Chapter 29: Sparks and Stardust
Master Zuguri ran out, and everyone followed, including Hirune.
“Look at this!”
The craftsman shouted as he lifted the reddening iron rod with special pliers and dipped it in holy water to cool.
The holy water evaporated, blistered by the iron at several thousand degrees.
The iron crackled in the holy water, turning from red to silver as it scattered stardust, and when the craftsman lifted it with his pliers, it shone brilliantly.
“This is without refining!”
“What purity, ……. We can sell this for a lot of money. ……!
The master and the craftsman looked at each other and nodded, as if they saw a future where they could escape their financial difficulties.
“Master, look at this one too.”
This time, the young craftsman next to him held the second reddish iron with pliers and struck it with a hammer.
Clang, clang, clang, a small sound echoed.
(Oh! There’s Sparks and stardust dancing in the air. ……!)
Hirune was surprised by this and admired the beauty of the glow.
The moment the hammer touched the steel, glitter and stardust sparkled, followed by sparks, and then disappeared in the air in a stream. It was like sparklers.
(Amazing ……The shape keeps changing steadily. ……)
The Rod-shaped iron ore was transformed by the hands of the craftsman into the shape of a flat square.
The men who had gathered there couldn’t take their eyes off his hands, and they watched the iron get refined with bated breath.
After repeated tapping and dipping in holy water, the silvery smelted iron was completed.
“Master, please confirm.”
Master Zuguri took the refined iron with the pliers, squinted at it, and inspected it vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
With a grunt, the master produced a loupe from his pocket and stared at the surface.
(Sensing magic–clear vision–magnified eyes)
Hirune also walked underneath the master to observe the refined iron.
(The miasma has been completely removed. ……. …… I think it’s more dense than the original iron ore. It seems to have tightened up. )(…… The holy radiance has also penetrated the surface and interior. ……)
Hirune groaned and crossed her arms.
She was smiling, like a little girl imitating her master. The Craftsmen were also smiling at Hirune, who was adorably staring at the iron with stardust in her big eyes.
“The inferior products we’ve seen so far are all a lie. …… This is top quality stuff.”
The master looked up.
At the same time, a cheer went up for the umpteenth time that day.
（It was so sparkly when it was being tapped. ……!)
Hirune suddenly remembered her mother from her previous life, and then the face of the goddess Sophia came to mind.
(My mother was sick, but she lived her life like a little spark. ……. If it wasn’t for that spark, I think I would have lost the meaning of life much earlier. Then I met the Goddess Sophia and learned that this world was as beautiful as the stardust…….)
“Let’s take a closer look, Makura-chan…”
Master Zuguri was at a loss for words as he reached out to hand the refined iron to Hirune.
Hirune’s gentle eyes were looking somewhere far away, not there.
The girl with the starry blue eyes looked for a moment like the goddess Sophia, and Master Zuguri’s heart jumped. She looked a little out of it and sleepy, but she was the Great Saint, he thought again.
“Master. You said earlier that you wanted to do something for me, right?*
“…… Oh. What is it?”
The master came back to himself and replied.
“I’d like to try it too!”
Like a ten-year-old girl, Hirune smiled carefree and pointed at the hammer.
“Refining…..It’s heavy, don’t you know?”
“Please join me then! I want to see those sparks and stardust up close.”
Master Zuguri twisted his head and looked around at his men.
They all had a look on their faces that said, “Why not, just once?”
“Normally, I wouldn’t let you do any refining until you’ve worked for at least three years. …… but I can’t say no to a request from a Saint.”
The Craftsmen responded to his thoughtful words with “That’s great! “You’re so generous!” I’m so glad you’re here, Makura-sama!”, and others just applauded.
Hirune sat down on a steel, cloth-covered chair and grabbed a hammer, while being watched by everyone.
(It’s heavy but …… somehow ……)
The craftsmen were on edge.
Then the master’s thick arm reached out from behind and assisted Hirune’s hand.
It was a thick and dependable arm.
“Be careful,” he said. “ We’ll take it slow.”
As soon as she gave a positive reply, liquid iron flowed from the lane and was poured into the mold.
