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Thomas stared at the barrage of notifications for a moment, it took him some time to absorb all of it. Once he got to the end he frowned, he wasn't sure how he felt about five professions all being rolled into a single one. On one hand, it was excellent because it meant any experience he earned for any of the five professions would be rolled into a single skill and allow it to rank up at a much more significant rate. On the other hand, he'd lost 25% of his hard work in a single moment. He wasn't entirely sure how he should feel about it, but at least his Magitech Engineering had skyrocketed to a decent rank.

Hekrin watched Thomas closely and smirked, "I know what you're going through. If it helps, it's worth it to lose that fifty percent experience from your other professions to help rank up Magitech Engineering in the beginning. It makes creating items a lot easier."

Thomas tilted his head in confusion, "I only lost 25% of all my experience though."

Hekrin froze as he stared at Thomas for a full minute until his brain began to work again, "How the hell did you pull that off?! Even my master and all my fellow apprentices all lost 50% of their experience when becoming Magitech Engineers!"

Thomas shrugged his shoulders, though he expected it had something to do with the quest. Though Thomas couldn't confirm it, he was starting to believe that NPC's didn't get quests. If that was true then the quest is what allowed him to retain more experience than an NPC would. Thomas had the perfect excuse for Hekrin though, "Maybe it's because I am an otherworlder?"

Hekrin stroked his beard and then nodded eventually, "You might be right." He shrugged his shoulders, "Well, that doesn't really matter." Hekrin hefted the grenade up and smiled, the first time Thomas had ever seen him smile, "Time to test this and see how you did. Follow me outside the city, the guards don't like it when I test things inside the city walls."

Thomas chuckled, "I can understand that."

What government would want people testing explosives near civilians? Hekrin led Thomas out of the shop, locking the door behind him. It was still a couple of hours before the store would normally close, but Hekrin didn't seem to care in the least as he locked up, "Alright, follow me, kid."

Thomas and Hekrin made their way out of the city and headed toward a small cluster of trees that stood apart from any of the fields around the city. Once they arrived at the treeline, Hekrin held out the grenade to Thomas, "Go ahead and use it. Let's see how well you did."

Thomas accepted the grenade from Hekrin and looked it over.

Item Type: Basic Grenade
Rarity: Normal
Quality: Excellent
Description: A very basic grenade made using Firestone as the source of explosive power. Deadly to anything with an Endurance attribute below 30 with diminishing returns against targets with 30 or more Endurance.

He really thought it was an overly complicated piece of... well anyway. He held the leather-covered sphere and placed his thumb over the top of the fuse to channel mana into it. After a moment he felt that the enchantment was 'full' and started counting down from five in his mind as he threw the grenade into the forest. Thomas only used about half of his strength but the grenade still flew at least thirty meters. Exactly five seconds after he'd filled the fuse with mana there was a massive explosion within the trees. A huge ball of flames blasted outwards and decimated a few trees while sending up a large cloud of black smoke. Even from so far away, Thomas and Hekrin still felt the blast wave as it ruffled their hair and clothing.

Thomas's jaw had fallen open as he stared at the sight. Despite the weird construction of the grenade, it had shown a significant amount of power. Despite the description of the grenade saying it had diminishing returns on targets with an Endurance attribute of 30 or higher, Thomas felt that if he had been inside of that explosion he would have been severely hurt or even killed by it. Thomas felt a modicum of respect for the grenade now that he'd seen it in action but still felt like he could make it better.

After some time Hekrin turned to Thomas and smiled, "Not bad kid. Looks like you might have just a bit of talent."

Hekrin started to lead Thomas back toward the city and spoke as they got near the city gate, "Come by the shop tomorrow and we'll discuss your next step. If you continue to do well you won't have too many issues." Hekrin stroked his beard, "What was it that brought you to my shop again?"

Thomas paused for a moment to think. He'd done so much in the last few weeks he'd almost forgotten what had brought him there in the first place. After recalling he explained to Hekrin, "I found some kids playing with a top that spun on its own after being charged with mana."

