105. Weapons & Names
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Old Wang blinked at the sudden question. “Well, that’s new. It’s the first time someone asks me to be their teacher. I suppose you cast some sort of analysis on me last time we met?”

 

Rakna nodded. “I apologize for that.”

 

“No worry, sonny. Nothing wrong with it,” the dwarf waved his hand dismissively and flipped the pancake frying on his pan. Even in a futuristic city, it seemed that he preferred the classic way of cooking. “Though, I have to ask, why do you want to learn?”

 

“To get stronger.”

 

Old Wang hummed as he pulled out a plate. “How unusual. Usually, it’s more a question of passion, curiosity, or creative drive.”

 

“Well, let’s say that I have a spell that may benefit from it.”

 

“Makes sense,” he shrugged. “Anything on your pancake?”

 

“Hazelnut chocolate or something similar if you have.”

 

“Sweet tooth, eh?” The old dwarf commented with a smirk. He flopped the pancake on the plate and then took out a jar of chocolate from which he spooned a decent portion before letting it flow on the steaming food. “Here,” he said and handed the order along with a fork.

 

Rakna grunted positively and grabbed both before digging in, once again praising this old man’s cooking. ‘I guess it’s not surprising with an Exceled proficiency,’ he remarked internally.

 

“{Devourer of mine, you’re making me hungry,}” the lioness half-complained, half-demanded.

 

‘What do you want me to do? It’s not like I can mail this to my mindscape,’ he retorted and heard the pitiful whimpering of all three of his soul tenants.

 

“Anyhow, I don’t mind teaching you,” Old Wang said and instantly attracted his attention. “But at two conditions. First; never reveal my identity.”

 

“No problem. I never intended to,” Rakna said without missing a beat.

 

“I thought so as well but it doesn’t hurt to say it,” the blacksmith said. “Second; I will ask you one question and I want you to answer truthfully. If I like your answer, I will impart to you everything I can. Acceptable?”

 

“I don’t see any reason to disagree. I wouldn’t mind paying you as well. Question or not.”

 

“Don’t give me any of that, young man. If I decide by my own volition to take in an apprentice, I won’t take a fee for it,” the old dwarf huffed. “So? Are you ready to hear the question?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then tell me, what is a weapon made for? Its purpose?”

 

Rakna was a bit startled. This sounded more like a philosophical issue more than anything else. In fact, he would even go as far as to say that there were as many answers to that question as there were people in the universe. To kill? To protect? To destroy? To win?

 

‘But… if I were to formulate my opinion…’ He closed his eyes for a few seconds. “Nothing.”

 

“Hm?” Old Wang cocked his head to the side.

 

“A weapon has no purpose. A weapon is not made for anything. If you do try to forge a sword while thinking of a particular enemy or wielder, what does it mean ultimately? The sword might break or be stolen. It might never be wielded by the one it was supposed to be made for or it might never draw the blood of its supposedly fated foe.”

 

“So, if the weapon loses purpose or never gets one, we turn to the wielder. Does the weapon inherit the latter’s goals and aspirations? If the wielder is evil, does it apply to the weapon as well? If the wielder is a saint, does that mean the weapon becomes an instrument of peace? Of course not.”

 

“All in all, what can you say except nothing? A weapon is not a tool. Nor it is an extension of the user. It’s a perfect catalyst. It’s a means to the end. If you desire to protect, then it will protect. But it will not become an object dedicated to protection. If you desire to kill, then it will kill. But it will not become an instrument of death for that reason alone either.”

 

Old Wang squinted his eyes as Rakna paused at that point to eat the last piece of pancake. He then swallowed it and continued, “But… a weapon is also a container. It is a legacy. The older it is, the more tales it carries, the more lives and deaths it honors, and the more pride it accumulates.”

 

“Everyone has pride in their craft. When you wield a weapon, you take pride in the mastery you possess over it,” Rakna sighed tiredly. “This is my answer; a weapon is a catalyst that bends to the whims of history and serves as a legacy for what it achieves,” he concluded and looked back at the old dwarf who was gazing at him with an unreadable expression.

 

After a dozen seconds, Old Wang grinned and started laughing. “You surpassed all my expectations with that!” He said lightheartedly. “It is just as you say, a weapon is not just what it was made for or what is expected of it. But to hear your version of it… that was very interesting. Though, I would have accepted to teach you no matter what you said about it.”

 

Rakna scowled.

 

“Why do you think I asked you this question in the first place?”

 

“If not to test me… to judge me?”

 

The old dwarf shook his head. “Wrong. I merely wished to hear your opinion. That’s all. There is no right answer to this question. I have met many people in my life and I have asked this question more than just a few times. I like to hear all those different views.”

 

“I have met people who only thought of weapons as tools of destruction. I have met swordsmen who treated their swords like their closest companions. I have met blacksmiths who only believed in the beauty of their weapons. I have met children who imagined weapons for heroes of justice to wield for the greater good.”

 

“I only wish to hear,” the old craftsman repeated. “Had you told me that swords were merely things meant to defeat your enemy, I would have simply acknowledged it as one of the many truths.”

 

Rakna sighed. “I see. I should’ve just said something random then. That would have saved me the effort,” he groused.

 

“Now, now, don’t be like that,” Old Wang chuckled. “You can take it as your payment to learn under me if that makes you feel better.”

 

“I shall do so…” He muttered then thought of something. “What about you?”

 

“About me what?”

 

“What is the purpose of weapons for you?”

 

The blacksmith’s smile widened at the question. “The opposite of you; everything. Weapons are everything to me. They protect, they kill, they heal, and they create. On top of that, who said weapons had to be physical? Nearly everything can be turned into a weapon. Words, emotions, bonds, intelligence, nature, and even your fist! That’s how it is. The world is a weapon and you are one of its many wielders; it is meant to shape life.”

