“Phew, I’m really grateful Allan and the others were there!
Those idiots got ahead of themselves because they thought they had created a masterpiece this time, instead of waiting for the usual test-firing day.
Regardless of those who brought this upon themselves, it would be irreversible if something happened to Emma, who was led astray by them.”
Imina-san walks ahead, holding a young girl who has cried herself to sleep in one arm.
Behind her is Stella.
Further back, a group of weirdos is pushing the Iron Dwarf, which can’t be dismantled because the little girl is sleeping on it.
Blade, perhaps feeling unsatisfied after the incomplete battle, is assisting the weirdos by lifting the wagon with one hand and pushing the Iron Dwarf with the other.
Whether they get along or not, I can hear them passionately arguing about their experience fighting alongside the Iron Dwarf.
Rin is accompanying Blade like that.
Auntie Elle deeply shrouds herself in a hood, fading into the background.
Well, it seems that Dwarves and Elves don’t get along very well.
It appears that the Dwarves are the ones who dislike the Elves unilaterally.
“No, I just happened to be nearby.”
I respond noncommittally to Imina-san’s words.
However, despite choosing such a neutral conversation, the hero next to me, has been glaring at me and Imina-san for a while now.
“Hahaha! You don’t have to look at us like that.
I may look young but I’m over 50, and I have no interest in youngsters.
So you can relax, Allan’s girlfriend!”
“. . . . . .If that’s the case, fine.”
Despite still having a somewhat dissatisfied expression, Stella accepts Imina-san’s words with a slightly relieved demeanor.
If you take such an attitude. . . . . .?!
“Wow! You’re not denying your his girlfriend! Allan, you’ve finally done it!
Ah, the tiny kid I first met has finally grown into a man. . . . . .how touching.”
“That’s not it! We haven’t done anything yet?!”
I accidentally dropped the formalities as I denied it.
Upon hearing this, Imina-san looks at me as if I’m an incomprehensible creature and mutters “Huh?” before glaring at me with an even more intense look than Stella had.
“Don’t tell me, you haven’t been able to confess yet?
The same Allan who never backed down, even when scolded by the old man, and ultimately made that stubborn, single-minded old man bend his principles━you’re having trouble in the love department?
You’ve always been saying how much you love her.”
“Imina-san, please elaborate.”
“Don’t fabricate memories!”
And so, in a flash, the two of them become friends using my past (or their interpretation of it) as a catalyst, while I frantically correct them. We finally reach our destination.
In the midst of the awe-inspiring natural splendor of the vast mountain ranges, we find ourselves enclosed by a semi-natural wall carved out of the mountain, in a secluded village that has a large area despite its small population.
As we pass through the main gate built directly into the mountain face, we find ourselves. . . . . .
“We’ve arrived. Welcome to Dwarf Village in the Celestial Mountains!”
Imina-san says this in a joking manner, then bows dramatically.
Underneath the blue sky, sounds of hammers clanging reverberate from everywhere, smoke rises from the blacksmith shops that make up about half of the buildings, and little girls play with groups of iron giants.
It’s been a while, but nothing’s changed.
The air is still filled with the same craftsman-like ambiance. . . . . . Wait a second.
It feels like something unfamiliar has been mixed into the familiar scenery.
“The Iron Dwarf is being mass-produced. . . . . .?!”
Moreover, each one has a different design.
Some are cobbled together from junk, some have bodies made of stone rather than metal, and some look like they were abandoned halfway through production.
There are more than ten of these.
Additionally, they are all accompanied by little girls.
What’s going on?
Is there a rule that says Iron Dwarves and little girls have to come as a set?
“Ah, that’s a pile of Iron Dwarf failures.
They were too good to throw away, so we repurposed them as both a defense force for the village and toys for the children.”
“So, they can double as a defense force and toys, huh. . . . . .”
Stella muttered in astonishment.
I completely agree.
“Even that started as a serious plan, you know?
The women in the village, who were concerned about the lack of proper defense, put their heads together, thinking that if they could be of some help, it would be great.
It all began when someone among the guests took notice of the grimoire for 『Golem Crafting』 left behind as a reward.
You see, in our village, I’m the only warrior, but we have plenty of powerful weapons. So, the idea was to equip the golems with them and turn them into a reasonably effective fighting force.”
Well, I get the logic.
In Dwarf culture, most men become craftsmen like their fathers, and the women support them.
The only exceptions are those with divine protection and the rebellious few.
