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1 [Flashback][GV] A Blacksmith's Origin Story on Tue May 01, 2018 4:39 am

Devroux

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Devroux

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

At 16, Devroux decided that it was time for him to leave his home and birthplace on Zou. There were a few things that fueled his early journey, some things holding more weight than others. Primarily, the decision was made in order to get himself acclimated to the rest of the world, be it the people, the society, climate, or otherwise. The younger the mink left, the less stubborn he'd be with the changes the world would inflict on him.

Another reason was that Devroux was fed up with the island as it was. The temperature was relatively steady all year round, and it grew stale for the mink that desired change and flow. The only weather outside of sunny and humid on Zou came when that damned elephant, Zunisha, decided it was time to flood the place. There were many occasions when Devroux was washed away mid-flight by the downpour, and there was no way for him to fight the sheer amount of water an island-sized elephant could dump on him.

There were other reasons, but they were mostly superficial and manufactured as a way to further push himself to leave the only island he had known in his life. So when it came time for the actual journey to begin, Devroux wanted an island that was vastly different to the things he could see on or from Zou. In the end, the mink ventured all the way to Paradise, to Drum Island, to begin the next step in his life.

Drum was known to be a small island, covered in the hairless minks. If he, the pure black furred bat-mink could descend from the sky, it might seem almost like a god descending on humanity and he could take over the island because of the lack of insight that humans had. And while that was important, Drum was also chosen because of the fact that it was a winter island, which would offer a climate completely different from what he'd seen on Zou. Drum just seemed like the perfect spot to takeover and find something new at the same time, that it was an easy decision to make for the mink.

And after Drum Island was chosen as the destination, Devroux set off without another moment's thought.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Thanks to the help of various ships, News Coo, and seatrain routes, Devroux was able to make most of the trip to Drum Island by flight. Only when his stamina was spent did he take the seatrain, and only long enough to rest before he was back to flying. The mink couldn't stand being cooped up in the seatrain for very long, and preferred stretching his wings as opposed to other methods of travel. All in all, the trip could have been much worse than it managed to be, which Devroux thanked his lucky stars for. Without much issue, the mink managed to make it to his destination.

A few hundred meters off the shore of Drum Island, the temperature in the sky changed almost like turning pages in a book. There was a sudden shift from the warm, sea breeze to the brisk, icy air of a winter island, and within that few hundred meters before Devroux touched down on the docks of Bighorn, frost had already managed to build up on his wing tips. It was a drastic change, and the only part of the mink's body that wasn't already beginning to stiffen was his chest. This was only because it had the highest concentration of the deep, black fur that covered his body, and made good insulation for him, but he was well aware that he'd have to buy a coat if he wanted to truly survive his time on the island.

This was the first issue that the mink found with the island. The idea of a winter island sounded good to someone from a summer island, but being a bat mink, Devroux was wholly unprepared for the reality of the temperature the island brought. His wings were thin and webbed, making them easily susceptible to the cold and the primary target of what needed to be covered up if the mink wanted to keep them. This was backwards, as his wings were his primary mode of transportation and the things Devroux took the most pride in. But doing what he had to do, the mink trudged his way through the snow covered town until he found a clothing shop off of the main road.

Along his way, he could feel the tension rise around him, but it wasn't until he entered the shop that he finally saw the scowls that were getting turned towards him. The shop-keep gave him a frown and it gave him the same feeling he had felt the entire walk, but the mink lowered his head and walked through the aisles to a coat rack. As soon as Devroux reached his hand out to touch them, the shop-keep spoke up.

"What are you doing on an island like this, stranger," the shop-keep said. His voice was low, giving off the clear impression of distrust towards the mink. His arm could be seen disappearing beneath the checkout counter.

"Coming from the New World," Devroux replied. He wasn't sure why the shopkeeper was so irritable, but it was making him irritated too. However, the last thing he wanted to do was start trouble in a town he'd just arrived in. "I'm just looking for a coat. I wasn't aware of how cold a winter island could actually be."

"Yeah, well, we got none."

Keeping his head low, Devroux's eyes narrowed in aggravation as he continued to pull aside the coats, looking for one that would fit.

"Did you here me, monster? I said we got none." By now, the shopkeeper had pulled out what he had reached for under the counter. It was a simple, wooden bat. It wasn't a scary weapon, but it got the shopkeeper's point across. He didn't just want Devroux to leave, but he'd be willing to attack to make it happen.

Devroux, not wanting to wait for the third strike, grabbed the largest coat on the rack and walked towards the counter, causing the shopkeeper to raise the bat in defense. The mink dropped beli on the counter before the clerk could strike, dropping a few extra beli in the process to keep him from following, and quickly walked out the door.

"Don't you ever fucking come he-," the door slammed, cutting off the shopkeeper's sentence, but the idea was clear to the mink.

Ripping off the price tag and dropping it to the ground, the mink slid his arms into the arms of the coat as fast as he could. He was lucky that he grabbed the largest size, because it was perfectly sized to allow the mink to fold up his wings behind him and cover them completely. The needed to be protected the most.

However, while he did this, the scowls from the townspeople that passed were getting worse. The more people that realized what had arrived in the town, the more the aggression was perpetuated. If he was smart, Devroux would get off the streets as fast as possible. Obviously, they weren't as welcoming to a godlike apparition as he had imagined they might be.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Devroux once again trudged his way through Bighorn, except this time he walked until he found the closest inn. He continued to have the same inauspicious feeling with the added bonus of being able to hear the snide remarks made by the townspeople under their breaths.

"What IS that, papa?"

