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A note from puddles4263

Hopefully this weekend I'll get around to contacting the contest winners. I'm really focusing on building up more of a chapter lead right now.

Randidly got up to the deck and went to the far side, keeping as much space between him and the crazy ones throwing armor at people swimming in the water. Around 30 minutes later, as they continued dumping items, something inside of him relaxed, and mana began to pool within him once more. After a time, he wiggled his fingers and felt the 1000 mana leave him for Weeping Cloud.

Then he sat cross legged and began to Engrave. Using the greaves, because that was what he had the most of remaining, Randidly tried each of the 4 new runes. It wasn’t a long process, as his control and efficiency in manipulating the mana within himself had improved overmuch, which Randidly believed to be a product of his leveled Battle Intent. Something about that mental weapon carried over to Engraving, and he was able to do it much more efficiently.

Although this was just his first time for each of them, all came out with an efficacy in the high 30s. Which was disappointing in a way, because they had very little value to Randidly below 40, but he supposed he shouldn’t be too put off. His first attempt all that time ago had turned out below 20. And each additional point could only be earned by the weight of repetition and experience, as his understanding of Engraving grew.

Almost as a warm up, the next Engraving that Randidly did was a Shadow V. To his delight, it reached a 67% efficacy, which was his highest ever with that rune. He could feel himself progressing on understanding the method for smoothing and filling the energy in a way that made him slightly excited. His mind was still so clear, and he focused it to a razor edge.

Now was the time.

After breathing and steadying himself, Randidly began to Engrave, much more carefully and thoroughly than he had done with the previous Engravings. Not because he wasn’t taking them seriously, but because… he honestly didn’t understand the nuances in those runes yet. It was impossible for him to tell which portions were important to emphasize. That was why Engraving was such a tedious process. The important areas in the runes were different. Sometimes attention should be given to the swirls and curves, making sure they are smooth. Sometimes what you needed to do was focus on the straight stretches, making them immaculate. Sometimes the extra effort should go towards places where the lines cross, ensuring that energy at that location was exceedingly deep.

There were a million small details that couldn’t truly be learned through the manuals, but they would make the information retention much easier. No, the foundation had to be made through effort and repetition.

And in terms of Engraving, for Randidly, the Dragonfly symbol was the one with which he was most familiar. So as the rain fell on his skin, prickling like tiny chilled needles, he calmly and evenly Engraved a Dragonfly onto a bracer.

Almost instinctively, his breathing became extremely even and slow, to the point where a normal human would have suffocated. But for Randidly, with his exceedingly high Vitality, it wasn’t even something that he would notice in such a short period.

Even though he took his time, the Engraving was finished in 15 minutes, and he held the completed work up for his examined by his animated expectation, a spark of excitement in Randidly’s heart.

Apprentice’s Leather Bracer Lvl 25: Leather armor worked by an Apprentice, but made with poor materials. Vit +2, Health +26. Rain Engraved II.

Engraving of Dragonfly 80% ®: The wind seems to move with the wearer, aiding in both offensive and defensive speed. A thin layer of air is wrapped around the wearer, protecting them like an armor. Wearer gains Aspect of Dragonfly III.

Aspect of Dragonfly III: Reaction +7, Agility +10

Rain Engraved II: The Engraver has developed his own basic personal process of Engraving, and benefits begin to accrue within the armor. Mana +15, Focus +3.

The bracer seemed small and worn, but to Randidly, it was the culmination of two long years of effort. Engraving might be a support skill, but he would never have been able to prepare so many potion materials without the money he earned from it. Let alone breaking out of the Prison, even freeing Shal would have been impossible without the Shadow rune, and the benefits that it provided to him.

Randidly made a mental note that the debt that he owed the Willow Tree Spear Style was even larger than he thought, and carefully placed the newfound bracer into his inventory. Although he would make his own armor soon, Randidly was confident now that he could repeat this accomplishment.

Seeing that the rest were still occupied with the material dumping, Randidly informed a frowning Divveltian of his plan and then headed out across the nearby boats, heading for Claptrap’s boat. It was a rather short trip, and when he arrived, Randidly hesitated briefly, because it was clear that Claptrap was meeting with someone else. He honestly didn’t really know what to do about it.

