The art of steel making goes back thousands of years across many civilizations. Not much is known about their exact techniques but it is believed that the ancient steel workers relied on magic and wizardry.
The early steel workers, starting with the Greek God Hephaistos, were able to produce steel swords that were far superior to the customary bronze products of their time. Their technique involved “roasting” the iron, or perhaps the entire sword, in a fire at a specific temperature for a specific length of time. Rituals developed to replicate the procedure. For example, reciting a long prayer replicated the time the iron needed to roast. Reciting the proper prayer seemed to work. The prayers and related rituals were handed down from master to apprentice and provided reproducible conditions.
Another step the early smiths needed to take to make a magic sword involved the cooling down process. The sword was quenched in a liquid to rapidly cool it down thus strengthening it fivefold. While much stronger than standard wrought iron, the resulting sword tended to be brittle and break easily – not a good property during battle. To fix this, the smith would reheat the sword at a moderate temperature and bang on it, thus deforming its properties plastically. If everything went well, a magical sword was born, far stronger than the more common bronze ones. It is well known that the Romans conquered many people because their swords did not bend or break after a heavy blow.
These early steel workers didn’t know exactly what they were doing, they believed they were purifying the iron in a holy fire and that the magical rituals, when done properly, strengthened the product into good steel. Their procedures required a great deal of work, knowledge and luck. Every now and then, they succeeded and produced a sword of steel, worthy of the Gods.