"What is that thing doing here?"

"Are we under attack?"

"I thought minks kept to themselves..."

"Is that a demon?"


The reactions of the humans were an extreme opposite to the ones that Devroux had hoped for. With the way he was heralded on Zou, he'd expected that reaction to carry over, even among the hairless minks. It was strange and discomforting to hear these remarks, especially towards someone that was more of a stranger to them than anything else, considering that he'd only just arrived.

The innkeeper gave the mink the same reaction as the rest of the town upon entering; a dirty look aimed at his fur-covered face and clawed feet. Devroux, however, knew that he needed a place to stay. He was tired and it was cold, so any problems that he faced today could be dealt with tomorrow as long as he could rest after his long flight. He took a breath before confronting the innkeeper.

"Do you have any extr-"

"No." The innkeeper shut him down before he could finish his question. Her face showed an expression that was a mixture of fear and disgust. It wasn't hiding her intent of ending the interaction as quick as possible.

"I can see the room keys hanging on the wall behind you," Devroux said, a low growl escaping with the words. He was frustrated, and although he had decided he wouldn't start any problems upon arrival, he vowed to take revenge on the clothing store clerk and the inn attendant for causing him such distress.

"They're extras. Ever inn in town is full up this week."

Devroux left the inn before he unleashed the full force of his rage upon the woman behind the counter. Drum Island was cold, but the people on the island so far were much colder. Rather than pursuing the reactions that he'd so obviously continue to get, the mink chose to take on the outdoors and cease his growing frustration with Bighorn.

Flight wasn't an option if the mink wanted to keep his wings, so he was forced to walk for the foreseeable future. Devroux walked until he left the city limits and reached the edge of the forest. He didn't want to travel too deep, so he pat down the snow to make it hard and sat down. Pulling his knees to his chest and pulling the coat tight around him, he could block the wind and circulate his body heat within the confines of the jacket, keeping him as warm as he possibly could be.

The sun was falling, not that it was doing its job in the first place. Devroux was also tired, so he chose to nap right there, closing his eyes and drifting to sleep relatively quickly thanks to the warmth inside the jacket.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

"Hey, wake up."

Devroux had been comfortably asleep for a couple hours when he was suddenly awoken by a deep, gruff voice. However, even though the waking process began suddenly, the mink didn't wake up in a defensive panic because the voice that had brought him back to consciousness wasn't filled with the same animosity that the other humans of Bighorn had. On the contrary, this man sounded concerned.

The mink picked his head up, pushing it out the neck hole of the coat and dumping off the snow that had slowly built up over the last couple hours. When he got a look at the man that was hovering over him, he was surprised at what he saw.


The concerned voice had come from a large man, built like a rock. The first thing that was made obvious were the man's muscles, his arms thick as Devroux's thighs, and the veins of them were popping at various points. Above the man's physique was a face littered with scars, but even among them what stood out most was the man's age. He was older, with graying hair, but was still able to keep a body thrice the size of Devroux. And covering to cover it all, the man was dressed to the nines in gear made of steel, weapons adorning his back, making him look like a threat more than his voice would let on.

"I don't want to disturb you, but I thought I might be able to help. I have a place just up the road if you want to get out of the cold for a little bit."


Devroux could do nothing but look at the man in awe, simply because of the vast difference he was reacting towards him than the townspeople had done earlier in the day. It was at this point that Devroux noticed the little girl adorning the man's right calf. She was crouching down, holding on to and hiding behind the man's right leg, staying totally silent. She disappeared further behind the man when she noticed the mink see her, reminding him that he was still unwelcome on the island.

"I don't think that's such a good idea," Devroux responded. It was a welcome gesture, but he didn't want to cause trouble for the man if the townspeople decided to make a fuss about it.

"I don't agree. Come on."

The man reached down, grabbing Devroux by the collar of his coat and hoisting him off the ground with ease. The feeling of being manhandled was not a good one and it irritated the mink, but it also helped him realize the type of guy that he was dealing with. Devroux's legs dangled off roughly two feet off the ground and he had only been pulled up to eye-level with the man. In addition to this, the grip on his coat was exceedingly gentle for someone with the strength to lift a full grown person.

Devroux smirked, finding light humor in the situation. He wasn't about to fight the man's kindness, especially if it got him out of the cold.

"Fine, then. I'll be in your care."

"That's the spirit!"

With a hearty laugh, the man turned himself around and walked back to the road where his horse-drawn cart was parked. He continued to carry Devroux and the little girl was sitting on his foot, but the extra weight didn't seem to faze him. When they reached his cart, he plopped Devroux down into the back along with the little girl, drew the curtain, and went to take his seat up front.

The horses could be heard stepping in place up front as the man took his seat and before long, they were off. Devroux had no idea where he'd end up, but the cart was already a great deal better than being outside, so wherever they went, it was a welcomed change. The only thing he'd have to deal with was the little girl that continued to stare at him as they rode together, making him uncomfortable.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

The little girl kept her eyes locked on the mink opposite of her for the duration of the ride. Luckily for Devroux, however, the ride wasn't very long and they reached their destination much quicker than he had anticipated. When the carriage came to a stop, he could hear the old man up front get off, walk around the outside, and play with the ties keeping the current shut before promptly throwing them open.

"We're here!" The man's voice was just as gruff and deep as it was earlier, but the tinge of concern he had for Devroux was now traded out for a small amount of excitement. He held his arms open and the girl that had been staring at Devroux finally moved from her place.

With a look of excitement on her face, she bolted towards the opening in the curtain and leaped out, straight into the arms of the old man. He caught her, hugging her tightly and spinning her around, then set her down so that she could run off towards the front of the cart.