One of the craftsmen skillfully cut off the liquid iron and sliced it one after another.
Picking up a pair of pliers from a subordinate, Master Zuguri lifted the red-hot iron.
“Listen, Makura-chan. When you lift it out of the water, give it a quick tap. It doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to hit it evenly and with the same force.”
“I got it.”
（It’s all bright red! It’s so powerful up close!)
Hirune followed the iron with her eyes.
The master stretched out his arm and dumped the iron into a large vat of holy water. The water bubbles up for about 20 seconds. He quickly lifted it up and placed it on the pounding table.
Hirune swung the hammer down with a “Heave-ho.”
The hammer was heavy, but thanks to the assistance, she was able to hit the iron.
A light Clang was heard, and sparks and stardust scattered.
(It’s beautiful. …… Very beautiful. ……!)
She rhythmically struck it with a clang, clang, clang. The master quickly dips it in holy water and puts it on the table again.
The people around her cheered, ” Good!”
The master’s hand wrapped around her small hand was big and reliable.
Hirune turned around, still holding the hammer.
She looked up at the master, with a big smile on her face.
“It’s so nice to make steel!”
“It’s sparkling! It’s like everyone’s smile!”
Seeing Hirune’s dazzling smile, Master Zuguri was reminded of his dead son.
At the age of ten, he said he wanted to be a steelmaker, at twenty he became a full-fledged steelmaker, and at twenty-seven he died of a lung disease. He was a cheeky but serious son who loved his companions. When he smiled, he had a single wrinkle at the edge of his eye, just like his mother.
“Dad! I want to be a craftsman like you!”
His ten-year-old son, who had always wanted to hold a hammer, was also smiling with a crinkled face, just like Hirune.
As a father, he wondered, would he have been able to make his son’s dream come true?
Would he have died if he had stopped his son from forcing himself to go to work?
Master Zuguri looked at the smokeless iron and clenched his back teeth.
“Look! I’m still going!”
With Hirune’s call, the refining process resumed.
The iron struck by the master and Hirune gradually transformed into a flat, square-like shape.
(Everyone has worked so hard. …… You can see it in the walls and things. …… It’s old and dented in places, but it’s been carefully maintained… …A lot of things have happened here ………)
Hirune stared at the sparks and stardust and imagined.
There were many things that happened at the steel mill.
The lives of the craftsmen working there. Families. Their lives.
(They’re all alive ……, just like these sparks ……!)
Clang, a momentary glimmer of light bursts forth and disappeared
When Hirune thinks of the craftsmen at the steel mill, stardust spills from her body.
She was too absorbed in her refining to notice.
The stardust floated softly and flew into everyone’s head.
The stardust happily entered Master Zuguri’s head as well, creating an image in front of his eyes like a movie film.
It brought back memories of the distant past.
“You idiot! The temperature is wrong!”
He was a young man, being yelled at harshly by his master at the time.
The day when he was entrusted with refining for the first time. He was so happy that he showed it around to his colleagues.
“Dad! I want to be a craftsman like you!”
The smiles of a son who wanted to work at a steel mill!
Then ……, he heard words of his son that he had never heard.
“I couldn’t tell my dad this, but I’m really happy to be working here. ……The hours are long and the pay is low,…… but …… without us, Ixendahl would be swallowed by demons, so I’m proud to work here. I’m proudly …… making iron. Hey, don’t tell my dad because it’s embarrassing. ……”
The image looked like a worn out film, but his son was certainly smiling.
He wondered if it was an image from the past that Hirune’s thoughts had shown him.
There was a single line of wrinkles next to the son’s eyes, just like his mother’s.
“Are you glad …… that you …… worked here ……? ……”
Hot tears were running down Master Zuguri’s cheeks.
He wanted to stop, but he couldn’t.
His vision became blurry and his nose runny.
But that didn’t stop him from refining. The sensation of the hammer that he had wielded so many times had become ingrained in his body.
He took Hirune’s hand and the sound of the hammer rang out. Clang, clang, clang.
“It’s now a shiny silver color! What do you think, master?”
Hirune turned around.
For some reason, they all put their hands on their chests, or covered their faces with their hands, crying or smiling.