In short, there aren’t people who want to become warriors among the Dwarves.
I think Golems are not a bad choice there.
As Imina-san mentioned, there are plenty of strong weapons lying around in this village.
Even if we subtract the portion that occasional messengers from the Sirius Kingdom buy and the portion sold to folks like me, who climb this mountain in search of strong weapons, there should still be more newly crafted weapons than what gets depleted.
If we include the failed creations that artisans decide not to sell to customers, it should amount to an incredible number.
Using that for Golems to bolster our military strength seems like a very reasonable idea.
“So, what went wrong with that, you ask. . . . . .
Well, some eccentric craftsmen who caught wind of this story came up with some bizarre ideas.
They argued that if we were going to create a golem, it would be better to control a body we made ourselves rather than relying on clay figures that crumble when deactivated.
They continued with their reckless and unruly spree, adding all sorts of features to that body. The result? The Iron Dwarf.
It’s so outlandish that now it’s nothing more than a toy for little girls who have completely mastered the art of making clay figures.
How did it come to this, you ask?”
If I had to say, it was too late the moment those weirdos got involved.
But it seems that the original goal of learning to make clay figures isn’t being hindered, so maybe it’s best to just let it go?
Then again, that could lead to harmful incidents like the kidnapping of little girls this time.
Ugh, what a hassle.
“Well, worrying about the actions of those weirdos will get us nowhere.
We’ll deal with them later. For now, let’s focus on welcoming Allan and the others.
You came here because you have business with the old man, right?”
“Yes, there’s something I’d like to ask.”
“Great! Leave the persuasion to me! Though, the old man likes Allan, so I don’t think my word is really needed.”
With the reassuring Imina-san leading the way, we reluctantly pull Blade away from the weirdos and head off to meet our intended contact.
Blade seems to be developing an uncle-like hobby, but let’s shelf that issue for now.
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, it’s still better if Blade finds some brightness down that path.
Sorry to disappoint Rin who looked up to Blade.
So, while Blade seemed a bit happier for the first time in a while, we, feeling mixed emotions, arrived in front of a blacksmith shop led by Imina-san.
At first glance, it doesn’t look much different from other blacksmith shops, it’s only unique feature being that it’s slightly larger than the rest.
However, whether it’s due to the person inside, there’s a palpable tension even from the outside.
It’s a solemn atmosphere, similar to what you’d feel at the headquarters of the Holy God Church or a royal castle, a place where rudeness is not tolerated.
As if to confirm that this feeling is not mistaken, Imina-san, who is usually a bit rough around the edges, knocked before opening the door.
“Oldman! Allan brought his girlfriend!”
“For the last time, she’s not my girlfriend!”
However, Imina-san’s comment and my retort instantly deflated the tension.
Nonetheless, the master of this place, seated deep inside the blacksmith shop, remained unfazed by our shenanigans, and began speaking while gazing at what appeared to be a newly made sword.
“Long time no see, kid. Bringing a whole bunch of friends along, I see you’ve achieved something you wished for.”
“No. . . . . .it’s only halfway. I came back here seeking the strength to achieve the other half of my wish.”
“Hah! Good to know you haven’t gotten complacent just because you achieved your first goal.”
Laughing in a deep voice that only comes with age and experience, somewhat reminiscent of Ruberto-san, was the old dwarf.
His face marked with deep wrinkles, his hair and beard completely white, but still active, his body showed a different kind of strength than that of a warrior—a seasoned Dwarf.
This oldman is the reason we’re here.
During my training period, he adjusted all my equipment for me.
His name is—━
“Since it’s the first time for everyone but Allan, let me introduce him.
This old man is the chief of our village and also the chief of all dwarves, a hard-headed, die-hard craftsman known as 『God of War』 Dwerk Dwarflord.
He’s so stubborn he doesn’t have any friends, so please get along with him.”
“Don’t give ridiculous introductions, you foolish granddaughter.”
『God of War』 Dwerk-san, hailed as the world’s greatest craftsman, didn’t hesitate to throw a hammer at his granddaughter’s face for her unnecessary comment.
Dwerk-san doesn’t have divine protection, so his attack doesn’t really hurt Imina-san, who is a Holy Warrior.
Knowing this, I felt nostalgic watching the playful exchange between grandfather and granddaughter, but the other members of my party were utterly appalled that Dwerk-san would aim so unhesitatingly at a woman’s face, especially Imina-san’s.