Devroux watched them before moving himself, climbing out of the cart as the girl ran forward. He came out into a snowy forest, but in the direction the girl had ran was a large, stone house with a thick stream of smoke flying off the chimney. Next to the house was a barn, shut tight, but it didn't look like the pair had any animals that they kept. What was in the barn was a mystery to mink, but he'd probably inquire about it later when they all settled in.

The mink had lost himself in surveying the area, but was brought back to real-time when he received a big, tough pat on the back by the old man.

"I'm Bart, by the way. Welcome to my humble abode." The old man smiled and bowed his head, the total inverse personality of what his getup would imply.

"Thank you, sir," Devroux smiled, just thankful that someone on the island was showing any interest in him, and even more amazed that it was kindness.

"Come on, I'll make dinner." With a smile and his hand on the mink's back, Bart guided Devroux into the house behind the little girl.

Words: 378
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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

The three entered the cabin and immediately Devroux was left to his own devices. The little girl bolted up the stairs and within seconds could be heard playing by herself, loudly shuffling through toys. Bart disappeared into the kitchen to make dinner, as he had suggested. Neither of them expected anything from Devroux, and he was left to wander their home with no less than total trust.

The mink had chosen Drum because it was a backwoods island that didn't have a high level economy. It should have been easy to manipulate and take over, but that wasn't what he was given on arrival. He had seen nothing but pure, unbridled remorse based on his race and appearance. But even in the midst of all the hatred, Bart existed, with the capability to aimless compassion. Devroux hadn't earned his trust nor his pity, but had received both. It was baffling to the mink; a pleasant variation of baffling. He didn't want to push his luck too hard, however, and took a seat in a chair that he had initially entered.

The room was a mess, though. There were weapons strewn all over the place, leaning against the wall in heaps, with armor sets of varying sizes doing the same in another pile. These piles of steel lined the outer edge of the room, but the middle remained in tact, even lined with pictures. Most of the pictures were of Bart and the little girl, both of whom looked very happy and it was a scene that was constantly heart warming to the mink. There was one image that stood out though, and that was one that included and older looking woman between Bart and the little girl.

Devroux wasn't so cold-hearted to ignore something like that. She wasn't in any of the other pictures and these two lived alone, so the only guess the mink had was that she was Bart's dead lover. Whether that was true or not would make itself known in due time, if Bart himself chose to speak about it, but it wasn't something t hat the mink was going to pry into himself.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Devroux lost track of time carefully looking over the room and the items within, learning as much as he could without actually having to speak with the people that had helped him. When conversation time came, however, he'd be much more prepared for it. What woke Devroux from his learning trance was the loud, invasive sound of a gong and a follow up shout filled with the bass of Bart's voice.

"Dinner!"

The first thing that scooted by was a yellow streak. The little girl had silently thrown herself down the stairs and whisked herself through the mink's line of sight in such a quick manner that the only thing he had to base the idea that it was her off of was the yellowness of the streak matching the color of her hair. Devroux quickly followed it, and turning into the kitchen let him know that his assumption was right. The other thing he noticed was that there actually was a gong in the kitchen, taking up the majority of the back wall. Unlike any normal family, Bart didn't choose a dinner bell, but had fully committed to the gong. It was large, golden, and looked fairly worn, as if it had been in use for a long time.

The table in the middle of the kitchen was set for three people, with a fourth chair left empty. The little girl and Bart were already seated, so Devroux silently took a seat at the final spot.

"Thank you, sir, for your kindness," the mink said. It was a sincere thanks, as at this point in the day, the warmth of the house and the food was more than enough to make up for the greeting the rest of the town had given him. But Bart didn't seem to see it that was.

"Hah!" The old man gave an insincere, yet loud laugh in reply to the statement. "You call it kindness, but to me, that's sad. This isn't kindness. This is just showing humanity."

"Showing humanity." The meaning behind the statement shook Devroux to his core. To him, with how he had been treated earlier in the day, this was kindness. But to Bart, it wasn't. It was a natural action. Just something he'd do as a person, just because he was alive. It was a statement that deserved respect - that commanded respect for Bart. But even if it was an impactful statement, it didn't change that day.

Devroux scoffed at the remark, disingenuous to his respect. "The others don't seem to think the same way."

"The others," Bart repeated, trailing off into a tone of almost sadness. "The others are limited in thinking. They know only Drum, and the borders that the island naturally has. They're not open to things that come from outside, where you came from."

Devroux shook his head. "And you?"

"I know differently. I've seen it with my own eyes." He glanced over at the little girl, who was busy stuffing her face with the stew that Bart had created for the three of them. There were splatters of it all over her face, but she continued to devour the bowl without skipping a step. "I don't want Lilina to see it the same way I did, but she shouldn't fear it the way these fools on Drum do."

Lilina. That was the girls name. It was the first time that Devroux had heard it, but they also hadn't spoken much more than this since their meeting. At least now he had a name to put to both of their faces.

"You call them fools, but why do you stay? If you know there are other islands, why is Drum the location you chose?"

"Drum Island is simplistic. My craft is useful here, more than other places. The expectations of the townspeople aren't very high. And there isn't a whole lot of conflict on the island, which I'm sure you don't believe anymore." He was right, but Devroux kept his ears open, listening. "Alabasta has had a history with pirates, and even now, Rain Dinners is in shambles because of those guys running rampant without Marine interception. Baltigo is just all criminals. I can give you reasons why nothing else would do, but honestly, Drum is just important to me. It's where I met my wife."