Hekrin nodded, "Oh yeah, that thing. That was just something I made on accident and couldn't find much real use for. Tomorrow I'll let you look at the blueprints and you can make a few. Despite being something of a failure the kids really like it. They've even started to have the tops 'battle' each other. Sometimes I think the young ones are the real geniuses." Hekrin eyed Thomas, "Not in your case though."

The two parted ways at the city gate with Hekrin heading for his shop while Thomas made his way to The Swans Nest. Upon entering The Swans Nest, Thomas spotted a familiar face. Rock grinned at Thomas and waved Thomas over to the table he was sitting at. Thomas smiled and joined Rock, "What brings you by tonight Rock?"

Rock laughed and dropped a large bag of gold coins on to the table and said in a playful tone, "Take a guess."

Thomas laughed and quickly stored the coins away into his storage ring, "How did sales go for the last week?"

Rock sighed and leaned back in his chair, "It's been crazy. After the first week, all of us made great strides in ranking up our blacksmithing skills so we became able to work even faster than before. On average each of us is making five to six items a day, depending on what we make. Everything sells almost as soon as it's done being made. Add into that the custom orders that we charge even more for and it comes to quite a lot." Rock leaned forward to whisper to Thomas, "The shop pulled in 84,000 gold this week. We've even had people arrive from nearby towns and cities by land or sea to get their hands on a weapon from the shop." Rock shook his head and sighed, "It's been crazy busy." Rock gestured to the money Thomas had stored, "There's 21,000 gold in the bag I gave you."

Thomas froze at the number. That was insane! It took him time to go over it in his mind but, if the blacksmiths were producing six items each during the day then they were making 24 items a day. If they sold two per hour then the store wouldn't really look busy and would just look constant. Thomas shook his head and just smiled at Rock, "I'm glad business is going so well. I get the feeling I'm going to need every last piece of gold in the near future. Today Master Hekrin finally took me in and has begun teaching me Magitech Engineering."

Rock laughed joyfully and slapped the table, "Now that's news worth celebrating!" He turned and called out loudly, "Martha! We need two mugs of mead over here!"

Martha shot Rock the stink eye for yelling inside of her place but still fetched two mugs of mead for them. After setting them down on the table and giving Rock another scolding look, Martha went back to her work. Rock hefted his mug and gestured for Thomas to do the same before clacking the mugs together, "Congratulations Thomas. Here's to your success!"

Thomas laughed lightly and gulped down some of the somewhat sweet honey mead. Martha returned and set down a plate of food for each man. She smiled warmly at Thomas before leaving him alone with Rock. The two men happily ate their meals while discussing some things about the business, mostly Thomas giving Rock advice on what might sell best to the otherworlders. It was mostly about designing the weapons to appeal to the different sexes, such as making the weapons look 'cool' by adding accents such as skulls to the weapons to appeal to men or look 'cute' by adding accents such as flowers for the women. As the icing on the cake Rock could charge even more for such items and make them in limited amounts to drive their price up even higher.

After a nice, profitable, dinner with Rock, Thomas made his way up to his room for the evening. Thomas lay in his bed and looked at his character sheet. It had been trimmed down a bit from five of his skills combining into a single one. He also noticed a new ability, though it wasn't exactly surprising or special. It looked like he had gained the Throwing ability from tossing the grenade into the woods. Most important of all though was the 3,353 experience waiting to be spent, which was plenty more than the 2,550 experience needed to increase his Power from 20 to 30 in one go. However, having learned his lesson, once again, Thomas spent some time working on increasing the rank of his 'All Seeing Eyes'.

Once he felt himself running low on mana he stopped grinding 'All Seeing Eyes' and spent the 2,550 experience needed to rank up his Power to 30. Thomas sighed happily as he felt a warm stream of energy enter his body and nourish his muscles. Giving his experiences with increasing his attributes in the past, Thomas expected that his muscles would grow a little thicker and more defined, but not massive. As the sensation grew more soothing, Thomas slipped into the state of 'Serenity' and drifted off to sleep. 


