“How’s it feel, Prei? Is it the right size?”
“Yeah, it’s just right! This is amazing!”
Prei spun around, looking herself in the mirror. The new set of armor that Tate had crafted for Prei fit her body perfectly, demonstrating that Tate had an understanding of the shape of Prei’s body that could only have come as a result of hours of focused observation.
“Is it hard to move it? Does it hinder your mobility in any way?”
Prei experimentally flexed her arms and legs, then did a backflip which followed into a set of cartwheels, ending with a short forward roll into crouched dodging position.
“Nope, not at all. It’s like I’m not wearing anything. How did you even manage to do this without chain mail?”
The armor that Prei was wearing was full plate – with the exception of her armpits, there were no gaps in the armor. Ordinarily, wearing such a suit of armor would vastly hinder movement due to the inherent bulk and rigidity of steel plate, but Tate’s armor was free of this problem: the joints of the armor somehow provided protection while allowing a full range of motion. Tate puffed out her chest in pride.
“The secret is in the joints. They look like a single piece of metal, but like the rest of the armor, they’re actually made from a lattice of multiple interlocking layers of metal. The key difference is that rather than enchanting them to shift in accordance to your form, I had them enchanted to constantly shift and re-adjust to fit your arm. I’ve been trying to apply this technique to the larger pieces of the armor, but it’s not really working out very well. The energy consumption for that would be too inefficient to justify the minor increase in comfort it would allow. Also, the armor has a few other features, too. For example…”
Tate brushed her finger against Prei’s vambrace, causing a wicked-sharp blade to flip out. Prei’s eyes widened.
“Wait, seriously? Hidden weapons? When did you find the time to make all of this stuff?”
“I’ve been working on it a couple months – though that’s just the practical bit. I’ve been working on the theoretical design for years. I wanted it to be a surprise for when I eventually gave it to you. There are hidden blades in the arms, calves, and boots. Just channel your mana into the respective part to extend or retract the weapons. Give it a try. Retract this blade.”
Prei blinked, whereupon the blade retracted back into the shell of the vambrace.
“This is… I’m impressed.”
“Oh, you’re going to be more impressed. This is my favorite bit.”
“Wait, there’s more?”
“Mmhmm. Take this.”
Tate handed Prei a long spear. Prei tested its weight in her hand, spinning it several times midair. Then she glanced at Tate with an anticipatory glance.
Excited, Prei channeled her mana into the weapon, watching as it morphed into a sword, then a halberd, then an axe, then back into a spear.
“…It’s so fluid. Way better than the last one.”
“Yeah, the printer that Lily made for me made it much easier to get the pieces of metal and the inscribed manascript into just the right shape for it, so it shouldn’t jam anymore. You’ll find that it’s also capable of transforming into a bow, or a stave, if you feel like it. Plus, I stored the configurations in the central mana crystal, so I can update it with new designs at any time. You’ll never need another weapon.”
“…Tate, this is… this is amazing. I’m not sure how I can ever thank you enough.”
Tate dropped her gaze, her voice turning quiet.
“You can thank me by wearing my equipment and staying alive. Staying alive, and returning to my side.”
A sobering silence filled the air. Prei was the first one to break it.
“Tate, I’m going to be fine.”
Tate shook her head while smiling.
“I know, I know. You’re super strong, and Lily will be out there, too. But I’m still worried.”
“Tate, I’m not going to lose to anyone. I’ll definitely come back. Mere humans won’t be able to get in the way of my returning to you.”
“How do you know that? How can you say that for certain? This is war we’re talking about. War is chaotic. War is messy. I know firsthand how strong you are, both in this form and your other. But war doesn’t discriminate. Sure, your martial ability may be unparalleled. Sure, maybe you won’t ever lose to anyone in a duel. But what if you’re felled by a stray arrow, a lucky hit? I can’t help but worry. All I can do is make the best armor I can, in the hopes that it will protect you from that stray arrow. I can’t do anything else. I can’t do anything else for you, and that makes me feel terrible. I worry for you, Prei.”
Prei grabbed Tate by the shoulders.
“Tate, look at me. Look at me. I will come back. No matter what, I’ll definitely come back. Stray arrows? Ha! I’d like to see the stray arrow that can pierce my scales. Lucky blows? I’ll just have to continuously cut down everyone around me. Let me promise you now, when the battle comes, when the siege begins, I’ll march out, resplendant in the armor that you crafted for me, bearing this weapon you made in my hand. I’ll stand tall on the battlefield and cut down my enemies mercilessly. My courage will be legendary, my skill will be unmatched. Generations from now shall know me as Prei the Fearless. And what will give me this courage? The knowledge that I’m wearing armor crafted by Tate: the greatest armorsmith of our time, and my dearest friend. The knowledge that I wield a weapon that is unique in this world, made through the combined efforts of the greatest inventor and the greatest smith. This is what will give me strength. When I fight, it will be as though you are fighting with me. So don’t say that you’re not doing enough for me. Don’t even think that you’re not doing enough for me. You have your own responsibilities in this plan, Tate. You need to focus on those. But I promise you, I will return, triumphant and glorious. Mark my words, Tate.”
Tate closed her eyes and sighed.
“You were always one for drama. ‘Prei the Fearless’? Really?”
Prei fought the redness that was attempting to enter her cheeks. Displaying embarrassment now would undermine everything she just said. Tate chuckled and rested her head on Prei’s shoulder.
“Alright. I’ll take your word for it. You’ve never broken a promise, and I certainly hope that you don’t intend to start. If you don’t return, I swear I’ll never forgive you.”
“Ha. I doubt I’d ever forgive myself. Not that I would have a chance to. Since I would be dead.”
Prei’s attempt at banter fell flat, ushering in an atmosphere of awkwardness. Finally, Tate could bear it no longer and pushed away from Prei, eyes searching for a way to change the subject. They settled on the weapon.
“Oh! Right! This weapon doesn’t have a name, yet!”
“Is a name strictly necessary?”
“Of course it is! ‘Prei the Fearless’ can’t possibly be using an unnamed, generic weapon, now, can she? Great heroes deserve unique and distinctive weapons!”
Prei groaned. She was beginning to regret acting on impulse and declaring herself Prei the Fearless. To take her mind off the embarrassing title, she glanced at the morphing weapon in her hand and thought about it. What would be a good name? A weapon, that had numerous forms, that could adapt to many situations, that was constantly changing to fit Prei’s needs. A weapon that was many weapons in one. A weapon that had numerous uses. A weapon that signified all the different ways that Tate mattered to Prei. As a sister. As a friend. As a confidante. As something far more. With that in mind, a name surfaced that felt like a perfect fit.
“…Myriad. This weapon will be named Myriad.”
Tate thought about it for a moment and nodded.
“A good name. I like it.”
“A good weapon deserves a good name. And Myriad is definitely the best weapon in the world.”
“I’m flattered that you think that. Myriad, huh… Sounds like a girl’s name. May she serve you well in the battle to come.”
“I’m sure she will.”