The woman in the picture must have been Bart's wife. Devroux assumed she was dead, but he wasn't going to pry into it any further.

"I think that it's noble. The idea that your craft is more useful here than other places seems a little far fetched to me, honestly, but if it's to give he- Lilina, a better life, then I find that respectful."

Bart laughed, as if he'd been seen through. "You're not wrong. A blacksmith is useful anywhere, but on Drum, we're given a little more leverage because of what the townsfolk need. Doctors are of the highest esteem, but blacksmiths aren't far off. Metalwork especially is important for keeping houses warm and hunting tools cleaned and sharp."

Devroux nodded before replying, "Ah, so you're a blacksmith then?"

"Yes! The barn outside is my workshop, although it's starting to takeover the house too." He chuckled, almost sounding resentful of the fact that he was storing so many things in the house, but he also sounded proud of the craft he had chosen. "What about you, boy? You haven't even told me your name yet. Tell me who you are, as a person, and the goals you have."

"Ah, sorry," Devroux apologized, not realizing he hadn't even given his own name to the man that had basically saved him. "My name is Devroux. Devroux D. Alter. I'm a mink from Zou, though I'm sure you knew that."

"What are you doing so far from the New World?"

"I wanted things that Zou couldn't give me. Fame, fortune... You know; the typical stuff. I wanted to see the world and meet the people, though that isn't going well. I'm still committed to the idea though. I just need to find the pockets of good in the world, like this one."

Bart gave him a smile. Devroux was hiding his true intentions behind leaving Zou though. He was only feeding Bart the information that while true, was also the information that wouldn't make him look bad. Saving his image was important, especially to the only person so far to show good faith.

"I guess more than anything, I just want to leave my mark on this world. I couldn't do that from Zou alone, so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone to get it done."

The old man nodded, "I understand. That was my intention too, when I was young. That's why blacksmithing is my trade of choice. Steel, at the right quality, doesn't lose to the test of time. It's a physical mark on the world that I leave, even if my name doesn't."

"It's a noble career. You help people on Drum just survive, from what you've already said. You're making a mark."

"I can show you, if you want. You've probably got your own plan on how to leave your mark, but if you want, I can help you add this to your repertoire."

Devroux contemplated the idea for a minute. He only had the kiridashi knives on him, but he wasn't necessarily a knifesman. He wasn't a swordsman really, either. He just liked weapons. What better occupation for a weapons man to have than blacksmithing? Even if it was just a hobby, it'd be an interesting side adventure to have while he explores the world.

"You know what? I'd actually appreciate that. Teach me what you know, Bart... Master Bart."

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Bart was excited to be able to pass on his craft to another person given that he wasn't the type to push it on his own child, but by the time the idle chat and dinner had finished, night was already deep into its turn of the earth's rotation. Devroux had already spent a long time napping outside that day, but the rest wasn't fulfilling and he was ready to take a load off in a real bed after such a long time traveling. Bart's home was larger than what two people were capable of using, even with the amount of it he used for storage space, and so accommodating the mink with a guest room was easy. Bart handed Devroux a pile of sheets and lead him to the room he'd be staying in before heading off to tuck Lilina in to bed.

Devroux watched the old man enter a room at the other end of the hall, hearing him playfully attack the little girl and her giggling in response. Their relationship forced a smile onto Devroux's face, so he turned into the room and silently closed the door behind him to give himself and the other two their privacy.

The room was larger than he had anticipated, but that was to be expected with a townhouse of this size. There was a queen-sized bed up against the wall; the mattress was bare, waiting to be covered and used for the first time in a long while. There was a dresser against the side wall and a desk under a window that faced the barn, but aside from that the room lacked any unique character to show that anyone had actively used it before.

The mink unfolded the sheets and covered the bed before plopping into it. Being able to lie down generally just felt good after a long day, but the soft mattress felt almost heavenly after everything he had been through. He could still hear Bart down the hall telling a story, both the room and his voice fading out quickly as the mink drifted off to sleep.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Devroux woke up a few hours later to the loud, intrusive sound of a gong resounding through the house followed by Bart's deep and just as loud voice calling for breakfast. The mink sleepily rolled out of bed, rubbing his eyes as he slowly made his way to the door. Upon turning the brass knob and opening it, he was met with the signature yellow streak of Lilina rushing past his gaze. He still wasn't sure if it was because he was unprepared – or in this case, sleepy – or if she was just too fast for him to fully make out. Whatever the case may be, the little girl was already seated at the table by the time Devroux had managed to make his way there, a plate of food being set down in front of her by Bart. As Lilina scarfed down her breakfast, Bart turned towards Devroux.

"You ready to work today?" He had a big, toothy grin on his face; genuinely excited about the day they had planned.

"Yessir," Devroux shouted in response, appreciative of the opportunity. The mink took a seat at the table and was given his own breakfast. The plate was piled high with eggs, home fries, and bacon, which Devroux happily plowed in to. In spite of how convinced he was that he was a blacksmith, Devroux imagined that he'd actually make a good chef if he put his mind to it. He wasn't going to pressure the idea too much, preferring to enjoy the food than make it a point of conversation.

"I'm giving you a little extra. We've got a long day ahead of us." Bart took his seat at the table and began to dig in with the rest of them. "The shop is going to be hot, the work is rough, and I can promise you'll be sore by the end of it."

"I understand. I've already agreed. I'm willing to accept what you can throw at me as long as I learn."

"That's a good attitude. I'll put you up until you've gotten all you can and are ready to leave."

