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When Thomas awoke the following morning his entire body ached from the tip of his hair to his toes. With a loud groan caused by the pain and pleasure of stretching his sore muscles, Thomas sat up in the bed and began to examine himself. He had no idea why the game would be designed to cause the players so much pain, but the sight of his own body shocked that thought clean out of his mind.

When he'd set his attributes all to ten he had been physically fit and at the peak of humanity according to the AI that helped him get started. Now, however... His body had become something foreign to him. His entire body had become thicker, his muscles swelling in size and power. He looked like he had been pumping iron while gorging on steroids. His muscles seemed to be at least three times thicker than they were yesterday.

Thomas couldn't help but frown deeply, a massive wall of muscle was not a look he wanted to have. The only thing he was thankful for at the moment was that clothing automatically resized to fit people. If clothing didn't have that function he would likely be stark naked from ripping through the linen outfit he slept in and nothing he owned at the moment would fit him.

Moving felt unfamiliar as he'd never had a body like this before, he did not enjoy the 'muscleman' look in the least and was already wondering how he could change it back. After getting dressed, Thomas retrieved his cleaned clothing from Maggie. For her part, Maggie just gave Thomas a once over, but didn't say anything or seem to see anything strange. Confused by that Thomas headed down to the dining room for his breakfast where Martha gave him a similar once over but said nothing odd. Almost like what had happened to Thomas wasn't even worth mentioning.

After leaving The Swans Nest, Thomas pulled up the quest he'd been spending the last in-game week on to double check his remaining time. Today was the last day and he only had a few hundred experience points remaining to get to rank 25 in Blacksmithing.

System Notice: Current Quest

Hekrin Graveljaw has tasked you with becoming a rank 25 Blacksmith. You may train at Rock's Armory.
Rewards: ??
Failure: Hekrin Graveljaw will refuse to teach you Magitech Engineering.
Time Limit: End of Business Today

After checking the time limit, Thomas nodded to himself and headed towards Rock's Armory. Today was the last time he'd be working at Rock's, at least for a while. Stepping into the storefront of the building Thomas gave a nonchalant wave to the ever cold and distant Belle. Only, something strange happened. Belle smiled back. Thomas was so surprised by the unexpected smile that he stopped walking for a moment before shaking his head and continuing forward into the back of the building.

He couldn't recall having ever actually seeing Belle smile before, but there could be any number of reasons that she decided to smile at him today. Such as the deal he struck with Rock or that today was the last time she would have to put up with him coming over for a while. It didn't really matter, it was just an odd anomaly.

After enting the smithy it was clear that Rock was already hard at work teaching the other blacksmiths Thomas's techniques, which meant each of them had also signed a binding contract to keep the secret of the techniques. Rock looked over at Thomas and laughed, "Ah! Now you actually look like a blacksmith!" Rock walked over and gave Thomas's back a good hard slap that sent Thomas stumbling forward a few steps, "Keep pumping up your Power and Endurance and one day you can be as incredibly handsome as I am!" After speaking Rock threw his head back and roared with laughter, even some of the other blacksmiths chuckled at Rocks words.

Rock's words gave Thomas a stroke of inspiration. He'd been lifting all of his stats at about the same time since the beginning and his body hadn't changed so drastically. Perhaps if he spent experience to increase his Agility and Magic his body would shrink back down? It was only a guess though...

Shaking his head in exasperation, Thomas made his way over to the pile of iron ingots and grabbed two of them. Carrying the ingots over to a forge and setting them in the coals he contemplated what weapon he wanted to make today. He'd meant to think about it last night, but circumstances had worked against him. Thomas mentally scrolled through the list of weapons he knew, armor would take too long to make. He wanted to make something either somewhat complex or large, but that would only take the day to make. Something that should give him the last bit of experience he needs to finish getting to rank 25 in blacksmithing.

After thinking for a while he came to a decision and grinned. The weapon he was going to make wasn't going to be overly complex, but it was going to be the largest one he had made thus far. He grabbed a pair of tongs and pulled the two ingots out of the coals. He cleaned the top surfaces of the ingots to get rid of any scale and slapped them together. Using the hammer he forge welded the two ingots into one.

For the next couple of hours, he constantly heated, hammered, and folded the ingots over and over until he had folded the two ingots together a total of 15 times giving him exactly 32,768 layers. Once he was finished folding the iron he started to hammer the ingot out into a very long bar. By the time Thomas finished forging the ingots out to length, it was approximately 1.5 meters long.

With the folded ingots forged into a bar, Thomas began to hammer the bar flat, though he left about 25 centimeters squared for the tang of the weapon. Once the bar was relatively flat he began to hammer along the edges, angling them to help roughly form the edges and save himself some time at the grinding wheels. If he had modern tools he could easily skip this step and just use a sander to grind the edges, but without that, it was better to just hammer some shape to the edges.

After careful work with the hammer, he now had a double edged sword blade nearly 1.25 meters long with a tang of 25 centimeters. With the forging done he brought the sword blade up to temperature before dunking it into the trough of water to quench it. The massive length of the blade and the high heat of the metal caused a huge cloud of steam to erupt into the entire room. Several of the other blacksmiths complained at Thomas for the distraction to their work.

Chuckling to himself, Thomas went over to the grinding wheels and began the tedious task of grinding off the excess material and refining the shape of the sword. Because the sword was so large it was actually rather cumbersome to grind it properly. Thanks to his strength the weight of several kilograms wasn't an issue, just getting it to the proper angles for grinding was a bit of a pain.