After breakfast the following morning, Thomas made his way to the bank to make a deposit. He had plenty of space inside of the storage ring, however, he didn't know what would happen if he somehow died while wearing it. He didn't want to risk potentially losing so much gold. He was going to need every last piece of gold to be able to afford materials and supplies once he started to make things for himself and for sale. For now, saving was the most important thing he could do.

Thomas deposited 20,000 gold into his bank account bringing his total saved to a little over 26,000 gold while leaving a little over 2,000 gold on his person. He figured that would be more than enough money to carry as long as he didn't need to buy something as expensive as the storage ring again. With his deposit made, Thomas made his way towards Hekrin's place for a new day of discovery and work.

On his way to the store, Thomas ran across a familiar woman. The same woman he'd run into twice at Hekrin's. She was standing in place looking up and down the street. The moment her bright blue eyes caught sight of Thomas she started to walk over to him. Maybe he was biased at this point, but Thomas thought even the way she walked was perfect. Her hips swayed back and forth, combined with the tight black dress she was wearing it was a rather mesmerizing sight. She walked directly up to him and gave him a charming smile.

Thomas felt his instincts firing in warning the moment she smiled. Thomas had plenty of experience dealing with people who had ulterior motives when they approached him. Thomas trusted his instincts implicitly and immediately went on guard against her. He had no idea what she wanted from him, but he suspected it had something to do with Hekrin and he was just a tool to get what she wanted. She had no other plausible reason to approach him, in Thomas's opinion.

The woman continued to smile, unaware of Thomas's thoughts, "Hello there. I'm not sure if you remember or not but we've met twice at Hekrin's shop. I'm Selena."

Thomas nodded and smiled politely. He had no reason to spurn her or get on her bad side. In fact, he would rather do his best to get on her good side so he could get to know her better. While still smiling, Thomas nodded, "You would be hard to forget, you're the only person I've ever seen in his store."

He'd been tempted to compliment her but felt it would come off too strong. She looked pleased and continued, "I was hoping I could talk to you about something. I don't know how much you heard when you saw Hekrin and I talking. I was sent here from Reykhoten city to bring Hekrin back with me but he's refusing to. He won't even let me into his store anymore. I was hoping, since you're trying to become his apprentice, that you would be able to talk to him and see if you could help me out.

"Actually, I became his apprentice yesterday afternoon."

Selena's eyes widened slightly at that, "Already? But... I was there when he told you to go learn Enchanting! That was only three days ago! You should still be working on Enchanting."

Thomas shrugged his shoulders, "I finished Enchanting in two and a half days. So yesterday Master Hekrin made me his apprentice and I learned the Magitech Engineering skill."

Selena stared at him with her brilliant blue eyes for a good thirty seconds before she sighed and shook her head, "Unbelievable. Though that might work better. So my question still stands. Will you help me convince Hekrin to return to Reykhoten city?"

Thomas shook his head from side to side, "I won't. After seeing how Hekrin reacted to you trying to convince him it would be complete folly for me to even try. Not to mention, I have far too much to lose if he decides to stop teaching me because I offended him. I'm sorry but I can't help you with this."

Selena sighed in disappointment but nodded, "I understand. If you change your mind I will be staying at the mayor's residence until the day after tomorrow."

She looked at Thomas in an appraising manner before adding, "If you can convince Hekrin to come back to Reykhoten city, you should come too. We could always use more Magitech Engineers."

Thomas was tempted to ask who 'we' was, but he didn't want to get into the issue between Selena and Hekrin and possibly get himself in trouble with the cranky dwarf. Still, Thomas nodded politely in an affirmative manner and bid Selena goodbye.

After parting with her Thomas immediately put the matter out of his mind and made his way towards Hekrin's shop once more. Today was going to be the first full day working there and he was really looking forward to it.

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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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