"I'll make it up to you, I promise," Devroux stated earnestly. He may have his narcissistic moments, but the mink was far from not thankful.

"Don't worry. Learning my craft is more than enough for me."

Devroux nodded and the three of them continued eating in silence, for the most part. The only noises coming from the table were the odd clangs of forks against plates and the snorting and open-mouth chewing coming from Lilina. Both of the adults would pass off smirks at each other as they glanced at the clueless girl, but neither wanted to interrupt her process.

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11 Re: [Flashback][GV] A Blacksmith's Origin Story on Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:26 am

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

The mink wasn't positive about how useful the knowledge of blacksmithing would actually be, but Bart's excitement in being allowed to teach it combined with the sheer curiosity in the subject made agreeing to it the only option for him. After breakfast, Bart was eager to get started so that they had most of the day to work, and Devroux obliged with that sentiment. If he were going to be taught by a professional, he should at least give it the time it deserved and take in as much information as he could. Even if he would never rely on it as much as Bart did, it would inevitably prove useful.

Bart and Devroux walked out to the barn after breakfast, leaving Nina inside to play in her room. The building was tightly padlocked, a total of four locks down the length of the door that the old man patiently unlocked before sliding the barn door to the side and revealing the wonders the building held within. There were an ungodly number of tools strewn across the shop haphazardly and looking in disarray, though Devroux assumed that this wasn't because Bart was a messy man, but that all of the tools remained in constant use for the most part.

Devroux couldn't help but stare at the sight in wonder, which Bart noticed and laughed. "This is where I spend most of my time," he said. "I can't help but have everything I need or might ever need. This is what passion looks like."

Passion. The mink didn't have a passion this deep for anything. Bart made it obvious that blacksmithing was important to him, but the look of his workshop made that statement ten-fold. It was awe-inspiring enough that Devroux couldn't stand to do anything but respect the man even more and appreciate the kind gesture of teaching him the craft just as much.

"Well, we should get started. I'm going to teach you everything from the ground up, so that you're prepared for everything. Follow me." Bart motioned for Devroux to follow him, guiding him over to the back side of the barn. There were two separate stations here, both giving off incredible amounts of heat. The back side of the barn was built to funnel all of the heat upwards and out of the workshop. One station seemed to be a partially covered pit of charcoal while the other was built more like a funnel, the latter being the one that Bart gestured to first.

"This is the furnace. This is where the ores or metals go in and are melted until they're totally liquid, falling through and out this small opening," the old man pointed at a small spout near the bottom of the furnace that lead in to a small bucket. "All of the metal that gets collected here has been refined and oxidized, making it workable in the forge once it re-solidifies."

Bart lead Devroux over to the forge, the station with the charcoal pit. "Obviously you can't hit the liquid metal with a hammer, which is how you're going to make something. When it's hard, you heat it until it's pliable in the forge. By hitting this foot pedal, you supply air and warm the forge further if you need more heat to get the metal to the right temperature to work with." He stepped on a foot pedal as he said this, making the charcoal glow bright.

"The rest is what everyone knows about blacksmithing. You hit the metal with a hammer and shape it into what you want. That's extremely simplified, but I'll explain more about it when we get there. First, I want you to start working with the furnace. Everything you'll need is piled up right next to it."

Devroux looked back towards the furnace, realizing that there were piles of ore and iron bars stacked up along the wall. There were multiple piles of ore, assuming one of them was actually a pile of charcoal that he couldn't discriminate from the rest yet. Bart had simplified the explanations of both of the processes and Devroux didn't fully understand what his job was going to be yet.  

"So, am I supposed to just dump some of the metal into the furnace?"

"Pretty much. Just grab the pile of scrap metal over there and throw it in. When it starts to glow, add in some air until it liquifies and falls into the bucket."

Devroux did as Bart instructed, making his way across the room to the pile of scrap metal that was piled up against the wall. It was mostly comprised of bent weapons and metal shavings, all of which Devroux scooped into the furnace with a nearby shovel. The heat could be felt flying out of the pit, making Devroux sweat far more than he had anticipated. Bart was a little better off than he, as the hairless mink didn't have the fur covering his entire body to trap heat. But Devroux held steady, waiting through the process as instructed and applying air to heat the metal until it fell through into the bucket.

"Good, good," Bart commented. He had been watching his pupil intently but had said nothing during the actual process. "Now we just wait for it to cool down."

While they waited for the refined metal to cool down and re-solidify, the two made their way out of the barn into the fresh, winter air. Devroux was in much need of the fresh air after having his face hanging over such high heat and growing ever closer to a heat stroke within the barn. The mink sat against the barn wall to cool down while Bart went to grab them water and he reflected on the process he had gone through so far.

It didn't seem that difficult, if he were honest with himself. All you had to do was melt the metal and add air to refine it and make it into what you wanted. Devroux understood that this refinement process was part of blacksmithing though and was determined to see it through until he could slam the hammer down on the metal that he had refined. He was sure that the hardest part was going to be finely crafting a weapon so that the dimensions were correct and the blades made were straight and sharp.

Bart came back out of the house with Nina in tow and two glasses of water in his hand. Devroux was handed one of the glasses, thanking Bart once again, and drinking it until it was gone. He hadn't realized how thirsty and dehydrated he had become in the hot workshop; the glass of water hitting the spot and refreshing him for the time being.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

After working in front of the furnace, the two of them needed a bit of time to cool down. But it wasn't the end of the work day, and when they were ready to head back in, they did so with no reservations. The metal that Devroux had thrown into the furnace and melted down was no cool and ready to be worked with, so as instructed by Bar, he took it out of the casing and threw it into the furnace. With a long pair of tongs, he moved the metal around every now and then until it began to glow a bright red.

