Shortly after Selena left his room, Thomas left as well. He wanted to pick up a few supplies before he started working with his 'Transmutation' innate ability. The last time he'd just messed around with turning stones into simple shapes. This time he wanted to experiment with something a little more complex. He wanted to rank up his 'Transmutation' ability to the point where he could form items he wanted to use easily. After all, if he could save hours on hammering or extruding metal into the shapes he needed that would be for the best.
He made his way through the city following directions from a guard to the nearest blacksmith. He didn't need a good blacksmith, just one that had iron ingots he could purchase. It would be a waste of time for him to procure everything from scratch and make the ingots himself. The shop he was directed to was small and a bit smokey on the interior. The goods on display weren't terrible but they had nothing on the work that Rock did.
Thomas made his way to the counter where a middle-aged man was sitting on a stool looking bored. Seeing Thomas inside the room, he looked confused for a moment before seeming to remember what a customer was. Thomas walked right up to the man and smiled as he said, "I'd like to buy ten iron ingots."
The man working the counter looked a little confused before he said, "You just want iron ingots?"
Thomas nodded and the man continued to look a little confused. People usually went to a store to buy finished products, not the materials to make a finished product. Still, a sale was a sale so the man didn't argue with Thomas and instead went into the back room. He returned and placed two ingots on the counter before heading back to fetch two more. The man took a total of five trips because he couldn't be bothered to carry more than two ingots at once.
When all ten were sitting on the counter the man scratched his head with one hand while using the other to count. When he finished counting he looked at Thomas and said, "That'll be fifty gold."
Five gold per bar didn't seem too bad. Thomas was sure if he knew someone at a foundry or a place selling raw ore he could get the raw iron cheaper and easily produce ingots himself. That would take more time though and he just wanted to skip all of that for now so paying a bit of a premium on the ingots wasn't a big deal to him. He pulled out the fifty gold coins and set them on the counter. After paying he collected the ten ingots into his inventory and left the shop to make his way back to his dorm room. Once he returned to Ulvstad and finished learning from Hekrin he would have to try and think of a place to settle down and open up a shop for himself.
Back in his room, Thomas sat on the floor with his legs crossed in the middle of his living room. He retrieved one of the ingots and held it in his hand. The ingot was not the highest quality, he could openly see small impurities even on the surface of it. Whoever had made the ingot clearly didn't put in nearly enough effort to make it. For his purposes though, the impurities didn't matter at all. His only interest was in practicing his 'Transmutation' and increasing its rank. It really didn't matter what he used, he could have even continued to use the stones if he wanted. However, he felt practicing with metal would give him better insights and make reshaping similar materials easier in the future.
Thomas activated his 'All Seeing Eyes' to watch the process in more detail before also activating his 'Transmutation'. He used tendrils of mana to slowly begin to reshape the ingot. He found it was actually harder to reshape the ingot than it had been to reshape the random stones he'd collected previously. As he was working with the ingot and slowly reshaping it he found that the sections with impurities in them were actually easier to reshape than the more 'pure' areas of iron.
Seeing this, he came up with a theory. Stone could be considered to be extremely 'impure' as it was made of many different minerals. Iron, on the other hand, was usually processed to increase the purity of the iron to make it better for use in weapons and armor. He had thought a 'purer' material would be easier to work with and reshape, but it seemed the opposite might be true. After thinking about it though, he found it made a certain amount of sense. When iron had been smelted to have the impurities removed it became harder and more 'stable'. The stability of the material made it harder for his 'Transmutation' ability to affect it.
These thoughts passed through his mind quickly as he watched the slowly reforming iron ingot begin to take on a shape. He could feel his mana draining rather quickly but with his available pool, he could work for a few minutes before he ran out completely. The thing he found the most interesting about the 'Transmutation' ability was that he didn't have to focus on making the changes to the material himself. Instead, he just had to have the image of what he wanted in his mind and replicate the mana process he'd witnessed with the formation plate he'd created. The ability did the rest for him as long as he provided mana.
He closely watched as the ingot slowly reshaped itself by flattening out, growing in length, and thinning at the sides. Slowly the ingot took on the form of a straight dagger. The tip became tapered while the blade became thinner. The crossguard was simple and straight with two decorative spheres located at their ends. The handle was rounded and grooved to improve his grip on it. The blade had a length of twenty-five centimeters with a fuller running down the center. The handle was eight centimeters long giving the dagger an over-all length of thirty-three centimeters.
Because making a dagger wouldn't take the entirety of the metal the ingot provided, the excess material had formed a small misshapen chunk of iron that was stuck to the butt of the dagger. He would have to cut that off to complete the dagger. The edges of the dagger were still rather dull and the tip didn't come to a sharp enough point. Overall, despite the sharp image of a dagger he had envisioned, the dagger he had created was dull and a little lumpy in places. The impurities in the iron had also been incorporated into the weapon meaning that it had several faults in it that could easily lead to the blade fracturing in combat. Lastly, it hadn't been hardened or tempered at all which meant it was still relatively soft.
However, none of that was the point. The point was that he had formed something significantly more complex than a sphere or cube and though it looked crude, it was still a dagger. Thomas set the unfinished dagger down and took a deep breath while he deactivated his two innate abilities. His mana was dangerously low and he was starting to feel a little dizzy from mana depletion. Unable to continue his practice without mana, he lay back and closed his eyes while activating 'Serenity' to help his mana recover.
