“If we can only do the basic assembly for the next five days before the inspection team arrives, even if you somehow manage to pull off the impossible task of assembling everything, we won’t finish the moving city before you leave. The construction is rather simple, but the scale of your plans is prohibitive.” Wendy said bluntly.
She rapped her knuckles against the steel table densely covered in the multitude of plans for the different systems within the moving city to make it feasible. “Too much of this requires either me, or mostly you, to do the finishing touches. Perhaps just a few seconds at each, but that adds up on a project this large. Even if we just consider the necessary components, I estimate that it will take a week of round the clock work to finish the construction.”
“I can manage that,” Randidly said as he frowned down at the plans. He was doing his own calculations in his head, trying to see if he could save some time by forging some portions using Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil rather than doing it by hand. “I won’t have trouble working for a week straight. Plus, Lucretia is willing to leave my Soulskill and assist with the final details.”
“She might have more juice to her Engravings than I do and understand the technical details better than you do, but she’s not good enough at either to make a big difference in the final assembly.” Wendy’s face scrunched up into a deep frown, as it always did when she spoke about Lucretia. “She’s been invaluable in making the smaller parts while you are busy with other things, but the big Engravings have to come from you.”
“I know.” Randidly sighed. Part of the reason for that was because his Engraving style was beginning to diverge heavily from Lucretia’s, but the larger concern was just that to make a huge Engraving, a large Mana pool was needed to ensure the finish was even.
Even with her current power in his Soulskill, Lucretia’s Mana pool was one-third of Randidly’s.
“Rather than one person, what would be more useful would be to recruit an army of assistants with some technical knowledge. Take the manual labor off of our plates,” Wendy pointed out. “You have some talented people working for you; just get about three hundred of them to help us for these last two weeks. It will be cutting it close, but-”
“It might seem dumb, but that’s not an option.” Randidly’s smile was wry. “For the sake of the image I want them to have… it needs to come as a surprise. Me accomplishing it needs to seem impossible to the people of Erickson Steel.”
For several long seconds Wendy just stared at him. Her expression was extremely sour. “So we need to make work for ourselves close enough to impossible that people can’t believe we have done it. How fun.”
That got a burst of laughter from Randidly. “Don’t lie, I know you are enjoying immersing yourself in this just as much as I am.”
“Which might be true, but!” Wendy’s fingertip possessed all the deadly sharpness of a rapier as she jabbed it at him. “We’ve already been working on this tirelessly for a month; I didn’t want to bring this up, but I’ve seen how much the large scale Engravings exhaust you. And the reason that you need to leave so exactly in two weeks… it’s dangerous, right?
“Do you really want to work yourself to the bone to the last minute?”
That silenced Randidly. He couldn’t deny that his uses of All Else Succumbs, Yet Time Whirls the Earth left him completely mentally drained. So much so that it seemed like a very bad idea to use that Skill too near to the descent of his Judgment.
It didn’t knock him out anymore, but even depleting his capabilities by 10% for something like the battlefield Chulroon described would be deadly.
Yet even though he had experienced a great deal of progress in his understanding of Levelable Engravings by studying the results of the Skill on the tower, Randidly still felt like he was missing something. He could create a fine outcome with a high degree of confidence, but fine wasn’t what he wanted from his moving city.
He wanted impossible.
But Randidly would need more time to experiment if he wanted to improve the result for his Engraving. And he couldn’t spend more time experimenting with Engraving because there were so many minute Engravings that Randidly needed to do on the assembled parts to strengthen the city.
Which brought him back to how useful it would be to have an army of assistants able to cover the slack and arrange it so Randidly only had to spend his time doing the activities that were absolutely necessary for him to do, but if he didn’t want to spoil the reveal of the city for the sake of the image of Erickson Steel-
Then Randidly blinked.
Laughing, Randidly shook his head. “Actually, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. I think I have a solution. But I’ll probably need three to four hours to handle it. Will you be alright for that time?”
“Do you think I lack for work?” Wendy grumbled. She waved him away and walked toward the dome-like building they had recently constructed to house the powerplant of the moving city. Most of that was technical rather than Engraving focused, so Wendy had been rather consumed putting the finishing touches on the mechanical heart of the city.
Randidly grinned at her back, then rushed away to his own workshop within Erickson Steel. After informing everyone that he was to be disturbed for absolutely no reason, Randidly settled into the dim light of his workshop and began to work. He spread his fingers and summoned his tools.