 

Rakna’s eyes widened a bit before softening. “I see… There really is a lot to learn from others.”

 

“Indeed, sonny. A person can only go so far alone,” Old Wang affirmed and took the empty plate to wash it. “Anyhow, come back here this evening at around seven. I’ll close up early and we’ll be able to start with the basics. Does that sound good?”

 

“No problem,” Rakna replied and stood up. “Have a good day, Master Wang.”

 

“Heh! Calling me Master now, are you?” The dwarf snickered as his newfound apprentice walked away and left the street.

 

* * *

 

“{That dwarf is wise,}” the lioness commented as Rakna made his way back to the Pavilion. “{You can tell with a glance. You too, devourer of mine, possess wisdom beyond your years.}”

 

‘Thanks for the compliment. Also, stop calling me ‘devourer of mine’, Rakna is fine.’

 

The lioness grunted. “{Thank you. I admit I was struggling to find a proper manner to address you. It felt a bit awkward for, you know, being a soul inside your mindscape after you ate the heart of my corpse. Though I think ‘devourer’ has a nice tone to it.}”

 

Rakna snorted. ‘At least, you have a sense of humor. Unlike a certain someone.’

 

[…in my defense, I was never programmed for such functions,] Alexa retorted, completely aware that she was the one he was referring to.

 

‘Well, you’ve been trying recently, so I’ll give you that,’ Rakna admitted.

 

“{Oh? Is this your AI?}”

 

‘What? You can hear her?’

 

“{Crystal clear. Can I ask your name?}”

 

[Rakna named me Alexa.]

 

“{Nice to meet you, Alexa.}”

 

[The pleasure is all mine, Dusk Lioness.]

 

Rakna made a deadpan face as the two voices inside his head began chatting as if it was the most normal thing ever. As he was getting close to the Pavilion, their conversation seemed to have come back to names, and the lioness spoke, “{So, Rakna, did you find a name for us?}” Her inquiry was supported by the two other beasts residing in his soul.

 

‘Higure Mios,’ Rakna responded near instantly.

 

“{Huh?}” It had been so sudden that the lioness couldn’t react properly. “{Is that…?}”

 

‘Yes, it’s your name.’

 

“{Can I ask what it stands for?}”

 

‘Higure means Dusk in Japanese. It is a language with the very pleasant particularity to be able to turn even the smallest of things into an appealing moniker. So, I chose it. As for Mios, it is in honor of an Egyptian lion-headed god of war.’

 

“{Higure Mios…}” The lioness hummed in thought. “{I like it. I like it very much. From now on, I’ll happily take on that name.}”

 

‘Then, nice to meet you, Higure.’

 

“{So do I, Rakna.}”

 

Right after that happened, Rakna almost covered his ear as he heard the chirps of the Luquila and the full-blown howl of the nine-tailed wolf. “Calm down! I haven’t forgotten you,” he said out loud the passersby stepped away from him.

 

‘Starting with you, wolf. Legends of nine-tailed creatures, on my planet, originated with foxes in Chinese mythology. They were either called Huli Jing or Jiu Wei Hu. From there, we just change the animal and it becomes Jiu Wei Lang. We mix it up a little bit, like with Higure, and add some amount of mythology, and we get something along the lines of Fenriu Wei Lang in honor of Fenrir, the wolf god. Do you like it?’

 

The only reaction he got was another howl, a louder one but with a melodic tone.

 

‘I’ll take that as a yes. Nice to have you, Fenriu. Now, finding a name for a Luquila was quite hard. I had not a lot to go from since it’s a race I have never heard of on Earth. The only thing I could use was the combination of eagle and wolf.’

 

He heard the Luquila make a sad sound and he quickly followed, ‘But, I did get some ideas. One of them entails your eagle half; the king of the air. With three pairs of wings, and as a Luquila, hunter of dragons, you deserve that appellation.’

 

‘That’s why, I thought of calling you Rex, king in Latin. I then thought of adding the color of your wings; silver. And I ended up with Rexam as a first name. Then I remembered a certain bird from Persian mythology. Probably the closest thing I can think of to what you are. It was a bird with the body of a dog and the head and wings of an eagle. Its name was Chamrosh, the archetype of all birds that exist on Earth. Now, you just need to cut the two last letters to make everything mesh together and we get Rexam Chamro. Any thoughts?’

 

The Luquila proceeded to invade his ears with chirpy cries of joy. ‘Good to hear you like it.’

 

“{I’m genuinely impressed,}” Higure uttered. “{When I asked you to name us, I never predicted such a level of dedication. Never mind the significance put behind each of them but you even went as far as to find us both a first and last name. I’m grateful, Rakna.}”

 

‘…names shouldn’t be given without care,’ he replied with a twitching mouth. ‘It is your identity. It represents what you are and who you were. It deserves all the importance you can possibly give it. Yep… just like a weapon, it carries a legacy.’

 

“{I shall remember that,}” the lioness avowed and the two cubs silently did the same.

 

[…] Alexa decided to stay silent about the story of how he had named her. She had learned how to read the mood and she 100% knew it wasn’t time. Maybe she would ask her Host later why he had chosen this name for her.

 

What none of them knew was that Rakna had just gotten carried away while thinking about it. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, finally time to see how this will go,” he declared out loud, having since long reached the Pavilion, and entered one of the training rooms. He pulled out the first of the five drake hearts to eat.

 

Ahem, I'm the one who actually got carried away. It's one of those moments where you don't have inspiration to write the rest of the chapter and decide instead to spend an hour looking for names.

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