Some time later, Thomas felt that his mana had completely recovered and sat up to look at the unfinished dagger sitting on the floor. He picked it back up while activating 'All Seeing Eyes' and his 'Transmutation' once again. He wanted to see if he could refine the dagger further or if this was as far as his 'Transmutation' could go at this point. The tendrils of mana came out of his hand and began to stroke the dagger again as he focused on sharpening the edges and tip.
The mana tendrils stroked along the edge of the blade and the tip and while the blade of the dagger became better defined it did not become sharper. After a few minutes, he stopped and set the unfinished dagger back on the floor. It seemed that his rank in 'Transmutation' simply wasn't high enough to work the material into such a refined shape. This would pose problems for what he had been hoping to use his 'Transmutation' for when he returned to Hekrin's place. He'd wanted to remake his welding torch and make it far better, but without being able to make small pieces it wasn't currently possible.
He retrieved another ingot from his inventory and looked over it as he tried to decide what to try and make with this one. It wasn't really all that important what he made since he intended to resmelt the ingots later anyway. With that being the case he decided to go with a simpler item that was also bigger than the dagger and would make use of the complete ingot with no leftover material.
He focused his 'Transmutation' and slowly began to reshape the ingot into a flat circle. The ingot slowly flattened, spread, and reshaped into a circle as he continued to push his mana out. As the circle of metal continued to spread he started to deform it into a hemispherical shape. He didn't make the hemisphere too deep, he was making a simple round shield after all and it would be pointless if it was so deep that it couldn't be held properly.
He smiled as the shield began to become recognizable. As he'd used the entire ingot and flattened it to only a few millimeters thick, the shield ended up becoming rather large. When he was satisfied with the dimensions and shape of the shield he stopped using his 'Transmutation' ability and looked over the 'finished' product with his 'All Seeing Eyes'. He could clearly see the places on the shield where the impurities within the ingot had ended up and knew that if this shield was used in combat as-is it would deform pretty easily.
He sighed and had a feeling that he would only be able to make real products intended for use with extremely pure materials. Either that or find a way to remove the impurities from the metal with his 'Transmutation' while he was working with it. He crossed his arms over his chest and thought about that. Though he couldn't feel or identify the impurities without seeing them, he did know one other trick with 'Transmutation' and he wondered what would happen if he was to use it on an ingot.
Though he wanted to test out his idea right away his mana reserves were once again far too low. So he closed his eyes and used 'Serenity' to once again recover his expended mana at an accelerated rate. Once he had completely recovered it was starting to get a bit dark out. He'd been at this for hours and though he'd made some progress in his understanding of 'Transmutation' he felt like it hadn't been nearly enough.
He pulled out a third ingot and looked at it while he contemplated his next experiment. At this point, he could only do two things with his 'Transmutation'. He could reshape items, as he had been doing, and he could extract the 'heart' or 'essence' out of a material. He'd only done the extraction process before with plants during his practice with Alchemy. So he couldn't help but wonder if he could extract the 'heart' or 'essence' out of the iron ingot. If he could what would it be like?
Since there was only one way to find out he decided to give it a try! He activated both 'All Seeing Eyes' and 'Transmutation' once again. With his vision brightened by his 'All Seeing Eyes', he began to channel his mana into the ingot. He channeled his mana and changed the way he had been using it. Instead of tendrils of mana coming from his hand, it was more like a blue mist that sunk into the ingot. Though his pure mana was white in color, it turned to blue when he used this version of 'Transmutation."
As the mana left his body he still felt about half of it was going to waste, though that was significantly less than the nearly seventy percent that would go to waste the last time he did this. He focused on extracting the purest iron from the ingot, the 'heart' of the iron. Slowly, sections of the iron ingot began to crumble and turn to sand that fell to the floor and made a bit of a mess. He watched closely as the ingot slowly shrank and became purer.
After several minutes the ingot stopped changing and Thomas felt like he had finished. He stopped his mana and looked at what was left sitting in his hand. The ingot had become less than half of its original size. Sitting in his hand was a misshapen hunk of metal that had a mirror-like surface to it. The piece of iron practically glowed with reflected light even in the slowly darkening evening.
Thomas grinned from ear to ear as he examined the piece of metal in his hand. Just looking at it one could tell that this was iron in it's purest form with no contaminants at all. Just pure particles of iron combined together. Back in the real world one hundred percent pure iron wasn't really all that great. In fact, iron became stronger when the 'impurity' carbon was added to make it into steel. But what about inside of a game like AoG where the rules didn't completely follow reality?
Thomas felt a little giddy as he wondered just what he might be able to do with the 'heart' of iron sitting in the palm of his hand. Unfortunately, it was almost completely dark out and he didn't have the tools he needed to experiment with making something out of it to see what would happen. He couldn't help but sigh as he stored the piece of pure iron into his inventory. He would have a chance to experiment with it back at Hekrin's place. It wouldn't be too long before he made his way back there anyway, so waiting a bit was fine by him.
Thomas stored the other reshaped hunks of iron inside of his inventory and stripped down to get ready for bed. Tomorrow he would be heading back into the dungeon to get at least one more of his magic abilities up to rank twenty-five. Until then, it was time to get some sleep.