"It's ready to work with. Take it to the anvil, and smack it with the hammer." Bart instructed, still watching from afar. He only chimed in when it was time for the next step.

Devroux again did as instructed, grabbing the piece of metal with the tongs and carrying it gingerly over to the anvil. The hammer was lying next to it on the floor, so he picked it up, lifted it over his head, and gave the glowing metal a heavy hit. Easily and instantly, the metal bar that Devroux had smelted and heated split in half; far from what he had intended to happen. It was supposed to give feedback and elongate, not snap completely. All he could muster was a puzzled glance at Bart, who stood in the corner watching him with a small smile on his face.

"You have to be careful through the process. Applying too much force to the heated metal can snap it, but I'm going to have to say that what the problem was was at the very beginning. I can't tell you for sure what it was, but the heat, the air applied – whether it was too much or too little – is going to give you a different grade of steel and it's all stuff that you need to pay attention to. The right coloring in the glow is how I usually do it, though I wasn't watching carefully enough to tell you what happened."

"So..." Devroux dragged, still kind of confused. "What do I do now that it's broken?"

"Well, you can technically still fold it together, but obviously you've got a brittle piece and it's better to just start from scratch."

Bart didn't seem fazed by the entire failure, but Devroux was frustrated to say the least. His mentor was standing there the entire time and hadn't spoken up once, even though he had obviously made a mistake in the process. Devroux knew that he couldn't blame Bart for the ways of his teaching though. As frustrating as they might be, in the end, he'd be able to do the process alone with competence rather than relying on someone else's input.

"Well, okay then."

Moving back to the pile of scrap against the wall, Devroux again began feeding metal in to the furnace. He had to start from scratch, but the heat didn't affect him nearly as much this time. He was convinced that he was going to wait it out and kept glancing at Bart throughout the process to look for any subtle hints that he might be doing something correctly or incorrectly. Bart didn't have a lot of facial tells for things that he did wrong – at least none that Devroux could spot – but when he did something correctly, Bart would nod whether or not he knew the mink was watching him.

It wasn't an easy process. Over the course of that day there were many failures. They worked well into the night in order to be able to take breaks when they started to become overheated. At the end of the day, Devroux had only succeeded in his last attempt to make a forgeable metal. He had run himself through the process upwards of two dozen times that day, making sure to watch the metal and Bart intently to figure out when he did something right and how it looked when he did it. But making sure to follow through on any successes resulted in a metal that he could hit without snapping.

It was too late to continue working on the metal that he had created. He was tired, but the success of the attempt was too exhilarating for him to fall asleep as promptly as he had the previous night. It overrode every other bodily function, making him forget his need to sleep and hunger, in spite of both the men having slept without dinner. Devroux kept running the process through his head as he laid in bed, trying to commit it to memory so that he wouldn't forget for the following day. At this point, he only wanted to make a working weapon.

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13 Re: [Flashback][GV] A Blacksmith's Origin Story on Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:28 pm

Devroux

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

As Devroux laid in bed, his head was full of thoughts of the days blacksmithing session with Bart. He couldn't stop running the play back, trying to remember the information as much as he could to make it a natural thought when he restarted the next day. At some point in this meditation the mink managed to fall asleep, waking only at the sound of the gong the next morning. At the sound of the gong his mind picked up wherever it had left off, instantly calling back the practice from yesterday and bringing Devroux fully awake almost instantly. His thoughts were filled with his work at the furnace even whilst he ate breakfast, barely hearing Bart's attempts at conversation throughout the meal.

However, Devroux snapped back to reality as soon as the meal was over. The end of breakfast signified the beginning of another day of blacksmithing. He already had a piece of steel to work with once they got into the shop and that made it all the more exciting. The normally broody-looking bat mink followed Bart out the door of the house yet was the first to reach the barn with an air of excitement buzzing around him. Now that they were in front of the barn and Bart had his apprentice's attention while he unlocked the door, he could finally speak knowing that his words would be heard.

"Today, you're going to be hammering the metal for real, but I'm going to request that you just make simple daggers. They're small, meaning that you have more metal and more attempts to craft something of quality. Okay?" The old man paused in his unlocking movements, waiting for the mink to nod in understanding before completely undoing the locks and unlatching the door so that it could slide open. However, rather than doing it for him, Bart simply stepped to the side and let Devroux have at it.

The metal had been left on the anvil after they had tested its ability to take a hit. It had survived a few hammer strikes, which meant that it was workable so long as Devroux heated it until it was glowing once more. Devroux made sure that the forge was lit properly before carrying his metal over and sticking it into the pit, applying small puffs of air to heat it faster and allow him to work with it sooner. As soon as it began to glow the proper color, he used the tongs to retrieve it from the flame and carry it back to the anvil where he began to work the steel with the hammer.

Devroux brought the hammer down with careful strikes, afraid that he might break it regardless, but the strikes remained hard enough to warp the glowing metal with each touch. When the metal's glow began to diminish and working the steel became tough, the process to reheat it began again. Rinsing and repeating, the metal block that Devroux started with slowly began to take the shape of a dagger... roughly. When it was all said and done, the piece of steel that Devroux had crafted took the shape of a knife but lacked any real finesse in the make. It looked similar to what Bart had requested he make, but it was by no means a success, prompting his blacksmithing teacher to speak up for the first time since they began that day.