The stardust from Hirune seemed to have brought back memories of the past.
“What’s wrong, guys? Master?”
Hirune looked up at the master who was still holding her hand, worried.
“Ugh … ggh,… it’s nothing … Just a little … I just got a pain in my chest ….I’m sorry…..”
He didn’t want to be seen crying, so he took his hand away from Hirune and covered his face with his arms.
Seeing the crying master, Hirune used the holy magic of healing.
( I’m sure it was hard for all of you ……, but unlike me in my previous life, you take pride in your work, and I can’t help but feel envious.)
A magic circle unfolded and stardust rained down on the steel mill.
The pain in the hearts of all the craftsmen was cleaned away.
“I used the Holy Magic of Healing. Now you no longer have chest pains, do you?”
At this, they all bowed their heads and made the holy seal at once.
Master Zuguri also made the holy seal reverently.
“It’s okay, it’s ……”
It was a shame to be so revered.
Hirune scratched her cheek with her finger and tugged on the master’s arm, saying, “Please stop.”
Zuguri smiled tearfully and said, “Thank you.”
( I guess I should also try my best to be a Great Saint ……. When I think about that…… I kind of want to see Jeanne and Holly. ……)
Hirune yawned loudly, her eyes fluttering open and closed.
Suddenly she felt sleepy.
She couldn’t stop yawning “ahhhhh”.
Seeing this, Master Zuguri and the craftsmen laughed and said, “You’re sleepy, aren’t you?”
They were all happy to see the Great Saint of Dozing yawning.
“Well, everyone, the Freelance Saint Makura is leaving. I’ll come back to visit you.”
“Oh! Come back anytime!”
With a wave of her hand and a yawn, Hirune left the Morgul Steel Mill.
Even as she turned away, she kept hearing people saying, “Thank you, thank you.”
(When I get back, I’ll slip in while Jeanne and Holly are asleep. I’m sure they’ll be soft and warm. ……)
Unable to overcome her desire for sleep, Hirune made a flying carpet with holy magic and returned to the Great Church, to her bed.
It was 3:30 in the morning.
Hirune squirmed and slipped in between Jeanne and Holly. She had never stayed up this late before.
Feeling happy, she quickly departed into a dream.
From that day onward, there was no more black smoke rising in the frontier city of Ixendahl.
The holy water fountains were freely used by the citizens, and the lives of the people became more prosperous. There was also a strange phenomenon that when people tried to resell the holy water, it somehow became just water.
After that, Morgul Steel Mill became famous as the number one steel mill in the kingdom.
The high purity and holy power of the iron, known as “Makura Iron,” became popular throughout the land, and orders continued to flow in.
Master Zuguri also engraved on the Makura iron the lily-of-the-valley flower that was dug into the outer wall of the Great Church.
The lily was a graceful, glossy flower with six petals.
As a result, the frontier city of Ixendahl would come to be known throughout the world with the symbol of the lily, but that’s a little further down the road.
The refined iron struck by Hirune would be carefully stored as a sacred object at the Morgul Steel Mill, and would become one of the tourist attractions as the mysterious iron that didn’t rust or deteriorate even after several hundred years. This was also a story of the future.
Incidentally, Hirune didn’t wake up until 7:00 p.m. that day, and when the existence of the freelance saint, Makura, reached the ears of Wanda, the educator, she was sentenced to clean the thousand-hall corridor as punishment for going out at night without permission.
Wanda was worried that Hirune might get kidnapped.
“I was worried when I heard that Hirune-sama went out last night,” Jeanne said.
“You woke up in the middle of the night, that’s the biggest surprise of all.” Said Holly.
“I was also surprised. I never wake up … Aah.”
Hirune yawned while holding a mop in one hand.
“The steel mill would now be a white company. And I’ll have a good night’s sleep. Ah, the wonderful life of napping.”
The carefree Great Saint leaned against the mop and began to sleep while standing.
“Are you asleep already?! You never learn …”
As she listened to Jeanne and Holly’s voices, she dreamed of a momentary glow of sparks and stardust scattering.
“ It’s …… sparkly. ……”
The world was at peace that day.