The dimly lit room echoes with the sound of hammers striking steel. The faces of the craftsmen are lit by the fires that dance in the furnace.
The sweltering heat in here is a different thing from the heat of battle; this is the Blacksmiths' Guild.
High-quality weapons and armor are constantly being forged here. The craftsmen think of nothing but honing their skills to better create the implements that adventurers request of them.
The workshop allows no room for slacking off or cutting corners. There is not even time to sigh over a failed synthesis. Those who have chosen this hard path fight a different battle.
Among the many dedicated craftsmen are several adventurers who have only recently passed through the guild's doors.
Crasher is an initiate in the San d'Orian Blacksmiths' Guild. She spends her time synthesizing weapons so that her skill might one day approach that of the senior smiths she so envies.
Even as she works, she says with enthusiasm, "I'm trying to figure out the most efficient way for me to work."
On the other hand, Ozu wants to try his hand at blacksmithing and has just joined the guild today.
He's taken aback by the amount of work involved. "I'll need to give this some careful thought before deciding to dedicate my life to it," he says.
As Ozu has learned, blacksmithing is a long road--and not something that you can master overnight. No one is renowned for his swords without first being known for his dedication.
So what is it like to be constantly watching and imitating the senior smiths? According to two blacksmiths I talked to, it's not easy.
Yanron, nearly buried in the fruits of his practice, is an apprentice in the guild. Now that he's an apprentice, one of his objectives is to outfit one of his Paladin friends with armor he made himself.
When asked if he had anything to say to those just beginning, he summed up his years of experience: "Take it slowly and enjoy what you're doing."
On the other hand, he's not one to praise himself or his accomplishments, saying, "This journey is not one that has an end."
But despite this, he enjoys the blacksmith's life and that's what keeps him going.
On the other end of the continent is the Bastok Blacksmith's Guild. There, in the Metalworks, I came across two Galka adventurers.
One was a craftsman, kneeling next to his current project as he put the finishing touches on it. The other adventurer was his client.
The craftsman was so immersed in his work that it was almost unthinkable to disturb him. After a moment, he stood up and presented his newest creation to his client, who looked more than pleased.
After he had completed his work, the Galka, named Uzee, consented to an interview.
Uzee has spent his whole life studying blacksmithing, but it's only recently that adventurers who fight on the front lines have seen fit to make requests of him.
"It's not so much about the money. It's about seeing the look on my clients' faces when they first try on their new armor. You just saw that," he says.
Even the untrained eye can see that Uzee is capable of meeting nearly any request. Still, he says that "There's always somebody better," paying respect to his seniors.
Most of the craftsmen I met spoke humbly. Perhaps this is a sign that, deep down in their hearts, they are not satisfied with their own skills and are always looking to improve.
If you listen hard, you'll be able to hear the reassuring sound of steel being shaped. Deep within the workshops of the Blacksmiths' Guild, the blacksmiths are swinging their hammers.