Chapter six: Truth makes itself known
So I was human now, or at least in human form. I was also naked. Instead of asking how to change back to wyvern form, decided to ask Siren to get me some clothing after our....encounter.
"Sure." She said, putting her green shirt back on and assuming Esper form once more. "I think we have some clothing that should fit you. There's entire closets of it down near the training room. Anything in particular you want?"
I tapped at my chin thoughtfully with a finger. Just the act of actually touching a chin....no, HAVING a chin made me happy. "Use your best judgement...just don't be funny and get me a dress. Just a shirt, pants, underwear and some sort of shoes will do."
"Got it. I'll get you something that matches your eyes."
"Good, I like red. I'm gonna take a quick bath and then see about getting some food after I get dressed. You're more than welcome to join me."
That sly smile crept across her face. I would later pick it up as a sign to run like hell. "Do you mean for dinner, or the bath?"
"Look, you had your fun with me for now. I'm tired enough as it is, don't make it worse."
She giggled, and headed to the door.
"Oh, and Siren..."
She turned. "Yeah?"
I smiled. "Thanks."
She nodded, draping her wings behind her back again, and left my room, closing the door behind her. I lay back on the bed and sighed. This was definately one of the more interesting days of my life. I had learned how to fight with a sword in a mere six hours, learned how to shape-shift to become human, and well...learned some other things as well. I then realized that I was dead tired. The fact that my eyes kept sliding shut was an indication. I sat up, swing my legs over the side of the bed, and went to bathe.
Siren came back about a half hour later, with some clothing thrown over her arm. I was sitting in a towel on my bed, reading a book. "Here you are, Tri. I think these'll fit. If they don't, I can always get you something else." She set the clothing down next to me.
I marked the place in my reading, and set the book down. "Thanks. Let's see if it fits." I sorted through the clothing. I had no idea what size I wore, since I had grown considerably since I had last worn clothing. There were khakis, a cream-colored shirt that partially buttoned-up at the neck, a leather belt, and a red maroon vest with some sort of swirl pattern on it. There were also socks and loafers, and a pair of boxers.
You may note that I still wear the same outfit while human. No, it's not strange or disgusting, I have several changes of it if I need it, and there's a reason why I wear it....which I'll explain in a minute.
I put on the clothing, ignoring the fact that Siren watched the entire process. It wasn't like she was seeing anything she hadn't seen before. Everything fit fairly well, even the shoes, although the shirt was slightly baggy, and the waist of the khakis were a bit too large...but I remedied that by tucking in my shirt and belting the khakis.
"Sorry if the pants and shirt don't fit overly well, Tri...but it was hard for me to find clothing that would fit your long arms and legs. Getting shoes for those big feet of yours was something of a challange too."
I adjusted the vest, and looked at myself in the mirror. For some reason, the clothes just made it perfect: I was, in essence, the average-looking guy (with odd-colored hair, anyway). Still, the vest itself gave my apperance a slight fussy touch. Maybe it was the way it sat on my shoulders, or maybe it was the fact that it was made of silk, but I frowned. "I look like I'm ready to give a lecture somewhere."
Siren looked at me critically in the mirror, and then reached over to the buttons on my shirt, and unbuttoned them. "How's that?"
"Now I look like a pimp ready to give a lecture somewhere." I laughed. "No, it's fine. These clothes are a good choice, Siren." I kissed her cheek out of impulse. "Thank you."
Yet another coy yet sly smile crept across her lips. "Didn't you say something about dinner?"
"Yes, I suppose I did, didn't it?" I offered her my arm. "Shall we, then?"
From that point on, I generally went around as a human. The other Espers didn't mind....the actually approved. Many of my friends could assume human form long before I could, but they chose to hide that fact from me out of fairness. It doesn't seem fair to me even now...but I digress; I can shift form back and forth now, and that's what matters, isn't it?
My training continued, both physical and mental. Goddess herself took time with me at this point to deal with my magic skills, while GoGo increased my knowledge of weapons. One particular day I was asked to meet him outside for training, in a shack that I didn't recall being there before. The angel was seated on a simplistic stool, surrounded by various bits of metal, tools and a thin haze of smoke that came from a large contained fire. When I entered the shack, he stood up.
"Ah, Tritoch...good of you to come. I think it's time to expand your lessons even more."
I, in wyvern form, shifted to human to fit inside the shack. I could of fit most of me in it if GoGo wasn't there, but his wings took up more space than his body did, so it was cramped in there. "Expand? I thought I knew enough about fighting?"