"The process is a lot harder than it seems," he said, taking the now cooled knife from Devroux's hands. As he inspected the lump of metal, he continued, "There are tools over there on the table. You need to be checking the width of the blade consistently so that it's uniform, unlike this." The old man glanced at the mink, making sure he was following along.

"When you understand at least that much, it just becomes about practicing. The amount of force you use to keep it uniform, shaping, then you file and sharpen the blade separately. But before that, I should probably inform you that there are other ways to get stronger steel. It's not something you need to practice now, given the circumstance, but you should be aware of it."

Bart crossed the room to a wooden workbench against the wall; the same bench he had gestured to when he talked about the measurement tools. He set Devroux's attempt at a dagger down and picked up a piece of steel roughly the same size, carrying it back to where the mink sat and handing it to him.

"When you want a better-quality steel, after you've already reduced it and oxidized it in a furnace, you can begin to fold it. This is done in the same way where you make the metal take shape, but before it actually becomes something. You simply draw the steel – elongate it with the hammer – then fold it and repeat the process over and over."

Devroux inspected the piece of metal that Bart had given him while he talked. According to what the man said, it should be part of that process. There were obvious differences between the layers where they hadn't quite merged yet. Being told what to do and being shown something representing that process made the mink understand, though, as per what he was told, he wouldn't necessarily be putting that to use any time soon.

"This folding part, along with everything else involving the hammer, makes hammerscale." Bart gestured to the flakes that had fallen off while Devroux had been working his steel. "It's made of little impurities that weren't released in the other processes. It makes it better. So, when you're constantly folding something, you're hammering out as many of those impurities as you can get."

The mink nodded, slightly in a daze due to all the information that Bart had just given him. For the majority of the process, Bart had let Devroux make several attempts mostly unattended and hadn't given him actual instruction. Getting the information from him now was a stark difference, yet much appreciated. The old man wasn't the type to baby him, so he'd take all the information he could get and hold it tight.

"Now, from the top."

Devroux's heart sank at the thought of starting the entire process over again, but it was the only way that he'd be able to walk away from Bart with his head held high. If he gave up now, before he had been able to make something that was at least somewhat successful and useable, he'd never be able to return to Drum with anything on his shoulders other than shame. It was barely something that he had to consider before getting back to work, starting from the absolute first step.

The mink shook his head, getting up from his seat and walking back to the corner where he could shovel more metal into the furnace. His fur hadn't changed, but the heat wasn't bothering him anymore. His conviction to the craft was far greater than the effect the heat was having on his body. Having practiced this part of the process all of yesterday and having mentally run through it many times over the course of the night and breakfast, Devroux was prepared for having to do it again. He waited patiently, applying heat steadily and air when necessary until it became the finished product of the workable steel. However, at Bart's recommendation, while the bars he created cooled off to the side, the mink worked at the furnace for a greater length of time in order to make several bars for him to use.

Working in front of the furnace for so long, regardless of his ability to handle the heat, slowly became unbearable, but the extra work and hardship now would be worth it when he didn't have to return to it later. When he had five bars to work with, he was able to leave the furnace and work with the drawing process once more.

Now that it was solidified, Devroux took the first portion of steel he had created and stuck it back into the forge. As he had practiced, he waited until it glowed before taking it to the anvil to draw and work with. The process was logical to start – hammer the elongate, turn and hammer from the other direction so that it didn't get too awkwardly out of shape. He continued this process, checking the metal with the measuring tools as it slowly began to take the shape of a knife. Bart had specified dimensions, and as soon as Devroux had met those specification, he stopped. That was the point when the blade became a success or failure, with this attempt marking yet another failure on the board.

The mink didn't lose heart though. He had several other attempts for the day to practice the process. He went back over, picked up the next piece in line, and stuck it in the forge until it glowed. Devroux would repeat this process several times throughout the day, failing each and every time. Two of the pieces of steel that Devroux had made hadn't even survived the first whack with the hammer, forcing him to return to the furnace in spite of his extra preparations to avoid it. He had only managed to get a total of seven attempts at creating a dagger to Bart's specifications and while none of them had been successful, each attempt grew closer and closer to being a proper weapon.

Bart sat watching the entire time, making remarks when they were of utmost importance, but otherwise staying silent. The only time he forcefully intervened that day was when he finally told Devroux to call it quits. Night had fallen once more, but Bart made sure to stop his apprentice early enough that they could enjoy dinner before bed. It frustrated Devroux having to leave his project, as he would continue for days if given the option, but he obliged at the request of his generous benefactor.

Dropping the tools where they stood, the two locked up the barn and headed inside for the night.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

When the two men reached the house, each of them went their separate ways. Bart went off to cook dinner, leaving Devroux in the living room just like he had been on his first night there. The weapons and other steel crafts that were littered around the house all held new meaning in the mink's eyes. His talent for spotting quality in them was far from refined having only been working with Bart for two days, but he could tell with ease the difference in quality from the crafts that he himself made. The stark contrast in skill difference only increased Devroux's desire to grow in the craft, but it's also what made him realize his own shift in thinking in the few days he had been working.

Initially he had only agreed to work with Bart to further himself as an individual; he held no personal convictions towards blacksmithing or weaponry. But in the sweaty workshop under Bart's watchful eyes, with the repeated failure in every step of the process, he had slowly begun to accept blacksmithing as something that was worth the attention. Whether or not it'd become important enough to him to live a life similar to Bart was yet to be seen but having the bare minimum of knowledge required to be a blacksmith would help him on his journey in making a name for himself.