But Randidly’s natural social awkwardness had been greatly ground down by his two years in the prison, training, so Randidly just shrugged and pushed through the door.

Both the figures looked up at him, the figures being Claptrap with his rather skinny-fat body and a rather slim man who wore a smile on his face. When Randidly entered, Claptrap’s eyes widened and his smile stretched from ear to ear.

“You’re still alive!” He squeaked, running over to Randidly and giving him a large hug. Randidly awkwardly patted him on the back. Sure, they were kinda business partners, but this level of affection seemed a bit… insane. Maybe Claptrap was more emotionally needy than Randidly had originally anticipated…?

The smiling man laughed and walked over. “Ah, you are the wonderful Engraver who has so helped my Style. I am Artisan Dwei, of the Crashing Wave Style. Claptrap was just assuring me that you would arrive with the new batch of armor any day now.”

Randidly’s eyes twitched almost imperceptibly. Was there a hint of a threat there…? Randidly wasn’t sure of what the man’s actual strength was, but he was an Artisan, which made him wary. Again, all the people inside of the prison at the Artisan level had been stronger than Randidly, but they had been there, training through constant combat for dozens of years as they served out their various sentences.

Still, with access to dungeons, who knew how much this man had trained-

Then Randidly shook his head, banishing the thoughts, and shook Artisan Dwei’s hand. It was better to not make more trouble than he had to deal with, especially now.

“Yes, here.” Randidly unceremoniously dumped the 300 or so Engraved armors on the ground, careful to keep his few Shadow rune attempts to himself. Still, there were quite of bit of each kind, with most being over 60% efficacy. His eyes glittering, Artisan Dwei stepped forward and began to check them all.

Claptrap sprinted over with a ledger, his eyes glittering, drool coming out of his mouth, and Randidly hesitated for a second, but grabbed his arm. Then, with a flourish, Randidly produced his 80% efficacy bracer and offered it to Claptrap. Perhaps this level of efficacy would cause problems for them, the same way the Shadow Rune would, but Randidly figured that while the efficacy problem might be more of an issue, it didn’t have much more room to grow. As long as the rune was still relatively basic, the Engraving Guilds would likely respond, but take their time doing so.

A rune on the level of the Shadow Rune might draw undue attention much faster.

“Oh. Oh oh oh.” Claptrap said, his face flushing red. His hands trembled reverently as he looked down at the thing. It might seem like a small boost; after all, the 60% bracers usually gave somewhere between 10 and 14 extra stats, while this gave 20, plus the extra mana. But the two highest stats were very relevant to the combat focused nation that they were a part of.

In addition, to get an extra 10 stats from only a single piece of armor… It was an accomplishment that people were willing to pay money for. Money on the order of a few hundred Silver.

Randidly leaned back, slightly reassured by the fervor and enthusiasm with which Claptrap entered into negotiations with Artisan Dwei for the bracer. They quickly outstripped their previous cost structure, and began talking in a very direct way about values and what markets Claptrap would have for have for such a powerful piece of Engraving apart from the Crashing Wave Style.

Randidly didn’t really care very much for the money, aside from providing for his potion making, which he expected to be very generously overshooting right now, so he said very little, aside from informing the two others that he could now make the Gazelle, Oxen, Dolphin, and Preying Mantis Runes.

Artisan Dwei finally battered down Claptrap, and they settled on a price, and they worked out what the Crashing Wave Style would want for their next order. Then Artisan Dwei turned to Randidly.

“It is a strange thing… but over 80% efficacy, there is the chance that some pieces will have… an extra ability. We will pay… very heavily for those pieces. If you continue to improve, I’m sure you will find that ability.”

Then Artisan Dwei stored the equipment, handed over his money, and prepared to go. During that time, Randidly turned to Claptrap.

“Were you able to learn anything about the Spear Phantom Style?”

Claptrap flushed, then shook his head. “I asked around to a few people, but… I’m honestly not very popular around here, so-”

“I know that story.” Artisan Dwei said, his typical smile fading away. He looked seriously at Randidly. “Would you like to hear about the founder of your Style? It is not a pretty story.”

Randidly shrugged. “Life is not a pretty place.”

Artisan Dwei chuckled, and then walked over to a small table in the corner. After Claptrap had brought them all a glass of wine, the Artisan began to speak.

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