He sighed. "You disappoint me, Tritoch. Of anybody, I thought that at least you would know that you never stop learning. But no...you aren't learning about fighting directly. You are going to learn about an art that makes the art of fighting possible." He indicated the fire with bellows attached. "Smithing."
I looked at him like he was stupid. "Smithing? As in...heating metal, banging on it and making things?"
"You don't like the idea?"
"Well, I'm not too pleased about it." I admitted.
"Too bad. I've already picked who I want to learn the trade, and that person is you. It might be a little rough at first, but eventually you'll get used to it. Besides, Espers have some advantages."
I looked at the fire. "Oh?"
GoGo gently folded his white wings against his back. "Yes. For instance, you are partially a fire elemental. The heat of the forge won't bother you as much, and you can also use your own magic to keep it fairly hot, without the bellows."
"Isn't that wasting magic? I probably could just use the bellows instead."
He looked at me cooly. "While turning a hunk of metal in the coals? I know you have four arms in Esper form, but I don't think you can fit in here too well."
I stared at the glowing coals. "What's the other advantage?"
The angel took a bar of metal off the wall. "Your strength. Espers are exceedingly strong, even while in their human forms. Looking at your build, I estimate that you are probably just as strong, if not stronger than your peers. Here." He handed the bar to me. "Bend that."
I gripped the cold metal in my hands and frowned at it. This whole ordeal was stupid...I thought that GoGo had a brain about him, and now he was testing my strength, even though he knew how strong I was. I grunted and bended the bar into a U-shape, and then handed it back to him.
"Good. That's no problem...but try this one." He reached up to take another bar that looked pretty much identical to the one I just bent. "Don't hurt yourself." He grinned as he passed the metal on to me.
I attempted to do the same with this metal bar as I did with the last one, but found it more difficult. It wasn't necissarily easy to bend the first one, but I could do it. The second one I could barely curve at all. I struggled with it for a few minutes, and finally gave it back to my teacher. It was more like a boomerang than a U-shape.
I wiped at my sweaty face, panting. "I don't get it...those two bars feel the same....they're both steel, right? What's the difference?"
GoGo bent both bars back to their normal shape, and hung them back on the walls. "The first bar was cooled much faster than the second one. Hence, the first bar was weaker than the second one. That's the first thing you have to learn...once something is hot, keep it hot for a while and cool it slowly, or it'll be brittle."
"Steel can't exactly be brittle, can it?"
"Would you like to see?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I'd like to see steel break like a dry piece of wood, if that's what you're saying it does."
"Fine then. Roll up your sleeves, hand me that practice sword over there, and pump the bellows. I'll prove my theory...no, the FACTS that I learned long ago."
I shrugged and did as he asked. He took the normal-looking practice sword and heated it in the coals as I laborously worked the bellows to get the fire white-hot. After several minutes, he asked me to stop.
"Now Tritoch, what I want you to do is cast a small ice spell on that drum of water over there. Don't freeze it solid, just make it cold enough that it'll have some ice floating in it. Like as cold as a lake gets in the winter...understand?"
I nodded, and glanced at the barrel of water, casting the spell by doing so. I saw mist rise off the top of the drum briefly, indicating that the water was now cold. GoGo walked past me with the glowing sword held in a pair of tongs. "Stay back a little. It'll spit at you."
I watched as he plunged the orange-hot sword into the water. What I expected was a hissing sound and a lot of smoke and steam. What I DIDN'T expect was an explosion, which is pretty much what happened. The cold water erupted out of the barrel, splashing over both me and GoGo. Surpisingly, it was no longer cold, but fairly hot. Through the massive cloud of steam that had risen I could see my teacher hold the sword in the vat of water. He held it in there for several minutes, and then turned to me.
"Cast another ice spell....the water's too warm."
I did as I was told, and the steam rising off the drum slackened slightly. GoGo waited for a few more minutes, and then pulled the sword out of the barrel with his bare hands. "A little warm, but it'll do. Now, watch." He calmly walked over to an anvil sitting on a metal worktable, and raised the sword above it. "This is why you cool metal slowly." Then he brought the sword down on the dead center of the anvil. I expected sparks. There were sparks all right, but also a dreadful cracking sound...and a fragment of the sword whistled past my ear to bury itself in the wall of the shack. The angel held up the stub of the weapon to reveal a jagged edge. "It shatters. Now try to think of what would of happened if somebody was using this sword while in a fight. They wouldn't of done too well, now would they?"
I pulled the fragment of sword out of the wall, and examined it in awe. "Point taken....lesson learned. When do I learn lesson two?"
He smiled, and brought me over to the bellows. "Lesson two: The importance of heat. Now, how hot your fire is will denote how strong your weapon will be..."
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