The mink smiled to himself, continuing to eye the weapons and armors in the room. Lilina could be heard upstairs playing in her room, loudly dropping blocks and making sound effects. All activities stopped immediately once Bart sounded the gong though, the Yellow Flash blowing by before Devroux could make the couple steps necessary to reach the kitchen. The girl, in all her childish wonder, had some serious speed to her.

Bart handed out plates as Lilina and his guest took seats at the table, making sure to make a plate for himself before sitting to eat with them. The first part of the dinner was quite as the three of them scarfed down the food. Lilina barely spoke in general, with Devroux and Bart both being hungry after a long day of working in the shop. As their bellies grew full, conversation began to take place, discussing the last couple days of blacksmithing efforts.

"You're starting to look better out there," Bart began. "It's really about practice. Practice paying attention to the glow, practice paying attention to the strength of your strikes, and just practice. In spite of the technique, this is actually a delicate job."

Devroux nodded. At first, it would have been a statement that sounded silly, but after all of the failures at the furnace and the breaking of what he thought was workable steel, even down to the measuring of the worked steel until it was to Bart's specifications, it all took a delicate hand and an attention to detail. It was definitely a delicate job, requiring a lot of patience.

"It's a lot harder than I thought it'd be. I thought I'd pick up the basics faster than this."

"You do learn fast though. Everyone always thinks blacksmithing is easier than it actually is. Most people take weeks before they even make a workable steel. I don't know how you managed to pick it up so fast."

Devroux thought back to while he was working with the furnace. It was obvious that Bart wasn't aware of his constant nodding, but that made it a great deal easier to figure out when he was doing something right versus when he was doing something wrong. He chuckled a little at the thought, but it flowed in with the conversation fluidly.

"I just have a good teacher, I guess."

"You can keep practicing in the shop as much as you want. All of the ore and scrap metal I get pretty cheap, and I can always reuse the daggers you make since they haven't been folded." Bart smiled at Devroux's comment but didn't want to reply to it.

"Even if it's cheap, I don't know how you can afford it. It's also super time consuming."

"Well, I normally only have to make one attempt," he said, laughing. "I also usually just buy bars of workable steel from elsewhere. The scrap is for personal use. You can do it too and is probably what you'll end up doing unless you have a workshop like I do."

"Wait... I can buy the metal and not have to work with the furnace? Why haven't I just been doing that?"

"It's better to learn everything all the way through when you're first starting. You don't want to get any bad habits. But when you get it down, it makes the process a lot easier to just buy bars."

Devroux nodded slowly. "Well, I appreciate that information."

"Well, I'm going to hit the sack. I'm have to work in the next town over in the morning, so I'll leave you the key to the workshop. I don't know how long I'll be gone but take your time and learn the process. You can stay as long as you want."

Devroux thanked Bart once more, watching as the old man led Lilina off to put her to bed too. The mink cleaned up his dinner utensils before following them in their routine, heading to bed so that he could get an early start working in the shop the next day.

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A Blacksmith's Origin Story

Devroux woke up naturally the next morning long before the sun began to rise over the horizon. As the mink rolled out of bed and strolled through the house he realized that Bart had already left, taking Lilina with him when he went. Devroux was up early, but Bart was still able to beat him. The old man was very involved and willing to work, but he still remained kind and trusting enough to give the guest he had only known for a few days full reign of both his house and workshop. Devroux knew that he could take advantage of the situation if he so chose, but rather than stealing from the kindness that was afforded to him, he chose to take advantage of it in the way that Bart had wished him to.

After scouring the cabinets for something to eat, Devroux made his way out to the workshop. Bart had left the key on the kitchen table so that his apprentice could let himself in to work. Just as he had done in the days prior, Devroux got to work by starting at the furnace and smelting the metal he'd need for that day. Rather than working five, he put in the time and effort necessary to make ten workable bars of steel. It was a long, grueling and hot process, but once again it would let him stay away from the furnace for a longer period of time.

The mink worked through the process from top to bottom, reheating the metal and drawing it into shape, trying his best to fit the dagger to the specifications that Bart had given him the day prior. Through his own practice, he learned that he could shorten the material he was working with by hammering it from the small end, making it easier to work with the steel and let it conform to the pattern he was using. Once learning how to do that, with a term that he'd learn much later, the daggers he began to make starting looking closer to what was expected of him.

All-in-all the forging process of that day turned into another failure. None of his daggers were up to snuff, even by his standards, and it'd require a lot more practice to reach the level of a proper blacksmith. However, every little bit of growth in his smithing technique, especially at this low end of the craft, would make a huge difference in the items he made. He just had to keep practicing.

As Devroux closed up the workshop for the night, he realized that Bart and Lilina hadn't yet returned from their business trip. When Bart had left, he hadn't given any hint towards how long their trip would last or how far from home they intended to be. The best thing that Devroux could do was to trust that he'd return eventually and practice until he did.

Over the following couple of days, Devroux woke up at the crack of dawn to spend the first half of the day smelting as many bars of steel as he could within his personal set time l imit. He'd then spend the rest of the day hammering them into shape, stopping when he had reached all of them, even if some had shattered. His technique in the trade was growing and more of the smelted pieces were holding when being hammered, so little by little Bart was turning out to be correct – it was just about practicing until you got the hang of it.

On the last day of the week, when nightfall came and Devroux was locking up the workshop, Bart and Lilina's carriage finally rolled down the driveway. They got out, Bart carrying a sleeping Lilina in his arms, and quietly entered the house. As Bart passed his apprentice, he winked, but said no words and after delivering Lilina to her room, stowed himself in his without a word.

Devroux shrugged, assuming that it was just that he was tired, but once again followed in the old man's example and headed to bed himself.

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