Floating emerald flames sizzled into existence as he began. Randidly had two tasks. The first was to quickly draw up a very basic design for a certain necessary sort of equipment. Although Randidly’s technical knowledge wasn’t as exhaustive as some of the people who were starting to congregate around him, the combination of the Skills Spriggit’s Tinkering, Engineering Savvy, and Experienced Creator’s Ingenuity gave him quite a lot of practical ability.
It only took about ten minutes to draw out a rough sketch of what he wanted. Then it took about a half an hour for Randidly to create a satisfactory Engraving pattern that would power and animate the small spider assistant that he quickly created.
Honestly, he could have made the Engraving in less than thirty seconds if he used some of Randidly’s newer Engraving structures, but Randidly wanted to outsource the work of creating these miniature assistants. Therefore he had to simply the Engraving so someone who was beneath his Skill Level could manage it.
Although it was extremely aggravating to oversimplify his Engravings to the extent that someone around Skill Level 80 could manage it quickly, Randidly knew that it was the right choice. Immediately he walked out of his workroom, found Tatiana, and asked her to offer quite a bit of money for some of Erickson Steel’s workers to assemble these.
Then he returned to his own. The emerald fires continued to hang in the air, watching his every move. From his interspatial ring, Randidly removed a very old set of plans.
After a single glance, Randidly snorted at how clumsy the markings of the Engravings seemed. Almost immediately, he tossed the plans to aside and began to create from scratch. Most of the technical details were the same, but the specs of what he envisioned would likely be double of the original plans, just by the virtue of the added efficiency Randidly could add with Engravings.
This time, Randidly had no limitations on the complexity of his Engravings. This would be only assembled by him, so he didn’t need to hold back at all. All of the tricks that Randidly had learned from Levelable Engravings and from creating large Skill Engravings were brought to bear on this project.
When Randidly finished, he didn’t pause at all. He instantly pulled out metal and began to forge this long-promised vessel.
Emerald fire melted the metal down into gleaming liquid while Randidly used Influence of the Molten Core to shape it as he wished. Then he pulled out a heavy darksteel hammer he had obtained from Sam and began to beat each individual sheet of metal into a very exact shape.
No sooner had he finished one piece than he went to work on another. The sound of his workshop was filled with the ringing of metal slamming against metal. When he was prepared to set the metal, Randidly extended a sharp claw from Chulroon’s Chisel and opened a deep gash in his right wrist. His blood flowed freely down onto the metal, quenching its thirst for meaning in a vicious hiss.
Randidly pushed the limits of his physical Endurance as time slowly passed. The longer he forged, the faster he moved. He was accelerating through the motions. His body became a blur as he freely manipulated the floating metals to drift toward him when he was ready to handle them.
Clang, clang, clang.
Somehow, the noise of his hammer on metal seemed to sync up with his rising heartbeat. The emerald flames danced slowly around Randidly’s blurred form, throwing strange shadows on the wall. Behind Randidly’s back, the blurred forms of Yggdrasil and the Grim Chimera appeared, watching the strange performance with interest.
The air inside the workshop swirled and dance. Motes of light drifted around Randidly, as though pulled by strange currents.
Randidly could feel it too, but he didn’t dare spare the attention for the shifts occurring in the Ignition Essence image. For now, he simply accepted that some of the images from his Alpha Cosmos and from the network created by the Crown of Upheaval and Gloom were filtering toward the Ignition Essence.
Randidly trusted the process and didn’t study it too closely. His images, if nothing else, would ensure that the Ignition Essence wasn’t needlessly corrupted. From their presence, it seemed like they approved of this. Therefore, Randidly simply continued to forge.
What is within, without. What is without, within.
When all the metal was finished, Randidly cracked the knuckles of his right hand and immediately transitioned into Engraving. Sweat dripped off his brow and puddled on the floor. Even with his powerful body, Randidly had to release several heaving breaths in order to steady himself.
It was good, to push himself like this. But he couldn’t take a break for long. There was still more work to accomplish today. And hopefully before nightfall.
Unfortunately, Randidly couldn’t get an even density of Mana to condense on the fingers of Chulroon’s Chisel, so it was only with his right hand that he could draw the complicated lines of the Engraving.
But on the other hand, that meant that the uniformity for the entire construction was immaculate. Although Randidly continued to move rapidly, it was the rapid movements of an experienced artisan. At this point, Randidly had spent the greater part of six months doing almost nothing but Engraving. This sort of task was something that he could do in his sleep.
After finishing, Randidly grinned down at his creation. The Mana flowed along the metal portions like luminous eels, carefully checking the extent of its new shape for weaknesses and flaws. Finding none, it settled down until it was activated.
That’s when you know the Engraving is a good one, Randidly thought fondly as he looked down at the metal. When it tries to destroy itself to escape. All that’s left now… is one last deal.