You, be my colleague (5)
* * *
Ritlen had brilliant talent.
Volatun instantly recognized that and brought him to the smithy. He taught Ritlen everything, from beginning to end, not wanting to entrust him to others because he feared Ritlen might develop a bad habit.
Sure enough, Ritlen’s talent was so great that he exceeded Volatun’s expectations.
‘This kid will be my successor!’
He was so sure of it that it became his desire.
Volatun then adopted Ritlen.
“Naturally, a lot of the boys were jealous, including my son. But even they had no choice but to acknowledge Ritlen. He was that remarkable.”
Good physical strength and persistence were the basic requirements of an excellent blacksmith but everyone in the Catallaman forge had that.
“Ritlen has great senses, keen eyes, and a bright mind. You can only be born with that.”
Volatun’s face was sentimental as he looked into the distance.
“When that young kid noticed the slight distortion in a sword, it was like he’d found a treasure.”
“But why is he now…” (Aristine)
In the personal details report that Aristine received, it stated that Ritlen was known as the black sheep of the Catallaman Forge. And those guys who were harassing Ritlen also said that Ritlen was causing trouble for the Catallaman forge.
“All blacksmiths must stand before the fire and an anvil.”
Thinking of Ritlen made Volatun feel frustrated that he started looking for his cigarette pipe then he remembered where he was and withdrew his hand.
“But that punk began to prefer sitting at the desk. I don’t know where this strange idea came from.”
Tsk, Volatun clicked his tongue.
He wasn’t denying the value of knowledge. However, the most important thing for a blacksmith was a proficient experience.
Ritlen was still very young and didn’t even have enough experience.
“A blacksmith is supposed to pound iron with their hammer and step on the bellows to handle fire!”
Volatun’s anger surged as he thought about that precious talent going to waste and he spoke with fervor.
Mukali also nodded profoundly.
“It’s just as ridiculous as a warrior wanting to sit at a desk rather than swing their sword! You need practical experience more than knowledge!”
Aristine turned to look at Mukali with puzzlement in her eyes.
‘I thought Sir Mukali likes to study a lot?’
Mukali cleared his throat when he felt her gaze on him.
“If he sits around like a wallflower, his spirit as a blacksmith is bound to die! Maybe that’s why he doesn’t even make swords anymore, just some strange and crude things…”
Ritlen always had a meek personality and he liked small and delicate things. In the rough world of blacksmith, that wasn’t of much help.
Volatun tried to change Ritlen’s personality several times, but it was of no use.
“I even took him to the royal palace last time because I was hoping that something there could stimulate him…but he ended up secluding himself even more.”
“Ahh, was that perhaps at my welcome banquet? I think I saw him then.”
“He should be honored that you remember him, Your Highness.”
“Maybe taking Ritlen there was the trigger for what happened today.”
Normally, he took his best pupil to royal banquets. Ritlen had been locked up in his room for so long that he was no longer Volatun’s best student. Rather, he was called the shame of the Catallaman forge.
But then, Volatun took Ritlen, so it was understandable that the other guys felt betrayed. Even more so since Volatun was purposefully pretending not to care about Ritlen.
“I was hoping that kid would quickly come back to his sense. Now, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my regret talking…”
Hearing that the others had even tried to commit such a crime made him feel like it was really time to let Ritlen go.
“As the head of this smithy, I cannot keep holding onto that kid forever while putting up with strife and conflict.”
If he were to cover for Ritlen even after things had reached this point, an internal division would eventually occur. The dissatisfaction and complaint would eventually turn to Volatun which would lead to the fall of the Catallaman forge.
“Then what will happen to Ritlen?”
“He has the basics down, so it won’t be hard for him to look after himself.”
His skill was recognized by the Catallaman forge, which was undoubtedly one of the best blacksmith forges. Even though he didn’t meet their expectations, his skill was unprecedented in other places.
“But it is a pity that his talent will completely fade away.”
“Oh dear, what a shame.”
Aristine truly felt sorry.
‘So in summary, you believe that Ritlen’s talent has withered, he is called the forge’s shame, and the reason he was bullied so much is that he didn’t act the way they wanted him to?’
Volatun acted like there were a lot of issues but in the end, that was all it was.
‘Don’t worry. That talent, I will definitely save it.’
His talent had never died, so if it was given a chance to unfold, it would come to life on its own. Now that she knew about Ritlen, it was time to act.
Aristine put a hand on her chest and took a deep breath. Instantly, she looked like a weak lady, calming her heart down. Furthermore, she had a beautiful and delicate appearance, which made you want to instantly ask if she was okay and needed help.
Mukali looked at Aristine with bewilderment in his eyes.
‘Why is she suddenly like this?’
He knew very well that the word ‘weak’ was in no way close to Aristine. She was so blunt and indifferent that his lord seemed delicate in comparison.
Of course, Volatun, who was completely unaware of this fact, looked at Aristine, startled.
“Are you uncomfortable, Your Highness? Do you need a cold towel or…”
“No. It’s just that talking about Ritlen reminded me of what happened before…”
Aristine shook her head. Just that made her seem like the world’s most fragile and pitiful person.
“Honestly, that was the first time I’ve ever seen a blade pointed at someone like that. I never even had the chance to see a sword up close…As you know, only authorized people can carry swords in the Silvanus Imperial palace…”
Mukali couldn’t help but scoff.
He didn’t know what she was talking about when she was the one who looked at a sword as big as herself, without any fear. And didn’t she majestically jump into the midst of that commotion earlier?
“Such a violent sight…I really can’t seem to forget it. I’ve never even imagined such a thing.”
But just a few hours ago, Aristine was smiling and thanking Mukali for breaking some people’s eggs.
‘And when I said I knocked out their teeth, she praised me for being loyal.’
Mukali’s eyes narrowed.
But on the surface, Aristine looked like a harmless bird, shocked by the first brutality that she had ever seen. Imagine how hard it must be for her, coming to the rough Irugo after being raised preciously in the delicate Silvanus palace.
“I’m ashamed to face you, Your Highness. For now, please take a slow, deep breath…”
Volatun didn’t know what to do but to try and calm Aristine’s nerves. Not only that, but the servants also busied themselves to bring cold water and cold towels for her.
Everyone was saddened by the terrible emotional distress that the tender-hearted Princess Consort must have suffered.
Aristine took a deep, long breath then she smiled. She didn’t mean for it to be taken a certain way, but people took it as a pained smile.
“You shouldn’t say you’re ashamed to face me. Thanks to you, I have somewhat calmed down.” (Aristine)
“I’m glad to hear that, but perhaps it would be good to get some rest…”
“I can’t possibly rest at ease. I’m sure Ritlen has it the hardest. He suffered something so terrible, imagine what he must be going through right now…”
The worried look on her face tugged at people’s heartstrings. Not just Volatun, but everyone in the room admired Aristine’s character. Even though it was so hard for her, she was thinking of other people first.
Aristine was the embodiment of a kindhearted princess, full of sympathy and compassion.
“I might not have enough to offer but I want to help.”
Hearing her say that made them want to help her instead.
“The fact that you want to help is more than enough, Your Highness.”
At those words, Aristine gave a bright smile.
“Then I would like to meet the victim by himself.”