After a nice lunch, Thomas spent a bit longer to grind the blade before taking it over to his forge to temper it. With such a large blade and so much mass, it took a bit more time to temper. While he was tempering the blade he heated up a scrap of iron and began to hammer it out into a crossguard for the sword. He kept the design of the crossguard simple. First hammering it out flat, then using a tool and the anvils hardy hole to twist both sides of the guard into spirals. When he had finished tempering the blade and cooling it down Thomas returned to the grinding wheels to finish grinding the blade to the final stage before he could take it into the finishing room. After the final stroke across the last grinding wheel, the sword blade and guard were finished.

System Notice: You have created a Magical Zweihänder by hand. Quality: Perfect. You have gained 519 Blacksmith experience and 129 experience.

After checking his character sheet, Thomas couldn't help but grin. He'd done it! Rank 25 in Blacksmithing! Not wanting to waste time Thomas approached Rock and explained how to finish the Zweihänder so that he could do it in Thomas's place. After relaying his instructions Thomas fled from Rock's Armory and ran down the street to Hekrin Graveljaw's shop. Thomas managed to arrive at the shop with a little over an hour remaining in his quest. Without hesitation, he walked up to the counter where the grumpy looking dwarf, Hekrin, stared back at him.

"I've done as you asked. I am now a Rank 25 blacksmith!", Thomas couldn't help exclaiming.

Thomas was beyond excited, he'd spent the last week working towards this and it was finally time to collect his rewards! Hekrin, on the other hand, looked at Thomas as if he was a complete stranger, "What're ye talkin' 'bout kid?"

Thomas stared at Hekrin for a moment as his brain ground to a halt, but he managed to smile and tried to jog Hekrin's memory, "A week ago I came in here and asked you to teach me Magitech Engineering. But you said I couldn't learn it yet and told me to go get to rank 25 in blacksmithing first. I have done so, so here I am."

Hekrin scratched his head, digging a stumpy finger into the thick red mane as he studied Thomas for a moment, "I did?" After a moment longer Hekrin slammed his right hand into his left palm and nodded, "Tha's right. I remember a snot-nosed little pipsqueak wantin' ta learn from me." Hekrin laughs boisterously, "Sent tha little brat off ta let Rock deal wit' 'em!" Seeming to only just now realize he was talking about Thomas, Hekrin coughs in his hand and glares at Thomas like it was all his fault, "Ya say ya got ta 25 in blacksmithin' eh? Show me yer hands!"

Complaining about and cursing Hekrin in his heart, Thomas extended his hands to Hekrin like he had when they first met. Hekrin grabs his wrists and studies his palms for a moment before letting out a disgruntled sigh, "Damn! I thought fer sure ya wouldn't be able ta do it." Hekrin glares at Thomas with his beady coal black eyes, "If'n I'd known ya had a gift fer Blacksmithin' I woulda picked somethin' else. Well. No matter. Ya did as I asked."

System Notice: Quest Complete!

Hekrin Graveljaw has tasked you with becoming a rank 25 Blacksmith. You may train at Rock's Armory.
Rewards: 1,000 Experience, Reputation with Hekrin Graveljaw improved... slightly.
Failure: Hekrin Graveljaw will refuse to teach you Magitech Engineering.
Time Limit: 1 Week

System Notice: You have gained 1,000 experience.

Thomas made a note of the experience and reputation, but that's not what he was here for so he turned to stare at Hekrin, the notice might not have said anything, but he could still push for it with the dwarf, "So, now you'll teach me Magitech Engineering right?"

Hekrin scoffed and shook his head, "Boy! Ya be a hundred years too early ta be learnin' magitech engineerin' from me!"

Thomas glared at Hekrin, "You said if I could get to rank 25 blacksmithing within a week you would teach me!"

Hekrin slammed his fist on the counter, "You callin' me a liar boy?!"

System Notice: Reputation with Hekrin Graveljaw has decreased.

Hekrin continues to glare at Thomas, "I said I wouldn't teach ya unless ya proved yerself, and ya ain't done that jus' yet." Hekrin waves his hand dismissively, "Ya got yerself a week ta learn Tailorin' from old lady Zella and get it up ta rank 25. If'n ya can't do it then don't bother comin' back again ya hear?!"

System Notice: New Quest, Linked Quest!

Hekrin Graveljaw has tasked you with becoming a rank 25 Tailor. You may train at Zella's Fashions.
Rewards: ???
Failure: Hekrin Graveljaw will refuse to teach you Magitech Engineering.
Time Limit: 1 Week

The only thought in Thomas's mind was simply, "What... The... FUCK?!"


Spoiler
: Character Sheet
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A note from thomasdarkrose

Hahahahahahahaaa! Surprised? Shocked? Mystified? Alright alright. For the record, Hekrin never actually said he would teach Thomas Magitech Engineering as soon as he became a rank 25 blacksmithg. His actual words were...

"I aint teachin' ya nothin' until ya can prove ya can do it."

It was implied, but never directly stated that the ONLY requirement for learning Magitech Engineering would be Blacksmithing. Hekrin pulled one over on Thomas this time! HAHAHAHAHAAA!

Also, for those of you curious. Thomas is actually WAY behind the curve when it comes to experience points for increasing his attributes. So far he has managed to earn just 3,223 experience. For perspective. A newbie strength Boar in the forest would grant 25 Exp per kill. Killing 129 boars would net slightly more Exp than Thomas has earned. And that's only IF the individual just killed boars and didn't complete quests or head into the cities dungeon or fight stronger animals/monsters for more experience points as they grew stronger. As a rough estimate, I would say an average slow player is sitting on around 5k experience while over obsessed professional gamers are getting closer to, or have exceeded, 10k experience and may have even headed to different cities with better gear and economies.

Just thought I might put Thomas's progress into perspective.


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About the author

thomasdarkrose

  • Georgia, USA

Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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