royally pissed-off that Kumara has taken his place.
Glix: Asuran Krewe leader and head of this lab. Accepted Kumara because they needed his skills.
Allia: Charr member—and eventual Legionnaire—of Kumara’s warband.